Posts Tagged ‘US’

Israel could launch military strike on Iran ‘within nine months’

imageisrael could launch an air strike against Iran within nine months in a bid to slow Tehran’s progress towards building a nuclear weapon, according to a former senior White House aide.
Dennis Ross, a veteran diplomat on the Middle East, said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not necessarily feel restrained by objections from President Barack Obama, despite his country’s historically close ties with Washington. (more…)

US finds new friend in Uzbekistan after Pakistan fallout

imagePresident Obama has asked Uzbekistan to expand its role in resupplying troops in Afghanistan as Washington tries to reduce its dependence on Pakistan.

The past fortnight has seen relations between Islamabad and Washington sink to new lows over allegations that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency was working with the Haqqani network to direct attacks on American targets in Afghanistan.

The crisis, the latest in a turbulent year, has seen both countries scrambling to build up alternative regional alliances.

However, more than a third of supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan, giving Islamabad a strong bargaining position.

A White House official said President Obama had discussed sending more supplies through the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan during a phone call with the country’s president, Islam Karimov. (more…)

Israel partly to blame for growing isolation in region, says US

imageThe United States has delivered an unusually blunt critique of Israel’s foreign policy by claiming that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was partly responsible for its growing isolation in the region.

Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, suggested that Israel carried a portion of the blame for its deteriorating relationship with Turkey and Egypt, two vital allies whose ties with the Jewish state have become increasingly strained in recent weeks.

Speaking as he arrived in the Holy Land on Monday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Mr Panetta gave warning that Israel’s dependence on its military dominance was not a sufficient safeguard given the dramatic shifts in the Middle East’s political landscape in the wake of the Arab Spring.

“There’s not much question in my mind that they maintain that (military) edge,” he said. “But the question you have to ask is it enough to maintain a military edge if you’re isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena.

“At this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, it’s not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that’s what happening.” (more…)

David Cameron: world on brink of new economic crisis

imageThe world stands on the brink of a new economic crisis that would leave countries like Britain “staring down the barrel”, David Cameron has warned.

The Prime Minister said that the failure of leaders in the US and Europe to tackle government deficits now “threatens the stability of the world economy”.

Mr Cameron spoke as stock markets around the world fell sharply again, with the FTSE–100 suffering its biggest drop for more than two years.

Politicians, central bankers and investors are increasingly worried that the world’s biggest economies are sliding back into a recession, dragged down by government debts. (more…)

Google gives HTC patents so it can sue Apple

imageGoogle is stepping up its battle with Apple by handing mobile phone manufacturers patents they need to sue the iPhone maker.

The web search giant has sold nine key patents to HTC, allowing the Taiwanese mobile phone manufacturer to sue Apple for infringements of intellectual property.

Apple was already locked in an intellectual property dispute with HTC regarding a number of alleged breaches of Apple patents in its Android handsets. However, on Thursday HTC lodged counter-suits against Apple in two US courts using some of the patents transferred from Google, and also filed a complaint at the US International Trade Commission. (more…)

US election 2012: Jon Huntsman would consider being Michele Bachmann’s running mate

imageJon Huntsman, a moderate Republican running for the White House, has said he would be “the first person to sign up, absolutely” to be the vice-presidential running mate for Tea Party favourite Michele Bachmann.

The former Utah governor, who was President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China until this year, quickly said he had no doubt he would win the Republican nomination but his apparent eagerness to be considered for the number two slot showed he holds little hope of winning. (more…)

Rick Perry to try his luck in presidential race

imageTexas governor, Tea Party favorite and serial election winner ready to enter Republican field on a ticket of small government There is much that infuriates Democrats about the stridently right wing governor of Texas, Rick Perry.

Some are still smarting at the betrayal of the man who chaired Al Gore’s 1988 election campaign in Texas and then jumped ship to the Republicans. Others are bitter at his embrace of the Tea Party’s anti-government animus and the cuts to his state’s education and health services it has wrought.

Many dismiss Perry as a “dumb ass” so driven by ideology that he recently vetoed a bill banning text messaging while driving on the grounds that it amounted to “government micromanagement” of people’s lives.

But what really sticks in the Democrats craw is how Texas’s longest-serving governor has gone on winning elections even as one of the most divisive leaders in the state’s history. What they cannot agree on is whether it is through a masterly grasp of politics or an astonishing run of good luck.

Now Perry, 61, is about to wade in to next year’s presidential race as a crusader against a government in Washington he portrays as an anti-American conspiracy – a position that has already won him the heart of the Tea Party movement.

After weeks of increasingly strong hints that he will seek the Republican nomination, including last Saturday’s prayer rally at a Houston stadium, Perry is expected to seize on the fear that the US economy is headed back to recession by announcing his intention to run this weekend.

He is likely to move towards the front of a lackluster field of Republican contenders by contrasting Barack Obama’s economic management with his claim as Texas governor to have hit on a winning formula of creating jobs and balancing the state budget. It also helps that he is a handsome, religious, social conservative who is not Sarah Palin.

The prospect of a Perry candidacy delights and rattles Democrats. They say he is too extreme to win the middle ground he needs to beat Obama. He sneers at George W Bush’s presidency as too liberal.

But then there is Perry’s unnerving record of winning elections that his opponents were certain he would lose.

“He’s the luckiest politician that ever walked the face of the Earth,” said Chris Bell, a former congressman who ran against Perry for governor five years ago. “Luck has a lot to do with success in politics – good timing, right circumstances, all play in to the likelihood of success and he has been very opportunistic throughout the past couple of decades and it has served him well.”

But Ted Delis i, a longtime Republican campaign consultant and adviser to Perry, says the governor has benefited less from good fortune than from opponents who persistently underestimate a formidable politician.

“[The golfer] Ben Hogan’s got a great line: the more I practice the luckier I am. Perry has been vastly underestimated in almost every Texas race that he’s been engaged in,” he said. “The governor benefits from his opponents not believing that he’s going to be as good or as disciplined as he’s been. But I also think he has a pretty good sense of what the average voter cares about.”

Perry fits the image of a Texas politician that the privileged, New England-educated Bush, who was the state’s governor before him, worked to cultivate. Perry was born into a house without indoor plumbing in a rural backwater, Paint Creek in west Texas, where his father was a cotton farmer. He likes to tell how his mother made his underwear even after he went to college to study animal science.

While Bush served briefly in the Texas air national guard and avoided being sent to Vietnam, Perry served five years as an air force pilot. He then went into farming with his father until, in 1984, he won a seat in the state legislature as a Democrat.

He quickly made a mark as an energetic legislator and, although he was never on the liberal wing of the party, he backed Gore in the 1988 presidential primaries and chaired his campaign in Texas.

A year later Perry jumped ship as the Democratic party foundered in the south with the mass desertion of white voters to Ronald Reagan’s Republicans. Perry began an unceasing journey to the right that caught the eye of Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who later led Bush in to the White House. Rove guided Perry through an unexpected victory over a popular incumbent to become agriculture commissioner and then steered him into the lieutenant governor’s post in 1998.

That positioned Perry for another stroke of good fortune when he moved in to the governor’s mansion without an election after Bush resigned in 2000 to run for president.

But it was Perry’s decade as governor that marked him out from Bush, who was popular for reaching across the political divide to co-operate with Democrats.

“I first met Rick Perry in ’89,” said Harold Cook, a Democratic party strategist. “He was a conservative Democrat house member, a very affable guy. Wasn’t ideological at all. If you’d told me then he would switch parties and become a Republican I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. But if you’d told me he’d be the most partisan right wing governor in Texas history, I’d have said you were crazy.

“For the most part he’s unencumbered by conscience. That’s a real luxury. If you aren’t worried about the right policy all that’s left is for your political director to tell you what’s unpopular. We who are involved in Texas politics are all just props in Rick Perry’s movie. When his priorities are just picked out of a hat based on what Republican primary voters want, we’re bit players.”

The pillars of Perry’s politics are states’ rights and small government – an intertwined philosophy embraced by many Americans, Republican and Democrat, disaffected with what they see as too much power, spending and taxation by Washington.

Late last year, Perry published a book dramatically called Fed Up! in which he portrays Americans as increasingly oppressed by measures such as healthcare and environmental legislation, legalese abortion and out of control spending by an elitist federal government.

“Something is terribly wrong. There is a sense among Americans that the world we have always known is in danger of being turned upside down,” he wrote. “We sense that our way of life and, perhaps more importantly, our ability to decide how we shall live, is no longer in our control but in the control of an increasingly powerful and oppressive national government.”

Perry’s campaign to distance himself from Washington has included the public airing of criticism of Bush’s years in the White House as a betrayal of the fiscal conservative cause.

The Texas governor’s antidote is small government and a return of power to the states. Two years ago, he caused a storm when he suggested to an anti-tax rally that Texas could break from the rest of the US.

The statement was met with mirth and contempt in the halls of Congress and Perry quickly clarified to say he was not advocating breaking up the union, but the point was made with the constituency he was playing to.

Through it all there have been regular predictions of Perry’s political demise as opinion polls of Texas voters regularly showed support falling well below that once commanded by Bush as governor.

In 2006 he looked particularly vulnerable but then the governor’s race split three ways and Perry slipped in with just 39% of the vote.

Four years later he again confounded predictions of defeat at the hands of one of Texas’s Republican senators, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, by portraying her success in directing federal spending to Texas as evidence that she were a Washington insider sucking Americans dry with taxes.

Now Perry is preparing to stride on to the national stage basking in the adulation of the Tea Party movement as head of a state that has weathered the economic downturn better than most through, the Texas governor argues, minimizing government. He can boast that nearly 40% of all new jobs created in the US since the recession are in Texas.

“There’s an element to which America has to lead the world out of an economic downturn and Texas has to lead our country out of an economic downturn,” said Delisi.

That view is popular on the right of the Republican party. But what pushed Perry to the forefront as a potential presidential candidate at a party rally in New Orleans in June was a return to the assault on centralized government.

“Our goal is to displace the entrenched powers in Washington, restore the right balance between state and federal government,” he told the rally. “We now live in this strange, inverted version of what our founders intended.”

Cook scoffs at attempts by a man who has spent a quarter of a century inside the system to portray himself as an outsider, and his moves to claim credit for an economic environment in Texas that is a continuation of longstanding policies.

“Perry didn’t invent the fact that we’re a pro-business state. Yes, jobs have come here but a disproportionate percentage are low wage. Yes he’s balanced the budget but it’s on the back of the sick, the elderly and children, and public education and healthcare and the environment,” he said

Perry’s assault on education has generated considerable anger, even among some Republicans who view it as a false saving in a state with a large immigrant population.

The Texas legislature has cut the state’s budget by $15bn (£9bn) – nearly 10% of spending – including a $4bn slice out of public education. Teachers are being dismissed and health services scaled back. Critics say the cuts are far deeper than what is required by the budget shortfall and that Perry is playing to a national audience.

That may appeal to Tea Party supporters but Bell said that once Perry’s record comes under national scrutiny, many voters – not least the elderly and parents of school-age children – will recoil.

“When I was running for governor we would call Rick Perry the president of the ‘thank God for Mississippi club’ because if it wasn’t for Mississippi we would have been last place in every category,” he said.

Perry may also prove less palatable to the wider voting public once his other positions come under scrutiny. He proposes shutting the federal departments of education and energy, and advocates swifter and deeper cuts to the budget than those being proposed by even the most radical conservatives in Congress. He would repeal Obama’s healthcare and environmental legislation.

He also takes a hard line on the death penalty in a country increasingly uncomfortable with executions. Perry vetoed a ban on capital punishment for those officially classified as “mentally retarded”.

It will not help Perry with large parts of the country that he is another Christian evangelical from Texas when memories of George W Bush remain fresh.

But Perry’s success or failure may ultimately hang on a matter far beyond his control – the national economy.

“There are sometimes when elections aren’t about the status of the economy,” said Delisi. “But it would just appear right now that the economy is by far the most pressing issue on voters minds. There are lots of other issues that could come up but this is one I think Governor Perry has a unique and special window to speak on.”

With unemployment remaining stubbornly above 9%, the stock market free falling and the downgrading of the US’s credit rating shaking confidence in Obama’s economic strategy, Perry’s luck may be holding up yet again.

Who is Rick Perry?

He was born in 1950 in a small farming community north of Abilene. Perry’s father Joseph Ray Perry, a Democrat, was a Haskell County Commissioner, school board member and served as a tail gunner in the second world war.

Perry first entered politics in 1975 as a Democrat representative for a rural west Texas district in the state House of Representatives and chaired Al Gore’s campaign in Texas during his 1988 bid for presidency. He joined the Republican Party in 1989, and was first elected to statewide office and served as Texas Commissioner for Agriculture for two terms. Perry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and two years later, in 2000, became the 47th Governor of Texas following George W Bush’s resignation for presidency. Perry graduated from Texas A and M University in 1972 and married his wife Anita Thigpen in 1982 with whom he had two children Griffin and Sydney. In 2009, he married his wife Meredith.

Chilcot to ‘heavily criticise’ Tony Blair over Iraq war

imageOfficial inquiry into Iraq war expected to focus on former PM’s alleged failure to consult cabinet fully in run-up to invasion Tony Blair is reported to be heading for heavy criticism by the official inquiry into the Iraq war, which is likely to focus on his alleged failure to consult the cabinet fully in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

The Mail on Sunday reports today that Sir John Chilcot, the former permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland Office who is chairing the inquiry, has identified a series of concerns. These include: (more…)

US debt deal: The cracks are starting to show

imageEven a deal on the debt ceiling will not cover up the fundamental crisis at the heart of American politics, says Robert Dallek.

There is much that is admirable about America’s politics: the growing opportunity for anyone, regardless of religion, race or gender, to run for any and all offices; and the long history of peaceful transitions set in place when Thomas Jefferson announced in his first Inaugural: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” (more…)

Apple ‘bidding for Hulu’

Apple is believed to looking at buying Hulu, the US online TV aggregator, according to reports.

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Bloomberg has cited two unnamed sources as saying the technology giant is in early stage talks to join the bidding for the successful online TV player, co-owned by News Corporation, Walt Disney and NBC.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

By the end of the summer, the video site is expected to have one million paid subscribers. (more…)

US debt crisis: Barack Obama and Republicans ‘close to deal’

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US President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress are close to brokering a $3 trillion deal that would lift the national debt ceiling and avert a catastrophic financial default, the White House told Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill last night.

Global stock markets, already boosted by news that eurozone leaders had reached a provisional agreement on tackling the Greek debt crisis, surged after news of an imminent deal was reported in Washington.

Details of a US agreement were sketchy and the White House and Republicans denied that an agreement was in the offing but American media reported that a breakthrough had been reached involving major spending cuts and a tax overhaul. (more…)

Pentagon looks to social media as new battlefield

The Pentagon is asking scientists to figure out how to detect and counter propaganda on social media networks in the aftermath of Arab uprisings driven by Twitter and Facebook.

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The US military’s high-tech research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has put out a request for experts to look at “a new science of social networks” that would attempt to get ahead of the curve of events unfolding on new media.

The program’s goal was to track “purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation” in social networks and to pursue “counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations,” according to DARPA’s request for proposals issued on July 14. (more…)

Google profit jump of 36pc answers critics

Google answered a growing chorus of critics on Wall Street last night by delivering profits that easily beat expectations.

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The world’s largest search engine saw second-quarter profits jump 36pc to $2.51bn (£1.54bn), while revenues rose to $6.92bn. Google shares soared in extended trading in New York, as the company expands into mobile and display advertising.

Since becoming chief executive in April, Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, has drawn criticism from analysts for his plans to step up spending on hiring engineers as well as on product innovation.

Mr Page, who set up the company with Sergey Brin at California’s Stanford University, has insisted the investment is necessary as its battle with rivals Microsoft and Facebook intensifies.

The quarter’s performance was helped as Google’s move to tap the advertising dollars available when people use the search engine on their mobile devices showed signs of paying off. (more…)

US debt standoff threatens to turn crisis into catastrophe

• Republicans insist on spending cuts without raising taxes
• Obama sets 22 July deadline for action
• JP Morgan chief warns of severe damage to global economy if US defaults

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President Barack Obama with Republican and Democrat leaders including Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate (second from right) to discuss the debt ceiling. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

The US faces the prospect of a “catastrophe” as President Barack Obama stands firm against Republican demands for deep spending cuts without any tax increases as the condition for raising the country’s borrowing limit and avoiding a debt default.

With Washington gripped by a growing sense that it may be too late to avert a crisis, the president has said he will give the increasingly rancorous negotiations until the end of next week to reach agreement on the terms for raising the US’s $14.3 trillion (£8.9tn) debt ceiling. (more…)

Traffic safety will depend on driverless cars, not fictional police

Police will be able to hand out £100 on-the-spot fines to dangerous drivers, who will also risk three points on their licence, says the Department for Transport.

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At present offences such as the tailgating and undertaking are left unpunished, says Phillip Hammond, the Transport Secretary.

‘The police, under pressure of resources, have simply stopped addressing this offence. By giving them the fixed-penalty notice procedure, we hope to allow them effectively and efficiently to address poor driving skills and behaviour on our roads, while at the same freeing up court and police resources to tackle the really dangerous drivers that are the real problem on our roads.’ Under pressure of resources. (more…)

BlackBerry PlayBook UK pricing and release date confirmed

The BlackBerry Playbook will be released in Britain on June 16 and pre-orders have begun.

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The PlayBook, the first tablet computer from BlackBerry manufacturers RIM, will go on sale at £399 for the 16GB version, £479 for the 32GB model and £559 for the 64GB.

The tablet will be available from retailers including Best Buy, Dixons, Currys, Carphone Warehouse and Phones4u.

The PlayBook, which was released in the US last month, has a seven-inch screen, compared to the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. However, despite its smaller size the PlayBook matches the iPad’s processor and screen resolution and has more memory. (more…)

Top tablets: reviews

A quick look at each of the top six tablets currently available, in no particular order Pre-eminent and still the best tablet currently on the market, the iPad 2 is light, slim and a delight to use.

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But it’s not just the fact that you can read books, check your emails, browse the webs or watch videos that mean Apple, for now, own this market: the iPad has spawned a library of Apps that is continuing to grow rapidly and that has changed how many consumers think of media.

That means that there are countless, excellent games as well as apps that reinvent magazines and serve purposes that were impossible on other devices. Even cab drivers collecting passengers at airports are using iPads for the name of the person they’re picking up. (more…)

Is President Obama all talk and no action?

The US President has produced little of substance to underpin his high-flown rhetoric about being willing to stand up for freedom, argues Janet Daley.

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So what, after all that, are we to make of the great Obama-Cameron concord? What message exactly are we supposed to take from the speeches, the statements, the press conference and the ecstatic briefings? There was certainly an over-arching theme that no one was intended to miss: as a former US president might have put it, the torch has been passed to a new generation. (more…)

Afghan pilot shoots dead eight Nato troops

imageCivilian contractor also killed when officer said to be veteran Afghan air force pilot fires on military mentors An Afghan pilot has shot and killed eight coalition troops and one civilian contractor in the worst incident yet of Nato lives being taken by “rogue” members of the country’s embryonic security forces.

The incident in Kabul happened as most of the country’s pilots and top brass were elsewhere, meeting to discuss plans for Thursday’s Victory Day national celebrations. (more…)

General Petraeus, US commander in Afghanistan, set to be head of CIA

imageDavid Petraeus, already an American national hero, is to replace Leon Panetta – in Barack Obama’s first major reshuffle Barack Obama is planning to conduct the first major reshuffle of his administration that would see General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, take over as head of the CIA and Leon Panetta, the CIA director, become defence secretary.

The Associated Press, which broke the story, reported that Obama would make the announcement on Thursday. (more…)

Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden’s Tora Bora escape

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Several documents claim al-Qaida leader evaded US offensive by heading north, rather than into Pakistan as widely thoughtOsama bin Laden escaped American and British special forces closing in on his refuge in December 2001 with the help of a minor local warlord who provided fighters to guide him to safety in the north-east of Afghanistan, claims a secret intelligence report compiled by officials at Guantánamo Bay.

The al-Qaida leader’s successful flight from Tora Bora has long been seen as one of the key early lapses of the international military effort in Afghanistan. Though various theories have been floated, no firm account of how Bin Laden evaded the coalition forces and their Afghan auxiliaries has yet emerged.
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Guantánamo Bay files: Al-Qaida assassin ‘worked for MI6’

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• Leaked Guantánamo papers link UK to Algerian militant
• At least 123 prisoners incriminated by one informer

An al-Qaida operative accused of bombing two Christian churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan in 2002 was at the same time working for British intelligence, according to secret files on detainees who were shipped to the US military’s Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, an Algerian citizen described as a “facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for al-Qaida”, was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and later sent to Guantánamo Bay.

But according to Hamlili’s Guantánamo “assessment” file, one of 759 individual dossiers obtained by the Guardian, US interrogators were convinced that he was simultaneously acting as an informer for British and Canadian intelligence. (more…)

Guantánamo Bay files: Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time

imageAlmost half of 212 Afghan prisoners either innocent or forced to fight for Taliban, while foreigners were simply rounded up
Among the most dismaying stories to emerge is that of three hapless Tajiks caught up in a roundup of foreigners in Karachi in 2002.

The trio appear to have spent almost two years being interrogated and maltreated, first at the notorious Bagram airbase, and then at Guantánamo, before being released.

The prison files reveal that they were listed as “enemy combatants” on arrival , but turned out to be entirely innocent. (more…)

SAS: the chosen few who are a force like no other

imageDespite a shortfall in recruits, the SAS remains a peerless asset to Britain, says Thomas Harding.

There was a global intake of breath last month, when an SAS mission to make contact with the Libyan rebels unravelled in humiliating fashion. The fact that the world’s most fabled special forces unit was brought low by a group of farmers was, according to one former commander, like Lewis Hamilton going out of the British Grand Prix on the first lap.
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Tim Hetherington obituary

imageThe photographer and film-maker Tim Hetherington, who has been killed at the age of 40 while covering the escalating violence in Misrata, Libya, was a leading light of his profession. The canon of work he bequeaths defines a generation of reportage.

His eye and ability for capturing on film some of the most disturbing events of the past decade was as relentless as it was unsurpassed. With a great sense of self-deprecation and humanity, Hetherington was driven repeatedly to explore the ragged, violent margins of society to bring back portraits of people profoundly affected by conflict. (more…)

Apple smashes forecasts despite selling fewer iPad devices.

imageApple’s latest profits have smashed Wall Street’s forecast despite the company selling fewer of its iPad devices than expected.

The Californian company racked up $5.99bn (£3.65bn) of profits in the first three months of the year, almost doubling the $3.07bn it made in the first quarter of 2010. Revenues jumped 83pc to $24.7bn, with almost 60pc of those coming from outside the US. (more…)

Canucks Meet Blackhawks in 1st Round of NHL Playoffs

imageAmir Khan shuns Britain to become Golden Boy in US following controversial defeat of Paul McCloskey Acrimony and controversy, the loss of £1 million and a broken relationship with boxing’s principal television broadcaster marred Amir Khan’s ‘homecoming’ to Manchester to defend the World Boxing Association light-welterweight title after 17 months in the United States. In short, it was a public relations disaster for Khan (more…)

High School Soccer in the United States

High school soccer in the United States is as complex and varied as the country itself.
With fifty states each running scholastic sports independently of each other and with each of those states incorporating scores of city, district, and regional competitions, little is standardized beyond the rules; even the season in which the sport is played varies from location to location. (more…)