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Fungus making it harder for farmers to grow coffee beans

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 31 Mei 2014 | 20.50

FRAIJANES, Guatemala — For years, Hernan Argueta's small plot of coffee plants seemed immune to the fungus spreading elsewhere in Central America. The airborne disease that strikes coffee plants, flecking their leaves with spots and causing them to wither and fall off, failed to do much damage in the cooler elevations of Guatemala's mountains.

Then, the weather changed.

Temperatures warmed in the highlands and the yellow-orange spots spread to Argueta's plants. Since the warming trend was noted in 2012, the 46-year-old farmer said his family went from gathering a dozen 100-pound sacks of coffee beans each month to just five.

Now, Argueta is among the region's thousands of coffee farmers fighting the fungus called "coffee rust" in hopes they'll continue to supply the smooth-flavored, aromatic Arabica beans enjoyed by coffee lovers around the world. But with no cure for the fungus, and climate conditions expected to encourage its spread, they are bracing for a long, hard battle to survive.

Argueta, like many farmers, is replacing his old trees with new coffee plants that better resist the rust, and cutting back existing trees in the hope they'll spring new foliage. It will be two to three years, however before the new plants produce the bright red cherries that hold the valuable beans. Argueta has had to seek out construction jobs to get by. "Now we have had to find other lines of work," he said.

A man carries wood as he cleans a coffee plantation in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.Photo: AP

Coffee beans harvested last year are stored at a coffee plantation in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.Photo: AP


Coffee rust first hit Central America in the 1970s. For decades, coffee growers simply coped with the blight and lower yields. But as rust spread to the highlands, the problem demanded action. Last year, Guatemala declared a national emergency, with officials estimating rust had affected 70 percent of the nation's crop.

In neighboring El Salvador, the rate of infection is 74 percent, according to the London-based International Coffee Organization. In Costa Rica, it's 64 percent; in Nicaragua, 37 percent; and in Honduras, 25 percent.

In its April report, the ICO said the average price for coffee hit a two-year high — more than US$1.70 per pound — as market watchers worried about production in Brazil, where severe drought is affecting the world's largest coffee crop, and an El Nino weather pattern is expected to further hurt supply across the region.

The spread of rust has prompted growers to adopt new measures, such as "stumping," the practice of pruning trees of all infected vegetation in hopes of encouraging them to regrow with greater vibrancy. They are also using fungicides and installing shade covers, which appear to help keep the fungus at bay.

Rust also has hit farms in Southern Mexico, which produces much of the region's shade-grown coffee, and where the government is leading a sweeping replanting project.

"We have old, unproductive coffee plantations that haven't been pruned. In some case they're 40 years old," said Belisario Dominguez Mendez, who heads up coffee issues for Mexico's Agriculture Department. "Coffee rust is a good pretext to transform the coffee industry in Mexico," he said, noting the government intends to replace about 20 percent of coffee plants each year, hoping to have them all replaced within five years.

None of that will make rust go away, however.

"Even if you cut them back, the problem is that with the climate changes we are seeing — the rains, the droughts, the rust — basically, we are looking at the need to replant everything."


"It's an issue of managing it, controlling it," Dominguez Mendez said. "We have lived with rust for 30 years, and we will continue living with it for as long as we are around."

In El Salvador, Claudia Herrera de Calderon worries over her family inheritance, two large coffee farms high in the mountains near the Guatemalan border. She has been stumping plants on the two parcels, which total about 1,200 acres and spraying fungicides. But it's not enough.

"Even if you cut them back, the problem is that with the climate changes we are seeing — the rains, the droughts, the rust — basically, we are looking at the need to replant everything," Herrera de Calderon said.

With little government help, and her farms falling below the break-even point, she has had to lay off workers and lacks the funds needed to replant. And because the fungus spreads so easily, the cautionary steps have to be taken all together, or one farm will simply infect the next.

"Now, all the fincas are infected, and those of us who have made the effort to spray fungicides are left with problems by neighboring farms that haven't done anything," she said.

With many rural towns dependent on coffee production, observers fear widespread job losses. Producers in the Guatemalan highlands have lost, on average, between a third and 60 percent of their income in the last year, according to the United Nations. The National Coffee Association of Guatemala, known as Anacafe, says some 100,000 direct coffee jobs have dried up.

Rust-resistant coffee plants of the Sarchimor variety grow on a farm in Fraijanes, Guatemala.Photo: AP

The United Nations is providing emergency food aid to 14,000 Guatemalan households that have lost income due to rust. Still, that's less than 10 percent of the 160,000 homes estimated by the government nutrition agency to need such help.

Argueta, however, is not giving up. Just as he has "stumped" his existing trees, hoping to coax them to start all over, he is ready to begin anew.

On a recent day in Fraijanes, a town southeast of Guatemala City, he and other growers lined up for new, rust-resistant seedlings that the government is handing out.

"This variety is going to better," Argueta said. "That, in itself, is a blessing."


20.50 | 0 komentar | Read More

Angry dad throws rocks at street-racing Lamborghini

Warning: Strong Language

OK, throwing rocks at cars is bad … but so is street-racing.

An outraged dad used his stone fist to hit back at a leadfoot Lamborghini driver who was apparently speeding his $400,000 Aventador supercar up and down a suburban road in the US.

The altercation was filmed and uploaded to YouTube this week. The comment on the clip says the fed-up man finally "took justice — and a rock — into his own hands."

First, he blocks the black and yellow vehicle, threatening to throw a large stone.

When the Lambo zips around him, the man makes good on his warning — smashing one of the car's windows.

Two wrongs don't make a right. But they may make the street racer reconsider his dangerous driving.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.


20.50 | 0 komentar | Read More

Decades-old Apollo training photos surface

Modal Trigger
This 1970 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roost and an unidentified man training with a Modularized Equipment Transporter on the Big Island of Hawaii.

AP

This Dec. 1970 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 15 commander,Dave Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin training on the Big Island, Hawaii.

AP

This Dec. 1970 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 15 astronauts training on the Big Island of Hawaii.

AP

This 1971 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 17 astronauts, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, left, and an unidentified man, training with the lunar roving vehicle on the Big Island of Hawaii.

AP

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HONOLULU — Before Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they went to Hawaii to train on the Big Island's lunar landscapes.

Now, decades-old photos are surfacing of astronauts scooping up Hawaii's soil and riding across volcanic fields in a "moon buggy" vehicle.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, a Hawaii state agency, is displaying the photos at its Hilo headquarters. Rob Kelso, the agency's executive director, found the images at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Astronauts from Apollo missions 13 through 17 trained in Hawaii as did some back up crews, Kelso said.

Some training was on Mauna Kea volcano, where glacial runoff crushed and refined rock into power. Astronauts also trained on recent lava flows.

Today, robots are tested on the Big Island for moon and Mars missions.

In recent years, engineers have tested technology to pull oxygen out of the island's dirt, which is volcanic basalt like the Martian and lunar soil. Future missions could use this technology to extract oxygen from the land instead of taking it along. The oxygen could be used for breathing, to make fuel or for other purposes.

Kelso said scientists are also interested in testing robots at the Big Island's lava tubes and lava tube skylight holes, which resemble similar formations recently spotted in high-definition images taken by satellites orbiting the moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.

Lava tubes are tunnels made when lava forms a solid roof after flowing steadily in a confined area for hours. Skylight holes are formed when part of the tube breaks.


20.50 | 0 komentar | Read More

Flights grounded as Indonesian volcano erupts

Some flights between Australia and southeast Asia and all domestic flights operating out of Darwin airport in the country's north were canceled on Saturday after the eruption of Sangeang Api in Indonesia's south produced a large cloud of ash.

International flights to and from Australia to Singapore, East Timor and the Indonesian holiday island of Bali were among those cancelled, including those departing from Australia's eastern seaboard after an ash cloud from Sangeang Api's initial eruption on Friday evening tracked across central Australia.

"The volcano is undergoing a sustained, rather significant eruption at the moment, so for the last 10 hours we've been observing large masses of volcanic ash being generated," Emile Jansons, manager of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre told Reuters.

"At the moment it has slowed down a little bit since its initial big eruption, but nobody has a very good handle on what this volcano is likely to do in the next 24 hours or beyond," Jansons said, adding that the last eruption of Sangeang Api of this magnitude occurred in 1999.

Based on weather conditions, the current ash cloud tracking across Australia is likely to dissipate before it reaches Australia's eastern airports and major populations centres, Jansons said. Darwin will continue to be impacted until at least Sunday, he added.

All flights into and out of Darwin International Airport were cancelled, spokeswoman Virginia Sanders confirmed.

Darwin's proximity to southeast Asia makes it an important Australian gateway to countries such as Indonesia and East Timor and an important hub for oil and natural gas off Australia's north.

Volcanic ash can be extremely dangerous to aircraft and cause engine failure or engine damage.

Qantas Airways Ltd said it had cancelled all flights to and from Darwin on Saturday and its budget unit Jetstar had grounded nine international and domestic flights.

Virgin Australia Holdings cancelled all flights into and out of Darwin and all flights into and out of Bali on Saturday evening, spokeswoman Jacqui Abbott confirmed.

"Our team of meteorologists are continuing to monitor the situation, in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre," the airline said in a statement.

Regional carrier Airnorth, which flies many oil and gas workers to work in the region, also cancelled five flights on Saturday and a Tiger Airways Ltd domestic flight was also grounded.


20.50 | 0 komentar | Read More

Man shot dead after argument on Brooklyn street

Cops are looking for a suspect wanted for killing a man after an argument in Brooklyn Thursday night.

Police say Todd Wilks, 37, was shot to death in front of 268 Albany Ave. about 7:30 p.m. after getting into an argument with his shooter.

Wilks was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to police.

Surveillance video showed the suspect running along Albany Avenue just after the shooting, cops said.


20.50 | 0 komentar | Read More

Angry dad throws rocks at street-racing Lamborghini

Warning: Strong Language

OK, throwing rocks at cars is bad … but so is street-racing.

An outraged dad used his stone fist to hit back at a leadfoot Lamborghini driver who was apparently speeding his $400,000 Aventador supercar up and down a suburban road in the US.

The altercation was filmed and uploaded to YouTube this week. The comment on the clip says the fed-up man finally "took justice — and a rock — into his own hands."

First, he blocks the black and yellow vehicle, threatening to throw a large stone.

When the Lambo zips around him, the man makes good on his warning — smashing one of the car's windows.

Two wrongs don't make a right. But they may make the street racer reconsider his dangerous driving.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Decades-old Apollo training photos surface

Modal Trigger
This 1970 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roost and an unidentified man training with a Modularized Equipment Transporter on the Big Island of Hawaii.

AP

This Dec. 1970 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 15 commander,Dave Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin training on the Big Island, Hawaii.

AP

This Dec. 1970 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 15 astronauts training on the Big Island of Hawaii.

AP

This 1971 image provided by NASA shows Apollo 17 astronauts, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, left, and an unidentified man, training with the lunar roving vehicle on the Big Island of Hawaii.

AP

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HONOLULU — Before Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they went to Hawaii to train on the Big Island's lunar landscapes.

Now, decades-old photos are surfacing of astronauts scooping up Hawaii's soil and riding across volcanic fields in a "moon buggy" vehicle.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, a Hawaii state agency, is displaying the photos at its Hilo headquarters. Rob Kelso, the agency's executive director, found the images at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Astronauts from Apollo missions 13 through 17 trained in Hawaii as did some back up crews, Kelso said.

Some training was on Mauna Kea volcano, where glacial runoff crushed and refined rock into power. Astronauts also trained on recent lava flows.

Today, robots are tested on the Big Island for moon and Mars missions.

In recent years, engineers have tested technology to pull oxygen out of the island's dirt, which is volcanic basalt like the Martian and lunar soil. Future missions could use this technology to extract oxygen from the land instead of taking it along. The oxygen could be used for breathing, to make fuel or for other purposes.

Kelso said scientists are also interested in testing robots at the Big Island's lava tubes and lava tube skylight holes, which resemble similar formations recently spotted in high-definition images taken by satellites orbiting the moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.

Lava tubes are tunnels made when lava forms a solid roof after flowing steadily in a confined area for hours. Skylight holes are formed when part of the tube breaks.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Fungus making it harder for farmers to grow coffee beans

FRAIJANES, Guatemala — For years, Hernan Argueta's small plot of coffee plants seemed immune to the fungus spreading elsewhere in Central America. The airborne disease that strikes coffee plants, flecking their leaves with spots and causing them to wither and fall off, failed to do much damage in the cooler elevations of Guatemala's mountains.

Then, the weather changed.

Temperatures warmed in the highlands and the yellow-orange spots spread to Argueta's plants. Since the warming trend was noted in 2012, the 46-year-old farmer said his family went from gathering a dozen 100-pound sacks of coffee beans each month to just five.

Now, Argueta is among the region's thousands of coffee farmers fighting the fungus called "coffee rust" in hopes they'll continue to supply the smooth-flavored, aromatic Arabica beans enjoyed by coffee lovers around the world. But with no cure for the fungus, and climate conditions expected to encourage its spread, they are bracing for a long, hard battle to survive.

Argueta, like many farmers, is replacing his old trees with new coffee plants that better resist the rust, and cutting back existing trees in the hope they'll spring new foliage. It will be two to three years, however before the new plants produce the bright red cherries that hold the valuable beans. Argueta has had to seek out construction jobs to get by. "Now we have had to find other lines of work," he said.

A man carries wood as he cleans a coffee plantation in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.Photo: AP

Coffee beans harvested last year are stored at a coffee plantation in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.Photo: AP


Coffee rust first hit Central America in the 1970s. For decades, coffee growers simply coped with the blight and lower yields. But as rust spread to the highlands, the problem demanded action. Last year, Guatemala declared a national emergency, with officials estimating rust had affected 70 percent of the nation's crop.

In neighboring El Salvador, the rate of infection is 74 percent, according to the London-based International Coffee Organization. In Costa Rica, it's 64 percent; in Nicaragua, 37 percent; and in Honduras, 25 percent.

In its April report, the ICO said the average price for coffee hit a two-year high — more than US$1.70 per pound — as market watchers worried about production in Brazil, where severe drought is affecting the world's largest coffee crop, and an El Nino weather pattern is expected to further hurt supply across the region.

The spread of rust has prompted growers to adopt new measures, such as "stumping," the practice of pruning trees of all infected vegetation in hopes of encouraging them to regrow with greater vibrancy. They are also using fungicides and installing shade covers, which appear to help keep the fungus at bay.

Rust also has hit farms in Southern Mexico, which produces much of the region's shade-grown coffee, and where the government is leading a sweeping replanting project.

"We have old, unproductive coffee plantations that haven't been pruned. In some case they're 40 years old," said Belisario Dominguez Mendez, who heads up coffee issues for Mexico's Agriculture Department. "Coffee rust is a good pretext to transform the coffee industry in Mexico," he said, noting the government intends to replace about 20 percent of coffee plants each year, hoping to have them all replaced within five years.

None of that will make rust go away, however.

"Even if you cut them back, the problem is that with the climate changes we are seeing — the rains, the droughts, the rust — basically, we are looking at the need to replant everything."


"It's an issue of managing it, controlling it," Dominguez Mendez said. "We have lived with rust for 30 years, and we will continue living with it for as long as we are around."

In El Salvador, Claudia Herrera de Calderon worries over her family inheritance, two large coffee farms high in the mountains near the Guatemalan border. She has been stumping plants on the two parcels, which total about 1,200 acres and spraying fungicides. But it's not enough.

"Even if you cut them back, the problem is that with the climate changes we are seeing — the rains, the droughts, the rust — basically, we are looking at the need to replant everything," Herrera de Calderon said.

With little government help, and her farms falling below the break-even point, she has had to lay off workers and lacks the funds needed to replant. And because the fungus spreads so easily, the cautionary steps have to be taken all together, or one farm will simply infect the next.

"Now, all the fincas are infected, and those of us who have made the effort to spray fungicides are left with problems by neighboring farms that haven't done anything," she said.

With many rural towns dependent on coffee production, observers fear widespread job losses. Producers in the Guatemalan highlands have lost, on average, between a third and 60 percent of their income in the last year, according to the United Nations. The National Coffee Association of Guatemala, known as Anacafe, says some 100,000 direct coffee jobs have dried up.

Rust-resistant coffee plants of the Sarchimor variety grow on a farm in Fraijanes, Guatemala.Photo: AP

The United Nations is providing emergency food aid to 14,000 Guatemalan households that have lost income due to rust. Still, that's less than 10 percent of the 160,000 homes estimated by the government nutrition agency to need such help.

Argueta, however, is not giving up. Just as he has "stumped" his existing trees, hoping to coax them to start all over, he is ready to begin anew.

On a recent day in Fraijanes, a town southeast of Guatemala City, he and other growers lined up for new, rust-resistant seedlings that the government is handing out.

"This variety is going to better," Argueta said. "That, in itself, is a blessing."


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Flights grounded as Indonesian volcano erupts

Some flights between Australia and southeast Asia and all domestic flights operating out of Darwin airport in the country's north were canceled on Saturday after the eruption of Sangeang Api in Indonesia's south produced a large cloud of ash.

International flights to and from Australia to Singapore, East Timor and the Indonesian holiday island of Bali were among those cancelled, including those departing from Australia's eastern seaboard after an ash cloud from Sangeang Api's initial eruption on Friday evening tracked across central Australia.

"The volcano is undergoing a sustained, rather significant eruption at the moment, so for the last 10 hours we've been observing large masses of volcanic ash being generated," Emile Jansons, manager of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre told Reuters.

"At the moment it has slowed down a little bit since its initial big eruption, but nobody has a very good handle on what this volcano is likely to do in the next 24 hours or beyond," Jansons said, adding that the last eruption of Sangeang Api of this magnitude occurred in 1999.

Based on weather conditions, the current ash cloud tracking across Australia is likely to dissipate before it reaches Australia's eastern airports and major populations centres, Jansons said. Darwin will continue to be impacted until at least Sunday, he added.

All flights into and out of Darwin International Airport were cancelled, spokeswoman Virginia Sanders confirmed.

Darwin's proximity to southeast Asia makes it an important Australian gateway to countries such as Indonesia and East Timor and an important hub for oil and natural gas off Australia's north.

Volcanic ash can be extremely dangerous to aircraft and cause engine failure or engine damage.

Qantas Airways Ltd said it had cancelled all flights to and from Darwin on Saturday and its budget unit Jetstar had grounded nine international and domestic flights.

Virgin Australia Holdings cancelled all flights into and out of Darwin and all flights into and out of Bali on Saturday evening, spokeswoman Jacqui Abbott confirmed.

"Our team of meteorologists are continuing to monitor the situation, in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre," the airline said in a statement.

Regional carrier Airnorth, which flies many oil and gas workers to work in the region, also cancelled five flights on Saturday and a Tiger Airways Ltd domestic flight was also grounded.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Man shot dead after argument on Brooklyn street

Cops are looking for a suspect wanted for killing a man after an argument in Brooklyn Thursday night.

Police say Todd Wilks, 37, was shot to death in front of 268 Albany Ave. about 7:30 p.m. after getting into an argument with his shooter.

Wilks was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to police.

Surveillance video showed the suspect running along Albany Avenue just after the shooting, cops said.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Drugs, prostitution will add $16.7B to Britain’s GDP

Written By kom nampuldu on Jumat, 30 Mei 2014 | 20.49

LONDON — Sex please — we're British.

Britain's Office of National Statistics said prostitution and the import, manufacture and consumption of illegal drugs will be counted when making the government's quarterly calculations of gross domestic product.

The statistics agency said Friday some of these activities are legal in certain European Union countries, and comparable figures are needed. All member states need the same standard because they are used to assess a member state's contribution to the EU budget.

"As economies develop and evolve, so do the statistics we use to measure them," said Joe Grice, the ONS's chief economic adviser. "These improvements are going on across the world and we are working with our partners in Europe and the wider world on the same agenda."

At the moment, the only illegal activities included in GDP are estimates on alcohol and tobacco smuggling.

The ONS said that the new estimates would add approximately 10 billion pounds ($16.7 billion) to the level of GDP in 2009. That said, it remains a very small portion of Britain's overall GDP, which now stands at 1.5 trillion pounds.

Nonetheless, calculations may prove challenging. To measure prostitution, statisticians will have to tabulate up the value of things like brothel rental, condom sales, makeup and the clothing of sex workers.

For illegal drugs, the ONS will examine production and sales of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines. Growing drugs will be classed as "production," buying them for home use, "expenditure," while selling them as "income."


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Hillary Clinton accuses Benghazi critics of ‘flat-out deceit’

WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton is firing a preemptive blast at her fiercest critics on the Benghazi issue, accusing them of "flat-out deceit" in her forthcoming book.

Moving to confront a lingering issue that is certain to draw attacks in any 2016 presidential contest, Clinton is training fire on Republican lawmakers who have launched a series of probes into the attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. the late Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

"Many of these same people are a broken record about unanswered questions. But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers," she writes.

At one point, she suggests it's unpatriotic to keep re-visiting the issue in the political realm.

"Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country," Clinton says.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently announced the creation of a House select committee on Benghazi – a panel that would likely call Clinton as its star witness.

The US Consulate in Benghazi in flames after the September 11, 2012 attack that killed 4 Americans, including US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.Photo: Reuters

Clinton blasts the "regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media."

A man celebrates as the US Consulate in Benghazi burns during the attack in 2012.Photo: Reuters

Clinton lays out her case for what happened in Benghazi in a 34-page chapter of "Hard Choices," her memoir that comes out next month, which was obtained by Politico and is titled "Benghazi: Under Attack."

The preemptive move comes as Team Clinton has taken other steps to prepare for the expected onslaught, including retaining former Obama National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor.

From excerpts, Clinton doesn't appear to shed many new facts on what happened in 2012. She argues that an incendiary video was a motive for people who attacked the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya – although she acknowledges that the video didn't influence "every single one of them."

"There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives," she writes. "It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well."

She also took on critics who argue the U.S. should have done more to respond militarily.

Inside the US Consulate in Benghazi days after the attack.Photo: AP

Obama "gave the order to do whatever was necessary to support our people in Libya. It was imperative that all possible resources be mobilized immediately," she writes.

"When Americans are under fire, that is not an order the Commander-in-Chief has to give twice. Our military does everything humanly possible to save American lives — and would do more if they could. That anyone has ever suggested otherwise is something I will never understand."


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Legendary DJ dies awaiting trial on child sex charges

NEWARK, NJ — Dave Herman, a pioneering New York City radio personality who was in a New Jersey jail awaiting trial on charges in a child sex sting, died Thursday. He was 78.

Herman died at University Hospital in Newark, attorney Marc Agnifilo said. Herman was rushed to the hospital late Wednesday from the county jail after complaining of chest pains, Agnifilo said. No official cause of death was announced.

Herman had been living in St. Croix, where he was arrested at the airport in October on a charge he tried to transport a 7-year-old girl to the US Virgin Islands for sex. Herman had allegedly been awaiting the arrival a 36-year-old single mother with a young daughter whom he thought he had been communicating with in multiple telephone and online conversations about arranging an illegal sexual encounter with the child.

Herman had pleaded not guilty to the federal charge, but was denied bail. Agnifilo had suggested that Herman was duped by an undercover police officer.

A spokeswoman for the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey said they were moving to dismiss the charges, as is standard practice upon the death of a defendant.

Agnifilo said he hoped the case wouldn't overshadow Herman's legacy.

"Some would say he lived his last months under a legal cloud and that's true, but we should remember him for the decades he gave the gift of music to people," Agnifilo said.

Herman was a pioneering rock disc jockey in the late 1960s and '70s, when he began experimenting with free-form rock music programming, something that was novel at the time on FM radio, according to Paul Heine, a senior editor at Inside Radio, an industry trade publication. Herman worked at Philadelphia's WMMR, and later worked for decades as a morning DJ at New York City's WNEW, where he remained until 1998, Heine said.

"WNEW was one of the most watched stations in the country in its '70s heyday, and he was a cornerstone of the legendary rock radio air staff there," Heine said.


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Law professor running against Cuomo

A liberal activist critical of Democratic Gov. Cuomo has launched a campaign website in a bid to run against him on the Working Families Party line.

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout said she is "running for governor because New Yorkers need an economy and democracy that actually works for them–not just the wealthy few."

Zephyr, 42, who has been active in a number of liberal causes, has slammed Cuomo in social media for pushing tax cuts and failing to enact sweeping campaign finance reform to remove big money from political campaigns.

"As a leading advocate to help prevent wealthy and corporate donors from buying our democracy, Zephyr's arguments were cited in the Citizens United case by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Zephyr's own book – Corruption in America – will be published by Harvard University Press this September," her campaign website [zephyrteachout com) says.

"Zephyr is committed to making our politics more responsive to the needs and values of working and middle-class families. In 2004, she led online organizing for Howard Dean's presidential campaign, where she pioneered new ways of giving voice and power to people in our democracy," her bio says.

A Vermont native who resides in the Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Zephyr was the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation. After the financial crisis of 2008, Zephyr co-founded A New Way Forward, a group dedicated to breaking up the power of Wall Street banks.

The Working Famlies Party hold its convention Saturday to determine whether to back Cuomo's re-election or nominate Zephyr.

The left-leading party backed Cuomo in 2010.


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Google takes requests to scrub search results

Google is starting to accept requests from Europeans who want to erase unflattering information from the results produced by the world's dominant search engine.

The demands can be submitted on a Web page that Google opened late Thursday in response to a landmark ruling issued two weeks ago by Europe's highest court.

The decision gives Europeans the means to polish their online reputations by petitioning Google and other search engines to remove potentially damaging links to newspaper articles and other websites with embarrassing information about their past activities.

Google's compliance thrusts the company into the prickly position of having to balance privacy concerns and "the right to be forgotten" against the principles of free expression and "the right to know."

It will also create a divide between how Google generates search results about some people in Europe and the rest of the world. For now at least, Google will only scrub personal information spanning a 32-nation swath in Europe. That means Googling the same person in the United States and dozens of other countries could look much different than it does from Europe.

Although the court ruling only applied to 28 countries in the European Union, Google is extending the "right to be forgotten" to four other countries — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. More than 500 million people live in the area affected by Google's potential purge of personal information from its European search results.

It's unclear when the whitewashing will begin. So far, Google has only said it will happen soon.

First, though, the Mountain View, California company is trying to establish some guidelines to steer its censorship decisions.

To do that, Google is setting up a seven-person advisory committee to navigate through the ethical shoals. The group includes Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and David Drummond, the company's chief legal officer, as well as five outsiders.

They are: Luciano Floridi, an information ethics philosopher at the Oxford Internet Institute; Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder; Jose Luis Piñar, former director of Spain's Data Protection Authority; Peggy Valck, a privacy rights activist and director of the University of Leuven law school; and Frank La Rue, a special United Nations representative specializing in free speech.

Google will designate another team of its employees to sift through the requests to remove personal information from search results and decide which have grievances that should be honored under the European court ruling. The company won't decide how many employees will be assigned to this task until it gets a better sense of how many removal requests are likely to pour in from Europe.

Depending on the volume, it could turn into a monumental headache, even for a company with the financial resources and technological resources of Google.

Investors so far haven't given any sign of being worried about the new realities facing Google in Europe. The company's most widely traded class of stock has climbed 6 percent since the European court issued its game-changing decision. The shares closed at $570.56 Thursday, leaving Google with a market value of about $385 billion.


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Rand musical more pain than ‘Anthem’

Once in a blue moon comes a show so laughably bad, it's almost enjoyable — almost.

Enter "The Anthem." Loosely based on Ayn Rand's 1938 sci-fi novella "Anthem," this inept musical stars Randy Jones (the original cowboy from Village People) and has been staged like a cross between "Starlight Express" and Cirque du Cheeseball.

Set in a totalitarian future that looks just like a 1980s music video, the show follows the political awakening of hunky Prometheus (Jason Gotay) as he rejects a society that proclaims "the folly of independent thought" — a typical Randian line woodenly delivered by Jones' cartoonish Tiberius, in full silent-movie-villain mode.

This seems ripe for spoofing, but director Rachel Klein and her team — book writer Gary Morgenstein, composer Jonnie Rockwell and lyricist Erik Ransom — have no satirical edge, and the message appears to be taken seriously. Or as seriously as it can be in a show loaded with silver lamé.

Laughs abound, but they're unintentional. A muscular Executioner in leather hot pants (Jamyl Dobson) emotes "The Palace of Mating" with a porny wacka-wacka guitar riff in the background. In their inadvertently hilarious duet, Prometheus and feisty rebel Athena (Ashley Kate Adams) warble "On the precipice of danger/I stand before a stranger/And I feel born anew/Stimulated past all rationality/How can I face reality."

And so it goes for almost 2½ punishing hours — for a 128-page book! Let's pray these guys don't tackle "Atlas Shrugged" next.


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Plug pulled on ‘Broadway 4D’

You know what the D in "Broadway 4D" stands for? Dead.

The plug's been pulled on this ambitious project, conceived by such prominent showbiz figures as "X-Men" director Bryan Singer, former CBS executive Jeff Sagansky and Robert Kory, a Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer. Sources say they were unable to raise the $80 million needed to get the project off the ground and complete renovations to the long-shuttered Times Square Theater on West 42nd Street.

Rehearsals have been canceled, but a spokesperson for "Broadway 4D" says the reports of financial problems are "inaccurate" — and that the producers hope to keep the production alive.

But that's not what people involved in the show are hearing.

"It's not happening," one source said. "It's over."

What, exactly, was "Broadway 4D" supposed to be?

A press release last year described it as "a 3-D film-enhanced show incorporating in-theater special effects" — extravagant sounds and, bizarrely, scents. The film would have contained scenes from classic Broadway musicals, including Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita."

But what I want to know is what would the "scents" have been? The whiff of kitty litter for "Cats"? Perhaps a pungent Alpine cheese fondue to accompany "The Sound of Music" — or a No. 12, chicken with broccoli, for "Flower Drum Song"?

In any case, because of its heavy-hitting backers, "Broadway 4D" attracted first-rate talent. Hugh Jackman, who played Curly in a celebrated 1998 revival of "Oklahoma!" at the National Theatre, was scheduled to shoot a scene this week in which he would sing "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'." Sierra Boggess, now playing Christine in Broadway's "The Phantom of the Opera," was going to reprise her turn as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid."

"Glee" star Matthew Morrison ("Hairspray"), Antonio Banderas ("Nine") and Betty Buckley ("Cats") were also scheduled to appear on-screen.

The only thing in the can, I'm told, is Christina Aguilera's rendition of "Don't Cry for Me,Argentina" from "Evita," sung perhaps to the smell of empanadas.

The collapse of "Broadway 4D," which was first reported Wednesday night by Broadway.com, has left some of these stars miffed. "They were excited to have their performances preserved for all time," one source said. "That's not going to happen."

The producers e-mailed the actors the other day saying they would "understand" if they have to pursue other offers.

Jackman will be just fine.

But I'm sad about the Times Square Theater. Built in 1920, it's the only venerable theater on 42nd Street that sits empty. Livent, the company set up by convicted fraudster Garth Drabinsky, backed off from a plan to renovate it back in the '90s just before that company collapsed. And now, with the apparent demise of "Broadway 4D," this wonderful old theater, once home to the Gershwins' "Strike Up the Band" and Noël Coward's "Private Lives," will remain dark.

I'm so depressed I'm going to put on my cast album from "Bombay Dreams," order some tikka masala and create my own scent-specific show.


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Falcone to FCC: ‘Take action’ to reverse hedge fund losses

Billionaire investor Phil Falcone is turning up the heat on Uncle Sam.

Falcone, whose Harbinger Capital hedge fund owns the bankrupt LightSquared, a high-speed wireless start-up, is asking the Federal Communications Commission to take "immediate" action to stem the barrels of red ink flowing from the company.

In a letter to the FCC, Falcone is urging the regulator to "mitigate further damage" to Harbinger, which invested $3 billion in LightSquared only to see the agency pull the plug on the company in 2012.

On Wednesday, Falcone asked the FCC to take "immediate, positive action" to reverse Harbinger's losses, according to the letter sent by his legal team.

The move has some watchers betting that Falcone is gearing up to sue the FCC for botching his plans for building a nationwide 4G-LTE wireless network.

"They're putting the government on notice that they intend to sue," said telecom analyst Tim Farrar.

Indeed, the letter addresses a meeting Falcone had with the FCC last Friday — a get together that also included Justice Department officials.

"The only reason they [DOJ] would be there is to defend the federal government in the event of a lawsuit," Farrar said.

One of the DOJ officials at the meeting works in the civil department of Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor on Thursday declined to comment on what was discussed at the meeting.

Falcone invested billions of Harbinger's money to build LightSquared in 2010 with dreams of establishing a nationwide 4G-LTE wireless network.

But the FCC revoked its approval for LightSquared after it received complaints the network was interfering with costly navigation technology for planes and tractors.

"These problems were not of Harbinger's making," Falcone wrote in the letter to the FCC.

An e-mail released in bankruptcy court earlier this year revealed Falcone had bickered with a LightSquared debtholder over Falcone's refusal to give up Harbinger's legal claims against the FCC to speed up the restructuring plan.

"The problem is, you've threatened in so many occasions, 'well if I don't like the result, maybe I'll just sue the FCC and tie this up for 10 years.' How do we deal with that?" the debtholder asked Falcone in the email.

"I think that's a bit of an overstatement," Falcone responded.

Neither Falcone nor the lawyer who filed the letter to the FCC returned a request for comment.


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Demise of magazine wholesaler claims 6,000 jobs

About 6,000 people are about to be tossed out of work now that the nation's No. 2 magazine wholesaler — Source Interlink Distribution — will be closing its doors.

"While we have made significant progress in finding mutually agreeable solutions with publishers and national distributors alike, one of our largest suppliers has recently decided to cease supply and move in a different direction," Michael Sullivan, CEO of Source Interlink Distribution, wrote in a memo to publishers.

"As such, it's with a heavy heart that I am writing to advise you that [SID] will be discontinuing all operations in the near future," the unsettling Sullivan memo, obtained by Media Ink, continued.

Wholesalers truck magazines from warehouses to retailers large and small and have been under enormous pressure for years as newsstand sales have tumbled.

In the mid-1990s, there were more than 300 wholesalers. With SID's closing, there are now just two survivors — TNG, owned by The News Group, based in Canada, and Hudson News.

In the five years ended in 2013, as the retail magazine business has shrunk by 40 percent, to less than $3 billion, according to industry sources, SID was growing.

Last year it added the Rite Aid and CVS chains nationwide, and already had about 75-to-80 percent of the Barnes & Noble stores and more than 1,200 Walgreens.

But to get the retailers to jump ship, SID had to promise them much better terms. It thought it could introduce a more efficient way of doing business by eliminating the archaic return systems.

SID wanted to calculate sales only when titles were scanned at registers. Traditionally, every magazine shipped — known in the industry as "the draw" — counted as a sale.

Publishers balked at SID's scanned method because it did not account for "shrinkage" — items that are stolen, damaged or lost somewhere.

While shrinkage might only be in the 3 percent-to-7 percent range, in the hardscrabble world of publishing margins today, those lost sales loomed large.

It's one of the dirty little secrets of publishing, that magazine publishers end up shredding the bulk of the magazines — perhaps as much as 70 percent — produced for sale.

The latest wholesaler crisis burst into the open on Monday when Time Inc., in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it had dropped SID — identified in the document only as its "second largest wholesaler" — and given the business to a company identified as its No. 1 wholesaler.

That company was fingered by sources to be TNG, owned by The News Group, headed by Jimmy Pattison.

But that was only the most visible crack in the system.

Bauer Publications, publisher of Woman's World and celebrity titles like In Touch and Life & Style, had quietly decided to stop using SID about two to three weeks ago.

Bauer declined comment.

In the final move, on Wednesday, Curtis Circulation, a national distributor that serves as the banker for American Media titles such as the National Enquirer and Star, and Rodale titles like Men's Health and Runner's World, also said it would stop shipping to SID.

Ironically, the only entity still using SID was the Comag operation that handles Condé Nast and Hearst titles.

Comag is owned by The News Group's TNG and Hudson News, the two biggest remaining wholesalers, which will now control about 80 percent of the market.

Public gets booked

For the first time ever, Book Expo America, is inviting the public inside the Javits Center to meet and mingle with authors.

The price tag is $25 for adults and $5 for children under 12.

An estimated 10,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's public session — what is usually the slowest day of the Expo.

More than 80 authors will be on hand for what is being billed as Book Con — being run by ReedPop, the same folks who produce ComicCon.

The first several days belong to publishers, trying to drum up interest among bookstore owners for titles that will be hitting later this year.

Patterson swipe

The battle between Amazon and Hachette Books over pricing on e-books continued to dominate conversations on the convention floor of Book Expo America.

Best-selling author James Patterson drew attention at a luncheon when he took a swipe at Amazon.

"The future of our literature is in danger," he told the lunch crowd, where he was accepting an award for helping small book sellers. "Amazon wants to control book buying, book selling and even book publishing,"

Amazon for its part seemed to be maintaining a very low profile as the bookish crowd seemed largely set against Amazon's play in the latest battle.

One agent said he was having a hard time finding any Amazon presence at BEA.

"If they have a booth, it better be bullet proof," he said, in jest. In reality, Amazon did have two tiny books — one for its Kindle e-reader and other a kids book — stuck in an out-of-the-way booth for books in translation.


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Rockers aid cancer colleague

Downtown artists and musicians are heading to the Bowery Ballroom for a Sunday benefit for Simon Scott, a popular local artist and rocker who is trying to beat cancer.

Hosted by comedian Dave Hill, the benefit will feature more than a dozen New York bands including a rare reunion of The Bogmen, comedian Todd Barry and an auction featuring an original custom print by DC Comics' Batman illustrator Ian Bertram.

Scott, an accomplished local painter and guitarist who has also recorded with Oasis and the North Mississippi All-Stars, is a familiar face in downtown bars and taverns, where he has been commissioned to paint dozens of beer- and liquor-company logos and murals over the years.

Tickets are on sale at the Bowery Ballroom Web site, and donations can be made to Scott's fund at the Sweet Relief Musician's Fund: SweetRelief.org/program/simon-scott-fund-2/.


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Google’s diversity data reveals mostly white male workforce

Written By kom nampuldu on Kamis, 29 Mei 2014 | 20.49

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a groundbreaking disclosure, Google revealed how very white and male its workforce is — just 2 percent of its Googlers are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are women.

The search giant said Wednesday that the transparency about its workforce — the first disclosure of its kind in the largely white, male tech sector — is an important step toward change.

"Simply put, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity," Google Inc. senior vice president Laszlo Bock wrote in a blog.

The numbers were compiled as part of a report that major U.S. employers must file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Companies are not required to make the information public.

The gender divide is based on the roughly 44,000 people Google employed throughout the world at the start of this year. The company didn't factor about 4,000 workers at its Motorola Mobility division, which is being sold to China's Lenovo Group for $2.9 billion. The racial data is limited to Google's roughly 26,600 workers in the U.S as of August 2013.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said the social networking company is headed toward disclosure as well, but it was important to share the data internally first.

Apple Inc., Twitter, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp. did not respond immediately to queries about possible plans to disclose data.

Bock said Google has been working to diversify, not just its offices but in the broader tech sector. Since 2010, the firm has given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls, he said.

The company also is working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science, he said.

"But we're the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be, and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution," he said.

Gender and ethnic disparities are reflected throughout the tech industry. About 7 percent of tech workers are black or Latino in Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent Census data.

In the coming months, Google said, it will work with the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a group that uses information technology to close gender and ethnic gaps in the Silicon Valley workforce. The center will be organizing a Google-backed conference in California focusing on issues of technology and diversity.

Co-founder Freada Kapor Klein, who started the Level Playing Field Institute 13 years ago to teach and mentor black and Latino students in science and math, said Google is showing leadership "which has been sorely needed for a long time."

"Google is the company known for the moonshot, and applying that part of Google DNA to this problem is a breath of fresh air," she said.

Earlier this year, the Rev. Jesse Jackson launched a campaign to diversify Silicon Valley, asking to meet with leaders of several iconic technology companies about bringing black and Hispanics into their workforce and leadership.

Since then, he's been leading delegations to annual shareholder's meetings at firms including Google, Facebook, eBay Inc. and Hewlett-Packard.

On Wednesday Jackson said Google is to be commended.

"It's a bold step in the right direction. We urge other companies to follow Google's lead," he said. "Silicon Valley and the tech industry have demonstrated an ability to solve the most challenging and complex problems in the world. Inclusion is a complex problem — if we put our collective minds together, we can solve that too."

Iris Gardner, a manager at nonprofit Code2040, which places high performing black and Latino software engineering students in internships with top tech companies, said Google's disclosure could mark a pivotal moment in the push to diversify Silicon Valley.

"It is a big deal for them to be transparent about something that most companies haven't in the past been willing to share," she said.


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Thugs slug elderly woman, steal purse in broad daylight

Two heartless thieves assaulted an elderly woman in a purse-snatch attack in Queens—and it was all caught on video surveillance, cops said.

The suspects briskly walked up behind the 73-year-old victim Tuesday at 3:20 p.m. on 153rd Street and 88th Avenue in Jamaica as she slowly made her way down the street with a cart full of groceries.

The female suspect snatched the victim's purse as her pal, believed to be a roughly 18-year-old man, socked the woman in the face sending her to the ground, cops said.

The thieves ran off with her pocketbook and left her struggling to get up.

Her purse had $100, a 'Trac' cell phone and other items.

She was treated for a laceration to her ear and abrasions to her arm at Jamaica Hospital, according to authorities.

The female, also believed to be about 18, was last seen wearing a vest.

The second culprit was wearing dark clothing and a pair of cargo pants.


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9/11 Museum gift shop yanks USA-shaped cheese platter

The 9/11 Museum yanked a USA-shaped cheese platter — which reminds snackers where planes struck nearly 13 years ago — from shelves of its tact-challenged gift store.

The National September 11 Memorial Museum's gift shop has heavily criticized since The Post, earlier this month, highlighted offensive items being sold at the solemn locale.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night that the museum ditched a cheese platter, in the shape of America's 48 contiguous states, with heart symbols at spots where three hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Memorial CEO Joe Daniels said all future items sold in the store will have to get approval from 9/11 victims' family members who are on the foundation's board.

"Once the public starts coming in, you learn so much," Daniels said. "We in no way presume to get everything right. We will accept that criticism, absolutely."

The Post first brought the museum's odd gift shop to light on May 18. The crass store peddles kitschy jewelry, a black and white "Darkness Hoodie" printed with an image of the Twin Towers, FDNY vests for dogs and a wide array of FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts and caps.

Modal Trigger
9/11 Memorial coffee mug: $10.95
9/11 Memorial cap: $19.95
9/11 Memorial T-shirt: $22
Silk scarf of towers: $95
9/11 Memorial Museum 'In Darkness we shine brightest' hoodie: $39
FDNY rescue dog vest: $39.95

Sue Edelman

10th anniversary flag of honor: $24.95

Sue Edelman

Heart stones: $39

Sue Edelman

Sterling silver charms: $65

Sue Edelman

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GDP contracts after US economy is battered by harsh winter

The US economy was battered even more than first suspected by the harsh winter, actually shrinking from January through March. But economists are confident the contraction was temporary.

The economy contracted at an annual rate of 1 percent in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was worse than the government's initial estimate last month that gross domestic product grew by a barely discernible 0.1 percent in the first quarter.

It was the economy's first quarterly decline since a 1.3 percent drop in the first three months of 2011.

This year's dip reflected slower stockpiling by businesses, a cutback in business investment and a wider trade deficit. Economists are looking for a strong rebound in the April-June quarter as the country shakes off the effects of a severe winter.

"The second estimate of GDP is backward looking," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG, in a note to clients. "We knew that weather dramatically impacted growth in the first quarter, and we fully expect a bounce back in the second quarter."

In the fourth quarter, the overall economy had grown at an annual rate of 2.6 percent.

The first quarter contraction primarily reflected a sharp slowdown in businesses stockpiling, which subtracted 1.6 percentage points from growth, a full percentage point more than the initial estimate. The trade deficit was slightly larger than previously thought. Business investment in structures fell at an annual rate of 7.5 percent in the first quarter, also worse than the initial estimate.

The report Thursday was the government's second look at GDP, the country's total output of goods and services.

Many economists believe that GDP will post a sizable rebound to growth of around 3.8 percent in the current April-June quarter and will remain above 3 percent in the second half of the year as the economy gets a boost from increased consumer demand, bolstered by stronger hiring.

In a separate report Thursday, the government said that applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell by 27,000 last week to 300,000. The result is near the lowest level in seven years.

The 1 percent decline in the first quarter was only the second negative quarterly GDP reading since the current recovery began in June 2009.

While one definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of contraction in the GDP, there is no concern that a negative reading in the first quarter could be a sign the economy is about to topple into a downturn. The widespread belief among analysts is that the weakness in the first quarter was based on a variety of temporary factors that will be quickly reversed once the weather warms up.

Many economists estimate that the economy in the current April-June quarter is growing at an annual rate of between 3.5 percent and 4 percent as pent-up demand by consumers fuels stronger growth.


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Dish Network to accept bitcoin payments

Dish Network Corp. says it will become the largest company yet to accept payment in bitcoin.

The satellite-TV company says it will begin accepting the digital coins through payment processor Coinbase by September. Coinbase will instantly convert the bitcoins into cash, eliminating the risk of price fluctuations to Dish.

Dish's chief operating officer, Bernie Han, says the idea came from company employees who had become avid bitcoin users.

While Han says demand for the payment system is unclear, it aligns the Englewood, Colorado, company's high-tech offerings — such as the ability to watch live TV on mobile devices — with the tech-savvy customers it is trying to reach.

He also said Coinbase's payment processing fee is attractive compared to the average of what it pays to other processors.


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Father who drowned toddler sentenced to life in prison

A callous New Jersey father was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for killing his 2-year-old daughter by throwing her into a creek while she was strapped in a car seat.

Arthur Morgan III was slammed by the judge, who said the killer dad would be the No. 1 candidate for the death penalty if the state had capital punishment.

"This child was alive when she was placed in the water in pitch darkness, and had to suffer the unthinkable," Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr. said. "This child suffered before she died."

Morgan bizarrely claimed he shouldn't be punished severely because he was a great dad — until he threw little Tierra into the creek in Wall Township.

"As a father, my job was to provide and protect," he said. "All my actions prior to this were to make sure Tierra was safe and [my wife] Imani was comfortable."


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Troubled Iraq vet found on city bus loaded with guns

A troubled Iraq war veteran who believed he was trying to protect Americans from a bloody civil war was busted after riding a Brooklyn bus while carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, machete and an array of ammo, law-enforcement sources said.

Christopher Palumbo, 27, who served three tours in Iraq, was charged with larceny and weapons possession after terrified bus passengers saw the high-powered weaponry slipping from his bag on a bus in Bay Ridge on Tuesday, sources said.

The former Marine said that he was protecting people and trying to prevent the "bloodshed" from an "American Spring," sources said. Palumbo's mother said he was deeply affected by serving overseas.

"My son really is a victim," she told The Post.

"Some of the soldiers come back totally broken and the VA isn't helping them either." Palumbo was arrested for slugging a 68-year-old man in November, sources said.

According to WNBC-TV he also felt guilty for not preventing 9/11.


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Commercial pilot had 62 bags of cocaine in his stomach

A commercial airline pilot is recovering in hospital after swallowing 62 bags of cocaine on a flight only to have one break inside his stomach forcing him to turn himself in.

Court documents obtained by Click2 Houston state that Stanley Rafael Hill, 49, has been charged with possession of drugs and intent to deliver.

Sources told the news outlet that shortly before boarding the flight from Colombia, Hill ingested 62 small rubber sacks of cocaine. Hill was travelling as a passenger on a commercial flight to Houston and was not flying the plane.

Hill managed to make it through security and to a Houston hotel before he called for help when one of the sacks burst inside him.

It is unclear if his security clearances made it easier for him to smuggle drugs.

It is not known which airline Hill works for but his family told NBC 5 that it is a small regional air carrier and that he is a father of two.

His bond has been set at $500,000.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.


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Google’s diversity data reveals mostly white male workforce

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a groundbreaking disclosure, Google revealed how very white and male its workforce is — just 2 percent of its Googlers are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are women.

The search giant said Wednesday that the transparency about its workforce — the first disclosure of its kind in the largely white, male tech sector — is an important step toward change.

"Simply put, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity," Google Inc. senior vice president Laszlo Bock wrote in a blog.

The numbers were compiled as part of a report that major U.S. employers must file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Companies are not required to make the information public.

The gender divide is based on the roughly 44,000 people Google employed throughout the world at the start of this year. The company didn't factor about 4,000 workers at its Motorola Mobility division, which is being sold to China's Lenovo Group for $2.9 billion. The racial data is limited to Google's roughly 26,600 workers in the U.S as of August 2013.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said the social networking company is headed toward disclosure as well, but it was important to share the data internally first.

Apple Inc., Twitter, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp. did not respond immediately to queries about possible plans to disclose data.

Bock said Google has been working to diversify, not just its offices but in the broader tech sector. Since 2010, the firm has given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls, he said.

The company also is working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science, he said.

"But we're the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be, and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution," he said.

Gender and ethnic disparities are reflected throughout the tech industry. About 7 percent of tech workers are black or Latino in Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent Census data.

In the coming months, Google said, it will work with the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a group that uses information technology to close gender and ethnic gaps in the Silicon Valley workforce. The center will be organizing a Google-backed conference in California focusing on issues of technology and diversity.

Co-founder Freada Kapor Klein, who started the Level Playing Field Institute 13 years ago to teach and mentor black and Latino students in science and math, said Google is showing leadership "which has been sorely needed for a long time."

"Google is the company known for the moonshot, and applying that part of Google DNA to this problem is a breath of fresh air," she said.

Earlier this year, the Rev. Jesse Jackson launched a campaign to diversify Silicon Valley, asking to meet with leaders of several iconic technology companies about bringing black and Hispanics into their workforce and leadership.

Since then, he's been leading delegations to annual shareholder's meetings at firms including Google, Facebook, eBay Inc. and Hewlett-Packard.

On Wednesday Jackson said Google is to be commended.

"It's a bold step in the right direction. We urge other companies to follow Google's lead," he said. "Silicon Valley and the tech industry have demonstrated an ability to solve the most challenging and complex problems in the world. Inclusion is a complex problem — if we put our collective minds together, we can solve that too."

Iris Gardner, a manager at nonprofit Code2040, which places high performing black and Latino software engineering students in internships with top tech companies, said Google's disclosure could mark a pivotal moment in the push to diversify Silicon Valley.

"It is a big deal for them to be transparent about something that most companies haven't in the past been willing to share," she said.


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Boston Police hunting for the ‘Boston Tickler’

Police are hunting a man who breaks into the homes of students and watches them sleep or tickles their feet.

There have been at least 10 confirmed sightings of a creepy intruder dubbed the Boston Tickler, whom many in the neighborhood had long believed to be an urban myth. At least three students reported having a run-in with him on the same night last month.

"This is no myth," Boston Police Sergeant Michael O'Hara said.

The Tickler has been spotted in Boston's Brighton area, which is popular with students living off campus, Sgt. O'Hara said.

Victims have described him as a 5′ 7″ black male of indeterminate age wearing dark clothing and a hoodie, he said.

Even more worrying, several witnesses said the man watched them through their windows as he committed a sex act.

Boston College junior Teddy Raddell told police he was jolted from sleep at 5am one Sunday in October by the sound of someone running down the stairs of the house he shares with several fellow students.

"I thought my roommate had fallen down the steps," Mr. Raddell told Boston.com. "But then he started yelling. I got up and he said that he had woken up to someone touching his feet."

As in all the cases, nothing was stolen.

"The guy didn't take anything and there were laptops and wallets out in the main room," Mr. Raddell said.

Another Boston College junior, Daniel Marenzi, said he woke up late — also on a Sunday in October — to his feet being tickled.

"I thought my friend was just trying to annoy me, but I soon realized it wasn't anyone I knew," Mr. Marenzi said. "I freaked out and sat up but he was already on the way out."

I thought my friend was just trying to annoy me, but I soon realized it wasn't anyone I knew. I freaked out and sat up but he was already on the way out. - Daniel Marenzi, Boston College student


He said he and his housemates now lock all their doors.

Sgt. O'Hara said: "Absolutely students should be concerned. You don't know what this guy is going to do or if he has a weapon. You need to lock your doors. It's not as safe as you think."

Police investigations were stepped up after three students reported encounters with The Tickler on the same night — April 7 this year.

One of them, Jake Barrows, was awakened at 3.45am.

"Someone was standing at the end of the bed, and by the time I realized there was someone really there, he was booking it right out my door," Mr. Barrows, a Boston College junior, told Boston.com.

"When I was finally out of bed and following, he was out the back door."

He said he hasn't slept in his room since that night.

Just over an hour later, Billy Buckley awoke to the sight of someone opening his bedroom door, he said. He called his roommate's name, and got no response.

The figure slowly crept away, sprinted down the steps, and slammed the front door.

"The Tickler had made a visit," he said, certain now that the stories he had heard are true.

Jonny Goldowsky said he also had a run-in with The Tickler. Mr. Goldowsky, who lives in the same house as Mr. Barrows, said that a month prior to his roommate's encounter, he heard shuffling at the door to his room and saw a man there in a Gator-style ski mask.

All of these students, and others in the neighborhood, said they would like to see more of a police presence.

"I'd really like it, and probably feel safer, if the Boston Police Department had a patrol car off campus every night," Mr. Goldowsky said.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.


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Batmobile discovered in alley

Written By kom nampuldu on Rabu, 28 Mei 2014 | 20.49

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Li Weilei's 2 ton, $11,000 Batmobile model was found by a police officer in a Shanghaie alley.

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Batman has hit the road — ditching Gotham to park his famous crime-fighting car in an alley in China!

A sleek and realistic recreation of the the Batmobile as depicted in the recent "Dark Knight" trilogy, was discovered at a secret lair in Shanghai by cops — who checked out the ride after curious passers-by flooded them with calls, one of the officers said, according to Europics.

"We have had a lot of inquiries, but I hate to disappoint fans. The vehicle is actually a life-size model of Batman's futuristic car," said Feng Dohan, a police officer who snapped photos of the car. "It is quite amazing, though, not the sort of vehicle you want to give a ticket to."

The jaw-dropping two-ton model — made with scrap metal by four die-hard fans — is 9 feet wide and features waist-high wheels — but no engine. So the Joker will get away.

Owner Li Weilei, 26, model car hobbyist and prop designer, built the elaborate Batman tribute with four pals.

"We've built a dozen Batman cars.Two of them are in Shanghai, while the rest are on display in other parts of the country," Li said.

He spent two months and roughly $11,000 to build the model.


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Serena, Venus beaten within hours of each other at French Open

PARIS  — Serena Williams lost in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday, her earliest exit at a major tournament since falling in the first round at Roland Garros two years ago.

Williams, the defending French Open champion and a 17-time major winner, lost to Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-2, 6-2.

The loss came a short time after older sister Venus Williams also was eliminated in the second round. Venus lost to Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The sisters would have met in the third round had they both won.

Serena struggled from the start against the 20-year-old Muguruza and finished the match with only eight winners and 29 unforced errors.

Muguruza was playing at the French Open for only the second time in her career. She lost in the second round last year, but reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in January.

Venus Williams won the first set, but couldn't finish off 19-year-old Anna Schmiedlova.Photo: AP

Venus Williams' loss was the eighth time in her last nine major tournaments that she has failed to win more than one match.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion won the first set and was up an early break in the second. But the 19-year-old Schmiedlova responded by taking eight of nine games and won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Since reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2011, Williams has been eliminated in the first or second round at every Grand Slam tournament she has played except the 2013 Australian Open, where she reached the third round.

At 33 years old, Williams is far from her best. But the American has been having a solid season in 2014, winning a hard-court title in Dubai and reaching the final in Auckland.

Against Schmiedlova, the 29th-seeded Williams ended up with 47 unforced errors. Schmiedlova had only 20.

On another cool day in Paris, both Venus Williams and Schmiedlova were wearing an extra layer of clothing to keep warm.

Venus Williams won the last of her seven major titles at Wimbledon in 2008. She has never won the French Open, but lost to Serena in the 2002 final in their only meeting at Roland Garros.

Also Wednesday, 2012 French Open champion Maria Sharapova is scheduled to play, as are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

No. 12 Flavia Pennetta of Italy also lost, while No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada won.

In the men's tournament, No. 18 Ernets Gulbis of Latvia, No. 27 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and No. 29 Gilles Simon of France advanced to the third round.

One match that carried over from the first round ended quickly Wednesday with Steve Johnson of the United States advancing. The American saved two match points on Tuesday in the third set before completing a 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-3 win over Laurent Lokoli of France.

The match had been suspended because of darkness on Tuesday night with Johnson leading 3-1 in the fifth.


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Politicians propose gun violence restraining order

GOLETA, Calif. — Two California Assembly members proposed legislation that would create a gun violence restraining order that could be sought from a judge by law enforcement at the request of family members and friends.

"When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs, but almost nothing can now be done to get back their guns or prevent them from buying more," said Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who sponsored the measure with Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.

Currently, therapists can tell authorities when they fear a client is at risk of committing a violent act. However, there is no prohibition on firearms ownership unless someone has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.

Another proposal involves establishing statewide protocols for law enforcement officers who are called to check on mentally troubled people.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, suggested that authorities should be required as part of such welfare visits to check whether a person has purchased weapons instead of just talking to the person.

Additional steps could include searching the individual's surroundings and talking to roommates, neighbors and relatives, he said.

"There is a lot we can do to prevent these kinds of horrific events in the future," said Steinberg, who has spent much of his time in the Legislature addressing mental health concerns.

State senators spent 35 minutes at the state Capitol eulogizing the students killed in the weekend violence and expressing frustration that such rampages continue despite previous efforts to end the problem.

Charlie Wang and Jinshuang "Jane" Liu, parents of Isla Vista rampage victim Weihan "David" Wang, acknowledge the crowd of 20,000 people gathered at UCSB to honor the six victims killed by Elliot Rodger.Photo: ZUMAPRESS.com

The rampage came hours after Rodger emailed a lengthy manifesto to his parents, therapists and others, and a month after sheriff's deputies had visited him on a welfare check after his parents became concerned about his postings on YouTube.

At Tuesday's memorial, Martinez also read statements from the families of two other slain students, Cheng Yuan Hong and Weihan Wang, both 20, in which they asked for prayers or blessings for the families of the victims and the killer.

"May we together create a peaceful world and let hatred be gone with the wind," the Hong family statement said.

UC President Janet Napolitano paid tribute to the victims, saying "each of the victims left a mark on the world" and "as long as we hold them in our hearts, they are not gone."

"All died much too young, but it's important that we do not let the arithmetic of this atrocity define them," she said.


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Maya Angelou dead at 86

Maya Angelou dead at 86 | New York Post
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May 28, 2014 | 9:37am

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Author and poet Maya Angelou has died at age 86 in North Carolina, local media reported on Wednesday, citing her agent and a local official.

Angelou provided eloquent commentary on race, gender and living life to its fullest in poems and memoirs such as "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which brought her wide acclaim after its 1970 publication.

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Amazon breaks silence in contract dispute with Hachette

Amazon is digging in for a long battle with Hachette over a contract dispute that led the online retailer to curtail sales of some of the publisher's books.

In a statement on Tuesday, Amazon said Hachette, a unit of French media company Lagardere SCA, has operated in "good faith" but the two sides remain at odds. The comments, the first by Amazon since the dispute became public in early May, didn't disclose details of the disagreement between the pair.

"Though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon," Amazon said in a statement posted online.

Hachette didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment outside of regular business hours.

Amazon has been buying fewer print books from Hachette and last week removed an option to pre-order Hachette titles that will be published in the future. These include "The Silkworm," an upcoming novel written by author of the Harry Potter series JK Rowling, under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

In recent weeks, authors and other publishing insiders have criticized Amazon for unfairly wielding its power as a major retailer to gain an edge in contract talks.

"What I don't understand about this particular battle tactic is how it is in the best interest of Amazon customers," author James Patterson said in a May 13 post on his Facebook page.

In a letter to authors posted on May 23 on the website of the Authors Guild, a group for book authors, Hachette chief executive Michael Pietsch said the publisher was looking for a solution "that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong author-centric publishing company."

Amazon said customers looking to buy one of the affected titles should "purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors."

The company said it would put up half the money for a fund to help offset the loss in royalties to Hachette authors as a result of the disagreement if Hachette pays for the other half.

Amazon has a record of being involved in combative negotiations. In 2010, the company blocked consumers from buying works published by Macmillan in a dispute over the price of e-books.

"When we negotiate with suppliers, we are doing so on behalf of customers," Amazon said in its statement. "Negotiating for acceptable terms is an essential business practice that is critical to keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term."


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Cooper Union administrators hit with suit for instituting tuition

Cooper Union alumni slapped the school with a lawsuit Tuesday over the East Village institution's controversial decision to charge tuition — while calling out school officials for approving extravagant expenses like personal bodyguards and $10,000 blinds for their new president.

The Committee to Save Cooper Union accuses administrators of squandering funds by allowing President Jamshed Bharucha to ­indulge "in luxuries that a school dedicated to free tuition and allegedly strapped for cash could not afford," the suit says.

"President Bharucha spent over $350,000 on his inauguration celebration — $50,000 of which went to pay celebrity guest speaker ­Fareed Zakaria," a foreign-policy author, according to court papers.

"And over $23,000 for expensive furnishings for the president's house, including almost $10,000 on new blinds and over $8,000 for a custom buffet."

He also shelled out cash for private security and personal bodyguards, the suit says.

School spokesman Justin Harmon declined to comment on the perks on Bharucha's behalf because they are at issue in ongoing litigation.

The group wants the court to block the $19,500 tuition fees scheduled to go into effect this coming fall.

The alumni accuse the previously tuition-free university's board of trustees of violating founder Peter Cooper's vision for "a perpetual course of free ­lectures and instruction."

In the Manhattan Supreme Court suit, they also take administrators to task for squandering funds by building an extravagant new engineering building, depleting the school's endowment through risky hedge-fund investments and paying past President George Campbell a $1.3 million salary.

The six plaintiffs include two alumni-professors, Michael Essl and Toby Cumberbatch.

Students had staged a months-long sit in at Bharucha's office last year to protest the institution of tuition.

Cooper Union, founded in 1859, went tuition free in the early 1900s.

On the suit in general, Harmon said, "We are disappointed that the Committee to Save Cooper Union would choose costly litigation over constructive conversation."

He added, "The decision to charge tuition was tremendously difficult, and every member of the Cooper Union community feels the profound effect it has had, but our first responsibility is to the students, faculty and to the future of Cooper Union."


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