Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MOF's Nakao: Japan prepared to help Europe if needed (Reuters)

TOKYO (Reuters) ? Japan wants Europe to make efforts to stabilize markets unsettled by the continued euro zone debt crisis and Tokyo is prepared to offer help if needed, Japanese currency tsar Takehiko Nakao said on Monday.

Nakao, the vice finance minister for international affairs also told a financial forum that a unilateral currency intervention could not be ruled out in a speculative market.

Tokyo has intervened to weaken its yen three times this year - once with the help of Group of Seven nations in March and then on its own in August and October when the yen scaled new highs against the dollar.

(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/eurobiz/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111128/bs_nm/us_japan_economy_europe

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No. 6 Virginia Tech shuts down No. 24 UVa, 38-0 (AP)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ? All week long, the chatter about Virginia being on the rise left out an important fact in the mind of Virginia Tech's players: They were still the best in the commonwealth until proven otherwise.

The No. 6 Hokies showed they were tops Saturday night, blanking the No. 24 Cavaliers 38-0, their first shutout loss at home in 172 games ? since a 55-0 defeat to Clemson on Sept. 8, 1984.

"The guys definitely took it as a slap in the face. It's kind of been our way, the rivalry, for the past couple years and nobody was talking about us," Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas said after throwing for two touchdowns and running for another. "They were all talking about Virginia and how good Virginia was going to play against us and how they were going to do."

David Wilson added two second-half touchdown runs for the Hokies, who led 14-0 at the break and drove 79 yards with the opening series of the third quarter, and then let their defense do the rest.

Virginia, which came in averaging better than 177 rushing yards, finished with 30 on 26 carries. They had just 241 yards overall, and quarterback Michael Rocco was sacked four times and intercepted twice.

"I felt like we didn't receive any respect in our home state after all we've done, and we went out there and made a statement," defensive end James Gayle said after registering two of the sacks.

"We weren't getting respect, so we went out there and took it."

And the Hokies (11-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned the league's Coastal Division title and a rematch with No. 18 Clemson in next weekend's ACC championship game in Charlotte. They suffered their only loss, 23-3 against the Tigers on Oct. 1, and were eager for a rematch.

"Everybody wants it," Thomas said. "We know that we didn't play our best ball that day."

Nope, they saved that for their state rivals, and beat them for the eighth time in a row and 12th time in the last 13 meetings. They will be seeking their fourth league championship in five years.

Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid likes their chances. He prepared all week to try and stop Thomas and Wilson in the running game, and said film didn't do them justice.

"When you see those two characters up front, let me tell you, David Wilson is excellent on tape, but he is really dynamic and magnificent in person," Reid said, adding that when he saw Wilson running by him on the sidelines, the only thing he could think to say was "Whoa!"

The Cavaliers (8-4, 5-3) had won four straight and seemed ready to finally challenge their state rival, but without a running game, Rocco was under steady pressure. He also fumbled on a sack.

"We just couldn't finish," he said. "We got down to the red zone a bunch of times, but it was just little things. Either we had a penalty or a dropped ball or a bad pass ? we didn't finish. We talk about being finishers all year and didn't finish in the red zone today. It hurts. It doesn't feel good."

The tone was set very early.

Thomas hit Marcus Davis for 36 yards on the Hokies' first play from scrimmage, and Wilson broke off a 17-yard run on the next play. A 5-yard run by Wilson and 15-yard facemasking penalty on Chase Minnifield moved the Hokies to Virginia's 14, and Thomas ran it in from there.

It was his 10th rushing touchdown, a regular-season record for a quarterback in the 25 years Frank Beamer has been the coach, and Beamer once had Michael Vick as his QB.

Virginia tried to answer, driving to the Hokies' 6, but on fourth-and-2, the Cavaliers elected to go for it, and Kevin Parks was tripped up by Jack Tyler after gaining only a yard.

"We made a stop right there, made a statement right there," Beamer said.

The Cavaliers were trying to do the same thing, second-year coach Mike London said.

"It was the opportunity to send a message to our guys up front that if you're going to win championships, if you're going to win games, you've got to be able to knock people off the ball and gain a yard, particularly when you're favored in run-play," London said. "They did a good job of defending it, and we didn't get it. It set the tone for them to go the other way."

Virginia had no answer for Thomas early or Wilson late, and when the Hokies drove 79 yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter, extending their lead to 21-0, the largest crowd of the season at Scott Stadium (61,124) grew quiet ? except for the Hokies fans.

Wilson capped the drive with a 27-yard burst off the left side. He added a 38-yard run up the middle for another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and fans headed for the exits.

"It was visible on the field and you could see it in the stands" that the Cavaliers were deflated, Wilson said. "When we first came out for warmups, we couldn't get (the fans) to shut up."

Wilson finished with 153 yards on 24 carries and tied the ACC record with his 10th 100-yard game of the season. Thomas was 13 for 21 for 187 yards and ran for 27 yards on seven tries.

Following an exchange of punts, which found the Hokies starting at their own 4, Thomas twice converted third down plays with first-down runs, then hit Davis again, this time for 52 yards.

On third-and-8 from the Virginia 16, he hit Jarrett Boykin over the middle for the TD.

Minnifield, one of 31 fourth- or fifth-year players honored by Virginia before the game, had three 15-yard penalties in the first half, but one was waved off because Davis beat him for the 36-yard catch, and another on a deep ball was negated by a holding call against the Hokies.

J.R. Collins' interception of Rocco and return to the Cavaliers' 6 set up the last touchdown, Thomas' 7-yard pass to Davis. He finished with five catches for 119 yards.

___

Follow Hank Kurz on Twitter at http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111127/ap_on_sp_co_ga_su/fbc_t25_virginia_tech_virginia

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Markets still buoyed by euro rescue hopes (AP)

LONDON ? Markets were boosted again on Tuesday by hopes that the 17 countries that use the euro will finally come up with a plan to deal with their crushing debt crisis.

As the 17 finance ministers of the countries that use the euro converged on EU headquarters in a desperate bid to save their currency ? and to protect the global economy from a debt-induced financial tsunami ? investors were reminded of the urgency of the task at hand.

Italy's borrowing rates shot up Tuesday to above 7 percent, an unsustainable level on a par with rates that forced the others to seek bailouts.

The fear is that the crisis ? which already has forced bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal ? could engulf bigger economies such as Italy, the eurozone's third-largest. If Italy were to default on its debt of euro1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion), the fallout could spell ruin for the euro project itself and send shock waves throughout the global economy.

Though no specific details have yet emerged of what will likely result from a Dec. 9 summit of EU leaders, the ministers are thought to be discussing ideas that would have been taboo only recently: countries ceding fiscal sovereignty to a central authority; some kind of elite group of euro nations that would guarantee one another's loans ? but require strong fiscal discipline from anyone wanting membership.

On Tuesday, finance ministers also were likely to discuss the options ? plus a possible way to boost the region's rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, at a meeting in Brussels.

"Global equity markets have started the week hopeful that EU policymakers are actually moving closer to resolving the eurozone debt and banking crisis, with hopes pinned on reports that France and Germany are planning a 'fast-track' updated Stability Pact to both tighten budget rules and provide fiscal policy oversight," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

On Monday, stocks advanced strongly, particularly in Europe, with the CAC-40 in France up a massive 5 percent or so.

As a result, the gains Tuesday were not as marked but did provide some further evidence of the hopes that European leaders will finally get their act together in around 10 days time.

In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 0.2 percent at 5,747, while the CAC-40 rose 0.5 percent at 3,026. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.1 percent higher at 5,320. The euro, meanwhile, was up 0.4 percent at $1.3346.

Wall Street was poised for further gains, too, amid ongoing evidence of a strong start to the U.S. holiday shopping season. Dow futures were up 0.5 percent at 11,555, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 futures rose 0.6 percent at 1,198.

Earlier, most Asian markets ended higher, with the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo climbing 2.3 percent to close at 8,477.82.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi rose 2.3 percent to 1,856.52 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.2 percent to 18,256.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Australia were also higher.

Mainland Chinese shares advanced, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gaining 1.2 percent to 2,412.39.

Oil prices tracked equities modestly higher ? benchmark crude for January delivery was up 49 cents to $98.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

____

Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/stocks/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111129/ap_on_bi_ge/world_markets

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Monday, November 28, 2011

N900 takes a bite out of Ice Cream Sandwich, suffers Android brain freeze (video)

Espoo's freshly dug some graves for its operating systems past, but that doesn't mean the mobile underground's leaving its antiquated wares behind. A hacker going by the winsome moniker of Drunkdebugger has kept the NITDroid project chugging along on the N900 with a port of Android's latest 4.0 frosty delight. Fair warning -- this is an extremely early build and is even referenced as being "pre-pre-alpha," so don't expect the overhauled, pure Google experience to be running seamlessly. Still, it's a bright spot for Nokia fanboys and girls that simply refuse to make peace with the wireless days of old. Jump past the break to take a brief look at this buggy ROM force closing.

Continue reading N900 takes a bite out of Ice Cream Sandwich, suffers Android brain freeze (video)

N900 takes a bite out of Ice Cream Sandwich, suffers Android brain freeze (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 28 Nov 2011 22:52:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Cool Smartphone  |  sourceNokia HDblog (Translated)  | Email this | Comments


Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/IRmE5eS6k_A/

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Endangered Baby Gorilla Born At Lincoln Park Zoo Dies

CHICAGO ? A preliminary exam shows that an endangered baby gorilla born nine days ago at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo died of head trauma.

Zoo workers discovered the baby gorilla was dead Friday morning, as she was being carried around by her mother.

The zoo says workers allowed the mother, 16-year-old Bana, to keep the baby for several hours "to make peace with what happened." She was a first-time mother.

The cause of death was determined later in the day during a necropsy, the animal version of an autopsy.

The baby's father was a 22-year-old silverback gorilla named Kwan.

The baby was the first Western lowland gorilla born at the zoo since 2005. She had not been named.

In a statement, the zoo says the baby appeared to be fully developed.

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Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/25/endangered-baby-gorilla-b_0_n_1113767.html

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Canon EOS 1000D washes ashore in BC, Canada, SD card reveals it was lost at sea for over a year

What you're looking at was once a fully functional Canon EOS 1000D, now merely a relic of the sea (the Pacific Ocean, to be exact), which was recently posted on Google+. User Marcus Thompson, found the DSLR washed up near a wharf while on a diving job in Deep Bay British Columbia, Canada and decided to take it home to find out what could be salvaged. After removing and cleaning the SanDisk Extreme III SD card inside of it, he was successfully able to recover about 50 photos with EXIF data from August 2010, showcasing what's described to be a firefighter and his family on vacation. While he hasn't located the owner of the shooter turned coffee table decoration just yet, Marcus is currently asking the "Google+ hive mind" to help get the two reunited. If you're from BC area and want to help out -- or just curious to see this DSLR from more angles -- you'll find some pictures from the SD card and more information about the camera at the source link below.

Canon EOS 1000D washes ashore in BC, Canada, SD card reveals it was lost at sea for over a year originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 27 Nov 2011 15:28:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink The Verge  |  sourceMarcus Thompson (Google+)  | Email this | Comments


Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/h3POUE89ics/

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Asian shares, euro fall on Europe deadlock (Reuters)

TOKYO (Reuters) ? Asian shares and the euro fell to seven-week lows on Friday as European officials failed to soothe investor fears that the euro zone's debt crisis could trigger a credit crunch if funding costs run out of control.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) slid 1.4 percent on Friday, hitting a seven-week low. Japan's Nikkei (.N225) inched up 0.1 percent after touching a fresh two-and-a-half-year low earlier on Friday. (.T)

European shares fell for the sixth consecutive session in low volume on Thursday while Wall Street was shut for the Thanksgiving holiday.

With European policymakers struggling to break out of the deadlock and no convincing progress in sight over the euro zone debt crisis, investors were shunning riskier assets and selling those normally perceived as safe to raise cash or cover losses.

"Risk appetite is very low and fear factor is very high," said Markus Rosgen, head of Asia strategy at Citigroup. "Basically people are fearful and whenever people are fearful, equities tend to be cheap."

"What people are doing is where they have profits, they are taking profits. Gold is one area where they have profits," he said, adding that volume for overall markets was low suggesting very little activity.

France and Germany agreed on Thursday to stop bickering openly about whether the European Central Bank should do more to rescue the euro zone from a deepening sovereign debt crisis. They expressed their backing for Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in his task of overcoming the country's massive debt burden.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also said Paris and Berlin would circulate joint proposals before a December 9 European Union summit for treaty amendments to entrench tougher budget discipline in the 17-nation euro area.

But with market seeking actions rather than rhetoric, sentiment remained highly risk-averse as Germany stood firmly opposed to the creation of joint euro zone bonds or boosting the ECB's role in solving the fiscal problems of individual euro zone members.

"Disappointment that officials continue to tinker with the trivial rather than consider the bold pushed risk appetites lower and increased the downside risks to the outlook for the European sovereign debt crisis," said Besa Deda, chief economist at St. George Bank in Sydney.

FUNDING WOES DEEPEN

Funding stresses for European banks escalated, with the cost of swapping euros into dollars in the currency swap market rising to fresh three-year highs of 148 basis points on Thursday.

The ECB is looking at extending the term of loans it offers banks to 2 or even 3 years to try to prevent the euro zone crisis precipitating a credit crunch that chokes the bloc's economy, people familiar with the matter say.

The euro fell to a seven-week low against the dollar of $1.3314 on Friday.

As a gauge of risk-taking, commodity currencies struggled, with the Australian dollar down 0.24 percent to $0.9696 and not far from a seven-week low of $0.9664 touched earlier in the week.

A day after weak demand for a German bond auction shocked global markets and fueled fears the crisis may be hurting Europe's economic powerhouse, the closely-watched German Ifo business climate index on Thursday bucked expectations and showed a rise for November for the first time since June.

German government borrowing costs stayed elevated, with 10-year government bond yields rising as high as 2.14 percent on Thursday - the highest in nearly a month.

The premium investors' demand to hold Portuguese government bonds over German Bunds rose on Thursday after Fitch downgraded Portugal's rating to junk status.

Bearish sentiment spilled over to Asian credit markets, with

spreads on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment grade index widening by about five basis points on Friday.

Japanese government bonds fell, with the benchmark cash 10-year yield rising 3.5 basis points to 1.015 percent. Spot gold fell almost 0.2 percent to around $1,691 an ounce on Friday. It hit a one-month low of $1,665.88 earlier this week.

(Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney; Editing by Kavita Chandran)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111125/bs_nm/us_markets_global

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gingrich could draw GOP ire on immigration

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2011 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at a town meeting at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2011 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at a town meeting at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2011 file photo, Republican presidential hopeful former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista buy a pork chop lunch as they campaign at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2011 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gestures during a news conference at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. Gingrich has never been a conventional Republican and he certainly doesn't see it as the way to catch Mitt Romney. He's not backing away from his unorthodox stand on immigration, which critics call amnesty. But party insiders wonder if a thrice-married, 68-year-old with a multimillion-dollar Freddie Mac contract is the best choice to face President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, File)

ATLANTA (AP) ? Newt Gingrich has charged into the fray over illegal immigration, risking conservative ire just as his Republican presidential campaign ? once declared all but dead ? has vaulted into front-runner status.

The firebrand former House speaker broke with what has become a reflexive Republican hard line on immigration, calling for "humane" treatment for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for decades, establishing deep family and community ties.

Gingrich suggested they should be provided a pathway to legal residency but not citizenship. Republicans, he said, should see illegal immigrants through the prism of another issue near and dear to the GOP faithful: family values.

"I don't see how the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter-century," Gingrich said at a televised debate Tuesday night.

The response was swift.

Some conservatives asserted he had wounded his candidacy, perhaps fatally.

"Newt did himself significant harm tonight on immigration among caucus and primary voters," tweeted Tim Albrecht, deputy chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, whose state holds the lead-off caucuses in January.

Immigration has proven to be politically treacherous for Republicans trying to appeal to the party's conservative base. Just ask Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said critics of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants "did not have a heart." Perry had to apologize for the remark.

William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said Gingrich's campaign "will now take the 'Perry plunge.'"

But others praised Gingrich for emerging as a "voice of reason" on an emotionally charged topic.

"With me, personally, I fall right in line with him," said Columbia, S.C., Gingrich supporter Allen Olson, a former tea party official. "It's utterly impossible to round up 12 million people and ship them off."

The stance is not a new one for Gingrich. Aides say he was saying the same thing at town halls and forums long before he was running for president. It's laid out clearly on a campaign Web page.

What is new is the scrutiny he's receiving. Recent polls have shown Gingrich at or near the top of the Republican field, along with Mitt Romney. With a little less than six weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, people are listening to the former Georgia congressman.

And far from a stumble, Tuesday night's remarks seemed a calculated tactic to draw a contrast with Romney, whom he now sees as his chief rival to the party nomination and who has had his own trouble with conservatives, largely because of the health care overhaul law he pushed through as governor of Massachusetts.

But Romney has been tough on illegal immigration while running for president. He said Tuesday night that what Gingrich was proposing would act as a magnet for foreigners to enter the country illegally.

The Gingrich team countered by pointing to comments Romney made on NBC's "Meet the Press" in 2007, during which he called proposals similar to the one Gingrich was backing "reasonable."

In Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, Romney didn't address those past comments directly.

"My view is that those people who have waited in line patiently to come to this country legally should be ahead in line," he told reporters. "And those people who have come here illegally should not be given a special deal."

Opponents of illegal immigration say Gingrich has a checkered history on the topic.

While in Congress, Gingrich voted for amnesty for illegal immigrants in 1986 and for smaller, more specific amnesties throughout the 1990s, said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which advocates tighter immigration controls. The organization gave Gingrich a "D'' for his time in Congress.

Beck said he believed Gingrich was playing to the Republican establishment, which has been softer on illegal immigration than the grass-roots wing of the party.

But the Gingrich team worked furiously Wednesday to fend off a potential backlash, rushing out several news releases praising his stance, including one with remarks from the son of former President Ronald Reagan.

"My father never would have broken up a family to try and make, in fact, a point on immigration," Michael Reagan said on Fox News. "And so he would have applauded Newt Gingrich on that."

Gingrich himself said he is "prepared to take the heat for saying let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., chuckled when asked about Gingrich's remarks. Chambliss was booed in 2007 at an annual meeting of the Georgia Republican Party for championing an amnesty program similar to what Gingrich is pushing now. One of his critics at the time, Chambliss said, was Gingrich.

"But I wouldn't underestimate Newt," Chambliss continued. "He's one of the smartest politicians out there, and don't think he hasn't thought this through."

___

Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta and Tom Beaumont in Iowa contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/89ae8247abe8493fae24405546e9a1aa/Article_2011-11-24-Gingrich-Immigration/id-28938b6fba5a4aeaacad1285c87c22af

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Clashes over French nuclear train

Nuclear protesters and police clash in north-western France

Riot police in north-western France have made 12 arrests while battling protesters trying to stop a trainload of nuclear waste bound for Germany.

They sprayed tear gas and wielded truncheons at protesters in gas masks, who had tried to block railway tracks near Valognes with debris.

A mobile police canteen was set on fire and at least three people were hurt.

The shipment from the French nuclear giant Areva's reprocessing plant at La Hague is the last planned to Germany.

Germany has stopped sending nuclear waste for reprocessing in France, as it winds down its nuclear power plants. Chancellor Angela Merkel said this year that all plants would be shut down by 2022.

Wednesday's train left more than an hour late as a result of the disturbances, which were frequently violent, correspondents report.

Two machetes were seized from protesters, a local prosecutor said.

The demonstrators managed to remove a rail and destroy electric junction boxes before the train left, according to France's AFP news agency.

'Radical opposition'

Further protests are expected when the train enters Germany on its way to the nuclear waste facility at Gorleben.

Protesters say the shipment presents an environmental hazard but Areva insists the rail shipment is perfectly safe.

"Beyond the danger that this waste poses, we're demonstrating our radical opposition to a means of production that means we'll always need more power," said one Parisian protester, Anna, 24.

"We're against endless growth."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has rejected calls to close down France's own nuclear industry, which is a major source of revenue.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-europe-15861761

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Chiefs pick up ex-Broncos quarterback Orton (Reuters)

(Reuters) ? The Kansas City Chiefs picked up former Denver quarterback Kyle Orton on Wednesday as they try to salvage their playoff hopes following the loss of starter Matt Cassel.

Orton was cut on Tuesday after the Broncos handed the reins over to fan favorite Tim Tebow, and the 29-year-old was quickly snapped up by the AFC West rival Chiefs, who announced the move on their website (kcchiefs.com).

Kansas City (4-6) lost Cassel to a season-ending hand injury on November 13 and were forced to use inexperienced backup Tyler Palko in a 34-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday.

Orton started the first five games of the season for the Broncos but was just 1-4 before being benched. He joined the Broncos from Chicago in 2009 and threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons.

The Chiefs have lost three in a row and are two games behind division leaders Oakland.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111124/sp_nm/us_nfl_chiefs_orton

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Penn State football players lived by special rules: ex-official (Reuters)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa (Reuters) ? Penn State University football players received special treatment when they got into trouble, the university's former chief disciplinarian said on Tuesday.

Longtime football coach Joe Paterno and then-university President Graham Spanier were involved in years of debate that ended in changing the rules for how football players were disciplined, said Vicky Triponey, the vice president for student affairs from 2003 to 2007.

"The consequence of these accommodations put us in the position of treating football players more favorably than other students accused of violating the community standards as defined by the student code of conduct," Triponey said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Tuesday.

Her comments were another blow to a university and once-storied football program now reeling from allegations of child sexual abuse and a cover-up.

Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces 40 counts of sexually molesting boys over a 15-year period. He was charged by a grand jury on November 5 and has denied any wrongdoing.

Paterno, 84, the winningest coach in major college football, and Spanier were fired by trustees this month for failing to tell police about the allegations of sex abuse. The former athletic director and a top finance official face perjury charges in the case.

The scandal has raised concerns that a culture of special treatment for the football program under Paterno allowed Sandusky's alleged conduct to continue for years.

Triponey said that during her time at Penn State there was an "ongoing internal debate" about who should decide about how to discipline Penn State football players.

Those involved included herself, the athletic administration, Paterno and Spanier, she said. Triponey also met Spanier and Paterno separately and together to discuss cases involving football players.

Spanier and Paterno made "suggestions, requests and at times demands" to change the process or soften punishment for players who had broken rules, she said.

"As a result of these various meetings and conversations, my staff and I felt compelled to alter how we handled cases involving Penn State football players," said Triponey, who now heads special projects for a non-profit in Charleston, South Carolina.

A university spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that differences over treatment of players came to a head in 2007,when police charged six football players for barging into a campus apartment that April and beating up several students, one of them severely, according to one former school official.

That September, following a tense meeting with Paterno over the case, Triponey resigned her post, saying at the time she left because of "philosophical differences."

Police dropped many of the charges against the players, and two pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, the newspaper said. The school's inquiry led to four players being suspended for a summer semester. They did not miss any games.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, South Carolina; Editing by Greg McCune)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/crime/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111123/us_nm/us_usa_crime_coach_paterno

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Groupon's shares fall below IPO price (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO ? Groupon Inc.'s stock fell below its initial public offering price for the first time as investors reassess the challenges facing the still-unprofitable online deals company in a shaky economy.

The shares plunged $2.79, or 14 percent, to $17.28 in early afternoon trading Wednesday, below Groupon's IPO price of $20, which was set less than three weeks ago. The rapid fall from Wall Street's graces occurred almost entirely this week. Groupon has shed one-third of its market value since the end of last week to wipe out nearly $6 billion in shareholder wealth.

Congress' inability to reach an agreement on how to reduce the U.S. deficit has raised the specter of automatic cuts and tax increases, which would increase the risk of the economy falling into another recession. That reduces Wall Street's appetite for risky investments such as Groupon, which is facing increasing competition in the rapidly growing niche of online advertising that it pioneered.

The decline also has been deepened by a skeptical class of investors, known as short sellers, who bet that certain stocks are going to slide. They do this by borrowing shares that they immediately sell, hoping they can repay the stock by buying at a cheaper price later.

Groupon gets local merchants to offer steep discounts to large clusters of consumers, a concept that turned it into one of the world's fastest growing companies. Founded in 2008, Groupon is on pace to generate more than $1.5 billion in revenue this year, primarily from the commissions it gets from deals sold. Google Inc., which runs the Internet's largest advertising network, had annual revenue of just $86 million at the same stage of its existence.

Unlike Google, though, Groupon has been amassing huge losses as it tries to expand and ward off threats from hordes of copycats. The competition includes Google and another Internet powerhouse, Amazon.com Inc., which is backing a startup deals company called LivingSocial.

Through the first nine months of this year, Groupon lost $308 million, partly because its payroll swelled to more than 10,400 employees to help persuade local merchants to offer deals. Groupon's losses and massive work force provide another stark contrast to how Google went about its business as it was starting out. After three years, Google eked out a $7 million profit and had fewer than 300 employees.

As it prepared its initial public offering of stock, Groupon tried to sugarcoat the losses by emphasizing an accounting approach that securities regulators eventually required the company to abandon.

Meanwhile, some merchants have become increasingly skeptical that partnering with Groupon and similar services is really a deal for them. Groupon takes up to half the price of the coupon, so if an Italian restaurant is offering $50 worth of food for $25, the merchant gets just $12.50. Merchants can make the money back if the coupon draws a customer who keeps returning and brings friends, but some businesses complain that bargain hunters rarely come back after scoring a cheap meal or massage. Other businesses, though, see Groupon as good marketing ? a way to reach troves of new, social media-savvy customers who share good deals with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Despite the red flags hovering over the company, Groupon's rapid growth tantalized enough investors to turn its IPO into a success. After the IPO was priced at $20, the company's stock soared as high as $31.14 in its stock market debut on Nov. 4. All of those gains have evaporated in just 14 trading days.

What's happened to Groupon's stock serves as a cautionary tale to anyone thinking about investing in a hot company in its early stages on the market. The trading in stocks following an IPO is prone to wild swings that can upset portfolios ? and investors' stomachs.

Groupon isn't the only example of this volatility. For instance, Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc. went public in June at $16 per share and then saw its stock climb in its debut. The shares are now trading below $11. After online professional networking service LinkedIn Corp. priced its IPO at $45 in May, its shares soared above $100. The stock is now trading at about $65.

The phenomenon isn't limited to Internet companies. Automobile maker General Motors Co. emerged from bankruptcy protection with an IPO priced at $33 a year ago, and its stock price is now hovering at about $20.

Some IPOs maintain an upward trajectory. Google's stock has never come close to returning to its IPO price of $85 in 2004. A year after Google went public, its stock price stood at $280. On Wednesday, it was above $570.

Groupon, which is based in Chicago, declined to comment on the stock price drop. It is still in a federally mandated "quiet" period that surrounds IPOs.

___

AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this report.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/internet/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111123/ap_on_hi_te/us_groupon_stock

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Video: Michael Steele on Newt Gingrich and immigration

Michael Steele, the former chairman of the RNC, defended Newt Gingrich and his comments on immigration at last night?s debate. Steele hopes the Republican party will begin the conversation about how to handle the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country.

Source: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/45420971/

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Yemen president quits after 33 years

Yemen's authoritarian President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed Wednesday to step down amid a fierce uprising to oust him after 33 years in power. The U.S. and its powerful Gulf allies pressed for the deal, concerned that a security collapse in the impoverished Arab nation was allowing an active al-Qaida franchise to gain a firmer foothold.

Saleh is the fourth Arab leader toppled in the wave of Arab Spring uprisings this year, after longtime dictators fell in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The deal gives Saleh immunity from prosecution ? contradicting a key demand of Yemen's opposition protesters.

Celebrations erupted in the capital Sanaa as Saleh inked the agreement. Yemenis danced in the streets, set off fireworks and waved flags.

Seated beside Saudi King Abdullah in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Saleh signed the U.S.-backed deal hammered out by his country's powerful Gulf Arab neighbors to transfer power within 30 days to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. That will be followed by early presidential elections within 90 days.

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He was dressed smartly in a dark business suit with a matching striped tie and handkerchief, and he smiled as he signed the deal, then clapped his hands a few times. He then spoke for a few minutes to members of the Saudi royal families and international diplomats, promising his ruling party "will be cooperative" in working with a new unity government.

Slideshow: Yemen in the spotlight (on this page)

"This disagreement for the last 10 months has had a big impact on Yemen in the realms of culture, development, politics, which led to a threat to national unity and destroyed what has been built in past years," he said.

Protesters camped out in a public square near Sanaa's university immediately rejected the deal, chanting, "No immunity for the killer." They vowed to continued their protests.

President Barack Obama welcomed Saleh's decision, saying it is an important step forward for the Yemeni people. He urged all involved to move immediately to implement the agreement. Obama said the U.S. would stand by the Yemeni people "as they embark on this historic transition" to realize their aspirations for a new beginning, and he acknowledged "important work" done by Gulf allies.

Saleh has clung to power despite the daily mass protests calling for his ouster and a June assassination attempt that left him badly wounded and forced him to travel to Saudi Arabia for more than three months of hospital treatment. He was burned over much of his body and had shards of wood embedded in his chest by the explosion that ripped through his palace mosque as he prayed.

Shortly before Saleh inked the agreement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the president told him he will travel to New York for medical treatment after signing it. He didn't say when Saleh planned to arrive in New York, nor what treatment he would be seeking.

Since February, tens of thousands of Yemenis have protested in cities and towns across the nation, calling for democracy and the fall of Saleh's regime. The uprising has led to a security collapse, with armed tribesmen battling security forces in different regions and al-Qaida-linked militants stepping up operations in the country's restive south.

Timeline: Yemen in turmoil (on this page)

For months, the U.S. and other world powers pressured Saleh to agree to the power transfer proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council, and he agreed then backed down several times before. All the while, the uprising raged, security and the economy deteriorated. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula grew more bold, even seizing some territory.

Even before the uprising began, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East, fractured and unstable with a government that had weak authority at best outside the capital Sanaa.

Security is particularly bad in southern Yemen, where al-Qaida militants ? from one of the world's most active branches of the terror network ? have taken control of entire towns, using the turmoil to strengthen their position.

The nation of some 25 million people is of strategic value to the United States and its Gulf Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia. It sits close to the major Gulf oil fields and overlooks key shipping lanes in the Red and Arabian seas.

Saleh addressed the country's troubles without mentioning the demands of protesters who have filled squares across Yemen calling for his ouster, often facing deadly crackdowns from his security forces.

He also struck out at those who strove to topple him, calling the protests the protests a "coup" and the bombing of his palace mosque that seriously wounded him in June "a scandal."

Saleh said his ruling party will be "among the principal participants" in the proposed national unity government that is to be formed between his party and opposition parties, who also signed the deal.

The deal to nudge him from power was denounced by some of the youth protesters who have emerged as a presence in Yemen's politics, and regard the parties that negotiated his exit partners in the crimes of which they accuse Saleh.

"We will remain on the streets until our demands are met," activist Samia al-Aghbari told Reuters. "Saleh's crimes won't end with time, so we will pursue him and all the killers."

But others welcomed the deal as a first victory of their uprising.

"This is a great victory," Badr Ali Ahmed, an activist at Change Square, said. "We have achieved one of the goals of the revolution, which is to bring down the head of the regime, and God willing we will achieve the rest."

Hamdan al-Haqab, a field organizer, said: "We were not part of this initiative, but since it happened, we consider it to be the first achievement of the revolution ... We will continue to achieve all our goals."

A Yemeni official said that renegade general Ali Mohsen, a longtime Saleh ally who turned on him after protests began, and Sadeq al-Ahmar, a tribal notable who also threw his weight against Saleh, could try to block the deal which excludes them.

Those figures, along with Saleh's son and a nephew who commands a key paramilitary unit, form a balance of forces on the ground that analysts say none is likely to tip, making a political resolution the only way out of Yemen's deadlock.

Witnesses said Ahmar fighters and Saleh forces traded shelling in the Soufan and al-Hasaba neighborhoods in Sanaa, where the tribal chief lives, and that sounds of explosions could be heard from a distance.

There were no reports of casualties. The area was the scene of heavy clashes earlier this year, where scores of people from both sides died.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45413404/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/

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The Paper Wine Bottle Is Lightweight and Cheap

As somebody who has to haul several empty bottles down to the recycling point every day, and then schlep another couple of full wine bottles back up the many stairs to my apartment, I love the idea of UK-based Martin Myerscough’s paper wine bottle.
The bottle consists of a paper outer and a foil-bladder inner, and [...]

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GearFactor/~3/tSFIvcvUWoI/

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Spanish Voters Turn to the Conservatives to Cure the Crisis (Time.com)

If the recent removals of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Greek premier George Papandreou were not enough to demonstrate the power of the economy to bring down entrenched political leadership, witness Sunday night's elections in Spain. As prime minister, Jos? Luis Rodr?guez Zapatero pulled Spain's troops out of Iraq within weeks of taking office, legalized gay marriage, cracked down on domestic violence, eased access to abortion and divorce and, to all appearances, helped bring an end to Basque separatist group ETA's 40-year scourge of terrorism. But with the flailing economy outweighing all other concerns, none of those achievements were enough to protect his Socialists, now led by Alfredo P?rez Rubalcaba, from a sound thrashing at the hands of Mariano Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party (PP).

Although the details of his plan to revive the economy were deliberately vague, Rajoy led his party to a victory resounding enough to give them an absolute majority in the Spanish parliament, its 186 seats the party's best result since Spain's return to democracy in 1976. Conversely, the Socialists lost 59 seats, falling to their lowest level ever of 110. "Spain wants to know, finally, that there's someone at the helm," says Antonio Argando?a, professor of the IESE business school in Navarra. (Read "Is There a Strategy Behind Spain's Early Elections?")

It's not hard to figure out what he means. Unemployment in Spain stands currently at 21.9%, and rises to over 40% among those under the age of 30. Austerity measures have brought significant reductions in social services and the salaries of public employees, but have not been enough to keep the country on track to reduce its deficit to a promised 4.4% by 2012. And as interest rates on new debts climbed last week to levels not seen since the introduction of the euro, Spain became the latest cause for concern about the euro zone's ability to hold together.

In response to those problems, Rajoy, who lost two previous attempts to become prime minister, has said that creating jobs is his first priority and suggested that by reforming labor laws and stimulating the economy with tax breaks for businesses, he could do so without raising taxes. In his victory speech, he emphasized his willingness to enforce Europe's austerity demands, adding, "We will stop being part of the problem and return to being part of the solution."

His supporters believe that such a plan is viable and point to the successful record of Rajoy's conservative predecessor Jose Maria Aznar, who served as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2004, as proof. "In 1996, Aznar had to enforce some tough measures like freezing public salaries in order to reduce the public deficit," says Antonio L?pez-Istur?z, Secretary General of the European People's Party. "But he told people, 'If you do this, we will get into the EU.' That was the Holy Grail. The situation is worse today, but there is still a Holy Grail: if you do this Spain will be in the first division of the EU. We can't afford to be in the second." (Read "Spain Caps Its Debt [EM] Rest of the Euro Zone Be Warned.")

But he must act quickly. "It's understandable that up until now, Rajoy hasn't been very concrete," says professor Argando?a, "But [the PP] have to get their plan on the table now. The process is going to be very long, but restoring confidence in the Spanish economy has to be goal number one, and that's the only way to do it."

Because billions of euro stand in the way of reaching Spain's target of 4.4% deficit, the plan will likely include more cuts in social spending. Besides the risk of social unrest, those cuts also carry a danger of staunching much-needed growth, even though they are accompanied by tax breaks for businesses. "The Popular Party always believes that money is better in the hands of individuals," says Jorge Fabra, former rector of Madrid's Cumplutense University and founder of Economists Confront the Crisis, a group formed to challenge prevailing views about the crisis."But the State knows better where it should go, and it can direct money to areas like healthcare, education, innovation, and renewable energy, where growth opportunities lie."

Others, however, wonder if, even with its resounding victory, anything the new government does will have much impact on the crisis. "This really isn't about individual countries anymore," says Soledad Pell?n, market strategist for the Madrid branch of IG Markets. "Like Greece and Italy, Spain has very little room to maneuver. We're all at the mercy of what Germany and France do next."

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Broncos cut quarterback Kyle Orton (AP)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. ? Kyle Orton has gone from Jay Cutler's replacement to Tim Tebow's backup to the unemployment line.

The Broncos released the 29-year-old veteran quarterback Tuesday, six weeks after benching him following a 1-4 start.

"I spoke with Kyle earlier today and thanked him for everything he did for the Broncos. He was a true professional throughout this season. I've got a great deal of respect for him as both a player and as a person," coach John Fox said in a statement.

"This was the right decision for our football team. We feel good about our quarterback group, and this gives Kyle an opportunity to help another team and showcase his talents."

Orton shouldn't stay unemployed for long.

Although he's a vested veteran with seven NFL seasons under his belt, Orton is subject to the waiver rules because he was released after the trade deadline. If another team claims him, it will be responsible for about $3 million in salary, which is what remains of his roughly $9 million contract for 2011. If nobody claims him, he'll be free to sign with anybody.

Two intriguing possibilities are the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans. Both are in the thick of the playoff race at 7-3 but have problems under center, and another potential destination is AFC West rival Kansas City.

Cutler broke the thumb on his right throwing hand last weekend and might miss the rest of the regular season. His backup is Caleb Hanie. The Bears visit the Broncos on Dec. 11.

Matt Schaub of the Texans is out for weeks with a right foot injury and he's been replaced by previously underachieving Matt Leinart.

Matt Cassel hurt his throwing hand in the Chiefs' 17-10 loss to Denver on Nov. 13 and had season-ending surgery the next day. His replacement, Tyler Palko, threw three interceptions in his first start, a 34-3 loss at New England on Monday night.

John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations, called Orton an "absolute pro," and said he decided against keeping him on the roster through the remainder of the season.

"We thought it was best for the Broncos at this time as well as for Kyle to catch on with a different team," Elway said. "Kyle is going to have more options in the NFL. He'll get an opportunity to play somewhere else, and we wish him the best of luck."

The Broncos didn't announce a corresponding roster move, but one possibility was the promotion of rookie quarterback Adam Weber from the practice squad.

Orton was acquired in 2009 in the Cutler trade with the Bears and he won his first six starts in Denver before going 6-21. He passed for 3,000-plus yards in each of his first two seasons in Denver after spending his first four seasons in Chicago.

The Broncos tried to trade Orton after the NFL lockout ended in July but talks with Miami broke down and Fox threw open the quarterback competition, something for which Tebow proved ill-prepared.

Orton decisively outplayed Tebow in training camp for a second straight season but he turned ordinary when the games started to count, turning the ball over nine times and losing a string of winnable games and the organization's confidence.

Orton's slide hit bottom Oct. 9 when he went 6 for 13 for 34 yards in the first half against the Chargers and threw his seventh interception, tied for most in the league at the time.

Fox sent in Tebow to start the second half and after a slow start, the former Florida star sparked a listless offense to within a last-gasp pass of coming back against San Diego.

"I'm disappointed with everything," Orton said at the time. "I wish I could have played better, I wish we had a better record, I wish a lot of things, but the reality is what it is."

The next day, Fox pulled Orton aside before team meetings and informed him he had decided to go all-in on Tebow.

Orton pledged to be a good teammate and stay ready in case his number was called again, but Tebow has gone 4-1 with the Broncos tailoring their offense to his unique skill set and reintroducing the option to the NFL.

When the Broncos were walloped by the Lions in Tebow's second start, Brady Quinn leapfrogged Orton as the primary backup and appeared close to getting his shot under center. But Fox stuck with Tebow, albeit with the caveat that it was a week-to-week proposition.

Since then, Tebow has won all three of his starts and engineered fourth-quarter comebacks against the Raiders and Jets to go with his miracle in Miami, when he led the Broncos back from a 15-point deficit in the closing minutes for a win in overtime.

On Monday, Elway said on his weekly radio show, however, that he wasn't sold on Tebow as the long-term answer at quarterback, saying the second-year pro has to become a better passer and improve on third downs.

Tebow is completing just 44.8 percent of his passes and Denver was 1 for 11 on third downs last week before its game-winning, 95-yard touchdown drive that stunned the Jets 17-13.

Several teammates said Orton was anything but a cancer in the locker room in recent weeks, even though it had become obvious he was biding his time until his first foray into unfettered free agency as a healthy QB in his prime and with a .500 record as a starter.

Yet, his demotion did create some awkward moments. He kept his captainship after losing his starting job and would help lead the team during warm-ups before watching the less accurate but more mobile Tebow take the bulk of the snaps during the week.

Orton was still held in high esteem in the Broncos locker room, especially by veterans such as Champ Bailey and Andre' Goodman, who said at the time of Orton's benching that they felt he was being unfairly singled out as the reason for the team's bad start.

___

AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed. Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111122/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_broncos_orton_waived

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Leftist govts shown the exit amid European crisis

Conservative Popular Party candidate Mariano Rajoy reacts next to his wife Elvira Fernandez Balboa, left, and the secretary general of the party Maria Dolores de Cospedal, right, as they celebrate after wining in the national election polls at the party headquarter in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Conservative Popular Party candidate Mariano Rajoy reacts next to his wife Elvira Fernandez Balboa, left, and the secretary general of the party Maria Dolores de Cospedal, right, as they celebrate after wining in the national election polls at the party headquarter in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Conservative Popular Party candidate Mariano Rajoy waves after winning the general elections in Madrid, Sunday, Nov, 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul White)

A homeless man sleeps in a bank in Madrid in the early hours of Monday Nov. 21, 2011, a day after the Popular Party won the general elections. Spain's center-right conservatives swept commandingly into power and into an economic hot seat Sunday as voters enduring 21.5 percent unemployment dumped the ruling Socialist government. But Mariano Rajoy gave no hints for how he will tackle Spain's unemployment nightmare with a much higher rate for young adults. (AP Photo/Paul White)

(AP) ? Throw a dart at a map of Europe now and it takes expert aim to hit a country run by a left-of-center government, especially after Spain's Socialists were emphatically drubbed out of power over the weekend.

Although the shift to the right began years ago in such heavyweights as France and Germany, it is now all but complete three years into the continent's grinding debt and economic crisis. Why? When times get tough ? when "the cows get thin" as the Spanish say ? political experts say edgy voters seek comfort with conservatives.

"The center-right is the natural preference in times of crisis," said Piotr Kaczynski of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. "If you look at societies and how they make their preferences, they all tend to vote more conservative in times of crisis and more center-left in times of economic progress."

Granted, on the European Union map there are scattered spots of leftist liberalism. A new Social Democratic government runs Denmark, there is a center left government in Norway and there is a broad Social Democratic-led coalition in Austria. And the Socialists might beat conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in France's presidential election next year.

But Kaczynski said there is no doubt the European left faces an uphill battle in re-establishing itself with an appealing message and the means to enact it, despite widespread disillusionment with go-go capitalism as seen in the Occupy Wall Street protests and Europe's widespread anti-austerity marches.

In Spain, voters enduring a 21.5 jobless rate ejected the Socialists and install the center-right Popular Party by a crushing margin in Sunday's election.

Voters dumped the Socialists in Portugal earlier this year and the Labour Party in Britain last year, in both cases shifting to conservative parties. A technocrat government has taken over in the last month from Greece's Socialist prime minister.

Kaczynski said is not an ironclad rule that a government will be dumped from power during an economic crisis. He cited the cases of troubled governments being re-elected in Latvia, Estonia ? a member of the eurozone ? and Poland, and said as long as the public concludes the government is capable and taking the right approach to a financial crisis, it might get a second chance.

That was not the case for Spain's Socialists, due to the poor record of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in fighting unemployment and in resurrecting an economy that overcome nearly two years of recession in 2010 only to stall again last quarter.

His punishment: the conservative Popular Party won 186 seats in the 350-seat lower chamber of Parliament, up from 154, while the Socialists plummeted from 169 seats to 110, their worst performance ever.

"Clearly, Spain is the biggest loss for the European Socialists. That is absolutely the case," Kaczynski said.

In his first public comments, Zapatero ? who did not seek a third term ? said Monday that the austerity measures he took ? and which caused supporters to flee in a stampede ? "put the national interests ahead of party interests."

Spanish stock and bond markets shrugged off the Popular Party win because it was so widely expected and because leader Mariano Rajoy has yet to spell out how he will attack Spain's unemployment debacle, deficit and growth woes.

However, some experts say Europe is not going right ideologically but rather seeking something ? anything ? new to get out of its quagmire.

"I wouldn't say Europe is turning to the right. It's basically the crisis is crushing the incumbents," said Eurasia Group's analyst for Europe, Antonio Barroso. "People are disappointed in the bad economic data, high unemployment and basically they are voting for the other alternative."

He noted that in Italy, conservative premier Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign this month as the eurozone crisis centered on his debt-laden country ? but that was to a technocratic administration, not to leftist politicians.

Barroso also mentioned the 2012 French presidential race and Sarkozy's record low approval rating. The feisty French conservative is trailing the Socialist Francois Hollande badly in the polls, although he has recovered a bit in recent weeks.

Socialists are strong in local and regional politics in France: They head 24 of France's 26 regional governments and run major cities including Paris, Lyon, and Lille. Most recently, in September, the Socialists wrested control of the Senate, Parliament's upper house, for the first time in more than a half-century ? seen by many as a rebuff to Sarkozy.

In Germany, conservative Angela Merkel beat the center-left's Gerhard Schroeder in 2005 after he pushed through labor market reforms and welfare state cuts. The moves angered his leftist supporters but they are credited with bolstering Germany's strength in the current financial crisis.

However, Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities in London agreed it is perhaps natural for people to turn to the right in times of extreme financial hardship. He noted it happened in the 1930s during the Depression.

"It is not surprising that we are seeing all these right-wing governments appear as a result of elections or imposed from Brussels," Lewis said.

___

Ciaran Giles and Alan Clendenning in Madrid, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2011-11-21-EU-Spain-Elections/id-41c50259613243df8fa8b9e0608271e1

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