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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

4x4 vehicle and Elephants 'legs' working as same

Researchers found that off-road vehicles such as Range or Land Rovers cars were the mechanical equivalent of the largest living land mammal because of the way they move.
Scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, in London, found that the animal's ''four-leg-drive'' system means power is applied independently to each limb. 
This compared to other all other four-footed animals who are thought to be designed with ''rear-leg-drive'' and tend to accelerate with the hind limbs while using their forelegs more for braking.
Experts had previously assumed elephants would need rigid ''pillar-like'' legs to support their weight.
Bounciness made their legs two to three times less mechanically efficient than expected, putting them on a par with those of humans.
''We have developed some new techniques for looking at animal movement that may change the way that we view the locomotion of other animals," said Dr John Hutchinson, who led the research.
''We have shown that elephant legs function in very strange and probably unique ways. We even overturned some of our own previous ideas about elephants, which is always initially disheartening but ultimately exhilarating for a scientist.
''Our measurements have also provided basic data that will be useful in clinical studies of elephants, such as common lameness problems.''
It used to be thought that all four-legged animals divide labour between their legs, using forelegs more for braking and hind legs for acceleration.
But this was found not to be true of elephants. Measurements of forces on the animals' legs at walking and running speeds showed that each limb was used both for accelerating and braking.
Just as in humans, muscle forces in elephants have to increase as their limbs become more flexed.
Elephants' legs were also shown to be slightly compliant or ''bouncy'', especially when running at faster speeds.
This has meant that running is 50 per cent more costly than walking, which is why elephants are slower than many other animals.
The scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: ''Surprisingly, elephants use their forelimbs and hindlimbs in similar braking and propulsive roles, not dividing these functions among limbs as was previously assumed or as in other quadrupeds.
''Thus, their limb function is analogous to four-wheel-drive vehicles.
"To achieve the observed limb compliance and low peak forces, elephants synchronise their limb dynamics in the vertical direction, but incur considerable mechanical costs from limbs working against each other horizontally.''
The researchers analysed the movements of six juvenile Asian elephants using an advanced 3D motion-capture technique.
Reflective markers placed at strategic points on the elephants' bodies were filmed by seven infrared cameras and their changes in position fed into a computer.
The elephants were ridden or guided by their ''mahouts'' across their whole range of speeds along a walkway rigged with force-sensitive platforms.

Health care 'fixes' bill signed by Obama

President Obama is set to claim final victory on his top domestic priority Tuesday by signing into law a package of changes to the newly enacted health care reform bill.

The signing ceremony at a community college in northern Virginia will culminate almost a year of fiercely partisan debate and a tortuous legislative journey on the proposals generated by Democrats and unanimously opposed by Republicans.

Due to a shifting political landscape, Democrats eventually needed the separate bill being signed Tuesday to make changes in the original legislation in order to get the overall package passed by Congress.

Among other things, the "fixes" bill significantly expands health insurance subsidies for lower- and middle-income families while watering down a tax on expensive health policies.

The bill also increases the overall cost of the health care reform legislation to $940 billion over the next 10 years, $65 billion more than the original health care bill Obama signed into law last week.

In addition, it overhauls the national college student loan system by shifting government funding for loans away from commercial banks to new education initiatives. Until now, commercial banks have received federal subsidies to provide student loans.

The "fixes" bill received final legislative approval last Thursday in a 220-207 vote in the House of Representatives. No Republicans backed the measure, which GOP leaders insist will lead to cuts in critical Medicare services while doing little to slow spiraling medical costs.
Earlier in the day, the Senate approved the plan on a 56-43 vote, also without any Republican support.

The congressional wrangling, which included late night votes and acerbic floor debate, reflected the political split throughout the country over health care reform. Polls show the American public remains sharply divided, and conservative activists cheered on by Republicans continue to hold rallies against the legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, recently told CNN that Republicans would use the slogan "repeal and replace" with regard to the health care legislation in their congressional campaigns later this year.

While a repeal of the legislation is considered unlikely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, questioned the strategy by her opponents, noting it would require GOP candidates to favor ending popular benefits in the legislation, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

"They want to reverse and repeal a prohibition on denying care on the basis of a pre-existing condition," Pelosi said Monday. "Can you imagine making that case?"

Democrats argue the health care reform plan, estimated to extend coverage to 32 million Americans, will reduce federal budget deficits while giving consumers greater leverage with private insurance companies.

"It's about protecting the middle class so that they can continue to afford the insurance they may like," or purchase desired coverage at a lower cost because of increased competition, Pelosi said.

Throughout the congressional debate, Republicans used every parliamentary tool available to try to block both the overall health care bill and the "fixes" measure.

Last week, they forced the Senate to begin deliberations on a series of proposed amendments and motions on the "fixes" bill. All were defeated, but they were intended to force Democrats to cast unpopular votes in the run-up to November's midterm elections.

Initially, it appeared that Congress would pass a compromise health care bill when the House and Senate approved their own versions last year. However, the political landscape shifted in February when Republican Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts to fill the Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Edward Kennedy, the longtime champion of health care reform who died last year.

Brown's victory cost Senate Democrats the 60-seat majority they needed to overcome a Republican filibuster against a compromise health care bill. In response, Democrats devised a two-bill process in which the House passed the Senate version unchanged, making it law when signed last week by Obama. And then it also passed the accompanying "fixes" bill to change provisions in the Senate legislation that some House members found unpalatable.

The "fixes" bill was then proposed under reconciliation rules in the Senate that apply to bills involving the budget. Such bills need only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass.

Specific provisions in the "fixes" bill include:

-- Closing the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole" by 2020. Under current law, Medicare stops covering drug costs after a plan and beneficiary have spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs. It starts paying again after an individual's out-of-pocket expenses exceed $4,550. Senior citizens stuck in the doughnut hole this year will receive a $250 rebate.

-- Raising the threshold for imposing the "Cadillac" tax on expensive health insurance plans to coverage valued at more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax won't kick in until 2018.

-- Imposing an additional 3.8 percent Medicare payroll tax on investment income for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000 a year.

-- Eliminating a special exemption for Nebraska, known as the "Cornhusker Kickback," from all new Medicaid expenses. The federal government will instead assist every state by picking up 100 percent of the costs of expanded Medicaid coverage between 2014 and 2016, and 90 percent starting in 2020.

-- Reducing the fine for individuals who fail to purchase coverage from $750 to $695.

-- Increasing the fine on large companies failing to provide health coverage for workers from $750 to $2,000 per employee.

Moscow Blast: Women crazed by grief and bent on revenge

They call them the 'black widows' - the Chechen women who have lost husbands, fathers and brothers either in battle or to torture and beatings in the Kremlin's concentration camps.
Crazed by grief and loss, their one remaining desire is revenge on their country's tormentors.
It is a fair bet that the female perpetrators of yesterday's bombing in Russia felt they had nothing to live for, but plenty to avenge. And so they blew themselves up on underground trains in the heart of Moscow.
Triggering their bombs at rush hour for maximum carnage, the bombers left at least 38 dead and many others maimed.
But there was another casualty: the Kremlin's claim to have brought peace to Russia's most troubled region - the wild and mountainous Northern Caucasus in the southwest of Russia between the Black and Caspian seas.
Under Boris Yeltsin, Russia fought a two-year war with one of the region's republics, Chechnya, that left tens of thousands dead and the country in ruins.
It ended in stalemate and an uneasy autonomy. But banditry - including a modern slave trade in kidnap victims - mushroomed.
A second war under Vladimir Putin in 1999 defeated the rebels on the battlefield and installed a strongman who pays lipservice to the Kremlin, while taking a free hand to rule in the most brutal and licentious way.
Elsewhere in the North Caucasus, Moscow's rule is also a byword for misery.
Those who complain, such as a brave band of human rights campaigners, are murdered with depressing regularity. Yet it has not worked.
Russian civilians have largely left the region. Terrorist attacks continue in Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus - and beyond. The roots of the present conflict grow deep into history.
Russia, like Britain, is home to many Muslims - they make up around a fifth of its 143million population, and the vast majority live in central Russia and are peaceful and patriotic. But a minority are not. And they live in the highlands of the North Caucasus.
The territories that make up the region were conquered only 150 years ago by the Tsarist Empire, in a campaign fought with astonishing brutality.
Mass killings, mutilation and deliberate starvation are reminiscent of the darkest days of European settlers in Africa or North America.
After the collapse of the Tsarist Empire in 1917, Russia's new Bolshevik rulers promised the Muslim nations self-rule, and greater recognition of their impenetrable cultures and complex languages.
But as Stalin's power grew, so did Russian chauvinism. Islam was fiercely persecuted and centuries-old peasant traditions driven out.
Far worse was to come. Starting in February 1944, around 500,000 people - Chechens, Ingush and other nations of the North Caucasus - were uprooted en masse, herded into cattle trucks and, after days of inhuman suffering from thirst and hunger, dumped in the wastes of central Asia.
Around a third of them died. It was years before survivors started trickling back to the ancestral homelands.
Stalin's brutality, compounded by modern Russia's blindness to its own history, is the fuel of terrorism now. Imagine the Highland Clearances, the Irish potato famine, and the Amritsar Massacre rolled into one - but ignored and unmourned.

Black widows' kill 39 in Moscow suicide attacks

Black widows' kill 39 in Moscow suicide attacks: Manhunt for bombers' accomplices after rush-hour carnage
Two 'black widow' suicide bombers were today being blamed by Russian authorities for the deaths of at least 39 commuters in terror blasts on the Moscow underground.

There was carnage after the women detonated their explosive vests 40 minutes apart during morning rush hour.

Last night Russia was on full alert with a massive manhunt under way for the bombers' accomplices amid fears of further attacks.
Moscow bombing

Grim: Rescue workers try to save the life of one of those injured in the blast at Park Kultury metro station

Vladimir Putin, the country's Prime Minister and former President, vowed vengeance on the terrorists who also wounded up to 80 commuters.

This morning the death toll climbed to 39 after one woman succumbed to her injuries overnight.

Today there are 71 wounded still in hospital. Five are in critical condition.

Although no group immediately claimed responsibility, speculation centred on them being so-called 'black widow' killers avenging the deaths of fathers, brothers and husbands by Russian troops in Chechnya.

Russian media claimed the attack could even be in revenge for the death of a notorious gang leader in Russia's North Caucasus, Alexander Tikhomirov - also known by his Islamic name Said Buryatsky.

Federal Security Services claimed earlier this month that he had been killed in a police sweep in Ingushetia. He had been linked to the derailment of the Nevsky Express, a high-speed luxury train between Moscow and St Petersburg, in November.

Twenty-seven people died in that attack - the first major terrorist incident beyond Russia's North Caucasus since 2004.

Russian media today quoted sources close to the investigation who claimed that Buryatsky's gang may have prepared the female suicide bombers who struck yesterday.
Moscow bombing
Moscow bombing

Rush hour hell: Shocked survivors wait for treatment after the bombings ripped through Moscow metro
Moscow

Memorial: A Russian man lights a candle in memory of the victims of the bombing attacks

The first blast was at 7.56am local time (4.56am UK) at Lubyanka station, immediately underneath the headquarters of the KGB, now the Federal Security Bureau (FSB).

The other was at 8.36am (5.36am UK) at Park Kultury station, near Gorky Park but also close to the Interior Ministry.

In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled into the stations and the doors were opening.

State television showed dazed, bloody passengers in the ornate metro stations as dust and smoke swirled through the tunnel.

The suspected suicide bomber killed in the Park Kultury blast was last night said to aged between 18 and 20. The other bomber was said to be 'older'.

President Dmitry Medvedev stands during a minute of silence in memory of the victims of two bomb explosions

Tribute: President Dmitry Medvedev stands during a minute of silence at Lubyanka metro station in memory of the victims of the two bomb explosions

Enlarge Moscow detectives

At the site of the other attack, the city's Lubyanka station officials examine the scene. The station lies beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service

Police said they had been accompanied to the metro by two other women aged 25 to 30 and a male 'ringleader' in his 30s and with the surname Mataev.

'They are simply beasts,' said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after visiting the platform of the Lubyanka metro station. 'We will find and destroy them all.'

There were unconfirmed reports that they had set off the bombs using their mobile phones.

Reports said the young girl's facial features were sufficiently intact to assist police investigating the bombings.

One official said: 'Only her head and legs are left - and the middle part of her body is completely destroyed. This is a definite sign that she had a shahid suicide belt on. She was a very young woman with beautiful brown hair, long and in a thick plait.'

Rescuers revealed the bombs had been filled with small fragments of metal to maximise damage.

But the carnage could have been far worse if the trains were in tunnels-rather than stations when the blasts occurred.

Analysts are warning of a potential spillover from an insurgency in neighbouring Russia's mainly Muslim southern republics.

Azerbaijan said last night it had detained eight people including a Chechen man on suspicion of planning 'terrorist acts' against a school in the capital of the state.

Monday, March 29, 2010

CORRECT: Ericsson in $1.8 billion Chinese deals

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Swedish wireless-telecoms-equipment giant Ericsson AB /quotes/comstock/22u!e4:se0000108656- (SE:ERICB 73.80, -1.00, -1.34%) /quotes/comstock/15*!eric/quotes/nls/eric (ERIC 10.17, +0.08, +0.79%) on Monday said it has signed second-generation (2G) and 3G frame agreements with Chinese operators China Mobile and China Unicom worth $1.8 billion in total. Under a $1 billion agreement, Ericsson will in 2010 provide China Mobile /quotes/comstock/13*!chl/quotes/nls/chl (CHL 48.04, +0.25, +0.52%) with new radio bases and mobile technology to boost the capacity of its network. Under an $800 million deal signed with China Unicom /quotes/comstock/13*!chu/quotes/nls/chu (CHU 11.13, +0.16, +1.46%) , the gearmaker will build a faster 3G network with HSPA technology to provide a better user experience. (Corrects the amount of the China Unicom deal.)

Precision Castparts upgraded at Goldman Sachs

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Goldman Sachs /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 172.87, -2.03, -1.16%) upgraded aerospace-parts maker Precision Castparts Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!pcp/quotes/nls/pcp (PCP 123.82, +1.33, +1.09%) to buy from neutral on Monday, citing renewed demand for commercial aircraft. "The commercial [original equipment] outlook has improved significantly as Boeing Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ba/quotes/nls/ba (BA 72.59, +0.10, +0.14%) and Airbus are now raising [production] rates, and Precision Castparts is a major beneficiary," the investment firm said in a note to investors. Goldman Sachs upped its 12-month price target for Precision Castparts to $153 from $136. Shares of Precision Castparts closed Friday at $123.82.

Myanmar opposition party to boycott elections

YANGON, Myanmar -The party of Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi decided Monday to boycott the military-ruled country's first election in two decades after the Nobel laureate blasted new electoral rules as "undemocratic."
The main opposition National League for Democracy's refusal to participate would undermine the polls' credibility in the eyes of foreign governments, which have urged the diplomatically isolated junta to ensure all groups take part in the elections.
The military, which has run Myanmar since 1962, has touted this year's elections as part of a "roadmap to democracy," but a number of rules would prevent Suu Kyi herself from participating. The pro-democracy icon has spent 14 of the last 20 years in jail or under house arrest.
Suu Kyi's party won the last election held in Myanmar in 1990 by a landslide but was barred by the military from taking power.
On Monday, her party's spokesman, Nyan Win, announced after a daylong meeting that all 113 delegates present had agreed that the party should not register for the elections.
Cheering could be heard from the delegates as they concluded their meeting.
Nyan Win said the central committee members decided not to register because — as noted in a message sent to them by Suu Kyi — the electoral laws enacted by the junta "are unfair and unjust."
Her message also called stipulations in the law "undemocratic."
Nyan Win did not elaborate, but the party had previously objected to a provision of the party registration law that requires parties to expel members who have criminal convictions, or face deregistration.
Because Suu Kyi was convicted last year of allowing an unregistered guest to stay at her home, the provision would appear not to allow her to be a member of the National League for Democracy, which she helped found.
Suu Kyi is still general-secretary of the party and its most dominant figure.
The new election laws require political parties to register before the first week in May. Parties that do not register will not be able to participate in this year's election and will cease to exist, under rules enacted this month by the military government that also bar Suu Kyi from participating in the polls.
No date has been set for the polls, which critics deride as a sham designed to cement the power of the military.
Even before the official decision, party spokesman Nyan Win indicated the party would decide not to register. Asked if that would marginalize the party, he said, "We will continue to exist politically by not registering. If we register, we will only have a name void of all political essence."
"We will survive as long as we have public support," Nyan Win said.
Security was heightened, with plainclothes police and pro-government security guards stationed around the party's compound as the delegates met Monday in Yangon.
"This meeting is a life-or-death issue. If we don't register, we will not have a party and we will be without legs and limbs," said Win Tin, a veteran party member and one of Myanmar's longest-serving political prisoners, having spent 19 years behind bars before his release in 2008.
He said the journey ahead would be difficult if the party chooses to opt out of elections but that its members could still maintain their democratic principles and spirit.
Last week, Suu Kyi was quoted by her lawyer as saying she opposed registering her party. But she stressed she would let the party decide for itself.
Suu Kyi is under house arrest and the new election laws effectively bar her both from running and voting.

Teenager Killed in Athens Bomb Blast

ATHENS, Greece (March 29) -- A 15-year-old Afghan refugee was killed Sunday after a powerful bomb blast rocked a central Athens district densely populated by immigrants.

The powerful explosion occurred as the teenage boy, rummaging the streets of Athens with his mother and 11-year-old sister looking for food and clothes, examined a suitcase outside a civil service building. No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"He obviously opted to survey it, but as he did so, its content exploded," said Greek police spokesman Athanassios Kokalakis, contacted shortly after the explosion.

"He was blasted to smithereens."

His 45-year-old mother and sister escaped death, the latter suffering injuries in her face and limbs from shards of shattered glass and blast debris.

Both were being treated at local hospitals as hundreds of police officers and counterterrorism officials cordoned off the site of the blast in the working-class district of Patissia and began scouring the area for leads and forensic evidence.

Initially, authorities considered the possibility that the man killed in the blast was carrying the explosives.

"Following the testimony of his mother," Kokalakis said, " it became clear that the 15-year-old was a victim [of the terror attack]."

Anarchists and leftist extremist groups frequently target state buildings, foreign banks and business interests in Athens with low-grade bomb hits. Sunday's attack, however, marked the first in years to claim a life.

"We will hunt down the perpetrators," said Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chryssochoides, who sped to the crime scene. "They are up against the whole of Greek society."

Last week a spate of bomb attacks targeted the offices of a far-right party, a police immigration center, and a leading official of the capital's Pakistani community.

It remained unclear whether those attacks, orchestrated by the Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire group in a bid to highlight the issue of racism in Greece, were linked to Sunday's explosion.

Earlier this year, the same militant group claimed responsibility for a bomb blast outside the Greek parliament. No injuries were caused.

Michigan State returns to Final Four _ again

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The players come and go, the years pass. About the only thing that doesn't change is Tom Izzo and Michigan State's mastery in March.

The fifth-seeded Spartans are on their way to their second straight Final Four and sixth in 12 years after Raymar Morgan's free throw with less than 2 seconds left lifted Michigan State to a 70-69 victory over Tennessee in the Midwest Regional final Sunday.

"There is nothing greater than going to a Final Four that I know of," Izzo said, "except winning it."

No team in the country - not North Carolina, not Kansas, not UCLA, not Kentucky - has been better during the Spartans' run. And all six of those trips have come under Izzo, the hard-nosed coach who preaches defense, rebounding, defense, physical play, and have we mentioned defense?

Izzo, who took over from longtime mentor Jud Heathcote for the 1995-96 season, is 6-1 in the regional finals. His only loss was to top-seeded Texas in 2003.

"Tom Izzo does his best in the NCAA tournament," said Magic Johnson, who sat in the Michigan State cheering section and embraced Izzo after the game. "He loves the big moment. He understands what he needs to do against every team. He comes up with a great game plan every single time. He deserves all the credit in the world."

The Spartans, last year's national runner-up, will be looking for championship No. 3 next weekend in Indianapolis. They play Butler, also a No. 5 seed and sure to be the hometown favorite, in the semifinals Saturday night.

"They're hot right now. They're playing some of their best basketball," Morgan said. "But we're also hot right now. We're playing some of our best basketball."

Michigan State is the only team from last year's Final Four to make it back. Heck, North Carolina, which demolished the Spartans in the title game, didn't even make the NCAA tournament. Neither did Connecticut, and Villanova was knocked out in the second round.

How's this for some symmetry? This happens to be the 10th anniversary of the "Flintstones," the team that gave Michigan State its second national title. Highlights from that run were included in the video montage of past championships that played on the Edward Jones Dome's massive Jumbotron during halftime.

The Spartans (28-8) led by as many as eight in the second half, but Brian Williams pulled sixth-seeded Tennessee (28-9) within 69-68 on a putback with 2:10 left. Korie Lucious, who took over as point guard after 2009 Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas ruptured his Achilles' tendon last weekend, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 29 seconds left and Scotty Hopson got the rebound.

Hopson was fouled at the other end, and made the first. But after a Michigan State timeout, he missed the second and Lucious - generously listed at 5-foot-11 - ended up with the rebound. Morgan was fouled by J.P. Prince with 1.8 seconds left and made the first. After timeouts by both teams, Morgan bricked the second shot on purpose.

Williams came up with the rebound and Tennessee called a quick timeout. But Prince fumbled the inbounds pass and had to heave up a prayer from midcourt just before the buzzer.

"It's just tough, 1 second," Prince said. "You want to shoot it perfect but you've got to rush. You don't want it to come down to a half-court shot, but that's what it came down to."

Prince wasn't even close, and Michigan State and its fans - led by Johnson, the Spartan-in-chief - began the celebration that's practically become a rite of spring.

"What's unique is it's been a little bit more bumpy road," Izzo said.

Bumpy? More like missing big chunks of asphalt.

While Izzo is a master at reloading on the fly, this might have been his toughest test. In addition to Lucas' injury, Delvon Roe is playing on a torn meniscus and Chris Allen is nursing an aching foot.

The Spartans have been forced to go with an offense-by-committee but, somehow, it works. Durrell Summers, who's taken over the bulk of the scoring, finished with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting despite playing just 9 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Morgan and Draymond Green added 13 each, and Morgan also had 10 rebounds.

"Things happen throughout the season," Summers said. "Once we got to tournament time, we said we'll have a fresh start."

Tennessee, meanwhile, will have to take comfort in knowing it got further than any other Volunteers team. This was their first appearance in the regional finals, and there is no question they belonged. They made their first six shots of the game - going 4 for 4 from 3-point range, shot 51 percent overall and had four players in double figures, led by senior Wayne Chism's 13 points.

Prince finished with 12 on 5-of-5 shooting, and Williams had 11.

"It's going to stick with us," senior Bobby Maze said. "Anytime we watch college games or during tournament time, we'll always come back to that very moment where we were just too short."

Tennessee has long been a basketball powerhouse - in women's hoops. But coach Bruce Pearl has energized the men's program, as evidenced by the orange-hued dome and the Vols' first appearance in the regional final. Few would have thought the Tennessee men would last longer than the top-seeded women, who were beaten by No. 4 Baylor on Saturday in the regional semifinals.

"We came to St. Louis expecting to win two games and we played pretty well both nights," Pearl said. "We saw all that orange out there. This isn't close to home, either. They got in their car and they drove here. I think they enjoyed this group tremendously."

Though they were going against a team that oozes experience - "Final Fours are a big thing in this program," Green said Saturday - the Vols came in with swagger and strut.

But confidence is no match for toughness, and few can match that of Michigan State.

"I said (before the game), 'You put yourself in a position where you have a chance to do something you talked about,'" Izzo said. "Not many people get a chance to do that."

Twin Bombs Kill Dozens on Moscow Subway

Twin bomb blasts allegedly detonated by female bombers ripped through Moscow's subway system at the height of rush hour this morning, killing at least 35 people, according to Russian emergency officials.

Dozens of commuters are killed in twin attacks on packed subway system.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told reporters that "two female suicide bombers were involved" in the attacks, which struck central Metro stations Lubyanka and Park Kultury at 7:56 a.m. and 8:39 a.m. local time.

"According to preliminary information about 40 people have been injured" in the blasts, Luzhkov said.

Witnesses told Reuters news agency that people struggled to escape from the two stations, as thick smoke flooded the underground.

"I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body," an unidentified man at Park Kultury told the RIA news agency.

"People were yelling like hell," he said. "There was a lot of smoke and in about two minutes everything was covered in smoke."

According to the BBC, emergency crews were fighting traffic to get to the injured. News channel Russia Today reported that some of the wounded were being evacuated by helicopters because of the blocked roads.

According to Reuters, surveillance television footage posted online from the Lubyanka station lobby showed several bodies lying on the floor or collapsed against the wall as emergency workers tried to treat the injured.

"I was moving up on the escalator when I heard a loud bang, a blast. A door near the passage way arched, was ripped out and a cloud of dust came down on the escalator," a man named Alexei told the state-run Rossiya 24 television channel.

"People started running, panicking, falling on each other," he said.