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    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Reuters - Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock in bold Montreux premiere

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    Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock in bold Montreux premiere

    Monday, Jul 06, 2009 10:56AM UTC

    By Stephanie Nebehay

    MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Chinese piano virtuoso Lang Lang made his first appearance at the Montreux jazz festival on Sunday, teaming up with veteran Herbie Hancock in an audacious show blending classical and jazz music.

    The two men dressed in black sat facing each other at twin grand pianos to perform a program ranging from Maurice Ravel to George Gershwin.

    "I am very happy to debut here at this great jazz festival. Don't worry, there will be some jazzy stuff later on," Lang Lang, 27, reassured the Swiss audience at the sell-out event.

    "We're having a quiet party now," he said after the unlikely pair launched into Ralph Vaughan Williams's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, accompanied by the Orchestre National de Lyon, conducted by John Axelrod.

    Lang Lang, perhaps the best known young pianist on the international stage, then played two stirring solos, Liebestraum by Franz Liszt and Tango.

    He took up piano aged 2 and gave his first public recital at the age of 5, going on to perform at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last August. He lives in the United States.

    Lang Lang and Hancock are booked at London's Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, July 11 on a world tour culminating at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles next month.

    One could hear a pin drop in the celebrated Stravinski Auditorium, where only a day before Steely Dan and Dave Matthews led a hard-jamming Fourth of July party. The Black Eyed Peas follows on Monday night at the venue along Lake Geneva.

    Festival founder Claude Nobs proposed the two musicians team up while attending the 2008 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles where he watched an improvised performance by Hancock and Lang Lang.

    Hancock, making his 30th Montreux appearance at the 43-year-old festival, sat next to the spiky-haired Lang Lang for Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, rearranged for four hands.

    Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for two pianos and orchestra mesmerized the crowd of all ages who paid up to 300 Swiss francs a ticket. The pair ended with Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 -- which Lang Lang says inspired him when he heard it in a Tom & Jerry cartoon at 2 years old.

    Producer and composer Quincy Jones, who co-produced the Swiss festival from 1991-93, is back in town for a few days and made a cameo appearance to introduce the pair.

    "I'm happy to play a tiny part in this momentous occasion. As usual, Claude knows how to make it special," he said.

    "Herbie has been practicing up to five hours a day -- as serious as a heart attack," Jones said. "This is one of the highests of highs, it's as good as it gets."

    (Editing by Louise Ireland)

    Reuters - Sun to distribute Carbonite's PC backup service

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    Sun to distribute Carbonite's PC backup service

    Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 7:13PM UTC

    BOSTON (Reuters) - Sun Microsystems Inc will distribute an Internet-based PC backup service from tiny industry pioneer Carbonite, which competes with tech industry giants EMC Corp and Symantec Corp.

    They are battling for dominance in a fledgling market that technology research firm Gartner projects will grow to about $820 million in 2013 from $300 million last year. The services use the Internet to copy important PC data onto remote servers.

    Boston-based Carbonite said on Tuesday that Sun will offer U.S. customers a free one-month trial of the backup service when they download or update Sun's widely used Java software for personal computers.

    At the end of the trial, users will be asked to buy a subscription to the service.

    EMC, the world's biggest corporate data storage equipment maker, and Symantec, the largest maker of backup software, got into the market by acquiring two of Carbonite's chief rivals.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; editing by Andre Grenon)

    Reuters - Dell launches digital forensics service for police

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    Dell launches digital forensics service for police

    Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 3:40PM UTC

    LONDON (Reuters) - Dell Inc, the world's second-biggest maker of personal computers, launched a package of hardware, software and services on Tuesday designed to help police convict more criminals as digital evidence proliferates.

    The company said its digital-forensics package would help police reduce backlogs that can be as long as two years as it would allow multiple analysts to work simultaneously on the same data while preserving an audit trail of evidence-handling.

    The package, launched with partners including Intel, gives customers tools to build and host their own datacentre, meaning they can have the convenience of so-called cloud computing while keeping control of it themselves.

    James Quarles, Dell's head of public-sector marketing in Europe, told Reuters that customers remotely accessing criminal evidence in parallel from such datacenters could gain a crucial time advantage, for example when legally constrained as to how long they could hold terrorism suspects without evidence.

    Dell reorganized its operations at the end of last year to group them around customer segments, one of which was the public sector, instead of around geographical regions, and said on Tuesday this had helped its new digital-forensics push.

    Josh Claman, head of Dell's European public-sector business, said in a blog the new product "embodies everything we wanted to achieve when we decided to restructure the way Public Sector customers' needs are addressed." (en.community.dell.com/blogs)

    Dell made about $15 billion in sales to the public sector last year, including hospitals, government, education and defense -- about a quarter of its total revenue.

    The company cited estimates by research firm IDC that the U.S. digital-forensics market would be worth $630 million this year, up from $252 million in 2004, while the international market would be worth $1.8 billion by 2011.

    Apart from chipmaker Intel, partners in Dell's offering include data-storage gear maker EMC Corp, business-software maker Oracle Corp, security-software maker Symantec Corp and privately held digital-forensics specialist AccessData.

    Dell will present the new service to Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers on Tuesday.

    (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Holmes and Hans Peters)

    Reuters - Stars sing for Jackson in emotional farewell

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    Stars sing for Jackson in emotional farewell

    Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 8:19PM UTC

    By Bob Tourtellotte

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Usher led an emotional public memorial for Michael Jackson on Tuesday as the music world, the Jackson family and thousands of fans bade farewell to the "King of Pop."

    Jackson's brothers, each wearing a single sequined glove in homage to his signature look, carried the singer's gold-trimmed casket into the Staples Center sports arena, where Jackson had rehearsed the day before his death for a highly-anticipated series of comeback concerts.

    Carey performed Jackson's 1970 ballad "I'll Be There" and singer Smokey Robinson read out tributes from former South African president Nelson Mandela and singer Diana Ross.

    But it was Jackson himself who loomed larger than life over the 18,000-plus arena crowd, shown in old concert footage, music videos and news clips, singing, dancing his signature moonwalk and surrounded by adoring crowds.

    "The more I think about Michael, and talk about Michael, the more I think that 'King of Pop' is not good enough," said Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, who signed The Jackson 5 in 1968. "I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived."

    Jackson's sudden death from cardiac arrest in Los Angeles on June 25 at the age of 50 prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief and sent sales of his biggest hits back to the top of the music charts.

    President Barack Obama, on a visit to Russia, said he was "one of the greatest entertainers of our generation, perhaps any generation," and added: "I think like Elvis, like Sinatra, like The Beatles he became a core part of our culture.

    Tuesday's two-hour memorial focused on Jackson's 45-year music career, his charity work for childrens' groups and his role in opening the mainstream pop and celebrity world up to African-Americans.

    Gordy was among the few who referred obliquely to the darker side of Jackson's life, which in the last 10 years had come to overshadow his prowess as a performer and his 13 Grammy awards.

    "Though it ended way too soon, Michael's life was beautiful. Sure there was some sad times and maybe some questionable decisions on his part, but Michael Jackson accomplished everything he dreamed of," said Gordy.

    "NOTHING STRANGE" ABOUT DADDY

    Jackson was on the eve of a comeback after his career collapsed despite his acquittal in a humiliating 2005 trial on sex abuse charges.

    Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, angrily denouncing the media focus on the bizarre aspects of his life, said he had a message for Jackson's three children.

    "Wasn't nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with," he said to cheers.

    Jackson's three children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, 7, appeared with the family on stage at the end of the performances. Paris, in tears, took the microphone to say: "Ever since I was born my daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine and I just want to say I love him so much."

    R&B singer Usher's voice cracked as he sang "Gone Too Soon" while actress Brooke Shields, who briefly dated the singer, remembered his laugh as "the sweetest and purest of anyone's I had ever known."

    Jackson's family and close friends held a brief private ceremony earlier on Tuesday at a Los Angeles cemetery before unexpectedly bringing the singer's body to the memorial.

    Fans watched from bridges as the funeral procession made its way along freeways cleared of traffic for one of the biggest celebrity events ever seen in a city accustomed to living with superstar citizens.

    Police had estimated that more than 250,000 people would gather outside the arena but the orderly crowds were much smaller than expected. Many fans and downtown office workers appeared to have stayed at home to watch the ceremony live on national TV networks or on the Internet.

    At the Staples Center, Los Angeles resident Parisa Ebraihimi, 28, said she had been a Jackson fan since she was five years old. "For me, his dance moves and his music -- all his songs were about a better world. He'll live on for generations," she said.

    Police, security, escorts and sanitation for the memorial ceremony are expected to cost cash-strapped Los Angeles city council nearly $4 million. The city council on Tuesday launched a web site asking for fans to make donations toward the cost of hosting Tuesday's events.

    (Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Mary Milliken and David Storey)

    Reuters - Phelps has limited ambition one year on from Beijing

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    Phelps has limited ambition one year on from Beijing

    Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 7:53AM UTC

    By Steve Keating

    INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Michael Phelps, who 12 months ago was targeting an Olympic record eight gold medals, was this week pondering only the goal of making the U.S. world championship team.

    Much has changed for Phelps in a tumultuous 12 months.

    After scaling new heights in Beijing, the 24-year-old swimmer tumbled from grace, falling so hard he pondered retirement during a three-month ban from USA Swimming for being photographed inhaling from a pipe used for smoking marijuana.

    But a motivated Phelps is back in the pool set to face his first true test since the Beijing Games at the U.S. Nationals, which also serve as the qualifying event for the world championships in Rome.

    It seems inconceivable a swimmer in his prime with 14 Olympic and 17 world championship gold medals and a raft of world records should be concerned about such routine matters as earning a spot on the U.S. team.

    But these trials hold fear for Phelps as he continues his transition from all-rounder to sprinter.

    New events, a new stroke and a return to competition that has produced nearly as many defeats as victories, left Phelps cautioning that there were no guarantees he will secure spots in all four events he will contest in Indianapolis, the 100 and 200 meters freestyle and 100 and 200m butterfly.

    In order to book his ticket to Rome and his fifth world championships, Phelps must place among the top two in each event at the Natatorium.

    "It doesn't matter to me if I'm the favorite or I'm not," Phelps told reporters on Monday. "The one thing I enjoy the most is being able to step up against anybody if they're faster than me.

    "I like stepping up and racing people.

    "The 100 free, I know I'm not the best but if I have the opportunity to step up and race the best then that's something I've always enjoyed."

    "I have to make the team before I decide anything. Bob (coach Bob Bowman) and I just wanted to get here and see where we stand."

    UNCHARTED WATERS

    What Phelps is trying to do is not unlike a Formula One driver making the jump to stock cars, yet these are not completely uncharted waters for the world's greatest swimmer.

    Phelps already holds the world record in 200m butterfly and 200m freestyle as well as the American mark in the 100m free and he is rapidly closing in on the 100m butterfly world record.

    Just two weeks ago in Montreal, Phelps clocked a time of 50.48 seconds in the 100m fly, the third fastest time ever in the event and just .08 off the record held by compatriot Ian Crocker.

    "I think I'm back to where I want to be at this point, probably a little faster than I thought I would be," said Phelps, who will swim his first preliminary heat on Wednesday.

    "I have unfinished business.

    "When I retire I want to be able to look back at my career and say that I did everything I wanted to do.

    "That's the only way I'll be able to look back and say that was a great career.

    "The only thing that keeps me going is the goals I have."

    (Editing by Ed Osmond)

    Reuters - France's Montcourt dies aged 24

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    France's Montcourt dies aged 24

    Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 11:49AM UTC

    PARIS (Reuters) - French tennis player Mathieu Montcourt died Monday night at the age of 24, the French tennis federation said Tuesday.

    It said the cause of death was unknown.

    Montcourt was 119th in the ATP world rankings.

    (Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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