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US: SOPA Is the End of Us, Say Bloggers

hands at keyboard
© Reuters
Bloggers argue their very existence could be wiped out if the anti-piracy bill is passed.
The conservative and liberal blogospheres are unifying behind opposition to Congress's Stop Online Piracy Act, with right-leaning bloggers aruging their very existence could be wiped out if the anti-piracy bill passes.

"If either the U.S. Senate's Protect IP Act (PIPA) & the U.S. House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) become law, political blogs such as Red Mass Group [conservative] & Blue Mass Group [liberal] will cease to exist," wrote a blogger at Red Mass Group.

Some have asserted that the controversial measures would criminalize pages and blogs that link to foreign websites dedicated to online piracy. In particular, this has concerned search engines like Google, which could face massive liability if some form of the bill passes, some say.

"Of course, restrictions of results provided by Internet search engines amount to just that: prior restraint of their free expression of future results. Google and others, under SOPA, are told what they can or can't publish before they publish it. Kill. The. Bill," conservative blogger Neil Stevens argued at RedState.

Liberals had their own spin on it, cheering on the fact that corporate support for SOPA was starting to subside.

No Entry

US: Sears to Close 100 to 120 Kmart, Sears Stores

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© The Associated Press/Charles Rex Arbogast
In this Feb. 28, 2008 file photo, a banner is seen on the exterior of the Sears department store in downtown Chicago.
Sears Holdings Corp. plans to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores after poor sales during the holidays, the most crucial time of year for retailers.

The closings are the latest and most visible in a long series of moves to try to fix a retailer that has struggled with falling sales and shabby stores.

In an internal memo Tuesday to employees, CEO and President Lou D'Ambrosio said that the retailer had not "generated the results we were seeking during the holiday."

Sears Holdings Corp. said it has yet to determine which stores will close but said it will post on http://www.searsmedia.com when a final list is compiled. Sears would not discuss how many, if any, jobs would be cut.

The company has more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Its stock dropped $8.67, or 18.9 percent, to $37.18 in morning trading. The shares dipped to their lowest point in more than three years at $36.51 during the first few minutes of trading.

The company's revenue at stores open at least a year fell 5.2 percent to date for the quarter at both Sears and Kmart, the company said Tuesday. That includes the critical holiday shopping period.

Family

Half of America In Poverty? The Facts Say It's True

poverty in us
© n/a
Recent reports suggest that almost 50% of Americans are in poverty or at a "low income" level. The claim is based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that includes health care, transportation, and other essential living expenses in the poverty calculation.

The concept of "low income" is controversial. It has been defined as earnings between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, a claim which, if true, would place every American family making $50,000 or less at a near-poverty level.

Conservative organizations believe the whole 'poverty' issue is overblown. The Cato Institute blames LBJ and Obama for reversing a declining poverty rate. Forbes blames the calculations. The Heritage Foundation argues, "The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines...In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave." The case for a growing "consumption equality" is alternately defended and denied.

With emotions running high on both sides, we need to take a balanced look at the available data to determine how well the highest-earning family of the poorest 50% -- a family with a $50,000 income -- can survive. (The maximum individual income for the poorest 50% is about $30,000.)

Boat

Iran threatens to close key Gulf oil route over nuclear sanctions

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© MSNBC/Bing
Tehran - Iran threatened on Tuesday to stop the flow of oil shipments through the crucial Strait of Hormuz if foreign sanctions were imposed on its crude exports over its nuclear ambitions.

The move could trigger military conflict with economies dependent on Gulf oil. The threat alone sent oil prices rising.

Western tensions with Iran have increased since a Nov. 8 report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog saying Tehran appears to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be pursuing research to that end. Iran strongly denies this and says it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Iran has defiantly expanded nuclear activity despite four rounds of U.N. sanctions meted out since 2006 over its refusal to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment and open up to United Nations nuclear inspectors and investigators.

Many diplomats and analysts believe only sanctions targeting Iran's lifeblood oil sector might be painful enough to make it change course, but Russia and China - big trade partners of Tehran - have blocked such a U.N. move.

Eye 1

Police: Neighbor chopped up US girl with hacksaw

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© AP/Allen County Sheriff's Department
An undated Allen County Sheriff's Department photo shows Mike Plumadore. Authorities said Monday night, Dec. 26, 2011
Fort Wayne, Indiana - A babysitter and trusted neighbor has confessed that he bludgeoned a 9-year-old Indiana girl to death with a brick then dismembered her, hiding her head, hands and feet at his home and dumping the rest of her remains nearby, police said Tuesday.

Allen County sheriff's investigators said in an affidavit that 39-year-old Michael Plumadore admits he killed Aliahna Lemmon on Thursday.

According to the affidavit, Plumadore told police that after beating Aliahna to death, he stuffed her body into trash bags and hid her in the freezer at his home in a rundown trailer park in Fort Wayne. He said he later chopped up her body and stuffed her remains into freezer bags.

Police said Plumadore told them he had hidden Aliahna's head, feet and hands at his trailer and discarded her other remains at a nearby business. Police obtained a warrant to search his trailer on Monday and found the body parts.

The affidavit does not provide details about why Plumadore killed the child.

People

US: Woman's Face Slashed, Man Beaten and Robbed of Air Jordans

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© Unknown
The limited edition shoes sell for $180

A 19-year-old Houston-area man says he was beaten and a friend was slashed in the face as a group of men robbed him of his new pair of expensive Air Jordan shoes.

Efrain Espinoza says the men first tried to steal his cell phone, followed him from a party Monday to his home near Pearland and then swiped the $180 shoes during a fight.

A 19-year-old woman with him required treatment for a stab wound to her face.

"She was stabbed from the cheek to the chin. They did stitches inside and outside," the victim's cousin Virginia Costilla told KPRC in Houston.

People

French Breast Implants Sold Under New Name to Dutch

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© Associated Press/Michel Euler
A plastic surgeon holds silicone gel breast implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothese that he removed from a patient because of concerns that they are unsafe.
Lawyer says company's founder ready to face courts

The potentially dangerous breast implants made by a French company accused of using cheap industrial-grade silicon were sold in at least one other country under a different name, Reuters has found. Implants made by Poly Implant Protheses were rebranded by a Dutch company that sold them to close to 1,000 women. Dutch health authorities have advised the women involved to consult with their physicians.

An Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for the company's founder, Jean-Claude Mas . His lawyer says the 72-year-old is in France and is ready to respond to any court summons, despite having recently had surgery. The lawyer denied reports that Mas is a former butcher, saying his client worked as a medical sales representative for Bristol Myers before founding PIP in 1991.

Stormtrooper

US: 'I'm a cop, I can do whatever I want ' off-duty policeman shouts before 'executing guy in bar' over a game of darts

Image
© Police Handout
Detained: Off-duty cop deputy Dayle Long, 42, allegedly shot Vanettes

Riverside County sheriff's deputy Dayle Long, 42, allegedly shot Samuel Vanettes, 36, three times leaving him to die on the floor of the bar in Murrieta, California.

An off-duty police officer has been charged with executing a man in a sports bar - after an argument over a game of darts.

Riverside County sheriff's deputy Dayle Long, 42, allegedly shot Samuel Vanettes, 36, three times, leaving him to die on the floor of the bar in Murrieta, California.

It is reported that Long, who had been drinking alone, struck up a conversation with Vanettes and his friends at Spelly's Bar and Grille before the shooting.

An altercation allegedly broke out after the police officer told one of the friends 'I'm better at darts than you are', Chris Hull, 39, told Patch.com.

'My buddy says, "Aw, you suck at darts". (The man) says, "That's why I'm a cop, I can do whatever I want to do".'

Hull said his friend asked; 'Really, you can do anything?'

The police officer then pulled out his gun, Hull claimed and after the group repeatedly asked him to put it away he 'pops three rounds into my friend Sam'.

Gift

US, California: Christmas Burglars Steal Presents, Family Dog

A Northern California family victimized in a burglary a few days before Christmas is hoping to at least get their dog back.

The Lancers lost all of the presents under the tree along with their dog when their home in Morgan Hill, southeast of San Jose, was broken into last week, authorities said Sunday.

"It's a very unfortunate thing that somebody would steal from a family, especially at this time of year," said Santa Clara County sheriff's Sgt. Jose Cardoza.

Attempts to reach the family were unsuccessful, but Chris Lancer made an emotional Christmas Eve appeal on KNTV-TV, pleading for the return of the family's dog.

USA

US: Murders, Shootings Mark a Violent Christmas Weekend in Florida, Across the Country


Christmas afternoon, neighbors found a woman's body floating in St. Petersburg's Lake Maggiore. That was just one of a string of crimes over the holiday weekend, proving the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most violent.

Christmas Eve morning, Karen Lyn Biraghi admitted to sheriff's deputies she shot and killed her husband, Alan Biraghi. Marital problems apparently pushed her over the edge and she allegedly shot her husband in the head at point-blank range while he slept on the couch.

Hours later, on Christmas morning in Orlando, two men turned up murdered in separate crimes, but Orlando Police believe the killings are connected.

Meanwhile outside Dallas, Texas, police say a man walked in to a family gathering, shot and killed six of his relatives, then killed himself. Investigators report the shooter committed the violent acts while dressed as Santa Claus.