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    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Reuters - Blagojevich to appoint Burris to Senate seat: report

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    Blagojevich to appoint Burris to Senate seat: report

    Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008 7:14PM UTC

    By Andrew Stern and Karen Pierog

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will appoint Democratic former state Attorney General Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.

    Blagojevich, who was arrested on December 9 on corruption charges including trying to peddle Obama's seat for favors, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT).

    The governor's office would not comment on the report, and Burris could not be reached.

    Blagojevich, 52, has denied the corruption charges and branded the impeachment effort under way in the state legislature a political lynch mob.

    He has defied calls from party leaders, including Obama, that he resign. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote Blagojevich shortly after the charges were filed, warning him against making an appointment. It was unclear if the Senate would attempt to block the appointment; aides said Democratic leaders would issue a statement later in the day.

    The Democrats will be in control of the U.S. Senate with at least 57 seats in the 100-seat chamber when Congress reconvenes on January 6. Still in limbo are Minnesota's undecided Senate race, as well as Obama's Senate seat in Illinois.

    The governor's lawyer said last week Blagojevich would refrain from making the Senate appointment.

    "It's a very shrewd political move on the governor's part," said political analyst Don Rose. "The Senate has said it won't accept anybody that he proposes, but here they've come up with an African-American with very deep roots in the black community."

    Burris, 71, was the first African-American elected to statewide office in Illinois in 1978 when he won the job as state comptroller, and was the state's attorney general from 1991 to 1995.

    In 1984, he lost the U.S. Senate Democratic primary to Paul Simon, and was defeated a decade later in a run for governor. He also made an unsuccessful bid to be mayor of Chicago.

    He is an attorney in private practice in Chicago.

    The U.S. Constitution states that the Senate decides the qualifications of its members. But if the Senate blocked the appointment, the case could likely end up in court.

    In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the House of Representatives could not bar a member from serving, but could expel the member with a two-thirds majority vote.

    (Editing by Peter Bohan and Doina Chiacu)

    Portfolio Mobile - Windows 7 Beta Leaked on BitTorrent

    Windows 7 Beta Leaked on BitTorrent









    The first beta of Windows 7, Microsoft's coming replacement for Windows Vista, is due to arrive at January's Consumer Electronics Show, but already leaked version are circulating on popular BitTorrent sites.

    Early reports suggest that there is little difference between the coming beta and early builds released to developers back in October. If the first beta of Windows 7 will have features not found in earlier releases, it appears you're going to have to wait for the official release to find them.

    That said, ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reports that the latest build is, if nothing else, much more stable than its predecessors, going to far as to say that "this is the kind of code that you could roll out and live with... [it] exceeds the quality of any other Microsoft OS beta that I've handled."



    One thing to note, if you're hoping that Windows 7 will save you from your Vista woes, from everything we've seen, Windows 7 is clearly evolutionary, not revolutionary. Windows 7 is about fixing and refining Vista, not starting over from the ground up (Vista itself might see some significant improvements in the coming SP2 update).

    Among the most noticeable changes are the new taskbar which acts not unlike OS X's dock application (though it looks more like KDE 4's taskbar), allowing to you see running applications alongside "pinned" icons for launching other apps. While some feel that the new taskbar tries to do too much and becomes confusing in the process, I've actually found it a very nice improvement -- switching and launching apps from a central location makes sense, but that could be due to my OS X work habits.



    One thing you won't find in the task bar is the ability to get an XP-style single column start menu. You can customize the start menu of course, but it takes up quite a bit of screen real estate no matter how minimalist you make it.

    When it comes to speed the jury is still out. Some early benchmarks suggest significant speed gains over Vista, especially on less powerful PCs, but other tests have been less conclusive. Given that beta software is generally not known for having massive speed boosts, the fact that early betas can at least match Vista's performance could be a good sign -- especially if Microsoft can continue to optimize Windows 7 as the beta testing period progresses.



    Windows 7 beta 1 may be available via BitTorrent, but we don't recommend spending the time to download it. Still, if you just can't help yourself and you've already grabbed a copy and installed it, be sure to let us know what you think of beta 1.

    by Scott Gilbertson for Wired.com

    Also on Wired.com:
    Six Web Technologies You Need to Use Now
    Video-on-Demand Coming to Wii in 2009
    Freezing and Fabulous: Ice Lounges Take Over Chic

    Subscribe to Wired magazineRelated Links
    Microsoft Getting Tetchy About Vista Bashing
    $999 Apple Laptop Unveiled
    Can Dell Save Dell?





    (c) 2007 Portfolio. Powered by mLogic Media, Crisp Wireless, Inc.

    Reuters - Facebook ban of breast-feeding photos sparks protests

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    Facebook ban of breast-feeding photos sparks protests

    Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008 5:57AM UTC

    By Belinda Goldsmith

    CANBERRA (Reuters) - Are photographs of a mother breast-feeding her child indecent? The social networking site Facebook has sparked a massive online debate -- and protests -- and after removing photos that expose too much of a mother's breast.

    Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the website takes no action over most breast-feeding photos because they follow the site's terms of use but others are removed to ensure the site remains safe and secure for all users, including children.

    "Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those terms (on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material) and may be removed," he said in a statement.

    "The photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain."

    But Facebook's decision to ban some breast-feeding photos has angered some users, including U.S. mother Kelli Roman whose photograph of her feeding her daughter was removed by Facebook.

    Roman is one of the administrators of an online petition called "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" which has picked up speed in the past week after protesters organized a virtual "nurse-in" on Facebook and held a small demonstration outside Facebook's office in Palo Alto, California.

    The petition has now attracted more than 80,000 names and over 10,000 comments, reigniting the old debate about the rights or wrongs of breast-feeding in public.

    Organizers of the petition said some women had been warned not to repost photographs that had been removed from their pages or they would face being kicked off Facebook.

    One breast-feeding mother, called Rebekah, said Facebook removed a photograph of her feeding her child.

    "I find it offensive that (Facebook) can remove my photo but not the close up picture of a thonged backside I (have) seen on a friend's page or remove the "what kama sutra position are you?" quiz application," she wrote.

    Facebook, which has more than 120 million members, is standing by its decision.

    Schnitt said the company had called many U.S. media groups during the course of the protest to ask to place an advert related to breast-feeding that showed a woman breast-feeding her child with a fully exposed breast. None agreed.

    "Obviously, a newspaper and Facebook are different things but the underlying motivation for the content policies are the same," he told Reuters.

    (Editing by Miral Fahmy)

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    NYTimes.com: Music Games for iPhone Give Artists New Spotlight

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    TECHNOLOGY   | December 21, 2008
    Music Games for iPhone Give Artists New Spotlight
    By JENNA WORTHAM
    A start-up company called Tapulous has turned a simple game for the iPhone into an Internet-age mobile stage for musicians.

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    Reuters - Websites could get cinema-style ratings

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    Websites could get cinema-style ratings

    Monday, Dec 29, 2008 3:32AM UTC

    LONDON (Reuters) - The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to websites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Britain's minister for culture has said.

    Andy Burnham told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, published on Saturday, that the government was planning to negotiate with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

    "The more we seek international solutions to this stuff -- the UK and the U.S. working together -- the more that an international norm will set an industry norm," the newspaper reports the Culture Secretary as saying in an interview.

    Giving websites film-style ratings would be one possibility.

    "This is an area that is really now coming into full focus," Burnham told the paper.

    Internet service providers could also be forced to offer services where the only sites accessible are those deemed suitable for children, the paper said.

    Any moves to censor the Internet would go to the heart of a debate about freedom of speech on the World Wide Web.

    "If you look back at the people who created the Internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach," Burnham told The Telegraph. "I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now."

    He said some content should not be available to be viewed.

    "This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it."

    Burnham, who has three young children, pointed to the example of a 9 p.m. television "watershed" in Britain before which certain material, like violence, cannot be broadcast, and said better controls were needed for the Internet.

    The minister wants new industry-wide "take down times" so that websites like YouTube or Facebook would have to remove offensive or harmful content within a specified time once it is brought to their attention.

    He also said Britain was considering changing libel laws to give people access to legal help if they are defamed online.

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    Reuters - YouTube dispute underscores music labels weak hand

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    YouTube dispute underscores music labels weak hand

    Wednesday, Dec 24, 2008 6:37PM UTC

    By Yinka Adegoke - Analysis

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - First it was MTV, then it was Apple, and now it's YouTube.

    The music industry, faced with declining CD sales, has repeatedly tried to find new income streams only to see its partners thrive with minimal benefit to the labels themselves.

    So in the new battleground of online video, music companies are desperate to avoid past mistakes, but they are finding it tough to negotiate with a powerful new Internet partner.

    Warner Music Group's decision to pull thousands of music videos from Google Inc's YouTube last Saturday, after the collapse of contract negotiations, shows just how far music companies may have to go to gain any leverage.

    Some of the major labels are even considering forming a joint music video site to boost their bargaining power, said one music executive, as the dispute between Warner and YouTube underscores the limitations of relying on outside partners.

    Such a joint venture could look similar to NBC Universal and News Corp's Hulu.com for putting TV shows online, and it could include YouTube in the partnership, said the executive, who declined to be identified as talks were still at a very early stage.

    As CD sales plunge and the growth of digital songs slows, music labels increasingly consider online video to be key to revenue growth. But they do not have a strong hand in licensing negotiations with YouTube, which along with News Corp's MySpace.com, has become one of the most important music discovery tools for young fans.

    Echoing the success of Viacom Inc's MTV Networks in the 1980s, or Apple Inc's iTunes since 2003, YouTube has in three years grown to become the largest online video site with more than 100 million U.S. viewers in October, according to Web audience measurement firm comScore.

    "The first thing kids do when they hear about a band now is go on YouTube to find out more, according to our focus groups," said an executive at one of the major music labels, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Warner, the world's third-largest music company, was the first major media company to sign a licensing deal with YouTube in 2006, permitting the site to stream music videos from artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers and rapper T.I.

    That deal, which expired months ago, was signed before YouTube was bought by the deep-pocketed Google. Warner's larger rivals, Vivendi's Universal Music Group and Sony Music, only agreed to deals with YouTube as it was about to be bought by Google, and would likely have brokered more favorable terms, industry insiders said.

    0.5 CENTS PER STREAM

    Warner wants more money from YouTube for streaming rights, but YouTube has refused to budge from the previously negotiated terms, according to two people familiar with the talks.

    YouTube pays record labels every time a video is streamed, or the label can get a share of advertising revenue around the video. The per-play fee is usually around half a cent per stream and the label gets paid the higher of aggregate per-play revenue or advertising revenue.

    Warner has made less than 1 percent of its total digital revenue of $639 million in fiscal year 2008 from YouTube, according to a source close to the company.

    Meanwhile, Universal Music, the world's largest music company, is likely to make just under $100 million from all its online video partners in 2008, said a person familiar with the company's plans. YouTube will account for "tens of millions" made in revenue by Universal, said the person.

    "The labels have to find a balance between how much money they can make from YouTube itself or if they can make more money from promoting their artists on YouTube," said Ethan Horwitz, an intellectual property lawyer at King & Spalding.

    Warner Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman faces extra pressure as his is the only publicly traded music company and will need to start showing shareholders a material return on deals with partners like YouTube. Warner's share price has fallen nearly 60 percent since the start of 2008.

    Warner had thought that YouTube would be a significant advertising force by now, but instead the site has focused more on building audience than on increasing revenue.

    "They made all these early promises of implementing audio fingerprinting while in the meantime we were losing revenues and they've been lagging behind other competitors," said a person close to Warner Music, pointing to MySpace and Time Warner's AOL as offering better rates.

    (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    Reuters - RIM sues Motorola for blocking job offers

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    RIM sues Motorola for blocking job offers

    Wednesday, Dec 24, 2008 7:45PM UTC

    BOSTON (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd is suing Motorola Inc, alleging that the mobile phone company improperly blocked the BlackBerry maker from hiring current and laid-off Motorola employees.

    The suit, filed in state court in Chicago on Tuesday, comes three months after Motorola alleged that RIM violated an agreement reached in February that the two companies would not solicit each other's employees.

    RIM asked for a court order to invalidate the agreement, saying in its complaint that the pact had expired in August and was no longer enforceable.

    The Canadian company is also seeking unspecified damages for what it called "unfair competition" practices by Motorola.

    Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Weyrauch-Erickson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    "RIM entities continue to grow and hire new employees within the United States and globally against a backdrop of recent public announcements by Motorola that it has and will continue to make massive layoffs," said RIM's lawsuit.

    In the lawsuit filed by Motorola on September 4, the Schaumburg, Illinois-based company asked a judge to bar RIM from using Motorola's confidential information, or soliciting or hiring any Motorola employees.

    RIM officials could not be reached for comment.

    The lawsuit, Research in Motion Corp vs Motorola Inc, was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division, Case Number 717-200S.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Sharon Lindores and Matthew Lewis)

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Reuters - Nokia eases access to Internet services

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    Nokia eases access to Internet services

    Sunday, Dec 21, 2008 10:23PM UTC

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia on Sunday removed one of the key obstacles for takeup of its new Internet offering, combining sign-ins for its overall services site Ovi.com and for its media sharing service.

    Nokia has bought a dozen companies -- including an $8.1 billion acquisition of mapping company Navteq -- to jump-start its Internet business as growth in the mobile phone market stalls.

    The handset maker has gathered access to all of the services to its Ovi.com site, but so far they have all demanded additional usernames and passwords, something analysts see as one of the major obstacles for takeup.

    "We are pleased to announce that as part of improving your experience with Share on Ovi, we have merged our sign-in system with Ovi.com," Nokia said in a letter to clients.

    "This is a key step in integrating Ovi," Nokia said.

    Nokia said earlier this month it aims to make annual revenue of at least 2 billion euros ($2.79 billion) from Internet services in 2011, focusing on navigation, music, games, messaging and media -- but is battling with more established rivals such as Google, Apple and Yahoo.

    Nokia has not unveiled user numbers for its Internet services, which created revenue of 115 million euros in July-to-September quarter.

    ($1=.7164 Euro)

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Reuters - Japanese group asks Google to stop map service

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    Japanese group asks Google to stop map service

    Friday, Dec 19, 2008 5:47PM UTC

    TOKYO (Reuters) - A group of Japanese lawyers and professors asked on Friday that Google Inc stop providing detailed street-level images of Japanese cities on the Internet, saying they violated privacy rights.

    Google's Street View offers ground-level, 360-degree views of streets in 12 Japanese cities and is also offered for some 50 cities in the United States and certain areas in Europe.

    The service allows Web users to drive down a street, in a virtual sense, using their mouse to adjust views of roadside scenery.

    "We strongly suspect that what Google has been doing deeply violates a basic right that humans have," Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of constitutional law at Sophia University in Tokyo, told Reuters by telephone.

    "It is necessary to warn society that an IT giant is openly violating privacy rights, which are important rights that the citizens have, through this service."

    The Campaign Against Surveillance Society, a Japanese civilian group that Tajima heads, wants Google to stop providing its Street View service of Japanese cities and delete all saved images.

    Google's office in Tokyo was unable to comment immediately.

    Privacy concerns about Google's service have grown in Japanese media, especially after some people discovered their images on Street View.

    Similar concerns have been raised in other parts of the world, including the United States and Europe.

    In one case, a woman was shown sunbathing and in another a man was pictured exiting a strip club in San Francisco.

    In March, Google said it would comply with a Pentagon request to remove some online images from Street View over fears they posed a security threat to U.S. military bases.

    Web-based Google Maps and a related computer-based service called Google Earth have drawn criticism from a variety of countries for providing images of sensitive locations, such as military bases or potential targets of terror attacks.

    (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

    Reuters - U.S. says go slow in expanding .com on the Web

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    U.S. says go slow in expanding .com on the Web

    Friday, Dec 19, 2008 6:19PM UTC

    By Kim Dixon

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government urged Internet standard-setters to move slowly on a proposal to relax rules on domain names such as .com or .edu, over concerns about economic costs and security.

    The nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, earlier this year voted to relax the rules on so-called top-level domain names, or TLDs, the suffixes, such as the ubiquitous .com, .net and .org, among others.

    Easing the rules could pave the way for companies or individuals to create an array of new addresses for the Web, but the U.S. government said Icann must ensure that introduction of a slew of new names "will not jeopardize the stability and security" of the Internet domain name system.

    "It is unclear that the threshold question of whether the potential consumer benefits outweigh the potential costs has been adequately addressed," the U.S. Department of Commerce, said in a letter to Icann dated December 18.

    Currently, there are more than 200 TLDs, which also include the two-character country codes used by Web sites, such as Britain's .uk.

    Under the proposed system, individuals, companies or groups could apply to have any string of letters established as a domain name. It could be a vanity name, for example -- .smith -- or a category name like .sports or .perfume.

    A company could also change its domain to reflect its brand, so Apple.com could become Apple.mac, for instance.

    VeriSign Inc now owns the registry for .com and net domain names.

    For a company to become such a registry, it would need to apply to Icann, which coordinates the Internet's naming system, at a fee expected to cost more than $100,000.

    The U.S. said Icann needs to prove it can handle a potentially huge influx of applications and how it will police issues related to intellectual property rights.

    (Editing by Andre Grenon)

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

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    Friday, December 12, 2008

    Reuters - Alleged Madoff $50 billion fraud hits other investors

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    Alleged Madoff $50 billion fraud hits other investors

    Friday, Dec 12, 2008 8:18PM UTC

    By Jon Stempel and Christian Plumb

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors scrambled to assess potential losses from an alleged $50 billion fraud by Bernard Madoff, a day after the arrest of the prominent Wall Street trader.

    Prosecutors and regulators accused the 70-year-old former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market of masterminding a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions through a hedge fund he ran. Hundreds of people, investing with him through the fund's clients, entrusted Madoff with billions of dollars, industry experts said.

    "Madoff's investors included captains of industry, corporations (some of which are publicly traded) that used Madoff almost as a high-yielding cash management account, endowments, universities, foundations and, importantly, many high-profile funds of funds," said Douglas Kass, who heads hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management.

    "It appears that at least $15 billion of wealth, much of which was concentrated in Southern Florida and New York City, has gone to 'money heaven,'" he added.

    Federal agents arrested Madoff at his apartment on Thursday after prosecutors said he told senior employees that his money management operations were "all just one big lie" and "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme."

    Madoff is the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, a market-making firm he launched in 1960. His separate investment advisory business had $17.1 billion of assets under management.

    "BUSINESS AS USUAL?"

    About a dozen angry investors gathered on Friday in the lobby of the Lipstick Building in midtown Manhattan, where the market-making firm and advisory fund are both headquartered, demanding to know the fate of their money.

    One woman who declined to give her name said that when she called the firm's offices on Thursday she was told it was "business as usual."

    Another investor groused, "Business as usual? Of course it's business as usual. We're getting screwed left and right."

    Police later evicted the small group from the building.

    The two most prominent hedge funds that invested with Madoff were the $7.3 billion Fairfield Sentry Ltd, run by Walter Noel's Fairfield Greenwich Group, and the $2.8 billion Kingate Global Fund Ltd, run by Kingate Management Ltd.

    Fairfield Sentry and Kingate Global were among a small group of hedge funds to report positive returns for 2008; the average hedge fund was down 18 percent, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.

    "People who came to us for portfolio construction were often already invested with Bernie Madoff, he had hundreds of clients," said Charles Gradante, who invests in hedge funds as a principal at Hennessee Group LLC. "Now his whole legacy is destroyed. He was God to people."

    In a Ponzi scheme, a swindler uses money from new investors, who are lured with the promise of high or consistent returns, to pay off earlier investors.

    Prior to Madoff's arrest, investors had wondered how he was able to generate annual returns in the low double digits in a variety of market environments. Many questioned how U.S. regulators were able to ignore numerous red flags with regards to Madoff's fund.

    "Many of us questioned how that strategy could generate those kinds of returns so consistently," said Jon Najarian, an options trader who knows Madoff and is a co-founder of optionmonster.com.

    In May 2001, Barron's reported that option strategists for major investment banks said they couldn't understand how Madoff managed to generate the returns that he did.

    "We weren't comfortable with Madoff," said Brad Alford, president at investment adviser Alpha Capital in Atlanta. "We didn't understand how his strategy could generate the kind of returns it did. We will walk away from things like that."

    MORE TO COME?

    U.S. stocks tumbled in early trading Friday, with some investors citing the Madoff case as well as the failure of talks in Congress on a rescue for the U.S. auto industry. The market later staged a limited rebound.

    Investors overseas were also reeling from the alleged fraud.

    Benedict Hentsch, a Swiss private bank, said it had 56 million Swiss francs ($47 million) of exposure to Madoff's investment advisory business. UniCredit SpA's fund management unit, Pioneer Investments, has exposure through its Primeo Select hedge fund, two people familiar with the matter said.

    Bramdean Alternatives Ltd said almost 10 percent of its holdings were exposed to Madoff, sending shares in the UK asset manager crashing.

    CNBC Television reported that Sterling Equities, which owns the New York Mets baseball team, had accounts managed by Madoff.

    "UNFORTUNATE SET OF EVENTS"

    Madoff said "there is no innocent explanation" for his activities, and that he "paid investors with money that wasn't there," according to the federal complaint.

    Prosecutors also alleged that Madoff wanted to distribute as much as $300 million to employees, family members and friends before turning himself in.

    Charged with one count of securities fraud, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed separate civil charges.

    A federal judge is expected later Friday to hold a hearing on whether to put assets under Madoff's control into a receivership.

    Madoff's lawyer, Dan Horwitz, said on Thursday, "We will fight to get through this unfortunate set of events." His client was released on $10 million bond.

    Madoff is a member of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc's nominating committee. His firm has said it is a market-maker for about 350 Nasdaq stocks.

    He is also chairman of London-based Madoff Securities International Ltd, whose chief executive, Stephen Raven, said the firm was "not in any way part of" the New York-based market-maker.

    "Our business activities are not involved in any way with the U.S. asset management company with which the reported allegations appear to be concerned," Raven said.

    (Reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Edith Honan, Aarthi Sivaraman and Leah Schnurr and Dan Wilchins in New York; Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston, Steve Slater in London and Lisa Jucca in Zurich; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and John Wallace)

    Reuters - Nokia takes on Huawei in connecting laptops

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    Nokia takes on Huawei in connecting laptops

    Friday, Dec 12, 2008 1:43PM UTC

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - The world's top mobile phone maker Nokia plans to tap the surging market for connecting laptops to wireless networks taking on market leader Huawei Technologies, its senior official said.

    Nokia will start to ship its first Internet stick in early 2009, aiming to benefit from its know-how and experience in developing 3G technologies, Tapio Markki, vice president for hardware platform components at Nokia, told Reuters.

    "Leveraging these capabilities, we believe we are well-positioned to become one of the winning providers for HSPA modem solutions. The market for HSPA modems is expected to grow very rapidly during the coming years," Markki said.

    Nokia declined to comment on the price of the device -- which uses HSPA, a super-fast 3G technology -- saying it would be sold mostly through operators and bundled with services.

    Strategy Analytics said it expects the global market for so-called "dongles" -- external USB modems and PC cards -- to grow to 26 million units next year from 20 million this year.

    "In particular European operators, such as Vodafone, are aggressively promoting and subsidizing dongles right now, because they are seen as a secondary device that provides additional revenues for carriers beyond a traditional handset," said Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

    Nokia tried to enter into the business of connecting laptops to wireless networks in late 2006 when it said it had developed an embedded 3G module for notebook computers, which Intel agreed to sell as part of its next-generation Centrino Duo mobile technology platform.

    But in early 2007, Nokia and Intel made a joint decision to cease cooperation on the connectivity module.

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Reuters - Illinois governor arrested on corruption charges

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    Illinois governor arrested on corruption charges

    Tuesday, Dec 09, 2008 6:50PM UTC

    By Michael Conlon and Andrew Stern

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday on corruption charges, including that he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by fellow Democrat and President-elect Barack Obama.

    Prosecutors also said the governor tried to muscle the Chicago Tribune into firing editorial writers who were critical of him.

    While Obama has long distanced himself from the governor of his home state -- who has been under investigation on other issues for years -- Blagojevich's arrest was likely to be an embarrassment to the president-elect.

    The case shines a light once again on old-style corruption in the Chicago political caldron from which Obama emerged.

    "The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor, said in a statement.

    It was enough to make Abraham Lincoln "roll over in his grave," Fitzgerald later told reporters, adding the arrest of Blagojevich was made because he wanted to stop a "crime spree."

    In Illinois, the governor selects a successor when there is a mid-term vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Obama, who takes office on January 20, resigned from the Senate soon after winning the November 4 presidential election.

    How the case might affect his Senate replacement was unclear. There were immediate calls from both Republicans and Democrats in Illinois that Blagojevich resign, allowing the lieutenant governor, also a Democrat, to step in. Under state law, Blagojevich could still make the appointment even if later indicted.

    But federal prosecutors said they moved against the governor before he could make the Senate choice.

    Neither Blagojevich or his office issued a statement after the charges were revealed. The governor and a senior aide were taken into custody at their Chicago homes. Blagojevich was due in court later on Tuesday.

    Federal prosecutors said Obama was not implicated.

    "I should make clear the complaint makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever," Fitzgerald said.

    Obama aides would not immediately comment on the charges against the governor, but said the Obama transition office would be issuing a statement.

    "FOR SALE" SIGN

    The 51-year-old Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were each charged in a federal complaint with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and a second count of solicitation of bribery.

    In his statement, Fitzgerald said the charges "allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism."

    Blagojevich was accused of threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of the Chicago Cubs' baseball home, Wrigley Field, in order "to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical" of him, Fitzgerald said.

    Blagojevich allegedly was caught on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month.

    He was seeking a "substantial" salary for himself at a nonprofit foundation or union affiliated organization, a spot on a corporate board for his wife, promises of campaign cash, as well as a cabinet post or ambassadorship in exchange for his Senate choice, an FBI affidavit said.

    Even though it was unclear what would happen now to the selection of a successor to Obama in the Senate, the spot would be certain to go to a Democrat. Democrats, with independent allies, will hold at least 58 seats in the 100-seat Senate when the new Congress convenes in early January. A Minnesota Senate seat is still undecided.

    Blagojevich, in his second term, is the latest in a string of Illinois governors to run afoul of the law. His immediate predecessor, George Ryan, is in jail following a federal corruption conviction.

    HEFTY PRISON TERM POSSIBLE

    If Blagojevich is convicted, each mail and wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison while each bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

    Blagojevich was elected to the Illinois state House in 1992 and later won a seat in the U.S. Congress that had been held by another politician who ran afoul of the law, Dan Rostenkowski.

    He became Illinois' first Democratic governor in nearly 30 years when he replaced Ryan in 2003, on a platform of reform. But his popularity has descended to an all-time low after wrangles with fellow Democrats in the state legislature, some of whom had threatened him with impeachment.

    (Reporting by Michael Conlon and James Vicini, Kyle Peterson and Karen Pierog in Chicago, Editing by Jackie Frank and Frances Kerry)

    CNN - Illinois governor taken into custody

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Illinois governor taken into custody


    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is in federal custody on corruption charges, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

    Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois.

    Both men are expected in U.S. District Court in Chicago later Tuesday.

    A news conference is expected at noon ET.

    Federal prosecutors say Blagojevich, Harris and others conspired to gain financial benefits in appointing President-elect Barack Obama's Senate replacement, according to the statement.

    "The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. "They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism."

    According to the statement, Blagojevich is alleged to have discussed obtaining:

    a substantial salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;

    a spot for his wife on paid corporate boards, where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;

    promises of campaign funds -- including cash up front;

    a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

    The Obama transition team is aware that Blagojevich is in federal custody, but has no comment, according to a senior Democratic source.

    The statement also alleges that Blagojevich and others tried to illegally obtain campaign contributions.

    Blagojevich, Harris and others are also alleged to have withheld state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field. The statement says this was done to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were critical of Blagojevich.

    Blagojevich, who turns 52 on Wednesday, is in his second four-year term as Illinois governor. His term ends in January 2011.

    Before being elected governor, he served as a U.S. congressman for Illinois' 5th district from 1997 until 2003, according to his online biography. He and his wife, Patti, have two daughters.

    Blagojevich announced last month that he was forming a panel to review candidates to fill Obama's Senate seat.

    Several Illinois Democrats -- including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, a former congressional candidate who now serves in Blagojevich's administration -- have been mentioned as possible Senate replacements for Obama.

    Saturday, December 6, 2008

    Something New

    Hey Y'all. I'm going to start this thing all over again. So stay tuned for new stuff.

    click here for more news and cool stuff
    The Black Rider

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Reuters - MySpace delivers video to mobile phones

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    MySpace delivers video to mobile phones

    Wednesday, Dec 03, 2008 5:11AM UTC

    By Robert MacMillan

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - MySpace users with mobile phones are about to find out if they can walk and watch TV at the same time.

    On Wednesday, News Corp's online social network will make video clips from its members' pages available for viewing on mobile devices including the BlackBerry Bold, Palm Centro, Motorola Q9, LG Voyager, Nokia N95 and Samsung Instinct.

    Members will be able to look at video on their own homepages as well as friends' pages. They also will be able to view professionally produced video from TMZ, the celebrity news and gossip website owned by Time Warner Inc; the National Hockey League; National Geographic magazine; satirical newspaper The Onion and others.

    The free service will be supported by advertising. MySpace and many other companies are trying to exploit the small but growing mobile advertising market.

    MySpace declined to comment on the cost of the project or how much money it would make them.

    "These are the big guys doing it, and they're going to make some noise about it," said David Card, a media analyst at Forrester Research who called it a medium-sized deal in terms of significance. "Mobile is one of those things where people keep saying, 'Is next year going to be the year of mobile'?"

    MySpace video will be sent, or "streamed," from the social network's pages rather than downloaded onto mobile phones. For this reason, the clips will not be available on Apple Inc's iPhone, which runs downloaded video.

    MySpace, one of the world's largest online social networks, plans to support mobile video downloads in the future, a spokeswoman said.

    MySpace's growth strategy includes developing mobile phone applications, as well as international markets and building up its music service. Acquisitions are central to this strategy, Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe told the Reuters Media Summit on Monday.

    The company will work with technology from a company called RipCode to make video available on mobile handsets that have different technical specifications for how they handle video.

    RipCode also will allow MySpace users to stop having to save their video clips in different formats, something that it said would save hardware, energy and storage resources.

    (Reporting by Robert MacMillan)

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    CNN - No way to stop us, pirate leader says

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    No way to stop us, pirate leader says


    Somalis are so desperate to survive that attacks on merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean will not stop, a pirate leader promises.

    "The pirates are living between life and death," said the pirate leader, identified by only one name, Boyah. "Who can stop them? Americans and British all put together cannot do anything."

    The interview with the pirate was conducted in late August by journalists employed by the Somali news organization Garowe. The complete interview was provided to CNN last week and provides a glimpse of why piracy has been so hard to control in the region.

    Recorded on grainy video, the interview took place in the Somali port city of Eyl, now a center of pirate operations. Eyl is on the east coast of Somalia in the autonomous territory of Puntland. It is a largely lawless zone, considered extremely dangerous for Westerners to enter.

    The Puntland government said two unidentified Western journalists were taken hostage Wednesday as they attempted to report on pirate activity.

    Boyah said that the piracy began because traditional coastal fishing became difficult after foreign fishing trawlers depleted local fish stocks. Traditional fishermen started attacking the trawlers until the trawler crews fought back with heavy weapons. The fishermen then turned to softer targets.

    "We went into the deep ocean and hijacked the unarmed cargo ships," Boyah said.

    "For the past three years, we have not operated near the Somali coast. We have operated at least 80 miles [out], in international waters."

    When merchant shipping started avoiding the Somali coast, Boyah said, "we went to ships traveling other routes."

    Over the past year, the number of pirate attacks has increased dramatically. The International Maritime Bureau cites more than 90 pirate attacks off East Africa so far in 2008. When attacks are successful, the hijacked ships are taken to Somali waters, where the ships and crew are held until a ransom is paid.

    Ships recently captured include a massive Saudi supertanker laden with crude oil valued at more than $100 million and a freighter carrying Russian-built tanks.

    The hijackings have been profitable. Kenya's foreign minister, Moses Wetangula, estimates the pirates have been paid more than $150 million during the past year. One pirate gang wants $2 million dollars to release a Yemeni freighter and crew seized last week.

    Facing increasing disruptions through one of the busiest sea lanes in the world, several countries have sent warships to patrol the area. There have been reports of skirmishes between pirates and naval forces, but the military presence does not concern pirate leader Boyah. He boasts the pirates literally sail in a vast ocean beneath the radar of the warships.

    "No ship has the capability to see everything," he said. "A ship can see 80 miles or so [on radar]. It cannot see us at all. No one can do anything about it."

    Boyah said it is unlikely the Puntland regional government would ever crack down on piracy because government officials are involved in financing the piracy and collect a cut of the ransoms.

    "They motivate us. It's their money and their weapons," Boyah said. "Thirty percent belongs to them."

    The Puntland foreign minister, Ali Abdi Aware, denied government involvement with the pirates, including taking bribes. The minister cited the arrest of six pirates earlier this year as evidence it is acting to stop piracy.

    Pirate Boyah said he is unimpressed with the arrests by Puntland authorities.

    "The pirates are at sea and Puntland does not approach them. The pirates are on land and Puntland does not approach them," Boyah said. "They arrest some small people and tell the world that they captured pirates, but they are liars."

    While Boyah may have been outspoken about the government's ineffectiveness, he did not allow interviewers to show his face, an indication that even in this lawless country, pirates still have some fear.

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Reuters - Google to shut down virtual world website

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@gmail.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Google to shut down virtual world website

    Friday, Nov 21, 2008 8:28AM UTC

    (Reuters) - Google Inc said it would shut down its three-dimensional virtual experience website by year end to focus more on its core search, advertisements and applications business.

    The company said in its blog it supports experimentation but added: "We've also always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks not every bet is going to pay off."

    Lively, which features real-time virtual world characters known as avatars and three-dimensional graphics to congregate in virtual rooms, was launched in July to match Linden Lab's popular Second Life.

    "Between now and the end of the year we encourage you to capture all your hard work by taking videos and screenshots of your rooms," the blog said.

    (Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by David Holmes)

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Reuters - Urgent regulation needed for nanomaterials: experts

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Urgent regulation needed for nanomaterials: experts

    Wednesday, Nov 12, 2008 8:7AM UTC

    By Michael Kahn

    LONDON (Reuters) - More testing and regulation of nanomaterials used in an increasingly number of everyday products is urgently needed, experts said on Wednesday.

    "...having analyzed the potential health and environmental impacts which flow from the properties of nanomaterials, we concluded that there is a plausible case for concern about some (but not all) classes of nanomaterials," the Royal Commission experts from the scientific, legal, business and medical communities wrote in a British government-funded report.

    In particular the report cited tiny soccer-ball shaped carbon molecules called buckyballs that may have potential uses ranging from novel drug-delivery system to fuel cells, as well as carbon nanotubes and nanosilver.

    Recent studies have found buckyballs -- short for buckministerfullerenes -- may threaten health by building up fat and have linked carbon nanotubes to potential lung cancer risk.

    "We are very conscious of the extent to which knowledge about the potential health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials lags significantly behind the pace of innovation, although this could change as new scientific information arises," the study said.

    Nanotechnology, the design and manipulation of materials thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, has been hailed as a way to make strong, lightweight materials, better cosmetics and even tastier food.

    Major corporations and start-ups across almost every industry invest in nanotechnology, which found its way into $147 billion worth of products in 2007, according to Lux Research.

    But scientists are only just starting to look at the impact such tiny objects might have, and the British report warned existing regulations may not be able to keep up with technology.

    "We are also concerned that more sophisticated later generation nanoproducts will raise issues which cannot be dealt with by treating them as chemicals or mixtures of chemicals," John Lawton, an ecologist, who chaired the report, said in a statement.

    The report, to which the government must reply, also determined that there were not grounds for a blanket ban or moratorium on nanomaterials.

    Specifically, it also called on the government to recognize a "degree of ignorance and uncertainty in this area" and lay out the time it will take to address these.

    (Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Louise Ireland and Maggie Fox)

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    A New Day

    Well it's off I go to work again on a crazy Monday. Overworked and underpaid as usual. Story of my life. I pray that Obama can institute something to help get me out of this mess.


    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Reuters - L.A. man pleads innocent in Guns N' Roses piracy

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    L.A. man pleads innocent in Guns N' Roses piracy

    Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008 1:15PM UTC

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man accused of placing songs on the Internet from an unreleased album by the rock band Guns N' Roses pleaded innocent on Monday in federal court.

    Kevin Cogill, 27, is charged with violating federal copyright law.

    Cogill pleaded innocent to the charge on Monday and no date has been set for the trial, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    The FBI says that Cogill posted nine tracks from Guns N' Roses' upcoming album "Chinese Democracy" on a website called antiquiet.com (http://www.antiquiet.com).

    Cogill was arrested in August at his Los Angeles home and released on bail the same day. He faces three years in federal prison if convicted, and five years if the court finds he posted the songs for commercial gain.

    Guns N' Roses said in a statement at the time of the arrest that while it did not condone Coghill's actions, "our interest is in the original source" of the material. Mrozek declined to comment on whether there would be any additional arrests.

    One of the biggest bands to emerge from the American metal scene in the late 1980s, Guns N' Roses has not released an album of new material in more than 17 years. "Chinese Democracy" will reportedly come out later next month, but the project has been delayed multiple times over the years as singer Axl Rose shed all his original bandmates.

    (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Dean Goodman)

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Reuters - Facebook eyes digital-music business: report

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Facebook eyes digital-music business: report

    Friday, Oct 17, 2008 10:54AM UTC

    (Reuters) - Social networking site Facebook's founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg plans to enter the digital-music business in the wake of the launch of News Corp's MySpace Music last month, the New York Post said.

    Zuckerberg is talking to a number of song-streaming services and music community sites, including Rhapsody.com, iMeem.com, iLike.com and Lala.com about an outsourcing deal, the Post reported, citing sources familiar with the situation.

    Facebook executives have been busy meeting major record companies about the strategy, the paper said on its website.

    The Post quoted sources saying that unlike MySpace, which traded equity in its music venture in exchange for licenses to stream ad-supported songs, Facebook doesn't want to secure licenses to distribute music, or build a proprietary service from scratch.

    Sources further cautioned that nothing was imminent, and Facebook may ultimately walk away from the plan altogether, the paper reported.

    Facebook did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

    (Reporting by Shradhha Sharma in Bangalore, editing by Will Waterman)

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Reuters - Nokia Siemens says shipping 4G-ready network gear

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Nokia Siemens says shipping 4G-ready network gear

    Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008 4:43PM UTC

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) said on Wednesday it has started to deliver technology for emerging high-speed wireless networks.

    NSN said it was the first vendor to do so, and it would deliver fourth-generation-ready (4G) mobile network hardware to more than 10 major operators by end 2008. Rival Ericsson was not immediately available for comment.

    The gear can be upgraded into much faster Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology with just new software -- meaning lower costs for operators -- starting from latter half of 2009, promising a smoother transition than third generation, which required steep investments and took years to gain popularity.

    LTE promises to make everything from mobile video sharing to music downloads speedier, but it may not show a visible boost in sales for the network equipment industry any time soon, as the first networks are not expected for two years and many operators will wait longer until the technology matures.

    Canada's Nortel Networks Corp sees LTE as the most likely upgrade path for about 80 percent of the world's existing mobile phone providers, with others going for an alternative technology known as WiMax. Nokia Siemens said it expects to see commercial LTE network rollouts from 2010.

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by David Cowell)

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    CNN - Whistleblower: Oil watchdog agency 'cult of corruption'

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Whistleblower: Oil watchdog agency 'cult of corruption'


    Bobby Maxwell kept a close eye on the oil industry for more than 20 years as a government auditor. But he said the federal agency he worked for is now a "cult of corruption" -- a claim backed up by a recent government report.

    "I believe the management we were under was showing favoritism to the oil industry," Maxwell told CNN.

    Maxwell is referring to a tiny agency within the Department of the Interior called the Minerals Management Service, which manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on federal lands.

    A report, conducted by the Interior Department's inspector general and released earlier this month, found that employees at the agency received improper gifts from energy industry officials and engaged with them in illegal drug use and inappropriate sexual relations. It looked at activities at the agency from 2003 through 2006.

    Maxwell said the report doesn't surprise him. The agency, he said, is corrupt "top to bottom."

    "It sounds like they forgot they work for the government," he said. "It's disgusting. ... There's no excuse for that. Those people should not be working in those positions at all.

    "They crossed a lot of lines that should never have been crossed," he said. "They lost all objectivity."

    Maxwell was in charge of keeping track of the millions in royalty payments owed taxpayers by oil and gas companies who explored and found oil on U.S. government lands.

    He estimates he and his team were responsible for saving the government close to $500 million in royalties, either underpaid or somehow skipped by oil and gas companies, over the years.

    He received the Interior Department's highest award in 2003 for his work. But not long afterward, his job was killed.

    He believes it was retribution for his cracking down on Big Oil and blowing the whistle on what he believes was a "cult of corruption" within the agency. The Interior Department denies that, saying his job was reorganized as part of routine restructuring.

    Just before he lost his job, he said, one of his superiors in Washington ordered him not to investigate why Shell Oil had raised its oil transportation costs. Maxwell said it jumped from 90 cents to $3 a barrel without adequate explanation. The government paid Shell to transport oil from offshore platforms.

    When asked why a government worker would tell an auditor not to investigate, he said: "I believe it started from the top down," he said.

    Shell Oil told CNN it "pays the same rate any shipper does" and that it has "never engaged in fraudulent transactions or entered into sham contracts as Mr. Maxwell alleges."

    Maxwell, a registered independent, said the shift in attitude at the agency began about seven or eight years ago, about the time the Bush administration came into power. He said he was discouraged from aggressively auditing oil companies.

    "Laws and regulations were not applied, also not enforced," he said.

    The inspector general's 27-page summary says that nearly a third of the roughly 60 people in Maxwell's former office received gifts and gratuities from oil industry executives.

    Two received improper, if not illegal, gifts at least 135 times, the report says. It goes on to describe a wild atmosphere in which some staff members admitted using cocaine and marijuana.

    In addition, two female workers at the Minerals Management Service were known as the "MMS chicks" and both told investigators they had sex with oil industry officials they were supposed to be auditing.

    One e-mail from a pipeline company representative invited government workers to a tailgating party: "Have you and the girls meet at my place at 6 a.m. for bubble baths and final prep ... Just kidding."

    Inspector General Earl Devaney said in a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne accompanying the report that it details "a textbook example of improperly receiving gifts from prohibited sources."

    Maxwell is now retired from the government and teaches at the University of Hawaii. He said it was just a matter of time until the agency's behavior was exposed. He feels vindicated now in the wake of the inspector general's report, but is still disgusted by what he was happening at the Minerals Management Service.

    "Their job is to protect United States taxpayers' interest. It's like they completely forgot that, like they just became part of the oil companies," he said.

    The Interior Department said it could not comment on Maxwell's specific allegations or removal, saying his former supervisor no longer works for the Interior Department either.

    Kempthorne said he was "outraged" by the disclosures in the inspector general's report and that the actions "of a few has cast a shadow on the entire agency."

    But the department said there is no evidence taxpayers lost money as a result of unethical behavior between government workers and the oil and gas industry.

    Maxwell doubts that.

    The former auditor said he'd love to put all the government royalty records under his magnifying glass.

    "I think the government should be transparent. We are for the people, by the people. This is the government. We're here to serve," he said.

    Maxwell has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Kerr-McGee Corp., an energy company involved in oil and gas exploration. In it, he claims the company defrauded taxpayers out of millions in oil royalty payments.

    The company denies the accusation. If Maxwell wins, the government would recieve about $40 million in additonal revenue and Maxwell would be entitled to about a third of that.

    CNN - Whistleblower: Oil watchdog agency 'cult of corruption'

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Whistleblower: Oil watchdog agency 'cult of corruption'


    Bobby Maxwell kept a close eye on the oil industry for more than 20 years as a government auditor. But he said the federal agency he worked for is now a "cult of corruption" -- a claim backed up by a recent government report.

    "I believe the management we were under was showing favoritism to the oil industry," Maxwell told CNN.

    Maxwell is referring to a tiny agency within the Department of the Interior called the Minerals Management Service, which manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on federal lands.

    A report, conducted by the Interior Department's inspector general and released earlier this month, found that employees at the agency received improper gifts from energy industry officials and engaged with them in illegal drug use and inappropriate sexual relations. It looked at activities at the agency from 2003 through 2006.

    Maxwell said the report doesn't surprise him. The agency, he said, is corrupt "top to bottom."

    "It sounds like they forgot they work for the government," he said. "It's disgusting. ... There's no excuse for that. Those people should not be working in those positions at all.

    "They crossed a lot of lines that should never have been crossed," he said. "They lost all objectivity."

    Maxwell was in charge of keeping track of the millions in royalty payments owed taxpayers by oil and gas companies who explored and found oil on U.S. government lands.

    He estimates he and his team were responsible for saving the government close to $500 million in royalties, either underpaid or somehow skipped by oil and gas companies, over the years.

    He received the Interior Department's highest award in 2003 for his work. But not long afterward, his job was killed.

    He believes it was retribution for his cracking down on Big Oil and blowing the whistle on what he believes was a "cult of corruption" within the agency. The Interior Department denies that, saying his job was reorganized as part of routine restructuring.

    Just before he lost his job, he said, one of his superiors in Washington ordered him not to investigate why Shell Oil had raised its oil transportation costs. Maxwell said it jumped from 90 cents to $3 a barrel without adequate explanation. The government paid Shell to transport oil from offshore platforms.

    When asked why a government worker would tell an auditor not to investigate, he said: "I believe it started from the top down," he said.

    Shell Oil told CNN it "pays the same rate any shipper does" and that it has "never engaged in fraudulent transactions or entered into sham contracts as Mr. Maxwell alleges."

    Maxwell, a registered independent, said the shift in attitude at the agency began about seven or eight years ago, about the time the Bush administration came into power. He said he was discouraged from aggressively auditing oil companies.

    "Laws and regulations were not applied, also not enforced," he said.

    The inspector general's 27-page summary says that nearly a third of the roughly 60 people in Maxwell's former office received gifts and gratuities from oil industry executives.

    Two received improper, if not illegal, gifts at least 135 times, the report says. It goes on to describe a wild atmosphere in which some staff members admitted using cocaine and marijuana.

    In addition, two female workers at the Minerals Management Service were known as the "MMS chicks" and both told investigators they had sex with oil industry officials they were supposed to be auditing.

    One e-mail from a pipeline company representative invited government workers to a tailgating party: "Have you and the girls meet at my place at 6 a.m. for bubble baths and final prep ... Just kidding."

    Inspector General Earl Devaney said in a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne accompanying the report that it details "a textbook example of improperly receiving gifts from prohibited sources."

    Maxwell is now retired from the government and teaches at the University of Hawaii. He said it was just a matter of time until the agency's behavior was exposed. He feels vindicated now in the wake of the inspector general's report, but is still disgusted by what he was happening at the Minerals Management Service.

    "Their job is to protect United States taxpayers' interest. It's like they completely forgot that, like they just became part of the oil companies," he said.

    The Interior Department said it could not comment on Maxwell's specific allegations or removal, saying his former supervisor no longer works for the Interior Department either.

    Kempthorne said he was "outraged" by the disclosures in the inspector general's report and that the actions "of a few has cast a shadow on the entire agency."

    But the department said there is no evidence taxpayers lost money as a result of unethical behavior between government workers and the oil and gas industry.

    Maxwell doubts that.

    The former auditor said he'd love to put all the government royalty records under his magnifying glass.

    "I think the government should be transparent. We are for the people, by the people. This is the government. We're here to serve," he said.

    Maxwell has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Kerr-McGee Corp., an energy company involved in oil and gas exploration. In it, he claims the company defrauded taxpayers out of millions in oil royalty payments.

    The company denies the accusation. If Maxwell wins, the government would recieve about $40 million in additonal revenue and Maxwell would be entitled to about a third of that.

    Reuters - Samsung re-enters U.S. laptop market

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Samsung re-enters U.S. laptop market

    Tuesday, Oct 14, 2008 12:43PM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Diversified electronics maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it is re-entering the U.S. computer market with a range of branded products that build on its component supply strengths.

    The Korean-based company will introduce on Tuesday new ultralight notebooks designed to appeal to potential buyers of Apple Inc's ground-breaking MacBook Air and smaller "netbook" models from the likes of Asustek Computer.

    Breaking into the crowded U.S. market involves taking share from more established players. The Korean electronics maker sees other Asian brand-name players as vulnerable, especially Toshiba Corp, Sony Corp and Lenovo.

    Samsung is also coming out with models aimed at business professionals and the market for bulkier laptops known as "desktop replacements," a Samsung executive said.

    Like Apple's Air, Samsung's X-Series premium lightweight notebooks come with options for either a hard drive or solid state memory. But Samsung's X360 is priced at $2,499 and carries 128 gigabytes of flash memory, twice the 64 gigabytes that comes with the Apple Air selling for $2,598.

    "These products really go after Apple and Sony. This is the MacBook Air killer," Bret Berg, the senior product manager for Samsung's U.S. computer division, said in an interview.

    The X360 weighs 2.8 pounds and has an ultra-thin, tapered wedge design with a magnesium allow chassis, an aluminum top and a "pebble"-style keyboard.

    Samsung's hard-drive version, the X460, starts at $1,899 for a 160-gigabyte hard drive, twice the capacity of Apple's existing MacBook Air model that is priced at $1,799 for an 80-gigabyte drive. The X460 weighs just under 4.2 pounds.

    NETBOOK

    Its premium netbook, the NC10, in white or metallic-blue colored cases, starts at $499 with a 10.2-inch display and 160 gigabyte hard drive. Netbooks are a smaller class of PCs that are lower priced than notebooks and can sell for $300 or less.

    Samsung is positioning its product between lower cost EEE PCs from Asustek and the smallest full-scale notebooks. Samsung's model bears a resemblance to an 11-inch notebook Sony sold earlier this decade that was popular with mobile business professionals but cost upward of $2,000 at that time.

    One cost advantage is that many of the components inside Samsung machines are made by its semiconductor and other finished product businesses. This includes Samsung's SuperBrite light-emitting diode, backlit liquid crystal displays.

    It estimates that 80 percent of the value of its PCs are from Samsung components -- everything but the microprocessor and graphics chips. As the world's biggest maker of memory chips, storage is Samsung's biggest weapon.

    The reentry into the U.S. highly competitive computer market will also be aided by Samsung's strong established ties with business resellers, distributors and consumer retailers through sales of everything from TVs to monitors to phones.

    In the first quarter of 2009, Samsung plans to rev up its sales distribution strategy, including corporate distributors such as CDW or Newegg and consumer retailers such as Best Buy, and regional U.S. store chains Fry's Electronics or The Wiz.

    Samsung's announcement, which has been in the works for more than a month, coincides with Apple's announcement later on Tuesday of upgraded notebook models. Analysts predict Apple may introduce a new line of notebooks for under $1,000.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Reuters - Oil rises on possible OPEC output cut

    This article was sent to you from bombastic400@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Oil rises on possible OPEC output cut

    Tuesday, Oct 07, 2008 8:14PM UTC

    by Rebekah Kebede

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose over $2 on Tuesday as signs OPEC was considering a supply cut outweighed concerns about the global financial crisis.

    U.S. crude settled at $90.06 a barrel, up $2.25, after hitting an eight-month low on Monday as part of a four-day decline.

    London Brent settled at $84.66 a barrel, up 98 cents.

    "It seems the (OPEC) price hawks are lobbying for a production cut to support prices ... that may have sparked the late session spurt of buying to take us positive on the day," said Tom Knight, a trader at Truman Arnold in Texarkana, Texas.

    Oil has plummeted from a record high of $147.27 a barrel in July as high fuel prices and the growing financial crisis slow oil demand in the United States, the world's top consumer, and other industrial nations.

    The spread of the credit crisis has intensified gloom about the global economic outlook and weakened prospects for oil demand and prices, and has led some investors to sell off commodities for safer havens.

    Oil's recent price drop has caused worry for some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

    "If this volatility continues, OPEC will have to do something," Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp, told Reuters by telephone Tuesday.

    "We may sit down together before December," he said.

    OPEC's next meeting is in December in Algeria.

    Earlier this week, Iran said OPEC may need to cut supply to prop up prices.

    Further support has come from the slow recovery of the U.S. oil sector from Hurricane Ike. According to the U.S. Mineral Management Service, 44.8 percent of Gulf of Mexico production remained shut on Tuesday following the storm.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday lowered its forecast for world oil demand growth in 2009 versus 2008. The agency cut its forecast by 140,000 barrels per day from its estimate published last month.

    Analysts also are watching oil demand from China -- which helped drive oil's rally from $20 a barrel in early 2002 -- for signs the crisis is hitting consumption in the world's second largest consumer.

    Earlier Tuesday, oil prices received support after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would start buying the short-term debt that many companies use to fund day-to-day operations in a move to restore credit flows.

    An Australia cut rate cut also raised hopes that other countries would follow suit to bolster economic growth, which would support demand for oil.

    But the moves failed to stem fears in the U.S. financial market about fallout from the credit crisis and U.S. stocks slid on Tuesday.

    Tropical Storm Marco rolled over Mexico's Gulf coast on Tuesday, but all three of the country's main oil exporting ports remained open. On Monday, the storm prompted state oil company Pemex to shut down four offshore production platforms and close six wells at a natural gas field.

    Traders are also awaiting the release of the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory data on Wednesday. Analysts polled by Reuters anticipated a 2.3-million-barrel build in crude inventories as imports rebounded from storm disruptions.

    (Additional reporting by Alex Lawler and Jane Merriman in London and Annika Breidthardt in Singapore; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Reuters - Nintendo to launch camera, music-capable DS: report

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Nintendo to launch camera, music-capable DS: report

    Sunday, Sep 28, 2008 4:26AM UTC

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd plans to launch a new model of its DS handheld machine that can take pictures and play music by the end of the year, the Nikkei business daily said on Sunday.

    The move would pit the top-selling portable game gear with Apple Inc iPod and camera-embedded cellphones in general.

    The price for the new machine, which will also be equipped with advanced wireless communications functions, is expected to be below 20,000 yen ($189) in Japan, compared with 16,800 yen for the current model, the Nikkei said.

    The Wii game console and DS have been Nintendo's twin growth engines, helping its share price to grow more than three-fold over the past three years.

    The DS far outsells Sony Corp's rival machine, PlayStation Portable (PSP), globally.

    But in Japan, the PSP's unit sales exceeded the DS's in five consecutive months through July, according to game magazine publisher Enterbrain, in a potential sign of slowing momentum for the current DS model.

    Nintendo officials were not immediately available for comment.

    ($1=105.97 Yen)

    (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

    Reuters - Hole in Adobe software allows free movie downloads

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Hole in Adobe software allows free movie downloads

    Saturday, Sep 27, 2008 12:3PM UTC

    By Daisuke Wakabayashi

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A security hole in Adobe Systems Inc software, used to distribute movies and TV shows over the Internet, is giving users free access to record and copy from Amazon.com Inc's video streaming service.

    The problem exposes online video content to the rampant piracy that plagued the music industry during the Napster era and is undermining efforts by retailers, movie studios and television networks to cash in on a huge Web audience.

    "It's a fundamental flaw in the Adobe design. This was designed stupidly," said Bruce Schneier, a security expert who is also the chief security technology officer at British Telecom.

    The flaw rests in Adobe's Flash video servers that are connected to the company's players installed in nearly all of the world's Web-connected computers.

    The software doesn't encrypt online content, but only orders sent to a video player such as start and stop play. To boost download speeds, Adobe dropped a stringent security feature that protects the connection between the Adobe software and its players.

    "Adobe is committed to the security of all of our products, from our players to our server software. Adobe invests a considerable amount of ongoing effort to help protect users from potential vulnerabilities," it said in a statement.

    Adobe said it issued a security bulletin earlier this month about how best to protect online content and called on its customers to couple its software security with a feature that verifies the validity of its video player.

    An Amazon spokesman said content on the company's Video On Demand service, which offers as many as 40,000 movies and TV shows on its Web site, cannot be pirated using video stream catching software.

    However, in tests by Reuters, at least one program to record online video, the Replay Media Catcher from Applian Technologies, recorded movies from Amazon and other sites that use Adobe's encryption technology together with its video player verification.

    "Adobe's (stream) is not really encrypted," said Applian CEO Bill Dettering. "One of the downfalls with how they have architected the software is that people can capture the streams. I fully expect them to do something more robust in the near future."

    HOW IT WORKS

    The free demo version of Replay Media Catcher allows anyone to watch 75 percent of anything recorded and 100 percent of YouTube videos. For $39, a user can watch everything recorded.

    One Web site -- www.tvadfree.com -- explains step-by-step how to use the video stream catching software.

    Amazon.com's Adobe-powered Video On Demand service allows viewers to watch the first two minutes of a movie or TV show for free. It charges up to $3.99 to rent a movie for 24 hours and up to $14.99 to download a movie permanently.

    Amazon starts to stream the entire movie during the free preview -- even though it pauses the video on the Web browser after the first two minutes -- so that users can start watching the rest of the video right away once they pay.

    "It's the traditional trade-off, convenience on the one hand and security on the other," said Ray Valdes, analyst at research group Gartner.

    However, even if a user doesn't pay, the stream still sends the movie to the video catching software, but not the browser.

    Amazon's Video On Demand is the Web retailer's answer to declining sales of packaged movies and TV shows and the growth in demand for digital content that can be viewed and stored on the Internet.

    Unlike Amazon, videos from Hulu.com, NBC.com and CBS.com are already free although the TV programs are interrupted by commercials. However, the stream catching software separates the commercials and the program into two separate folders, so people can keep the programs without the advertising.

    Hulu.com, a video Web site owned by News Corp's Fox network and General Electric Co's NBC Universal, was the big networks' answer to YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site where many users began uploading TV shows and other content owned by media companies.

    The networks scrambled to post videos on their own sites in a bid to capture another stream of advertising revenue from a growing audience, but they have struggled with how best to show commercials which fund the programing when played on the Web.

    YouTube, which started the online video boom before being bought by Google Inc for $1.65 billion in November 2006, has also struggled to cash in on its popularity even though its user base continues to mushroom.

    DESTROYING BUSINESS MODELS

    One possible solution would be to protect the video with a digital rights management (DRM) system. A Seattle-based company called Widevine Technologies has a DRM system that can encrypt online videos using Flash.

    "The fundamental problem here is that Adobe's lack of technology is not allowing the business models to be preserved," said Widevine Chief Executive Brian Baker.

    The lack of content protection, according to Baker, threatens all the business models used today to fund video on the Web.

    Apple Inc, which sells movies and television shows at its online iTunes store, uses its own DRM technology called FairPlay, but it only works for video bought on iTunes.

    Forrester analyst James McQuivey said he doesn't believe the video stream catching technology will entirely derail the advertising-supported business model used by the networks for online video.

    "It's too complicated for most users," said McQuivey, noting that file-sharing services like BitTorrent already exist but only a small percentage of people use them.

    "People want something easy to find and easy to use."

    (Editing by Peter Henderson, Richard Chang)

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    USA TODAY - Largest particle collider conducts successful test

    This story has been sent from the mobile device of Bombastic4000@gmail.com. For real-time mobile news, go to m.usatoday.com.



    GENEVA

    The world's largest particle collider passed its first major test by firing a beam of protons around a 17-mile underground ring Wednesday in what scientists hope is the next great step to understanding the makeup of the universe.

    After a series of trial runs, two white dots flashed on a computer screen at 10:26 a.m. indicating that the protons had traveled the full length of the $3.8 billion Large Hadron Collider described as the biggest physics experiment in history.

    "There it is," project leader Lyn Evans said when the beam completed its lap.

    Champagne corks popped in labs as far away as Chicago, where contributing and competing scientists watched the proceedings by satellite. Physicists around the world now have much greater power to smash the components of atoms together in attempts to learn about their structure.

    "Well done, everybody," said Robert Aymar, director-general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to cheers from the assembled scientists in the collider's control room at the Swiss-French border.

    The organization, known by its French acronym CERN, began firing the protons a type of subatomic particle around the tunnel in stages less than an hour earlier, with the first beam injection at 9:35 a.m.

    Now that the beam has been successfully tested in a clockwise direction, CERN plans to send it counterclockwise. Eventually two beams will be fired in opposite directions with the aim of recreating conditions a split second after the big bang, which scientists theorize was the massive explosion that created the universe.

    "My first thought was relief," said Evans, who has been working on the project since its inception in 1984. "This is a machine of enormous complexity. Things can go wrong at any time. But this morning has been a great start."

    He didn't want to set a date, but said that he expected scientists would be able to conduct collisions for their experiments "within a few months."

    The collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel.

    Scientists hope to eventually send two beams of protons through two tubes about the width of fire hoses, speeding through a vacuum that is colder and emptier than outer space. The paths of these beams will cross, and a few protons will collide. The collider's two largest detectors essentially huge digital cameras weighing thousands of tons are capable of taking millions of snapshots a second.

    The CERN experiments could reveal more about "dark matter," antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time. It could also find evidence of the hypothetical particle the Higgs boson which is sometimes called the "God particle" because it is believed to give mass to all other particles, and thus to matter that makes up the universe.

    The supercooled magnets that guide the proton beam heated slightly in the morning's testing, leading to a pause to recool them before trying the opposite direction.

    The start of the collider came over the objections of some who feared the collision of protons could eventually imperil the Earth by creating micro-black holes, subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.

    "It's nonsense," said James Gillies, chief spokesman for CERN.

    CERN was backed by leading scientists like Britain's Stephen Hawking, who declared the experiments to be absolutely safe.

    Gillies told the AP that the most dangerous thing that could happen would be if a beam at full power were to go out of control, and that would only damage the accelerator itself and burrow into the rock around the tunnel.

    Nothing of the sort occurred Wednesday, though the accelerator is still probably a year away from full power.

    The project organized by the 20 European member nations of CERN has attracted researchers from 80 nations. Some 1,200 are from the United States, an observer country that contributed $531 million. Japan, another observer, also is a major contributor.

    Some scientists have been waiting for 20 years to use the LHC.

    The complexity of manufacturing it required groundbreaking advances in the use of supercooled, superconducting equipment. The 2001 start and 2005 completion dates were pushed back by two years each, and the cost of the construction was 25% higher than originally budgeted in 1996, Luciano Maiani, who was CERN director-general at the time, told The Associated Press.

    Maiani and the other three living former directors-general attended the launch Wednesday.

    Smaller colliders have been used for decades to study the makeup of the atom. Less than 100 years ago scientists thought protons and neutrons were the smallest components of an atom's nucleus, but in stages since then experiments have shown they were made of still smaller quarks and gluons and that there were other forces and particles.

    Website address: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2008-09-10-bigbang-particlecollider_N.htm

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