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Mystical lights in the sky: Norway

A thin white ribbon forms overhead and arches across the sky, then melts into a ghostly swirl and explodes into a rippling emerald curtain of light.

The evening's Northern Lights show had begun.
Here in Norway, near the rooftop of the world, the sun is an elusive host from November through January. The aurora borealis is the ethereal substitute sent to dazzle in its absence.

In winter, you can best see the lights from Arctic regions like Alaska, Iceland, Greenland and Norway, usually between 8 p.m. and midnight. But they do not wait for their audience. You have to chase them.

Mystical lights in the sky are also known as ‘aurora’ or ‘aurora borealis’. Aurora is also known as “Northern Light” and it is a natural phenomenon that can be observed from many parts of the world. However the lights observed near the northern regions of Earth have become the most well known.

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in both polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth’s magnetic field. An aurora is usually observed at night and typically occurs in the ionosphere.

It is also referred to as a polar aurora or, collectively, as polar lights. These phenomena are commonly visible between 60 and 72 degrees north and south latitudes, which place them in a ring just within the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles. Auroras do occur deeper inside the polar regions, but these are infrequent and often invisible to the naked eye.

Its southern counterpart, the aurora australis (or the southern lights), has similar properties, but is only visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America, or Australasia. Australis is the Latin word for “of the South”.

Auroras can be spotted throughout the world and on other planets. They are most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field.

Auroras result from emissions of photons in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, above 80 km (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state. They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down and accelerated along the Earth’s magnetic field lines; excitation energy is lost by the emission of a photon of light, or by collision with another atom or molecule:

Oxygen emissions:

Green or brownish-red, depending on the amount of energy absorbed.

Nitrogen emissions:

Blue or red. Blue if the atom regains an electron after it has been ionized. Red if returning to ground state from an excited state.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

IMF chief arrested for allegedly raping a hotel maid in New York

Paris Guardian
Sunday 15th May, 2011 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a possible French presidential candidate, has been charged with a criminal sex act and attempted rape over the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid, after being arrested and removed from a plane on the tarmac of John F. Kennedy Airport.

The Washington Post quoted Paul J. Browne, police spokesman, as saying that 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn was questioned by the New York Police Department's special victims office,

Browne said the housekeeper told authorities she entered the IMF chief's suite at the luxury Sofitel Hotel near Manhattan's Times Square at about 1 p.m., and that he attacked her.

According to other reports, the woman gave this account to police that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her. She said she fought him off, but then he dragged her into the bathroom. The woman was able to break free again, escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, and they called police, authorities said.

Browne said that when police detectives arrived moments later, Strauss-Kahn had already left the hotel, leaving behind his cellphone: "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry."

Strauss-Kahn, a charismatic 62-year-old,  is an economist and lawyer, who led the International Monetary Fund through the 2007-09 global financial meltdown and has been central in galvanizing Europe to tackle its debt woes, for long had the reputation of a womanizer. In 2008, Strauss-Kahn apologized for "an error of judgment" after an affair with a female IMF economist who was his subordinate.

The Fund’s board of member countries warned him against further improper conduct, but cleared him of harassment and abuse of power and kept him in his job. It will now face new scrutiny over whether that response was too weak, especially as there have been persistent rumors about Strauss-Kahn making sexual advances to women.

 The allegations immediately threw France’s presidential race wide open. He had not yet declared his candidacy but Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to run for the Socialist Party and early opinion polls showed him with a big lead over the conservative incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking a second term at the election next April. French voters are famously tolerant of political leaders’ extra-marital affairs but the allegations against Strauss-Kahn are entirely different, and much more serious.

"The news we received from New York last night struck like a thunderbolt," said Socialist leader Martine Aubry, appealing for party unity. France’s government as well as Strauss-Kahn’s political allies and rivals called for caution and respect for the presumption of innocence, but his presidential ambitions appeared to be dead in the water unless the case against him quickly unravels and he is shown to be innocent.

Many politicians have fallen after being caught in extra-marital affairs and others have survived them, including former U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton as well as former French President Francois Mitterrand. But rarely have senior figures faced brutal assault charges like those filed against Strauss-Kahn.

He is also widely believed to challenge French president Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election, and polls show he would have a good chance of removing the sitting president out of his office. (ANI)

If they are proven, Strauss-Kahn’s fall from power in a scandal would be one of the most dramatic of any high-profile international figure in decades.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wounded Warriors Make First Ever All-Amputee Softball Team

By Woodrow Bellamy III
Associated Press

It wasn’t about the 35-10 lopsided score, the former major leaguers in attendance or the lightning that delayed the game by 30 minutes. Friday night was about giving wounded servicemen who put their lives on the line a chance to shine again.

"I played baseball all my life," said Saul Bosquez, a Michigan native and Army veteran who lost his leg in Baghdad in 2007. "I played baseball in college and once I got tired of college I joined the Army and got hurt, and sports was a big thing in my rehab, and once they started this team I was all over it."
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, aptly nicknamed Body Parts, played against the FBI All Stars at George Mason University's Fairfax Campus. The GMU softball team was there to show their support as was Michael Young and Paul Blair, who both played with the Baltimore Orioles during their major league careers.
"I sort of put together what I like to do and what I do for work and I came up with the idea for the very first all-amputee softball team in the world," head coach David Van Sleet said.
Van Sleet is part of the Department of Veteran Affairs and has worked in prosthetics for more than 30 years. He obtained a congressional grant to fly the team out to Tuscon, where they practiced at the University of Arizona. The FBI All Stars team comprises FBI special agents all based in the Washington, D.C., area.
The Diamond Dream Foundation (DDF) presented the Wounded Warriors with a $5,000 donation. Louisville Slugger outfitted the team with bats and gear.
Like Bosquez, all members of the amputee team were wounded while serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
"It's awesome to see people come out and support us," said Bosquez who lost his left leg when a bomb went off by his Humvee in Afghanistan. "It's great to see that people are aware of what’s going on and wanting to see us play like this." 
For more information or to donate contact:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bin Laden hand-written journal seized

Associated Press
Officials say journal was part of huge cache of intelligence taken by US Navy SEALs after they swept through Abbottabad compound

US officials say that al-Qaeda 
leader Osama bin Laden kept a hand-written journal filled with planning ideas and details of operations. The journal was seized in the dramatic US raid.
The journal was part of a huge cache of intelligence that included about 100 flash drives and five computers taken by US Navy SEALs after they swept through the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver announce split after 25yrs

By Alan Duke, CNN
Los Angeles -- Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced Monday that they are "amicably separating," but there was no mention of divorce in their joint statement.

Confirmation of their split came just two weeks after the 25th anniversary of their marriage and four months after Schwarzenegger left the California governor's office.

"This has been a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us," their statement said. "After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, we came to this decision together."

The statement did not reveal when the separation began, but Shriver, 55, was not wearing her wedding band in a video posted on YouTube two weeks ago.

"At this time, we are living apart, while we work on the future of our relationship," they said.

The marriage of Schwarzenegger, a bodybuilder-turned-actor, and Shriver, the niece of President John F. Kennedy, was was considered an unlikely union, especially considering Shriver's deep Democratic roots and Schwarzenegger's Republican leanings.

They became one of America's most famous couples. He was one of Hollywood's highest paid actors and she was a network news anchor. They both gave up those careers when he was elected governor of California in 2003, a job he held until this past January.

Schwarzenegger, 63, has been busy in recent months reviving his acting career, signing movies deals -- including another installment of his "Terminator" series.

The couple's children are ages 14, 18, 20 and 21.

"We are continuing to parent our four children together," they said. "They are the light and the center of both of our lives."

The statement did not say which one of them moved out of the Brentwood, California mansion where the family has resided.

"We consider this a private matter, and neither we nor any of our friends or family will have further comment," the statement said. "We ask for compassion and respect from the media and the public."

CNN's Douglas Hyde contributed to this report.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Donald Trump Has LaToya Jackson's Vote

Photo by Ray L. Tharaldson 
All rights reserved 2000

By Steven Duchon | The Grand Rapids Press
With rumors swirling that Donald Trump is just weeks away from announcing his presidential candidacy, he's already locked in one very famous voter.

LaToya Jackson, who is also a contestant on the 11th season of Trump's hit competition show, 'Celebrity Apprentice,' has publicly endorsed the real estate tycoon.

"I truly believe that he would be a great running candidate if he did [run for president], and I would certainly vote for him," Jackson said.

Trump may rule the boardroom every Sunday night at 9PM ET, but does he have what it takes to rule the nation? Jackson thinks so. See why Donald Trump has secured LaToya Jackson's vote after the jump!

"I think he would make an excellent president. I think he speaks the truth, I also feel that he knows a lot about the economy and the way [it's] heading. [The] world in general is basically involved around business with the oil crisis and things of that nature, that's basically controlling the world at this point and this moment. He knows so much about that," said Jackson.

But the songstress knows her 'Celebrity Apprentice' boss is bound to face opposition.

"I think he's loved by a lot of people in America. I think he stands a chance, but then again, you have the other side who says, 'Well how much does he really know?'"

Trump's unconfirmed presidential campaign only makes Jackson's time on 'Apprentice' that much more exciting. She joins all-star cast mates Gary Busey, Star Jones, Niki Taylor, Lisa Rinna, David Cassidy, Dionne Warwick, Richard Hatch, NeNe Leakes, Marlee Matlin, Jose Conseco, Meat Loaf, Mark McGrath, Hope Dworaczyk, Lil Jon and John Rich.

"John Rich is very clever," said Jackson when asked what contestant proved to be her toughest competition. "He's very focused. He's a smart guy, but what's important is to stay focused, and he stays focused. A lot of people have the tendency to lose focus and lose sight of what they're doing. That's the key really to be successful in a sense because you know when you go off into another direction or little tantrums on the side, that kind of ruins things, and he stays right with what he's supposed to do! That's something everybody should learn."

Jackson is no stranger to the spotlight, but feels that her stint on 'Apprentice' will finally reveal her true self to audiences. "People don't really know the true me. They don't know who I am," said Jackson when asked what will surprise viewers the most. "I think just being out there, being amongst people with different personalities and standing up to them, not letting them run all over you and talk to you the way they choose to do," said Jackson.

As for what to expect from Jackson this season, she's anything but glib. "Let me just put it this way, it's going to be a very interesting show. It's exciting, I think it's the best 'Celebrity Apprentice' there is." Jackson raves.

With Trump supposedly planning his race to the White House and Jackson stepping out from her brother Michael's shadow, she couldn't be more right.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bin Laden 'had Pakistan support network'

Osama bin Laden had a "support network" in Pakistan but it is not clear if the Pakistani government was involved, US President Barack Obama has said in his first public comments on the issue.
The fact that bin Laden turned up in Abbottabad, home to the Pakistani equivalent of the West Point and Sandhurst military academies, just two hours' drive north of Islamabad, has been greeted with incredulity.
"We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan," Mr Obama told US 60 Minutes, according to excerpts of an interview released today.
"But we don't know who or what that support network was. We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate."
The Pakistani government has promised a probe but has rejected charges that extremists like bin Laden are extended safe haven.

"They have indicated they have a profound interest in finding out what kinds of support networks bin Laden might have had," Mr Obama said.

"But these are questions that we're not going to be able to answer three or four days after the event. It's going to take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence that we were able to gather on site."
Since the pre-dawn raid a week ago that killed bin Laden, the number one enemy of the United States, outraged US lawmakers have called for billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan to be cut back or pulled entirely.
The Obama administration last year said it would seek another $US2 billion ($1.89 billion) for Pakistan's military, on top of a five-year, $US7.5 billion ($7.08 billion) civilian package approved in 2009 aimed at weakening the allure of Islamic extremists.
For a decade, Islamabad has been America's wary Afghan war ally, despite widespread public opposition and militant bomb attacks across the nuclear-armed country that have killed several thousand people.
Pakistan has never been fully trusted by either Kabul or Washington, which accuse its powerful military of fostering the Afghan Taliban it spawned during the 1980s resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Pakistani intelligence officials deny the nation's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had any idea bin Laden was holed-up in a compound in Abbottabad, which was raided in 2003 while still under construction.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Video of Osama's burial at sea to be released soon!

ABC News: ABC News’ Jake Tapper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video of Osama bin Laden’s dead body being dropped into the North Arabian Sea from the USS Carl Vinson early this morning will be made public, according to officials.
The 40-minute ceremony, and perhaps photos of his corpse, will be released “cautiously,” according to The Associated Press, citing two Pentagon officials.
The world’s most notorious terrorist did not receive a customary Islamic burial as he was slipped into the North Arabian Sea today when no others countries would accept his body, according to experts in Muslim funeral rites.
“Dumping the body into the sea is not part of any Islamic ritual,” said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a physician of internal medicine. “Koranic scripture says God created him and he must return to the earth.”
U.S. officials told ABC News that the last thing they wanted was to create a burial place which could become a terrorist shrine. To avoid that, bin Laden was buried at sea.
Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan said earlier today that the administration would likely release an image of bin Laden’s body. He added that they would do so carefully as, “We don’t want to do anything to compromise our ability to be successful the next time we get one of these guys and take him off the battlefield,” he said.
Complete coverage of the death of bin Laden.
The corpse was taken to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, officials told ABC News. The ceremony, done according to Islamic law, began about 1:10 a.m. today EST and lasted about 45 minutes, according to officials.

Traditional washing of the body was followed by wrapping in white sheets. A military officer read religious remarks that were translated by a native Arabic speaker, then bin Laden was eased into the sea.
Officials said no other alternatives were available.
“We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition,” an administration official said. “This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore this is being handled in an appropriate manner.”
It is rare, but when a body must be buried at sea, there are rules, according to Al Islam online.
The body should be lowered into the water, “in a vessel of clay or a weight tied to its feet,” and as far as possible, it should “not be lowered at a point where it is eaten up immediately by sea predators.”
Tradition dictates that the body is washed by Muslim men and a funeral prayer is said, then it is buried as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours of death. The body is wrapped in a shroud of white cloth and the face is moved toward Mecca. The remains are always buried in the earth.
Similar to the orthodox Jewish tradition, bodies cannot be embalmed or in any way preserved and the coffin, if used, must be wooden.
Cremation is prohibited, because it is considered disrespectful, and unless a person died in an accident at sea, they would never be thrown in the water, according to Dr. Muzamil Siddiqi, chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America and a scholar on the legal systems of Islam.
“They don’t even have a casket — the body is in the ground,” he said. “After a person dies, the body is treated like any other human being. We don’t do a retaliation on the dead body.”
Scholars say that even those who are criminals and murderers are given the Islamic rite of burial.
“Even those who are executed have a proper burial given to them,” Siddiqi said. “It is strictly forbade any mutilation — even of the enemy’s body.”
God reckons with a person’s deeds in the afterlife on judgment day, he said.
“This is not a normal procedure,” Siddiqi said. “But if scholars in Pakistan said this is OK, it’s OK.”
Sources told ABC News that President Obama authorized the bombing of a compound outside Islamabad in Pakistan last March, but worried about collateral damage and wanted evidence of bin Laden’s body and DNA evidence.
No photos have been released.
Instead, he authorized a daring operation for ground troops to enter the compound low to the ground and undetected. It was scheduled for Friday afternoon, but because of weather, was postponed until Sunday.
Critics Say Bin Laden Didn’t Deserve Rites
Khalid Latif, chaplain at New York University and director of its Islamic Center, said Islamic law is “flexible” in how it handles burial, especially in this case. The question would be not “how to bury a body, but how Osama bin Laden’s body would be buried.”
He said the government’s approach was reasonable — letting bin Laden’s body, “wash back and forth in the sea.”
“If we think about burying him in the ground, there are multiple scenarios,” he said. “The problem is people don’t want him buried near them or their loved ones. Giving him a place on land would create an opportunity for many individuals to unleash and lash out their rage against him. He made lives terrible for so many of us.”
Officials were also worried that having a burial site might become a place where his sympathizers would “glorify” his acts, according to Latif.
“There are people who believe that this man was someone to look up to, even though he distorted our teachings and grossly misinterpreted Islam,” he said.
Some critics say the White House was trying to play the “respect-for-Islam” card. But American Islamic leader Jasser said Osama bin Laden is not worthy of that respect.
“As one who is devoted to Islam and its ideology, it makes me nauseated and sick that someone would make sure he had a religious rite given to a man like this because he was an evil barbarian who declared war against our nation,” Jasser said.
ABC News’ Jake Tapper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Newly released video of 9/11 shot by New York Police Department


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead - Obama

Bin Laden is top of the US most wanted list
Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces, President Barack Obama has said.
The US is said to be in possession of Bin Laden's body.
The al-Qaeda leader was killed in a ground operation in a mansion outside Islamabad in an operation based on US intelligence, reports said. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Norway, Australia and Iceland top best places for mothers

Sunday 8th May, 2011  

May 9, 2011 NEW YORK // The best place in the world to be a mother is Norway, where maternal and child mortality rates are low, women's life expectancy and years in school are high, and the average maternity leave is about one year, a new study measuring the well-being of mothers and babies shows. 

Afghanistan comes in last, and the United States is placed at 31st. Released every year in the days before many countries mark Mother's Day, the international nonprofit group's ranking analyses the maternal and child indicators and other published information of 164 countries. 

The survey considers Afghanistan the worst place to be a mother.

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