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    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    Reuters - Oracle claims firm stole its intellectual property

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    Oracle claims firm stole its intellectual property

    Friday, Jan 29, 2010 12:28AM UTC

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oracle Corp has filed a suit against a little known rival that provides low-cost software maintenance services, in a case similar to one that Oracle is fighting against rival SAP AG.

    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in Nevada on Monday, alleges that privately held Rimini Street stole copyrighted material using the online access codes of Oracle customers.

    Rimini Street Chief Executive Seth Ravin denied the allegations, saying in an interview on Thursday that his company had done nothing wrong.

    "We are going to fight this battle," he said. "The specific allegations we are going to be answering vigorously and aggressively when the time comes in court."

    Las Vegas-based Rimini Street sells updates and bug-fixes to Oracle's software for about half of what Oracle charges its customers. Ravin said his company booked about $150 million in business last year.

    The charges are similar to claims that Oracle made in a high-profile lawsuit against SAP's TomorrowNow business unit.

    Oracle alleges that SAP's Texas-based TomorrowNow business unit illegally used customer log-ins to steal copyrighted materials from Oracle's password-protected Web site.

    That case is due to go to trial in San Francisco federal court in November.

    Ravin is a co-founder of TomorrowNow, which SAP bought in January 2005. He founded Rimini Street in September 2005.

    Maintenance services are one of Oracle's core profit generators. That business generated $11.8 billion in its most recent fiscal year, or about half Oracle's total revenue.

    "We are committed to enforcing our intellectual property rights against those who steal or infringe" upon them, Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; editing by Carol Bishopric, Gary Hill)

    Reuters - AT&T profit rises 26 percent, plans more spending

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    AT&T profit rises 26 percent, plans more spending

    Thursday, Jan 28, 2010 8:0PM UTC

    By Paul Thomasch and Sinead Carew

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumers' obsession with using smartphones to find restaurants, surf the web and navigate city streets helped propel a 26 percent rise in AT&T's <T.N> quarterly profit -- but at a cost for the operator.

    The strain that wireless devices like smartphones and e-readers have placed on AT&T's network is such that the company announced on Thursday it will increase capital spending by about $2 billion this year, targeting improvements in its wireless service.

    The increase was unveiled as AT&T posted revenue and earnings that largely matched analysts' estimates, although its addition of 2.7 million net subscribers in the fourth quarter was nearly 1 million more than expected.

    Analysts did, however, point out that just 910,000 of those were the highly prized monthly bill-paying customers, compared with bigger rival Verizon Wireless' addition of 1.15 million postpaid users.

    Every new AT&T customer puts more demands on its network. Consumers have complained about service problems in cities such New York and San Francisco, where there are a high proportion of data-hungry iPhone users surfing the web on the go. AT&T is the exclusive U.S. carrier for Apple Inc's <AAPL.O> wildly popular iPhone.

    Given the strain on its network, AT&T's announcement yesterday that it will support Apple's iPad tablet is being viewed as a mixed blessing.

    To that end, AT&T will increase capital spending by up to 10 percent from 2009 to a range of $18 billion to $19 billion. The roughly $2 billion increase includes spending on wireless network capacity and wires connecting mobile towers.

    SLOW ECONOMIC RECOVERY

    The spending boost comes as AT&T, along with rivals like Verizon, complained of a sluggish economy.

    "Looking to 2010 we're modeling a slow recovery in the economy and employment," said Rick Lindner, chief financial officer of AT&T.

    But even in a weak economy consumers appear willing to buy devices like iPhone, which was activated on AT&T's network by 3.1 million customers in the quarter.

    Lindner said the high-profile iPad would come with "very positive" economics for AT&T because it neither has to share service revenue with Apple nor subsidize the price of the device.

    In contrast, AT&T's payment of hefty subsidies for the iPhone has made its profit margins slimmer than some analysts had hoped even as it brings millions of customers to its network.

    AT&T said it would expand wireless margins this year to the low 40 percent range from below 39 percent in the fourth quarter, and it set a long-term goal of margins around 45 percent. Verizon already produces margins in this range.

    While iPad will not hit the market for months, other similar devices are already helping AT&T.

    Analysts said, in fact, that the quarter's subscriber surprise came from the number of customers that AT&T added with wireless links to devices such as Amazon.com Inc's <AMZN.O> Kindle, Sony Corp's <6758.T> Reader Daily Edition, and the Barnes & Noble <BKS.N> Nook. In this "emerging devices" category, AT&T brought about 1 million users aboard.

    Devices such as e-readers are seen bringing in much less monthly revenue per customer than traditional cellphones, but since they are unsubsidized they offer healthy profit margins.

    "I don't want to overstate the value of it, but it's a very high profit margin business," said Piper Jaffray analyst Chris Larsen. "There is very little cost associated with the business -- it might be a low revenue per individual user business, but it's a high margin business."

    AT&T's quarterly earnings rose in line with Wall Street expectations to $3.01 billion, or 51 cents a share, from $2.40 billion, or 41 cents a share, a year ago, when it took charges for staff cuts and investment losses.

    Revenue fell nearly 1 percent to $30.9 billion, which met analyst estimates, according Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    For 2010, AT&T said it would deliver "stable consolidated revenues and stable-to-improved consolidated operating income margins, leading to stable-to-improved earnings per share."

    Its shares were up 3 cents at $25.59 cents on NYSE.

    (Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Sinead Carew; Editing by Derek Caney and Steve Orlofsky)

    Reuters - Startpage launches anonymous Web search service

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    Startpage launches anonymous Web search service

    Thursday, Jan 28, 2010 2:2PM UTC

    By Georgina Prodhan

    LONDON (Reuters) - Search-engine company Startpage launched a service allowing users concerned about privacy to carry out Web searches and click on linked pages without being identified, tracked or recorded.

    Unlike mainstream search engines that gather commercially valuable information about user behavior, privately held Startpage (www.startpage.com) has focused on privacy since 2005.

    Startpage -- also known as Ixquick outside the United States and Britain -- had already offered private searching, but users would leave the company's protection when they clicked on a search result and entered a third-party website.

    The new service offers use of a Startpage proxy that means the user is invisible to all websites, though pages load more slowly since Startpage must first retrieve the contents and then redisplay them.

    "My wake-up call came last year," says Katherine Albrecht, who runs U.S. media relations and marketing for Startpage and who says she noticed Google Inc had installed a program monitoring users who typed in terms indicating they had influenza -- and was sharing the information with the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

    "I had been a privacy advocate for 10 years, but even so I was using Google just like everybody else," she said.

    The chief executive of Google, which dominates the global Web search market, outraged critics last month with comments in a TV interview. "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Eric Schmidt said in a interview on news channel CNBC.

    "The reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time," he said. "We are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."

    In 2006, however, Google was the only major search engine to reject a U.S. Justice Department subpoena to hand over data, saying the demand violated the privacy of users' searches and its own trade secrets.

    Rivals Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc complied. Startpage does not keep information about its users on file, so it could not be forced to hand anything over.

    Startpage says it has been profitable for the last five years. It is funded by advertising including sponsored links that are matched to the content of Websites and searches, but not to user profiles.

    Startpage, which was founded in New York and is owned by private Dutch company Surfboard Holding BV, does not publish user numbers but says it had served over 1.2 billion searches as of December 2009.

    It also competes with Infospace's Dogpile, WebCrawler and MetaCrawler in metasearch, or returning results from multiple search engines. It is also exploring ways to offer private email.

    (Editing by David Holmes)

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Reuters - China paper slams U.S. for cyber role in Iran unrest

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    China paper slams U.S. for cyber role in Iran unrest

    Sunday, Jan 24, 2010 12:28PM UTC

    By Lucy Hornby

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Communist Party mouthpiece on Sunday accused the United States of mounting a cyber army and a "hacker brigade," and of exploiting social media like Twitter or Youtube to foment unrest in Iran.

    The People's Daily accused the United States of controlling the Internet in the name of Internet freedom after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for more Internet freedoms in China and elsewhere in a speech on Thursday.

    China on Friday warned that Washington's push against Internet censorship could harm ties.

    "Behind what America calls free speech is naked political scheming. How did the unrest after the Iranian elections come about?" said the editorial, signed by Wang Xiaoyang.

    "It was because online warfare launched by America, via Youtube video and Twitter microblogging, spread rumors, created splits, stirred up, and sowed discord between the followers of conservative reformist factions."

    China has blocked Youtube since March, the anniversary of uprisings in Tibet, and Twitter since June, just before the 20th anniversary of a crackdown on protestors in and near Tiananmen Square. Facebook has been down since early July.

    The People's Daily editorial asked rhetorically if obscene information or activities promoting terrorism would be allowed on the Internet in the U.S.

    "We're afraid that in the eyes of American politicians, only information controlled by America is free information, only news acknowledged by America is free news, only speech approved by America is free speech, and only information flow that suits American interests is free information flow," it said.

    Clinton's speech came shortly after Google revealed a sophisticated hacking attack, and said it might close its google.cn Chinese search engine if it could not find a way to offer a legal, unfiltered search service in China.

    "Everyone with technical knowledge of computers knows that just because a hacker used an IP address in China, the attack was not necessarily launched by a Chinese hacker," Zhou Yonglin, deputy operations director of the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team, said in an interview carried in a number of Chinese newspapers on Sunday.

    Zhou mentioned an outage suffered by Chinese search engine Baidu on January 12 but did not mention that it was attacked by the Iranian Cyber Army, which had previously attacked Twitter, nor that Chinese hackers launched retaliatory attacks on Iranian sites the next day.

    The People's Daily also denounced a May ban on Microsoft's instant messaging services to nations covered by U.S. sanctions, including Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea, as violating the U.S. stated desire for free information flow.

    (Additional reporting by Li Jiansheng; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Reuters - Tablet launch, earnings mean big week for Apple

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    Tablet launch, earnings mean big week for Apple

    Friday, Jan 22, 2010 10:31PM UTC

    By Gabriel Madway

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Few events can steal the thunder from an Apple Inc quarterly earnings day -- an Apple product launch is one of them.

    The company releases quarterly results on Monday, but Wall Street is waiting for Wednesday, when Apple could unveil a new tablet computer that investors hope will be as huge a phenomenon as its iconic iPod and iPhone.

    The week could provide a pair of long-term catalysts for Apple's stock. But the company's shares often sell off right after major launches after months of rumor fuel big expectations.

    Little is known about the device, despite a rabid fan following speculating on everything from the component makers to its shape and form. Industry watchers are bullish. They say Apple's obsession to detail gives the so-called "iSlate" a big edge in a computer category that had been deemed a failure.

    "If Apple is going to design a product, then it's going to be the best design in the marketplace," said Broadpoint Amtech analyst Brian Marshall. "To bet that it's going to be a flop is a bad bet."

    Most analysts have not factored the tablet into estimates for fiscal 2010, but sell-siders have been busy lifting price targets on Apple's stock in the past month.

    To be sure, Apple is setting itself quite a task, one that has frustrated previous attempts: to sell consumers on the value of a device that sits somewhere between a full-sized laptop and a pocket cellphone.

    The device is hyped as a do-everything, go-everywhere touchscreen media gadget that bridges the gap between smartphones, laptops and electronic readers. Magazine, book and newspaper publishers are reportedly talking with Apple about providing material.

    "There's a huge potential long-term story there for Apple," said Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell. "Whether they get it right the first time, we'll have to wait and see, but they have a pretty good track record."

    IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT

    Wall Street will pay particular attention to the tablet's price tag. If it is closer to $1,000 than $600, analysts say it will be tougher to convince consumers to buy.

    Apple could offer it under carrier-subsidized plans -- Verizon Wireless is frequently mentioned -- which might help take the bite out of the purchase price.

    Analysts believe Apple will sell 2 million to 5 million tablets in the first year.

    The device could add $1 per share to Apple's non-GAAP earnings in the year, and generate $2.8 billion to $3.5 billion of revenue, with a $700 average selling price, said Cross research analyst Shannon Cross.

    Its Monday earnings run-down will serve as a warm-up for the tablet launch. Strong iPhone sales and continued momentum from its Mac computers should fuel the results.

    Given Apple's recent tradition of shredding Wall Street's estimates, investors will expect nothing less than a strong beat when it reports fiscal first-quarter results. The company is trading at around 27 times forward earnings.

    Apple has bested Wall Street EPS targets by at least 15 percent in the past four quarters, and analyst sentiment on the company is trending upward, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters StarMine.

    According to StarMine's SmartEstimate, which places more weight on recent forecasts by top-rated analysts, Apple should post EPS of $2.11 a share on revenue of $12.16 billion

    "It really boils down to one point, is their beat big enough?" said Jessup & Lamont analyst Kevin Dede. "If you're long, just ride this one out, but if you're a hedge fund, maybe you want to think twice."

    Apple's shares have risen around 9 percent since mid-December when hype about the tablet quickened, and are trading a few dollars shy of an all-time high. It is now the fourth largest stock on the S&P500 index, outranking the likes of IBM and JPMorgan Chase.

    Some investors will be reluctant to sell shares ahead of the tablet unveiling two days later, Dede said.

    Apple is expected to report earnings of $2.06 a share on revenue of $12.05 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, with a gross margin of 35.7 percent.

    Marshall, whose estimates are well above consensus, expects Apple to deliver a strong upside surprise.

    "The beat is going to be significant enough that we'll have a material earnings revisions for calendar year 2010," Marshall said.

    The iPhone should provide a boost for Apple in the holiday quarter, particularly internationally, he said. Marshal predicted that iPhone units sold will surpass the 9 million average estimate.

    Analysts target Mac shipments of around 3 million for the quarter. Mac shipments in the United States jumped 31 percent in the quarter, according to research group IDC.

    (Reporting by Gabriel Madway. Editing by Edwin Chan and Robert MacMillan)

    Reuters - EA tees off on Tiger Woods console game in June

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    EA tees off on Tiger Woods console game in June

    Thursday, Jan 21, 2010 4:46PM UTC

    By Ben Klayman

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc said on Thursday it will introduce the next version of its Tiger Woods console video game in June despite the star golfer's public relations nightmare and decline in popularity following his adultery scandal.

    Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 introduction will follow an online version launched on Thursday. The console game will be available on the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation3 and iPhone platforms, the company said.

    The golf game is one of EA Sports' first online efforts. It signed a sponsor deal with Woods in 1997 and introduced 12 versions of the console game bearing his name. The latest console game had been expected for the summer and is one of the company's best-selling sports products.

    "We didn't form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm's length endorser," EA Sports President Peter Moore said earlier this month. "Regardless of what's happening in his personal life ... Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history."

    Signal Hill Capital analyst Todd Greenwald estimated the EA sells about 2 million units on an annual basis, generating about $80 million in net revenue. EA Sports accounts for about 30 percent of the company's overall revenue.

    However, Greenwald, who has a "hold" rating on EA's stock, said the company has bigger worries than Woods.

    "They're struggling on a number of levels," he said. "They're going through a restructuring, Their cost structure is way too high. They've lowered guidance four or five quarters in a row. And on top of that they don't have the hit titles, at least right now."

    Last week, EA slashed its fiscal 2010 forecast on weak holiday sales in Europe and a shift to its lower-margin distribution business. The publisher of "Madden NFL" and "Need for Speed" had a tough 2009 and cut jobs amid an industry-wide sales slump.

    Several companies that had sponsorship deals with Woods, including AT&T Inc and Accenture PLC, have distanced themselves from the world's No. 1 golfer since he became engulfed in allegations of multiple extramarital affairs after a minor car accident outside his Florida home November 27.

    Woods, believed to be the world's wealthiest athlete, estimated to earn about $100 million a year in endorsement deals before his troubles, confessed on December 11 to "infidelity." He announced he would take an indefinite break from golf to save his marriage to Swedish wife Elin Nordegren.

    Also on Thursday, athletic apparel and footwear maker Nike Inc, which has said it was standing by Woods, acknowledged the golf star's absence would hurt its golf business, which in the past was centered on Woods.

    "Certainly, we don't take the most successful player of this era and subtract it and don't expect a short term impact," Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said in an interview.

    However, Denson, speaking in South Africa ahead of the Soccer World Cup in June, said the company's golf business was not built around Woods alone.

    After the initial free preview, EA said its online Tiger game will be offered through a subscription in early 2010. Since May, the company's EA Sports unit has invited players to use a test version of the game.

    (Reporting by Ben Klayman, additional reporting by Marius Bosch and Serena Chaudhry in Johannesburg; Editing by Derek Caney)

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Reuters - New York Times may charge for online content: report

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    New York Times may charge for online content: report

    Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010 1:18PM UTC

    (Reuters) - The New York Times Co Chairman Arthur Sulzberger is close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website, New York Magazine reported on its Web site citing people familiar with internal deliberations.

    A final decision could come within days and a plan could be announced in a matter of weeks, Nymag.com reported.

    "It will likely be months before the Times actually begins to charge for content, perhaps sometime this spring," the report said.

    Apple Inc's tablet computer is rumored to launch on January 27, and sources speculate that Sulzberger will strike a content partnership for the new device, which could dovetail with the paid strategy, the magazine reported over the weekend.

    "We'll announce a decision when we believe that we have crafted the best possible business approach. No details till then," the report quoted a Times spokeswoman as saying.

    (Reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

    Reuters - Users spurn traditional calls for Skype

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    Users spurn traditional calls for Skype

    Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010 5:59PM UTC

    FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Users wanting to call home form abroad are increasingly turning to Skype's Internet telephony service to the detriment of international carriers, new data showed.

    "Skype is now the largest provider of cross border communications in the world, by far," said Stephan Beckert, analyst at research firm TeleGeography on Tuesday.

    Skype's technology allows consumers to make practically free long-distance calls over the Internet on fixed lines. It is mostly used on desktops but Skype has made the move into mobile too and it now comes pre-installed on some cellphones.

    According to the firm's data, over the past 25 years, international call volume from telephones have grown at a compounded annual rate of 15 percent.

    In the past two years this growth has however slowed to only 8 percent, rising from 376 billion minutes in 2008 to an estimated 406 billion minutes last year.

    By comparison, Skype's on-net international traffic between two Skype users grew 51 percent in 2008, and is projected to grow 63 percent in 2009, to 54 billion minutes.

    "The volume of traffic routed via Skype is tremendous," said Beckert.

    In general, TeleGeography said, "demand for international voice has been remarkably robust, but it's clearly not recession-proof."

    Traffic to Mexico, the world's largest calling destination, declined 4 percent in 2008 for example, and aggregate traffic to Central America declined 5 percent, data showed.

    Established in 2003 and based in Luxembourg, privately owned Skype has more than 520 million registered customers who use the free Web service for voice, video or text communication.

    But despite its size, its revenue is relatively modest -- at about $551 million in 2008 -- as the company has had a difficult time getting users to pay for its largely free services.

    Skype aims to nearly double its annual revenue to $1 billion in two years.

    (Reporting by Nicola Leske)

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Reuters - Attack on Google exploited Microsoft browser flaw

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    Attack on Google exploited Microsoft browser flaw

    Friday, Jan 15, 2010 12:59AM UTC

    By Jim Finkle

    BOSTON (Reuters) - Recent sophisticated cyber attacks on Google Inc and other businesses exploited a previously unknown flaw in Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer browser.

    The weakness in the world's most widely used browser was identified by security company McAfee Inc, and later confirmed by Microsoft.

    Google said on Tuesday that in mid-December, it detected an attack on its corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of its intellectual property. It eventually found that more than 20 other companies had been infiltrated.

    McAfee said on Thursday that those who engineered the attacks tricked employees of the companies into clicking on a link to a website that secretly downloaded sophisticated malicious software onto their PCs through a campaign that the hackers apparently dubbed "Operation Aurora."

    "We have never seen attacks of this sophistication in the commercial space. We have previously only seen them in the government space," said Dmitri Alperovitch, a vice president of research with McAfee.

    Microsoft later confirmed the flaw, and sent out an advisory to users to help mitigate the problem. It is still working on a patch that would solve it.

    "The company has determined that Internet Explorer was one of the vectors used in targeted and sophisticated attacks against Google and other corporate networks," Microsoft said.

    The world's largest software company said using Internet Explorer in "protected mode" with security settings at "high" would limit the impact of the vulnerability.

    "We need to take all cyber attacks, not just this one, seriously," said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer in an interview on CNBC. "We have a whole team of people that responds in very real time to any report that it may have something to do with our software, which we don't know yet."

    The programs allowed the hackers to take control of the PCs without the knowledge of their users, according to McAfee, which has been researching the matter on behalf of several companies involved in the attacks since late last week.

    McAfee's Alperovitch declined to say which companies had hired McAfee, saying they had signed confidentiality agreements.

    So far the only other victim to come forward is design software maker Adobe Systems Inc, which has said that it is still investigating the matter.

    Some researchers have speculated that the attackers may have exploited flaws in Adobe's Acrobat software and its widely used Reader program for opening PDF documents.

    McAfee's researchers said that they found no evidence that was the case.

    Still, they said that the hackers may have used other types of malicious software to break into Google and the other companies.

    Internet Explorer is vulnerable on all recent versions of the Windows operating system, including Windows 7, according to McAfee. Microsoft said attacks had been limited to IE6, an older version of the application.

    (Additional reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Carol Bishopric and Steve Orlofsky)

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Reuters - Bodies pile up as Haiti quake toll rises

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    Bodies pile up as Haiti quake toll rises

    Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 6:15PM UTC

    By Tom Brown and Andrew Cawthorne

    PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Troops and planeloads of food and medicine trickled in to Haiti on Thursday to aid a traumatized nation still rattled by aftershocks from the catastrophic earthquake that flattened homes and government buildings and buried countless people.

    The Haitian Red Cross said it believed 45,000 to 50,000 people had died and 3 million more were hurt or left homeless by the major 7.0 magnitude quake that hit Haiti's capital on Tuesday. The quake flattened entire hillsides and many people were believed to be still trapped alive in the rubble

    Heavy aircraft had begun to ferry in aid but the influx had yet to reach shell-shocked Haitians who silently wandered the broken streets of Port-au-Prince, searching desperately for water, food and medical help.

    "Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency," one foreign aid-worker told Reuters.

    Looters swarmed a broken supermarket in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, peacefully carrying out electronics and bags of rice. Others siphoned gasoline from a wrecked tanker.

    "All the policemen are busy rescuing and burying their own families," said tile factory owner Manuel Deheusch. "They don't have the time to patrol the streets."

    The United States was sending 3,500 soldiers and 300 medical personnel to help with disaster relief and security in the devastated Caribbean capital, with the first of those scheduled to arrive on Thursday. The Pentagon was also sending an aircraft carrier and three amphibious ships, including one that can carry up to 2,000 Marines.

    "To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction, you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you," President Barack Obama said.

    The United States pledged long-term U.S. help for the crippled Haitian government. Parliament, the national palace, and many government buildings collapsed and it was unclear how many lawmakers and officials survived. The main prison also fell, allowing dangerous criminals to escape.

    "The authorities that existed before the earthquake are not able to fully function. We're going to try to support them as they re-establish authority," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN.

    SURVIVORS DUG OUT

    There were still no signs of organized rescue operations to free those trapped in debris, and doctors in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, were ill-equipped to treat the injured.

    Survivors feared returning to their precarious homes and slept overnight in open areas where groups of women sang religious songs in the dark and prayed for the dead.

    "They want God to help them. We all do," said Hotel Villa Creole employee Dermene Duma, who lost four relatives.

    Foreigners slept around the hotel's pool while scores of injured and dying people lay outside. Sobs and wailing were heard throughout the night but aftershocks interrupted the mourning, sending panicked people running away from the walls.

    The quake's epicenter was only 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, a sprawling and densely packed city of 4 million people in a nation dogged by poverty, catastrophic natural disasters and political instability.

    Bodies lay all around the hilly city. Corpses were delivered by the pickup truck load to the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, where hospital director Guy LaRoche estimated the bodies piled outside the morgue numbered 1,500.

    BODY BAGS

    The Haitian Red Cross had run out of body bags and the International Committee of the Red Cross said 3,000 were on the way. Brazil, whose troops make up part of the UN peacekeeping force, proposed an emergency plan to set up a new cemetery and the United States was sending mortuary teams.

    Haitians clawed at chunks of concrete with bare hands and sledgehammers, trying to free those buried alive.

    A 35-year-old Estonian, Tarmo Joveer, was freed from the rubble of the United Nations' five-story headquarters early Thursday, and told journalists he was fine.

    The UN said at least 22 members of its 9,000-strong peacekeeping mission had been killed and scores were still missing. Brazil said 14 of its soldiers were among the dead.

    Nations around the world pitched in to help. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said three French state aircraft carrying 40 tons of equipment, doctors and security staff had already landed in Haiti and two more were on the way.

    The United States, China, and European states were sending reconnaissance and rescue teams, some with search dogs and heavy equipment, while other governments and aid groups sent tents, water purification units, food and telecoms teams.

    Aid distribution was hampered because roads were still blocked by rubble and normal communications were cut off.

    U.N. peacekeepers around the city seemed overwhelmed by the enormity of the recovery task ahead.

    "We just don't know what to do," a Chilean peacekeeper said. "You can see how terrible the damage is. We have not been able to get into all the areas."

    Many hospitals were too badly damaged to use, and doctors struggled to treat crushed limbs, head wounds and broken bones at makeshift facilities where medical supplies were scarce.

    Aid group Doctors Without Borders was sending an inflatable hospital with two operating theaters and the Brazilian military was sending two field hospitals. The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort was on the way back to Haiti, where it delivered medical care after a spate of storms caused massive flooding and mudslides in 2008.

    (Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt, Carlos Barria, David Morgan, Joseph Guyler Delva, Stephanie Nebehay, Patrick Worsnip and Louis Charbonneau; Writing by Jane Sutton, Pascal Fletcher and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Vicki Allen and David Storey)

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Reuters - Google's cyber woes in China may aid security firms

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    Google's cyber woes in China may aid security firms

    Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 9:59PM UTC

    By Jim Finkle

    BOSTON (Reuters) - Cyber attacks on Google Inc's China operations could scare businesses and consumers into spending more on protection, benefiting security companies like McAfee Inc, Symantec Corp and Trend Micro.

    Hackers frequently succeed in attacking businesses, security experts say, but companies rarely disclose the breaches because they are afraid of damaging their reputations and encouraging criminals.

    "It's basically a call to arms. If Google can be hacked, it can happen to anybody," said Laura DiDio, analyst with technology research firm ITIC.

    On Tuesday, Google said that in mid-December, it detected a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on its corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.

    The world's largest Internet search engine said its investigation showed that not just Google but at least 20 other large companies from a wide range of businesses, including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical, had been similarly targeted.

    Google said it had evidence suggesting that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

    It said accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe- based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appeared to have been routinely accessed by third parties.

    Google has threatened to quit China, the world's biggest Internet market, saying it would no longer tolerate strict censorship of its Google.cn search engine.

    WHO BENEFITS FROM THE CRIME?

    "People's security departments are constantly saying, 'We need more security.' Business leaders say, 'Justify that expense'," said Jeff Moss, a member of the U.S. government's Homeland Security Advisory Council and founder of the Black Hat and DEFCON computer hacker conferences.

    Moss said that when Google makes a disclosure about such attacks, "It gives the people arguing for budget a really strong argument."

    Google offered the anti-virus industry a free advertisement when it disclosed the attack.

    "We would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers," Google wrote in its official blog, http://googleblog.blogspot.com.

    The attacks on Google are the latest in a string of high-profile cyber attacks that Wall Street analysts said have helped security companies outperform the broader technology market.

    They cited last year's April 1 "Conficker" worm attack, the "Koobface" Facebook virus, and attacks on U.S. government websites that were believed to have originated from North Korea.

    Facebook said on Tuesday that its 350 million users could download a free six-month trial of McAfee's Internet Security Suite, which protects computer users from viruses and other Internet threats.

    Market researcher IDC estimates that sales of security software rose 4 percent last year to $15.4 billion, even as overall technology spending declined. IDC projects that it will rise another 6 percent this year.

    "Symantec and McAfee are the Batman and Superman in terms of protecting enterprises and consumers," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives. "The situation with Google brings the issue even more to the forefront."

    Symantec, McAfee and Trend are the three largest makers of anti-virus software.

    Jefferies & Co analyst Katherine Egbert said that beneficiaries of increased security spending would include Checkpoint Software Technologies Ltd, SonicWALL Inc and Websense Inc.

    "Any time you have a high profile breach like this it creates a wave of awareness. That's nothing but good for the security companies," Egbert said.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

    Reuters - Haiti earthquake triggers massive Twitter response

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    Haiti earthquake triggers massive Twitter response

    Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 12:7AM UTC

    By Dan Whitcomb

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The devastating earthquake in Haiti is the biggest natural disaster so far in the Twitter era, and response on the micro-blogging site has been accordingly momentous.

    According to Twitter.com, four of the 10 most popular topics posted on the site were related to Haiti, where the death toll from a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck on Tuesday could run into the tens of thousands.

    Among them were the terms "Port-au-Prince," "Help Haiti," and "Yele," a charity organization founded by Haitian-born musician and record producer Wyclef Jean.

    Jean was asking people to text the word "Yele" to the number 501501, which will charge the user $5 and donate the funds to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

    "WARRIORS HAITI NEEDS U NOW!" Jean tweeted on Wednesday, about 24 hours after the quake. "PLEASE LEND YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT TO THE EARTHQUAKE RELIEF EFFORT TEXT 'YELE' TO 501 501 OR VISIT YELE.ORG."

    Since its creation in 2006, privately owned San Francisco-based Twitter has become wildly popular as a social networking site and means of communicating information in 140-character bursts.

    A search for the term "Haiti" on Twitter found it awash with other means to help, in several languages, including links to websites for such agencies as the Red Cross and Unicef.

    Twitterers also shared news from the region, such as aftershocks rattling the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, or the rising death toll. Some sought information about missing or injured friends and relatives.

    Others took to the website to pour out their shock, grief or anger. A user with the screen name Crys_Michelle said: "R.I.P. to all involved with the Haiti disaster!!! Ssooo sad."

    A user named ladybot wrote: "Reading about Haiti on CNN.com; started crying. It sounds like absolute hell on earth. Not feeling like my $$ are nearly enough."

    Many reacted to U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson, who told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday that Haiti had been cursed by a "pact to the devil" in 1804 -- a reference to the date of its independence from France.

    User michaelianblack wrote, "What kind of deal with the devil did we make to deserve Pat Robertson?"

    Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said that since the quake, there had been over 1,500 status updates a minute containing the word "Haiti."

    (Editing by Ed Stoddard and Peter Cooney)

    CNN - More than 100,000 feared dead in Haiti quake, officials say

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    More than 100,000 feared dead in Haiti quake, officials say


    Officials fear more than 100,000 people have died as a result of Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti.

    The capital, Port-au-Prince, "is flattened," said Haiti's consul general to the U.N., Felix Augustin, who said he believed more than 100,000 people were dead. Hospitals are gone, and medical supplies and heavy equipment are desperately needed, he said.

    The country's prime minister said the death toll could be in the hundreds of thousands.

    "I hope that is not true, because I hope the people had the time to get out," Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN.

    Hear the prime minister describe the situation

    President Rene Preval said he heard reports of death tolls ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 -- but he said the true toll is not yet known.

    "Let's say that it's too early to give a number," he told CNN's Sanjay Gupta at the airport in Port-au-Prince.

    Preval said the country desperately needs medical help.

    "Some of the hospitals, they have collapsed," Preval said. "We need some hospitals, some medicine and some doctors."

    Late Wednesday afternoon, CNN's Gary Tuchman described the devastation as "horrifying and disturbing."

    "Block after block after block, there is not one building," he reported from downtown Port-au-Prince. There also are bodies everywhere, he said, adding there were 12 bodies on one block alone.

    People have been piling bodies in the streets, because there is nowhere to take them, CNN's Susan Candiotti reported.

    The 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away.

    The earthquake's power matched that of several nuclear bombs, said Roger Searle, a professor of geophysics in the Earth Sciences Department at Durham University in England. He said the combination of its magnitude and geographical shallowness made it particularly dangerous.

    About 3 million people -- one-third of Haiti's population -- were affected by the quake, the Red Cross estimated. About 10 million people felt shaking from the earthquake, including 2 million who felt severe trembling, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated.

    President Obama said the U.S. would have a "swift, coordinated and aggressive" response.

    "The reports and images that we've seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching," Obama said.

    Watch survivors describe what they saw

    Aid groups scrambled to help.

    None of the three aid centers run by Doctors Without Borders is operable, the group said, and the organization is focusing on re-establishing surgical capacity so it can deal with the crushed limbs and head wounds it is seeing.

    Authorities braced for civil disturbances.

    Edmond Mulet, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told CNN that the National Penitentiary collapsed and the inmates escaped, prompting worries about looting by escapees.

    Built in 1915, the prison was overcrowded. Enlarged to a total capacity of 1,200, it held 3,908 inmates in December, the U.S. State Department has said.

    The earthquake sheared huge slabs of concrete off structures and pancaked scores of them, trapping people inside those buildings, and knocking down phone and power lines.

    "One woman, I could only see her head and the rest of her body was trapped under a block wall," said Jonathan de la Durantaye, who drove through Port-au-Prince after the quake. "I think she was dead. She had blood coming out of her eyes and nose and ears."

    Impact Your World: How you can help

    CNN's Anderson Cooper, viewing Port-au-Prince from a helicopter, called the sight of the destroyed buildings in the quake-devastated city "incredibly shocking" and "eerie."

    He said many people are "just kind of standing around on the streets, not really sure what to do or where to go. And for many, there is nowhere to go."

    AC360 Blog: Anderson Cooper in Haiti

    A worker at a youth ministry said he was on the second floor of a two-story building, and there were many children on the first floor, when the quake hit.

    "Everything was flying everywhere and we ran downstairs and we started grabbing kids, four or five of them at a time, and just throwing them to the door. All of the houses around us totally collapsed and not one was left standing, but the one that we're in ... is still standing and every one of us are alive and nobody's hurt," he said.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake, and that people were still trapped inside. He said possibly 100 or 150 people were in the building around the time the quake struck. He said the chief of the U.N. mission in Haiti and a deputy special representative had not been accounted for.

    At least 15 peacekeepers were reported to have died. The Brazilian army said 11 of its soldiers were killed, while state-run media in Jordan reported the deaths of three Jordanian peacekeepers. The Argentine military confirmed the death of one peacekeeper from Argentina.

    Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, died in the quake, according to the official Vatican newspaper. Also among the dead were 100 priests and aspiring priests, said Papal Nuncio Bernardito Auza, speaking to the Vatican's Fides news agency, which is owned by the Roman Catholic Church.

    A religious conference was under way when the quake occurred, he said. "There were priests and nuns in the street. ... Everywhere, you heard cries from beneath the rubble."

    Are you there? Submit an iReport

    The presidential palace in Port-au-Prince was in ruins. Preval, Haiti's president, said he did not know where he was going to sleep Wednesday night.

    "I have plenty of time to look for a bed," he said late in the afternoon. "But now I am working on how to rescue the people. Sleeping is not the problem."

    A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to the Naval Station Guantanamo, Cuba, hospital for further treatment.

    Cheryl Mills, counselor to the secretary of state and the driving force behind Haiti policy formulation at the U.S. State Department, said about 80 embassy spouses, children and non-essential personnel planned to leave Wednesday afternoon.

    Obama urged Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti to telephone the State Department at 888-407-4747.

    Are you looking for loved ones?

    Haiti's main airport appeared to be operable, which should enable foreign aid to start flowing into the country, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday.

    The U.S. military is working to get ground and air assessments of the damage. Two Coast Guard cutters were off Port-au-Prince Wednesday afternoon, one of which was providing air traffic control for the airport, where the control tower was damaged, U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Florida, said.

    Military airplanes and choppers were deploying to the scene, and Navy ships were getting ready to go.

    Many countries and agencies across the globe geared up to help Haiti. A 50-member Chinese rescue team planned to deploy, Xinhua news agency said, and Ban said the U.N. plans to release $10 million in aid immediately.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Reuters - U.S., Google take hard line on China Web censorship

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    U.S., Google take hard line on China Web censorship

    Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 4:25AM UTC

    By Alexei Oreskovic

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc said it may pull out of China because it is no longer willing to accept censorship of its search results, in a surprise retreat from the world's largest Internet market by users.

    The announcement on Tuesday comes amid growing tensions between China and the United States over Internet freedoms, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set to announce a technology policy next week to help citizens in other countries gain access to an uncensored Web.

    Google said it had uncovered a sophisticated attack on the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists using its Gmail service, and that more than 20 other companies were similarly attacked.

    "These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered -- combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web -- have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China," Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said in a statement posted on the company's blog.

    "We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China."

    The search market in China, while small in revenue terms, has 360 million Internet users and is viewed as a critical battleground for Google. It is one of the rare markets where the U.S. company is not in the lead, lagging homegrown rival Baidu Inc, which commands a 60 percent share of the Chinese Internet search market versus Google's 30 percent.

    Shares of Google fell 1.3 percent in after-hours trading following the news that it might withdraw from China, while shares of Baidu jumped 6.8 percent.

    China's tough stance on Web censorship has put it at odds with Western technology firms in recent years. The latest dispute had pit personal computer makers against a Chinese government that said it was intent on keeping pornography out of the hands of China's youth, though many believe the move involved censorship and invasion of privacy.

    In June, Beijing ordered Google to block overseas sites with "vulgar" content from being accessible through the Chinese language version of its search engine. Google said then that it met with Chinese government officials and was taking necessary steps to ensure search results on its Chinese site complied.

    NO ACCESS?

    Google said the hackers had tried to access the Gmail email accounts of Chinese human rights activists but only managed to access two unidentified accounts, and then only subject headings and other data such as when the account was created.

    It did not say what information the hackers tried to access from the other corporations, nor which they were. Google said it was now notifying the other affected corporations, adding that it was working with the U.S. authorities.

    A Google spokesperson said the company was still investigating the attack and would not say whether Google believed Chinese authorities were involved.

    The "implication here is that the government is somehow responsible for conducting this cyber-attack and I guess they feel they cannot operate in that kind of an environment," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Stephen Ju.

    "This is a complete 180 turnaround (for Google). Just about every earnings call recently has been that they are focused on the long-term growth opportunities for China and that they are committed."

    Google generated 53 percent of its $5.9 billion in revenue in the third quarter outside of the United States. It does not disclose the size of its business in China, where it maintains the Chinese-language Google.cn which the company says complies with local laws.

    Google has faced a rocky road in China, where its video site YouTube has been inaccessible since March. Many of Google's primary services, such as Gmail and Google.com, became briefly inaccessible to many Chinese users last year.

    "We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all," Drummond said.

    Human rights have been a frequent source of tension between the United States and China, which is the largest holder of U.S. Treasuries, with total holdings of $798.9 billion.

    Last week, Clinton dined with tech heavyweights such as Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Microsoft Corp research and strategy chief Craig Mundie, and Cisco Systems Inc Executive Vice President Sue Bostrom. It was not clear if the meeting was related to Google's revelation, and the companies had no immediate comment.

    According to a JPMorgan estimate this month, the search market in China hit $1 billion in 2009 and will grow to $1.5 billion in 2010. But search advertising is still less than 50 percent of the total online ad market in China, compared with 67 percent in the United States, according to JPMorgan.

    "What makes Google the largest search engine and one of the leading Internet companies is that they care about users' privacy, and if that privacy comes under challenge it may impact their global business," said Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal. "They obviously did not appreciate the attack ... We should not take the Google threat lightly."

    (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic and Edwin Chan; Additional reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Peter Henderson, Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)

    CNN - 7.0 quake hits Haiti; 'Serious loss of life' expected

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    7.0 quake hits Haiti; 'Serious loss of life' expected


    A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, knocking down buildings and power lines and inflicting what its ambassador to the United States called a catastrophe for the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.

    Several eyewitnesses reported heavy damage and bodies in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where concrete-block homes line steep hillsides. There was no estimate of the dead and wounded Tuesday evening, but the U.S. State Department has been told to expect "serious loss of life," department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington.

    "The only thing I can do now is pray and hope for the best," the ambassador, Raymond Alcide Joseph, told CNN.

    Pictures sent to CNN's iReport show what appear to be homes and small businesses in Haiti that have collapsed.

    Are you there? Submit an iReport

    The magnitude 7.0 quake -- the most powerful to hit Haiti in a century -- struck shortly before 5 p.m. and was centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away, witnesses said.

    Mike Godfrey, an American contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said "a huge plume of dust and smoke rose up over the city" within minutes of the quake -- "a blanket that completely covered the city and obscured it for about 20 minutes."

    Witnesses reported damaged buildings throughout the capital, including the president's residence and century-old homes nearby, and The Associated Press reported that a hospital collapsed. President Rene Preval is safe, Joseph said, but there was no estimate of the dead and wounded Tuesday evening.

    He said an official of his government told him houses had crumbled "on the right side of the street and the left side of the street."

    "He said it is a catastrophe of major proportions," Joseph said.

    Impact Your World: How you can help

    Frank Williams, the Haitian director of the relief agency World Vision International, said the quake left people "pretty much screaming" all around Port-au-Prince. He said the agency's building shook for about 35 seconds, "and portions of things on the building fell off."

    "None of our staff were injured, but lots of walls are falling down," Williams said. "Many of our staff have tried to leave, but were unsuccessful because the walls from buildings and private residences are falling into the streets, so that it has pretty much blocked significantly most of the traffic."

    Read what people in Haiti are saying via social media

    Haiti's government is backed by a U.N. peacekeeping mission established after the ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

    The headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince collapsed, a U.N. official told CNN.

    There was no immediate report of any dead or wounded from the building, but Alain Le Roy, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations said of the 9,000-member, Brazilian led-force, "For the moment, a large number of personnel remain unaccounted for." Outside the capital, several people were hurt when they rushed to get out of a school in the southwestern city of Les Cayes, said the Rev. Kesner Ajax, the school's executive director. Two homes in the area collapsed and the top of a church collapsed in a nearby town, he said, but he did not know of any fatalities.

    Les Cayes, a city of about 400,000 people, is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince.

    The quake was centered about 6 miles (10 kilometers) underground, according to the USGS -- a depth that can produce severe shaking. At least 10 aftershocks followed, including two in the magnitude 5 range, the USGS reported.

    Appeals for aid after quake strikes Haiti

    Jean Bernard, an eyewitness in Port-au-Prince, told CNN the city had no electricity Tuesday evening. The first quake lasted 35 to 40 seconds, he said.

    "A lot of houses [and] buildings went down, and people are still running all over the streets," Bernard said. "People are looking for their wives, looking for their husbands and their kids. It's scary."

    Luke Renner, an American staying in Cap-Hatien, a city nearly 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince, said he was sitting at his home when "the whole world started to shake."

    "It felt like our whole house was balancing on a beach ball," Renner said. "We heard the whole community screaming and in an uproar during that whole 20- to 30-second window."

    "I haven't seen any structural damage here," Renner continued. "With the sun setting it may be difficult to tell. In the morning we'll know for sure."

    Because of the earthquake's proximity to the capital, and because the city is densely populated and has poorly constructed housing, "it could cause significant casualties," said Jian Lin, a senior geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

    In Washington, President Obama said the U.S. government would "stand ready to assist the people of Haiti." At the Pentagon, the U.S. military said humanitarian aid was being prepared for shipping, but it was not yet clear where or how it would be sent. A U.S. aviation source said the control tower at the Port-au-Prince international airport collapsed, possibly hindering efforts to fly relief supplies into the country.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that Washington is offering "our full assistance" to Haiti."

    The deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Haiti, David Lindwall, told Clinton that he saw "significant damage" from the quake and said U.S. officials there expect "serious loss of life," Crowley said.

    And Clinton's husband, former President Clinton -- now the U.N. special envoy for Haiti -- said the world body was "committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts."

    The United States has been heavily involved in Haiti commercially, politically and militarily for most of the last century. U.S. intervention under Clinton restored Aristide to power in 1994 after a 1991 coup, and a U.S. jet hustled him out of the country again in 2004 following a rapidly spreading uprising against his government.

    The disaster is the latest to befall the country of about 9 million people, roughly the size of Maryland. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and among the poorest in the world.

    With people stripping the trees for fuel and to clear land for agriculture, the mountainous countryside has been heavily deforested. That has led to severe erosion and left Haitians vulnerable to massive landslides when heavy rains fall.

    Hurricane Gordon killed more than 1,000 people in 1994, while Hurricane Georges killed more than 400 and destroyed the majority of the country's crops in 1998. And in 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed more than 3,000 people as it passed north of Haiti, with most of the deaths in the northwestern city of Gonaives.

    Gonaives was hit heavily again in 2008, when four tropical systems passed through.

    In addition, a Haitian school collapsed in November 2008, killing more than 90 people and injuring 150 -- a disaster authorities blamed on poor construction.

    Eighty percent of Haiti's population lives under the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Reuters - Qualcomm to support Google's Chrome OS

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    Qualcomm to support Google's Chrome OS

    Friday, Jan 08, 2010 8:0PM UTC

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters) -Qualcomm plans to support Chrome, Google Inc's upcoming operating system for small computers known as netbooks, the company's chief executive, Paul Jacobs, said on Friday.

    Jacobs, who heads the leading maker of mobile phone chips, announced support for Chrome during a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show that focused on the convergence of wireless and computing.

    The executive, a first-time keynote speaker at the annual gadget festival, also said 15 different device makers are designing about 40 products that will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip for smartphones and mobile computing devices.

    Also during Jacobs' presentation, the chief executive of HTC Corp came on stage to announce that his company would support Qualcomm's Brew mobile application platform.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

    Reuters - Judges question FCC authority in Comcast case

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    Judges question FCC authority in Comcast case

    Friday, Jan 08, 2010 11:17PM UTC

    By John Poirier

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. judges questioned the FCC's authority to punish Comcast Corp for blocking online file-sharing services on Friday in a case that could wind up curbing the regulators' campaign for a free and open Internet.

    A three-judge panel appeared unsatisfied with Federal Communications Commission arguments and was probing whether the FCC acted based on established rules or on direct authority from Congress on broadband network management issues.

    The case, which may not be decided by the court for several months, could severely hamper the FCC's push to maintain an open and free Internet through a "net neutrality" rule-making proposal if the judges decide the agency lacks authority.

    That could in turn prompt the FCC, which has argued it has broad authority through regulation of the cable and telephone industries, to ask Congress to pass "open Internet" legislation, which has been waiting in the wings to give the agency cover if needed.

    In a packed courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge A. Raymond Randolph told FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick that it appeared the FCC acted based on policy statements that are "aspirational, not operational."

    "It's very difficult to predict what the court will do based on oral argument, but it certainly appears that the judges were troubled by the FCC's order," former FCC General Counsel Sam Feder said.

    "A lot of regulation -- both present and future -- could go down with this case," said Feder, a partner at Jenner & Block.

    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he was confident the agency has the legal authority. "Our hope is that there's an outcome that preserves a free and open Internet and accomplishes what we're in this game to do," he said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    In 2008 under then-Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC upheld a complaint accusing Comcast of violating the agency's open Internet principles by blocking file-sharing services that distribute video and television shows.

    Comcast then challenged the FCC order and asked a federal appeals court to reverse the action, which required the biggest U.S. cable operator to change its management practices.

    Paul Galant, an analyst with Concept Capital, said it appears likely the court's ruling will strike down the FCC's move and said even some additional legal or political maneuvering is not guaranteed to succeed.

    NETWORK BLOCKING, OR MANAGEMENT?

    The FCC is now guided by a set of principles dating back to 2005 and aimed at preventing Internet service providers from interfering with certain network traffic.

    Backed by many advocates, the FCC and Genachowski, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama, proposed rules in October that would put teeth behind those guidelines.

    Obama strongly backed an open Internet, or net neutrality, during the campaign and as a senator.

    The FCC may not act on a final net neutrality rule possibly affecting Internet providers Comcast, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc until spring.

    But Comcast and other Internet providers argue they must engage in reasonable network management due to increasing bandwidth-hogging applications used by consumers.

    During the oral arguments before the three-judge panel, an attorney for Comcast argued the FCC acted based on a set of nonbinding principles rather than on established rules or direct congressional authority.

    "All that existed was a policy statement," said Helgi Walker, an attorney representing Comcast, referring to the set of principles opposed to blocking, discriminating or degrading content by Internet providers.

    Walker asked the judges to vacate the FCC order and erase the black mark from the company, which has already agreed to comply fully with the FCC requirements to alter its network management practices.

    Experts say the FCC could salvage a win even if the judges decide that the FCC process -- not its authority -- was flawed because it could still move forward with its net neutrality proposal by changing its process.

    (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in Las Vegas; editing by Andre Grenon, Gary Hill)

    Reuters - Google becoming "giant monopoly" - German minister

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    Google becoming "giant monopoly" - German minister

    Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 5:33PM UTC

    BERLIN (Reuters) - Internet search engine Google Inc is becoming a "giant monopoly" like Microsoft and could face legal action if it does not become more transparent, Germany's justice minister said.

    In an interview with weekly magazine Der Spiegel Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she was concerned the firm was accruing too much power and information about citizens via programs like Google Earth and Google Books.

    "All in all, what's taking shape there to a large extent is a giant monopoly, similar to Microsoft," the minister said.

    "My initial response is not to ban something or stop something. But I do want to create more transparency and ensure that users know what is going on with their data," she added.

    "I think the companies have an obligation here, and a lot of things ought to be improved. If that doesn't happen soon we may have to take action as legislators."

    A liberal member of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also served as justice minister between 1992 and 1996, when she stood down in protest about moves to allow the state more scope to snoop on citizens.

    A spokesman for Google in Germany said offering users full transparency was central to how the company operated and that it was constantly working to make improvements in this realm.

    (Reporting by Dave Graham and Klaus-Peter Senger)

    Reuters - Republicans call on Senator Reid to quit post

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    Republicans call on Senator Reid to quit post

    Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 5:28PM UTC

    By Will Dunham

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican Party chief called on Senator Harry Reid on Sunday to step down as Senate majority leader over racial comments about President Barack Obama, while Democrats tried to put the issue behind them.

    Reid, a key figure in pushing Obama's agenda through Congress, apologized to the president on Saturday over remarks published in a new book calling Obama a "light-skinned" black man "with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one."

    Both Obama and Reid are Democrats.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Reid should step aside as Senate majority leader, saying if a Republican made the same remarks Democrats would be "screaming for his head."

    "Oh yeah, there's a big double standard here," Steele, who is black, said on the NBC program "Meet the Press."

    "There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it ... comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it's racism," Steele added on "Fox News Sunday."

    Steele said Reid used "anachronistic language," adding, "It harkens back to the 1950s and 60s, and it confirms to me a mind-set that's out of step with where America is today."

    Steele was asked about his use in a recent television appearance of the words "honest injun," seen as disparaging toward American Indians. Asked if his own words were a racial slur, Steele said, "Well, if it is, I apologize for it. ... I wasn't intending to say a racial slur at all."

    Reid's comments, made in private conversations, were quoted in a newly published book about the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, "Game Change," by Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin and New York magazine writer John Heileman.

    'A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS'

    Reid on Saturday apologized for "using such a poor choice of words." Obama issued a statement accepting the apology.

    Reid, 70, has been a close partner of the White House on key Obama initiatives, and succeeded in helping to round up the 60 votes needed to win Senate passage on December 24 of a healthcare reform bill, Obama's top legislative priority.

    It is unclear whether this controversy will undermine Reid's influence in the Senate. Reid is also facing a tough re-election battle in Nevada this November.

    Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine said "the comments were unfortunate and they were insensitive," but he said there is no reason for Reid to step down as majority leader.

    "I think the case is closed because President Obama has spoken directly with the leader (Reid) and accepted his apology. ... We're moving on," Kaine told "Meet the Press."

    "Harry Reid made a misstatement. He owned up to it. He apologized. I think he is mortified by the statement he's made. And I don't think he should step down," Democratic Senator Jack Reed told "Fox News Sunday."

    Republicans compared Reid's remarks to those made in 2002 by Republican Trent Lott, praising former segregationist presidential candidate and long-time senator Strom Thurmond. Lott stepped down as Senate majority leader over the comments.

    "If he (Lott) should resign, then Harry Reid should," Republican Senator Jon Kyl told "Fox News Sunday."

    (Editing by Todd Eastham)

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    CNN - Senate Democratic leader sorry for 'Negro dialect' remark

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Senate Democratic leader sorry for 'Negro dialect' remark


    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday for making disparaging remarks about Barack Obama during the presidential campaign.

    Journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reported the remarks in their new book "Game Change," which is scheduled to be in bookstores Tuesday.

    The authors quote Reid as saying privately that Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks, in part, to his "light-skinned" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

    "He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' " Halperin and Heilemann say.

    "Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination," they write.

    In a statement to CNN, Reid said, "I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words."

    "I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments.

    "I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign and have worked as hard as I can to advance President Obama's legislative agenda," the senator from Nevada said.

    Reid pointed to his efforts to integrate the Las Vegas Strip and the gaming industry, among other legislation favored by African-American voters.

    "I have worked hard to advance issues important to the African American community."

    Reid, who waited to formally endorse Obama until after the tough presidential primary battle ended in 2008, is facing an uphill re-election fight this year in his home state.

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    Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

    Marvel Entertainment, home of superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, sued the heirs of one of its most successful artists Friday to keep the rights to the lucrative characters.

    The federal lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan by Marvel, now a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co. (DIS), asks a judge to invalidate 45 notices sent by the heirs of artist Jack Kirby to try to terminate Marvel's copyrights, effective on dates ranging from 2014 through 2019.

    The heirs notified several companies last year that rights to the characters would revert from Marvel to Kirby's estate.

    The lawsuit says Kirby's work on the comics published between 1958 and 1963 were "for hire" and render the heirs' claims invalid. The famed artist died in 1994.

    Kirby's attorney Marc Toberoff says the heirs were merely trying to take advantage of change to copyright law that lets artists recapture rights to their work.

    Of Marvel's lawsuit, he said: "It is a standard claim predictably made by comic book companies to deprive artists, writers, and other talent of all rights in their work ... The Kirby children intend to vigorously defend against Marvel's claims in the hope of finally vindicating their father's work."

    The statement claims Kirby was never properly compensated for his contributions to Marvel's universe of superheroes.

    "Sadly, Jack died without proper compensation, credit or recognition for his lasting creative contributions," the statement said.

    Comic book characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men have become some of Hollywood's most bankable properties.

    The lawsuit says the comic book titles in the notices to which Kirby claims to have contributed include "Amazing Adventures," "Amazing Fantasy," "Amazing Spider-Man," "The Avengers," the "Fantastic Four," "Fantastic Four Annual," "The Incredible Hulk," "Journey into Mystery," "Rawhide Kid," "Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos," "Strange Tales," "Tales to Astonish," "Tales of Suspense" and "The X-Men."

    John Turitzin, a Marvel lawyer, said in a statement that the heirs are trying "to rewrite the history of Kirby's relationship with Marvel."

    "Everything about Kirby's relationship with Marvel shows that his contributions were works made for hire and that all the copyright interests in them belong to Marvel," he said.

    Reuters - Next version of Nexus will be enterprise phone

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    Next version of Nexus will be enterprise phone

    Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 7:36AM UTC

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Google Inc executive Andy Rubin said on Friday that the next version of the Nexus One phone, which was made by HTC Corp, will be for enterprise users and might have a physical keyboard.

    Such a device could potentially pose a competitive threat to BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, which has a strong position in the enterprise cellphone market.

    Rubin, the brains behind Google's Android operating system, made the comment during an interview with Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg at an event hosted by the newspaper.

    The comment followed Google's announcement earlier this week that it would sell phones direct to consumers via its website.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Richard Chang)

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Reuters - "Lost" producers come full circle in final season

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    "Lost" producers come full circle in final season

    Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 4:17AM UTC

    By James Hibberd

    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Get ready to return to the island one last time: The final season of ABC's "Lost" is going to be an emotionally intense journey that harks back to previous highlights of the series, with the ideological battle between Jack Shephard and John Locke taking center stage.

    By the time most major network shows cross the finish line, they're limping in the ratings and creatively exhausted, wrung out by networks and producers trying to mine just a few more hours. With "Lost" producers having persuaded ABC to set 2010 as a series end date years ago, the hit drama is going into its final lap with level of fan anticipation rarely seen for the ending cycle of a broadcast show.

    In their first full-length interview focusing on the sixth season, "Lost" executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof promised a satisfying cliffhanger-free conclusion. And even after the May finale, there's almost surely going to be more "Lost" to come.

    YOU OBVIOUSLY CAN'T TALK ABOUT THE CONTENT OF THE ENDING. BUT HOW DO YOU THINK FANS WILL FEEL ABOUT IT?

    Lindelof: That's a very cagey way of asking it. It's tough to prognosticate. But the one area we're in agreement is there will be a short-term reaction to the ending and then a legacy reaction that comes six months, a year down the road, looking at the show as a whole. Carlton and I were trying yesterday to remember what the final season of "The Sopranos" even was about -- we couldn't remember much about the finale itself except Anthony Jr. was going to go into the Army and crashed his car and changed his mind. But we remember every frame of the diner scene. What people take away from our finale is going to be based purely on that two-hour episode, but our hope is they'll be able to connect that experience to the six years that preceded it.

    HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS SEASON IN TERMS OF ITS, SAY, TONE? WHAT IS IT LIKE COMPARED TO PAST SEASONS?

    Cuse: We feel tonally it's most similar to the first season of the show. We're employing a different narrative device, which we feel is creating some emotional and heartfelt stories, and we want the audience to have a chance in the final season to remember the entire history of the show. So we have actors coming back like Dominic (Monaghan) and Ian (Sommerhalder). We're hoping to achieve a circularity of the entire journey so the ending is reminiscent of the beginning.

    IS THERE ANY ONE CHARACTER'S STORY LINE THAT YOU THINK PARTICULARLY EMOTIONALLY RESONATES THIS SEASON?

    Cuse: Jack and Locke have always been at the center of the show, that dilemma of faith vs. reason, and the conflict between those two characters has been there since the beginning. It's very exciting to bring that relationship to its conclusion, and we can't really be any less vague about that.

    IN THE PAST FEW YEARS WE'VE HAD "SOPRANOS," "THE SHIELD," "THE WIRE" AND "BATTLESTAR GALACTICA" AIR FINAL EPISODES. ANY OF THEM THAT YOU FELT CONCLUDED REALLY WELL?

    Cuse: I personally don't feel any of those were messed up, they were all kind of appropriate for those stories. Shawn Ryan did a great job ending "The Shield."

    Lindelof: It really boils down to: Is it satisfying? Have you given the audience an emotional ride that makes them feel that they're satisfied, that it's a good meal? Every one of those shows had a different criteria. The ending for "The Shield" was, asking whether Vic Mackey would get some form of comeuppance for all the things he's done over the series. That's a similar question that went into the "Sopranos" ending, which is why people who didn't like the cut to black were unsatisfied, because they felt, "I feel the resolution of this show has to be what happens to Tony Soprano, and you didn't answer that question." The "Battlestar" ending had 10 different things on its agenda other than character resolution ... you have to admire it for the sheer audacity for what it was trying to accomplish. That being said, the "Shield" ending was phenomenal, and almost every fan of the show agrees with that. Whereas the other shows -- and probably with the ending of "Lost" -- there's some debate about the ending. "Did I like it? Did I love it?"

    HAVE YOU BOILED "LOST" DOWN TO A CENTRAL QUESTION THAT THE FINALE NEEDS TO RESOLVE?

    Lindelof: The only question that's ever mattered to us is what is going to happen to these people. What is the character resolution? That the audience feels like the characters had an arc -- a beginning, middle and end. And I'm satisfied with that. All the crazy island mythology stuff, we love it, but it's like terrorists attacking Jack Bauer -- it's stuff that happens in order to tell cool character stories.

    YOU MENTIONED A NARRATIVE DEVICE, I'M ASSUMING IT'S NOT A FLASHBACK OR FLASHFORWARD?

    Cuse: Musical numbers. If you love Bollywood movies, you will love this season.

    Lindelof: The show never rests on its laurels. Not because we're trying to be artsy, but the show demands constant shifts to best tell the story. We've known what we were going to do for a couple years now, and there's been a tremendous amount of work setting up the premise so it would work. But we're still wondering, "Will it work? Will the audience understand? What's the reaction going to be like?"

    SINCE THERE IS NO FOOTAGE BEING REVEALED IN ADVANCE OF THE FEB. 2 SEASON PREMIERE, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN SAY TO TEASE IT?

    Cuse: We ended with Juliet pounding on this atomic warhead. There's Jack's prediction that the bomb will reset events and the plane will never crash. There's the possibility that it doesn't work. We want the audience to be pondering what is the consequence of Juliet hitting that bomb. Our cliffhangers are designed to frame the question that we want audience thinking about.

    NOW THAT YOU'RE THIS FAR ALONG, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SEASON?

    Lindelof: The first season is probably my favorite season, you forget in hindsight all the pain that goes into doing the show.

    Cuse: I'll say Season 5. We did something radical (by introducing time travel) and embraced the sci-fi roots of the show. We were concerned about doing this. But the fact people liked last season was enormously gratifying.

    DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO PITCH A NEW SHOW, ON ABC OR ELSEWHERE, FOR NEXT SEASON?

    Lindelof: No. We don't. The world works in mysterious ways, but our full-time job for the last six years has been coming in here and working 70- to 80-hour weeks on "Lost." The idea of going back into the fray Brett Favre-style is not alluring to us. When we finish "Lost" we will disappear to our undisclosed locations then think about things for a while.

    Cuse: I think the one thing that's pretty certain is neither of us have a great (urge) to do something that's this dense, sprawling and serialized. You need to exercise different creative muscles.

    Lindelof: My hope is to rip off other successful shows.

    LIKE YOU'VE BEEN RIPPED OFF?

    Lindelof: Exactly. Maybe a show about vampires that work in an ad agency and one is a serial killer.

    Cuse: Especially if the lead character is also cooking meth.

    Lindelof: Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Almost guaranteed an Emmy. "Breaking Bad Men."

    COULD SOMEBODY STILL DO THAT "LOST" PILOT TODAY?

    Lindelof: When you look at development season last year and shows like "FlashForward" and "V" and go, "Those shows are very expensive to produce with the size of their cast and their (ambitious) premise." But what's sort of strange is that they're a lot more overtly sci-fi from the get-go. With the exception of a loud noise in the jungle and it's weird that there's polar bears on an island, there were no science fiction elements in the pilot of "Lost." In "Jaws" you don't show the shark until an hour and a half into the movie. We feel like you have a better chance making a "Lost" now because they want their sci-fi to be stealth. You go to an "Indiana Jones" movie and they'll say it's not sci-fi and you're like, "But their faces melted off!"

    YOU GUYS HAVE SAID THAT YOU'LL TAKE THE DAVID CHASE ROUTE AND SKIP TOWN FOR THE FINALE. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS?

    Cuse: We'll be watching the last episode here in L.A. We traditionally have an intimate viewing party. We celebrate by renting out a restaurant and set up big TVs, and then afterward we will disappear to parts unknown.

    WHO'S GOING TO WRITE AND DIRECT THE FINAL HOUR?

    Cuse: Damon and I will write, Jack Bender will direct.

    LOOKING BACK, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

    Cuse: The journey had to be the way it was. We both feel no regrets. The meaning only becomes clear in hindsight, and we're still on that journey so the meaning is not yet complete.

    Lindelof: Look, it would be nice to look back and say, "We love every episode of 'Lost,' and every episode turned out the way we wanted it to." There are sh--ty episodes of "Lost" that we wish we had never written. But had we not written them we would be in a different situation now, because we ran out of ideas, we stalled, then the network realized what we had been saying from early on -- that "Lost" needed an end date. And now here we are six years later on broadcast with a show that is -- not what it once was (in the ratings) -- but still performing, and we're ending it on our own terms because we had sh**ty episodes.

    CAN YOU SAY DEFINITIVELY, AFTER THIS FINAL EPISODE, THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER PRODUCED HOUR OF "LOST" ON FILM, TV, WEB, ANY MEDIUM -- THIS IS IT?

    Cuse: The Walt Disney Co. owns "Lost." It's a franchise that's conservatively worth billions of dollars. It's hard to imagine "Lost" will rest on the shelves and nothing will ever be made with "Lost." Eventually somebody will make something under the moniker of "Lost" -- whether we do it or not. We just made a commitment to this group of characters whose stories are coming to a conclusion this May.

    Lindelof: Somebody made a sequel to "Gone With the Wind." Sometimes the franchise transcends the storyteller. The definitive edition of "Lost" ends this May on ABC, and that is the story that we have to tell. It has a beginning, middle and end. That ending will not have cliffhangers, or be set up in such a way that people will be saying, "Clearly they're going to make more of these." We don't have any connection to another TV series or movie, but there's a new "A-Team" movie coming out, for god's sake. This is a business that thrives on known commodities. "Tron" is the most buzzed-about Disney movie for next year, and it has been gathering dust for 20 years. I cannot imagine there will not be something with "Lost" on it involving smoke monsters and polar bears and time travel.

    Reuters - Baidu to launch online video site for premium content

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    Baidu to launch online video site for premium content

    Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 5:46PM UTC

    BANGALORE (Reuters) - China's top search engine Baidu Inc said it plans to start a new online video channel that will provide copyrighted content to Chinese Internet users.

    The company said it will form a new independent company for the purpose, which will derive its revenue from advertising and work with content providers to offer licensed video content.

    Investors cheered the move as Baidu's shares rose 3.5 percent to an intra-day high of $420 on Nasdaq, before losing some of those gains to trade up about 1 percent.

    Baidu said the content would include movies, TV series, sporting events and animation.

    On Tuesday, Reuters quoted a source familiar with the situation as saying that Baidu is teaming up with Providence Equity Partners, an investor in U.S. video-viewing site Hulu, to set up an online video channel.

    Baidu did not provide details on any partnerships in its statement on Wednesday. Providence Equity was not immediately available for comment.

    Hulu, a website jointly owned by NBC Universal, News Corp and Walt Disney Co, allows viewers to stream TV shows over the net for free in the United States.

    Baidu's move marks the company's latest foray into China's fragmented but potentially highly lucrative online video market -- worth 162 million yuan ($23.73 million) in the third quarter, according to data from research firm Analysys International.

    Baidu is also an investor in PPLive, a Chinese website that streams licensed movies and video for free.

    It was not clear if the new video channel would include online user-generated content, which is fraught with higher regulatory and licensing risks.

    J.P. Morgan analyst Dick Wei said most video sites in China were still making losses but Baidu had the added advantage of being able to offer more targeted advertisements given its search technology.

    The brokerage is expecting minimal negative impact from the increased costs post launch and said there was a possibility for the newly formed company to be partly financed by venture capital funding.

    S&P Equity Research, which is expecting Baidu to be a minority investor in the start-up, said it does not see the venture turning profitable anytime soon.

    Yu Gong, a former chief operating officer of China Mobile's 12580 business, was named chief executive of the new company, Baidu said in its statement.

    (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Shrutika Verma in Bangalore; Editing by Anthony Kurian and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Reuters - Freescale takes aim at tablet computer market

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    Freescale takes aim at tablet computer market

    Monday, Jan 04, 2010 12:25PM UTC

    By Gabriel Madway

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor Inc is staking its claim on the tablet computer market, an emerging product category that will generate plenty of interest in 2010.

    Although next-generation tablet PCs are scarcely evident on the market, the technology world is abuzz about their potential, as Apple Inc is expected to unveil its offering in 2010.

    Freescale's announcement comes ahead of this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where rival chipmakers are expected to show off new so-called smartbooks, which aim to bridge the gap between laptops and smartphones.

    Privately held Freescale unveiled its reference design for a 7-inch, touchscreen tablet running on the company's low-power ARM-based processor and priced at less than $200.

    The company said such a device will be able to run either Google Inc's Android mobile software or Linux, with Wi-Fi and 3G capability.

    Although Freescale declined to name any potential vendors for its tablet design, it said devices could hit retail shelves as soon as this summer. The company expects to show prototypes at CES.

    Freescale makes chips for a variety of products, including the automotive market. Its application processor is used in Amazon.com Inc's Kindle.

    Henri Richard, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Freescale, called a smartbook tablet the "missing link" between PCs and smartphones.

    "The PC has been stale in terms of its ability to innovate. Smartphones have been making progress ... but they have limitations," he said.

    Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp are also expected to unveil smartbooks based on their chips at CES.

    The devices will seek to break Intel Corp's stranglehold on stripped-down, low-cost PCs. Intel's Atom processor dominates the fast-growing netbook market.

    Austin, Texas-based Freescale was spun off from Motorola Inc in 2004. The company was taken private in a $17.6 billion leveraged buyout in 2006. Sales in 2008 totaled $5.2 billion.

    (Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Andre Grenon and Jan Paschal)

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