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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kid's reaction after being drugged up at the dentist office



This is my 7 year old son who had an extra tooth removed last summer, 2008. I had the camera because he was so nervous before I wanted him to see before and after.

He was so out of it after, I had to carry him out of the office. The staff was laughing and I had tears it was so funny.

He is doing fine now and the teeth are great.

Best of all he is the best kid as his brother William. I couldnt have asked for two better sons!

2/3 Update: Video camera is a flip video. not bad for $150 bucks!

Iraqi woman had 80 women raped then recruited as suicide bombers

Agence France-Presse


Woman used rape to recruit bombers
An Iraqi woman has confessed to organising the rape of 80 women so she could recruit them as suicide...


A WOMAN suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.

Samira Jassam, 51, was arrested by Iraqi police and confessed to recruiting the women and orchestrating dozens of attacks.

In a video confession, she explained how she had mentally prepared the women for martyrdom operations, passed them on to terrorists who provided explosives, and then took the bombers to their targets.

"We arrested Samira Jassim, known as 'Um al-Mumenin', the mother of the believers, who was responsible for recruiting 80 women'', Major General Qassim Atta said.

"She confessed her responsibility for these actions, and she confirmed that 28 attempts had been made in one of the terrorists' strongholds,'' he said.

Samira Jassim was arrested on January 21. She is allegedly linked to the Ansar al-Sunnah insurgent group.

Two of the attacks for which Samira Jassim admitted responsibility in the video confession took place in Diyala province, in central Iraq, which is considered one of the most dangerous areas of the country.

The Associated Press reports US military figures indicate at least 36 female suicide bombers attempted or carried out 32 attacks last year. Women are often allowed through military checkpoints without being searched, making it easier for them to hide explosives under their traditional robes.

University of Utah Announces Mac OS X Classes!

Posted by Matt Asay

In a sign that Apple's Mac OS X operating system has gone truly mainstream, computer science programs like that at the University of Utah have formally announced classes like "Mac OS X Deployment v10.5" focused on administering Mac OS X.

While a quick scan of computer science courses at Harvard and Stanford doesn't reveal any Mac OS X-centric courses, and a quick Google search doesn't reveal much more, it's possible that the University of Utah, which has several OS X classes, is the vanguard for OS X's classroom uptake and a clear signal of enterprise adoption.

The description of its newest class hints at bigger and broader OS X enterprise rollouts:

On February 9th to the 11th, we will be offering Mac OS X Deployment v10.5, which covers deploying your Macintosh systems initially, deploying the OS systems for various uses, and providing updates and maintenance for the Macintosh system. For any of you who manage large Mac labs or businesses that are migrating to or integrating Macs, this would be a great class for you attend.

Universities, for all their attempts to be counterculture, tend to follow general industry trends. They have to, if they want to serve their customers. If the University of Utah is offering OS X administration courses, it's because there's a market for the classes being fed by increasing enterprise adoption of the Mac.


How Apple succeeds by limiting consumer choice

It was reported today that Microsoft will be releasing 6 versions of Windows 7, and while the majority of consumers will realistically only be choosing between two of them, it helps highlight the difference between Apple’s approach to business, and that of other tech companies. Contrary to what they teach in business school, Apple has succeeded by limiting consumer choice, and Apple’s small product line-up has been a key factor in that success.

While other companies release an inordinate number of products in an attempt to satisfy every potential customer, Apple has kept its product line-up relatively streamlined in comparison. Not only does this make things less confusing for consumers, but it also helps consumers understand what they’re actually paying for. Everyone knew what the iPhone had to offer almost immediately upon its release. Now, imagine if Apple had released an iPhone, an iPhone Nano, an iPhone Mini, and an iPhone Pro. Consumers would have no idea where to even start, and they’d actually have to study up on all the different models before they made their purchase. Most people don’t have the time to do that, and to be honest, most probably don’t care to either.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he himself found Apple’s product lineup to be convoluted and ultimately too confusing. He even quipped that if he couldn’t figure out the difference between a multitude of hardware models, how could Apple expect consumers to do so? Naturally, one of his first orders of business was putting the squeeze on Apple’s product lineup and focusing instead on only a few products that were to be marketed at either consumers or professionals. A large number of products were axed in the process, including the Newton. As a result, Apple’s product lineup shrunk down to just four offerings - laptops for either consumers or professionals, and desktops for either consumers or professionals.

Even today, Apple’s product lineup is relatively sparse compared to the product offerings of other companies. For example, if you want an Apple laptop, you can choose between a MacBook, a MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Three models to choose from, and that’s it. Even the names Apple chooses lend themselves to making it easier for consumers to differentiate between the different models available. By way of comparison, there are a multitude of Sony Vaio laptops out on market, and if you want to figure out how they differ, you have to study the specs. How else can you figure out the difference between a Sony Vaio VGN-Z550N and a Sony Vaio VGN-CS215J/R. In contrast, the use of the words “Air” and “Pro” give potential consumers, right from the start, an idea of what the machine is, and who it’s geared for.

Apple’s simplified approach to selling computers helped re-energize the company as it forced Apple to focus on doing a few things extremely well, while not letting its talent and resources drift off in a number of different directions and projects. That narrow focus eventually led to the development of the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone - three products that together have helped Apple achieve record breaking financial and critical success. Apple understands that consumer choice is great, but too much choice can easily lead to customer confusion and frustration. It’s also worth pointing out that its easier for companies to provide quality technical support when there aren’t 15 models of a product that technicians need to be familiar with.

When it comes to product offerings, Apple’s approach to business is a lot like that of a Basketball coach. Would you rather have a smaller team comprised of only 7 All-Stars, or a full 12 man roster with 1 All-Star, 2 above average players, 3 mediocre players, and 6 benchwarmers. The Dream Team wins every time, baby.

Sheriff investigates whether Michael Phelps smoked pot

(CNN) -- A South Carolina sheriff's office is investigating whether Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps smoked marijuana on the University of South Carolina campus.

Michael Phelps is facing a criminal investigation into whether he smoked marijuana on a college campus.

Michael Phelps is facing a criminal investigation into whether he smoked marijuana on a college campus.

Authorities will file criminal charges if the investigation determines that they are warranted, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"If someone breaks the law in Richland County, we have an obligation as law enforcement to investigate and to bring charges," Sheriff Leon Lott said in a statement.

"The Richland County Sheriff's Department is making an effort to determine if Mr. Phelps broke the law. If he did, he will be charged in the same manner as anyone else. The sheriff has a responsibility to be fair, to enforce the law and to not turn a blind eye because someone is a celebrity."

Phelps admitted "regrettable behavior" on Sunday after a British newspaper published a photograph of him smoking through a bong. The tabloid News of the World showed Phelps using the bong during what it said was a November party at the University of South Carolina, in Richland County.

Both university police and Columbia, South Carolina, police have said they would not pursue charges, according to The State newspaper in Columbia. It was unclear where the party took place, the paper said, or whether it was on the USC campus.

"I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment," said Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, in a statement Sunday. See the photo on the cover of Star magazine »



"I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me," he said. "For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again."

The U.S. Olympic Committee also issued a statement that said in part, "Michael has acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized for his actions. We are confident that, going forward, Michael will consistently set the kind of example we all expect from a great Olympic champion."

In 2004, Phelps was arrested on charges of driving under the influence in Salisbury, Maryland. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation. He also issued an apology after that incident.

Phelps is one of 12 Olympic athletes who have signed on to "My Victory," an initiative launched last year by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency aimed at keeping competitive sports clean.

Spray-on solar panels developed

Cosmos Online
Solar cell

Image shows the preparation of a conventional solar panel. A new type of spray-on solar panel will make the cells cheaper and production more efficient.

Credit: Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems

SYDNEY: Taking a leaf from the beauty industry, scientists have devised a way to make solar panels cheaper and more efficient - by spraying them on.

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), in Canberra, solar company Spark Solar Australia, and Finnish materials company Braggone Oy are collaborating on a three-year project that could transform the production of solar cells.

"I think it has a big chance of success," said Keith McIntosh, lead researcher from the ANU, "It's an exciting possibility."

Simpler process

Solar cells are typically made of silicon coated with a thin layer of silicon nitrate - which is used as an anti-reflective agent to increase cell efficiency. However, these types of cells are costly to produce because they are made in a vacuum.

The plasma form of hydrogen, another expensive material used in solar cell production, is used to capture the energy from the Sun's rays.

The new method developed by Braggone Oy uses a spray-on hydrogen film and spray-on anti-reflective film. Instead of the need for plasma and a vacuum, the cells simply travel along a conveyor belt where the films are sprayed on.

"The cells will be the same quality, but much cheaper," McIntosh said.

Much cheaper

Testing of the process is now taking place at the ANU, and the technology should be available toward the end of 2011.

"About A$5 million will be saved per medium-sized factory," McIntosh said. "These savings should be passed down to the consumer in a couple of years when demand for solar panels increases."

Besides the price advantage, the project aims to increase cell efficiency too. Presently, solar cells on the market range from 5 to 24 per cent efficiency.

Most of the cells energy is lost at its surface where the material is roughened. This is to increase the surface area that can absorb solar energy.

However, roughening the material also disrupts the cell's crystalline structure in the process.

"We want to roughen the surface in several different ways to study the different properties of each. Then we can find the best and most efficient surface," said Klaus Weber, also from the ANU.

Once an optimal surface is found, the cost of the cells would remain the same, but their efficiency and power would be greater, he said.

"What we are trying to get out of it is new ideas and processes to improve the efficiency of solar power," he added.

"If you can get the same efficiency as vacuums with this spray-on technology that's great; it will make the process a lot cheaper," said engineer Alistair Sproul from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. "All of this is a good step in the right direction."

Buffett's Metric Says It's Time to Buy

According to investing guru Warren Buffett, U.S. stocks are a logical investment when their total market value equals 70% to 80% of Gross National Product.

buffet chart
By Carol J. Loomis and Doris Burke
February 4, 2009: 9:49 AM ET


(Fortune Magazine) -- Is it time to buy U.S. stocks?

According to both this 85-year chart and famed investor Warren Buffett, it just might be. The point of the chart is that there should be a rational relationship between the total market value of U.S. stocks and the output of the U.S. economy - its GNP.

Fortune first ran a version of this chart in late 2001 (see "Warren Buffett on the stock market"). Stocks had by that time retreated sharply from the manic levels of the Internet bubble. But they were still very high, with stock values at 133% of GNP. That level certainly did not suggest to Buffett that it was time to buy stocks.

But he visualized a moment when purchases might make sense, saying, "If the percentage relationship falls to the 70% to 80% area, buying stocks is likely to work very well for you."

Well, that's where stocks were in late January, when the ratio was 75%. Nothing about that reversion to sanity surprises Buffett, who told Fortune that the shift in the ratio reminds him of investor Ben Graham's statement about the stock market: "In the short run it's a voting machine, but in the long run it's a weighing machine."

Not just liking the chart's message in theory, Buffett also put himself on record in an Oct. 17 New York Times op-ed piece, saying that he was personally buying U.S. stocks after a long period of owning nothing (outside of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) stock) but U.S. government bonds.

He said that if prices kept falling, he expected to soon have 100% of his net worth in U.S. equities. Prices did keep falling - the Dow Jones industrials have dropped by about 10% since Oct. 17 - so presumably Buffett kept buying. Alas for all curious investors, he isn't saying what he bought. To top of page

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Production Coupe

2010 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Production Coupe

After showing a concept V12 Vantage at the grand opening of its new design studio, Aston Martin has turned out a production version of the car an astoundingly-quick 13 months later. That is, unless you factor in the time between its unveil today and the actual on-sale date, which will be some time in the third quarter of 2009. Considering the development periods of some other companies, that's still impressive.

The AM V12 Vantage is the result of engineers combining the smaller, lighter Vantage platform with the bigger, meaner V12 engine of the DB9 and DBS, here making 510 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That's enough stupid power to get the car to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds on its way to a 190-mph top speed. The new model also benefits from added carbon fiber pieces and a few interior touches. See the photos through the gallery link below or read the release after the jump.


PRESS RELEASE

-Fastest and most agile Vantage ever; ultimate performance interpretation of the Vantage range
-Purposeful, striking and functional styling signalling performance capabilities
-Everyday usability associated with a modern Aston Martin
-Race-derived technology used throughout

Gaydon, Warwickshire, Wednesday 4 February 2009. Aston Martin will present the most potent production sports car in the marque's 95-year history at the Geneva motor show on 3 March. Based on the hugely successful V8 Vantage, the V12 Vantage will feature a 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 510 bhp (380 kW / 517 PS), and 570 Nm (420 lb ft) of torque with a top speed of 190 mph (305 km/h) and 0-62 mph (0-100 kp/h) time of 4.2 seconds.

The latest incarnation of the Vantage family has been designed to provide a unique character, appealing to different driver tastes and complementing the other models in the current Aston Martin line-up.

The original V12 Vantage concept was unveiled to guests at the opening of the Aston Martin Design Studio in December 2007. Continuing the marque's impressive record of bringing concepts through to production, Aston Martin engineers have brought the V12 Vantage to market in an incredible 12 months.

Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ulrich Bez said: "This is the ultimate performance interpretation of the Vantage range, combining our most agile model with our most powerful engine. It represents the definitive driving package; providing spectacular performance to ensure a dynamically thrilling and everyday useable driving experience.

"The V12 Vantage has a unique character, one unlike our other cars. This will appeal to different people with different tastes, allowing more people to enjoy the Aston Martin experience.

"This also illustrates one of Aston Martin’s key strengths - the ability to act quickly and turn concepts and ideas into reality."

Designed for the focused driver, every component of the V12 Vantage has been honed with pure driving enjoyment in mind. Benefitting from race-developed materials and components, and featuring lightweight carbon fibre; performance and agility have been tuned to perfection.

Visually enticing, the V12 Vantage expresses its performance potential through its purposeful stance created by enhanced aerodynamic and cooling aids optically widening the car, while retaining traditional understated Aston Martin design. Equally inviting, the cosseting interior permits the driver to extract maximum performance ability from the car while also enjoying customary levels of Aston Martin comfort on longer journeys. High levels of power and torque are available at all engine speeds making the V12 Vantage responsive and tractable in any driving situation.

The V12 Vantage will be built at Aston Martin's global headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire joining the DBS, DB9 and V8 Vantage model lines which are built in the state-of-the-art production facility combining hi-tech manufacturing processes with traditional hand-craftsmanship. Production will be limited up to 1,000 examples over the life span of the car, making the V12 Vantage a truly exclusive driver's car.

Deliveries of the V12 Vantage are expected to commence during quarter three 2009 with prices to be confirmed at the Geneva motor show

Kathleen Parker: Phelps May Be Involuntary Hero For Liberty

By Kathleen Parker

Wednesday, February 4, 2009; 12:00 AM

It's hell being a celebrity, especially if you're young and find yourself at a party, where marijuana and cameras should never mix.

And it's not exactly heaven being sheriff of a county with escalating drug crimes and pressure to treat all offenders equally.

Thus it is that Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps and Sheriff Leon Lott of South Carolina's Richland County are being forced to treat seriously a crime that shouldn't be one.

As everyone knows by now, Phelps was photographed smoking from an Olympic-sized bong during a University of South Carolina party last November. As all fallen heroes must -- by writ of the Pitchforks & Contrition Act -- Phelps has apologized for behavior that was "regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment," and has promised never to be a lesser role model again.

Check.

Lott, meanwhile, is threatening action against Phelps because ... he has to. Widely respected and admired as a "good guy" who came up through the ranks, Lott is in a jam. Not one to sweat the small stuff, he nevertheless has said that he'll charge Phelps with a crime if he determines that the 14-time gold-medal winner did, in fact, smoke pot in his county.

The sheriff's job will be made both easier and tougher by evidence that includes a photograph of Phelps with his face buried in a smoke-filled tube and what Lott has called a "partial confession." Phelps has said that the photo is legit. The only missing link, apparently, is the exact location of the party.

What's tough is that Lott probably doesn't want to press charges because it's a waste of time and resources. He's got much bigger fish to fry, but several recent drug-related crimes -- including at least two high-profile murders -- have captured community attention.

And the law is the law. Therein lies the problem.

Our marijuana laws have been ludicrous for as long as we've been alive. Almost half of us (42 percent) have tried marijuana at least once, according to a report published last year in PLoS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science.

The U.S., in fact, boasts the highest percentage of pot smokers among 17 nations surveyed, including The Netherlands, where cannabis clouds waft from coffeehouse windows. Among them are no small number of high-ranking South Carolina leaders (we knew us when), who surely cringe every time a young person gets fingered for a "crime" they themselves have committed.

Other better-known former tokers include our current president and a couple of previous ones, as well as a Supreme Court justice, to name just a few. A complete list would require the slaughter of several mature forests.

This we know: Were Phelps to run for public office someday and admit to having smoked pot in his youth, he would be forgiven. Yet, in the present, we impose monstrous expectations on our heroes. Several hand-wringing commentaries have surfaced the past few days, lamenting the tragic loss for disappointed moms, dads and, yes, The Children.

Understandably, parents worry that their kids will emulate their idol, but the problem isn't Phelps, who is, in fact, an adult. The problem is our laws -- and our lies.

Obviously, children shouldn't smoke anything, legal or otherwise. Nor should they drink alcoholic beverages, even though their parents might.

There are good reasons for substance restrictions for children that need not apply to adults.

That's the real drug message that should inform our children and our laws, rather than the nonsense that currently passes for drug information.

Today's anti-drug campaigns are slightly wonkier than yesterday's "Reefer Madness," but equally likely to become party hits rather than drug deterrents. One recent ad produced by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says: "Hey, not trying to be your mom, but there aren't many jobs out there for potheads." Whoa, dude, except maybe, like, president of the United States.

Once a kid realizes that pot doesn't make him insane -- or likely to become a burrito taster, as the ad further asserts -- he might figure other drug information is equally false. That's how marijuana becomes a gateway drug.

Phelps may be an involuntary hero to this charge, but his name and face bring necessary attention to a farce in which nearly half the nation are actors. It's time to recognize that all drugs are not equal -- and change the laws accordingly.

kparker@kparker.com

Michael Phelps Is Still A Role Model


Rant: Michael Phelps Is Still A Role Model Put the wife and children to bed; this story has some mature content. Frank, near-constant discussions of drug use litter this rant and its strong language may shock, even offend the population’s more decent and sensible citizens, especially its cavalier attitude toward the psychotropic subject matter. In the author’s defense, it must be noted violence is kept to a minimum and nudity is non-existent. You would need to click here or here to properly appreciate those reprehensible vices--not that we encourage that sorta thing around here.

Back in 1969, John Sinclair forked over two joints to a Narc and got ten years in jail. Lennon wrote a song about it. A percentage of the public was outraged, and the Michigan Supreme Court eventually overturned not only the sentence but the good state’s marijuana laws as a whole. Score one for the Libertarians, the hippies, the counterculture. Some radical and naive thinkers saw the ruling as a first step toward legalization, but here we are, forty years later--the moral majority to the left, hypocrites to the right, and I’m stuck in the middle with Michael Phelps.

The golden boy of American swimming and I have almost nothing in common. He’s athletic and smiley, a hero to the masses; I’m lazy and curmudgeonly, a hero to no one of note. But Kevin Bacon be damned, I can now play six degrees of separation with Michael Phelps, provided pot dealers are a fair play. Yes, Uncle Sam’s fourteen time Olympic Gold Medalist and I have both been caught with our hands in the cookie jar or more specifically, with our mouths on the bong. Not the same one at the same time. The urinal code of ethics should always be applied to marijuana pipes as well. No homo. We’re living in heady times, my friend. They don’t make ’em like they used to, the role models, I mean. Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

When I was a little boy, I thought my parents had all the answers. All old people, really. I thought those bastards all possessed some mystical book which explained how to behave. But the truth is every person in the world is as clueless and bumbling as the stupidest mouth breather in the dumbest Kindergarten West Virginia has to offer. We’re just a bunch of dumb beasts fucking and punching along on the way to Oz, passing the buck to more glamorous and talented beasts like Michael Jordan. People call him a role model, apparently, because he throws a ball through a hoop with astounding regularity and cheats on his wife. George Washington too, though him more so for not wanting to pay taxes and for owning human beings. They’re role models but not Michael Phelps. He was a role model last week but now he’s a got-dang pothead. They must be mutually exclusive.

What’s the punishment nowadays for a bong hit? Loss of role model status. At least that’s what some woman said on the television last night. Her face was all red, and she said she was going to have to talk to her children about drugs now. Because of Michael Phelps-- not because it was good concerned parent behavior. Because of Michael Phelps. And what he did--with that bong--in the living room. Sorry, Mrs. Peacock.

Recent studies have shown over fifty-five percent of Americans between the ages of fifteen and forty have experimented with marijuana. That’s roughly the same percentage who’ve given a blow job. It’s higher than the percentage of people who watch the Super Bowl, the foremost shared cultural event of the year. We’ll talk about Joe Montana to Dwight Clark around the water coolers but not pot. Because trying it was a bad decision and talking about it would mean talking about it with our parents, our children, the pastor of our local church. We can’t do that. Discussing such a thing out in the open would lead to Anarchy at the very least, a combustion of all that is right and true on the average. So, we briefly remove the hypocritical sticks from the most unholy of holies and chastise people like Michael Phelps for growing up. We make him feel bad for emulating his peers. And worse yet, we make him apologize.

The majority of people who try marijuana experience feelings of shame and regret over their decision. That’s sad. Last year, Miley Cyrus was branded as the town whore for sending scantily-clad pictures via cell phone to her boyfriend. Millions of teenage girls hate themselves for trying the same thing. That’s also sad. Because all of these experiences, all of these fuck-ups help us to grow up. And that never stops. Ever. Three year olds (and dumb eight year olds) learn not to touch the oven when they burn their fingers something fierce. Fifty year olds (and dumb ninety year olds) learn not to shack up with slutty twenty-somethings after they lose millions in divorce settlements. Like I said, we’re all just dumb beasts fucking and punching along the way to Oz, but we’re worth keeping around precisely because we’re so stupid and debaucherous.

I’ve never liked Michael Phelps. Don’t worry, I rooted for him during the Olympics. I’m not a Communiss (Confederacy Of Dunces shout-out). But I never liked the man because he seemed sheltered, like those kids who win the Spelling Bee’s. Everything from his calorie count down to his free time was structured. But maybe I gave him a rough ride. He doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those Cheech-wannabees who immediately likes everyone who’s ever smoked God’s good green herb. No, I like Michael Phelps a little more now because he said “fuck it.” He stepped off the path and got his hands a little dirty. He grew up, went out on a limb and came back stinking like Eric Foreman’s basement.

Michael Phelps is a role model because he let someone take a picture of him smoking pot. Just as Miley Cyrus is a role model because she snapped a few candid photos of herself and passed ’em along to please her boyfriend. Babe Ruth was a role model because he ate like Chris Farley and still made a living exercising. And you’re a role model because you’re sitting on the couch in your underwear with chocolate stains reading this article instead of shoveling your driveway. It’s cold, I understand. That’s why I’m a role model too.

Summer Glau Explains The Nature Of Robot Love

Does Summer Glau's Terminator feel love? Will Terminator season two end with a cliffhanger? Is Glau sick of playing strong women? Glau and producer Josh Friedman answered these burning questions on a conference call. Spoilers...


Does Cameron really love John?

One of the most jarring moments in the show was during the season premiere, where Glau's Terminator, Cameron, said she loves John Connor. Was she just trying to avoid being killed? Or did she mean it, sort of?

Glau surprised me, by saying that "Cameron's deep love for John is because he is her whole reason for existing... I think that is love, and I think she would do anything for him, and in her reality, I think that's what love is for her." She added that she's not sure where Friedman is going with the character, but she always plays it as if she does feel something for John.

The move to Friday nights, and the show's future:

"We were getting our asses kicked on Monday nights," Friedman says. Friday nights have different expectations, ratings-wise, plus it gives Fox an opportunity to promote Terminator and Dollhouse together, creating a science-fiction block that might appeal to the same audience.

Friedman remains optimistic about the show getting a third season, but also addressed the possibility that it might not happen. He says he wrote the season finale "the way I was planning on writing the finale for a long time... You owe the audience a logical conclusion to the things we have been building towards." It's true that fans get upset when a show has an open-ended conclusion and doesn't come back, but "fans also get upset if we write a crappy finale. If I tried to sum up every single thing in 43 minutes, it would be a disaster. It would end up like a clip show."

He also reiterated that the rest of the season is more serialized, with fewer standalone episodes, than the first half was.

Shocking things in the season finale:

Glau says she just read the script for the season finale and she was "shocked." Not to mention excited and "a little sad." It sounds as though something tragic and/or sad happens to Cameron this season. "I think everybody's going to be shocked at what happens at the end of this season." And Cameron has some great scenes in that episode.

Also, she has lots and lots of gun battles and smackdowns in the last nine episodes, way more than in the first half of the season. "People are going to be on a roller-coaster" in the final episodes.

The awesomeness of Summer Glau:

Friedman says he saw Summer audition several years ago, and really wanted to cast her in something. But instead, she went off to do the Serenity movie and The 4400. Friedman carried her audition tape around with him for a few weeks afterwards. And when the time came to do the Terminator show, he wrote the part of Cameron for her. "She's one of those few people who can be completely still, and still hard to take your eyes off."

Glau says that playing a robot is more challenging in some ways than playing a regular human, because she has to plan out everything in advance. She can't just react naturally or convey normal emotions.

In the pilot episode, Friedman says, he and producer James Middleton saw Glau do something incredibly clever during one take. They weren't sure if she was doing it on purpose, but then during the next take, she did it again. That was when Friedman realized how awesome Glau was going to be at playing this character, and how little hand-holding she was going to need.

Also, that scene in a recent episode where Cameron says she feels, because she wouldn't be much good if she didn't? That's part of Cameron's scheme. "I think she has a plan for drawing John closer to her, and so I've been trying to incorporate that all season," says Glau.

Also, someone asked Glau, "Do you ever get tired of playing deceptively strong asskickers?" And this was her whole answer: "No." Then she was pressed to elaborate, and she said something about how she enjoys playing complicated characters. But also, Cameron has gotten to be the damsel in distress on some occasions, and she's gotten to be sort of a princess and do ballet.

Other stuff:

Friedman says he'd like to be able to revisit the "Alison from Palmdale" character at some point — the future human whose appearance, and apparently memories, Cameron borrowed from.

Another character who might be revisited at some point: the engineer who built the time machine in the bank vault in 1963, which we saw in the show's pilot episode. The writers regularly debate whether to bring that engineer character back. Some writers pitch Friedman stories about that characters, but others never want to see him on the show. Friedman is obsessed with "the engineer" and definitely would like to bring him onto the show sometime — but not in the second season.

Cameron has "very few advantages" in a straight-up brawl with Shirley Manson's Catherine Weaver. It would be like a replay of the fight in Terminator 2.


A TON Of Behind The Scenes Transformers 2 Pics and Spoilers


Some guy who was an extra on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen took pictures from the set and reveals tons of huge spoilers about the movie

clcik here for more pics | digg story

Los Angeles Dodgers offer Manny Ramirez one year, $25M

By Jayson Stark
ESPN.com

A two-year, $45 million offer three months ago didn't get it done. So on Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a new offer to Manny Ramirez -- for one year and $25 million, according to a major league source.

Ramirez
Ramirez

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti confirmed to ESPN.com that he met with Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, on Monday and presented the new offer in person.

Colletti declined to confirm any details of the offer. But the offer was confirmed by another source with knowledge of the discussions. It's believed that Ramirez and Boras were given a 48-hour deadline to accept the offer.

Boras and the Dodgers have haggled since November over Ramirez's worth, but they have been hung up mostly by the four to six years Boras has been looking for. So clearly, the Dodgers decided it was time to change tactics.

By offering Ramirez $25 million, they apparently believe they're sending a clear message that they want him back -- since that would make him the second-highest paid player in baseball this year, behind only Alex Rodriguez. It would also give Ramirez a chance to go back into the free-agent market next winter, when, presumably, the economy will have improved.

Judged only by the average annual value of the contract, the new offer is a step up from the Dodgers' previous offer. On Election Day, the Dodgers offered Ramirez $15 million for the 2009 season, $22.5 million in 2010 and a $7.5 million buyout or $22.5 million club option for 2011. So that contract would have maxed out at $60 million over three years if the Dodgers picked up the option.

However, Boras has consistently been seeking $25-30 million a year for four to six years. So it's uncertain how he and Ramirez will receive the Dodgers' latest negotiating twist.

Senior writer Jayson Stark covers baseball for ESPN.com.

Top 10 Micro Cars: Life in the Tiny Lane

Small is beautiful — or at least affordable. Here are our picks for the top “micro” cars on the road today.

By Jacob Gordon of TreeHugger

As this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit made oh-so clear, small gas-sipping cars — or those that don’t run on gasoline at all — are what automakers and government overseers think American drivers want. Even with gas prices relenting, few people have extra cash to swipe away at the pump, so MSN Autos rounds up 10 cars that prove small can be beautiful — or at least beautifully economical.

Chevy Aveo

2009 Chevrolet Aveo Click picture to enlarge

2009 Chevrolet Aveo

Though American automakers are more comfortable building land whales, not automotive minnows, the Aveo is a pint-sized compact that will leave plenty of room in both the garage and the checking account. The 2009 Aveo carries a 1.6-liter Gen 3 Ecotec engine, and with a manual transmission it earns an Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy estimate of 27/34 mpg (city/hwy). Available as a sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Aveo carries standard front and seat-mounted side-impact airbags. Wearing a Pontiac nameplate, the Aveo is known as the G3.

Ford Focus Coupe

2009 Ford Focus SES Coupe (© Ford Motor Company) Click picture to enlarge
2009 Ford Focus SES Coupe

With considerably more panache than the four-door model, the Focus coupe has been redesigned for 2009, though most of its new traits are cosmetic. A sport-tuned exhaust system delivers more horsepower but also a “throatier” sound, aimed at turning on millennial buyers. It comes with either a Duratec inline 4-cylinder engine or a “super-clean” Duratec 20E that qualifies the coupe as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV). Options include such perks as a Microsoft Sync system, electronic stability control and chromed aluminum wheels. Seats in the Focus are molded from nonpetroleum vegetable foam.

Honda Fit

2009 Honda Fit Sport 5-Spd AT (© American Honda Motor Co., Inc.) Click picture to enlarge
2009 Honda Fit Sport 5-Spd AT

Fortunately, the options for driving small are more appealing than they’ve been in a long time. Case in point: the Fit. First introduced in Japan in 2001, the Fit debuted stateside in 2006. With a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder VTEC engine, the Fit deserves its fair share of accolades for balancing efficiency with peppy performance. A center-mounted fuel tank opens up interior space, and optional voice recognition, 16-inch alloy wheels and iPod integration are among the generous list of features that make the Fit much more than simply good enough. The Fit also frequently tops Internet lists of the cheapest cars to own because of its sticker price, resale value and admirable fuel economy.

Hyundai Accent

2009 Hyundai Accent Click picture to enlarge

2009 Hyundai Accent

In its third generation, the Accent remains a solid, if not exhilarating, member of the subcompact club. A 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine gets 26/35 mpg (city/hwy) with its optional automatic transmission. The Accent isn’t likely to disappoint in reliability; J.D. Power and Associates called the Accent the most dependable subcompact, based on responses from 52,000 owners of 2005 Accents.

MINI Cooper

Perhaps the most performance-minded micro on American roads is the MINI. Drawing on decades of road rallying (not to mention tight European parking), BMW has taken the MINI brand and imbued it with a host of features such as a 1.6-liter 16-valve aluminum engine (offering 118 horsepower), an on/off ignition button, traction control and six airbags. With a squat “bulldog” stance, the standard MINI Cooper, Cooper S and Convertible make the most of their small footprint, translating it into tight turning, responsive acceleration and respectable fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (city/hwy) with automatic transmission. An all-electric MINI is now being leased to a limited number of Californians.


MINI Cooper Clubman

New for model year 2008, the Clubman builds on the success of its Cooper compadre. With 10 extra inches of width and 3 extra inches at the wheelbase, the Clubman is what the Brits would call an estate, aka a wagon on this side of the pond. The Clubman’s extra size is portioned up between the passenger cabin — where legroom is more generous — and rear cargo space, and is accessed by two unique barn-like doors. Despite 54 more horsepower than the Cooper, the MINI Clubman earns the same 25/35 mpg (city/hwy) with its automatic gearbox.

Nissan Versa

First appearing in 2007, the Versa delivers more power than its subcompact peers, with a 1.8-liter 122 horsepower engine. A standard Xtronic continually variable transmission boosts drivability as well as mpg. Bluetooth connectivity, a smart key and a 6-disc CD changer are options. It also can’t hurt that in 2008 the Versa earned the Consumers Digest Best Buy Award for the third year in a row.

Scion xD

If small and efficient strike you as boring, cars such as the Scion xD are trying to snap you out of the doldrums. At 155 inches long the xD is not the smallest of the pack, but earns a laudable 26/32 mpg (city/hwy) from its 1.8-liter engine with an automatic transmission. Options on the highly customizable xD include LED taillights, a cabin light kit with illuminated cupholder, 18-inch alloy wheels and a navigation system. Perhaps more useful are the standard features, which include anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, and a dedicated iPod input.

smart fortwo

Smart fortwo Brabus (© Bruce Whitaker) Click picture to enlarge
Smart fortwo Brabus

Smallest of the small at 106 inches long, the smart fortwo is almost 40 inches shorter than a MINI Cooper. Even so, the fortwo (built “for two” passengers), has deceptively ample legroom. For 2009 the fortwo will offer two new colors and some small interior changes, but no radical overhaul. The Passion Coupe has a more fleshed-out list of features, such as alloy wheels, climate control and power windows. And a 2009 Brabus edition of the Coupe and Cabriolet soft-top offers upgraded exhaust tuning and suspension, alloy wheels and extra flair inside and out.

Toyota Yaris

2009 Toyota Yaris Sedan 5-Spd MT (© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.) Click picture to enlarge
2009 Toyota Yaris Sedan 5-Spd MT

If you want to drive small, the Yaris is a mini hero worth experiencing. Available in 3- and 5-door hatchbacks and a 4-door sedan, the Yaris family is the winner of numerous awards for safety and reliability. At 150 inches, the 3-door hatchback is one of the shortest cars out there — a plus when it comes to parking agility, as well as overall efficiency. The EPA rates the smallest Yaris at 29/36 mpg (city/hwy), but MPGOmatic.com averaged almost 50 mpg on the highway (though the Yaris lacks an mpg readout with which to flaunt it). ABS brakes and side and curtain airbags are standard, and all three Yaris versions offer a generous options list.

Jacob Gordon is a freelance writer, a blogger for TreeHugger.com and a producer of TreeHugger Radio. He can be reached at jacob@treehugger.com.

In the market for a new car? MSN Autos is pleased to provide you with information and services designed to save you time, money and hassle. Click to research prices and specifications on any new car on the market or get a free price quote through MSN Autos' New-Car Buying Service.

View Pictures: More Micro Cars

Smallest Earth-type Exoplanet Yet Discovered


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Planet transit in front of a star
Planet transit in front of a star

COROT discovers smallest exoplanet yet, with a surface to walk on
3 February 2009
COROT has found the smallest terrestrial planet ever detected outside the Solar System. The amazing planet is less than twice the size of Earth and orbits a Sun-like star. Its temperature is so high that it is possibly covered in lava or water vapour.

About 330 exoplanets have been discovered so far, most of which are gas giants with characteristics similar to Jupiter and Neptune.

The new find, COROT-Exo-7b, is different: its diameter is less than twice that of Earth and it orbits its star once every 20 hours. It is located very close to its parent star, and has a high temperature, between 1000 and 1500°C. Astronomers detected the new planet as it transited its parent star, dimming the light from the star as it passed in front of it.

The density of the planet is still under investigation: it may be rocky like Earth and covered in liquid lava. It may also belong to a class of planets that are thought to be made up of water and rock in almost equal amounts. Given the high temperatures measured, the planet would be a very hot and humid place.

“Finding such a small planet was not a complete surprise”, said Daniel Rouan, researcher at the Observatoire de Paris Lesia, who coordinates the project with Alain Léger, from Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (Paris, France). “COROT-Exo-7b belongs to a class of objects whose existence had been predicted for some time. COROT was designed precisely in the hope of discovering some of these objects,” he added.

Very few exoplanets found so far have a mass comparable to Earth’s and the other terrestrial planets: Venus, Mars, and Mercury. This is because terrestrial planets are extremely difficult to detect. Most of the methods used so far are indirect and sensitive to the mass of the planet, while COROT can directly measure the size of its surface, which is an advantage. In addition, its location in space allows for longer periods of uninterrupted observation than from ground.


“For the first time, we have unambiguously detected a planet that is 'rocky' in the same sense as our own Earth.”
This discovery is significant because recent measurements have indicated the existence of planets of small masses but their size remained undetermined until now.

The internal structure of COROT-exo-7b particularly puzzles scientists; they are unsure whether it is an ‘ocean planet’, a kind of planet whose existence has never been proved so far. In theory, such planets would initially be covered partially in ice and they would later drift towards their star, with the ice melting to cover it in liquid.

"This discovery is a very important step on the road to understanding the formation and evolution of our planet," said Malcolm Fridlund, ESA’s COROT Project Scientist. “For the first time, we have unambiguously detected a planet that is 'rocky' in the same sense as our own Earth. We now have to understand this object further to put it into context, and continue our search for smaller, more Earth-like objects with COROT," he added.


Notes for editors:

This discovery benefited from complementary observations made thanks to an extensive European telescope network operated by various institutes and countries. The European Southern Observatory at Paranal and La Silla (Chile), the 80-cm telescope at the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute, and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii (CNRS, CNRC, and University of Hawaii).

The findings will appear in ‘Transiting exoplanets from the CoRoT space mission VII. COROT-Exo-7b: The first super-earth with radius characterized’ by A. Léger , D. Rouan , J. Schneider , R. Alonso , B. Samuel , E. Guenther , M. Deleuil , H.J. Deeg , M. Fridlund, et al. to be submitted to Astronomy and Astrophysics.

COROT (planetary convection, rotation and transits) is a mission led by the French Space Agency (CNES), with contributions from ESA, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Brazil. It is a telescope placed in Earth orbit that was launched in December 2006 carrying a 27 cm-diameter telescope designed to detect tiny changes the brightness of nearby stars. The mission’s main objectives are to search for exoplanets and to study stellar interiors.


For more information:

Daniel Rouan, CNRS senior scientist, Observatoire de Paris Lesia:
Email : daniel.rouan @ obspm.fr

Alain Léger, CNRS senior scientist, IAS
Email: alain.leger@ias.u-psud.fr

Malcolm Fridlund, ESA COROT Project Scientist
Email: Malcolm.Fridlund @ esa.int

Record 19 Million Houses Seized and Vacant in the US

By Kathleen M. Howley

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- A record 19 million U.S. homes stood empty at the end of 2008 and homeownership fell to an eight-year low as banks seized homes faster than they could sell them.

The number of vacant homes climbed 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report today. The share of empty homes that are for sale rose to 2.9 percent, the most in data that goes back to 1956. The homeownership rate fell to 67.5 percent, matching the rate in the first quarter of 2001.

The worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression is deepening as foreclosures drain value from neighboring homes and make it more likely owners will walk away from properties worth less than their mortgages. About a third of owners whose home values drop 20 percent or more below their loan principal will “hand the keys back to the bank,” said Norm Miller, director of real estate programs for the School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego.

“When you’re underwater and prices continue to fall, you tend to walk,” Miller said in an interview. “It’s a downward spiral that’s tough to stop because it feeds on itself. Foreclosures encourage other foreclosures and falling prices discourage buying.”

Obama’s Plans

The figures demonstrate the intensity of the U.S. housing crisis as President Barack Obama considers ways to help homeowners.

The Obama administration is considering government guarantees for home loans modified by their servicers, seeking to stem the record surge of foreclosures that’s hammering U.S. property values.

The proposal, which may also have taxpayers share in the cost of reducing mortgage payments, is aimed at shielding lenders from default after they loosen loan terms for struggling borrowers. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, who regulates national banks, said yesterday that “working out the details of it is still something that’s ongoing.”

Congress and the new president are grappling with how to repair the housing market as the recession enters its second year and unemployment rises. The U.S. economy shrank the most in the fourth quarter since 1982, contracting at a 3.8 percent annual pace, the Commerce Department said on Jan. 30.

Legal Wrangling

The U.S. had 130.8 million housing units in the fourth quarter, including 2.23 million empty homes that were for sale, the Census report said. The vacancy rate was 3.5 percent in urban areas and 2.6 percent in suburbs, the report said.

In addition, the report counted 4.1 million vacant homes for rent and 4.8 million seasonal properties.

“Wealth loss and housing in combination with loss in the equity market will have ripple effects,” said George Mokrzan, senior economist at Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio. “The silver lining is that while home prices are coming down, incomes have stayed about the same, and in a lot of markets we’ll hit equilibrium this year. That’s a good sign for the long term.”

Most foreclosures are contained in the report’s “other” category, which includes homes tied up in legal proceedings as well as properties that are empty because the owner is renovating and living somewhere else, according to the Census Web site. There were 7.8 million homes in that category in the fourth quarter, up from 7.3 million a year earlier, the report said.

Bank Holdings

There were 2.22 million new foreclosures in 2008, an average of 6,090 a day, according to Washington-based Hope Now Alliance. Those resulted in 917,000 property sales, according to the group that represents 27 mortgage lenders and servicers.

U.S. banks owned $11.5 billion of homes they seized from delinquent borrowers at the end of the third quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Washington. That’s up from $5.4 billion a year ago.

The U.S. housing market lost $3.3 trillion in value last year and almost one in six owners with mortgages owed more than their homes were worth as the economy went into recession, Zillow.com said in a report today.

The median estimated home price declined 11.6 percent in 2008 to $192,119 and homeowners lost $1.4 trillion in value in the fourth quarter alone, the Seattle-based real estate data service said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen M. Howley in Boston at kmhowley@bloomberg.net.

N.J. disc jockey to part with Jenny's number

The Associated Press

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. -- After five years fielding thousands of calls to one of rock 'n' roll's most celebrated phone numbers, disc jockey Spencer Potter is hanging up on Jenny.

Her seven digits are familiar to anyone who paid attention to pop music in the early 1980s: 867-5309, immortalized by the band Tommy Tutone.

Potter and his roommates requested the number on a lark for their home phone in northern New Jersey. They got it, along with about 30 to 40 calls a day.

The 28-year-old Potter says he's selling his business, A Blast Entertainment, and moving to New York. The business and the phone number are for sale on eBay, where the high bid was about $1,000 by Sunday morning.

Md. surgeons remove donated kidney through vagina

Kim Johnson, who donated a kidney to her niece four days earlier,  poses for a
AP – Kim Johnson, who donated a kidney to her niece four days earlier, poses for a portrait at a relatives …

BALTIMORE – Surgeons removed a woman's kidney through her vagina so she could give it to her ailing niece, an unusual operation they hope will encourage others to donate because it reduces pain, scarring and recovery time. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said donor Kimberly Johnson, 48, and her niece, Jennifer Gilbert, 23, were both doing well following operations Thursday.

"It was easier than childbirth," said Johnson, who has three children.

Transvaginal kidney removals have been done before to remove cancerous or nonfunctioning kidneys, and other diseased organs have also been removed through mouths and other orifices. Many donated kidneys are removed laparoscopically, through small keyhole incisions.

But hospital officials think this may be the first time a donor kidney was removed through the vagina.

The operation left three pea-size scars on the Lexington Park woman's abdomen, one hidden in her navel. Surgeons hope the procedure will lead more women to become donors, said Dr. Robert Montgomery, chief of the transplant division at Johns Hopkins, who led the team that performed the surgery.

Johnson said the operation was less painful than gall bladder surgery and she is recovering more quickly than Gilbert's father, who gave his daughter a kidney 12 years ago.

Gilbert, of Baltimore, needed the first transplant because repeated infections had destroyed the kidneys she was born with. She needed the second after she began suffering chronic rejection.

Johnson, an assistant sales manager for a St. Mary's County newspaper, said she was able to get out of bed Thursday night, the same day the kidney was removed.

Quicker recovery and less pain are the key benefits of the new technique, said Montgomery and Dr. Anthony Kalloo, the director of the Division of Gastroenterology at Johns Hopkins and a pioneer of the method of using natural orifices for organ removal.

Kalloo said more than 300 such surgeries have been performed worldwide, mostly gall bladder and appendix removal through the mouth, anus and vagina. Kalloo said there has been some resistance in the medical community because of concerns, for example, that stomach acid could leak into the abdominal cavity in operations where organs were removed through the mouth.

Dr. Jihad Kaouk, a urologist and director of the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery, is among those concerned about contamination. He was not involved in Johnson's surgery.

"There is the risk of infection having the kidney passing through a contaminated area and then going to another patient who is immunocompromised," Kaouk said. "That is the concern we have and we would like to monitor the outcome in that regard."

In Johnson's case, Montgomery said a plastic bag placed into her abdominal cavity through a tiny incision protected the donated kidney from contamination by bacteria and other organisms in her vagina. Johnson was chosen because she has had a hysterectomy, which made the operation easier, but the procedure could be used without affecting women's ability to give birth, he said.

More than 78,000 people are on the national waiting list to receive kidneys from deceased donors. The need is increasing as diabetes and obesity rise, threatening to further lengthen a wait that can last years. In 2007, more than a third of the 16,629 kidneys transplanted in the U.S. came from living donors, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Montgomery said the number of living donor transplants has tripled since laparoscopic removal debuted in 1995, providing an alternative to so-called "shark bite" abdominal incisions. He hopes advances such as the vaginal removal will continue the increase.

"We think she'll be probably back to her normal activities within a week or two," the transplant surgeon said. Recovery from laproscopic surgery typically takes several weeks. "So, that greatly reduces the inconvenience of donating and we're hoping that will encourage more people to donate."

Toyota says Prius plug-in gets 65 mpg

Toyota will test 150 U.S. units of the 2010 Prius with plug-in technology. A non-plug-in 2010 Prius is shown.
A picture of Toyota will test 150 U.S. units of the 2010 Prius with plug-in technology. A non-plug-in 2010 Prius is shown.
Toyota will test 150 U.S. units of the 2010 Prius with plug-in technology. A non-plug-in 2010 Prius is shown.
Roger Hart

Toyota Priuses with plug-in hybrid technology are averaging 65 mpg in combined gasoline and electric-mode testing.

"That is real-world driving," said Bill Reinert, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.'s national alternative-fuel vehicle manager. "I ask my guys to drive them as you drive your normal Prius."

By comparison, the redesigned 2010 Prius, a parallel hybrid with nickel-metal hydride batteries, will have an estimated 50 mpg rating.

U.S. sales of a Toyota plug-in hybrid will begin sometime after 2010.

"It would make sense that we would do it with a Prius, but we haven't announced anything as to which vehicles" will offer plug-in technology, said John Hanson, a Toyota spokesman. But any hybrid model is a possible candidate, he said.

Reinert said fuel economy for plug-in hybrids depends on the battery pack's capacity and how the car is driven. Both factors determine how many miles can be driven in electric mode.

At the Detroit auto show last month, Reinert said: "How hard do you drive it? How fast do you drive it? When the hybrids first came out, there was a huge variance in gas fuel economy, depending on your right foot and other conditions.

"That difference is just magnified, supercharged, turbocharged with a plug-in electric because how fast you go really pulls the current out of the battery. It is a big deal."

Toyota will import 150 Prius plug-in hybrids late this year for testing by universities, commercial fleets and individuals.

The vehicles will test several lithium-ion battery packs that will be teamed with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.

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