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    Friday, April 25, 2008

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    Reuters - Yahoo to expand data sharing among friends online

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    Yahoo to expand data sharing among friends online

    Friday, Apr 25, 2008 8:16AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc is working to rewire the dozens of services across its site so that users can manage all information about themselves in a single place and share it with friends across the Web.

    "We are not building another social network," Chief Technology Officer Ari Balogh told more than 1,000 attendees at the Web 2.0 Expo conference in San Francisco on Thursday. "We are building social into everything we do."

    The effort is part of a larger plan to make it easier for users to share information about themselves with other Yahoo users and on websites that run applications using Yahoo features, seeking to help the world's biggest Internet media company keep pace with social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

    Yahoo is spelling out this evolving strategy in the face of Microsoft Corp's looming, $44 billion unsolicited takeover offer.

    Microsoft has set a deadline of Saturday for Yahoo to agree to a deal on those terms or face a hostile takeover campaign. The software giant said on Thursday it will announce whether it plans to proceed with a deal or pull out next week.

    Unified user profiles and the effort to make it easier for users to share information with their friends is part of the company's broader "Yahoo Open Strategy" due out later this year, Balogh said. The plan would give users simple privacy controls to decide what data they reveal about themselves.

    "We are going to unify all profiles throughout Yahoo," said Balogh, whose appointment as Yahoo's CTO was announced on January 29, a day before Microsoft first proposed its $31 per share cash and stock offer to merge with Yahoo.


    Balogh estimated there are more than 10 billion latent social connections that exist between Yahoo's 500 million monthly users in the form of e-mail addresses, instant message buddy lists, address books and other shared connections.

    Yahoo aims to make it easier for users to share information via their established social ties, while protecting privacy by not inviting unintended disclosure of personal details. It will provide a single console for users to manage this data.

    "Right now you manage different bits of personal information in different places and to some extent it is a fragmented user experience," Neal Sample, chief technical architect of Yahoo's Open Strategy said in an interview.

    Yahoo has been discussing pieces of the strategy to be more open since last September. The details released on Thursday marked the fullest discussion company officials have made so far of its plans to rewire Yahoo from the inside out, both in terms of underlying technical structure and user controls.

    "Social is not a destination -- it's a dimension and it will infuse all aspects of a consumer's experience on the Web," Balogh said.

    Yahoo was early to embrace the social media trend, where users share details of their lives with selected friends online, by acquiring companies such as photo-sharing site Flickr in 2005, but has fallen behind in recent years.

    Because Yahoo is seeking first to woo independent software and Web services developers to support its open strategy, it could be 2009 before mainstream consumers gain access to the new services, Balogh said, in response to reporters questions.

    It plans to fold various previous efforts at social networking applications -- MyYahoo, Mash, and existing user profiles -- into the new profile application that will enhance the use of features within both Yahoo and other sites.

    "It will be interesting to see how quickly the other players -- like Google, Microsoft, MySpace, and Facebook -- answer the challenge that Yahoo has set down," Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li wrote in a blog post.

    "I don't think it's a matter of if, but rather, a question of when," she wrote at

    (Editing by Quentin Bryar)

    CNN - Police not guilty in groom's death

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    Police not guilty in groom's death

    A judge acquitted three New York Police Department detectives of all charges Friday morning in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a 50-bullet barrage, hours before he was to be married.

    Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora were found not guilty of charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell, 23, and the wounding of two of his friends.

    Detective Marc Cooper was acquitted of reckless endangerment.

    Justice Arthur Cooperman said he found problems with the prosecution's case. He said some prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves, and he cited prior convictions and incarcerations of witnesses.

    He also cited the demeanor of some witnesses on the stand.

    As the judge read his decision, Nicole Paultre Bell -- Sean Bell's fiancee before his death -- ran from the courtroom, saying, "I've got to get out of here."

    The announcement immediately sparked anger among some in the crowd outside the courthouse, but the protests were generally orderly.

    One woman shouted at a black police officer, "How can you be proud to wear that uniform? Stand down! Stop working for the masters!" Sean Bell was black.

    Patrick Lynch, president of the New York Police Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said "there's no winners, there's no losers" in the case.

    "We still have a death that occurred. We still have police officers that have to live with the fact that there was a death involved in their case," Lynch said.

    But, he added, the verdict assured police officers that they will be treated fairly in New York's courts.

    "This case was not about justice," said Leroy Gadsden, chair of the police/community relations committee of the Jamaica Branch NAACP. "This case was about the police having a right to be above the law. If the law was in effect here, if the judge had followed the law truly, these officers would have been found guilty. ...

    "This court, unfortunately, is bankrupt when it comes to justice for people of color."

    The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been advising Bell's fiancee and family, left the courthouse about an hour after the verdict without making a public statement. He had called for calm Wednesday.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement saying, "An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer."

    However, he said, the legal system must be respected.

    "America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority."

    Bloomberg also said he had spoken briefly with Paultre Bell on Wednesday and agreed with her on the need to ensure similar incidents would not occur in the future.

    Bell, 23, was killed just before dawn on his wedding day, November 25, 2006. He and several friends were winding up an all-night bachelor party at the Kalua Club in Queens, a strip club that was under investigation by a NYPD undercover unit looking into complaints of guns, drugs and prostitution.

    Undercover detectives were inside the club, and plainclothes officers were stationed outside.

    Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell's friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell's car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.

    What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens.

    Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield got into the car, with Bell at the wheel. The detectives drew their weapons, said Guzman and Benefield, who testified that they never heard the plainclothes detectives identify themselves as police.

    Bell was in a panic to get away from the armed men, his friends testified.

    But the detectives thought Bell was trying to run down one of them, according to their lawyers, believed that their lives were in danger and started shooting.

    In a frantic 911 call, police can be heard saying, "Shots fired. Undercover units involved."

    A total of 50 bullets were fired by five NYPD officers. Only three were charged with crimes.

    Oliver, who reloaded his semiautomatic in the middle of the fray, fired 31 times, Isnora fired 11 times, and Cooper, whose leg was brushed by Bell's moving car, fired four times, the NYPD said.

    No gun was found near Bell or his friends.

    Soon after his death, Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, legally changed her name to Nicole Paultre Bell. She is raising the couple's two daughters, ages 5 and 1.

    "I tell [them] that Daddy's in heaven now," she said. "He's watching over us. He's our guardian angel. He's going to be here to protect us and make sure nothing happens to us."

    Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said forensic and scientific evidence presented during the seven-week trial contradicts the testimony of prosecution witnesses.

    But Paultre Bell's father, Lester Paultre, said, "For those naysayers who say the police was doing their job, they should imagine their child in that car being shot by the police for no reason."

    Paultre Bell, Guzman and Benefield have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court that has been stayed pending the outcome of the criminal trial. Guzman was shot 16 times, and four bullets, too dangerous to remove, remain in his body, according to his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein.

    Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York have been monitoring the trial. In the event of an acquittal, it is likely authorities would conduct a review to determine whether there were any civil rights violations.

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