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    Thursday, December 30, 2010

    TIME Mobile: Pictures of the Year 2010 http://bit.ly/eTKOK0

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    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Thomson Reuters News Pro story - Larry King ends CNN stint with nostalgia and family

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    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Larry King, the gruff CNN personality whose nonconfrontational interviews were a hit with newsmakers and viewers for 25 years, signed off at the cable news channel on Thursday with a series of reminiscences from big names, old pals and family members.

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    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Reuter site - Analysis: Gorilla Glass could become Corning's King Kong

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    Analysis: Gorilla Glass could become Corning's King Kong

    Wed, Dec 15 18:28 PM EST

    By Liana B. Baker

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Corning Inc has developed a clean, razor thin glass that is sturdy enough to withstand everyday scratches -- a dazzling breakthrough that has done little for its bottom line.

    But Corning's efforts could soon start paying off thanks to the explosive demand for touchscreen devices such as Motorola Inc's Droid phones and Samsung Electronic Co Ltd's Galaxy Tab that need tough, scratch-resistant glass.

    Corning, known as Corning Glass Works until 1989, could use a hit. The company's shares are down more than 3 percent this year and analysts worry about the future of its biggest business: liquid crystal display, a thin, electronic display used in computer monitors and in other panels.

    The problem is LCD is also widely used in flat screen TVs -- and consumers have shown little appetite lately for TV sets with all the latest bells and whistles.

    Enter Gorilla Glass, which scientists starting developing in 2006 after drawing on breakthroughs from a 1960 project called "Project Muscle." Corning is betting Gorilla Glass can diversify its business -- giving it a hedge against a fading LCD market -- and make the company a supplier for a new range of consumer devices.

    "Corning need a new growth driver and I think Gorilla will be that growth driver," said UBS analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos.

    Corning, which produced the windows for some of the earliest spacecraft and invented Pyrex glass during the course of its 159 years of existence, has launched a new ad campaign for the glass, touted it on conference calls and made clear it expects the business to ramp up quickly.

    It says sales of the glass could double next year to $800 million.

    One analyst, Yair Reiner of Oppenheimer & Co, estimates Gorilla Glass will make up 13 percent of Corning's $7.5 billion sales next year and between 5 percent and 7 percent of its profit.

    Jim Steiner, head of Corning's specialty materials division, said a major reason for the growth projections is the expanding smartphone and tablet markets.

    It is widely believed that Gorilla Glass is a component in Apple Inc's iPhones and iPads, even though neither company would confirm it. And Corning is betting that demand for its glass will get a bump as other companies such as Acer Inc and Dell Inc release rival tablets.

    "We believe a high percent (of tablets) will have cover glass," Steiner said.

    But Gorilla Glass' future still depends on TVs because they require more glass than pocket devices. Steiner said TVs covered by Gorilla Glass will appear next year.

    Wall Street is waiting to see whether TV manufacturers include the glass in designs to give the sets greater durability and a sleeker look. That would represent a potentially huge market for the new material, even if TV sales dwindle, since Gorilla Glass is starting from zero market share. Ten years ago, Corning's LCD business was about the same size as Gorilla Glass, with most of its profit coming from components for the telecommunications industry.

    "Gorilla is just like LCD when it started out as 5 percent of sales and then ramped and became a massive product," said Theodosopoulos.

    And while investors still expect Corning shares to be closely tied to the fortunes of the LCD business, that could be changing soon, says Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs Portfolio Management, which has funds that hold Corning shares.

    "For Corning, the growth story is three to five years and I've got confidence in Gorilla Glass," Anderson says.

    (Reporting by Liana B. Baker; editing by Paul Thomasch and Andre Grenon)

    Thomson Reuters News Pro story - Management Tip of the Day: Ways to manage your online image

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    BOSTON (Reuters) - Your name is out there on the Internet, whether you like it or not, so you might as well take control of your online identity, says Harvard Business Review.

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    TIME Mobile: Facebook CEO and Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg. Dig in http://bit.ly/gwWLKm

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    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Reuter site - Assange back in jail as Sweden appeals bail

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    Assange back in jail as Sweden appeals bail

    Tue, Dec 14 14:51 PM EST

    By Peter Griffiths

    LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a target of U.S. ire for releasing secret cables, returned to a London jail on Tuesday pending an appeal over a decision to free him on 200,000 pound ($317,400) bail for alleged sex crimes.

    British judge Howard Riddle had initially granted Assange bail but prosecutors, representing Swedish authorities,

    challenged the decision before the 39-year-old Australian had left the court in central London.

    "An appeal will be held within the next 48 hours and you will remain in custody," the judge told Assange, who nodded and said, "I understand," before being led from the dock by security guards.

    Assange, who has spent a week in solitary confinement in London's Wandsworth prison, is fighting attempts to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct made by two female WikiLeaks volunteers, accusations he denies. An extradition hearing is set for January 11.

    Mark Stephens, a lawyer for Assange, accused Swedish authorities of persecuting him. "This is really turning into a show trial," he told reporters.

    He called Assange "an innocent man sitting in Dickensian conditions, Victorian conditions in Wandsworth jail."

    Assange and his lawyers have voiced fear that U.S. prosecutors may be preparing to indict him for espionage over WikiLeaks' publication of the U.S. diplomatic documents.

    Assange has long been a thorn in the side of Washington. U.S. anger reached new heights after WikiLeaks began publishing part of a trove of 250,000 secret cables.

    CASH SOUGHT

    Judge Riddle had earlier ruled that, pending the extradition hearing, Assange could be freed under strict conditions including electronic tagging and a curfew. He would have had to report to police daily and post a 200,000 pound bond.

    Stephens said that raising the cash could further delay Assange's release despite backing from figures including U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore, Australian journalist John Pilger, and Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan.

    "There is a problem because he's been granted bail on condition that 200,000 pounds cash is paid into this court here and that's an awful lot of money," he said.

    "It's a pity that he can't use Mastercard or Visa in order to assist him to arrange that," Stephens added in a swipe at two credit card companies targeted by activists for blocking donations to WikiLeaks.

    Riddle denied Assange bail a week ago on grounds he might abscond but said he had changed his mind because Assange had provided a British address and because discrepancies over his passport and right to stay in Britain had now been resolved.

    Assange is alleged to have sexually molested one woman in Sweden by ignoring her request to use a condom when having sex with her. Another woman alleged Assange had sex with her without a condom while she was asleep.

    Defense lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said the rape allegation against Assange came under the least serious of three categories outlined in Swedish law.

    "In this country the word rape rings all sorts of alarm bells. When we look at the Swedish system...it is very, very different. We doubt this category would be rape under English law," he told the court.

    Prosecution lawyer Gemma Lindfield, acting for the Swedish authorities, contested this and said nothing had changed.

    "He remains a significant flight risk and no conditions that court can impose could prevent his flight," she told the court.

    IMPASSIVE ASSANGE

    Assange, wearing a navy suit and open-necked white shirt, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

    He sat impassively behind tall panels of thickened glass during the initial hearing, which lasted a little over an hour.

    One of the main conditions of his bail is that he lives at Ellingham Hall, a country mansion in the county of Suffolk in eastern England that is the home of a former army officer and Assange supporter, Vaughan Smith.

    Two of Assange's backers took the witness stand to offer 20,000 pounds each to act as a surety.

    Smith called him as a "very honorable person, hugely courageous, self-deprecatory and warm."

    However, he clearly divides opinions.

    An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Tuesday showed that 59 percent of Americans believed the United States should try to arrest Assange and charge him with a crime related to the disclosure of the cables.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Reuter site - WikiLeaks rival Openleaks "coming soon": website

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    WikiLeaks rival Openleaks "coming soon": website

    Mon, Dec 13 08:48 AM EST

    LONDON (Reuters) - The former deputy to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is vowing to launch a rival site soon that he says will be more transparent than the original.

    Dubbed "Openleaks" (http://www.openleaks.org) and run by Assange's former number two at WikiLeaks Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the site has no content on it at the moment apart from a logo and the message "Coming soon!"

    In an interview with the OWNI technology website, Domscheit-Berg declined to go into the details of his dispute with Wikileaks but suggested it had strayed from its mission.

    "In these last months, the organization has not been open any more, it lost its open-source promise," he said, adding that Openleaks plans to provide the means for leaked information to be published, without itself being a publisher.

    U.S. and other authorities have cracked down on WikiLeaks and Assange since the site started publishing thousands of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that have embarrassed the United States and other parties around the world.

    Assange, a 39-year-old Australian who founded WikiLeaks in 2006, is in policy custody in Britain after a European arrest warrant was issued by Sweden, which wants to question him about allegations of sexual crimes. He denies the allegations.

    Domscheit-Berg, who was previously involved with German hacker group the Chaos Computer Club, said Openleaks would begin trials in early 2011 and turn to bigger media later. It currently has 10 members.

    "We are already drowning in applications," he said.

    (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Noah Barkin)

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    AP Mobile News story - Former WikiLeaks worker: rival site under way

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    Reuter site - WikiLeaks supporters' group abandons cyber attacks

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    WikiLeaks supporters' group abandons cyber attacks

    Sat, Dec 11 08:42 AM EST

    By Georgina Prodhan

    LONDON (Reuters) - A loose grouping of cyber activists supporting WikiLeaks has abandoned its strategy of online attacks on organizations seen as hostile to the site in favor of spreading the leaked documents far and wide online.

    Internet activists operating under the name "Anonymous" temporarily brought down this week the websites of credit card giants MasterCard and Visa -- both of which had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

    The United States, enraged and embarrassed by WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, has leant on organizations from Amazon to online payments service PayPal -- which have now withdrawn services to WikiLeaks.

    In an overnight blog post, Anonymous announced a change of strategy, saying it now aimed to publish parts of the confidential U.S. diplomatic cables as widely as possible and in ways that made them as hard as possible to trace.

    The cyber activists briefly brought down PayPal's official blog by bombarding it with requests this week but failed to harm retail and Web-hosting giant Amazon, which withdrew its services to WikiLeaks more than a week ago.

    "We have, at best, given them a black eye. The game has changed. When the game changes, so too must our strategies," said the blog post announcing "Operation: Leakspin."

    The activists are now encouraging supporters to search through leaked cables on the WikiLeaks site and publish summaries of ones that have been least exposed, labeling them so they are hard to find by any authority seeking to quash them.

    "Use misleading tags, everything from "Tea Party" to "Bieber." Post snippets of the leaks everywhere," the blog said, referring to the U.S. grassroots conservative movement and the 16-year-old Canadian pop phenomenon Justin Bieber.

    Similar strategies have been used in the past on YouTube and the now defunct Napster by users seeking to share video and music while dodging copyright crackdowns.

    The activists had previously been using denial of service attacks, in which they bombarded the Web servers of the perceived enemies of WikiLeaks with requests that crashed the sites, in an operation named "Operation Payback."

    (editing by David Stamp)

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Reuter site - From Wikileaks to #ukuncut, Twitter gets political

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    From Wikileaks to #ukuncut, Twitter gets political

    Wed, Dec 08 11:05 AM EST

    By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

    LONDON (Reuters) - From keeping the WikiLeaks site alive to helping British anti-austerity protesters outmaneuver riot police, Twitter is entering the Western political mainstream as a powerful tool for dissent.

    The website where anyone can post 140-character messages with links to multimedia content was praised by the United States last year when Iranian protesters used it to organize and spread news after a disputed presidential election, until Tehran blocked the site as part of a wider clampdown.

    Now, as campaigns around both WikiLeaks and British student protests demonstrate, it is showing its effectiveness in new ways as a thorn in the side of established bodies and authority.

    Twitter has been at the heart of WikiLeaks' fight to survive. It pointed followers toward "mirror sites" in Europe after Wikileaks.com was taken down as part of a wider campaign against it following the leaking of U.S. diplomatic cables.

    As cyberattackers shut down the MasterCard corporate website on Wednesday in apparent retaliation for its blocking of payments to WikiLeaks, Twitter was the vehicle for a group styling itself Anonymous to claim responsibility.

    In recent weeks, British students protesting against government plans for a near-trebling of university tuition fees have mobilized the power of the new medium in a battle of wits with police that has also erupted into physical skirmishes.

    POLICE CHASE

    Last week, police in body armor and fluorescent jackets found themselves literally sprinting to catch up with student demonstrators. Students who had found themselves hemmed in by riot police the previous week used Twitter and smartphones to tip each other off about the location of police lines, and dodged them by breaking into small groups.

    "The thing about Twitter is the speed with which it allows information to be disseminated," said Carina O'Reilly, European security analyst at IHS Jane's. "So many of that generation are plugged into it almost continuously. It allows action without centralized leadership. It's one of the reasons the police have been so far behind the curve in the protests so far."

    Undergraduate Jessica Riches, 20, primary operator of The twitter feed @UCLoccupation -- representing student protesters occupying a key part of University College London -- said it proved an "incredible" way to gain publicity and raise funds.

    "To start with, we weren't sending that many tweets and I didn't think many people would be watching," Riches -- who normally runs a campus fashion blog at in her spare time -- told Reuters.

    "But then we saw how many people were retweeting and it really took off from there. It's been incredible. Without Twitter, I don't think we would have been successful."

    INFLUENTIAL AUDIENCE

    The tactic helped inspire a string of other university occupations and grabbed the attention of politicians and broadcasters -- both increasingly using social media sites to monitor public opinion, particularly among the young.

    Politicians who have made Twitter a key part of their communications strategy can find their walls peppered with requests for support or solidarity -- or simply with abuse.

    New British campaign #ukuncut -- which has grown out of the student protests but has broader aims of pushing back austerity measures in general -- is using Twitter to organize "flash mobs" at businesses it accuses of tax avoidance. It intends to keep expanding, regardless of what happens over tuition fees.

    "The student protests and WikiLeaks are in some ways two sides of the same thing -- the way the Internet is changing the world," said David Lea, Western Europe analyst at Control Risks.

    "It's not that the technology is new this year -- it isn't. It's that enough people are using it for it to make a difference and that politicians are taking it seriously."

    Most analysts believe the student protest will not be enough to stop tuition fee reform passing into law in a vote in parliament on Thursday. But the campaign has won some concessions and piled pressure on the government's junior coalition partner the Liberal Democrats -- once popular with students, now hated by many for going back on a pledge not to raise fees.

    Many now expect Twitter to be at the heart of wider anti-austerity campaigns in Britain next year as proposed spending cuts gather pace. Disability activists are already using it to trade complaints and protest plans ahead of expected benefit cuts.

    "If we lose the vote on Thursday, I think some people will drift away," said Riches. "But I think some will get involved in wider protests. The market is there -- politically engaged young people who want to act but also a much wider range of older people, mothers, trade unionists."

    (Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

    Thomson Reuters News Pro story - WikiLeaks supporters attack MasterCard site: sources

    LONDON (Reuters) - Hackers have crashed the website of credit card firm MasterCard in apparent retaliation for its blocking of donations to the Wikileaks website, the BBC and other media reported on Wednesday.

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    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    'On to Nexus One.' AP Mobile News story - Google mobile head says Nexus One too ambitious

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    Reuter site - Backpackers trek the globe with tech toys

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    Backpackers trek the globe with tech toys

    Tue, Dec 07 10:42 AM EST

    By Natalie Armstrong

    GOREME, Turkey, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Backpackers are traveling the world with high-tech toys and are often searching as much for free Wi-Fi as for historical sites.

    And they are in touch with family and friends thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Skype and instant messaging.

    "It's for family and friends who first of all want to know that I'm safe, or know what I'm doing, where I'm going and what I'm seeing," said Dave Arnold, who set off for a year after taking a buyout from a Canadian telecoms company.

    "In the past, you'd get a postcard or a letter in the mail every month if you were traveling around the world for a year. It definitely gives family peace of mind," the 35-year-old from Toronto added.

    Arnold, who is carrying about $9,000 worth of technology, including a netbook, an unlocked Android mobile phone, an iPod touch, two USB drives and a SLR camera with three lenses, said the gear helps him update his blog, Twitter and Facebook, and to call home and book hostels using apps on his iPod.

    Since he began traveling in July, he's used free Wi-Fi in hostels, on buses and in McDonald's and Starbucks. In Amman, Jordan, four of five travelers in his hostel lounge were on their own personal netbooks.

    "Within the last three years, the landscape of backpacking has changed dramatically just from the evolution of technology," said Arnold, whose iPod contains 100 downloaded guide books, 10 books and his entire music collection.

    "There are Lonely Planet guides that you can download and pay for as opposed to lugging around a book for every country that you've been to. As I travel, I can download them as I go," said Arnold, who has 20 DVD movies for buses and flights.

    Many backpackers are not leaving home without gadgets to book accommodation, do banking and to meet up with other travelers they've met in different cities and countries.

    "Pretty much every hostel has free Wi-Fi," said Zac Grimes, 21, of Melbourne, Australia. "There's only one computer per hostel because most people have smart phones or laptops."

    For Michael Slaven, a 27-year-old Australian engineer working in London, traveling with gadgets is convenient, efficient and stress-free, and it doesn't remind him of work.

    "I prefer using my computer. It's set up the way I like it," said Slaven. "I don't have to deal with international keyboards and I don't have to queue for hostel computers."

    On his iPod touch he can download e-mails containing directions for accommodation.

    "I've never had trouble finding Wi-Fi or power," Slaven said, adding he's not worried about losing the valuables because he is extremely careful.

    For many travelers, apps have replaced guidebooks.

    Sul-hee Kim, a 25-year-old chemical engineer from Seoul, bought an iPhone 4G just before her trip to Turkey. She used GoogleMaps and apps to find free Wi-Fi, book hostels, check the weather in Istanbul and video chat back home.

    "I can contact my boyfriend for free. I can send my travel pictures and my feelings. All is free," she said.

    Her friend Sumin Kim, a 29-year-old illustrator from Ilsan, South Korea, teases her for being too plugged in.

    Sumin Kim said she doesn't like technology imposing on her traveling experience.

    "I want to forget my work and my people in Korea."

    Bringing a computer on a six-month break away from his work as an engineer was the last thing on Jason Helgren's mind.

    "Then I realized I was going to have to occasionally do banking while I was away and I wasn't comfortable using a public computer for that," said Helgren, 31, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who is traveling with his wife.

    With his own laptop he saves money and time.

    "We have a blog, a lot of the work to maintain that blog can be accomplished offline," Helgren said. "Organizing pictures would be almost impossible, especially when you literally take thousands of pictures a month."

    (Editing by Patricia Reaney)

    Reuter site - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in Britain

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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in Britain

    Tue, Dec 07 05:46 AM EST

    LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by British police on a European warrant issued by Sweden over allegations of sex crimes including rape, London's Metropolitan Police said Tuesday.

    Swedish prosecutors issued the arrest order for the 39-year-old Australian who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of committing sexual crimes, which he denies.

    Police said Assange, at the center of a row over the release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, had been arrested at about 9.30 a.m. (0930 GMT) Tuesday by appointment at a London police station under a European Arrest Warrant.

    "He is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010," London police said in a statement.

    He is due to appear before City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London later Tuesday.

    (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Keith Weir)

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    Monday, December 6, 2010

    AP Mobile News story - Assange may surrender to British police

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    Reuter site - Taylor says U.S. headed for recession

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    Taylor says U.S. headed for recession

    Mon, Dec 06 14:32 PM EST

    By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is headed for a new recession, said John Taylor, chairman and chief investment officer of FX Concepts, which should likely benefit the dollar and weigh on commodity prices.

    "It's a new recession. We're already growing, but the numbers show that the U.S. government is still the primary creator of this growth," Taylor said on Monday at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit.

    Taylor runs the world's largest currency hedge fund with assets under management of around $8.5 billion.

    "I would argue that by the middle of next year, we will be in a recession and our fiscal hands will be tied," he said.

    Taylor has maintained in previous interviews that the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program, designed as a way to help jump-start the economy, won't necessarily prevent a recession.

    Banks in a recession tend to demand the repayment of loans, and if the debt is denominated in the U.S. currency -- and in most cases they are -- then investors are squeezed as they scramble to find dollars to repay the debt. That should be dollar-positive, Taylor said.

    This was what happened in late 2008 when panic in the markets -- precipitated by the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers -- drove the safe-haven dollar higher against most major currencies.

    "It's kind of perverse. When the U.S. economy is doing badly, the dollar goes up and when the economy is doing well, the dollar goes down."

    Taylor's remarks dovetailed with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments on Sunday on the CBS program "60 Minutes". Bernanke said the Fed could end up buying more than the $600 billion in U.S. government bonds it has committed if the economy fails to respond or unemployment stays high.

    The U.S. economy grew at a modest 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter. Stronger growth is needed to create large numbers of new jobs and make a dent in unemployment, currently at 9.8 percent.

    EURO COULD FALL APART

    For now, all eyes are on the euro zone, which is facing a debt crisis. Theoretically, at some point the euro could fall apart, Taylor said,

    "What Europe has done is not enough. They have to have eurobonds," said Taylor. "You can't lend money to Ireland or Greece. You're just piling on more debt to them, and it's getting harder and harder to repay."

    Taylor said Portugal could be the next country to seek a bailout after Ireland, with Spain after that. This will push the euro to parity versus the dollar by next year, he forecast. In early New York trading, the euro was down 1 percent at $1.3277.

    In October, he told Reuters in an interview that the euro would most likely peak between $1.43-$1.45 in November and was most negative on the euro versus the dollar at a time when almost everybody was selling the greenback because of the quantitative easing factor.

    On November 4, the euro hit a high of $1.4283 on electronic trading platform EBS and was downhill from there.

    Taylor recommended selling the euro against the Swiss franc, a currency whose economy has fared better than most European countries.

    The FX Concepts chief was also bearish on commodities, predicting that this asset class will slow down next year as the U.S. economy goes into recession. That should be negative for commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars.

    He said the Australian dollar, which has been the best performing currency so far among currencies from the Group of 10 rich nations, with gains of about 10 percent on the year, could slide 15-20 percent.

    FX Concepts employs several investing strategies. Its global currency program, which invests in both developed and major emerging market currencies, dipped 4.26 percent in November, but its annual return for 2010 is estimated at 12.03 percent.

    (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Andrew Hay)

    Reuter site - Obama announces tax deal with Republicans

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    Obama announces tax deal with Republicans

    Mon, Dec 06 22:01 PM EST

    By Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday unveiled a compromise deal to extend all Bush-era tax cuts for two years, giving ground to emboldened Republicans who won big in last month's congressional elections.

    After meeting Democratic leaders at the White House, Obama announced a "framework" agreement with Republicans that would renew tax cuts not just for the middle class -- as he and fellow Democrats had sought -- but also for wealthier Americans, as Republicans wanted.

    The tentative plan is expected to draw resistance from some liberal Democrats, who have expressed disappointment that the president was bending to Republican demands while not gaining enough in return. Obama might need Republican help to pass the package if enough of his fellow Democrats revolt.

    The tentative tax-cut deal, which is expected to extend breaks on dividends and capital gains as well, also calls for a 2 percent employee payroll tax cut and a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, which could placate some Democrats.

    But Obama acceded to Republican demands on the federal estate tax, by agreeing to a maximum 35 percent tax with a $5 million individual exemption level, which he admitted was more generous than he felt was "wise or warranted."

    "We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems," Obama told reporters. "I am confident ultimately that Congress is going to do the right thing."

    Obama said he had made some concessions because of the urgent need to reach a deal before Congress adjourns this month to avoid allowing the middle class to face higher taxes when all of the Bush-era cuts expire on December 31.

    "I have no doubt that everyone will find something in this compromise that they don't like," Obama said. " In fact, there are things in here that I don't like -- namely the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the wealthiest estates. But these tax cuts will expire in two years."

    Extending all the tax cuts for two years would cost $501 billion, according to the congressional budget office, at a time when Obama is under pressure to cut the $1.3 trillion budget deficit. The CBO said renewing the rates will boost the economy in the short term but be harmful in the long term.

    "FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE"

    Obama's concessions reflected a new political reality. Republicans gained the upper hand in the tax fight after scoring big gains in the November 2 congressional elections, which were seen as a verdict on Obama's handling of a stumbling economy and persistently high unemployment.

    Obama's tax proposal was still likely to meet some resistance from Democrats in Congress but analysts believe it faces a good chance of ultimately being approved before the end of the legislative session.

    Most Democrats have made clear they prefer to extend the lower tax rates for individual income up to $200,000 only, while Republicans have pushed for also keeping tax cuts for people who earn far higher incomes.

    Representative Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, called Obama's proposal "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."

    "We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the president initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we," Welch said in a letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    Defending Obama's approach, administration officials stressed that the extension would be nearing expiration again when he is seeking re-election in 2012. They believe he will then be in a stronger position to make the case to voters for blocking further tax cuts for richer Americans.

    Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said Reid would discuss Obama's plan with the Democratic caucus on Tuesday.

    Republicans reacted positively. A spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner, who will take over as speaker in January, called Obama's announcement "encouraging." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, welcomed what he called the president's "openness to preventing tax hikes."

    Some liberal supporters have accused Obama of being too willing to compromise in the tax battle. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that Obama should simply let taxes rise for all Americans rather than agreeing to allowing tax cuts to continue for the wealthy.

    Obama insisted that unemployment insurance be extended for those out of work as part of any tax deal. Unemployment payments, which had already been extended by Congress for to up to 99 weeks from a traditional 26 weeks, expire this month for two million Americans whose benefits have now run out.

    The deal outlined by Obama includes a two-year extension of a package of tax breaks for individuals and business.

    There was no immediate word on whether "Build America Bonds" -- taxable debt included in last year's stimulus plan and due to expire at the end of December -- would be included in a final tax-cut deal. An administration official said the details were still being worked out.

    (Additional reporting by Kim Dixon and Steve Holland. Editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson)

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