Thursday, February 28, 2013

Poland finds signs of horse meat at three warehouses

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish authorities found signs of horse DNA in beef stored at three storage facilities after several countries pointed to Poland as one of the sources of tainted meat that has shaken up the European food industry.

Officials in Ireland, Britain, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic have reported that products such as burgers and lasagne contained horsemeat that originated from facilities in Poland.

Poland's General Veterinary Inspectorate said in a statement late on Wednesday it found three tainted samples from 121 tested, with 80 more to be examined.

Polish officials had previously said they found no signs of horse meat at all abattoirs tested.

A European scandal erupted last month when tests in Ireland revealed some beef products contained horse meat, triggering recalls of ready-made meals in several countries and damaging confidence in Europe's vast and complex food industry.

Poland exports 330,000 metric tons of beef products annually, or more than three-quarters of its total production, mainly to other European Union members.

(Reporting by Chris Borowski; Editing by Alison Williams)


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Consumer confidence is up, but will they spend?

NEW YORK (AP) ? Americans are more confident in the economy than they have been in the past few months, but that doesn't mean they're willing to spend more money.

Consumer confidence rebounded in February, reversing three straight months of declines, as Americans get more used to the higher Social Security payroll tax, The Conference Board, a private research group said Tuesday.

But the rosier outlook follows major companies from Burger King to Wal-Mart that have cautioned in recent weeks that Americans are pulling back on their spending as they try to stomach their smaller paychecks since the tax rose by 2 percentage points last month.

Robert Zamora, who lives in Boston, says while he feels encouraged that the value of his home and his stock portfolio are rising, he's decided to spend less because of the higher payroll tax, which has reduced his monthly income by $250.

"There is no more discretionary money to go around for anything other than the basics," says Zamora, who works in web development for a financial services firm.

The way Americans feel about the economy has gone through peaks and valleys as they've tried to reconcile improving stock and housing markets with new economic challenges. In addition to the higher payroll tax, gas prices are rising and there are worries that lawmakers won't resolve a budget impasse that threatens to trigger $85 billion in spending cuts starting Friday.

The Conference Board's index is closely watched by economists because it attempts to keep a monthly pulse on how Americans are feeling about everything from their jobs to their incomes. That's important because when Americans feel good, they spend. And since consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, the economy benefits greatly when Americans feel good about it.

The January reading shows that Americans are more confident, but still skittish. Confidence rose to 69.6, up from a revised 58.4 in January and the 60.5 analysts polled by research firm FactSet expected. That's the highest reading since November's of 71.5, but well below the 90 that indicates a healthy economy.

The Conference Board's survey, which was conducted from Feb. 1 through Feb. 14 on a sample of 2,300 shoppers, shows that Americans are particularly upbeat about their job and income prospects. But that's coming off gloomier numbers over the past three months. The number of people anticipating more jobs rose to 16.7 percent from 14.4 percent, while those expecting their incomes to increase rose to 15.7 percent from 13.5 percent.

"Consumers are feeling better, but they don't feel a whole lot better," says Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo.

There's no wonder Americans are torn between positivity and angst. There's a mix of good and bad economic news.

Stocks have roughly doubled since June 2009. And the job market, while still tough, also is rebounding: In January, employers added 157,000 jobs. Still, the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in December.

But whether or not Americans open their wallets and pocketbooks may rely on a few economic wildcards. One of them is gas prices, which started to climb in mid-January. As of Tuesday, they are $3.78 per gallon, 40 cents higher than they were a month ago. If gas prices keep climbing, that could squeeze Americans, particularly those already living paycheck to paycheck.

And many economists worry that the budget fights in Washington could really hurt Americans' confidence. They worry that the impasse could persist for much of this year, and be drag on economic growth and Americans' willingness to spend.

Zamora, the Boston resident, certainly frets about how lawmakers are going to resolve the budget crisis.

"Nobody knows what the ripple effect will be," he says. "I don't want to be caught blowing in the wind."


AP Economics writer Chris Rugaber contributed to this report.


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Eight killed in fighting between Congo rebel factions: sources

KINSHASA (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed - most of them civilians - when fighting erupted between rival factions of eastern Congo's most powerful rebel group, a U.N.-backed radio station and a local source said.

The clashes deep inside territory controlled by the M23 insurgents risk undermining regionally-backed peace talks in neighbouring Uganda between the fighters and Democratic Republic of Congo's government.

They appear to be the first serious sign of tensions within the group, which caused regional shockwaves in November when it routed government troops and pushed past U.N. peacekeepers to briefly seize Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu.

U.N.-backed Radio Okapi said the fighting broke out on Sunday in the rebel stronghold of Rutshuru between fighters loyal to M23's military chief, Sultani Makenga, and supporters of warlord Bosco Ntaganda.

Ntaganda triggered the insurgency last April when he quit his post as a Congolese army general, taking hundreds of soldiers with him.

The eight people died when a rocket hit a bar in the centre of the town, the radio station reported.

A local businessman told Reuters on condition of anonymity that he saw the eight dead bodies and said the fighting was between rival elements of M23.

M23 spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa acknowledged here had been fighting in Rutshuru but denied any factional split, instead blaming another rebel group, Rwanda's FDLR.

"It wasn't our men fighting, it was the FDLR, unfortunately right in the centre of Rutshuru," he said, without elaborating "Everything is calm in our ranks."

No one from the FDLR could be reached to comment.


Nicknamed "The Terminator", Rwandan-born Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes including the massacre of civilians during a previous Tutsi rebellion.

The United Nations says he controls the M23 rebellion, but M23 has repeatedly denied his involvement in the group.

Congo's eastern borderlands have suffered nearly two decades of conflict stoked by ethnic and political enmities and fighting over the region's rich resources of gold, tin, tungsten and coltan - a precious metal used to make mobile phones.

Successive attacks by myriad rebel and militia groups and government soldiers have made the region notorious among rights groups for mass killings, recruitment of child soldiers and rapes used as a weapon of war.

Political analysts say stalled talks between M23 and the Congolese government in Uganda could be exposing old grievances between Makenga and Ntaganda, who have previously found themselves in different factions of rebel movements in Congo.

A split within M23 could undermine peace negotiations, particularly if one faction chooses to continue fighting.

The group accuses the government of failing to hold up its end of a March 23, 2009 peace deal - from which it takes its name - and has sought to gain popular support by tapping into public frustration over the slow pace of reforms in Congo.

M23 has controlled Rutshuru since July and has made it a central administrative zone for the movement. The town, in North Kivu province, is close to the Ugandan and Rwandan borders.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seth MacFarlane on Re-Hosting the Oscars: No Way!


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Hagel?s confirmation; the Republican scorecard, with particular attention to Rand Paul (Powerlineblog)

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Bernanke signals continued support for low rates

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Ben Bernanke sent a message Tuesday to Congress: The Federal Reserve's low-interest-rate policies are giving crucial support to an economy still burdened by high unemployment.

The Fed chairman acknowledged the risks of keeping rates low indefinitely. But he expressed confidence that such risks pose little threat now.

Delivering the Fed's semiannual monetary report to Congress, Bernanke sought to minimize concerns that the central bank's easy-money policies might cause runaway inflation later or dangerous bubbles in assets like stocks. He sought to reassure sometimes-skeptical senators that the Fed is monitoring potential threats and can defuse them before they hurt the economy.

Several Fed policymakers said at their most recent meeting that the Fed might have to scale back its bond purchases because of the risks. Those comments, contained in minutes released last week, fanned speculation that the Fed might soon allow long-term borrowing rates to rise. Stock prices fell sharply.

But Bernanke gave no signal that the Fed might shift away from its low-interest-rate policy. He said its aggressive program to buy $85 billion a month in Treasurys and mortgage bonds had kept borrowing costs low. And that, in turn, has helped strengthen sectors such as housing and autos, he said.

On budget policy, Bernanke urged Congress to replace the automatic spending cuts due to start Friday with more gradual reductions in budget deficits in the short run. He noted that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the automatic spending cuts that take effect Friday would shave growth by 0.6 percentage point this year.

"Congress and the administration should consider replacing the sharp, front-loaded spending cuts required by the sequestration with policies that reduce the federal deficit more gradually in the near term but more substantially in the longer run," Bernanke said.

Economists said Bernanke made clear the Fed has no plans to scale back its pace of bond purchases.

"That policy will continue to be supportive for growth, with no sign of imminent plans to scale down (the bond purchases) and certainly no plans to remove accommodation for a very long time," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Addressing concerns that the bond purchases, which have pushed the Fed's balance sheet to a record high above $3 trillion, could trigger high inflation, Bernanke said:

"Inflation is currently subdued and inflation expectations appear well-anchored. We do not see the potential costs of the increased risk-taking in some financial markets as outweighing the benefits of promoting a stronger economic recovery and more-rapid job creation."

He said that over the past six months, the economy has grown moderately but unevenly. Bernanke said the pause in growth seen in the final three months of 2012 "does not appear to be a stalling-out of the recovery." He said growth appears to have picked up in the past two months.

Shortly before the Fed chairman spoke, several reports pointed to surprising economic strength: Americans' confidence in the economy rebounded this month, new-home sales jumped in January to the highest level since 2008, home prices rose at a healthy pace in December compared with a year ago and profits of U.S. banks jumped last quarter to the highest level in six years.

Bernanke was asked whether the Fed's bond buying could push its balance sheet to $4 trillion. He said that it has no target for how much in bonds it plans to buy.

He noted that the Fed's balance sheet is less than that of the Bank of Japan, which has battled for more than two decades to strengthen the sluggish Japanese economy.

Asked about possible threats to the U.S. economy from Europe's financial crisis, including new fears about Italy, Bernanke said that the exposure of American banks to Italy's debt was small.

He said a bigger threat could emerge if investors grew worried that the debt crisis might suddenly be worsening. He doesn't foresee such a threat, Bernanke said.


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deal of the Day: Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit Case for Galaxy Note 2

Deal of the Day The Feb. 26 Deal of the Day is the Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit Case for Galaxy Note 2. These gel cases are made from shock absorbent and scratch resistant thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). They are slim-fitting, and provide great protection for the Galaxy Note 2 while offering a wide variety of color options to choose from!

The Cruzerlite Bugdroid Curcuit Case is available for just $8.00, 60% off today only. Grab yours while supplies last!

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PFT: Mathieu ready to get back on field

FlaccoGetty Images

If the Ravens want to make Joe Flacco the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, and if Flacco is satisfied to barely clear the bar set last year by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, there?s a quick and easy way to get this contract done.

Using Brees? 2012 contract as the starting point, Flacco would get a $40 million signing bonus, a fully-guaranteed base salary of $5 million in 2013, and base salaries of $10 million in 2014, $13 million in 2015, $15 million in 2016, and $18 million in 2017.

Under the rules of signing-bonus proration, $8 million would be applied to each year?s salary cap.? That would result in a cap number of $13 million in 2013, $18 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015, $23 million in 2016, and $26 million in 2017.

It equates to a five-year payout of $101 million ? $1 million better than Brees and, for now, making Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.

The two sides would have to decide whether and to what extent the money due beyond 2013 would be guaranteed, for injury only or fully.? Last year, Brees received $40 million in the first year, with $20 million guaranteed for injury only in future years.? (The injury guarantees eventually convert to full guarantees.)

The cap number in the final year would be a potential problem for the Ravens, since Flacco presumably would have one more long-term contract left before retirement.? Specifically, the $26 million cap number in 2017 would translate to a franchise tag of $31.2 million in 2018.? Thus, it would make more sense for the Ravens to tack on a sixth year at a base salary of, say, $21 million.

This would keep the average north of $20 million per year and it would give the Ravens a more manageable franchise number of $25.2 million for 2019.

Is it really that simple?? Yes, it is.? Which means that it likely won?t happen this way.

Even though it could be worked out in a matter of hours.? Or, if both sides are truly motivated, a matter of minutes.


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UK cardinal contests 'inappropriate' acts claims

FILE - A Thursday Sept. 16, 2010 photo from files showing Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland. Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry and have children, Britain's most senior Catholic cleric said Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the requirement for priestly celibacy is "not of divine origin" and could be reconsidered. He told BBC Scotland that "the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry _ Jesus didn't say that." (AP Photo/Scott Campbell, File)

FILE - A Thursday Sept. 16, 2010 photo from files showing Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland. Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry and have children, Britain's most senior Catholic cleric said Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the requirement for priestly celibacy is "not of divine origin" and could be reconsidered. He told BBC Scotland that "the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry _ Jesus didn't say that." (AP Photo/Scott Campbell, File)

LONDON (AP) ? The Vatican is looking into allegations of "inappropriate behavior" by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Catholic cleric, officials said Sunday. The claims came at a sensitive time, as O'Brien and other cardinals prepare for a conclave to choose the next pope.

O'Brien, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, was taking advice from lawyers after British newspaper The Observer reported that three priests and a former priest have filed complaints to the Vatican alleging that the cardinal approached them in an inappropriate manner.

The paper did not cite the names of the priests, but it said their allegations date back to the 1980s.

"Cardinal O'Brien contests these claims and is taking legal advice," Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church, said. He declined to comment further.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the complaints had been channeled through the office of the papal nuncio ? the Vatican's ambassador ? in London. "The pope has been informed, and the question is in his hands," Lombardi said.

In the coming weeks, O'Brien, 74, is expected to join a conclave of cardinals at the Vatican to elect the next pontiff, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict announced earlier this month that he will step down on Thursday ? the first pope to resign in some 600 years.

O'Brien has not been the only cardinal to become embroiled in negative news as the papal election approaches. Across the Atlantic, thousands of people have signed a petition to keep California Cardinal Roger Mahony from the conclave because of revelations he had shielded sexually abusive priests.

Mahony has made it clear he will attend the gathering and that no one can force him to recuse himself.

In comments on the papacy made to the BBC on Friday, O'Brien said the next pope would be free to consider changing church policy on issues that were not "basic dogmatic beliefs." He said he believed that the requirement for priestly celibacy is not "of divine origin" and could be reconsidered.

O'Brien also said it was time to think seriously about having a pope from outside Europe. He said he would be "open to a pope from anywhere if I thought it was the right man, whether it was Europe or Asia or Africa or wherever."

The cardinal is due to retire when he turns 75 in March.

Associated Press


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Washington's presidential library gets $10M gift


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Kentucky Training Program Teaches Job Skills To Those Who Are Struggling

I have never gotten over the sting of standing in a grocery check-out lane with my food stamp coupons and overhearing the woman behind me make disparaging remarks about people on welfare.

That was more than 30 years ago, while I was earning a college degree, working an internship and caring for my daughter. I needed all of the $135 I received monthly, the food stamps, the medical card for my daughter, and the rent assistance just to hang on. The woman in the line assumed I was getting a handout, while I knew it was a hand-up.

Read the whole story at

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Helena Bonham Carter Dress 2013 (PHOTOS)

Although Helena Bonham Carter isn't nominated for an Academy Award this year, it doesn't mean she isn't going to be a shock on the red carpet. The "Les Mis?rables" star has a very eclectic sense of style which always shows through with her red carpet gowns.

See the 46-year-old's Vivienne Westwood dress at the 2013 Academy Awards and tell us what you think!


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See the rest of the red carpet glam:

  • Jessica Chastain

    in an Armani Priv? dress, Christian Louboutin shoes and Harry Winston jewelry.

  • Anne Hathaway

    in Prada.

  • Charlize Theron

    in a Christian Dior Couture dress and Harry Winston jewelry.

  • Naomi Watts

    in an Armani Priv? dress, Jimmy Choo shoes, a Roger Vivier bag and Neil Lane jewelry.

  • Amanda Seyfried

    in an Alexander McQueen dress, Roger Vivier shoes and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.

  • Halle Berry

    in Versace.

  • Kristen Stewart

    in a Naeem Khan dress, Jimmy Choo shoes and Fred Leighton jewelry.

  • Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck

    Garner in a Gucci dress and Neil Lane jewelry; Affleck in Gucci.

  • Renee Zellweger

    in Carolina Herrera.

  • Sandra Bullock

    in Elie Saab.

  • Nicole Kidman

    in a L'Wren Scott dress and Fred Leighton jewelry.

  • Kerry Washington

    in a Miu Miu dress, Christian Louboutin shoes, Prada clutch, Chopard earrings and Fred Leighton ring.

  • Salma Hayek

    in Alexander McQueen.

  • Jennifer Aniston

    in a Valentino dress, Salvatore Ferragamo clutch and Fred Leighton jewelry.

  • Adele

    in a Jenny Packham dress and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.

  • Olivia Munn

    in Marchesa.

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    in a Christian Dior Couture dress, Brian Atwood shoes, Roger Vivier clutch and Chopard jewelry.

  • Reese Witherspoon

    in Louis Vuitton.

  • Amy Adams

    in an Oscar de la Renta dress and Moa jewelry.

  • Bradley Cooper and guest

  • Hugh Jackman

    in Tom Ford.

  • Julie Yaeger and Paul Rudd

    Rudd in Giorgio Armani.

  • George Clooney and Stacy Keibler

    Clooney in Giorgio Armani; Keibler in a Naeem Khan dress, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.

  • Emmanuelle Riva

  • Naomie Harris

    in Vivienne Westwood.

  • Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw

  • Helen Hunt

    in H&M.

  • Christoph Waltz and Judith Holste

  • Melissa McCarthy

    in David Meister.

  • Helena Bonham Carter

    in Vivienne Westwood.

  • Sally Field

    in Valentino.

  • Zoe Saldana

    in an Alexis Mabille Couture dress, Roger Vivier shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo clutch and Neil Lane jewelry.

  • Octavia Spencer

    in a Tadashi Shoji dress, Prada shoes, Edie Parker clutch and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.

  • Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman

  • Richard Gere

  • Quentin Tarantino and Lianne Spiderbaby

  • Mark Ruffalo and Sunrise Coigney

  • Jamie Foxx and Corinne Bishop

    Foxx in Calvin Klein.

  • Jeremy Renner

    in Givenchy.

  • Justin Theroux

    in Salvatore Ferragamo.

  • Queen Latifah

    in Badgley Mischka.

  • Daniel Day-Lewis and Rebecca Miller

  • Dustin and Lisa Hoffman

    Dustin in Calvin Klein.

  • Tom Hooper

  • Jane Fonda

    in Versace.

  • Norah Jones

    in Tadashi Shoji.

  • Marcia Gay Harden

    in a David Meister dress, Swarovski clutch and John Hardy jewelry.

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones

    in a Zuhair Murad dress and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.

  • Jennifer Hudson

    in a Roberto Cavalli dress, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, Jimmy Choo clutch and Sutra jewelry.

  • Bryan Cranston and Robin Dearden

  • Gloria Reuben

Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram at @HuffPostStyle.
Do you have a style story idea or tip? Email us at (PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)

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Vanessa Hudgens at the Rome Premiere of "Spring Breakers"

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Texas Moves More Than 100,000 State Workers to Microsoft Cloud

More than 100,000 workers in Texas will be moved to the cloud in one of the largest cloud deployments in state government, Microsoft announced Feb. 15.

The contract, which will give state workers access to Office 365, will provide compliance with the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) and federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security standards.

This ability to meet stringent security standards was one of the main reasons Texas chose Microsoft as a vendor over its competitors, said Todd Kimbriel, director of e-government for the Texas Department of Information Resources.

?One element in the public sector here in Texas that everyone holds in the highest regard is that we have to protect the information of the citizens,? he said, adding that CJIS security standards in particular provide an unmatched level of security.

?Anybody that's going to touch a computer system, server or mainframe where data exists has to go through an FBI background check,? he said. That means every administrator who has access to cloud data must first be vetted by the federal government.

Though this is the first contract in which Microsoft has signed a CJIS Security Addendum, the company's competitors like Amazon, for instance, could not have provided the state with that level of security, Kimbriel said.

Texas looked at all the major cloud vendors, he said, and while they liked the culture of innovation marketed by Google, Microsoft had a longer tradition of providing enterprise support that made them feel more comfortable. In addition, the cloud contract is a continuation of the state's past relationship with Microsoft, as many Texas agencies began using Microsoft Exchange five years ago.

But the contract wasn't just a matter of security and building on an old relationship, Kimbriel said -- it will also save the state money.

?We're paying about a 75 percent discount now compared to what we were paying a competitor four years ago,? he said.

The state initially plans to move about 110,000 employees onto Office 365 at a cost of about $3.50 per user, per month, or $4.60 annually. ?And that's just the beginning,? Kimbriel said. ?We're looking to expand that. I think several hundred thousand total employees is the ultimate employee count for the state.?

Eventually, he said, they would like to move all employees onto the Microsoft cloud, but the initial move of 110,000 will occur over the next three to four months.

?For us I think it's all about shared infrastructure,??Kimbriel?said. ?It's about trying to do license agreements and enterprise strategies. This is an optimized approach, he said, versus having 125 separate agencies trying to buy a product or a service. "Instead, do deals and use technology that will allow us to leverage collective buying power of the entire state.?

Though this is Microsoft's first CJIS-compliant deployment, it has fulfilled contracts with Chicago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration, Minnesota, California and New York.

?One of the big things that government customers have to think about when moving to the cloud are areas around specific security and privacy laws, or regulations or policies that these customers ultimately have to comply with,? said Michael Donlan, Microsoft's vice president of U.S. state and local government affairs.??As you see a lot of government customers move to cloud, they're recognizing the importance of utilizing new technologies and choosing vendor that focuses heavily on the security and privacy aspects.?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


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Browns coach won't commit to Weeden as starting QB

The Browns commitment to Brandon Weeden remains tepid (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

February 22, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- A year ago at the NFL Scouting Combine, there was uncertainty about the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

A year later at the NFL Scouting Combine, there is uncertainty about the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

What a difference a year makes.

Yes, that was written in #sarcasmfont.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski met with the local media Friday morning and had a few more positives for incumbent Brandon Weeden, but not enough to say Weeden is his guy.

?I?ve looked at Brandon,? Chudzinski said. ?I?m excited about getting Brandon on the field and in the meetings and around the building. It?s tough when you?re just looking at tape. That?s one piece of it . Certainly he has some good tools to work with, he had some success, you saw progress last year.?

Which is a tad better than the faint praise the Browns have been given Weeden, but just a tad. If the coach sounded vague, it was because he was -- about many things other than to say there is a harmonious love affair in the front office between him, Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner.

Pressed several times about the quarterback and the constant changes that have taken place in Cleveland with the position, Chudzinski said he wants to see Weeden on the field. Never mind that ?on the field? in the short term means shorts and T-shirts.

?You can look at tape and evaluate tape but until you?re around guys, asking them to do certain things and seeing them react decides how far they can go,? Chudzinski said.

It makes sense on one level, but also indicates the Browns still want to bring in a quarterback of some sort to provide competition for Weeden, something owner Jimmy Haslam said would happen. Chudzinski said he liked Weeden?s arm -- ?He can make all the throws? -- and his poise and demeanor in the pocket.

But he still has to see him.

?Guys are going to have opportunities, and when guys have opportunities they have to make good on those opportunities and deliver,? Chudzinski said. ?That?s ultimately what you want to see as a coach, and that?s what you?re looking for.?

The Browns won?t be able to get players in the building until April 1 and they won?t get them on the field until mid-April, where Chudzinski will be allowed to have an extra minicamp.

Players can work out the two weeks in April, but can?t take part in organized football activities.

With free agency starting March 12, the Browns could have added another quarterback by April 1. Or they could not have. It?s just that vague.

Chudzinski also addressed his defensive line as it transitions from the four-three to the three-four. He minimized the upheaval the switch could cause, saying Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn all can play end or nose tackle, and he believes Jabaal Sheard can stand up as a linebacker and play down as an end in both the four-three and three-four. Chudzinski said Sheard also can drop into coverage, something he?s seldom done with the Browns.

?Obviously that?ll be something that he?ll learn and keep working on,? Chudzinski said. ?I know that there were a lot of three-four teams that were interested in him as well.?

Chudzinski touched on some other issues Browns-related.

Among them:

--The possible re-signing of free agent to be Phil Dawson: ?Phil had a great year last year. Obviously I know Phil and I have a lot of respect for Phil. I?m just not going to get into what?s going on in any of our free agent type situations.?

--Who will play outside linebacker in the new defense: ?Sheard will be one, perhaps Chris Gocong at the other if he?s recovered from his torn Achilles tear?

-- though Chudzinski didn?t even know if Gocong would be back by April 1. D?Qwell Jackson will play one of the inside linebacker spots.

--Whether he is willing to trade Weeden or McCoy: ?Again, we?re not going to get into any specifics on any of our guys, any of those type of things. We?re looking to improve our team in any areas by any means of doing that.?

--Other areas of team need: ?We do have a lot of areas we need to improve on. I?m not going to get into specifics on that.?


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Inside an Amish Tech Trade Show

You'd be unlikely to see many Amish folks at CES or MWC or any other technology expo—because, for a start, many of them don't use electricity. But don't feel sorry for them, because they have a trade show all of their own. More »


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Friday, February 22, 2013

Storm pounds Midwest, eyes Northeast

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A major winter storm headed northeast into the U.S. Great Lakes on Friday and threatened New England after blanketing states from Minnesota to Ohio with blinding snow, sleet and freezing rain.

The storm dumped more than a foot of snow in Kansas on Thursday, forcing airports to cancel hundreds of flights and stranding motorists on highways.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James said that about 60 buses were stuck on snowbound streets on Thursday, and even tow trucks were left immobile by the storm.

"It's still an ongoing process to get people off the roads," he told CNN.

About 570 flights were canceled on Friday, with 127 of them at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Kansas City International Airport reopened after being closed on Thursday while crews cleared runways.

The National Weather Service said the storm would move northeast into the upper Great Lakes over the next several days.

Sleet and freezing rain was possible in the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states, with thunderstorms expected on the storm's southern fringe in the southeastern United States, it said.

The storm is expected to reach the East Coast this weekend, delivering heavy snow to parts of New England for a third straight weekend, from northern Connecticut to southern Maine.


Kansas bore the brunt of the bad weather on Thursday, with up to 15 inches of snow in some parts of the state, according to the National Weather Service.

A 200-mile (323-km) stretch of Interstate 70 in central Kansas was closed and strewn with cars stuck in snow.

National Guard troops riding in Humvees were dispatched to look for stranded motorists along the interstate and other highways, said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for Kansas emergency management services.

The fierce storm triggered severe thunderstorms from eastern Texas to Georgia.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback declared states of emergency because of hazardous travel and possible power outages. Brownback ordered state offices closed because of the storm.

In Nebraska, a 19-year-old woman was killed in a two-car accident on Wednesday on Interstate 80 near Giltner. The Nebraska State Patrol said weather was a factor.

An 18-year-old man died in Oklahoma when his vehicle slid into a tractor-trailer on a slushy state highway, the state's highway patrol said.

Drought-stricken farmers in the Great Plains, one of the world's largest wheat-growing areas, welcomed the moisture brought by the storm, although experts said more rain or snow would be needed to ensure healthy crops.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)


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Bullied children can suffer lasting psychological harm as adults

Feb. 20, 2013 ? Bullied children grow into adults who are at increased risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a study led by researchers at Duke Medicine.

The findings, based on more than 20 years of data from a large group of participants initially enrolled as adolescents, are the most definitive to date in establishing the long-term psychological effects of bullying.

Published online Feb. 20, 2013, in JAMA Psychiatry, the study belies a common perception that bullying, while hurtful, inflicts a fleeting injury that victims outgrow.

"We were surprised at how profoundly bullying affects a person's long-term functioning," said William E. Copeland, PhD, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and lead author of the study. "This psychological damage doesn't just go away because a person grew up and is no longer bullied. This is something that stays with them. If we can address this now, we can prevent a whole host of problems down the road."

A previous longitudinal study of bullied children, conducted in Finland, found mixed results, concluding that boys had few lasting problems, while girls suffered more long-term psychological harm. That study, however, relied on registry data in the health system that didn't fully capture psychiatric records.

Copeland and colleagues had a much richer data set. Using the Great Smoky Mountain Study, the research team tapped a population-based sample of 1,420 children ages 9, 11 and 13 from 11 counties in western North Carolina. Initially enrolled in 1993, the children and their parents or caregivers were interviewed annually until the youngsters turned 16, and then periodically thereafter.

At each assessment until age 16, the child and caregiver were asked, among other things, whether the child had been bullied or teased or had bullied others in the three months immediately prior to the interview.

A total of 421 child or adolescent participants -- 26 percent of the children -- reported being bullied at least once; 887 said they suffered no such abuse. Boys and girls reported incidents at about the same rate. Nearly 200 youngsters, or 9.5 percent, acknowledged bullying others; 112 were bullies only, while 86 were both bullies and victims.

Of the original 1,420 children, more than 1,270 were followed up into adulthood. The subsequent interviews included questions about the participants' psychological health.

As adults, those who said they had been bullied, plus those who were both victims and aggressors, were at higher risk for psychiatric disorders compared with those with no history of being bullied. The young people who were only victims had higher levels of depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia.

Those who were both bullies and victims had higher levels of all anxiety and depressive disorders, plus the highest levels of suicidal thoughts, depressive disorders, generalized anxiety and panic disorder. Bullies were also at increased risk for antisocial personality disorder.

The researchers were able to sort out confounding factors that might have contributed to psychiatric disorders, including poverty, abuse and an unstable or dysfunctional home life.

"Bullying is potentially a problem for bullies as well as for victims," said senior author E. Jane Costello, PhD, associate director of research at Duke's Center for Child and Family Policy. "Bullying, which we tend to think of as a normal and not terribly important part of childhood, turns out to have the potential for very serious consequences for children, adolescents and adults."

Costello and Copeland said they would continue their analysis, with future studies exploring the role sexual orientation plays in bullying and victimization.

In addition to Costello and Copeland, study authors include Adrian Angold of Duke and Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick, Coventry, England.

The work received support from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH63970, MH63671, and MH48085); the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA/MH11301); the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation; and the William T. Grant Foundation.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Duke University Medical Center.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. William E. Copeland et al. Adult Psychiatric Outcomes of Bullying and Being Bullied by Peers in Childhood and Adolescence. JAMA Psychiatry, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Microsoft patent application would automatically disinfect grimy touchscreens (update: related tech)

Microsoft patent application would automatically disinfect our grimy touchscreens

We've all seen that touchscreen device in the store that's covered with fingerprints (and possibly contagions) from curious shoppers. While it's unlikely that we'll get sick from all that touching, Microsoft is trying for a patent that would set our minds at ease. The method would send ultraviolet light bouncing through a film on or inside a touchscreen, disinfecting fingertips and contact areas without blasting the person directly. Processing inside the gadget could also dictate just when and for how long the UV blast would run. It could kick in only after a user was done, for example, and last just long enough to kill common germs. There's no clues that Microsoft is about to use the technology in real-world products. Still, we wouldn't mind touching an extra-sanitary Windows phone or tablet -- or rather, someone else's.

Update: Microsoft applied for a UV cleaning approach before, but that depended on coupling UV with the backlight; this newer patent would give Microsoft considerably more flexibility.

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Source: USPTO


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Florida House panel OKs bill to cut penalties for violating class sizes

By The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE ? Financial penalties would be reduced for school districts that violate Florida's class size limits under a bill moving in the Legislature.

A House education subcommittee approved the measure (HB 189) on Wednesday.

A 2002 state constitutional amendment limits classes in core subjects to 18 students in kindergarten through third grade, 22 in fourth through eighth grade and 25 in high school.

The state now penalizes districts for every class over those limits. Under the new bill, the state would impose penalties only if a school's average class size violates the limits.

That's the way the penalties were applied during a phase-in period from 2006 through 2010.

Statewide penalties totaled only $267,000 in the last year of school average penalties, but since then they have ranged from $10 million last year to $5.8 million this year.


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cardinal Dolan Questioned on Sex Abuse Before Trip to Rome

Next week, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be enjoying the comforts of Rome as part of the conclave that will choose the next pope, which could even be him, although his chances are considered slim. But first, the ugly stuff: Dolan was deposed for three hours yesterday about sexual abuse at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led from 2002 to 2009, where 575 people have filed claims against the church over the years. As the archdiocese attempts to file bankruptcy, lawyers for the victims want to know what Dolan knew and when.

"Today Cardinal Dolan had the long-awaited opportunity to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors, during the time he was privileged to serve as Archbishop of Milwaukee," said an Archdiocese of New York spokesperson in a statement. "He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could."

An attorney for the plaintiffs sees it another way: "The deposition of Cardinal Dolan is necessary to show that there?s been a longstanding pattern and practice to keep secrets and keep the survivors from knowing that there had been a fraud committed," he told the New York Times. A representative for the victims' group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests argued that Dolan "did a lot of creative maneuvering of priest sex offenders and creative accounting of church money," as previously reported, without punishing those responsible.

While Dolan's exact answers from yesterday are not yet known, the Survivors' Network plans to make his testimony public. Whether that will affect his distant chances to become pope, only the conclave really knows.


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First Person: How I Protect My Family from Chemicals in Everyday Products

A report released Tuesday says the man-made chemicals in products we use every day-toys, perfumes, beverage containers and more-are likely responsible for at least some cancers, birth defects and psychiatric problems. How do parents approach the use of chemicals in their homes? Yahoo News asked for some perspectives. Here's one.

FIRST PERSON | United Nations-sponsored research released Tuesday links man-made chemicals in everyday products to increased birth deformities, hormonal cancers and psychiatric diseases, reports Reuters.

As a 25-year mom of two girls and two boys, those findings don't surprise. They do concern me, however. As a special-needs teacher and health writer, I've followed findings on phthalate and BPA (Bisphenol A)-- chemical plastics connected to health problems-- for years.

Am I paranoid and terrified by the findings? No. We live in a chemical-drenched society. It would be impossible to avoid them all. Do findings cause me to make more mindful choices? Absolutely. I avoid excessive use of products made with plastics. To prevent ingestion, I've quit serving foods in plastic. I use fewer plastic disposables and opt for paper over plastic. I look for lunch containers that are BPA-free. I serve fewer foods from cans. I buy metal water bottles. On the rare occasions when we drink from plastic bottles, I don't refrigerate them. I microwave less and don't heat on Styrofoam or plastic. This helps prevent plastic chemicals from leaching into food or beverages.

When our children were babies, I breastfed and never gave them bottles. I also avoided plastic teething rings (both major sources of BPA and phthalates). Unfortunately, when our children (ages 24, 22, 20 and 14) were young, we did use sipper cups (another plastic contamination source). I used them only at mealtimes and didn't allow kids to chew on cups or carry them everywhere.

I wish I'd realized how dangerous plastic was then. If I was parenting little ones now, I'd definitely look for products made without phthalates or BPA.

The Reuters report says the U.S. now bans the use of these chemicals. That's good, but it may be too late for kids already exposed.

-- Marilisa Sachteleben, Grand Haven, Mich.


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Sony unveils its next game console, the PlayStation 4, arriving in holiday 2013

Sony tonight announced its much-rumored next video game console, the PlayStation 4. Sony Computer Entertainment prez and CEO Andrew House announced the console with little more than a logo and a handful of concepts, though he did say it's coming in holiday 2013. We're sure to hear more as the night goes on, and we'll be updating this post as we learn more.

Lead system architect Mark Cerny -- legendary game dev and, to us, creator of Marble Madness -- came up next. He said that development of the PS4 started five years ago. Cerny said he's been exploring how to evolve "the PlayStation ecosystem," and he started by speaking to the limitations of PlayStation 3. Cerny said he's been aiming to make sure "nothing gets between the platform and the game." An image of an old-timey hunter shooting space invaders in the sky is used as an example -- here's hoping the PS4 doesn't mean we'll be taking plastic guns and shooting pixels in the sky.

"We were able to create in PlayStation 4 a system by game creators, for game creators," Cerny said. As far as specs, he said it runs on x86 architecture, a "highly enhanced" PC GPU (with "almost 2 teraflops of performance," he added), an unknown amount of local HDD storage, and 8GB of GDDR5 system memory. Cerny next unveiled the DualShock 4, which looks an awful lot like the leaks we saw recently -- it features a touchpad, a light bar, and what looks like rubberized grips. Otherwise, it looks an awful lot like a DualShock 3 with some new bells and whistles.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

*Karen Smith Walton* is today's Facebook Friend of the Day. Karen is from St. Pe...

*Karen Smith Walton* is today's Facebook Friend of the Day. Karen is from St. Petersburg, Florida, but now lives in Daphne. She gets all her news from Local 15. Thanks Karen! Enjoy your *15 of fame* and tune in at 5, 6 and 10 to see the announcement air.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chavez makes surprise return to Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba on Monday more than two months after surgery for cancer that has jeopardized his 14-year rule of the South American OPEC member.

The 58-year-old socialist leader's homecoming will fuel supporters' hopes he could return to active rule but there was no new information on his medical state and Chavez might be simply hoping to smooth a transition.

After a six-hour operation in Cuba on December 11, Chavez had not been seen or heard in public until photos were published of him on Friday.

"We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment," Chavez said via Twitter after flying in.

There had been speculation Chavez was not well enough to travel despite wanting to return for continued treatment for the disease he was first diagnosed with in mid-2011.

But Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Chavez flew in at about 2:30 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) from Havana and was in a military hospital in Caracas, where a crowd was gathering.

"I remain attached to Christ and trusting in my nurses and doctors," Chavez also tweeted. "Onwards to victory forever! We will live and we will conquer!"

He added his thanks to Cuban leaders Raul and Fidel Castro for his treatment there.


Chavez's arrival thrilled supporters in the nation of 29 million people, where his common touch and welfare policies have made him an idol to the poor.

"It's fabulous news, the best thing possible," Chavez's cousin, Guillermo Frias, told Reuters from the president's rural birthplace in Barinas state. "Venezuela was waiting for him, everyone wants to see him. Welcome home! Thank God he's back!"

Fireworks could be heard going off in some Caracas neighborhoods as news spread and celebrations began among "Chavistas."

Government ministers were jubilant with one singing "He's back, he's back!" live on state TV. They asked Chavez's euphoric supporters to respect the peace of patients at the military hospital.

Chavez's arrival implied some improvement in his condition, at least enough to handle a flight of several hours.

But aides have emphasized in recent days his state remains delicate. "It's a complex, difficult situation, but Chavez is battling and fighting for his life," Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said during the weekend as he described a recent visit to Chavez.

The December operation in Havana was his fourth for the cancer first detected in his pelvic area in June 2011.


On Friday, the government published photos showing Chavez lying in a hospital. Officials said he was breathing through a tracheal tube and struggling to speak.

Chavez's pre-dawn return was a typical surprise move for the former soldier whose rule has combined constant political theatrics with thundering anti-U.S. rhetoric, tough treatment of opponents and lavish spending of oil revenues on the poor.

Opponents have been decrying government secrecy over Chavez's condition, and some have called for a formal declaration that he is unfit to rule. That would trigger a new presidential election within 30 days, probably between Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver, is Chavez's preferred successor and would be favorite to win a close vote in such a scenario.

"Uncertainty over a possible presidential election remains intact, despite the president's return," Venezuelan political analyst Luis Vicente Leon said.

After winning re-election in October last year, and wrongly declaring himself cured, Chavez was unable to attend his own swearing-in ceremony in January. To the fury of his foes, Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that he remained president and could be sworn in later.

That could now happen at the military hospital.

"Now the president is back, there can be no doubt about the democratic institutions working in Venezuela," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said.

"There were some who dream of unseating Chavez and the revolution, but here we always said Chavez is the president elected and re-elected by will of the Venezuelan people."

Chavez's return will eclipse national debate over a recent devaluation of the local currency. It has proved highly popular among Venezuelans but opposition parties see it as evidence of economic incompetence by the government.

Unlike previous returns to Venezuela after treatment, state media showed no images of Chavez this time.

His lengthy absence in Cuba had fuelled a long-held opposition accusation that Venezuela's government was being manipulated and directed from Havana. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is a political mentor and father figure to Chavez and Castro visited him regularly in the hospital.

Some 20 Venezuelan students have spent the past four days chained up close to the Cuban Embassy in Caracas in protest of what they see as interference from Havana in internal affairs.

Capriles welcomed Chavez back but pointedly said he hoped it would mean a return to order in government and attention to Venezuelans' daily problems.

(Additional reporting by Mario Naranjo; Editing by Angus MacSwan, James Dalgleish and Bill Trott)


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Terps Back in the NCAA Hunt with 83-81Victory over #2 Team in the Nation

February 17th, 2013 ? 3 Comments ? Uncategorized

The fact of the matter is that most fans were just happy over who the Terps beat ?yesterday. I was ecstatic because the win placed us back in the hunt for the big dance. Sitting with a marquis win and a possibilty of 10-8 in the Conference is more then anyone could really had hoped for early in the year.

Turgeon was very emotional after being asked a question by Kevin Cowherd as to what this victory meant to him:??It has been a hard week. I take a lot of pride in my coaching. I don?t do a lot of things well, but I like to think that I can coach fairly well. It has been a hard week on my family, hard on my son last week. He had to leave the stands because the fans were so hard on his dad. This win was for my family and the fans. I know what this win means for our fan base, and I really wanted to beat Duke. This means a lot to me. Over the summer I said if we beat Duke I am going to be in the stands with our fans.?

Let?s face it Coach Turgeon really had his kids prepared. He attacked the weakness of Duke, lack of size. The game was really in hand for 80% of the game ?only a stalwart comeback led by Seth Curry kept the Floppers close. In 33 minutes Alex rendered Mason Plumlee useless. Plumlee finished with 4 points and only 3 rebounds. Alex was great last night finishing wit 19 points and 9 rebounds.

Somehow or another the Terps were able to win despite committing 26 turnovers. In a performance reminiscent of a Freshman Greivis, Seth Allen scored 16 points yet had 8 turnovers. But Seth had the guts to make the big plays down the stretch. This was probably the first game that all 4 of the freshmen performed well together. Mithcell scored 8, Shaq 4, Jake 8, and the entire team helped Maryland toa 40-20 rebound edge.

Let?s call it like it is and complement Seth curry for a miraculous game finishing 11-17 from the field for 25 points. Without Seth, Duke would have been blown out.

Just for the record the personal fouls were about even 25 on the Terps to 24 for the enemy but Maryland had 34 foul shots to Duke?s 21. Why? Because once again Duke drew about 6 charges ?of which 3 were outright flops. I just don?t know how they keep getting away with it.

The crowd was sensational at a fever pitch the entire game.?

In the house last night were: Torrey Smith, SVP (Scot Van Pelt), Boomer Esaison, Dave Neal, Byron Mouton, Juan Dixon, Sean Mosley, Steve Sheppard among many others.





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