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    Sunday, July 31, 2011

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    Reuter site - Senate blocks Reid debt plan, bipartisan deal close

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    Senate blocks Reid debt plan, bipartisan deal close

    Sun, Jul 31 13:52 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate defeated a Democratic proposal to raise the debt ceiling on Sunday as lawmakers closed in on a deal that would be acceptable to both parties.

    By a vote of 50 to 49, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the 100-member body.

    Elements of Reid's plan are likely to surface in the bipartisan deal which could be completed this afternoon. The Senate is poised to move quickly once that deal is reached.

    "The arrangement that is being worked on with the Republican leader and the administration and others, is not there yet," Reid said on the Senate floor after the vote. "We're hopeful and confident it can be done."

    Reid told lawmakers not to wander too far from the Capitol in case he calls another vote.

    "I would not suggest a ballgame," he said.

    Under normal Senate rules, a final vote on any deal could be delayed until Wednesday, one day past the deadline set by the Treasury Department to ensure the United States does not default on its obligations.

    But any deal could include provisions to ensure that Congress acts before then, a Democratic aide said.

    (Reporting by Andy Sullivan, Lesley Wroughton and David Morgan; editing by Vicki Allen)

    Reuter site - Amazon flies high, may rise 25 percent more: Barron's

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    Amazon flies high, may rise 25 percent more: Barron's

    Sun, Jul 31 11:44 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc shares, just below their all-time high, could rise 10 percent to 25 percent if its capital spending translates to fast growth in its retailing, Kindle e-readers and cloud-computing businesses, Barron's said in its August 1 edition.

    On July 26, the online retailer posted a 51 percent jump in quarterly revenue to $9.91 billion, while saying profit fell 8 percent to $191 million, or 41 cents per share.

    The profit decline was smaller than analysts expected, however, and Amazon shares reached an all-time high of $227.20 the next day. They closed Friday at $222.52. A 25 percent increase from their projects to a $278.15 stock price.

    Barron's said investors often worry about a disconnect between higher revenue and lower profit.

    But it said Seattle-based Amazon has a 14-year history of driving higher revenue at the expense of margins by investing aggressively in technology, distribution and real estate.

    It said Amazon was now spending money to build fulfillment and distribution centers, build data centers for its Amazon Web Services cloud unit, and expand its Kindle franchise.

    The newspaper said that while Amazon stock trades at close to an "unthinkable" 107 times expected 2011 profit, it may be "pragmatic" to compare Amazon with Wal-Mart Stores Inc 20 years ago, when the latter's revenue grew 35 percent to $44 billion.

    It quoted an analyst as saying Amazon's revenue could in 2011 increase 43 percent to $49 billion, but that "it's better" than Wal-Mart because its storeless business model could result in higher long-term economic returns.

    (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Reuter site - Hulu accused of infringing program guide patent

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    Hulu accused of infringing program guide patent

    Fri, Jul 29 12:28 PM EDT

    WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - Rovi Corp sued Hulu, accusing the online video site of infringing patents that cover electronic program guides.

    Rovi, created from Macrovision Corp's acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc in 2008, provides technology that powers the streaming services provided by Blockbuster On Demand and Best Buy Co Inc's CinemaNow, according to the complaint, filed on Friday .

    Rovi licenses its technology to Apple Corp, Microsoft Corp and Comcast Corp, among others, and said Hulu's infringement "presents significant and ongoing damages to Rovi's business."

    Rovi said it is seeking compensation for lost license revenue and treble damages.

    Hulu did not immediately reply to a request for a comment.

    Hulu has been put up for sale by its owners, which include Walt Disney Co, News Corp, Comcast Corp's NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners.

    A dozen potential buyers have entered preliminary sale talks, including Google Inc and Microsoft, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

    The case is Rovi Corp et al v Hulu LLC, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-00665

    (Reporting by Tom Hals; additional reporting by Paul Thomasch in New York; editing by John Wallace)

    Reuter site - Nokia slips from 1 to 3 in smartphone sales

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    Nokia slips from 1 to 3 in smartphone sales

    Fri, Jul 29 02:13 AM EDT

    By Tarmo Virki, European Technology Correspondent

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Apple and Samsung Electronics ended struggling Nokia's 15-year reign at the top of the smartphone sales rankings in the second quarter, researchers said on Friday.

    Nokia has dominated the smartphone market ever since its 1996 launch of the Communicator model, but competition from its two nearest rivals and a slump in its own sales sent it straight from first to third place in the three months to June as growth in the sector starts to slow.

    Apple sold a record 20.3 million iPhones in the quarter despite the fact that its iPhone 4 model is now more than a year old. Usually success of smartphone models does not last so long.

    Apple unveiled its sales last week, but on Friday analysts also estimated Samsung sold 19 million smartphones in the quarter, well ahead of Nokia's 16.7 million as it was able to benefit from booming demand with smartphones using Google's Android software.

    "Samsung's Galaxy portfolio has proven popular, especially the high-tier S2 Android model," said Neil Mawston, analyst at Strategy Analytics."

    Strategy Analytics estimated smartphone market volume grew 76 percent from a year ago in the second quarter. ABI Research was somewhat more cautious estimating market grew 62 percent.

    SLOWDOWN WORRIES

    Growth on the overall cellphone market slowed too in the April-June period, as sales of basic phone models dropped for the first time in seven quarters due to consumers reining in spending, research firm IDC said on Friday.

    IDC said strong smartphone demand boosted the market to still grow 11.3 percent from a year ago to 365.4 million phones, but this was a clear slowdown from the 16.8 percent growth seen in the previous quarter.

    Strategy Analytics estimated the total market at 361 million cellphones in the quarter.

    In a Reuters poll, 29 analysts' average forecast for the total market stood at 374 million phones.

    IDC said sales of simpler so-called feature phones fell 4 percent from a year ago due to conservative spending and continued shift to smartphones, most visible in developed markets, such as the United States, Japan and Western Europe.

    “The shrinking feature phone market is having the greatest impact on some of the world's largest suppliers of mobile phones," analyst Kevin Restivo said in a statement.

    “Stalwarts such as Nokia are losing share in the feature phone category to low-cost suppliers such as Micromax, TCL-Alcatel and Huawei."

    Struggling Nokia, still the world's largest phone maker by volume, saw its phone sales shrinking 20 percent from a year ago. This helped Samsung to close the gap to the Finnish firm in the overall cellphone market to the lowest level ever.

    Some analysts already forecast for Samsung to become the world's largest cellphone vendor next year.

    ( Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Andrew Callus)

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Reuter site - RIM embeds its BBM chat in work and play apps

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    RIM embeds its BBM chat in work and play apps

    Thu, Jul 28 00:05 AM EDT

    By Alastair Sharp

    TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion wants software developers to use its popular instant messaging tool within their applications to enable friends to play games, share and discuss news, and decide where they will eat dinner.

    Describing BlackBerry Messenger -- widely known as BBM -- as one of the world's largest mobile social networks, RIM on Thursday took the covers off an update that it hopes will prod more developers to write code for its devices.

    The company's BlackBerry App World pales in comparison with those for Apple and Google, which garner much more interest from independent developers.

    Some 45 million people use BBM -- which allows BlackBerry users with data plans to instantly pass text messages, pictures and other files without incurring charges from their network carrier -- and 70 percent of them use it daily.

    "That lends itself to a different type of experience," said Alistair Mitchell, RIM's vice president for the BBM platform and integrated services. "We're trying to transpose that so it's available to our third-party developers globally."

    RIM's director of developer relations, Mike Kirkup, said the simplest use of the updated BBM tool would require just three lines of code while developers could, with a bit more work, choose to route all their traffic through RIM's servers.

    Kirkup said developers that integrate BBM could expect existing users to spend more time on the app and for it to encourage more viral distribution.

    "For every developer, getting people into your app more and getting more people to find your app are the two major problems they stay awake thinking about every single day," he said.

    Among the apps making first use of BBM integration are location services Foursquare and Poynt, news website Huffington Post and augmented reality browser Wikitude.

    "This is a good transition for the company but it's not without competition from competitors big and small," said Josh Martin, an analyst of apps at Strategy Analytics.

    Online social network Facebook boosts more than half a billion users. Google, whose Android software for smartphones has stolen share from BlackBerry, quickly garnered a huge following with its Google+ social product launched last month and offers its own Google Talk chat application.

    And Apple will soon launch iMessage, a tool similar to BBM for use on iPhones, iPads and some iPods.

    "Is the next BBM alone the answer -- certainly not -- but taken with other offerings it could create the foundation for an improved experience," Mitchell said.

    RIM bought social gaming company Scoreloop in June to help it expand Messenger and enable more interaction in existing mobile games.

    Reuter site - Skyfire unveils app for Flash videos on iPhone

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    Skyfire unveils app for Flash videos on iPhone

    Thu, Jul 28 12:06 PM EDT

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Private-equity backed video technology firm Skyfire, best known for its mobile browser, has unveiled an application for watching Flash videos on Apple's iPhones.

    Apple has been a strong opponent of Adobe's Flash technology, criticizing its power management, among other things, and it has embraced a newer set of tools for building web applications known as HTML 5.

    Many Internet pages running applications using Flash technology have had to create special versions for Apple devices.

    Users of Skyfire's new VideoQ application can send links to videos from their browsers to watch them in the app, which Skyfire hopes to build into a video entertainment hub.

    VideoQ will at first be available in North America only, but Skyfire plans to expand its reach later.

    California-based Skyfire, whose investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix Partners and Trinity Ventures, said its mobile browser has been downloaded 8 million times so far.

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Will Waterman)

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Reuter site - Verizon iPhone sales dash hopes; shares fall

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    Verizon iPhone sales dash hopes; shares fall

    Fri, Jul 22 19:05 PM EDT

    By Sinead Carew

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications may have the iPhone, but the blockbuster smartphone has yet to pay off in its battle against AT&T Inc.

    In the second quarter, Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. mobile service, signed up 1.3 million fewer iPhone customers than AT&T, dashing high hopes of investors who sent its shares down almost 3 percent.

    On top of this, Verizon Wireless customers spent less per month than expected as the company changed its data service price plans, further disappointing Wall Street on Friday.

    While Verizon Wireless added three times more net subscribers in the quarter than AT&T, it only activated 2.3 million Apple Inc iPhones compared with 3.6 million activations at AT&T.

    "AT&T has done a much better job of hanging on to iPhone customers than anybody expected," said Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

    There was simply not enough good news in the report to justify Verizon's richer valuation than AT&T's, said Chaplin, who said Verizon shares have been trading at about 14 times 2012 earnings estimates compared with AT&T's 12 multiple.

    Verizon Wireless' 1.9 percent growth in average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) was well behind Chaplin's expectation for 2.9 percent.

    "Without the share gain in the smartphone category driving the ARPU, which would drive earnings per share growth, it's difficult to get enthusiastic about the (Verizon) shares at this valuation," Chaplin said.

    AT&T may leapfrog Verizon Wireless and become the top U.S. mobile service next year if regulators approve its plan to buy Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile USA.

    WRONG KIND OF SUBSCRIBERS

    And while the subscriber numbers were strong on the surface "they were the wrong kind of subscribers," Chaplin said. Subscribers using devices such as the iPhone spend more on data services on a monthly basis than other wireless customers.

    Verizon Wireless said it would now take it a quarter longer than expected to increase its smartphone user base to 50 percent of is subscribers. It blamed the delay on the launch of the next iPhone a quarter later than it had expected. Verizon said it now expects to sell the next version of iPhone in the autumn.

    Still, Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon and Vodafone Group Plc, added 1.3 million net subscribers in the quarter compared with the average expectation for about 930,000, according to seven analysts contacted by Reuters.

    Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris King was impressed with Verizon's customer growth and its sale of 1.2 million high-speed wireless devices for the new 4G network it is building.

    While some investors had worried that the relatively expensive iPhone would hurt Verizon's profit margins, King said its wireless service margin of 45.4 percent was well ahead of his expectation for 43.9 percent.

    Verizon's quarterly profit was $1.61 billion, or 57 cents a share and was ahead of the average analyst estimate of 55 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Revenue rose 2.8 percent to $27.53 billion, ahead of Wall Street expectations for $27.42 billion.

    Also on Friday, Verizon named Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam as chief executive, starting August 1. McAdam, the former CEO of Verizon Wireless, is replacing Ivan Seidenberg, who will remain chairman. The move follows its succession plan announced late last year.

    Seidenberg has led Verizon since its inception in 2000 and before that he was CEO of Verizon's predecessor companies. The executive, who started out as a cable splicer's assistant at New York Telephone, has worked at the company for more than 40 years.

    Verizon shares were down $1.06 or 2.8 percent at $36.51 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after falling as much as 3 percent shortly after the market opened.

    (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Derek Caney and Phil Berlowitz)

    CNN - Authorities: Man accused in Norway terror attacks confesses

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    Authorities: Man accused in Norway terror attacks confesses


    The man accused of killing at least 93 people in Norway has said he carried out the bombing and mass shooting, authorities said Sunday, as an ashen-faced and openly weeping King Harald V led the nation in mourning.

    The suspect has not pleaded guilty, and said he acted alone with no accomplice, acting National Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim told reporters Sunday.

    A person wounded in the shootings on Utoya island died Sunday, Oslo University Hospital spokesman Jo Heldaas told CNN, adding one to the previous death toll of 92.

    Also on Sunday, police conducted an operation in the eastern Oslo area of Slettelokka in connection with the bombing, police spokesman Anders Frydenberg told CNN.

    The raid came as Norwegians gathered at a cathedral in the capital, just a few hundred meters from where the bomb exploded Friday, to mourn the victims of the attacks.

    Police have not identified the suspect, though local television and newspaper reports have identified the man in custody as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik.

    Attorney Geir Lippestad, who claimed to represent Breivik, told TV2 late Saturday that his client "is ready to explain himself" on Monday when it is anticipated he will make his first court appearance. Breivik believed the terrorist attacks were "horrible," but "in his head (they) were necessary," Lippestad said.

    CNN was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach Lippestad for comment.

    The revelation came as a 1,500-page manifesto purportedly written by Breivik surfaced.

    Norwegian authorities would not confirm that the man in their custody wrote the manifesto, saying it would be part of the investigation.

    "The manifesto was released on the same day the atrocities happened," Sponheim said.

    "It's also new to us. We will look into the details of the manifesto."

    The document, apparently compiled over a period of nine years, rants against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe, and calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute "cultural Marxists."

    While they have arrested only one suspect, Sponheim said authorities have not ruled out the possibility that someone else was involved in the shooting at a political youth retreat on Utoya island. Statements from witnesses to the mass shooting "make it uncertain if it was more than one person," Sponheim said.

    At least four people have not been accounted following the shooting on Utoya island that left at least 86 people dead, and authorities are searching the waters for victims who may have drowned trying to escape the shooter.

    Authorities also are searching for bodies of victims in the bomb attack in downtown Oslo where an explosion badly damaged a number of government buildings as well as the majority Labour Party office.

    "We know that there are remains of bodies in the ruins of the buildings. And it's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle and a very difficult search. There are body parts in the buildings," Sponheim said.

    Seven people have been confirmed dead from the bomb attack. Police said that the explosive was in a car.

    At least 97 people were wounded in the attacks -- 30 in the blast and 67 in the mass shooting, Sponheim said. The identities of the victims will be released once all the next-of-kin have been notified, he said.

    Police declined Sunday to confirm the hospital statement that one of the wounded died, making it unclear if there are now 96 wounded survivors.

    At the service Sunday, billed by the church as a "Mass for grief and hope," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the attacks "incomprehensible."

    "Soon, names and photographs will be released. The enormity of the evilness will surface in all its horror, and that will be a new test for us all," Stoltenberg said.

    "In the middle of all the tragedy, I am proud to live in a country that has managed to stand tall."

    Other new details emerged Saturday about the attacks.

    An employee at a Norwegian agricultural cooperative told CNN that the man identified in media reports as the suspect bought six tons of fertilizer from her company in May.

    Oddmy Estenstad, of Felleskjopet Agr, said she did not think the order was strange at the time because the suspect has a farm, but after Friday's explosion in Norway's capital, Oslo, she called police because she knew the material can be used to make bombs.

    "We are very shocked that this man was connected to our company," said Estenstad. "We are very sad about what happened."

    Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday offered his "fervent prayers for the victims and families, invoking God's peace upon the dead and divine consolation upon those who suffer."

    "At this time of national grief he prays that all Norwegians will be spiritually united in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict and to work together fearlessly in a shaping a future of mutual respect, solidarity and freedom from for coming generations," according to a statement released by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on behalf of the pope.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed U.S. solidarity with Norway.

    "The United States strongly condemns any kind of terrorism no matter where it comes from or who perpetuates it, and this tragedy strikes right at the heart of the soul of a peaceful people," she said in a statement.

    Together with Norway's king, queen and crown prince, Stoltenberg visited with victims' family members and survivors of the attacks at a hotel.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Reuter site - Analysis: Aging PC giants see writing on the wall

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    Analysis: Aging PC giants see writing on the wall

    Fri, Jul 22 14:30 PM EDT

    By Noel Randewich

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Silicon Valley's old guard is waking up to the fact that the era of consumer PC may be in its twilight, accelerating the need to invest and adapt to rapidly changing tastes.

    This week's earnings from the giants of technology had one thing in common: they underscored yet again how consumers are increasingly shunning desktop PCs and going mobile.

    Intel, which had argued that pessimistic expectations about the market were out of whack, reduced its 2011 PC forecast. Microsoft Windows sales, that reliable indicator of PC market strength, fell short of expectations for the third straight quarter.

    And Apple Inc, which single-handedly showed with its iPad that many consumers are more than happy with an unladen, light and mobile computer, obliterated all estimates by selling a whopping 9 million tablets.

    "The desktop, at least for consumers, probably doesn't have a great future, and the iPad and similar tablets can deliver a lot of the functionality of a laptop," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management.

    Worldwide shipments of smartphones are already overtaking PCs, and by 2015, more than 300 million tablets will ship -- not far behind 479 million PCs expected to be made, according to IHS iSuppli.

    To be sure, there's time left for PCs. Adoption and sale continue to grow rapidly in emerging markets and among corporate users. But even there, increasingly powerful smartphones are entrenched and tablets are creeping in.

    Research in Motion's Playbook -- despite poor reviews as the minnow of the tablet market -- became the first to win U.S. government certification.

    Judging by share performances, Wall Street is taking notice as well. Shares of Apple reached a record this week and are up 21 percent in 2011. Intel has gained 10 percent, a bit better than the broader market, but Microsoft is down about 3 percent.

    In January, the board of Advanced Micro Devices, frustrated about the company's lack of progress in mobile computing, forced out then-Chief executive Dirk Meyer. It is still searching for a candidate to spearhead a major push into mobile.

    "It's important for us to keep our eyes and ears wide open. This compute space is evolving and our technology is evolving so that we can take it beyond the traditional segments we serve today," AMD Chief Financial Officer Thomas Seifert, standing in as CEO, told Reuters.

    HYPER-COMPETITIVE

    Amid economic uncertainty and boding poorly for the rest of the year, PC sales edged up just 2.3 percent in the second quarter, according to tech research firm Gartner, well below earlier projections.

    Top executives argued that personal computers still shine. But they also say they're hurrying to adapt to changing consumer preferences, with Microsoft stepping up its mobile strategy by creating future versions of Windows just for tablets.

    ARM Holdings' energy-efficient technology now all but dominates mobile computing, but Intel and AMD are increasing their focus on processors suited for smaller devices. They're pushing manufacturers to use their chips to build laptops that are in many ways touchscreen tablets.

    The market for processors used in smartphones and tablets is about $6.7 billion this year, MKM Partners analyst Daniel Berenbaum estimates. That's just 12 percent of Intel's expected 2011 revenue, but that proportion is growing.

    Intel is speeding up plans to use its most cutting-edge technology to manufacture chips aimed a mobile devices, and Chief Executive Paul Otellini said this week the company would be "hyper-competitive" in getting its silicon into tablets running Microsoft's upcoming version of Windows.

    "In the next generation it's going be hard to tell the difference between a tablet and a netbook," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Kevin Cassidy. "To me a tablet is just a netbook that has a solid-state drive and a touchscreen."

    For now, PC-reliant companies can take comfort in under-saturated markets like oft-mentioned China -- the world's second-largest PC market and one where millions remain unfamiliar with computing in general.

    In the second quarter, PC shipments in the United States fell 5.6 percent, year over year, while China's PC market grew 10.9 percent, according to research firm Gartner.

    Despite reducing its 2011 PC sales outlook, Intel's revenue forecast for the September quarter came in higher than expected. For a second quarter, analysts underestimated the demand for PCs in China and other emerging markets.

    Consumers in the United States and Europe often have at least one PC at home and increasingly choose to buy gadgets like tablets over a new laptop. But millions of families in developing countries are increasing their incomes and are reaching the point of being able to buy a computer.

    And despite falling Windows sales, Microsoft's Office sold well in the second quarter, underscoring the importance of PCs to corporations, something unlikely to change radically soon.

    For now, investors should heed Intel's consistently estimate-beating quarterly results and not sell the company's stock based on worries about what the PC market and mobile markets will look like in a decade, Berenbaum argued.

    "What's going to happen in 10 years? I have no idea, but the market doesn't know either and the market isn't going to be able to discount what's going to happen in 10 years. This market can barely discount 10 minutes," Berenbaum said.

    (Editing by Edwin Chan and Steve Orlofsky)

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    CNN - NFL owners agree to deal with players

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    NFL owners agree to deal with players


    National Football League owners approved a 10-year labor and revenue-sharing agreement with players, who were considering the terms Thursday evening.

    Owners, meeting in Atlanta, agreed by a 31-0 vote to end the current lockout. Team facilities could be open by Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, if players approve the deal.

    Player representatives were engaged in a conference call Thursday night in which they were discussing the proposal and the recertification of the NFL Players Association, which dissolved after the lockout began in March.

    Representatives for the league's 1,900 players, who have several days to ratify the proposal, were reviewing possible sticking points.

    New Orleans Saints player Heath Evans, referring to the collective-bargaining agreement, tweeted: "The owners tried 2 slip many things n2 the CBA 'they' voted on that were NEVER agreed 2!"

    NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said after the owners' vote that there was no joint agreement. SI.com said it obtained an e-mail Smith wrote to player representatives, indicating workers' compensation and other issues remain unresolved.

    The proposed collective-bargaining agreement would last through the 2020 season.

    "I do feel good" about the prospects of resolving the situation, Falcons player representative Coy Wire told CNN before Goodell announced the terms.

    Carolina Panthers majority owner Jerry Richardson called the compromise "fair and balanced."

    The proposed agreement includes a new rookie compensation system, a salary cap of $142.4 million per club in 2011 and additional retirement benefits, according to the NFL.

    In a bid to reduce injuries, the pact limits practice times and full-contact practices. Clubs receive credit for actual stadium investment and up to 1.5% of revenue each year.

    Current players can remain in the player medical plan for life, under the owners' plan. They also will have enhanced injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player's salary for the year after his injury and up to $500,000 in the second year after his injury.

    The first preseason game -- the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams -- has been canceled because of the delay in opening camps, Goodell said. It had been scheduled for August 7.

    The regular season is set to open on September 8.

    The owners call for the free-agent signing period to begin Wednesday.

    The league's owners imposed the lockout on March 11, suspending the labor deal in place at the time in hopes of creating a new financial structure.

    Players Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and seven others subsequently filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league on behalf of other current and eligible NFL athletes. A judge in early April joined that action with another filed by retired players.

    Since the lockout, the two sides have faced off in courts and around conference tables. The major issues have revolved around how to divide the billions of dollars of revenue reaped via the league each year, rules of free agency, a possible rookie wage scale, retirement benefits and a host of other matters.

    The heart of the issue between the players and the owners was how to divide the league's $9 billion in revenue.

    Under the old agreement, NFL owners took $1 billion off the top of that revenue stream. After that, the players got about 60%.

    The owners said the old labor deal didn't take into account the rising costs related to building stadiums and promoting the game. The players argued that the league has not sufficiently opened up its books to prove this.

    Reuter site - Tablets using Microsoft software top RIM's touted Playbook

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    Tablets using Microsoft software top RIM's touted Playbook

    Thu, Jul 21 03:01 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tablets using Microsoft Corp software saw stronger sales than the high-profile Playbook from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

    Even though Microsoft has yet to launch a version of its Windows software designed specifically for tablet computers it still picked up a 4.6 percent share of the market in the second quarter compared with a 3.3 percent share for Playbook, which is based on RIM's QNX software.

    RIM launched Playbook, its first tablet computer, in April to lackluster reviews. Microsoft, which provides the same software for tablets as it sells to desktop computer makers, is not expected to launch dedicated tablet software until the late next year.

    Meanwhile market leader Apple Inc fought off an increasingly strong challenge from Google Inc, whose Android software is used in tablets from many hardware vendors including Samsung Electronics Co and Motorola Mobility.

    Apple's iPad tablet dominated the market with a 61.3 percent share. But Android increased its market share to 30 percent from 2.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago, when Apple had 94.3 percent of the market, the technology research firm, Strategy Analytics said.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Carol Bishopric)

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Reuter site - Exclusive: Google offers credit card to advertisers

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    Exclusive: Google offers credit card to advertisers

    Wed, Jul 20 17:24 PM EDT

    By Alexei Oreskovic

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc is introducing a credit card for its advertising customers, offering its clients a credit line to try and drum up business as competition in the online ad market heats up.

    Google is offering the card to select U.S. clients with what it calls a competitive interest rate, an ample credit line and no annual fee. The catch: it can only be used to buy search advertising on the world's No.1 Internet search engine.

    The AdWords Business credit card marks Google's first foray into the world of vendor financing, common among hardware makers such as IBM Corp. It lets marketers spend more on its search ads when the need arises.

    Claire Johnson, vice president of global online sales at Google, said the credit card was designed to help small and medium-sized businesses that advertise on Google but who often don't have the funds to support a heavy ad campaign ahead of a big sales season, such as Valentine's day or Halloween.

    "They are resource-constrained and they are often cash flow-strapped. Many of them are trying to grow a business without the kind of means that, say, your classic company has," she said.

    Consumer-oriented companies like Macy's Inc and Amazon.com Inc have offered credit cards for years to drive purchases, inspire customer loyalty and track spending habits. Some retailers that own their own credit card operations, like Nordstrom Inc can also earn some interest income.

    Google will email invitations offering the credit card to some of its customers on Wednesday. The card will initially be available as a "beta" test, available to select users.

    CREDIT CHECK

    Google makes 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, the vast majority of which comes from the small ads that appear alongside its search results, known as AdWords. But its business faces rising competition from a search alliance between Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc, as well as from social networking service Facebook, which is becoming popular with small and large advertisers alike.

    The AdWords card is a MasterCard that will be issued through the World Financial Capital Bank. The card's 8.99 percent annual percentage rate is the ongoing rate, and not an introductory rate, Google said.

    Google is keeping quiet on many of the other details, including the minimum and maximum credit lines available (Google says it will vary by cardholder) and the number of people to whom the card will be offered.

    Brent Callinicos, Google's Treasurer, said that the credit card will be offered to a "statistically significant" number of people as Google examines the results of how availability of the card affects customer spending behavior.

    "Even though (availability) will skew toward the smaller businesses, obviously we want to cast a wide enough net so we can see what resonates depending on your historical monthly spend," said Callinicos.

    Google will evaluate customers' creditworthiness through a combination of internal efforts and with the help of a financial partner, he said.

    The effort to offer a credit card comes as Google's cash pile continues to grow, reaching $39.1 billion in cash and marketable securities as of June 30. Google does not pay a dividend or participate in any ongoing share repurchase program.

    "Obviously we have a robust balance sheet, so this is a way for us to use that balance sheet to help our customers," Callinicos said.

    But he stressed that the main motive for the card was to provide loans to Google customers in an economic environment in which getting credit can be tough.

    "It isn't a financial engineering project that we came up with and said this would be cool to do. It's a customer need," he said.

    One popular perk missing from Google's credit card is the ability to rack up airline miles with purchases. But Callinicos said he did not think the omission will hurt the card's appeal.

    "I think if you had the choice of an 18 percent credit card and miles versus an 8.99 percent credit card and no miles, it's a pretty easy choice," he said.

    (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Carol Bishopric and Tim Dobbyn)

    Reuter site - T-Mobile to offer unlimited data plans

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    T-Mobile to offer unlimited data plans

    Wed, Jul 20 00:57 AM EDT

    Bangalore (Reuters) - Wireless telecom firm T-Mobile USA said it will begin offering unlimited data service plans, in a move aimed at wooing customers of bigger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc which had stopped offering such plans.

    T-mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, said the new plans will be available from July 24. The unlimited plans will be available with a two-year agreement for new and existing customers.

    Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile provider, said earlier in July it will stop offering unlimited data service plans, meaning higher prices for heavy users of services such as mobile Web surfing.

    AT&T had stopped offering unlimited data services last year.

    T-mobile said the plans offer single-line and multiline options with a range of price points for talk, unlimited text and unlimited data with 2 gigabytes, 5 GB or 10 GB of high-speed data -- with no data overage charges.

    (Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)

    Reuter site - Law enforcement to begin iPhone iris scans amid privacy concerns

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    Law enforcement to begin iPhone iris scans amid privacy concerns

    Wed, Jul 20 11:02 AM EDT

    By Zach Howard

    CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - Dozens of police departments nationwide are gearing up to use a tech company's already controversial iris- and facial-scanning device that slides over an iPhone and helps identify a person or track criminal suspects.

    The so-called "biometric" technology, which seems to take a page from TV shows like "MI-5" or "CSI," could improve speed and accuracy in some routine police work in the field. However, its use has set off alarms with some who are concerned about possible civil liberties and privacy issues.

    The smartphone-based scanner, named Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, is made by BI2 Technologies in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and can be deployed by officers out on the beat or back at the station.

    An iris scan, which detects unique patterns in a person's eyes, can reduce to seconds the time it takes to identify a suspect in custody. This technique also is significantly more accurate than results from other fingerprinting technology long in use by police, BI2 says.

    When attached to an iPhone, MORIS can photograph a person's face and run the image through software that hunts for a match in a BI2-managed database of U.S. criminal records. Each unit costs about $3,000.

    Some experts fret police may be randomly scanning the population, using potentially intrusive techniques to search for criminals, sex offenders, and illegal aliens, but the manufacturer says that would be a difficult task for officers to carry out.

    Sean Mullin, BI2's CEO, says it is difficult, if not impossible, to covertly photograph someone and obtain a clear, usable image without that person knowing about it, because the MORIS should be used close up.

    "It requires a level of cooperation that makes it very overt -- a person knows that you're taking a picture for this purpose," Mullin said.

    CONCERNS

    But constitutional rights advocates are concerned, in part because the device can accurately scan an individual's face from up to four feet away, potentially without a person's being aware of it.

    Experts also say that before police administer an iris scan, they should have probable cause a crime has been committed.

    "What we don't want is for them to become a general surveillance tool, where the police start using them routinely on the general public, collecting biometric information on innocent people," said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the national ACLU in Washington, D.C.

    Meanwhile, advocates see the MORIS as a way to make tools already in use on police cruiser terminals more mobile for cops on the job.

    "This is (the technology) stepping out of the cruiser and riding on the officer's belt, along with his flashlight, his handcuffs, his sidearm or the other myriad tools," said John Birtwell, spokesman for the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department in southeastern Massachusetts, one of the first departments to use the devices.

    The technology is also employed to maintain security at Plymouth's 1,650 inmate jail, where it is used to prevent the wrong prisoner from being released.

    "There, we have everybody in orange jumpsuits, so everyone looks the same. So, quite literally, the last thing we do before you leave our facility is we compare your iris to our database," said Birtwell.

    One of the technology's earliest uses at BI2, starting in 2005, was to help various agencies identify missing children or at-risk adults, like Alzheimer's patients.

    Since then, it has been used to combat identity fraud, and could potentially be used in traffic stops when a driver is without a license, or when people are stopped for questioning at U.S. borders.

    Facial recognition technology is not without its problems, however. For example, some U.S. individuals mistakenly have had their driver's license revoked as a potential fraud. The problem, it turns out, is that they look like another driver and so the technology mistakenly flags them as having fake identification.

    Roughly 40 law enforcement units nationwide will soon be using the MORIS, including Arizona's Pinal County Sheriff's Office, as well as officers in Hampton City in Virginia and Calhoun County in Alabama.

    (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Spotify launches -- but no free music yet

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    Mobile ad market gets more muscle

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    Reuter site - Apple pays S.Korean user compensation over iPhone tracking

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    Apple pays S.Korean user compensation over iPhone tracking

    Thu, Jul 14 05:48 AM EDT

    SEOUL (Reuters) - Apple Inc's Korean unit has paid compensation to a user of its popular iPhone after collecting location data without consent, lawyers and court officials said, the first payout by the company over these complaints.

    In May, Apple Korea was ordered by the court to pay 1 million won ($946) in compensation to Kim Hyung-suk, a lawyer, two officials at Changwon District Court told Reuters on Thursday. They declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

    Kim's law firm, Mirae Law, said Apple made payment last month. Steve Park, a spokesman for Apple Korea declined to comment.

    Mirae Law said it was now preparing a class action lawsuit against Apple for the unauthorized data collection. A website for class action sign-up has been set up but was paralyzed due to heavy traffic. (www.sueapple.co.kr)

    Apple released a software update in May to fix a problem that enabled its mobile devices to collect and store customers' location data. The revelation that Apple's iPhone collected data and stored it for up to a year has prompted renewed scrutiny of the nexus between location and privacy.

    U.S. lawmakers have accused the technology industry of exploiting location data for marketing purposes - a potentially multibillion-dollar industry -- without getting proper consent from phone users.

    Two separate U.S. groups of iPhone and iPad users have sued Apple, alleging that certain software applications were passing personal user information to third-party advertisers without consent.

    Google Inc's Seoul office was raided in May on suspicion its mobile advertising unit AdMob had illegally collected location data without consent, in the latest setback to the Internet search firm's Korean operations.

    Executives of both Apple and Google have said they did not abuse the information.

    Any class action may further pressure Apple in the home market of its key rival Samsung Electronics.

    Samsung's flagship Galaxy S smartphone has emerged as a major competitor to the iPhone.

    The iPhone is sold by top mobile carrier SK Telecom and second-ranked KT Corp in South Korea. KT, the major seller of the iPhone, said its iPhone subscribers reach more than 2.7 million, while SK Telecom declined to provide any details.

    Apple sold a record 18.65 million units of its blockbuster iPhone globally in the March quarter.

    ($1 = 1056.800 Korean Won)

    (Reporting by Ju-min Park and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Lincoln Feast)

    Reuter site - Google smashes Street expectations, shares surge

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    Google smashes Street expectations, shares surge

    Thu, Jul 14 19:15 PM EDT

    By Alexei Oreskovic

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc's results soundly trounced Wall Street's most bullish expectations, sending its shares up 12 percent and easing concerns that its battle with Facebook and Twitter is costing too much and hindering growth.

    The Internet giant's flagship search advertising business, combined with new efforts like display and mobile advertising, boosted the company's revenue by 36 percent in its first three months under the helm of new Chief Executive Larry Page.

    The media-averse Page, who provoked grumbles by saying only a few words on the last quarterly earnings call, ticked off a string of fresh statistics on Thursday that underscored the company's progress on various fronts, including the strong start for its 2-week old social networking service.

    Page told analysts the company had signed up more than 10 million people for Google+: the company's biggest foray into the hot social networking arena and the vanguard of its battle with Facebook and Twitter for websurfers' time and attention.

    Google is fighting technology heavyweights that also include Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp, as well as upstarts such as Groupon, as it seeks to protect its lucrative search business at a time when mobile gadgets and social media are redefining the way consumers use the Web.

    "Google should be viewed as a growth company again this quarter," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan. "The combination of mobile search, Android, ad exchange, YouTube, and the core search businesses, they're all doing well. Google is no longer a one-trick pony."

    "The number to focus on is really the GAAP earnings number. Google spent aggressively, hiring just as many people this quarter as the did last quarter."

    Investors had feared Google's ever-increasing spending would eat into margins. Operating expenses leapt 49 percent to $2.97 billion in the second quarter, to about a third of revenue.

    Analysts said the big increase in sales more than compensated for the rise in costs, but Google might find it increasingly difficult to shore up margins while it continues to hire, acquire and invest.

    "Revenue growth overrides the hiring and the expense issues," BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said in response to the share price jump.

    "Nice quarter from the guys, but you still have a situation of declining margins," he added.

    PROFLIGATE SPENDING?

    However, Page said the company may now be "a little ahead of where we need to be with headcount growth." Google added about 2,450 new employees in the second quarter, bringing its total headcount to 28,768 employees as of the end of June 30.

    He cited the company's recent 10 percent across-the-board pay raise as having had a better-than-expected impact on employee retention.

    Google has also been on an acquisition spree, buying six companies in the second quarter alone.

    The expansion comes at time when Google is facing increasing regulatory scrutiny, with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission having launched an investigation into Google's business practices. But analysts steered clear of the topic during the conference call, focusing instead on Google's various business initiatives.

    Net income in the second quarter climbed to $2.51 billion, or $7.68 a share, from $1.84 billion, or $5.71 a share, in the year-ago period.

    Excluding certain items, it earned $8.74 a share, ahead of analysts' average expectations of $7.85 a share.

    Net revenue, which excludes fees paid to partner websites, jumped 36 percent to $6.92 billion, ahead of the $6.55 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    "We're still in the very early stages of what we want to do," Page said. "Our emerging ... products can generate huge new businesses for Google in the long run, just like search. And we have tons of experience monetizing products over time."

    Over 135 million Android smartphones or tablets -- made by the likes of Motorola and Samsung Electronics -- had been activated in total, Google executives said. And its Chrome browser is now employed by more than 160 million users.

    Shares of Google were up 12.3 percent at $594.50 in after-market trading, or just a whisker above levels at which the stock began 2011.

    (Additional reporting by Mary Slosson in Los Angeles and Bill Rigby in Seattle; Writing by Edwin Chan; Editing by Richard Chang)

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Reuter site - A new U.S. law-enforcement tool: Facebook searches

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    A new U.S. law-enforcement tool: Facebook searches

    Tue, Jul 12 11:58 AM EDT

    By Jeff John Roberts

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. law-enforcement agencies are increasingly obtaining warrants to search Facebook, often gaining detailed access to users' accounts without their knowledge.

    A Reuters review of the Westlaw legal database shows that since 2008, federal judges have authorized at least two dozen warrants to search individuals' Facebook accounts. Many of the warrants requested a laundry list of personal data such as messages, status updates, links to videos and photographs, calendars of future and past events, "Wall postings" and "rejected Friend requests."

    Federal agencies seeking the warrants include the FBI, DEA and ICE, and the investigations range from arson to rape to terrorism.

    The Facebook search warrants typically demand a user's "Neoprint" and "Photoprint" -- terms that Facebook has used to describe a detailed package of profile and photo information that is not even available to users themselves.

    These terms appear in manuals for law enforcement agencies on how to request data from Facebook. The manuals, posted on various public-advocacy websites, appear to have been prepared by Facebook, although a spokesman for the company declined to confirm their authenticity.

    The review of Westlaw data indicates that federal agencies were granted at least 11 warrants to search Facebook since the beginning of 2011, nearly double the number for all of 2010. The precise number of warrants served on Facebook is hard to determine, in part because some records are sealed, and warrant applications often involve unusual case names. (One example: "USA v. Facebook USER ID Associated with email address jimmie_white_trash@yahoo.com," a sealed case involving a drug sale.)

    In a telephone interview, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, declined to say how many warrants had been served on the company. He said Facebook is sensitive to user privacy and that it regularly pushes back against law-enforcement "fishing expeditions."

    NOT CHALLENGED

    None of the warrants discovered in the review have been challenged on the grounds that it violated a person's Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure, according to a review of the cases.

    Some constitutional-law experts said the Facebook searches may not have been challenged because the defendants - not to mention their "friends" or others whose pages might have been viewed as part of an investigation -- never knew about them.

    By law, neither Facebook nor the government is obliged to inform a user when an account is subject to a search by law enforcement, though prosecutors are required to disclose material evidence to a defendant.

    Twitter and several other social-media sites have formally adopted a policy to notify users when law enforcement asks to search their profile.

    Last January, Twitter also successfully challenged a gag order imposed by a federal judge in Virginia that forbade the company from informing users that the government had demanded their data.

    Twitter said in an email message that its policy was "to help users protect their rights." The Facebook spokesperson would not say whether the company had a similar policy to notify users or if it was considering adopting one.

    THE CASE OF THE SATANISTS

    In several recent cases, however, Facebook apparently did not inform account-holders or their lawyers about government snooping.

    Last year, several weeks after police apprehended four young Satanists who burned down a church in Pomeroy, Ohio, an FBI agent executed a search warrant on Facebook seeking data about two of the suspects.

    All four ultimately pleaded guilty and received sentences of eight to ten years in state prison (along with a message of forgiveness from a church official who called the sentence "God's time out," and presented them with a Bible). It is unclear if data obtained from the warrant was used in the investigation.

    Lawyers for the two defendants were unaware of the searches until they were contacted by Reuters.

    In another case, the DEA searched the account of Nathan Kuemmerle, a Hollywood psychiatrist who pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court after a joint operation last year by the DEA and local police revealed he had run a "pill mill" for celebrity customers.

    Westlaw records show that that the DEA executed a warrant to search Kuemmerle's Facebook account weeks after his arrest.

    At Kuemmerle's bail hearing, a Redondo Beach police detective pointed to comments Kuemmerle made on Facebook and in the site's popular game "Mafia Wars" to argue that he should be denied bail.

    According to Kuemmerle's lawyer, John Littrell, the detective testified on cross-examination that the information was from "an undercover source." Littrell told Reuters that neither he nor his client was ever informed about the warrant, and that he only learned of its existence from Reuters.

    The detective said in an e-mail message that he did not recall being asked about how he obtained the Facebook information. The DEA did not reply to requests for comment.

    POTENTIAL FOR NEW LEGAL CHALLENGES

    The Facebook searches potentially open up new legal challenges in an area that at one time seemed relatively settled: How much protection an individual has against government searches of personal information held by third parties. In a 1976 case, United States v. Miller, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a bank did not have to inform its customer when it turned over his financial records to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    In doing so, the Supreme Court held that the customer could not invoke Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure because the records were bank property in which he had no legitimate "expectation of privacy."

    Under this reasoning, a person would have no more expectation of privacy in Facebook content than in bank records. A key difference, however, is the scale of information that resides on social networking sites.

    "It is something new," said Thomas Clancy, a constitutional-law professor at the University of Mississippi. "It's the amount of information and data being provided as a matter of course by third parties."

    Eben Moglen, a cyberlaw professor at Columbia Law School, says the Facebook searches show that courts are ill-equipped to safeguard privacy rights in an age of digital media. In his view, "the solutions aren't legal, they're technical."

    Clancy, the Mississippi professor, said that courts are divided over whether the unprecedented volume of digital records in the possession of third parties should give rise to special rules governing the search of electronic data.

    He added that the Supreme Court had an opportunity to clarify the issue in a case called Ontario v. Quon, but that it decided to "punt."

    The Quon case concerned a California policeman who claimed his employer violated his Fourth Amendment rights when it read sexually explicit messages that he had sent from a work pager.

    The Court found that that the employer's search was not unreasonable, but declined to rule on the degree to which people have a privacy interest in electronic data controlled by others.

    Explaining the court's caution, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "The judiciary risks error by elaborating too fully on the Fourth Amendment implications of emerging technology before its role in society has become clear."

    (Reporting by Jeff John Roberts; Editing by Amy Stevens and Eddie Evans)

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Reuter site - Quake jolts northeast Japan, 50 cm tsunami warning issued

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    Quake jolts northeast Japan, 50 cm tsunami warning issued

    Sat, Jul 09 21:24 PM EDT

    TOKYO (Reuters) - A strong earthquake jolted northeastern Japan on Sunday, and workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant were evacuated after an alert for a tsunami of 50 cm was issued by the country's metreological agency.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.3.

    There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, public broadcaster NHK said. The area was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March which destroyed the Fukushima power plant and triggered a radiation crisis.

    Reuter site - Jets intercept plane near Camp David while Obama there

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    Jets intercept plane near Camp David while Obama there

    Sat, Jul 09 21:11 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two fighter jets intercepted a civilian plane in restricted airspace near Camp David on Saturday, marking at least the third such incident in a month while President Barack Obama was there.

    North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis said the plane, which was out of radio communication, left the restricted airspace and landed without incident.

    Last Saturday, a small plane got within six miles of the presidential retreat before it was intercepted by an F-15 fighter jet. On June 11, fighter jets scrambled to guide another small plane away from the area without incident.

    Camp David has been a presidential weekend and holiday retreat in the nearby Maryland mountains for decades.

    (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Greg McCune)

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Reuter site - Adele, Lady Gaga power music recovery

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    Adele, Lady Gaga power music recovery

    Wed, Jul 06 21:47 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British soul singer Adele and flamboyant pop singer Lady Gaga have helped the U.S. music industry stage a modest comeback after a decade of decline.

    According to data released on Wednesday by tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan, overall album sales rose 3.6 percent to 221.5 million units during the first half of 2011, the first increase since 2004.

    While it is too early to judge if the trend will last through the year, an annual increase would be only the second in 11 years.

    To be sure, the year got off to a rough start, with overall weekly sales hitting record lows several times. But Adele and Lady Gaga have restored some hope to an industry battered by piracy, label retrenchment and the recession.

    Adele sold 2.5 million copies of her second album "21" in the 19 weeks after it went on sale in late February. It spent 10 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 and never dipped below No. 3.

    "21" easily outpaced Lady Gaga's second effort, "Born This Way," which has sold 1.5 million copies -- albeit after only six weeks. But Lady Gaga's sales slumped after a record-breaking first week when it sold 1.1 million copies with help from a 99 cent promotion on Amazon.com.

    "Born this Way" currently ranks at No. 12 on the latest weekly chart, while "21" is at No. 2.

    "ROLLING" TO NO. 1

    Adele's success has been powered by her chart-topping hit single "Rolling in the Deep," the best selling digital track so far this year with 4.1 million downloads.

    The title track of Lady Gaga's album was No. 3 with 2.9 million units, just behind perky pop singer Katy Perry's "E.T." with 3 million units.

    While Lady Gaga has been ubiquitous on the worldwide promotional trail in a staggering array of colorful costumes, Adele has adopted a relatively low-key approach for her confessional album. She recently postponed the remaining nine dates of her sold-out tour of mid-sized North American venues because of throat problems.

    The success of "21" revived sales of Adele's 2008 debut, "19," which yielded two Grammy Awards including best new artist. It sold 341,000 copies during the first half to rank as the top-selling "catalog" release among albums that were distributed more than 18 months ago. Its total sales stand at 1.2 million copies.

    The third-biggest selling artist so far this year is another soulful British act, the folk revivalists Mumford & Sons, who have sold 982,000 copies of their 2009 debut "Sigh No More," thanks in part to attention-grabbing performances at the Grammys and the Coachella music festival in California. Its total sales are currently 1.6 million.

    Country singer Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party" (763,000) and pop/R&B singer Bruno Mars' "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" (686,000) rounded out the top five.

    More than 40 years after their breakup, the Beatles managed to top one chart during the first half. Their 1969 album "Abbey Road" was the No. 1 vinyl release, selling 20,200 copies.

    (Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

    (To read more about our entertainment news, visit our blog "Fan Fare" online at http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/)

    Reuter site - Factbox: News that broke on Twitter

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    Factbox: News that broke on Twitter

    Thu, Jul 07 20:05 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hackers broke into the Twitter feeds of Fox News and PayPal this week, raising concerns about how secure the microblogging site is as it increasingly becomes a platform for news dissemination.

    Twitter, which allows people to send 140-character text messages, or Tweets, to groups of so-called followers, is one of the most popular social networking services on the Web, along with Facebook.

    Here are five prominent news events that broke on Twitter:

    OSAMA BIN LADEN'S DEATH

    In the time between the White House announcing a late-night press conference, and President Obama telling the world Osama bin Laden had been killed, one Twitter user had already broken the news of his death on May 2.

    Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wrote, "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn."

    Urbahn later said he did not know for certain if Bin Laden was dead, but that "the bar for checking sources is much lower in Twitter."

    HUDSON RIVER PLANE CRASH

    When US Airways flight 1549 unexpectedly landed in the Hudson River in New York City in January 2009, Twitter users were among the first to break the news and post photographs.

    Janis Krums tweeted a picture of passengers on the wings of the floating Airbus passenger jet: "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy."

    The incident is an example of how Twitter and other social media sites allow anyone with a smartphone to break news.

    ROYAL WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT

    The Clarence House Twitter feed had all the details on Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in Britain.

    The Twitter feed for the Prince of Wales announced in early January detailed plans for the big day, including the date of the wedding, how the bride would arrive, and who would conduct the royal ceremony.

    Twitter has been well received among celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, who used the platform to rail against his employer CBS on his way to more than 4 million followers.

    U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS

    U.S. presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle used Twitter to announce their 2012 election campaigns.

    Newt Gingrich wrote, "Today I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States." He also Tweeted a link to a video of his announcement.

    Obama announced his 2012 campaign in a social media blitz on April 4. On July 6, the president held a "Twitter townhall" where he pressed his economic agenda and poked fun at Republicans. Obama, who is not known for brevity, tweeted, "One last point -- I know Twitter, I'm supposed to be short."

    HILLARY CLINTON WON'T WORK TWICE UNDER OBAMA

    CNN issued a tease on Twitter about an interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she said she would not stay on President Obama's cabinet if he is elected to a second term.

    A CNN executive producer tweeted on March 16 that Hillary Clinton "would NOT be in an Obama 2nd term cabinet."

    The Tweet was an advertisement for a later interview on CNN with Clinton, and highlighted one way news companies use the social media tool.

    Sources: Reuters, other news reports

    (Reporting by Roy Strom; Editing by Richard Chang)

    Reuter site - U.S. Internet providers to act against online pirates

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    U.S. Internet providers to act against online pirates

    Fri, Jul 08 13:22 PM EDT

    By Lisa Richwine

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Consumers who illegally download copyrighted films, music or television shows might see their Internet speed slowed or access restricted under an industry anti-piracy effort announced on Thursday.

    U.S. Internet service providers, including Verizon Communications Inc, Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp and AT&T Inc agreed to alert customers, up to six times, when it appears their account is used for illegal downloading. Warnings will come as e-mails or pop-up messages.

    If suspected illegal activity persists, the provider might temporarily slow Internet speed or redirect the browser to a specific Web page until the customer contacts the company. The user can seek an independent review of whether they acted legally.

    Internet access will not be terminated, according to a statement from the industry partners behind the effort. The coalition includes groups representing movie studios, independent film makers and record labels.

    The group argues that content piracy costs the U.S. economy more than 373,000 jobs, $16 billion in lost earnings and $3 billion in tax revenue each year.

    Industry officials said they thought most people would stop copyright violations once they were warned about illegal activity. The warnings also might alert parents unaware of their children's activity.

    "We are confident that, once informed that content theft is taking place on their accounts, the great majority of broadband subscribers will take steps to stop it," James Assey, executive vice president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said in a statement.

    Two consumer groups said the effort had the "potential to be an important educational vehicle" to help reduce online copyright infringement, but voiced concern about the sanctions.

    "We are particularly disappointed that the agreement lists Internet account suspension among the possible remedies," the Center for Democracy & Technology and Public Knowledge said in a statement.

    The groups said it would be "wrong for any (Internet service provider) to cut off subscribers, even temporarily, based on allegations that have not been tested in court."

    The Obama administration welcomed the industry effort.

    "We believe it will have a significant impact on reducing online piracy," Victoria Espinel, the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wrote on the White House blog.

    The administration expects the organization that implements the program to consult with advocacy groups "to assure that its practices are fully consistent with the democratic values that have helped the Internet to flourish," she added.

    (Editing by Andre Grenon)

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Reuter site - News Corp to close News of the World

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    News Corp to close News of the World

    Thu, Jul 07 11:54 AM EDT

    LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation will close its tabloid News of the World after this Sunday's edition, as a result of an escalating phone hacking scandal, James Murdoch said on Thursday.

    "The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account," the deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation told staff. "But it failed when it came to itself."

    (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Georgina Prodhan)

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Reuter site - Google's browser tops 20 percent market share: report

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    Google's browser tops 20 percent market share: report

    Tue, Jul 05 15:00 PM EDT

    SEATTLE (Reuters) - Google Inc's <GOOG.O> Chrome Web browser has grabbed more than 20 percent of global market share, while Microsoft Corp's <MSFT.O> long-time leader Internet Explorer has slipped below 50 percent, according to Internet statistics firm StatCounter.

    A sevenfold increase in usage in the last two years is a boost for Google, which is trying to convert its dominance in Web search into operating systems and mobile software, bringing it into direct competition with Microsoft.

    Google's Chrome browser, launched in December 2008, took 20.7 percent of the global market in June, according to StatCounter, up from 2.8 percent in the same month in 2009.

    In the same time, it said the various versions of Internet Explorer fell to 44 percent from a 59 percent share two years ago, while Mozilla's Firefox dipped slightly to 28 percent from 30 percent.

    Google's gains come as the company makes a concerted push into browser-centric, or "cloud" computing. In May, Google launched its long-awaited Chromebook, a laptop that works almost entirely on software accessed via the Internet, rather than installed on the machine. This is a direct challenge to software leaders Microsoft and Apple.

    Microsoft, which controlled as much as 95 percent of the market in the early 2000s after crushing browser pioneer Netscape, has seen its market share ebb after disputes with antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe, which accused Microsoft of abusing its monopoly in operating systems to dominate the browser market.

    The resolutions of those disputes effectively prohibited the world's biggest software company from making Internet Explorer the default browser in its dominant Windows operating system. Microsoft, which is developing the IE10 version of its browser, settled the issue with European Union regulators in December 2009, pledging to give consumers better access to rival browsers.

    StatCounter, based in Dublin, Ireland, says its statistics are based on data collected from a sample of more than 15 billion page views per month from more than 3 million websites.

    Net Applications, a more widely used browser statistics source, estimates that Google has not increased its share quite as much.

    According to its market share data for June, Microsoft's Internet Explorer leads with 53.7 percent, Firefox has 21.7 percent and Chrome 13.1 percent. Apple Inc's Safari has 7.5 percent and Norway's Opera Software <OPERA.OL> 1.7 percent.

    (This story was corrected to show comparison period two years ago, not one)

    (Reporting by Bill Rigby. Editing by Robert MacMillan and Gerald E. McCormick)

    'Dirty I got your money, Baby...'

    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

    Reuter site - Verizon to eliminate unlimited data plans

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    Verizon to eliminate unlimited data plans

    Tue, Jul 05 16:20 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile provider, will stop offering customers unlimited data service plans on July 7, meaning higher prices for heavy users of services such as mobile Web surfing.

    Verizon Wireless plans to charge $5 more per month than its biggest rival, AT&T Inc, which stopped offering unlimited data services last year. Unlike AT&T, Verizon is not offering any new cheaper option for low data users.

    Under its new terms, customers who limit their data use to 2 gigabytes (GB) will pay $30 a month, according to the venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, which currently charges its customers $30 per month for unlimited data use.

    To put this in perspective, 2 hours of streaming music to your cellphone every day would generate 9 GB of data downloads, according to the Verizon Wireless online data use calculator.

    In comparison, AT&T charges $25 for 2 GB of data and also offers a $15 per month plan for customers who only use 200 megabytes of data.

    AT&T has said the lower priced plan helped it add millions of new customers who might otherwise have not been willing to pay for wireless data services.

    Customers who use more than their plan allows will have to pay $10 for every extra Gigabyte of data they use, according to company spokeswoman Brenda Raney. This charge is in line with what AT&T offers today.

    Verizon's heavier data users will also be able sign up for a $50 per month plan for 5 GB or $80 a month for 10 GB, Raney said.

    Since Verizon is not cutting its lowest monthly fee for data services, Pacific Crest analyst Steve Clement said the move would be "relatively neutral for (Verizon's revenue), with the potential for upside as people take larger buckets of data or start paying the fee for going over their limit."

    Customers who view data fees as a key factor might move from Verizon to rivals such as Sprint Nextel Corp, which still offers unlimited data services. But Clement expects that might not be a huge bonus for Sprint.

    "The risk you run, I guess, is that people balk at caps and move to carriers that don't cap data," Clement said. "People make carrier decisions for lots of reasons. I don't know if the amount of data is high on your list."

    Both Verizon and AT&T sell the Apple Inc iPhone, which created an explosion in demand for services such as mobile web-surfing and downloading of mobile applications.

    Telecom shares were basically flat after the news, which was widely expected.

    Verizon shares closed up 2 cents at $37.82 on the New York Stock Exchange, where AT&T shares were down 5 cents at $31.63. Sprint shares closed down 4 cents at $5.39, also on NYSE.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Matthew Lewis and Andre Grenon)

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    FOURTH OF JULY RECIPES

    Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, Independence day for the United States of America.  That means fireworks and barbecues.  While there are laws against fireworks in many of the states in the North East and elsewhere, including the home state of Radio516.com, there is no law right now against a good old fashion barbecue, so, to help you with your celebration before you head out to the parks and piers to take in the lights, we encourage you to fire up the grill, and try out one of these recipes for size.

    First up is the Firecracker grilled Salmon, a deeply seasoned and marinated delight that has enough servings for a family of eight, or a party of five, followed by a old faithful American Firecracker Fried Chicken recipe and Hot Pink Lemonade.

    Firecracker Grilled Salmon:


    Ingredients:

    8 (4 ounce) Fillet Salmon
    3 Teaspoons of brown sugar
    1/2 Cup of Peanut oil
    4 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
    4 Tablespoons of Green Onions (chopped)
    2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
    1 1/2 Teaspoons of ground ginger
    2 Teaspoons crushed Red Pepper Flakes
    1 Teaspoon of Sesame oil
    1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

    Directions:

    Place Salmon in a non porous glass dish.  In a separate medium bowl, combine peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, brown sugar, garlic, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and salt.  Whisk together and pour over fish.  Marinate the fish in the refrigerator for four to six hours.

    Prepare outdoor grill with coal about five inches from the grate, lightly oil the grate.

    Grill the fish for ten minutes for ten minutes per inch of thickness or until fish flakes with  a fork.

    Firecracker Fried Chicken Drumsticks:






    Ingredients:

    8 Chicken Drumsticks
    1/4 Cup of Hot Pepper Sauce
    1/3 Cup of All Purpose Flour
    2 Tablespoons of Yellow Cornmeal
    1/2 Tablespoon of salt
    3 Cups of Vegetable Oil for Frying

    To marinate, remove skin from chicken, place in a resealable plastic bag.  Pour sauce over chicken, seal bag and refrigerate to marinate it for 1 to 24 hours hours, the longer the marinate, the spicier the chicken

    In another resealable bag, combine flower, cornmeal and salt, add chicken and shake to coat.

    Heat the oil in a large deep skillet in mid to high heat.  Add chicken and fry uncovered for 25 to thirty minutes or until juices run clear.

    Hot Pink Lemonade:






    1 Cup of Water
    2 Cups of White Sugar
    2 1/4 Cups of Fresh Lemon Juice
    7 Cups of Cool Water
    2 Cups of Ice
    3/4 Cup of Blueberries

    Boil one Cup of Water with the sugar in a saucepan over medium to high heat, stirring until liquid becomes clear.

    Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice , pour 7 cups of cool water and ice into serving pitcher.  Add Lemon syrup and blueberries.  Stir until you get a hot pink color.

    Curated and Introduction by: Keith Nation
    Recipes by: Christine L., Tisha Ann,Candice S. of Allricipes.com

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