苏州半永久纹绣培训学校

苏州半永久培训

Van Gaal feeling ‘lousy’ after United’s poor start

After losing 1-0 at fierce rivals Manchester City last weekend, United are 10th in the Premier League following their worst start to a campaign since 1986.

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Speaking at a news conference on the eve of Saturday’s home match with Crystal Palace, Dutchman Van Gaal said he was disappointed with United’s lacklustre start.

“I’m feeling lousy for everyone that we have 13 points from 10 games,” he said. “I have the experience that people have great belief in what we are doing now, in the way we are playing football.

“But we are in a process. The process shall take more than one year. It shall take three years — I hope — though that is dependent on lots of things.

“I think we will make it happen, that we will win a lot of matches.”

Van Gaal’s waspish mood was not helped by his lengthy injury list.

INJURY PROBLEMS

Argentine defender Marcos Rojo, who dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s defeat, will be out for six weeks, while fellow defenders Jonny Evans and Phil Jones are still carrying knocks and Chris Smalling is suspended.

Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who has scored once in five games since joining on loan from AS Monaco, will also miss the Palace game after failing to recover from a calf injury.

“Marcos dislocated his shoulder but did it in a positive way,” Van Gaal said.

“We don’t need to operate on him, which is a relief, but maybe with this injury it is very difficult (to say) it shall not happen again. Conservatively, it can be less than six weeks.”

United have conceded 14 goals in the league this season and, with Van Gaal forced to reshuffle his defensive pack on a regular basis, the former Netherlands coach said the number of injuries had not helped his side’s cause.

“I have remodelled the structure of my team,” he said. “Now I have to solve the problems of the injuries every week. When I want to select the same lineup, I cannot. It’s the same every week.

“You cannot create consistency and that’s important in football. But I don’t want to complain or cry, because I have great belief in not only the players but the staff and the players and also the supporters who are supporting me.”

(Reporting by Michael Hann; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Hiddink to quit if Dutch lose next Euro qualifier

“If we lose to Latvia then I’ll take the logical step.

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I haven’t discussed it with the players but to me a draw too would not be acceptable,” the 67-year-old told a news conference.

Hiddink’s second spell in charge of the Dutch has quickly descended into a mini crisis after defeat by the Czech Republic and Iceland in Group A qualifiers in September and October left them with three points from three games.

The Netherlands play Mexico in a friendly on Wednesday and then host Latvia at the AmsterdamArena on Sunday.

But he was also bullish about their qualifying chances.

“Yes we will qualify,” he said of the six-team group that also includes Kazakhstan and Turkey.

The nine group winners and nine runners-up plus the best third-placed team will qualify directly for the finals in France. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest playoffs to determine the last four qualifiers.

UNDER FIRE

Hiddink has been under fire since the Dutch lost 2-0 to Iceland last month with extensive behind the scenes talks to try and get to the bottom of a dramatic dip in form just months after they came third at the World Cup in Brazil.

“But it was not as if I was brought up on the carpet,” said Hiddink of an ‘evalution’ of his work by the Dutch FA (KNVB) after the defeat in Reykjavik.

“We did an evaluation but I didn’t get the impression I needed to get down on my knees. That’s not how it went down. It was said we needed to do a sharp evalution and I had no problem with that.”

On the eve of his 68th birthday, Hiddink also addressed concerns from reporters that he might no longer be able to forge the special bonds with players which have been the hallmark of his coaching success in the past.

“I still have a lot of enthusiasm to talk to the youngsters,” he said. “I feel their energy. Ask the players if I can still get through to them?

“If I had the feeling that they didn’t want me then I would stop. But I don’t get that feeling from this team.”

Hiddink said the negative reaction to recent results was disproportionate.

“I don’t like the drama that is now swirling around the team,” he said. “There is an over reaction. But I have to accept it. The criticism is a lot harsher these days compared to when I first coached the team. But the media are competing much more with each other.”

Hiddink, whose previous clubs include Real Madrid and Chelsea, was in charge of the Netherlands side that reached the 1998 World Cup semi-finals in France.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Paris mayor won’t be rushed into 2024 bid

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Friday a decision on whether to bid for the 2024 summer Olympic Games, which President Francois Hollande supports, would not be made before January.

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France has not hosted the summer Olympics since 1924 and in a television appearance on Thursday, Hollande said he was in favour of bidding for the global sporting event, describing it as important for a “capital of culture”.

But Hidalgo, whose job it is to decide whether or not to go for the Olympics, told reporters that the conclusions of working groups studying the feasibility of a bid would be made in January.

“I will stick to this schedule and I invite everyone to respect it like I do,” she said.

Hidalgo is extremely reticent to put in a bid.

Earlier this year, she said: “We are in a financial and budgetary position today that does not allow me to say that I am making this bid.”

She reminded reporters on Friday that the French capital had already submitted failed bids for the Olympic Games — the latest was for the 2012 event which eventually went to London.

“Having dreams is good, realising them is even better,” she said.

Junior Sports Minister Thierry Braillard also waded into the debate, saying hosting the 2024 Olympics would not entail massive investments.

“We are lucky to have infrastructure that means that if we decided to bid, there would be no need for much investment where infrastructure is concerned as it already exists,” he said.

“The only investment would be on the Olympic village, which could become social housing or housing for students, and on transport infrastructure.”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, meanwhile, has spoken out in favour of Paris bidding for the 2025 World Expo — which Hollande also said he supported — leading many to think it was unlikely the city would also throw its hat in the ring for the Olympics.

The last time France held an Olympic event was in 1992 when Albertville hosted the Winter Games.

Gas leak delays shuttle launch

NASA called off the launch of its shuttle Endeavour on Wednesday for the second time in four days due to a small but potentially hazardous hydrogen leak, the US space agency said.

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“At 1:55 am (0555 GMT), launch managers called a scrub, canceling today’s planned launch of space shuttle Endeavour on its STS-127 mission,” NASA said in a statement.

“Despite troubleshooting efforts, engineers were unable to achieve a decrease in the liquid hydrogen leak,” the agency said, adding that the leak was in the same spot that halted the previous launch attempt on Saturday.

Hydrogen in venting system

The previous leak was in the venting system supposed to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad.

Shuttle launch director Pete Nickolenko had admitted during intense repair efforts Sunday that the original leak’s root cause was still not determined.

The three-hour operation to pump 500,000 gallons (two million liters) to the shuttle tanks was begun late Tuesday for a launch to the International Space Station at 5:40 am (0940 GMT).

Rescheduled till July

With the second scrub, however, the next possible lift-off may not be until July 11 at the earliest.

The shuttle’s new launch date caused a scheduling conflict with NASA’s moon-bound crater observation and sensing satellite (LRO/LCROSS), with the lunar mission being pushed back one day to June 18. It was unclear if Endeavour’s second cancelation would again affect its launch.

When Endeavour does head out from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, it will be the 32nd mission to the ISS, orbiting 350 kilometers (220 miles) above Earth, and the last of three missions to assemble the Japanese Kibo laboratory aboard the orbiting space station.

During the shuttle’s stay the ISS is set to be a temporary home to 13 astronauts — the first time so many people have stayed on the orbiting station at once.

Astronauts to join ISS crew

The six US astronauts and a Canadian woman astronaut that Endeavour is expected to bring to the ISS will join another US astronaut and one more from Canada, as well as two Russians, a Belgian and Japan’s Koichi Wakata who are currently living on the ISS.

Construction began on the ISS a decade ago, and the push is on to complete the building before NASA ends its shuttle missions in September 2010.

Over the five planned spacewalks lasting some 32.5 hours, the astronauts will install a permanent 1.9 tonnes platform to Kibo, which will serve as one of the station’s porches for conducting experiments in the vacuum of space.

More rallies planned despite ban

Iran’s opposition movement is calling for another public rally in Tehran as pressure builds on the regime over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fiercely-contested re-election.

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Grappling with the biggest wave of public anger since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has lashed out at enemy “plots,” hauling in foreign ambassadors, rounding up scores of reformists and clamping down on the media.

World governments voiced increasing alarm about the situation in Iran, but US President Barack Obama, while raising “deep concerns” over the election, said Washington would not meddle in the affairs of its arch-foe.

Rally called, despite ban

Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has accused the regime of blatant vote-rigging, said they have called another rally in Tehran for 1330 GMT on Wednesday, despite a ban on such gatherings.

Reformists sources and the press said on Wednesday that several more prominent political activists and journalists had been arrested by security forces in Tehran and other cities.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Tuesday that he may order a partial recount of votes cast in Friday’s presidential election, which returned Ahmadinejad to power with a landslide according to official results.

“I am asking the Guardians Council and the interior ministry to examine the said issues so there is no doubt left,” Khamenei was quoted by state television as saying.

“If the examination of the problems require recounting of some ballot boxes, it should be definitely done in the presence of the representatives of candidates so that everybody is assured.”

The election has triggered days of opposition protests across Tehran and other cities, exposing deep divisions in the

oil-rich Shiite Muslim nation of 71 million people.

In demonstrations on Tuesday, supporters of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi staged rival rallies, each calling out hundreds

of thousands of people on to the streets of Tehran, state media said.

Iranian newspapers published pictures of the demonstrations, which the foreign media was banned from covering.

“We are not troublemakers,” said one banner shown in a photograph at the opposition rally, where many demonstrators wore the green of Mousavi’s campaign colour.

Seven people were reported killed in violence in Tehran on Monday, with footage broadcast on foreign television stations showing dramatic and chaotic scenes of violence, police beating protesters and blazing tyres and motorbikes.

Obama, who has turned his back on the policy of predecessor George W Bush and called for dialogue with Iran after three decades of severed ties, took a cautious line on Tuesday.

He said he had “deep concerns” about the election but added: “It is not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling – the US president meddling in Iranian elections.”

Obama said the United States would still need to pursue “tough diplomacy” towards Iran over its nuclear drive, saying there appeared to be little difference between the policies of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi.

“Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighbourhood and has been pursuing nuclear weapons,” Obama told CNBC.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in the strongest remarks so far by a Western leader, said there had been election “fraud”.

Hundreds of protesters also took to the streets of European cities on Tuesday in support of Mousavi, who was premier of Iran in the post-revolution era during its war with Iraq in the 1980s.

Iran has responded to international criticism of the vote and the subsequent crackdown on opposition protesters by summoning EU envoys and lashing out at foreign meddling.

“Enemies, particularly the US, Britain, and Israel (are) interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, plotting against the government and giving media support to enemy groups, rioters and social and political hooligans who are trying to fuel chaos in the Islamic Republic,” said the organisers of Tuesday’s pro-regime rally.

The authorities have warned they would nip in the bud any “velvet revolution” and have rounded up scores of people in Tehran and other cities, including prominent reformists close to former president Mohammad Khatami.

Iran has also clamped down on foreign media, banning it from covering demonstrations.

Obama unveils banking reform plans

President Barack Obama has proposed the most “sweeping” regulatory overhaul since the 1930s, vowing to stop future meltdowns in a financial system humbled by lax oversight, greed and huge debts.

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The reforms, which must be approved by Congress, will inject the government deeper into financial markets and industries in a bid to tame the recklessness which saw a mortgage meltdown tip the world into deep economic crisis.

“We did not choose how this crisis began. But we do have a choice in the legacy this crisis leaves behind,” Obama said, unveiling his reforms at the White House.

“So today, my administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression.”

Obama blamed a “culture of irresponsibility,” a Great Depression-era regulatory system, reckless executive compensation, excessive debt and markets awash in new and risky financial products for sparking the crisis.

“An absence of oversight engendered systematic, and systemic, abuse,” Obama said.

“Instead of reducing risk, the markets actually magnified risks that were being taken by ordinary families and large firms alike.

“There was far too much debt and not nearly enough capital in the system. And a growing economy bred complacency.”n

New powers to the Reserve Bank

The proposals would give the Federal Reserve new powers to clamp firm regulation on all finance firms or banks that pose a significant systemic risk to the wider financial infrastructure.

They would introduce new discipline and transparency into financial markets and would enable investors to better ride out the failure of one or more large financial institution.

As previously announced, the reforms will include the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to shield Americans from the extremes of credit, savings and mortgage markets.

The Office of Thrift Supervision — a federal bank regulator and supervisor — will be abolished under the reform proposals, officials said.

The agency came under fire for the near collapse of insurance giant AIG, which was eventually bailed out by the government for 180 billion dollars, and the failure of Washington Mutual, the biggest bank to fail in US history.

US investment banking icon Lehman Brothers had also collapsed at the height of the financial turmoil in September.

Overhaul ‘does not go far enough’

Some Obama critics, hoping for a top-to-bottom reconstruction of the greed-laced financial system, complained the overhaul did not go far enough, others said it would require too much government intervention in the economy.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders called for greater action.

“We need to enact a national usury law so that big banks can’t charge outrageous interest rates and sky-high fees,” he said. “If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.”

Eric Cantor, a leading Republican in the House of Representatives, criticized Obama’s plans.

“We need smart regulation, not necessarily more regulation,” he said.

“The Administration has placed too much emphasis on government and too little on people.”

The US Chamber of Commerce said the plan had several positive recommendations, but simply added to “the layering of the system without addressing the underlying and fundamental problems.”

The non-partisan Financial Services Forum though described the proposal as “comprehensive and responsive” to deficiencies in the current system.

Obama took aim at some of the exploitative asset products and mortgages offered in those markets that lured American investors into trouble.

“These schemes were built on a pile of sand,” Obama said.

“The actions of many firms escaped scrutiny. In some cases, the dealings of these institutions were so complex and opaque that few inside or outside these companies understood what was happening.

National bank supervisor to be set up

Officials said a “national bank supervisor would be set up under the plans to supervise and regulate all federally charted depository institutions and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks.

Obama is also proposing stringent capital and liquidity requirements for the largest and most “interconnected” financial firms.

By early afternoon on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 19.57 points at 8524.24, but it fell 6.81 points (0.08 percent) to 8,497.36 at the close, its third straight day of losses.

US rejects Iran’s ‘interfering’ claims

“As the president has said, we are not interfering with the debate that Iranians are having about their election and its aftermath,” State Department spokesman P.

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J. Crowley said.

“You know, this is a debate about Iranians and about Iran’s future,” he said.

“It’s up to the government of Iran to resolve these questions and these concerns that the Iranian people have and that the world has in a credible way, in a transparent way, and in a peaceful way.”

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama would continue to express his concerns about the election and the subsequent political violence.

Gibbs noted that the president had discussed universal principles such as the right to peacefully demonstrate and stressed they should be observed in Iran as the political tumult escalates.

“The president will continue to express those concerns and ensure that we are not meddling,” said Gibbs.

Earlier, Iran protested to the Swiss envoy in Tehran, who represents US interests, over “interfering remarks” by US officials on last week’s presidential election, state television reported.

Obama said on Tuesday that he had concerns about the conduct of last week’s election and subsequent violence, but said that US “meddling” in Iranian affairs could be counterproductive.

Washington would still pursue “tough diplomacy” towards Iran over its nuclear drive, but has been walking a fine political line designed to avoid becoming a “political football” in Iran, Obama said.

The White House also downplayed reports that the State Department had intervened to stop the microblogging service Twitter, which has been carrying many eyewitness reports of protests in Iran, from scheduling a shutdown for maintenance that would have coincided with daytime hours in Tehran.

Gibbs described the State Department’s role as having been undertaken by “an employee in some discussions with Twitter about the importance of social networking and maintenance,” in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.

“So I think you’re going to have a hard time making the case that somehow this was done in some way as a bias.”

Twitter delayed Monday’s scheduled tuneup and performed it Tuesday instead but said the decision was made with its network provider, not the State Department.

On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden too voiced doubts about Iran’s controversial election.

“There is an awful lot of questions about how this election was run,” Biden said in an interview with NBC television. “We are waiting to see. We don’t have enough facts to make a firm judgment.”

Washington has had no diplomatic ties with Tehran for three decades and its interests are represented by the Swiss embassy.

Moderate former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi has demanded a re-run of last Friday’s Iranian presidential election after official results gave outright victory in the first round to hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

At a glance: Obama’s financial overhaul

President Barack Obama has proposed the most sweeping overhaul of the way the US government oversees financial markets since the 1930s.

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Here are the details of the plan.

– A new Financial Services Oversight Council of regulators led by the Treasury to identify emerging “systemic” risks and improve interagency cooperation.

– New authority for the Federal Reserve to supervise all firms that could pose a threat to financial stability, even those that do not own banks.

– Stronger capital and other prudential standards for all financial firms, and even higher standards for large firms.

– A new National Bank Supervisor to supervise all federally chartered banks.

– Elimination of the federal thrift charter and other loopholes that allowed some depository institutions to avoid bank holding company regulation by the Federal Reserve.

– The registration of advisers of hedge funds and other private pools of capital with the SEC.

– New requirements for market transparency, stronger regulation of credit rating agencies, and a requirement that issuers and originators retain a financial interest in securitized loans.

– Comprehensive regulation of all over-the-counter derivatives.

– New authority for the Federal Reserve to oversee payment, clearing, and settlement systems.

– A new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers across the financial sector from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.

– A new regime to resolve nonbank financial institutions whose failure could have serious systemic effects.

– Revisions to the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority to improve accountability.

Cahill relives World Cup glory to down Japan

Socceroos star Tim Cahill relived his 2006 World Cup heroics with two second half goals against Japan to ensure Australia ended their qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010 in triumph.

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An Australian team missing numerous first-choice players won 2-1 at the MCG on Wednesday night, meaning they went unbeaten through the eight games of their final phase of qualifying and stayed ahead of Japan at the top of their group to earn Asian bragging rights.

Full coverage: The World Game

Cahill, who scored the first two goals in Australia’s World Cup history to spark a famous 3-1 comeback victory over Japan in Germany in 2006, was again the shining light for the Socceroos against the Blue Samurai.

Coach Pim Verbeek lauded his players and Cahill in particular, who scored a brilliant header in the 59th minute to erase a 1-0 halftime deficit, then scored the winner in the 76th.

“Timmy is a great player, If you see the work he is doing for the team, defensively, always supporting the strikers, so dangerous in the penalty box,” Verbeek said.

“The first goal was fantastic, what a great goal that was.

“It’s fantastic for the team to have a player like that.”

While both sides were already guaranteed World Cup qualification before Wednesday night’s match, Cahill’s second half heroics gave an MCG crowd of 69,238 plenty to cheer about.

Verbeek said the team had also sent a “statement to the rest of Asia and probably the rest of the world” by topping their qualification group by five points.

There had been precious few moments for the green and gold army to cheer before the break, with Japan’s Tulio Tanaka scoring in the 40th minute.

It broke a seven-game streak of clean sheets for Socceroos’ goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who had spent his previous 670 minutes in goal without conceding.

But the rare blot on their defensive copybook stirred the Socceroos into life after the break and they attacked constantly in the opening stages of the second half, leading to Cahill’s breakthrough.

“I’m very proud of the players,” Verbeek said.

“At the end of a very long and tough season they still had the power and the courage to fight back from 1-0 down in the first half.

“Great goals of course from Timmy. I think the players did very well until the last second.”

Cahill leapt above two Japanese defenders at the left side of the box to connect with a long-range Vince Grella free kick for the first goal.

It seemed to inspire him to press even harder, getting onto the end of several promising attacking moves in the following minutes.

The winner came when a Nicky Carle corner kick from the right side floated over a pack of players in the box and Cahill, lurking at the back, got enough of his right leg to the ball to send it home.

It was his 16th goal in 33 internationals and he was later given a huge ovation as he walked to the bench in the 86th minute, having once again lifted Australia to a comeback victory over Japan.

Footballers join Iran protests

Iranian footballers appeared at a World Cup qualifier in Seoul wearing green armbands in support of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi as fresh rallies were held in Tehran.

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Tens of thousands of supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi took part in what was billed as a “silent” protest rally, marching through central Tehran, witnesses said.

Wearing green wrist- and head-bands in the colour of Mousavi’s campaign, the demonstrators carried placards accusing re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of having “stolen” their votes in Friday’s poll.

It was the fifth successive day of protests over the disputed presidential election and was called by Mr Mousavi.

Footballers use World Cup match to protest

Iranian footballers used their televised World Cup qualifying match against South Korea to stage their own protest.

About six footballers, including the captain, appeared on the field wearing green armbands in support of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The news is a blow for President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, who is closely associated with Iran’s national football squad and reportedly loans his presidential plane to the team to travel to matches.

Crackdown intensifies

The Iranian authorities threatened legal action against websites which publish material that “creates tensions” and issued a new warning to the foreign media, already facing tight restrictions on their work.

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said a dozen Iranian journalists and bloggers have been arrested and many others have gone into hiding.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini said he would consider a partial recount after the opposition held mass protests over what it charges was blatant rigging of the election that gave Ahmadinejad another four-year term.

In defiance of an official ban, Mousavi himself called for marches and a day of mourning on Thursday for protesters slain in the post-election clashes.

And he repeated his demand for the results of what he branded a “shameful fraud” to be annulled and a new vote called, in a statement on his movement’s website.

Calls on Iran to release prisoners

Later on Wednesday, he and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami issued a joint letter urging the Iranian authorities to release those arrested in recent days and end the violence against their supporters.

“We ask you to take all the necessary measures to put an end to today’s worrying situation, to stop the violent actions against people and to free those arrested,” said the letter, again published on his website.

Addressed to judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, it denounced violent actions and provocations against peaceful protestors and attacks against students and their halls of residence.

At least seven killed

At least seven people have been killed and many more wounded in clashes, with protests reported not only in Tehran but also other major cities after an election that has exposed deep divisions in the oil-rich nation.

Ahmadinejad remained defiant, saying his landslide victory in Friday’s vote showed faith in his government of “honesty and service to the people.”

Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, said he was asking the Guardians Council, a 12-member body made up of jurists and clerics, to examine the complaints of irregularities.

The council said it had invited Ahmadinejad’s three challengers to set out their grievances on Saturday.

Supporters of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi had staged rival rallies on Tuesday, each calling out hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets of Tehran.

Foreign media now banned

Foreign media were banned from covering the demonstrations under tough new restrictions aimed at keeping them off the streets, but Iranian newspapers published pictures.

The authorities have warned they will nip in the bud any “velvet revolution” and have rounded up scores of people in Tehran and other cities, including prominent reformists close to former president Khatami.

Reformist sources said that several more leading figures were arrested on Wednesday, including Mohammad Atrianfar, a confidante of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and prominent analyst and journalist Saeed Laylaz.

In a sign of the tensions within the regime, the crackdown drew criticism from some senior conservatives, notably parliament speaker Ali Larijani who spoke out against an attack on students at Tehran university.

The authorities issued a new warning to the foreign media, saying some outlets had become the “mouthpiece of the rioters’ movement.”

Call for a day of mourning in Iran

Iran’s opposition is set to hold marches and a day of mourning today for slain protesters as they keep up pressure on the authorities over the disputed presidential election in the country’s biggest crisis since the 1979 revolution.

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In defiance of an official ban, defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi called upon his supporters to take the streets again and hold a day mourning for protesters slain in the post-election clashes, in a statement published on his movement’s website.

Tens of thousands of Mousavi’s supporters took part Wednesday in what was billed as a “silent” protest rally, marching through central Tehran, witnesses said.

Wearing green wrist- and head-bands in the colour of Mousavi’s campaign, the demonstrators carried placards accusing re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of having “stolen” their votes in Friday’s poll.

Iranian state television broadcast brief footage of the rally.

Grappling with the biggest wave of public anger in three decades of Islamic rule, Iranian authorities lashed out at enemy “plots”, hauling in foreign ambassadors and rounding up scores of reformists.

Officials threatened legal action against websites which publish material that “creates tensions” and issued a new warning to the foreign media, already facing tight restrictions on their work.

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said a dozen Iranian journalists and bloggers have been arrested and many others have gone into hiding.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini said he would consider a partial recount after the opposition held mass protests over what it charges was blatant rigging of the election that gave Ahmadinejad another four-year term.

But on Wednesday Mousavi repeated his demand for the results of the election, which he branded a “shameful fraud”, to be annulled and a new vote called.

Later on Wednesday, he and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami issued a joint letter urging the Iranian authorities to release those arrested in recent days and end the violence against their supporters.

“We ask you to take all the necessary measures to put an end to today’s worrying situation, to stop the violent actions against people and to free those arrested,” said the letter, again published on his website.

Addressed to judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, it denounced violent actions and provocations against peaceful protestors and attacks against students and their halls of residence.

At least seven people have been killed and many more wounded in clashes, with protests reported not only in Tehran but also other major cities after an election that has exposed deep divisions in the oil-rich nation.

Ahmadinejad remained defiant, saying his landslide victory in Friday’s vote showed faith in his government of “honesty and service to the people.”

Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, said he was asking the Guardians Council, a 12-member body made up of jurists and clerics, to examine the complaints of irregularities.

The council said it had invited Ahmadinejad’s three challengers to set out their grievances on Saturday.

Supporters of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi had staged rival rallies on Tuesday, each calling out hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets of Tehran.

Foreign media were banned from covering the demonstrations under tough new restrictions aimed at keeping them off the streets, but Iranian newspapers published pictures.

The authorities have warned they will nip in the bud any “velvet revolution” and have rounded up scores of people in Tehran and other cities, including prominent reformists close to former president Khatami.

Reformist sources said that several more leading figures were arrested on Wednesday, including Mohammad Atrianfar, a confidante of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and prominent analyst and journalist Saeed Laylaz.

In a sign of the tensions within the regime, the crackdown drew criticism from some senior conservatives, notably parliament speaker Ali Larijani who spoke out against an attack on students at Tehran university.

The authorities issued a new warning to the foreign media, saying some outlets had become the “mouthpiece of the rioters’ movement.”

The foreign ministry called in Swiss ambassador Livia Leu Agosti, who represents US interests in Iran amid a three-decade-old rupture in relations, to protest against what it called “interfering remarks” by US officials, state television reported.

US President Barack Obama has voiced “deep concerns” about the aftermath of the election, although he added: “It is not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling.”

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Analysis: ‘Rigged vote? Hard to find evidence’

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election victory is disbelieved by hundreds of thousands of Iranians who have poured onto Tehran’s streets in protest, but experts say hard evidence of vote rigging is elusive.

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Since the government handed the incumbent president a landslide win over opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi hours after Friday’s vote, Tehran has been convulsed by protests unseen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Outside Iran, debate over the election result is split down largely political lines.

Former US presidential candidate John McCain, a conservative, has insisted he is “sure” the elections in Iran were rigged. With equal ferocity leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lambasted “foreign efforts” to discredit an “historic” election.

But with few independent observers on hand to witness the vote, analysts warn there is little evidence of a smoking gun of electoral fraud, or evidence that would affirm a fair vote.

Statisticians, pollsters and Iran experts have been poring over the results for hints of vote-rigging, or the possibility that the controversial president is backed by around 63 percent of voters.

Ken Ballen, president of the Washington-based Terror Free Future think tank, three weeks ago conducted a rare country-wide poll by phone of 1,001 people to gauge Iranians’ voting intentions.

According to Ballen it is not obvious from that poll that the results of the election were rigged. “At that time Ahmadinejad was ahead by two to one. Is it plausible that he won the election? Yes.”

The survey showed that 34 percent of Iranians intended to vote for Ahmadinejad. Mousavi was the choice of just 14 percent of respondents.

But Ballen cautioned against concluding that the vote was fair.

The poll result fell far short of Ahmadinejad’s margin of victory, and 27 percent of Iranians surveyed were still undecided at the time the survey was taken. “Anything could have changed,” Ballen said.

Mousavi supporters point to the amazingly quick tallying of millions of hand-counted ballots and the Ahmadinejad’s surprise win in Mousavi’s home town, Tabriz, as proof positive of foul play.

Mousavi is from Iran’s Azeri minority, so voters in his native region in East Azerbaijan province were expected to back him to the hilt, according to Ali Alfoneh, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Instead official results showed Ahmadinejad won the town and Mousavi’s tally across the province was a modest 42 percent.

But Ballen’s poll indicated only 16 percent of Azeri Iranians would vote for Mousavi, against 31 percent of Azeris who claimed they would vote for Ahmadinejad.

Walter Mebane, a University of Michigan professor, has been examining the election results using statistical and computational tools to detect fraud, a method he describes as “election forensics.”

Comparing 366 district results with those from the 2005 elections, Mebane concluded that the “substantial core” of local results were in line with the basic statistical trends.

“In 2009 Ahmadinejad tended to do best in towns where his support in 2005 was highest, and he tended to do worst in towns were turnout surged the most.”

But Mebane said data released by the Iranian authorities was not detailed enough to say whether the vote was rigged or not.

“The vote counts I see recorded here do connect to reality to some extent, but in no way do I think that any of this analysis rules out the possibility of manipulation,” he told AFP.

Mebane pointed out that trends would still ring true if the government simply inflated Ahmadinejad’s vote by a fixed percentage, perhaps offsetting it against deflated opposition tallies.

With half a million people on the streets, proof of such a falsification could spell the difference between a call for justice and a revolution, according to Alfoneh.

“If the system totally fails to provide documentation that this is not fraud, that is something that is going to radicalize the protesters,” Alfoneh said.

9/11 rescue dog cloned

Five clones of a search and rescue dog which helped locate people trapped in the rubble of the 9/11 attacks were have been presented to their predecessor’s handler.

南宁桑拿

James Symington, a former Canadian police officer, choked back tears as he took possession of five puppies cloned from his beloved German shepherd named Trakr, who died earlier this year.

The decision to clone Trakr came after the animal won a competition to find the world’s most “cloneworthy” dog which was organised organised by Californian firm BioArts International.

Mr Symington says he hopes the puppies — Trustt, Valor, Prodigy, Solace and Deja Vu – will follow Trakr’s footsteps.

“We’re here to celebrate that Trakr’s legacy lives on in these five beautiful puppies,” he says.

“If they have the same attributes Trakr did, then hopefully they’ll develop into world class search and rescue dogs.”

Trakr saved lives

Mr Symington and Trakr were one of the first K9 search and rescue teams on the site of the World Trade Center collapse, commonly referred to as Ground Zero.

Trakr worked non-stop for almost 48 hours and found last human survivor to be rescued from the rubble.

“Trakr was an extraordinary search and rescue dog. His work at Ground Zero was the culmination of his career,” Mr Symington says.

An exact replica of Trakr

Mr Symington says that one member of his new litter — Trustt — was an exact replica of Trakr.

“The physical similarities are uncanny,” Mr he says.

“He’s the spitting image of the Trakr that I first met in 1995. He has exactly the same markings, the way he moves, everything. Very alert, very intelligent and intuitive.

“I respect that cloning’s not for everyone. But there are few dogs that are born with extraordinary abilities and Trakr was one of those dogs,” he says.

“I look forward to the day that these puppies can follow in Trakr’s footsteps and play an important role in other rescues, like Trakr did.”

Cloning still too expensive

BioArts International, which says it offers the world’s first commercial dog cloning service, partnered with South Korea’s SooAm Biotech Research Foundation to clone Trakr.

BioArts International chief executive Lou Hawthorne says canine cloning would remain beyond the reach of ordinary pet lovers, with cloned dogs costing an average 144,000 dollars each.

Mr Hawthorne defended the right of people to clone their dogs instead of obtaining new pets from rescue shelters.

“I think 99 percent of the time people should get their pets from shelters,” he says.

“But can we agree though that one percent of the time if you have a one in a million dog and you have the money to pay for it, you should be able to go to either a breeder or a cloner?”

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