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    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    Reuters - Pernod Ricard reportedly wins auction to buy Vin & Sprit

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    Pernod Ricard reportedly wins auction to buy Vin & Sprit

    Monday, Mar 31, 2008 1:0AM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - France's Pernod Ricard SA has won an auction to acquire Sweden's Vin & Sprit AB, the maker of Absolut vodka, a Wall Street Journal report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

    The details of the winning bid were not immediately clear but the deal with V&S, which is owned by the Swedish government, was expected to fetch as much as $7 billion, the Journal said on its Website late on Sunday.

    An announcement is expected Monday, the newspaper said.

    Both companies were not immediately available for comment.

    Binding bids for V&S are due on Thursday, when Pernod Ricard, U.S. spirits maker Fortune Brands, Bermuda-based Bacardi, and Sweden-based private equity group EQT are in the running, a source told Reuters earlier this week.

    Absolut is the world's third-largest premium liquor in terms of volume, after Diageo PLC's Smirnoff vodka and Bacardi rum.

    Fortune Brands, which had teamed up with Nordic Capital, a private-equity firm, was thought by some to have a leg up because it already distributes Absolut in the United States, the Journal said.

    Reuters - Abu Dhabi's Mubadala in talks to buy into U.S. firm

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    Abu Dhabi's Mubadala in talks to buy into U.S. firm

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 8:22AM UTC

    ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi government investment firm Mubadala Development Co said on Sunday it was in discussions to buy a stake in a U.S. real estate firm.

    "We are in discussions to buy a stake in The John Buck Co," Carlos Obeid, chief financial officer of Mubadala, told a news conference in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, without giving further details.

    Mubadala said in a statement it had set up a new real estate company with Chicago-based The John Buck Co to develop projects in Abu Dhabi and the Middle East.

    Known as John Buck International, the joint venture will be based in Abu Dhabi and will focus on real estate. leasing and management services, Mubadala said in a statement.

    Mubadala did not give a value for the new company.

    London-based MEED reported earlier this month the joint venture will first develop Suwa island in Abu Dhabi, which is being developed as a commercial centre for the city, in line with the Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 masterplan.

    The island will include a stock exchange, along with commercial and residential buildings, a hotel and a hospital, MEED said.

    (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by John Irish)

    Reuters - Zimbabwean forces patrol after poll result delay

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    Zimbabwean forces patrol after poll result delay

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 11:49PM UTC

    By Cris Chinaka

    HARARE (Reuters) - Riot police appeared on the streets of Zimbabwe's capital after a long delay to election results fuelled opposition suspicions that President Robert Mugabe may try and cling to power by rigging the vote.

    Reuters journalists saw the riot police in Harare late on Sunday and residents in outlying poor townships said they had seen stepped up patrols by security forces.

    "We have been told to stay indoors," said a resident in the eastern suburb of Tafara, declining to be named.

    Mugabe, 84, faced the biggest challenge of his 28-year-rule in Saturday's election because of Zimbabwe's economic collapse and a two-pronged opposition attack that put him under unprecedented political pressure.

    The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai said it had won an overwhelming victory, but electoral officials said no official results would be released until 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Monday, 35 hours after polls closed.

    Results in past votes have begun emerging soon afterwards.

    The chairman of Zimbabwe's electoral commission, George Chiweshe, said the delay was caused by the complexity of holding presidential, parliamentary and local polls together for the first time, and the need to verify results meticulously.

    All results would be announced on Monday, he told reporters.

    "Mugabe has lost the election. Everyone knows no one voted for Mugabe, but they are now trying to cook up a result in his favor, " said MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti.

    Zimbabwe is suffering from the world's highest inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent, chronic shortages of food and fuel, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy.

    Two South African members of a regional observer mission said the delay in announcing the election results "underscores the fear that vote-rigging is taking place".

    They refused to sign a positive preliminary report on the poll by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and said there was evidence of "widespread and convincing" MDC wins.


    Mugabe's government warned the opposition it would regard victory claims as a coup attempt. The president, in power since independence from Britain, accuses the West of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy and rejects vote-rigging allegations.

    SADC mission chairman Jose Marcos Barrica of Angola told reporters through an interpreter the election "has been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people".

    Mugabe is being challenged by veteran rival Tsvangirai and former finance minister and ruling ZANU-PF party official Simba Makoni. Both accuse the former guerrilla leader of wrecking a once prosperous economy and reducing the population to misery.

    Although the odds seem stacked against Mugabe, analysts believe his iron grip on the country and backing from the armed forces will enable him to declare victory.

    Barrica expressed concern about the voters roll, opposition access to the media and statements by the heads of security forces who had said they would not accept an opposition victory.

    But he said: "We saw that the basic conditions for a free and fair election were there."

    The dissenting SADC mission members, who belong to South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance, said in a statement: "It is impossible for this deeply flawed electoral process to be viewed as a credible expression of the will of the people."

    The SADC, which critics say has been too soft on Mugabe, has unsuccessfully tried to mediate an end to Zimbabwe's crisis, which has turned a quarter of the population into refugees.

    Zimbabwe's security forces, which have thrown their weight firmly behind Mugabe, said before the election they would not allow a victory declaration before counting was complete.

    Government spokesman George Charamba warned the opposition against such claims. "It is called a coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled," he told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

    Residents in the eastern opposition stronghold of Manicaland said riot police stopped a victory demonstration by about 200 MDC supporters on Sunday. There was no violence, they said.

    The United States said it was worried by the conduct of the election and the absence of most international observers.

    "The Mugabe regime is a disgrace to the people of Zimbabwe and a disgrace to southern Africa and to the continent of Africa as a whole," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem.

    (Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Stella Mapenzauswa, Nelson Banya, Muchena Zigomo and Arshad Mohammed in Jerusalem)

    (Writing by Barry Moody)

    Reuters - Motorola spin-off is no panacea: Barron's

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    Motorola spin-off is no panacea: Barron's

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 5:48PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorola Inc's <MOT.N> decision to spin off its handset division will not raise a share buying opportunity for investors and will not improve chances of a turnaround at the unit, Barron's reported on Sunday.

    Motorola does not have a detailed plan as to how, or specifically when, the spin-off will occur, Barron's said in its March 31 edition.

    The paper said Motorola has also been unable to find a qualified executive to manage the new handset company.

    "There's a lot of execution risk" to the spin-off plan, Mark Sue, RBC Capital Markets analyst, said in the Barron's report.

    It said the notion that a spin-off would improve the chances of a turnaround in handsets is "seriously flawed".

    (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

    Artists get social

    I rule your world

    Reuters - Musicians take social networking into their own hands

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    Musicians take social networking into their own hands

    Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 8:0AM UTC

    By Jennifer Netherby

    NEW YORK (Billboard) - 50 Cent has more than 1 million friends on MySpace, but if the rapper ever decides to leave the social network, he'll be leaving behind those friends, too. So like a growing number of artists, he's started his own social networking site.

    On, fans can create profiles and friend lists just like on MySpace, but 50 Cent has direct access to the site's users and their e-mail addresses.

    More and more acts, from Kylie Minogue to Ludacris to the Pussycat Dolls, are launching their own social networks, which are becoming a sort of next-generation version of artist Web sites.

    The social networking component gives fans a reason to hang out on a site and visit more often than they would a standard Web site. And artists can sell advertisements on their sites and offer downloads and merchandise for sale -- options they don't have on MySpace or Facebook. Plus, they own the content and data on how fans use their site, which they don't get on other social networks.

    "The thing that separates Thisis50 from MySpace is we control the e-mail database," says Chris "Broadway" Romero, director for new media at G-Unit Records, which handles Thisis50. "We can e-mail members if we want to."

    Thisis50 isn't meant to be a fan club, but rather a platform for 50 Cent to showcase his music and music he likes, and comment on news and user profile pages. Ludacris', on the other hand, is more of a hub for aspiring artists to upload their music.

    The artist networks aren't meant to replace MySpace or Facebook, which tend to attract a broader audience and more users.

    "(Artists) think about MySpace and Facebook as funnels for their own social networks," says Gina Bianchini, CEO of Ning, a company that provides social networking tools for Thisis50, Sara Bareilles and others. "They take and use services where they don't know the users, don't have access and don't have full control, and funnel those fans to something they do control."


    The key to getting users coming back to the sites is artist involvement, either through blogs or comments on user pages or exclusive footage and other content.

    "The biggest thing we push to artists is, 'Embrace the site,'" says Evan Rifkin, CEO of, a social networking platform partly owned by MTV.

    It's relatively inexpensive to create a social network if artists use one of the growing number of companies that provide the tools and hosting. For instance, Ning charges $34 per month for a site and hosting. And Flux works with artists and labels on a revenue-sharing basis. Artists can set up their main site for free and pay a percentage of revenue from advertisements and sales on additional pages.

    Artists also tend to pay for labor to run the sites. But if fans get involved and add things to the site to share with others, it can reduce the need for staff to constantly provide new content, Romero says.

    In addition, many artists are simply turning their main Web site into a social network. Suretone Records director of new media Ashley Jex says the label is working with Flux to incorporate social networks into all its artists' sites to cater to the hardcore fans and keep them clicking around.

    With Flux, which also has deals with Universal Music Group and Virgin, users create one profile and with one click they can join the network of any artist using it, rather than having to create new profiles for each.

    Ice Cube and DJ Pooh added a twist earlier in March, launching UVNTV, a broadband TV and social networking site where artists and brands can create their own channel and subscribers can create profiles and chat with one another. Artists get detailed information on their users and can sell advertisements, merchandise, downloads or even subscriptions to their channel. They also own and control the content.

    "You know the demographic of anybody watching your content," DJ Pooh says. "You know what they watched and clicked on." The service is in beta and free to artists and is expected to formally launch in January 2009. So far, Snoop Dogg has a channel there, as does Ice Cube and such brands as RockStar Games and Source.

    Even more important: Fans seem to be buying directly from the sites. On Minogue's KylieKonnect, launched in fall 2007 through U.K.-based New Visions Mobile, nearly 25 percent of users have made a ringtone, download or merchandise purchase, company director Julia McNally says.


    Reuters - Apple has biggest impact on world consumers: survey

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    Apple has biggest impact on world consumers: survey

    Monday, Mar 31, 2008 1:22AM UTC

    By Rachel Sanderson

    LONDON (Reuters) - The Apple brand has the biggest impact on the world's consumers, while Microsoft and the United States nation brand are those considered most in need of a remake, a survey showed on Monday.

    The poll by online magazine asked its readers to identify the brands with the greatest impact on their lives, and say how they affected readers' behaviour and their view of the world.

    The nearly 2,000 professionals and students who voted named Apple overwhelming winner. The creator of the iPod and Mac computer triumphed in six categories including most inspiring brand and the one readers cannot live without.

    Microsoft, the world's largest software maker was also a winner, but it received the dubious honor of the brand most readers wanted to argue with, and the one they most wanted to revamp. Voted into second place in the category was brand USA.

    "Apple has clearly captured the hearts and minds by leading across most categories. Others, such as the USA nation brand, which ranks highly as most in need of a rebrand, requires help according to our readers," said brandchannel editor Jim Thompson.

    The poll does not take account of economic brand value, the murky science of assigning a financial value to brand, which regularly puts Coca-Cola Co's (KO.N) Coke in first place.

    One of the more surprising results from the survey, was that few of the respondents -- who came from 107 countries -- thought that there was such a thing as a "green" brand.

    The result comes despite millions of dollars spent by some of the world's biggest companies to rebrand themselves as "environmentally-friendly".

    Discussing Apple, one anonymous reader said there was "never a dull moment" with the company "reinventing itself all along and providing, over and over again, a new perspective on what we thought was carved in stone".

    At the other end of the spectrum, Microsoft had "gone from innovative and bold to stodgy and follower," said another unnamed reader.

    After Apple, the most inspiring brands were Nike, Coca-Cola, Google and Starbucks, the survey showed.

    The same brands, except with Virgin in place of Starbucks, were the brands most readers would "like to sit next to at a dinner party".

    The rankings by were based on answers from almost 2,000 readers from 107 countries. The survey was conducted online from February 24 to March 9.

    (Editing by Richard Balmforth)

    Reuters - N.Korea threatens to cut off dialogue with South

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    N.Korea threatens to cut off dialogue with South

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 5:30PM UTC

    By Jon Herskovitz

    SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea threatened to suspend dialogue with the South over comments made by a South Korean military official and said it was ready to attack its wealthy neighbor, the North's state media said at the weekend.

    Over the past several days, the North has lashed out at the new conservative government in Seoul and its ally the United States by test-firing missiles, expelling South Korean officials at a joint factory park in the North and threatening to slow down a nuclear disarmament deal.

    "The Korean People's Army (KPA) will counter any slightest move of the south side for 'pre-emptive attack' with more rapid and more powerful pre-emptive attack of its own mode," the North's KCNA news agency quoted one of its military officials as saying.

    North Korea, one of the world's most militarized states, has made similar statements for years threatening pre-emptive attacks, but those have almost always been in response to joint South Korean-U.S. military drills.

    The new chairman of the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff last week said the South would hit North Korea's nuclear weapon base to disable it if the North attacks but had no plans for a pre-emptive strike, according to the Defence Ministry.

    In the dispatch released late on Saturday, the North's military official demanded an apology for those comments.

    "If the south side does not retract the outbursts calling for 'pre-emptive attack' nor clarify its stand to apologize for them, the KPA will interpret this as the stand of the south side's authorities to suspend all inter-Korean dialogues and contacts."

    The South's Defence Ministry said it would decide whether to respond in the next few days to a North Korean threat also made in the dispatch to cut back on inter-Korean military talks.


    The two Koreas stepped up bilateral contacts after the first summit of their leaders in 2000, which has led to a decrease in tensions on the heavily armed peninsula and the South helping to keep the decrepit economy of it pauper neighbor afloat with massive aid.

    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's government, in office for a month, has told the touchy North that if it wants to keep receiving aid it should clean up its human rights, abide by an international nuclear deal and start returning the more than 1,000 South Koreans it kidnapped or has held since the 1950-53 Korean War.

    Lee's left-of-centre predecessors in the presidential Blue House for the past 10 years have sent billions of dollars in aid to the North while asking for little in return, seeing it as the price to pay for stability.

    North Korea, which has a habit of test-launching missiles as a way to ratchet up political tensions, shot off ship-to-ship missiles into the Yellow Sea on Friday.

    It also said if South Korean ships continued to patrol in disputed Yellow Sea waters, there could be a battle.

    The commander of the some 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea that support the South's military of about 670,000 said on Friday last week the two could easily defeat the North's antiquated army of 1.2 million.

    "If North Korea should attack ... we will defeat them quickly and decisively and end the fight on our terms," General B. B. Bell said before the reported missile launch.

    (Additional reporting by Lee Jin-joo; Editing by Alex Richardson)

    Fracture of the 'Dems',

    We are split in twain

    Reuters - Democrats face summer of bitter infighting

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    Democrats face summer of bitter infighting

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 8:19PM UTC

    By David Wiessler

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supporters of Barack Obama backed away on Sunday from calls for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the presidential race as Democrats faced a long summer of bitter fighting to win the party's White House nomination.

    In an interview published in The Washington Post, Clinton said she would fight all the way to the late August nominating convention, where a candidate will be chosen to face presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the November election.

    "I think the race should continue," said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former Democratic presidential candidate who supports Obama. "She has every right to stay in the race. She's run a very good campaign."

    Some Obama backers have called on New York Sen. Clinton to give up, citing the Illinois senator's leads in the popular vote, states won and delegates to the convention to choose the nominee.

    But Clinton has used those calls to rally her supporters, saying Washington insiders are trying to force her out before all Democrats have voted. She also stressed the need for new votes in Florida and Michigan, whose earlier primary votes were rejected because they violated party rules.

    "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan," Clinton said in the Post interview. "And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention."


    With the next big contest coming in Pennsylvania on April 22, Clinton and McCain took much of the day off, but Obama campaigned at Pennsylvania State University. Some 22,000 people came to listen to him speak at an open air rally, which aides said was one of the biggest events of the Democratic campaign.

    "I believe that the Democrats will be unified as soon as this nomination is settled. We will be unified because we understand that we do not want to be clinging to the policies of the past. We are the party of the future," Obama said.

    College students have been some of Obama's most active supporters and in Pennsylvania he must score big among them if he is to do well against Clinton.

    "You will have a president who has taught the constitution and believes in the constitution and will obey the constitution of the United States of America," Obama told the crowd, making a comparison between himself and President George W. Bush.

    Obama supporters hit the Sunday morning television talk shows to play down talk that Clinton should quit -- at least before the final nomination contests on June 3.

    But after that, with neither Democratic contender likely to have captured the 2,024 delegates needed to face McCain, they wanted a quick resolution so the fight does not last all summer. The outcome will probably lie with several hundred "superdelegates" -- party leaders and elected officials free to vote for either candidate.

    "After June 3, it's important that Democrats come together and not be so divided as we have been," Richardson said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But I think it's important that, at the end of the June 3 date, we look at who has the most delegates, who has the most popular vote, who has the most states."

    That would most likely favor Obama. But Clinton backers did not see the need to hurry.

    "Neither Sen. Clinton nor Sen. Obama, based on what people say the math is, can get the required number of delegates. And so you have to play it out until the end," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Clinton backer, said on the CBS show.

    Tennessee's Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen has proposed the superdelegates get together to make their choices after June 3 so the party can heal its wounds and go after the Republicans.

    "You have to bring it to a closure sometime long before the end of August so that you can start that healing process and, you know, whoever wins can say their mea culpas about what they said, and bring the party back together," he said on "Fox News Sunday."

    Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, an Obama supporter who was the party's losing presidential nominee in 2004, said the superdelegates needed to make up their minds early so Democrats can organize to beat McCain.

    "As a former nominee, I will tell you, this time right now is critical to us," he said on ABC's "This Week. "I think every day does give John McCain an ability to organize nationally."

    (Additional reporting by Matt Bigg in Pennsylvania; writing by David Wiessler and Christopher Wilson; editing by Patricia Zengerle)

    (To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at

    CNN - 'Doe Network' works to give names to the dead

    Sent from's mobile device from

    'Doe Network' works to give names to the dead

    Their faces seem to float from Todd Matthews' computer -- morgue photographs, artist sketches, forensic reconstructions -- thousands of dead eyes staring from endless Web sites as though crying out for recognition. John and Jane and Baby "Does" whose nameless bodies have never been identified.

    His wife, Lori, complains that Matthews, a 37-year-old auto parts supplier, spends more time with the dead than he does with the living, including his two sons, Dillan, 16, and Devin, 6.

    You need a hobby, she says, or a goal.

    I have a goal, he replies, though he describes it as a "calling."

    He wants to give "Does" back their names.

    His obsession began two decades ago, when Lori told him about the unidentified young woman wrapped in canvas whose body her father had stumbled on in Georgetown, Kentucky, in 1968. She had reddish-brown hair and a gap-toothed smile. And no one knew her name.

    So locals blessed her with one. They buried her under an apple tree with a pink granite tombstone engraved with the words "Tent Girl."

    Tent Girl haunted him. Who were her siblings? What was her name?

    Matthews began searching library records and police reports, not even sure what he was seeking. He scraped together the money to buy a computer. He started scouring message boards on the nascent Internet.

    In the process, Matthews discovered something extraordinary. All over the country, people just like him were gingerly tapping into the new technology, creating a movement -- a network of amateur sleuths as curious and impassioned as Matthews.

    Today the Doe Network has volunteers and chapters in every state. Bank managers and waitresses, factory workers and farmers, computer technicians and grandmothers, all believing that with enough time and effort, modern technology can solve the mysteries of the missing dead.

    Increasingly, they are succeeding.

    The unnamed dead are everywhere -- buried in unmarked graves, tagged in county morgues, dumped in rivers and under bridges, interred in potter's fields and all manner of makeshift tombs. There are more than 40,000 unnamed bodies in the U.S., according to national law enforcement reports, and about 100,000 people formally listed as missing.

    The premise of the Doe Network is simple. If the correct information -- dental records, DNA, police reports, photographs -- is properly entered into the right databases, many of the unidentified can be matched with the missing. Law enforcement agencies and medical examiners offices simply don't have the time or manpower. Using the Internet and other tools, volunteers can do the job.

    And so, in the suburbs of Chicago, bank executive Barbara Lamacki spends her nights searching for clues that might identify toddler Johnny "Dupage" Doe, whose body was wrapped in a blue laundry bag and dumped in the woods of rural Dupage County, Illinois, in 2005.

    In Kettering, Ohio, Rocky Wells, a 47-year-old manager of a package delivery company, scoots his teenage daughters from the living room computer and scours the Internet for anything that might crack the case of the red-haired Jane Doe found strangled near Route 55 in 1981. "Buckskin Girl," she was called, because of the cowboy-style suede jacket she was wearing when she was found.

    And in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, Nancy Monahan, 54, who creates floor displays for a discount chain, says her "real job" begins in the evening when she returns to her creaky yellow house and her black cat, Maxine, turns on her computer and starts sleuthing.

    Monahan's cases include that of "Beth Doe," a young pregnant woman strangled, shot and dismembered, her remains stuffed into three suitcases and flung off a bridge along Interstate 80 near White Haven in December 1976. And "Homestead Doe," whose mummified body was found in an abandoned railroad tunnel in Pittsburgh in 2000. Her toenails were painted silver.

    Monahan was so moved that last year she sought out the tunnel, climbed down the embankment and offered a silent prayer for the young woman whose life ended in such a pitiful place.

    "It's like they become family," Monahan says. "You feel a responsibility to bring them home."

    The stories of Doe Network members are as individual as the cases they are trying to solve. Bobby Lingoes got involved through his connection with law enforcement -- he's a civilian dispatcher with the Quincy, Massachusetts, police department. Traycie Sherwood of Richmond, Missouri, joined when her adoptive mother died and she went on line searching for her birth mother. Daphne Owings, a 45-year-old mother of two in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, needed something to take her mind off the war when her husband was sent to Iraq.

    Matches can be triggered by a single detail -- a tattoo, a piece of clothing, a broken bone. It's just a question of the right person spotting the right piece of information and piecing together the puzzle. The process can be tedious and frustrating.

    And it can take its toll. Lori Matthews once left her husband for six months because of his obsession with Tent Girl. "He didn't talk about anything else," she said. "It wasn't normal."

    They reconciled after Matthews agreed to limit the amount of time -- and money -- he spent on "Does."

    Still, Matthews and others say the rewards of cracking a case make the time worthwhile. The Doe Network claims to have assisted in solving more than 40 cases and ruling out hundreds more.

    "They do God's work," says Mark Czworniak, 50, a veteran homicide detective in Chicago.

    He first encountered the Doe Network when he was approached by Lamacki, the Chicago bank executive, about potential matches. Unlike some officers, Czworniak has no hesitation about working with civilian volunteers, especially those willing to devote endless hours to cold cases that he cannot get to.

    Czworniak says there are hundreds of "Does" in the department files. He is assigned five, including a tall, 30-something man found at the Navy Pier in 2003. Czworniak hopes that the man's height will help Lamacki or another Network volunteer eventually make an identification.

    "She's like a little bloodhound," says Czworniak, who exchanges e-mails with Lamacki on cases every week and has introduced her to other detectives. "She has the wherewithal and interest and time and she searches these sites I'm not even aware of."

    In another sign of the network's influence, Matthews was asked to serve on a government task force involved in creating the first national online data bank for missing and unidentified.

    The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, NamUS, launched last year, is made up of two databases, one for the missing and one for the unidentified. The goal is to have medical examiners and law enforcement agencies around the country constantly update information on both sites. Next year the sites will be linked and made available for public searching.

    No one believes NamUS will put the Doe Network out of business -- there will always be a need for people with their expertise to make the necessary connections.

    And so, families of the missing will no doubt continue to rely on people like Todd Matthews.

    At his house in Livingston, Matthews has built a little nook next to the living room -- his "Doe office," he calls it. His desk is laden with pictures of dead bodies. He says he gets many e-mails about cases every week. Every night he scrolls down the lists, searching for new information:

    Unidentified White Female. Wore a necklace of silver beads and three small turquoise stones, one resembling a bird. Found in a Calendonia cornfield in New York state in 1979. ...

    Unidentified White female. Strawberry-blonde hair and 12 infant teeth. Wearing a pink and white dress that buttoned in the back and a disposable diaper. Found Jackson County, Mississippi, 1982. ...

    Unidentified Black Female. Gunshot wound to the skull. Found next to highway ramp in Campbell County, Tennessee, in 1998...

    The last case is close to Matthews' heart. Sally, he named her, after a Campbell County police officer entrusted him with her skull in 2001.

    The police didn't have the time or means to pay for a clay reconstruction, and so -- with the approval of the local coroner -- Matthews took the skull to a Doe Network forensic artist. A picture of the reconstructed head was placed on the Network site. The skull sat on Matthews' desk for over a year, and even Lori, who was at first so horrified she couldn't look at it, grew fond of Sally. She remains unidentified.

    But even Sally cannot take the place of the first Doe, the one who changed Matthews' life. He still regularly drives to Kentucky, to a lonely plot in Georgetown to visit her.

    "She's family now," he says.

    Standing by her grave, he tells of the night in 1998 when, scouring chat rooms for the missing, he stumbled upon a message from Rosemary Westbrook of Benton, Arkansas.

    Westbrook sought information about her sister, Bobbie, who was 24 when she went missing 30 years earlier. Bobbie had married a man who worked in a carnival, and she was last seen in Lexington. She had reddish-brown hair and a gap-toothed smile.

    Over and over Matthews stared at the message. And in his heart he knew.

    Lori, he cried, racing into the bedroom and shaking awake his wife

    "I've found her. I found Tent Girl."

    Weeks later the remains were exhumed. The match was confirmed by DNA.

    The family decided to re-inter her in the place that had been her resting spot for so many years. Beneath the stone etched "Tent Girl" they placed a small gray one engraved with her real name, the name that Matthews had restored.

    She is Barbara Ann Hackmann, now and for eternity.

    Reuters - Dave Stewart, Nokia envision brave new mobile world

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    Dave Stewart, Nokia envision brave new mobile world

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 3:9AM UTC

    By Antony Bruno

    DENVER (Billboard) - At first glance, Nokia's Tero Ojanpera and Dave Stewart might seem like an odd pair.

    As executive vice president of entertainment and communities for Nokia, Ojanpera oversees all of the company's music, gaming, video and social networking initiatives, including the Nokia Music Store and Comes With Music.

    Stewart is a musician/producer best known as one half of the Eurythmics. In February, Stewart was named founding member of Nokia's new Artist Advisory Council, an initiative created to foster an artist-friendly environment within the company.

    But the two have more in common that meets the eye. Stewart has strong ideas on how technology and digital business models should benefit acts and their fans, and, in fact, was the driving force behind the council's creation. Ojanpera, meanwhile, aims to combine Nokia's entertainment content services with its social networking capabilities to help fans and artists better connect and communicate to promote and distribute new content.

    For Nokia, the effort is central to its reinvention from a handset vendor with 40 percent of the global mobile phone market share to a Web services company. For Stewart, the technologies of today and tomorrow represent a new stage of creative and professional development he hopes to share not only with musicians but also with filmmakers and others in the creative community.

    Q: Can you give us a better idea what the vision of the Artist Advisory Council is?

    Dave Stewart: It's a vision of the future where people would want to dig deeper in the world of an artist and where artists would be willing to be more experimental because the payment systems would be more transparent and different than they are today. It's about artists linking together and being collaborative.

    Tero Ojanpera: If you think about the artist's point of view, it's not about selling one track or selling a ringtone or wallpaper. It's about how you create a discovery mechanism (that) represents the artist in a way that gives justice to their work. It's not just putting something online in a digital format -- the technology will enable us to make a rich world where things come together in a really new fashion.

    Q: How do you plan to achieve this?

    Ojanpera: At this point it's about understanding the artist and understanding the consumer and making that connection. The rest will sort itself out. It may need some facilitation, but we should worry about those two things first. If you can bring value to the consumer and to the creative talent, I'm sure we will do well.

    Stewart: Imagine a future where you have a little cloud above your head and in that is everything you think is groovy, and you can carry that along with you and pull it down to either watch or share ... and it's all controlled by this little device in your pocket. The other part of it is that there are artists all over the world who don't want to share much more than what they can control -- there are filmmakers who want to make 10-minute short films. So you can't put everything into one bag. What you can do is create a facility that can put all that work -- whatever it is -- into a context and in a way (that) consumers can access it.

    Q: Dave, what is your perspective as an artist on the current digital/mobile business constructs?

    Stewart: What I'm talking about is dropping a neutron bomb on the old paradigm of the entertainment industry and the way in which it functions. It's completely insane. In America, it's all gotten completely strangleholded by these providers. Nobody ever talked to artists about what they wanted to do. Steve Jobs didn't talk to me about selling music online -- it just went straight to the music labels.

    Artists make their work, and people come along and treat it like something you can chop up into bits and sell into other bits. They say ringtones is a $3 billion business; I still haven't seen one cent on a "Sweet Dreams" download. There's always been a bit of foggy accounting. There's ways and means through technology and through common sense to create a way in which the consumer gets a fair deal and the creator gets a fair deal and business is good.

    Q: So it sounds like the vision is to try to use mobile phones as a way of distributing content directly to fans without all the other layers.

    Stewart: I'm not going to try to do that. I am going to do it. It's also about trying to get artists to understand that, in the new world, it's not about making an album or a film that has to fit the exact demographic and exact length. It's going to be a completely different world. I can send you clips of what I'm working on and you can pre-order it. There's a dialogue going on so you actually know who your fans are and where they are.

    Q: Do phone manufacturers have more power in the mobile value chain now that entertainment services have made the phone more of a consumer electronics device and less a mere network access device?

    Ojanpera: This is a great opportunity for the whole industry to grow: device manufacturers, carriers and the content companies. The fact that content is coming to mobile will enable us to continue to innovate for the industry. We have the strength to invest in this space, and that's valuable to the content industry. This is not about who has more power or less power -- this is about, Can we attract the consumer to really use these services?

    Q: So on that note, how is the Nokia Music Store doing?

    Ojanpera: We're not sharing any specific data. But the service is live in the U.K. and Germany, and we are launching (in) additional countries in Europe and Asia. So one could describe it as a store rollout phase for the next month or two and getting the catalog in place. The feedback from the U.K. store is good; people are using it and seeing that there's an easy way to get music on your device, both side-loading and (over the air). We're currently seeing about 75 percent side-loading and 25 percent OTA. We think once the Comes With Music service is in place later this year, it will make the purchase decision easier, and we believe that can and will really scale the music market up.



    I get to vote

    Reuters - Zimbabwe govt warns opposition over victory claims

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    Zimbabwe govt warns opposition over victory claims

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 2:12PM UTC

    By MacDonald Dzirutwe

    HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition said on Sunday it had won the most crucial election since independence, but President Robert Mugabe's government warned premature victory claims would be seen as an attempted coup.

    Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main MDC opposition party, told diplomats and observers overnight that early results showed it was victorious. "We have won this election," he said.

    Officials said they would begin announcing results of the presidential, parliamentary and local polls on Sunday. Voting ended at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Saturday.

    Biti said later the MDC was concerned at delays in announcing results, which traditionally begin emerging soon after polls close.

    "We're aware the results are final in most constituencies but they are deliberately taking their time to announce. ... The whole idea of having an election is so you can have a result."

    George Chiweshe, chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), had to be rescued by security men in a Harare hotel when he was confronted by journalists and opposition supporters demanding results be published.

    Zimbabwe's security forces, which have thrown their backing firmly behind Mugabe, said before the election they would not allow a victory declaration before counting was complete.

    Government spokesman George Charamba also warned the opposition against such claims. "It is called a coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled," he told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

    Residents in the eastern opposition stronghold of Manicaland said riot police stopped a victory demonstration by about 200 MDC supporters. There was no violence, they said.


    Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, faced his most formidable challenge in the election against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and ruling ZANU-PF party defector Simba Makoni, who campaigned on the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy.

    Although the odds seem stacked against Mugabe, 84, analysts believe he will be declared the winner and the opposition accused him of widespread vote-rigging.

    Observers from the Pan-African parliament told the electoral commission they had found more than 8,000 non-existent voters registered on empty land in a Harare constituency.

    The United States said it was worried by the conduct of the election and the absence of most international observers.

    "The Mugabe regime is a disgrace to the people of Zimbabwe and a disgrace to southern Africa and to the continent of Africa as a whole," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem.

    Mugabe, who accuses the West of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy, expressed confidence on Saturday he would be returned to office. "We will succeed. We will conquer," he said.

    He rejected vote-rigging allegations.

    Once-prosperous Zimbabwe is suffering from the world's highest inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent, chronic shortages of food and fuel, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy.

    Biti said early results, based on 12 percent of the vote, showed Tsvangirai was projected to win 67 percent nationally.

    He said Tsvangirai had made significant inroads in Mugabe's rural strongholds by leading in the southern province of Masvingo and Mashonaland Central Province, north of Harare, where the MDC has not won a parliamentary seat since 2000.

    If no candidate wins more than 51 percent of the vote, the election will go into a second round.

    (Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka, Stella Mapenzauswa, Nelson Banya and Muchena Zigomo)

    (Writing by Barry Moody; Editing by Mary Gabriel)

    Al Sadr say stop the Nonsense.

    I'm looking for trouble

    CNN - Al-Sadr calls off fighting amid airstrikes, crackdown

    Sent from's mobile device from

    Al-Sadr calls off fighting amid airstrikes, crackdown

    Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his followers to stop fighting and cooperate with Iraqi security forces Sunday, as U.S. and Iraqi forces targeted his Mehdi Army in Basra and Baghdad.

    In the nine-point statement -- which was issued by his headquarters in Najaf and came a day after al-Sadr told his fighters not to surrender their weapons -- the cleric demanded that the government give his supporters amnesty and release any of his followers that are being held.

    "We announce our disavowal from anyone who carries weapons and targets government institutions, charities and political party offices," said the statement that was distributed across the country and posted on Web sites linked to his movement.

    The Mehdi Army entered negotiations with the Iraqi government Saturday night, said Sheikh Salah al-Obaidi, a top aide to al-Sadr. The meeting in Najaf marked the first talks between the two sides since the Iraqi government announced a crackdown on "outlaws" in Basra, al-Obaidi said.

    U.S. forces targeted the cleric's Shiite militia in Baghdad as well, launching airstrikes that killed 15 people Sunday in neighborhoods known to be Mehdi Army strongholds, an Interior Ministry official said.

    Two airstrikes in the Sadr City neighborhood killed nine people and wounded 14 others, and another strike in the al-Zuhor neighborhood, in northeastern Baghdad, killed six people and wounded 14 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

    The U.S. military said it killed 11 militants in those same areas Saturday.

    The Baghdad bombings came as Iraqi authorities extended indefinitely a strict curfew on the capital and as fighting between government troops and Shiite militants stretched into its sixth day, leaving about 400 people dead, according to reports from U.S. and Iraqi officials.

    In Basra, part of southern Iraq's Shiite heartland, at least 200 people have been killed and 500 wounded in battles since Tuesday, a high-ranking security official said.

    Authorities there extended a ban on pedestrian and vehicle traffic just hours before the curfew was to expire Sunday morning.

    Al-Maliki compared the outlaws, on whom the government is cracking down, to al Qaeda and said troops would not leave Basra "until security is restored."

    "We will continue to stand up to these gangs in every inch of Iraq," he said. "It is unfortunate that we used to use say these very words about al Qaeda, when all the while, there were people among us who are worse than al Qaeda."

    Al-Maliki met Saturday in Basra with area tribal leaders and other prominent figures, who expressed support for the government's effort to "save Basra from criminal gangs," according to a statement from the prime minister's office.

    The prime minister further said that militants had until April 8 to surrender their weapons in a guns-for-cash program.

    On Saturday, supporters of al-Sadr said they were being unfairly singled out in the crackdown, and the cleric told his followers not to hand over their arms "except to a state that can throw out the occupation," al-Obaidi said.

    Other developments

    ? The U.S. military said Sunday it found a mass grave with 14 bodies near Muqdadiya. The bodies, which showed signs of torture, appeared to have been in the grave for two to six months. They were found just 100 yards from where 37 bodies were found buried Thursday, the military said.

    ? The International Zone -- where where many Iraqi government buildings and embassies are located -- was targeted Sunday by rockets or mortars, a U.S. Embassy official said, but no injuries or damage were immediately reported.

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