It's kind of an unwritten rule in hockey that when your team wins the conference championship, you're not supposed to touch the trophy (in the case of the Eastern Conference, the Prince of Wales Trophy) because, in theory, that's not the piece of hardware you strive for. You're not supposed to show it the same respect you would show the Stanley Cup, so, by tradition, few teams ever actually acknowledge its existence, let alone touch it.

Following Pittsburgh's 4-1 win on Tuesday, which gave the Penguins a clean four-game sweep over Carolina in the Eastern Conference final, captain Sidney Crosby not only touched it, he actually carried it off the ice. His reasoning?

Penguins 4, Hurricanes 1: Recap | Box Score
Penguins Win Series 4-0


"We didn't touch it last year," said Crosby in a postgame interview on VERSUS. "And things didn't go the way we wanted, so we thought we'd switch it up this year."

Touche. With the win, Pittsburgh becomes the first team to win the Eastern Conference title in back-to-back years since the New Jersey Devils did so in 1999-00 and 2000-01.

Entering Tuesday's game, Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward had never lost a playoff series in his four year NHL career, which, by extension, means he was previously unbeaten when his team was facing potential elimination games. That all changed on Tuesday, while the dagger had to be the eventual game-winner scored by Max Talbot in the closing minutes of the first period.

Ward is a fantastic young goalie, and his playoff run was tremendous, but that's a goal you can't give up in the preseason, let alone an elimination game in the Conference Final. Despite his overall numbers in the series, Ward was probably Carolina's best player against Pittsburgh, but that goal essentially ended the Hurricanes' season.

So, where did it all go wrong for the Hurricanes?

1) Their top forwards were nonexistent during the four-game series. Eric Staal, Erik Cole and Ray Whitney combined for just one goal and six assists in the series, while Cole has not scored a goal in 31 consecutive playoff games dating all the way back to 2001.

2) Their defense was overwhelmed by the Penguins' forwards. While Carolina's top players were shut down, Pittsburgh's top players were dominant, as Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Bill Guerin combined for 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists). The Penguins scored 20 goals and averaged over 35.5 shots per gams, while topping the 40-shot mark in games 2 and 3.

3) Cam Ward couldn't steal a game. Again, Ward was probably Carolina's best player in the series, and had it not been for him, the Penguins might have scored 25 goals instead of the 20 they were limited to. In the end, however, he just couldn't withstand the barrage of shots Pittsburgh put on him.

4) One power play goal. Entering the series, the Hurricanes had the No. 14 ranked power play in the playoffs, and when all was said and done they converted on just one of their 12 opportunities in the conference final.

Carolina was 7-0 this postseason when Staal tallied a goal, so when he notched his first of the series just 1:36 into the first period, jamming a wrap-around shot behind Marc-Andre Fleury, the Hurricanes had to be feeling pretty good. The lead wouldn't last long, as Ruslan Fedotenko re-directed a Philippe Boucher slap shot into a gaping net to tie the score just seven minutes later, which set the stage for Talbot's floater later in the period. Guerin added his seventh of the postseason midway through the second period, while Craig Adams finished it off with an empty-netter.

It's quite a story for the Penguins to return to the Stanley Cup Final, as they were, at one point, the No. 10 team in the Eastern Conference and as many as seven points out of a playoff spot.


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A couple of classic Jersey Girls...Joan Cusack and Melanie Griffith from "Working Girls"...

Bravo has sent along teasers for tonight's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."

According to Bravo, this week the parental control continues -- Caroline pushes her daughter Lauren to enroll in cosmetology school, but Lauren only wants to learn how to apply makeup and do hair...not how to wax people's moneymakers.

Danielle continues to be open about her 26-year-old boyfriend, claiming that rock-climbing is what helped her snag a younger man.

And Teresa takes her daughter Gia to NYC to meet with a renowned modeling agency, but they get lost on the way. Will they make it on time?



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E.C. cop accused of biting, scratching woman

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

HIGHLAND | An East Chicago police officer is accused of biting and scratching a woman at a Highland bar.

Highland police are investigating the allegations and have confirmed they involve an East Chicago officer, Highland police Cmdr. George Georgeff said.

Highland police would not release the incident report and would not confirm the name of the officer because no charges have been filed and because it still is under investigation, Georgeff said.

Georgeff said a woman filed a report at the Highland police station Wednesday morning. She indicated some things were taken from her, and she had bite marks and minor scratches resulting from an incident Wednesday morning at Corker's Tavern & Grill, 9500 Indianapolis Blvd.

The woman gave police the name of the man whom she said caused the injuries and told Highland police he was an officer in East Chicago. Highland police advised the East Chicago Police Department of the incident, and its administration is aware, Georgeff said.

East Chicago police are investigating the case and checking with Highland authorities to see if the allegations are accurate, city spokesman Damian Rico said.

No action has been taken against the officer so far, as East Chicago police verify the accuracy of the accusations, Rico said.

Once that is complete, East Chicago will determine what happens from there with the officer, Rico said.


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The Paley Center and NBC counted down “TV’s 50 Funniest Phrases” in a two-hour special Tuesday night. It was hosted by Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock” and was predictably heavy on “Saturday Night Live” catchphrases.

But it was “Seinfeld’s” “Yada, yada, yada” that took No. 1, over “D’oh” from “The Simpsons” and “How you doin’” from “Friends.”

I take issue with “Burn” from “That ‘70s Show” making the top 10 (at 6), over both “Oh my god! They killed Kenny” from “South Park” and “Lucy, you’ve got some splainin’ to do” from “I Love Lucy.” So what if Ricky never quite used those words, it’s a much better known catchphrase than “Burn.”

I also take issue with “It’s going to be legendary” from "How I Met Your Mother" taking No. 11, beating everything from “Well isn’t that special” from SNL to “Eat my shorts” from “Simpsons” to “One of these days, pow, right in the kisser” from “The Honeymooners.”

“Hated it” is right! “I’ve made a huge mistake” for real. (And if you are going to pick a quote from “Arrested Development” – and I’m so glad you did – couldn’t you also pick “Her?”)

They did a few side genres beyond comedy – reality, action adventure, sci-fi and game shows – but what about dramas? Fuhgedaboudit! I wanted to see “Everybody lies” from “House” at the very least, but they completely blew off the genre. “No soup for you!”


Top 50 comedy catchphrases

50. “Hello, Newman” from “Seinfeld”
49. “Missed it by that much” from “Get Smart”
48. “Yeah, that’s the ticket” from “Saturday Night Live”
47. “God’ll get you for that” from “Maude”
46. “Hey, Hey, Hey” from “What’s Happening”
45. “Holy crap” from “Everybody Loves Raymond”
44. “Let me show you something” from “In Living Color”
43. “Nip it” from “The Andy Griffith Show”
42. “Thank you beddy much” from “Taxi”
41. “Do you wanna hug it out” from “Entourage”
40. “Watch it sucka” from “Sanford and Son”
39. “Jane you ignorant slut” from “Saturday Night Live”
38. “Mom liked you best” from “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”
37. “Sit on it” from “Happy Days”
36. “Now cut that out” from “The Jack Benny Comedy Program”
35. “I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl…” from “Newhart”
34. “What you see is what you get” from “The Flip Wilson Show”
33. “I’ve made a huge mistake” from “Arrested Development”
32. “I know nothing” from “Hogan’s Heroes”
31. “Here come de judge” from “Laugh In”
30. “You look marvelous” from “Saturday Night Live”
29. “I’m comin’ to join ya Elizabeth” from “Sanford and Son”
28. “Would you believe” from “Get Smart”
27. “Up your nose with a rubber hose” from “Welcome Back Kotter”
26. “Ohhhh Rob” from “The Dick Van Dyke Show”
25. “Kiss my grits” from “Alice:
24. “Nanu, Nanu” from “Mork and Mindy”
23. “Don’t be ridiculous” from “Perfect Strangers”
22. “I’m Gumby, damn it” from “Saturday Night Live”
21. “No soup for you” from “Seinfeld”
20. “One of these days, pow right in the kisser” from “The Honeymooners”
19. “Did I do that” from “Family Matters”
18. “Will you stifle” from “All in the Family”
17. “Eat my shorts” from “The Simpsons”
16. “Hated it” from “In Living Color”
15. “Well isn’t that special” from “Saturday Night Live”
14. “Sock it to me” from “Laugh In”
13. “We were on a break” from “Friends”
12. “That’s what she said” from “The Office”
11. “It’s going to be legendary” from “How I Met Your Mother”
10. “Homey don’t play dat” from “In Living Color”
9. “Excuuse me” from “Saturday Night Live”
8. “Lucy, you’ve got some splainin’ to do” from “I Love Lucy” (even though he never said it quite that way – the closest he came was “Lucy, splain” and “All right, start splainin’”)
7. “Oh my god! They killed Kenny” from “South Park”
6. “Burn” from “That ‘70s Show”
5. “We are two wild and crazy guys” from “Saturday Night Live”
4. “Ayyyy” from “Happy Days”
3. “How you doin’” from “Friends”
2. “D’oh” from “The Simpsons”
1. “Yada, yada, yada” from “Seinfeld”


Top 3 reality TV catchphrases

3. “The tribe has spoken” from “Survivor”
2. “That’s hot” from “The Simple Lot”
1. “You’re fired” from “The Apprentice”


Top 3 game shows catchphrases

3. “Come on down” from “The Price is Right”
2. “Deal or no deal” from “Deal or No Deal”
1. “Is that your final answer” from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”


Top 3 science fiction catchphrases

3. “You’ve just crossed over into ‘The Twilight Zone’” from “The Twilight Zone”
2. “Trust no one” from “X-Files”
1. “Scotty, beam us up” from “Star Trek”


Top 3 action adventure catchphrases

3. “One other thing…” from “Columbo”
2. “De plane! De plane!” from “Fantasy Island”
1. “Who loves ya, baby” from “Kojak”


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TV Review: Misguided ‘Mental’ Misses the Mark

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


CHICAGO – Hugh Laurie deserves the heaps of praise that he gets for his spectacular work on “House,” but if you’re wondering what that show would be like without the same believable medical issues, interesting characters, or whip-smart dialogue provided by the show’s underrated writers, check out the new “Mental,” another series about a rebellious doctor that pales in comparison.

Dr. Jack Gallagher (Chris Vance) is the new unorthodox psychiatrist named Director of Mental Health Services at a Los Angeles hospital. He battles his conservative administrator named Nora Skoff (Annabella Sciorra), a woman with whom he happens to share a romantic past.

Solving each week’s medical mystery with Dr. Gallagher will be Dr. Veronica Hayden-Jones (Jacqueline McKenzie) and the combative Dr. Carl Belle (Derek Webster) on the administrative level and residents Dr. Arturo Suarez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Dr. Chloe Artis (Marisa Ramirez) by the doctor’s side.

The new doctor first invites patients to sit in on staff meetings - “It’s really more their hospital than ours” - and then does card tricks. I’m sure it’s not the intention of the writers of “Mental,” but the show pushes the boundaries of the “maverick doctor” to the point that I kind of wanted him fired.

Whoever thought it was a good idea to visualize the hallucinations of the patients definitely needs to spend some time in a padded cell. Moments seen through the eyes of the patient include a man who sees lizard eyes on people, another who visualizes stabbing a pen in his jugular, and even the graphic visions of the elderly sex addict. All of them are embarrassing from a dramatic viewpoint and demeaning from a medical one.

The mental health tragedy in this country - most homeless people are mentally handicapped and people are misdiagnosed on a regular basis - seems like an interesting foundation for drama. The problem is that “Mental” reduces everything to a device. All the mentally ill need is a rambunctious new doctor!

As for what works about “Mental,” Chris Vance is certainly not bad. He actually does what he can to rein in the melodrama around him and doesn’t overplay his character’s maverick side, even if the script keeps pressing him to do so. Annabella Sciorra isn’t bad either but she can’t find the cure for the eye-rolling dialogue. (A woman actually says to the doctor coming to her home, “visiting hours are over, doctor” to get him to leave. I couldn’t make that kind of writing up.)

“Mental” is merely more proof that TV has always been and will always be about the writing. The generic “House”-esque structure of “Mental” is problematic enough, but with more interesting characters and believable medical drama, the show might have worked. That was not meant to be.

FOX is burning off “Mental” in the summer months for a reason. It doesn’t have a sweet post-“American Idol” premiere and has barely been promoted. There’s a reason for both of those things. It would be crazy to expect “Mental” to be anything but a memory by the time the fall schedule premieres.

“Mental” premieres on FOX on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 at 8pm CST. It stars Chris Vance, Annabella Sciorra, House, Jacqueline McKenzie, Derek Webster, Nicholas Gonzalez, and Marisa Ramirez. It was created by Deborah Joy Levine and Dan Levine.


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Taysha Valez: Youngest Billionaire

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Meet Taysha Valez, a self-made, 27 year old billionaire, and owner of Socialite Collection makeup and skin care line. Read more about this fabulous beauty here.

Everyone is dying to know: Who is Taysha Valez? Surprisingly Taysha doesn’t not have a wikipedia article yet, but she should. This 27-year-old beauty is a self-made billionaire. She is also the author of Young Black Millionairess: How to Start a Million Dollar Business.

Here is what we know about Taysha Smith Valez. She is best known for her Socialite Collection line of skin care and make up products. She just started a new company called Tri-myTAY Telecom, and was recently spotted in Hawaii having lunch and doing business for her new company.

She has quite a fashion sense as you can imagine, and is often seen sporting all the latest trends. Most recently she was seen rockin’ the new Hermes Fall 2009 riding leggings, Rena Yip alligator green soled pumps, and a pink vintage Birkin bag. An outfit any girl would die for!

Taysha Valez usually stays out of the spot light, but she has been linked to high profile celebrities including Usher.


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Sony Pictures Classics Presents Tyson New York Screening
The 4-year-old daughter of boxer Mike Tyson died at a hospital Tuesday, a day her neck apparently got caught in a treadmill cord at her Phoenix home, police said.
Exodus Tyson was pronounced dead just before noon, police Sgt. Andy Hill said. She had been on life support and police have said their investigation showed her injury on Monday was a "tragic accident."

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus," the family said in a statement. "We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal."
Exodus had been on life support in a Phoenix hospital. Following her hospitalization, Phoenix Police Sergeant Andy Hill said, "Somehow the little girl got something caught across her throat, she became unresponsive, the boy went and got the mother, and the mother came out and found the child."

A neighbor had added, "It's just very sad. The mom is very sweet, very doting... they're just lovely, they ride their little bikes down the street."


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The Myth of the Volunteer Whore

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Slavery and the 'World's Oldest Profession'

Prostitution is a topic that many people have trouble discussing in a calm or informed manner, but no matter where you personally think you stand on the issue, chances are good that you base your opinions on something I like to call The Myth of the Volunteer Whore.

The Myth of the Volunteer Whore is the widespread social belief that prostitution is a career choice made freely by adult women who either love sex or money or both, or who have limited skills in other areas and so choose the sex industry so they can properly support themselves.

Even people who know that underage prostitution and human trafficking are real and prevalent social problems still tend to buy into The Myth of the Volunteer Whore when discussing the topic.

Often they will start their discussions with a disclaimer like:

"Of course I'm not talking about sexual abuse or underage prostitution, but..."

And then they go on to make points that depend entirely on the notion that prostitution is a choice freely made that involves an exchange of money between consenting adults.

What I want to point out here, is that while we can certainly define the terms so that a discussion of prostitution is more palatable and more tailored to how we think the world should be, choosing to do that badly perverts our conclusions. If you start with fantasy you end up with fantasy.

That is why such discussions often become little more than mental and verbal masturbation exercises. We never get at the real heart of the matter, but we all feel better and can go about our normal business feeling like we've thought it all through.

The problem is that, while some forms of prostitution do appear to be freely chosen and straightforward (especially in places where prostitution is legal and regulated by the state), most prostitution is slavery and abuse, pure and simple.

It's tempting to create two categories of prostitution for the sake of steering clear of painful and horrifying realities:

  1. the 'good' kind of prostitution (that is, the voluntary and consensual kind) and
  2. the 'bad' kind of prostitution (the kind that involves pimps, or underage girls or boys, or human trafficking).

In reality those two categories are artificial and imaginary.It doesn't break down nearly that cleanly.

For example, even prostitution that appears consensual on the surface is often the end result of years of unmitigated sexual abuse and violence against the woman who 'chooses' the life. Such unrelenting violence creates a damaged adult who has been conditioned to believe her sexuality is her only valuable trait.

It's very difficult to look at the real stories of real adult prostitutes and not wonder what they might have become had they not spent their early years having sex with their step-fathers, living on the streets, scoring drugs, running with criminals, or being beaten up and degraded by male relatives.

What's more, even 'legitimate' brothels can and do become the workplace of illegal immigrants terrorized into paying off their passage to America with their bodies.

In the typical example, women in China, Mexico, Russia, or parts of Southeast Asia are offered legitimate jobs in the U.S. for fees that can run as high as $40,000 per person or more.

Once these girls arrive in the United States, they find that they are actually indentured to a brothel. If they do not work off the money they owe for their passage, their brokers then threaten to report them and have them arrested and deported. Or, something even worse happens.

According to the Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation produced by the University of Rhode Island, as many as 5,000 Chinese immigrant women are being prostituted in this way in Los Angeles alone.

How do you know if you are dealing with a volunteer prostitute or someone who is being terrorized into the life or who has been abused and degraded into it? Most of the time you don't know. You can't know. If you ask her directly, you most likely will not get the truth. If you check around too much on her behalf, you could find yourself beaten up or worse, or you could cause some harm to come to her.

It's easy to get into prostitution and hard to get out.

But most people wouldn't know that. And most people don't want to know that.

Women who have been prostituted themselves are understandably reluctant to discuss that part of their lives publically. Women who are very public about how great the life is are usually spokespersons for the sex industry. In other words, they are doing a commercial.

Do you believe everything you hear in commercials?

So which is really 'the world's oldest profession'?

Prostitution?

Or slavery?


But At Least It Doesn't Happen Here

Actually it does.

Because it is getting harder and harder to import underage sex workers illegally, the average age at which prostitutes in the United States first begin working has declined over the past ten years from 16 to 14. Here are some quick facts about prostitution as it is actually practiced in the United States today:

  • More than 90% of prostitutes suffered sexual abuse as a child (often incest).
  • Approximately 75% of prostitutes have been violently raped in situations outside of their workplace.
  • The average length of time that a prostitute in America spends prostituting is 4 years.
  • 2/3 of prostitutes begin working when they are 16 years old or younger.
  • 1.2 million children in the U.S. are involved in child prostitution.
  • At least 300,000 male prostitutes under the age of 16 exist in the U.S.

Still think prostitution is mostly a consensual act involving two adults and an exchange of money? Really?

Think about all the prostitutes you know. What, you don't know any prostitutes? Oh, you know one, from that one time you and your buddies got really hammered and ... she said she absolutely was in it because she loved it? She wouldn't lie about that, would she?

Or, if that doesn't convince you, consider this:

Imagine that prostitution (a perfectly acceptable job choice for a young woman) has been legalized, mainstreamed, and is now taught at public high schools as a valued skill. On career day, the local madam comes down and gives a little talk about benefit packages, pay grades, and opportunities for advancement. Students compete for a spot in the brothel after graduation but only a lucky few are selected. Imagine the proud parents of the successful candidates! You'd want that for your own daughter wouldn't you?

No?

Maybe The Myth of the Volunteer Whore serves a larger social purpose. Maybe it is a category into which we can throw damaged people, much like a trash bin, and then pick them up and use them for whatever we like without guilt or shame.

They volunteered, right?

By unanimous vote, that's our story as a society and we're sticking to it. Works out better for everyone that way. It's our safety valve. It keeps our tragedies under wraps and gives our dysfunctional men something to do besides molest youngsters.

Or maybe I'm just being a big killjoy.

Either way, I'm throwing it out there for your consideration.

In the end, you'll think what you want anyway.


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Internet Speed

Technically they should be the same speed, but from everyone I know who has a blackberry the internet speed and capabilities stink. Most normal phones do a better job at internet then the blackberry it seems. Personally I use a Sidekick and it is much faster and can browse more webpages than the Blackberry my friend tries to use to do the same. From what I hear the iPhone performs about the same or slightly better than the Sidekick in Internet speed. Since the iPhone has a wifi mode, it definitely has the faster capability than the Blackberry or any other phone, but when it is not using wifi it is pretty much comparable to the rest, although Blackberry just does not perform all that great in my opinion.


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What A Woman Wants

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Ultimately we will never discover the complete makeup of a man nor will man ever fully understand the female species but a man, if prepared, can learn and discover some of the mysterys of a woman's mind,her heart, and her desires.

Things You Need To Know About Women

1.Tackling problems:

Women tend to be intuitive global thinkers.They take lots of information from many sources and tend to think of many problems at once.Whereas many times a man will tackle one problem at a time.

2. Emotional:

As you know women are more emotional. Our hormonal makeup is completely different.

'Some times all a woman needs is for a shoulder to cry on while she pours out her heart'.

Often she feels better from simply her man holding her and really listening to her.

'Often if a woman wants advice she will reach out and ask for it'

3. Need to feel number one:

A woman needs to feel number one in her man's eyes. A woman is aware that man by nature has a 'wandering eye', especially when a beautiful woman walks by, therefore it is important for her to know that in your eyes she is the most'beautiful woman of all'.

Sometimes with so many beautiful women in the world, some women become insecure, feeling the need to compete constantly, unsatisfied with her body and shape if it doesnt meet the ideal form. The media constantly throws images of thinness and unrealistic visions at women which we tend to absorb. While a man is not responsible for a woman's esteem a man we love can 'break' our 'build' our esteem even further.

'How Do I Make Her Feel Number One????'

Tell her how beautiful she is clothed and unclothed.

If you have to stare at a gorgeous thing going past while with her, don't make it obvious, be subtle for God's sake. Is that so hard to do.?

Dont call her stupid names "fatty" "porky" if she is carrying a little weight. She may laugh about it, but inwardly it can be crushing her esteem to shreds.

Make her feel loved and appreciated, let her into your heart.

4. Sex:

Women need lots of attention, closeness, touching at times with no sex involved. If you only approach your woman and touch her when you want sex, she will become resentful and sometimes even feel like a prostitute, especially if an arguement has not been resolved.

5.Talking:

We all have heard the expression that men are "headliners", and women are "fine print". Women are said to talk on the average 25,000 words a day, and men 5,000 words. Women were born to express themselves, and with an added emotional makeup, it explains why we talk problems over with friends and family. We have that extra need to discuss the aspects of out life, important issues with others.There is a need at times to get things off our chest seeking other's opinions, offloading our fears and hurts.

THINGS A WOMAN WILL APPRECIATE FROM YOU

1. Walk with her,don't try to rule her.

2. Offer your support, be a haven she can come to when she is in need, without fear of lectures or disinterest on your side.

3. Don't ridicule her behind her back. I never understand men who do this.

4. Listen, listen, when she is hurting. Resist the urge to offer advice unless she asks.

5. Give her compliments, make her feel good about herself, and mean it.

6. Walk with her, not ahead of her.

7. Never take her for granted, don't let familiarity seep in.

8. Show your joy in spending time with her. A woman needs to feel appreciated.

9. Be honest with her. A woman never forgets.

10. Be her greatest supporter. Be someone she knows that she can always count on.

11. If you have done something to hurt her, even if you didn't mean to, tell her you are sorry.

12. If anger gets the better of you walk away and take time to cool down, or you might say something you will regret, and she will remember.

13. You don't have to try to "fix" everything. Men are 'fixers', but women don't want you to fix everything.

14. Kiss her goodbye and be happy to see her.

15. Understand her need to share herself with her friends. It's not that you aren't enough.

16. Show her she can count on you to get things done when you say you will.

.17. Back her up 100 percent!

18. Don't ignore her to gain her attention.That just infuriates her.

19. Include her in your dreams tell her about them. A woman feels part of you when you share your life even more with her.

20. If you treat her the way she deserves to be treated, she in turn will give back to you 100 fold. A happy caring guy makes a happy caring woman.

21. Don't compare her to other women. She is unique.

Despite all the female liberation movement, you may be surprised to learn that women actually still enjoy to be treated like women, and they still appreciate the gentlemanly things men do sometimes.

WOMEN DONT JUST GO FOR LOOKS..

Women look for humour, they love confidence in a guy.

A guy with average looks, if he has a fantastic personality, can be incredibly sexy to her.

A great looking guy with massive ego problems we would rather forget. Not for a long term relationship anyway. Some girls go for guys like this, but normally the more shallow type of girls.

Physical looks can get a lady’s initial interest, but it isn’t what builds attraction.

'The age of a woman doesn't mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles'

SO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT A WOMAN WANTS?

Scroll down for the best piece of advice yet

Prepare

It's coming

↓Blow Yourself Away

↓And Here It is

For The Final Piece Of Advice

Simply ask her what she wants and she will most likely tell you. No two women are the same, thank god, and what may work for one woman may not necessarily be an other's cup of tea. Communication is simply the best way to learn. Keep the channels between the two of you open. Be kind, loving and understanding. Then you will truly discover 'What A Woman Wants'


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Adriana Lima breast implants - real or fake?

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009




Adriana Lima's breasts are so perfect and has men drooling raises the question of whether Adriana Lima's breast implants are real or fake. Did Adriana Lima go through a breast implants or breast augmentation is a question in everyone's minds, look at the pictures in this hub especially take a closer look at Adriana's breasts you can get an answer yourself. Hollywood celebrities and models like Adriana Lima may have got breast implants - real or fake always remain a question

Adriana Lima breast implants

Whether Adriana Lima got breast implants or not, whether Adrina Lima's breasts are real or fake, we do not care as they are so attractive and once you lay your eyes on them it is hard to take them off. Many Hollywood actresses with sagging bags and smaller ones have got it done, they do not usually admit whether they had breast implants done. There are two main types of breast implants: saline filled and silicone gel. Usually it is obvious and easy to find out whether a Hollywood actress got the job done when it has suddenly grown to a watermelon size or it they are bigger than their head.

It is interesting that Adriana Lima did not go overboard, she had a perfectly sized breast and the sudden growth does not look weird or questionable. The new breasts are perfectly proportionate to her body and head. The medical and technological advancement in this field of breast augmentation is amazing and the procedure may cost as low as $5000.

A breast implant or breast augmentation is a procedure to enlarge the size of a woman's breasts. Women do it for many reasons, one of the primary being to get attention from men. The safety of silicone breast implants has been debated for along time now. There's no scientific evidence that ruptured silicone implants cause serious health problems which could be long term health issues. even cancer, other disorders and inflammations. If there is a rupture in the breast implant, the main problem is the formation of scar tissue in the breast. This scar tissue can lead to pain and disfigurement of the breast. Do not forget to look at my hub on Tara Reid and how terrible her plastic surgery went leading to Tara Reid's non symmetrical and distorted breasts that is a breast surgery went really bad. Some women may feel alump in their breasts after the procedure or the breast maybe distorted as in the case of Tara Reid.

Adriana Lima's breasts after


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Jessica Alba Sexy Photo Gallery

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009




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The Big thing iPhone Missed

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

iPhone The Dark Side

Revolutionary, Path Breaking,Trend setter...The adjectives have not stopped flowing ever since Apple formally released the iPhone.While there is no doubt that the phone is a radical departure from the routine mobile handset,especially with the total touch screen interface, it is not without some glaring shortcomings.Here are just 5 of them which might upset you...

  1. Camera with no video,no zoom: A two megapixel camera that does not have a zoom facility and cannot shoot video.Whats more, it evidently does not have basic options like multiple resolutions and compression levels, or even a flash.Given the price tag of the iPhone and Apple's record in multimedia,this is a big surprise.Nokia N95 users must be gloating and we can not blame them.
  2. No replaceable battery: NO matter how good the battery of the iPhone is, the fact that one cannot just slip it out and replace it as one can with other phones - you will actually have to send the phone to a service centre just to get the battery replaced.
  3. No facility for customised ringtone : You can not set a song as your ringtone or a song that you made yourself.

  4. Limited third party software: A fact about iPhone is that company has used a new mobile operating system means that there are very few third party applications available for the phone.Apple hopes that this will change but it is unlikely that the iPhone will have the kind of third party software support the Symbian,Windows Mobile or even palm based phones have.
  5. No FM radio, no voice Recording: I'm frankly speechless at this one.We are betting that Apple will come out with an accessory that will allow us to tune to FM radio in the coming days and also have a microphone of sorts.I'm also betting that this will cause a bomb.

And that's not all

We could have waxed eloquent about the lack of support for 3G, about the fact that the dazzling touchscreen is also a fingerprint magnet,that the phone does not support removable sim cards whic locks you into a single service provider and the controversy over the lack of A2DP support.But we did not do so for fear of being accused of complainng too much.The iPhone may be reolutionary,but we dont envy its owners.Not Yet


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Assume a New Position

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Five moves that'll shake up your sex life

The Pretzel Dip

Encourages clitoral contact

How it works You lie on your right side; he kneels, straddling your right leg and curling your left leg around his left side.

The benefit You get the deeper penetration of doggy style while still being able to look at each other. Also, ergonomics: "For a lot of women, doggy style hurts their backs," says sex therapist Rebecca Rosenblat, author of Seducing Your Man. While you lounge comfortably, you can prompt your guy to add manual stimulation. "That's a can't-miss combination," she says.

The Flatiron

Intensifies vaginal pleasure


How it works You lie facedown on the bed, hips slightly raised

The benefit This position creates a snug fit, "making your guy seem larger," Rosenblat says. He can also thrust so the tip of his penis touches your cervix, an often-neglected pleasure zone. Put a pillow under your lower abs to protect your back. And he'll last longer if he tries "shallow thrusting and deep breathing," says April Masini, author of Think and Date Like a Man. If he loses his cool and pushes into you too fast, try moving your hips slowly from side to side. This will force him to slow down and make his thrusts shorter, says Diana Wiley, Ph. D., a sex therapist based in Seattle.

The G-Whiz

Targets your G-spot


How it works You lie back with your legs resting on each of his shoulders.

The benefit "Any position in which a woman raises her legs narrows the vagina," Rosenblat says. Ask him to start rocking you in a side-to-side or up-and-down motion. That should bring his penis into direct contact with your G-spot, so focus your attention on the area just a few inches up the front wall of your vagina. Not everyone feels extra sensation, but it's worth a try.

The Cowgirl's Helper

Puts you in charge

How it works You kneel on top of him, pushing off his chest and sliding up and down his thighs. He grabs your hips and rises to meet each thrust.

The benefit Female-dominant positions make orgasming easier and delay his climax, so everyone wins. "This move lets you alternate between shallow and deep thrusting," says Rosenblat. "Shallow will stimulate the front third of the vagina, which is the most sensitive." He can push into you for deeper penetration, and you can lift up a bit higher for a shallower entry.

Lets you go all night long

How it works He sits on a chair or the edge of the bed; you face him, seated on his lap.

The benefit "Because you're on top of him, you can easily control the angle and depth of entry," Wiley says, "and this is a good way for your partner to learn what sort of rhythm you prefer." Being in a seated position is also great for marathon sex, because "no one has to worry about their legs or arms giving out on them halfway through," Rosenblat says. Once you're in the saddle, put his hands to work by picking them up and putting them wherever you so desire.


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Beware the Killer Bikini Wax

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brazilians can go from sexy beauty habit to scary sickness faster than you can say 'yowza!'


All Jennifer (not her real name) wanted was a smooth bikini line. But within 24 hours of getting a wax at a reputable New York City salon, an infection crept in. She developed a fever of 102, chills, and pain in her left thigh. "I thought I'd caught a cold," she says, "but after five days, the pain was worse."

Her doctor diagnosed her with cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection of the skin and the underlying tissue. Jennifer spent the next 15 days in the hospital hooked up to an IV that pumped her full of antibiotics and heavy-duty painkillers. She also had surgery to drain the infection. "One doctor said I could have lost my leg!" she recalls. "It took me months to recover physically and emotionally from the whole ordeal—a steep price to pay for a little vanity."

While there are no reliable stats on waxing-related complications, Jennifer's experience wasn't unique. This past March, the state of New Jersey nearly banned Brazilian waxes after two women landed in the hospital as a result of them (one of the women filed a lawsuit against the state cosmetology board). And in 2007, an Australian woman with type 1 diabetes almost died of a bacterial infection she got after a bare-it-all wax.

What makes them risky? "Pubic hair is there for a reason—to protect the sensitive skin and mucous membranes in the genital region," explains Linda K. Franks, M. D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine. "Getting a wax literally strips away that layer of protection."

Waxing can also pull off tiny pieces of the skin's outermost layer, creating a portal through which bacteria can enter the body. What's more, the process creates inflammation, which can trap bacteria beneath the skin. All of this sets the stage for skin infections (including staph), folliculitis (infection of the hair follicles), and ingrown hairs.

"Anytime you compromise the integrity of the skin, you're going to increase your risk of infection," Franks says. She advises people who have diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or weakened immune systems to avoid waxing altogether. For everyone else, there are simple ways to ward off danger:

Choose a facility carefully
Before you make an appointment, drop by to see how clean the place is, or ask a friend to recommend a salon she trusts. Be sure the cosmetologist or aesthetician you choose is licensed by your state and has received training in Brazilian waxing, says Rosanne Kinley, past president of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.

Ask about the wax
"Hard wax is best. It's gentler and adheres to the hair, not the skin," Kinley says. "Speed wax, which is soft and sticky, is applied with a roller applicator, and while it's fast and easy, it's more painful and more likely to tear skin." Sugaring, a natural method that's kinder to the skin than waxing, is a good alternative. Look for products that are chemical-free; Shobha ($22, myshobha.com) contains nothing but sugar, water, lemon juice, and glycerin.

Keep an eye on hygiene
Before beginning the process, the practitioner should scrub up or (at least) apply hand sanitizer. Double dipping into the wax is taboo because it introduces bacteria into the pot. "The waxer should have brand-new spatulas available for each swipe to your skin," Kinley says. To prevent burns, she should check the wax's temperature on the inside of her wrist before applying it to your skin. If you don't see the practitioner taking these steps, speak up.

Prevent irritation
For a few days following your wax, apply an over-the-counter topical antibiotic cream and an anti-inflammatory 1% hydrocortisone cream to the area, says Bruce Robinson, M. D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. This will ease irritation and help ward off potential infection.

Know the signs of infection
Check yourself with a hand mirror (look for inflamed ingrown hairs, rashes, or raw, open sores or cuts). "See a doctor ASAP if you develop redness or swelling in the area, an itching or burning sensation, peeling of the skin, or a fever," Robinson says.


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Evangeline Lilly, who is likely only known to fans who have watched the overacting little imp ham her way through the past five seasons of "Lost" as pouty Kate Austen, says she's not a big movie star by choice.

I couldn't possibly sum up Lilly's self-absorbed delusional over-estimation of herself better she does. In the June issue of Women's Health, Lilly says:

"[The 'Lost' producers] have seen that I haven't picked up on the opportunity to become a big movie star. It frustrates [them] that they've given me this chance to become the next Angelia Jolie ... Sure, I'd love to be her, but just the humanitarian side."

Ahahahahahhaa. And we thought she'd hit maximum self importance when she said in 2007 that she almost left "Lost" because she was sick of being famous.

In Lilly's defense, the one-time missionary does say she plans to quit acting and focus on humanitarian work once "Lost" ends its six season run in 2010. And, based on the footage below -- from Lilly's pre-"Lost" days as a Canadian singles chatline pitchwoman -- that may be her greatest humanitarian act of all:



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Here, Here! 13 Years Of Perfect Attendance.

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cal Ripken, Iron Man of the Baltimore Orioles, played in 2,632 consecutive baseball games.

Stefanie Zaner, Iron Kid of Darnestown, is closing in on her 2,340th straight day of public school.

The 18-year-old is unlikely to get the standing ovation afforded Ripken for his streak when she arrives at Northwest High School on Friday for the last day of senior classes in Montgomery County.

But hers is a rare accomplishment. Not once in 13 years was Stefanie marked absent: not for a cold, a family vacation, a college visit or a senior skip day. She once went on a freshman trip to Shanghai with the school marching band and boarded the plane with her clarinet only after securing written assurance from the principal that the trip would not count as an absence. She has never broken a bone, thrown up or caught the flu or even a bad cough, she said.

"There were days in high school when I thought she was too tired to get up," said Debbie Zaner, Stefanie's mother. "But by high school, it was up to her. It wasn't up to me."

Perfect attendance for even one year is an elusive goal. Schools are germ factories. Kids play hooky. Families travel. Religious holidays sometimes require attendance elsewhere. Even conscientious students take the occasional personal day to prepare for a test or catch up on homework.

An informal survey of 20 local school systems turned up just one other graduating senior with perfect attendance since kindergarten (officially, 180 days a year, for 13 years, although the exact annual total hinges on snow days): Kristen Waddle, 18, of Brentsville District High School in Prince William County. A third student, Austin White of Mountain View High School in Stafford County, hasn't missed a day since first grade. There might be others.

Kristen's attendance effort in elementary school was nothing short of heroic: She showed up every day despite moving twice and changing schools three times. Staying home was boring -- or so she heard from her brother. There was a no-TV rule, strictly enforced.

"We could sit in our room and read. That was it," she said.

The Prince William senior remembers nearly ending her streak once or twice in high school from sheer exhaustion. An after-school job kept her out until 10 some nights.

"I have these days where I'm like, 'I do not want to be here,' " she said. "I'm just the kid who shows up on those days."

Austin, 18, thinks he knows the moment he decided nothing would keep him from school. It was about fifth grade, the night before a standardized test. "I was puking buckets, and my Mom asked, 'Do you want to stay home?' And I said, 'No, I've got to go to school, I've got to take the test.' "

To keep the streak alive, the Stafford teenager has passed up national baseball tournaments. Even an ankle sprain sophomore year, he said, "wasn't a good-enough reason to stay home."

Stefanie, like Kristen and Austin, didn't enter kindergarten intent on never missing school. The goal crept up on her. Her principal at Darnestown Elementary School, Larry Chep, gave out annual awards for perfect attendance. She won a couple, then found she "really liked being recognized for something." By the end of fifth grade, when Chep recognized her for six consecutive years without absence, Stefanie stood alone.

Chep remembers her as "one of those kids you want in your school." Stefanie returns to Darnestown Elementary each spring to help her fourth-grade teacher take down her classroom and organize her closet.

Iron Man Cal earned his nickname by playing through injury. So did Stefanie, in a way, coming to school sick or, more often, dead tired. She's never had a serious illness or a high fever, she said, a claim to which friends and teachers attest. If anything, sniffly classmates fretted about making her sick. Austin and Kristen, too, are preternaturally healthy.

Stefanie will attend the University of Maryland in its honors program. She wants to be a doctor. She is a straight-A student.

"That's since third grade," her mother said in the family kitchen.

"Since fourth grade," Stefanie interjected.

And just what sort of person earns straight A's for 10 years -- make that nine -- without missing a day of school? A perfectionist. A worrier. An overachiever. Stefanie is all of those, by her own account.

The quest for perfection begat hardship and regret. "I didn't get to do any senior skip days," Stefanie said. "I didn't get to do any college visits."

The past two years "have probably been the most stressful years of my life," she said. It wasn't just the homework, the strain of taking multivariable calculus and studying for Advanced Placement tests. It was the mounting pressure to stay perfect, to get to school every day, to earn only A's.

"There were times I felt completely overwhelmed and thought I was never going to be able to maintain this image that everyone had of me," she said.

Stefanie came to school early many mornings and visited the classroom of Carolyn Diggs, her sophomore math teacher, who became her confidante. She would vent to Diggs when things weren't perfect. The teacher helped her learn to lose a few battles and focus on winning the war.

"Nothing less than 100 percent is good enough for her," Diggs said.

Stefanie seems to draw her motivation from within, although her mother is a former PTA president known for working through daily task lists. Debbie and Rob Zaner, a dentist, recall leaning more on Stefanie's older brother, Jordan.

"Jordan would say, 'If I get the B, I'm happy,' " Rob Zaner recalled. "Stef would say, 'If I don't get the A, my life is coming to an end.' "

Stefanie's friends like her partly for her imperfections, such as her weakness for bling and propensity to show up at tennis practice "diva'd out," in the words of longtime friend Chelsea Hoggle, 17.

Chelsea also recalls the hours Stefanie toiled last year creating photo albums for friends as graduation gifts and the many lunch periods her friend spent visiting teachers and tutoring classmates.

"She doesn't do things halfway," Chelsea said.


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French Open Results

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


PARIS (AP) - Results Tuesday from the French Open, played on clay at Stade Roland Garros (seedings in parentheses): Singles
Men
First Round
Juan Martin del Potro (5), Argentina, def. Michael Llodra, France, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
Marc Gicquel, France, def. Rainer Schuettler (27), Germany, 6-0, 6-0, 6-4.
Andreas Beck, Germany, def. Ivan Navarro, Spain, 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-1.
Victor Crivoi, Romania, def. Simon Greul, Germany, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-2.
Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Spain, def. Evgeny Korolev, Russia, 6-4, retired.
Gael Monfils (11), France, def. Bobby Reynolds, United States, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.
Novak Djokovic (4), Serbia, def. Nicolas Lapentti, Ecuador, 6-3, 3-1, retired.
Philipp Kohlschreiber (29), Germany, def. Bernard Tomic, Australia, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Viktor Troicki, Serbia, def. Lukasz Kubot, Poland, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
Tommy Robredo (16), Spain, def. Adrian Mannarino, France, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
Maximo Gonzalez, Argentina, def. Mardy Fish (22), United States, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine, def. Brian Dabul, Argentina, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (2), 6-3.
Andreas Seppi, Italy, def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Spain, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
Juan Monaco, Argentina, def. Marcos Baghdatis, Cyprus, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9), France, def. Julien Benneteau, France, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spain, def. Ivan Ljubicic, Croatia, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Tommy Haas, Germany, def. Andrei Pavel, Romania, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Leonardo Mayer, Argentina, def. James Blake (15), United States, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-2.
Christophe Rochus, Belgium, leads Fabrice Santoro, France, 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 5-3, susp., darkness.
Dmitry Tursunov (21), Russia, vs. Arnaud Clement, France, 3-6, 6-3, susp., darkness.
Women
First Round
Jelena Jankovic (5), Serbia, def. Petra Cetkovska, Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-3.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (7), Russia, def. Claire Feuerstein, France, 6-1, 6-4.
Sybille Bammer (28), Austria, def. Nathalie Dechy, France, 6-3, 7-6 (1).
Melinda Czink, Hungary, def. Anastasija Sevastova, Latvia, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Petra Martic, Croatia, def. Mara Santangelo, Italy, 6-4, 6-2.
Galina Voskoboeva, Kazakhstan, def. Sania Mirza, India, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia, def. Kristina Mladenovic, France, 6-1, 2-6, 8-6.
Aleksandra Wozniak (24), Canada, def. Monica Niculescu, Romania, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Caroline Wozniacki (10), Denmark, def. Vera Dushevina, Russia, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain, def. Nicole Vaidisova, Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-3.
Virginie Razzano, France, def. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, 6-3, 6-3.
Serena Williams (3), United States, def. Klara Zakopalova, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
Elena Dementieva (4), Russia, def. Chanelle Scheepers, South Africa, 6-4, 6-3.
Yanina Wickmayer, Belgium, def. Urszula Radwanska, Poland, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Jelena Dokic, Australia, def. Karolina Sprem, Croatia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Sorana Cirstea, Romania, def. Carly Gullickson, United States, 6-4, 6-2.

Samantha Stosur (30), Australia, def. Francesca Schiavone, Italy, 6-4, 6-2.
Viktoriya Kutuzova, Ukraine, def. Zuzana Ondraskova, Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4.
Anabel Medina Garrigues (18), Spain, def. Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0.
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Spain, def. Peng Shuai (31), China, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Alize Cornet (21), France, leads Maret Ani, Estonia, 6-4, 4-4, susp., darkness.
Doubles
Women
First Round
Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska, Poland, def. Mervana Jugic-Salkic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Tatiana Poutchek, Belarus, 6-4, 6-3.
Yan Zi and Zheng Jie (16), China, def. Edina Gallovits, Romania, and Olga Govortsova, Belarus, 6-4, 6-2.
Lucie Safarova and Vladimira Uhlirova, Czech Republic, def. Stephanie Foretz and Camille Pin, France, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Olga Savchuk, Ukraine, and Sun Tiantian, China, def. Jarmila Groth, Australia, and Renata Voracova, Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-3.
Severine Bremond Beltrame and Julie Coin, France, def. Sarah Borwell, Britain, and Maria Kondratieva, Russia, 6-2, 6-3.
Gisela Dulko, Argentina, and Agnes Szavay, Hungary, def. Maria Elena Camerin, Italy, and Anna Chakvetadze, Russia, 6-3, 6-4.
Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Spain, and Sara Errani, Italy, def. Akgul Amanmuradova, Uzbekistan, and Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, 6-3, 6-2.
Vania King, United States, and Monica Niculescu (13), Romania, def. Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, United States, 6-1, 6-3.
Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Germany, and Patty Schnyder (11), Switzerland, def. Kristina Barrois, Germany, and Anne Keothavong, Britain, 6-1, 6-2.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, United States, and Nadia Petrova (10), Russia, def. Ayumi Morita, Japan, and Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia, 7-5, 6-3.
Serena and Venus Williams (5), United States, lead Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, 6-1, 3-6, 4-3, susp., darkness.


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Would You Wear This Magic Bra?

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Ladies, are you sitting down? Your jaw will drop when you hear about this crazy new bra....

The Smart Memory Bra by Lisca pushes up your breasts when you're attracted to someone. How? When you're in a state of arousal, your body temperature rises; the bra's heat-sensitive foam senses that and squeezes your breasts in and up.

Is it a brilliant idea? (Your crush will notice your perky breasts.) Or is it a disaster waiting to happen? (Imagine your breasts thrusting around in front of the hot coffee shop guy, your attractive boss, your handsome professor, your friend's cute dad, etc...Busted!)

What do you ladies think? Would you wear the Smart Memory bra? It will be available in the UK this summer for around $40...if you dare.


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The California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage today, ratifying a decision made by voters last year that runs counter to a growing trend of states allowing the practice.

The decision, however, preserves the 18,000 marriages performed between the court’s decision last May that same-sex marriage was lawful and the passage by voters in November of Proposition 8, which banned it. Supporters of the proposition argued that the marriages should no longer be recognized.

Today’s opinion, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to heterosexual couples.

Justice George wrote that Proposition 8 did not “entirely repeal or abrogate” the right to such a protected relationship, but argued that it “carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term ‘marriage’ for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law.”

Heated reaction to the decision began immediately, with protestors blocking traffic in front of San Francisco City Hall, their hands locked.

Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called the decision “a terrible blow to the thousands of gay and lesbian Californians who woke up this morning hoping and praying their status as equal citizens of this state would be restored.” The decision, he added, “made it painfully clear that we must go back to the voters to restore equality.”

Those who backed Proposition 8 were elated. Andrew M. Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the leading group behind last year’s initiative, said he and his allies were “very gratified” by the decision. “This is the culmination of years of hard work to preserve marriage in California,” he said in an e-mail message. “The voters have decided this issue and their views should be respected.”

The same court had ruled in May that same-sex couples enjoyed the same fundamental “right to marry” as heterosexual couples. That sweeping 4-3 decision provoked a backlash from opponents that led to Proposition 8, which garnered 52 percent of the vote last November after a bitter electoral fight.

The opinion marks a new round in the long-running battle in California over the issue, and will almost certainly lead to a counter-initiative intended to overturn Proposition 8, which changed the state constitution, as early as next year.

The opinion focused on whether the use of a voter initiative to narrow constitutional rights under Proposition 8 went too far.

Supporters of same-sex marriage, who filed several suits challenging the proposition, argued that the change to the state’s constitution was so fundamental that the initiative was not an amendment to the constitution but a “revision,” a term for measures that rework core constitutional principles.

Revisions, under California law, cannot be decided through a simple signature drive and majority vote, which is what led to Proposition 8; they can only be placed on the ballot with a two-thirds vote by the legislature.

But the justices said the proposition was an amendment, not a revision. It has historically been rare for the state’s courts to overturn initiatives on the ground that they are actually revisions, and many legal scholars deemed the challenge against Proposition 8 a long shot.

The question of whether Proposition 8 was an amendment or revision was the centerpiece of the oral arguments before the State Supreme Court during its hearing on March 5.

The justices who had issued the ringing support of same-sex marriage in 2008 presented a far less supportive front during the three-hour hearing. A number of justices who had voted in the majority in the 2008 case, particularly Joyce L. Kennard, strongly suggested in their questions from the bench that they were reluctant to overturn the will of the voters or to undercut the initiative process.

In questions that clearly anticipated the logic of today’s majority opinion, the justices had seemed to be seeking a middle ground that would allow the rights they had affirmed the year before to be preserved in the form of civil unions, which would be different from marriage in name only. Justice Kennard suggested that the substantive rights of gays were the same after the proposition, and all that had changed was “the label of marriage.”
In questions that clearly anticipated the logic of today’s majority opinion, the justices had seemed to be seeking a middle ground that would allow the rights they had affirmed the year before to be preserved in the form of civil unions, which would be different from marriage in name only. Justice Kennard suggested that the substantive rights of gays were the same after the proposition, and all that had changed was “the label of marriage.”


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Mexico's battered image yields travel deals

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Mexico's tourism industry has endured some brutal punches this year.

First, the global financial crisis hampered vacation spending. Then, escalating cartel drug violence scared some travelers.

Business went from bad to worse in late April, with the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu. The virus has infected more than 12,500 people worldwide, with the highest death toll in Mexico, causing some U.S. travelers to reroute, delay or cancel trips to Mexico completely.

American travelers, who represented 80 percent of the country's booming $13 billion travel industry last year, are a critical part of Mexico's economy.

"The swine flu sealed our fate," said Bob Boulogne, chief operating officer at Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which owns several luxury properties along golden beaches and in the mountains of Mexico.

Some of his hotels were only 25 percent full after the H1N1 outbreak. The flu panic has forced the company to lay off hotel staff in Mexico, with many of the local hires told to return to their home cities and villages.

"The reality is Mexico is very safe," Boulogne added. "Life is normal except for there are no Americans here."

Since the U.S. lifted flu-related travel warnings May 15, Mexico's desperate tourism industry is facing its biggest challenge yet: getting travelers to come visit.

Hotels and local businesses are struggling to recover from low visitor numbers, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Hotel occupancy was down more than 25 percent in April, and daily room rates dropped 11 percent, according to preliminary data from leading hotel industry watcher Smith Travel Research Inc. Tour operators and airlines also have taken a beating and are trying to entice travelers with price cuts, promotions and upgrades.

"We've never been hit so hard," said Eduardo Chaillo, U.S. regional director at the Mexico Tourism Board. "It's worse than September 11 or hurricanes. That only affected some of the destinations, but this year, all of Mexico is hurting."

In 2008, more than 18 million Americans visited the country, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. To achieve these numbers again, the board will aggressively invite American travel groups, associations and those critical of the tourism industry to visit in the next two weeks. Chaillo said he wants travel officials to spread the word that Mexico is safe and ready for tourists.

The group also launched a Web site, Mexico-update.com, in January to improve transparency to travelers by providing alerts and hot lines that answer questions about violence and situations such as the recent H1N1 outbreak.

Tourism industry officials said the media hype around swine flu was overblown. In recent days, scientists have said the outbreak may prove to be less severe than first suspected and that the virus acts similarly to the typical seasonal influenza that can be treated successfully. Despite less media coverage about the flu, Mexico's travel industry still will need to overcome the stigma driven by the perception among Americans that Mexico is dangerous.

Alice Grotnes, 53, of Dunwoody, Georgia, said she isn't too worried. She headed off to Cabo San Lucas last week with friends and family for a relaxing vacation at the beach. Between packing her bags and doing research on Cabo, Grotnes said she is confident Mexico is safe.

"We're just taking a lot [of] hand sanitizer and having at it," she said before leaving.

Tourists such as Grotnes coming to Mexico bring assurance to tourism officials eager for recovery.

Some signs of tourism recovery already have started to appear in recent weeks. The flurry of cancellations has slowed drastically, and some hotels said bookings picked up for Memorial Day weekend. Several major cruise lines have resumed stops in Mexico.

Officials at the Mexico Tourism Board said they believe the tourism business will recover by the end of the year.

And thanks to the law of supply and demand, travelers may find some of the best deals to Mexico in years with ideal travel conditions. Airports, hotels and tourist hot spots are less crowded than normal.

Airfares have plunged in recent weeks. Compared with June 2008, data looking at round-trip airfare between select U.S. cities to the Cabo San Lucas airport next month have plunged, on average, 35 percent, according for FareCompare.com, a travel research Web site. Flights to Mexico City this June also have fallen. For example, a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Mexico City will run $285 for a round-trip ticket, compared with $498 a year ago.

A handful of hotels, including luxury hotel company Karisma Hotels & Resorts, are so confident their guests are safe they are touting "flu-free guarantees." In the unlikely event guests should contract H1N1 during a stay through the end of June, guests would receive their next three stays free if they prove they have been infected with a doctor's note. The company also will pay for doctor visits if guests feel ill, said Mandy Chomat, vice president of marketing at Karisma.

Auberge Resorts, which operates the Esperanza resort in popular Cabo San Lucas, is accelerating summer promotions in light of the flu scare. The packages offer free airport transportation and breakfast. The property saw reservations drop by 40 percent three days after H1N1 dominated the headlines, according to Caroline MacDonald, the company's senior vice president.

Online travel companies are seeing flight and hotel packages to Cozumel and Cancun fall as much as 50 percent. Expedia.com reported a 15 percent drop in hotel rates across the board in the month of April compared with April 2008.

"It's just a really good time for travelers to stretch their dollar and get a great vacation," said Ian Jeffries, a spokesman at Expedia.com. "We're hearing anecdotally those who are keeping plans are being showered with service from the hotels so grateful to have them there."

Hotels and tour operators also are trying to quell traveler worries about border violence. Many of the isolated tourist spots have improved security, and the violence is often several hundred or thousand miles away, tourism officials said.

"You have to realize that Mexico is a huge country," said Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer travel guidebooks.

Irasema Gonzalez, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia, is taking the hurdles in stride. Gonzalez was supposed to get married near Mexico City this month, but with 250 guests flying in from all around the world, she postponed the event because of travel difficulties. But she still plans to have her dream wedding in Mexico, her home country, this fall.

"I hope things don't get worse in Mexico," said Gonazlez, who is working on rescheduling the wedding itinerary and sorting out plans for food and decorations. "You never know what could happen, but I am hoping and praying everything will be OK."


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Iranians regain access to Facebook, Twitter

Posted by Kareem Mansor | Tuesday, May 26, 2009


TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- The online networking sites Facebook and Twitter were back in business for Iranians Tuesday, a day after the government banned the country's access to them, a freelance writer said.

The 28-year-old woman, who uses the name Shahrazad to protect her identity, said the sites were reactivated during the morning.

On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was asked during a news conference about the shutdown of Facebook. He said he had not called for the ban but would look into it.

He added, "I believe in maximum freedom of expression."

After the briefing, access to Facebook was reinstated, but that ended a few hours later and the block remained in place until Tuesday morning. No reason was given for the block.

Shahrazad, who has been blogging for eight years, said Twitter also was affected. She maintains an English-language blog on WordPress in which she discusses Iranian and world issues and topics related to women.

The writer, who lives in Tehran, spoke to CNN via a computer voice system.

She seemed unconcerned about the Web site restrictions, and said she doubts most Iranians were affected. Twitter and Facebook are used by students or journalists, she said. Many Iranians don't use the Internet at all, she added.

The semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency reported over the weekend that the government had blocked Facebook amid political jockeying for the June 12 presidential election.

Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi -- a former prime minister considered a threat to Ahmadinejad -- has created a Facebook page for his campaign and has more than 5,000 supporters on the site.

Those attempting to visit Facebook received a message in Farsi saying, "Access to this site is not possible," according to CNN personnel in Tehran.

The news agency reported that the Masadiq Committee, made up of representatives from Iran's intelligence ministry, judiciary and others, had ordered the action. After a few hours, the blockage was lifted, but was then reinstated, the agency said.

"I personally think that sometimes people use very bad language when they are campaigning," Shahrazad said. Any kind of behavior that is insulting is "unacceptable" in Iran.

It is not unusual for the Iranian government to monitor and filter blogs -- taking action against anything it considers offensive, she said.

Facebook issued a statement on Monday after hearing about the Iranian restrictions.

"We are disappointed to learn of reports that users in Iran may not have access to Facebook, especially at a time when voters are turning to the Internet as a source of information about election candidates and their positions," a Facebook representative said in a written statement. "We are investigating these reports.

Iran's population, which the CIA World Factbook estimated at more than 66 million by July 2009, has a median age of 27. The Financial Times newspaper, which has put the country's population at 70 million, said 47 million Iranians have cell phones and 21 million have Internet access.


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