Sparks, Keys, Petty headline Super show

She's just a rookie, and already Jordin Sparks is going further in the NFL than her father. Only 2 1/2 months after the youngest "American Idol" winner released her debut album, the teen is set to perform the national anthem Sunday at the Super Bowl. In nine years as a pro cornerback, pop Phillippi Sparks never reached the big game.

"I said, 'Dad, I'm singing at the Super Bowl,'" she said Thursday. "He said, 'At least one of us made it.'"

No surprise about which team she'll root for when the New York Giants play the New England Patriots. Her dad spent all but one season with the Giants.

"There definitely is a tie with them," the 18-year-old Sparks said. "I got to go for the underdogs."

Sparks considers herself a "huge, humongous football fan." Nine-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys, who will provide the pregame entertainment, is less so — most of the time, anyway.

"Even I, who might think the Mighty Ducks and Penguins are playing, love the Super Bowl," Keys said. For the record, she's pulling for her hometown Giants.

Tom Petty, headlining the halftime show with his Heartbreakers, stayed neutral.

"I'm for everybody," he said.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, however, has a fan in Bill Belichick. In a light moment for him, the Patriots coach admitted he was sorry to miss Petty's performance and said he might play the band's CDs while preparing for the game.

"Well, it's never kept anyone from winning," Petty said.

Like previous halftime performers Prince, the Rolling Stones and U2, Petty's greatest challenge will come in whittling down his band's work into a tight set. They have a total of 12 minutes to perform, and that includes moving 56 carts on and off the field.

"There's this football game that has to go on," Petty said.

Petty grew up in Gainesville, Fla., and does root for the Gators. He also wasn't picking any political candidates, even though his "American Girl" was blasting during Hillary Clinton's recent campaign rallies in New Hampshire.

"We weren't aware of it, but we've heard about it," he said. "We're not endorsing any candidates. You wouldn't want to take a guitar player's advice."

Sparks lives in nearby Glendale — convenient, because the Super Bowl will be played there, at the University of Phoenix Stadium. She sang the national anthem before the Arizona Cardinals played their first regular-season game at the stadium in 2006, but the Super Bowl is in another league.

"For me, since my career has been a couple of months, it's way up there," she said.

Sitting next to Sparks, Keys looked forward to a European tour that begins Feb. 25. Coming off her album "As I Am," she also announced the dates and locations of her U.S. tour, starting April 19 in Hampton, Va., and ending June 18 at Madison Square Garden.

Before that, there's Sunday's performance.

"I'm going to take you by the neck and demand that you watch me," Keys said.

"What she said," Sparks echoed.

Obama, Clinton exchange jabs as Arnie backs McCain

Democratic heavyweights Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in their first one-on-one debate of the 2008 White House race here Thursday, trading a series of pointed jabs but no knock-out blows.

A star-studded audience at the Kodak Theatre -- home of the Oscars -- was on hand for the eagerly anticipated showdown, notable for its civil tenor and marked lack of the angry histrionics seen in previous encounters.

The face-off between Obama and Clinton was billed as a historic clash between either the first woman challenger for the presidency or the first black candidate, both seeking to build momentum heading into next week's Super Tuesday selection battles when more than 20 states will pick their candidates.

Elsewhere, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain, giving the Republican front-runner another key boost before next week's potentially decisive battles in 22 states.

But all eyes were on Hollywood as Obama and Clinton went toe-to-toe in front of a packed audience that included entertainment industry icons ranging from Steven Spielberg to Stevie Wonder.

Illinois Senator Obama -- seeking to emphasize his campaign theme of change and a break with old-style politics -- opened the debate by describing the forthcoming election as a choice between "the past and the future."

Former First Lady Clinton meanwhile returned to her theme of experience -- indirectly highlighting Obama's perceived lack of it -- by stressing the need for the incoming president to be ready to lead from day one.

The issue of judgement provoked one of the rare flashpoints, with Obama once again drawing attention to Clinton's 2002 vote to support the use of military force in Iraq.

"Senator Clinton has claimed, fairly, she's got the experience on day one. And, part of the argument that I'm making in this campaign is that, it is important to be right on day one," Obama said.

But the overwhelming tone was conciliatory, with Obama and Clinton all smiles as the debate ended, warmly congratulating each other.

Obama did not even rule out the possibility of a so-called dream-ticket involving the two. While discounting the talk of prospective running mates as "premature," Obama acknowledged Clinton "would be on anybody's shortlist."

Earlier, there had been differences of opinion on the issues of Iraq and international diplomacy, with one testy exchange on immigration reform.

Clinton took aim at Obama's stated intention to seek talks with the United States' traditional foes, most notably Iran.

"I think that we've got to have a full diplomatic effort, but I don't think the president should ... have meetings without preconditions with five of the worst dictators in the world," Clinton said.

Obama responded by reminding the audience of his opposition to the war in Iraq, adding that the next president would be required to show "the kind of judgment that will ensure that we are using our military power wisely."

With more than 2,500 delegates up for grabs on both the Republican and Democratic sides on February 5, the campaigns are all going into over-drive.

The Democratic race has now been transformed into a straight fight between Obama, 46, and Clinton, 60, and although the former first lady has the edge with four states under her belt to Obama's two, all eyes are on Super Tuesday.

In a boost for Obama, campaign organizers said the Illinois senator, seeking to be the first black president, had raked in some 32 million dollars in funds in January alone.

But a spokesman for Clinton dismissed the figures, saying what counted was whether people voted for the New York senator.

"Fundraising is one of the most important markers in the lead up to voting. But once people start voting, that's a more important measure of a campaign's success," Jay Carson said.

Both Obama and Clinton also have to look beyond the primaries to their possible Republican opponent in the November election, with the formidable McCain now favored to earn his party's nomination.

Schwarzenegger's backing for McCain came after former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani quit the race late Wednesday and threw his support behind the Arizona senator, his long-time pal.

Analysts said Schwarzenegger's endorsement gives the 71-year-old senator's campaign an aura of inevitability.

"An endorsement like this helps to create the impression that McCain is building up unstoppable momentum, that he is the clear front-runner," University of Southern California analyst Sherry Bebitch-Jeffe told AFP.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is still promising to give McCain a run for his money, and the two clashed repeatedly late Wednesday in a heated televised debated at the Reagan Presidential Library outside Los Angeles.

Mormons view late church leader Hinckley

Josh Rich clutched an envelope as he paid his last respects to Mormon church President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Inside the envelope, 9-year-old Josh had a hand-drawing of Heaven and a letter he wrote to the man he revered as prophet of his religion. Josh scrawled a message at the top of the drawing that read: "You passed the test. Welcome home."

"I did it to tell him I loved him and that he'd done a lot of things for us," the boy said.

Hinckley died Sunday at age 97 after nearly 13 years as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hundreds of the faithful flocked to the church conference center to view Hinckley's body Thursday as Mormons began three days of public mourning for their leader, capped by a funeral Saturday.

"He definitely makes you want to be a better person," said Michelle McAllister, 21, who arrived in the early-morning cold for the viewing. "He's recognized everywhere for being such a kind person and a good example of optimism."

Hinckley's body was dressed in a white suit in an open casket in the conference center's Hall of Prophets, where bronze busts of each church president line the walls.

From the elderly to infants in their mothers' arms, mourners moved silently past both sides of the dark wood casket, which was surrounded by flowers. Some were stone-faced while others dabbed at tears.

The church scheduled 20 hours of viewing Thursday and Friday but extended the schedule Thursday evening because 3,000 people were still waiting. More than 16,000 mourners visited during the day, church event manager Doug Balls said.

Hinckley's eldest son, Richard, who runs the church missionary department, greeted people who offered their condolences; another son, Clark Hinckley, and his wife, Kathy, met with the mourners later in the day.

"We feel their sustaining prayers," she said.

Josh's mother, Jill Rich, said it was the third time she had attended a viewing for a deceased church president. Mormons consider their leader a "prophet, seer and revelator" who communicates with God.

"Next to (church founder) Joseph Smith, I think Gordon B. Hinckley has done the most for our church," Jill Rich said. "He broadened the church and the membership has had greater expansion, and he built the temples."

A deep reverence for Hinckley was evident in the hall, although most people had never met him. Outside, people shared memories and talked about the qualities they loved in him.

"I think he make it evident to us that he was just a normal person and he lived a very normal life, but he was a prophet," said Donna Gonzales of Lehi.

"No ego, no pretentiousness," she said. "You just felt like you kind of knew him and he always had that twinkle in his eye."

The funeral will be held in the church's 21,000-seat conference center, which was built during Hinckley's presidency to accommodate the growing church, now at 13 million members.

Burial will follow in a Salt Lake City cemetery, where Hinckley's wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, is buried. She died in 2004.

i have not yet begun to fight

i have not yet begun to fight, tuba, john paul jones, nathan hale, plural of roof, pituitary gland

This is a famous quote by John Paul Jones. He is a famous historic naval officer, who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

He was born on July 6, 1747, in Scotland. Jones became first mate on a slaver brigantine in 1766, but decided to leave because he did not like it.
While he was the leader of a merchant vessel, he killed a mutinous captain, and had to run from the British.
In command of Ranger in 1777 through 1778, he attacked England’s shore.
On September 23, 1779, Jones fought one of the bloodiest battles in naval history. Jones had to fight with the 44-gun Royal Navy frigate Serapis, and even though his own vessel was burning and sinking, Jones would not accept the British demand for surrender, replying, “I have not yet begun to fight.” More than three hours later, Serapis surrendered and Jones took command.

John Paul Jones died 1788, as a hero, who will always be remembered in history.
"I have not yet begun to fight"

greatest love of all lyrics

greatest love of all lyrics, take me out to the ball game lyrics, greatest love of all, i want it that way lyrics, take me out to the ballgame lyrics, take me out to the ball game

Artist: WHITNEY HOUSTON Album: Whitney Houston

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

[Chorus:]
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

[Chorus]

And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love


Courtney Oliver - 10 year old vet

10 year old veterinarian, 10 year old vet, courtney oliver veterinary, 10 year old veternarian, courtney oliver veterinarian, courtney oliver

Courtney Oliver maybe only 10-years-old but that hasn’t stopped her from living her dream. Oliver says she has always wanted to be a veterinarian, so she decided to get her veterinary assistant certification.

After 8 months, Oliver had completed an on-line college course and is now working at the South Bay Veterinary Hospital in Olympia.

“I have a dog Maggie and two hamsters and I just thought: ‘Well, if I have so many animals why don’t I just work with them?” she says.

As for being a vet assistant at 10, Oliver says, “Might as get it done early as get it done late.”

“The first day it kind of made me nervous. But I’m like, ‘When can I do that?’ It doesn’t really scare me because we have blood. Why be scared of it?” she added.

Oliver’s mentor, Dr. Michelle Shoemaker, says the elementary schooler is “amazing.”

“Always been so bright, very, very smart actually. We quiz her quite often here,” Shoemaker says.

Britney Spears is Crazy. Officially.

Britney Spears is Crazy. Officially.

In a plan that had been reportedly conceived by her psychiatrist for days, Britney Spears was taken by ambulance and police escort to UCLA Medical Center this morning where she has been placed on 5150, a psychiatric hold. Spears, who has not slept since Saturday, had allegedly deteriorated to the point where this was basically the only option. Unlike her last ambulance ride, Spears was tranquilized and went peacefully.

Britney's psychiatrist told her she was going to the hospital. Her response was, "Is something wrong?" She was not resistant. She made hot chocolate and waited before paramedics arrived and placed her on a gurney....We're told during her initial 72-hour stay she cannot be forced to take medication against her will. If, however, she refuses to take meds, the plan is for the the psych to go to court and have Britney held for an additional 14 days, during which time he can administer proper medications."


There also seems to be a power struggle between Osama "Sam" Lutfi and Spears' parents over who will be making the medical decisions for Britney:

As of right now Jamie and Lynne Spears have been told they are not calling the shots in making medical decisions on behalf of Britney. Right now, it appears Sam Lutfi is in the driver's seat, but that could all change....Right now, the doctors at UCLA are working with Lutfi and not the parents, but lawyers have been called and the tension in the air is thick. We're told Jamie was screaming at Sam in the hallway, accusing him of trying to control his daughter's mind."


I don't know, controlling Britney's mind doesn't seem like it would be all that difficult. I'm thinking you probably wouldn't have to do a lot "trying". Just hand her a cigarette dipped in cake and she'll pretty much go along with anything.


Rachael Ray Geography Whiz

Lilly Geography Baby Genius Map Point USA Brazil Canada amazing

Google this: "Rachael Ray Geography Whiz" if you don't believe what you see. Lilly will also have a clip featured on Leno after the writer's strike hiatus.
Lilly is my niece. She was 23 months old when this was done in August 2007 in her parents small one bedroom apartment. She now knows over 80 countries. Yes, we know that Tasmania is not a country everyone. It's still a fun place to know.
She knows better geography than a 5th grader. She has been doing this for about 8 months. She is one funny niece. If you think that this is cruel and unusual, get a life

Britney Hospitalized for 'Mental Evaluation

britney spears, britney spears hospital, Britney, mental issues, mental evaluation

Britney Spears was taken by ambulance to UCLA Medical Center for a psychiatric hold last night.

Shortly after 1 A.M., police were called to her Studio City home and she was taken in for treatment on a 5150 hold. Under a 5150, a patient is deemed a danger to themselves or others and is admitted under a 72-hour emergency hold. Last time Brit was hospitalized, she left after just one day.

Just like the Jan. 3 episode, the scene outside her home last night was surreal. A cavalcade of police motorcycles and cars lined the streets as two helicopters flew overhead. Paparazzi scrambled to get a shot of Brit inside the ambulance, but she left through a side gate and escaped the frenzy.

Reports have been circulating that Britney tried to commit suicide, but X17online.com reports that her mom Lynne said "Britney is fine."

Both of Britney's parents are at the hospital with her right now, along with her confidant Sam Lufti. Brit's photog boyfriend Adnan Ghalib reportedly drove with Lynne to the hospital.

X17 says Sam was denied entrance into the hospital at first, and there are reports that the family is fighting amid fears for Britney. Lynne is reportedly furious with Sam and worried about his intentions with the troubled star and hasn't held back in letting Britney know it. Britney's dad Jamie reportedly got in a screaming match with him in the hospital halls because Sam was trying to make medical decisions for Britney.

Vahina Giocante - Playboy

Vahina Giocante, a French actress, posing for a Playboy photoshoot made by the iconic fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld.









julie dubela

julie dubela, american juniors, katelyn tarver, american junior, taylor and tori thompson, danielle white, precocious

“American Juniors” Julie Dubela “American Idol” Video: Julie Dubela “American Idol” Miami Audition
Julie Dubela on American Idol. American Juniors alum Julie Dubela trooped into the audition room with an annoying voice and a lot of attitude. Unfortunately, there’s no off button on her. Plus the annoying twit doesn’t know the definition of “precocious;” we blame the American education system for that one.


sandra day o connor, presidents cabinet

sandra day o connor, presidents cabinet

Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American jurist who was the first woman to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She served from 1981 to 2006. Although she was considered a strict constructionist, her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her relatively moderate political views made her the crucial swing vote of the Court for many of her final years on the bench. She still objected to that characterization because she felt it painted her as an unprincipled jurist. In 2001, Ladies' Home Journal ranked her as the second most powerful woman in America. In 2004 and 2005 Forbes Magazine listed her as the sixth and thirty sixth most powerful woman in the world, respectively; the only American women preceding her on the list were National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, New York Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and First Lady Laura Welch Bush.

Prior to joining the Supreme Court, she was a politician and jurist in Arizona. She was nominated to the Court by President Ronald Reagan and served for over twenty-four years. On July 1, 2005, she announced her intention to retire effective upon the confirmation of her successor. Justice Samuel Alito, nominated to take her seat in October 2005, received confirmation on January 31, 2006. She is currently the Chancellor of the College of William and Mary.

10th amendment

10th amendment, rights, tenth amendment, free speech, third amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Huckabee: Washington needs ‘new type of leadership’
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee criticized the federal government for what he said was its lack of understanding of how state government works and called for “a new type of leadership” that does.“We (governors) understand because unfunded mandates come stomping down on top of us, wrecking our state budgets, creating a complete imbalance, ignoring the 10th amendment,” he said. “That’s one reason that a lot of us are ready to say it’s time for a new type of leadership that respects the 10th amendment, that respects the fact that governors are out there trying to fight to build a decent education system, create jobs, make sure that we can give families a chance to have a decent way of living.”

The 10th Amendment concerns powers delegated to states.

Romney accuses McCain of "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney angrily accused his rival John McCain on Wednesday of "dirty tricks" for say"

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney angrily accused his rival John McCain on Wednesday of "dirty tricks" for saying he had backed a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

"It's offensive to me that someone would suggest that I have," Romney said.

Simmering tensions from the campaign for Florida, where McCain outdueled Romney to win the state's Republican nomination contest on Tuesday and solidify his front-runner status, spilled over into a crucial debate in California.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor now fighting for his political life with more than 20 states to hold their nominating votes on "Super Tuesday" next week, accused McCain of lying about his Iraq record.

Those races could well determine the Republican Party's choice for the November 4 election against a Democratic candidate to succeed President George W. Bush.

Gone from the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who quit the race after a dismal finish in Florida and endorsed McCain.

Romney's job was to try to stop the momentum of McCain, who leads opinion polls in some of the key "Super Tuesday" prizes -- California, New York and New Jersey. But Romney looked frustrated and defensive at times and it was unclear how much headway he had made.

Romney accused McCain of holding liberal positions out of step with mainstream Republicans. In response, McCain said Romney raised taxes as governor of Massachusetts and suggested he had changed his position on important issues.

Romney said he "absolutely, unequivocally" had never supported setting a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq -- a proposition that was a live item for debate a year ago before a U.S. troop build-up began to stabilize parts of the country.

"And by the way, raising it a few days before the Florida primary, when there was very little time for me to correct the record ... falls into the kind of dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would've found reprehensible," a tense Romney said, with McCain sitting at his side.

OTHER REPUBLICANS COMPLAIN

McCain, an Arizona senator who backed the Iraq build-up even though it was unpopular, said Romney was asked last year whether the troop "surge" was a good idea and had said: "We don't want them to lay in the weeds until we leave..."

McCain said he took that to mean Romney backed a timetable for a pullout, prompting an angry denial.

"How is it you are the expert on my position when my position has been very clear?" Romney demanded, saying McCain had multiple chances to bring the issue up during the campaign but had done it only to try to damage him in Florida.

The exchange was so heated at the CNN/Los Angeles Times/Politico debate that the other Republican contenders, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, complained.

Paul said McCain and Romney were engaged in "silly arguments about who said what, when."

Romney said McCain's record on illegal immigration, global warming and tax cuts put him "outside the mainstream of American conservative thought."

Romney also poked at McCain for his endorsement last week by The New York Times.

"Let me note if you get endorsed by The New York Times you're probably not a conservative," Romney said.

McCain, who won the contests in South Carolina and New Hampshire before taking Florida, shot back that he had been endorsed by two of Romney's hometown newspapers in Boston and said Romney had his own liberal tendencies.

"I heard Gov. Romney describe his record, as I understand it his record was he raised taxes by $730 million -- he called them fees. I'm sure the people that had to pay it, whether they called them bananas, they still had to pay $730 million extra," McCain said.

"I'm proud of my conservative record. It's one of reaching across the aisle to get things done."

Gov. Schwarzenegger to endorse McCain

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain on Thursday, giving a boost to the Republican presidential front-runner six days before California's high-prize primary.

The two will appear at a news conference after touring a Los Angeles-based solar energy company and the governor will make his endorsement official, his senior aides confirmed.

Schwarzenegger's endorsement of McCain is yet another setback for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who saw Florida slip from his grasp Tuesday after McCain rolled up the support of that state's two top elected Republicans, Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez.

His strategy in tatters, Romney plans to offer himself as the conservative alternative to McCain as he pushes ahead in hopes of winning enough delegates to topple the Arizona senator when 21 states vote in the Republican contest on Tuesday.

Schwarzenegger's move comes as McCain plows toward the nomination, the only Republican candidate to have won three hotly contested primaries — New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida — since voting began earlier this month.

"Governor Schwarzenegger is an exceptional governor and we are honored that he has decided to endorse Senator McCain, and look forward to the event tomorrow," said Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain adviser who managed Schwarzenegger's 2006 campaign.

Schwarzenegger sat in the audience here Wednesday as McCain and Romney shared a debate stage with rivals Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

McCain, the four-term senator, is running strongly ahead of all three rivals in California, which offers a whopping 170 delegates to the Republican nominating convention. Candidates secure three delegates for each of the state's 53 congressional districts they win in the primary, in which only Republicans can vote.

The ultimate effect of Schwarzenegger's endorsement is unclear. The celebrity governor and former actor is universally known in the state, and his political network certainly will be helpful to McCain, who has virtually no organized effort in California after his candidacy nearly collapsed last summer. The actor-turned-governor also is a prolific fundraiser.

But Schwarzenegger has a strained relationship with some conservatives in his own party and McCain, himself, is fighting to convince GOP rank-and-file that he's committed to conservative values. Schwarzenegger's nod could exacerbate concerns about McCain among the party establishment.

Schwarzenegger also is taking heat from state Republicans who argue he's been too willing to bend to the wishes of the Democratic-controlled Legislature. At the same time, California faces a $14.5 billion budget deficit over the next year-and-half, and the governor has rankled the state's powerful education lobby with his proposal to cut spending by 10 percent from state agencies to deal with the financial crisis.

McCain and Schwarzenegger have been friends for years, and the two share a bond over their work on global warming issues as well as their similar independent streaks. Aides say Schwarzenegger long has respected McCain's push to eliminate wasteful spending in Washington, protect the environment and fix a broken immigration system.

The governor offered high praise of McCain throughout the campaign, calling him a "great senator" and "very good friend," and the two appeared together at the Port of Los Angeles last year. "We share common philosophy and goals for this country," McCain said at the time.

But Schwarzenegger always has stopped short of endorsing McCain, given that another friend, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, also was in the race.

Earlier this month, Schwarzenegger told reporters he would not make an endorsement in the GOP primary, saying then: "It doesn't help me, and it doesn't help the state of California." But senior advisers say Giuliani's departure from the race Wednesday changed the dynamics of the decision for Schwarzenegger, and he decided to go ahead with the endorsement as it was clear that Giuliani's candidacy was over.

White House races narrow as Giuliani, Edwards exit

The battle for the White House narrowed dramatically on Wednesday as the exit of Rudolph Giuliani and John Edwards left Republican and Democratic front-runners in a pair of two-horse races.

In a surprise early withdrawal, former senator Edwards dropped out of the Democratic contest to transform the campaign into a historic fight between bitter rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"It's time for me to step aside so that history ... can blaze its path," Edwards told a rally in New Orleans, Louisiana in a decision which came after he failed to win a single contest.

On the Republican side, former New York mayor Giuliani pulled out and endorsed long-time pal John McCain after a high-risk campaign that ended with a whimper in Tuesday's Florida primary defeat.

"Today I'm officially announcing my withdrawal as a candidate for president of the United States," Giuliani said. "John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander-in-chief of the United States."

With Edwards officially suspending his bid, the Democratic race is now set for a head-to-head clash between Clinton, aiming to be the first woman in the White House, and Obama, bidding to be America's first black president.

Edwards said both the leading Democratic hopefuls had pledged to him that they would take up his cause of championing the middle-class and ending poverty in the United States. But he did not endorse either of his rivals.

Despite coming a respectable second to Obama in the very first vote in Iowa early this month, Edwards, 54, whose wife Elizabeth has incurable cancer, has failed to shine since, limping in third in all the other primaries so far.

He even admitted to getting his "butt kicked" in Nevada, where Clinton triumphed adding to her victories in New Hampshire and Michigan.

A hefty defeat in Florida late Tuesday proved to be the final blow for the former senator, who also lost his 2004 tilt at the White House.

Clinton coasted to a symbolic victory in Florida with 50 percent, in a boost to her campaign ahead of next week's Super Tuesday when 22 states will vote for their party candidates.

Clinton and Obama both paid tribute to Edwards.

Obama said Edwards "has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn't popular to do or covered in the news."

For her part, Clinton said Edwards "ran with compassion and conviction and lifted this campaign with his deep concern for the daily lives of the American people."

Clinton, 60, and Obama, 46, who have fought a bitter battle for voters, will again square off in a Democratic debate scheduled for Thursday in California.

Republican front-runners McCain and Mitt Romney faced off in a debate at the Reagan Library outside Los Angeles Wednesday, with Giuliani's notable absence.

Arizona Senator McCain, who was once given up for lost after almost running out of money in mid-2007, was celebrating after winning in Florida late Tuesday, to become the clear Republican pace-setter.

McCain, 71, beat former Massachusetts governor Romney to take 36 percent of the vote, over 29 percent for Romney. Giuliani came in third with 15 percent, and ordained Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee won 13 percent.

There was potentially more good news for McCain Wednesday after a CNN report that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was considering an endorsement.

Although Schwarzenegger later appeared to rule out offering his backing until after next week's California primary, CNN cited two Republican sources as saying that discussions were ongoing.

Meanwhile, in a move which could cause shockwaves in the Democratic camp, veteran political activist Ralph Nader said he was mulling a White House bid.

Nader, widely blamed by Democrats for defeat in the 2000 elections, told AFP he wanted to fight "the injustices, deprivations and insolutions that the candidates are ignoring" such as failing to address the need for a living wage, health care for all and the "enormous, bloated, wasteful military budget."

Madonna's Super Bowl Score

One ticket to the Super Bowl: $2,000. Thirty seconds of advertising during the Super Bowl: $2.7 million. Five seconds' worth of Madonna in a Super Bowl ad: A heck of a lot more than that.

Sources tell E! Online that the Material Girl was paid $10 million to appear in a commercial for Sunsilk hair-care products that will premiere during the in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants (most of whom do not make $10 million in an entire season).

In the 30-second spot, old stock footage of Madonna, Shakira and Marilyn Monroe is woven together in a Warholian, pop art-inspired montage touting Sunsilk's new "Life Can't Wait" global campaign.

"Make your hair happen," the ad urges, to the closing strains of Madonna's "Ray of Light."

Shakira did herself a nice—although not as nice—turn, as well, collecting $2.5 million from Unilever, which opted to use its only Super Bowl buy to spotlight the Sunsilk brand. (For those who don't want to wait for the two-minute warning, the commercial can be previewed at lifecan'twait.com.)

Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, had no comment on her client's reported payday.

"I have not seen the commercial nor do I have any information on the financial part of the deal," she told E! News.

Even if she did the work gratis, however, Madonna would still be the richest gal in the business. The Confessions on a Dance Floor artist banked $72 million between June 2006 and June 2007, according to Forbes.com's new list of the top 20 "Cash Queens of Music."

In addition to her slice of her $260 million-grossing Confessions tour, Madonna had proceeds from album sales, merchandizing and license fees, clothing lines, fragrance deals and other endorsements to fall back on.

A whole Super Bowl ad behind was Barbra Streisand, who came in at number two with $60 million.

But although Madonna didn't have to do much to have her moment in the Sunsilk, she's been plenty busy recording her 11th studio album, the working title of which is Give It to Me, which is due out in April.

Justin Timberlake, who's also making a Super Bowl showing in a Pepsi ad, and Timbaland were reportedly on their way to London last week to shoot the video for the album's first single, "4 Minutes to Save the World," which the duo wrote and produced.

McCain, Romney seek command on Feb. 5

John McCain and Mitt Romney are trying to take command of the long and antagonistic Republican presidential race, and the sheer size of next Tuesday's delegate haul could finally make that possible.

Of the 1,191 national convention delegates needed to secure the nomination, 1,023 are up for grabs in 21 GOP contests — a virtual national primary for the party.

Both McCain and Romney made a beeline to California after McCain won in Florida, reflecting the importance of Super Tuesday's biggest prize. California awards 170 convention delegates, followed by New York, Georgia, Missouri, Illinois and New Jersey.

The chaotic GOP campaign has come full circle. McCain and Romney were front-runners a year ago, then McCain's effort seemed to collapse, and other candidates took their turns at the top of polls. But Rudy Giuliani's gone now, and Mike Huckabee has been running far behind the leaders.

A Vietnam veteran and four-term senator, McCain has history on his side: The GOP typically nominates the next guy in line. A loser in 2000, the Arizona senator fits that bill. He also attracts voters from across the ideological spectrum. His age, 71, and his independent streak could be hurdles.

Romney's personal wealth gives him an advantage; the former Massachusetts governor has dumped $40 million into his campaign. He's also a fresh face pushing an outsider's message of fixing Washington. But he's fighting criticism that he changes position on issues. He would be the country's first Mormon president.

Here's a look at Tuesday's big prizes:

__

CALIFORNIA (170 delegates)

McCain runs strongly ahead, and is set to pick up the endorsement of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Only registered Republicans can vote in the primary. That could benefit Romney and hurt McCain, who draws his support more widely.

The state party will distribute delegates based on the winner in each congressional district, meaning 53 separate contests each offering three delegates. Thus, the candidates are targeting time and money carefully to the districts they think they have the best chance to win.

McCain could have an advantage in urban areas and California's coastal counties that tend to lean toward the left. The former Vietnam prisoner of war also should find support in the south around military-focused San Diego. Romney may perform well among the more conservative inland counties.

Romney has more campaign organization here, and money. But Giuliani's backing could help McCain overcome that. The former New York mayor has a campaign organization here.

The effect of Schwarzenegger's endorsement is unclear; the celebrity governor has a political network that certainly will be helpful in the campaign but his popularity is not at a high point given state budget turmoil.

__

NEW YORK (101 delegates)

With Giuliani bowing out, New York is McCain's to lose — a lot of delegates and winner-take all.

It's also the country's most expensive media market, so it may make sense for Romney to put his resources elsewhere in an effort to cobble together wins in smaller caucus states.

Giuliani's support — and withdrawal — will significantly benefit McCain, who recently overtook the ex-mayor in New York polling.

McCain's national security experience — and resolve to win wars in Iraq and against terrorism — will play well in the state of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He runs strongest in the conservative upstate region around Rochester and Syracuse.

That's the region where most Republican primary votes are concentrated; New York City accounts for only 500,000 of the state's roughly 3 million registered Republicans.

___

GEORGIA (72 delegates)

Huckabee leads.

The former Baptist preacher and Southern governor is limping along, short on cash and victories. But he views Georgia as the perfect state for him to make a comeback — or at least cause waves in the race.

He rallied fellow evangelical Christians in Iowa to win and hopes to do so again here. For him, it seems, the race has become less about winning the nomination and more about solidifying himself as a fresh-faced leader.

The state awards delegates by congressional district; thus, Romney — who has the endorsements of three congressmen — may try to pick off districts that could be easiest to win.

McCain won't ignore the state, but it's not a priority.

___

MISSOURI (58 delegates)

It's a toss-up between McCain, Romney and Huckabee.

All three plan stops in the state or already have visited in recent weeks; the attention underscores the prize, again winner-take-all.

Huckabee hopes his ties to the religious right give him a boost. Romney has Midwestern ties and the support of Gov. Matt Blunt — and access to Blunt's political organization.

The state, very conservative in Republican primaries, is not a natural fit for McCain. But he may benefit from Huckabee competing in the state. Huckabee and Romney could split the vote on the right, making way for McCain to rack up another win.

It's also possible for McCain to benefit at least a little from Giuliani's support in Missouri, where the former mayor had the backing of longtime Sen. Kit Bond. Yet there is no love lost between Bond, an appropriator, and McCain, the pork buster.

___

ILLINOIS (57 delegates)
The state is up for grabs.

McCain has an edge in recent polls, but Romney has some semblance of a campaign to build upon. Romney's Midwestern roots — he was born and raised in Michigan — could help him.

Both plan to spend time in Illinois in the coming days, primarily to raise money in Chicago.

The Chicago suburbs and the city itself may be more amenable to McCain, while the rural, more conservative southern swath of the state could lean toward Romney. Huckabee could peel votes away from him should Christian evangelicals in the south turn out.

Delegates are won congressional district by congressional district.

___

NEW JERSEY (52 delegates)

Advantage, McCain.

In many ways, this winner-take-all state is much like neighboring New York. Giuliani held an enormous lead in New Jersey for a year before McCain recently overtook him in polls.

New Jersey is home to huge numbers of moderate Republicans, and that bodes well for McCain, as does its focus on issues like port security and defense.

As in New York, Romney must weigh whether competing here is worth it. Campaigning in New Jersey typically doesn't result in much of a return on a candidate's investment. Philadelphia and New York are the two media markets that cover the state, making TV ads extraordinarily expensive to run. At the same time, it's hard for candidates to break through the cluttered news environment to earn free media exposure.

McCain has the backing of former Gov. Thomas Kean, while Romney has the support of State Sen. Joe Kyrillos, the former chairman of New Jersey's Republican state committee.

___

BEST OF THE REST

Of the 15 other states that will vote, three are home states that each candidate is all but certain to win — Arizona for McCain, Massachusetts for Romney and Arkansas for Huckabee.

Utah is essentially a second home for Romney; its large Mormon population is likely to give him a win. He also will look to win in states that hold caucuses — Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota — and one that holds a state convention, West Virginia.

McCain could do well in Western states of Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as moderate Northeastern states like Connecticut and Delaware. Huckabee will look to a Southern swath of conservative bastions like Tennessee to validate his weakened candidacy.

Montana is a wild card.

Hollywood writers accept Overture

Startup studio Overture Films has signed an interim agreement with the Writers Guild of America to allow striking writers to work for the company.

The deal follows a range of pacts between the WGA and film companies including United Artists and the Weinstein Co. According to those familiar with the Overture deal, it includes similar provisions to those featured in other such agreements.

Overture -- a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. that produces, acquires, markets, and distributes theatrical films -- launched its inaugural slate this month with the release of Callie Khouri's "Mad Money" and will release several films in the coming months, including the comic drama "The Visitor" and "Sleepwalking," starring Charlize Theron.

It also expects to enter production on a number of projects as soon as it builds up its development slate. The deal with the WGA allows writers to work unfettered for the studio.

"We've said before that if we could find an accommodation with the WGA, we would sign an agreement," Overture CEO Chris McGurk said. "The strike is good for no one, and we want to go back to work with the writers. We didn't feel we had to rush anything, but we have had conversations with the guild over the past couple of weeks and finally got to where we had something we could agree to."

McGurk said Overture has five completed films set for release in the coming months but declined to specify development projects that might benefit from the return to work of WGA writers.

Weinsteins make a date with Woody's "Cristina"

The Weinstein Co. has picked up North American distribution rights to Woody Allen's romantic comedy/drama "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson.

Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, Rebecca Hall and Chris Messina also star in the tale of Vicky and Christina (Hall and Johansson), two Americans vacationing in the title's Spanish city, who become part of a chain of romances involving an artist (Bardem) and his nutty ex-wife (Cruz).

A steamy menage a trois sequence between Bardem, Cruz and Johansson was the talk of the American Film Market when it previewed in Santa Monica in November.

Another selling point might be the offscreen romance between Bardem and Cruz. The pair also are working together for the Weinstein Co.'s adaptation of the Broadway musical "Nine" for director Rob Marshall.

The film marks Allen's sixth partnership with Bob and Harvey Weinstein, one that began in their Miramax days with his 1994 comedy "Bullets Over Broadway" and continues this month with "Cassandra's Dream." A 2008 release of "Barcelona" is planned.

Criterion and Bertolucci have last word on "Emperor"

Director's cuts of films, which generally are made available as premium DVDs, typically are presented as the last word in a film's life cycle. They're the archival editions, the longer, beefier cuts that present the director's true artistic vision rather than the shorter theatrical cuts.

Not so with "The Last Emperor," Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 epic about China's final emperor, which swept the Oscars the next year, picking up nine awards, including best picture and director.

As part of their original deal, the filmmakers were required to deliver a four-hour TV version, which turned out to be four episodes with a total running time of 218 minutes. Only after this version was in the can did Bertolucci and editor Gabriella Cristiani go back and shave nearly an hour of footage to come up with the 165-minute theatrical cut, which is the one that got Bertolucci's blessing.

The prestigious Criterion Collection on February 26 will release "The Last Emperor" as a special four-disc "director approved" edition.

The release will include both versions of the landmark film, with the longer initial cut billed as the "television version," in contrast with previous home video releases, in which the TV version was improperly presented as the director's cut.

MYSTERY SOLVED

"The fact that the film that has been seen all along is what Bertolucci considers his director's cut proves that now and then it is possible for everything to fall in line and for a film to make it to the screen as perfect as could be hoped for," Criterion president Peter Becker said. "The longer television version included in the set -- which has over the years mistakenly been marketed as the 'director's cut' -- is fascinating in its own right, but we are pleased that any mystery surrounding the film and the 'director's cut' has been solved with this release."

The four-disc Criterion release includes all-new, restored, high-definition transfers of both versions of the film, in addition to the wealth of bonus materials for which Criterion releases are known.

Among the extras are audio commentary by Bertolucci, producer Jeremy Thomas, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and screenwriter Mark Peploe; new video interviews with composers Sakamoto and David Byrne; and the featurette "Postcards From China," consisting of video images taken by Bertolucci during preproduction.

The release also includes a new "making of" documentary; "The Late Show: Face to Face," a 30-minute BBC interview with Bertolucci from 1989; and "The Italian Traveler," a documentary from Fernand Mozskowicz that explores Bertolucci's journey from Parma to China.

Also included is a booklet featuring essays by film critic David Thomson and excerpts from script supervisor Fabien Gerard's production journals.

In a posting on a Criterion blog, the set's producer, Kim Hendrickson, recounts his surprise at learning from cinematographer Vittorio Storaro that Bertolucci's final cut wasn't the longer version of the film but rather "the one we all knew from seeing it screened in theaters in 1987 -- the 165-minute version."

To make doubly sure, Hendrickson wrote, he contacted Bertolucci himself, "and he confirmed the above with the following response, which I cherish: 'I would be very pleased to present the theatrical version for "The Last Emperor," but I'm perplexed on presenting the (so-called) director's cut because I wouldn't know what else to say about a version that in my opinion is not much different from the other one, just a little bit more boring, as very often the director's cut can be. That's my sincere feeling."'

Yahoo CAPTCHA Hacked

Hell Yeah! reminds us of a 2-week-old development that somehow escaped notice here. A team of Russian hackers has found a way to decipher a Yahoo CAPTCHA, thought to be one of the most difficult, with 35% accuracy. The Russian group's notice, posted by one "John Wane," is dated January 16. This site hosts a rapidshare link to what looks to be demonstration software for Windows, and quotes the Russian researchers: "It's not necessary to achieve high degree of accuracy when designing automated recognition software. The accuracy of 15% is enough when attacker is able to run 100,000 tries per day, taking into the consideration the price of not automated recognition — one cent per one CAPTCHA."

The CAPTCHA security system that Yahoo, and many other email service providers adopt to prevent spam, may not be secure, according to Russian security researchers. The researchers claim to have found a way in which the security system can be compromised. This would result in a huge increase in spam coming from yahoo and other email accounts.


CAPTCHA, which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, is a technique adopted by Yahoo, Google, andMicrosoft ( News - Alert) among other service providers to prevent automated software programs from posing as humans and signing up for new accounts. It presents text that is easy for humans to comprehend but difficult for automated programs and as a result protects Web sites from bots. The first CAPTCHA was invented at the Carnegie Mellon University to be used by Yahoo. CAPTCHAs have other applications like preserving the authenticity in online polls, preventing comment spam in blogs and preventing dictionary attacks in password systems among others.

E-mail service providers are finding improved techniques to solve security issues and provide a robust service to users. While most email service providers use CAPTCHA, the scheme used by the top email service providers are considered to be difficult for machines to recognize. If the claim by the Russian security researcher who identifies himself as "John Wane," is true, Yahoo and the other email service providers may have to speedup up their research and find better ways to improve their defense mechanisms and protect themselves from spam and other malicious software.

Few months ago, we received information that [a] Yahoo CAPTCHA recognition system exists in the wild with the recognition rate about 30 percent," Wane says in a blog post. "So we decided to conduct few experiments. We explored Yahoo CAPTCHA and designed a similar system with even better recognition rate (about 35 percent)."

"We are aware of attempts being made toward automated solutions for CAPTCHA images and continue to work on improvements as well as other defenses," a Yahoo spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

John Orbeton, strategic product manager, IronPort, said that if the software works, "it could be used for spam. It could be used for phishing. It depends on the motivation of the attacker." The claimed rate of success, 35 percent, he said, "could create a fairly significant number of e-mail accounts." It is ironic, Orbeton added, that image-recognition technology, which is being used to defend against the current generation of image spam, should be used by spammers to create more spam.

Not that there's any shortage of the stuff. "In 2007 we saw spam volumes increase 100 percent," Orbeton said. "That comes out to around 20 spam messages per day for everyone on the planet, whether they have e-mail or not."

The vulnerability of the defense mechanisms adopted by service providers is high since automated programs run many thousand trials per day and can find ways to break into systems that do not have offer a high degree of accuracy.

Precocious Works for McLaughlin-Brubaker

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Young pairs teams are supposed to be seen and not cause a stir. So much for that.

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker continued their swift rise in pairs skating Wednesday night, winning the short program in their first senior U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The competition was pretty good, too, as they edged Olympians Rena Inoue and defending champions Brooke Castile and Benjamin Okolski.

McLaughlin and Brubaker's score of 66.54 points gives them a 1.3-point lead over Inoue-Baldwin going into Saturday's free skate.

"We felt really strong and ready and confident for the short program," Brubaker said. "It's definitely a confidence booster, and it was a good skate getting ready for the long."

Pairs teams usually take years to develop, to perfect the unison and harmony needed for world-class success. But McLaughlin and Brubaker are on the fast track. In only their second season together, they're already generating some buzz internationally and they make no secret of the fact they want to make the Americans contenders after years of medal droughts.

They routed the junior ranks last year, winning every competition they entered including the junior world championships. After moving up to seniors this year, they did well enough at their Grand Prixs to qualify for the final.

They are not eligible to compete at the world championships in March because she only turned 15 in September.

"We feel like we have an opportunity to do something the United States hasn't been able to do in a long time," Brubaker said.

Added McLaughlin, "It's not so much pressure, it's just motivating. We want to make a big bang next year."

They're already off to a good start.

While most of the top pairs bobbled their way through their programs Wednesday night, McLaughlin and Brubaker shone.

"We don't go anywhere to skate for second," Brubaker said.

Their throw triple salchow covered so much of the ice, she should have had a pedometer on her to see how far she traveled. Their lateral triple twist was the best of the night, and more difficult. Unlike other couples, who go up vertically and come right back down, she twists her body so she's actually perpendicular to the ice.

And he really showed his strength as a skater when he supported her on their lift. While other men scuffle the ice with their toe picks and take jerky steps, Brubaker's steps are smooth and quiet.

"That was our best short program of the season," McLaughlin said.

It wasn't perfect, though. She had to put her hand down on their side-by-side triple salchows and their side-by-side combination spin was noticeably out of unison.

That left room for another pair to pass them with a clean program, but nobody could manage it.

Inoue and Baldwin didn't make any mistakes, but their program didn't have the difficulty expected of the top teams. Certainly not what the judges expect from a pair whose athleticism is their strength.

Their side-by-side double axels were nice, but that's a move so basic it wouldn't get them very far at junior worlds, let alone the senior version. They only did a double twist, and it still wasn't close to being as explosive as McLaughlin and Brubaker's triple twist.

They did have nice footwork, and they showcased their experience and maturity with the best unison of the night on their side-by-side spins.

And, considering they've only been training a matter of weeks, it wasn't a bad showing.

After last year's worlds, Inoue told Baldwin she needed a break from the grind of competing. Skating wasn't as much fun as it once was, and she felt all the technical requirements and rules in the new judging system had robbed her of her creativity.

So instead of training for competitions, the two toured. They did shows all over Europe and Japan and, somewhere along the way, rediscovered their love for the sport.

"I wanted to enjoy a different kind of skating, for ourselves," Inoue said. "I totally feel regrouped and fresh. We came here for nationals to just enjoy and challenge ourselves."

Castile and Okolski were a little rusty after missing the Grand Prix series because she had several leg injuries. Their biggest problem was his fall on their side-by-side double axels.

Earlier, four-time ice dance champs Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto won the compulsory dance. No surprise there, of course. What was a mild surprise was "only" being 1.27 points ahead of training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

It's hardly the makings of an upset, and the gap will likely grow with Thursday's original dance and Saturday's free dance. But considering the Olympic silver medalists are so far ahead of everyone else in the United States, this is about the closest the competition gets.

"That's great," White said. "In compulsories, there's never as much discrepancy as the others. But it's always nice to be close to such a great team."

precocious

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Precocious Puberty

Precocious puberty - the beginning of signs of puberty earlier than age 7 or 8 in girls and age 9 in boys - can be physically and emotionally complex for children and can sometimes be the sign of an underlying health problem.

Puberty, generally occurring during adolescence, is when children grow physically and emotionally into adolescent men and women. Usually, this starts to happen no earlier than about 7 to 8 years of age for girls and 9 years of age for boys (the average age is about 10 for girls and 12 for boys). But what if a younger child - for example, a 5-year-old girl - begins showing the signs of puberty? How would it affect her?

What Are the Signs of Precocious Puberty?

In girls, the telltale signs of precocious puberty include any of the following before 7 or 8 years of age:

* breast development
* pubic or underarm hair development
* rapid height growth - a growth "spurt"
* onset of menstruation
* acne
* "mature" body odor

In boys, the signs of precocious puberty before 9 years of age include:

* enlargement of the testicles or penis
* pubic, underarm, or facial hair development
* rapid height growth - a growth "spurt"
* voice deepening
* acne
* "mature" body odor

Many children who show some of the early signs of puberty have what's known as "partial" precocious puberty. Some girls, usually beginning between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, may show breast development that later disappears or may persist without other physical changes of puberty.

Similarly, some girls and boys may experience early growth of pubic and/or underarm hair that isn't associated with other changes in sexual development. Children with "partial" precocious puberty may require evaluation to rule out "true" precocious puberty or other health problems, but they generally need no treatment and usually will show the other expected signs of puberty at the usual age.

How Does Precocious Puberty Affect a Child?

When puberty ends, growth in height stops. Because their skeletons mature and bone growth stops at an earlier age than normal, kids with precocious puberty usually don't achieve their full adult height potential. Their early growth spurt may make them initially tall when compared with their peers, but they may stop growing too soon and end up at a shorter height than they would have otherwise.

Going through puberty early can also be difficult for a child emotionally and socially. For example, girls with precocious puberty may be confused or embarrassed about physical changes such as getting their periods or having enlarged breasts well before any of their peers. But the hardest part may be the teasing that children with the condition - especially girls - may experience.

Even emotions and behavior may change in children with precocious puberty. Girls can become moody and irritable. Boys can become more aggressive and also develop a sex drive inappropriate for their age.

What Causes Precocious Puberty?

The onset of puberty is normally triggered by the hypothalamus (the area of the brain that helps control pituitary gland function). It signals the pituitary gland (a pea-sized gland near the base of the brain) to release hormones that stimulate the ovaries (in girls) or testicles (in boys) to make sex hormones.

Sometimes, precocious puberty stems from a structural problem in the brain (such as a tumor), brain injury due to head trauma, an infection (such as meningitis), or a problem in the ovaries or thyroid gland that triggers the onset of puberty ahead of schedule - but this usually isn't the case.

For the majority of girls, there's no underlying medical problem - they simply start puberty too early for no known reason. In boys, the condition is less common, and more likely to be associated with an underlying medical problem than it is in girls.

In about 5% of boys, precocious puberty is inherited. Starting puberty early can be passed to the son from the father or to the son from the maternal grandfather through the mother (who will not be affected by the disorder). But less than 1% of girls affected by precocious puberty have inherited the condition.

How Is Precocious Puberty Diagnosed?

Talk to your child's doctor if your child shows any signs of early sexual maturation before age 7 or 8 in girls or age 9 in boys, including breast development, rapid height growth, menstruation, acne, enlarged testicles or penis, or pubic or underarm hair.

The physical changes boys and girls go through during puberty are usually evident to a doctor during an exam. To confirm a diagnosis of precocious puberty, your child's doctor may order blood and urine tests to detect elevated levels of sex hormones. And X-rays of your child's wrist and hand can show whether the bones are maturing too rapidly.

Imaging and scanning tests such as CT scans, MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), and ultrasound studies can help rule out specific causes of precocious puberty, such as a tumor in the brain, ovary, or testicle.

How Is Precocious Puberty Treated?

If your child's doctor suspects that your little one has precocious puberty, he or she may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in growth and hormonal disorders in children) for further evaluation and treatment.

Once it's diagnosed, the goal of treating precocious puberty is to halt or even reverse sexual development and stop the rapid growth and bone maturation that can eventually result in adult short stature. Depending upon the cause, there are two possible approaches to treatment:

1. treating the underlying cause or disease, such as a tumor

2. lowering the high levels of sex hormones with medication to stop sexual development from progressing

In some cases, treatment of an underlying health problem can stop the precocious puberty from progressing. But in most cases, because there's no other disease triggering the condition, treatment usually consists of hormone therapy that stops sexual development.

The currently approved hormone treatment is with drugs called LHRH analogs - synthetic hormones that block the body's production of the sex hormones that are causing the early puberty. Dramatic results are usually seen within a year of starting treatment with an LHRH analog, which is generally safe and usually causes no side effects in children. In girls, breast size may decrease - or at least there will be no further development. In boys, the penis and testicles may shrink back to the size expected for their age. Growth in height will also slow down to a rate expected for children before puberty. A child's behavior usually becomes more age appropriate as well.

Caring for Your Child

Give your child a simple, truthful explanation about what's happening. Explain that these changes are normal for older kids and teens, but that his or her body has started developing a little too early. Keep your child informed about his or her treatment and what can be expected along the way.

Also be sure to watch for signs that teasing or other difficulties associated with precocious puberty may be affecting your child's emotional development. Common warning signs to discuss with your child's doctor include:

* poor grades
* problems at school
*
loss of interest in daily activities
depression

How you cope with the issue can also determine how successfully your child will cope. The goal is to prevent your child from dwelling on sexual development or developing a poor self-image or low self-esteem. To create a supportive environment, try not to focus your comments on your child's appearance; instead, offer praise for achievements in school or sports and support your child's participation in other activities.

The important thing to remember is that children with precocious puberty can be treated. Doctors can help your child preserve his or her adult height potential as well as limit the emotional and social difficulties your child may face from maturing early.

To non-experts — and, perhaps to experts as well — it seems that all security vulnerabilities are somehow related. Peel the onion deeply enough, and viruses, worms, botnets, phishing, pharming, Trojans and all forms of scary things end up in the conversation.

That comes to mind as we pass an unpleasant anniversary of sorts. Earlier this month, we “celebrated” the Storm botnet’s first birthday. Storm and other botnets, such as Nugache and Celebrity, bring all of these various forms of bad news into the conversation because they are just a delivery mechanism — an increasingly sophisticated and ominous delivery mechanism. The payload can change, depending on what the user — increasingly, a client of the bot herders — calls for.

This Computerworld piece offers views of several researchers on the botnet. David Emm, a consultant with Kaspersky Labs, points to Storm’s use of a peer-to-peer instead of more easily combated Internet Relay Chat (IRC) command and control structure as a key adjustment by the bot herders. Ashar Aziz, CEO of FireEye, also cited the significance of botnet’s move to P2P control last week in an IT Business Edge interview.

The second significant element of Storm is the number of variants it produces, Emm says. Computerworld also spoke to Trend Micro’s Jamz Yaneza, who points to the timeliness of Storm’s spam, which shift fluidly depending on holidays and news events. However, SecureWorks’ Joe Stewart was a bit dismissive. Storm, to him, is just another botnet — but one that has captured the imagination of the press.

ESET, a security firm in Bratislava, has released its 2007 Global Threat Report. The report, described at vnunet.com, attests to the effectiveness of botnets. The keepers of the Storm botnet, which has emerged as the highest-profile of several competing botnets, closely monitor its progress and release updates as required. The firm said that both Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac OS X were attacked last year.

PCWorld.com says that SecureComputing has established a Storm research portal that uses inputs from a 75-country sensor network. The real-time information is quite specific. For instance, the portal determined that Storm, which the firm says apparently is run from Russia, recently has launched phishing attacks against the Bank of Nova Scotia and Barclays Bank. The goal of the StormTracker is to provide security managers with information they can use to refine their filtering efforts in a real-time manner.

The bottom line is that the illicit economy that has developed around botnets means they will proliferate in number and grow in size. The folks who run them will use increasingly sophisticated methods. Aziz says botnets are competing against each other. That’s good news, in a way, since there is no honor among thieves and they no doubt will try to sabotage each other’s bot. But in the bigger picture it is not a good sign: Competition means more folks recognize there is money to be made and are bringing their intelligence and money to the table.

osteopetrosis

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Osteopetrosis also known as marble bone disease and Albers-Schonberg disease is an extremely rare inherited disorder whereby the bones harden, becoming denser, in contrast to the more prevalent osteomalacia, in which the bones soften.
It can cause osteosclerosis.
Cause
Normally, bone growth is a balance between osteoblasts (cells that create bone tissue) and osteoclasts (cells that destroy bone tissue). Sufferers of osteopetrosis have a deficiency of osteoclasts, meaning too little bone is being resorbed, resulting in too much bone being created.
Symptoms
Despite this excess bone formation, people with osteopetrosis tend to have bones that are more brittle than normal. Mild osteopetrosis may cause no symptoms, and present no problems. However, serious forms can result in stunted growth, deformity, increased likelihood of fractures, and anaemia. It can also result in blindness, facial paralysis, and deafness, due to the increased pressure put on the nerves by the extra bone.


Kids to meet hero firefighters who gave them lifesaving bone marrow
Bravest, meet courage.

Two New York City firefighters who donated bone marrow to a pair of sick boys will come face to face with the youngsters for the first time Monday at a Brooklyn ceremony honoring the lifesavers.

"I'm excited to meet him. A little nervous," said Billy Zask of Engine 257 in Canarsie, whose bone marrow saved 3-year-old Alex Jomar Maldonado Cruz of Puerto Rico. "It's a big thing, a very emotional situation."

Zask, 26, is one of dozens of Fire Department probies who agree each year to undergo DNA testing by the New York Blood Center to see if they are matches for patients whose best - or only - chance at life is a bone-marrow transplant.

Ninety-eight firefighters have donated marrow since the organizations began the partnership in 1990. The 16 who donated last year will be honored today at FDNY headquarters.

Alex's grateful mom, Jeinny Cruz, said through a translator Sunday that she was "really anxious" to meet Zask and to ask him "a million questions - why he did it for someone he doesn't know."

Little Alex was diagnosed in infancy with osteopetrosis, a rare bone disorder that doctors said would kill him by age 4 unless he received a bone-marrow transplant.

Now just weeks away from that milestone birthday, the boy who once wouldn't eat is chubby and rambunctious.

Twelve-year-old Cole Sierens is back playing floor hockey, football and soccer after receiving a bone-marrow transplant from Louis Dym of Ladder 169 in Bensonhurst.

Cole, who lives near Winnipeg, Canada, probably would not have survived a second bout with leukemia otherwise. He waited five months between his diagnosis and the transplant.

"Even if we would've found out we had a match tomorrow, one day is too long," said Cole's mom, Trina.

The family was "elated" to learn that Dym, 28, was a match. But rules governing donation required that his identity - and Cole's - be kept secret for a year following the transplant.

"It's hard to find words to put to a total stranger being there for you to save your child's life ... to find the right words to express how grateful you are," Trina Sierens said.

For Dym, that generosity comes with the badge.

"It's in the mentality of firefighters to want to help people, definitely," said Dym, 28. "It's not every day you get to help somebody, but to have the chance to save the life of a child who has leukemia was pretty special."

Cole thinks it's "pretty cool" that his donor is a New York City firefighter.

"I felt excited that somebody was going to donate to me and then I'd be all better again," he said.

earjacking

earjacking = Eavesdropping on a conversation that you have no business hearing.
Bob totally earjacked my conversation with Susie and now everyone knows I got a boob job.

earjacking = Making your friends listen to horrible music against their will.
I hate riding in the van with her, I'm always earjacked!

earjacking = Talking someone's ear off. Rambling on while not getting to the point (jaw-jabbin). Trying to engage someone in a long-winded conversation who is obviously trying to get to the point and get on with thier day. Also known as being held as a "conversation hostage".
"I went to ask Renee a quick question and she earjacked me for 30 min. She's always earjacking people!"

earjacking = Malign monopoly of a hapless individual's attention, through the aural canals. This nasty temporary possession might involve tricks with volume, tantalizing & purposeless gossip, half-garbled but compelling rumors, +/or claims of interpersonal priority (such as a martyred aunt or disabled neighbor), but the aim is to own you & ride you, pure & simple.

"So I sez to him, I SEZ WHY did you pass the salt to her FIRST, AREN'T I as IMPORTANT as she is? Then HE SEZ..."
"...and then the boss leaned over to him and promised- but you hate gossip, I know...Gotta keep yr ear to the ground, or you'll get stampeded..."
"So kin ya take me tasafta noon, huh? Kin ya take me tamorrah? Kin I have a quarter? How 'bout fi'bucks? Kin ya hold me up for the bubblah? Hey, d'ja hear me?"
"Nobody believes me- but I saw this coming! No one listens but I told you, dindin't I? I knew it, I knew this wld happen! Remember when I told you..."
Arrrgh!




Earjacking - New Slang. Quit Earjacking me!
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By I am
Categories: Search, Blog, Entertainment and People

Earjacking is simply eavesdropping in on a conversation that you have no business hearing.

Earjacking used in a sentence. “See that guy in the next booth? He is totally earjacking our conversation.”

Other forms of “earjacking.” Earjack, Earjacks, Earjacked, Earjacker, Earjackers.

In life I’m sure we’ve all met or seen earjacks or an earjacking happen. Hell maybe we’ve participated in earjacking ourselves.

miley cyrus name change

Related searches:
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Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus has legally changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus. Her birth name was Destiny Hope Cyrus. She changed her moniker to reflect her nickname and honor her father, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Cyrus fell ill during a concert in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, Jan 28. The 15-year-old crooner, in town performing her Best of Both Worlds tour, exited the stage after telling the audience she was feeling ill. Miley stayed backstage for five minutes before returning to finish her set.

Sitting on a stool, Miley told sold-out crowd, "Thanks, you guys. I feel a lot better, but I'm going to sit this one down."




macbook air commercial song

macbook air commercial song, yael naim, new soul by yael naim, new soul yael naim, new soul lyrics, macbook air commercial


It's been a week since Apple unveiled the ultra-portable MacBook Air, time enough for the reviews to start coming in (many of them positive, but with major reservations -- see Baig, Levy, Mossberg, and Pogue).

In that time, you may also have spotted, once or twice during "Project Runway" or "American Idol," Apple's ad for the device, which is as clever as any Apple commercial I've seen and certainly sells the product -- though, to my mind, it actually makes you want to buy something else even more. Take a look and you'll see what I mean:

Right, it's that song! Apple's ads often feature memorable music -- well, except for the Black Eyed Peas era, about which the less said the better -- but this song's more enchanting than most. I wanted to know what it was the first time I saw the ad, at Macworld, and the few times I've spotted the commercial on TV, the music has lodged into my back-brain, and I've found myself thinking more about it than the MacBook Air.

The song is "New Soul," by the young French-Israeli singer Yael Naim. You can find it on the eponymous album she released last October (here's an iTunes Store link, and here's more on her from Wikipedia.)

And here's the music video. Forget the MacBook Air, just play Yael Naim.

Agee's vision of book restored

"A Death in the Family" won the Pulitzer Prize a half century ago and became an American literary classic, but it was not the book James Agee wrote.

"It wasn't what Agee intended. At least, it isn't the manuscript that he left when he died," University of Tennessee professor Michael Lofaro says.

More than two dozen chapters were eliminated, broken apart or rearranged in the posthumous editing of Agee's homage to his childhood in Knoxville in the early 1900s — a story punctuated by his father's death in a car crash.

Now, in the first volume of a planned 10-volume set of Agee's collected works and letters, the University of Tennessee Press has published a more richly detailed and chronological narrative that may be truer to Agee's plan. The result could be a revelation to readers puzzled by the book's jumbled italicized flashbacks and incongruous prologue — the poetic and previously published essay "Knoxville: Summer of 1915."

Under the original edits, Agee's father became less of an individual and more of a universal parent. And a succession of copy editors turned a deaf ear to Agee's keen sense of "East Tennessee" dialect. In one of hundreds of entries, "bran new" became "brand new," for example.

The result of several years' research by Lofaro, the new "A Death in the Family, A Restoration of the Author's Text" carries the approval of the Committee on Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association and the support of the Agee family trust.

How different is the new book? Lofaro found 16 chapters to insert before the first chapter of the Pulitzer winner — 144 pages in a revised edition of 356 pages.

"I don't think the current book would have been selected by the Book of the Month Club, which was part of its early penetration into people's consciousness," said Paul Sprecher, family trustee and husband to Agee's eldest daughter, Deedee Agee.

"But I think it is a fuller story, a more honest story and I think it is more what Agee had in mind. It is less sentimental. It is a little wrenching."

Numerous classics have been reissued posthumously, in expanded forms, in recent years, including Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" and Theodore Dreiser's "Sister Carrie." Scholars have differed whether the new editions improved upon the original publications.

Agee, the pioneering film critic, screenwriter ("The African Queen"), poet and journalist ("Let Us Now Praise Famous Men"), died at 45 of a heart attack in a New York City cab in 1955. His greatest fame came after his death, beginning with the publication of his untitled story of his early life. He had worked on the novel for years. It was nearly done, written in pencil in tiny cursive strokes on stacks of unnumbered, yellowed pages.

Friend and editor David McDowell, who was searching for income for Agee's widow, Mia, and three children, cobbled together and published the book as "A Death in the Family" in 1957 to critical raves and popular appeal. It won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1958, won a second Pulitzer in 1961 for Tad Mosel's adapted play "All the Way Home" and was turned into at least three major TV productions, including a PBS "Masterpiece Theatre" presentation in 2002.

But McDowell left a different story — maybe even a better one — on his editing desk.

The first hint came in 1988 when McDowell's son sold a box of his father's papers to the university. "I went over and looked at the stuff, and there were two substantial chapters in Agee's hand that nobody had seen before," Lofaro said. "And I went, hmmmm ..." (Those two chapters were published by Harper's magazine in December. They were the only chapters Agee titled. One is called "Enter the Ford," referring to his father's car. The other is "Chilhowee Park," a real park in Knoxville).

The find began Lofaro's long search for Agee's original vision, as lawsuits over ownership of the papers loitered in the courts, finally resolved by Sprecher's appointment as Agee trustee in 2002.

Lofaro acknowledges being motivated by McDowell's claim in an editors' note that still appears at the front of every copy of "A Death in the Family" that Agee's book "is presented here exactly as he wrote it."

The evidence in the Agee archives at the University of Texas in Austin, the trove at Tennessee and materials still with the Agee trust suggests otherwise. Lofaro found drafts, revisions, outlines and letters in which Agee described how the book should flow and what it should contain.

"It was patently clear he had jiggered it," Lofaro said of McDowell, though the effort was "done with the right intentions" to make money for the family, expose the world to Agee's masterpiece and "to keep the memory and legend of James Agee on a certain track."

A key change was a new introduction. Instead of McDowell's use of the bucolic "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," Agee had written a surreal nightmare in which the author finds himself as an adult back in Knoxville carrying the dead body of his father. There are images here that resonate through the rest of the book.

The other was a clear desire to tell the story in sequence. McDowell cut several chapters of Agee's earliest memories, then fashioned bits and pieces of them into two flashback chapters — an aesthetic device Lofaro believes would have been popular at the time.

Yet Agee apparently planned a more straightforward approach.

In a letter to his mother, Agee wrote simply: "I am trying to write a short book, a novel, beginning with the first things I can remember, and ending with my father's funeral."

Lofaro said the revised edition achieves that, then adds more than 200 pages of scholarly notes and background. The Agee trust is considering an edition for general readers as well.

Whether Agee would be satisfied is hard to say. "I think he probably would have still been tinkering with it had he lived," Lofaro said.

Writers, studios closer to formal talks: report

Hollywood's striking writers and major studios have narrowed their differences after a week of informal talks, raising hopes that a new contract is within reach, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

Representatives of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began meeting last Wednesday for informal discussions in their first face-to-face talks since contract negotiations collapsed on December 7.

The current talks are aimed at laying the groundwork for official bargaining to resume, and both parties have agreed to a media blackout while the negotiations are ongoing.

Some 10,500 WGA writers went on strike in November. Since then, television production of scripted comedies and dramas has ground to a near-halt, films have been delayed and Hollywood's awards season has been severely curtailed.

In the past week, writers and producers have narrowed the gap between them in key areas including how much writers should earn when films and television shows are distributed over the Internet, the Times reported, citing unnamed sources.

The sources cautioned that the talks could still break down, as they did in early December. They said the parties remain split over how much writers should be paid when their shows are streamed online, and over whether unions should have jurisdiction over original content created for the Internet.

Officials for the WGA and AMPTP declined comment.

Industry sources told Reuters the article was highly speculative, but one added, "they're still talking and I guess you can say that's a good sign."