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US: Giffords Mouthing Song Lyrics

Gabrielle Giffords
© Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords/Associated Press
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords's has been able to mouth the lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday To You

U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' efforts to relearn how to speak have included mouthing song lyrics, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Happy Birthday to You," as friends and family sang along.

Giffords also briefly spoke with her brother-in-law Scott Kelly by telephone Sunday afternoon as he orbited aboard the International Space Station, The New York Times reported on its website.

"She said, hi, I'm good," her chief of staff, Pia Carusone, told the paper. He is the brother of Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

She has also been receiving bedside briefings from aides on the recent uprising in Egypt and on last week's decision by Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona not to seek re-election,

"We tell her everything that's going on," Carusone said.

"Don't get the idea she's speaking in paragraphs, but she definitely understands what we're saying and she's verbalizing."

Arrow Up

Italy Declares State of Emergency over Influx of 5,000 Tunisian Immigrants

Image
© Agence France-Presse
Tunisian immigrants are guarded by policemen upon arrival on the Italian island of Lampedusa
A state of emergency has been declared by the Italian government after 5,000 illegal immigrants fleeing riot-torn Tunisia arrived in just five days.

Coastguard officials said that in just one 12-hour period 977 had arrived, with many more boats seen on radar screens approaching from north Africa.

The vessels carrying the illegal immigrants had all arrived on the tiny volcanic island of Lampedusa, which is just 60 miles from the Tunisian coast and the lone accommodation center was struggling to cope.

Extra coastguard and navy patrols were dispatched to the waters between Lampedusa and Tunisia in an attempt to block the influx.

On Sunday, Tunisia sent security forces to coastal areas to stop the exodus.

Roberto Maroni, the interior minister, said the emergency had been declared because they feared "possible terrorists" had infiltrated the illegal immigrants and would then slip into the country.

Penis Pump

Italy: Silvio Berlusconi Faces Nation's Women as a Million Protesters Take to Streets

Image
© Reuters
A million protesters, many of them women, took to the streets across Italy on Sunday calling on scandal hit Silvio Berlusconi to resign
A million protesters, many of them women, took to the streets across Italy on Sunday calling on scandal hit Silvio Berlusconi to resign.

Marches were held in 200 towns and cities throughout the country as Italians voiced their anger and frustration at the 74-year-old Italian prime minister, who is facing charges of having under age sex with a prostitute and abuse of power.

The aim of the rally was for women to protest at how their dignity and the image of the country had been offended by the media tycoon's obsession with young girls.

Protests were held in Milan, Genoa, Naples and Bari but the largest was in Rome where thousands packed into the Piazza del Popolo which two months ago had been the scene of violent riots after Berlusconi won a confidence vote.

Demonstrators, including prostitutes and nuns, carried banners saying: "Berlusconi resign now" while another said "No prostitutes, no Madonnas, just women."

The protests came a week after demonstrators had also attempted to march on Mr Berlusconi's home at Arcore near Milan, where the alleged parties were held, in an attempt to throw knickers into his garden but police prevented them.

Pharoah

After the Revolution, Who Will Control Egypt's Monuments?

As Egypt struggles to lay the foundations of a new government in the wake of its revolution, archaeologists around the world are closely watching the fate of the nation's prized antiquities - as well as the fortunes of Zahi Hawass, long the face and voice of the country's ancient monuments. Hawass, who under Hosni Mubarak was recently named minister of antiquities, has been confronting an unusual uprising among his own staff as well as questions about his political future. And today, he reported a theft at a cemetery south of Cairo, as well as eight missing artifacts from the Egyptian Museum, located on Tahrir Square itself. Archaeologists are left wondering about the effects of the revolution on the dozens of excavations in the country, as well as on the next generation of homegrown researchers.

Hawass revealed 12 February in his blog that eight important objects are missing from the Egyptian Museum following the 29 January break-in by thieves. Those include two gilded statues of King Tutankhamen as well as a statue of Queen Nefertiti. An investigation is under way. He added that on 11 February looters emptied a storage area in Dashur, an important ancient necropolis in the southern part of the famous cemetery at Saqqara, which contained large blocks and small artifacts. "I am now concerned Egypt is not safe," he wrote. The thefts from the Egyptian Museum are likely to undermine Hawass's long-standing efforts to have important artifacts, such as a bust of Nefertiti now in Berlin, returned to Cairo (Science, 28 January, p. 382).

Meanwhile, Hawass faced other problems. On 10 February, dozens of museum workers protested for higher wages outside his office in the Cairo suburb of Zamalek, an unthinkable event in a country where, until January, the government kept a tight lid on criticism. And Hany Hanna, a senior conservator in the Supreme Council of Antiquities, urged Hawass in a widely circulated letter last week "to change the overall system of corruption and replace it with a professional scientific management." Hanna complained that party hacks riddle the council and prevent younger and more talented people from rising in the ranks. Hawass could not be reached for comment last week. But the Hany letter and Zamalek protests appear to be part of a wider move by Egyptians to air their opinions about the way their government has been run for the past 3 decades.

Light Sabers

Sons of Egypt's Mubarak nearly came to blows: report

Alaa and Gamal Mubarak
© unknown
Alaa and Gamal Mubarak
The two sons of Hosni Mubarak almost came to blows last Thursday when the former Egyptian president gave his final speech in an effort to stay in power, a state-owned newspaper said Sunday.

Al-Akhbar said Alaa Mubarak accused his younger brother Gamal, who had held a senior position in the ruling party, of having ruined the 82-year-old leader's final days in office through promoting his business friends in political life.

Alaa reportedly said this had turned Egyptians against their father, who had been in power since 1981.

"You ruined the country when you opened the way to your friends and this is the result. Instead of your father being honored at the end of his life you helped to spoil his image in this manner," the daily quoted him as saying.

The newspaper did not give its sources, simply saying it "learned" of the details. There was no way to immediately confirm the report.

It said the argument took place in the presidential palace in Cairo while Mubarak was recording his final speech, which he hoped would persuade protesters to stand down and give promised reforms a chance during Mubarak's last months in office.

It said senior officials had to intervene to separate them.

Pistol

Armed Yemeni government supporters break up protest

Image
© Reuters
Pro-government protesters confront with anti-government protesters near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 12, 2011.
Government supporters armed with traditional knives and batons broke up a pro-democracy march on Saturday by 2,000 Yemenis inspired by the Egyptian uprising.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, trying to ward off protests spreading across the Arab world, has promised to step down when his term ends in 2013, but the opposition has yet to respond to his call to join a unity government. The opposition wants talks to take place under Western or Gulf Arab auspices.

As well as sporadic protests, the Arabian Peninsula state is also struggling with a secessionist movement in the south, a shaky cease-fire with Shi'ite rebels in the north and a resurgent al Qaeda presence, all against a backdrop of chronic poverty.

Some 300 anti-government student demonstrators assembled at Sanaa University on Saturday morning. As numbers swelled into the thousands, they began marching towards the Egyptian embassy.

"The people want the fall of the government," protesters chanted. "A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution."

Better Earth

Hosni Mubarak resigns: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hails a new Middle East'

Image
© EPA
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks to the crowd in Tehran. He drew parallels between the protests in Egypt and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday claimed the uprising in Egypt heralded a new Middle East without the "satanic" influence of the West and that will doom Israel.

Despite suppressing its own opposition movement, Mr Ahmadinejad drew parallels between the protests in Egypt and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

"In spite of all the (West's) complicated and satanic designs ... a new Middle East is emerging without the Zionist regime and US interference, a place where the arrogant powers will have no place," he told a rally in Tehran's Azadi Square to make the anniversary of the Revolution.

His comments came before Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

Tens of thousands of Iranians chanted support for Egypt's protesters and burned effigies of Hosni Mubarak.

The embattled Egyptian president has not enjoyed good relation with Iran, who are highly critical of Egypt's close relationship with the US and its peace deal with Israel.

Ambulance

For Some Troops, Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results

Anthony Mena
© The New York Times
PAIN AND DEPRESSION Senior Airman Anthony Mena in Baghdad in 2007. After his death in 2009, a toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood.
In his last months alive, Senior Airman Anthony Mena rarely left home without a backpack filled with medications.

He returned from his second deployment to Iraq complaining of back pain, insomnia, anxiety and nightmares. Doctors diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and prescribed powerful cocktails of psychiatric drugs and narcotics.

Yet his pain only deepened, as did his depression. "I have almost given up hope," he told a doctor in 2008, medical records show. "I should have died in Iraq."

Airman Mena died instead in his Albuquerque apartment, on July 21, 2009, five months after leaving the Air Force on a medical discharge. A toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood, including three antidepressants, a sedative, a sleeping pill and two potent painkillers.

Yet his death was no suicide, the medical examiner concluded. What killed Airman Mena was not an overdose of any one drug, but the interaction of many. He was 23.

Arrow Down

US: Regulators Shut Banks in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and California

Washington - Regulators on Friday shut down small banks in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and California, lifting to 18 the number of bank failures this year. The weak economy and bad debt brought down 157 banks nationwide in 2010.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized the banks: Sunshine State Community Bank of Port Orange, Fla., with $125.5 million in assets; Peoples State Bank, based in Hamtramck, Mich., with $390.5 million in assets; Badger State Bank of Cassville, Wis., with $83.8 million in assets; and Canyon National Bank, based in Palm Springs, Calif., with $210.9 million in assets.

Miami-based Premier American Bank agreed to assume the assets and deposits of Sunshine State Community Bank. First Michigan Bank, based in Troy, Mich., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Peoples State Bank. Royal Bank, based in Elroy, Wis., is assuming the assets and deposits of Badger State Bank. Pacific Premier Bank, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., is assuming those of Canyon National Bank.

In addition, the FDIC and First Michigan Bank agreed to share losses on $331 million of Peoples State Bank's loans and other assets.

The failure of Sunshine State Community Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $30 million; that of Peoples State Bank is expected to cost $87.4 million; that of Badger State Bank, $17.5 million; Canyon National Bank, $10 million.

Black Cat

US man 'kills four people' in New York 28-hour rampage

Image
© AP
The attacks began after an argument between the suspect and his mother
A man fatally stabbed his stepfather, ex-girlfriend and her mother, before running over a pedestrian in a 28-hour rampage in New York City, police said.

The man, alleged to be Ukrainian-born Maksim Gelman, 23, was armed with five knives when he went on a stabbing spree early on Friday, officials said.

Four other people were knifed but survived the attacks.

Mr Gelman was finally arrested on a train on Saturday morning after an all-night manhunt.

Charges against him are pending.

"It's so horrendous and bizarre. We have no reason to know why he did this," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

He said had not recalled seeing "anything like this" in the decades he had worked for the New York police department.