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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Teen Mother Abandons Baby Gorilla at SF Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo welcomed a new baby guerilla to the family.

A six pound baby gorilla was born Monday morning.

The male baby western lowland gorilla was born at 11:30 a.m.

It was the first gorilla birth for the zoo in a decade and plays a contributing role to the conservation efforts taking place for the critically endangered species. The birth was the fourth successful gorilla birth in North America this year.

The zoo’s veterinary staff said that there were no complications during the birth and that first-time mother, Monifa, initially showed text book signs of motherhood.

Monifa cleaned-up her elevated nest after the birth. However, as the day progressed, Monifa left the nest and has not climbed back into it since, leaving the infant by himself.

The veterinary and primate teams monitored the infant overnight and at approximately 4:30a.m. they decided to pull the infant from the nest to ensure he had the needed supportive care.

“It’s a critical time for the infant and we are having to make hard decisions,” said Jacqueline Jencek, DVM, chief of veterinary services at the San Francisco Zoo. “Mom was moving as far away as possible from the nest and was avoiding any eye contact, so it was clear that she wasn’t up for motherhood and that we were going to need to step in and help her along.”

Curators and vets knew the risks were high for Monifa, a first-time mom, as there is the potential of baby rejection, baby snatching and aggressive behavior from other females in the troop, namely Bawang and daughter Nneka.

However, the veterinary staff and primate teams had an extensive birth plan that prepared them for every possible scenario and they are now moving into the stages of how to try and reunite the mother and her infant for the long-term.

“We’ve taken every possible step to prepare the gorilla troop for this birth,” said Corinne MacDonald, curator of primates at the San Francisco Zoo. “The most important element now is to ensure the health and well-being of the infant, try to reunite him with mom and then, as quickly as possible, maintain the social dynamics of the troop.”

Animal care strategies have evolved with regards to births at zoos. In the 1970s, the philosophy was to pull the babies and raise them by hand to eliminate any possible risks. As time progressed, animal keepers began to separate the female and infant from the troop, to give the mother more time to focus on her motherly duties and to ensure infant safety. Now, standard practice is to maintain a birthing plan that duplicates, as closely as possible, how the birth would occur in the wild.

“We are thrilled to have a new addition to the zoo family,” said Tanya Peterson, acting director and president of the San Francisco Zoo. “This is a significant birth that demonstrates our commitment to the conservation of endangered and threatened species. Our team is looking forward to sharing the gorilla infant with Zoo visitors and making him an integral part of the Zoo’s education program.”

The zoo’s gorilla troop consists of one 21-year-old dominant male silver back, Oscar Jonesy, who is on breeding loan from the Buffalo Zoo and was hand-raised as an infant. There are four females including Bawang, a proven mother in the troop and her daughter Nneka who was born at the San Francisco Zoo, as well as Zura who is a distant cousin to Oscar Jonesy, and Monifa, who is 10-years-old and on loan from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

Original here

Black dog bias?

Shelter officials disagree on whether dark-colored pets are passed up for lighter-hued ones. Some shelters make darker canines more appealing to counter any misperceptions.
By Craig Nakano
For many dogs awaiting adoption, the speed with which they find a home may rest not on their breed, gender or age but on one trait that has no bearing on their personality or temperament.
Shelter officials have dubbed it black dog syndrome -- the propensity of dark-coated animals to be passed over for adoption in favor of their lighter counterparts.
Skeptics say the syndrome is an urban legend, but shelter and rescue leaders insist the phenomenon is very, very real.

"It definitely exists," said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles. She cited many causes, not the least of which is a misperception that black dogs are mean. "It's that old thing of light is good and dark is evil. The light-versus-dark thing is so ingrained in our consciousness in books and movies. It transfers subliminally in picking out a dog."

It doesn't help that many would-be pet owners now start their search on shelter and rescue websites, where animals' back stories are often written up like the treatment for some Lifetime heart-tugger, each bio accompanied with a canine glamour shot. The problem: Black dogs often don't photograph well. Facial features disappear, and animals can appear less expressive.

"You can't see their eyes very well, and people seem to connect with the eyes," said Ricky Whitman, spokeswoman for Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA.

When prospective adopters do venture to a shelter, black dogs sometimes fade away into the kennel shadows. "They almost become invisible," Bernstein said.

Reliable quantitative studies on the problem are few, and Ed Boks, general manager of the Los Angeles Animal Services department, said his data indicate black dog syndrome is a myth.

In the last 12 months, he said, 27% of the 30,046 dogs taken in by his department were predominantly or all black. Of those that were adopted, 28% were predominantly or all black, he said.

Whitman said the question isn't whether a black dog will get adopted, but how long it will take. The average wait at her shelter is two weeks, she said. Black dogs may linger two months.

Karen Terpstra, who until recently was executive director of the Humane Society of Kent County in Michigan, said the problem is national. "We'd have a purebred black Lab, 2 or 3 years old, pretty much the perfect age, and it would sit there for weeks waiting to get adopted," said Terpstra, now chief operations officer for SPCA Cincinnati. "A tan Lab would go in days."

The lengthened stays create additional problems: Because black dogs are harder to place in homes, shelters often have a glut. "Then you have the problem of people thinking they're ordinary and common, not unusual and interesting," Bernstein said.

To combat the problem, savvy shelters keep their black dogs in their best-lighted kennels. A bright bandanna around the neck helps a dark animal stand out, and colorful toys can lessen the fear factor.

Last year Terpstra's former shelter in Michigan and the Austin Humane Society in Texas independently launched a Black Friday campaign on the day after Thanksgiving, reducing the adoption fee for any black animal. Mike Arms, president of the nonprofit Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, created a program to help black cats, which he said encounter the same challenges as black dogs. Arms' campaign offers a free dark-haired feline with the adoption of any other cat. The program's name: Me and My Shadow.

The Pasadena shelter goes a step further, training dogs to venture from the depths of the kennels to come sit in front as visitors walk by. "People are charmed," Whitman said, and the dogs have a better chance of making a connection. And when all else fails, Bernstein said, SPCA-LA staff encourages adults to bring their children to shelters. "Sometimes," she said, "kids don't see color the way grown-ups do."

Nakano is a Times staff writer.

Original here

Top 8 Influential Leaders & Their 10 News This Year Which Made Them More Popular

Authority allows people to become creative and managing the all thing towards achieving the goals and influence is the quality that leaders rely upon. There are many leaders in the world that used their authority to create impact on the general peoples and in achieving their goals.

Here I have in-listed some of the leaders who has influenced the world by their work and personality. They are different from the general people because, they did what they see is necessary and understood their role.

Here I had taken a list of influential leaders from the Time's The World's Most Influential People list, but according to present scenario I had changed the positions in the list. Here I has attached some of the important news appeared about them in year 2008.

1. Barack Obama: Barack Hussein Obama II was born at August 4, 1961. He is the President-elect of the United States and the first African American elected President of the United States. Obama was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 until he resigned on November 16, 2008, following his election to the Presidency.

He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003, won a primary victory in March 2004, and was elected to the Senate in November 2004. Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004.

As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for U.S. military personnel returning from combat assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

Barack, 46, has already changed American politics. We often hear about the size of the crowds he attracts, as a measure of the excitement about his candidacy. It's the variety of the crowd that is the real phenomenon: little kids who sit on the floor in front of the podium, and the 101-year-old gentleman who stood up from his wheelchair in Iowa and said, "I'm with him too." Farmers in overalls next to people in business suits. Every race, religion and creed. Every political party and no party at all.

You can feel their excitement about being in Barack's presence—and about being in the presence of one another. They glimpse for a minute what it might be like to find common cause across differences. That's how Barack has changed politics.

Obama in News

Obama Wins Election; McCain Loses as Bush Legacy Is Rejected: Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.

Powell endorses Obama for president: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president on Sunday, criticizing his own Republican Party for what he called its narrow focus on irrelevant personal attacks over a serious approach to challenges he called unprecedented.

Obama gets beefed-up protection: Secret Service presence has increased for Sen. Barack Obama since his dramatic win in Iowa, amid fears over the safety of the man seeking to become America's first black president.

Obama Leads Clinton 38% to 26% in New Hampshire, ARG Poll Says: Barack Obama, who won the Iowa caucuses, leads Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire by 12 percentage points among likely voters in the Jan. 8 Democratic presidential primary, according to an American Research Group Inc. poll.

Obama vows change in U.S. policy on Cuba: Cuba's communist leadership has long cast itself as David standing up to the U.S. Goliath and the crippling force of America's punitive trade and travel embargo.

Obama helps us track $1,000,000,000,000 of federal spending: Americans had a hard time finding out where their hard-earned tax dollars went. Until 2 days ago. Now, thanks to, a site created by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 by Tom Coburn and Barack Obama, anyone can discover the pockets of federal dollars. The site tracks contracts, grants, earmarks, and loans.

New Iowa Poll: Obama Widens Lead Over Clinton: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has widened his lead in Iowa over Hillary Clinton and John Edwards heading into Thursday's nominating caucuses, according to The Des Moines Register's final Iowa Poll before the 2008 nominating contests.

Obama Campaign Calls For Investigation Into DOJ/McCain Collusion On ACORN Smears: Senator Barack Obama's campaign has written a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking for an investigation into improper leaks from DOJ officials involving their ACORN investigation and whether or not people within the DOJ, perhaps with the help of the White House, are working in concert with the McCain campaign to further the ACORN myth for his political advantage.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire Endorses Obama: Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire endorsed Barack Obama for president Friday, providing a last-minute lift to the Illinois senator on the eve of the state's hotly contested Democratic caucuses.

Obama on pace to raise $30 M in Feb.: Barack Obama’s campaign is on track to raise more than $30 million in February, while Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spokesman revealed Wednesday that she had loaned her campaign $5 million.

2. John McCain: John Sidney McCain III was born at August 29, 1936. He is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election.

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.

He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981, moved to Arizona, and entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily in 1992, 1998, and 2004. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a "maverick" for having disagreed with his party. After being investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as a member of the Keating Five, he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, and for his belief that the war in Iraq should be fought to a successful conclusion. McCain has chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, has opposed spending that he considered to be pork barrel, and played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.

McCain unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Nominated in 2008, he lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

The essence of good political leadership is the courage to do what you believe is right when it is unpopular and the skill to bring people of differing viewpoints together to get things done. By those measures, John McCain, 71, is a very good political leader.

McCain in News

The ACSA challenges Senator McCain on his legislative history of Human Rights Violations: "a Skeleton in his closet: UNFIT to hold public office!": diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain's was the key "point man" introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona.

John McCain admits Iraq War was over oil: At a town hall meeting today, Senator McCain made a stunning admission when he announced that his energy policy would aim to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil, which would in turn ensure that we never have to fight another war there again.

What John McCain Told Me, and What it Says About How Far He's fallen: Through a spokesperson with the colorful name Tucker Bounds, McCain has denied telling me he didn't vote for Bush in 2000. "It's not true," Bounds told the Washington Post, "and I ask you to consider the source."

McCain Falsely Claims He Has ‘Supported Every Investigation’ Into Katrina Failures: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) held one of his town hall meetings in Baton Rouge, LA. During this event, a reporter from the CBS station in New Orleans pressed the senator on his sordid Katrina record, asking him why he “voted twice against the creation of a commission to investigate the levee failures in New Orleans.”

McCain Makes False Claims On Iraq Timeline (VIDEO): In an interview with CBS News' Katie Couric tonight, John McCain made the false assertion that the Surge brought about the so-called Anbar Awakening. Except, as MSNBC"s Keith Olbermann points out, the Surge was announced after the Awakening. Olbermann also explains that CBS News edited the gaffe out of the final interviewed that aired Tuesday night.

Romney: ‘McCain Doesn’t Ask for Any Tax Reduction for Oil Companies’: For the first time, six of the giant oil companies — including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Total — made more than $50 billion in combined profits in a single quarter last quarter, with ExxonMobil breaking the record for the highest corporate profits ever, at more than $11 billion.

Poll shows McCain in 5-point lead over Obama: In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain taps Alaska Gov. Palin as vice president pick: Sen. John McCain announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate Friday, calling her "the running mate who can best help me shake up Washington."

John McCain's health records must be released: John McCain has not yet released his medical records to the public. McCain is 72 years old, and has been diagnosed with invasive melanoma. In May of this year, a small group of selected reporters were allowed to review 1,173 pages of McCain's medical records and were allowed only three hours to do so. John McCain's health is an issue of profound importance. We call on John McCain to issue a full, public disclosure of all of his medical records, available for the media and members of the general public to review.

Verizon and AT&T provided free cell towers to the McCain ranch, and admit it's because he's running for president : Especially after AT&T admits that this is why they gave McCain the free goods - BECAUSE he's running for president. Are they mad? John McCain wasn't the Republican candidate yet - and even if he were, corporations can't donate free favors to his campaign - McCain was one of the many men running for the GOP nomination. (And did AT&T and Verizon offer these donations to other presidential candidates - I'll bet lots of candidates don't get good cell coverage at one of their 12 homes.) McCain was a nobody, campaign-wise - how does his being simply a candidate justify AT&T and Verizon giving him a huge illegal bribe? Are AT&T and Verizon stupid?

3. Dalai Lama: The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people according to Tibetan Buddhism. Often referred to simply as "His Holiness" (HH), or "His Holiness The Dalai Lama", Tibetans usually call the Dalai Lama by the epithets Gyalwa Rinpoche, meaning "Precious Victor", or Yishin Norbu, meaning "Wish-fulfilling Jewel." "Lama" is a title given to many different ranks of Tibetan Buddhist clergy.

The Lama is believed to be the current incarnation of a long line of Tulkus, or Buddhist Masters, who have become exempt from the wheel of death and rebirth. These ascended masters have chosen of their own free will to be reborn to this place in order to teach humanity.

Between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan Government, administering a large portion of the country from the capital Lhasa, although the extent of the lineage's political authority and rulership over territory has been contested. Since 1959, the Dalai Lama has presided over the Central Tibetan Administration, which is based in Dharamshala, a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, considering itself to be a government in exile. The Dalai Lama is often thought to be the head of the Gelug School, but this position officially belongs to the Ganden Tripa, which is a temporary position appointed by the Dalai Lama.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

Millions of people turn to the Dalai Lama for inspiration, but to whom does he turn? He and his people have struggled all their lives with the audacity of hopelessness. Oppression and exile are their daily bread. Yet the Dalai Lama, 72, remains calm in the face of cruelty. What does he think of the human race? "We are the superior species on Earth but also the biggest troublemakers." which has told to Chopra.

Dalai Lama in News

Dalai Lama Won’t Stop Tibet Protests: The Dalai Lama said Sunday that he would not instruct his followers inside Tibet to surrender before Chinese authorities, and he described feeling “helpless” in preventing what he feared could be an imminent blood bath.

Dalai Lama: Bush Has Lack of Understanding of Reality: The Philadelphia talk was sponsored by the Mongolian Kalmyk Buddhist order, which his holiness, the Dalai Lama, said was very close, teachings-wise, to Tibetan Buddhism and to the challenge of maintaining its culture, having left its homeland.

Beijing Blames Dalai Lama for Violence in Tibet: China's government lashed out against the Dalai Lama yesterday, saying the Tibetan spiritual leader was behind last week's violent protests in Lhasa and that he was trying to "take advantage of the moment" to extract leverage ahead of the Olympic Games.

Tibet protests spread to other provinces; Dalai Lama warns of cultural genocide: Protests spread from Tibet into three neighboring provinces Sunday as Tibetans defied a Chinese government crackdown, while the Dalai Lama decried what he called the "cultural genocide" taking place in his homeland.

Dalai Lama Threatens to resign: The Dalai Lama on Tuesday invited international observers, including Chinese officials, to scour his offices here and investigate whether he had any role in inciting the latest anti-Chinese violence in Tibet. He also threatened to resign as leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile in the event of spiraling bloodshed in his homeland.

The Dalai Lama's Dilemma – Coverage on Whole Drama: Who'd want to be the Dalai Lama? Bearing the burden of an entire people's frustration, anger and despair over half a century can't be easy at the best of times for their exiled spiritual leader.

Dalai Lama draws 50,000 to Seattle stadium :Tens of thousands of people packed a Seattle sports stadium on Saturday to hear the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, call for nonviolence and to make the 21st century a "century of dialogue."

Barack Obama's Letter to the Dalai Lama :Earlier today at a meeting in Aspen, Colorado, Ambassador Jeffrey Bader personally delivered the this letter from Barack Obama to the Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama cancels Europe trip for more rest :The Dalai Lama has canceled a planned trip to Europe in October after doctors advised the Tibetan spiritual leader to rest more while he recovers from exhaustion.

Dalai Lama urges Tibetans to rebuild relations with China :Tibetan delegates voted on Saturday to continue building relations with China, despite mounting frustration

4. Hu Jintao: Hu Jintao was born at 21 December 1942. He is currently the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China, holding the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang Zemin in the fourth generation leadership of the People's Republic of China. Since his ascendancy Hu has reinstated certain controls on the economy and has been largely conservative with political reforms. His foreign policy is seen as less conciliatory than that of his predecessor, though China's global influence has increased while he has been in office.

Hu's rise to the presidency represents China's transition of leadership from old, establishment Communists to younger, more pragmatic technocrats. For most of Hu's adult life he has been involved in the Communist party bureaucracy, notably as Party Chief for the Tibet Autonomous Region, and then later Vice-President under Jiang Zemin. An advocate for China's peaceful rise, Hu's political philosophy is summarily described as aiming to found a basis for a Harmonious Society domestically and for Peaceful Development internationally, the former generated by a Scientific Development Concept, which seeks integrated solutions to tackle China's various economic, environmental and social problems.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

Hu Jintao is the first Chinese leader who grew up in the aftermath of the revolution that established communism in 1949. He inherits its tradition, but he has gone far beyond it. In a marked evolution from Mao Zedong, Hu, 65, has proclaimed the goal of a harmonious society whose components work together by consensus rather than direction. It is a principle he has tried to apply to international affairs as well.

Hu Jintao in News

Jintao Re-elected as China’s President :Hu Jintao was again elected as leader of the world’s most populous country, giving him another five-year term. He is also now the head of the Central Military Comission.

Bush Tells China Leader of Tibet Concern : President Bush called China's President Hu Jintao on Wednesday and raised concerns about the crackdown in Tibet, joining a growing chorus of international protests about Beijing's tough tactics.

Bush calls Hu to urge Tibet talks :US President George W Bush has urged China to begin dialogue with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Mr Bush called his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao to raise his concerns about the unrest and to urge him to ease access for journalists and diplomats.

China defends Tibetan crackdown :Chinese President Hu Jintao has defended China's crackdown in Tibet and said it was entirely an internal issue about defending China's unity.

China's Hu turns to table tennis diplomacy in Japan :Chinese President Hu Jintao's campaign to woo a wary Japan shifts from the summit podium to ballet dancers, university students and perhaps a ping-pong table on Thursday for a day of diplomatic theatre.

Hu says China committed to economic reform, openness :Mate decision carry on earnest to the vulgar vary additional inexperience it adopted three decades ago, President Hu Jintao promised Tuesday.

Hu urges flexibility on Iran N-issue :Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged flexibility and a peaceful solution in a bid to break the impasse over Iran's nuclear activities.

Hu, Obama discuss China-US relations: state media : China and the United States should "accommodate each other's concerns," Chinese President Hu Jintao told US president-elect Barack Obama Saturday in a telephone conversation, state media reported.

Hu Jintao to visit struggling ally Cuba : China's President Hu Jintao travels to Cuba on Monday for a close-up look at the government of new President Raul Castro, a fellow communist struggling to lead his island nation through the devastating effects of three hurricanes and the international financial crisis.

Hu in Greece for $1bn port deal : President Hu Jintao arrived in Athens Monday on a three-day visit to Greece, coinciding with a US$1 billion port deal to be signed today between Chinese shipper Cosco Pacific and Piraeus, Greece's main port, AP reported. Hu arrived from a tour of Latin America following the G20 summit in Washington.

5. George W. Bush: George Walker Bush was born at July 6, 1946. He is the forty-third and current President of the United States. He served as the forty-sixth Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 before being sworn in as President on January 20, 2001. His term ends at noon on January 20, 2009.

Bush is the eldest son of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. After graduating from Yale University, Bush worked in his family's oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards to become Governor of Texas in 1994. In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected to the Presidency in 2000 as the Republican candidate, receiving a majority of the electoral votes but losing the popular vote.

Eight months into his first term as President, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, and Bush announced a global War on Terrorism, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that same year, and an invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition to national security issues, President Bush has attempted to promote policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He has enacted large tax cuts, the No Child Left Behind Act, medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors, and his tenure has seen a national debate on immigration.

Bush ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004 and was re-elected, garnering 50.7% of the popular vote to his opponent's 48.3%. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism. During his two terms, he has received both the highest and the lowest domestic approval ratings of American Presidents.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

George W. Bush, 61, will be remembered as Commander in Chief, but not only for that. He was above all a President who felt the moral obligation that the leading nation of the free world must carry. My thoughts return again to that G-8 summit, where Italy had brought to the top of the agenda the fate of the world's poorest nations. And Bush was an early and enthusiastic supporter of our initiative to establish a fund for combating endemic illnesses.

Bush in News

The 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush Presidency : Bush administration's 10 greatest moments -- disastrous failures, all -- is about as pointless as picking out your 10 least favorite hemorrhoids: There are entirely too many of them, and taken together they all add up to a throbbing mass of pain. But unfortunately, history demands that we at least make the effort so that future generations will understand why we perform voodoo rituals cursing Bush's memory before we go to bed every night.

Bush Administration cuts $700 million in Medicaid funds for schools : The Bush administration eliminated about $700 million a year in Medicaid reimbursements to schools, sidestepping an attempt by Congress to block such a move.

Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ Convinced Bush To Ban Embryonic Stem Cell Research : Shortly after taking office, President Bush announced a policy allowing federal funding of research only on existing stem cell lines, despite the urging of several of his advisers and the scientific community for expanded funding. Bush has nevertheless remained stubborn, twice vetoing legislation that would have lifted the restrictions.

Bush asks for $6 billion to fight the terrorists online : After 37,258 cyber attacks against government and private networks last year, President Bush and Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff say they need $6 billion to stop attacks on Wall Street and nuclear power plants.

Bush Dismisses Iraq Recession: The War Has ‘Nothing to Do with the Economy’ : This morning on NBC’s Today Show, President Bush denied that the there’s any link between the faltering U.S. economy and $10 billion a month being spent on the Iraq war.

Olbermann Timeline: How The Bush Administration Exploited Terror Threats For Political Gain, 2002-2008 : Keith Olbermann presented an impressively detailed timeline he called "The Nexus of Politics and Terror," in which he chronicled the Bush administration's exploitation of terror threats for political gain.

Time’s poll: 75% blame Bush’s policies for deteriorating economy : Three out of four Americans, including large numbers of Republicans, blame President Bush’s economic policies for making the country worse off during the last eight years, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released today, reflecting a sharp increase in public pessimism during the last year.

Bush Now Least Popular President Since Polling Began : George W. Bush has passed Nixon and Truman, and become the least popular President of all-time. According to the Roper Center, here is the worst net approval / disapproval result for every President in the Gallup poll since it began public polling in the late 1930's

Stock market drops 107 points during Bush’s speech on the economy : President Bush gave an eight-minute speech on the economy, which was meant to reassure the markets. “This is an anxious time,” said Bush. “But the American people can be confident in our economic future.” However, ABC News notes that during those eight minutes, the Dow Jones dropped another 107 points.

Americans Vote For 'Change', sick of Bush? - A Complete Coverage on Bush Presidency : Democratic Barack Obama has created history and become the first black president of United States of America by defeating his opponent Republican John McCain. Simply it seems a verdict against the Bush administration, whose foreign policies would be followed by John McCain if he would have been come into the rule.

6. Hillary Clinton: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was born at October 26, 1947. She is the junior United States Senator from New York, and was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election. She is married to Bill Clinton (the 42nd President of the United States) and was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.

A native of Illinois, Hillary Rodham first attracted national attention in 1969 for her remarks as the first student to deliver the commencement address at Wellesley College. She embarked on a career in law after graduating from Yale Law School in 1973. Following a stint as a Congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas in 1974, and married Bill Clinton in 1975. She was later named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979, and was twice listed as one of the one hundred most influential lawyers in America. She was the First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992 and was active in a number of organizations concerned with child welfare, as well as sitting on the boards of Wal-Mart and several other corporations.

When she was First Lady of the United States, her major initiative, the Clinton health care plan, failed to gain approval from the U.S. Congress in 1994. In 1997 and 1999, Clinton played a role in advocating for the establishment of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act. She became the only First Lady to be subpoenaed, testifying before a federal grand jury as a consequence of the Whitewater controversy in 1996. She was never charged with any wrongdoing in this or any of the several other investigations during her husband's administration. The state of her marriage to Bill Clinton was the subject of considerable public discussion following the Lewinsky scandal in 1998.

After moving to New York, Clinton was elected as senator for New York State in 2000. That election marked the first time an American First Lady had run for public office; Clinton is also the first female senator to represent New York. In the Senate, she initially supported the George W. Bush administration on some foreign policy issues, which included voting for the Iraq War Resolution. She has subsequently opposed the administration on its conduct of the war in Iraq, and has opposed it on most domestic issues. She was reelected by a wide margin in 2006. In the 2008 presidential nomination race, Clinton won more primaries and delegates than any other female candidate in American history, but after a long campaign, she narrowly lost to Senator Barack Obama, who became the party's presumptive nominee in June 2008, and Clinton endorsed and campaigned for him. In mid-November 2008, it was reported that she would be President-elect Obama's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State.

Why She is in the List of Influential Leaders?

In 1998 California took on Big Tobacco in a ballot initiative to fund early childhood programs. We were outspent and hope was fading fast. Then Hillary showed up, not afraid of the attacks, the money and the influence of the tobacco industry. Her wisdom and support helped us to a narrow victory that now provides $560 million a year for child care, preschool and children's health care.

Hillary, 60, has worked her whole life to improve the lives of our nation's children. She knows that through quality health care and a strong education system our children will be prepared to succeed in tomorrow's jobs.

Hillary in News

Hillary Clinton's Dirty Campaign Tactics : The headlines say the latest schism among the top Democratic presidential candidates is over gender and race. But on the ground in the presidential season's opening states, there is a darker narrative: that Hillary Clinton will not just fight hard, but fight dirty, to win. And her tactic of choice is attempting to suppress the votes of her rival's supporters.

Why Hillary Clinton Should Withdraw from the Race Today : If Senator Clinton truly believes in the values she claims to, if she would rather liberal values prevail than gain power herself, if she would rather America unite under the next president instead of becoming further divided - she must withdraw her candidacy.

Clinton-Papers Release Blocked, What is Hillary Hiding? : Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

Irish blast Clinton's foreign policy claim : Northern Ireland, March 9 (UPI) -- David Trimble, who helped broker peace in Northern Ireland said Sen. Hillary Clinton's role in those negotiations was that of a cheerleader, not a participant.

Hillary Clinton is a Habitual Liar Who Cannot Admit Fault : Hillary camp is now saying that the candidate simply mispoke in concocting an elaborately detailed Bosnian war story of sniper fire and corkscrew maneuvers and running, heads down to armored vehicles.

Hillary Clinton’s suicidal gamble with race poison : The Clinton brand among black voters was so strong, so unbreakable, so resilient a force that even the first credible black candidate for the presidency remained stuck 20-30% behind Hillary Clinton among African-American voters. She was, after all, the wife of the “first black president”, as the author Toni Morrison called Bill.

Hillary Clinton's Defeat: A Historic Triumph : Hillary Clinton's flagging run for the presidency is "a historic if incomplete triumph or a depressing reminder of why few [women] pursue high office in the first place.

Clinton's campaign debts at $20.88 million : Clinton's campaign debt has now soared to nearly $21 million, according to numbers crunched early this morning by The Times' campaign finance guru, Dan Morain.

Clinton is Posturing for 2012 : Clinton's may be smart enough to understand that 2008 is out of reach they also happen to be stubborn enough to not give up on their ultimate goal of getting back into the White House.

Hillary Clinton to accept Obama's offer of secretary of state job : Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration.

7. Jacob Zuma: Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was born at 12 April 1942. He is a South African politician. He is the President of the African National Congress (ANC), the governing political party, and was Deputy President of South Africa from 1999 to 2005. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ and his clan name Msholozi.

As probably the most prominent Zulu ANC politician and a leader for leftist constituencies within the ANC, he has rallied the support of many even after his dismissal from the government in 2005 due to allegations of corruption. He remained popular, especially amongst Zulus and the youth league of the ANC and they argue that Zuma has served the struggle well. Though his political future appeared more clouded during his rape trial, his most vocal supporters stayed faithful, gathering outside the courthouse to demonstrate their support for him during his trial.

Zuma became the President of the ANC on 18 December 2007 after defeating incumbent Thabo Mbeki at the ANC conference in Polokwane.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki were once friends and allies, but they fell out around 2002, allegedly because Mbeki, South Africa's inscrutable President, suspected that Zuma was plotting to replace him. The power struggle that ensued was a peculiar affair, its very existence denied by the ruling African National Congress (ANC). When Zuma was dismissed from the deputy presidency and later charged with corruption and rape, his followers were convinced that their man was the victim of an Mbeki-inspired vendetta.

Zuma, 66, an unabashed populist who revels in traditional African polygamy—he has several wives—and whose massive rallies feature the Zulu anthem Bring Me My Machine Gun. His pro-poor rhetoric resonates with many ordinary South Africans who have not benefited from Mbeki's business-friendly policies.

Zuma in News

Chaos on way as ANC hands Zuma top job : JACOB Zuma, a controversial populist and polygamist with threats of prosecution for fraud and corruption hanging over his head, was last night elected leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress.

South African Succession : The most gripping political drama yet in post-apartheid South Africa ended yesterday when the African National Congress, in power since 1994, picked a controversial Zulu politician to lead the party. Under different management, the continent's strongest democracy and largest economy can build on its recent successes, or, like so many of its neighbors, fall off track.

South Africa's Zuma-rang : South African president Thabo Mbeki'sfailure to get re-elected as head of the country's ruling party underlines just how much the leaders who ran the struggle against apartheid under Nelson Mandela have lost touch with their roots.

New charges for S Africa's Zuma : South African prosecutors have brought corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, who last week was elected leader of the governing African National Congress.

Zuma charged with corruption, fraud : Jacob Zuma, the new leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), was on Friday served with papers to appear in court to face corruption charges, his lawyer told Agence France-Presse.

South Africa Hurts While Zuma Has to Stand Trial -- Again : Few politicians can sport a rap sheet like the former deputy president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

A president in orange clothes : ANC Youth League President Julius Malema said on Wednesday (23 July) that South Africa will be led by Jacob Zuma - even if it is from prison. This comes of the back of the possibility that ANC president, Jacob Zuma could go to jail if he is found guilty of charges put against him.

Jacob Zuma: No. 8 Most Influential Person : Jacob Zuma has been named The Most Influential Person in the World, by Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People.

Govt worried about Zuma threats : Threats by supporters of ANC President Jacob Zuma to make the country ungovernable should he be sent to jail were cause for concern, the government said on Thursday.

8. Kevin Rudd:
Kevin Michael Rudd (born 21 September 1957) is the 26th and current Prime Minister of Australia and federal leader of the centre-left Australian Labor Party (ALP). Under Rudd's leadership, the Labor Party won the 2007 federal election on 24 November against the incumbent centre-right Liberal/National coalition government led by John Howard (see Howard Government). The Rudd Ministry was sworn in by the Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, on 3 December 2007.

Rudd was born in Nambour, Queensland and grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Eumundi. Farm life, which required the use of horses and guns, is where he developed his life-long love of horse riding and shooting clay targets. His father, a share farmer and Country Party member, died when Rudd was 11 and the family was compelled to leave the farm under hardship. Rudd joined the Australian Labor Party in 1972 at the age of 15. He boarded at Marist College Ashgrove in Brisbane and was dux of Nambour State High School in 1974.

Rudd studied at the Australian National University in Canberra where he resided at Burgmann College and graduated with First Class Honours in Arts (Asian Studies). He majored in Chinese language and Chinese history, became proficient in Mandarin and acquired a Chinese alias.

Why He is in the List of Influential Leaders?

Kevin Rudd's quality as a leader is best illustrated by his apology to the "stolen generations" of Aborigines. For years, Australia's government refused to apologize to Aborigines for past wrongs done to them — most notably, the systematic removal of children from their parents, an official policy that continued until the 1970s. When Rudd, 50, was elected Prime Minister last November, his first substantive act was to issue a formal apology to Aborigines in general and to the surviving members of the stolen generations, their families and relatives.

Rudd's other great achievement since taking office also required overturning years of government obstinacy: he ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. These measures suggest that his new government is prepared to think big and back it up with effective action.

Rudd in News

Rudd refuses to review how Australia chooses war : Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has refused to review the mechanisms and legislative base for how Australia goes to war or becomes involved in conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

New Australia PM Rudd Meeting with McCain and Clinton...not Obama : Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is scheduled for a meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on March 31, 2008 and Republican presidential candidate John McCain on April 1, 2008.

Rudd's request: An idea that won't cost : KEVIN Rudd has called on each of the 10 groups at the 2020 Summit to nominate at least one big idea and at least three concrete policy ideas.

Post details: Kevin Rudd responsible for international oil prices : According to the Liberal Party and the Australian Media, we've "learned" this week that Kevin Rudd is single handedly responsible for International, and therefore Australian, oil prices.

Kevin Rudd Envisions the Formation of Asia-Pacific Union : Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made conscious effort to revive the reformist spirit of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who was instrumental in creating Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation community two decades ago, to forge an alliance of Asia-Pacific countries along the same lines as the European Union.

Rudd's fat cats get $1400 extra a week : Kevin Rudd may be working his most senior public servants harder but he is rewarding them handsomely, signing an 18.9 per cent pay rise for Canberra's mandarins. That is an extra $1400 a week, and takes the three top earners to almost $490,000 a year.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd Reveals Bush-Putin Argument Over Russia's Invasion Of South Ossetia At Opening Ceremony : Prime Minister Kevin Rudd witnessed a heated discussion between US President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over Russia's invasion of a tiny neighbouring country as athletes paraded before them in the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

Kevin Rudd's address to the UN conference on climate change : Kevin Rudd's full address to the UN climate change conference in Bali, shortly after the Prime Minister formally ratified the Kyoto protocol

Kevin Rudd catches up to Turnbull on Twitter : Kavin joined the social networking service Twitter, following in the footsteps of Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Kevin Rudd’s stimulus package could create innovative cars : Congratulate Australian PM Kevin Rudd for announcing a A$6·2 billion stimulus package for the Australian car industry.

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Dutchman aims to break record in freezing bath

Wim Hof sits on a block of ice for over an hour in a freezer in Utrecht, The Netherlands
Wim Hof sits on a block of ice for over an hour in a freezer in Utrecht, The Netherlands Photo: BARCROFT

Wim Hof, known as "The Ice Man", has spent the last 20 years testing his talent in the most extreme conditions from scaling mountain tops wearing nothing but a pair of shorts to swimming under sheets of ice in the north pole.

Now he is set to break his own world record by submerging himself in a Plexiglas container filled with ice at temperatures as low as -20 degrees for more than 1 hour 45 minutes.

Mr Hof discovered his unusual talent over 20 years ago during a stroll in the park in his native Holland.

"I had a stroll like this in the park with somebody and I saw the ice and I thought, what would happen if I go in there," reveals the 48-year-old Dutchman.

"I was really attracted to it. I went in, got rid of my clothes. Thirty seconds I was in and a tremendous good feeling when I came out and since then, I repeated it every day."

It was the moment that Mr Hof knew that his body was different somehow: he was able to withstand fatally freezing temperatures.

Mr Hof began a lifelong quest to see just how far his abilities would take him.

In 2000, dressed only in a swimsuit, he dove under the ice at the North Pole and earned a Guinness World Record for the longest amount of time swimming under the ice.

Braving temperatures of minus three degrees in the water the temperature dropped to as low as minus 30 degrees when he exited the water.

"The first big challenge was to swim a distance of 60 metres under an ice-deck of a metre thick beyond the Polar Circle," he recalls.

"My goggles froze and I lost the track and so I went off course a little. I probably did the best record ever - around 80 m.

"I missed the 60 metre hole and must have swam finally the double distance before a diver gripped my almost unconscious body, and drew me back to the 60 metre hole.

"I know I went further but I am happy with the 60 metre record."

In 2002 Mr Hof travelled 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle to run a half-marathon in his bare feet.

In the same year, Mr Hof completed four additional half marathons as he travelled across Europe.

"I completed five half marathons in 2002," he says.

"The first was a the base of Mount Everest at 5,000m, then two in Finland, the Alps at 3,500 m, and here in Holland.

"I can tell you it was cold the floor temperature was minus thirty degrees and the air temperature was as low as minus 15-20 degrees."

In April 2007, Mr Hof returned to mount Everest where he became the first man scale 7,400 metres wearing nothing but shorts.

"I stayed in the area for a few weeks to acclimatise," he said.

"But the walk its self was very quick - only a few hours."

Whilst many scientists around the world find Mr Hof's ability an anomaly, Mr Hof says it is merely a case of mind over matter.

Practising an ancient Himalayan meditation called "Tummo," or Inner Fire, Mr Hof says he can generate his own heat.

Mr Hof now travels the world teaching the technique through his record attempts, lectures and talks.

"As one can solve maths by concentrating do I focus on certain places in my body and generate heat because of it," he says.

"Every body has mind power, I have learned to direct it toward my body and thus influence the cold and heating-system of my metabolism.

"Mind power is like electricity, it is an potential (current) which I have learned to use toward different places in my body, that is the real yoga."

However during a recent world record attempt in New York, Dr. Ken Kamler, author of "Surviving the Extremes," attempted to explain Mr Hof's unusual ability.

Studying him as he sat in a container of ice for one hour 12 minutes Dr Kamler noted: "He's not moving, he's not generating heat, he's not dressed for it, and he's immersed in ice water."

And water will transmit heat 30 times faster than air. It literally sucks the life right out of you. And yet, despite all those negative factors, "Wim Hof was very calm, very comfortable the entire time that he was immersed in that water."

On December 20, Mr Hof will travel to Cologne, Germany, where he will attempt to break the world record he set in New York earlier this year by sitting in a container filled with ice for one hour and 45 minutes.

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Fla. Mom Arrested Over Student Skipping Class

Florida officials are prosecuting a mother whose child has missed nearly 60 days of school.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CBS) ― A Gainesville mother has been arrested after her daughter missed too many days of school, reports CBS station WFOR-TV in Miami.

The unidentified woman was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after her ninth-grade daughter had 59 unexcused absences. Alachua County's school attendance review board then filed a petition.

Alachua County Sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey says it's the first case in a while where a parent has been charged. He said the board is also reviewing other cases that could bring charges.

Florida requires attendance after 15 unexcused absences. District officials must then follow a process to work with parents to get their children to attend school.

Charles Hall, the district's director for dropout prevention, says prosecution is a last resort.

Florida law defines "habitual truant" as a student who has 15 or more unexcused absences within 90 calendar days with or without the knowledge or consent of the student's parent or guardian and who is subject to compulsory school attendance.

Across the country, prosecutors have tried to fight truancy, threatening jail time and fines for parents of children who chronically skip school. The moves are the latest step in the nation's march to hold students to higher educational standards and to hold their parents to higher standards of accountability.

(© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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