Santorum remains on solid ground heading into Super Tuesday

Mitt Romney's marginal primary victory christian louboutin in the Michigan has turned out to be a dead heat after the final count showed rival Rick Santorum still won half the state's delegates.

Romney's result in the state of his birth lost some of its lustre as it emerged he and Rick Santorum each received 15 delegates. The result, despite Romney winning 41% of the primary vote compared with Santorum's 38%, came about because Michigan divides up delegates on a proportional basis.

The outcome muddies the race ahead of 10 key state contests next Tuesday.

A win in Michigan had been crucial for Romney, whose father was governor of the state. He had aimed to overcome the religious conservative Santorum by sticking to his core and mainstream Republican message of fixing the economy and reducing unemployment in a country still recovering from the worst recession in decades.

News that Santorum's narrow loss in Michigan would yield him as many delegates as the winner enabled him to label the result a success on Romney's home turf, putting some wind in his sails ahead of the big contests next week.

"We had a much better night in Michigan than maybe was first reported. This was a really great race to go into, in a sense, the belly of the beast, the hometown of my chief rival here in the Republican primary," Santorum said during a campaign stop in Tennessee.

The other two candidates in the race, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, did not campaign in Michigan and got no delegates.

On Wednesday night Romney won his party's caucus in Wyoming, CNN reported, quoting the Wyoming Republican party as saying Romney emerged from a month-long series of county-level straw polls with 39% of the votes cast.

The TV network said former Santorum came Christian Louboutin High Boots in second with 33%, followed by Ron Paul with 20% and Newt Gingrich with 8%.

Romney is favoured by much of the Republican establishment and enjoys more campaign funds and better organisation than his primary rivals. But Santorum has electrified the party's conservative base, which trusts his views on social issues such as abortion and gay rights, and considers Romney too moderate and inconsistent.

Santorum remains on solid ground heading into Super Tuesday, when 419 delegates are up for grabs in 10 states. It could go a long way in determining who will win the state-by-state race for delegates that yields the party's nomination at its national convention in August.

Santorum is leading the polls in Ohio, possibly the most important contest on Super Tuesday. It is a big industrial state with 8.1% unemployment, 63 convention delegates at stake and a long history as a battleground in general election campaigns. Santorum also is keeping an eye on two other big prizes among the 10 Super Tuesday states: Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Romney is all but assured of victories in at least two of next Tuesday's states Massachusetts, where he was Christian Louboutin Muffs Furry Boots Grey governor and faces little or no competition in the primary, and Virginia, where neither former House speaker Newt Gingrich nor Santorum qualified for the ballot. Those two contests offer 84 delegates combined.


The entire process took just over two hours

The driver of the safety truck that exploded christian louboutin into flames during the Daytona 500 thanked NASCAR fans Tuesday night for their concern.

Duane Barnes was driving the jet dryer that was hit under caution when something broke on Juan Pablo Montoya's car and sent it careening into the truck. The collision caused a raging inferno that scorched the track and stopped Monday night's race for just over two hours.

"I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am," Barnes said in a statement. "I am OK, and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Pablo Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern."

Barnes, a 24-year employee of Michigan International Speedway, was evaluated at a Daytona hospital Monday night and released. He was one of two employees Michigan sent to Daytona to help with the season-opening race.

Barnes often assists at tracks owned by International Speedway Corp. by driving jet dryers. Michigan sent three jet dryers to the race.

Meanwhile, Daytona president Joie Chitwood III said the 200 gallons of jet fuel that spilled across Daytona International Speedway and caught fire was a worst-case scenario.

"The worst possible thing that can happen to a racetrack is fuel," Chitwood said. "We hardly ever talk about burning fuel. If we would have talked about having 200 gallons of burning jet fuel on the racetrack during the event, I'm not sure what the likelihood would have been of completing the race."

Track workers put out the fire, then turned Christian Louboutin High Boots to laundry detergent to clean up the mess because, Chitwood said, the detergent is typically used to wash the track surface. The track was watered, soaped, watered again, then a street bond was added.

The entire process took just over two hours, and racing resumed right after.

"It was about a 10- or 11-step process," said Chitwood. "There is no true training manual to light a track on fire and respond to it. But what the team did . I think is phenomenal."

Drivers seemed concerned about racing through the area as they turned laps under caution, and a collective sigh was let out once Jeff Burton led a line of drivers through the high-side of the track that seemed to be the riskiest area.

"The drivers did not get an opportunity to see the track before we re-started, and I can only assume as I go through there and I hear stuff flying up into the crush panels that it's asphalt," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "When you're a driver and you're running Christian Louboutin Studded Pumps on a racetrack and you hear things flying up, that's not typically normal. So I just assumed the track was pretty soft, but it held up well."


The top four drivers when Juan Montoya hit the jet dryer were Dave Blaney

Earnhardt made a slingshot move around Greg Biffle to run second in the 54th running of the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway. Biffle came home third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton, as a late caution necessitated two extra laps christian louboutin beyond the scheduled 200.

Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, pole-sitter Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Mark Martin completed the top 10.

Earnhardt hooked up with Biffle and pushed the No. 16 Ford after a restart on Lap 201, but the pair could not make headway against Kenseth who moved to the front of the field and stayed there.

Earnhardt expected Biffle to pull out and make a move, but the move never came.

"I was waiting and waiting," Earnhardt said. "It looked like he might have been trying to make a move on the back straightaway, but nothing materialized there. Then we came off [Turn] 4, and I kind of waited till the last minute for him to have his opportunity to try to pass Matt, and nothing was happening, so I just pulled out and went around him."

Kenseth had plenty of power at the finish, despite problems with the cooling system that plagued him early in the race.

"We had a lot of problems -- it was spewing water," said Kenseth, who notched the 22nd Cup victory of his career. "I have to give a lot of credit to [engine builder] Doug Yates and the guys at the engine shop. We had great horsepower.

"I could get a pretty good start on the bottom and either Denny or Dale Jr. could push me for a while and then they just couldn't stay attached and I would get away from them just in time to get in front of Greg, and the two of us together could make some unbelievable speed. I have to thank Greg. We worked together really good all day long. He had a really fast car all day as well."

A multicar wreck on Lap 188 thinned the herd considerably, taking out a handful of competitive cars. Jamie McMurray spun wildly near the entrance to Turn 1, and the chain-reaction collision wiped out the cars of Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Aric Almirola and damaged the machines of Edwards and Tony Stewart.

Another melee on Lap 196 set up the overtime. After contact from Joey Logano's Toyota, the Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. caromed into Stewart's Chevrolet, turning the defending Cup champion sideways and igniting a pinball-style wreck that also involved Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman.

A strange weekend that saw the first weather postponement in the history of the Daytona 500 got downright bizarre during a round of pit stops under caution late in the race.

Juan Montoya brought his No. 42 Chevrolet to pit road under caution on Lap 160, complaining of transmission issues. His car fell victim to a strong vibration when he returned to the track, and Montoya slid out of control at the entrance to Turn 3 and slammed into a jet dryer, which was against the outside wall, blowing the track.

The collision ignited the jet fuel in the dryer and set both vehicles ablaze. Montoya and the driver of the service vehicle both escaped the wreckage, but the latter -- Duane Barnes, from Michigan International Speedway -- was taken to nearby Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation.

"Something failed in the rear of the car, and the car just spun into the jet dryer," Montoya said after a visit to the care center. "I left the pits and felt a really Christian Louboutin Sandals weird vibration, and I came back in and checked the rear end and [they] said it was OK, and I got into the backstraight and we were going in fourth gear but wasn't going that fast.

"Every time I got on the gas, I could feel the rear squeezing. When I was telling the spotter to have a look how the rear was moving, the car just turned right."

NASCAR red-flagged the race as safety vehicles arrived on the scene and track workers attempted to put out the fire.

"There's going to be a big speed bump heading into Turn 3," crew chief Steve Letarte told Dale Earnhardt Jr., fearful that the blaze would melt the asphalt. "I will be shocked -- shocked -- if we can get this race restarted."

Letarte was wrong.

Safety workers cleared the scene by hoisting the remains of the jet dryer on a tow truck with a boom to prevent further damage to the asphalt. After a stoppage of two hours, five minutes and 29 seconds, the event resumed just before midnight ET.

The race was barely one lap old when contact from the front bumper of Elliott Sadler's Chevrolet turned the No. 48 Chevy of five-time champion Jimmie Johnson hard into the outside wall near the exit from the tri-oval.

Unable to avoid the wreck, David Ragan plowed into the side of Johnson's car. Neither Johnson nor Ragan was able to continue; they retired from the race in the 42nd and 43rd positions, respectively.

The cars of defending race winner Trevor Bayne, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch were severely damaged in the melee and all three headed to the garage for extensive repairs and later returned to the track.

"The steering's off," Patrick said, as she brought the No. 10 Chevy to pit road. Her crew repaired the rear suspension, but Patrick was 62 laps down when she reappeared on Lap 66. She wound up 38th in her Sprint Cup debut.

Martin Truex Jr. won the $200,000 bonus for leading the race at the halfway point.

The top four drivers when Juan Montoya hit the jet dryer were Dave Blaney, Landon Cassill, Tony Raines and David Gilliland, none of whom had come to pit road with the rest of the lead-lap cars. Irreparable damage to the track or an ill-timed rain cell could have made a winner of Blaney.

Edwards and Kyle Busch had to restart from Christian Louboutin Tina Boots Fringed Suede Purple the rear when the race resumed for removing tear-offs from their windshields under the red flag.


Santorum was asked about several of his recent comments

With two days left before the closely contested Republican primaries in Arizona and Michigan, Rick Santorum delivered a full-throated defense of christian louboutin religion in public life on Sunday, appealing to the social conservatives who have revived his presidential campaign.

In an escalation of the sometimes fiery language that he has used throughout the race, Santorum declared that colleges are no longer a "neutral setting" for people of faith and described how he had become sickened after reading John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech calling for the rigid separation of religion and politics.

"What kind of country do we live in that says only people of nonfaith can come into the public square and make their case?" Santorum said on the ABC News program "This Week." "That makes me throw up."

Kennedy, then a presidential candidate, gave the speech to quiet claims that he would answer to the Vatican because he was a Roman Catholic. Santorum is also a Catholic.

His rival Mitt Romney, who has struggled to convince conservatives of his ideological commitment, made his own, subtler case to the same constituency on Sunday. He traveled to Florida to attend the Daytona 500 NASCAR race (which was delayed by rain), long a favorite of conservative Republican voters, after having earlier disputed what he said was the misconception that, as a former governor of Massachusetts, "I can't be conservative."

But the crowd booed Romney, who occasionally struck a discordant note, as when he approached a group of fans wearing plastic ponchos. "I like those fancy raincoats you bought," he said. "Really sprung for the big bucks."

The last-minute overtures underscored Christian Louboutin Slingback how much the focus of the contest had swung from economic issues to social concerns.

Polls show the candidates running roughly even, and the question for both of them is how Santorum's provocative and assertive outreach to the religious right will resonate with voters, both in the contests this week and in the dozen on "Super Tuesday" on March 6.

For Romney, the stakes are especially high on Tuesday: a loss in Michigan would represent a searing setback in his home state and reinforce the sense that the party's rank and file is unwilling to come together behind him.

For Santorum, a defeat could threaten to sap the energy that he has built with victories over Romney in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

On a day when both candidates vied for the affections of conservative voters, it was Santorum's language that stood out.

Appearing on "This Week" from Marquette, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Santorum was asked about several of his recent comments, including why he had derided President Obama - whom he called a "snob" - for encouraging all Americans to attend college.

He said many people simply have no Christian Louboutin Stretch Platform OTK Boot aspiration for university, and he also suggested that social conservatives are under assault on college campuses. "We have some real problems at our college campuses with political correctness," he said.


A gag order prohibits either of the parties from discussing the settlement

Prosecutors said Gabe Watson, motivated by potential insurance payouts, had drowned his wife Tina in October 2003 by turning off her oxygen supply during their christian louboutin dive in the waters off Townsville, Australia.

But after prosecutors wrapped up their case on Thursday, Judge Tommy Nail ruled there was no evidence to suggest that Gabe Watson intended to kill.

"The only way to convict this man of capital murder is to use speculation and conjecture," Nail said. "The state has failed to establish an intentional killing."

Prosecutors claimed Watson stood to gain up to $210,000 in life and travel insurance from his wife's death. But the defense said far less money was at stake and that Watson was not yet a beneficiary for any of the life insurance funds.

An eye witness testified that he saw Gabe Watson wrap his arms around his wife underwater and figured Watson was trying to save her.

Watson's mother collapsed in tears outside of the courtroom after hearing the judge had granted the defense's motion for an acquittal.

"I am thrilled for Gabe. He can finally begin the healing process," said Watson's father, David Watson. "Hopefully he can put his life back together."

Judges rarely grant acquittals in murder cases, said Steve Emens, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. He said Tina Watson's family could still file a wrongful death claim against Watson if they have not done so already.

Gabe Watson, 34, served 18 months in an Australian jail after pleading guilty to failing to do enough to help his 26-year-old wife during the dive.

He was tried for murder in Birmingham, Alabama, because that was where the couple married and prosecutors say he plotted Tina's death.

Alabama authorities agreed to waive the death penalty in order to get Australian authorities to release Watson back to the United States, meaning he would have faced a maximum lifetime prison sentence had he been convicted.

The judge's ruling Thursday abruptly ended the trial, which was in its second week and had been closely watched by the Australian media.

Tina Watson's father was the state's final witness. He told jurors that Gabe Watson legally pursued his wife's family for everything she owned, down to her Gone with the Wind movie memorabilia.

Tommy Thomas said he made several trips to Australia to investigate his daughter's death himself. During his testimony, he cried and shot angry looks at the man who was his son-in-law for just 11 days.

"It should have gone to a jury to decide," Thomas told reporters afterward. "We are disappointed. There is a lot more protection for the accused than the victim."

A former aide and a former mistress of one-time presidential candidate John Edwards have settled a civil lawsuit between them that, among other measures, mandates the Christian Louboutin Slingback imminent destruction of sex tapes featuring Edwards and the woman.

Orange County, North Carolina, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox on Thursday signed the settlement agreement between Andrew Young, his wife and Rielle Hunter, the woman who had sued the couple, according to court official Tammy Keshler.

Hunter had sued Young and his wife, Cheri, for invasion of privacy seeking to reclaim materials that she said belong to her, including personal photographs and an alleged sex tape showing her with Edwards.

While the settlement addresses the transfer and destruction of videos, photographs and other documents, no monetary damages were awarded and the Youngs admit no liability.

Hunter agreed to destroy copies of the sex tape she'll receive, while the Youngs must make a good-faith effort to ensure that the copy of the video that they gave to the U.S. government is likewise destroyed, per the agreement.

The former aide and his wife will get back family videos and photos, though they cannot use any that include Hunter or her daughter -- whom Edwards has admitted he fathered -- for anything besides family purposes.

Young wrote a book, "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down," in which he describes an elaborate plan to use money from two wealthy benefactors to allow Edwards to maintain a relationship with Hunter. She worked as a videographer on the failed 2008 presidential campaign of the former North Carolina senator, who was also the Democrats' 2004 vice presidential nominee with running mate John Kerry.

Plans are under way to make that book, "The Politician," into a movie from Aaron Sorkin and Colvin Road Entertainment.

The Youngs can use information already in the book, in court proceedings or otherwise in the public domain, according to Keshler. But anything beyond that is prohibited by court order, and the couple cannot publicize the planned film.

A gag order prohibits either of the parties from discussing the settlement.

The agreement does not resolve the pending criminal contempt proceedings against Young and his wife.

Young's former boss, Edwards, is scheduled to be on trial himself after being indicted last year on charges including conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws regarding donations to and payments from his presidential campaign.

Edwards denies any wrongdoing.

Whether the money given to support Hunter by Christian Louboutin Skeleton Zipper Suede Boots Black Edwards' benefactors -- as alleged by Young in his book -- should have been considered campaign donations is a key issue in Edwards' upcoming trial. The ex-senator's legal team has disputed that notion, maintaining the money was a gift to Hunter.


Obama maintained that both extensions are crucial to supporting

President Barack Obama signed the payroll tax cut extension into law Wednesday, notching an election-year victory and rare bipartisan agreement in the continuing christian louboutin partisan battle over jobs, taxes and debt.

The $143 billion measure that Congress passed overwhelmingly on Friday continues the 2 percentage-point reduction in the tax that funds Social Security, a cut begun last year to aid the nation's struggling economic recovery. It also extends jobless benefits for between 63 weeks and 73 weeks, and averts a big cut in the reimbursements doctors get for treating Medicare patients.

The president signed the measure without ceremony Wednesday, having already celebrated its passage at an event Tuesday at the White House.

Obama senior adviser David Plouffe emailed his gratitude to people who sent the White House their stories about how losing the tax cut would affect their lives.

"Extending the payroll tax cut was a critical step for middle class families, but we still have a lot more work to do. So get ready," Plouffe wrote in an email that included a photograph of Obama signing the bill at his Oval Office desk.

The payroll tax cut became a centerpiece of the jobs plan Obama unveiled in September -- and of a re-election strategy that seeks to cast his GOP foes as protectors of the rich and out of touch with the worries of working families.

The administration estimates that for a worker earning 50,000 a year, the tax holiday means $80 a month in extra take-home pay. For better-paid employees, the bonus Christian Louboutin Ankle Boots could total $2,200 a year.

But the cost to the deficit is substantial: another $93 billion for the latest extension. However, bowing to its inevitability, House GOP leaders last week agreed not to demand spending cuts to offset the lost tax revenues.

The legislation also extended benefits for the long-term unemployed that average about $300 a week, though Obama and Democratic allies compromised over an initial demand for 99 more weeks. Those benefits will be paid for by auctioning broadcast frequencies and requiring newly hired federal workers to contribute more to their pensions.

Obama maintained that both extensions are crucial to supporting a still-fragile recovery from the nation's deepest recession since the 1930s.

GOP leaders initially balked at the extensions, then clashed with Obama and congressional Democrats over how to pay for them. As the holidays approached in December, their opposition drew a fierce public backlash, especially when House Republicans rejected a compromise that Senate leaders had brokered. In the end, Republicans accepted a two-month extension -- after paying a heavy political price.

"We did not want to repeat the debacle," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. "We're dumb, but we're not stupid."

The extension puts off until December Christian Louboutin Muffs Furry Short Boots -- after the presidential and congressional elections -- a mix of taxing and spending decisions, including whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts, increasing the debt ceiling and meeting a trillion-dollar spending cut requirement.


There are a million of you guys

As the media horde horde began christian louboutin peeling away one by one from Carmelo Anthony’s locker late Monday night, the Knicks captain suddenly had an epiphany.

“There are a million of you guys,” Anthony said to one reporter. “I can’t win.”

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Knicks’ blockbuster trade for Anthony, one of the NBA’s greatest scorers and enigmas.

It was Garden chairman James Dolan who orchestrated the deal to bring Anthony to New York and in turn bring hope to a desperate fan base.

The following day, Anthony was given a hero’s welcome at the Garden. Remember the song — “ Coming Home” — and the accompanying video? Within days, the club announced that it was raising ticket prices. Fans’ expectations went through the roof. The Melo era was officially underway.

And yet, 12 months after that franchise-altering transaction, the one question that was asked about Anthony on Feb. 22, 2011 remains unanswered today. To paraphrase Melo himself, “Can he win?”

Anthony is arguably the most scrutinized star athlete in New York today.

He’s got the lucrative contract, the impressive stats and the All-Star appearances. What he doesn’t have is a playoff resume. He’s been out of the first round only once in his career and that includes last season’s loss to the Boston Celtics in four games.

Since acquiring Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, the Knicks have an overall record of 30-35, including a 16-17 mark this season.

Monday’s loss to the Nets was significant because it was Anthony’s first game in two weeks and his first since Jeremy Lin became a household name. The Knicks had won six of seven games without Anthony.

It’s unfair to blame the 100-92 loss on Anthony, who is recovering from a strained groin and is clearly not in top form. Deron Williams, obviously exhausted from hearing about Linsanity, scored 38 points and showed why he is an elite point guard.

Lin led the Knicks with 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.

He also attempted a team-high 18 shots. In fact, the case could be made that Anthony (11 shots) didn’t shoot enough and that Lin shot too much. Or look at it this way: What would the reaction have been to Toney Douglas taking seven more shots than Anthony in a loss?

“Carmelo is one of the top 15 players in the league,” says one current NBA coach. “I don’t know why he’s so worried about fitting in with Jeremy Lin. Just play.”

The pressure to win in a city that hasn’t won Christian Louboutin 2011 a single playoff game in 10 years may be getting to Anthony.

Last season, he was dogged by questions about whether he could co-exist with Amar’e Stoudemire, and now those same unanswered questions are being raised about Anthony and Lin.

The problem, however, is that Anthony may not be a good fit with Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Anthony prefers to go one-on-one and needs the ball in his hands to make plays. Kobe Bryant is the same way.

But on Monday, Anthony tried to convince anyone who would listen that Lin, who has nine career starts, should be in charge of the offense.

“I want Jeremy to have the ball,” Anthony said. “Hands down, I want him to have the ball. I want him to create for me, create for Amar’e, create for everybody and still be as aggressive as he’s been in the past two weeks.

“I want that. There’s going to be times I have the ball in the pick-and-roll situation, being a distributor and trying to be aggressive. But for the most part I want Jeremy to have the ball in his hands.”

The words sounded as if Anthony is desperate to prove once and for all that he’s not a selfish player. The Garden also pursued on an image makeover by leaking a story that it was Anthony who suggested to D’Antoni that Lin get a chance.

However, D’Antoni denied that account on Monday, which undoubtedly is not sitting well with Dolan and perhaps also with Anthony. It’s like that old Godfather line: “Don’t ever take sides against the (Cablevision) family.”

For D’Antoni to go off script like that was telling and speaks to a larger issue of mistrust between the coach and Dolan, which probably started with Donnie Walsh being fired. D’Antoni could have easily gone along with the tale about Melo advocating Lin but chose not to.

It’s been a rough couple of days for Anthony. His current coach refuses to recite the company line about Melo inventing Linsanity while his former coach, George Karl, took a couple of subtle jabs by claiming that Anthony wants to get “that monkey of losing off his Christian Louboutin Simple Botta 100mm Leather Boots Coffee back” and that “he just hasn’t figured out” how to win yet.

And Anthony thought the media were tough on him.

Anthony would be better served just playing his game, ignoring what is being written and said about him and competing on every possession.

The end of Ben’s season may not be for a few more weeks

Sadly, there were no morgue visits, bird eulogies or taxidermy-filled basements during the hometown dates on this season of "The Bachelor." But we did get christian louboutin some baton twirling and even a faux wedding ceremony.

Yep, that’s right. The end of Ben’s season may not be for a few more weeks, but he’s already getting his vow-reciting on. On his visit to Scottsdale, Ariz., to meet Courtney’s parents, the model decided to cement her lead by setting up mock nuptials. Because she’d been somewhat emotionally withholding over the course of the season, she planned to drop the L-bomb for the first time in dramatic fashion.

She took Ben to the field where she first posed for modeling shots at age 17. Super romantic. She repeatedly told him she found the setting -- a park with a few trees lining some manicured grass -- “rustic.” And then she asked Ben to participate in a pretend wedding, with fake rings, an aisle, a pastor -- the whole shebang.

Coming from any other woman, this would have obviously appeared crazy. But not from the pretty, popular girl -- oh, no. The second that Courtney proposed the idea, Ben’s eyes widened, seemingly shocked that he might actually have a shot with the hot chick. Instead of being freaked out by her over-the-top antics, he took his vow-writing seriously, indicating he had far stronger feelings for Courtney than any of the other remaining women.

“From the moment I saw you, you took my breath away,” he told her earnestly. “I thought, ‘Is this too good to be true?’”

Yes, Ben. Yes, it is. Because the woman you proclaimed your almost-love to reciprocated by jacking a line from a “Sex & the City” episode to use in her vows. Remember when Carrie broke up with The Russian, telling him she was “looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love?”

Well, Courtney told Ben she was looking for a quite similar kind of love. “Real love. Passionate, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”

Of course, those were the most intimate words Courtney shared with Ben, as she had trouble mustering any genuine emotion during the supposed romantic moment.

Even if I could forgive Courtney for not having an original thought in her brain, I’d still find it difficult to look past her seemingly obvious lack of meaningful feelings for Ben. During Monday night’s episode, she frequently said she liked Ben because he’s the kind of “nice guy” who appreciates her -- one who makes her feel special and won’t betray her trust. A.k.a.: a guy who is more into her than she is into him. And the converse, of course, is exactly why Ben wants Courtney. Because she didn’t give up too easily. Well, emotionally, anyway. Listen up, ladies: If you want to score a guy, be sexually forward, but never talk about your actual feelings!

After watching so many seasons of this show, I’m still shocked to watch each Bachelor or Bachelorette fall into the same trap. They go with that gut feeling -- the one all about lust, convincing themselves there is more to the relationship than just attraction. And then cut to an inevitable breakup within mere months.

Why, for instance, can’t Ben just choose Nicki? Here’s a beautiful woman with her head on her shoulders who has been through a divorce but seems to have actually learned from it. Plus, her family is fantastic. Usually it annoys me when the contestants' parents are all: “This guy is great! Yes, honey, go get married after five weeks!” You know my dad would be like, “Uh, do you really expect me to buy this? And how much do you make a year with this so-called wine business?”

Still, Nicki’s dad was on the Ben train, and he was totally endearing.

He apologized if he hadn’t protected his daughter enough from her ex, and admitted that it was still “hard lettting [her] fly.” Ben was obviously a fan of this guy as well, tweeting “nicki’s dad = legit.” Legit indeed, Bachelor dude.

I totally want Nicki to win, but she’s not going to. I do think she has the most solid shot at beating the vapid Courtney, though, since Ben acknowledged that Christian Louboutin Sneakers during his time in Texas with Nicki he looked over at her numerous times and thought “I love this girl.”

Lindzi also scored points on her date. But I don’t even want to write about her. Seriously, the girl is nice enough, but man, is she boring. And her highlights and make-up are distractingly bad. And she thought the lyrics to “To Grandmother’s House We Go” were “through the woods and over the water,” instead of “over the river and through the woods.” And all she can talk about is horses.

But Lindzi’s family and their affinity for the equine species didn’t scare Ben off. His trip down to meet Kacie’s rents in the Bible Belt of Tennessee did not go as smoothly. Things got off to a poor start when Kacie met Ben in the middle of a football field, frizzy-haired and literally twirling a baton.

“She’s going for it,” Ben said later in an interview, clearly trying to be nice. “I like that she exudes … confidence.”

Kacie explained that she’d chosen to take Ben to the field because it was named after her late grandfather, who used to play AAA baseball. The Babe Ruth of the South, apparently.

Anyway, Ben wasn’t feeling her story, nodding politely while staring at her fly-aways. Things only got worse when she was asked to describe her father: a federal probation officer who doesn’t drink.

“Well, that’s great,” Ben recalled thinking. “I’m a winemaker, and my business is booze.”

Also, her father doesn’t take risks and thinks “The Bachelor” is a sham. In other words: He’s a totally rational dad.

Well, not entirely. Once Ben arrived at Kacie’s house, her parents quickly laid down the law, telling him that if he and Kacie were to get engaged, they shouldn’t live together before getting married. There goes that rational thought.

More discouraging was the fact that Kacie’s father didn’t seem to believe his daughter had a viable shot at landing Ben. He told the Bach that if Kacie wasn’t “the one,” he’d appreciate it if Ben would let her down soon. And then when dad told Kacie he wasn’t down Christian Louboutin Tina Boots Fringed Suede Purple with her moving in with Ben pre-marriage, he prefaced it with, “I’m not saying he’s going to ask you to marry him.” Real nice.

Sadly, Ben was not to ask Kacie to marry him, as he sent her packing this week. This was the first time I thought he actually let one of the woman depart respectfully, not offering fake excuses in an effort to comfort her.


That’s why the price of Ural Blend has risen

The Russian oil industry was already reaping the rewards of higher global oil prices from Iranian tensions, even before Tehran raised the stakes Wednesday christian louboutin by threatening to cut off oil to six European nations.

Now, whether Iran carries out that threat immediately or Europe proceeds with its previously planned embargo of Iranian oil this summer, the Russian industry could capitalize more directly. Its pipelines stand ready to serve customers willing to pay a premium price — with a grade of oil closely resembling Iran’s.

“It’s pretty good for Russia right now,” Jesse Mercer, a senior oil analyst based in Houston with PFC Energy, said in a telephone interview.

Russia is now the world’s largest oil producer, pumping about 10 million barrels of oil a day, slightly more than Saudi Arabia. Of this, Russia exports seven million barrels a day. Most of it goes to customers in Europe and Asia, although small amounts from Siberia make it as far as the West Coast of the United States.

For Russian oil companies like Rosneft and Lukoil and the Russian-British joint venture TNK-BP, the international tensions that began over Iran’s nuclear development program last autumn have meant a windfall. Analysts estimate that Iran jitters have added $5 to $15 a barrel to the global price of oil, which means an extra $35 million to $105 million a day for the Russian industry. And the taxes the Russian government has received from those sales have been a political windfall for Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin as he campaigns to return as Russia’s president. The extra money has helped further subsidize domestic energy consumption, tamping down inflation.

“It’s good for Putin,” Mr. Mercer said. “In the United States, when oil prices go up, the president’s ratings go down. In Russia, it’s the opposite.”

Rising prices, of course, are a boon for every oil producer, whether in North Dakota, the North Sea or northern Siberia.

But Russia has a particular advantage: a pipeline system that can supply Iran’s traditional customers in both Europe and Asia. Depending on which way the geopolitical winds are blowing, Russia has the ability to direct more or less of its oil either eastward or westward. Some of its oil to Europe travels by pipeline the entire way; other oil is piped to the Black and Baltic Seas and shipped from there.

What’s more, the grade of Russia’s main export oil, Ural Blend crude, is similar to Iran’s and has already been in greater demand as an alternative to Iranian oil for European refineries.

That’s why the price of Ural Blend has risen even faster than global prices generally. In December, it traded at a $2 discount to Brent oil from the North Sea. That difference is now gone. Both grades are now trading for about $119.50 a barrel, energy analysts say.

The six nations Iran threatened to cut off Wednesday were, in descending order of the size of their purchases: Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Greece and Portugal. Tehran did not explain why it selected those countries, while ignoring even bigger oil users like Germany.

But all six were already planning to stop buying Iranian oil this summer, anyway, as part of an embargo the 27-nation European Union agreed to last month, to begin in July. At its recent peak, Europe was buying 500,000 to 660,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day, according to PFC Energy.

If the European sanctions do take effect then, oil prices could rise further — by as much as $7 to $13 a barrel above where they are now, in the view of Wood Mackenzie, an oil consultancy based in Edinburgh.

And even if oil prices later fall, Russia’s natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, would continue to benefit for a while. Russian gas prices in Europe, Gazprom’s biggest export customer, are linked to the price of oil under long-term contracts that are adjusted twice annually, based on average oil prices over the previous six months. So even if oil prices decline, Gazprom’s gas prices Christian Louboutin Ankle Boots would remain high in the second half of the year.

The United States, despite being a leading critic of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, has been somewhat more muted than Europe on how to punish Iranian’s oil industry — as American politicians have been divided in their willingness to disrupt global petroleum trading and financing to the potential detriment of strategic allies.

In December Congress passed sanctions that, among other measures, impose penalties on foreign banks that clear payments for Iranian oil. Congressional supporters of the sanctions, and the Obama administration, have said the impact on oil prices are justified, given the stakes in Iran.

But the White House also cautioned that the bank strictures could interfere in the business dealings of American allies. And so when President Obama signed the measure, he said some provisions would be nonbinding, angering hawkish supporters of the sanctions, which along with Europe’s are set to begin in July.

As it turns out, at least one exemption under discussion is meant specifically to limit the strategic benefits for Russia, which has been an outspoken critic of American and European strictures against Iran.

The United States and European Union are negotiating an exemption that would continue to provide the former Soviet state of Georgia — a nation that is now a Western ally — an alternative to Russian natural gas. The workaround allows payments to an Iranian company, Naftiran Intertrade, that has a share of the Shah Deniz natural gas field in the Caspian Sea.

The field, managed by the Western petroleum giant BP, is a supplier to Georgia. It is also a potential source for the proposed Nabucco pipeline, which would be managed by a consortium based in Vienna and backed by some Western European governments to create European competition with Gazprom. But the pipeline, seen as a maneuver to weaken Russia’s hand in European energy politics, has been stalled in the planning phase for years.

China, meanwhile, is expected to circumvent the Iranian sanctions with tacit American approval by settling its oil purchases with Iran through banks that have no dealings in the United States. India, for its part, has negotiated to barter wheat for oil, or pay Iran directly in rupees.

To be sure, there are other limits to Russia’s ability to fully capitalize on the Iranian oil upheaval. The big one is that the Russian industry is already producing petroleum from its working fields at full capacity, since so much of it comes from far northern and Arctic wells that must operate full-time year-round to keep from freezing. And so Russia cannot suddenly increase its export capacity beyond those current seven million barrels a day.

But its extensive pipeline network gives Russia enviable flexibility to direct its oil to wherever demand — and prices — are highest. That could be a boon for its Asian oil distribution.

As it happens, after a decade of Moscow’s investment, a trans-Siberian oil pipeline is scheduled for completion in this year’s third quarter. That will create opportunities for Russia to export petroleum more cheaply than its current railroad shipments to a Pacific port where it is then pumped into tankers for shipments to Japan and South Korea — two countries that, as strategic American allies, will be looking for substitutes to Iranian oil.

The new pipeline, called the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline,Christian Louboutin Orniron Ankle Boots Black forks in Siberia so that oil can be sent either to China or to the coast, for export to other Asian customers. It will give Russian exporters the ability to easily exploit likely price differences between customers like China, if it continues as expected to buy Iranian oil, and Japan and South Korea, which probably will not.


Which could make them less exposed to higher prices

Oil prices have climbed sharply in recent weeks as mounting tension with Iran has raised the threat of a

disruption in global supplies. On Wednesday, christian louboutin oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $1.06 to $101.80 a barrel

on reports that Iran had cut off sales to six European countries in response to the European Union's newly

stepped-up sanctions. Iran's oil ministry later denied the report.

Pricier oil comes at a delicate time. The job market has begun showing signs of life, and other economic

indicators are pointing toward stronger growth. But the recovery remains too halting to easily absorb the shock of

sharply costlier oil.

An oil spike would also complicate the job of the Federal Reserve. The central bank would have to balance any

calls for more Fed action to stimulate the economy against rising inflation fears. Minutes of the Fed's last

policy-setting meeting in January, released Wednesday, showed the central bank divided over whether to launch a

new bond-buying program to support economic growth—but the bank kept the option open. In the past, the Fed has

been willing to look past temporary spikes in inflation, but it isn't clear it would be willing to do so again.

Higher crude prices are likely to translate into higher prices at the gas pump, where drivers already are paying

more to fill up. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has jumped 13.1 cents to $3.518 in the past

month, according to auto club AAA. Some parts of the country have seen even bigger increases, with prices

approaching $4 a gallon in parts of California.

Financial markets fell Wednesday as rising oil prices and new uncertainty about the latest Greek bailout rattled

investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its biggest drop of the new year, falling 97.33 points, or

0.8%, to 12780.95. Other major U.S. indexes also fell.

Oil prices affect virtually every aspect of the U.S. economy. Higher prices at the pump force consumers to cut

back spending on discretionary items like restaurant meals, haircuts and family vacations, hurting those


Manufacturers face lower profit margins as they pay more to get their products to market and face higher costs for

plastics and other petroleum-based materials. A prolonged increase can drive up inflation and drive down hiring.

"It has the power to derail an economic recovery that's not looking very strong already," said Paul Dales, an

economist for research firm Capital Economics.

To be sure, there are factors that could mitigate the impact of rising oil prices. Low natural-gas prices,

combined with a warm winter, have pushed down heating bills for most homeowners and have held down the cost of raw

materials for many manufacturers. Americans are also driving fewer miles and using less fuel than they did three

years ago, which could make them less exposed to higher prices.

Higher oil prices tend to show up first in consumer spending. Americans spend less than 5% of their disposable

income on gas, but because most families can't easily cut back on driving, at least in the short term, higher gas

prices usually result in lower spending in other areas. Moreover, because gas prices are so public, they have an

outsize impact on consumer confidence, said Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight.

"The average American can't say to their boss, 'Hey I need to be paid more because it costs more to get to work,'

" Mr. Christopher said.

Already, there are signs consumers are growing wary of higher gas prices. A preliminary reading of February

consumer sentiment from University of Michigan last week showed an unexpected drop in confidence that many

analysts attributed to higher gasoline prices.

Some economists fear a repeat of last year, when the economy appeared to be gaining strength only to stall when

oil prices spiked because of turmoil in Libya.

Gasoline prices are still well below the level they reached last May, when they briefly approached $4 a gallon.

And they are nowhere close to the all-time highs reached in 2008, when parts of the country saw gas exceed $4.50 a


Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service, a research firm, said that barring a significant

supply disruption, there is little reason to expect oil prices to approach their 2008 level this year. He said

consumers have learned to expect oil prices to rise in the spring and could pre-emptively cut back on spending,

while the weak economy has left companies with little room to maneuver.

Oil-based products make up a majority of the dozens of raw materials that go into the models made by Goodyear Tire

& Rubber Co. In its fourth-quarter earnings Christian Louboutin Evening release Tuesday, the Akron, Ohio-based company

said the steady upward march of oil and other prices raised overall raw material costs about 30%, or $2 billion,

in 2011 over 2010. In the U.S. and most other parts of the world, the company was able to offset that pressure

with price increases and by introducing costlier models.

Robert Gross wasn't so lucky. Mr. Gross is chief executive of Monro Muffler Brake Inc., a Rochester, N.Y.-based

chain of muffler and automotive repair stores that generates 40% of sales from tires. With consumers hurting from

paltry income growth and high unemployment, Mr. Gross's company has had a hard time passing along increases.

Higher oil and tire costs were the main reason margins for the third quarter ended Dec. 24 shrank to 38.4% from


"They're shocked at how expensive tires are. If people they need something else they buy the something else

first," he said.

Other businesses have already shifted their operations in an effort to insulate themselves from rising energy


Forever Preserved, an Encinitas, Calif. maker of preserved plants and palm trees displayed in offices, malls and

other enclosed areas, can ill afford higher fuel prices, said owner Ronald Pecoff. Mr. Pecoff sold off four

commercial vehicles that he and his employees Christian Louboutin Suede Fringe Pumps

used to make thrice-weekly trips transporting harvested palm tree leaves between his production facility in

Encinitas and their tree farm 90 miles east in Borrego Springs. He now has a contractor make less frequent trips,

leaving the company with fewer workers, lower insurance costs and no need to pay mechanics for wear and tear.


Carlos Delfino scored 24 for the Bucks

LeBron James scored 35 points and the Miami Heat finally found a way to beat Milwaukee, using a third-quarter surge to beat the Bucks 114-96 on Monday night.

Dwyane Wade scored 22 and Mario Chalmers added christian louboutin 13 for the Heat, who were 0-2 against the Bucks coming into Monday night's game.

James scored 16 of his points in the third quarter as the Heat outscored the Bucks 35-24 to take control of the game.

Carlos Delfino scored 24 for the Bucks, who were coming off a loss to Orlando on Saturday night.

With the win, Miami ran its record to 22-7 -- equaling the franchise's best start after the first 29 games of a season, set in 1996-97 and again in 2004-05.

Leading 55-50 after two quarters, the Heat put together a 14-4 run out of halftime. It started right away, as Chalmers stole the ball from Brandon Jennings and cruised down the court for a fastbreak layup.

The Bucks then began to struggle on offense -- including one sequence in which Milwaukee's Drew Gooden had the ball swatted away from him twice on a single possession by Miami's Joel Anthony. Gooden was called for a technical foul immediately afterward.

Later in the run, James stole the ball from Christian Louboutin Flats Jennings, then finished with a powerful one-handed slam to give the Heat a 69-54 lead.

James went on to score 16 in the quarter, including another monster dunk in the final seconds. With the clock running down at the end of the quarter, James took advantage of a defensive lapse and ran uncontested down the lane, finishing with a one-handed dunk with 4.2 seconds left in the quarter.

Miami took a 90-74 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Bucks beat the Heat 91-82 in Miami on Jan. 22 -- then beat them again in Milwaukee on Feb. 1, a 105-97 victory in which the Bucks trailed by 18 points in the first half. The Bucks haven't swept the Heat since the 1990-91 season.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged before the game that the Bucks' previous two victories got his attention. Spoelstra said that the Bucks' physical defense "made us uncomfortable" in the first two games, saying the Heat had to win what he described as the high-effort "fistfight battles" on the court this time out.

It looked as if the Heat might be in for another tough battle early on.

Milwaukee was ahead 30-27 after the first quarter, then led 41-35 midway through the second quarter after a fast-break layup by Mike Dunleavy. But the Heat rallied to take a five-point lead into halftime.

Notes: Miami was without C Dexter Pittman, who has Christian Louboutin Toundra Trimmed Suede Ankle Boots Chestnut a sprained left shoulder. Spoelstra said he will be evaluated on a game-to-game basis. ... The Heat came into Monday with two straight wins, including a 20-point blowout victory at Atlanta on Sunday.


San Jose had lost three of its previous four games

Joe Pavelski had two goals and two assists against a goalie playing in the NHL for the first time in nearly a year, leading the Sharks past the Capitals 5-3 Monday night, San Jose's 16th victory in its last 17 games against Washington.

Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe and Brent Burns christian louboutin also scored on Braden Holtby, who was brought up from Hershey of the American Hockey League earlier Monday to make a surprise start for Washington -- something he hadn't done since last March. Washington's No. 1 goalie, Tomas Vokoun, was ill, and No. 2 Michal Neuvirth played Sunday in a loss at the New York Rangers.

Joe Thornton collected three assists for the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, and Thomas Greiss made 39 saves.

San Jose had lost three of its previous four games.

Washington has won only three of its last 11, a stretch of futility that not only dropped the Capitals out of first place in the Southeast Division but also pushed them below the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference.

The first goal Greiss gave up came on rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov's slap shot from just inside the blue line in the final second of the second period. Both teams stayed on their benches while video was reviewed to confirm that the puck crossed the line before time ran out.

By then, though, San Jose already led 3-0, thanks mainly to Pavelski.

The Sharks went ahead 12:12 into the game on a bit of a fluky score after going about eight minutes without even registering a single shot on goal. Indeed, they were coming off a power play during which the best chance -- and only official shot -- for either team came when Capitals forward Brooks Laich bore down 1-on-1 during a short-handed breakaway but Greiss made the save.

A little more than 1 1/2 minutes later, defenseman Christian Louboutin Sneakers Dan Boyle struck a shot from beyond the red line. The puck deflected off Pavelski's stick, bounced off the ice, then trickled off Holtby's glove and into the net to make it 1-0 for the visitors. Pavelski was credited with his 21st goal of the season.

He got No. 22 in the second period on a far-more-usual goal, this time on the power play. With Laich in the penalty box for cross-checking, Logan Couture centered the puck right in front of the net for Pavelski, who lifted a shot over Holtby's glove and into the upper corner at the 3:26 mark of the second, making it 2-0.

Pavelski was credited with an assist when his shot was redirected by Marleau at the 16:11 mark of the second period, when the puck appeared to hit Holtby in the right shoulder on its way past him.

Third-period goals by Burns and Clowe put San Jose ahead 5-1, before defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz scored for Washington in the last 9 1/2 minutes.

NOTES: Capitals F Mike Knuble was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. ... In addition to Holtby, the Capitals also recalled F Joel Rechlicz from Hershey. He played and drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the second period. ... Sharks C Tommy Wingels returned Christian Louboutin Pumps Big Lips 120 Suede to action. He had been on injured reserve with an upper body injury and hadn't played since Jan. 19. "We'll expect him to give us some fresh legs and some enthusiasm and a little bit of a spark, if you will," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said.

Monday's vote was 24-16 in favor of the bill

In a move that supporters called a civil rights milestone, New Jersey's state Senate on Monday passed a bill to recognize same-sex marriages,christian louboutin marking the first time state lawmakers officially endorsed the idea -- despite the promise of a veto by Gov. Chris Christie.

Monday's vote was 24-16 in favor of the bill, a major swing from January 2010, when the Senate rejected it 20-14.

"It means the world isn't changing, it means the world has already changed," Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality said after the vote. "So wake up and smell the equality."

Before the vote, Marsha Shapiro squeezed the hand of her longtime partner Louise Walpin, and reflected on how a body that rejected gay marriage two years ago was about to change its stance. "The pride will overpower the sorrow," she said.

But opponents say it's "an exercise in futility" even if the Assembly passes the bill Thursday as expected, given Christie's veto vow.

Len Deo, president of New Jersey Family Policy Council, called the vote "something we have to go through" and said it would be made moot with a veto.

While New Jersey differs from most states in that it has no law or state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, neither its court nor lawmakers have allowed gay nuptials. Seven states and Washington, D.C., allow gay marriage. Washington state joined the list Monday when Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a same-sex marriage law.

In 2006, the New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that the state had to give the legal protections of marriage to committed gay and lesbian couples, but that it need not call those protections marriage.

Lawmakers responded by creating civil unions rather than marriage.

Gay rights advocates say civil unions have not provided true equality. They complain that they set up a separate and inherently unequal classification for gays -- something social conservatives dispute.

Seven gay couples, along with several of their children, filed a lawsuit last year to try to get the court to order gay nuptials be allowed.

In the meantime, Democratic leaders in the Legislature are trying to do the same thing by passing a law.

When the Senate last voted on gay marriage two years ago, just before Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who supported the measure, left office, several last-minute defections killed the bill. With the arrival of Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who spoke against gay marriage when asked about it during his campaign, advocates' hopes dimmed.

But the bill returned this year after Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat from Deptford, declared that it was a mistake for him to abstain on the 2010 bill. He vowed to make legalizing gay marriage a priority this year.

Christie last month said he'd veto the legislation if it passed. Christie said that such a fundamental change should be up to a vote of the people, and he has called for a referendum on the issue.

Democratic leaders say they will not allow Christian Louboutin Evening a vote, arguing that a majority of the people should not be entrusted with deciding whether to protect a minority.

Instead, gay-rights supporters are hopeful that they can get enough lawmakers on their side to override Christie's expected veto.

It would take two-thirds of both chambers of the Legislature and would have to happen by the time the current legislative session ends in January 2014.

Sweeney said he knows which senators he'll try to persuade but won't name them publicly.

Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat from Elizabeth, said that if all lawmakers voted their conscience and didn't cave to political pressure, there would be enough Senate votes now to override a veto. And he said that some lawmakers could switch positions, partly because of the influence of gay friends or family. "You never know who's going to forward -- a daughter, a son, a neighbor of significant meaning of a senator or assemblyperson -- and change a mind," he said.

Two Democrats voted no and two Republicans voted yes in what was otherwise a party-line vote.

"It is my opinion that our republic was established to guarantee liberty to all people," said Jennifer Beck, a Republican from Red Bank who voted yes. "It is our role to protect all of the people who live in our state."

Sen. Gerald Cardinale, a Republican Christian Louboutin Studded Pumps from Demarest, was the only senator to speak against the bill, saying allowing gays to marry goes against nature and history. "This bill simply panders to well-financed pressure groups and is not in the public interest," he said.


This eliminates one of the stumbling blocks

Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. (C) climbed more than 1.9 percent as a measure of European lenders gained. Alcoa Inc. (AA) and Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) added at least 1.4 percent as the S&P GSCI Index of commodities rose 0.9 percent. Apple Inc. (AAPL) rose 1.8 percent christian louboutin and traded above $500. Nvidia Corp. advanced 1.2 percent after FBR Capital Markets raised its recommendation for the maker of graphics processors.

The S&P 500 increased 0.6 percent to 1,350.75 at 9:43 a.m. New York time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 59.56 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,860.79 today.

“This has been a broad risk-on rally,” Mike Ryan, the New York-based chief investment strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, said in a telephone interview. “It’s not surprising to see the market rebound. The fact that the Greek Parliament was able to push through the austerity measures was widely expected. This eliminates one of the stumbling blocks, but it doesn’t solve the Greek issue. The issue now is the next step in this process. Our view is that Greece is going to struggle to make payments going forward.”

The S&P 500 has climbed 6.8 percent in 2012 through Feb. 10, including a 4.4 percent rally last month, on expectations the global economy will withstand the impact of the euro area’s debt crisis and as central banks lowered funding costs for lenders. The index fell last week, snapping the longest rally since January 2011, on concern that plans to help Greece avoid default were unraveling.
Financial Lifeline

Global stocks gained today as Germany and the European Commission welcomed Greek approval of the austerity steps demanded for a financial lifeline, suggesting euro finance Christian Louboutin Studded Zipper Ballet Flats chiefs will pull Greece back from the brink when they meet in two days. Euro-area finance ministers will convene in Brussels on Feb. 15 for the second extraordinary meeting on Greece in a week, after they declined to ratify the 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) package in a special session on Feb. 9.

Financial companies advanced as a measure of banks in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 1.1 percent. Bank of America rose 2.6 percent to $8.28. Citigroup climbed 1.9 percent to $33.55.

Energy and raw material producers gained on expectations about stronger demand for commodities. Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, increased 1.4 percent to $10.43. Chesapeake Energy rallied 5 percent to $23.23.
Apple Rallies

Apple added 1.8 percent to $502.34, after rallying for four straight weeks. On Jan. 24, the largest technology company reported quarterly profit that more than doubled as holiday purchases of the iPhone catapulted sales to a record and helped the company steer clear of the consumer-spending slump that has hurt rival companies.

Nvidia (NVDA) climbed 1.2 percent to $16.08. The company was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” at FBR Capital Markets. The 12-month share-price estimate is $20.

U.S. stocks may extend gains this year and mirror the performance of 1995, when the S&P 500 rallied 34 percent even after Mexico devalued its currency and Treasury yields dropped, Laszlo Birinyi said. Improved investor sentiment, central-bank actions and optimism that U.S. economic data will beat estimates, will sustain gains even after the best January for the S&P 500 since 1997, the president of Birinyi Associates Inc. in Westport, Connecticut, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today.

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“We still think you should buy stocks,” the fund manager said in London. “It’s a continuation of the bull market and we’re encouraged by what we are seeing in Europe. I look at the markets, I find they are strong. There’s real buying going on. This is not short-covering or a temporary or transitory thing.”


Apple Talk Weekly is a collection of some of the week's top Apple news and rumors

First things first, the iPad 3. Rumor has it we'll see it the first week of March, or at least a device that will succeed the iPad 2. Word of that was joined with a photo christian louboutin of what might just be the back casing of the new device, which when stuck next to an iPad 2 suggested we could be looking at the real deal.

If new hardware isn't your thing, there's always legal paperwork (yes I just said that). There was plenty of that to go around this week with several key court decisions and new lawsuits worth keeping an eye on. The FBI also released a nearly 200-page background check on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs from 1991.

You can catch up on these stories, and others from the past week, in this edition of Apple Talk Weekly.

Apple Talk Weekly is a collection of some of the week's top Apple news and rumors. It appears every Saturday, and is curated by CNET's Apple reporter, Josh Lowensohn.

The FBI this week released a heavily-redacted background check it did on late co-founder Steve Jobs back in 1991, some six years before Jobs would return as Apple's CEO and when U.S. President George H.W. Bush was considering Jobs for a position on his Export Council.

Among its findings are that there was once an attempt to extort Jobs and Apple with a bomb threat that later turned out to be false. There are also a handful of accounts from individuals interviewed by the FBI who weigh in on his personality and business style.

Apple set new records on Wall Street this week, reaching an all-time high in intraday trading and closing at several record highs. Apple's stock neared $500 for the first time, marking a considerable gain over the past three and a half months. The rise coincided with credible rumors that the company planned to announce a new iPad next month (more on that below).

Change.org member Sarah Ryan delivers a box filled with signatures to an Apple employee at the Grand Central Terminal store in Manhattan.

Petitions asking for better working conditions delivered to Apple retail stores
Members from Change.org this week hand-delivered printed copies of a petition with 250,000 signatures asking Apple to improve working conditions at the overseas manufacturers where it both sources components and has its products built. The petitions, which were a combination of two separate grassroots efforts, were delivered to Apple Stores around the world, including the U.S., India, Australia and the U.K.

Letters, lawsuits, court decisions galore
This week there was no shortage of legal happenings, one of which was a letter from Apple to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, asking it to change the way it handles patents. That included setting royalty rates and keeping certain patents from being leverage to force injunctions. It was unearthed the same day Google made a pledge to set reasonable royalty rates for patents held by Motorola Mobility, which it announced plans to acquire last year.

In court, Motorola Mobility failed to get an injunction against Apple this week in Mannheim's Regional Court in Germany after a judge said that Motorola didn't make a strong enough case that Apple was infringing on a patent it held. Apple fired back yesterday in a U.S. court, taking aim at the company for breaching a contract it had with Qualcomm that both companies shared, saying Motorola shouldn't have been using it against other licensees.

Earlier in the week a judge for Germany's regional court in Dusseldorf sided with Samsung in a separate case brought on by Apple, which had asked for an injunction on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N--the version of Samsung's tablet that had been re-designed per Apple's request.

Separately, a China-based Proview Technology filed a restraining order against Apple in China for the use of "iPad," saying it owned the trademark in the country and was looking Christian Louboutin Flats for a ban of sales of the tablet there. There was also a lawsuit against Apple filed by Swiss company SmtartData, accusing it of infringing on one of its patents with the iPhone, Apple TV and Remote app for iOS.

App Store rankings not something to game, says Apple
Apple this week warned developers not to use services that offer to raise the rankings of software into the company's coveted top rankings. Apple did not name names of third-party services that are able to do that, but did tell developers that they could be kicked out of its developer program if they chose to use them. In the past Apple has made a number of changes to its algorithm to combat app ranking manipulation, however this is one of the first times the company has come out against the practice outright.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Apple will once again unveil a new iPad on the first week of March--just as it did last year--a new report claimed this week. In a brief report citing anonymous sources, AllThingsD said Apple will hold an event in San Francisco that week to show off the iPad 2's successor, which the outlet believes will look much like the iPad 2, but with a higher resolution screen and a speedier processor, mirroring other reports.

15, 17-inch MacBook Airs on the way soon?
Remember that old rumor about Apple expanding its MacBook Air line to include models larger than 13 inches? Apple Insider said yesterday that Apple is cooking up an overhaul to its MacBook Pro line that involves stripping out components like the optical disc tray and hard drive in its two larger models, and replacing the latter with flash memory like it did on the MacBook Air. The report suggests Apple is focusing its efforts on making those changes to its 15-inch model first, later rolling out a similar design for its 17-inch MacBook Pro model.

Do you get excited viewing photos of machined aluminum that might be future Apple products? Then you might enjoy these shots from Repair Labs that cropped up this week, which the site says is the rear housing (read: the metal part behind the screen) for an iPad 3. While unconfirmed, the cases show a few notable differences from existing iPad 2 parts, both confirming some previous rumors and suggesting that they could be the real deal.

Canadian cable operators already in possession of Apple's TV set
A report from The Globe And Mail made waves this week for its claims that Apple's in talks with Rogers and BCE in Canada to make the two companies partners for the launch of its TV venture. The chewy part of the report came with the claim that those companies already had Apple TV units in their labs for in-house testing. The news followed a survey from Best Buy that gave a wish list of specs for an Apple-made TV, a survey the electronics retailer later said was simply "hypothetical."

Are those rumors of Apple bringing four cores to the next iPad 3 a big crock? CNET talked to two analysts to get a feel for where mobile chips are and where they're going. The short answer? Four cores may not be in the cards just yet, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Read the story to find out why.

Wholesale retailer Sam's Club is rumored to be in talks with Apple to bring store-within-stores to Sam's Club warehouses. A report this week said the two companies were in early discussions about just such a thing, but that no deal had been struck just yet. Sam's Club already sells a number of Apple products including iPods and the iPad. The rumored mini store deal could expand that to Apple's Mac computers too.

Deep within the carrier profiles found inside of Apple's Christian Louboutin Velvet Boots Black latest beta of iOS 5.1 are hints that the software may have a final release date of March 9, 2012. That date wouldn't be all that significant except for the fact that it's the same week Apple's now rumored to be taking the wraps off its next iPad. These release hints within developer beta versions of iOS have been wrong plenty of times, so take this one with a grain of salt. As a frame of reference, Apple's last iOS 5.1 beta was released in early January.


The opposition and the Free Syrian Army don't kill civilians

The blasts come as escalating violence between regime forces and an increasingly militarized opposition has raised fears christian louboutin the conflict is spiraling toward civil war.

A Syrian offensive aimed at crushing rebels in the battered city of Homs continued Friday, with soldiers who have been bombarding the city for the past six days making their first ground move to seize one of the most restive neighborhoods.

State TV blamed "terrorists" for the blasts in Aleppo — the first significant violence in Syria's largest city — saying they were proof the government is facing a violent enemy. Anti-Assad activists accused the regime of setting off Friday's blasts to discredit the opposition and avert protests that had been planned in the northern city on Friday.

Along with the capital Damascus, Aleppo is Syria's economic center, home to the business community and prosperous merchant classes whose continued backing for Assad has been crucial in bolstering his regime. The city has seen only occasional protests.

Three earlier bombings in Damascus in December and January that killed dozens prompted similar exchanges of accusations. Nobody has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

Outside one of the compounds hit, the Military Intelligence Directorate, a weeping corespondent on state-run TV showed graphic footage of at least five corpses, collected in sacks and under blankets by the side of the road.

Debris filled the street and residential buildings appeared to have their windows shattered. But the location did not appear to be closed off, as local residents milled around the site, with few uniformed police around. No emergency vehicles or ambulances were visible in the footage and there was no sign of wounded, as earth-moving equipment was seen clearing the rubble.

The presenter said the blast went off near a park and claimed children were among the dead, although none were seen in the TV footage.

The second blast went off outside the headquarters of a police force in another part of the city. State television cited the Health Ministry as saying 25 people were killed in the two blasts and 175 were wounded.

Mohammed Abu-Nasr, an Aleppo-based activist, blamed Assad's regime for the explosions, insisting the opposition would not carry out bombings in residential areas.

"The opposition and the Free Syrian Army don't kill civilians," Abu-Nasr said, referring to the force of army defectors that frequently attacks regime military forces.

Abu-Nasr said the blasts came on a day when activists were planning wide protests in the city after the Friday prayers. "Despite the blasts, we will go out and protest today," he said.

So far, Assad's opponents have had little success in galvanizing support in Aleppo, in part because the business leaders have long traded political freedoms for economic privileges. The city of around 2 million also has a large population of Kurds, who have mostly stayed on the sidelines of the uprising since Assad's regime began giving them citizenship, which they had long been denied.

The Aleppo blast was the latest in a string of bombings that the regime has sought to blame on the opposition, which denies any role. On Jan. 6, a suicide attack in the capital Damascus killed 26 people. Two weeks earlier, Christian Louboutin Suede Fringe Pumps 44 people were killed in twin suicide bombings that targeted intelligence agency compounds in Damascus.

Assad's crackdown has killed more than 5,400 people since the uprising began in March.

The assault on Homs began last Saturday after unconfirmed reports that army defectors and other armed opponents of Assad were setting up their own checkpoints and taking control of some areas.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed in the past week in Homs from relentless shelling and gunfire on several rebellious neighborhoods in the city, an operation activists said aimed to soften up the areas before moving in.

On Friday, soldiers backed by tanks pushed into the neighborhood of Inshaat. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops were going house to house detaining people. Inshaat is next to Baba Amr, a neighborhood that has been under rebel control for months. Activists said at least four people were killed in the shelling in Baba Amr on Friday.

"They are punishing the residents," said the Observatory's chief Rami Abdul-Rahman, who added that food supplies were dwindling in the area.

Troops shelled parts of the city with tanks and heavy machine guns through the night until daylight Friday, said Majd Amer, an activist in Khaldiyeh, one of the targeted districts. He said troops nearby appeared to be preparing to move into Khaldiyeh as well.

Mohammed Saleh, a Syria-based activist, said the regime appears to be trying to take over rebel-held areas in Homs and the northwestern restive province of Idlib before Feb. 17, when Assad's ruling Baath party is scheduled to hold its first general conference since 2005.

The conference is expected to move on reforms that Assad has promised in a bid to calm the uprising. During the conference, Baath party leaders are expected to call for national dialogue and announce they will open the way for other political parties to play a bigger role in Syria's politics.

The opposition has rejected such promises as insincere and said it will not accept anything less than Assad's departure.

State media also reported this week that a committee in charge of drafting a new constitution reportedly removed a section naming the Baath party as the leader of the nation and society, once a key demand by the opposition.

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The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, also said troops opened fire to disperse thousands of protesters who filled the streets following Friday prayers in the northwestern coastal city of Latakia, the southern city of Daraa, Homs and the Damascus suburbs.


The Wizards got into foul trouble trying to guard

“What the game boiled down to was containment,” said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. “We couldn’t contain the basketball, basically, whether it was in pick and rolls,christian louboutin or balls kicked out and we’re recovering and they’re blowing by us to the basket.”

The Wizards got into foul trouble trying to guard the Knicks‘ front court players: JaVale McGee, Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely each picked up five fouls, contributing to a team total of 28, to the Knicks‘ 16.

“I wish I could argue a lot of the calls, but a lot of the calls were fouls,” said Wittman.

“As I told them after the game, you’ve got to know when you’re in the bonus and not in the bonus. We played that third quarter once they got into the bonus like we had no clue we were in the bonus. It was a parade to the free throw line.”

Wittman’s comments summed up the Wizards problems all season long: there are far too many instances where the Wizards seem to have no clue about much of what happens on the court.

The Wizards also had trouble containing point guard Jeremy Lin, an undrafted second year player from Harvard, who has become an overnight sensation throughout much of the league after becoming known for a summer league game in which he played well against John Wall.

Lin scored 23 points and had 10 assists, while Wall turned in one of his best performances of the season, with 29 points and six assists. But, Wall got very little help from his teammates and his backcourt mates, Jordan Crawford and Nick Young, managed only 14 points between them. Shelvin Mack didn’t score.

“He just did a great job running pick-and-roll,” Wall said of Lin.

“They had three shooters around him, and they ran pick-and-roll — him and Tyson Chandler. They had help off the shooter. [Lin] found them, and they got a layup or they found Chandler at the rim. They were pretty tough to stop.”

Even Wittman’s son Ryan, who played against Lin in college when Ryan attended Cornell, couldn’t resist teasing his father about the Wizards problems defending Lin.

“He [Ryan] told me that they did a much better job guarding him [Lin] than we did tonight,” said Wittman. “I already had that text message before the game was over. Makes dad feel good.”

Mo Evans saw a bright side in the night’s loss.

“If we can take a page out of their book, we Christian Louboutin Muffs Furry Short Boots can use John in the same way,” said Evans, referring to the way the Knicks use Lin.

“John is probably the fastest point guard in this league with the ball. He has the ability to attack the rim the same as Jeremy Lin, and people go under pick and rolls the same as they do with Lin.

Sport's highest court banned 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich for two years on Thursday and stripped him of his third-place finish in the 2005 race for blood doping.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the 38-year-old German, who retired in 2007, was "fully engaged" in the doping program of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes that was exposed in the 2006 Operation Puerto probe.

The CAS panel "came to the conclusion that Jan Ullrich engaged at least in blood doping in violation of ... anti-doping rules," the court said.

Ullrich's suspension comes three days after CAS banned Alberto Contador for two years and stripped him of his 2010 Tour title for doping. A U.S. federal investigation into alleged doping involving seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong and his teammates was dropped Friday.

Ullrich is banned from cycling through August 21, 2013, and all his results from May 1, 2005, until his retirment are annulled.

"It is established that Jan Ullrich was fully engaged with Dr. (Eufemiano) Fuentes's doping program at least from that date," the court said.

Along with his loss of a podium placement in the 2005 Tour, which was won by Armstrong, Ullrich will also be stripped of his victory in the 2006 Tour de Suisse. Spanish rider Francisco Mancebo moves up from fourth to third in the 2005 Tour.

CAS, however, rejected the International Cycling Union's request to impose a lifetime ban and disqualify all of Ullrich's results since May 2002. CAS said Ullrich's six-month ban for using amphetamines outside of competition in 2002 should not be classified as a doping offense. A second offense could trigger a life ban.

The UCI wanted Ullrich banned for life to prevent him from ever working again in professional cycling.

Cycling's governing body appealed to CAS to challenge a decision by Switzerland's Olympic committee to decline responsibility for prosecuting the former Swiss-based rider.

CAS took jurisdiction for the much-delayed case and praised the "volume, consistency and probative value" of evidence presented by the UCI.

Ullrich linked up with Fuentes's doping operations "on multiple occasions" and paid him $106,000 for his services, the CAS ruling said.

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The CAS panel "expressed its surprise" that Ullrich did not challenge the truth of this evidence at a hearing held last August.

Ullrich was also a five-time runner-up in cycling's biggest race. Three times he was denied victory by seven-time Tour winner Armstrong -- in 2000, '01 and '03.


Nothing like this has ever happened before

The social worker had brought Charlie, 5, and Braden, 7, to the house for their court-ordered supervised visit on Sunday. She frantically called for help as soon as she said Powell took the children and shut christian louboutin her out of the house.
"Nothing like this has ever happened before, I'm really shocked, I can hear one of the kids crying," the woman said. "This is the craziest thing, he looked right at me and closed the door."

Concerned that the children might be in a life-threatening situation, the woman also told dispatchers she smelled gas coming from the house. After the house exploded in flames, she called again.

"He blew up the house and the kids!" she cried. "He slammed the door in my face!"

Excerpts from the call were obtained and broadcast Tuesday night by Wash. NBC affiliate, KING5.

It also spoke to the husband of the un-named social worker, who said she was "not doing very well" despite being offered counselling.

He told the station she was "devastated and traumatized" by the episode and had worked with the boys for a long time, forming a bond with them.

The husband, who was also not named, told KING5 she made a distraught call to him after the fire, repeatedly saying about the boys: "They trusted me, they trusted me."

The double murder-suicide took place days after Powell, whose wife Susan went missing in 2009, was ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation as part of a bid to regain custody of his children from his in-laws.

Report: Powell left apologetic voicemail minutes before death

Authorities in Wash. and Utah, from where the family moved, are now effectively treating the disappearance of Susan Powell as murder, even though her body has yet to be found.

MSNBC's Thomas Roberts talks to Chuck and Judy Cox, parents of Susan Powell, about their grandsons' deaths and their Christian Louboutin Flats daughter's disappearance.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill acknowledged for the first time that investigators believe Powell is likely dead, but he said in an interview with the AP that the case remains a missing persons probe for now.

"I think when I talk about it as a missing persons case, that's because we haven't located the body of Susan Powell," Gill said. "Do we think that she may have met harm? Sure. I think that's been an ongoing assumption with law enforcement."

Investigators said Josh Powell withdrew $7,000 in cash from a bank the day before he killed himself and his two young sons in the house fire.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said detectives obtained Powell's bank records Monday, and on Tuesday they searched a storage unit he rented. It isn't clear what happened to the money.

Josh Powell claimed that on the night Susan Powell vanished, he took Charlie and Braden from their then home in West Valley City, Utah, on a late-night camping trip. Authorities eventually searched the central Utah desert but found nothing.

Susan Powell's father said that when police went to the family home after she was reported missing, they found a wet spot in the house being dried by two fans. Police have not commented further on what they found.

Last September, authorities got a warrant to search the home of Josh Powell's father, Steve. Josh Powell and his sons were living there at the time. The documents obtained by the AP did not specify a suspect.

In addition to the charges, the warrant listed Steve Powell's work laptop computer as well as cars that he used.

Authorities found explicit Christian Louboutin Studded Pumps images on his computers during the search, and he was jailed on voyeurism and child porn charges. The boys were later sent to live with Susan Powell's parents.


Netflix continues to trade in overbought territory

Now you can add Coinstar (NASDAQ: CSTR), deployers of the ubiquitious Redbox DVD vending kiosks, to the list with its newly announced partnership with Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) to begin streaming media online.

Whether or not this is a game-changer christian louboutin for Netflix remains to be seen. As of Monday’s close, shares of both Netflix and Coinstar were moving strongly higher, with NFLX up more than 2% and CSTR gaining more than 1% (even Verizon, which has sold off sharply since the beginning of the year, edged higher by three-quarters of a percent), the consensus opinion on the deal is somewhere between “this won’t hurt Netflix” to “this won’t hurt Netflix, yet.”

Technically speaking, Netflix continues to trade in overbought territory below the 200-day moving average. The stock has closed higher for four days in a row – seven out of the past eight – earning NFLX our lowest “consider avoiding” rating of 1 out of 10 late in trading on Monday. Netflix also has a negative, short-term edge of just over 1%.

For its part, Coinstar lost much of its early momentum on Monday. The stock opened up by well over 6%, but reversed over the course of the trading day to close well off the session’s highest levels. Finishing lower for three out of the four days leading into Monday’s volatile session, CSTR is set to open Tuesday morning in neutral territory, with a small bias toward the overbought. With a modest positive edge of half a percent, Coinstar has earned neutral, 6 out of 10 ratings ahead of trading on Tuesday.

Shares of Verizon Communications have been stronger in recent days, closing higher for five out of the past six sessions, and edging toward both new, short-term highs and overbought territory above the 200-day moving average. Two rounds of selling at the beginning and end of January have kept the stock under significant selling pressure in 2012, with VZ down more than 5% for the year.

Heading into trading on Tuesday, Verizon is in neutral territory with a bias toward the overbought.

Want more stocks? Read our latest from 7 Stocks You Need to Know: “The Intel Pullback as Pitstop: Three Down, Six Up”.

The country’s vice president, Mohammed Hassan, was sworn in as president on Tuesday afternoon.

The Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean known for its luxury tourist resorts, has been in the throes of nighttime protests for the past three weeks since the detention of the judge. Police officers in Male, the capital, revolted overnight against orders to break up the protests and then marched to the headquarters of the military to demand the president’s resignation.

“I believe if I continue as the president of the Christian Louboutin Sandals Maldives, the people of the country would suffer more,” Mr. Nasheed said in a resignation statement published on his Web site on Tuesday. “I wish the Maldives would have a consolidated democracy. I wish for justice to be established. My wish is for the progress and prosperity of the people.”

Mr. Nasheed was elected in 2008 and is credited with bringing full democracy to the Maldives after the 30-year rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Last month, Mr. Nasheed ordered the military to arrest a criminal court judge, Abduallah Mohammed, on the grounds that he was acting on behalf of the former president. Protesters began to take to the streets in Male and on Monday night police officers decided to join them.

“The real catalyst, last night, was that the police decided that they wouldn’t disperse the protesters,” said Mohamed Hussain Shareef, spokesman for the Progressive Party of Maldives, the opposition party of Mr. Gayoom, the former president.

Mr. Shareef contended that the military refused to follow orders to crack down on the protesters. “We were told that the army was also asked to disperse the protesters using live rounds,” Mr. Shareef said.

S. Ahmed Shiyam, a police official in Male said clashes took place between police officers and soldiers on Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, with some of the protesters joining on the police side. Then, some soldiers switched sides, and by Tuesday morning the police and army were united.

An official close to Mr. Nasheed denied that the president had ordered soldiers to fire on the protesters and had resigned to avoid such violence. “He faced the choice of seeing a lot of blood by asking the military to crack down,” said the official, who asked not to be identified given the political volatility of the moment. “But he wasn’t prepared to do that.”

The official close to Mr. Nasheed accused Christian Louboutin Studded Louis Sneaker Red supporters of former President Gayoom of engineering the protests, as well as the mutiny by police officers. “This hasn’t been a popular revolt,” the official said in a telephone interview. “Make no mistake, it is a coup.”