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Bull Semen

Of the hot-button issues that dominate the foreign policy of the Bush administration in its waning months, perhaps none puts people on edge as much as the question of what President Bush is planning to do about Iran and its nuclear program.

At its heart, the administration's policy has been built around trying to isolate Iran -- diplomatically and, importantly, economically. The idea is that the Iranian people will put enough pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Iranian government will back off and shut down what Washington says is a program intended to develop nuclear weapons. (Iran says it is seeking only to develop a civilian nuclear power program; a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate last year concluded that Iran had abandoned a clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2003).

So, the administration has been adamant: No business with Iran without Washington's approval. Of course, that means no centrifuges or smaller items that could be used to enrich uranium or feed in a lesser way into an effort to build nuclear warheads.

But, as the Associated Press discovered, that doesn't mean nothing gets through. In a lengthy account, it reported that among the items Iran is managing to purchase from the United States -- despite the stiff effort to crack down on Tehran's dealings with the West and indeed all outsiders -- are: cigarettes, brassieres, bull semen, vitamins, soybeans, medical equipment and vegetable seeds.

All told, the wire service found, "U.S. exports to Iran grew more than tenfold during President Bush's years in office." So far.

For the AP story, click here.

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Google Lively

Google Lively: Is There Anything Google Can't Do?

Now that the term 'googling' has been entered into the English common language, internet powerhouse Google, Inc. has introduced a new browser-based MMO called "Google Lively". Find out more below.

Internet giant Google has announced Google Lively, a browser-based online world which is embedded in major social networks such as FaceBook and MySpace.


The company has posted a trailer for the services on its official Google YouTube feed.

You can download the client and check it out for yourself at the link above.

Via Gamasutra.

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Jessica Seinfeld "Deceptively Delicious"

Jessica Seinfeld, "Deceptively Delicious" Cookbook Featured on Oprah Winfrey Show

Jessica Seinfeld, the wife of famed comedian/television star Jerry Seinfeld, was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Tuesday to promote her new cookbook.

Seinfeld wrote the cookbook "Deceptively Delicious", which is geared towards nutritious recipes for children.

Seinfeld and the book "Deceptively Delicious" are now featured on as she described her recipes that tricked her three children into eating healthy.

"Deceptively Delicious" is available on and Barnes and Noble bookstores, amongst others. It was published on October 2007 by HarperCollins Publishing, but received a lot of controversy after Missy Chase Lapine, author of "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals", sued Seinfeld and her husband Jerry for plagiarism, or copyright and trademark infringement.

Seinfeld, the former Jessica Sklar, got married to Jerry Seinfeld in 1999, just months after getting married to Broadway scion Eric Nederlander. Sklar and Nederlander were married in June 1998.

Soon after her honeymoon with Nederlander, Sklar met Seinfeld and filed for divorce in mid-October 1998. Sklar and Seineld were in engaged in November 1998 and married on December 25, 1999. They now have a daughter, Sascha, and two sons, Julian Kal and Shepherd Kellen.

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Mesa Power The Pickens Plan

Oil billionaire Pickens puts his money on wind power

(CNN) -- Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens is putting his clout behind renewable energy sources like wind power.

The legendary entrepreneur and philanthropist on Tuesday unveiled a new energy plan he says will decrease the United States' dependency on foreign oil by more than one-third and help shift American energy production toward renewable natural resources.

"The Pickens Plan" calls for investing in domestic renewable resources such as wind, and switching from oil to natural gas as a transportation fuel.

In a news conference outlining his proposal, Pickens said his impetus for the plan is the country's dangerous reliance on foreign oil.

"Our dependence on imported oil is killing our economy. It is the single biggest problem facing America today," he said. Video Watch Pickens discuss plan for wind power »

"Wind power is ... clean, it's renewable. It's everything you want. And it's a stable supply of energy," Pickens told CNN in May. "It's unbelievable that we have not done more with wind."

Pickens' company, Mesa Power, recently announced a $2 billion investment as the first step in a multibillion-dollar plan to build the world's largest wind farm in Pampa, Texas.

Pickens said Tuesday that if the United States takes advantage of the so-called "wind corridor," stretching from the Canadian border to West Texas, energy from wind turbines built there could supply 20 percent or more of the nation's power. He suggested the project could be funded by private investors.

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Marie Jarry Sues After Being Fired

Southington Teacher Sues School Officials

SOUTHINGTON - — Marie Jarry, the former second-grade teacher who resigned abruptly in May after taking a paid sick day to appear on the "Howard Stern Show," is suing school officials and claims she was forced into resigning.

The suit was filed June 27 in U.S. District Court in Hartford and claims Jarry was denied due process, including the right to contest any charges against her.

Jarry is demanding that she be reinstated and receive back pay from when she resigned. Named in the suit are the board of education, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi and the Southington Education Association, which is the teachers union.

"The plaintiff's discharge was orchestrated by the Southington Education Association, Erardi and the board of education, who working together intimidated and coerced her with threats to resign in lieu of termination," the suit states.

Erardi declined Monday to comment on the suit, as did union President Richard Terino and Connecticut Education Association spokeswoman Kathy Frega.

Jarry, of Farmington, had taught at Thalberg School for five years. On May 1, she and her husband appeared on the shock jock's show and participated in a contest called "Ugliest Guy, Hottest Wife." They won it and a $5,000 prize.

According to school records, Jarry had called in sick the day the contest was aired.

According to the lawsuit, Jarry went to work on May 2 and heard nothing about the incident. But on May 5, the principal at Thalberg ordered her not to go to her classroom and to meet with Erardi later that day.

At the request of Southington Education Association leaders, Jarry met with lawyers for the Connecticut Education Association. That meeting happened before she met with Erardi, and according to the lawsuit, CEA lawyers told her she should resign from her teaching post. They told Jarry that she had violated a morality clause in the teachers' contract with the board, that she could be arrested for defrauding the school system and could lose her teaching certificate.

Jarry then met with Erardi, and according to the lawsuit, she believed it was simply so he could investigate the situation. But she ended up resigning, which she says was done under duress.

When asked about the morality clause of the teachers contract, Erardi said the contract requires that they comply with the state's code of professional responsibility for teachers. Among the code's provisions are that teachers behave professionally and bear in mind that their actions reflect on the entire profession. The code also prohibits teachers from lying.

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Duncan & John Bridewell Rescued

Two People Survive Plane Crash In Carbon County

Two people survived a plane crash in Carbon County thanks to rescuers by water and by air.
The four-seat Cherokee plane crashed in a remote area about 45 miles outside of Price, Utah on Sunday.

A tour of rafters floating down the Green River saw the wreckage and took care of the men overnight until help could arrive the next morning.

Officials said the plane crash sparked a fire which caused difficulty for rescue crews. This and the rugged terrain required rescuers to get the victims out by medical helicopter. The pilot, John Bridewell of South Dakota and his passenger, Duncan Bridewell of Arizona are reportedly in stable condition at the University of Utah Hospital.

The fire has now burned about six acres and will make investigating the cause of the crash difficult.

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James Van Praagh

Medium gains a following

TV and radio exposure, along with word of mouth, has created great demand for Bucks County psychic Joseph Tittel's unusual services.

The name of the cigar store in Bordentown, Ashes to Ashes, has never seemed more apropos than on this weekend afternoon.

Joseph Tittel is opening a portal between the living and the dead.

About 30 people have paid Tittel $45 each in the hopes of hearing from their dearly departed.

And Tittel, a rising local medium, self-taught and unpolished, but gaining droves of followers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is the pipeline.

"I have a passing with lung cancer . . . I think from the back of the room," intones Tittel, 37, who resembles Ricky Schroder with thicker eyebrows.

He homes in on a trio of sisters sitting together in the last row: "Somebody is pregnant and don't even know they are."

He gestures at one of the women. "You might want to get a test, because if you're not pregnant you will be by the end of the month.

"Who is missing the tip of her finger?" he asks, switching subjects abruptly.

"My great-grandmother was missing the tips of all her fingers," the astonished woman says.

He clutches a purple crystal in one hand and a white one in the other, squeezing them, as he says, to keep himself "grounded."

So it continues throughout the afternoon on Memorial Day weekend as Tittel mixes what sounds a lot like clever guesswork with startling details.

"That lawnmower you're thinking about buying - Dad says, 'Go to Sears,' " Tittel instructs a woman.

"Your brother is driving me nuts," he complains to one elderly man about his departed sibling. "He will not shut up."

When Tittel dry-gulches with one of the crowd, all his suggestions meeting with either denial or bafflement, he blows past it, almost as if annoyed. "Just write it down," he says brusquely. "It'll make sense later."

At the end, half the room leaves without having had the opportunity to make a connection. Tittel had warned the crowd beforehand that he cannot control what comes through. But those who do get a reading seem impressed.

"Stunningly accurate," says Lori Juillerat of Lambertville. "The only thing he said that I couldn't figure out was who Buddy the dog was. Everything else, he hit the nail on the head. He got the names of all my relatives, my father's name, and how he died.

"I've had a light that dims and brightens," she continues. "I've been blaming it on an old house. But Joseph brought it up and said my father's been doing that constantly."

It's difficult for Tittel to explain exactly how information from the other side gets transmitted.

"Mostly when I see things, it's with the mind's eye," he says. "I see it but not like I see you. I get a lot of pictures. The spirits have installed a whole dictionary in my head. Certain things they show me mean certain things. My favorite is [a can of] Maxwell House coffee which has nothing to do with coffee. It's the name Max, but that's what they have me trained on."

Similarly, a vision of a cuckoo clock would suggest to Tittel a link to Germany.

Yet out of these scattered symbols, he says he is able to construct remarkably specific messages. It is this ability that motivated celebrated psychic James Van Praagh to list Tittel on his Web site among the 20 mediums worldwide that he vouches for.

"He clearly is very sensitive," Van Praagh says. "But he's very detailed, very detailed."

That quality is hard to come by, according to Van Praagh, because communication with the other side is tenuous. "It's like a car going by at 60 miles per hour," he says, "and someone is sitting on the side of the road trying to yell something to the driver. It's such a fast vibration."

Speaking of cars, Tittel maintains he also sees the physical manifestation of spirits - and they're often out joyriding, right there with us.

"For some reason they like to ride in our cars with us," he says, laughing.

There are those who believe that what Tittel, Van Praagh and other mediums do is a shameless parlor trick, a confidence game known as the cold read. The practitioner creates an illusion of prescience by combining a close reading of his subjects' appearance and their answers to vague questions.

"There is a simple, rational explanation for how these people operate," says Eric Krieg, an electrical engineer who heads the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking, a group that disputes paranormal claims. "If you've lost someone, your memories are precious. It's low to mess around with that."

But those who have seen Tittel work are convinced his gift goes beyond trickery.

Beth DuPree, a breast cancer surgeon in Bensalem, met Tittel, whose business card reads "Spiritual Medium, Clairvoyant & Medical Intuitive," at a charity event.

"One patient came to me straight from a reading with him," says DuPree. "He said, 'You need to check out your right breast' and indeed she had breast cancer. In the readings he has done, he's told lots of people to go check out different parts of their bodies. I don't know how he does that. If I did, I could save a lot of money on CAT scans."

"What people don't understand is that a medium is already a psychic, but a psychic is not necessarily a medium," says Tittel, who's in the living room of his Bucks County home, the same stucco-and-shingle house he was born in. He lives there with his manager, Robert Breining.

"The difference is a medium can communicate with the deceased."

It's a few days after the Bordentown event, and Tittel is preparing for his weekly radio show, Messages From the Other Side, on WBCB in Levittown.

A gaggle of garden gnomes populates the front yard. The kitchen is a shrine to Elvis. And then there's the inner sanctum, a room with only one window, where Tittel gears himself up to speak with the dead.

"I pray and I meditate before I do my work," he says. "It helps get me to the level where I can tune in to them."

The messages Tittel brings from the spirit world are warm and supportive. "It's all love, positive energy, peace and happiness on the other side," he says. "There is no negativity over there."

In his experience, the departed are like Hallmark-card junkies. "When we're going through hard times, they're with us. And every holiday, special occasion, they're always there. They wouldn't miss anything - the birth of a baby, a wedding - they attend all them events."

Tittel believes he inherited his gift from both sides of his family, a blend of Hungarian, German and Welsh. Family legend has it that his paternal grandmother had an aunt born with a veil, an extraneous flap of skin, hanging over her face, traditionally a portent of extraordinary psychic abilities.

He says that at the age of 4, he began seeing visions of a shining lady at the foot of his bed. Through photographs, he would later identify her as his maternal grandmother, who had passed away before he was born.

He tended to discount most of his paranormal experiences, including, he says, premonitions. "When nobody seems to care about it, you learn not to care about it yourself," he says.

At 19, after graduating from Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, he began reading tarot cards professionally, but it wasn't until he was 26, shortly after his mother died unexpectedly, that he claims to have received his first direct message from the other side.

Tittel had purchased tickets for an appearance by medium John Edward at a hotel in Philadelphia, convinced that his mother would use the opportunity to send him a message through Edward.

"I heard my name being called, 'Joey,' " Tittel recalls. "Where'd that come from? And then I heard, 'Sit down, shut up and listen. There's people here who need this more than you do. You should know that I'm here more than anyone else.' I just knew it was my mom.

"John Edwards was up there talking about seeing things as a child and I thought, 'That's my story.' By the time I left, I realized, 'I think I'm supposed to be doing what he's doing. I don't know why. I don't know how. But I am.' "

Relying on word of mouth, Tittel began to scratch out a living as a medium. It wasn't until 2007, after a startling performance on the Lifetime series America's Psychic Challenge, that his reputation began to flourish.

You can see footage of Tittel on that show, visiting a crime scene and describing with uncanny accuracy what transpired, at his Web site,

Since then, his fees have gone up along with his credibility, but even at his new rates (from a 30-minute individual connection for $150 to a two-hour home gallery for $800), he's booked months in advance.

The higher fees tend to weed out the naysayers. "I dealt with a lot of people that were not very nice about what I do," he says. "They would come and sit in front of me and I would say, 'Why are you even here? Why come just to test me?'

"The change in prices keeps out the cynical people but not the skeptical people, and there's a big difference," Tittel says. "With the cynics, I could tell them what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they'd still tell me I'm a liar. Skeptical people have an open mind.

"And they always get the best readings. It drives me nuts. Here's a woman who is so receptive and eager and so wants to hear the messages. And there's Mr. Skeptic over there and he's getting the best details. That's the spirits. They want to make sure that he leaves knowing he made a connection."

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Reiser reportedly leads police to wife's body

Hans Reiser, the Linux programmer convicted in April of murdering his estranged wife, has led police to what is believed to be her body, authorities told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

The remains were found Monday afternoon buried next to a deer trail in the hills of Oakland, Calif., Reiser's defense attorney, who accompanied his client to the site, told the newspaper. Police said the body has not been identified. A news conference is planned for Tuesday.

In April, following a drama-filled six-month trial, a jury found Reiser, 44, guilty of first-degree murder in the 2006 killing of Nina Reiser, with whom he was undergoing a bitter divorce. Reiser is currently being held without bail pending his sentencing scheduled for Wednesday.

Throughout the trial, Reiser maintained his innocence. Arguing the so-called "geek defense," his attorney maintained that while Reiser may be strange, arrogant, even abnormal, his odd behavior following Nina's disappearance wasn't evidence of murder.

However, Wired reported in June that a deal was in the works in which Reiser would lead authorities to his wife's body in exchange for a reduced sentence. Wired writer David Kravets quotes an anonymous source familiar with the deal who says Reiser's cooperation could reduce his April conviction from first-degree murder to second degree. A second-degree conviction in California carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life, Kravets wrote.

Reiser is known to the technology world as the founder of the ReiserFS file system software, which is available for Linux. Nina Reiser, then 31, was last seen alive on September 3, 2006, in Oakland, as she was dropping off the couple's two children for the Labor Day weekend. Despite exhaustive searches by authorities, Nina's body was not found before the trial.

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Implode O Meter

Loan Pains Turned Site Into a Hit

The misery in the housing market is registering on the Implode-O-Meter.

As millions of homeowners fall behind on their mortgages, a fledging Web site called the Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter is gleefully tallying the number of lenders that run into trouble too. On Monday, the count was 265 — and rising.

With its tongue-in-cheek tone and running lists of the “imploded” and the merely “ailing,” the Implode-O-Meter has become a sort of Gawker of the subprime world. At a recent Mortgage Bankers Association conference, a speaker addressed what has become a hot topic among lenders: how to keep your company’s name off the site.

“No one wants to be number 266,” said Jim Reichbach, a vice chairman and leader of Deloitte’s banking and securities team. “This is a death toll that is equivalent to the casualty ticker of the Vietnam War.”

The Implode-O-Meter is the brainchild of Aaron Krowne, a former researcher at Emory University in Atlanta. A computer scientist and mathematician, Mr. Krowne, 28, started the site in 2007, believing that the troubles in the housing market, and by extension the mortgage industry, would worsen.

He was right — and the Implode-O-Meter took off. Traffic on the site soared, reaching as many as 100,000 regular visitors, and advertising dollars rolled in. Mr. Krowne quit his day job and hired 10 people for his company, Implode-Explode Heavy Industries.

“The crisis has come in waves,” Mr. Krowne said. “It just keeps coming.”

With the economy struggling, more financial companies, even well-known ones, are finding themselves on the fated list. When parts of Bear Stearns’s residential mortgage unit were sold to private equity investors, for instance, the Implode-O-Meter recorded the sale. And E*Trade Financial could not remove the link on its site to its mortgage division or change the recording on its mortgage division’s 1-800 number without the site chiming in.

The tips usually come anonymously from employees at the troubled mortgage companies. Critics of the site say some of the tips have been more gossip than reality. But the Implode-O-Meter often posts the phone recordings and company e-mail to back up the bad news coming out of places like Merrill Lynch, which in March fired nearly everyone at First Franklin Financial, a business it purchased in 2006.

The Implode-O-Meter is just the latest iteration of online death-watch lists. When the dot-com bubble burst, a slew of similar sites popped up, most notably one with an obscene name playing off the title of Fast Company, the magazine. That site and others like it faded when the technology company blowups were no longer front-page news.

Mr. Krowne is hoping to keep his franchise around longer by looking for trouble in areas like hedge funds, banks, home builders — the list goes on. It has been an adventurous 18 months for the site, including a nasty lawsuit, a run-in with a celebrity and attention from financial commentators like CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

As more mortgage companies go broke, Mr. Krowne hopes to turn a tidy profit by selling his site, possibly to a media company. He takes advertising from “nonimploded lenders,” which, he says, his company has scrutinized. On occasion, he says, he has had to remove a lender’s name from the safe list as their fortunes turn, though he declined to name which ones.

The Implode-O-Meter, Mr. Krowne likes to say, has beat out the mainstream media time and again. Case in point, he says, was last October when it broke the news that Michael Jackson faced foreclosure on his Neverland property. Mr. Jackson’s representatives quickly denied the Implode-O-Meter’s story, which Mr. Krowne chalks up to his start-up status. His response? He posted the notice of Mr. Jackson’s defaults.

In December, proof of trouble at one mortgage company came in the form of a 42-second audio track. Family First Mortgage, a lender in Palm Coast, Fla., now out of business, laid people off by phone recording. The call began, “Thank you for calling Family First Mortgage Corp. If you have been directed to this voicemail box, your employment with Family First Mortgage Corp. has been officially terminated, effective immediately.”

Glenn Hill, the vice president of the company, wrote by e-mail in late June that the recording as played on the Implode site had been altered, but he did not provide evidence backing up the claim. Implode-O-Meter denies it altered the recording. The Family First call, which is still available on the Implode-O-Meter site, explains that the company was trying to focus attention on brokers who were still generating profits. It ends with: “Thank you to everyone, and have a great day.”

Mr. Krowne can hardly suppress a laugh when describing the recording. What surprises him is that failing companies seem to put on “Herculean efforts” to convince the rest of the world, and their own employees, that they are sound.

“Every company thinks it is different,” Mr. Krowne says. He points to April last year as an example. Employees of SouthStar Funding, a mortgage company in Atlanta, bombarded him with phone calls at his day job, trying to persuade him that the company was fine after he placed it on his Ailing Lender list, he said. After all, the employees told him, they were being sent on a team-building trip to the Bahamas. Soon, Mr. Krowne said, he started getting threats from the company.

When SouthStar folded, Mr. Krowne wrote: “I have to say that it is with genuine satisfaction that I post this report of SouthStar’s closure.”

Not every company goes down without a fight, though. Loan Center of California, of Suisun City, Calif., sued Mr. Krowne’s company over a posting, saying it published false information, including that the company was out of business when it says it was still making loans. The parties settled in December, and Mr. Krowne insists he was unfairly pursued as a small Web entrepreneur.

But while Mr. Krowne records the pain of the mortgage industry, he said he does not relish it. “I really wish that our esteemed policy makers would pay attention and not repeat the same mistake,” Mr. Krowne said. “It’s so depressing.”

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PS3 Update 2.41

Sony PS3 Update 2.41: New firmware to overcome problems

Just last week Sony released firmware update 2.40, but just a day after Sony had to withdraw the update following some problems. However PS3 Update 2.41 is now availble, which Sony say will overcome all the problems from 2.40.

The short lived 2.40 firmware update was meant to allow in-game use of the XMB, along with support for trophies, which was going to be PlayStation 3’s answer to Xbox 360 achievements.

2.40 had to be withdrawn as there were major configuration problems with the update, Sony are still not clear where the problem came from, however they do say that 2.41 will overcome all those problems.

Many people will now be wondering if they should update to 2.41, many gamers might be playing chicken with others, just to see if they get the same troubles as the previous update gave them.

If you are one of the first to update your PS3 to 2.41, then please comment below and let us know if it all worked fine for you.

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