CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Thousands of U.S. troops are being rushed to Afghanistan without the equipment they will need to fight an emboldened Taliban, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military officials said Thursday.
The equipment delay is “a considerable concern,” Gates said as he toured a dusty forward base in south Afghanistan where some 200 newly deployed Marines and sailors are arriving each day as part of the buildup of 21,000 new U.S. troops.
Marines who arrived in southern Afghanistan this week mark the vanguard of the expansion Obama has ordered to reverse a war his commanders say they are not winning. Pentagon officials said the initial Marine units are small advance parties, to be followed by much larger waves of forces in the coming weeks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe troop movements.
“I heard this on several occasions today, that the equipment is coming in behind the troops and is not here and available for them when they arrive,” Gates said at a news conference Thursday night in Kabul before a fly-around through bases in Afghanistan.
Gates attributed the delays to “the amount of equipment that has to be brought in and, frankly, the relatively limited infrastructure in terms of airfields and so on of how to get it in here.”
Despite concerns about pressing U.S. military needs in Iraq and insurgents’ interference with supply lines, the real problem has been “more a logistical challenge than it is anything else,” Gates said. He promised to pursue the problem after he returns to Washington on Saturday.
The scope of the equipment shortage was not immediately clear. One Marine corporal at Camp Leatherneck told Gates during a 15-minute town-hall meeting in sweltering heat that he needed more communications equipment.
The Pentagon has already been grappling with how to beef up mine-resistant patrol trucks that have shown success in Iraq but are not resilient enough to withstand Afghanistan’s hilly and rugged terrain.
The equipment shortage leaves U.S. troops vulnerable as the Taliban and other extremist groups are ramping up attacks with Afghanistan national elections approaching.
In a chilling reminder of the risks U.S. troops face, Gates said casualties among American, Afghanistan and other international security forces are up 75 percent since the beginning of the year.
Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of military forces in Afghanistan’s southern region, predicted a surge of violence through the Aug. 20 elections. But Nicholson said he expects the attacks will cease once the Taliban understands that they cannot drive away U.S. and international forces.
“There will be an increase in violence, initially, because the enemy will not easily give up their hold on the population,” Nicholson told reporters at Camp Leatherneck. “But this will be a spike, not a continuous upwards slope.”
The United States is sending 21,000 troops to add to the 38,000 already in place.
Taliban forces show few signs of backing down as the U.S. ramps up its forces — underscored by the confrontation with American troops this week in the western Farah Province that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians.
The incident, still under investigation by U.S. and Afghan authorities, came just days before Gates flew to Afghanistan, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met in Washington with President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials as well as Pakistani leaders.
At Leatherneck, a Marine asked Gates if U.S. troops in Afghanistan might be sent into Pakistan for peacekeeping missions. Hours later, in Kabul, an Afghan reporter asked a similar question.
In both cases, Gates said no.
“I do not anticipate at all there will be American troops going into Pakistan from Afghanistan to deal with this problem,” Gates said.
AP National Security Writer Anne Gearan in Washington contributed to this report.
Archive for May 7th, 2009
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Thousands of U.S. troops are being rushed to Afghanistan without the equipment they will need to fight an emboldened Taliban, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military officials said Thursday.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
Review in a Hurry: Vampiric hottie Robert Pattinson trades bloodlust for boylust, playing bi-curious surrealist Salvador Dalí, who has a romance with revolutionary author García Lorca. Sounds smokin', right? It should've been. But soggy plotting and Pattinson's tepid turn keep Ashes from catching fire.
The Bigger Picture: This Madrid-set period piece would appear a major departure for Twilight star Pattinson (though Ashes was shot prior). But once again, he's a beautiful, brilliant, brooding loner who succumbs to forbidden love, with homosexuality subbing for undead-mortal coupling as taboo. And once again, that repression leads to countless scenes of long, mooning stares. It's the teen-romance version of the Spanish modern-art world.
When 18-year-old Dalí arrives at university, his bizarre blend of shyness, arrogance and talent attracts the attention of two of the school's social elite, Frederico García Lorca (Javier Beltrán) and future filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty). Lorca finds himself sexually drawn to the quirky newbie, and during a seaside vacay, their friendship evolves into the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name in a Catholicism-dominated society.
On cue, a soulful Spanish guitar strums as they stroll on the beach and frolic in the moonlit tides. No raw Brokeback sensuality here—or chemistry.
Freaked out by his feelings, Dalí flees to Paris and finds success as a painter, while Lorca struggles to accept his sexuality and carry on with life. The film fares better when focusing on Lorca, whom Beltrán imbues with passion and charisma. Pattinson, though pretty in puffy shirts and cream linen suits, throws everything at the canvas (expect scenes of sobbing and smearing himself with paint) but fails to create a cohesive portrait of the man behind the eccentricities and funny moustache. Paging Johnny Depp…
A drably scripted indie with Merchant-Ivory aspirations (see its gay-themed Maurice instead), scattered Ashes can't rise above the tortured-artist and tortured-closet-case clichés, and despite all its big themes and chatter about art and religion and revolution and death, ends up saying very little.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Perhaps Pattinson's popularity will inspire a new audience to check out the works of Dalí, Lorca and Buñuel. Un Chien Andalou will blow their minds!
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NEW YORK – Kiefer Sutherland has been charged with assault for allegedly head-butting a fashion designer at a Manhattan nightclub.
New York police said the charges were filed after Sutherland spoke to investigators at a police station in lower Manhattan on Thursday.
The star of Fox television’s “24″ reported to the precinct house in a Lincoln Town Car alongside his lawyers, but he did not speak to reporters.
The designer, Jack McCollough, claims Sutherland attacked him after an argument, leaving him with a cut on his face.
It’s unclear whether the charges will affect his probation status for a drunken-driving conviction in Los Angeles that sent him to jail for 48 days last year.
Associated Press writer Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
CORIMATA DA CIMA, Brazil – The dirt road that runs in front of her house is a river. Her fields of rice and manioc lie ruined underwater. And with water seeping into her mud-brick, thatched-roof home, Maria do Remedio Santos knows it’s time to join her neighbors.
Like 218,000 others across a swath of northern Brazil three times the size of Alaska, the neighbors have fled the worst rainfall and flooding in decades, braving newly formed rivers teeming with anacondas, alligators and legless reptiles known as “worm lizards” whose bite is excruciating.
They have made their way into shelters, some of which are already packed with people, pets and livestock with little food or medical supplies. But Santos said Thursday there is no other choice for the nine people — relatives and neighbors — camped out in her shack.
“For now we’re all sleeping in the living room, but we’re going to have to leave,” she said. “There’s no other way out.”
Already, 36 people have been killed in the flooding, sparked by unusually heavy rains that have been falling for two months on 10 of Brazil’s 26 states, an area stretching from the normally wet rainforest to coastal states known for lengthy droughts. Meteorologists blame an Atlantic Ocean weather system that typically moves on by April.
They forecast weeks more of the same.
Downriver from Santos’ home in the town of Sao Miguel de Rosario, adults waded through waist-deep, muddy water covering the main road — though they kept children in boats to protect them from rattlesnakes and anacondas swimming nearby.
Also driven from their burrows and swimming through the water were rodent-eating reptiles known as a “worm lizards” that look like giant white earthworms.
“So far no one has been bitten here. The main thing you tell the kids is to stay out of the water,” Palmeiro da Costa said from a canoe.
Alligators swam through the city of Santarem, civil defense official Walkiria Coelho said. Scorpions congregated on the same high ground as people escaping the rising water. No injuries were reported.
But authorities worried about thousands of people isolated for days with little food or clean water, rushing aid to towns and cities. In some places, aid was stuck because there were no local workers to distribute it, said Maj. Wellington Soares Araujo, head of civil defense logistics in the hardest-hit state of Maranhao.
Rivers were still rising as much as a foot (30 centimeters) a day in Maranhao. The surging torrents wrecked bridges and made it too dangerous for relief workers to take boats onto some waterways. Globo TV said planes were unable to land in remote areas of Piaui state and roads were impassable, leaving boats as the only option because helicopters were not available.
“It’s really hard for some areas that don’t have any civil defense infrastructure,” Araujo said.
The army evacuated thousands of people from two Maranhao towns where tiled roofs barely poked above swirling waters. Residents packed into gyms and schools and huddled in tents.
“There are no houses, there isn’t enough food, they even have a shortage of tents,” Araujo said.
Television images showed hundreds of people with pets and chickens crowded inside an abandoned hospital-turned-shelter with only one working bathroom. Isolated cases of looting were reported in communities cut off by high water.
The mighty Rio Negro River that feeds the Amazon was just three feet (one meter) below a record set in 1953 near the jungle city of Manaus, and experts said the record could be broken by June. In the jungle city of Altamira, more rain fell in three hours than normally falls in two months, Mayor Odileida Sampaio told the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency.
“We don’t know yet, but this could end up being the worst flooding ever in the region,” said Joaquim Godim, a specialist with Brazil’s National Water Agency. “It certainly is among the worst ever.”
Near Altamira, Ocilene Ferreira da Silva barely had time to put her two young daughters into a canoe after a small dam collapsed.
“My neighbor came in screaming that the water was rising really fast, and then all of a sudden the water came rushing into my house,” said Silva, 23. “It swept away all the dogs, cats and even parrots. It took everything.”
Some environmentalists said the Amazon wouldn’t be hurt by the floods because the rainforest and its inhabitants have endured them for centuries. The flooding might even ease disputes over land and natural resources between settlers and Indians — at least until the waters recede.
But Paulo Barreto, a researcher at the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment, noted that the flooding comes just four years after a major drought. He blames climate change and said such events put stress on the environment “that could affect the survival of plant and animal species.”
That same cycle also could lead to migration within the Amazon as people move away from flooded towns and villages and into virgin forest, sparking more clashes with Indians, he said.
“While floods could bring a temporary halt to land disputes in some areas, the redistribution of the population could eventually cause more conflicts and cause further destruction of the rainforest,” he said.
Associated Press writers Tales Azzoni, Alan Clendenning, Carolina Escalera and Stan Lehman contributed to this report from Sao Paulo.
LOS ANGELES, CaliforniaWhen emergency crews scramble to a celebrity’s home and it turns out to be a false alarm, journalists don’t usually write about it.
Cher made the most of a false alarm, offering admiration for emergency personnel who came to her house.
When the celebrity is Cher and her publicist issues an entertaining response to a reporter’s call, some entertainment writers can’t resist. The electronic call for help sounded at Cher’s Malibu, California, home at 11:16 a.m. Thursday, spurring a flurry of activity. Ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the singer’s residence, sending journalists to their address books for Cher’s contact information. Her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, quickly responded to CNN’s questions with this e-mailed explanation: “Just spoke to Cher who confirmed it was a false alarm but said she never saw so many cute firemen and paramedics in her life,” said Rosenberg’s response. “She added there was an especially gorgeous black-haired ambulance driver that she is really sorry she didn’t get to meet. Maybe there’ll be another false alarm …” We will keep you updated.
US ex-soldier guilty of Iraq rape
A jury in the US state of Kentucky has found a former private soldier guilty of the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her and her family.
Steven Green, 24, faces a possible death sentence for his crimes.
Green was discharged from the army because of an apparent personality disorder before his role in the affair came to light.
Four other soldiers are serving sentences of between five and 110 years for their roles in the 2006 attack.
Three had admitted holding down Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, raping her and then killing her, her parents and her younger sister at the family’s home in Mahmudiya before torching the building.
Mr Green was discharged from the 101st Airborne Division before the case came to light.
He was the first ex-soldier to be charged under a US law that allows prosecution for crimes committed overseas.
His sentencing hearing will begin on Monday.
In August 2007, Private Jesse Spielman was convicted of conspiracy to rape and murder and sentenced to 110 years in prison for his role in the incident.
Three other soldiers pleaded guilty and received sentences between five and 100 years under plea agreements with prosecutors.
Cabinet expenses to be published
Gordon Brown claimed back 6,000 after paying his brother for cleaning at his Westminster flat, it has been reported.
It is among details of expenses claims made by Cabinet ministers which are to be published by the Daily Telegraph.
No 10 said Mr Brown reimbursed his brother for the share of the cost and did not profit at all from it.
The paper also says Jack Straw used his expenses to claim back the entire council tax on his second home despite already having a 50% discount on it.
Mr Straw said all his claims were within the rules and that he spotted errors himself and repaid the money.
The newspaper has obtained details of receipts for claims made by the prime minister, Mr Straw, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and other senior Labour party figures.
The BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson said the claims were an embarrassment for the Cabinet and Parliament and showed how lax the system of allowances had become.
The details of all MP’s expense claims since 2004 are to be published in July under a Freedom of Information request, the result of a long-running battle over MP’s expenses.
It is reporting that Gordon Brown’s brother, Andrew, received 6,577 over 26 months for cleaning services at the prime minister’s private flat in Westminster.
No 10 told the newspaper that the PM shared a cleaner with his brother and “reimbursed him [his brother] for the share of the cost”.
The paper also says Gordon Brown claimed for the same plumbing work twice at his constituency home in successive quarters.
However, No 10 said the Parliamentary Fees Office accepted this was done inadvertently and had written to Mr Brown to apologise for not spotting the mistake.
It will reveal that Mr Straw claimed his entire council tax bill for his second home despite already enjoying a substantial discount on the bill, worth a reported 1,500 a year.
A spokesman for Mr Straw said all his claims had been made in accordance with Commons rules. While there were errors in the council tax claim, the mistakes were spotted by Mr Straw himself and the money has been repaid.
Among other reported revelations is that Ms Blears claimed for expenditure on three different properties during the period including a hotel where she stayed after selling a Manchester home.
A spokesman for Ms Blears said she had done nothing wrong and the furnishings she had bought were “reasonable”.
“Hazel is honest as the day is long,” he said.
The Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor Ben Brogan said the disclosures showed the “scale of systematic abuse” of parliamentary expenses in recent years.
The information was reliable, he stressed and it was in the public interest that it should be published.
Some ministers would be “embarrassed” by the facts, he said, but it was up to the public to decide whether the practices being highlighted amount to fraud.
Mr Brogan would not say whether the newspaper paid for the information.
But he stressed the material in his possession was not limited to the Cabinet and the newspaper would be releasing information about the claims of leading opposition politicians in the coming days.
No 10 sources have suggested the information published on Friday is accurate but have insisted the nature and timing of the publication was politically motivated.
A series of recent scandals over MPs expenses, centred around the so-called second homes allowance, have prompted widespread calls for reform of the allowances system.
MP voted through a series of reforms – including a requirement for MPs to provide receipts for all spending – earlier this month.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life is conducting a review of MP’s pay and expenses after MPs expressed concern that public confidence in politicians and Parliament has sunk to an all-time low.
BAGHDAD – The American security firm once known as Blackwater ended its operations in the diplomatic hub of Baghdad on Thursday, bringing to a close a bitter chapter in U.S.-Iraqi relations that began with a deadly shooting by its contractors.
Iraqis welcomed the departure from the capital of the company, which has protected American diplomats in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003. The company, which has changed its name to Xe, will continue to have guards in some southern areas and to run its aviation service and through September.
The end of the firm’s Baghdad operations comes nearly two years after the Iraqi government first demanded it leave after the September 2007 shooting on a busy square in central Baghdad that left as many as 17 Iraqi civilians dead.
It was small consolation for Iraqis.
“As far as I’m concerned this decision should have been taken years ago. Any security firm in Iraq should have used Iraqi personnel so that they could help them know Iraqi culture,” Baghdad resident Jabar Farhan said.
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Susan Ziadeh said Xe’s contract for Baghdad ended Thursday and a new security provider, Herndon, Virginia-based Triple Canopy, was taking over.
Blackwater guards will remain protecting American diplomats in the predominantly Shiite cities of Hillah, Najaf and Karbala, all south of Baghdad, until Aug. 4, according to the State Department.
And Presidential Airways — which operates some two dozen helicopters — will continue to fly until Sept. 3, it said.
Ziadeh would not comment on the company’s other task orders, saying only that they “will come to an end once they expire, which will be soon.”
Moyock, North Carolina-based Xe had continued operations in Iraq despite a decision by the Iraqi government to deny it a license in January, raising questions over the strength of Iraq’s sovereignty as it remains heavily dependent on the U.S. for security.
Iraq’s Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said the government recognized that the U.S. administration needed some transition time in shutting down the company’s operations.
“There were certain outstanding technical issues involving the use of Iraqi airspace that required a limited extension,” he said.
The Iraqi government also has said it had no objections to the possibility of former Blackwater guards who were not involved in the shootings remaining in Iraq as employees of other companies. “We’re dealing with companies, not individuals,” al-Bolani said.
Iraqis have long complained about the heavy-handed behavior of security contractors for Blackwater and other companies. That anger peaked after the 2007 shootings in Nisoor Square.
Five Blackwater guards have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and weapons charges in the shooting, which prosecutors say was an unprovoked attack on civilians. A sixth Blackwater guard struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to killing one Iraqi and wounding another.
The shooting strained relations between Baghdad and Washington and became an issue in negotiations over a U.S.-Iraqi security pact that took effect on Jan. 1 as the Iraqis demanded the lifting of the blanket immunity that contractors had.
But the American Embassy, which is located in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, and U.S. government employees elsewhere in Iraq have relied heavily on Blackwater for protection in extremely dangerous conditions, with threats ranging from suicide attackers to kidnappings.
Triple Canopy is one of three private companies, along with Xe and Virginia-based Dyncorp, that have handled security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq. But Xe is the largest, having won more than 1 billion in government contracts since the March 2003 start of the Iraq war.
Blackwater first got attention in 2004 when a mob of insurgents ambushed a company security detail in the city of Fallujah, killing four guards and burning their bodies, stringing some of their remains from a bridge.
Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell defended the company’s performance in Iraq.
“We are honored to have provided this service for five years and are proud of our success. No one under our protection has been killed or even seriously injured,” she said.
After the Nisoor Square deaths, Iraqi officials ruled that Blackwater would be barred from operating in the country. Despite the ban, the State Department renewed Blackwater’s contract seven months later, in April 2008.
After Iraqi authorities denied the company an operating license in January, the Obama administration said it would not renew the company’s existing task orders.
However, the State Department signed a 22.2 million deal in February to keep the company working in Iraq through most of the summer.
Associated Press Writers Mike Baker in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report.
Some bright researchers say they've created the world's smallest incandescent lamp, so teeny it's invisible except when lit.
The lamp's filament is just 100 atoms wide. It is made from a single carbon nanotube.
When lit, the itty bitty bulb can be seen with the unaided eye as a point of light, the scientists say.
Thomas Edison's light bulbs also used carbon filaments. But the new
filament, created at UCLA, is 100,000 times narrower and 10,000 times
shorter than those made by Edison.
The breakthrough comes at a time when inventors are moving away from
incandescents, even looking beyond the green-leaning compact
fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and trying to figure out how to make LED lights cheap enough to take over the job of lighting homes and offices.
So why does this miniscule feat matter?
The filament is big enough to apply the statistical assumptions of
thermodynamics, which are longstanding rules about how stuff works when
lots of particles are involved, the researchers explained. Yet it is
also small enough to be considered molecular, meaning the laws of quantum mechanics – involving very few particles – apply.
In lay terms, the invention is aimed at helping the scientists
better understand how the physics of large things and the physics of
invisible things are, perhaps, related. Or, as they put it:
“Our goal is to understand how Planck's law gets modified at small
length scales,” said Chris Regan, assistant professor of physics and
astronomy at the university. “Because both the topic (black-body
radiation) and the size scale (nano) are on the boundary between the
two theories, we think this is a very promising system to explore.”
If no lights went on for you there, be comforted by the thought that all this bears on the hoped-for “theory of everything” that, if discovered, would help explain gravity and how the universe works and also probably put a lot of physicists out of work.
The work, funded by the National Science Foundation, is explained in the May 5 in the online edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.
Top Ten Disruptive Technologies
10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life
Quiz: Great Inventions
Robert Roy Britt is the Editorial Director of Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he looks at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.
Original Story: World's Smallest Light Bulb Created
LiveScience.com chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology. We take on the misconceptions that often pop up around scientific discoveries and deliver short, provocative explanations with a certain wit and style. Check out our science videos, Trivia & Quizzes and Top 10s. Join our community to debate hot-button issues like stem cells, climate change and evolution. You can also sign up for free newsletters, register for RSS feeds and get cool gadgets at the LiveScience Store.
MARDAN, Pakistan A family of 18 Pakistani men, women and children trudges down a dirt road toward a refugee camp.
These children are among the thousands of refugees this week at the Jalozai camp in western Pakistan.
Adolescent girls carry infants on their hips, while the men lug bundles of belongings on their backs. “Come, stay close to me,” said one woman wrapped in brightly colored robes, speaking to three children trailing behind her. “This one is empty,” a white-bearded Pakistani police officer tells the family, pointing toward a tent. The women and children scramble under the canvas flap as Salar Khan explains what led his family to flee to Mardan. “Mortars destroyed three houses in my village,” he said. “It was dangerous. A piece of shrapnel almost pierced my child’s leg.” Khan said his family left their home Wednesday morning in Sultanwas, a town in Buner district. Now, they are living in Mardan’s rapidly growing tent city of more than 1,400 other displaced Pakistanis. Five days ago, it was an empty field. Watch as CNN’s Ivan Watson tours a refugee camp »
Source: Pakistan to scrap peace deal, launch offensive
Obama: Leaders working to defeat extremists
Pakistan’s president says nuclear arsenal safe
Civilians told to flee ahead of Pakistan offensive
Khan’s family has joined tens of thousands of other Pakistanis fleeing south to escape the escalating conflict between the military and Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan. Meanwhile, columns of Pakistani troops in military trucks head in the opposite direction, hauling field guns north toward the conflict zone. Pakistani families have fled the area any way they can: on foot, by hitching rides on the back of trucks and by stowing their belongings on the roofs of cars. As fighting has spread from the districts of Buner and Lower Dir to the Taliban stronghold in the Swat Valley, camps for displaced people are cropping up across northwest Pakistan. The United Nations said the new exodus is exacerbating an already existing humanitarian crisis. Since August, the U.N. has registered more than 500,000 Pakistanis forced to flee their homes by fighting in other northwestern parts of the country. “Last year … 4 million people worldwide lost their homes, out of which you have half a million displaced in Pakistan,” said Manuel Bessler, a top U.N. official in Islamabad. Bessler spoke on a rooftop, overlooking the sprawling Jalozai refugee camp in western Pakistan. Until recently, the camp housed refugees from neighboring Afghanistan. The Afghans are now gone, replaced by more then 49,000 Pakistanis. Administrators are preparing space for 35,000 others. With help from U.N. agencies, the Pakistani government and other aid organizations, residents get access to medical care, children’s schools and training programs to teach them how to rebuild their damaged homes if and when they get to return. Tensions have been building in the Jalozai camp. Two months ago, Pakistani police shot and killed one demonstrator after residents protested, blocking roads, throwing stones and demanding compensation for homes damaged by the fighting. This week, a crowd of several hundred agitated men gathered at the entrance, angry about a delay of several days in the monthly distribution of food aid. Some accused camp administrators of corruption, allegations that aid workers have denied. “The wheat we’ve been given is substandard and people are getting sick instead of being fed,” said one man named Gulzada. “Our houses have been destroyed,” said another man called Anwar. “There’s no tea, no sugar, no wheat, no lentils. All that we have are the clothes we are wearing.” A fresh wave of displaced Pakistanis will only aggravate tensions, said Bessler, the U.N. official. “This is a factor that is destabilizing not only in the camp but in the country as a whole,” he warned. Only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of displaced Pakistanis are ending up in camps. Many more have settled with host families or have resorted to paying rent in other cities. The influx of ethnic Pashtuns from northwest Pakistan upset the delicate demographic balance last month in the port city of Karachi. That led to ethnic clashes between Pashtuns and the resident Mahajir community, resulting in the deaths of more than 30 people. Many more Pakistanis are unable to leave the conflict area, according to Sebastian Brack, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Islamabad. “There is a serious humanitarian crisis under way,” Brack said. “There is serious fighting going on. There will be massive displacement. Because of the curfew, [many] have not been able to leave yet.” In this moment of crisis, some homeless Pakistanis are turning to a higher power.
“Whenever it is God’s will, we will go back to our homes,” says Mohammed Munir, an elderly man who fled with his family from the Buner district to the new camp in Mardan three days ago. “And we pray to Allah that he will protect us. It’s up to Allah. We can’t do anything.” The man kneeled and prayed in the grass outside the entrance of a tent that his family now calls home.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
Picture it: Neil Patrick Harris getting it on with Betty White!
About three months ago, Harris revealed to us that he'd like the 87-year-old Golden Girl to guest star on How I Met Your Mother.
“I think Barney should hook up with Betty White at some point,” Harris said about his womanizing television alter-ego. “That's my big pitch. We'll see if it happens.”
What does White think? Read on to find out…
“Ohhh, wouldn't that be fun?” White gushed to us at last night's Hollywood premiere of her new movie, Love N' Dancing. “I would love that. I'm a big fan of his. It would be great. I hope it happens.”
In fact, White said she's ready to put on her cougar claws for the chance to get a piece of Harris. “I would hit on him. I know that much,” she said of a possible storyline. “That would be so much fun.”
One gig White won't be doing? Following her pal Cloris Leachman onto Dancing With the Stars. “No, no,” she said when we asked about DWTS. “Cloris did such a good job that I'm not going near there.”
—Additional reporting by Dahvi Shira
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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s health care legislation doesn’t exist yet, but Senate Republicans are already seeking and getting detailed advice on the best way to attack it. Such as, “The plan put forward by the Democrats will deny people treatments they need and make them wait to get the treatments they are allowed to receive.”
Or, “a committee of Washington bureaucrats will establish the standard of care for all Americans.”
The suggestions are contained in a 28-page presentation by Frank Luntz, who has long experience in advising Republicans on tailoring their speeches and phrase-making to achieve maximum political benefit.
Luntz reviewed his recommendations Wednesday with aides to conservative Republicans in a session organized by the Republican Policy Committee, headed by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press.
“The policy committee brings in all kinds of people. He presented us with ways to communicate better and we listened,” said Rebecca Fisher, a spokeswoman for the group.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said, “Key Republicans prepare to fight a bill that doesn’t even exist. The American people in November showed their strong support for putting progress before partisan politics. Instead of heeding this call, it appears some Republicans have chosen to take their just-say-no strategy to a new low,” he said in a statement.
Democrats and the White House have pledged to work with Republicans on legislation, but have also said that if those efforts fail, they could pursue a partisan measure this fall.
Ironically, the session came on a day when Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Max Baucus, D-Mont., met at the White House with President Barack Obama to discuss efforts to draft bipartisan health care overhaul legislation. Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Grassley is the senior Republican on the panel.
Remaking the nation’s health care system was a major pledge of Obama’s presidential campaign, and he is working with Congress to cut costs while expanding access. Legislation, yet to be drafted, is expected on the floor of the House and Senate later this year.
Poll testing rhetoric is a technique both parties use, and in his presentation, Luntz credits Obama with making skillful use of language. He’s also got some pointed advice to Republicans eager to doom the as-yet unwritten legislation.
“Your political opponents are the Democrats in Congress and the bureaucrats in Washington, not President Obama. Every time we test language that criticized the president by name, the response was negative even among Republicans,” Luntz wrote. ” Americans want solutions, not politics.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Republicans should give Obama a free ride, in Luntz’s view.
One section of his presentation is, “Which is the best reason to oppose Obama?”
The most successful attack is, “It will lead to the gov’t setting standards instead of the doctor who really knows best.”
That was followed closely by, “It will lead to the gov’t rationing care, making people stand in line and denying people treatment like they do elsewhere.”
Werder & Shakhtar make Uefa final
German side Werder Bremen will face Ukraines Shakhtar Donetsk in the Uefa Cup final after both sides triumphed in their last-four ties on Thursday.
Shakhtar reached their first European final by beating countrymen Dynamo Kiev 2-1 thanks to Ilsinho last-gasp winner.
Werder lost their first leg 1-0 at home to Hamburg but produced a fine comeback to win 3-2 despite Ivica Olic’s opener.
Diego levelled, Claudio Pizarro fired in and then Frank Baumann headed in, before Olic managed a late consolation.
NEW YORK – The founder of a clothing company being sued by Woody Allen denies the defense ever wanted to delve into the film director’s past.
Dov Charney of American Apparel said in a statement Wednesday that Allen “is a source of inspiration to me.”
Allen sued the company for 10 million after it used his picture on its billboards and on a Web site. The film director says the company didn’t have permission.
Company lawyers have said Allen’s image was already beyond repair. They said they were thinking about calling Allen’s former companion Mia Farrow and his current wife — Farrow’s adopted daughter — as witnesses.
Jury selection is set for this month.
(This version CORRECTS that statement was issued Wednesday, not Thursday. )
WASHINGTON – Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter gained a Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship but also a potential primary challenger Thursday, the latest twists in a turbulent episode of party switching.
The good news-bad news day for Specter didn’t stop there.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced he would not challenge Specter next year. Ridge, a moderate Republican and the first homeland security chief, had been running about even against Specter in a hypothetical general election race, according to a recent poll.
In the primary, however, Specter may face Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, a former Navy vice admiral from the Philadelphia suburbs. In an interview with The Associated Press, Sestak said he’s seriously considering taking on the 79-year-old Specter, who will be seeking a sixth term.
“The Democratic political establishment reached into the GOP establishment to give us the Democratic candidate for the future,” said Sestak, 57.
“It’s not theirs to make, it’s ours to make,” Sestak added of the choice for who serves in that seat. “It’s not what we came to Washington to do is tell Pennsylvanians what they are to do in their Democratic choices.”
Specter has 6.7 million cash on hand; Sestak has more than 3 million.
Faced with a looming political threat, Specter picked up some Senate clout.
Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he would give up his chairmanship of the Judiciary Crime and Drugs subcommittee in exchange for becoming chairman of a panel on human rights. The move, he said, would “best utilize Senator Specter’s talents and experience in our caucus.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., indicated later that the deal was not final because the details on the human rights panel had to be worked out. But Durbin said the Specter chairmanship was not in doubt.
Specter said he appreciated the gesture and offered a telling observation about the never-dull Senate.
“This is a territorial place,” he told reporters. He would not commit to voting with Democrats.
The musical chairs of subcommittee chairmanships were designed to stem the fallout in the days since Specter switched to the Democratic Party last week. Democrats on Tuesday failed to honor Specter’s 28 years of Senate seniority he accumulated as a Republican before switching.
Since becoming a Democrat, Specter has been at odds with his new party, voting against the Democratic-backed budget, expressing opposition to a government option on health care overhaul and maintaining his opposition to a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize. Democrats also questioned his support for Republican Norm Coleman over Al Franken in the unresolved Minnesota Senate race.
Reid, D-Nev., told CNN on Wednesday that when he later asked Specter about the Coleman remark, Specter said, “I forgot what team I was on.”
Specter’s actions helped build momentum for the seniority-stripping resolution, according to some Democratic officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions had been private. In the days after Specter switched parties, some Democrats complained to Reid about losing seniority, others about Specter’s comments. The resolution passed by voice vote Tuesday.
Reid’s office denied there was a connection.
“There’s no relation between how the resolution ended up being drafted and any comments that Sen. Specter may have made in the last week or so,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley.
But Democrats also recognized that alienating Specter, a former prosecutor, could be politically disastrous as President Barack Obama prepared to name a replacement for retiring Justice David Souter. Specter has served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, its top Republican and has considerable clout in committee proceedings.
The resolution was intended to placate other Democrats concerned that Specter’s switch might leapfrog him into a full committee chairmanship and bump one of them. It also served to remind Specter where he stands with his new colleagues in the Democratic caucus.
The Crime and Drugs panel, Democratic officials said, seemed a good compromise. It is Judiciary’s busiest subcommittee, responsible for oversight of the Justice Department, federal prosecutors, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and drug control policy.
As a subcommittee chairman, Specter would retain some of his clout on the full committee when it convenes for Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Durbin said Reid had signed off on the subcommittee switch.
Democrats also were looking ahead to next year’s Senate race. Ridge’s decision to bow out increases the likelihood that former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey will secure the nomination. Recent polls show Specter easily beating Toomey.
CLEVELAND – Alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk lost his bid Thursday to get the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his deportation to Germany, where an arrest warrant accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder during World War II.
Justice John Paul Stevens denied, without comment, Demjanjuk’s plea to step into his case. The 89-year-old retired autoworker lives in suburban Cleveland, and he, his family and his lawyers have said he’s in poor health and too frail to be sent overseas.
With his U.S. options dwindling, Demjanjuk’s attorney in Germany made a separate appeal Thursday to a German court to block the deportation.
There was no immediate indication from Immigration and Customs Enforcement whether the agency would move promptly to deport Demjanjuk.
Messages seeking comment were left with an agency spokesman.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Keith Urban understands that paparazzi come along with the fame, but he draws a line when it comes to his infant daughter.
“I’m as protective of my family as any father and husband can be. It can be just a bit intrusive, you know,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s just a reality. I understand the society we live in. It’s a bit odd at times in that regard.”
Urban and his wife, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, had their first child, Sunday Rose, last July. He said the couple, who live in Nashville, do “what we can to keep (Sunday Rose) safe, because she didn’t choose to come into this lifestyle.
“It’s just what her mother and I do, so we do what we can to try and keep some civility about the whole thing.”
Urban’s new album, “Defying Gravity,” produced the No. 1 country hit “Sweet Girl,” and the second single, “Kiss a Girl,” is No. 6 on the Billboard country chart. On Thursday, Urban kicks off his Escape Together World Tour in Uncasville, Conn.
The 41-year-old says the toughest part of touring is being away from his family. So he’s making adjustments.
His tour bus is set up so they can travel with him as much as possible, and he’s structured the schedule so he gets to go home frequently between shows.
“I love having them. I love when the girls are here,” he said.
Urban is using a number of opening acts, including Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, The Zac Brown Band and Country Music Hall of Famer Glen Campbell.
Campbell, 73, was an early influence on him when he was growing up in Australia. He calls Campbell’s latest album, “Meet Glen Campbell,” on which the veteran star covers songs by the likes of Green Day and Tom Petty, “killer good.”
“I fell in love with the record and reached out to see if he could come out and play with us,” Urban said.
On the Net:
Wal-Mart has agreed to pay nearly 2 million and take extra safety precautions after a stampede killed a store employee in Long Island, New York, last year.
Wal-Mart says it will consider applying the new safety measures in its other stores.
The top prosecutor in Nassau County said she struck the deal rather than pursue criminal charges in the death of a 34-year-old man who was trampled to death as shoppers flooded into the store. It happened as the store opened on the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally among the busiest days of the year for retailers. Wal-Mart agreed to pay 1.5 million for community programs in Nassau County and another 400,000 to compensate people who were injured in the incident and repay them for out-of-pocket expenditures, District Attorney Kathleen Rice of Nassau County said in a statement. The district attorney and Wal-Mart said they agreed on a crowd-management plan that the retailer will implement at each of its 92 stores in New York for after-Thanksgiving shopping. The plan was developed by experts who have worked on crowd management at Super Bowls and Olympic Games, said Hank Mullany, a senior vice president at the company. Wal-Mart “will consider how aspects of this plan could apply to stores outside of New York,” he said in a statement. “We have never had a tragedy like this in our stores, and we don’t want it to happen again,” his statement said. “We are committed to learning from it and making our stores even safer for our customers and our associates.” The agreement between Nassau County and Wal-Mart “does not include an admission of guilt or wrongdoing by the corporation,” the district attorney said. Discussions that yielded the agreement, which was announced Wednesday, started after a temporary Wal-Mart employeeJdimytai Damour of Jamaicawas trampled to death at the Green Valley Wal-Mart in Long Island around 5 a.m. on November 28. At the time, Detective Lt. Michael Fleming of the Nassau County police described “utter chaos” when Wal-Mart workers tried to open the store doors that day. By 5 a.m. that Friday, when the doors were unlocked, there were about 2,000 shoppers waiting to enter, and many “surged forward,” breaking the doors, he said. Video showed as many as a dozen people knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the Wal-Mart store, Fleming said. The employee was “stepped on by hundreds of people” as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, Fleming said. “Several minutes” passed before others were able to clear space around the man and attempt to render aid. Police arrived, and “as they were giving first aid, those police officers were also jostled and pushed,” he said. “Shoppers … were on a full-out run into the store,” he said.
A man suspected of killing a Wesleyan University junior may be targeting the university and its Jewish population, Middletown, Connecticut, police said Thursday.
Police say the gunman captured on bookstore surveillance video is Stephen Morgan, 29.
Police have launched a nationwide search for Stephen Morgan, 29, who is suspected of killing Johanna Justin-Jinich. The young woman was shot and killed Wednesday at a bookstore in Middletown near the Wesleyan campus, police said. “Evidence uncovered overnight suggests that Mr. Morgan may be focused on the Wesleyan community campus as well as the Jewish community,” said Middletown Police Chief Lynn Baldoni, who did not elaborate. A statement from the university alleges that Morgan had written threats against “Wesleyan and/or its Jewish students.” While Justin-Jinich is a student at Wesleyan and is Jewish, there was another connection between her and her alleged killer, authorities said. In July 2007, Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint against Morgan while the two were both taking the same six-week summer course at New York University, NYU spokesman John Beckman told CNN. Watch how victim and alleged shooter knew each other » The complaint, in which Justin-Jinich said she was receiving harassing e-mails and phone calls from Morgan, was filed with the university’s public safety department toward the end of the course, Beckman said. The public safety department brought in the New York Police Department, and after conversations with Morgan and Justin-Jinich, she declined to follow up or press charges, Beckman said. Beckman said the two did not live in the same student residence houses during the course. Additional details were not immediately available. Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said a connection between Morgan and Justin-Jinich “at least goes back to New York two years ago,” but may “go back to Colorado.” No further details were available. Concern for the Wesleyan community and the Jewish community “developed out of evidence that the police may have gotten when they executed search warrants on his car, on the motel room he was staying in,” Giuliano said. “Something turned up that caused them to believe that there might be a threat beyond her or a threat to the larger communities she belonged to,” he said. Wesleyan University urged its students, who are finished with classes and getting ready for final exams, to stay inside. Watch officials call the shooting ‘every parent’s worst nightmare’ »
However, Baldoni said investigators are not certain whether Morgan is still in the Middletown area. Middletown, in central Connecticut, has a population of about 48,000.
US court ‘rejects Demjanjuk plea’
The US Supreme Court has rejected a bid by alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk to block his deportation to Germany for trial, US media reports.
The 89-year-old Ohio resident had argued that he was too ill to be moved.
But Justice John Paul Stevens turned down his request to intervene in the case, the Associated Press said.
Mr Demjanjuk denies charges of being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in World War II and an accessory in the deaths of 29,000 Jews.
He says he was captured by the Germans in his native Ukraine during the war and kept as a prisoner of war.
In March, German prosecutors filed charges against him and issued a warrant for his arrest.
A stay of deportation was granted in April after US federal agents briefly removed him from his home.
His family said he was too ill to be moved but the government then filed video showing him walking unassisted.
Earlier on Thursday Mr Demjanjuk’s lawyer launched an appeal in Germany, arguing that it should retract its extradition request on humanitarian grounds.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
It was only a matter of time before Katie Holmes got in touch with her Dark side.
She of the rolled jeans and fashionista toddler has signed on to star in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, a thriller written by Pan's Labyrinth and Hobbit mastermind Guillermo del Toro.
A rep for Mrs. Tom Cruise confirmed the casting to E! News.
The adrenaline-pumping flick is based on a TV movie that aired on ABC back in 1973, which centered on a girl who moves in with her father and his girlfriend, only to realize that they are not the only occupants of the abode.
Holmes will be heading Down Under, to the land of the former Mrs. Cruise, for the project: The film shoots this summer in Melbourne.
In the day's other casting coups, Robert De Niro is talking to Edward Norton (again); James McAvoy, Elizabeth Banks and Laura Linney get blacked out; Dwayne Johnson is a Fast talker; Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson get mythic and Christopher Walken gets, well, Val Kilmer.
• Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, who previously costarred together in the all-but-forgotten thriller The Score, will reteam for another pulse-racing outing, this time called Stone. According to Variety, the duo will star in the indie psychological thriller following a correctional officer seduced by the wife of an arsonist.
• It's not just the devil—it's James McAvoy, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney and Anna Friel in The Details. Per Variety, the quartet is set to star in the black comedy about a couple who discover an unwelcome infestation of raccoons in their backyard. Hijinks ensue.
• Dwayne Johnson is speeding to Faster. According to Variety, the erstwhile Rock is set to star as an ex-con seeking vengeance for his brother's death from a heist gone wrong.
• Percy Jackson is adding to its star ranks, as Tropic Thunder funnyman Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson join the Greek mythology-based adventure film. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Coogan will play Hades in the film, which follows Poseidon's son's journey through America, while Dawson plays Persephone, his imprisoned wife. Liam Neeson, Catherine Keener, Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean also star.
• Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer have boarded The Irishman, a crime action flick based, per the Hollywood Reporter, on the real-life story of Irish-American mobster Danny Greene, who sparked a nationwide Mafia-crippling turf war in 1970s Cleveland.
• Kaitlin Olson is looking forward to Leap Year. The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia funnygal joins Amy Adams, Bill Nighy and Brit hunk Matthew Goode in the romantic comedy about an American girl who heads to Ireland in order to pop the question to her boyfriend on Leap Day. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Olson plays the girl's married older sister.
• It's never Too Late for Lauren Holly. The actress is joining Rob Lowe in the Lifetime original TV movie Too Late to Say Goodbye, per the Hollywood Reporter, centering on a couple who appear to have the perfect marriage until the wife discovers her husband's infidelity and his mistress turns up dead.
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
All of the top 19 U.S. banks undergoing “stress tests” to gauge their ability to outlast an even deeper recession are solvent, and the exam results should reassure markets that banks can continue lending, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday.
The results of the stress tests are due to be announced in detail at 5 p.m. EDT, including which banks are being required to add capital to buffer against a potential sharp downturn in the economy. The exams will establish capital buffers for each of the nation's 19 largest banks and lay out bank plans to boost capital if necessary.
“(This) is not a solvency test,” Bernanke said in response to questions after speaking to a conference organized by the Chicago Fed. “All the banks, inclusive of the capital they received from the government, are solvent.”
The Treasury Department launched the stress tests in February in a bid to draw private capital back in to the shattered banking system to revive lending.
Publication of test results “will allow, I hope, markets to have greater confidence that they know the condition of the banks and can be reassured that banks will be strong and be able to lend even if the economy is worse than currently expected,” Bernanke said.
The tests go beyond standard bank oversight by comparing results and projected losses among different banks, he said.
“There is a greater level of consistency here and comparability than in anything that has ever been done before,” he added.
Bernanke said the stress test process could help guide any overhaul of bank supervision and regulation that lawmakers and policy-makers are considering in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Increasing the effectiveness of bank supervision is a “top priority” for the Fed, and paying more attention to problems that could shake the entire financial system will enhance stability in the future, Bernanke said.
Bernanke said portions of banking law stand in the way of effective supervision and called on Congress to revise them. He cited differences among supervisory models for banking, insurance, and securities firms as an example.
“We hope that the Congress will consider revising the provisions of Gramm-Leach-Bliley to help ensure that consolidated supervisors have the necessary tools and authorities to monitor and address safety and soundness concerns in all parts of an organization,” he said.
Gramm-Leach-Bliley, enacted in 1999, substantially overhauled U.S. banking laws to allow consolidation of banks and financial service firms, including insurance and securities companies.
Discussing the Fed's aggressive actions to restore lending and revive economic activity in the deepest and longest recession in decades, Bernanke said the Fed had the tools it needs to soak up the more than $1 trillion in liquidity the U.S. central bank has pumped into the financial system.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by James Dalgleish)
Are American employers too picky? Are they rejecting reasonable candidates at the same time they claim to have lots of openings they would like to fill?
That's a key question because the job market is still getting worse even as the overall economy shows signs of reaching bottom. On May 6 the ADP National Employment Report said the private sector shrank payrolls by an estimated 491,000 jobs in April. Economists — who don't always trust the ADP numbers — expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics to report on May 8 a decline of about 600,000 jobs in the private and public sectors combined. The median unemployment-rate forecast in the latest Bloomberg survey of economists is 8.9% for April, vs. 8.5% in March.
With the labor market so weak, it's hard to understand why so many jobs are unfilled. As BusinessWeek pointed out in a recent magazine cover story, employers reported that they had 3 million openings they were actively trying to fill as of the end of February. (The March job-openings total will be released May 12.) By contrast, there were more than 13 million people unemployed in March.
So what gives? Why don't employers give jobs to some of those 13 million people who are eager to work? Wouldn't that make everybody happy?
Employers don't see it that way. They say that jobless people don't necessarily have the skills they're looking for — especially since the sectors with the most openings (education and health care) are very different from the ones that are losing the most workers, manufacturing and construction. Even within the same industry, employers say, there are people whose skills are outdated or out of sync with what's needed for the jobs that need filling.
But BusinessWeek was deluged with comments from people, many of them unemployed, who said employers are too picky, want to avoid paying for training, want to export jobs, or would rather hire cheap foreigners on H-1B visas. Here's a typical comment from someone who signed herself Lucy: “I don't believe this article at all; it's hogwash. IBM is not laying off people because of a skills-mismatch problem. They are laying off people because they want to offshore all U.S. jobs to low-wage countries, or bring in more people to the U.S. under the H-1B visa program. They also don't want to train U.S. employees.”
Workers offered similar perspectives to BusinessWeek while the story was being reported. Donald Smith, who lives in Alamo, Calif., says he has decades of experience in the semiconductor-manufacturing business but has not been able to land a job in the field since 2003. The fact that he's not currently working in the field counts against him, he says. Employers' attitude is: “You're obviously not the most qualified person because if you were, somebody would want you,” Smith says.
Leery of Bad Hires
Even some headhunters said they think employers are super-picky at this stage in the recession. Managers put their own jobs at risk if they make a bad hire at a time like this, says Jay Kizer, who heads life-sciences recruiting for Korn/Ferry (kfy.), a big executive recruiter. Says Kizer: “The search is open, they'd like to fill it, but they're being extremely cautious about pulling the trigger.”
Of course, employers have a comeback. IBM (ibm.), for example, says it has a 1 billion-a-year training budget and aims to fill many newly created jobs by shifting workers who are no longer needed in other parts of its business. In many cases, employers say, workers really don't have the ability to do the jobs that need to be done.
C. Michael King, business development manager for Workplace Staffing in hard-hit Rockford, Ill., told BusinessWeek that “we have people coming in with really no tangible skills to offer.” Also, says King, some people have skills that have been rendered obsolete — for example, many tool-and-die makers. King says he knows of one skilled manual machinist who had to move into sales because he couldn't master computer numerically controlled machines.
Says King: “He's someone who doesn't have a computer at home and really doesn't know how to use a computer.”
Are employers too picky, or do the unemployed have unrealistic expectations? The answer is a little bit of both.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
It's probably safe to say that Susan Boyle never dreamed a dream like this.
Though she hasn't even won Britain's Got Talent, the Scottish singing sensation is already a champ, riding her wave of international fame right onto The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Just in time for May sweeps, the 47-year-old Boyle will appear on Monday's episode of Oprah Winfrey's syndicated chatfest, giving viewers a tour of the humble singer's equally modest home.
Winfrey's production crew descended on her Blackburn, Scotland, home on Tuesday and spent several hours getting a Boyle-guided tour of the pad and interviewing supportive neighbors. She's also expected to appear, no doubt via Skype, for an interview with Winfrey. While anything less than first place will now be a global upset (sound familiar, Adam Lambert?), Boyle is currently in Scotland preparing to compete in the semifinal round of the show.
She'll be joined on Monday's Oprah episode, dubbed “The World's Got Talent,” by talent scout extraordinaire Simon Cowell, as well as other “next big things” from around the globe.
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