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Friday, February 4, 2011

Obama to Mubarak: Listen to Egyptian people

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama said Friday that talks between the Egyptian government and its political opponents were in the initial stages, but warned that the mere "pretense of reform" would not be enough to resolve that country's deepening crisis.
The transition of power "must begin now" and lead to "free and fair elections," he declared. Negotiations must "include a broad representation of the Egyptian opposition," he told reporters.
Asked if embattled President Hosni Mubarak needs to step down now -- as opposed to waiting for a successor to be chosen in Egypt's September elections -- Obama said Mubarak needs to consult with advisers and listen to what's "being voiced by the Egyptian people."
The Egyptian leader is "proud" but also a "patriot," Obama said. Mubarak needs to make a judgment about his legacy and the best "pathway forward." Violence and repression have no role in the "orderly transition process," he added. "The whole world is watching."
Obama noted he has had two conversations with Mubarak since the crisis began.

The U.S. government has encouraged talks between Mubarak's government and its opponents over the past few days, in part out of recognition that an orderly transition to democracy could prove difficult if Mubarak suddenly steps down without laying any groundwork first.
"We can't dictate what an orderly transition means, but it's time for both of them to roll up their sleeves," one senior State Department official said earlier Friday.
Members of the opposition, a disparate group of at least six factions and political groups nominally headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, are still "jockeying," the official said, hedging their bets on how events will play out, and some are refusing to negotiate unless and until Mubarak steps down.
The official said the administration believes Mubarak's vice president -- Omar Suleiman -- is sincere in his willingness to talk with the opposition, although talks are still in the initial stages.
U.S. lawmakers chimed in Thursday, with foreign policy veterans Sens. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and John McCain, R-Arizona, among those calling for Mubarak to step aside.
Thursday night, the U.S. Senate gave unanimous approval to a resolution calling for Mubarak to "immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system, including the transfer of power to an inclusive interim caretaker government, in coordination with leaders from Egypt's opposition, civil society, and military, to enact the necessary reforms to hold free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year."
Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, have condemned a string of attacks against journalists, human rights activists, and protesters in Egypt.
The United States continues "to be crystal clear that we oppose violence as a response to this crisis," Obama said Friday. On Thursday, Clinton called such incidents "a violation of international norms" and "unacceptable in any circumstances."
"It is especially in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to (core universal) values," she said.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that the administration continues "to receive very disturbing reports" of "systematic targeting" of journalists in Egypt.
The increasingly urgent push for reform comes as the Egyptian government pushed back on what it called "vague" statements from the Obama administration about the pace of transition.
One Egyptian government official told CNN the United States has shown support for its "road map" for transitioning to democracy by the end of Mubarak's term in September, but said Obama's call for an "orderly transition" are at odds with his call for an immediate one.
The official said Mubarak is seen as a "receding figure" in Egyptian politics, but deposing him immediately would lead to a murky political process, which would prevent the free and fair elections the protesters are calling for. According to the Egyptian constitution, the presidency would be transferred to the speaker of the parliament if Mubarak leaves power without enacting certain legislative and constitutional reforms.
"Institutionally, there is support in Egypt for this road map among the military, vice president and prime minister," the official said. "The bureaucracy thinks it has a degree of legitimacy and if the objective continues to be deposing the president now, they clearly don't understand the advantage that this road map will create a constitutional and administrative voice to the transition and is not going to lead to confusion."
U.S. officials describe an opposition that is not altogether unified on whether to begin a dialogue with the government. Some, like former foreign minster and Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa, said concessions made by Mubarak present an opportunity to build upon. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood had said that no talks should take place until Mubarak steps down.
"There are some people who see what is required to hold the type of elections they want to hold. They are looking at the administrative questions that have to be answered, and realize that will take a bit of time," the senior State Department official said. "They are focusing on elections and transformation of the system, rather than on Mubarak."
The Egyptian official said conversations with Washington suggest the United States understands this process, but public statements from Obama, Clinton, and U.S. government spokesmen have sent mixed messages.
"We understand the need to be vague and play to the street, but this is hardly the time," the official said.
The United States continues to reach out to every country in the Middle East, not only to solicit their analysis and advice, but also to assure nervous allies that the United States stands with them during this tumultuous time in the region, the official said.
"We are in a phase where the Mubarak era is ending in Egypt, either now or in September, and something this significant hasn't happened in the region in some time," the official said. "We are giving them the chance to give us their views and letting them know how significant this is."

Are you stuck with a bad boss?

You may not be able to change your bad boss, but there are ways to - at least tilt - the dynamic in your favour.
If you're stuck with a bad boss, don't give up, says Liz Wiseman from the Harvard Business Review. While you can't change your boss, you may be able to alter the dynamic of your relationship. Focus on trying to better utilize your manager by doing the following two things:

1. Exploit your boss's strength. Figure out where your boss excels at and tap into those skills when they are most useful. For example, if he is good at big-picture thinking, ask him to share his vision for driving your critical project forward.

2. Listen to learn. Too many bosses are critical of ideas that they haven't generated. Next time your boss takes down your idea, listen. While it may be hard to hear, his critique could include useful feedback that improves your proposal.

Do you think these tips could help you manage up?

Child of adultery

Could you accept your partner’s child from an extramarital affair?
 
Infidelity can rock even the strongest of marriages, causing a lot of pain for the innocent party. The hurt gets compounded if the affair results in a baby being born. If the marriage survives such a hard knock, a decision has to be made whether to integrate that child into the family.

I’ve witnessed couples in a similar situation opt to bring the child, born out of wedlock, into the matrimonial home. This situation makes me feel uncomfortable. I always wonder: how can a woman (please note,even a man) whose spouse cheated, live in peace with a baby born as a result of the affair?

I salute all the people out there, who not only forgave their straying partners but also embraced their partner’s children. This usually happens if the birth mother is unable to take care of the baby.

However, I think it’s a mistake for the wronged party to accept her husband’s lovechild into the family unit if she has not forgiven him for the affair. She has to work through her anger and make peace with herself before taking on extra baggage. If she’s not comfortable with the child staying in the matrimonial home then she should speak her mind out.

Sadly, I’ve seen situations where a woman, who’s been cheated, takes out her frustration on the innocent child, maybe as a way of indirectly getting back at her husband. Because the child will normally be younger than his or her siblings there is also a real danger that the child will be subjected to bullying in the matrimonial home.

This is unacceptable. The three adults involved should look at the situation and come up with a solution that will ensure that the child grows up in a happy and stable home environment. In my observation, with a few exceptions, children born under these circumstances usually fare better if they stay with their biological mothers.

Infertility: how it really feels

By Nikki Temkin 


Trying to conceive has been an emotional journey, shares this mom.
 
The inalienable truth is that the miracle of birth is more of a miracle for some than others. And there really are so many more ‘others’ than you might think.
Sitting in the pristine offices of the Vitalab, I’ve seen so many, many women sitting there. Women who feel inadequate because their bodies won’t do what they’re supposedly built for; women pumped full of mind- and body-altering hormones; women who every month that the AI (Artifical Insemination)/IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation)/AO (Assisted Ovulation) doesn’t work experience a crushing disappointment that cuts so deeply. I am one of these women.
Here I am on the cusp of more fertility treatment. And I’m terrified. My previous bout last year resulted in a pregnancy which I miscarried. Prior to that, fertility treatment resulted in the birth of my now very healthy 2 ½ -year-old daughter. Yet, having The Treatment still chills me to the core. Of course, there may very well be women out there, who don’t find it as challenging as me. I sure don’t know any, though.
Trying the natural way
After I got married in 2005, although I was aware of my PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), I decided to try to conceive naturally. In a nutshell, PCOS, the most common cause of infertility, results in erratic ovulation or no ovulation at all. 
For women with a regular cycle, the chance to procreate comes around once a month but with PCOS, well, you just never know. Even if by fluke, you manage to conceive naturally, your chances of miscarriage are higher.
For me, hand in hand with PCOS comes an underactive thyroid and insulin resistance which I take chronic medication for. Eventually, I did conceive on my own after completely changing my stressful lifestyle. It took a year and when I miscarried at 8 weeks, I was devastated. That’s when I decided, to go to the fertility lab. 
The hardest hit areas of your life on treatment are your relationship, your body and your hormones. Hormones govern moods and emotions, so try and imagine dealing with PMS X 10 (all the time!) and then the disappointment of a negative pregnancy test. Sometimes, it’s just unbearable.
 In fact, after 7 failed cycles of treatment, I felt so depressed that I couldn’t function. Hearing about a friend’s pregnancy threw me into a bout of despair so deep that I couldn’t cope. So, for the first time in my life, I went on anti-depressants and my husband took me on a month’s holiday to Japan and Thailand. Two months after our return, I went back on treatment and fell pregnant.

During treatment, I also had acupuncture, reflexology, and SCIO feedback machine and went for metaphysical counseling and conventional therapy when needed. It was all-consuming. Trying to have a baby takes a fortune of mental and physical energy, not to mention time and financial resources.
The journey, one of the hardest in my life, if not the hardest, was, in retrospect, necessary. It forced me to deal with all the underlying emotional issues affecting my fertility. I believe that stress levels, physical health and emotional wellbeing are crucial in being able to conceive a child and sustain a pregnancy.
All in all, despite the cost of fertility treatment and the impact on all areas of your life, I’d rather be under the care of the docs at the fertility lab than going it alone again. After all, it worked for me once. But, make no mistake; it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

'Kids, meet your sister'

By Masanda Peter
 
Like Oprah, Masanda Peter discovered siblings later in life. Here’s what she advises parents.

When I heard of Oprah’s Winfrey’s half sister she recently discovered I wondered about the different emotions she must have gone through. Was it confusion, disappointment, excitement or feeling indifferent at first?

It is not that uncommon to discover that there has siblings one does not know about in families. Perhaps the father made someone pregnant back in the day and only later in life the child will want to be reconciled with the parent. This could be children from a previous wife or husband and contact was lost in the process. Or, as in Oprah’s case, a child who was given up for adoption.

I also have siblings I discovered later in life. The first time we met was a bit weird because I was not sure of how I was supposed to feel and I was a little anxious. I was waiting for the connection and the bond to be there immediately. 

With time my siblings and I are getting there. I guess it is one process we cannot rush but we care about each other. We do not call each other often - only once in a while - and so far this seems to suit our relationship.

I have been fortunate because my siblings and I get along. There are cases where children just do not welcome or accept each other.  You hear some children saying 'ngumntwana katata wangaphandle komnye usisi' (that is my father’s child from another woman).

Some siblings will try to make contact but get a cold shoulder and you can see the hurt. A friend of mine tried to reach out to her father’s side and was not welcomed at all. She says that all she wanted was to get to know them better and form a relationship with her siblings since they shared a father. After that incident she has vowed to keep to herself. She thinks that perhaps the children thought that she wanted the father to reconcile with her mother which is not the case at all but you can see that she is hurting.

You also hear of people getting into relationships not knowing that they share a parent. Imagine what that could to a person, falling in love with your brother or sister – of course that is going to affect you.

I am often left wondering though why parents cannot be open about these things. Why can’t you tell your children or family that you have children somewhere and get the family together on the matter?

As parents we need to play open cards and be honest with our children - no matter how scary the conversation. These are not the type of things children need to discover on their own or after you have passed on. It is just not fair. Lets us set right examples and be honest.

4 styles of emotional parenting

How you cope with feelings can affect your child’s ability to communicate.

Read the four styles and decide if you need to change your behavior to give your child the right tools to cope with negative emotions.

Dismissive
• Ignores child’s feelings
• Rejects negative feelings
• Ridicules
• Teases
• Focuses on getting over emotions
• Uncertain of emotions and control

You say “I can’t stand it” “ It’s not good for you”
Your child learns feelings are wrong or are not valid. There is something wrong with the way they feel, they cannot regulate their own emotion.

Disapproving
• Judges and criticizes
• Reprimands or punishes for emotional expression
• Negative emotions seen as bad character traits
• Obedience most important

You say “You are not going to cry now” “You shouldn’t let other people see”
Your child learns Not to trust or like her own feelings and judgments. It’s difficult to regulate emotions. Suppression and denial of feelings, driven by shame or fear.

Laissez-faire
• Freely accepts
• Always offers comfort but little guidance
• Few limits
• Ride out emotions

You say “Let it all out” “To hell with what other people think”
Your child learns Feelings can’t be controlled. Poor boundaries and poor coping skills resulting in relationship difficulties.

Emotion coach
• Validates
• Values negatives as opportunities for closeness
• Aware of own emotions
• Empathizes
• Respects and tolerates emotions
• Is controlled
• Doesn’t fix things

You say “You’re very angry right now” “When you feel this way, take a step away and calm down”
Your child learns To recognize and control feelings. To feel good about him or herself and understand others.

Steps to emotional coaching
1. Be aware, listen, validate: “Want to tell me about it?”
2. Accept hers feelings; recognize them as opportunity for intimacy. Not: “That’s ridiculous, how can you say that?” Rather: “It’s good to talk”
3. Help her to name her feelings. “What are you feeling?”
4. Aid the discussion and help him to see other perspectives. “Why do you think he said that?”
5. Encourage her not to act on initial feelings. Take time to think. Maybe write it down talk it through again. Help her to trust her inner guidance.
6. Set some limits on behaviour. Talk family values.
7. Check out what he's thinking about himself. Be aware of self-blame, guilt and shame.
8. Her thoughts about herself and her situation are equally important. Find the link between thoughts and feelings and explain this.

Office romance? Write to your manager.


A local authority in Britain was accused by union bosses of planning an "Orwellian dictat" by compelling staff to write to their manager to reveal any office romance they had with a co-worker.

The proposal is contained in a draft policy on relationships at work produced by human resources officials at Fenland District Council, which covers a rural area in central England north of Cambridge.

"Any employee who embarks on a close personal relationship with a colleague working in the same team must declare the relationship to his/her manager in writing," the document said, adding the details would go on the employees' personal files.

Furthermore, the policy warns that "intimate behavior during work time is not acceptable."

"This applies during all working time (not flexed off time), both on and off Council sites," the document added. "Any breach of this could be regarded as a disciplinary offence ... leading to disciplinary action."

The Trades Union Congress, Britain's union umbrella body, condemned the proposal, saying workers should not have to disclose details about their private lives outside office time, which their bosses probably did not want to know about either.

"It's quite common for relationships to start in the office, but having to declare your feelings via the HR department is hardly the most romantic way to make a move," said Sarah Veale, TUC Head of Employment Rights.

"Whilst it's important for employers to tackle inappropriate behavior at work, laying down Orwellian dictats about people's personal lives will simply generate resentment among staff."

The draft policy is due to be discussed by councillors later this month.
- Reuters

8 ways to get ahead at work


Want a pay increase or job promotion? Here are 8 tips you can use to take your career to new heights!

As a new year begins, some women are vowing to change their workplace situation. But how exactly do you get noticed by the boss? Or earn that pay bump? Or snag that sweet promotion?

It won't be easy.

A study last month by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in the workplace, reported women accounted for only 14.4 percent of executive positions.

Government studies also find gender inequality remains prevalent in the workplace. While the gap has narrowed, women continue to earn less than men. For example, female managers earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by male managers in 2007, according to the most recent GAO report available.

So what can women do to catapult their careers?

CNN interviewed a group of business experts, researchers and authors about the unconscious mistakes women can make in the workplace -- and how to avoid pitfalls that may hurt their careers.

Here are eight ways to make your 2011 workplace resolutions come true.

1. Quit thinking the workplace is fair
Last month, the Supreme Court Court agreed to decide whether to certify the largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S. history, a long-standing dispute against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over alleged gender bias in pay and promotions. The plaintiffs allege women were paid less than, and were given fewer opportunities for promotion than, their male counterparts.

A few months earlier, the New York Times reported three former Goldman Sachs female employees filed a lawsuit claiming the firm discriminated against women.

The reality is that gender matters, says professor Sheila Wellington, who teaches the course "Women in Business Leadership" at New York University's Stern School of Business.

She says one of the most common mistakes women make is believing the playing field is equal. "They have it in their minds that it doesn't matter if I'm a woman."

By acknowledging the barriers ahead such as the difficulties of reintegrating into the work force after having a child, women can better plan their careers. Wellington also pointed out some managers still believe women may not work as hard or put in as many hours. A woman can overcome this assumption by putting herself forward and offering to do more work.

2. What are you waiting for?
Many women believe if they do what they are told, they will be noticed and rewarded, says Lois P. Frankel, psychologist and author of the book "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office."

In fact, Frankel warns that "hard work typically begets more hard work."

She advises women should subtly call attention to their achievements. When it comes to compliments, she says women tend to reply shyly instead of owning her accomplishment by saying, "Thank you for noticing."

Asking for assignments that can help build your career is another way to get your manager's attention, Frankel says. Women should also speak up quickly at meetings. Employees who are the first to speak at a meeting are seen as having more self-confidence than those who make comments at the end, she said.

3. Don't be afraid to ask

Sheila Wellington at NYU added that she finds women are less likely to ask for a pay raise than men. A 2008 Washington Post survey reported women were 85 percent less likely to ask for a promotion than their male counterparts.

"If you lack the courage to ask your supervisor for something, then the answer is always 'no'," Wellington said. "What's the worse that could happen?"

Read 6 ways NOT to blow your interview

Mariko Chang, a Stanford-educated sociologist and author of books on women and wealth, said women should investigate the pay for their roles at similar companies or cities. By doing the research, women can negotiate a better pay or a new job offer.

4. Don't ever, ever cry at work
We all know that work can be stressful, especially in this economic climate. With budgets shrinking and layoffs looming, people are more prone to snap, says Alexandra Levit, workplace issues speaker and author of "They Don't Teach Corporate in College."

Levit has heard stories of women losing their jobs because they were perceived as "over-emotional."

Criers are more likely to ruin their credibility with coworkers and managers, she said. To avoid a meltdown, Levit says women should take time outside of work to think of situations that make them upset and practice how to cope with them calmly.

5. Make the most out of feedback and criticism
It's not easy to swallow your mistakes, but sometimes you just have to do it.

You have to let your boss be able to give you honest feedback, says Hannah Seligson, author of "New Girl on the Job."

Seligson says politely handling negative feedback can demonstrate you are a resilient and receptive worker.

6. Look outside the office for opportunities
Just showing up to your cubicle is not enough. Actively participating in social outings, outside company functions and parties is just as important, says Catherine Tinsley, associate professor at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business.

Tinsley says women tend to hold the misperception that if they work extra hours, they can advance their career. Instead, the best way to network may be golfing with the guys or grabbing a beer with your coworkers.

"You really have to press the flesh," Tinsley says. "You have to let people know and see you."

7. Remember wealth is more than a paycheck
A job brings fringe benefits such as 401(k) plans and other employer contributions, and women should be taking advantage of them. Mariko Chang, who has written on women, wealth and the workplace, says women are less likely to invest in these benefits than men. She advises they should start contributing to their 401(k) immediately after their first job.

"Income is important, but wealth is what lets people retire comfortably," she said.

8. The way you look and talk matters
Your attire and speaking skills affect how others perceive you, and it's nothing personal.

Author and psychologist Lois P. Frankel says company cultures may vary, but proper workplace etiquette is essential for landing the next big job. Frankel advises young women to look to how successful senior female managers dress and emulate that style.

When women communicate, they should stick with simple but confident sentences. The more words used, the softer the message sounds, Frankel says. Women can also practice short speeches at home to help push their main ideas to the beginning.

Do you need change in your career? Share your thoughts.

Tottenham still wants David Beckham

LONDON -- Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp still wants to sign David Beckham and will wait until the former England captain's contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy expires in November.
Beckham trained with the north London club after Redknapp's attempt to sign him on loan last month faltered. But the Spurs manager said he could try again -- even though Beckham will be 36.
"I could do, yeah," Redknapp said. "I love him. I love the way he plays."
Having failed in his attempt to play on loan in Europe for a third straight year, Beckham will return to the United States next week for the MLS season.
Redknapp said the midfielder showed enough in training to suggest he could still compete in the Premier League, which he left in 2003 when he moved from Manchester United for Real Madrid.
"David has been fantastic," Redknapp said. "He is a top-class bloke. He has been great around the place. You would love to have him at your club.
"He is so slim and so fit. He is a fanatical trainer. He works in the morning and the afternoon in the gym. He just loves playing football."
Tottenham is fifth in the Premier League after beating Blackburn 1-0 on Wednesday through Peter Crouch's third-minute header from Rafael van der Vaart's long pass.
Redknapp believes his team could be scoring more if he had Beckham on his squad to deliver his trademark crosses and free kicks.
"That ball that Van der Vaart hit for Crouchy, David hit about seven of them the other morning in training," Redknapp said. "It was like he had radar and Crouchy kept heading them in the goal.
"I kept saying, 'That's what I have been asking you to do, lads.' "
Beckham had hoped that playing in the Premier League would boost his chances of being recalled to the England squad to add to his 115 appearances.
However, the Galaxy were reluctant to allow Beckham to go to Europe for a third consecutive MLS offseason after he damaged his Achilles tendon at AC Milan last year and was sidelined for six months.
"He's still keen to keep playing, that's for sure," Redknapp said. "I'm sure he's got a decent enough place in Los Angeles, but he's over here wanting to keep playing."

Former Real Madrid Striker Ivan Zamorano Claims Barcelona Are Indestructible

Former Real Madrid striker Ivan Zamorano has lavished praise on Barcelona, branding the Spanish champions "indestructible".

The ex-Chilean international spent four seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu from 1992 until 1996, winning the title in the 94-95 campaign, and noted that while he feels Jose Mourinho can help turn around the club’s fortunes, mistakes cannot be made against a team such as the Blaugrana.

He said of the Camp Nou club in an interview with Reuters: “As we have seen lately the Barcelona team remains unattainable and indestructible, while Real Madrid are more accessible.

“Barcelona is a team that does not forgive. All the major teams suffer ups and downs, and what is happening to Real Madrid is due to an imbalance of the whole team. We all thought it would be a great because of the strength showed at the start of the season, until the defeat to Barcelona.

“We are confident Mourinho’s ability to be able to implement something much stronger and reverse any bad luck.”

Zamorano also focused on the injury to striker Gonzalo Higuain, but added that Mourinho must simply get the best out of the players at his disposal.

He added: “Higuain is injured and will return within three months, and Mourinho must deal with what he has. He is a very important player for the team, however. They have hired [Emmanuel] Adebayor to try to counteract this.”

Diddy Slams Obama: President Needs To Do Better For Black People


Like numerous other celebrities during the 2008 election rapper/music mogul P. Diddy came out in full support of Barack Obama and even toured the country with Jay-Z, Beyonce and other artists to promote the get out the vote campaign in order to encourage mainly young people to go to the voting polls.
The producer who is featured on the cover of The Source’s February/March issue did a lengthy interview with the urban mag where he revealed that he is very proud of the fact that Obama became the first African American president, but he also explained that some of the politicians’ actions and policies have really disappointed him. He stated:
“I love the president like most of us. I just want the president to do better. There’s a difference between us voting for somebody and us believing in somebody. He’s the person that we believed in so I pray night and day that he understands how God ordained his presidency. I feel there was a promise made to God to look after people that was less fortunate, and [many] of those people are African-American…”

Diddy who cried during Obama’s inauguration and joked about him wanting the president to adopt him went on to say:
“It’s something he might not get reelected for, but we elected him.He owes us. I’d rather have a black president that was man enough to say that he was doing something for black people have one term than a president who played the politics game have two terms.”

Home, family mark Lunar New Year for Chinese

Beijing, China -- Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year as their most important holiday. It's about family reunions and involves the world's largest annual human migration.
About 230 million people are expected to take the train during the official travel period between late January and February 27, railway officials say. Around 30 million travelers will take the plane, and millions more will go by bus.
It's an annual scrum for tickets to get home.
Zhou Jie is among the luckier ones. Two weeks ago, the 45-year-old migrant managed to snap two train tickets through a scalper, so that she and her husband could return to their home in central Anhui province for the holiday.
"We paid more to get hard-seat tickets," she tells me by phone from her rural home. "But it's okay because we're happy to be together with our children." She and her husband work as migrant workers in Beijing, while their two adult children remain in their hometown.
For many Chinese, the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the only time they visit home during the year. "It's important for us to get together, however briefly," Zhou says.
Chinese families remain strongly influenced by tradition in the ways they celebrate the holidays.
Traveling home for Chinese New Year
Gallery: Greeting Year of the Rabbit
The Year of the Rabbit may be an opportune time for Beijing's leaders to take a step back to review its progress

The most important part of the festival is the nianye fan, or "reunion dinner," which family members attend in the hours leading to the New Year's eve.
While eating a feast of traditional food like noodles, fish and dumplings, they gather around the TV set watching the "Spring Festival Eve Gala," featuring performances by entertainers and celebrities. For over 20 years, the marathon TV extravaganza has been China's most watched variety show, raking in huge advertising revenues and catapulting artists to stardom.
Setting off fireworks is another enduring tradition.
At the height of Chairman Mao's rule in the 1970s, Beijing prohibited fireworks, ostensibly because they were "bourgeois" and a "waste of money."
Years after Mao's death, the practice returned with a vengeance after authorities lifted the ban. Two years ago, fireworks set off a huge fire that gutted a brand-new hotel in central Beijing, briefly prompting calls for a return of the ban.
Days earlier police advised Beijing residents to "set off fireworks in a civilized way," but that caution fell on deaf ears. The stroke of midnight into February 3 brought a flurry of fireworks that turned parts of Beijing into virtual war zones. According to local folklore, fireworks drive away monsters and evil spirits.
What does the New Year offer?
2011 is the Year of the Metal Rabbit.
Once upon a time, according to local folklore, the Jade Emperor thought he would assign an animal to each year so people could more easily remember the Zodiac cycle. So he called for a meeting with all the animals and decided he would choose 12 of them to be the Zodiac animals, depending on the sequence of their arrival.
Nimble and lucky, the Rabbit was fourth.
Conventional wisdom says the Rabbit traveled through an arduous path in order to reach its goal to meet the Emperor. Every time the rabbit hops forward, it looks back to see if it's going the right way.
That could be an apt metaphor for the way China is moving. As China struggles to curb its overheated real estate market and its high inflation rate, the Year of the Rabbit may be an opportune time for Beijing's leaders to take a step back to review its progress and plot its next steps. Top Chinese leaders underscore the need to maintain social stability and harmony. A week before the Spring Festival, Premier Wen Jiabao led a group of senior officials to hear complaints from farmers and migrant workers who trekked to Beijing seeking redress. Typically, their grievances would include cases of land grabs, unpaid wages and official malfeasance.
It was the first time a Chinese premier had met with petitioners. "Respect the opinions of farmers, give them reasonable compensation and protect their rights," Premier Wen urged the officials
Will the Year of the Rabbit be a good year?
Chinese astrologer Alvin Ang of Bazi Destiny foresees "the global situation may be affected by serious political change and global calamities."
Hong Kong-based feng shui master Joseph Wong gives a different take. "This coming year everything will be better than last year," he told CNN's Pauline Chiou. "They will see business go upwards mostly, but take care with the shares and stocks. There will be some fluctuations in August and September."
That does not directly concern me because I do not play the stock market, but I was curious to hear what Master Wong said of people born in the Year of the Rabbit. I am a "Rabbit."
Rabbits tend to be cunning and creative, he said, and get along well with people born in the Dog, Pig and Sheep years.
What is Wong's advice on prosperous feng shui?
The luckiest direction this year, he reckoned, is the northwest. To bring harmony in one's home, he counsels placing the bed in the northwest part of the bedroom. For good fortune, he says one's desk must be in the northwest part of the office.
Whether we take this seriously or with a pinch of salt, the Year of the Rabbit could turn out to be full of twists and turns.

1000s pour into Egypt's Tahrir Square

Cairo - The Egyptian military guarded thousands  of protesters pouring into Cairo's main square on Friday in an attempt to drive out President Hosni Mubarak after a week and half of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and senior army officials visited the square in a sign that Egypt's most powerful institution was sanctioning the demonstration. Soldiers checked IDs and performed body searches at entrances to the Square

The Obama administration said it was in talks with top Egyptian officials about the possibility of Mubarak immediately resigning, and an interim government forming before free and fair elections this year.

The creation of a military-backed caretaker government was one of several ideas being discussed, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic talks that are continuing.

Among those options is a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately and cede power to a transitional government run by Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Human chains of protesters performed secondary searches inside Tahrir Square, where the atmosphere was relaxed.

Pro-Mubarak crowds that have attacked demonstrators and foreign journalists did not have a visible presence.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Halle Berry's Custody Battle Turns Ugly, Oscar Winner's Ex Allegedly Called Her N-Word

It's becoming a war of words between Oscar winner Halle Berry and her ex, Gabriel Aubry, in the custody battle for their daughter, Nahla.
While Berry recently stated that she has "serious concerns for her daughter's well-being while in the care of her father for any extended period of time and is prepared to take all necessary steps to protect her," Aubry shot back with his own statement.
"While Gabriel is disappointed in Halle's decision to falsely malign him publicly and for her own purposes, he refuses to be pulled into her dispute over a canceled film production," his rep said in the statement.

"Gabriel also refuses to air their issues in the press as he believes this may ultimately harm their daughter. The fact is that Gabriel is a caring father who shares custody of Nahla."

Halle Through The Years
Warner Bros. / Everett Collection / MGM
17 photos
 
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Halle Berry: Movies Through The Years
From her striking debut in Spike Lee's controversial 'Jungle Fever' up to her recent dramatic turn in 'Things We Lost in the Fire,' Black Voices takes look at the film career of the one and only Halle Berry.
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Halle Through The Years
Halle Berry: Movies Through The Years
From her striking debut in Spike Lee's controversial 'Jungle Fever' up to her recent dramatic turn in 'Things We Lost in the Fire,' Black Voices takes look at the film career of the one and only Halle Berry.
Warner Bros. / Everett Collection / MGM
BlackVoices.com

Halle Through The Years

Halle Berry: Movies Through The Years
From her striking debut in Spike Lee's controversial 'Jungle Fever' up to her recent dramatic turn in 'Things We Lost in the Fire,' Black Voices takes look at the film career of the one and only Halle Berry.
'Jungle Fever'
This 1991 Spike Lee film was Berry's film debut. Friends and family of a married black architect (Wesley Snipes) react to his affair with his Italian secretary (Annabella Sciorra). Berry went without makeup to play the role of crack addict Vivian, opposite Samuel L. Jackson's Gator.
'Strictly Business'
In this 1991 romantic comedy, Berry played Natalie, a club girl being pursued by Joseph C. Phillips. The film was directed by Kevin Hooks and also starred Tommy Davidson, Anne-Marie Johnson, David Marshall Grant, Jon Cypher and Samuel L. Jackson. The film features a young Sam Rockwell and the R&B group Jodeci right before their musical success.
'Alex Haley's Queen'
Berry won her first NAACP Image Award for her starring role in this 1993 miniseries about the life of a young bi-racial slave girl named Queen. Based on the life of Haley's paternal grandmother, 'Queen' also starred Danny Glover, Jasmine Guy, Tim Daly, Martin Sheen, Paul Winfield, Raven-Symone and Anne Margaret.
'Losing Isaiah'
Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, Jake and Maggie's dad, Berry starred with Jessica Lange in this 1995 drama about the natural and adoptive mothers of a young boy involved in a bitter custody battle. The film also starred David Strathairn, Cuba Gooding Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Joie Lee and Regina Taylor.
'BAPS'
This 1997 comedy was directed by Robert Townsend and written by Troy Beyer. Wearing a huge blond wig, Berry plays Nisi, a young woman who, along with her friend Mickey (Natalie Desselle-Reid), has dreams of opening the world's first combination hair salon-soul food restaurant. In an unusual turn of events, the pair end up becoming "black American princesses" while assisting a Beverly Hills butler and caring for an aging millionaire who welcomes them into his mansion.
'The Wedding'
In this 1998 television miniseries, directed by Charles Burnett and produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions, Berry appears alongside Eric Thai and Lynn Whitfield in a story about marriage, race, and family set in Martha's Vineyard during the 1950s.
'The Rich Man's Wife'
Berry starred in this 1996 thriller as the title character suspected of killing her husband. The film also stars Peter Greene, Clive Owen, Christopher McDonald and Frankie Faison.
'Bulworth'
Berry had a supporting role in this 1998 political satire, which was written, directed and co-produced by Warren Beatty, who also starred in the film. The movie follows California Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth (Beatty) as he runs for re-election. Berry plays Nina, a young campaigner who becomes involved with the rapping politician. Also featured in the film are Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, Paul Sorvino, Jack Warden and Isaiah Washington.
'Introducing Dorothy Dandridge'
Berry's career took off after she won an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG Award and an NAACP Image Award for her role in the 1999 title film. The picture follows Dandridge's career through her early days on the club circuit with her sister to her turn in movies, which included becoming the first black actress nominated for an Academy Award for best actress in 1954's 'Carmen Jones.' The film also starred Brent Spiner Klaus Maria Brandauer, Obba Babatundé, Loretta Devine, Cynda Williams and LaTanya Richardson.

"Halle's continuing allegations in the press are untrue and irresponsible," Aubry's rep added.
Meanwhile, TMZ is reporting that Aubry has called Halle the N-word, and routinely demeaned her with other vulgarities.
Supposedly, he would also call her a "f**king b***h" and other expletives. And the vulgarities are not limited to face-to-face confrontations. There are vulgar text messages as well, states the site.
Since splitting up last April, Aubry filed court papers in December to be formally recognized as Nahla's father and is seeking joint legal and physical custody.

Usher Added To Superbowl Lineup + Ziggy Marley Welcomes A New Baby Boy

The Superbowl just got a little more urban.  Not only are the Black Eyed Peas headlining the show, but they will be joined by Usher on stage.  Get the deets inside plus news about Ziggy Marley's newest addition to his family...

An inside source confirmed to the Associated Press today that Usher and veteran guitarist, Slash, will both make surprise appearances during this year’s Superbowl Halftime Show.
Usher and Slash are slated to perform with The Black Eyed Peas, who are the main act of the halftime show. Apparently, Usher is doing double duty because we told you earlier he is expected at Mark Cuban's Superbowl party as well.  

In other music news...


Ziggy Marley and his wife, Orly Agai Marley, welcomed their third child together on January 26. The couple has added Abraham Selassie Robert Nesta Marley to their family.
Abraham joins big sister Judah Victoria, 5, and brother Gideon Robert Nesta, 4. Ziggy has three other children from a previous relationship. Congrats!

Terrence Howard’s Brand New Wife Has Filed For Divorce

Terrence Howard’s wife, Michelle Howard has filed for divorce from her actor hubby, after just one year of marriage. In court documents obtained exclusively by RadarOnline.com, Michelle states that they were married on January 20, 2010, and separated on January 27, 2011. The couple have no children together.
Michelle is seeking spousal support, and cites the California standard of ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the reason for the split. She’s requesting Terrence pay her legal fees.
Michelle was Terrence’s second wife – but his third marriage. The 41-year-old star previously married, then divorced, then married Lori McCommas, in 1989 and then in 2005, and they have three children together.

Gunfire as new Cairo clashes erupt, eight dead

Another bout of heavy gunfire and clashes erupted around dusk tonight in the Cairo square at the centre of Egypt’s anti-government chaos.

New looting and arson spread around the capital.

Gangs of thugs supporting President Hosni Mubarak attacked reporters, foreigners, and human rights workers and the army rounded up foreign journalists.

Gunfire rang out in central Tahrir Square, where Mubarak supporters and opponents have been fighting for more than 24 hours.

At least one wounded person was carried out. At least eight people have been killed since the clashes erupted Wednesday afternoon.

Security officials said a fire is raging in a major supermarket outside Sheikh Zayed, a suburb of the capital, and looters were ransacking the building. Another building much closer to the square and next to a five-star hotel tower overlooking the Nile River was also on fire.

The officials said other fires have erupted in the Cairo district of Shubra, north of the centre.

The violence came despite attempts by the Army to separate the two sides.

Earlier Egypt’s prime minister apologised for an attack by government supporters on protesters in a surprising show of contrition.

The government offered more concessions to try to calm the wave of demonstrations demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.

Vice President Omar Suleiman promised that Mubarak’s son, Gamal, will not seek to succeed his father in presidential elections in September, state TV said.

Also, the prosecutor-general banned travel and froze the bank accounts for the former interior minister whose police led a bloody crackdown against the protesters last week and against two other former ministers who were among the unpopular millionaire businessmen wielding heavy influence in the previous government.

The steps came after the protesters who have camped out for days in central Tahrir Square fended off the assault launched on Wednesday by regime supporters.

The uncontrolled violence raged through the night, killing eight people as the two sides battled with rocks, sticks, bottles and firebombs and soldiers largely stood by without intervening.

The military finally took its first muscular action after a barrage of deadly automatic weapons fire against the protesters before dawn today.

Soldiers pushed back the pro-government attackers and took up positions between the two sides.

Then in the afternoon, the soldiers largely stepped aside as the anti-government side surged ahead in resumed clashes.

With volleys of stones, the protesters pushed back their rivals swarmed onto a nearby highway overpass that the regime supporters had used as a high ground to batter them.

At the same time, Mubarak supporters carried out a string of attacks on journalists around the square. The US State Department condemned the attacks, calling them a “concerted campaign to intimidate” the media – the latest in mounting criticism by Mubarak’s top ally.

One Greek print journalist was stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver, and a photographer was punched, his equipment smashed. Arab TV network Al-Jazeera reported two correspondents attacked. The army started rounding up journalists, possibly for their own protection.

The protesters accuse the regime of using paid thugs and policemen in civilian clothes in an attempt to crush their movement.

The Interior Ministry denied any of its police were involved

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq acknowledged that the attack “seemed to have been organised” and said elements had infiltrated what began as a demonstration against the protesters to turn it violent.
But he said he didn’t not know who, promising an investigation into who was behind it.

“I offer my apology for everything that happened yesterday because it’s neither logical nor rational,” Shafiq told state TV. “Everything that happened yesterday will be investigated so everyone knows who was behind it.”

Shafiq, a former air force general appointed by Mubarak over the weekend, said he was willing to go to Tahrir to meet protesters but urged them to disperse.

At a press conference aired on state TV, Shafiq defended Mubarak’s announcement this week that he would serve out the remaining seven months of his term. “Would it be dignified for a nation for its president to leave immediately? .. There are ethics that must be observed.”

The notion that the state may have co-ordinated violence against protesters, whose vigil in Tahrir Square had been peaceful for days, raised international outrage.

It brought a sharp rebuke from Washington, which sends Egypt $1.5bn (€1bn) a year in aid.

“If any of the violence is instigated by the government, it should stop immediately,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The anti-Mubarak movement has vowed to intensify protests to force the president out by Friday. In a speech on Tuesday night, Mubarak refused to step down immediately, saying he would serve out the remaining seven months of his term – a halfway concession rejected by the protesters.

Today, a sense of victory ran through the protesters, even as they organised their ranks in the streets in case of a renewed assault.

“Thank God, we managed to protect the whole area,” said Abdul-Rahman, a taxi driver who was among thousands who stayed hunkered in the square through the night, hunkered down against the thousands besieging the entrances. “We prevented the pro-Mubarak people from storming the streets leading to the square.” He refused to give his full name.

Bands of Mubarak supporters moved through side streets, trading volleys of stone-throwing with the protesters and attacking cars to stop supplies from reaching the protest camp.

The Mubarak backers seethed with anger at a protest movement that state TV and media have depicted as causing the chaos and paralysing businesses and livelihoods. “You in Tahrir are the reason we can’t live a normal life,” one screamed as he threw stones in a side street.

The anti-Mubarak youths posted sentries on the roofs and balconies of buildings around the square to raise the alert of any approaching attackers and rain stones on them. Other look-outs in the streets banged metal poles against pedestrian barriers in an alarm when they sighted incoming Mubarak backers.

The men who led the defence and throughout the night were easily identified. Many had cotton padding and grubby bandages dangling from their faces, arms and legs. Many had chunks of rock stuck to their hair and clumps of dust in their beards. A large number had the trimmed beards of Muslim conservatives, a sign of how the Muslim Brotherhood had a major role in the fight.

Wednesday’s assault began in the afternoon, when thousands of pro-Mubarak attackers broke into the square where some 10,000 protesters were gathered.

The two sides traded volleys of rocks and Molotov cocktails for much of the night.

The escalation came around 4 am when sustained bursts of automatic gunfire and single shots rattled the darkness for more than two hours.

Soon after, the military moved. Four tanks cleared a highway overpass from which Mubarak supporters had hurled rocks and firebombs onto the protesters.

On the streets below, several hundred soldiers carrying rifles lined up between the two sides, pushing the pro-government fighters back and blocking the main battle lines in front of the famed Egyptian Museum and at other entrances to the square.

Mona Lisa model was a male, say Italian researchers

ITALIAN researchers who specialise in resolving art mysteries said today they have discovered the disputed identity of the model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa - and claimed he was a man.


Silvano Vinceti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, said the Florence-born Renaissance artist's male apprentice and possible lover Salai was the main inspiration for the picture.

However his claim was immediately disputed by experts at the Louvre in Paris, where the painting is on display.
Salai, real name Gian Giacomo Caprotti, a young artist who worked with da Vinci for 25 years, is thought to have served as a model and muse for several of his paintings. The pair had an "ambiguous" relationship and were probably lovers, Mr Vinceti said.
Comparisons between the facial characteristics of figures from several of da Vinci's works -- such as St. John the Baptist and the Angel Incarnate - reveal striking similarities with the Mona Lisa's nose and mouth, he said.
"There are remarkable similarities," Mr Vinceti said.
What is more, Mr Vinceti said, da Vinci had left clues to the model's identity in tiny letters L and S which he and his team found painted into the eyes of the Mona Lisa.
"Close examination of a high-quality digital copy of the portrait had revealed an L for Leonardo and an S for Salai," he said.
But Vinceti's claims have been disputed by the Louvre museum.
The museum said it had carried out "every possible laboratory test possible" on the picture in 2004 and then again in 2009, and insisted that "no inscriptions, letters or numbers, were discovered during the tests."
"The aging of the painting on wood has caused a great number of cracks to appear in the paint, which have caused a number of shapes to appear that have often been subject to over-interpretation," the Louvre said.
The museum also said Mr Vinceti had made his claims without having had access to the painting itself.

Seven Cool Places Other than the Bedroom to Made Passionate Love.....

 Spicing up your bedroom activities by trying new sex tips is always a good time. But if you’re up for trying new moves, why not experiment with a new location?
 
And we’re not talking about hooking up in public places that could run the risk of indecent exposure arrests. Or office sex that could get you in hot water with HR. The hot spots for getting busy are 100% legal; they’re all in the privacy of your own home.
Here are six of our favorite places—other than the bedroom—to have sex:

1. The garage. It’s usually on the cool side in garages so you and your partner can keep warm by getting busy. Since there aren’t too many places to safely lie down, try out some standing up positions. Or, you could always squeeze into the backseat of one of your cars and get the windows foggy.

2. The backyard. Unless you live in a very secluded area, there’s a good chance your neighbors have a view of your backyard. Pitch a tent and wait until it gets dark to start fooling around. Go camping in your backyard, but share a sleeping bag.

3. The hallway. Most think of it as a transitional space in the home but you can make it oh, so functional. There’s usually a bit of space on the floor to roll around on. And then those hallway walls are pretty close together; they’d make for some great wall-to-wall action.

4. The bathroom. A plethora of possibilities here, my friends. Get all hot and bothered while feeling each other up in the shower, sitting up on the bathroom counter or even pressing yourselves up against the bathroom wall. What’s especially hot about bathroom action? The large mirrors that let you take in the view.

5. The kitchen. Hoist yourself up on the kitchen counter or dining table and get cooking. You could also lean against the butcher block or even park yourselves in front of the fridge for a sexy food fight.

6. The balcony. If you have an enclosed balcony, lay out a few blankets and enjoy the fresh air together. Or, try leaning against the balcony while your boyfriend positions himself behind you. Enjoy the view, you two.

7. The Closet . Have you seen your partner in the closet(I mean the very spacious one) arranging things and your nerves communicated that real sensation and passion to you?Surely,by merely looking at his biscup or her backside can trickle it...........Please try and obey it call right in there................

My darlings, which of these spots have you already hooked up in? All of them? None of them? What’s your favorite room to have sex in? Or maybe you like sticking to the bedroom?

10 Commandments for Texting a Guy

Ever wonder if you’re going wrong with your texts? These ten rules could help set your texting behavior straight, especially when it comes to dealing with dudes:

1. Thou Shalt Not Drink and Text
You think it’s better than a drunk dial, that you’re being all coy and witty. We know better. Drunk texting doesn’t put you at an advantage—it takes away your leverage.
2. Thou Shalt Not Play (Word) Games
We’re not talking about wordplay, we’re talking about pretending you didn’t get the text or ignoring them, or letting people see them who you know should not; it’s immature and just plain mean.
3. Thou Shalt Not Get Into It
Text is not the forum for conveying serious, or nuanced information. Don’t get into a debate about the relationship over text. Don’t ask us to explain ourselves over text. Don’t ask us where we think this thing is going over text. Bad idea. Be real. Have those conversations in person.
4. Thou Shalt Not Sext
The Internet is a big place. And it’s going to be around for a long time. And it’s full of perverts. There will be fallout. And potentially super-unpleasant days for your dad at work.
5. Thou Shalt Not Break Up Over Text
If you ever think that ending things over a text message is warranted, or acceptable, you should probably be spending less time with your phone and more with books, specifically Emily Post.

6. Thy Texts Shall Have A Point

“I am watching a show about Komodo dragons” is not useful information. It is a waste of precious binary code. And if the recipient doesn’t have some kind of unlimited plan, a waste of money, too. Unless, however, he happens to be really into Komodo dragons.
7. Thy Shalt Not Leave Out Essential Details
“I’m on my way,” is a very different text than “I’m on my way with my parents and my brother who loves ninjas.” The latter prepares us, and allows us to down a few martinis, or escape. The former makes us really happy, and then destroys that happiness as we try to smile during your sibling’s discussion of the bo staff versus the katana blade.

8. If Thy Texts Fall Out Of Rhythm, Thou Shall Not Expect Dancing

Everyone has a texting rhythm. If you’re used to him replying within the hour, you can’t freakout when he doesn’t get back to you in 15 minutes. If you’re both used to responses within 10 minutes, he can’t whine if you don’t respond in 5. If you’re used to him replying right away, all the time, well, be prepared for some fights.
9. Thou Shall Receive What Thou Dish Out
Texting is, in many ways, no different than conversation. If you’re rude, you can’t take exception to a guy being rude back. Same goes for you being flouncy, aggressive or vulgar.
10. Thou Shalt Observe Thy Surroundings
This only has so much to do with guys. If you’re having a nice date, or chill conversation, maybe it’s not the best time to text your friends. If you’re in a movie, it can be distracting for other people in the theater. If you’re driving, it’s just plain dangerous.
Most, if not all of these, have to do with respect, which has to do with our attitudes and outlook, and not just toward communication technologies. There’s no need to follow any of these 10 commandments to the letter, as long as you’re following the golden rule (do unto others….).
Do you have any texting rules? How often, if at all, do you break them?

The Colors of My LUV..........

Some say that Luv is blind, but my Luv is colorful…
And its color speaks volumes at a higher rate.
Red is my Luv becuz its commitment and perseverance gives life in full.
White is its color becuz it appears in its purest and natural state.

While shouldn’t it being Blue when humility is its watch world?
Yellow pigment has my Luv becuz its rays give us hope in desperation.
Pink my tender luv radiates becuz it is an affectionate cord.
Green is a trait of my luv becuz it heralds growth and procreation.

Gray is my luv becuz it is shy yet unshakable.
Friendship and companionship my luv displays with ease……
Marrow is its color becuz its friendship and companionship are stable.
Brown is my luv’s color becuz its persistency never cease.

Purple illuminations envelop my passion becuz it is irresistible.

23 Ways To Say "I Love You" For Valentine's Day

Saying "I love you" is a big deal. Here are 23 ways a guy is saying it, even if he's not saying those three exact words.

It can be difficult for a man to say those three words that mean so much to a woman, especially on Valentine's Day. In the past, I've done everything from mumbling those three words like my mouth was full of hard boiled eggs, to whispering it so quietly, mice were smitten. I've also blurted it out when I didn't mean it.
Those words are dangerous. And powerful. Simultaneously intoxicating and sobering. They are full of responsibility, promise and stars. Forgive men for taking them seriously. Because, for the most part, we do. Telling a woman "I Love You" can warp the space and time continuum. That's some major cosmic stuff right there.
I remember the first time I said it. She was my first great love. We were sitting with our legs crossed on my dorm bed, and we were facing each other. I looked her in the eyes and told her I thought I was in love with her. I asked her if she felt the same way. She said yes. My ears swelled with rushing blood. We giggled. And the kiss was better than our first. We were like two neutrons flung at each other inside a particle accelerator. It was a collision. There was an explosion. Then a lingering cloud of glittering, subatomic debris.
But before I got to that point where I was able to bravely announce what my boiling emotions demanded, there were multiple other ways that I told her how I felt. And that's true for a lot of men. Whether we're falling for you, or have already fallen, we sometimes try to find other ways to tell you "I love you" that aren't quite so direct.
Here are twenty-three suggestions for alternatives to the "L" word. If your man says any of these, just accept that he's dropped the L-O-V-E bomb.

1. You are the syrup on my waffles.

2. Um. So. Yeah. 100%.

3. I don't care if I have to wield a pitchfork with one hand, and a roaring chainsaw with the other, no zombies will ever eat your brains. Not while I live.

4. My pillows smell so much better when you've slept on them.

5. I read every single one of your tweets.

6. I wish you were key-chain sized. I'd put you in my pocket and take you everywhere.

7. Even if you forget who I am when we're old and fat, I'll still come to visit you and read your stuff, just like in that stupid movie that always makes you cry.

8. If you want to be with another guy, that's totally cool. I'll just spend the rest of my life sitting on a bar stool, nursing a beer and hoping the glow of the jukebox playing our song over and over masks my red, swollen eyes.

9. From the moment I met you, I've wanted you and that hasn't changed. Never will.

10. I have brought you meat, the roses of the caveman! Now, I will make FIRE!

11. I had this dream the other night. I was stumbling through a forest at night. It was dark and I couldn't see where I was going and in the distance I could hear wolves howling. Then the cloud cleared and the moon illuminated a path to a village. Only it wasn't a moon. It was your beautiful face, glowing silver against the night sky. What the heck do you think THAT means?

12. I am a grown man, but I have to be honest: you're my personal night light.

13. G'head. Take the last beer.

14. Here's a baseball bat. Just hide it under your bed while I'm away on business.

15. As a Vulcan, I recognize the significance of a quickened heartbeat, sweaty palms and heightened activity in my brain's pleasure centers when you are around. However, I do not fully comprehend why I feel compelled to kiss you nonstop. I find it … fascinating.

16. I am perfectly happy co-depending on you.

17. When I was a kid, there was this amusement park that had a ride that would spin you around really fast. It was so much fun. I'd ride that thing all day, and every time I'd get off it, I'd be laughing but thinking I was going to puke. All day long: laughing while on the verge of vomiting. That's how I feel right now.

18. Your face tastes like cake and dynamite. Dynacake!

19. I have a lifetime subscription to You Magazine, the magazine about you, for me. By the way, you look stunning on the cover, just like every month.

20. You had me at, "Who are you?"

21. I wrote you this poem: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art so hot."

22. I want to be your personal airbag.

23. I know.

Foreign journalists arrested, attacked in Egypt State Department condemns intimidation campaign; cell phone company complains its network was used by government

The U.S. State Department condemned Thursday attempts to intimidate journalists covering the protests in Egypt, after several were reportedly arrested.
"There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting. We condemn such actions," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement issued via Twitter.
Foreign photographers reported a string of attacks on them Thursday morning by supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak near Cairo's central Tahrir Square. One Greek photographer was stabbed in the leg.
AP reporter Hadeel Al-Shalchi said in a Twitter message Thursday that two New York Times journalists had been arrested. He earlie

American journalist Lauren E. Bohn said in a tweet that she had received a "Call from source telling us orders have been issued to arrest journos. We're staying in secure location, filing stories."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Volatile scene unfolds in Cairo as opposing sides clash

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Stinging tear gas was fired in the epicenter of Cairo's demonstrations where pandemonium reigned Wednesday, fueled by running street battles between pro- and anti-government forces.
In a surreal scene resembling the movie "Ben Hur," supporters of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak thundered through the crowds on horses and camels in central Tahrir Square. At least one man was pulled off his horse and beaten.
Mubarak's announcement that he will not seek re-election had been expected to vacuum passion out of Egypt's nine-day uprising.
But the opposite rang true, at least in central Cairo, where mob rule was in sharp contrast to the jubilant mood of tens of thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters the day before.

It remained unclear whether such confrontations were being repeated elsewhere.
The sound of gunfire reverberated in Tahrir Square and people hurled verbal insults, Molotov cocktails, rocks and anything else they could find -- shards of metal, sticks, shoes -- at one another. Desperate for more ammunition, they dismantled sidewalks and picked up chunks of cement to throw. They beat each other in what rapidly spiraled into utter mayhem.
Through the course of the afternoon, pro-Mubarak forces added to their ranks and eventually overturned a military vehicle to surge forward past the Egyptian National Museum toward the center of Tahrir Square. Flames leapt from the awnings and doorways of several burning buildings and thick black smoke filled the air.
Some people expressed fears to journalists that a bloodbath would ensue.
Scores of people have already been wounded. Blood streaming down their faces, they were carried away from the square into a nearby makeshift clinic.
Protesters climbed atop army tanks, waving flags and chanting loudly.
Each side in the chilling street battle fought to lay claim to this patch of central Cairo territory that has all along been the symbol of the uprising. But despite the extremely volatile altercations, the police were nowhere to be seen and the army did little.
Mubarak deployed the army last Friday after police forces -- who don't have a clean track record with the Egyptian people -- used excessive force on protesters.The army said it would not attack peaceful demonstrations but Wednesday morning, it urged a return to normalcy.
"Your message is received ... (your) demands became known," a Defense Ministry spokesman said on state-run television. "And we are here and awake to protect the country for you ... not by power but by the love to Egypt. It is time to go back to normal life."
But the situation in Tahrir Square brought to question how long soldiers would stand by passively.

Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan said the army has made its mission clear: it will not harm its own people. He said the government was urging opposition leaders to begin dialog.
"I don't care who's responsible," Radwan said of the ongoing chaos. "But I think any wise person should come to the table. This is not a blaming game. I am trying to save my country."
Egypt's state-run Nile TV sought to portray the unrest as a "foreign conspiracy" fueled by international journalists. Despite reports that shots had been fired, the television network's reporters denied any shooting had taken place and even that violence had broken out in Tahrir Square.
The dramatic and potentially deadly situation Wednesday erupted after pro-Mubarak demonstrators broke through a barricade separating them from anti-government protesters who have been amassing more than a week in the downtown plaza.
Contesting rallies were also taking place further north in Alexandria, where clashes Tuesday night injured a dozen people. Wednesday afternoon, the demonstrations in the coastal city were still peaceful but extremely tense.
In Washington, the Obama administration renewed its call for calm Wednesday.
"We continue to watch the events very closely, and it underscores that the transition needs to begin now," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that there needs to be "real change" in Egypt.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed those sentiments after a meeting in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
"I once again urge restraint to all the sides," Ban said. "Any attack against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable and I strongly condemn it."
Angry Egyptians, fed up with Mubarak's rule, have camped out in the Egyptian capital's central plaza for a week. The burgeoning demonstrations led to the "march of millions" on Tuesday.
Earlier Wednesday, the crowds were smaller and the mood altered after Mubarak announced his intention not to seek re-election. Voices defending the government became increasingly louder. They called the media "traitors" and "agents" and said the country cannot survive without Mubarak.
It was unclear how many were out on the streets on their own volition. Three employees of the national petroleum company told CNN they were forced to demonstrate Wednesday.
There were reports that among the pro-Mubarak camp were police in civilian clothing but an Interior Ministry spokesman denied on state-run television that police identification cards had been confiscated. He said if they had, they were stolen or fake.
In his televised address Tuesday night, Mubarak announced he will not seek office again in elections scheduled for September, but vowed to stay in the country and finish his term.
"My first responsibility now is to restore the stability and security of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in an environment that will protect Egypt and Egyptians, and which will allow for the responsibility to be given to whoever the people elect in the forthcoming elections," Mubarak said.
But the concession, large and remarkable for a man who has held a tight grip on power for three decades, may have been too little and too late for many Egyptians.
"He is unfortunately going to continue the agony for another six or seven months," said opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei.
"He's going to continue to polarize the country," said the Nobel Peace Prize winner. "He's continuing to get people even more angry and could result to violence. Whoever gives him that advice gave him absolutely the wrong advice. He just has to let go."
Mubarak's announcement largely rang flat in Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters erupted in chants of "Down with Mubarak!" and "The people want the president to be judged!" following his announcement Tuesday. Some waved shoes in the air -- a deep insult in the Arab world -- and said they would continue their demonstrations until Mubarak quits outright.
But Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, said demonstrators should weigh what Mubarak has said before responding.
"I'm aware that there are certain currents in Egypt that will not see that as satisfactory and they need more," Moussa, a possible presidential contender himself, told CNN. But, he added, "I believe that there is something new that has been offered."
Walid Tawfeeq, a Mubarak supporter, said not all Egyptians agree that Mubarak should step down immediately.
"Not everybody wants President Hosni Mubarak out," Tawfeeq said. "There are elements in the government that needed to be changed. ... There is reform. There is economic reform, but ... change will not happen overnight. There's not a magical button for change. Change will take time."
Mubarak has led Egypt for nearly 30 years since the 1981 assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, aided by an emergency decree that has allowed him to rule with an iron fist. But following demonstrations that have only grown in the past week, the 82-year-old former air force general told his people Tuesday night, "I have spent enough time serving Egypt."
"I will pursue the transfer of power in a way that will fulfill the people's demands, and that this new government will fulfill the people's demands and their hopes for political, economic and social progress," he said.
The Egyptian parliament has been suspended until a full judicial review is conducted of the November-December 2010 parliamentary elections.
The government also shortened its curfew by a few hours compared to recent days, though many protesters have ignored the orders to stay inside. The new curfew lasts from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday.
Banks and schools have been closed during the demonstrations, teller machine screens were dark and gas stations have run out of fuel. Long lines snaked around bakeries and supermarkets as shops began to ration how much food customers could buy.
Mubarak's announcement came less than three weeks after a wave of protests forced Tunisia's longtime strongman to flee to Saudi Arabia in mid-January.
As in nearby Tunisia, the Egyptian protests have been fueled by economic woes, including a dramatic rise in the cost of living coupled with high unemployment. Despite the government's food subsidies, people are struggling, with an estimated 40 percent of the country living in poverty.
The majority of Egypt's population -- and the vast majority of its unemployed -- is under 30, and many protesters are young men looking for economic opportunities and a better life.
As the demonstrations grew, Mubarak fired his Cabinet and ordered newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman to hold talks on political reform with opposition leaders.
The demonstrations turned ugly last Friday, when thousands of riot and plainclothes police used brutal force to crack down on people on the streets. Since the weekend, the army has replaced police as the enforcers of security, and the gatherings, until Wednesday, had been largely peaceful.
In recent days, protests inspired by the Tunisian outcome have spread to Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and Sudan. Calls for political reform prompted Jordan's King Abdullah II Tuesday to dismiss his government and appoint a new prime minister. A Facebook page urged similar demonstrations in Syria.
And in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh -- who has been in office for 32 years -- said Wednesday he will not run for president nor hand over power to his son once his current term ends in 2013. Still, many Yemenis said they will proceed with their planned a "day of rage" protests Thursday.
John Entelis, director of Middle East studies at New York's Fordham University, said the Arab world is facing a "wave" of unrest sparked by the Tunisian revolt.
"If it were not for Tunisia, none of this would be happening at this time or in this way," Entelis said.