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Myanmar democracy icon Suu Kyi marks 66th birthday in freedom, first time in nearly a decade

YANGON, Myanmar – For the first time in nearly a decade, Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi celebrated her birthday in freedom on Sunday, with supporters freeing symbolic caged birds as more than 50 state security agents watched from across the street.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate turned 66, and received one gift at Yangon’s international airport: the arrival of her youngest son, Kim Aris, who lives in Britain and kissed his mother on arrival.

“If I were asked what I would wish on my birthday, I wish for peace, stability and prosperity in the country,” Suu Kyi said in a brief address to supporters at her opposition party’s headquarters in Yangon.

Suu Kyi said there are “sparks of war flying” in the country, apparently referring to recent fighting between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels in the north which displaced thousands.

The celebration was attended by around 500 party members and supporters, who held candles in their hands as they wished Suu Kyi well. They then released balloons into the air and freed dozens of sparrows and doves from cages in her honour.

Across the street, more than 50 plainclothes police and intelligence agents took photos and videotaped those who came and went.

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Suu Kyi has celebrated 15 birthdays in detention or house arrest over the past 22 years, and this was the first in nine years that she was able to mark freely with friends, family and supporters.

Ruled by the military since 1962, Myanmar held its first elections in 20 years in November. Suu Kyi was released from seven years of house arrest just days after the poll, which her party boycotted. The junta handed power to a civilian government in March, but critics say it’s merely a front for continued army rule.

Last year, Suu Kyi marked her birthday alone, locked in her dilapidated lakeside compound while world leaders called for her release and supporters held sombre ceremonies elsewhere in Yangon in her honour.

Born June 19, 1945, in Rangoon, as Yangon was then known, Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her determined nonviolent struggle for democracy.

She was last detained in May 2003 after her motorcade was attacked in northwestern Myanmar by a pro-junta mob while she was on a political tour. This month, she is planning her first trip across the countryside since that ill-fated tour.

Since her release last year, Suu Kyi has continued to be outspoken, but little has changed in the repressive nation, which still holds more than 2,000 political prisoners and deploys security agents to monitor Suu Kyi closely.

Overconfident or over-stereotyped? Study on young people fuels continuing generational debate

CHICAGO – Among academics who track the behaviour of young adults and teens, there is a touchy debate: Should the word “entitled” be used when talking about today’s younger Americans? Are they overconfident in themselves?

Jean Twenge, author of the book “Generation Me,” is in the middle of the discussion. The San Diego State University psychology professor has made a career out of finding data that she says shows that college students and others their age are more self-centred, narcissistic even, than past generations. Now she has turned up data showing that they also feel more superior about themselves than their elders did when they were young.

“There are some advantages and some disadvantages to self-esteem, so having some degree of confidence is often a good thing,” says Twenge. But as she sees it, there is a growing disconnect between self-perception and reality.

“It’s not just confidence. It’s overconfidence.”

And that, she says, can pose problems, in relationships and the workplace.

Others argue that it is not so easy to generalize.

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“If you actually look at the data, you can’t just condense it into a sound bite. It’s more nuanced than that,” says John Pryor, director of UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research program, which produces an annual national survey of hundreds of thousands of college freshmen, on which Twenge and her colleagues based their latest study.

That study was recently published online in the British journal Self and Identity.

Among other things, Twenge and her colleagues found that a growing percentage of incoming college freshmen rated themselves as “above average” in several categories, compared with college freshmen who were surveyed in the 1960s.

When it came to social self-confidence, about half of freshmen questioned in 2009 said they were above average, compared to fewer than a third in 1966. Meanwhile, 60 per cent in 2009 rated their intellectual self-confidence as above average, compared with 39 per cent in 1966, the first year the survey was taken.

In the study, the authors also argue that intellectual confidence may have been bolstered by grade inflation, noting that, in 1966, only 19 per cent of college students who were surveyed earned an “A” or “A-minus” average in high school, compared with 48 per cent in 2009.

“So students might be more likely to think they’re superior because they’ve been given better grades,” Twenge says.

Statements like that can set off the generational firestorm.

Young people are quick to feel picked on, and rightly so, says Kali Trzesniewski, an associate professor of human development at the University of California, Davis.

“People have been saying for generations that the next generation is crumbling the world,” Trzesniewski says. “There are quotes going back to Socrates that say that kids are terrible.”

But in her own research, she says she has been hard-pressed to find many differences when comparing one generation to the next, and little evidence that even an increase in confidence has had a negative effect.

Many bosses and others in the workplace have long argued that recent college students often arrive with unreasonably high expectations for salary and an unwillingness to take criticism or to pay their dues.

“But a lot of them have a confidence that we wished we had,” says psychologist Jeffrey Arnett, a research professor in the psychology department at Clark University in Massachusetts. He studies “emerging adulthood,” a term that has been coined to describe the period from age 18 to 29 when many young adults are finding their footing.

Arnett does not object to Twenge’s findings. But he adds: “I disagree with using those findings as a way to promote these negative stereotypes of young people, which I spend a lot of my time battling against.”

He says those stereotypes also overshadow positive trends related to young people, in the last decade or so.

“If you look at the patterns in young people’s behaviour, all the news is good, pretty much. Crime is down and rates of substance abuse are down, way down. Rates of all kinds of sexual risk-taking, from abortion to sexually transmitted diseases, are down.”

You also can’t look at factors such as self-confidence and feelings of superiority without considering other findings that balance out those traits, says Pryor from UCLA. Look, for instance, at community service, he says.

In 1990, when the question was first asked in the survey, about 17 per cent of college freshmen said there was a very good chance that they would participate in public service in college. In 2010, nearly a third of freshman said the same.

In addition, in 1989, two-thirds of college freshman said they had volunteered in high school, compared with nearly 87 per cent surveyed last year.

Cynics like Twenge have argued that they only do so because many high schools require it or because they know it looks good on a college or job application.

It also should be noted that there has been relatively no change in the percentage of students who said it was important for them to help others in difficult circumstances – 69.7 per cent in 1966, compared with 69.1 per cent in 2010.

But Deborah Tippett, a professor at Meredith College in North Carolina, says she has definitely noticed that this generation of students is more likely to act on that wish to help – and she thinks it’s that confidence that has led many of her students to do big things.

One of them, she notes, is spending her third summer in Africa this year running a program that’s building an orphanage for children with AIDS.

That said, she also agrees that the confidence, or overconfidence, has a down side.

“They really do believe they can do it all,” says Tippett, who heads the human environmental sciences department at Meredith. “It makes them wonderful, but it also makes for some hard lessons.

“I see it now when I tell students that they aren’t doing work that’s above average or even average. It’s really hard for them to take.”

A lot of students say they have seen that dynamic, too.

Janelle Mills, who will be a junior this fall at Stetson University in Florida, says she and her peers get tired of their elders “ragging” on them about being entitled or lazy, or just labeling them in general. But she also thinks there is something to this study about overconfidence.

“Kids are being encouraged to be the best that they can be. I think that this can create a superiority complex for those who begin to think that their best is better than everyone else’s,” she says. “Modesty and humility are no longer common and are becoming harder to find.”

Twenge has argued that the self-esteem movement – “where every kid is special” – has contributed to this. Others wonder if overconfidence is a byproduct of the super-pushy “tiger parent” syndrome, where even average parents set up music classes and sports and outside tutoring so their children can get ahead.

Tippett, at Meredith College, says we would do our children a favour if we also prepared them better for failure and the realization that they are not perfect, especially when they hit the real world.

“I think that’s the real challenge with this generation: How do you help them so that they will be productive people in the workplace?” she says.

Arnett, at Clark University, says he worries about that, too, and how this generation handles disappointment, entry-level assignments, low pay and criticism at work. “But what I see is that they don’t run screaming from the workplace and lay in the corner in the fetal position,” he says. “They adjust.”

To him, it is all part of an emerging adult’s journey.

Twenge does not at all disagree with Arnett on that point. “He’s right. As they get older, their self-beliefs will adjust with reality,” she says.

But she believes it still is worth looking at the generational differences and to keep overconfidence in check.

Brittany Vickers, who will be a junior at Ohio Wesleyan University in the fall, says older generations can help with that.

“The best teachers and coaches I’ve ever had never said I was good enough. They always told me what I could improve on,” she says. “You hate them at first, because you actually have to work hard to be successful. But, when the praise comes, it really means something.

“Sadly, they’ve been few and far between.”

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Online:

Twenge’s site: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活jeantwenge杭州夜网/

UCLA freshman survey: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活heri.ucla.edu/cirpoverview.php

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Martha Irvine is an AP national writer. She can be reached at mirvine(at)ap杭州夜网 or 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/irvineap

AP sources: US officials watch as Pakistani militants flee 2 more bomb-building sites

WASHINGTON – In another blow to Washington’s relationship with Islamabad, U.S. officials say Pakistan failed another test to prove it could be trusted to go after American enemies on its soil by intentionally or inadvertently tipping off militants at two more bomb-building factories in its tribal areas, giving the suspected terrorists time to flee.

The two sites’ locations in the tribal areas had been shared with the Pakistani government this past week, the officials said Saturday. The Americans monitored the area with satellite and unmanned drones to see what would happen.

In each case, within a day or so after sharing the information, they watched the militants depart, taking any weapons or bomb-making materials with them, just as militants had done in two previous cases. Only then, did they watch the Pakistani military visit each site, when the terror suspects and their wares were long gone, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

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The Americans suspect that either lower-level Pakistani officials are directly tipping the militants off to the imminent raids, or the tips are coming through the local tribal elders that Pakistan insists on informing of the raids. U.S. officials have pushed for Pakistan to keep the location of such targets secret prior to the operations, but the Pakistanis say their troops cannot enter the lawless regions without giving the locals notice.

The latest incidents bring to a total of four bomb-making sites that the U.S. has shared with Pakistan only to have the terrorist suspects flee before Pakistani troops arrive. Both sides are attempting to mend relations and rebuild trust after the U.S. raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani army town only 35 miles (56 kilometres) from the capital Islamabad.

The Pakistanis believe the Americans violated their sovereignty by keeping them in the dark about the raid. American officials believe bin Laden’s location proves some elements of the Pakistani army or intelligence service helped hide the al-Qaida mastermind.

Pakistan’s army on Friday disputed reports that its security forces had tipped off insurgents at bomb-making factories after getting intelligence about the sites from the United States. The army called the assertions of collusion with militants “totally false and malicious.”

Pakistani army officials claimed they had successfully raided two more sites, after finding nothing at the first two, but a Pakistani official reached Friday offered no details of what they found.

That official admitted that in each raid, however, the Pakistani security services notified the local elders who hold sway in the tribal regions. The official said they would investigate U.S. charges that the militants had been tipped off.

Two U.S. officials said they were asking the Pakistanis to withhold such sensitive information from the elders, and even their lower ranks, to carry out their raids in secret, to prove they could be trusted to go after U.S. enemies.

At least two of the sites were run by the Haqqani network, which is part of the Taliban, closely allied with al-Qaida, and blamed for some of the deadliest attacks against U.S. troops and civilians in neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistan has long resisted attacking the Haqqani network, saying the group has never attacked the state of Pakistan.

The intelligence sharing was intended as a precursor to building a new joint intelligence team of CIA officers together with Pakistani intelligence agents. But U.S. officials say Pakistan has failed to quickly approve the visas needed, despite agreeing to form the team in May.

U.S. officials have also accused Pakistan of holding up to five Pakistani nationals accused of helping the CIA spy on the Abbottabad compound in advance of the bin Laden raid.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, confirmed Sunday that Pakistan had rounded up more than 30 people as part of the investigation. He said they were being questioned for information, not punished, but did not say what would happen to them if charged and found guilty of spying.

Speaking on ABC television’s “This Week,” Haqqani said if any among them were informants who worked for the CIA, “we will deal with them as we would deal with an offending intelligence service and we will resolve this to the satisfaction of our friends, as well as to our own laws.”

The Pakistani government, according to the official reached earlier, views any citizen who worked with the U.S. to spy on the compound as having betrayed his or her country by failing to tip off the government that someone the Americans wanted was hiding there. The government’s position, the official said, is that such a tip could have saved the Pakistani government the embarrassment of being surprised by the bin Laden raid.

Ohio doctor goes walking with patients to encourage exercise, improve his accessibility

CLEVELAND – Doctors around the world are taking note of an Ohio physician’s idea to walk with groups of his patients to encourage exercise and make himself more accessible.

Dr. David Sabgir came up with the Walk With a Doc program in 2005, two years after going into private practice in Columbus, and the idea has been adopted in 35 communities and is expected to spread to many more, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported Saturday.

It caught the attention of physicians in Jamaica and a heart specialist in Italy, and doctors are hoping to get the program up and running in more than 250 other places as far away as China, Portugal and South Africa.

The program started with a 2.2-mile (3.5-kilometre) hike on a spring day in suburban Columbus. Sabgir, a graduate of Miami University in Oxford and the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, had grown tired of spending so much time urging patients to exercise and seeing so few of them follow his recommendation. He decided if he invited them to walk with him, maybe more would get involved. It would be a win-win with no major expense: The walking could help people lose weight or fight the effects of disease and age, and it would give him time to provide quick answers to their health questions.

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“Our goal is simple – to transform medicine,” the Worthington native told the newspaper. “We want everyone in the world to have access to this.”

His nurse made fliers to build interest in that first walk, and 101 people showed up.

“We were seeing a lot of these people who were intimidated to go to health clubs or really do anything without the supervision of a doctor,” Sabgir said. “They didn’t want to be seen on a treadmill next to someone running an 8-minute mile when all they were doing was walking. And I think they liked that immediate, unconditional accessibility to a physician.”

He briefly stopped the program in 2006 because he was concerned that its expansion was taking too much time from his practice but resumed walks the following year. He also met with a Cleveland Clinic official who became a supporter of the program, and the Clinic eventually developed Walk With A Doc chapters in seven northeast Ohio communities.

Participants praise the benefits of the hikes, including the chance to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and the access to a physician in an informal setting.

“How often do you get to meet a doctor one-on-one and just talk for 45 minutes?” said one regular, Helen Gillispie, 60. “You can ask them anything on the walk.”

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Information from: The Plain Dealer, 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活cleveland杭州夜网

Veteran of foster care, young man suddenly has custody of his nephew and niece

TROTWOOD, Ohio – Growing up, Adrian McLemore was a troubled little soul who spent much of his time exploding in confusion and rage.

At 6, he nearly set the house on fire.

At 7, his mother, – raising him and his two sisters alone in the southern state of Georgia – told social workers to place him in a foster home.

McLemore would spend 11 years in foster care, and he would learn many things: how to control his anger, how to channel it into programs that helped children like himself, how to survive in homes where families had completely different rules and expectations.

He learned that foster kids are largely invisible to the lawmakers who craft the rules that govern their lives. And he became determined to change that, joining youth organizations, becoming a dynamic young leader who lobbied fiercely for the rights of foster children to a better childhood and a better preparation for adulthood.

And then, at 22, McLemore, who had devoted so much time to thinking, speaking and writing about the lessons of his own childhood, would be given a chance to put those lessons into practice.

Overnight, he became a “father.”

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The call came shortly after midnight on Dec. 20, 2009. There had been a bad situation at his sister’s house, the sheriff told him on the phone (McLemore won’t discuss the details). Her children – 3-year-old A’Rayiah and 1-year-old Tyiaun – had been taken into custody.

Driving to the police station, McLemore knew exactly how things would unfold. The children would be separated and placed in different foster homes. There would be tense weekly visits with their mother in a small room at the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services. His sister would vent at the case workers. A’Rayiah would cry.

It would be like watching his own wounded childhood repeating itself.

McLemore was a full-time student at Wright State University studying political science. His days were packed with classes and studies, as well as a grueling schedule of speeches, presentations, committee meetings. And he had a job at a video store.

But he did not hesitate.

“I will take care of my niece and nephew,” he told the authorities. “I will feed them and take them to day care. I will give them a stable home. I know them. And I love them like no one else can.”

And so he bundled up the children and drove them to his two-bedroom apartment on Culzean Drive.

McLemore is well known as one of the success stories of the Ohio Foster care community. Some of the people closest to him are social workers who have seen him blossom over the years.

Word spread quickly. Friends threw a baby shower – collecting clothes and toys.

They helped with babysitting. They coached him on diaper-changing and offered advice on nighttime crying.

But for all the outpouring of support and good will, there were some who felt he had made a huge mistake. You don’t know what you are getting into, they warned. Your studies will suffer. How are you going to provide for two small children who need everything?

McLemore had just one response.

“I refuse to allow another generation of McLemores to be raised in foster care.”

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One of McLemore’s prized possessions is a large painting in his living room. It depicts McLemore shoulder to shoulder with a thin, serious looking man in military uniform.

McLemore worships the memory of his father, who died of cancer in 2004. The two years he lived with his Dad, he says, were the happiest of his life.

He was 9 at the time, and his beloved grandmother Essie, his father’s mother, had decided to take him out of foster care and raise him herself. And then, the unimaginable happened. She was killed in a car accident on her way to pick him up.

McLemore was so bereft he tried to drown himself in the bathtub.

His father, Air Force Staff Sgt. Ernest McLemore, had long been divorced from McLemore’s mother and had been stationed overseas. He returned for the funeral and told McLemore and his two sisters that he was taking them to Las Vegas to begin a new life.

McLemore’s face glows as he talks of those years, of being with his sisters, of having his own room, of having a father who took them to soccer and karate and theme parks.

But that blissful time ended as abruptly as it had begun. His father was being shipped overseas. The children were going back to their mother, who had moved to Ohio.

There, McLemore said, things spiraled out of control. Their mother drank. She went missing. There was often no food or clean clothes. He would run away.

Social worker Carla Merritt remembers an intense, unruly young teen seething with anger and bitterness. But she also saw a determination and focus rare for such a child.

“Adrian,” she told him, “you have such great potential. You could do anything, be anything. But you have to learn to close your mouth and listen.”

But nothing could contain McLemore’s anger the day he went to middle school in clothes that smelled like fish.

He stormed home, took out his Sunday suit and wore it to school the next morning. From that day, Adrian McLemore would always be the best dressed person in the room.

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“The biggest thing children need, in addition to unconditional love, is a comfortable, safe environment, a sense of stability and permanence,” McLemore says, with all the clarity of someone who did not have these things. “Children need to know their siblings and spend time with them, not just in weekly visits with a case worker, but at picnics and in parks and with family members like aunts and uncles and grandparents.”

McLemore is sitting in his living room, but he speaks with the same conviction and intensity he has brought to speeches before countless state and congressional committees and study groups. Determined to run for political office someday, he addresses lawmakers as “my future colleagues” as he urges them to increase, not reduce, funding for foster care programs.

Impeccably dressed, with a deep voice and imposing presence, McLemore makes a striking impression. He also gets things done.

He successfully advocated to have Medicaid coverage extended to age 21 for former foster children. He was a founding member and first president of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board, which has become a powerful advocacy group for foster youth. He worked with the administration at Wright State to let former foster students live in dorms during school breaks, so they would not end up homeless.

McLemore is not sure what prompted him to get so involved. Perhaps he wanted to escape the loneliness of an uncertain home life by becoming part of a larger community, creating a “family” of his own.

For although McLemore has nothing but respect and admiration for the families who cared for him, their homes never felt like the loving, permanent home he has created for A’Rayiah and Tyiaun.

“You simply never know when you might be told to pack your things and leave,” he says. “In foster care, families can always say, ‘Take him back.’ Real parents don’t have that option.”

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He calls them “my precious cargo”

A’Rayiah, 4, has eyes that turn from pale green to grey, and a mop of pink-beaded braids. Sweet and soft-spoken, she dreams of playing basketball, of living with her mom, of having her uncle buy a van big enough to hold their entire extended family of cousins and aunts and grandparents.

Her 2-year-old brother Tyiaun is a cherubic-faced tornado of energy, tottering and tumbling, smiling when he is not pouting, asking never-ending questions in a language all his own.

McLemore posts notes about them on Facebook, proudly describing the daily joys and tribulations of parenting.

“I just submitted the last form for A’Rayiah’s ‘big girl’ school. This is a proud moment for this young African American ‘father’!”

“My boy and I are headed to the barber shop. I savour these moments of fatherhood; I mean unclehood!”

As a parent (though he prefers the term “protector”), McLemore describes himself as a “gentle dictator.” There are strict rules at home: no juice in the living room, toys must be put back in their place, time-outs for whining.

Still, he loves having fun when the chores are done – pillow fights, letting the kids jump on his bed, and, their favourite, throwing a rollicking rock concert in the living room. They grab their toy guitars and mics, put on a concert tape of Elton John or Bon Jovi on the big-screen television and belt out the songs with all their might.

McLemore is filled with awe watching them develop, conscious of how much his influence is shaping them.

“Uncle, I love you,” A’Rayiah calls out as she sits in her pyjamas, munching frosted flakes and watching “The Lion King.”

“I love you too, sweetie,” McLemore replies. “Now finish up and get dressed.”

She trots to her room. He starts changing Tyiaun’s diaper, a job he hates.

“I can’t WAIT for this stage to be over,” he says, so vehemently it startles Tyiaun, who gives him a puzzled look.

They pile into the car, turn Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” up full blast, and happily sing along all the way to the day care centre.

McLemore kisses them goodbye and heads off to a full day of classes at Wright, a few hours of after-school tutoring at a local high school, and then back to the day care centre to pick them up at 6.

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Parenthood has changed everything about McLemore’s life, except his long-term goals. Gone are the days of living on chili cheese fries and root beer. Now his shopping list includes Lunchables, fruit cups and diapers.

His social life is practically nonexistent, except during football season when he spends every possible moment watching the Denver Broncos. Weekends, when the children visit their mother, are devoted to sleeping, cleaning and catching up on studies.

McLemore believes fatherhood has humbled him, made him feel less self-important.

“I come home at the end of the day, and it’s all about them,” he says.

And yet, there are times it seems overwhelming.

He talks to his father all the time, writes anguished letters about how much he misses him, how he wishes he was there to guide him.

“Daddy, I get up every day and put on so many hats that sometimes I forget which one I’m wearing,” McLemore wrote in one letter. “I am a father, student, a worker, a friend, a protector, a leader, a brother and whatever anyone asks me to be. But most of all, when I step out of the hallway where our painting hangs, I am a grieving son.”

In the absence of his father, McLemore says, he believes that foster care turned him into the leader he is today, nurturing his ambition and drive. Social workers boast he is their star: There is a McLemore “wall of fame” in the Montgomery County Youth and Family Services centre, with pictures of him and the children.

But McLemore knows that most children reared in foster care do not make it onto a wall of fame. Many do not make it to college. And the loneliness and instability he felt growing up makes him determined that A’Rayiah and Tyiaun will not experience the same.

The children probably will go back to their mother in a few months, although McLemore expects to see them every weekend. He does not know how he will feel when they go: relieved, and happy to resume a social life; or sad.

He believes they should be with their mother. But, he says, they will always have a place with him.

“I will always be their uncle, their protector,” he says. “And whenever they need me to be, I will step into the role of father.”

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Helen O’Neill, a New York-based national writer for The Associated Press, can be reached at features(at)ap杭州夜网.

Burst of rain floods mobile home park and overwhelms sewage station in Sask.

<p>WEYBURN, Sask. – An official with Saskatchewan’s watershed authority says a rainstorm that’s forced the evacuation of a mobile home park and threatens to flood more homes downstream is the closest thing you can get to a flash flood on the Prairies.</p> <p>”As Prairie hydrology goes, it’s as flashy as it ever gets,” John Fahlman told reporters during a news conference Saturday morning.</p> <p>Fahlman says the only thing that stopped the water from moving any faster is that the land is flat.</p> <p>Up to 75 millimetres of rain that fell on the province’s southeast over the past day has caused significant swelling of the Souris River.</p> <p>In the small Village of Roche Percee, an evacuation order was issued on Saturday afternoon. The mayor, Reg Jahn, said he didn’t believe the village’s existing dikes would hold back the deluge and that even extra sandbags wouldn’t help.</p> <p>Jahn said that’s because if the water got so high that sandbags were necessary, the village of about 150 has been told the railway bridge on the north side of town could wash out.</p> <p>”If the bridge collapsed it would plug the river and we would lose the whole town,” Jahn said. “We lose either way.”</p> <p>The province says it has to release water from several dams because the levels in their reservoirs at near maximum allowable levels, and the extra flow downstream is expected to cause flooding.</p> <p>In Estevan, which bills itself as “The Sunshine Capital of Saskatchewan,” an evacuation alert has been issued for a trailer park. The municipality says it will alert residents of the park if the evacuation becomes mandatory by sounding the sirens from fire and police vehicles.</p> <p>Duane McKay with Saskatchewan’s emergency response department says warnings have been sent out to all the communities that might be affected, and that emergency dikes could be set up where necessary.</p> <p>”Works that were either in place will be shored up, or additional works will be put in place -sandbagging, water tubes, whatever is required to see if we can mitigate the high flow that’s coming out of the reservoirs,” he said.</p> <p>Earlier Saturday, firefighters needed a boat to rescue about 30 people from a mobile home park on the outskirts of Weyburn, where the water was over a metre deep and was up to the floors of many of the trailers.</p> <p>”Some of the folks were definitely getting nervous. We’ve had water problems basically throughout the spring but not this severe,” says fire chief Steve Debienne.</p> <p>”Due to the running water, there was a slight current in the area. It took crews about an hour to get people out of the area and into the shelter.”</p> <p>The city’s sewage lift station has also overflowed and municipal officials are advising residents to boil their water, just to be on the safe side. A power outage in the area overnight due to high winds made dealing with the situation even tougher, the province says.</p> <p>Homes have also flooded in the communities of Radville and Yellow Grass.</p> <p>More rain is in the forecast, and flood officials in Saskatchewan say they are also waiting to see how much extra water will flow into the province from Alberta, particularly from the North Saskatchewan River around Edmonton where it has been raining heavily for several days.</p> <p>Heavier-than-normal flows on the North Saskatchewan kept a number of firefighters busy in Edmonton on Saturday morning when the strong current is reported to have caused several dragon boats, which are used for racing in the summer, to break away and drift downstream. </p>

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Venezuelan troops clamp down on prison as gunfights leave at least 3 dead

CARACAS, Venezuela – Gunfire rang out at a Venezuelan prison for a second day Saturday as thousands of troops sought to regain control in battles that have left at least 3 dead and 18 wounded.

National Guard Gen. Luis Motta Dominguez said one inmate had died in addition to two National Guard troops whose deaths were confirmed earlier. At least 18 troops were reported wounded in Friday’s clashes at the prison in Guatire, east of Caracas.

The violence erupted in the El Rodeo I prison as troops were searching it for weapons. A riot in the prison on June 12 left 22 dead.

About 50 inmates continued to resist the troops and were refusing dialogue, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami told state television.

El Aissami later addressed the inmates with a megaphone, saying: “The call is for you to change your attitude and lay down your weapons.” He said the prisoners’ rights would be respected.

“Think about your families, about your children,” he said.

More than 70 inmates accused of leading gangs within the prison were transferred elsewhere, El Aissami told state television.

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Inmates relatives’ protested earlier outside the prison, some of them weeping as troops stood guard in anti-riot gear. Soldiers used tear gas at one point Saturday to drive back the distraught relatives.

A 5,000-strong security force, including 3,500 National Guard troops, was joined on Saturday by 400 soldiers from an elite army paratroop unit, officials said. They were occupying both El Rodeo I and the adjacent El Rodeo II prison.

During Friday’s search, soldiers seized seven rifles, five shotguns, 20 handguns and eight hand grenades, along with about 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of cocaine, 5,000 rifle cartridges and 100 cellular phones, Motta Dominguez said.

Venezuela’s severely crowded prisons have suffered repeated violent outbursts as rival gangs often fight for control of cellblocks and sell weapons and drugs with the help of corrupt prison guards.

The country’s 30 prisons were built to hold about 12,500 prisoners but instead hold about 49,000, according to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, a group that monitors prison conditions.

Last year, 476 peopled died and 967 people were injured in the country’s prison system, according to figures compiled by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch also said in a recent report that about three out of four inmates in Venezuela’s prison system have yet to be sentenced due to backlogs in the country’s slow-moving justice system.

President Hugo Chavez has pledged to improve conditions in the prisons, but the violence has worsened recently. After the deadly riot last week, the government announced that a new government ministry would be created to focus on prison issues.

Kyle Drabek turns to his dad, Cy Young-winner Doug, for advice after demotion

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Kyle Drabek knew just who to call when he was demoted from the Toronto Blue Jays to the minor-league Las Vegas 51s.

Former Cy Young Award-winner Doug Drabek – his father.

“He was telling me, ‘You can’t look at it as the worst thing in the world. Look at it as an opportunity to get better,’” Kyle said of his dad’s advice.

Drabek will get his first shot to show that Sunday – Father’s Day -when the 51s host their in-state rival, the Reno Aces.

“He’s taught me pretty much everything I know,” said Drabek. “So that’s what I’m going to try to do, work as hard as I can to get back up there and be successful.”

Pitching has been almost a constant in the life of the 23-year-old right-hander from Victoria, Texas.

After tearing up the Eastern League last season at double-A New Hampshire, Toronto’s top pitching prospect bypassed triple-A Las Vegas and finished the year with three starts for the Blue Jays.

This season Drabek, a key player in the trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, enjoyed a fast start for Toronto going 3-0 with a 3.30 earned-run average in his first five starts.

Then it all came crashing down.

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Drabek went 2-5 from that point with an inflated 7.38 ERA. His 52 walks (against 48 strikeouts) were the most in the majors and his season ERA of 5.70 was the third worst. After a 14-1 bludgeoning by Boston last Sunday, the Blue Jays decided it was time to send him down to work on his control problems.

“I’m very frustrated right now,” Drabek said at the time. “I couldn’t tell you the last real quality game that I’ve had. It’s frustrating walking people, giving up hits, not giving your team a chance to win.”

Those comments threw up a caution flag to Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

“I think those comments were pretty telling that he was trying to find himself a little bit. It was a matter of, was he going to hope to do well or did he know he was going to do well,” Anthopoulos told MLB杭州夜网.

“I think the first thing is getting back to throwing strikes. Also, to be able to handle himself and relax when things get tough. It’s a combination of things, but I think more importantly than anything else, if he’s throwing strikes and getting ahead he’s going to do well.”

Las Vegas pitching coach Tom Signore, who worked with Drabek in New Hampshire last year, said he would make a quick return to Toronto if Drabek’s first bullpen sessions with the 51s were any indication.

“I don’t expect him to be here long. He doesn’t belong here. He belongs up in the big leagues,” Signore said.

But the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League might not be the ideal place for a young pitcher to regain confidence. The presence of top-notched prospects, higher altitude and smaller parks could make things more challenging than life in the Eastern League, where Drabek tossed a no-hitter last year.

Drabek said he’s discounting such factors and instead focusing on regaining the form that made him the 18th overall pick by the Phillies in the 2006 draft.

“There are some things I’m trying to refine in my game. I need to be able to throw more strikes,” Drabek said after a throwing session on Thursday. “Early on I was getting ahead of hitters and being able to stay ahead. But in my last three or four starts, it just seemed like I’d get behind them, or if I was ahead I’d let them right back into the count. That’s what got me in trouble, walking people.

“I want to make sure I can get ahead of batters and stay there.”

But, of course, doing so at the Major League level, the level where his father pitched so effectively for 12 seasons.

“I wish I could have stayed up there,” Drabek said. “But I played with most of these guys last year and I’m glad that I could come down here where I know a lot of people and can work with them. I’m going to try as hard as I can to get back to the Big Leagues.”

Layton nixes cutting NDP ties to labour unions as party goes mainstream

VANCOUVER – Jack Layton says broadening the appeal of the NDP won’t involve cutting its traditional ties to the labour movement.

The NDP leader dismissed suggestions Saturday that the tight relationship with labour unions is an impediment to the party’s growth.

Indeed, Layton credited the relationship for the historic gains made in the May 2 election, in which the NDP scored a record 103 seats and vaulted into official Opposition status.

“I think we’ve come to where we are because of those positive ties and working together for working families,” he told reporters during the second of a three-day NDP policy convention.

“That’s our priority and continues to be. It’s been there since our founding and we’ve now achieved the best success we’ve ever had electorally. So I think you want to continue with what’s working.”

The convention is being billed as the first step toward making the leap from opposition to government by the next election in four years.

In a bid to broaden its appeal, New Democrats are debating whether to jettison some of their ideological baggage, including excising the word “socialist” from the party’s lexicon.

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Delegates are being asked to approve a new preamble to the party’s constitution, which touts the “social democratic principles” of economic and social equality, individual freedom and responsibility and democratic rights. That would replace the current preamble’s reference to the principles of “democratic socialism,” which include “social ownership” and a pox on making a profit.

The proposal, which is to be voted on Sunday, is running into stiff opposition from delegates who believe the party is denying its own roots.

Conservative cabinet minister James Moore brushed aside the debate over the word “socialism” as window dressing, insisting the party’s policies speak for themselves.

“It’s obviously cosmetic and superficial – this is a party that’s proudly socialist,” Moore told reporters outside the NDP convention.

“What matters are policies, and the policies (adopted at the convention) clearly take the NDP even further to the left. Changing a preamble to a constitution that nobody reads as a token of moderation of the party is insulting to the intelligence of Canadians, but they’ll see through it.”

There is no debate, however, on the role of labour unions, which were key players in the founding of the NDP 50 years ago.

Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said the relationship has ensured the NDP has always stood up for “ordinary Canadians.”

“It’s the reason why our party was founded 50 years ago by the CLC and the CCF,” Georgetti said.

“We had a shared vision, a vision of a prosperous and progressive country where everyone shared in the wealth that we all produced, a country with a political party that would stand up for the interests of ordinary working people, a political party that would fight for laws to give them fundamental rights at work.”

If anything, labour disputes at Canada Post and Air Canada seem to have strengthened the ties between labour and New Democrats, who routinely refer to one another as “brothers and sisters” at the convention.

Layton himself took a break from the convention Friday to deliver a message of solidarity with striking postal workers.

He blasted Prime Minister Stephen Harper again Saturday for introducing back-to-work legislation last week immediately after Canada Post locked out workers. Until then, postal workers had been conducting rotating strikes to minimize disruption to mail service.

“Why has he closed the door on Canada Post? Here’s a guy who says he was a terrific manager of the economy and all things economic yet he’s shut down our postal service,” Layton told reporters.

“It’s certainly the wrong thing to do and it sends a very bad signal out to the working people that tromp up and down our sidewalks and deliver our mail … that he doesn’t really respect the bargaining process.”

Layton vowed to use all “parliamentary tools that we have at our disposal” to try to head off the back-to-work legislation. And a top adviser, Brad Lavigne, said staging a filibuster is an option that hasn’t been ruled out.

However, with Harper’s Tories holding a comfortable majority, Layton acknowledged it will be a “tough row to hoe.”

The Harper government also served notice last week that it would legislate Air Canada back to work, less than a day after contract talks broke down. Air Canada reached a tentative settlement on Thursday.

Georgetti said the Harper government’s handling of the Canada Post and Air Canada disputes demonstrates “the reasons the New Democratic Party was created haven’t changed a bit.”

“Workers, union and non-union alike, need a political party in their corner.”

The party was also expected to vote on a resolution Sunday that would rule out the possibility of merging with the federal Liberals.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, who led his provincial New Democrats to victory in 2009, expressed reservations about the anti-merger resolution, suggesting Liberal voters may perceive it as an attack against them and their party.

“It goes back to something that I was talking about earlier, which is the whole question of who the new voters are that you want,” Dexter told reporters before addressing the convention.

“It’s a message, and I’m not sure it’s the one you want to be advancing at this point in time. In fact, I think we should be inviting Liberals into the New Democratic Party. … We don’t want to alienate those people by doing something that essentially insults them.”

Pentagon chief for Bush and Obama, Gates’ tenure defined by 2 wars he inherited

WASHINGTON – Several days before Robert Gates took over as defence secretary in December 2006, it struck him that the job’s most punishing pressure would not come from the White House, Capitol Hill or inside the Pentagon.

From a chance encounter with a military mom, he realized that his heaviest burden as Pentagon chief would be his own emotions, the inescapable worry about the thousands of young American men and women he would send to fight and die on foreign battlefields.

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“She said, ‘I have two sons in Iraq. For God’s sake, bring them home safe. And we’ll be praying for you.’ Now that’s real pressure,” he told the Senate committee that was considering his nomination.

It is pressure that, 4 1/2 years later, he readily acknowledges has taken a heavy toll. In a sense it has been a defining feature of his tenure, not the personal strain itself but how it influenced his priorities in the job. Gates’ tenure is one of the few in history to have begun and ended in wartime.

“One of the interesting challenges about this job has been the responsibility of waging two wars, neither of which I had anything to do with starting,” Gates mused during his final scheduled news conference last week. He’s retiring on June 30.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began in the first term of President George W. Bush, who hired Gates in 2006 to turn around the flagging and increasingly unpopular U.S.-led war in Iraq. Afghanistan was a footnote then, a small war begun in 2001 but largely orphaned to pay for the large invasion of Iraq two years later.

The wars spanned Gates’ entire tenure, under Republican Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, and the wars are outlasting him.

As he repeatedly told soldiers and Marines on his 12th and final trip to Afghanistan in early June, he felt a personal responsibility to do whatever possible in Washington to improve their chances of survival in combat and, for those wounded or injured, to provide the fastest possible evacuation from the battlefield for treatment.

Gates came to the conclusion early in his tenure that the Pentagon bureaucracy, including the military’s top brass, were too focused on preparing for the next war, spinning out plans for high-tech, costly new weapons for use against theoretical enemies of the future, rather than focusing on winning the current wars.

So he pushed hard against internal resistance to speeding production and delivery of a new type of ground combat vehicle that reduces the vulnerability of infantry to roadside bombs.

He irked the Air Force leadership when he insisted they get more surveillance drones over the battlefields. In a public rebuke in April 2008 he told the Air War College that getting the Air Force to do more was “like pulling teeth.”

When Gates’ legacy is sorted out over time, the gains he made in troop protection surely will figure prominently.

So, too, will several pieces of unfinished business, including Iraq and Afghanistan and the deteriorating relationship with Pakistan, arguably Washington’s most important partner in the struggle against al-Qaida.

Gates gave little indication during his new conference that he is hopeful about Pakistan. He worked to rebuild trust between the U.S. and Pakistani militaries, but saw the relationship sour badly over the past several months. He leaves office with relations at a nadir over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden at a comfortable compound inside Pakistan.

“The things that would cause an (improvement in relations) are hard to predict right now,” Gates said Thursday.

Gates arrived at the Pentagon on Dec. 18, 2006, as successor to Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who quit in the wake of a Republican beating in that November’s congressional elections. The war in Iraq was failing, and many in Congress were demanding a quick exit.

Almost no one was predicting what came to pass during Gates’ first two years on the job: insurgent and sectarian violence in Iraq plummeted and the war effort assumed the look of at least a short-term success.

It will be for historians to decide how much credit Gates deserves for turning around that war. He was not involved in developing the strategy that Bush announced in January 2007 when he committed additional troops to Iraq. But Gates oversaw its execution by Army Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad.

Gates, 67, came to the Pentagon job from the presidency of Texas A&M University. He initially retired from government service in 1993 after a 27-year career at the CIA, where he became the first entry-level employee to rise to the position of director of the spy agency.

Bush recruited him to return to Washington, mainly to oversee the stepped-up Iraq war effort. Gates made no secret of his reluctance. He carried with him a clock counting down Bush’s remaining days in office, a not-so-subtle signal of his impatience to get back to retirement and leave Washington’s battles behind.

But Obama talked Gates into staying on, making him the only defence secretary to be retained by a new administration. Out went the countdown clock. “It was absolutely useless,” Gates chuckled.

Even as Iraq began to look better, the picture in Afghanistan grew darker.

The Taliban were on the rebound, and by spring 2009 Gates was recommending to Obama that he fire his commander there, Army Gen. David McKiernan, to put “fresh eyes” on a stalemated war. The chosen successor, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, lasted barely a year, done in by indiscreet comments in a magazine article. Petraeus then replaced McChrystal.

When Gates retires on June 30, there will be nearly 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and about 100,000 in Afghanistan. While Iraq has achieved relative stability since Gates took over, the prospects for a durable peace are uncertain.

The outlook in Afghanistan is even murkier, although the U.S. and its NATO partners have set a target date of Dec. 31, 2014, for withdrawing all their combat forces and putting Afghans fully in charge.

War statistics tell part of the story of Gates’ heavy focus on the human toll.

On the day of his Senate confirmation hearing in December 2006 the U.S. death toll in Iraq stood at 2,889; this month it reached 4,460.

In Afghanistan the U.S. death count more than tripled since Gates took over, topping 1,500. Gates has signed a condolence letter to the family of every service member killed on his watch.

Gates spoke with greater bluntness about the costs of war as he approached the end of his tenure. At a Senate hearing Wednesday, he said that he measured the cost “in lives that are shattered, in bodies that are shattered, in minds that are shattered.”

He finished that thought by adding that despite these costs, he and other leaders can’t let them drive war strategy.

For his designated successor, CIA head Leon Panetta, Gates foresees a new set of challenges as the wars wind down.

In an Associated Press interview Monday, Gates said he worries that young officers and noncommissioned officers who have enjoyed an unusual degree of responsibility and room to innovate in Iraq and Afghanistan will come home from war to jobs in the Pentagon or at stateside bases and posts that are boring by comparison.

Panetta’s Pentagon, he said, will have to find ways to avoid losing that talent and experience.

“Peace will bring its own challenges,” he said.

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Robert Burns can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/robertburnsAP

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Online:

Gates’ biography: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛tinyurl杭州夜网/ya3twpd