Turkey mourns 24 slain soldiers (AP)

Turkish Amoured Personnel Carriers, drive on a mountain road near the Turkish-Iraq border in this image taken from TV Wednesday Oct. 19, 2011. Turkish

ANKARA, Turkey – Thousands of high school students marched in the streets of the Turkish capital on Thursday to denounce the killing of 24 soldiers by Kurdish rebels, and the military pressed ahead with its air and ground offensive against the insurgents across the Iraqi border.

Turkey began the offensive against the Kurdish rebels on Wednesday after they conducted their deadly attacks on military and police targets along the border.

About a dozen warplanes flew several bombing sorties out of two military bases in the country’s southeast before sunrise Thursday, the state-run TRT television said. But few details about the offensive and its casualties have been released by the military or the rebels.

Wednesday’s killing of the 24 soldiers and the wounding of 18 was the deadliest one-day attack by the rebels since the mid-1990s, and it has outraged many in Turkey and fueled nationalist sentiment. The U.S. and NATO also have condemned it.

Thousands of high school students carrying Turkish flags marched throughout Ankara on Thursday and visited the mausoleum of the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in a show of solidarity.

“Tooth for tooth, blood for blood, vengeance!” students chanted in support of the military as they marched through the affluent Tunali Hilmi district. At one point, the students stopped traffic to sing the national anthem as some shop keepers joined them and passers-by stood still in respect.

The youths also shouted: “Ankara wake up, honor your martyrs!”

The flag-draped coffins of the slain soldiers were being flown to several cities across the country on Thursday for burial. The government was expected to brief the lawmakers about the ongoing military incursion into Iraq in a closed-door session later Thursday.

“Enough is enough, the government must allow all of us to fight them (the rebels),” said an angry taxi driver, Sedat Inci. Like many other taxi drivers, Inci had decorated his cab with red-and-white Turkish flags in support of the military’s drive against the autonomy-seeking guerrillas.

Several newspapers condemned the rebels in banner headlines against a black background.

“24 martyrs, 74 million wounded,” said the daily Posta, referring to Turkey’s entire population.

The Yeni Safak newspaper’s banner headline read: “Endless Pain.”

In new violence on Thursday, suspected Kurdish rebels wounded three soldiers in a roadside bomb attack near the town of Altinova in southeastern Mus province, said Gov. Ali Cinar.

President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to retaliate against the rebels and imposed further pressure on Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdish administration to try to prevent rebel attacks from Iraqi soil.

The Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq are mostly stable and prosperous. But to Turkey, which has a large Kurdish minority, they also are an inspiration and a support base for the Kurdish rebels.

Turkey’s Kurdish rebel conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since the insurgents took up arms for autonomy in the country’s Kurdish-dominated southeast in 1984.

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BlackBerry outage not all bad, helped improve Middle East road safety (Digital Trends)

For three days last week, police in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were scratching their heads in confusion, perplexed by the fact that they were receiving far fewer calls to traffic accidents than usual.

Then on Thursday the accident rate returned to normal. It was then that the police made the connection. The improvement in driving could, they believed, be attributed to the BlackBerry service outage which affected millions of phone users around the world, including those in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Research In Motion s BlackBerry phones are popular in the Middle East, so the loss of service meant that instead of surfing the Internet, sending messages and tapping out emails, many drivers were actually doing what they should be doing while on the road driving.

According to the South Atlantic News Agency, there s a traffic accident in Dubai every three minutes, while in Abu Dhabi someone dies on the roads every two days. During the BlackBerry outage, however, accidents on the roads of Dubai dropped by 20 percent, while in neighboring Abu Dhabi an astonishing 40 percent fewer accidents were reported, with no fatalities at all taking place.

Dubai police said that last week saw a significant drop in accidents by young drivers and men on those three days, adding that young people were the biggest users of the popular BlackBerry Messenger service.

Al Harethi of Abu Dhabi police appeared to be more than happy about RIM s service failure. Absolutely nothing has happened in the past week in terms of killings on the road and we re really glad about that, he said. People are slowly starting to realize the dangers of using their phone while driving. The roads became much safer when BlackBerry stopped working.

As a way of apologizing for the severe service disruption, RIM has announced that it will be offering a selection of free apps to BlackBerry users in the coming weeks.

[via Cnet] [Image courtesy of marema / Shutterstock]

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Source: LSU’s Mathieu, Simon, Ware suspended

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU has suspended star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, defensive back Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware for this Saturday’s home game against Auburn because they’ve run afoul of the team’s drug policy, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The person told The Associated Press about the suspensions on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they have not been announced. But the person did not specify the drug for which the players tested positive.

LSU coach Les Miles declined to confirm any punishment for members of his No. 1 Tigers after Wednesday’s practice.

“I understand the interest which surrounds what seems to be news. There is internal discipline and internal news,” Miles said. “I have a process I go through. … It’s a procedure I’m true to. There is no real information about any player that I’ll address at this point.”

Mathieu has been one of the stars of the first half of the college football season. He has forced four fumbles, recovering three and returning two for scores. He also has two interceptions and 42 tackles, including 1 1/2 sacks.

Mathieu has made so many big plays in nationally televised games that a grass-roots Heisman Trophy campaign has sprouted for the hard-hitting 5-foot-9 defensive back nicknamed “Honey Badger,” after the YouTube sensation about a small but fearless animal by the same name.

Ware is the leading rusher for the unbeaten Tigers with 512 yards and six touchdowns.

Simon has one interception and 29 tackles.

LSU is deep at running back and should be able to cope with Ware’s absence. Michael Ford, who has rushed for 359 yards and six touchdowns, and Alfred Blue, who has 235 yards rushing and four TDs, likely will be LSU’s top two running backs against Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, senior Ron Brooks would be the likely candidate to step in at cornerback for Mathieu, while fellow senior Derrick Bryant could play nickel back. When LSU fields six defensive backs, sophomore Craig Loston or redshirt freshman Ronnie Vinson could take the field.

The Tigers have a week off after Saturday’s game, and play No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5 in what could be the biggest game of the regular season.

LSU (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has already managed to stay unbeaten while dealing with early season suspensions.

“This football team understands what distraction is,” Miles said. “I haven’t seen a change in their get-along. I expect the team to take the field ably manned at all positions.”

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson missed the first four games of the season, including matchups against Oregon and West Virginia, after he was involved in a bar fight.

Jefferson, who was slated to start, was reinstated on Sept. 28 after a grand jury reduced his felony second-degree battery charge to a misdemeanor. He and Jarrett Lee have been sharing the quarterback job since he returned.

Receiver Russell Shepard missed the first three games because of an NCAA rules violation.

LSU is a three-touchdown favorite at home against No. 19 Auburn, but the Alabama game is in Tuscaloosa.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Tiny regional carrier C Spire lands iPhone 4S

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — C Spire, a wireless carrier you’ve probably never heard of, announced Wednesday that it will become the fourth U.S. wireless provider to sell the iPhone 4S.

The regional carrier formerly known as Cellular South serves just under 900,000 customers, mostly in Mississippi. By contrast, Sprint (S, Fortune 500), previously the smallest carrier to sell the iPhone, serves 52 million customers.

It’s a departure for Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), which entered into a nearly four-year iPhone exclusivity agreement with AT&T (T, Fortune 500). That ended earlier this year when Verizon, the country’s largest wireless network, finally snagged the coveted phone. Sprint, the nation’s No. 3, joined the ranks this month.

Apple has typically required iPhone carriers to buy its phones in bulk, demanding the kind of volume only the biggest carriers can provide. So why is the iPhone finally making the leap to a regional carrier, just weeks after Sprint got it first crack at the gadget?

One possible reason for the course change is that Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), which licenses its Android operating system for free, has made significant headway in the smaller markets. Its open-source strategy has allowed handset manufacturers to make and sell cheap smartphones via regional carriers across the world.

In the United States, low-cost carriers like Leap Wireless’ (LEAP) Cricket, MetroPCS (PCS), Sprint’s Boost Wireless and Virgin Mobile all sell Android smartphones. Regional carriers including U.S. Cellular (USM), C Spire and Cincinnati Bell Wireless also carry Android devices.

Some analysts speculated that Apple wants a piece of that pie as well.

“If Apple can get the iPhone into rural areas, that’s a plus for them,” said Tole Hart, analyst at Yankee Group. “It would add to their customer base, but it would also be a good story to be in rural areas, showing how iPhones can help people save lives, and so on.”

This kind of arrangement would have been impossible a year ago, but Apple made several changes to facilitate it: It ended its exclusivity deal with AT&T, and it developed an iPhone that works on the CDMA network standard favored by most U.S. carriers, including C Spire. The first CDMA phone became available on the Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) network in February.

The C Spire deal opens up the possibility that other small carriers could start selling the iPhone as well.

Previously, analysts believed that the cost of selling the iPhone would be too high for smaller carriers to bear. Even with Sprint, some analysts were initially skeptical that the No. 3 mobile provider could meet Apple’s sales targets. Yet Sprint reported that its first weekend of iPhone sales was its best weekend ever.

“I think it helps bring people into stores, and gives carriers cache,” Hart said. “These companies are good at judging costs of their business. It makes sense.”

Others think it will be easy for C Spire to make money on the deal.

“Why not? All C Spire has to do is buy a bunch and sell them; it’s a piece of cake,” said Ken Dulaney, analyst at Gartner. “Look at Sprint, which is doing really well. It certainly will make their customers happy.”

But working with smaller carriers is clearly new territory for Apple — and vice versa. The Apple/C Spire relationship got off to a tight-lipped start.

C Spire issued the world’s tersest, one-line statement about its blockbuster deal, saying only that it will launch the iPhone 4S “in the U.S. in the coming weeks.” The company didn’t comment on pricing or when the devices will actually be available.

A company spokesman told CNNMoney that the company would be happy to talk at that later date. Apple also declined to comment.

“They do not want to step on Apple’s toes — no one wants to rustle Apple’s feathers,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst based in Atlanta. “This is very interesting to watch.”

It will also be interesting to see whether AT&T can capitalize on this development pursuing its planned purchase of T-Mobile. One reason the Department of Justice says it filed an antitrust claim aiming to block the proposed merger is that major handset manufacturers tend to stay away from smaller carriers.

The DOJ argued that it makes better economic sense for phone makers to sell to one or two large carriers, since that alone would give them access to the vast majority of the nation’s mobile subscribers.

Now that the most sought-after device is available on such a tiny carrier, that argument is up for debate. To top of page

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Romney says religion shouldn’t be a factor (AP)

Mitt Romney, Rick Perry

LAS VEGAS – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says voters should not choose their president based on the candidate’s religious beliefs or the place where they worship.

Romney was responding Tuesday to recent comments made by Robert Jeffress, a Dallas minister and supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Jeffress called Mormonism a cult. Romney is Mormon.

Romney says he was troubled that the minister would imply that people should choose a president based on the candidate’s religion. He says it runs counter to the country’s principles.

Perry reiterated that he did not agree with Jeffress’s remarks. Jeffress introduced Perry at a recent speech and asserted that Romney isn’t a Christian and Mormonism is a cult.

Asked about the comments, Romney said he’s heard worse, “so I’m not going to lose sleep over that.”

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Fed: Economy weakening but no sign of recession

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The economy is losing steam across much of the nation, but is still growing and not in recession, according to the latest outlook from the Federal Reserve.

Wednesday’s release of the so-called Beige Book, which is a summary of outlooks from the 12 district banks from across the country, certainly didn’t portray a robust economy.

“Many districts described the pace of growth as ‘modest’ or ‘slight’ and contacts generally noted weaker or less certain outlooks for business conditions,” said the Beige Book report.

But amid growing fears that the economy has already fallen into a new recession or is about to do so, the Fed’s report said growth was still present in most of the country.

“Overall economic activity continued to expand in September,” said the Fed, as it said consumer spending was up in most districts and business spending is also increasing “somewhat.”

The central bank said a few districts even reported improvement in the long-suffering construction and real estate industries. And it said cost pressures are easing in the majority of districts.

But financial activity is declining in much of the country with loan volumes either flat or down slightly in most districts, an indication of weak confidence and lowered business investment. And there was little good news for unemployed job seekers.

“Hiring was being restrained by elevated uncertainty or lower expectations for their future growth,” said the Fed.

The Richmond and Chicago districts reported retailers reducing their seasonal hiring plans due to concerns about a weak holiday shopping season, although the New York district reported an increase in seasonal hiring. To top of page

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Education Policy and Republican Frontrunners Mitt Romney and Herman Cain (ContributorNetwork)

A new CNN poll shows Republican presidential nomination candidates Mitt Romney and Herman Cain in a dead heat to lead the GOP pack. Romney, Cain and the other GOP contenders will continue their series of debates October 18 in Las Vegas. Prior debates have focused on Republicans' core issues: improving the economy, restructuring the tax code and undoing President Obama's healthcare overhaul. But one burning issue about which the GOP candidates have kept mostly quiet is the implementation of education reforms at the state level.

In particular, do Romney and Cain see limits on collective bargaining, such as those recently passed in Ohio, as the pathway to instituting education reforms?

State level educational policy debates are not as sexy as healthcare and taxes – at least not yet. With Ohio voters facing a November referendum (Issue 2) on Governor Kasich's restrictive new collective bargaining reform law, Republican contenders have the opportunity and responsibility to connect their education policy views to Ohio's voters. Here's why:

Both Mitt Romney and Herman Cain have similar stances on the federal government's role in public education. Romney, who once called for the dismantling of the Education Department, now supports continuation of President George W. Bush' No Child Left Behind Act. However, Romney also champions programs, including the expansion of tuition vouchers, to provide students with more robust school choice options. Romney also favors increasing use of charter schools to force traditional public schools to “compete” for students (and their accompanying tax dollars).

Herman Cain's education policy doesn't mirror Romney's stance, but in effect it's close. Cain emphasizes the need to return educational control to the state and local level, where Cain sees the best opportunities to institute changes satisfactory to each community. Like Romney, Cain supports funding for voucher programs and charter schools. Cain seems less interested in backing No Child Left Behind than Romney, favoring a gradual reduction in federal education aid to states.

Both Romney and Cain see teachers as part of public schools' problems. Both candidates aim to reward “good” teachers and empower districts to cut “bad” teachers. However, neither frontrunner has delineated a detailed plan for how to do this. Romney, who has referred to union leaders as “fat cats,” and Cain are both businessmen who see the free market and application of business analytics to public education as the foundation for school improvement. Does that mean that both Romney and Cain stand with Governer Kasich of Ohio in supporting Ohio's tough new collective bargaining limits? How will the Occupy Wall Street movement's brewing animosity toward wealthy corporate types color the debate over whether business provides the best model for public education policymaking?

The answer to that question would put into stark relief the education policy stances of both Romney and Cain. On the one hand, the candidates' support for Issue 2 would immediately alienate what appears to be a majority of Ohio voters. Given Ohio's swing-state status, this seems politically unwise. On the other hand, both candidates seem to want to empower states to do exactly what Governor Kasich has done in Ohio.

I would ask the candidates: Do you stand with Governor Kasich in support of Ohio's new collective bargaining law?

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