Egypt's Islamist-led parliament meets, rivalries on display (Reuters)

CAIRO (Reuters) ? Egypt's first free parliament in six decades got to work Monday with Islamists holding by far the most seats and opponents comparing their grip on the chamber to that enjoyed by the now defunct party of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

With almost half the seats in the assembly, the Muslim Brotherhood is promising to cooperate with the military generals, who took power last February when Mubarak was overthrown, in their transition to civilian rule.

Thousands of protesters who fear a deal between the Islamists and the army to carve up power cried "down with the military government" behind a police cordon near the parliament building, a reminder to those trying to rebuild Egypt's state institutions of the power of the street.

A credible chamber would help Egypt's new political class prove it can govern and the Brotherhood has said it wants to be inclusive and ensure all voices in Egypt are heard.

The session began in somber mood as parliament's acting speaker, automatically chosen as its oldest member, invited deputies to hold a silent prayer in memory of the hundreds who died in the uprising that ousted Mubarak in February last year.

"The blood of the martyrs is what brought this day," said acting speaker Mahmoud al-Saqa, 81. Some deputies wore yellow sashes in protest at the army's policy to try thousands of civilians in military courts.

The session became more raucous when one Islamist member, Mamdouh Ismail, read the oath that vows allegiance to the nation and its laws but added his own words "so long as it does not oppose God's law," prompting the acting speaker to tell him to repeat it without his addition.

An angry exchange erupted later as deputies worked on their first task of electing a speaker.

One candidate opposing Brotherhood nominee Mohamed Saad al-Katatni sought to introduce himself to the chamber, a move the Brotherhood opposed in a swift vote. Katatni, secretary-general of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), was then appointed.

The two deputy speaker posts went to Ashraf Sabet Saad El-Deen of the Islamist al-Nour party, runners up in the vote, and Mohamed Abdel Aleem Dawoud of the liberal Wafd party.

"We announce to the Egyptian people and the world that our revolution continues and we will not rest until all the revolution's goals are achieved," Katatni told the chamber, who thanked the army for fulfilling its promise to hold elections.

He pledged to serve all parliament without bias.

Opponents of the Brotherhood said its grip on parliament was similar to that enjoyed by Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP), which was handed large parliamentary majorities in widely discredited elections.

But unlike the NDP, the Brotherhood does not have an outright majority and must form alliances.

Hossam Hamalawy, a leftist activist, said: "I do not have any high expectations for this parliament because of the composition of the political forces inside ... It seems they're going to reinvent the old regime with very few cosmetic changes."


Many Egyptians, tired of a year of turmoil, want to give the army's promised transition a chance.

"We won't see something worse than what we had ... I am one of the people ready to wait for change and I don't care if the military council is prosecuted or not," said Ahmed Hassan, a 28-year-old bank employee.

"I want them to achieve the demands that led to the revolution, restore stability and security and get the economic wheel turning again," said accountant Elhamy Abdel Aleesm.

The generals will remain in charge until after a presidential election in June when they have promised to hand over power. Many Egyptians suspect the army may seek to retain influence behind the scenes.

The Brotherhood's rise marks a sea change from Mubarak's era when it was officially banned but won some seats by running candidates as independents.

It is unclear whether it will form a single bloc in parliament, which will have a role in drafting the new constitution by picking the 100-strong assembly that will draw up the document.

"We will cooperate with everyone: with the political forces inside and outside parliament, with the interim government and with the military council until we reach safety heralded by a presidential election," said Essam el-Erian, deputy FJP head.

Liberals were pushed into third place behind the Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative Islamist Salafis led by the al-Nour party. The FJP says it controls almost half the 498 elected seats, with a few re-runs to be held.

Monday's session marked the revival of an assembly that in the early 20th century was a vibrant forum for the nation's aspirations and filled with deputies who vied with the monarch and Egypt's British overlords.

Parliament's independent voice was extinguished after a 1952 coup that toppled the king and swept military-backed autocrats to power. Mubarak was a former air force commander and the ruling military council is now led by the man who was Mubarak's defense minister for 20 years, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Mubarak's party routinely won sweeping majorities. The best performance by the Brotherhood was when it secured 20 percent of seats in the 2005 election. In 2010, almost all the opposition was all but squeezed out. The Brotherhood and other opponents boycotted what they saw as a blatantly rigged poll.

Mubarak, 83, is now on trial for his role in the deaths of 850 people during the uprising.

(Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan and Sherine El Madany; Writing by Edmund Blair and Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Janet Lawrence)


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PFT: Jim Harbaugh says 'this team is not defeated'

Baltimore Ravens' Evans has the ball stripped from him by New England Patriots' Moore in the end zone during the fourth quarter of the NFL's AFC Championship football game in FoxboroughReuters

Shortly before Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff did his best Gary Anderson impersonation (to the chagrin of Matt Birk), Ravens receiver Lee Evans had the ball in his hands, in the end zone.? But Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore knocked the ball out of Evans? hands, and the ruling on the field was that the would-be touchdown pass was incomplete.

Though it wasn?t a scoring play, fewer than two minutes remained in the game.? Thus, the decision (or not) to review the play was to be initiated by the replay assistant in the booth.? Even though the slow-motion angle shown by CBS seemed to suggest that it may have been a catch, the replay assistant didn?t instruct referee Alberto Riveron to take a look via the on-field portable TV on wheels.

As to whether a catch was made, the standard is simple.? From Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 3:? ?If a player controls the ball while in the end zone, both feet, or any part of his body other than his hands, must be completely on the ground before losing control, or the pass is incomplete.?

There?s no Calvin Johnson component.? No requirement of a football move.? Possession plus two feet down equals a catch, and a touchdown.

So why didn?t the replay assistant direct Riveron to take another look?? Absent indisputable visual evidence that the call on the field was correct, the replay assistant must tell the referee to look for indisputable visual evidence to overturn it.

The league disagrees.? ?The ruling on the field of an incomplete pass was confirmed by the Instant Replay assistant, correctly, and as a result, there was no need to stop the game,? the league said in a statement forwarded to PFT by spokesman Michael Signora.? ?The receiver did not get his second foot down in the end zone with possession, and as a result, it was an incomplete pass.?

Former V.P. of officiating and current FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira expressed a similar sentiment via text message to PFT.? ?Clearly not a catch,? Pereira said.? ?Ball coming out before second foot clearly down. . . .? No need to review it because it was clearly incomplete.?

But where?s the harm in taking a look at the play?? The left foot may have been down a nanosecond before the ball was dislodged.? Why not have Riveron decide whether or not that was the case?? Moreover, a different camera angle may have shown that Evans had the ball before his left foot previously left the ground.? (There?s no doubt that the right foot was down while Evans had the ball.)

It could be that the replay assistant erred on the side of not giving Riveron a chance to make what could have been another Bill Leavy-style error.? Either way, under the league?s standard for initiating a booth review, we think a booth review should have been initiated.? And if it had been initiated, Riveron would have been faced with a decision that wouldn?t have been quite as easy as the league seems to think it would have been.


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Republican candidates steer clear of "corridor of shame" (Reuters)

MARION, South Carolina (Reuters) ? Amid the flurry of campaigning before Saturday's South Carolina Republican presidential primary, not a single candidate has shown up in Marion County, a sleepy rural stretch that represents the bottom of the U.S. economy.

Unemployment in the county stands at a staggering 17.3 percent, the highest rate in a state battered hard by the recession. Manufacturing, textile and tobacco jobs have been steadily leaving Marion for decades and now more than 2,000 of the county's 33,000 residents are looking for work, according to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

Marion County is located in what has become known as the "corridor of shame" - an impoverished stretch of South Carolina along Interstate 95 - and has stood still even as Republican Governor Nikki Haley aggressively lures companies to the state. Her efforts last year brought announcements of new or expanded operations in the state from Boeing, BMW and TD Banknorth.

Haley, who has endorsed Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race, is proud of the growth. "In a nation struggling economically," she said in a recent interview, "South Carolina is winning."

But Marion County, which sits along the site of a proposed interstate highway, has scored few wins. Its population is stagnant in a state that has seen a 67 percent increase in population in 30 years. Without jobs, officials say, it is hard to attract new people and younger residents are anxious to flee.

Rodney Berry, mayor of the town of Marion and executive director of business development in the county, says two things hold the county back. Roads need work, something residents feel acutely when they travel to more prosperous neighboring counties, and the county has built its hopes around completion of the new interstate highway.

It also suffers from the perception that the available workforce is uneducated. Thirteen percent of residents have bachelor's degrees, little more than half the average in South Carolina statewide.

"Plain and simple," Berry said. "A lot of people need some help."


Politically, Marion County has long been a Democratic Party stronghold in a Republican state. It is majority African-American and in 2008 its voters solidly backed Barack Obama. They are poised to back Obama's re-election.

Obama visited the county in 2007 and raised its problems as a campaign issue. Republican Newt Gingrich picked up the theme, referring to the "corridor of shame" in campaign appearances and criticizing the Obama administration's outreach to low-income communities.

But none of the Republican contenders ventured into Marion when they gathered 50 miles away in the popular tourist town of Myrtle Beach for a Monday debate. Myrtle Beach is in Horry County, which has fared much better in the tough economy. Marion County's other neighbor, Florence, last year saw major manufacturing companies arrive, including the job-listing site Monster.Com, food-maker Heinz, and car-maker Honda.

"You'd think we'd be primed for great growth," Berry said. "But we are so different than the two big counties we are nestled between. We do think often that we are the forgotten people."

Adding to the pain, Marion County is about to lose its influential Democratic congressman, James Clyburn, through redistricting. A Republican may take the seat, leading Berry to worry that his county will be even more forgotten.


Rita Hennecey, who has lived here since 1953, watches the slow pace of progress with her friends from a table at Dry Dock, a popular gathering place along Highway 76.

"Marion used be known as a pretty little city on the way to the beach," she said after church one recent Sunday. "You would never have dreamed it would be this way."

Hennecey and her friends can recount the town's history, its namesake Revolutionary General Francis Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox," and the tobacco farms and textile plants that once supported a thriving economy.

But they can just as easily recall the names of the now-gone companies that once made candy, clothes and Coke bottles. When Russell Stover, the area's largest employer, left town in 2000, nearly 1,200 jobs went with it. That story has been repeated over and over. In May, car-parts manufacturer Inteva closed its plant, putting 42 people out of work.

"It used to be busy on Main Street," said Lucia Atkinson, who has lived in the area for more than 70 years. Her husband was mayor for 18 years. "It was filled with four or five groceries and four filling stations. They sold ladies dresses and furniture."

Today, a quarter of the stores on Main Street are vacant.

As mayor, Berry finds himself fielding phone calls from residents who need help with electric bills or organizing collections to put chicken, grits, and rice onto families' tables. More than a quarter of the people live below the poverty line.

"When you hear the news every month, Marion County is the highest unemployment," Berry said. "Emotionally, it takes a toll on folks. It's become engrained in our minds to some degree ... It just starts to permeate your mind and body that maybe we can't."

But he and others try to be optimistic. Over the years, folks here have faced and conquered adversity many times before.

"We are very resilient people," he said.

(Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Bill Trott)


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Tom Cruise Sings 'Like An Opera Singer' In 'Rock Of Ages'

'He's Superman to me. He can do anything he sets his mind to,' co-star Malin Akerman says.
By Josh Wigler, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages"
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

PARK CITY, Utah — He can run. He can climb cliff sides without harnesses. Heck, he can even scale the surface of the world's tallest building. And now, for his next trick, Tom Cruise will truly do the impossible: sing his heart out in front of moviegoers nationwide.

The "Mission Impossible" actor will next be seen as fictional rock god Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages," director Adam Shankman's adaptation of the Broadway musical. If you think it's bizarre casting, take it from Cruise's costar, Malin Akerman — according to her, there is literally nothing that Cruise can't do, carrying a tune included.

"He's brilliant. You're going to be blown away," Akerman told MTV News at the Sundance Film Festival, which she's attending as an ambassador for the Brita FilterForGood Music Project campaign. "His voice is ridiculous."

Akerman should know. As reporter Constance Sack, she only has one musical number in "Rock of Ages" — a cover of "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner — which she sings opposite Cruise. "I auditioned with Cruise. We did our scene together and then I had to sing in the studio [for a musical audition]," she said of landing the role. "My role was actually one of the last ones cast, so I was the last onboard and had the least amount of prep [time]. It was nerve-wracking, to have to go in and sing in the audition."

But Akerman says any anxiety was transformed into elation when performing opposite Cruise, a Hollywood icon she likens to an equally iconic superhero.

"He's Superman to me. He can do anything he sets his mind to," she said, adding that on top of his talent as an actor and his ability to perform breathtaking stunts, Cruise can also "sing like an opera singer."

"When you're with Tom, you give it your all," Akerman said. "It was really amazing and surreal."

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival is officially under way, and the MTV Movies team is on the ground reporting on the hottest stars and the movies everyone will be talking about in the year to come. Keep it locked with MTV Movies for everything there is to know about Sundance.

Related Photos


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How to See the Moon: Telescope Viewing Tips (

Anyone who received a telescope over the holidays may be itching to try it out. The most popular first target for any telescope is our nearest neighbor in space, the moon.

Here are some tips to make your first telescopic encounter with the moon more enjoyable:

Before looking at the moon with your new telescope, take a good look at it with your naked eyes.

The most noticeable thing about the moon is that it is large enough to show some detail without any optical aid. As the moon moves in its orbit around the Earth, the sun's light strikes it from different angles, sometimes illuminating only a thin crescent from behind, at other times shining full on, making it a full moon. These are called the moon's phases.

You can also see a surprising amount of detail on the moon with your naked eye. Most obvious are the shades of gray: the large bright areas mostly on the southern half, and the darker gray areas mostly on the northern half. [Harvest?Moon?of 2011: Amazing Skywatcher?Photos]

Using a telescope

With binoculars you begin to resolve more detail on the moon: mountains, valleys, plains and especially craters. But with even the smallest telescope, a whole new world appears before you, ready to explore.

Like any tourist, it will help you to have a good map.

One of the most useful ones is the "Sky & Telescope Field Map of the Moon," available in both normal and mirror-reversed versions. The latter is mainly for observers with refractors and Cassegrain telescopes, which reverse the moon's image left to right. This map is on a large- enough scale to show fine detail, but is folded in four to make it easy to use at the telescope. It is laminated with plastic to protect it from dew.

When's the best time to observe the moon? Most people think it's around full moon (the next one is Feb. 7), but in fact this is the worst time. At full moon, the sunlight is falling on the moon's surface from straight overhead, and it looks like the desert at high noon.

The best times to moon-watch are actually at the two "quarters": the times when the moon is a quarter way around its orbit, and the sun is hitting it from right or left.

First quarter next occurs on Jan. 30. It will be a perfect half moon: the right half in sunlight and the left half in shadow. Two or three nights on either side of this date will be equally good.

Focus on the terminator

Concentrate your observing along the terminator, the boundary between light and dark. The sun is rising along this line, and so the shadows are at their maximum length. In fact, if you watch for a few minutes, you can actually see the shadows change as the sun rises.

A lot of beginners are surprised at how bright the moon is in a telescope. In fact, it is only as bright as an asphalt highway on a sunny day, but it seems much brighter because we're usually observing the moon in a dark sky from a dark location. If the brightness bothers you, try observing before the sky is completely dark, or else turn some lights on at your observing location.

As the moon gets closer to full on Feb. 7, the terminator moves closer to the edge of the moon, and it gets harder to see detail. As noted above, the full moon is literally a washout with a telescope, though perfect for romantic evenings.

A few nights after full, the moon starts to get interesting in the telescope again but at this point, many people lose the moon. That's because the moon, in its orbit around the Earth, rises about 50 minutes later each night. By third quarter, on Feb. 14, the moon rises around midnight and is high in the southern sky at dawn. [January?2012 Skywatching?Events]

If staying up late to observe the moon doesn't agree with you, try observing it first thing in the morning instead. Once again, observing in a blue sky helps kill the glare.

Managing magnification

What is the best magnification to use on the moon? Try all of them; they're all good.

A low magnification of around 50x will show you the whole moon and give you the "big picture." But to see the moon at its best, try a high magnification, at least 150x. The moon can tolerate high magnification better than any object in the sky. This also has the added benefit of reducing the glare from the moon.

The only time high magnification can't be used is just as the moon is rising or setting. When close to the horizon, the moon is so blurry it looks like it is deep in boiling water.

With a good map of the moon in hand, try "crater-hopping" your way up or down the terminator. See how many craters you can identify, noting the variety of their sizes and shapes, what their walls look like, and what they have on their floors. What other topographic features can you see? Look for mountains, both isolated peaks and mountain ranges. Many of these are named for their counterparts on Earth.

Apollo landing sites

There are things on the moon that you never or almost never see on Earth. There are rilles: systems of grooves in the surface, thought to be the remnants of collapsed lava tubes. There are domes ? gentle swellings in the relatively flat surfaces of lunar "seas" and flat-floored craters.

Look for the landing sites of the Apollo astronauts. You won't see any of the stuff they left behind, because they are too small to see from this distance, but you can often identify nearby geographic features. [How to Spot?Apollo?Moon?Landing Sites?in Telescopes]

Like any good tourist, try to take some pictures. Because the moon is lit by full sunlight, it is easy to photograph with short exposures just holding the camera to the telescope's eyepiece.

We're always interested in seeing good lunar photographs here at If you'd like to submit any of your photos for a possible gallery or story, please send them to managing editor Tariq Malik at

This article was provided to by Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu.


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GOP leaders slow to embrace Romney _ or his rivals

Republican presidential candidates, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, participate in the Republican presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Republican presidential candidates, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, participate in the Republican presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(AP) ? Mitt Romney may be the front-runner for the GOP nomination for president, but he has yet to win over most of the national party leaders whose help he will need to defeat President Barack Obama in November.

The upside for Romney: They aren't supporting anyone else either.

The Associated Press has polled 87 members of the Republican National Committee who are to attend the party's national convention this summer as free agent delegates, able to support any candidate for president they choose, regardless of what happens in the primaries.

The results: Romney got support from 14, far more than anyone else but hardly a stampede of endorsements. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry got two each, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum each got one. The poll was completed before Perry dropped out of the race Thursday.

Sixty-seven of the RNC members contacted by the AP said they were undecided or simply waiting to see how the race plays out before making a public endorsement.

"If I thought there was someone who stood head and shoulders above everyone else, I would have endorsed," said Jeff Johnson, an RNC member and county commissioner from Minnesota. "I see pluses in all of them, but I decided not to come out in favor of anybody."

Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Robert Gleason said he saw no reason to endorse anyone because a competitive primary is good for the party and the eventual nominee by vetting the candidate while generating publicity and excitement about the race.

"It's working out great for us, and one of these people that is competing with (Romney) could end up being vice president," Gleason said. "I'm pleased with the way things are developing. We're getting all the publicity. It's been pretty favorable for us."

Romney appeared to finish slightly ahead of Santorum in the hours after the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3. However, the Iowa GOP certified vote totals Thursday showing Santorum ahead of Romney. The party decided not to declare a winner because of problems with a few precinct reports.

Romney won handily in New Hampshire last week, and he leads his Republican rivals in the polls nationally and in South Carolina, which votes Saturday. Still, the former Massachusetts governor has been unable to solidify support from many Republicans, some of whom question his conservative credentials.

Stephen Scheffler, an RNC member from Iowa, said he would support Romney if he were the nominee, but he's not excited about the prospect, despite Romney's finish in Iowa.

"He doesn't want to talk to certain segments of the Republican Party," Scheffler said of Romney. "If he's the nominee and they open all these victory offices across Iowa, it's going to be pretty challenging to find volunteers."

Each state plus the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories gets three members on the Republican National Committee. All of them are automatically invited to attend the party's national convention in Tampa, Fla., in August, with a few exceptions. The RNC members from New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Arizona have been excluded ? for now ? as part of the penalties they received for holding primaries earlier than party rules allowed.

In many states, RNC members must support the winner of primaries or caucuses in their states. The AP identified 37 states and territories in which the RNC members will be free to support any candidate they choose.

AP reporters started contacting the 111 RNC delegates from these states after Romney won the New Hampshire primary. They were able to reach nearly 80 percent of them.

The RNC delegates make up less than 5 percent of the 2,286 delegates slated to attend the GOP convention, giving them little power to determine the nominee. But these party leaders will be expected to provide manpower, money, local connections and expertise this fall, when the GOP nominee will rely on the party faithful to help defeat Obama.

It will take 1,144 delegates to win the GOP nomination. Romney now has 33 delegates, including those won in primaries and caucuses as well as endorsements from RNC members. Santorum is next with 13.

Joseph Trillo, a state lawmaker and RNC member from Rhode Island, said his support for Romney comes down to political pragmatism.

"He's the only one who I know can beat Obama," Trillo said.

Herbert Schoenbohm, the GOP chairman in the Virgin Islands, said that beating Obama is important, but his support for Romney goes much deeper.

"I'm for (Romney) because he has the best leadership skills," Schoenbohm said in a phone interview. "He made it work in Massachusetts, and that was hard to do in a Democratic state."

Lawrence Kadish, an RNC member from Long Island, N.Y., challenged that assessment, saying Gingrich "towers head and shoulders over those other candidates. I don't view Mr. Romney as having a deep rudder, but he's OK."


Lauren Johnert, Associated Press deputy manager for election research and quality control, contributed to this report, along with AP writers Pat Condon in St. Paul, Minn., Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., Mike Glover in Des Moines, Iowa, David Klepper in Providence, R.I., and George M. Walsh in Albany, N.Y.

Associated Press


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TPJustice: New Mexico Lawmaker Proposes State Guest Worker Program For Undocumented Immigrants

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London 2012 test event: rhythmic gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena

London 2012 test event: rhythmic gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena - Telegraph

Greece's Varvara Filiou competes with the hoop during the Visa International Gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena, London

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Raul Castro's daughter: Cuba eyes same-sex unions (AP)

HAVANA ? Cuba's first daughter says island lawmakers will consider legalizing same-sex civil unions this year.

Mariela Castro is the daughter of President Raul Castro and a prominent gay rights activist. She says a preliminary proposal to modify the country's Family Code is undergoing legal study and is on the legislative schedule for 2012.

Many gays and transsexuals suffered persecution during the early years after the 1959 revolution, but attitudes have become more tolerant.

Once-banned gay pride parades are now annual events, while the government has led anti-homophobia campaigns and even begun paying for sex change operations.

Mariela Castro's comments came in an interview published Monday by state-run website Cubadebate.


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The Creativity of Dual Process ?System 1? Thinking

?I back away from conscious thought and turn the problem over to my unconscious mind. It will scan a broader array of patterns and find some new close fits from other information stored in my brain.? ?Arthur Fry, Co-creator of the Post-it note

The idea that consciousness involves different streams of thought has a long history. Paul Bakan has shown that as early as the medieval writings in the Zohar, one of the books of the Jewish mystical biblical commentaries in the Kabala, one finds a distinction between two forms of cognitive thinking: hokma, or wisdom and binah, or intelligence. The former has been linked to the right brain and to synthetic mental processes, and the latter has been linked to the left brain and to analytic thought. This conception of a dual nature of ongoing mental processing is also traceable to the early flowering of neurological research and theory in the works of A.L. Wigan and J. Hughlings Jackson. This early work suggested that there might indeed be two forms of thinking, propositional or verbal-analytic and representational or what we might today call narrative or experiential.

While cerebral research in the latter half of the 20th Century focused relatively gross linkages of such forms of thought to left and right brain hemispheres, recent technological advances in brain imaging are suggesting a revival and resurgence of scientific explorations into both psychological-behavioral and neuroscience evidence bearing on possible dualities of ongoing conscious processes. Daniel Kahneman?s recent book Thinking, Fast and Slow, describes modern research on the two systems of the mind. ?System 1? thought processes operate automatically, process information fast, are heavily influenced by context, biology and past experience, aid humans in mapping and assimilating newly acquired stimuli into preexisting knowledge structures, and are self-evidently valid (experience alone is enough for belief). In contrast, ?System 2? thought processes are deliberately controlled, effortful, intentional, and require justification via logic and evidence.

While Kahneman?s book, and his research, has been influential in psychology and economics in helping us understand the fallibility of human reasoning and decision making, we think his emphasis on the fallibility of System 1 overlooks the important adaptive value of System 1 for creative thought and imagination. System 1 is a broad system, comprising evolutionary adaptive tendencies, domain-specific expertise acquired during an individual?s learning lifetime, episodic memories, gut feelings, and implicit learning capacities. Reflecting the diversity of System 1 processes, there are many different dual-process theories, and different theorists emphasize different aspects of System 1. While it?s certainly true that there are moments where our inability to use System 2 to override System 1 can lead to errors in reasoning and decision making, we also think there are crucial moments when one can fail to use System 1 to override System 2!

In a hot-off-the press article in Journal of Personality, Paul Norris and Seymour Epstein (a highly influential dual-process theorist and originator of the cognitive-experiential self-theory), found that an experiential thinking style (System 1), but not a rational thinking style (System 2) was positively associated with performance measures of creativity, humor, aesthetic judgment, and intuition, as well as self-report measures of empathy and social popularity. A rational thinking style was associated some measures of adjustment, and both thinking styles were positively related to personal growth. Interestingly, what people reported about their own thinking style tended to agree with other people?s observations of their thinking style. As Norris and Epstein note,

?The two systems have unique disadvantages as well as advantages. Thus, the rational system [System 2], although superior to the experiential system [System 1] in abstract thinking, is inferior in its ability to automatically and effortlessly direct everyday behavior, and the experiential system, although superior in directing everyday behavior is inferior in its ability to think abstractly, to comprehend cause-and-effect relations, to delay gratification, and to plan for the distant future. Since each system has equally important advantages and disadvantages, neither system can be considered superior to the other system.?

Similar ideas can also be found in new conceptualizations of human intelligence. According to the recent Dual-Process theory of Human Intelligence, neither mode of thought is absolutely more important than the other. Instead, the key to both intelligence and creativity is the ability to flexibly switch between different modes of thought depending on the task demands.

To put things in perspective, here?s a summary of a number of findings over the years showing the positive and negative attributes associated with a rational and experimental thinking style (adapted from the recent Norris and Epstein article):

What a terrific list of positive attributes to have! It would be nice to have all of the positive attributes, while minimizing the negative effects of each, no?

One of the wonders of System 1 is its ability to feed creative insights to System 2. This often happens precisely when System 2 is taking a rest. Kahneman calls it ?lazy? to let down your System 2, but our interviews even with scientists suggest that it is ?very hard? to sustain long sequences of abstract thought. Not only that, instead of being lazy, it may sometimes be genius. Many famous anecdotes exist about the benefits of incubation, or time away from a task, for coming up with creative insights to a problem. In recent years, scientific findings support the importance of letting the mind incubate.

In a recent study, Jonathan Smallwood and his colleagues found that participants who were given an easy task conducive to mind-wandering during an incubation period showed greater improvements in creativity compared to those who engaged in a demanding task, had quiet rest, or no break during the incubation period. In fact, the individuals who were induced to mind wander showed an improvement of 40% compared to their baseline level of creative performance! What?s going on here? The researchers raise the possibility that ?mind-wandering may enhance creativity by increasing the likelihood of non-conscious associative processing, consistent with the spreading activation hypothesis for incubation effects.? In other words, when we allow our minds to wander, we may be increasing the chances that System 1 will make creative associations for us.

Of course, System 1 isn?t doing all the work. The most creative insights typically involve some sort of surprising interaction between the current contents of your working memory and the long-term memories stored in System 1. A recent fascinating experiment confirms this view. The researchers investigated the functional brain characteristics of participants while they engaged in a task involving the ability to constantly update the contents of working memory. None of their subjects had a history of neurological or psychiatric illness, and all had intact working memory abilities. They administered two different versions of the same working memory task during the fMRI scanning session, one version requiring much more concentration than the other.

Participants were asked to display their creativity in a number of ways: generating unique ways of using typical objects, imagining desirable functions in ordinary objects and imagining the consequences of ?unimaginable things? happening. The creativity test they used has been linked in prior studies to Openness to Experience and frequency of visual hypnagogic experiences (e.g. lucid dreaming, hallucinations), which in turn have been associated with vividness of mental imagery.

The researchers found that the more creative the participant, the more activity in their default brain network was altered. The default network brain areas are most active when individuals are focused on the contents of System 1 (their internal stream of consciousness). In this study, creative individuals had the most difficulty suppressing the precuneus area of their default brain network while engaging in the more effortful working memory task. The precuneus is the area of the default network that typically displays the highest levels of activation during rest (when a person is not focusing on an external task). The precuneus has been linked to self-related mental representations and episodic memory retrieval.

How is this conducive to creativity? According to the researchers, ?Such an inability to suppress seemingly unnecessary cognitive activity may actually help creative subjects in associating two ideas represented in different networks.? In other words, the most creative individuals were those that had the working memory abilities to solve the effortful task but also had an ?open mind? to allow the wandering thoughts coming in from System 1 to make creative connections. In a sense, these creative folks were simultaneously able to live in a dream state while concentrating on the outside world. That?s quite a juggling act, but creative people seem to be able to do it more fluidly than others!

Intriguingly, prior research has shown a similar inability to deactivate the default network among schizophrenic individuals and their relatives (who are more likely to have schizotypy). This doesn?t mean that mindwandering is necessarily pathological. The key to functional creativity is the ability to keep System 1?s internal stream of consciousness ?on call? while being able to concentrate on an external task. It appears it?s conducive to creativity to go out of your mind just a little bit, just as long as you can eventually come back to reality.

Another recent study from Jonathan Schooler?s lab supports the importance of both thought processes for creativity. Individuals completed a creativity test requiring the ability to identify a word in common with other words. While they completed the task, they were caught zoning out by the experimenter, and were also given the chance to report when they caught themselves mind wandering. Participants also completed a measure of inhibition, requiring them to read aloud four short stories while ignoring certain portions of the text.

While zoning out was detrimental to creativity, those who caught themselves mind wandering performed best on a measure of creativity. Those catching themselves mind wandering also showed the highest levels of inhibitory control. These results are consistent with a recent study conducted by Jennifer McVay and Michael Kane, who found that those with the best inhibitory control are the ones who catch themselves mind wandering and have low zone out rates. This study goes beyond those findings though by also highlighting the importance of mindwandering: ?This study suggests that both creative thought and mind-wandering may both depend on being able to gain mental distance from what you are doing while maintaining meta-awareness of the contents of imagination.? As Schooler and his colleagues note in a recent review, a number of difference research studies now suggest that mind wandering reflects these two crucial processes: the capacity to disengage attention from perception as well as the ability to notice the current contents of consciousness (?meta-awareness?). In other words, the ability to harness your System 1 thought processes in a way that is accessible to System 2. It?s all about the dynamic interaction of the two modes of human cognition.

There?s no doubt that Daniel Kahneman and his late colleague Amos Tversky have done a fine job cataloguing all the ways in which System 1 contributes to some of our biases in reasoning and problem-solving. But among Kahneman?s discussion of System 1?s contribution to the many errors found in human reasoning, we hope that the creativity of System 1 isn?t lost. As we mentioned in our earlier article, we don?t have to promote either System 1 or System 2. We can promote both. And in so doing, we are promoting true creativity ? creativity that is both novel and useful. Put quite simply: we think System 1 deserves more love.


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Wikipedia editors question site's planned blackout

FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2011 file photo, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia speaks during the opening session at the London Cyberspace Conference in London. Wikipedia will black out the English language version of its website Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopedia said in a statement Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file pool)

FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2011 file photo, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia speaks during the opening session at the London Cyberspace Conference in London. Wikipedia will black out the English language version of its website Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopedia said in a statement Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file pool)

(AP) ? Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day? The shutdown of one of the Internet's most-visited sites is not sitting well with some of its volunteer editors, who say the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten the credibility of their work.

"My main concern is that it puts the organization in the role of advocacy, and that's a slippery slope," said editor Robert Lawton, a Michigan computer consultant who would prefer that the encyclopedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge. "Before we know it, we're blacked out because we want to save the whales."

Wikipedia's English-language site shut down at midnight Eastern Standard Time Tuesday and the organization said it would stay down for 24 hours.

Instead of encyclopedia articles, visitors to the site saw a stark black-and-white page with the message: "Imagine a world without free knowledge." It carried a link to information about the two congressional bills and details about how to reach lawmakers.

It is the first time the English site has been blacked out. Wikipedia's Italian site came down once briefly in protest to an Internet censorship bill put forward by the Berlusconi government. The bill did not advance.

The shutdown adds to a growing body of critics who are speaking out against the legislation. But some editors are so uneasy with the move that they have blacked out their own user profile pages or resigned their administrative rights on the site to protest. Some likened the site's decision to fighting censorship with censorship.

One of the site's own "five pillars" of conduct says that Wikipedia "is written from a neutral point of view." The site strives to "avoid advocacy, and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them."

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales argues that the site can maintain neutrality in content even as it takes public positions on issues.

"The encyclopedia will always be neutral. The community need not be, not when the encyclopedia is threatened," he tweeted.

The Wikimedia Foundation, which administers the site, announced the blackout late Monday, after polling its community of volunteer contributors and editors and getting responses from 1,800 of them. The protest is aimed at the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act under consideration in the Senate.

"If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States," the foundation said.

Both bills are designed to crack down on sales of pirated American products overseas, and they have the support of the film and music industry. Among the opponents are many Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay and AOL. They say the bills would hurt the industry and infringe on free-speech rights.

Social news website is shutting down for 12 hours on Wednesday, but most companies are staying up. Google Inc.'s home page linked to a petition urging Congress: "Don't censor the Web."

Dick Costollo, CEO of Twitter, said he opposes the legislation as well, but shutting down the service was out of the question.

"Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish," Costollo tweeted.

Since Wikimedia depends on a small army of volunteers who create and update articles, it's particularly concerned about a lack of exemptions in the bills for sites where users might contribute copyrighted content. Today, it has no obligation under U.S. law except removing that content if a copyright holder complains. But under the House version of the bill, it could be shut down unless it polices its own pages.

The plans for the protest were moving forward even though the bill's prospects appeared to be dimming. On Saturday, Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the bill would not move to the House floor for a vote unless consensus is reached. However, Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said work on the bill would resume next month.

The White House raised concerns over the weekend, pledging to work with Congress to battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy and innovation in the Internet. The administration signaled it might use its veto power, if necessary.

That the bill seems unlikely to pass is another reason Lawton opposes the blackout.

"I think there are far more important things for the organization to focus aside from legislation that isn't likely to pass anyway," he said. He's been contributing to Wikipedia for eight years.

Danny Chia, another contributor to the site, said he had mixed feelings about the blackout. The neutrality applies to the content, but a lot of people interpret it as being about the site as a whole, said the Los Altos, Calif., software engineer.

In an online discussion, others raised the same point about the blackout: Appearances matter, and if the audience sees Wikipedia taking a stand, it might not believe the articles are objective, either.

Wikipedia has seen a small decline in participation, from a peak of 100,000 active editors a year ago to about 90,000 now. Wikimedia Foundation blames this mainly on outdated editing tools, and believes it can get the number growing again with software upgrades.


AP Technology Writer Mike Liedtke contributed to this report.

Associated Press


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Wal-Mart names head of global eCommerce business (Reuters)

(Reuters) ? Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Sunday named Neil Ashe as the new president and chief executive of its global eCommerce business as the world's largest retailer in a move to bolster its online presence.

Wal-Mart, which is trying to meet customers wherever they want to shop -- in stores, online, on phones, on tablets -- said Ashe was most recently president of CBS Interactive. His appointment is effective immediately.

Ashe replaces Eduardo Castro-Wright, who announced his pending retirement in September and will assist in the transition, Wal-Mart said.

Wal-Mart, which generates more than $400 billion in annual revenue, is the sixth-largest Internet retailer, behind Inc, Staples Inc, Apple Inc, Dell Inc and Office Depot Inc, according to industry publication Internet Retailer.

Wal-Mart does not disclose the percentage of sales that comes from its online business.

"E-commerce is a great opportunity for us and we have a long-term vision to win," said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart's president and CEO. "We are on track to create the next generation of e-commerce, combining the latest in online innovations with physical stores to give our customers a unique and seamless shopping experience."

"We have an understanding of what these customers want, a trusted brand, 200 million weekly shoppers, more than 10,000 stores around the world, and the ability to make significant investments in talent and technology," Duke said.

Wal-Mart said it has online businesses in the United States, the UK, Canada and Brazil. It recently started a new unit called @WalmartLabs, whose job is to help Wal-Mart capture more sales from the proliferation of smartphones and social networking.

During the past couple of years, Wal-Mart also bought the Vudu streaming video service and technology company Kosmix, and bought a stake in Chinese e-commerce company Yihaodian.

In August, Wal-Mart changed its e-commerce business structure, putting the people who run stores in developed markets such as the United States in charge of the websites in those countries.

Under the changes, Wal-Mart has e-commerce teams in developed markets -- the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Japan -- report directly to the senior store leadership in those countries.

Ashe previously served as CEO of CNET and led the sale of the company to CBS and president of CBS Interactive at that time. In that position, Ashe led the led the interactive content business with operations in the United States, Europe and China.

(Reporting By Jessica Hall; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)


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Globes: Comedy vies with drama this awards season (AP)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ? The Golden Globes have equally good comedy and drama masks this year. Alongside heavyweight dramas, the category for best musical or comedy at the Globes usually is more of a lark, with nominees rarely emerging with best-picture prospects for Hollywood's top prize, the Academy Awards.

Yet Sunday's musical or comedy contenders make up a strong bunch that could give their best-drama cousins at the Globes a run for their money come Oscar time.

Expected to make the most noise at the Globes ceremony, to be carried live on NBC from 8-11 p.m. EST, is the silent film "The Artist," with six nominations, including best musical or comedy, directing and writing honors for Michel Havanavicius, and acting slots for Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.

Tied for second with five nominations each are the Deep South tale "The Help" and George Clooney's Hawaiian family story "The Descendants," both of them among best-drama contenders.

With the Oscars choosing up to 10 best-picture contenders when nominations come out Jan. 24, "The Artist" could have some other lighter fare as company there. Globe musical or comedy nominees "Midnight in Paris" and "Bridesmaids" have solid Oscar nomination prospects, along with the weighty dramas academy voters historically prefer.

Most years, the musical or comedy category is filled with nominees that have little or no chance at the Oscars, such as last year's Globe nominees "The Tourist" and "Burlesque." The last time a musical or comedy Globe winner earned the best-picture Oscar was nine years ago, when "Chicago" triumphed at both shows.

This time, the dual categories at the Globes could create an Oscar showdown between the dramatic and musical-comedy winners.

Along with "The Artist," Kristen Wiig's wedding romp "Bridesmaids" and Woody Allen's romantic fantasy "Midnight in Paris," Globe nominees for best musical or comedy are Joseph Gordon-Levitt's cancer tale "50/50" and Michelle Williams' Marilyn Monroe story "My Week with Marilyn."

Besides "The Descendants" and "The Help," best-drama contenders are Martin Scorsese's Paris adventure "Hugo," Clooney's political thriller "The Ides of March," Brad Pitt's sports tale "Moneyball" and Steven Spielberg's World War I epic "War Horse."

Presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of 89 entertainment reporters for overseas outlets, the Globes used to have a strong record predicting the films that would go on to win best-picture at the Oscars. But lately, a best-picture win at the Globes has not translated into victory on Oscar night.

Over the last seven years, only one Globe best-picture winner ? 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire" ? has gone on to claim the top Oscar trophy. Before that stretch, the Globes had been on an eight-year streak in which one of its two best-picture recipients also won the main prize at the Academy Awards.

Last year, "The Social Network" won best-drama at the Globes and looked like the early Oscar favorite. But momentum later swung to eventual Oscar best-picture winner "The King's Speech." The year before, "Avatar" was named best drama at the Globes, while "The Hurt Locker" took best picture at the Oscars.

The Globes have a better track record predicting who will win Oscars for acting. A year ago, all four actors who won Oscars earned Globes first ? lead players Colin Firth for "The King's Speech" and Natalie Portman for "Black Swan" and "The Fighter" supporting stars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.

This time, "The Help" leads the acting categories with three nominations, for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain. Along with Clooney, Pitt and Williams, other nominees include Meryl Streep for the Margaret Thatcher story "The Iron Lady," Leonardo DiCaprio for the J. Edgar Hoover biography "J. Edgar," Christopher Plummer for the father-son tale "Beginners" and Glenn Close and Janet McTeer for the Irish drama "Albert Nobbs."

Ryan Gosling has two nominations, as dramatic actor for "The Ides of March" and actor in a musical or comedy for the romance "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

Morgan Freeman will receive the Globes' Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at Sunday's Beverly Hilton Hotel ceremony.

Ricky Gervais, who has ruffled feathers with sharp wisecracks aimed at celebrities and also the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, returns as host of the Globes for the third-straight time.

If the caustic comedian decides to again bite the hand that feeds him, a case working its way through federal court in Los Angeles might provide some of his material: the HFPA is fighting for the right to dump longtime Globes broadcaster NBC if it can get a better deal with another network.




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Kid Rock apologizes after cigar complaint

(AP) ? Kid Rock has apologized after a man complained that the musician smoked a cigar at a nonsmoking venue in the Detroit area.

Randy Snell says Kid Rock lit the cigar while attending country singer Travis Tritt's show Friday at Andiamo Celebrity Showroom in Warren.

Spokesman Nick Stern told The Detroit News ( ) that Kid Rock offered his "most sincere apologies" to patrons he may have offended. He said he had been drinking alcohol.

Fifty-eight-year-old Randy Snell, of Trenton, has asthma and says he plans to file a health department complaint. Michigan law prohibits smoking at workplaces including bars and restaurants.

Kid Rock was born Robert Ritchie. He grew up in and lives in suburban Detroit.


Information from: The Detroit News,


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CES 2012: Ultrabook round-up

CES is drawing to a close, and the gadgets released here will define the market for the year. Intel is betting the farm on its Ultrabook concept as its hardware partners continued to push out the first real wave of laptops designed to take on the MacBook Air (who thought we'd be saying that four years ago?). Whatever your feelings on these devices, given Santa Clara's billion-dollar advertising push, you won't be able to ignore them this year. So, let's take a look at five of the best products that rolled off the keynotes into the hands of our editors.

Continue reading CES 2012: Ultrabook round-up

CES 2012: Ultrabook round-up originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 14 Jan 2012 11:07:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Delta Pops on AMR Bid Report

Delta Airlines enjoyed a nice pop in trading today after reports it is interested in bidding for American Airlines parent AMR, with CNBC's Phil Lebeau.

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2 more bodies found on Italian cruise ship (AP)

GIGLIO, Italy ? The Italian Coast Guard sayr its divers have found two more bodies aboard the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship.

The discovery of the bodies brings to five the number of known dead after the luxury ship ran aground with some 4,200 people aboard on Friday night.

The Coast Guard said Sunday the bodies of the two elderly people were found in the submerged restaurant.

A helicopter earlier airlifted a third survivor from the capsized hulk of the ship.

Authorities are holding the captain for suspected manslaughter among other possible charges.


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Latest Automotive News | Article Content Network

Rchling Automotive celebrates opening at new Akron plant
AKRON, Ohio ? R?chling Automotive, a company that makes plastic parts for cars, including for the new Chevy Cruze made in Lordstown, celebrated its Akron plant opening on Wednesday. The facility is actually located in Springfield Township on Picton ?

EB and INRIX Show Street Smart Automotive Technology at CES
LAS VEGAS, Jan 11, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) ? EB (Elektrobit), a leading developer of cutting-edge embedded technology solutions for the automotive and wireless industries, is developing next-generation navigation systems with a variety of new ?
Read more on MarketWatch (press release)


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Heather Locklear taken to California hospital

FILE - In this June 12, 2009 file photo, Heather Locklear arrives at the Women in Film Crystal Lucy Awards in Los Angeles. Paramedics responded to Locklear?s home 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles for a medical emergency and transported a woman matching the actress? description as a precautionary measure, authorities said Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

FILE - In this June 12, 2009 file photo, Heather Locklear arrives at the Women in Film Crystal Lucy Awards in Los Angeles. Paramedics responded to Locklear?s home 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles for a medical emergency and transported a woman matching the actress? description as a precautionary measure, authorities said Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

(AP) ? Heather Locklear was taken to a Southern California hospital for precautionary reasons Thursday after an emergency call was made from her home, authorities said.

Paramedics and sheriff's deputies responded Thursday afternoon to Locklear's home in Westlake Village, which is 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

Locklear was taken to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, where a spokeswoman told KCAL-TV the actress was stable and her parents were by her side.

"Her parents wanted everybody to know that she's doing well, she's fine, she's not in any danger, she's healthy," hospital spokeswoman Kris Carraway-Bowman told the station.

Ventura County sheriff's Capt. Mike Aranda said he did not know Locklear's condition but deputies were not investigating.

Locklear has been hospitalized several times over the years. In 2009, she pleaded no contest to reckless driving after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription medication.

The 50-year-old actress's publicists did not return messages seeking comment.

Locklear and "Melrose Place" co-star Jack Wagner recently ended their engagement. She was previously married to Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, and they have a daughter together.

Associated Press


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Mark Yzaguirre: The Next Rick Perry?

The Next Rick Perry?

The epic collapse of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign has been commented on by many political observers. I have written about the collateral damage caused by Perry's campaign, including the suffering inflicted on Texas political writers, graduates of Texas A&M University and guys who like to wear brush jackets. But not everyone is running away from Rick Perry.

Meet Craig James. Craig James is a former Southern Methodist University football star and ESPN sports analyst who is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. His opponents are Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former Texas Solicitor General (and current Tea Party favorite) Ted Cruz. James's first campaign ad starts with a series of plaudits for Rick Perry and James essentially says that he wants to be the Rick Perry of the U.S. Senate.

Well, that's an interesting way to start a campaign. Many local political observers believe that Rick Perry's political capital in Texas has been seriously diminished by his dismal presidential campaign. Further, one generally doesn't introduce oneself to the voting public by talking about another politician. That isn't the way to encourage the voters to think you are your own man.

Also, James isn't the most popular guy in many quarters in Texas to begin with. His time as a player at SMU coincided with the infamous pay-for-play scandal that led to the death penalty for SMU's football program. (Incidentally, ESPN's "Pony Excess" documentary is a magnificent chronicle of this story and how it linked to the culture in Dallas of that era.) To be fair, James was never directly implicated in the NCAA violations that led to SMU's death penalty and he has consistently denied that he was involved with such violations. I think he should be taken at his word on that, but in practice his name is linked to that scandal in the minds of many SMU football fans. That may not be fair, but it is something he has to face.

James is also linked to a more recent college football controversy, the removal of Mike Leach from his position as head coach of Texas Tech's football team. Leach was a very popular football coach at Texas Tech and he was removed from his position after he was accused of having James's son (a Texas Tech football player) locked in an electrical closet. Needless to say, opinions and stories vary about that incident, but according to the materials cited the article linked above and in this article, James allegedly pressured Texas Tech to fire Leach. Leach was eventually fired and Texas Tech's football program suffered afterwards. James has been blamed for Leach's firing and needless to say, it's hard to imagine that Craig James will get many votes in Lubbock after that. This incident, coupled with the SMU story, has led many in Texas to joke that Craig James has helped ruin not one but two Texas college football programs.

So to recap, we have a person running for U.S. Senate in Texas, where college football is taken very seriously, who isn't very popular among a lot of college football fans. And he is blatantly and loudly hitching himself to the falling star of Rick Perry in his run for the U.S. Senate from the very beginning of his campaign.

Something tells me this won't end well.



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