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    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Reuters - Opposites attract in human search for mate

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    Opposites attract in human search for mate

    Monday, May 25, 2009 2:52PM UTC

    By Kylie MacLellan

    LONDON (Reuters) - When it comes to choosing a mate, opposites really do attract, according to a Brazilian study that found people are subconsciously more likely to choose a partner whose genetic make-up is different to their own.

    They found evidence that married couples are more likely to have genetic differences in a DNA region governing the immune system than were randomly matched pairs.

    This was likely to be an evolutionary strategy to ensure healthy reproduction because genetic variability is an advantage for offspring, Maria da Graca Bicalho and her colleagues at the University of Parana in Brazil reported.

    "Although it may be tempting to think that humans choose their partners because of their similarities, our research has shown clearly that it is differences that make for successful reproduction, and that the subconscious drive to have healthy children is important when choosing a mate," Bicalho said in a statement.

    Scientists said it was not clear what signals attract the body to people who are genetically dissimilar to themselves, but suggested body odor or even face structure could play a role.

    Many researchers have found evidence than animals are attracted to members of the opposite sex with differences in major histocompatibility complex or MHC, an immune system factor that also plays a role in having healthy offspring.

    Bicalho, who will present her findings at a conference of the European Society of Human Genetics in Vienna on Monday, said the team compared genetic data from 90 married couples with data from 152 randomly generated control couples.

    They found the real couples had significantly more dissimilarities in MHC.

    "Parents with dissimilar (genetic regions) could provide their offspring with a better chance to ward infections off because their immune system genes are more diverse," they wrote in a summary prepared for the meeting.

    "If MHC genes did not influence mate selection we would have expected to see similar results from both sets of couples. But we found that the real partners had significantly more MHC dissimilarities than we could have expected to find simply by chance," Bicalho said.

    "Our research has shown clearly that it is differences that make for successful reproduction, and that the subconscious drive to have healthy children is important when choosing a mate," she added.

    Previous studies have suggested animals may use body odor as a guide to identify possible mates as being genetically similar or dissimilar, she added, but other physical factors may also be involved.

    "Other cues such as face symmetry might play a role as well, but they are still in the field of speculation," she said.

    (Editing by Charles Dick)

    Reuters - Nokia starts roll-out of Apple App Store rival

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    Nokia starts roll-out of Apple App Store rival

    Monday, May 25, 2009 3:33PM UTC

    By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia on Monday began rolling out its much-anticipated online software and content store, Ovi Store, as it aims to follow the success of Apple's App Store.

    Nokia said it had started moving Ovi Store to production servers, preparing for the global commercial launch, and the store was opened to users of a few of its phone models in Australia and Singapore on Monday.

    Nokia has promised to open the store globally this week.

    To cope with slowing phone demand Nokia is building a new business from mobile Internet services -- like games or maps -- but is scaling back separate investment plans due to the slowdown, and focusing on merging the delivery of services.

    Nokia, which made its first ever quarterly pretax loss in January-March, is cutting annual costs at its key handset unit alone by more than 700 million euros ($979.7 million) to counter plunging phone demand.

    The Apple App Store has proved extremely popular, with one billion applications downloaded in less than a year, and operators and technology firms including Vodafone Nokia, and Microsoft now want a piece of the pie.

    However, analysts say firms will likely struggle to match the success of Apple's store when creating their own stores, hampered by technical issues, a lack of applications and increased competition.

    "Ovi Store is in some ways the last castle for Nokia - both N-Gage and 'Comes with Music' are industry laughing stocks," said Global Crown analyst Tero Kuittinen.

    Games and music have been spearheads of Nokia's services push, but its mobile gaming offering has had little success, and its much-hyped music offering, which bundles free music downloads with a sold phone, has also found few clients.

    Nokia will also sell games and music through the Ovi Store.

    "Ovi Store is where Nokia tries to re-group and muster its forces for a counter-offensive," Kuittinen said.

    After Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, handset vendor rivals all focused their efforts on building similar, sleek devices with large touch screens -- a situation that is being repeated in 2009 in the rush to build a rival App Store.

    Research firm Strategy Analytics has forecast the value of the mobile content market -- including downloadable games, ringtones, wallpapers, video, mobile TV, text alerts and mobile Web browsing -- to grow 15 percent this year to $62 billion.

    Nokia shares rose slightly on the news, up 1.3 percent at 10.76 euros at 1501 GMT.

    The store will combine Nokia's legacy software distribution channels such as the Download! service, which has been pre-installed on more than 200 million phones. However, only a fraction of those phones have ever been used to buy a program through the service.

    In late April, Nokia said it would have operator billing -- something it expects to boost takeup -- in place in eight countries for its launch, but dropped an earlier goal of including the key U.S. market from the start.

    ($1=.7145 Euro)

    (Additional reporting by Brett Young; editing by Simon Jessop)

    Reuters - YouTube star who witnessed shooting comes clean

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    YouTube star who witnessed shooting comes clean

    Monday, May 25, 2009 2:48PM UTC

    CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australia woman's account of a late night shooting in Sydney has turned her into an Internet sensation with T-shirts, mugs and a dance remix made in her honor but there's just one problem -- she made it up.

    Sydney woman Clare Werbeloff's dramatic account of a shooting, with her "chk chk boom" firing of a gun and imitation of the men involved, made her an overnight hit on video sharing website YouTube, prompting about 500,000 viewings.

    The 19-year-old has since received invitations to appear on various TV shows and even the offer of a bikini photo shoot.

    But the Australian media were left red-faced when the first task of Werbeloff's newly hired agent Adam Abrams was to admit his client did not actually witness the shooting, and told police that she made the story up for a TV camera on site.

    Abrams told Australian media that Werbeloff would not detail her reasons for fabricating the story but denied the video was an advertising setup. Werbeloff had gone into hiding after media camped outside her home.

    The 27-year-old victim of the shooting, Sydneysider Justin Kallu, was not amused as he nursed a wounded knee.

    "I'm just a bit upset about the fact that I've been shot and that I almost lost my life and there's this girl all over the news getting popular, all because she has no brains," Kallu said in emailed comments to newspapers.

    (Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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