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    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Reuters - "Grand Theft Auto" publisher sues over pulled ads

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    "Grand Theft Auto" publisher sues over pulled ads

    Monday, May 05, 2008 9:57PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - The publisher of the controversial "Grand Theft Auto 4" video game sued the Chicago Transit Authority on Monday, accusing it of pulling ads promoting the blockbuster without explanation.

    The video game's publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. sued the transit authority in Manhattan federal court for violating its free speech and contractual rights, saying it pulled its posters within days of the ads first appearing on April 22.

    Take Two accused the authority and its sales agent, Titan Outdoor LLC, of violating a $300,000 (150,000 pounds) ad campaign agreement that included running "Grand Theft Auto 4" poster ads on the sides of buses and transit display spaces throughout the Chicago transit system scheduled for six weeks between April and June.

    The suit seeks an order for the transit authority to run the ads as well as monetary damages of at least $300,000.

    The advertisements were removed following a report by a Fox News affiliate that questioned why the ad was allowed to run after a wave of violent crimes in Chicago, the suit said.

    Past "Grand Theft Auto" games have been criticized for depicting violence including beatings, carjackings, drive-by shootings, drunk driving and prostitution.

    Representatives of the Chicago Transit Authority were not immediately available for comment.

    (Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Daniel Trotta and Todd Eastham)

    Reuters - Verizon joins another undersea cable network

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    Verizon joins another undersea cable network

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008 7:42PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc's business
    unit said on Tuesday it would help build an undersea cable
    connecting Europe, the Middle East and India to expand its
    global network to support Internet traffic.

    Verizon Business, the No. 2 U.S. phone company's unit in
    charge of corporate clients, said it joined a consortium of 16
    companies to build a 9,000 mile (15,000 km) optical cable
    system linking the three continents.

    The network, named the Europe India Gateway, is due to be
    completed in 2010 and cost more than $700 million (350 million
    pounds). Verizon Business did not disclose how much it would

    Verizon Business is involved in more than 67 submarine
    cables worldwide, and the Europe India Gateway is its third
    major project in the last four years.

    It has been boosting investment in such advanced cable
    networks to provide more stable voice connections and faster
    Internet services for global corporate clients.

    (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, Editing by Toni Reinhold)

    Reuters - Marvel plans "Iron Man" sequel

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    Marvel plans "Iron Man" sequel

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008 4:13PM UTC

    By Steve Gorman

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Buoyed by the blockbuster success of "Iron Man" over the weekend, Marvel Studios on Monday announced plans for a string of superhero properties, including an "Iron Man" sequel set for April 2010.

    "Iron Man 2" will be followed in June 2010 by the big-screen adaptation of another of Marvel's popular comic book characters, "Thor," the mighty, hammer-wielding hero based on the Nordic god of the same name, the company said.

    "Captain America" and "The Avengers" are next in line for the summer of 2011.

    The nearly $99 million (50.1 million pound) opening weekend of "Iron Man," Marvel's first fully self-financed production, gave Hollywood's summer movie season a solid start and set the stage for a robust earnings report from the studio's corporate parent, Marvel Entertainment.

    Drawing largely favourable reviews, "Iron Man" stars Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire industrialist and playboy Tony Stark, who wrestles with a mid-life crisis as he invents a high-tech suit of armour that transforms him into a superhero.

    Kevin Feige, head of production for Marvel Studios, said Downey would return in the sequel as part of his three-picture deal for the franchise. Feige said the gifted actor deserved much of the credit for the film's broad appeal.

    "It's great to see a sold-out audience that you know is made up of comic book fans and people who had never read an 'Iron Man' comic in their life," he said.

    Marvel shares soared nearly 10 percent on Monday as the company reported first-quarter profits above market estimates and raised its 2008 financial outlook.

    Costing about $150 million to make, "Iron Man" was distributed by Viacom's Paramount Pictures studio, which footed the $75 million marketing bill for the movie and received a flat fee for its efforts.

    The same arrangement will apply for "Iron Man 2" and an upcoming film based on "Captain America," the iconic crime-fighter created in 1941.

    That film, now titled "The First Avenger: Captain America," is slated for release in May 2011, to be followed by "The Avengers," based on a team of Marvel heroes that has included Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, in July of that year.


    An adaptation of Marvel's "Ant-Man" character also is in development. But with the coveted summer movie release dates for 2009 already well booked by other studios, Marvel has no self-produced films scheduled to open next year.

    Instead, the company said it would "focus its attention on maximizing the success of an 'Iron Man' sequel and the launch of 'Thor' in the summer of 2010."

    The final Friday-through-Sunday tally for "Iron Man" came to $98.6 million, down slightly from the $100 million-plus studio estimate reported on Sunday.

    That still easily exceeded the debut weekends of sequels to two other hit Marvel franchises -- "Spider-Man 2" and "X2: X-Men United" ($88.2 million and $85.6 million, respectively).

    "Iron Man" also ranks as the second-biggest domestic debut ever for a non-sequel movie, a record set by the first "Spider-Man" with $114.8 million in May 2002. "Spider-Man 3" stands as the top movie opening of all time -- $151 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales its first weekend in May 2007.

    "Iron Man" also proved its international mettle, grossing nearly $97 million from overseas openings in 57 foreign markets and claiming the No. 1 box office spot in most of those.

    The very next Marvel film slated for release is "The Incredible Hulk," headed to theatres next month as a remake based on the oversized, green brute originally brought to the big screen in a 2003 commercial dud directed by Ang Lee.

    Universal Pictures, an NBC Universal unit controlled by General Electric, will distribute the new film, as it did the first "Hulk."

    (Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Osterman)

    CNN - Bush to Myanmar: 'Let us help'

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    Bush to Myanmar: 'Let us help'

    President Bush joined a chorus of international leaders urging Myanmar's reclusive military government to allow the flow of aid after a disastrous weekend cyclone killed tens of thousands of people.

    "Let the United States come and help you," Bush exhorted the junta on Tuesday.

    The death toll has risen to more than 22,000, Myanmar state radio and opposition sources said Tuesday, and has left much of the country without electricity, communications and transportation.

    The cyclone is the deadliest natural disaster to hit Myanmar -- also known as Burma -- in recorded history, according to a U.N.-funded disaster database that includes figures from the past century.

    "The situation is very bad and not getting better," Shari Villarosa, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar, told CNN Tuesday.

    Many in the international community want to help but are still waiting for the Myanmar government to grant their relief teams entry into the country, Villarosa said.

    The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar issued a "disaster declaration" in the country and authorized the release of $250,000 for cyclone relief efforts, Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

    "The United States has made an initial aid contribution, but we want to do a lot more," Bush said at the White House.

    "We are prepared to move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing, and help stabilize the situation.

    "But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country," Bush said.

    The U.S. Navy is making preparations to respond to any requests for assistance, U.S. military officials said. The Navy has calculated it would take its nearest ships four days to get to the affected area.

    Now that the commercial airport in Yangon has reopened, other aid could be brought in by military air transport.

    Myanmar's military junta is subject to international sanctions. Its most famous pro-democracy activist, Aung San Suu Kyi, is under house arrest.

    Bush's statement on Myanmar came as he signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Suu Kyi "in recognition of her courageous and unwavering commitment to peace, nonviolence, human rights, and democracy in Burma."

    A key United Nations agency said Tuesday that simply getting visas for aid workers to enter Myanmar is the greatest challenge facing international aid organizations trying to bring relief into the cyclone-ravaged country.

    Visas are only available through the foreign ministry in Yangon, the United Nations Joint Logistics Center said in a statement.

    The government of Myanmar has not officially endorsed international assistance, the UNJLC added, but said Myanmar "is willing to accept international assistance, preferably bilateral, government to government."

    Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Tuesday Thailand is sending supplies and $100,000 in aid.

    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it has released 200,000 Swiss francs (about $190,000) to help with the aftermath of the storm.

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