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    Friday, March 21, 2008

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    Sen. Obama. Gov. Bill. Richardson

    It begins

    CNN - Gov. Richardson endorses Obama

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    Gov. Richardson endorses Obama


    Declaring that Sen. Barack Obama is an "extraordinary American," Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico endorsed Obama for the Democratic nominee for president on Friday.

    Richardson -- who sought this year's Democratic nomination for president himself -- joined Obama at a rally in Portland, Oregon, where the senator from Illinois is campaigning.

    "Barack Obama will make a great and historic president," Richardson said, Obama standing at his side. "[It] is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our nation and you are a once-in-a-lifetime leader."

    Obama said, "I am extraordinarily grateful to have the support of one of the great public servants of these United States." Watch more of the endorsement

    "He's done the kind of work that you want from your public servants, somebody who's driven not just by raw ambition, not just by an interest in personal aggrandizement," Obama added. "He's been somebody who's been motivated by the desire to make the lives of his constituents and working people a little bit better."

    Richardson praised Obama for his speech this week on race in America, saying "he appealed to the best in us." Watch Obama's speech on race

    "As a Hispanic-American, I was particularly touched by his words," Richardson said, putting his arm around Obama and declaring in Spanish that he is "a man who understands us."

    Richardson is the nation's only Hispanic governor. Hispanics have tended to support Sen. Hillary Clinton in her quest for the Democratic nomination.

    Obama and Clinton both lobbied Richardson for his endorsement after he dropped out of the race January 10. Richardson called Clinton Thursday to tell her of his decision, Clinton's campaign said.

    The campaign shrugged off Richardson's endorsement of her rival.

    "Both candidates have many great endorsers, but the voters, not endorsers, will decide this election, and there are still millions of voters in upcoming contests who want to have their voices heard," Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said.

    Richardson was secretary of energy and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton. He said he remains friends with the Clintons, and watched the Super Bowl with Bill Clinton this year.

    Richardson's endorsement may be more important for its influence on superdelegates, the nearly 800 Democratic party officials whose backing will be essential for either candidate to win the party's nomination, according to CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

    As a governor, Richardson is a superdelegate.

    "It is time ... for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall," Richardson said, referring to the probable Republican nominee.

    The Clinton and Obama campaigns have been waging an intense battle for the backing of superdelegates, roughly half of whom have yet to declare their support.

    "This is a larger message to superdelegates, those elected officials and party officials who, in the end, may well decide who the nominee will be," Crowley said.

    Richardson pointed out in his speech that Obama is "after all, well ahead in the delegate race for our party's nomination," drawing a roar of approval from the crowd of Obama supporters.

    Obama leads Clinton by 137 delegates, according to the latest CNN count.

    Richardson said his "affection for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver" but that "it is now time for a new generation of leadership."

    Obama "can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad," he said.

    He drew laughs with a story about how Obama had bailed him out when a moderator called on him unexpectedly during a Democratic debate.

    "I was about to ask the moderator to repeat the question when Barack whispered to me 'Katrina, Katrina.' And I gave my Katrina answer. He could have thrown me under the bus, but he stood behind me."

    Obama had earlier praised Richardson.

    "Whether it's fighting to end the Iraq war or stop the genocide in Darfur or prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, Gov. Richardson has been a powerful voice on issues of global security, peace and justice," Obama said in a statement released before the endorsement.

    Richardson is the second former Democratic presidential contender to endorse Obama, after Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Two other former candidates, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, have remained neutral.

    None of the dropouts has endorsed Clinton.

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    Things looking up for. America?

    Cha ching

    CNN - Americans confident in 2009 turnaround

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    Americans confident in 2009 turnaround


    Though times are tough now, Americans believe the economy will bounce back by next year, according to a survey released Friday.

    A national CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 60% of respondents think economic conditions in the United States will be "good" next year, as opposed to the 75% who think the economic situation is "poor" now.

    "Most people realize that the economy has cycles of ups and downs," said Wachovia economist Sam Bullard. "Fortunately, the last two recessions were some of the shortest on record, so in 2009 we should be pulling up out of this."

    Of the more than 1,000 American adults surveyed in the poll, conducted March 14-16, 83% said they are "confident" that they will be able to maintain their standards of living next year, and 85% are "confident" they will keep their jobs over the next six months.

    Americans also showed faith that they would be able to pay off their future debts, with 90% of respondents demonstrating confidence they would be able to meet their monthly mortgage payments for the duration of the mortgage.

    Nearly as many Americans - 83% - said they could pay off college loans, car payments, and credit cards in the future. The average amount of credit card debt of those polled was $4,000.

    "Consumers, in general, are optimists," said Bullard, who believes that increased consumer spending after the tax rebate checks are delivered in the late spring will help boost the economy in the third and fourth quarters of 2008.

    "Even when they're not optimists, they love shopping," he added.

    But Americans are less optimistic about their long-term financial situation. Only 23% felt "very confident" about paying for their children to attend their choice of college.

    Furthermore, only 29% said they were "very confident" about saving enough money to live comfortably when they retire, and just 44% believe they will be able to retire when they want to. According to the poll, 58% want to retire sometime in their 60s.

    Since respondents were uncertain about their long-term prospects, only 34% said they were "very confident" about maintaining their standard of living over the next 10 years, as opposed to 45% who said the same about next year.

    "They're worried about inflation," said Bullard. "Medical care and education costs are outpacing other price increases, and they're worried about how they can afford to retire."

    As for the more immediate future, however, Bullard thinks consumers are right to be confident.

    "The Fed's rate cuts will start to take their toll later this year, and the economy should bounce back by the end of 2008," he said.

    LA Daily News - Marilyn Manson Seeks Order Preventing Public Disclosure of Finances

    Marilyn Manson Seeks Order Preventing Public Disclosure of Finances
    Daily News Wire
    Mar 21, 2008

    LOS ANGELES - Marilyn Manson is asking a judge to do for him what he did for Lindsay Lohan, court papers obtained today show. Ex-Manson keyboardist Stephen Bier, better known by the stage name Madonna Wayne Gacy, filed a breach of contract suit last Aug. 2 against Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner.

    Bier, who is seeking more than $20 million, alleges Manson used money from their former band partnership to buy items ranging from Nazi paraphernalia to a $150,000 engagement ring for ex-wife Dita Von Teese, depriving him of his partnership share.

    Because Bier's attorneys are seeking information about Manson's assets, lawyers for the shock rocker are asking Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern to grant him an order protecting the confidentiality of his financial and business records by making all pretrial discovery subject to being sealed.

    If granted, Bier's lawyers could see the documents but they could not give them to anyone else and the paperwork would be kept out of the public court file.

    "A protective order is necessary to protect the confidentiality of that information against competitors and from the media and to preclude (Bier) from using Manson's confidential information for improper purposes," Manson's court papers state.

    The request is "verbatim the same terms" as an order Stern previously granted Lindsay Lohan when she was being sued by busboy Raymundo Ortega over a traffic accident in West Hollywood in October 2005, according to Manson's court papers. Lohan and Ortega settled the case last month.

    Attached to Manson's court papers is a copy of the Jan. 17 order Stern granted on Lohan's behalf.

    The confidentiality order is needed before depositions in the case can go forward, according to Manson's court papers. Bier's lawyers have been trying to depose Manson for months and will renew that request during an April 10 hearing.

    Stern heard arguments on the confidentiality order Wednesday, but did not rule and the motion remains under submission, his courtroom clerk said today.

    Lawyers for the 44-year-old Bier are asking Stern to deny the confidentiality order as overbroad. They also say Manson is not press shy and has gone so far as to appear to have sex with current girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood in the band's latest video while publicly implying the act was not simulated.

    "Manson lives his life in the public eye," Bier's court papers state. "He communicates frequently with the press regarding his personal affairs, openly discusses his frequent drug use, his failed marriage with burlesque model Dita Von Teese, his current relationship with actress Evan Rachel Wood, and his wild, rock 'n' roll lifestyle."

    Manson also drinks absinthe -- a potent, bitter liqueur -- and snorts cocaine with magazine reporters ... and openly discusses the sexual conduct of his band members and friends, Bier's court papers state.

    On Dec. 19, Manson countersued Bier, accusing him of not fully carrying out obligations to take part in master recordings, concerts and the selling of band merchandise, court papers obtained today show.

    Lawyers for Manson, 39, state in his cross-complaint that the Manson- Bier business partnership was dissolved in 1996 after the singer became the focal point and leader of the band. During the next two years, Manson and the other band members signed amendments outlining their obligations regarding concerts, recordings, endorsements and advertising, the suit states.

    Although Bier has been paid income for CD royalties, live performances and income made from band merchandising, he has "failed to render services to the best of his ability and in a practical and cooperative manner," the countersuit states.

    Bier often showed up late for band recordings, performances and promotional appearances, and gave confidential band information to the media and other people without the consent of Manson, the countersuit states. Manson is seeking unspecified general and special damages, and a court order preventing Bier from releasing more confidential band information.

    Manson and Bier have not been present for any of the hearings in the case.

    Reuters - DISH may plan mobile TV with new airwaves: analysts

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    DISH may plan mobile TV with new airwaves: analysts

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 1:28AM UTC

    By Sinead Carew and Peter Henderson

    NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - DISH Network Corp's surprise win of wireless airwaves in an auction may be the first step toward building a mobile television service or a bet on a scarce commodity by CEO Charlie Ergen, analysts said on Thursday.

    The second largest U.S. satellite television company spent some $711 million for a nearly national block of licenses with one-way communication capability, according to U.S. regulators.

    Wireless telephone companies snapped up most of the spectrum in the $19 billion Federal Communication Commission auction of airwaves being vacated by television broadcasters moving to digital formats.

    DISH's spectrum would be difficult to use for two-way

    communication, such as on mobile phones and data devices. But such devices could receive communication sent over those

    airwaves -- such as television.

    "That spectrum is best suited for broadcast. The assumption you'd make is that they'd set up some sort of mobile TV service," said Pacific Crest Securities analyst Steve Clement.

    The spectrum is adjacent to mobile video broadcast airwaves owned by Qualcomm Inc's Mediaflow broadcast unit. "It makes more sense for one provider to operate both pieces of spectrum," said Clement, but he declined to speculate on whether a deal might happen between DISH and Qualcomm.

    Citi analyst Jason Bazinet in a note agreed that DISH was probably focused on building a wireless video network and would need to pay some $3 billion to $5 billion to build the network.

    DISH, which won the spectrum through partner Frontier Wireless, declined to comment. But Bazinet pointed out that DISH in a February annual filing said, "We may make investments in or partner with others to expand our business into mobile and portable video, data and voice services."

    A mobile TV network would cut cash-flow near term, raise long-term growth prospects, and decrease the chance of a takeover by AT&T Inc, he said.

    But Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell said the plans weren't clear -- beyond the fact that industry maverick Ergen was getting hold of a limited resource that one way or another was likely to increase in value.

    "This is quintessential Charlie Ergen," he said. "It's like there's a road and you don't know where they're going to put the exit ramp but you acquire the property next to the road anyway."

    Shares of DISH rose 2 percent on Nasdaq to close at $28.62.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew and Peter Henderson; editing by Carol Bishopric)

    Google plays the 'bait and switch'

    We are so smart

    Reuters - Google's wireless-auction loss called possible win

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    Google's wireless-auction loss called possible win

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 12:45AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc's losing bid for coveted wireless airwaves may prove a victory for the Web search leader as it still stands to get access to mobile networks without spending tens of billions of dollars to build one, analysts said on Thursday.

    Wall Street analysts said the Silicon Valley Internet search and advertising giant has succeeded in forcing open network requirements upon winning bidder Verizon Communications via Google's apparent strategy of "bidding to lose."

    Verizon will control the open network but will be required to allow devices and applications from other companies to use it.

    "Google was never in this game to actually build out a telecom network. Their key goal was to open up closed networks," Cowen & Co analyst Jim Friedland said of the control that carriers hold over handsets and services on their networks.

    Google's participation in the U.S. government's auction of wireless licenses is credited with helping to drive up the price Verizon paid to win a nationwide wireless license, giving it control of a major piece of the airwaves being vacated by TV broadcasters as they move to digital signals early next year.

    Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, AT&T Inc and Frontier Wireless, a partner of U.S. satellite TV company DISH Network Corp, took the lion's share of new airwaves.

    The auctions raised a record $19.12 billion for government coffers.

    "By creating a system that is completely open, Google may prevent carriers from using their monopoly position to drive users in a particular way to their services," Friedland said.

    Google and rivals Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp have stepped up moves over the past year to help ensure that consumers will one day be able to use the Internet services on mobile phones in the way they now use computers.

    Google believes making the Internet easier to use for billions of mobile phone users will translate into increased demand for its Web search and advertising services.

    "Consumers soon should begin enjoying new, Internet-like freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices," Google attorneys Richard Whitt and Joseph Faber said in a brief statement following the FCC auctions.

    Earlier this year, investors had begun dismissing the idea that Google was seriously aiming to win licenses to build a nationwide U.S. wireless network as a way to expand its Web services business from computers to phones.

    "Glad they didn't win it. Glad Google isn't going to be a wireless network operator," Global Crown Capital Martin Pyykkonen said. "Look at the margins of wireless operators!"

    Google's extremely profitable business involves selling online advertisements alongside its Web search services. Building out and operating mobile networks could have slashed operating margins now in the high 30 percent range to network operator levels in the mid-teens or low-20s, Pyykkonen said.

    What remains up for debate is the degree to which Google can make Verizon live up to auction rules that protect independent Internet services such as Google from being kept off phones and other devices by network owner Verizon.

    "Whether or not Google can be charged for access to the devices or if customers can be surcharged for using Google applications remains unclear for now," Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay said in a research note.

    (Editing by Gary Hill)

    Reuters - Google's wireless-auction loss called possible win

    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's wireless-auction loss called possible win

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 12:45AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc's losing bid for coveted wireless airwaves may prove a victory for the Web search leader as it still stands to get access to mobile networks without spending tens of billions of dollars to build one, analysts said on Thursday.

    Wall Street analysts said the Silicon Valley Internet search and advertising giant has succeeded in forcing open network requirements upon winning bidder Verizon Communications via Google's apparent strategy of "bidding to lose."

    Verizon will control the open network but will be required to allow devices and applications from other companies to use it.

    "Google was never in this game to actually build out a telecom network. Their key goal was to open up closed networks," Cowen & Co analyst Jim Friedland said of the control that carriers hold over handsets and services on their networks.

    Google's participation in the U.S. government's auction of wireless licenses is credited with helping to drive up the price Verizon paid to win a nationwide wireless license, giving it control of a major piece of the airwaves being vacated by TV broadcasters as they move to digital signals early next year.

    Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, AT&T Inc and Frontier Wireless, a partner of U.S. satellite TV company DISH Network Corp, took the lion's share of new airwaves.

    The auctions raised a record $19.12 billion for government coffers.

    "By creating a system that is completely open, Google may prevent carriers from using their monopoly position to drive users in a particular way to their services," Friedland said.

    Google and rivals Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp have stepped up moves over the past year to help ensure that consumers will one day be able to use the Internet services on mobile phones in the way they now use computers.

    Google believes making the Internet easier to use for billions of mobile phone users will translate into increased demand for its Web search and advertising services.

    "Consumers soon should begin enjoying new, Internet-like freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices," Google attorneys Richard Whitt and Joseph Faber said in a brief statement following the FCC auctions.

    Earlier this year, investors had begun dismissing the idea that Google was seriously aiming to win licenses to build a nationwide U.S. wireless network as a way to expand its Web services business from computers to phones.

    "Glad they didn't win it. Glad Google isn't going to be a wireless network operator," Global Crown Capital Martin Pyykkonen said. "Look at the margins of wireless operators!"

    Google's extremely profitable business involves selling online advertisements alongside its Web search services. Building out and operating mobile networks could have slashed operating margins now in the high 30 percent range to network operator levels in the mid-teens or low-20s, Pyykkonen said.

    What remains up for debate is the degree to which Google can make Verizon live up to auction rules that protect independent Internet services such as Google from being kept off phones and other devices by network owner Verizon.

    "Whether or not Google can be charged for access to the devices or if customers can be surcharged for using Google applications remains unclear for now," Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay said in a research note.

    (Editing by Gary Hill)

    Reuters - Nokia says European mobile phone growth fell in '07

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    Nokia says European mobile phone growth fell in '07

    Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 5:23PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nokia <NOK1V.HE> said on Thursday that growth in the European mobile phone market fell to 3 percent in 2007 compared with a growth rate of 16 percent the year before.

    The estimates from the world's biggest mobile phone maker, in a document filed with U.S. regulators, came a day after smaller rival Sony Ericsson cited slowing growth in Europe as it issued a warning that its current quarter profit could fall by half.

    Sony Ericsson is a venture of Sony Corp <6758.T> and Ericsson <ERICb.ST>.

    Nokia also said that growth had slowed in the Middle East and Africa mobile phone market to 19 percent from 68 percent in 2006. Growth in North American unit sales fell to 6 percent in 2007 from 13 percent in 2006, Nokia said.

    Phone sales in Latin America fell to 10 percent from 15 percent, according to Nokia's estimates.

    The slowing growth in these regions was offset by a boost in sales expansion in China and in Asia-Pacific countries, according to Nokia. It said phone sales in emerging markets accounted for almost 60 percent of industry sales volume in 2007 compared with a 55 percent share of sales in 2006.

    Nokia said that phone sales grew by 34 percent in the Asia-Pacific region in 2007 compared with 27 percent in 2006, and that in China phone sales increased by 34 percent in 2007 compared with a 29 percent growth rate in 2006.

    It said that sales of basic phones costing less than 50 euros accounted for 35 percent of total phone sales of 1.14 billion units in 2007. In 2006 about 978 million phone units were sold, according to Nokia.

    At the end of 2007, Nokia estimated that there were about 3.3 billion mobile phone users around the world, representing about 43 percent of the world's population.

    This compares with 2.7 billion users at the end of 2006 and a 40 percent global penetration rate, Nokia said.

    Reuters - Nokia says European mobile phone growth fell in '07

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    Nokia says European mobile phone growth fell in '07

    Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 5:23PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nokia <NOK1V.HE> said on Thursday that growth in the European mobile phone market fell to 3 percent in 2007 compared with a growth rate of 16 percent the year before.

    The estimates from the world's biggest mobile phone maker, in a document filed with U.S. regulators, came a day after smaller rival Sony Ericsson cited slowing growth in Europe as it issued a warning that its current quarter profit could fall by half.

    Sony Ericsson is a venture of Sony Corp <6758.T> and Ericsson <ERICb.ST>.

    Nokia also said that growth had slowed in the Middle East and Africa mobile phone market to 19 percent from 68 percent in 2006. Growth in North American unit sales fell to 6 percent in 2007 from 13 percent in 2006, Nokia said.

    Phone sales in Latin America fell to 10 percent from 15 percent, according to Nokia's estimates.

    The slowing growth in these regions was offset by a boost in sales expansion in China and in Asia-Pacific countries, according to Nokia. It said phone sales in emerging markets accounted for almost 60 percent of industry sales volume in 2007 compared with a 55 percent share of sales in 2006.

    Nokia said that phone sales grew by 34 percent in the Asia-Pacific region in 2007 compared with 27 percent in 2006, and that in China phone sales increased by 34 percent in 2007 compared with a 29 percent growth rate in 2006.

    It said that sales of basic phones costing less than 50 euros accounted for 35 percent of total phone sales of 1.14 billion units in 2007. In 2006 about 978 million phone units were sold, according to Nokia.

    At the end of 2007, Nokia estimated that there were about 3.3 billion mobile phone users around the world, representing about 43 percent of the world's population.

    This compares with 2.7 billion users at the end of 2006 and a 40 percent global penetration rate, Nokia said.

    Guitar. Hero for. Nintendo. Ds.

    I can fake guitar

    Reuters - Activision to bring "Guitar Hero" to Nintendo DS

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    Activision to bring "Guitar Hero" to Nintendo DS

    Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 8:0PM UTC

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Activision <ATVI.O> said on Thursday it will release a version of its "Guitar Hero" video game for Nintendo's <7974.OS> DS, bringing its blockbuster musical series to the most popular handheld gaming device.

    "Guitar Hero: On Tour" will include a plug-in accessory and mock guitar-pick to let players tap out notes on the device's screen in time with songs from bands like Nirvana, No Doubt and OK Go, the company said.

    Activision said the game will come out this summer, but it did not disclose the price. A typical DS game costs $30, but the inclusion of a hardware accessory may push the price of "On Tour" over that.

    "Guitar Hero" games for home consoles like Microsoft Corp's <MSFT.O> Xbox 360 have cost $80-$100, more than the $50-$60 that is standard, due to Activision's practice of bundling a guitar-shaped controller with the software.

    The "Guitar Hero" franchise has racked up more than $1 billion in sales since the first game came out in 2005. Developing new variations of the franchise is a key priority for Activision as it vies with rival Electronic Arts Inc <ERTS.O> for dominance in the game publishing industry.

    Nintendo's DS has been the best-selling piece of new gaming hardware for the last couple years. By the end of 2007, some 17.7 million units had been sold in North America alone.

    Activision did not say if it was developing a version of "Guitar Hero" for Sony Corp's <6758.T> PlayStation Portable device, which had sold 10.5 million units in North America by the end of 2007.

    (Reporting by Scott Hillis, editing by Richard Chang)

    Patent infringement

    We take 2 make

    Reuters - U.S. trade body to probe Sony

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    U.S. trade body to probe Sony

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 8:42AM UTC

    TOKYO (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission said it would launch an investigation into some 30 companies including Sony Corp <6758.T> on possible patent infringements related to Blu-ray disc players and other products.

    The commission said on its Web site on Thursday that the products involved are short-wavelength light-emitting diodes and laser diodes used in such electronics as handheld mobile devices, traffic lights and high-definition DVD players.

    The move is based on a complaint filed in February by Columbia University Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, who is seeking to block imports into the United States of a range of products that she said were infringing her patent.

    Besides Sony, companies cited in the ITC announcement include Nokia <NOK1V.HE>, Motorola Inc <MOT.N>, LG Electronics Inc <066570.KS>, and Panasonic maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd <6752.T>.

    A Sony spokesman said the consumer electronics maker could not as the investigation is ongoing.

    (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka)

    Passport breach

    All three major presidential candidates breached

    Verizon and. At&t own the airwaves

    We are gonna rule the world

    Reuters - Verizon and AT&T dominate airwaves auction

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    Verizon and AT&T dominate airwaves auction

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 4:3PM UTC

    By Peter Kaplan

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N> and AT&T Inc <T.N>, the two largest U.S. mobile phone companies, grabbed the lion's share of a $19.12 billion auction of airwaves being vacated by television broadcasters.

    Verizon and AT&T won more than $16 billion of licenses, according to auction results released on Thursday, airwaves they plan to use to enhance existing voice and data services, as well as underpin a new wave of wireless technologies.

    The possibility of a nationwide video network was raised by a $711 million slice of the 700 megahertz airwaves being won by Frontier Wireless, a partner of satellite television operation DISH Network Corp <DISH.O>. DISH declined to comment.

    But No. 2 wireless provider Verizon and No. 1-ranked AT&T dominated the Federal Communications Commission auction that started January 24 and ended Tuesday after 260 round of bidding.

    "It means that the two big guys just got much bigger," said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus.

    Verizon Wireless, a joint venture with Vodafone Group Plc <VOD.L>, won the biggest nationwide block of spectrum, with a $4.74 billion bid that trumped $4.71 billion offered by Internet leader Google Inc <GOOG.O>, FCC officials said.

    Verizon Wireless also won 25 regional licenses.

    AT&T won 227 licenses in regional licenses around the United States. The company can pair those airwaves with a large piece of 700-megahertz spectrum it gained earlier this year in its $2.5 billion acquisition of Aloha Partners.

    The 700-megahertz airwaves are considered valuable because they travel long distances and can penetrate thick walls.

    "AT&T's strong spectrum holdings position the company to further enhance the quality and reliability of existing wireless broadband and voice services, and to set the foundation for new-generation wireless broadband technologies and services," Ralph de la Vega, head of AT&T's wireless unit, said in a statement.

    Overall, AT&T spent a total of about $6.64 billion and Verizon spent $9.63 billion at the auction, Arbogast said.

    PRICES PAID

    Blair Levin, another analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said the price of Verizon's nationwide block of spectrum was less than the price for smaller regional licenses, based on the number of potential subscribers in the areas each one covers.

    And even though the nationwide block came with the open-platform requirements for any device and software, "I would say they probably did get a good deal," Levin said.

    Analysts said the spectrum acquired by AT&T was more expensive per potential subscriber, but came with fewer restrictions, and was more valuable to AT&T because it was next to the Aloha Partners spectrum it already controls.

    Verizon shares closed 2.8 percent higher to $36.12, while shares of AT&T ended up 2.2 percent at $36.85, both on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of DISH rose 2 percent on Nasdaq to close at $28.62.

    Analysts say the major carriers will be able use the airwaves to offer consumers more advanced services such as broadband access via mobile phones and wireless broadband to laptop computers.

    FCC Chairman Kevin Martin called the auction "a significant success," citing the record amount of money raised for the U.S. Treasury and a requirement the nationwide spectrum won by Verizon be accessible to a range of devices and software.

    Martin said the auction would enhance competition, citing the spectrum won by Frontier Wireless.

    NO MAJOR NEW ENTRANT

    But the auction results dimmed hopes that the newly available spectrum would lead to a major new competitor in the wireless business.

    Google's participation in the auction had sparked some hopes that the company could jump into the wireless business. But Google won no licenses in the auction, the FCC said.

    Nevertheless, the auction was seen as a victory for Google, since the bidding was high enough to trigger the "open-platform" rules it requested for the nationwide airwaves eventually won by Verizon.

    Google called it a victory for American consumers. "Consumers soon should begin enjoying new, Internet-like freedom to get the most out of their mobile phones and other wireless devices," said a statement from Google lawyers Richard Whitt and Joseph Faber.

    Google shares edged up 0.4 percent to $433.55 by Nasdaq's close.

    The FCC also said it would set aside a block of the 700-MHz airwaves that did not reach the $1.3 billion minimum bid.

    This block was to be shared with public safety agencies and drew a lone bid of $472 million, which was then subtracted from an earlier $19.59 billion tally for the auction.

    Industry analysts have speculated that the minimum price was too high, or that the rules for negotiations with emergency responders were too onerous.

    The FCC could decide to re-auction the so-called D-block airwaves and perhaps modify the rules to make it more attractive.

    (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

    Firefox 3. Ready for. Download

    Here. I come

    Reuters - Mozilla says Firefox 3 ready for prime-time

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    Mozilla says Firefox 3 ready for prime-time

    Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 7:36PM UTC

    By Jim Finkle

    BOSTON (Reuters) - A new version of Mozilla's popular Firefox Web browser is ready for download with improved security and memory use as the tiny company takes a stab at Microsoft Corp's dominant Internet Explorer.

    The program's creators told Reuters on Thursday that the privately-held company's trial version of Firefox 3 browser is ready for the masses to use after months of development.

    Until now, the company has discouraged average Internet users from moving on from Firefox 2, which was launched in October 2006.

    "In many ways it (Firefox 3) is much more stable than anything else out there," Mozilla Corp Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer said in an interview.

    Key rivals to Firefox are market leader Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple Inc's Safari browser.

    Engineers at Mozilla are still putting the finishing touches on the software and hope to release the final version of Firefox 3 by the end of June, Schroepfer said.

    Mozilla is in a battle with Microsoft, which unveiled an experimental version of its Internet Explorer 8 in Las Vegas earlier this month and is looking to expand its presence on the Web through its bid to acquire Yahoo Inc.

    Additions boost security and allow users to run Web sites when they are not connected to the Internet. Mozilla also says Firefox 3 uses less computer memory than Firefox 2.

    Until now Mozilla has discouraged the typical computer user from exploring these new features. But its developers said on Thursday that the situation has changed and that they will be revising their Web site.

    As of Thursday afternoon, the Web site still stated: "We do not recommend that anyone other than developers and testers download the Firefox 3 beta 4 milestone release. It is intended for testing purposes only."

    But they said that as they concluded their fourth round of tweaking their software, they determined it was ready for prime time.

    A fifth round of changes, due to begin within the next few weeks, will involve "tuning the visual look and feel of the program" and further improving its stability," Schroepfer said.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Brian Moss)

    Reuters - Live hoops game gets 3-D treatment in Dallas theater

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    Live hoops game gets 3-D treatment in Dallas theater

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 6:49AM UTC

    By Carolyn Giardina

    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - High-definition pioneer Mark Cuban is using his NBA team and Landmark Theater chain to orchestrate a rare 3-D broadcast of a live event.

    Tuesday night's National Basketball Assn. game between Cuban's Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers will be presented live in 3-D via satellite to fans at a theater in Dallas. It's a "pilot exhibition," an event that serves to underscore the belief that live 3-D represents a new alternative content opportunity.

    FSN Southwest is producing the event, which is being lensed in 2-D for traditional broadcast and concurrently in 3-D for the theatrical broadcast.

    FSN will work with Burbank-based 3-D production innovator Pace, which supplied its Fusion 3-D camera system and mobile unit as well as the production crew.

    The Pace technologies recently were used to lens the 3-D "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour." The Fusion 3-D camera system was developed by filmmaker James Cameron and cinematographer Vince Pace.

    "I think 3-D will play a huge role in out-of-home entertainment for the next few years," said Cuban, founder of HDNet. "It will be a unique experience for watching sports, concerts and special events that only theaters will be able to offer."

    The Pace Fusion systems that will be used are based on Sony's F 950 digital cinematography cameras. Sony also is providing the 3-D projection for Tuesday night's broadcast.

    The game will be viewed by an expected full house on a 40-foot screen at the Magnolia Theater in Dallas using two Sony SXRD 4K 10,000 lumens digital cinema projectors.

    Pace and the NBA began testing 3-D theatrical broadcasting about a year ago when they presented invitation-only live 3-D HD viewing parties of the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.

    In addition, the NBA's Cavaliers and Pace offered a live screening in Cleveland's home arena of the NBA Finals from San Antonio in 3-D HD. The March 25 broadcast will be the first NBA game to go to a theater.

    Some believe opportunities down the road might include 3-D broadcasting to the home as well as to theaters. "It really helps that Samsung and others are building 3-D support into their HDTVs," Cuban said.

    Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

    Sale of broadcast spectrum to yield huge

    Time to invest?

    Reuters - Spectrum auction may boost gear makers' future

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    Spectrum auction may boost gear makers' future

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 3:14PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wireless network equipment makers may see a flurry of new orders in the next two years after a $19 billion government auction of wireless airwaves, analysts said.

    The top two U.S. mobile services AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless were the biggest spenders in the auction.

    Equipment makers that may benefit include Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel Networks, Nokia Siemens, owned by Nokia and Siemens AG, Motorola Inc, China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd and ZTE Corp, analysts said.

    While some analysts see the outcome as less of a boost than if a newcomer like Google Inc had won spectrum in the auction that ended this week, others say the auction may lead to spending of about $9 billion on network gear in coming years.

    AT&T, which spent over $6 billion in the auction, and Verizon Wireless, which spent more than $9 billion, said they would use the airwaves to expand data services, which include everything from Web surfing to music downloads.

    "It could provide some lift as these carriers expand their networks. The telling sign is whether we see meaningful capital spending committed now that the auction process is over," said RBC analyst Mark Sue.

    The auctioned airwaves are being vacated by television broadcasters as they move to digital television services.

    Neither AT&T nor Verizon has said on what technology they will base the networks that will use the new spectrum, but one analyst said they will likely use the airwaves for services they plan to build using high-speed mobile technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).

    LTE is not expected to be ready for use in commercial networks until 2010 and beyond, making it hard to predict today how much the LTE equipment will cost, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Steve Clement said .

    But based on typical network costs, Clement estimated that Verizon Wireless may spend about $5.7 billion on building a network around the new spectrum, and AT&T could spend about $3.5 billion.

    "You'll have plenty of vendors trying to cash in on this. It will be competitive," said Clement, who watches telecommunications service providers rather than network gear makers.

    Companies such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel Networks, Nokia Siemens and Motorola, which already supply the U.S. wireless carriers, may be in a good position to win new business from their existing clients after the auction.

    But new competitors such as Huawei and ZTE, which are seen as tough competitors in terms of pricing, could also stand a chance to win new business as a result of the deal.

    "It could open the door for new competitors," said RBC's Sue who said that Verizon Wireless mostly uses Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel and some Motorola equipment today.

    Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens supply AT&T with wireless network equipment.

    (Editing by Carol Bishopric)

    Reuters - Start a Web business in an extra few minutes

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    Start a Web business in an extra few minutes

    Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 7:14PM UTC

    By Anupreeta Das

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - When David Pangelinan isn't logging 14-hour days driving a fuel tanker, he's at his computer indulging his latest hobby: building a succession of online stores in minutes.

    Pangelinan has built four online stores offering hundreds of products for sale, from Bulova watches to Betty Boop pillows, using the Web site Zlio.com.

    "It was real easy," said Pangelinan, 43, who lives in Columbus, Georgia.

    Pangelinan said he's still learning the finer points of e-commerce, and spends time browsing through thousands of products on Zlio.com's catalogue that he could sell.

    "I just went in there and started jotting down the products that were interesting and caught my eye," said Pangelinan, who spends six to 10 hours a week tending to his shops.

    Zlio.com, which launched in France in 2006 and in January in the United States, allows people to form online stores for free. Users can choose a name, address and template for the store they want to create and then begin displaying wares, say an iPod or a T-shirt.

    It's a simple tool, with none of the typical hassle of designing a site, setting up a payment gateway and keeping stock of merchandise and shipping.

    Once signed up, a new shopkeeper can choose from more than 3 million products offered by 120 merchants, including Barnes & Noble Inc, Zappos, Gap Inc and Apple Inc. They can then invite friends and relatives to shop.

    "It's the Tupperware party concept gone online," said Zlio.com founder and Chief Executive Jeremie Berrebi. "But people are defining the concept of the shop."

    Berrebi, an Internet journalist-turned-entrepreneur, said he meshed the idea of a Tupperware party with social recommendation features in which users turn to friends for shopping suggestions to create Zlio.

    The notion of helping people create online stores is nearly as old as the commercial Web itself. Major e-commerce players eBay Inc and Amazon.com Inc have helped Web entrepreneurs set up hundreds of thousands of independent online stores.

    Sites such as CafePress.com have been around since 1999, allowing Web users to create stores to sell personalized accessories like coffee mugs. Zlio offers a far wider range of goods for sale and takes more of a social networking approach.

    Zlio also provides some marketing help. They can put a widget on their Facebook or other social networking page, or use Google Inc's AdSense software to direct traffic to their sites.

    So far, people have created more than 250,000 stores, many organized around themes. One was devoted to all things red, another sold only hot sauce, a third focuses on The Beatles.

    John Holsen, who runs a small publishing business in Kansas City, Missouri, recently started a shop with his wife, a yoga teacher, to sell yoga gear.

    "It started as an experiment to see if I could build an e-commerce site in five minutes," Holsen said. "And you can."

    He said his site gets up to 5,000 hits a month and makes about $300-$400 on monthly revenue of $3,000. "You won't get wealthy off of it, but if you built enough sites, you can probably make a decent income," he said.

    On average, shopkeepers make about $300 a month, but top sellers can make as much as $3,000, Zlio spokeswoman Rachel Bremer said.

    Merchants share the revenue with Zlio and the seller based on the number of clicks and sales. Shopkeepers display wares and can earn up to 10 percent commission through eBay's PayPal online payment service, either on every sale or on every click generated. They don't have to worry about shipping orders because the companies take care of it.

    Last year, Zlio generated $12 million in sales for the companies with which it has tie-ups, Berrebi said. He refused to disclose how much money the site makes. He also has seen some business interest in the site. Mangrove Capital, which was an early investor in eBay's popular Skype Internet phone service, is backing Zlio, too.

    As for the name Zlio itself, Berrebi said it doesn't mean anything. "It's just a four-letter word."

    (Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

    Passport. Breach

    Us too?

    Reuters - Clinton, McCain passport records were also viewed

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    Clinton, McCain passport records were also viewed

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 4:22PM UTC

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The passport files of presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, a Republican, were improperly accessed by State Department workers, a U.S. official said on Friday.

    The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, declined further comment. On Thursday, the State Department said it had fired two employees and disciplined a third for having snooped in the passport files of Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat running for president.

    Sen. Obama and. Sen. Clinton

    What the hell is going on?

    Multimedia message

    What the hell is going on?

    CNN - Clinton's office says her passport files also breached

    Sent from Bombastic4000@gmail.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Clinton's office says her passport files also breached


    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday told Sen. Hillary Clinton that the security of her passport file were breached in 2007, according to Clinton's Senate official.

    The revelation came shortly after Rice said she hed apologized to Clinton's Democratic presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama for the unauthorized viewing of his passport file by contractors working for the State Department.

    Two contractors were fired and a third was disciplined after they accessed Obama's file, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.

    Rice told reporters on Friday that she had apologized to Obama and that the breaches would be investigated.

    "I told him I was sorry and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed in anyone had looked at my passport filed and that, therefore, I will stay on top of this," Rice said.

    "We are going to do an investigation through the inspector general," she said. "None of us want us to have a situation where any American's passport file is accessed in an unauthorized way."

    Rice said "it appears that the system worked" because the unathorized viewing was flagged, but "it should have been known to senior management."

    The State Department will brief Clinton's staff this afternoon, a statement from her Senate office said.

    "Senator Clinton will closely monitor the State Department's investigation into this and the other breaches of private passport information," the statement read.

    State Department officials said Rice was told Thursday that Obama's files had been improperly viewed and that she told her staff she wanted a full investigation.

    The State Department has refused to release the names of the companies that employed the contractors.

    The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Harry Waxman, sent a letter to Rice asking for the companies' names and said they should be made public.

    The department hires contractors to design, build and maintain their systems and help employees with searches. McCormack said two of the contractors in the Obama case were "low-level" personnel and the other was in a mid-level position with no management role.

    The breach seems like "imprudent curiosity" among the contract workers, said McCormack, adding that senior management at the State Department was not aware of the incidents until Thursday afternoon. Breaches occurred January 9, February 21 and March 14.

    A State Department source said passport files contain scanned images of passport applications, birth date and basic biographical information, records of passport renewal and possibly citizenship information.

    Obama's campaign is asking for a complete investigation to find out who looked at his passport file and why.

    "This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton in a statement.

    "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

    Doug Hattaway, a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, "If it's true, it's reprehensible, and the Bush administration has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it."

    The White House declined comment Thursday evening, just hours after the State Department upper management learned of the breach.

    The department would not speculate whether the information had been shared with anyone else. Watch Anderson Cooper discuss the controversy

    "That obviously is something we are investigating," said Under Secretary of State Pat Kennedy. "I have no reason to believe they did, but I certainly am not going to be dismissive of what is a serious and valid question."

    Kennedy said he will brief Obama's senior staff on Friday.

    Before contractors are hired, the department runs "public integrity checks," which are standard police and name checks for people who will be handling "sensitive but nonclassified information," Kennedy said.

    The background checks do not include inquiries into political affiliations, Kennedy said, saying that would be "inappropriate."

    A computer-monitoring system, triggered when employees access the file of a high-profile person, caught the employees, McCormack said, emphasizing that the department's system "worked."

    However, despite the trigger, senior department officials only learned of the incident Thursday afternoon, after a reporter e-mailed McCormack with a question.

    "It was dealt with at the office level where the incidents occurred by the office-level supervisors, who took immediate steps when they saw this," Kennedy said.

    "I will admit, they failed to pass the information up the chain to a sufficiently high level." Department officials say that after Rice was told Thursday what happened, she told her staff she wanted a full investigation.

    The department would not speculate on whether the information had been shared with anyone else.

    "That obviously is something we are investigating," Kennedy said. "I have no reason to believe they did, but I certainly am not going to be dismissive of what is a serious and valid question."

    The news was reminiscent of a breach of Bill Clinton's passport information during the 1992 presidential campaign. The FBI launched an investigation after the State Department reported that someone had ripped out pages from his passport file from the late 1960s and '70s.

    Sen. Obama

    I know everything

    CNN - Rice apologizes to Obama for passport snooping

    Sent from Bombastic4000@gmail.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Rice apologizes to Obama for passport snooping


    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday said she apologized to Sen. Barack Obama for the unauthorized viewing of his passport file by contractors working for the State Department.

    Two contractors were fired and a third was disciplined after they accessed the Democratic presidential candidates file, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.

    "I told him I was sorry and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed in anyone had looked at my passport filed and that, therefore, I will stay on top of this," Rice said.

    "We are going to do an investigation through the inspector general," she said. "None of us want us to have a situation where any American's passport file is accessed in an unauthorized way."

    Rice said "it appears that the system worked" because the unathorized viewing was flagged, but "it should have been known to senior management."

    State Department officials say Rice was told Thursday what happened and that she told her staff she wanted a full investigation.

    The department hires contractors to design, build and maintain their systems and help employees with searches. McCormack said two of the contractors in the Obama case were "low-level" personnel and the other was in a mid-level position with no management role.

    The breach seems like "imprudent curiosity" among the contract workers, said McCormack, adding that senior management at the State Department was not aware of the incidents until Thursday afternoon. Breaches occurred January 9, February 21 and March 14.

    A State Department source said passport files contain scanned images of passport applications, birth date and basic biographical information, records of passport renewal and possibly citizenship information.

    Obama's campaign is asking for a complete investigation to find out who looked at his passport file and why.

    "This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton in a statement.

    "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

    Doug Hattaway, a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, "If it's true, it's reprehensible, and the Bush administration has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it."

    The White House declined comment Thursday evening, just hours after the State Department upper management learned of the breach.

    The department would not speculate whether the information had been shared with anyone else.Watch Anderson Cooper discuss the controversy

    "That obviously is something we are investigating," said Under Secretary of State Pat Kennedy. "I have no reason to believe they did, but I certainly am not going to be dismissive of what is a serious and valid question."

    Kennedy said he will brief Obama's senior staff on Friday.

    Before contractors are hired, the department runs "public integrity checks," which are standard police and name checks for people who will be handling "sensitive but nonclassified information," Kennedy said.

    The background checks do not include inquiries into political affiliations, Kennedy said, saying that would be "inappropriate."

    A computer-monitoring system, triggered when employees access the file of a high-profile person, caught the employees, McCormack said, emphasizing that the department's system "worked."

    However, despite the trigger, senior department officials only learned of the incident Thursday afternoon, after a reporter e-mailed McCormack with a question.

    "It was dealt with at the office level where the incidents occurred by the office-level supervisors, who took immediate steps when they saw this," Kennedy said.

    "I will admit, they failed to pass the information up the chain to a sufficiently high level." Department officials say that after Rice was told Thursday what happened, she told her staff she wanted a full investigation.

    The department would not speculate on whether the information had been shared with anyone else.

    "That obviously is something we are investigating," Kennedy said. "I have no reason to believe they did, but I certainly am not going to be dismissive of what is a serious and valid question."

    The news was reminiscent of a breach of Bill Clinton's passport information during the 1992 presidential campaign. The FBI launched an investigation after the State Department reported that someone had ripped out pages from his passport file from the late 1960s and '70s.

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    See the streetsighn? Thats what the wind is doing.

    The wind

    I am

    The black rider walking

    Thats me

    Bill. Richardson endorses. Obama

    The truth is out there

    Reuters - Richardson to endorse Obama's White House bid: source

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    Richardson to endorse Obama's White House bid: source

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 8:6AM UTC

    By Matthew Bigg

    PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama's bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president, Obama's aides said on Friday, in a big boost for the senator.

    "I can confirm that he (Bill Richardson) is endorsing (Obama) and that he will be at the rally in Portland tomorrow," said an official with the Obama campaign.

    Richardson's endorsement has been fiercely sought by both Obama and his rival Sen. Hillary Clinton in part because as a Hispanic he is seen as influential within the Latino community, which could be a key voting bloc in the November presidential election.

    Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, largely backed Clinton in nominating contests on "Super Tuesday," with exit polls showing her winning two-thirds of the Latino vote in several states.

    Obama, a senator from Illinois, and Clinton, a senator from New York and former first lady, are locked in a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    They have both sought high-profile endorsements as a way to bolster their campaigns. Both have also actively courted former presidential candidate John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator. Edwards has yet to endorse either candidate.

    Richardson, 60, was energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982-1997.

    Richardson also ran for the Democratic nomination but abandoned his bid in January, stating he lacked the funds to continue after finishing fourth in voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    A skilled negotiator and diplomat, the popular governor has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or secretary of state in a Democratic administration.

    Obama is due to hold a rally in Portland, Oregon, on Friday at 9:35 a.m. local time (12:35 p.m. EDT), his campaign said. He will then spend the rest of the day campaigning in the state, which holds a primary on May 20.

    (Editing by Stacey Joyce)

    Sen obama security breach

    The leader of the people

    Reuters - Obama's passport records improperly accessed

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    Obama's passport records improperly accessed

    Friday, Mar 21, 2008 6:26AM UTC

    By Arshad Mohammed

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contract workers for the U.S. State Department improperly viewed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's passport records three times this year in what his campaign called "an outrageous breach" of his privacy.

    The State Department said its initial assessment was that three workers in separate offices looked at the records out of "imprudent curiosity" rather than any political motivation but that it had requested an investigation into the matter.

    The incidents, which occurred on January 9, February 21 and March 14, were quickly reported to lower-level State Department officials but only came to the notice of its senior management when a reporter e-mailed spokesman Sean McCormack on Thursday.

    Two of the three contract workers were fired as soon as the unauthorized viewing of Obama's files was discovered, while the third has been disciplined but still works for a contractor who has business with the State Department.

    "At this point in time, it's our initial view that this was imprudent curiosity on the part of these three, separate individuals," McCormack told reporters in a hastily arranged conference call on Thursday night.

    "This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

    "We demand to know who looked at Senator Obama's passport file, for what purpose and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach," the Obama spokesman added.

    Obama learned of the incidents on Thursday on a plane between campaign stops in West Virginia and Oregon. His staff will get a more detailed briefing on Friday from Undersecretary of State Pat Kennedy.

    Word of the passport breach came as Obama, who would be America's first black president, was trying to rebound after a rocky patch. The Illinois senator delivered a major speech this week on race relations in an effort to explain his relationship with his controversial longtime Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    SENSITIVE INFORMATION

    The latest Gallup survey showed Obama trailing rival Hillary Clinton by 49 percent to 42 percent among Democrats in the contest to select the Democratic nominee to face Republican Sen. John McCain in the November 4 election.

    A spokesman for Clinton, a New York senator, said of the security breach, "If it's true, it's reprehensible, and the Bush administration has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it."

    A political firestorm erupted in 1992 after State Department officials searched Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton's passport and citizenship files. The search coincided with Republican attacks on Clinton for his role in the Vietnam anti-war movement as a student at Oxford University in 1969 and for a trip to Moscow he made at the same time.

    An investigation found no laws were violated but that officials exercised poor judgment.

    Speaking to reporters, U.S. officials said they had asked the State Department's inspector general to conduct an independent investigation of how and why Obama's records were accessed and what, if anything, was done with the information.

    "We are now checking to make sure exactly what information was in the files that were accessed," Kennedy told reporters, saying it would typically include passport applications.

    Applicants must provide such sensitive information as a social security number, date of birth, address and telephone number as well as their parents' names and places of birth when they apply for a passport.

    The officials said that when a prominent person's passport records are accessed, it triggers an alarm in the computer system and the person who viewed them is questioned to see if there was a legitimate reason for looking at the file.

    Despite her lead in the latest poll, Clinton trails Obama in the state-by-state contest for delegates that began in January. The nominees are formally chosen by delegates at the parties' conventions in the summer.

    Clinton had hoped to try to chip away at Obama's delegate lead with a rerun of Michigan's contested Democratic presidential primary. But a Clinton-backed "do-over" proposal effectively died in the Michigan Legislature when lawmakers adjourned on Thursday without considering the plan.

    Obama opposed rerunning the Michigan primary. The Michigan and Florida Democratic primaries were invalidated because both states ignored party directives and held their balloting earlier than allowed.

    (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, JoAnne Allen, Jeff Mason, Patsy Wilson and Matthew Bigg; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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    If you know me then you know my name. I am The Black Rider and the world is my Flame. The rider writes, observes, creates, produces, and learns the world around him. Ride on. Ride on!

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