Saturday, May 31, 2014

If DirecTV is unable to strike a deal with the National Football League AT&T could pull out

If DirecTV is unable to strike a deal with the National Football League to renew the satellite TV operator's contract to offer the popular NFL Sunday Ticket football package, AT&T Inc can pull out of the merger, according to a regulatory filing.
In a filing related to the merger, the companies said, "the parties also have agreed that in the unlikely event that the Company's agreement for the 'NFL Sunday Ticket' service is not renewed on substantially the terms discussed between the parties, AT&T may elect not to consummate the merger."
The current DirecTV offer allows subscribers to watch football games outside of their local markets on Sundays. The exclusive package, which costs subscribers up to $300 a year, is an important tool for DirecTV to attract subscribers and the company has said about 2 million people receive the service.
Investors have been watching closely to see whether DirecTV would renew the Sunday Ticket contract with the NFL, estimated to be worth $1 billion annually, with the potential to rise in value as part of a new agreement.
The filing said that if a renewal isn't struck, AT&T will not be able to claim damages as long as DirecTV used its best efforts to get a deal done with the NFL.
On a conference call with analysts on Monday, DirecTV CEO Mike White said he and AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson had spoken with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as well as New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft who heads the league's broadcast committee, and the parties were in "positive and constructive" discussions with the league.
"I am still highly confident that we are going to get our deal done," White said, adding he expects a pact to be agreed by the end of the year, which would be before the merger closes.

AT&T has said it expects the merger to take a year to close.
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Microsoft regarding Halo

English: 343 Industries Logo
English: 343 Industries Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Microsoft and 343 Industries have announced details regarding the next major instalment in its ever-popular Halo series. We already knew that the game was heading to Xbox One, but the news sheds light on the title and release window for new entry, as well as details regarding the Spielberg-helmed live-action series that will accompany the game.
The first part of the announcement confirms the somewhat unsurprising news that we won’t be seeing a brand new Halo title this year. Instead the next big franchise instalment will hit in fall 2015 with the title Halo 5: Guardians.
Beyond that, Microsoft has hinted at what to expect from the new game, stating that it runs on an all-new engine at a solid 60 fps. Given the ongoing battle of resolutions and frame-rates between Microsoft and Sony, it's not surprising that the company is keen to push the game's smooth frame rate. Though cynics will note that Microsoft didn't say a peep about resolution.
The 2012 title Halo 4 was developer 343 Industries’ first swing at the popular franchise, with the game receiving a positive response (its Metacritic score is 87). Given the success of its first effort, the studio is keen to prove itself again, with the developer’s general manager Bonnie Ross stating that “Halo 5: Guardians is a bigger effort than Halo 4.”
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Telstra says it has demonstrated live network speeds of 450 Mbps

LTE or "Long Term Evolution" is the standard that most of the world takes for granted as 4G, but its reign at the top of the wireless tables is set to be eclipsed by its successor – LTE-A, with the A standing for "Advanced."
4G networks often deliver speeds several megabits faster than many ADSL2+ networks, some of which struggle to pump out even 6 Mbps speeds, even though they’re rated at a theoretical maximum of around 20 Mbps – something you’ll only see if you’re quite close to your local telephone exchange.
Meanwhile, an iPhone 5s I’m using on Telstra’s existing 4G network just pumped out speeds of 13.18 Mbps (after boosting straight past 20 Mbps before slowing back down), with an upload speed of 14.06 Mbps, after quick testing with the Ookla Speedtest.net app.
But faster speeds, as always, are on the way.
Although Telstra announced that it had already trialed another LTE standard known as LTE-B (B for Broadcast) back in October 2013, which the company says allowed it to demonstrate “that it’s possible to use one stream of data, to deliver the same content to multiple users [with LTE-B capable devices] – keeping the rest of the network free for other customers”, the big news today centers around the company's latest LTE-A trial.
Using a combination of spectrum at 1800 Mhz and 2600 MHz, Telstra says it has demonstrated live network speeds of 450 Mbps with LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation technology. While this falls well short of "hundreds of times faster" than 4G speeds that Samsung is aiming for with "5G" technology, Telstra's lab test speeds are reportedly three times faster than the 150 Mbps speeds other 4G networks in Australia claim as their theoretical maximums, or a whopping 8,000 times faster than the old fashioned 56 Kbps modems we all used around 15 years ago.
Telstra worked with Ericsson to aggregate two new 4G Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) channels of 20 MHz bandwidth, each on the 2600 MHz spectrum band, with existing 20 MHz 4G on the 1800 MHz band. A prototype engineering device was used to create "three simultaneous side-by-side paths for the data to travel through to the operational core network."
Unfortunately, for Australian readers anyway, Telstra says that "deployment to customers remains a few years away" and that the "typical speeds achievable at a commercial level will be lower in practice."
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

FCC and net neutrality

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...
Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website prior to 2002 or 2003, and still used on some publications and areas of their website. The central part of the logo is also used on products which conform to FCC requirements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By now you've heard the alarmist stories by various groups claiming that the FCC meeting on May 15 ended network neutrality forever.
You've likely heard the gnashing of teeth by groups with a point of view that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was somehow violating his trust as chairman and violating the trust placed in his boss, President Barack Obama, to maintain an open Internet. It should be no surprise by now that those stories and claims are wrong.
In reality the FCC's monthly open meeting adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that attempted a nearly impossible balancing act. The NPRM on one hand attempted to keep the Internet free and open to users, while also trying to satisfy a series of requirements and findings by the federal courts that essentially said that the FCC could not require net neutrality under the current rules. The anti-blocking and anti-discrimination provisions of the current broadband rules exceeded the FCC's authority, the court said
The problem began years ago when the FCC attempted to free the Internet from the restrictions of being a common carrier under Section 706 of the Communications Act. Under Title II of the Communications Act, Internet providers were common carriers and were treated as if they were phone companies.
 he change to allow broadband providers of Internet services to be information services rather than common carriers meant that those providers had the flexibility to be more innovative than they would be if they were classified as common carriers. But the new classification as an information service means that common carrier rules can't apply.

The problem is to ensure net neutrality, the FCC has to use common carrier rules, and those rules don't apply to information services. This meant that after the federal courts overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules in early 2014, carriers were free of those restrictions. As you'd expect, carriers, especially cable companies, wasted no time in finding ways to turn things to their advantage.
It didn't take long for those carriers to start blocking or slowing traffic from sites they didn't like and to start doing pay for priority with services such as Netflix. So what to do? In a significant move, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to ask for help—from everyone.
This means that there's little to look at in terms of proposed rules for an Open Internet. Instead, there are discussions of scenarios and page after page of questions. Those questions cover topics from trying to decide what constitutes reasonable network management to whether the FCC should move broadband providers back to common carrier status.
Make no mistake—moving all or part of the Internet to common carrier status is being strongly considered.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

OpenDNS announced a $35 million investment

English: Logo of OpenDNS
English: Logo of OpenDNS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Internet security and domain name server (DNS) services specialist OpenDNS announced a $35 million investment round led by existing investors Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures.

OpenDNS provides a cloud-delivered network security service that blocks advanced attacks, as well as malware, botnets and phishing threats regardless of port, protocol or application.

The proprietary software leverages machine learning to automate protection in real-time against unknown, emergent threats.

The company’s portfolio is centered on two technologies: a global delivery mechanism for security called Umbrella, and an advanced predictive threat intelligence platform called Security Graph.

 
Improving Engagement with Multi-Channel Service
Download NowUmbrella allows users to block connections to malicious sites with the aim of preventing infections, and block multi-protocol callbacks from compromised systems to botnets to contain breaches.


Web filtering enforces the right acceptable use policy for any device or user without sacrificing performance or manageability, and allows users to block phishing Websites from stealing users’ login credentials.

Aimed at small to medium-size businesses (SMBs), Umbrella provides its service through the cloud, which means there’s no hardware to purchase, install or maintain. All service updates are made in the cloud.

"OpenDNS is the future of enterprise security, protecting workers the way they work today. We are proud to be an investor in the company and believe in the team and its mission," Stefan Dyckerhoff, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures and former senior executive at both Cisco and Juniper Networks, said in a statement. "OpenDNS is forging new ground in enterprise threat protection with a cloud-delivered, predictive security service that protects all devices, anywhere, anytime without sacrificing performance or manageability. OpenDNS is a true innovator among security companies."

Security Graph uncovers when and where on the Internet new cyber-attacks are being staged by applying big data analytics to 2 percent of the world’s Internet requests.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Google Glass Explorers now have three more travel apps

Google Science Fair
Google Science Fair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Google Glass Explorers now have three more travel apps to use with their Glass devices while they explore and expand their horizons around the world.

The new Glassware apps, announced May 15 in a post by the Glass team on the product's Google+ page, are available through the special MyGlass portal, which can be accessed by Explorer users. The new travel software for Glass comes from TripIt, Foursquare and OpenTable.

"Some of the most exciting experiences that our Explorers have shared with us are from their travels with Glass," the post states. "Glass has become a favorite travel companion because it helps you enjoy your vacation without getting lost in your technology, and now we have new Glassware that will continue to help you discover and explore with ease."

The TripIt app allows Glass users to get a heads-up display of their travel plans using Glass, instead of having to pull their smartphone out and manually check for their travel details, according to a related post from TripIt. "Just imagine a gate-change notification or flight status update while you're sprinting through the airport, luggage in tow and coffee in hand. Way better than rushing to the wrong gate, right?"


 
Journey to the Mobile First Enterprise
Download Now The Foursquare app will help Glass users find places to go with their friends and then lets them check in to their destinations so others can gather as well, while the OpenTable app will allow Glass users to make reservations in more than 31,000 restaurants so far, without having to make a phone call.



The new offerings for Glass will supplement several other travel apps that are already available for use with Glass, including Field Trip, Word Lens, Google Now, Search and Maps, according to Google. Word Lens lets users instantly translate printed words using the Glass camera, in real time, even when a network connection is not available. Field Trip allows users to discover fascinating stories and local treasures around the world, while Google Now cards give users the right information at the right time. Google Search and Translate allow users to find information and translate foreign languages as they travel, while Google Maps provides transit, driving, walking and biking directions for travelers. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/mobile/google-glass-users-can-now-get-three-new-travel-apps.html#sthash.zsYEOcW5.dpuf
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Google facing pressure from SafeGov

Opponents of Google's recent practice of scanning Gmail messages to help target advertisements to Gmail users continue to pressure the search giant on the issue.

The latest salvo comes from Jeff Gould, the president of industry group SafeGov.org, who launched an angry attack on Google in a May 15 blog post after Google described its Gmail-scanning activities in a recent blog post.

"In a surprise announcement on April 30, 2014, Google announced on its company blog that it would no longer 'collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes,'" Gould wrote in his post. "Google also noted that it would make similar changes to its Google Apps for Government products. This announcement suggests that Google has been scanning, storing and monetizing student, business and government emails for years, which raises concerns about Google's past privacy practices and their future policies."

Gould's contention is that Google's conduct in scanning the messages violated legal contracts that schools and government agencies had signed, which included stipulations that no such ad-related scanning would be conducted on their users.

 
8 Ways to Better Monitor Network Security Threats in the Age of BYOD
Download Now Google's conduct, and it's admission in its blog post that it had been conducting the email scanning for ad-serving purposes is a "violation of trust" and caused "the risk of harm" to users, school districts and government agencies by exposing them to potential attacks by malicious third parties through the ad networks, Gould told eWEEK.  


"It is possible that you are creating risks" by performing such scans, Gould said of Google's conduct. "The whole purpose of Google data mining is to allow advertisers to send messages to prospective buyers. If bad actors got involved, it could lead to phishing and other problems. If [the scanning] wasn't happening, this [potential problem] could not happen."

Gould said he is particularly angry that Google noted in its April 30 blog post that it turns off ad-serving for Google Apps for Education users "by default," yet then goes on to state that it has now "permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education."

The two statements give a mixed message from Google and are confusing about how Google was actually dealing with Gmail messages and ad serving for education users, said Gould. "We think Google made the statement, and we think that they should do more to clarify exactly what they are going to be doing" from now into the future. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/cloud/google-faces-pressure-for-scanning-student-gmail-to-mine-for-ads.html#sthash.qzvxJi5k.dpuf
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hit a seven-year low

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hit a seven-year low last week while consumer prices recorded their largest increase in 10 months in April, pointing to a firming economy.
Factory activity in New York state expanded at its quickest pace in nearly four years in May, but the otherwise bright growth picture was dimmed by another report on Thursday showing a surprise slump in industrial output last month.
"It's still consistent with the view that the economy is going to show stronger growth in the second quarter. The underlying momentum is improving but it's not definitive," said Josh Feinman, chief global economist at Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management in New York.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 last week, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest reading since May 2007 and suggested a recent pick-up in job growth could be sustained.
In a second report, the department said the Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent last month as food prices rose for a fourth consecutive month and the cost of gasoline surged.
It was the biggest rise since June last year and added to March's 0.2 percent rise.
The combination of a strengthening jobs market and an uptick in inflation pressures should comfort the Federal Reserve as it scales back its monetary stimulus. However, it did not alter views the U.S. central bank will wait until at least the middle of 2015 before raising overnight interest rates from near zero.

The data failed to lift the spirits of U.S. stock investors, who focused on unexpectedly weaker earnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.. The dollar hit an 11-week high against the euro. Prices for U.S. government debt rose.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) said it would acquire Chile's CFR Pharmaceuticals SA

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) said on Friday it would acquire Chile's CFR Pharmaceuticals SA CFR.SN in a $2.9 billion deal that will more than double its branded generic drugs business in the fast-growing Latin American market.
This is the first deal for Abbott since it split into two businesses and spun off its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug in a new company, AbbVie Inc (ABBV.N), last year and comes at a time when health mergers have surged.
Abbott plans to focus the branded generics business on about 14 or 15 fast-growing countries in emerging markets.
"Not all geographies are alike and some are not particular focuses for us," Chief Executive Officer Miles White said during a conference call with investors. White said the company was still looking at other transactions.
While the Latin American pharmaceuticals market has been attractive to big drugmakers, there are few other big opportunities like CFR because most companies are small, family-owned businesses.
The pharmaceutical retail and distribution industry does have some larger companies, such as Mexico's Grupo Casa Saba (SAB.MX) and Brazil's Hypermarcas (HYPE3.SA). Earlier this month, Casa Saba sold its Chilean health retail arm, Farmacias Ahumada, to Britain's Alliance Boots for $638 million.
Abbott will buy about 73 percent of publicly traded CFR from a holding company controlled by the Weinstein family, which founded the company in the 1920s. It will conduct a tender offer for the remaining shares.
Chile's antitrust regulator, the so-called National Economic Prosecutor's Office, said it will study the deal "to evaluate possible anti-competition risks arising from the operation."

It said there was an overlap of various product lines sold in Chile by both companies, but added that it could not calculate each company's current market participation or the level of concentration that would result from the operation without first gathering more detailed information.
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

U.S. drugmaker Allergan Inc rejected Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's bid

Valeant Pharmaceuticals
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
U.S. drugmaker Allergan Inc (AGN.N) rejected Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's (VRX.TO)(VRX.N) $47 billion takeover offer, saying its proposed cost cuts were too steep.
Allergan, which makes the popular anti-wrinkle treatment Botox, said it believed Valeant's business model was unsustainable and that the offer was too risky because of uncertainty about the company's long-term growth.
"Valeant's model of cutting and slashing really doesn't work for more than a very short period of time," Allergan Chief Executive Officer David Pyott said during a conference call with investors to explain the rejection.
He said Valeant's plan for billions of dollars in cost cuts would prevent Allergan from delivering growth that it could produce on its own, and he set a target of a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in earnings per share in 2015.
Valeant and activist investor Bill Ackman, who has a stake of almost 10 percent in Allergan, made an unsolicited cash and stock offer for the company in April.
The next step in the Allergan-Valeant battle for control is for Valeant to raise its cash and stock offer and to present the offer to shareholders, analysts said on Monday.
"They're going to have to take this directly to shareholders and frankly this looks like a big media battle," said David Amsellem, an analyst at Piper Jaffray who covers both companies. "I think that Valeant really, really needs Allergan."
Allergan and Valeant have both said that they are currently meeting with large shareholders. In April, Valeant said that excluding Ackman's stake, about 56 percent of Allergan shareholders were also Valeant shareholders.

Valeant said last week that it is planning to organize Allergan shareholders to call a special meeting to push out Allergan's board of directors. It also said it may call a referendum to see if shareholders support Allergan-Valeant negotiations. It is unclear how that would work.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BNP Paribas is in talks with U.S. authorities to pay more than $3 billion

BNP Paribas is in talks with U.S. authorities to pay more than $3 billion to resolve probes into whether the French bank violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, Sudan and other countries, people familiar with the matter said.
The bank warned last month it faced fines in excess of $1.1 billion over the matter, but declined to provide a specific number.
The probes are being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, the U.S. Treasury Department, the Manhattan District Attorney's office, and the New York Department of Financial Services.
BNP Paribas declined to comment on Tuesday on the size of any fine.
Prosecutors have also pushed the bank to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of a resolution, sources have said. The Justice Department has faced criticism that it has shied away from prosecuting financial companies accused of engaging in misconduct.
Last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said his department was working closely with regulators to address potential consequences that might arise from the criminal prosecution of financial institutions, without naming specific banks.
Last Thursday, BNP Paribas Chief Executive Officer Jean-Laurent Bonnafe and the bank's lawyers met with the New York Department of Financial Services, the state's banking regulator, and made a plea for leniency, one source said.
The source said the regulator, led by Benjamin Lawsky, wouldn't revoke the bank's license if other stiff penalties were included in the settlement.
Such penalties could include temporarily suspending dollar clearing through New York and terminating more than a dozen employees, though no final decision has been made, the source said.

Authorities have gone after several foreign banks over violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and other countries, alleging that the banks did business with entities associated with sanctioned countries, or stripped information from wire transfers so they could pass through the U.S. financial system without raising red flags.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Newport Charter Yacht Show Crew Competitions

Chefs in training in Paris, France (2005).

Newport Charter Yacht Show Crew Competitions
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Luxury Chartering
NEWPORT, R.I. (May 8, 2014) – No luxury charter yacht is complete without a five-star professional crew by its side, and the Newport Charter Yacht Show will play to this point with its Crew Competitions this summer. Throughout the four-day event (June 23-26) show attendees are invited to watch as crewmembers onboard participating yachts put their culinary and hospitality skills to the test in a series of contests.


On Monday, June 23rd, yacht chefs will compete whisk-to-whisk for the title of Best Charter Yacht Chef. Participants will be given a mystery basket of ingredients and charged with the task of creating four servings of an entrée that fit a specific diet request. A panel of culinary professionals will determine the winner. The competition is open to chefs onboard all participating yachts.
On Tuesday, June 24th, crewmembers can compete either solo or with a team in the Tablescaping and Healthy Beverage Challenges. For the Tablescaping Challenge, the interior crew will put their design skills to the test by decorating their respective yacht’s dining table (interior or exterior) using the linen, china, tableware and other decorative items already onboard. A panel of design professionals will judge the final product. Meanwhile, a battle for the Healthy Beverage Challenge will call for participants to create a juice or smoothie that will be rated based on its taste and nutritional value. Winners in both challenges are determined in two classes: Premier (for crew onboard yachts 99 feet and under) and Grande (for crew onboard yachts 100 feet and over).
On Wednesday, June 25th, the Sunset Canapé Challenge invites chefs to put their own spin on the delicate canapé hors d’oeuvre, which will be judged on creativity and taste.  The competition is open to chefs aboard participating yachts 99 feet and under.
For more information or to register for any of the competitions please visit http://www.newportchartershow.com/newport-charter-yacht-show/newport-charter-yacht-culinary.htm  or contact Winnie DeCoster-Lynch, the Captain’s Concierge, info@captainsconcierge.com, +1 401-862-5109.
The Newport Charter Yacht Show, managed by Newport Exhibition Group, is the only one of its kind in the U.S. and invites industry professionals and discriminating consumers (attending with brokers) to explore the many avenues of luxury chartering. Its sophisticated selection of motor and sailing yachts – ranging in size from 80 feet up to the superyacht length of 150 to 225+ feet – can be toured dockside at the Newport Yachting Center on the city's historic waterfront.
For information on exhibiting, contact Lisa Knowles, Sales Manager, Newport Exhibition Group, +1 401 846 1115, ext. 216, lknowles@newportexhibition.com. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please visit http://www.newportchartershow.com/newport-charter-yacht-sponsors/sponsors.htm or contact Nancy Piffard, Show Director, Newport Exhibition Group, +1 401 846 1115, ext. 212, npiffard@newportexhibition.com.
"Like" Newport Charter Yacht Show on Facebook and "Follow" on Twitter
Newport Exhibition Group (NEG), a division of Newport Harbor Corporation, produces trade and consumer events, including the prestigious Newport International Boat Show that runs annually in September.
Newport Yachting Center Marina & Events Venue is located on four acres in the heart of scenic downtown Newport. The marina is able to accommodate large yachts and is equipped with long, side tie berthing, high volume fueling, single and multi-phase power, WIFI, water, and access to a wide range of technical repair and support services along with easy access to adjacent downtown 
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Washington Monument opens

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United S...
Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United States as viewed at twilight/dusk. Taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Español: El Monumento a Washington al atardecer Magyar: A Washington emlékmű Polski: Pomnik Waszyngtona o zmierzchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
More than 150 cracks have been repaired, rainwater leaks have been sealed, and the 130-year-old Washington Monument is set to reopen Monday for the first time in nearly three years since an earthquake caused widespread damage.
The memorial honouring George Washington has been closed for about 33 months for engineers to conduct an extensive analysis and restoration of the 555-foot stone obelisk that was once the tallest structure in the world.
The monument's white marble and mortar were cracked and shaken loose during an unusual 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011 that sent some of the worst vibrations to the top. Debris fell inside and outside the monument, and visitors scrambled to evacuate. Later, engineers evaluated the damage by rappelling from the top, dangling from ropes.
Now new exhibits have been installed, and visitors can once again ride an elevator to look out from the highest point in the nation's capital. The full restoration cost $15 million. Businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein contributed $7.5 million to pay half the cost and expedite the repairs.
Rubenstein told The Associated Press on Sunday that he's been surprised how much the monument means to people from across the country who have written him letters and emails. He said he's pleased the job was done on time and on budget.
"It became clear to me that the Washington Monument symbolizes many things for our country — the freedoms, patriotism, George Washington, leadership," he said. "So it's been moving to see how many people are affected by it."
During an early look at the restored monument, Rubenstein hiked to the top, taking to the stairs in a suit and tie. Memorial plaques inside the monument from each state seemed to be clean and intact, and the view from the top "is really spectacular," he said.
The billionaire co-CEO of The Carlyle Group has been urging other philanthropists to engage in what he calls "patriotic philanthropy." In time, he predicts more philanthropists will make similar gifts. Rubenstein is co-chair of a campaign to raise funds to help restore the National Mall, serves as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution and is chairman of the Kennedy Center. He has also made major gifts to the National Archives and Library of Congress.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Apple's next phone could be August

The back of the iPhone 3G (left) and iPhone 3G...
The back of the iPhone 3G (left) and iPhone 3G S. the latter has shiny text. Both iPhones shown are white 16 GB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those of you eager to get a look at Apple's next iPhone, we have some potentially good news. The highly-anticipated handset could make its debut in August, one month earlier than expected.
According to a Friday report from Reuters citing Taiwan's Economic Daily News, Apple is gearing up to unveil the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (or whatever it may be called) a mere three months from now. Unidentified supply-chain sources reportedly told the Taiwanese media outlet that Apple is hoping to have its next iPhone on store shelves by August, while a rumored 5.5-inch or 5.6-inch iPhone model will purportedly go on sale in September.
In recent years, Apple has revealed its newest iPhones in the fall, so an August unveiling would be earlier than usual. Despite the report, PCMag's lead Mobile Analyst Sascha Segan cautioned users not to get their hopes up for an August release, since it's likely just a target date, not a firm date.
"There's still so much testing left to do, that no phone manufacturer would commit to a hard date that far in advance. I've seen phone launches moved as little as a few days before they were supposed to happen," he said.
At this point, Apple is likely working to ensure its supply chain is ready for the earliest possible date it could launch the phone, Segan added. That doesn't mean the launch will actually happen on that date once testing, quality assurance, and marketing teams get involved.
The new report does fall in line with a previous rumors that Apple is developing two new iPhones for release this year –a 4.7-inch handset and a larger 5.5-inch model. If true, the new devices will dwarf the current 4-inch Retina display iPhone 5s.
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

High risk credit card processing for pharmacy

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In order to provide the most effective and efficient credit card payment processing solutions to our merchants, we operate various business units dedicated to industry segments while working closely with our providers to determine which of the varied services in the market are best suited to their business needs.
Retailers moving slowly:
While Target is increasing support for chip-and-PIN payment cards to restore consumer confidence shaken by last year's massive data breach, many other retailers feel less of an urgency to adopt the more secure technology. Visa and MasterCard have set an October 2015 deadline for retailers to implement support for chip-and-PIN cards, and those that do not will be liable for fraudulent purchases made with the older mag-stripe cards. However, many retailers are not rushing to invest in the technology required to accept the more secure cards, as experts estimate the transition would cost the industry $30 billion.
Asia, United States, Canada or based in Europe inquire or apply below today and in most cases you can be processing in less than 10 days through your own virtual terminal or gateway.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Where Barclays (BARC.L) sees a "generational shift"

Where Barclays (BARC.L) sees a "generational shift", its investment bank rivals are smelling blood.
The British bank, which under former chief Bob Diamond poached top staff and customers from competitors in trouble after the financial crisis, now risks suffering the same fate as it radically shrinks its investment banking business.
Diamond's successor as Chief Executive, Antony Jenkins, says he does not expect a further exodus of top talent after departures from Barclays' U.S. operation, but some trading staff at least are preparing for the exit as the bank pares back its ambitions to be a Wall Street powerhouse.
Barclays announced this week plans to shrink its debt trading business and axe a quarter of staff, focusing instead on U.S. and British clients and products where it ranks in the top five in business such as selling government bonds, stocks and currencies and advising on deals.
Tom King, who made his career advising telecoms firms on takeover battles, is tasked with making the strategy work and hailed it as a "step change" that was needed in a new era of tougher regulations that have made some trades too expensive.
"We're really shifting the investment bank from one that was a business run for revenue to one that is being run for return," King said on Thursday.
The worry for Jenkins and King is that top staff and clients leave and the business slowly dies, echoing the problems of Credit Suisse First Boston when it bought Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette for $11 billion in 2000, only for many senior bankers there to depart.

Jenkins, who previously ran Barclays' retail business and has no background in investment banking, admitted he feared a "death spiral" after an exodus of staff from its U.S. business last year. This prompted him controversially to raise bonuses for 2013 despite a fall in profits.
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mexican drug cartels are getting into other businesses

Don't blame your bartender this Cinco de Mayo for tossing a lemon in your Corona. Blame shadowy groups like the Knights Templar Cartel.

While the great lime shortage of 2014 was initially sparked by severe winter weather and drought conditions in Mexico, criminal organizations have used violence and extortion to exacerbate the situation. The price of a case of limes, a mainstay of margaritas, guacamole and summer beers, has more than quadrupled in recent months.
The lime shortage illustrates the close ties between the U.S. and Mexican economies and how violence south of the Rio Grande can have ripple effects on American consumers -- and not just the ones hitting the beaches in Cabo San Lucas and Cancún.
"Most people in the U.S. don't realize how highly dependent we are on Mexico for certain products. They don't understand how much our economies are intertwined. The bad things happening in Mexico do have an impact on U.S. consumers and U.S. exporters," said David Shirk, a security specialist at the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Mexico is the world's largest exporter of limes, sourcing almost all of the limes the U.S. consumes.
War on drugs fallout
The ability of organized crime to impact lime prices highlights unintended consequences tied to the U.S.-led war on drugs.
The Knights Templar, which is based in the lime producing epicenter of Michoacán, is a splinter group of La Familia Michoacana, the drug cartel dismantled by law enforcement around 2011.
"Breaking up major organized crime groups into smaller pieces does not necessarily make them more manageable," said Shirk.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

U.S. Justice Department pursuing bank investigations

The U.S. Justice Department is pursuing criminal investigations of financial institutions that could result in action in the coming weeks and months, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video, adding that no company was "too big to jail."
The comments, made in a video posted on the Justice Department's website on Monday, came as federal prosecutors push two banks, BNP Paribas SA (BNPP.PA) and Credit Suisse AG (MLPN.P), to plead guilty to criminal charges to resolve separate investigations, according to people familiar with the probes.
While Holder did not name any banks, he said he is personally monitoring the ongoing investigations into financial institutions and is "resolved to seeing them through."
"I intend to reaffirm the principle that no individual or entity that does harm to our economy is ever above the law," Holder said in the video. "There is no such thing as 'too big to jail.'"
French bank BNP Paribas warned last week it faces fines from U.S. authorities in excess of $1.1 billion over allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries.
The Swiss finance minister met Holder on Friday to discuss a U.S. probe into Swiss banks that allegedly helped Americans evade U.S. taxes, which includes Credit Suisse.
While units of financial institutions have agreed to plead guilty to breaking U.S. criminal laws, such agreements have usually involved foreign subsidiaries that have little contact with U.S. regulators.
Japanese units of UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland plc, for example, pleaded guilty in the past two years to resolve criminal charges that their traders manipulated the Libor benchmark interest rate.
A criminal conviction of an entity regulated in the United States could lead authorities to potentially revoke a charter or carry out other punitive measures.
In his video, Holder said prosecutors are working closely with regulators to address the issues before taking action.
"Rather than wall off banks from prosecution, the potential for such severe consequences simply means that federal prosecutors conducting these investigations must go the extra mile to coordinate closely with the regulators that oversee these institutions' day-to-day operations," he said.
"This cooperation will prove key in the coming weeks and months as the Justice Department continues to pursue several important investigations," he said.
The Justice Department has come under fire for bringing few marquee cases against major financial institutions or their executives in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
In March 2013, Holder told a U.S. Senate committee that it can "become difficult" to prosecute major financial institutions that have been accused of wrongdoing because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to the economy. He quickly backtracked on those comments.
The Justice Department has pursued other criminal investigations of financial institutions in the past few years, but many have resulted in deferred or non-prosecution agreements, under which a bank is not actually indicted.
Concerns about the impact of criminal prosecutions on large companies can be traced back to the 2002 indictment and eventual demise of accounting giant Arthur Andersen, which led to the loss of about 25,000 jobs and greater consolidation in the industry.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd must pay Apple Inc

English: Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo
English: Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A U.S. jury on Monday left the total damages Samsung Electronics Co Ltd must pay Apple Inc unchanged at $119.6 million, after additional deliberations in a trial where the South Korean smartphone maker was found to have infringed three Apple patents.
During the month-long trial in a San Jose, California federal court, Apple accused Samsung of violating patents on smartphone features including universal search, while Samsung denied wrongdoing.
On Friday, the jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $119.6 million for infringing the iPhone maker's patents. But Apple attorneys argued at the time that the jurors made a technical mistake in awarding Apple damages on a patent covering one of Samsung's phones. The jury was ordered back to court Monday to resolve that issue.
Juror Margarita Palmada, a 69-year-old retired high-school Spanish teacher, said she wished the two sides had been able to work out their issues without resorting to litigation.
"It would have been so much simpler for all involved," she said in an interview after the jury wrapped.
Some of the jurors had initially been in favor of awarding Apple more but eventually arrived at the consensus verdict, she said, but declined to offer more details.
Apple and Samsung have been litigating around the world for three years. Jurors awarded the iPhone maker about $930 million after a 2012 trial in San Jose, but Apple failed to persuade U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to issue a permanent injunction against the sale of Samsung phones in the United States.

The current case involves five Apple patents that were not in the 2012 trial and that cover iPhone features such as slide-to-unlock and search technology.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Hotel Boycott Grows Over Owner's Ties to Sharia Law

The Dorchester Collection, which includes The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air, The Dorchester and several other luxury-level properties around the word, is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a branch of the Ministry of Finance of Brunei.
At issue is the decision of the oil-rich state to adopt a strict form of Sharia law that would call for the severing of limbs for theft, as well as stoning to death for adultery or homosexual acts, according to the BBC. Enforcement would be limited to within the borders of Brunei.
The annual Global Women's Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, moved from the Beverly Hills Hotel as part of the boycott. The awards, scheduled for Monday, will instead by held at the Hammer Museum. The rights group said the former late-night talk show host Monday afternoon will take part in a "StopTheSultan Rally" in the park across from The Beverly Hills Hotel, along with United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta and others.
Representatives for the Dorchester on Monday morning did not reply to CNBC for requests to comment, but they did issue a statement to fashion trade publication Women's Wear Daily in April when the boycott started.
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

iPhones with a hazardous mix of chemicals that threaten the health of factory workers?

Apple's labor practices are under attack by two activist groups who contend the company makes its iPhones with a hazardous mix of chemicals that threaten the health of factory workers assembling the devices in China.
The campaign began Wednesday with an online petition put together by China Labor Watch, a longtime Apple critic, and Green America, an environmental protection group.
If enough consumers sign the "Bad Apple" petition, the two groups hope to pressure the company into abandoning the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in the production of the iPhone, Apple's top-selling product.
Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause leukemia if not handled properly and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage.
In a statement, Apple pointed out that it has already stopped using many hazardous chemicals, including PVC plastic and brominated flame, during the past few years to the acclaim of environmental groups such as Greenpeace. The Cupertino, Calif. company also says it ensures all remaining toxic substances comply with U.S. safety standards.
"Last year, we conducted nearly 200 factory inspections which focused on hazardous chemicals, to make sure those facilities meet our strict standards," Apple said.
The protesting groups believe Apple's factory inspections and publicly released reports about the findings have been whitewashing the real working conditions. They say they suspect many of the estimated 1.5 million workers in overseas factories hired by Apple are still logging grueling hours and, in some cases, being exposed to dangerous materials without proper training.
"Apple touts itself as a socially responsible leader in the tech industry, but to really be a leader, Apple must put a stop to worker poisoning and ensure sick workers are receiving treatment," said Elizabeth O'Connell, Green America's campaign director.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/groups-protest-chemicals-used-in-iphone-2014-3#ixzz30lxnfL6M

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Ontario won't stop double-ending

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