Friday, March 12, 2010

360 News Briefs

Obama Pushing A New Export Initiative

(AP) - President Obama says doubling exports over the next five years will boost the economy by helping U.S. companies sell their goods and services abroad and creating new jobs at home.

In remarks prepared for delivery Thursday at the annual conference of the Export-Import Bank, Obama said 95 percent of the world's customers as well as the world's fastest-growing markets are outside the U.S.

Obama was announcing a series of steps toward meeting the goal of doubling exports over the next five years, an idea first mentioned in his State of the Union address in January. The strategy includes carving out a mini-Cabinet focused on promoting U.S. exports and seeking new funding to support export promotion programs.

A new Export Promotion Cabinet will keep export promotion as a priority for the relevant Cabinet agencies, such as the departments of Commerce, State, and Agriculture. Obama also wants $134 million more to hire hundreds of trade experts to advise potential U.S. exporters and provide technical assistance to farmers and others interested in exporting specialty crops.

Obama also reestablished the President's Export Council, a presidential advisory committee on international trade, and named two prominent business leaders to lead it. They are Jim McNerney, president and CEO of The Boeing Co., and Xerox Co. CEO Ursula Burns.

Obama Gives Away $1.4M Nobel Prize

(UPI) - President Barack Obama plans to donate the $1.4 milllion from his Nobel Peace Prize to helping students, veterans' families and survivors of Haiti's earthquake, among others, drawing attention to organizations he said "do extraordinary work."

Obama is giving a total of $750,000 to six groups that help kids go to college. Fisher's House, which provides housing for families with loved ones at Veterans Administration hospitals, will receive $250,000, the White House said Thursday. And the Bush-Clinton Haiti Fund, for which two former presidents are raising money to rebuild earthquake-ravaged Haiti, will receive $200,000.

The rest of the money will go to an array of other groups.

"These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need," Obama said in a statement. "I'm proud to support their work."

Obama was chosen for the Nobel award more for his aspirations and approach than his accomplishments thus far. The Nobel committee honored him for changing the tenor of international politics and for pursuing goals Obama says will require worldwide effort, such as nuclear disarmament and reversing global warming.

Obama himself was surprised by the award, and aides said at the time he would donate the cash prize to charity. He accepted his peace prize just days after announcing he was ramping up U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Toyota 'Mystified' By Runaway Prius Case

(Toyota, USA) - A Toyota executive said Thursday the company is "mystified" by a report that a California man's Prius gas pedal became stuck and caused the car to speed out of control on a California freeway.

James Sikes quickly became the face of the Toyota gas pedal scandal after he called 911 to report losing control of his Prius on Monday. His car reached nerve-rattling speeds of 94 mph before an officer helped bring it to a stop.

Federal investigators are looking into the incident, and Toyota officials said they have talked extensively to Sikes.

A law firm representing Sikes said Thursday he has no plans to sue Toyota over the ordeal. A phone message left for the firm seeking additional comment wasn't immediately returned.

Officials: Pot Found On 7-Year-Old Student

(KPRC-TV, Houston, Texas) - Drugs were found on a 7-year-old at a southwest Houston elementary school on Thursday, officials told Houston TV station KPRC.

Staff members at Foerster Elementary discovered a small amount of marijuana on the first grade student at about 10 a.m., Houston Independent School District officials said.

The student was suspended for three days and Child Protective Services was notified, officials said.

Georgia Man Accused Of Threatening Elton John

(WSB-TV, Atlanta) - A Georgia man who posted a video on YouTube of himself calling for Elton John's death has been arrested for making terroristic threats.

Atlanta Police Sgt. Curtis Davenport says Neal Horsley was arrested for making terroristic threats early Wednesday in Carrollton, about 50 miles west of Atlanta. Davenport would not say who Horsley is accused of threatening.

Horsley's son, Nathan Horsley, says he believes the arrest is connected to the video about the musician. Neal Horsley complains in the video about John's comments in a magazine interview last month that Jesus Christ was gay.

Horsley was being held Thursday in the Fulton County jail on $40,000 bond. John's publicist, Fran Curtis, had no comment.

Rain Moves Out; Strong Storms Come Next

(WSB-TV, Atlanta) - Flood watches and warnings continue for parts of Georgia as rain moves out of the area but strong storms are in-store for Friday, according to WSB Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz.

The flood warnings are for the Chattahoochee River near Whitesburg and portions of Carroll, Coweta and Heard counties; the Tallapoose River in Haralson County; Big Creek near Alpharetta and in Forsyth and Fulton counties and the Oconee River in Clarke, Greene and Oconee counties.

Big Creek rose so high, water reached the bottom of the bridge on Kimball Bridge Road. Further downstream where the creek merges with the Chattahoochee River parks along highway 9, Azalea Drive and Riverside Road sustained minor flooding.

"Severe storms will be coming in late morning Friday. One thing to look out for is strong winds and heavy hail," said Nitz.

Stress Changes Who Men Find Attractive

(Speigel Online, Germany) - When men are under stress, instead of preferring women who resemble themselves as they normally do, they choose dissimilar women, researchers now find.

Scientists in Germany and their colleagues had 50 men look at 30 pictures of erotic female nudes. These photos were computer-modified so their faces subtly resembled either the volunteer in question or another volunteer. All the men in question were white, clean-shaven heterosexual university students of normal weight without facial tattoos or piercings, and none of the men recognized the erotica had been computer-modified or resembled them.

Before the volunteers looked at the nude pictures, they put their hands in either comfortable body-temperature water or painfully cold water. Tests of heart rate and blood pressure, as well as of saliva to check for the stress hormone cortisol, all confirmed the cold water stressed the men while the warm water did not.

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