Astronaut’s Video Reveals Secret of Zero-G Fingernail Clipping

Life in space isn’t easy. Even basic hygiene, like clipping your fingernails, is a cosmic challenge without gravity, one astronaut says.

A new video by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield shows exactly how complicated (and a little gross) it is to cut your nails in the weightless environment of space. Hadfield currently lives on the International Space Station, where astronauts are forced to devise inventive ways for dealing with basic bodily needs that many folks may take for granted on Earth.

“Now, if I just cut my fingernails here, fingernail bits are going to fly everywhere,” Hadfield explained in the zero gravity nail-clipping video as he floated about inside the space station. “They won’t fall to the ground. You can’t sweep them up. They’ll float everywhere. They get in your eyes, people breathe them. Not good. Got to figure out a plan.”

Hadfield’s solution is to position his hand over an air duct where air is pulled in and filtered throughout the station. The nail clippings get sucked into the duct’s mesh filter, making cleaning up relatively simple.

“So, there we go,” Hadfield said. “Nails are ready for guitar playing. I’m going to vacuum this [the air duct] later in the week. It’ll all clean up just fine.”

There are many other ways astronauts tackle daily life without the pull of gravity. They attach strips of Velcro to all of their belongings since anything that isn’t tied down can float away and get lost somewhere inside the International Space Station, which has the same habitable space as a five-bedroom house.

The astronauts share hair-cutting duty with their crewmates, using a vacuum to clean up clippings after each snip. A complicated procedure using hoses and airflow allows astronauts go to the bathroom in space . There are two toilets for the six astronauts living on the space station today.

Hadfield is a flight engineer representing the Canadian Space Agency on the station’s Expedition 34/35 crew. Two American astronauts and three Russian cosmonauts round out the team. In March, Hadfield will take command of the station’s Expedition 35 crew, to become Canada’s first space station commander.

Hadfield has already developed a reputation for snapping amazing photos of Earth from space, writing and performing songs in space on the guitar, and Tweeting with celebrities like William Shatner, “Star Trek’s” famed Captain Kirk, since arriving on the station last month.

Follow Miriam Kramer on Twitter @mirikramer or @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook & Google+

Copyright 2013, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Space and Astronomy News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Astronaut’s Video Reveals Secret of Zero-G Fingernail Clipping
Url Post:
Link To Post : Astronaut’s Video Reveals Secret of Zero-G Fingernail Clipping

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Benghazi blame-game is useless

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years

Hillary Clinton through the years


























































  • Anthony Cordesman: Questions for Hillary Clinton on Benghazi attack inevitable, important

  • But political blame game useless, a discouraging message to diplomats, military advisers, he says

  • He says in hindsight, warnings, pleas for support mistakenly make crisis seem obvious

  • Writer: U.S. must focus forward: encourage, support risk-takers doing crucial work in field

Editor's note: Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Follow CSIS on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Politics are politics, and partisan congressional challenges over the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, last September were inevitable.

But while some of the questions Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked in her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee bordered on politics at their worst, some represented democracy at its best: A legitimate challenge of how the government works. The fact is, we do need to ask serious questions about the way our diplomats function, how they are deployed and protected.

In her responses, Clinton took responsibility, as the top official in every department always must. The question now, however, is what, if anything, will we really learn from the events that led to the deaths of Stevens and his colleagues?

Anthony H. Cordesman

Anthony H. Cordesman

Do we actually learn something from their courage and sacrifice, and the similar experience of other American diplomats and officers that have faced similar attacks in the past? Or do we go on playing a pointless blame game, creating a climate that discourages our diplomats, U.S. military advisory teams and intelligence officers from taking necessary risks -- and relies even more on fortifying our embassies.

Three lessons here. The first: Virtually every post mortem that relies on the blame game has the same result. There is always someone who asked for more resources and warned of the risk before the event. There are always enough intelligence indicators so that once you go back -- knowing the pattern of actual events -- it becomes possible to predict the past with 20-20 hindsight.

The problem is that the post mortems and hearings tend to be useless. Every prudent security officer has always asked for more; the indicators that could provide warning with 20-20 hindsight will still be buried in a flood of other reporting that warns of crises that don't take place; U.S. officials will still have to deal with what intelligence experts call "noise" -- the vast amount of reporting and other data that make it impossible to sort out the right information until the event actually occurs and the patterns are known. All of this makes it hard to know what request or warning ever matters.

Opinion: Algeria hostage crisis shows jihadists on rise

Yes, intelligence and warning can always be improved if the post mortem is realistic and objective. But the resulting improvements will never be enough. No one will ever assess all the risks correctly, U.S. diplomats and other Americans will be vulnerable when they operate in a hostile environment, and risk-taking will remain inevitable.

The second lesson is that we cannot deal with crises like the political upheavals in the Arab world, or the more direct threats that countries like Iran and North Korea can pose, unless our diplomats and military advisers take risks -- and more casualties -- in the process.

Stevens and those around him did what had to be done. These are the teams that can help lead unstable countries towards democracy and stability. They are the crucial to our counterterrorism efforts in the field and to building up the military security capabilities of developing states. They are key to uniting given factions, creating effective governance, and persuading states to move toward development and greater concern for human rights.

They can only be effective if they are on the scene, work with the leaders and factions involved, and often go into harms way where there are terrorist and military threats. Like Stevens, they cannot wait for perfect security, stay in a safe area, or minimize risks and deal with the realities of Libya, filled with local power struggles, extremist elements and potential threats.

We need risk-takers. We need them in any country that is going through the kind of upheavals taking place in Libya, as well as in countries where our enemies operate, and semi-war zones like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. We need diplomats, U.S. military advisory teams, and intelligence officers that reach far beyond our embassies and go into high risk zones. We need to reward and honor those risk-takers, not those who shelter in safety and avoid the risks they should take or fear their career will be damaged if anyone is killed or hurt.

Opinion: Algeria crisis is a wakeup call for America

The third lesson is that we do need to steadily strengthen our ability to provide secure mobility, better intelligence, better communications, and better protection for those diplomats, U.S. military advisory teams and intelligence officers. We need to be able to better provide emergency help to those American NGO personnel and businessmen who take similar risks.

We need both an administration and a Congress that look beyond the blame game and understand that some things are worth spending money on. We need them to understand that what we once called the Arab Spring is clearly going to be the Arab Decade, and we face different but equally real risks in the field in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

It is far better -- and cheaper even, in the medium term -- to fund strong U.S. country teams, military advisers, counterterrorism teams and development efforts than to let nations collapse, to let extremists take over, to lose allies, and see American NGOs and businesses unable to operate.

We need to see what new methods and investments can protect our people in the field and reduce the risks they should be taking. The answer may be special communications, intelligence system, helicopters and armored vehicles, emergency response teams and new career security personnel to replace contractors and foreign nationals.

What the answer is not is partisan blame, risk avoidance, punishing those who do take risks for the result, and failing to make the improvements in security for risk takers -- while building larger fortress embassies. If you want to honor the Americans lost in the line of duty, focus on the future and not the past.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anthony Cordesman

Read More..

Bulls rally to beat Pistons 85-82

As the United Center rocked and the Bulls celebrated Marco Belinelli's go-ahead, three-point play with 7.5 seconds left, Joakim Noah remained down in the photographer's pit along the baseline, cameras and cheerleaders all around him.

"I didn't really see the play," Noah said. "I had the cheerleaders' pom-poms in my face."

His teammates saw it, which is why they were celebrating the shot that sealed the Bulls' stirring 85-82 comeback over the Pistons, their 17th straight victory in this series. It marked the second time in just more than a month the Bulls erased a 17-point deficit against the Pistons to prevail.

And yet Noah, who had authored, really, the play of the season — one that defines the heart and hustle that has the Derrick Rose-less Bulls on pace for 50 victories now that the midway point has been reached — remained down.

"We were over there celebrating and he was still knocked over by the cheerleaders," said Nate Robinson, who kick-started the rally with nine straight points early in the fourth. "We were like, 'Oh, yeah, we have to go help him up.' But that play shows how hard Jo works. He never gives up."

Noah smiled, clearly relishing the opportunity to tweak his teammates.

"Damn, it took forever, right?" he said of the delay.

All's well that ends well, right?

But make sure to find a replay of Noah's hustle, which came off Belinelli's bricked jumper. As Noah tumbled into cameras and cheerleaders, Belinelli cut to the basket, grabbed the fruit of Noah's effort and laid it in as Rodney Stuckey fouled him.

"I scored, but the credit goes to Jo," said Belinelli, who scored his second game-winner in four games.

Coach Tom Thibodeau just shook his head.

"Quite frankly, I don't know he got to it," Thibodeau said. "It was an incredible play."

The Bulls then watched tying 3-point attempts from Tayshuan Prince and Stuckey rim out as time expired.

"I stayed with the play," Noah said. "The basketball gods were on our side. It's not really a great play because if Detroit gets it, it's a four-on-five fast break the other side. Fortunately, we got it. "

Robinson's boundless energy can delve into extracurricular emotion, but there's no denying he jump-started the comeback. Robinson keyed a 12-2 run to open the fourth with nine straight points and a dish for a fast-break dunk from Butler, who tied his career-highs with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Butler, starting again for the injured Luol Deng, played all but 91 seconds and overcame a 1-for-8 start. He also hit a huge 3-pointer — the Bulls missed their first 10 and made just 3 of 14 — for an 82-80 lead before Jason Maxiell tied the game with 29.4 seconds left off a defensive breakdown.

"Jimmy just kept working the game," Thibodeau said. "He never got down. He kept battling and battling."

Robinson finished with 11 points.

"That's Nate. He made a lot of big-time plays for us," Thibodeau said. "He's not afraid. I respect that about him.

"The group that started the fourth quarter played with energy, got some stops and got us going.

Noah played 45 minutes with 10 points and 18 rebounds.

"We just kept saying, 'We're going to rally together,'" Butler said. "That's what this team is all about."

Twitter @kcjhoop

Read More..

North Korea to target U.S. with nuclear, rocket tests

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Thursday it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would target the United States, dramatically stepping up its threats against a country it called its "enemy".

The announcement by the country's top military body came a day after the United Nations Security Council agreed a U.S.-backed resolution to censure and sanction the country for a rocket launch in December that breached U.N. rules.

"We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States," North Korea's National Defence Commission said, according to state news agency KCNA.

North Korea is believed by South Korea and other observers to be "technically ready" for a third nuclear test, and the decision to go ahead rests with leader Kim Jong-un who pressed ahead with the December rocket launch in defiance of the U.N. sanctions.

"Whether North Korea tests or not is up to North Korea," Glyn Davies, the top U.S. envoy for North Korean diplomacy, said in the South Korean capital of Seoul as KCNA released its statement.

"We hope they don't do it. We call on them not to do it," Davies said. "This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula."

The North was banned from developing missile and nuclear technology under sanctions dating from its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

The concern now is that Pyongyang, whose only major diplomatic ally, China, endorsed the latest U.N. resolution, could undertake a third nuclear test using highly enriched uranium for the first time, opening a second path to a bomb.

Its previous tests have been viewed as limited successes and used plutonium, of which the North has limited stocks.

North Korea gave no time-frame for the coming test and often employs harsh rhetoric in response to U.N. and U.S. actions.

Its long-range rockets are not seen as capable of reaching the United States mainland and it is not believed to have the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

"The UNSC (Security Council) resolution masterminded by the U.S. has brought its hostile policy towards the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) to its most dangerous stage," the commission was quoted as saying.

(Writing by David Chance; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Read More..

Asian shares inch higher on improving global confidence

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares edged higher on Wednesday as investor appetite for riskier assets improved amid upbeat U.S. earnings and better German investor confidence.

The yen stabilized after firming as realization sank in that monetary easing announced on Tuesday by the Bank of Japan had fallen short of some market expectations, though many analysts acknowledged that the BOJ was showing determination to pull Japan out of years of deflation and economic stagnation.

Copper and gold were underpinned as the BOJ's move was seen supporting a global economic recovery while its 2 percent inflation target boosted bullion's appeal as a hedge against rising prices.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> was up 0.1 percent, hovering near Tuesday's 17-1/2-month high, after recent positive data from the United States and China improved investor sentiment.

Australian shares <.axjo> rose 0.3 percent, touching a 20-month high for a second day in a row as top miner BHP Billiton gained after lifting iron ore production.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei average <.n225> fell 0.8 percent as the firmer yen weighed on exporters. The yen has weakened by around 12 percent since mid-November against the dollar, and boosted Nikkei by more than 20 percent as a weaker yen improved exporters' earnings outlook. <.t/>

"Some investors have been waiting for the timing to take profits, as they have chased the market higher," said Hiroichi Nishi, assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.

The BOJ on Tuesday doubled its inflation target to 2 percent and adopted an open-ended commitment to buy assets starting 2014, sparking an unwinding of yen short positions from speculators looking for more immediate easing step.

The dollar steadied around 88.70 yen while the euro eased 0.1 percent to 118.11 yen. The dollar hit a 2-1/2-year high of 90.25 yen on Monday.

Technically, many believe the yen will resume its recent downtrend, seeing the latest rebound in the Japanese currency as a correction to its rapid and sharp decline.

Tuesday's pullback on dollar/yen has once again held slightly above the 23.6 percent of the rally from 81.69 to 90.25 yen seen on Monday, which comes in at 88.25 yen, some analysts note. They say the dollar's inability to break below minimum retracement levels since the rally from a December 4 low around 81.70 highlights the strength of the dollar/yen's upward move.

With BOJ joining the continued push by global central banks to support growth, Morgan Stanley said in a research note that policy easing by central banks was positive for emerging markets with more bond portfolio inflows increasingly towards local markets.

"Our key themes for 2013 are rebalancing and reflation, with both prevalent so far this year. Even given a migration towards global equities and away from fixed income, emerging market fixed income remains well-placed," it said.

On Tuesday, hopes of an improvement in the global economy led the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> to a five-year high.

International Business Machines , the world's largest technology services company reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat estimates, while revenue from Google Inc's core Internet business outpaced many analysts' expectations for the same quarter. Apple Inc's earnings release was due later on Wednesday.

Investors were also cheered by easing worries over the U.S. budget crisis and the euro zone's debt financing.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives said they aim to pass on Wednesday a nearly four-month extension of the U.S. debt limit to May 19.

German ZEW investor sentiment rose to its highest level in more than 2-1/2 years in January while Spain has raised around 14 percent of its 2013 funding target.

U.S. crude was down 0.1 percent to $96.62 a barrel and Brent also eased 0.1 percent to $112.34.

Spot gold was at $1,692.66 an ounce, near Tuesday's one-month high of $1,695.76, while London copper traded down 0.3 percent at $8,107 a metric ton but clinging near a one-week high of $$8,144.50 hit on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Reuters FX analyst Krishna Kumar in Sydney, Miranda Maxwell in Melbourne and Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Read More..

Serena Williams out of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams is out of the Australian Open after losing her quarterfinal match 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens.

Williams appeared to hurt her lower back while attempting to pull up short of the net during the eighth game of the second set. She called for a trainer after the ninth game with the score 5-4 and on serve.

Stephens won the second set when Williams, serving slower than usual, was broken. Williams also had her service broken in the final game of the match.

At 2-1 and on the way to a changeover in the third set, Williams smashed her racket angrily on the court then threw it toward her chair.

Stephens will play defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.

Read More..

Analysis: Obama’s next climate steps apt to be temperate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is likely to rely mostly on existing rules and on flexing executive power to execute its second-term environmental agenda, sidestepping Congress as it sets about radically reducing greenhouse gases generated by major polluters.

Just a day after President Barack Obama said in his inaugural address that for the United States not to respond to the threat of climate change would “betray our children and future generations,” White House spokesman Jay Carney tamped down expectations for bold new moves.

Carney declined to define specific policies, suggesting the White House will expand its current strategy to regulate and reduce carbon emissions.

“The president will build on, when it comes to climate change, the progress that was achieved in his first term,” Carney said at a press briefing.

More details on climate initiatives could come out of the president’s State of the Union address on February 12.

Environmentalists have judged Obama as too timid in his first term, especially after a congressional stalemate ended legislative efforts.

The White House has pointed to its drafting of emissions standards for the construction of new power plants and, along with the auto industry, setting stringent fuel efficiency standards for new cars.

The United States is undergoing a boom in domestic energy production, from the oilfields of North Dakota to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has unlocked massive gas reserves in several states. Taking strong environmental steps while still supporting aggressive drilling and exploration will be a balancing act.

Fracking is a mixed blessing, prompting local protests over concerns about possible water pollution but also lowering emissions by displacing coal at power plants.


Obama is expected to name an entirely new energy policy team in the next few weeks. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are departing. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is widely expected to leave soon.

Carol Browner, Obama’s former White House climate and energy czar, said whoever steps in for Jackson and the others would be following a “path has already been charted by the president.

“I think it’s an agenda that has been set under presidential leadership and I think that will continue,” Browner said.

Climate analysts guess that the EPA could soon announce a move to use its authority under the federal Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

By April the agency is expected to complete carbon emission standards for building new power plants that would effectively prevent any new coal-fired facilities from being built. Next would come a more controversial effort, setting standards for existing coal-fired plants, which account for 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases. The measure is sure to provoke industry lawsuits.

“The most likely area for the administration to pursue, in light of what the president said, would be using the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for existing power plants under the Clean Air Act,” said Dina Kruger, a former director of the Climate Change Division at the EPA.

The NSPS is a program under the Clean Air Act that sets a limit on the rate at which a facility can emit using the best available emission controls.

The EPA is required to produce greenhouse gas standards for existing sources following a 2010 settlement with environmental groups and some states. It has not yet set a deadline.

Ed Whitfield, chair of the House subcommittee on energy and environment, told reporters that Republicans would not be able to curb legislatively any rules the EPA proposes.

“The reality is, I doubt the Senate would pass anything we would pass to repeal them,” said the Kentucky representative. “I know there have been court challenges already and I expect that there will be more.”

Recent court decisions that have touched on the legal basis for the EPA to regulate carbon have mostly come down in its favor.

David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air Program, said this could embolden the EPA as it tackles rules that may be more aggressive than those rolled out under Jackson.

“The agency has a very good batting record on the clean air side. Carbon and climate (regulations) have come through completely unscathed,” he said.

Green groups and certain states may sue the EPA to force it to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from other unregulated sources such as oil refineries and methane released by fracking.

While the agency is used to being sued by both green and industry groups, the number of cases is apt to increase.

“This is shaping up to be four years of litigation,” Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Institute, told Reuters this month.

Kruger said the EPA would be wise to prioritize just a handful of new rules to tackle as it faces a constrained budget in the coming years.


Browner, who was Clinton’s EPA administrator, said Obama could use executive orders to direct vast federal agencies to adopt measures that could limit their own energy use, a significant reduction of emissions.

A 2009 executive order required federal agencies to develop and implement sustainable energy plans and review them annually to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste.

The Department of Energy has issued 16 new or updated energy efficiency standards for home appliances, commercial buildings and industrial facilities that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6.5 billion tons – the equivalent of taking 1.4 billion cars off the road for a year – by 2030.

Agencies with heavy carbon footprints, such as the Department of Defense, have launched a number of initiatives, such as buying a fleet of electric vehicles and investing in renewable energy.

But market forces more than regulations could have the biggest impact on carbon emissions in the coming years, with cleaner natural gas from fracking continuing to displace coal as a source of electricity.

“When it comes to carbon, the market has actually done a lot of things that you would hope policy would do. I don’t think you need a whole lot of policy to increase gas use (to replace coal) in power generation,” said Nikos Tsafos, analyst at PFC Energy in Washington.

(Additional reporting by Tim Gardner, Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Ros Krasny and Prudence Crowther)

Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Analysis: Obama’s next climate steps apt to be temperate
Url Post:
Link To Post : Analysis: Obama’s next climate steps apt to be temperate

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Defterios: What keeps Davos relevant


  • Since the late 20th Century, the ski resort of Davos has been synonymous with the World Economic Forum

  • Defterios: I first came to Davos as a relatively junior correspondent, two months after the Berlin Wall fell

  • Fall of Communism, China's opening, removal of apartheid in South Africa unfolded in the 90s

  • It's the inter-play between geo-politics and business is what keeps the forum relevant

Davos (CNN) -- Veterans of Davos often refer to nature's awe-inspiring work as the Magic Mountain.

The name comes from an early 20th century novel by Thomas Mann -- reflecting on life in an alpine health retreat, and the mystery of time in this breath-taking setting.

Read more from John Defterios: Why Egypt's transition is so painful

Since the late 20th century, this ski resort has been synonymous with the World Economic Forum, which represents networking on its grandest scale.

This year nearly 40 world leaders -- a record for this annual meeting -- 2000 plus executives and it seems an equal number of people in the media, like yours truly, are in pursuit of them all. The setting is certainly more chaotic then a decade ago. The agendas of the Fortune 500 chief executives are to filled with bi-lateral meetings and back door briefings to allow for the spontaneity that made this venue unique.

Davos gets ready for leaders' gathering


I first came to Davos as a relatively junior correspondent in 1990, two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was arguably then, after nearly two decades in the conference business, when the forum became a fixture on the global calendar.

Quest: U.S. economy to dominate Davos 2013

I can remember, quite vividly, working out of a bunker (like we do today) in the Davos Congress Centre. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl sat side-by-side with his East German counterpart Hans Modrow. That meeting before the global community helped set the stage for monetary union, a huge unification fund for what became Eastern Germany and shortly thereafter German elections.

The early 90s at Davos were dominated by European reconstruction after the fall of communism. Former party bosses came to the forum to convince business leaders that a transition to market economics could be delivered. Boris Yeltsin made his Davos appearance during that chaotic transition from the USSR to today's Russia.

Davos 2013: New year, same old problems?

In 1992, Chinese Premier Li Peng used the setting here in the Alps to articulate plans for the country's economic opening up to the world. Not by chance, the architect of Washington's engagement with Beijing, the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also took a high profile that year.

Again only two years later in 1994, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres walked hand in hand on stage, holding a public dialogue leading up to the creation and recognition of the Palestinian Authority.

The World Economic Forum, as the saying goes, was positioned to be in the right place at the right time. While the author of the Magic Mountain talked about the complexity of time around World War I, in the 1990s time was compressed here.

The fall of communism, the lowering of global trade barriers, the opening up of China, the removal of apartheid in South Africa and the proliferation of the internet all unfolded in that decade.

Interactive: How's your economic mood?

As those events came together, so too did the major players as they made the journey to Davos. Michael Bloomberg, evolving as a global name in financial data and now the Mayor of New York City, sat alongside Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. U.S. President Bill Clinton outlined his party's historic move to the political center before a packed audience of global business executives.

To spice things up, rock stars and actors, as they became activists, chose the Davos platform: Bono, Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, Brad and Angelina would have the wealthiest and most powerful corporate titans freeze in their tracks.

Earlier this week, I walked into the main plenary hall as workers put the final touches on the stage and lighting. It is a venue which has welcomed countless political leaders and business executives, during internet booms and banking busts, in the midst of a Middle East crisis and even during the lead up to two Gulf Wars.

But that inter-play between geo-politics and business -- during the best and worst of times -- is what keeps the forum relevant. It allows this setting at the base of the Magic Mountain to endure and recreate something unique during what Mann rightly described as the ongoing complexity of our times.

Read More..

Firefighters battling extra-alarm fire in Bridgeport warehouse

One-third of the Chicago Fire Department's on-duty personnel have responded to a 5-11 alarm fire that has engulfed two warehouse buildings, causing part of one to collapse, in the Bridgeport neighborhood Tuesday night.

A four-story building caught fire after 9 p.m. and then jumped to another building, according to the Chicago Fire Department. Extra alarms, bringing more fire equipment, firefighters and paramedics were called shortly after firefighters arrived.

One firefighter suffered a back injury and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious condition, said Chicago Firefighter Meg Ahlheim, a department spokeswoman.

The fire climbed into the sky and sent ashes down on cars below. The warmth from the blaze could be felt blocks away.

"You could see the embers from the highway," said Darcy Benedict, a 28-year-old UIC medical school student. "I could see blue flames rising up."

Benedict and her boyfriend saw the fire from Interstate 55 and got off to get a better look. 

A crowd of at least 40 adults and children stood behind police tape, bundled up in the freezing weather, taking videos with cellphones.

Several others at the scene expressed doubt that the fire could be contained, as dozens of hoses could be seen in the distance spraying high and low onto the enormous blaze.

The commander at Tuesday's fire used two 'special alarms' to call for additional equipment, firefighters and paramedics beyond what a 5-11 alarm calls for.

“I’m looking at the south side of the main fire building and there’s a big portion of exterior wall and roof collapse,” Ahlheim said.

There was “extreme fire” throughout the buildings. Nobody has been reported injured.

The fire in the second building was mostly extinguished as of about 10:25 p.m. but the first building is "still involved," Ahlheim said.

The special alarm is "extremely rare" according to the Chicago Fire Department. About 200 firefighters and paramedics are at the scene.

The alarms normally escalate one at a time beyond a normal fire response up to a fifth alarm, though the scene commander skipped a fourth alarm once the fire jumped to another building.

The fire Tuesday appears to be the largest since one in 2006 that gutted the historic Wirt Dexter Building in the South Loop. That fire broke out before 3 p.m. on a weekday, snarled downtown traffic and forced the CTA to stop service on Loop L tracks.

There was also a 5-11 fire in 2012 - in Avondale on the Northwest Side. That burned for hours but didn't required the special alarms called for Tuesday night's fire. About 200 firefighters and paramedics responded to that fire.

Check back for more information.
Twitter: @ltaford
Twitter: @peternickeas

Read More..

Netanyahu turns to Iran after narrow election win

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory in Israel's parliamentary election, shrugging off surprise losses to centre-left challengers and vowing on Wednesday to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

However, Tuesday's vote, which also disappointed religiously inspired hardliners, may deflect the premier's focus on confronting Tehran and resisting Palestinian demands as Israel's secular, middle-class demanded new attention to domestic issues.

That, in turn, might draw Netanyahu toward a less fractious relationship with his key ally, U.S. President Barack Obama, who himself embarked on a new term this week with great ambitions.

Exit polls showed the Israeli leader's right-wing Likud and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu would remain the biggest bloc in the 120-member assembly, but with only 31 seats, 11 fewer than the 42 the two parties held in the last parliament.

If the exit polls compiled by three local broadcasters prove correct - and they normally do in Israel - Netanyahu would be on course for a third term in office, perhaps leading a hardline coalition that would promote Jewish settlement on occupied land.

But his weakened showing in a vote which he had called nine months early in the hope of a strong mandate for his struggle with Iran, could complicate his efforts to forge an alliance with a stable and substantial majority in parliament.

"I am proud to be your prime minister, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, for the third time, to lead the state of Israel," the 63-year-old leader told a cheering crowd in the early hours of Wednesday at his campaign headquarters.

Netanyahu said he planned to form as broad a governing coalition as possible, suggesting he would seek partners beyond his traditional ultra-nationalist and religious allies. His first call may be to Yair Lapid, a former television anchorman whose centrist, secular party came from nowhere to second place.

"The first challenge was and remains preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said.

Iran denies it is planning to build an atomic bomb, and says Israel, widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, is the biggest threat to the region.

Netanyahu views Tehran's nuclear program as a threat to Israel's existence and has stoked international concern by hinting at possible Israeli military action to thwart it.

He has shunted Palestinian peacemaking well down the agenda despite Western concern to keep the quest for a solution alive.

The projections showed right-wing parties with a combined strength of 61-62 seats against 58-59 for the centre-left.

Lapid's Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party should have 18 or 19 seats, exit polls showed - a stunning result for a newcomer to politics in a field of 32 contending parties.

Lapid won support amongst middle-class, secular voters by promising to resolve a growing housing shortage, abolish military draft exemptions for Jewish seminary students and seek an overhaul of the failing education system.

He urged Netanyahu "to build as broad a government as possible so that we can bring about real change in Israel".

The once dominant Labor party led by Shelly Yachimovich was projected to take third place with 17 seats. She described Likud victory claims as "ridiculous" before final results were in.

"There is a very good chance, a very good chance, that tomorrow morning Benjamin Netanyahu will not be able to form a government," she declared at her party headquarters.

Reconciling views to build a cabinet will certainly be hard.


Some in Netanyahu's party acknowledged that the election had gone somewhat awry. "We anticipated we would lose some votes to Lapid, but not to this extent. This was a Yesh Atid sweep," Likud campaign adviser Ronen Moshe told Reuters.

Lapid said before the election he would consider joining a Netanyahu-led government. If that happens, the ultra-Orthodox religious parties which often hold the balance of power in parliament might lose some of their leverage.

After a lackluster campaign, Israelis voted in droves on a sunny winter day, registering a turnout of 66.6 percent, the highest since 2003. That buoyed centre-left parties which had pinned their hopes on energizing an army of undecided voters against Netanyahu and his nationalist-religious allies.

"A big majority of middle class Israelis have voted strongly against the priorities of the last government," said Dan Avnon, a political science professor at Hebrew University.

"These are the people who pay the taxes and serve in the army," he said. "I don't think they can be ignored."

Opinion polls before the election had predicted an easy win for Netanyahu, although the last ones suggested he would lose some votes to the Jewish Home party, which opposes a Palestinian state and advocates annexing chunks of the occupied West Bank.

The exit polls projected 12 seats for Jewish Home.

The biggest casualty was the centrist Kadima party, which was projected to win no seats at all. It had gained the highest number in the previous election in 2009, although its then leader Tzipi Livni failed to put together a governing coalition.

Full election results are due by Wednesday morning and official ones will be announced on January 30. After that, President Shimon Peres is likely to ask Netanyahu, as leader of the biggest bloc in parliament, to try to form a government.


Whatever permutation finally emerges, a Netanyahu-led government is likely to resist any push for a peace deal with the Palestinians that would come anywhere near satisfying the moderates who seek a viable independent state alongside Israel.

Naftali Bennet, high-tech millionaire son of American immigrants who leads the hard-right, pro-settler Jewish Home party, was projected to win 12 seats - disappointing for him but still making his group a likely member of a coalition.

Bennet, who advocates annexing West Bank land to Israel, told cheering supporters: "There is only one truth and it is simple. The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel."

Britain warned Israel on Tuesday it was losing international support, saying Jewish settlement expansion had almost killed off prospects for a two-state solution.

U.S.-brokered peace talks broke down in 2010 amid mutual acrimony. Since then Israel has accelerated construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - land the Palestinians want for their future state - much to the anger of Western partners.

Netanyahu's relations with Obama have been notably tense and Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, told the BBC the election was unlikely to change that.

"President Obama doesn't have high expectations that there's going to be a government in Israel committed to making peace and is capable of the kind of very difficult and painful concessions that would be needed to achieve a two-state solution," he said.

But Aaron David Miller, once a senior U.S. adviser on the peace process, said a weakening of the right might improve ties: "The fact is, if (Netanyahu) goes with Lapid and he reaches out to the centre, you're going to end up with an American-Israeli rapprochement to a certain degree," Miller told CNN.

Tuesday's vote was the first in Israel since Arab uprisings swept the region two years ago, reshaping the Middle East.

Netanyahu has said the turbulence, which has brought Islamist governments to power in several countries long ruled by secularist autocrats, including neighboring Egypt, shows the importance of strengthening national security.

Foreign policy issues barely registered during the election campaign, with a poll in Haaretz newspaper on Friday saying 47 percent of Israelis thought social and economic issues were the most pressing concern, against just 10 percent who cited Iran.

A major problem for the next government, which is unlikely to take power before mid-March, is the stuttering economy.

Data last week showed the budget deficit rose to 4.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, double the original estimate, meaning spending cuts and tax hikes look certain.

(Reporting by Jerusalem bureau; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Read More..