China observes national day of mourning for mudslide victims

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2010/08/15/chang.mud.slide.cnn
Beijing, China (CNN) — Flags lowered to half-staff Sunday across China and at the nation’s embassies and consulates around the world to mourn the victims of deadly mudslides in northwestern Gansu provice.

The mudslides killed 1,239 people and 505 are still missing, the state-run Xinhua news agency said Saturday. But residents of hard-hit Zhouqu County told CNN they believe the toll is much higher.

Meanwhile, in southwestern China, already inundated by heavy downpours all summer, new rain-triggered landslides Saturday left at least 38 people missing, Xinhua said.

Thousands of people and vehicles were stranded as roads become impassable in Sichuan province. The only highway linking Wenchuan County to Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan province, was submerged under 13 feet of water.

About 10,000 residents have been evacuated, Xinhua said. The county government has designated schools and office buildings of township governments as temporary shelters.

Students in Zhouqu will start the fall semester 10 days late because some schools were buried or suffered severe damage. Power had been restored to about 76 percent of affected homes, Xinhua said.

Vegetables became available for the first time in nearly a week, the news agency reported.

The Chinese government has banned public entertainment — including movies, karaoke online videos and music — on Sunday in remembrance of those who perished in Gansu province this week.

Sunday is the seventh day since the Zhouqu mudslide and, according to some Chinese traditions, the seventh day after a death is the height of the mourning period.

Large-scale national displays of mourning, however, are rare in China, though it held three days of mourning after a massive 2008 earthquake in Sichuan and a one-day mourning after a quake in Yushu earlier this year.

China has been drenched by heavy rains and floods since the end of May. More than 400 million people in 28 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have been affected.

You Tube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkubzSsweVg

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Facebook location tool close???


(CNET) — The long-rumored geolocation “check-in” feature at Facebook is slated to debut within weeks, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNET.

It’s going to take the form of an application programming interface (API) for third-party companies on the Facebook developer platform, integrating existing “check-in” start-ups more deeply into the massive social-networking service and in turn permitting location-aware data to become a part of existing platform applications.

Facebook declined to provide much detail.

“We are working on location features and product integrations, which we’ll be launching in the coming months, and we’ll share more details when appropriate,” spokesman Larry Yu told CNET.

Among developers, too, Facebook is still being tight-lipped regarding the exact nature of the service; the API work has not yet been finalized, though one source in the developer community said that engineers at Facebook “are building it out hard-core” at the moment.

Another source hinted that the internal development deadline may be as early as next week, but that Facebook has not been clear about whether this will be reached on time or extended.

At least one start-up in the geolocation space was told by a Facebook insider that it might want to think about changing the language of a thumbs-up type of feature to “like,” possibly preparing for integration of Facebook’s ubiquitous “like” buttons.

Sources say that Facebook has partnered with Localeze, the local-search company that powers Twitter’s “Places” directory — which lets Twitter users attach a location to their tweets if they are posting from a location-enabled device — to provide a business directory infrastructure for the forthcoming geolocation product.

“We cannot comment on any future deals, however can say that we anticipate having a few significant social announcements in the coming weeks/month,” a Localeze representative told CNET via e-mail.

Additionally, a recent minor acquisition on Facebook’s part may turn out to be integral to its geolocation plans.

Earlier this summer, Facebook acquired a second-tier “check-in” service called Hot Potato, which focused on letting members check into events rather than locations.
That acquisition has closed with a final price tag of about $10 million, the lion’s share of it going to founder Justin Shaffer. Facebook’s interest in the New York-based Hot Potato, specifically Shaffer’s product management talent, goes back quite some time. Sources told CNET that Facebook had originally approached the start-up as early as March about a potential acquisition.

Shaffer did not respond to a request for comment.

The Hot Potato product will almost certainly be shut down, and Shaffer is relocating from New York to work in Facebook’s San Francisco Bay Area headquarters, sources said.

One source said that Shaffer, who obviously was quite the expensive “hire” for Facebook, may have a crucial role in the forthcoming geolocation product.

But multiple sources also hinted that, given Hot Potato’s focus on checking specifically into events, he may also be charged with revamping Facebook’s own event listing and invitations product.

It’s possible that it could work both ways, and that Facebook Events would be one of the existing Facebook features into which geolocation would integrate first.

It’s been known for quite some time that Facebook wanted to capitalize on the growing phenomenon of geolocations and “check-ins,” to the extent that onlookers were surprised when the social network didn’t announce a geolocation product at its F8 developer conference this spring.

Start-ups like Foursquare, Loopt, and Gowalla were getting the press, not big players like Facebook or Google (whose Latitude location-sharing platform hasn’t become much of a sensation).

Since then, Foursquare has begun to pull away from the competition and make inroads into bringing the check-in market from the early-adopter crowd to the mainstream, and Twitter’s geotagged tweets have been live for months now, too.

It should be noted that Facebook also expressed interest in outright acquiring Foursquare, as was well-reported amid the media frenzy over whether Foursquare would raise another round of funding or would sell to a prospective suitor — namely Facebook or Yahoo. (It opted for the venture funding in a round led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz.)

One source told CNET that Facebook offered Foursquare $120 million; Foursquare asked for about 25 percent more than that and Facebook walked away from the negotiations.

There are, of course, complications, which leave the geolocation- and local-services start-up community with plenty of questions about how much of their data they will have to share with Facebook if they tap into the new APIs.

And additionally, Facebook’s tendency to garner bad press with regard to privacy may make some of them wary of getting involved.

But it’s likely that they will have little choice. Facebook is the biggest force in the social Web by far, and it’s about to be the biggest force in geolocation, too.

More : http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/social.media/08/11/facebook.foursquare.cnet/index.html?hpt=Sbin#fbid=PMWfGS2-4NE&wom=false

California permits same-sex marriages.

Los Angeles, California (CNN) — A federal judge ruled on Thursday to allow same-sex couples to marry in California, starting on August 18, handing another victory to supporters of gay rights in a case that both sides have said is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage last week, ruling that voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. Walker had issued a temporary stay on his decision, which on Thursday he said he would lift.

The high-profile case is being watched closely by supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, as many say it is likely to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, the case could result in a landmark decision on whether people in the United States are allowed to marry others of the same sex.

Same-sex marriage is legal in five U.S. states and in the District of Columbia, while civil unions are permitted in New Jersey. The five states are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire.

More : http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/08/12/california.same.sex.ruling/index.html?hpt=T2#fbid=PMWfGS2-4NE&wom=false

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