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    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

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    Reuters - Angelina Jolie confirms she's having twins

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    Angelina Jolie confirms she's having twins

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 8:27PM UTC

    CANNES, France (Reuters) - Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie said in a television interview on Wednesday that she is expecting twins with actor Brad Pitt, the Hollywood couple's fifth and sixth children.

    Jolie, being interviewed at the Cannes film festival alongside comic actor Jack Black for the syndicated entertainment program "Access Hollywood," acknowledged that she was having twins after Black made reference to them.

    "Yeah, yeah, we've confirmed that already," Jolie, 32, said, according to a transcript provided by the show. "Well, Jack's just confirmed it actually."

    Excerpts of the interview, conducted by a reporter for NBC's "Today" show to promote the animated film "Kung Fu Panda," featuring characters voiced by Jolie and Black, was set to air on "Access Hollywood" on Wednesday night.

    The full interview will air on Thursday on "Today."

    Jolie and Pitt, 44, together have adopted 3-year-old daughter Zahara, 6-year-old son Maddox and 4-year-old son Pax. They also have a biological daughter, 22-month-old Shiloh.

    Jolie won an Academy Award as best supporting actress for her role in the 1999 film "Girl, Interrupted."


    Reuters - Craigslist sues eBay, alleges corporate spy plan

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    Craigslist sues eBay, alleges corporate spy plan

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 1:29PM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Online classifieds leader filed a countersuit on Tuesday against business rival eBay Inc, alleging eBay used its minority stake in Craigslist to steal its corporate trade secrets.

    In a lawsuit filed in California Superior Court in San Francisco, Craigslist challenged allegations in an eBay suit filed in Delaware state court in April that accused Craigslist of discriminating against eBay as a shareholder.

    EBay's suit in Delaware Chancery Court charged Craigslist had used "clandestine meetings" to dilute eBay's 28.4 percent stake in Craigslist to 24.85, or less than a quarter of the company.

    In addition to unfair competition and fraudulent business claims, the countersuit accuses eBay of copyright infringement and using misleading advertising on Google Inc to run ads for its rival Kijiji site that appeared to be Craigslist ads.

    The lawsuit demands that eBay restore all shares of Craigslist owned by eBay or for the court to require eBay to divest its holdings in Craigslist. The suit asks eBay to disgorge profits tied to the business and for punitive damages.

    EBay spokeswoman Kim Rubey responded to Craigslist's lawsuit against eBay, saying: "We regret that Craigslist felt compelled to resort to unfounded and unsubstantiated claims in order to divert attention from actions by Craigslist's board that unfairly diluted our minority interest."

    EBay, the world leader in online auctions and payment services, took a minority ownership stake in Craigslist nearly four years ago as part of a strategy to buy up classified advertising services both in the United States and Europe.

    In 2004, eBay began to expand into the market through the acquisition of online classified businesses Marktplaats and later, LoQuo and Gumtree. In 2005, eBay launched its own free online classifieds site named Kijiji in nearly a dozen markets in Europe and Asia. A year ago, it entered the United States.

    Craigslist and eBay grew out of the same early rush to create Web businesses in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s.

    But their paths quickly diverged as eBay went on to dominate online auction markets, becoming a multibillion company, while Craigslist stayed true to its uncommercial ethic by not charging for most of its local listings.

    Craigslist operates with only a few dozen employees. Its headquarters is located in a modest, century-old Victorian house located in a residential neighborhood of San Francisco. It relies on volunteers to run sites in 567 cities worldwide.

    They compete directly in the United States and a dozen other countries, with Kijiji tailoring its ads to young families in contrast to Craigslist's open flea-market style.

    Craigslist's complaint alleges a plot by San Jose, California-based eBay to use its position as a minority shareholder and its position on the board to pressure Craigslist into a full-scale acquisition deal by eBay.

    Barring that, Craigslist argues eBay used its position to gather competitive information that led to the launch of eBay's rival classifieds business. It charges eBay code-named this its "Craigslist killer" in internal strategy discussions.

    "In the months leading up to the launch of its competing Kijiji site ... eBay used its shareholder status to plant on Craigslist's board of directors the individual responsible for launching and/or operating Kijiji," the latest suit alleges.

    It also alleges eBay used its position on the Craigslist board to pressure the company to provide it with key details of its expansion plans and operating performance.

    "Using the pretext that the information was necessary for Craigslist board-related matters, eBay made constant demands for confidential information in excess of what was required for that purpose," Craigslist alleges.

    Craigslist has until Monday to respond to eBay's original lawsuit that seeks to protect its minority shareholder rights.

    Rubey quoted from Craigslist's own complaint to suggest that both parties recognized that the right of the other to compete with one another. However, the Craigslist lawsuit says eBay would relinquish some rights if it chose to compete with Craigslist on online job listings, its sole source of revenue.

    The Craigslist complaint can be found at

    (Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Andre Grenon)

    Reuters - King Conan pillages before online gaming debut

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    King Conan pillages before online gaming debut

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 2:46PM UTC

    By Aasa Christine Stoltz

    OSLO, May 14 - King Conan wins a bloody final battle against a menacing mix of barbarians, assassins and sorcerers in the hills above Oslo before retreating to his virtual home where a million online gamers await him.

    With real swords, metal and leather body armor and fake blood, Norwegian gaming company Funcom launched its "Age of Conan" Internet role-playing game with a recreation of the famed Barbarian King's brutal world.

    Guests and more than 100 journalists found themselves in an ancient village, surrounded by sword-wielding warriors, soldiers on horses and leather-clad women firing arrows.

    In "Age of Conan", players enter the world of Hyboria to live, fight and explore its dark nature, wary of cruel gods and mythical creatures lurking around every corner.

    All Hyboria residents are actual people signed up to the game, taking advantage of a new technology which enables massive multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG).

    The world is based on the works of author Robert Howard, whose fictional fighter in an ancient world was brought to life on the silver screen by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 film "Conan the Barbarian".

    Funcom said that over a million fans have signed up for the test phase of the game, which boasts realistic graphics and original music.

    "We believe this represents the largest ever beta (test phase) sign-up figure in the history of this genre of games," Funcom said.

    Since the start of the year, Age of Conan had more than five million unique visitors with a total of over 70 million page views, Funcom said, citing data from Google.

    "I am really ready to give birth to this thing," game developer Gaute Godager said. "What you have today is something bigger than what we ever dreamed of having," said Godager.

    Age of Conan gives players numerous character development options and customizes skills, abilities and deadly spells to ensure that no two characters are exactly the same.

    The massive player-versus-player combat system allows warfare on an epic proportion. Players can also hire themselves out as mercenaries and battle for pay.

    "We have spent over $20 million over four years and had 200 people working on this project," Funcom's product manager Erling Ellingsen told Reuters.

    "This is in line with the biggest Norwegian film productions, if not bigger," he said on the eve of the launch in North America on May 20. The game will launch in Europe three days later.

    Reuters - IBM to offer business intelligence via BlackBerry

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    IBM to offer business intelligence via BlackBerry

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 6:3PM UTC

    BOSTON (Reuters) - IBM said on Wednesday it has started selling software that lets customers access its Cognos business intelligence software via BlackBerry mobile devices.

    The device maker, Research in Motion is encouraging businesses to create software specifically for the BlackBerry so that it can boost usage beyond the e-mail, messaging, calendar and phone services for which it is best known.

    The Cognos program, which sells at a list price of $300 per user, allows customers to view real-time analytics on the state of their business on their BlackBerrys.

    The computing giant has also introduced programs that allow BlackBerry users to quickly locate and communicate with colleagues with expertise in specific business areas.

    A third new product from IBM allows users to access personalized content from their corporate websites via the BlackBerry, IBM said.

    Armonk, New York-based IBM acquired the business intelligence programs in January with its purchase of Canada's Cognos for about $4.9 billion.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Brian Moss)

    Reuters - GPS grows as a crime-fighting tool in U.S

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    GPS grows as a crime-fighting tool in U.S

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 2:30PM UTC

    By Jason Szep

    BOSTON (Reuters) - It was just after 10 p.m. when William Cotter, wearing a belt full of ammunition, burst into the home of his estranged wife, Dorothy, shooting her in the back with a sawed-off shot gun before taking his own life.

    Just five days earlier, a court had ordered him to stay away from his wife after decades of drunken violence and she was carrying a panic button linked to the local police station, in Amesbury, Massachusetts. But it wasn't enough to save her on the night of March 26, 2002.

    Fast-forward six years. Electronic surveillance technology is changing the way authorities in the United States monitor repeat offenders. Its advocates say the new technology could have saved Dorothy's life. Its detractors fear a widening breach of civil liberties and an illusory sense of protection.

    Coast to coast, authorities are expanding electronic monitoring to fight crime -- moving beyond its early use in tracking movements of sex offenders to include gang members who have been released on probation, people accused of repeated violence against women and even truant students at schools.

    At the heart of the surveillance is a technology best-known for helping people on the road: the global positioning system.

    Other countries are watching closely. GPS monitoring is already established in parts of Europe but applied more narrowly, and it's growing fast in Latin America, said Jeff Durski, spokesman for iSECUREtrac Corp, based in Omaha, Nebraska, which manufactures the devices and leases them to police and courts.

    Massachusetts, one of the first states to employ it in 2006, now has about 700 people fitted with electronic bracelets that send signals via satellite to computer servers if they go places they shouldn't -- so-called "exclusion zones."

    The Massachusetts law, which allows judges to impose electronic monitoring as a condition of a restraining order, has become a model for states such as Illinois and Oklahoma.

    The Oklahoma Senate voted 47-0 in April to enlist GPS technology to protect victims of domestic violence. The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed similar surveillance legislation last month.

    Part of the appeal is money. GPS is a cost-effective alternative to prison, said Paul Lucci, deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Probation Service, pointing to a chart taped to his office wall showing a state-wide surge in use of GPS -- mostly to track sex offenders but also for others.

    "These people probably should be in jail but the cost of incarceration can be as much as $30,000 or $40,000 a year. The GPS costs about $3,400 a year," he said.

    "I think it's good on both sides. It is a device to protect the public. Although we can't guarantee anyone's safety, it provides an extra level of supervision on somebody. On the other side, for a defense attorney, it is in lieu of incarceration," said Lucci.


    The Massachusetts law was inspired in part by Cotter's death and other cases of repeated abuse in a country where authorities say more than 1,000 women are murdered each year by intimate partners. It alerts police whenever an offender enters a restricted zone such as near a woman's home or office.

    "It's more than just slapping a GPS on a guy. You have to really have an intelligent coordinated approach to it and then it really can save lives," said Diane Rosenfeld, a professor at Harvard Law School who helped draft the Massachusetts law.

    The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, a women's shelter which in 2006 began piloting the GPS program in Newburyport, a Massachusetts city north of Boston, has a high success rate -- none of the eight men fitted with GPS have violated protective orders while wearing the bracelets.

    Kelly Dunne, associate director at the center, said Dorothy Cotter's murder highlighted several major problems. A judge, for example, released her husband without bail less than a week after he violated a restraining order and threatened to kill her. Five days later, he murdered her.

    "As a result of that homicide, we now identify high-risk perpetrators as early as possible," she said. "In some cases the judge orders GPS," she said.


    Authorities see it as an alternative to overflowing prisons in a country with the world's highest incarceration rate.

    The number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970 to 2.2 million people -- nearly a fourth of the world's total, according to the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group.

    North Carolina's eastern Pitt County, a rural tobacco-growing region of 138,690 people, adopted the technology in late 2005 to relieve overcrowded jails by freeing more accused batterers on bond and tracking them with GPS before they go to trial. It was expanded last year to four more counties.

    In a measure of success, police dispatchers receive fewer calls involving the same person when an offender wears a GPS bracelet. Pitt County's recidivism rate for domestic violence fell from 36 percent in 2004 to 14 percent this year, said Sgt. John Guard of local sheriff's domestic violence unit.

    But once batterers finish the program and go off GPS, the rate shot back up to around 40 percent, he added.

    "It may help in the short term pre-trial. But post-trial, it's not. That tells me there are other things we have to do to ensure the safety of the victims," he said.

    There are other concerns. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield warned a Harvard Law School panel in February that GPS may offer only a "high tech illusion of safety" that fails to do more to protect women than traditional restraining orders, according to the law school's newspaper, The Record.

    "We don't ever say to anyone that this will save your life," said Barry Bryant, deputy director of the Governor's Crime Commission in North Carolina.

    "It doesn't really guarantee much because the truth is it's real time. If someone has entered a zone where they shouldn't be, can you get there before they do something violent? I don't know. But it's an added measure of safety."

    He said police, not the court, mostly determine who wears the surveillance bracelets in North Carolina -- a nuance that raises civil liberties concerns.

    "This should be done by independent judicial officials, not by police officers whose job is to investigate, not to mete out justice," said Barry Steinhardt, head of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology program in Washington.

    "You want to protect the victims of domestic violence but there has to be a fair process."

    (Reporting by Jason Szep; Editing by Eddie Evans)

    Reuters - Nokia sees half of cellphones with GPS in 2010-12

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    Nokia sees half of cellphones with GPS in 2010-12

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 8:51AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Nokia <NOK1V.HE> plans to add navigation to half of the phones it sells within a few years to find new revenue streams amid decreasing handset prices, a senior official at the world's top cellphone maker said.

    Michael Halbherr, the head of Nokia's location-based activities, told Reuters he remains comfortable with Nokia's year-old goal for seeing up to 50 percent of its phones equipped with global positioning system (GPS) chips in 2010 to 2012.

    "We are planning to ship 35 million GPS units this year," Halbherr said, adding "and many more location-enabled phones that use cell-towers to orient themselves on the map".

    "You will see few 'E' or 'N' Series phones without GPS," he said.

    Last year Nokia sold 437 million phones, and it expects the volume to grow more than 10 percent this year. It sold 38 million phones in its multimedia range "N Series" and some 7 million "E Series" business phones.

    GPS chips use orbiting satellites to pinpoint the whereabouts of a phone user, thereby enabling a host of location-based services. SiRF Technology Holdings Inc <SIRF.O> is the world's largest maker of GPS chips.

    Last October, when unveiling an $8.1 billion offer for U.S. based digital map supplier Navteq <NVT.N>, Nokia said it would have tens of navigation-enabled phones on the market by end-2008.

    It sells five models with built-in GPS and has unveiled four more which will ship in the coming months.

    Halbherr said his company's GPS phone strategy goes far beyond the phones themselves.

    It's part of a comprehensive strategy to make location-enabled, context-aware phones available across its product line, he said.

    Beyond phones specially equipped with location-finding technology, all Nokia phones stand to benefit as GPS phone users move about and effectively update Nokia Maps in real time for other phone users.

    "Location will ultimately be in every device," Halbherr declared, not just the half of phones with special GPS chips.

    In addition to GPS chips, Nokia's strategy involves pushing Wi-Fi enabled devices that use local wireless network antennas to achieve more or less the same location-awareness in these devices. Even phones without GPS or Wi-Fi can use local cellphone towers to identify their position on maps, he noted.

    Nokia Maps, first introduced in early 2006, will come out with a version 2.0 for phones worldwide later this month.

    Halbherr mocks the current rush by Internet companies such as Google <GOOG.O>, Yahoo <YHOO.O> and Microsoft <MSFT.O> to deliver all their services as centralized, Web-based services over the network, rather than using the growing powers of the device in users' hands.

    "I believe memory and computation speed will grow faster than bandwidth," he said. "I am not a believer in cloud computing."

    "All the American navigation solutions are basically server based, which overloads the network and degrades the consumer experience," Halbherr said, referring to both Internet map services and companies specializing in car navigation.

    (Reporting by Eric Auchard; Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki, editing by Will Waterman)

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