Miss California to appear at gospel music awards

Miss California Carrie Prejean (pray-ZHAWN') is keeping with the Christian theme by scheduling an appearance at the upcoming Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards.

Prejean has drawn attention for her comments against gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant, where she was first runner-up last weekend.

A spokeswoman for the beauty queen says she'll introduce a performance by Mercy Me of their hit "I Can Only Imagine" on Thursday night. The Dove Awards will air live from Nashville on the Gospel Music Channel beginning 8 p.m. Eastern.

During Sunday's Miss USA pageant, Prejean said in response to a question from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton that she believes "marriage should be between a man and a woman."

FDA to allow Plan B birth control for 17-year-olds

WASHINGTON – Women's groups cheered the government's decision to allow 17-year-olds to buy the "morning-after" emergency contraceptive without a doctor's prescription, but conservatives denounced it as a blow to parental supervision of teens.

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it would accept, not appeal, a federal judge's order that lifts Bush administration restrictions limiting over-the-counter sales of "Plan B" to women 18 and older. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled last month in a lawsuit filed in New York that President George W. Bush's appointees let politics, not science, drive their decision to restrict over-the-counter access.

Women's groups said the FDA's action was long overdue, since the agency's own medical reviewers had initially recommended that the contraceptive be made available without any age restrictions.

Korman ordered the FDA to let 17-year-olds get the birth control pills. He also directed the agency to evaluate clinical data to determine whether all age restrictions should be lifted.

The FDA's latest action does not mean that Plan B will be immediately available to 17-year-olds. The manufacturer must first submit a request.

"It's a good indication that the agency will move expeditiously to ensure its policy on Plan B is based solely on science," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit.

Conservatives said politics drove the decision.

"Parents should be furious at the FDA's complete disregard of parental rights and the safety of minors," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.

Plan B is emergency contraception that contains a high dose of birth control drugs and will not interfere with an established pregnancy. It works by preventing ovulation or fertilization. In medical terms, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus.

If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it can reduce a woman's chances of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent.

Critics of the contraceptive say Plan B is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Recent research suggests that's possible but not likely.

The battle over access to Plan B has dragged on for the better part of a decade, through the terms of three FDA commissioners. Among many in the medical community, it came to symbolize the decline of science at the agency because top FDA managers refused to go along with the recommendations of scientific staff and outside advisers that the drug be made available with no age restrictions.

"The FDA got caught up in a saga, it got caught up in a drama," said Susan Wood, who served as the agency's top women's health official and resigned in 2005 over delays in issuing a decision. "This issue served as a clear example of the agency being taken off track, and it highlighted the problems FDA was facing in many other areas."

The treatment consists of two pills and sells for $35 to $60. Women must ask for Plan B at the pharmacy counter and show identification with their date of birth. The drug is made by a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, an Israeli company. It does not prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS.

Supporters of broader access argued that Plan B is safe and effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy and could help reduce the number of abortions.

Opponents, including prominent conservatives, counter that it would encourage promiscuity and might even become a tool for criminals running prostitution rings, as well as for sexual predators.

Early in the Bush administration, more than 60 organizations petitioned the FDA to allow sales without a prescription. But according to court documents, the issue quickly became politicized.

In 2003, a panel of outside advisers voted 23-4 to recommend over-the-counter sales without age restrictions. But top FDA officials told their subordinates that no approval could be issued at the time, and the decision would be made at a higher level. That's considered highly unusual, since the FDA usually has the last word on drug decisions.

In his ruling, Korman said that FDA staffers were told the White House had been involved in the decision on Plan B. The government said in court papers that politics played no role.

In 2005, the Center for Reproductive Rights and other organizations sued in federal court to force an FDA decision.

The following year, the FDA allowed Plan B to be sold without a prescription to adults. But the controversy raged on over access for teens.

Ferguson & Wenger predict classic

Manchester United and Arsenal enjoy a fierce rivalry
Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are both predicting the upcoming Manchester United-Arsenal Champions League semi-final will produce two classic matches.
The two legs of the tie, on 29 April and 5 May, will be the first time the two fierce rivals have met each other on the European stage.
"We always produce exciting games. Both teams go forward so it will be a promising semi-final," said Wenger.
Ferguson added: "That it's an English side gives it a different spice."
With the first leg taking place at Old Trafford, Ferguson has already set his sights on taking a lead to the Emirates.

Played: 37
Manchester United wins: 14
Arsenal wins: 15
Draws: 8
(all competitions; wins/losses include games decided on penalties)
"We are two good footballing sides, so it should be a terrific semi-final," said Ferguson.
"Our game earlier in the season was fantastic. It was the way football should be played and we will look forward to it.
"The first leg is at home, so 1-0 would be perfect for us. But it is not going to be easy."
Both teams are also vying for the FA Cup, with their semi-finals 10 days before the Old Trafford encounter, while the end-of-season run-in will ensure it comes down to "form on the day", according to Wenger.
"You have two teams with the same programme," said the Frenchman.
"We are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and both have a game in hand to play the week after.

Wenger hails confident Gunners

"I believe that the form of the day and how much we can manage to be physically well on the day will have a big impact.
"We are up for the challenge and it will be very interesting. I would not like to speculate on any weakness of Manchester United - it is always difficult to play an English team because of their quality."
Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-1 at The Emirates earlier this season, and the teams are scheduled to meet again on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season.
Ever since Ferguson suggested Wenger was "a novice who should keep his opinions to Japanese football" towards the end of the Frenchman's first season in the Premier League, in 1996, the rivalry between the two clubs has veered between fierce and explosive.
In the 1997/98 campaign Arsenal won the Double after overturning United's 12-point Premier League lead in a sensational late season charge that included a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
The following season - United's historic treble winning year - the Red Devils beat the Gunners in a famous FA Cup semi-final replay in which Roy Keane was sent off, Peter Schmeichel saved a Dennis Bergkamp penalty and Ryan Giggs scored a stunning solo extra-time winner.
In Arsenal's 2003/04 'Invincibles' season a fiery clash at Old Trafford erupted in a brawl in the tunnel after the game as a result of the Arsenal players taunting Ruud van Nistelrooy after he missed a late penalty.

Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd - about as good a semi-final line-up as you can get
Probably most famously of all though was in 2004 when players and staff clashed in the tunnel after United's 2-0 win at Old Trafford brought to an end the Gunners' 49-game Premier League unbeaten run.
During the clash Ferguson was said to have been hit in the face by a slice of pizza, causing the incident to be known as 'Pizzagate' or the 'Battle of the buffet'.
Despite their familiarity with each other after decades of battling it out at the sharp end of the league, the semi-final will be the first time the two teams have ever met in the Champions League.
"I'm looking forward to it," said United striker Wayne Rooney.
"The only other English team we've played against in this competition was Chelsea, so it should be an exciting couple of games and hopefully we can overcome them."
Cristiano Ronaldo, whose memorable goal against Porto sealed United's progress, added: "We have an opportunity to win everything and we are very confident that we can."

Players' freshness was key - Ferguson

And Arsenal forward Theo Walcott, who opened the scoring in the second leg against Villareal, said he is under no illusions about the size of the task facing the Gunners.
"It will be very difficult," he said. "We always do well against them in the league but they are probably the best team in the world, I'd say, so we'll find it tough.
"But as long as we dig in and try to play like we did tonight, I'm sure we'll be fine."
Barcelona and Chelsea contest the other semi-final, meaning this year's final could be a repeat of last year's showpiece, when Manchester United beat the Blues on penalties, while Arsenal faced Barcelona in the 2006 final, losing 2-1.

Flying laptop kills driver

A CANADIAN WOMAN HAS BEEN KILLED by her laptop computer which was left unsecured on the back seat of her car.
25-year-old Heather Story was hit by a tow truck whilst driving in British Columbia and it seems that the laptop was propelled out of the rear seat by the impact and struck her in the back of the head.
Investigators have concluded that she would probably have survived the accident had she not been hit by the computer.
"She simply didn't have it secured within the confines of her car, and ultimately it has been the instrument of her death," said Mountie Robert Morrow.

Oh Lord
Here comes the Laptop Safty seats!
posted by : Doug Lytle, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Thank you.
I'll always put the safety belt on my notebook!
posted by : Curious, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
If only..
It had been a Netbook or UMPC?
There would be a different headline...
"Flyng laptop bruises driver"?
posted by : Slappy, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Was this story supposed to be amusing? Maybe it's a Three Stooges thing: the laws of physics sometimes mediate surprising injury and death. HahHahHah!
posted by : j21064, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
What Brand?
Maybe she could have survived if it was a MacBook air, as it would have floated away to cyberdom
posted by : Brand Conscious Freak, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
It used to be textbooks.
I was an EMT. Fatalities or brain trauma(which can be worse) have been caused by textbooks, bottles or canned goods. Don't leave heavy objects to become projectiles in your vehicle. It's usually kids who get smashed. I can't see the humour.
posted by : Nemo, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
not funnt
not funny at all. this is lame
emil, a href="http://www.citate-celebre.com/famous-quotes/" best quotes /a .com
posted by : dan, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
What's with all the dummies complaining that this isn't funny? It wasn't presented as a "funny" article.
The article is very simply and factually put, with even a safety recommendation at the end.
So the question is: why do the people who are complaining that this isn't funny, think it is funny?
posted by : JP, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Oh it was Nemo with the safety recommendation...still though people are idiots....they're the worst.
posted by : JP, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Ignorance can kill
Maybe better judgment by the driver would have saved her life?
posted by : Jorge, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
seatbelt killed her, not the laptop
If she wasn't wearing that death dealing seat belt, she would have been thrown safely from the car away for the evil seat belt forced on her by her evil over-controlling govt.
Death to seat-belt pushers everywhere! no really, kill them all.
posted by : mogwai, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Darwin Award
Well, this is an obvious candidate for a Darwin Award. Removing oneself from the gene pool in this way must increase the chances for a safer gene pool. A gene pool where people will not be as inclined to place heavy ballistic objects behind them in moving vehicles.
(Ok, I'll get my coat now)
posted by : Bertho, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Almost happened to me...
Or rather, I was driving a hatchback and struck in a side-impact around the rear wheel; the car spun a good 180 and a laptop, which had been loose in the back, went through the rear glass (along with some other belongings). Better than my head, I suppose. Laptops have the "benefit" of being somewhat heavy and made of slippery plastic, so they're going to fly relatively easily in a crash.
In light of my experience: If you have a hatch or wagon with a cargo cover of some type, use it; nobody gets in an accident on purpose, and it'll keep your stuff from going projectile if you're struck. (Similarly, never rest projectiles -- that includes coat hangers, so watch out if you use your coathooks -- in front of your front or side airbags unless you're shooting for a Darwin Award.)
posted by : A. Peon, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
The gene pool need chlorine
posted by : brickling, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
hard to imagine
It's quite hard to imagine since the seat area will be a lot lower than the head area inside a car. but yeah I have always put a seatbelt on my laptop if it's not inside the laptop bag, if it's in the bag I put it in the leg area between the drivers seat and the backseat, although I have to admit I do it in order to protect the computer :P
posted by : Kim Leo Jensen, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
There seem to be a lot of people criticising the victim...
I assume every last one of them straps down every item that weighs more than 8oz before they set off.
Let this story be a warning, anything loose in the car can become a lethal missile. Laptop, briefcase, frozen food from Tescos or even your mobile phone (especially if you still have a motorola 8800!)
posted by : Steve, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
Not Funny?
How can anyone think this is not funny? I think it's DAMN funny. Getting a laptop to the head and dying.. that's physical comedy at its finest.
Unless of course you're one of those soft touches who still has respect human life and all. We call people like that "pussies".
@ Brand Conscious Freak - No, if it was a MacBook Air it would be so razer thin it would have lopped her head clear off.. which would be even funnier.
posted by : Dick Verant, 16 April 2009Complain about this comment
I Love Dick
This man has said everything I was to polite to post myself. Word.
posted by : Lachlan W, 17 April 2009Complain about this comment

President Obama Backs Mexican War On Drugs

8:05pm UK, Thursday April 16, 2009
In his second big trip overseas since becoming US president, Barack Obama has arrived in Mexico in a show of support for the government's anti-drugs effort.

Federal police patrol in Mexico City where Obama is meeting Calderon
Mr Obama, who made his first foray onto the international stage in Europe earlier this month, will discuss energy and the economy with President Felipe Calderon in Mexico City.
White House officials have played up the symbolism of his Mexico visit, which is struggling to contain unprecedented criminal violence and combat a drugs war that is spilling over into the US.
Denis McDonough, of the National Security Council, said the President's visit underscores America's support for its southern neighbour at the highest levels.
Sky's Adam Boulton on Obama's trip

"It's designed to send a very clear signal to our friends in Mexico City that we have a series of shared challenges as it relates to the economy, as it relates to security, insecurity, the threat of violence, and the impact of drug trafficking on both our countries," he said.

Soldiers watch 14 tons of drugs burn
The Obama administration is tightening its border with Mexico to prevent trafficking of American guns to Mexican cartels.
It also plans to send Black Hawk helicopters to help the Mexican president defeat the well-armed drug gangs that killed thousands last year.
Mr Obama wants to improve relations with Mexico and other Latin American countries during his trip after a deterioration in relations his advisers blame on his predecessor.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has paved the way, acknowledging that the violence in Mexico stems partly from America's "insatiable demand" for drugs.
The US president is also meeting Mexican legislators during his visit and before heading to Trinidad and Tobago for the fifth Summit of the Americas.

Arsenal under no real threat, but Manchester United need to break new ground in Europe

After the drama and excitement of Chelsea v Liverpool, it's a very different story for the other two Premier League teams.After the drama and excitement of Chelsea v Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal both face potential difficulties in their Champions League second leg encounters tonight.

Do the two sides have what it takes to ensure that the semi-finals this year will feature three English sides?

PORTO v MANCHESTER UNITED (tonight 19.45):

Porto drew 2-2 at Old Trafford in the first leg last week, to pick up two vital away goals. In their Champions League campaign this season, they have won four, drawn three and lost two, scoring 13 and conceding 12 goals in the process. Porto will be without defender Jorge Fucile (ankle) for the match.

United's draw with Porto last week was their sixth of the campaign this season. They have won three others, scoring 13 goals and conceding five. They could welcome back Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand from injury, as both are included in the squad that travelled to Portugal. Rafael and Anderson are also  included, although they are still carrying minor injuries.

Prediction: United have still not recovered fully from their recent downturn in form, with their apparent defensive weakness still on show. They have conceded 12 goals in all competitions since the beginning of March, which is a far cry from the form that saw United go over three months (15/11/08 to 21/02/09) without conceding a single goal in the Premier League.

Obama exempts CIA 'torture' staff

US President Barack Obama says CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects during the Bush era will not be prosecuted.

Mr Obama banned the use of methods such as sleep deprivation and simulated drowning in his first week in office.

He has now released four memos detailing techniques the CIA was able to use under the Bush administration.

Rights groups have criticised his decision to protect CIA agents involved in the interrogation procedures.

Amnesty International said the Department of Justice appeared to be offering a "get-out-of-jail-free card" to individuals who were involved in acts of torture.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, which has championed the legal rights of the "war on terror" detainees, also expressed its disappointment.

"It is one of the deepest disappointments of this administration that it appears unwilling to uphold the law where crimes have been committed by former officials," it said in a statement.

Harsh techniques

On Thursday, the Obama administration published four secret memos detailing legal justification for the Bush-era CIA interrogation programme, whose methods critics say amounted to torture.

Announcing the publication of the memos, Mr Obama gave an assurance that "those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice... will not be subject to prosecution".

One of the documents contained legal authorisation for a list of specific harsh interrogation techniques, including pushing detainees against a wall, facial slaps, cramped confinement, stress positions and sleep deprivation.

The memo also authorises the use of "waterboarding", or simulated drowning, and the placing of a detainee into a confined space with an insect.

Critics of the Bush administration's interrogation programme say the memos provide evidence that many of the methods amount to torture under US and international law.

During his first week in office, President Obama issued an executive order officially outlawing the use of harsh interrogation techniques by the CIA, and forcing the agency to adhere to standards laid out in the US Army Field Manual.

The release of the memos stems from a request by civil rights group the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Chris Brown pleads not guilty to threatening and assaulting Rihanna

Baby-faced R&B star Chris Brown pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he beat his pop-singing girlfriend Rihanna during a nasty lovers' quarrel that spilled into a Los Angeles street.
In a soft voice, the 19-year-old platinum-selling artist entered his plea in Los Angeles Superior Court to felony charges of assault and making criminal threats.
Rihanna, 21, who has reportedly accepted Brown back as her beau, skipped the hearing, but sent her lawyer, Donald Etra.
Dressed in black tuxedo pants and a black cardigan sweater, Brown stood next to his lawyer, Mark Geragos. Brown's mother, Joyce Hawkins, sat in the front row, her eyes red-rimmed as she watched Geragos coach her son through the plea hearing
The "Run It!" singer was ordered to return to court April 29 for another hearing.
If convicted, Brown faces a five-year prison sentence.
Brown's lawyers have been in "intense" negotiations to hammer out a plea deal that would spare him jail time. Prosecutors declined comment.
Etra said Rihanna, who flew to her native Barbados earlier Monday for a family celebration, "would be pleased if this were over quickly."
"I believe that there are efforts on behalf of all of the parties to resolve the case expeditiously, to see if the case can be resolved prior to preliminary hearing," Etra said. "I think that would benefit everybody."
The shocking charges stem from what prosecutors said was an early-morning attack Feb. 8, the day the couple were both scheduled to perform at at the Grammy Awards.
They were driving home from a pre-Grammy party when they began fighting over a provocative text message Brown had received from another woman.
Rihanna told cops that Brown preceded to pummel her in a rented Lamborghini.
Bloodied and badly bruised, the Barbados-born beauty managed to get out of the car and scream for help.

Ronaldo rejects speculation

Cristiano Ronaldo has once again reiterated his desire to stay at Manchester United despite rumours of his future resurfacing.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Real Madrid had agreed a price for the winger but that has now been dismissed by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The question received a frosty response from the Scot with the 23-year-old World Player of the year also seemingly unimpressed with the query.
The 67-year-old manager was quoted as saying that he 'wouldn't sell Madrid a virus' during the World Club Cup in December and that viewpoint does not seem to have softened.
"I am happy at this club. I think it is the right club," Ronaldo said.
The reports also suggested that Real had stepped up their interest after hearing that the Portuguese international was growing tired of the constant rough treatment he receives in England.
But the former Sporting ace admitted that this season was no different to the previous five at Old Trafford.
Rough treatment
"It has always been like that," he added.
"It is only normal this season that the defenders have kicked me to try and stop me. It is just normal."
United moved back to the top of the Premier League on Sunday with a last-gasp 3-2 win over Aston Villa thanks to a brace from Ronaldo.
The win ended a run of two straight league defeats and the player is now confident United can secure success at home and abroad.
"We are the best team in England. We have shown that by being top of the table. That speaks for itself." he insisted.
"We respect all our opponents but if we carry on winning, we will win the title again. We have a chance to win everything this season.
"First we have to beat FC Porto. After that, we must carry on."
Ronaldo also sees similarities between his own debut against Bolton in August 2003 and 17-year-old Federico Macheda's first appearance for the senior team on Sunday.
The Italian youngster curled a sublime winner past Brad Friedel to ensure a valuable three points for the champions and his team-mate could not be more pleased for him.
"It's similar to me," he pointed out.
"The feeling is quite the same. I remember when I started to play for Manchester against Bolton when I came on (with) 70,000 supporters - it's not easy.
"I play good, I did good skills, good passes. When Kiko (Macheda) scored I know what he is feeling, it is one of the best days of his life.
"He is young and he can still improve and he is good. It is good to be involved with the first team and he scored a goal to help the team.
"I am really, really happy for him."

Profs: Sex with oldies or youngsters will give you the clap

In a finding sure to send ripples of fear through the showbiz world, profs in Florida have disclosed that having sex with people who are much older or younger than you increases your chances of catching a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).
“Partner selection is an area of STD prevention that could complement what we are already doing with promoting condom use, and could possibly really help people,” says Stephanie Staras, Florida Uni epidemiology prof.
RegAd('mpu1', 'reg.science.4159/biology', 'pos=top;sz=336x280', VCs);

“If somehow we could convince individuals to incorporate this information in a meaningful way into their decision-making, then we could reduce STDs.”
Staras' team evaluated various things about sexual partners which might indicate that they'd be likely to give you the clap. These included obvious ones like them having had an STD before or having had sex with other people lately. Other warning signs of a possible Cupid's catarrh carrier are these: having done jail time, marjuana or alcohol problems, or a five-year-plus age difference from oneself.
Apparently if all these factors in a partner are considered together, they can affect one's chances of getting a dose even more than use or non-use of condoms. Or in other words, having sex with dope-smoking, alcoholic, poxed jailbird philanderers outside your own age group is riskier than doing it unprotected.
“It’s all about the risk of the partner and sometimes we forget that,” commented Richard A Crosby, who is "the DDI endowed professor" at Kentucky Uni.
Staras' and her colleagues' research was carried out by surveying people who attended STD clinics between 1999 and 2002.
The resulting paper, Sexual Partner Characteristics and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Adolescents and Young Adults, can be read by subscibers to Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association. ®

Obama to end Turkish visit with student town hall

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Seeking to give America a fresh start with the Muslim world, President Barack Obama is finishing a two-day stay in Turkey with an appeal to Turkish youth.
At a town-hall meeting with college students in Turkey's largest city, he'll say he understands the frustrations America's actions have spawned among Muslims — and wants to turn the page.
"We will listen carefully. We will bridge misunderstandings. And we will seek common ground," Obama told Turkey's parliament in a speech Monday.
His final day in Turkey on Tuesday also featured a meeting with religious leaders and stops at top tourist sites in this city on the Bosporus that spans Europe and Asia. He was visiting the Hagia Sophia museum and the Blue Mosque, accompanied by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The museum — first a basilica, then a mosque, now a Byzantine architectural wonder — dates to 537 and is a shrine to the art, religion and culture of this city of 20 million once known as Constantinople. The nearby Blue or Sultan Ahmet Mosque is famed for its massive dome, minarets and thousands of hand-painted blue tiles.
Speaking to Turkish lawmakers, Obama praised this country's historical role as a bridge between East and West. "This is not where East and West divide — this is where they come together," he said.
But he also said he understands the strains imposed on Turkey by the Iraq war — and the feeling of many Muslims that the war on terror was aimed at them.
"The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam," Obama declared, adding that America's relationship with the Muslim world "cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect."
Obama's Turkish visit capped his first overseas trip as president, which in many respects has been a European listening tour.
He told the G-20 summit in London that global cooperation is the key to ending a crippling recession. And at a NATO summit in France and Germany, he said his new strategy for Afghanistan reflects extensive consultation.
In Ankara, Turkey's capital, Obama told lawmakers their country can help ensure Muslims and the West listen to each other.
Obama has personal ties to Islam. His father was a Muslim Kenyan, and Obama lived as a child in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. He told lawmakers that he knows Americans have been enriched by their country's Muslim heritage — "I know, because I am one of them."

Serena Williams beat sister at Key Biscayne

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Serena Williams retained the No. 1 world ranking by being the best player in her family Thursday night.

Williams defeated older sister Venus 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open. It was their 20th sibling showdown, and each has won 10 times.

Serena needed to reach the final to retain the top ranking she has held since Feb. 2.

"I'm excited," Serena said. "I was thinking I'd love to remain No. 1. I think I was more happy about that than winning the match."

If Venus had won, Serena would have been supplanted in next week's rankings by No. 2 Dinara Safina.

"Even though she's my sister, I'm still here to win," Venus said. "I can't give anyone anything. So I'm disappointed that I lost tonight, whether or not she kept the ranking."

No. 1 Rafael Nadal lost in the men's quarterfinals to 20-year-old Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3). The upset delighted a partisan crowd that included many transplants from Argentina.

"Wonderful for the crowd," Nadal said. "Terrible for me."

The No. 6-seeded del Potro's opponent Friday will be No. 4 Andy Murray, who beat No. 8 Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2.

Serena Williams will try for a record sixth Key Biscayne title Saturday against 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Azarenka became sick to her stomach before losing a fourth-round match against Williams at the Australian Open in January.

Serena raced to a 4-1 lead in the final set and broke serve for the sixth time in the last game. When she closed out her victory, she hopped in delight, raised a fist and shouted "Yes!" She then met her sister at the net with a handshake and slap on the back.

"It never gets easy," Serena said. "She's the toughest player I think on the tour, besides me of course."

As often happens, Williams vs. Williams was an aesthetic disappointment. Both players repeatedly went for winners, which resulted in many errors and few long rallies. Fans were subdued, with the majority heading back to the mainland by the third set.

The players were subdued, too, wearing impassive expressions and refraining from any demonstrative reactions to points — until the final game.

With Venus serving at 3-5, Serena hit a backhand winner and punched the air, then repeated the sequence five points later to reach match point.

The sisters say they're close, and the match offered evidence. Serena won 82 points, Venus 81. Serena had 38 unforced errors, Venus 40. Serena hit 19 winners, Venus 22.

One big difference: Venus twice double-faulted on break point.

"It was a well-fought match," Venus said. "My serve wasn't going as well as I wanted. But she brought a lot of balls back and played tough."

Venus, a three-time Key Biscayne champion, fell to 15-2 this year. Serena has won the tournament the past two years and is 52-5 in the event, with one loss since 2001 — to her sister.

After losing her past two meetings with Venus, Serena said she was glad to pull even in the rivalry.

"I would love to be in the lead again," she said.

Del Potro had lost all nine sets in his four previous matches against Nadal, but the Argentine was buoyed by a home-court advantage, with many fans singing "Del-Po" between points.

"They helped me a lot," del Potro said.

The 6-foot-6 Del Potro showed patience in long rallies and used his looping forehand to keep Nadal deep as their three-hour match built to a dramatic finish.

"I beat him with my mind and with my game," del Potro said. "When we played long points, I was dominating every time."

Nadal was up two breaks in the final set at 3-love, but del Potro climbed back into the match by winning 12 of the next 14 points.

"I played really bad all the time," Nadal said. "When I have it 3-love in the third, I played worse. It was amazing disaster."

When Nadal lost serve for the second consecutive time for 3-all, del Potro let loose a primal scream. There was more noise to come.

In the 12th game of the set, Nadal saved three match points, two with aces. He caught a break in the tiebreaker when his return skipped along the net cord before clearing it for a winner and a 3-2 lead.

That was the last point Nadal won. Del Potro hit three consecutive winners to go up 6-3, and on the final point Nadal put a backhand in the net as the crowd erupted one last time.

"I beat the No. 1," del Potro said. "If you don't play unbelievable, you cannot beat him."

Nadal is a six-time Grand Slam champion, and he won at Indian Wells two weeks ago, but his best finish at Key Biscayne was as the runner-up in 2005 and 2008.

"I didn't play well during this tournament," Nadal said. "I didn't adapt well. I played really bad."

Azarenka kept waving clenched fists during her semifinal, as if there was any doubt she meant business. Celebrating every important point she won, the teenager earned her biggest victory yet.

"It's the first final in such a big tournament for me," the No. 11-seeded Azarenka said. "It's all kind of an experience for me. It's a new thing that I'm going to be introduced to on how to handle."

Azarenka closed out the victory on her fourth match point when Kuznetsova netted a backhand to end the 2-hour, 40-minute endurance test played in 85-degree sunshine.

"I'm just so happy that I found energy in that fighting moment," Azarenka said. "That was kind of adrenaline, I would say, on the last games."

Azarenka, who trains in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked a career-best 10th after reaching the semifinals at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

Fabregas returns to Arsenal squad

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is set for his first-team return and has been included in the squad to face Manchester City on Saturday.

The Gunners midfielder has not featured since suffering a serious knee injury during the game with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on 21 December.

"Cesc is ready to play again, but he needs three games to be back to his best," said manager Arsene Wenger.

"We are due to play eight games in 25 days, which are all decisive."

Arsenal are battling with Aston Villa for fourth place in the Premier League to secure Champions League football for next season and are also involved in two cup competitions.

The Gunners play their quarter-final first-leg Champions League tie with Villarreal on Tuesday and face Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday 18 April.


The 21-year-old Spaniard suffered the injury going for a 50-50 challenge with Xabi Alonso in Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Although Arsenal have recently revived their form, Fabregas' absence has been seen as a key reason for their inability to challenge for the title.

Fabregas was recently embroiled in controversy during the 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Hull when he was accused by Tigers' boss Phil Brown of spitting at assistant manager Brian Horton.

On Saturday, Arsenal will be without strike duo Robin Van Persie and Eduardo, who were both injured while on international duty, but Theo Walcott and Emanuel Adebayor are available.

Walcott returns from a knee injury while Adebayor is fit again following a recent hamstring strain.

Samir Nasri (flu) and Mexican striker Carlos Vela (fatigue) may miss out though.

Facebook Fires CFO as It Looks Ahead to an IPO

Social networking giant heads back to the rumor mill as it seeks to replace Gideon Yu with "someone with public company experience."
Facebook today dismissed its chief financial officer, Gideon Yu, as the social networking phenomenon is sending signals about its plans to go public.

"Despite the poor economic climate, we are pleased that our financial performance is strong and we are well positioned for the next stage of our growth," the company said in a statement. "We have retained Spencer Stuart to lead our search for a new CFO and will be looking for someone with public company experience."

Facebook's finances have been a closely guarded secret and a favorite topic of speculation in the blogosphere, but a source familiar with the matter toldInternetNews.com that the company has enjoyed five straight quarters of profitability by the measure of EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The source said that at this early stage in the year, Facebook is on track to see annual revenues jump 70 percent from last year, and that the company expects to be cash flow positive next year.

Facebook is still looking ahead to an IPO, but the source said there is no timetable for going public.

In the past year, Facebook has jumped from around 400 employees to nearly 900 as it continues to grow domestically and beefs up its operations overseas. Yu, 37, had an impressive resume but was generally thought of as someone best suited to bringing along young companies as they mature.

Prior to joining Facebook, Yu had served as CFO of YouTube, where he helped negotiate the sale of the video-sharing site to Google for $1.65 billion.

Previously, Yu was a senior vice president of finance at Yahoo, where he also held the title of treasurer. Yu's executive bio on Facebook's site (still available as of this writing) credits him with engineering more than 30 acquisitions and investments at Yahoo, including the purchases of Delicious Flickr and the partial acquisition of Asian e-commerce sites Alibaba and Taobao. Yu also led Yahoo's first round of financing since its own IPO.

Yu was one of the early high-profile Google executives to wind up at Facebook. The company has also poached Sheryl Sandberg to step in as COO and Eliot Schrage to head up the company's public relations efforts.

Yu's dismissal, announced by internal memo, comes amid speculation that Facebook has been actively seeking -- and struggling to secure -- an additional round of financing. The source disputed that characterization, saying that some of the reporting had been confused and that Facebook is not actively looking to sell an equity stake to an investment group, but that it would consider a deal if the price was right.

Microsoft famously paid $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in the company in 2007, giving it a valuation of $15 billion, a figure that exceeded analysts' most generous estimates, and by all measures has come down considerably. 

TAGS: MicrosoftFacebooksocial mediaCFOIPO

Is Facebook an unsafe environment for business?

Developers continue to vent their frustration at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the direction he’s taking his iconic social networking site. Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook is to become the web-based platform of the future. But has it become tainted with so many changes that it has become an unsafe environment for building a business?

According to Nick O’Neill, yes.

In a post noting that microblogging platform Twitter is growing at twice the rate of Facebook — which itself is posting incredible growth numbers, notably overseas and in older demographics, with 5 million new visitors per week — O’Neill also notes that Facebook’s latest redesign, emulating the revolving status update river that Twitter is known for, is just one more thorn in the side of developers.

Why? Because Facebook, for all of the ubiquity of its signature blue, is a chameleon that can’t settle down. Internally and externally.

O’Neill writes:

What was once billed as the first social operating system, has instead been replaced as the social backbone for external applications. Not a bad position for Facebook but now some developers have been forced to diversify their development efforts to other platforms.

Not all developers are complaining however. LivingSocial for example, continues to experience phenomenal growth thanks to widespread feed distribution in the new redesign. Flixster and a number of other applications have mimicked the call to action images utilized by LivingSocial. Soon, growth among these applications may become stunted as Facebook plans to be eliminating call to action images from feed stories according to people I’ve spoken with.

In other words, Facebook keeps adapting — which isn’t itself a bad thing — without accepting a common set of standards. In the constantly moving seathat is Facebook, developers and businesses need something to grab hold of, lest they never dive in in the first place.

If Facebook continues to evolve, will businesses bite?

Take LinkedIn, for example: while not nearly as complicated (and large) as Facebook, it’s seen as a stable site. Not a lot of changes happen, and when they do, they’re quite deliberate and incremental.

Facebook, on the other hand, has made so many drastic changes in as many months that even its basic users are revolting. (During the last refresh, friend after friend complained: “Every time I log in, Facebook is different!”)

Ironically, Twitter has acted more like LinkedIn in this area: despite its shaky corporate state, its site changes have been incremental, and while they haven’t been prominently announced like those of Facebook, they’ve barely changed the core functionality of the site. Users — and businesses — haven’t had to drastically adjust strategies to use the site to their advantage, even if there’s no clear path just yet.

It’s clear, then, that for all its breadth, Facebook is still very much the fledgling site it always has been, focused on the individual user. A user’s home page may be radically reformatted, but core functionality of being able to find and share with your friends has remained the same. On the other hand, what little infrastructure there was for entities — be it celebrities, institutions, and so forth — has been haphazard.

What’s a business supposed to do: start a group, or create an “entity” profile? And what of “fans” of a product or company? There are too many different options, none optimized.

In a way, it seems as if Facebook’s user base has grown too fast for the company to manage it. For all of its scope, it’s still very much a lawless Wild Wild West; hardly the planned community it seems.

I expect Facebook to work these things out in coming months. But in the meantime, it must build trust with businesses and guide them to a solution that works.

To boot, rival Twitter has already begun to address entities and the competitionin its search for monetization. So the clock is ticking.

Companies are in the process of trying to understand social networking and how to use it. It’s in Facebook’s best interest to help them.

Here we are at a potential turning point for Facebook: Can it continue to evolve without alienating its own users — the ones innovating on its site each day?

Hamilton loses Aussie GP points

Lewis Hamilton and McLaren have been stripped of their podium finish and all points at the Australian Grand Prix.

The sport's world governing body, the FIA, said they were excluded "for providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards".

A post-race hearing promoted Hamilton from fourth to third after Jarno Trulli was penalised for passing Hamilton while the safety car was out.

Trulli and Toyota have been reinstated to third, and McLaren will not appeal.

Hamilton was summoned by stewards on Thursday, ahead of this weekend's Malaysian GP, to discuss what the FIA described as "a new element" of evidence.

That "new element" included radio exchanges between Hamilton and his team as well as a post-race interview given by the world champion.

"The stewards, having learned about the radio exchanges and the media interview, felt strongly that they had been misled by the driver and his team manager," said an FIA statement.

An FIA spokesman said it "could not rule out at this stage" further action against McLaren.

Hamilton left the Sepang International Circuit without commenting on the decision.

Trulli was initially handed a 25-second penalty for the incident, which saw him demoted to 12th.

"We are disappointed by what has happened but in the circumstances we are not going to appeal," said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, before the FIA's summary of considerations was released.

He added: "There is no implication that Lewis lied to the stewards.

"As I understand there is a belief that the team was not explicit enough in the content of the radio communications to the stewards.

"What they believe is that the omission of the information about the radio communication between the team was withheld and that is misleading.

"I believe it was a harsh decision. Lewis made a legitimate pass and then was repassed - at the time the team asked race control several times about the repass but they were too busy to answer that question so we felt the decision in the immediate aftermath was fair.

"I think it's a regrettable day. It certainly wasn't a deliberate attempt (to mislead the stewards)."


McLaren have had little leeway in terms of receiving the benefit of the doubt from the FIA since the 2007 'spygate' row.

That saw the team stripped of their constructors' points and fined £50m after being caught in possession of sensitive Ferrari technical data.

In Melbourne on Sunday, the safety car came out after a late collision between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber.

Trulli slid off the track and was passed by Hamilton but the Toyota driver, who has welcomed the decision, said he had little choice but to overtake the Briton again.

"I am happy because I wanted some justice and I got it," said Trulli.

"I am happy for myself and the team and I have to thank the FIA because it does not happen very often they reconsider something.

"It must have been really hard for them, but they had common sense to really try and understand what was going on. I have always been honest and it has paid off.

"It was a controversial end of the race and it was hard for anyone to understand, but I never lied. I was honest in my statement and I never changed it."

BBC commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle said: "This does not look good for Hamilton or McLaren.

"Hamilton passed Trulli as he was off the road. Hamilton clearly wondered then, to give him the benefit of the doubt, if he had passed under the safety car conditions and was trying to let Trulli back through.

"There was a point when he was doing just 15mph in his McLaren and Trulli had no option but to repass him.

"I think Lewis then saw half a chance of a third place instead of a fourth, went up to the stewards and didn't give them the full story.

"Now they've matched up his comments (to them) to radio content between him and the team, and other information they've gathered, and they've decided that effectively he was telling fibs.

"I think it's a big issue and it's not going to go away. If they were asked a direct question they should have given the right answer, and they clearly didn't."