Thursday, September 25, 2008

List of Nations Banning Chinese Milk Products Grows

South Korea is the latest nation to ban imports of Chinese dairy products after discovering Chinese-made snacks contained a chemical that has sickened thousands of children who consumed contaminated milk.

The Korean Food and Drug Administration, KFDA, says tests on more than 100 products found the chemical melamine in two biscuit-type snacks. Officials ordered the products to be removed from store shelves and destroyed.

More than a dozen governments in Asia, Africa and Europe have either banned or recalled Chinese dairy products since the scandal broke two weeks ago. At least 53,000 children have been sickened from ingesting milk tainted with melamine. Four children have died, while nearly 13,000 others remain hospitalized.

The Chinese agriculture minister on Tuesday blamed so-called "milk stations," which collect milk from local farmers, for adding the substance to poor-quality milk to raise its protein content.

Indonesia released a list Wednesday of nearly 30 Chinese-made products it says could be contaminated, including such well-known U.S.-created brands as Oreo cookies, M&M chocolates and Snickers chocolate-covered peanut bars.

New Zealand authorities say they found the chemical melamine in a Chinese-made candy known as White Rabbit, prompting the British Tesco supermarket chain to pull the candies from the shelves.

A spokesman for the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that there have been no reports outside China and Hong Kong of infants getting sick from Chinese milk products.

Health experts say that ingesting small amounts does no harm but sustained use can cause kidney stones and renal failure, especially among the young.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Microsoft to Pull Seinfeld TV Commercials

Microsoft is expected to announce Thursday that it will be suspending its ad campaign featuring Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and veteran comedy superstar Jerry Seinfeld.

Valleywag broke the news Wednesday, and Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw told the LA Times that the move was planned, despite the appearance that the company is reacting to negative reaction to the ads.

According to Mr. Shaw, the Seinfeld portion of the campaign, for which he was reportedly paid some US$10 million, was always intended to be just an introduction for the overall campaign -- a two commercial introduction for $10 million.

"All along we said we were having a teaser campaign," he told the LA Times. "We're getting ready to start the second phase. This was the plan all along."

The ads, which featured Mssrs. Seinfeld and Gates in ordinary situations discussing how Microsoft needs to get back in touch with its customers, have largely been panned (this reporter said they were great in the most recent Apple Weekly Report #132 podcast), with many people saying they didn't make sense.

Pundits and critics suggested the ads were an attempt by the company to counter Apple's successful "I'm a Mac" commercials starring Justin Long as the personification of the cool and hip "Mac" and John Hodgman as the stodgy "PC."

Microsoft said in the second commercial that it was trying to reconnect with customers, from whom the company, as personified by Mssrs. Gates and Seinfeld, had become distant. To most, the ads were just as distant as Microsoft itself.

Be that as it may, Big Redmond has planned on spending some $300 million on the broader campaign, which will presumably be taking a new different direction.

As of this writing, the ads are still featured on Microsoft's Windows Web page. I checked the website and I see that there are ads of only Microsoft products.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Clinton avoids Palin, focuses criticism on McCain

NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is avoiding a public face-off with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the new female star of the 2008 campaign, while still raising money and votes for the Democrat who wrested the presidential nomination from her.

Advisers to party nominee Barack Obama and to Clinton say that she will resist pressure to speak out against Palin, believing it would diminish her own stature while creating a "cat fight" sideshow that would only distract voters from the contest at the top of the ticket. Any mention Clinton makes of Palin will only be in the context of her partnership with GOP nominee John McCain, aides said.

The New York senator abruptly canceled an appearance at a rally protesting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after learning that Palin had also been invited to the event scheduled next week outside the United Nations. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said Clinton was never told that the Alaska governor would be there.

A spokeswoman for Palin, Tracey Schmitt, said of Clinton's cancellation: "Gov. Palin believes that the danger of a nuclear Iran is greater than party or politics. She hopes that all parties can rally together in opposition to this grave threat."

When McCain chose Palin as his running mate, a new chapter began in Clinton's complicated political saga.

Besides her own sore feelings for losing the nomination to Obama — not to mention about $24 million in campaign debt — Clinton has had to deal with the disappointment of many supporters angry at what they perceived as sexist treatment of her by the Obama campaign and the news media.

One prominent Clinton backer and fundraiser, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, announced her support for McCain on Wednesday. The former Democratic Party platform committee member has said Obama is arrogant and has a problem connecting with average Americans.

Indeed, an Associated Press-Yahoo poll conducted Sept. 5-15 found that 26 percent of voters who supported Clinton are now backing McCain and Palin, who was brought on in part to woo women voters.

Clinton took a light approach to Palin this week on ABC's "Good Morning America," one of a handful of national interviews she has granted since abandoning her presidential bid in June.

"You know, I think the point is not the vice presidential candidate on the other side, with all due respect. It is the presidential candidate," Clinton said. "Sen. McCain is not offering much of a change from what has already been the policies of the Republicans and of this administration."

Susie Tompkins Buell, a Clinton supporter and fundraiser who only recently announced she would back Obama in the general election, said she agreed Clinton should avoid being an "attack dog" against Palin.

But Buell said Obama should showcase Clinton more prominently if he hopes to win in November.

"I think the Obama campaign should use her as much as they can because they need her terribly. This isn't looking so great right now," she said.

Clinton has said repeatedly that she would do whatever the Obama campaign asked her to do, and so far she has made good on that promise.

"We couldn't be happier," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, adding that officials would ask Clinton to step up campaign appearances after the Senate adjourns this month.

Clinton traveled last weekend to Ohio, a major battleground state, and has campaigned for Obama in Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. She's raised more than $4 million for Obama and is planning another fundraising reception next week in New York slated to bring in about $500,000.

Clinton is also campaigning on behalf of Democratic Senate and House candidates, where she talks up the need to strengthen the party's majorities in Congress to help an Obama administration. She planned to address a rally in Kentucky on Saturday on behalf of Bruce Lunsford, who is challenging veteran GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader.

Clinton has a warm relationship with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden and plans to campaign with him despite grumbling from many supporters who believe Obama should have chosen her as his running mate.

Biden and Clinton held an online video forum with women voters where they took questions on pay equity, abortion rights and other issues. The forum was to be broadcast Wednesday evening on Obama's campaign Web site.

Associated Press writer Charles Babington and Polling Director Alan Fram contributed to this report from Washington.

of course it's more winning for Clinton to focus criticism on McCain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bush pledges swift aid to hurricane-hit Texas

* Bush arrives in Texas, will fly over Galveston

* Millions remain without power

* FEMA pledge to deliver 7.5 million meals to needy

By Tabassum Zakaria

HOUSTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush pledged swift federal aid for millions of storm-struck Texans on Tuesday as the energy hub of Houston and other areas struggle to recover from Hurricane Ike's mighty punch.

Millions of people remain without power, the battered island city of Galveston was deemed unfit for habitation and there were reports of 27 deaths nationwide from the storm that churned far inland after striking the Texas coast on Saturday.

"It's a tough situation on the coast," Bush said upon arriving in his home state. In Houston, he boarded a helicopter to view storm-damaged areas from the air.

Bush said the federal government will pay for debris removal and other recovery efforts after Hurricane Ike decimated Galveston and left millions without electricity.

Months before he leaves office, Bush is trying to rebuild his image as a disaster manager after being widely criticized for a botched relief effort in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed about 1,500 people in the United States.

Some 60 people were found on Monday from Orange County in Texas near the Louisiana border after being trapped in their homes, David Paulison, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters traveling with Bush.

Aid efforts continued, and FEMA has pledged to deliver 7.5 million meals, 5.1 million gallons (19.8 million litres) of water and 19.2 million pounds (8.7 million kg) of ice over the next few days.

For all its strength, Ike caused minimal damage to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast. Companies are preparing to restart operations at the 14 refineries in Texas and Louisiana that remained shut by the storm, the Energy Department said.

But several offshore oil platforms were damaged in a sign that full recovery of the region's oil and natural gas production could be a long way off.

Aid was rolling in but in some of the worst-hit areas like Galveston, there was scant sign of relief work.

"FEMA ain't been by, nobody," said disabled retiree Vivian Matthews, who was stranded at her flooded apartment for two days. "They don't give a damn if we live or die."


Officials urged the few thousand people who remained in Galveston, which was without power and had little water, to leave and warned of a possible health crisis.

"We cannot accommodate people who are getting sick," said Galveston City Manager Steven LeBlanc. "You have the potential for a health crisis."

"The bottom line: Galveston cannot safely accommodate its population," he said.

Four deaths were reported by officials in Galveston -- scene of the worst U.S. weather disaster when a hurricane killed more than 8,000 people in 1900. One person was killed in the Houston suburb of Pasadena, the mayor said.

As many as 27 people were killed in several states from Ike and its remnants, CNN reported. In Arkansas, emergency officials reported one death from a felled tree.

Houston, a normally bustling center of oil and commerce and America's fourth most-populous city, was still battling to get back on its feet. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was in place.

FEMA's Paulison said 70 percent of Houston residents could have power by the end of the week, but Galveston's power grid sustained much greater damage.

As people started to return to work, gas lines with waits of two to three hours snaked through the city.

U.S. retail gasoline prices have spiked more than 15 cents since Friday to $3.84 a gallon and energy analysts said they expected nationwide gasoline inventories to fall to their lowest on record in the storm's aftermath because of the Texas refinery shutdowns.

But oil prices fell 4 percent on Tuesday on rising concern that turmoil in global financial markets will further undermine fuel demand and send investors into safer havens. (Writing by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Mary Milliken and Doina Chiacu)

It is very bad that people don't have electricity, another problem on their head.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obama Raised $66 Million in August

By Matthew Mosk
Democrat Barack Obama again shattered the monthly record for presidential fundraising, bringing in $66 million in August, according to figures his campaign released this morning.

Obama also expanded his already enormous list of donors, adding more than 500,000 first-time donors in August and bringing to 2.5 million the number of people who have contributed to his campaign since he kicked it off at the start of 2007.

Obama campaign officials have repeatedly used the size of the Illinois senator's donor list as a key reason why they are justified casting the campaign a grassroots movement, and that continued today.

"John McCain says that he'll take on the special interests and lobbyists, but McCain can't fix a problem he's been part of for three decades. The 500,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to kick the special interests out and change Washington," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, in a statement.

The number of donors is significant because most of those who have given have not yet reached the $2,300 contribution limit. That means Obama has a huge pool of supporters to return to this month and next as he seeks to cover the expensive final weeks of campaigning.

Obama released his monthly totals this morning, two weeks after Republican John McCain announced he also had achieved a personal best for a month of raising money -- raising $47 million during the same period.

McCain aides have noted that the Arizona senator is not trailing by nearly as much as it would first appear. That's because both candidates are aided by their respective parties. The Republican National Committee has consistently raised significantly more than its Democratic counterpart. Early reports indicate that in August the DNC again fell far short in fundraising, though the party has yet to make public its totals. Those are due to the Federal Election Commission no later than Sept. 20.

The Obama campaign entered September with $77 million in cash on hand. The amount should help given the breakneck pace of spending by the Obama campaign.

Fundraisers for Obama's campaign said they already believe September could surpass August in money raised, thanks in part to a wave of new donations that followed McCain's announcement of running mate Sarah Palin. They said the Alaska governor's conservative positions have helped galvanize the Democratic donor base in ways they had not seen previously.

Obama's August total surpassed the previous record for a month of fundraising, $55 million, itself set by Obama in February.

I like this guy, I would vote for him if I was in USA.

By air, boat and truck, search on for Hurricane Ike victims

HOUSTON - Rescuers in boats, helicopters and high-water trucks set out across the flood-stricken Texas coast Saturday in a monumental effort to reach tens of thousands of people who stubbornly ignored warnings of "certain death" and tried to ride out Hurricane Ike.

The storm roared ashore hours before daybreak with 110 mph winds and towering waves, smashing houses, flooding thousands of homes, blowing out windows in Houston's skyscrapers, and cutting off power to more than 3 million people, perhaps for weeks.

By evening, it appeared that Ike was not the single calamitous stroke that forecasters had feared. But the full extent of the damage — or even a rough sense of how many people may have perished — was still unclear, in part because many roads were impassable.

Some authorities feared that this could instead become a slow-motion disaster, with thousands of victims trapped in their homes, waiting for days to be rescued.

"We will be doing this probably for the next week or more. We hope it doesn't turn into a recovery," said Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Marlow in Orange County, where more than 300 people had to be rescued from flooded homes. He said that was only "a drop in the bucket" compared with the number still stranded.

By some estimates, more than 140,000 of the 1 million or so people who had been ordered to evacuate the coast as Ike drew near may have tried to tough it out. Many of them evidently realized the mistake too late, and pleaded with authorities in vain to save them overnight.

Ronnie Sharp, 65, and his terrier-mix Princess, had to be rescued from his trailer in Orange County when water reached his knees. "I was getting too many snakes in the house, otherwise I would have stayed," Sharp said. He said he lost everything in the flood but his medicine and some cigarettes.

After the storm had passed, National Guardsmen, members of the Coast Guard, FEMA representatives and state and local law enforcement authorities mobilized for what Gov. Rick Perry pronounced "the largest search-and-rescue operation in the history of the state of Texas."

Some emergency officials were angry and frustrated that so many people ignored the warnings.

"When you stay behind in the face of a warning, not only do you jeopardize yourself, you put the first responders at risk as well," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. "Now we're going to see this play out."

Steve LeBlanc, Galveston's city manager, said: "There was a mandatory evacuation, and people didn't leave, and that is very frustrating because now we are having to deal with everybody who did not heed the order. This is why we do it, and they had enough time to get out."

Because Ike was so huge — some 500 miles across, making it nearly as big as Texas itself — hurricane winds pounded the coast for hours before and after the storm's center came ashore. Ike soon weakened to a tropical storm as it made its way inland, but continued to pound the state with 60 mph winds and rain.

Officials were encouraged to learn that the storm surge topped out at only 15 feet — far lower than the catastrophic 20-to-25 foot wall of water forecasters had feared.

Preliminary industry estimates put the damage at at least $8 billion.

Damage to the nation's biggest complex of refineries and petrochemical plants appeared to be slight, but gasoline prices shot up for fear that the supply would be interrupted by power outages and the time necessary to restart a refinery. In some parts of the country, gas prices surged briefly to $5 a gallon.

As the day wore on, hundreds of people were rescued from their flooded-out homes, in many cases by emergency crews that had to make their way through high water and streets blocked by peeled-away roofs, wayward yachts and uprooted trees.

But the day was already half over before the winds died down enough for authorities to begin the rescue, and the search was almost certain to be suspended before dark because of the dangers posed by downed power lines and flooded roads. A portion of hard-hit Galveston had yet to be examined.

The storm, which killed more than 80 in the Caribbean before reaching the U.S., was blamed for at least two lives in Texas. A woman was killed in her sleep when a tree fell on her home near Pinehurst. A 19-year-old man slipped off a jetty near Corpus Christi and was apparently washed away. Louisiana officials said a 16-year-old boy drowned Saturday after falling out of a fishing boat in Ike-flooded Bayou Dularge.

Lisa Lee spent hours on the roof of her Bridge City home with her husband, John, her 16-year-old brother, William Robinson, and their two dogs. They dove into 8-foot floodwaters and swam to safety after a sheriff's deputy arrived in a truck and drove as close to their home as he could. Their dogs paddled to safety behind them.

"It was like a dream," said William Robinson, while his sister shivered in a blanket at a shelter set up at a Baptist church in Orange.

A convoy of search-and-rescue teams from Texas and California drove into Galveston — where the storm came ashore at 3:10 a.m. EDT — after bulldozers cleared away mountains of debris. Interstate 45, the only road onto the island, was littered with large overturned yachts, dead pelicans and twisted debris from homes and docks.

Homes and other buildings in Galveston and homes burned unattended during the height of Ike's fury; 17 collapsed because crews couldn't get to them to douse the flames. There was no water or electricity on the island, and the main hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch, flew critically ill patients to other medical center.

Sedonia Owen, 75, and her son, Lindy McKissick, stayed to shoo off looters. She was armed with a shotgun, watching floodwaters recede from her front porch. "My neighbors told me, `You've got my permission. Anybody who goes into my house, you can shoot them,'" Owen said.

President Bush declared a major disaster in his home state of Texas and ordered immediate federal aid.

In downtown Houston, shattered glass rained down on the streets below the JPMorgan Chase Tower, the state's tallest building at 75 stories. Trees were uprooted in the streets, road signs mangled by wind.

"I think we're like at ground zero," said Mauricio Diaz, 36, as he walked along Texas Avenue across the street from the Chase building. Metal blinds from the tower dotted the street, along with red seat cushions, pieces of a wood desk and office documents marked "highly confidential."

Southwest Louisiana was spared a direct hit, but Ike's surge of water penetrated some 30 miles inland, flooding thousands of homes, breaching levees and soaking areas still recovering from Labor Day's Hurricane Gustav. Officials said the flooding was worse than it was during 2005's Hurricane Rita, which hit the Louisiana-Texas line.

But there was good news: A stranded freighter with 22 men aboard made it through the storm safely, and a tugboat was on the way to save them. And an evacuee from Calhoun County gave birth to a girl in the restroom of a shelter with the aid of an expert in geriatric psychiatry who delivered his first baby in two decades.

In Surfside Beach, retired carpenter and former Marine Ray Wilkinson became something of a celebrity for a day: He was the lone resident in the town of 805 to defy the order to leave. Authorities found him Saturday morning, drunk.

"I consider myself to be stupid," Wilkinson, 67, said through a thick, tobacco-stained beard. "I'm just tired of running from these things. If it's going to get you, it's going to get you."

He added: "I didn't say I had all my marbles, OK?"

this hurricane really was very deadly, you can see more photos of this disaster HERE

RestNews - The Digg Killer?

The Power is in the People
Just because you write something brilliant, doesn't mean tons of people will read it. You've got to find a way to get that article out to the masses … but how?

You've seen Digg Digg, and you've seen the hundreds - if not thousands - of similar sites sprouting up lately. Perhaps you've had an idea for a Digg-like site, but you just didn't know where to start? Luckily, today there are several options available for creating your own Digg clone which require little to no programming knowledge. These 7 tools will help you get down the road to that goal.

We've seen hundreds of Digg clones springing up in the last few months (including Digg for cars and a controversial effort by Netscape). But newcomer RestNews has the rare privilege of actually being a half-decent attempt. The site, which began inviting new members over the weekend, provides social bookmarking for webpages, news stories and video files, as well as the ability to post notes.

The interface is nicely designed, obviously different from Digg - registered users can hit "brand it" to bump a story up the rankings. And of course you can explore the bookmarks based on popularity, recency or by tags. You add content to RestNews using the Firefox Firefox 3 /Internet Explorer extensions, and explore the most recent content within the extension itself. This is more than a bookmarklet - the RestNews folks are happy if you don't visit the site at all, but simply use the extension.

While RestNews is a nicely put together site, the obvious problem is that it's a year too late. Present players like Digg and have won here, and RestNews is unlikely to make a big impact. Likewise, StumbleUpon has had years to build an audience around social browsing and discovery. It all comes down to network effects - Digg has all the users and all the traffic, so why go anywhere else?

RestNews to the Rescue
Publish your article to You'll got dugg and sharp increase of traffics!

How to submit your article to

So hopefully I've encouraged you to take RestNews seriously. Now what? Here's how to get started:

1. Publish an article on your blog
2. Create an account on
3. Go to the Submit a Story page on
4. Follow the instructions
6. That's all!

You'll see a even more higher jump in your traffic if your articles get promoted to the front page.

I found this info on, I think this is just another pligg site with good template, I think there is no chance for this website to "kill" Digg.