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U.S. keeper Guzan denied move to Villa

LONDON, England — Goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s transfer to Premier League Aston Villa fell through on Thursday when his application for a work permit was turned down.

Guzan, a 23-year-old goalkeeper, who has played four times for the United States, was to move from Major League Soccer club Chivas USA.

We’ve very disappointed with the outcome as we were really looking forward to Brad joining us but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be, Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill said.

Guzan is scheduled to rejoin the U.S. national team training camp this weekend ahead of next Wednesday’s exhibition game against Mexico in Houston.

Although we share in his disappointment at the denial of his British work permit, we know that Brad, like the true professional he is, will continue to work hard to improve every day on and off the field with Chivas USA, Chivas USA coach Preki Radosavljevic said.

American goalkeepers Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Friedel (Blackburn) and Marcus Hahnemann (Reading) start in the Premier League.

Sunderland have signed Charlton’s 25-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder Andy Reid on a three-and-a-half-year deal which could cost up to $8million.

Andy brings added quality to our side in an area that I felt needed to be strengthened. Sunderland boss Roy Keane told the club’s official Web site.

Bolton have signed 29-year-old Poland striker Grzegorz Rasiak on loan from Southampton until the end of the season.

Manager Gary Megson was delighted to finally bolster his attacking options after the departure to Chelsea of Nicolas Anelka at the start of this month, saying: He will bring more firepower to the squad and allow us extra attacking options.

Czech defender David Rozehnal has joined Italian outfit Lazio on loan from Newcastle United, the CTK agency reported citing the player’s agent Pavel Zika.

The clubs agreed prelimianary terms for a four-year contract for the 27-year-old but were unable to finalise it before the closing of the transfer window, Zika said.

It should take effect at the end of this season when the loan deal period runs out.

Rozehnal, who has played 41 times for the national team, has been unsettled at the north-east England club folowing his move from Paris St. Germain.

Barry Robson completed his move from Dundee United to Celtic after the 29-year-old midfielder agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract and passed a medical after agreeing personal terms.

Robson, who was United’s captain, has hit 12 goals already this season, including seven in his last five appearances. E-mail to a friend

U.S. keeper Guzan denied move to Villa – found here.

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January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Loddo takes stage as Boonen leads

DOHA, Qatar — Italy’s Alberto Loddo denied Tom Boonen a third victory in this year’s Tour of Qatar to claim the fourth stage from the Khalifa Stadium to Al Khor.

Once again it was down the sprinters at the end of the 131.5 kilometer leg and Loddo came off Boonen’s wheel to edge ahead at the line.

Sebastian Siedler of Germany took third with Belgian Boonen, who rides for the Quick Step team, keeping hold of the leader’s yellow jersey.

I knew exactly what to do on the approach to the finishing line and Steven De Jongh led me exactly where I needed to be with 50m to go but the wind slowed me down and Alberto (Loddo) made the most of it, said Boonen.

Loddo, from the Russian Tinkoff team, was delighted with his win.

I must thank my team-mates who did their best so that I could get behind the wheel of Boonen during the last few hundred meter. And I waited for the right time to attack.

It was satisfying to have this victory so early in the season for my new team.

Former world champion Boonen has made the early season race in Qatar his own in recent years and has racked up 13 stage wins in the Gulf state.

Dutchman De Jongh is 18 seconds adrift of Boonen in the overall standings. E-mail to a friend

Loddo takes stage as Boonen leads – found here.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

En route to hospital, cops codename Spears ‘The Package’

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Pop star Britney Spears was taken to a hospital early Thursday to get help, a law-enforcement official in Los Angeles told CNN.

The North Hollywood Police Department sent about eight officers to Spears’ hilltop house in Studio City, California, about 12:55 a.m. Thursday, according to the official, who asked not to be identified because he’s not authorized to comment publicly.

The group at Spears’ house included plainclothes officers, motorcycle police, ambulance crews and some police brass, the official said.

It took the better part of the day to arrange the transport plan, the officer said. Watch reporter describe scene at Spears’ home

The Los Angeles Times reported that the pop star was taken to UCLA Medical Center .This is Spears’ second hospital visit this month, coming just weeks after she reportedly underwent a psychological evaluation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Watch how mental evaluations work

Andrew Blankstein, a Los Angeles Times reporter who was at the scene, told CNN that a police convoy, stretching the length of a football field, accompanied the ambulance as it drove down Coldwater Canyon Boulevard — in part to keep the paparazzi from getting too close. Watch police motorcade at Spears’ home

Spears was whisked out a side entrance to her house.

You couldn’t really see what was going on [when officers first swept into the residence] but on the police radio, there was some reference to ‘The package is on the way out,’ ‘We’re leaving now. Go, go, go,’ Blankstein said.

A few hours earlier, two officers were sent to investigate a report of a large group gathered outside the singer’s home, said David Grimes, watch commander for the west division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The two officers found 20 to 25 people near the house around 11 p.m. Wednesday and they asked them to leave, he said. See Spears timeline

ABC-TV host Barbara Walters reported on Monday’s The View that she had been contacted by Spears’ manager and good friend, Sam Lutfi, who told her the pop star has seen a psychiatrist and is suffering from what he describes as mental issues which are treatable, according to The Associated Press. Watch experts discuss Spears’ behavioral issues

On January 3, Spears was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to see if she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and for a psychological evaluation. Police had been called to her home that night to mediate a custody dispute. See dramatic photos of the January 3 incident

A day later, a California court refused to grant Spears visitation rights with her two children — Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1 — at least until mid-February.

Spears has been in a heated dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline over custody of their sons. Federline, Spears’ former backup dancer, holds primary custody of the children.

Spears has been in trouble with the court earlier concerning her compliance with court orders in the custody case.

After filing for divorce in November 2006, Spears was frequently seen enjoying Hollywood nightlife. Her behavior became increasingly erratic; in February 2007, she shaved her head as paparazzi looked on, then spent a month in rehab.
En route to hospital, cops codename Spears ‘The Package’ – found here.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China’s stranded take buses anywhere

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Crowds at some of China’s major train stations thinned slightly Thursday as thousands took advantage of a break in the nation’s worst weather for 50 years to catch buses out of the mayhem.

With another cold front expected within 24 hours — and forecasters warning of at least three more days of snow and sleet — many desperate travelers crammed onto buses that took them only closer to their final destinations, according to CNN’s Andrew Stevens.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has dispatched almost half a million troops to help an estimated 30 million people affected by the worst winter in two generations.

The weather has paralyzed transportation, frozen the power grid and delivered a $4.5 billion hit to the economy, according to figures released Wednesday by the Civil Affairs Ministry.

The situation is compounding economic problems for China. Destroyed crops have resulted in increased food prices, while the inability to transport goods has further inflated prices and led to shortages at stores.

China’s railways and roads are the lifeblood for its manufacturing sector, one of the fastest growing in the world.

Being a manufacturer, we are so worried, said marketing manager Calvina Chan, who works for a Hong Kong-based firm that relies on a factory in mainland China to produce luggage for brands such as Samsonite.

Because of the snowstorm, the transportation isn’t very good and so there might be a late delivery.

Automakers Toyota and Ford halted their China-based production this week.

The transportation stoppage has had a domino effect, preventing the delivery of coal, which is vital to China’s power plants. That is amplifying China’s energy problems.

Most of the coal is produced in the north and northeast, (while) the users are along the coast, said economist Nicholas Kwan.

This time the snowstorm’s problem is not so much freezing the production but freezing the transportation line which makes transportation of coal to those power plants more difficult.

Kwan said some of the power plants have already depleted their coal reserves.

All this comes during the Lunar New Year holiday, the country’s busiest shopping season.

In Guangzhou, hundreds of factory workers who had saved money all year to visit their families during China’s Lunar New Year filled the city’s train station, waiting for trains that were not expected to arrive for days.

Up to half a million people have camped out in the southern city for nearly a week, hoping to get home for the holiday.

Factories in the province of Guangzhou shut down Wednesday ahead of the February 7 holiday with workers joining the masses around the train station — hoping the government would deliver on its promise of quick action and immediate relief for those trying to make it home.

I have been sleeping out here for six days. I have spent all my money. I don’t know how I will get home, one man said.

Another man told CNN’s Hugh Riminton he had tried to get out of Guangzhou every way possible — by airplane, bus and his own car — but could not make it because of the weather conditions.

Now he’s in the queue with everyone else trying to get on a train, Riminton said. And the trains simply aren’t going at the moment and it’s unlikely they’ll be going really in sufficient numbers for days to come

Security is tight at the railway station as people occasionally stampeded the barricade in an attempt to get closer to the train platforms, to no avail. Armed riot police entered the station on Wednesday to regain control of the situation.

So far, Chinese authorities have managed to persuade nearly 470,000 people to abandon their travel plans and accept a refund for their train tickets.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apologized Tuesday to the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in train stations across his country — a rare move by a Chinese politician.

First we’ll fix the electric grid. After that, the trains will run again. … Then all of you can go home for the Chinese New Year, the premier said.

President Hu Jintao called an emergency meeting of the policy-making politburo and vowed a quick government response.

More than 177 million Chinese were expected to travel by train, and 22 million more by plane, for Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival.

Going home every year is an obligation, one Chinese woman explained. It is family reunion, and no matter how difficult it is, we have to do it.

Brian Blackwell of Chicago was stranded for two days at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport. There were thousands of people there and they were pushing toward the counter. You had no idea what the status of your flight was.

Brutal winter weather has pounded China’s central, eastern and southern sections. In its 10-day forecast, the China Meteorological Administration said Wednesday that southwestern, eastern and southern China can expect more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures, while northern China will stay clear but windy.

The winter precipitation had caused at least 49 deaths due to collapsed roofs and treacherous travel conditions, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local officials said.

Nearly a million police have been dispatched to help keep roadways open as thousands of vehicles have become stranded in the snow and ice, according to Chinese Ministry of Public Safety spokesman Wu Heping.
China’s stranded take buses anywhere – found here.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China’s stranded take buses anywhere

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Crowds at some of China’s major train stations thinned slightly Thursday as thousands took advantage of a break in the nation’s worst weather for 50 years to catch buses out of the mayhem.

With another cold front expected within 24 hours — and forecasters warning of at least three more days of snow and sleet — many desperate travelers crammed onto buses that took them only closer to their final destinations, according to CNN’s Andrew Stevens.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has dispatched almost half a million troops to help an estimated 30 million people affected by the worst winter in two generations.

The weather has paralyzed transportation, frozen the power grid and delivered a $4.5 billion hit to the economy, according to figures released Wednesday by the Civil Affairs Ministry.

The situation is compounding economic problems for China. Destroyed crops have resulted in increased food prices, while the inability to transport goods has further inflated prices and led to shortages at stores.

China’s railways and roads are the lifeblood for its manufacturing sector, one of the fastest growing in the world.

Being a manufacturer, we are so worried, said marketing manager Calvina Chan, who works for a Hong Kong-based firm that relies on a factory in mainland China to produce luggage for brands such as Samsonite.

Because of the snowstorm, the transportation isn’t very good and so there might be a late delivery.

Automakers Toyota and Ford halted their China-based production this week.

The transportation stoppage has had a domino effect, preventing the delivery of coal, which is vital to China’s power plants. That is amplifying China’s energy problems.

Most of the coal is produced in the north and northeast, (while) the users are along the coast, said economist Nicholas Kwan.

This time the snowstorm’s problem is not so much freezing the production but freezing the transportation line which makes transportation of coal to those power plants more difficult.

Kwan said some of the power plants have already depleted their coal reserves.

All this comes during the Lunar New Year holiday, the country’s busiest shopping season.

In Guangzhou, hundreds of factory workers who had saved money all year to visit their families during China’s Lunar New Year filled the city’s train station, waiting for trains that were not expected to arrive for days.

Up to half a million people have camped out in the southern city for nearly a week, hoping to get home for the holiday.

Factories in the province of Guangzhou shut down Wednesday ahead of the February 7 holiday with workers joining the masses around the train station — hoping the government would deliver on its promise of quick action and immediate relief for those trying to make it home.

I have been sleeping out here for six days. I have spent all my money. I don’t know how I will get home, one man said.

Another man told CNN’s Hugh Riminton he had tried to get out of Guangzhou every way possible — by airplane, bus and his own car — but could not make it because of the weather conditions.

Now he’s in the queue with everyone else trying to get on a train, Riminton said. And the trains simply aren’t going at the moment and it’s unlikely they’ll be going really in sufficient numbers for days to come

Security is tight at the railway station as people occasionally stampeded the barricade in an attempt to get closer to the train platforms, to no avail. Armed riot police entered the station on Wednesday to regain control of the situation.

So far, Chinese authorities have managed to persuade nearly 470,000 people to abandon their travel plans and accept a refund for their train tickets.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apologized Tuesday to the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in train stations across his country — a rare move by a Chinese politician.

First we’ll fix the electric grid. After that, the trains will run again. … Then all of you can go home for the Chinese New Year, the premier said.

President Hu Jintao called an emergency meeting of the policy-making politburo and vowed a quick government response.

More than 177 million Chinese were expected to travel by train, and 22 million more by plane, for Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival.

Going home every year is an obligation, one Chinese woman explained. It is family reunion, and no matter how difficult it is, we have to do it.

Brian Blackwell of Chicago was stranded for two days at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport. There were thousands of people there and they were pushing toward the counter. You had no idea what the status of your flight was.

Brutal winter weather has pounded China’s central, eastern and southern sections. In its 10-day forecast, the China Meteorological Administration said Wednesday that southwestern, eastern and southern China can expect more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures, while northern China will stay clear but windy.

The winter precipitation had caused at least 49 deaths due to collapsed roofs and treacherous travel conditions, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local officials said.

Nearly a million police have been dispatched to help keep roadways open as thousands of vehicles have become stranded in the snow and ice, according to Chinese Ministry of Public Safety spokesman Wu Heping.
China’s stranded take buses anywhere – found here.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China’s stranded take buses anywhere

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Crowds at some of China’s major train stations thinned slightly Thursday as thousands took advantage of a break in the nation’s worst weather for 50 years to catch buses out of the mayhem.

With another cold front expected within 24 hours — and forecasters warning of at least three more days of snow and sleet — many desperate travelers crammed onto buses that took them only closer to their final destinations, according to CNN’s Andrew Stevens.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has dispatched almost half a million troops to help an estimated 30 million people affected by the worst winter in two generations.

The weather has paralyzed transportation, frozen the power grid and delivered a $4.5 billion hit to the economy, according to figures released Wednesday by the Civil Affairs Ministry.

The situation is compounding economic problems for China. Destroyed crops have resulted in increased food prices, while the inability to transport goods has further inflated prices and led to shortages at stores.

China’s railways and roads are the lifeblood for its manufacturing sector, one of the fastest growing in the world.

Being a manufacturer, we are so worried, said marketing manager Calvina Chan, who works for a Hong Kong-based firm that relies on a factory in mainland China to produce luggage for brands such as Samsonite.

Because of the snowstorm, the transportation isn’t very good and so there might be a late delivery.

Automakers Toyota and Ford halted their China-based production this week.

The transportation stoppage has had a domino effect, preventing the delivery of coal, which is vital to China’s power plants. That is amplifying China’s energy problems.

Most of the coal is produced in the north and northeast, (while) the users are along the coast, said economist Nicholas Kwan.

This time the snowstorm’s problem is not so much freezing the production but freezing the transportation line which makes transportation of coal to those power plants more difficult.

Kwan said some of the power plants have already depleted their coal reserves.

All this comes during the Lunar New Year holiday, the country’s busiest shopping season.

In Guangzhou, hundreds of factory workers who had saved money all year to visit their families during China’s Lunar New Year filled the city’s train station, waiting for trains that were not expected to arrive for days.

Up to half a million people have camped out in the southern city for nearly a week, hoping to get home for the holiday.

Factories in the province of Guangzhou shut down Wednesday ahead of the February 7 holiday with workers joining the masses around the train station — hoping the government would deliver on its promise of quick action and immediate relief for those trying to make it home.

I have been sleeping out here for six days. I have spent all my money. I don’t know how I will get home, one man said.

Another man told CNN’s Hugh Riminton he had tried to get out of Guangzhou every way possible — by airplane, bus and his own car — but could not make it because of the weather conditions.

Now he’s in the queue with everyone else trying to get on a train, Riminton said. And the trains simply aren’t going at the moment and it’s unlikely they’ll be going really in sufficient numbers for days to come

Security is tight at the railway station as people occasionally stampeded the barricade in an attempt to get closer to the train platforms, to no avail. Armed riot police entered the station on Wednesday to regain control of the situation.

So far, Chinese authorities have managed to persuade nearly 470,000 people to abandon their travel plans and accept a refund for their train tickets.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apologized Tuesday to the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in train stations across his country — a rare move by a Chinese politician.

First we’ll fix the electric grid. After that, the trains will run again. … Then all of you can go home for the Chinese New Year, the premier said.

President Hu Jintao called an emergency meeting of the policy-making politburo and vowed a quick government response.

More than 177 million Chinese were expected to travel by train, and 22 million more by plane, for Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival.

Going home every year is an obligation, one Chinese woman explained. It is family reunion, and no matter how difficult it is, we have to do it.

Brian Blackwell of Chicago was stranded for two days at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport. There were thousands of people there and they were pushing toward the counter. You had no idea what the status of your flight was.

Brutal winter weather has pounded China’s central, eastern and southern sections. In its 10-day forecast, the China Meteorological Administration said Wednesday that southwestern, eastern and southern China can expect more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures, while northern China will stay clear but windy.

The winter precipitation had caused at least 49 deaths due to collapsed roofs and treacherous travel conditions, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local officials said.

Nearly a million police have been dispatched to help keep roadways open as thousands of vehicles have become stranded in the snow and ice, according to Chinese Ministry of Public Safety spokesman Wu Heping.
China’s stranded take buses anywhere – found here.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China’s stranded take buses anywhere

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Crowds at some of China’s major train stations thinned slightly Thursday as thousands took advantage of a break in the nation’s worst weather for 50 years to catch buses out of the mayhem.

With another cold front expected within 24 hours — and forecasters warning of at least three more days of snow and sleet — many desperate travelers crammed onto buses that took them only closer to their final destinations, according to CNN’s Andrew Stevens.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has dispatched almost half a million troops to help an estimated 30 million people affected by the worst winter in two generations.

The weather has paralyzed transportation, frozen the power grid and delivered a $4.5 billion hit to the economy, according to figures released Wednesday by the Civil Affairs Ministry.

The situation is compounding economic problems for China. Destroyed crops have resulted in increased food prices, while the inability to transport goods has further inflated prices and led to shortages at stores.

China’s railways and roads are the lifeblood for its manufacturing sector, one of the fastest growing in the world.

Being a manufacturer, we are so worried, said marketing manager Calvina Chan, who works for a Hong Kong-based firm that relies on a factory in mainland China to produce luggage for brands such as Samsonite.

Because of the snowstorm, the transportation isn’t very good and so there might be a late delivery.

Automakers Toyota and Ford halted their China-based production this week.

The transportation stoppage has had a domino effect, preventing the delivery of coal, which is vital to China’s power plants. That is amplifying China’s energy problems.

Most of the coal is produced in the north and northeast, (while) the users are along the coast, said economist Nicholas Kwan.

This time the snowstorm’s problem is not so much freezing the production but freezing the transportation line which makes transportation of coal to those power plants more difficult.

Kwan said some of the power plants have already depleted their coal reserves.

All this comes during the Lunar New Year holiday, the country’s busiest shopping season.

In Guangzhou, hundreds of factory workers who had saved money all year to visit their families during China’s Lunar New Year filled the city’s train station, waiting for trains that were not expected to arrive for days.

Up to half a million people have camped out in the southern city for nearly a week, hoping to get home for the holiday.

Factories in the province of Guangzhou shut down Wednesday ahead of the February 7 holiday with workers joining the masses around the train station — hoping the government would deliver on its promise of quick action and immediate relief for those trying to make it home.

I have been sleeping out here for six days. I have spent all my money. I don’t know how I will get home, one man said.

Another man told CNN’s Hugh Riminton he had tried to get out of Guangzhou every way possible — by airplane, bus and his own car — but could not make it because of the weather conditions.

Now he’s in the queue with everyone else trying to get on a train, Riminton said. And the trains simply aren’t going at the moment and it’s unlikely they’ll be going really in sufficient numbers for days to come

Security is tight at the railway station as people occasionally stampeded the barricade in an attempt to get closer to the train platforms, to no avail. Armed riot police entered the station on Wednesday to regain control of the situation.

So far, Chinese authorities have managed to persuade nearly 470,000 people to abandon their travel plans and accept a refund for their train tickets.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apologized Tuesday to the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in train stations across his country — a rare move by a Chinese politician.

First we’ll fix the electric grid. After that, the trains will run again. … Then all of you can go home for the Chinese New Year, the premier said.

President Hu Jintao called an emergency meeting of the policy-making politburo and vowed a quick government response.

More than 177 million Chinese were expected to travel by train, and 22 million more by plane, for Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival.

Going home every year is an obligation, one Chinese woman explained. It is family reunion, and no matter how difficult it is, we have to do it.

Brian Blackwell of Chicago was stranded for two days at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport. There were thousands of people there and they were pushing toward the counter. You had no idea what the status of your flight was.

Brutal winter weather has pounded China’s central, eastern and southern sections. In its 10-day forecast, the China Meteorological Administration said Wednesday that southwestern, eastern and southern China can expect more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures, while northern China will stay clear but windy.

The winter precipitation had caused at least 49 deaths due to collapsed roofs and treacherous travel conditions, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local officials said.

Nearly a million police have been dispatched to help keep roadways open as thousands of vehicles have become stranded in the snow and ice, according to Chinese Ministry of Public Safety spokesman Wu Heping.
China’s stranded take buses anywhere – found here.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Familiar face to be missing from GOP debate

SIMI VALLEY, California (CNN) — Republican presidential hopefuls will face off Wednesday night without a familiar face as ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is expected to drop out and endorse front-runner Sen. John McCain.

The remaining candidates will take the stage in a debate — sponsored by CNN, the Los Angeles Times and Politico — beginning at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

The event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, follows McCain’s Tuesday night win in the Florida primary.

McCain topped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 36 percent to 31 percent in the hotly contested race.

Giuliani placed third with 15 percent of the vote, followed closely by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 14 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was fifth with 3 percent.

Giuliani is expected to end his White House bid and endorse McCain at a campaign event in California later Wednesday, Republican Party sources said.

Minus Giuliani, the debate will be a four-candidate affair — McCain, Romney, Huckabee and Paul — with CNN’s Anderson Cooper moderating. Watch a preview of what to expect at the GOP debate

A spirited exchange over the economy will likely take center stage. The economy was by far the No. 1 issue for Florida voters Tuesday, according to exit polls. Forty-five percent of Florida Republicans surveyed after voting said the economy was the most important factor in their choice for president.

Wednesday night’s event is expected to be the last face-to-face showdown between the Republicans before next week’s Super Tuesday contests in which 20-plus states will hold primaries and caucuses.

In many of those states, delegates will be on a winner take all basis so the stakes couldn’t be higher as the candidates debate alongside a retired Air Force One at the Reagan library, a site considered sacred ground for Republicans.

In his victory speech Tuesday night in Florida, McCain evoked the 40th president, saying, Our party has always been successful when we have, like Ronald Reagan, stood fast by our convictions.

With wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, McCain has emerged as the GOP front-runner, possibly the first time this primary season that a candidate could make that claim. Watch how McCain won in Florida

But the four-term senator, who cultivates an image as a maverick, still must work to convince the GOP’s conservative base to back him. Many conservatives vilify McCain for breaking with them on immigration, campaign finance, taxes and other issues.

Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions, but it is sweet nonetheless, McCain told supporters in Miami. My friends, in one week we will have as close to a national primary as we’ve ever had in this country. I intend to win it and be the nominee of our party.

Bad blood between McCain and Romney could bleed over into Wednesday’s debate.

Last week’s Republican presidential debate in Florida was a civil affair, but hours afterward, attacks and counterattacks between the two candidates and their campaigns broke out. Watch a time-lapse video as the debate stage is built

Since Friday, the two sides have fired away at each other over the Iraq war, the economy, illegal immigration and border security, campaign finance reform and the environment — each accusing the other of pursuing liberal policies.

Romney took aim at McCain on Tuesday night, putting his opponent on the hot seat for failures in Washington, his criticisms of President Bush and his move directly from the military into Congress.

Speaking to supporters after conceding Florida, Romney accused his opponent of being a Washington insider. Washington is fundamentally broken. And we’re not going to change Washington by sending the same people back, just to sit in different chairs, he said.
Familiar face to be missing from GOP debate – found here.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China in lockdown as weather worsens

BEIJING, China (CNN) — China’s worst winter in more than half a century showed no signs of abating Wednesday as forecasters told citizens to brace for three more days of snow and sleet.

The heavy snow and sleet has paralyzed transport and coal shipments, and led to travelers cramming railways stations and airports and power supply reductions in almost half of the 31 provinces and regions on the Chinese mainland, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, China’s Civil Affairs Ministry said the cost of the storms to the Chinese economy had reached $4.5 billion.

In Guangzhou, hundreds of factory workers who had saved money all year to visit their families during China’s Lunar New Year flooded the city’s packed train station, waiting for trains that were not expected to arrive for days.

Up to half a million people have camped out in the southern city for nearly a week, hoping to get home for the traditional annual family visit during next week’s Lunar New Year.

Factories in the province of Guangzhou shut down Wednesday ahead of the Feb. 7 holiday with workers joining the masses around the train station — hoping the government would deliver on its promise of quick action and immediate relief for those trying to make it home.

I have been sleeping out here for six days. I have spent all my money. I don’t know how I will get home, one man said. It is a disaster from heaven.

Another man told CNN’s Hugh Riminton he had tried to get out of Guangzhou every way possible — by airplane, bus and his own car — but could not make it because of the weather conditions.

Now he’s in the queue with everyone else trying to get on a train, Riminton said. And the trains simply aren’t going at the moment and it’s unlikely they’ll be going really in sufficient numbers for days to come

Security is tight at the railway station as people occasionally stampeded the barricade in an attempt to get closer to the train platforms, to no avail. Armed riot police flooded the station on Wednesday to regain control of the situation.

So far, Chinese authorities have managed to persuade nearly 470,000 people to abandon their travel plans and accept a refund for their train tickets.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apologized Tuesday to the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in train stations across his country — a rare move by a Chinese politician.

I apologize to you all, said Wen, using a bullhorn to address stranded travelers at a station in Hunan province. We are currently trying our best to repair the system.

First we’ll fix the electric grid. After that, the trains will run again. … Then all of you can go home for the Chinese New Year, the premier said, bringing applause from the crowd.

Chinese media replayed the apology several times. The unusual gesture is likely to go a long way in pacifying the anger and frustrations of the thousands stranded across the country, CNN’s Jaime Florcruz said.

President Hu Jintao called an emergency meeting of the policy-making politburo and vowed a quick government response.

The moves are intended to show that the government is in control and taking responsibility for the situation, Florcruz said.

More than 177 million Chinese were expected to travel by train, and 22 million more by plane, for Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival.

Going home every year is an obligation, one Chinese woman explained. It is family reunion, and no matter how difficult it is, we have to do it.

Brian Blackwell of Chicago was stranded for two days at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport, where tempers were short and several fist fights nearly broke out.

There were thousands of people there and they were pushing toward the counter, Blackwell told CNN. You had no idea what the status of your flight was.

On Wednesday, Blackwell drove to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport to catch a United Airlines flight to Chicago. He said the mood was much calmer at Pudong, which handles more international flights.

Brutal winter weather has pounded China’s central, eastern and southern sections. In its 10-day forecast, the China Meteorological Administration said Wednesday that southwestern, eastern and southern China can expect more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures, while northern China will stay clear but windy.

The winter precipitation had caused at least 49 deaths due to collapsed roofs and treacherous travel conditions, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local officials said.

Early Tuesday, a passenger bus plunged off a slippery mountain road in southwestern China’s Guizhou province, killing at least 25 people and injuring 13, Xinhua reported.

Nearly a million police have been dispatched to help keep roadways open as thousands of vehicles have become stranded in the snow and ice, according to Chinese Ministry of Public Safety spokesman Wu Heping.
China in lockdown as weather worsens – found here.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

British pair win 470 world championship

LONDON, England — British pair Nic Asher and Elliott Willis scored a superb victory in the 470 world championship but will not be able to complete a golden double at the Beijing Olympics later this year.

Asher and Willis were overlooked for the British team for the Games in favor of Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield, who finished a distant ninth in the championship in Melbourne, Australia.

Asher insisted he and Willis will do everything they can to ensure Rogers and Glanfield take the gold in China.

He said: The World Championships were our primary focus for this year after missing out on selection for the Olympics.

Now we want to make sure that Great Britain wins the gold medal at Beijing and we will be helping Nick and Joe as their training partners in the run up to the Games as well as getting our own campaign sorted for 2012 selection.

Asher and Willis’ World Championships looked in doubt when a collision with Australian pair Mathew Belcher and Nicholas Behrens saw Willis sidelined for 24 hours with severely bruised ribs.

But, having gone into the final race in the bronze medal position they won a double point-scoring race to take gold.

Rogers admitted he and Glanfield had to work harder in the run-up to China.

He said: We are disappointed because we have not sailed at the level we normally sail and this is not how we see ourselves.

But it is amazing for Nic and Elliott to have won the world title again and I’ve been very impressed with them all week. It is great for us to have that depth of talent to work with in the build up to Qingdao. E-mail to a friend

British pair win 470 world championship – found here.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment