CNN Poll: Ryan Wins 48% to 44% for Biden

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Forty-eight percent of voters who watched the vice presidential debate think that Rep. Paul Ryan won the showdown, according to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Thursday night’s faceoff. Forty-four percent say that Vice President Joe Biden was victorious. The Republican running mate’s four point advantage among a debate audience that was more Republican than the country as a whole is within the survey’s sampling error.

Half of all debate watchers questioned in the poll said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either of the candidates’ bosses, 28% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 21% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.

According to the survey, 55% said that the vice president did better than expected, with 51% saying that the congressman from Wisconsin performed better than expected.

By a 50%-41% margin, debate watchers say that Ryan rather than Biden better expressed himself.

Seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent, and that may be a contributing factor in Ryan’s 53%-43% advantage on being more likable. Ryan also had a slight advantage on being more in touch with the problems of average Americans.

CNN

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Astronomers discover planet covered in graphite and diamond

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Twinkling stars are not the only diamonds in the sky. Scientists Thursday reported the existence of a “diamond planet” twice the size of Earth, and eight times its mass, zooming around a nearby star.

In fact, this is not the first diamond planet ever discovered, but it is the first found orbiting a sun-like star and whose chemical makeup has been specified.

The discovery means that distant rocky planets can no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or biologies similar to those of Earth, said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy.

The planet was first observed last year — but researchers initially assumed it was similar in its chemical make-up to Earth.

It was only after a more detailed analysis that the French-American research team determined the planet is vastly different from our own.

It “appears to be composed primarily of carbon (as graphite and diamond), iron, silicon carbide, and, possibly, some silicates,” the authors wrote in a statement ahead of their findings’ publication in the US journal “Astrophysical Journal Letters.”

“The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite,” he explained.

In fact, the planet, dubbed Cancri 55 e, appears to have no water at all. And as much as a third of the planet’s substantial mass could be made of diamond, a super-dense compound of carbon.

In comparison, the Earth’s interior is rich in oxygen and very poor in carbon, explained Kanani Lee, also of Yale and another of the study’s co-authors.

The researchers estimated the planet’s radius with data collected while it was transiting in front of its star.

That information, combined with an estimate of its mass, was used to model the planet’s chemical composition, based on a calculation of just what elements and compounds could result in that specific size and mass.

The planet’s orbit around its star is lightning fast — a year lasts just 18 hours, compared to the 365 days of an Earth year. And because it is so close to its star, the surface temperatures average 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,148 degrees Celsius), rendering it completely inhospitable to life.

But the planet — 40 light years away from Earth in the Cancer constellation — opens new avenues for studying geochemical and geophysical processes of Earth-sized planets outside our solar system.

Actress Ditches Obama for Romney, Accused of Being ‘Not Black Enough’

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Actress Stacey Dash cried while watching President Barack Obama’s inauguration back in 2009.

“I am so happy … In that moment my husband and I just looked at the TV and I started to sob.”

This year, she’s a Mitt girl. Dash, best known for starring in the cult classic “Clueless,” clearly has had enough of Hope and Change, the reality version. Over the weekend, Dash tweeted her support for Mitt Romney.

Stacey Dash Tweet on Romney

Twitter users were instantly split on her announcement, with some saying she suddenly wasn’t “black enough.”

Iraq is considering replacing ExxonMobil with Russian companies at the supergiant West Qurna-1 oilfield

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Iraq is considering replacing ExxonMobil with Russian companies at the supergiant West Qurna-1 oilfield, after the U.S. major angered Baghdad by venturing into Kurdistan, according to a media report citing industry sources.

The northern Kurdish region has riled Baghdad by signing deals with foreign oil majors, such as Exxon, Total and Chevron, contracts the central government rejects as illegal.

Nefte Compass, a weekly energy newsletter about the FSU and Eastern Europe, said on Thursday that Iraq is weighing whether to replace Exxon with Russia’s LUKOIL and Gazprom Neft – both already involved in the country.

It said that the proposal was due to be raised at a meeting this week between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting took place on Wednesday, but no such offers – if they were made – have been made public.

A spokesman for Russia’s second-largest crude producer LUKOIL, which operates West Qurna-2, said the company is not planning to increase its exposure in Iraq by acquiring a stake in West Qurna-1, reiterating the company’s official line that it is satisfied with its portfolio in Iraq.

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the world’s top natural gas producer Gazprom, declined to comment.

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