- Euro, stocks firmer but investors wary
- U.S. auto market now industry bedrock
- Merkel, Sarkozy press for quick Greek solution
- Celeb Spotting: Of Birthday Bashes, Award Functions & Bigg Boss!
- What women expect from men during menses
- Ajay Devgn and Anil Kapoor: Partners in crime
- Everybody is talking about Abhishek and me: Sonam Kapoor
- I am ready for my second honeymoon: Juhi Parmar
- Beyonce, Jay-Z welcome baby girl
- Broad, Davies give England hard earned win
- DG ISI Pasha wants to give in-camera briefing to memo commission
- Ijaz to appear before memo commission on Jan 16: Counsel
- How to Quit Smoking – With Food
- Hockey Hit Leads to Fight Between Schools
- Predicting the Future of Technology at the 2012 CES
- Security Measures for Beyonce's Baby Prevent New Dad From Seeing Premature Twins at Hospital
- Christie Slams Protesters at Romney New Hampshire Campaign Rally
- Iran Sentences U.S. Man to Death in CIA Spy Case
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 08:21 AM PST
apsenews.com) - World stocks and the euro gained on Monday after last week's sell-offs, but worries over Europe's banks persisted and fears over demand for the region's debt at auctions due this week left riskier assets vulnerable to further losses.
In New York, the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes all opened with small gains ahead of the start of U.S. corporate earnings season as investors focused on a European meeting intended to find ways to boost the region's economies and tackle its debt crisis.
The euro got a small lift from news that Swiss National Bank (SNB) Chairman Philipp Hildebrand resigned after a scandal over a controversial currency trade made by his wife.
"Once the (Hildebrand) news gets digested, we do not expect a lasting impact on the franc from the news," Tony Nyman of Informa Global Markets.
The euro, which fell to a 16-month low in Asian trade of $1.2666, was 0.5 percent higher on the day at about $1.2760.
Against the Swiss franc, for which the SNB maintains a floor of 1.20 francs to the euro, the single currency dipped immediately after the resignation news. The euro hit a session low of 1.2106 francs from around 1.2135 francs beforehand, then recovering to 1.2140 by 1425 GMT.
Attention was focused on a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy, at which the French leader said they would aim to wrap up negotiations on a planned treaty on closer fiscal union in the euro zone in the days ahead so it could be signed on March 1.
However, market were not expecting any major announcements to come from the meeting.
"We would be surprised if we saw concrete proof of fundamental progress towards a solution today," Investec chief economist Philip Shaw said.
German exports jumped in November, data showed, suggesting fourth quarter gross domestic product for Europe's bulwark economy may be stronger than expected, though its industrial output that month was subdued.
This followed Friday's jobs data in the U.S. which saw the jobless rate down to its lowest level in almost three years.
In a sign of investor nervousness, Germany was able to sell 3.9 billion euros of six-month treasury bills with a negative yield - the first time this has happened at an auction. This meant buyers preferred to pay the German government to keep their money rather than receive interest.
Overnight deposits at the European Central Bank by commercial banks also hit a new record high of 464 billion euros, data showed, and traders said the sums could reach half a trillion euros by next week.
High deposits indicate banks prefer the safety of the central bank for their funds to higher rates they could get by lending to each other. The liquidity is also depressing rates in the interbank market.
Banks are awash with cash after taking an unprecedented 489 billion euros in the ECB's first-ever three-year liquidity operation late last month, and are mulling what to do with the money in the longer term.
The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS held onto a slight gain of just 0.2 percent despite a weaker session on Asian markets.
The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares gained about 0.14 percent in choppy trading to be at 1,015.31 points, after rising 1.2 percent in the first week of 2012.
Traders said some optimism about the imminent fourth-quarter U.S. earnings season was supporting equity markets. Banking heavyweight JP Morgan (JPM.N) is among those reporting later in the week. Its shares were flat in opening trade.
In the debt market Italian and Spanish 10-year government bond yield spreads over German safe-haven benchmarks narrowed on Monday, with the market taking a breather after a surge in the two peripheral countries' borrowing costs last week.
A busy week of government bond issuance features triple-A issuers Germany, Netherlands and Austria, but most interest will be on sales by Spain and Italy on Thursday and Friday.
"The main focus is still the Italian and Spanish supply. While we've got that lurking over us I think the market is likely to still be a little bit wary," said Eric Wand, strategist at Lloyds Bank in London.
Italian 10-year paper yielded around 7.13 percent, firmly above the 7.0 percent level widely seen as unsustainable. Spanish equivalent bonds were at 5.74 percent.
EURO ZONE WORRIES LINGER
Debt tensions took the shine off the improving economic picture in the United States and Germany, with a German magazine reporting on Saturday the International Monetary Fund was losing confidence in Greece's ability to clean up its public finances.
Also, an adviser to Germany's finance minister told a Greek newspaper a 50 percent writedown on Greek debt holdings - a key part of Greece's debt swap deal - was not enough to put the country's huge debt on a viable footing.
In commodities markets and both precious and industrial metals lost a little ground.
Copper slipped around 0.4 percent to $7,550 a tonne, while gold was little changed at around $1,620 an ounce.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 08:17 AM PST
apsenews.com) - Welcome to an unlikely beacon of hope for the global auto industry -- Detroit.
Executives arriving this week for the Detroit auto show find a U.S. car market that has morphed from meltdown three years ago to a safe haven as concerns grow about the stability of other big economies, from Europe to China.
Analysts and executives expect 2012 U.S. auto sales to grow 4 percent to 9 percent, the third consecutive annual gain. The only reason automakers are not more bullish is the risk that the sovereign debt crisis in Europe may trigger a broader slowdown.
All three U.S. automakers took market share in the United States for the first time in 23 years. But they can expect tougher competition in 2012 as the Japanese rivals rebound, and Hyundai and Volkswagen gather steam. A return to the boom years of 17 million annual sales, however, will not happen any time soon.
"We see an exceptionally competitive market because there are now eight major manufacturers vying for share," said Tom Libby, senior forecasting analyst at Polk, a Michigan-based automotive consulting firm.
"VW has become very aggressive in the U.S., and Hyundai-Kia has huge momentum that will continue into 2012."
The crop of new vehicles at the Detroit show this week reflects the heavier competition U.S. automakers General Motors, Ford and Fiat-controlled Chrysler can expect in their home market.
Toyota -- which lost 2.3 percentage points of U.S. market share last year -- and Honda, still rebuilding inventory after Japan's tsunami last March, are previewing 2012 updates of their key Prius and Accord models. VW and Hyundai-Kia are also getting attention after posting the biggest U.S. sales gains of last year.
VW wants to double its U.S. market share, said Rainer Michel, product strategy and marketing chief for Volkswagen of America. "Our aim should be being visible on the street, so every five or six cars out of 100 on the road should eventually be a Volkswagen."
The VW brand had 2.5 percent of the U.S. market in 2011 and its luxury brand Audi accounted for nearly 1 percent.
South Korea's Hyundai and affiliate Kia together matched VW's 26 percent sales surge in a U.S. market that expanded 10 percent in 2011.
Polk sees that growth slowing to 7 percent for 13.7 million U.S. deliveries this year, with Europe flat or in decline.
Buckingham Research analyst Joseph Amaturo said he expects moderate growth in China, Brazil and India this year with the prospect of "very aggressive" discounting in those emerging markets.
"Europe is where we face the biggest uncertainties because of financial market volatility, and we're having to adapt our products to increase share," said Philippe Dehennin, head of German premium automaker BMW's French division.
"The U.S. market, along with China, offers significant growth potential with our existing models. It's an absolute priority."
BRIGHT SPOT AMID UNCERTAINTY
Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's investment in Chrysler, seen in 2009 as a risky distraction even with no cash outlay, now looks like a saving grace as he grapples with collapsing demand in Fiat's core southern European markets.
"He entered Chrysler at rock bottom and will now capitalize on a U.S. recovery - the timing was perfect," said Philippe Barrier, an automotive analyst with Societe Generale in Paris.
U.S. automakers are also counting on a domestic recovery to soften the impact of Europe's slump, already complicating the elusive turnaround plan at Opel, GM's regional unit.
"As I look around the world, my greatest confidence is about the U.S.," GM Chief Economist Mustafa Moharatem told an analyst conference in Detroit on Sunday.
"Europe is where I see the greatest uncertainty, because we don't know how the sovereign debt issue will be handled."
Moharatem also predicted "slower growth and more uncertainty" in major emerging markets.
While U.S. consumer demand is rising, some analysts warn the car market will not return to the 17 million annual sales averaged before the 2008 crisis.
"The growth rate looks good because we're coming off very depressed levels, but there's a question of the longer-term outlook," Citigroup U.S. auto analyst Itay Michaeli said.
For the first time in history, U.S. consumers are scrapping more vehicles than they buy. Younger households increasingly are forgoing a second car and middle-aged couples are less likely to have a third vehicle, according to a Citigroup study.
The shift threatens to keep annual sales in the 13 million to 14 million range "for the next few years," it adds.
"Over the decade preceding the last crisis, America took in many more vehicles per household, largely because of all the incentives and easy credit," Michaeli said. "Now the question is how many we want and need in this new world that we're in."
Michaeli forecasts 13.9 million U.S. sales in 2012 and said pricing is holding up well, so far. Some automakers nonetheless say conditions could weaken.
"The U.S. market is not necessarily in line for years of uninterrupted recovery," BMW's Dehennin said. "And there's a lot of competition on the starting line."
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 08:12 AM PST
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy, the euro zone's two leading powers, insisted after talks in Berlin that private sector bondholders must share in reducing Greece's debt burden, along with new European and IMF lending.
They rejected both a call by a European Central Bank policymaker to abandon plans to make private investors take losses, and a leaked International Monetary Fund memo that cast doubt on Athens' ability to reform its public finances.
"We must see progress on the voluntary restructuring of Greek debt," Merkel told a joint news conference. "From our point of view, the second Greek aid package including this restructuring must be in place quickly. Otherwise it won't be possible to pay out the next tranche for Greece."
Merkel and Sarkozy both voiced their determination to press ahead with a tax on financial transactions opposed by Britain, but they appeared to diverge on the timing.
Sarkozy, facing a strong left-wing challenge in his struggle for re-election in May, suggested France could go it alone and challenge other states to follow suit.
Merkel said all 27 EU finance ministers should report in March, and the 17-nation euro zone should move ahead if other countries continued to block an EU decision. But she acknowledged that she did not have full agreement on this within her centre-right coalition government.
A Greek government official said talks with private bondholders on a debt swap key to averting default were progressing but there was no deal yet. However, a senior insurance executive briefed on the negotiations said they were very difficult and likely to be unsuccessful.
The executive, who is not directly at the table, said roadblocks included whether a debt writedown would trigger credit default insurance or not, and how a sufficient number of creditors could be corralled into joining an agreement.
The only hedge fund on the steering committee representing private creditors, Madrid-based Vega Asset Management, walked out last month. French bank BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), which has a strong interest in a deal given its large exposure to south European sovereign debt, said last week that agreement was near, but other banking sources are more skeptical.
Merkel's tough comments highlighted growing concern among European governments that a potential collapse of the Greek rescue negotiations poses the most immediate threat of destabilizing the entire 17-nation euro currency and the global economy.
Euro zone crisis in graphics r.reuters.com/hyb65p
On other issues, Merkel and Sarkozy said they aimed to wrap up negotiations among euro zone countries this month on a new fiscal pact tightening budget discipline, to be signed at the latest on March 1. The latest draft would give more power to the executive European Commission to reject national budget plans that deviate from agreed EU targets.
Euro zone states agreed last month to press ahead with an agreement outside the EU treaty after Britain vetoed plans to amend it to allow stricter enforcement of deficit limits.
The German and French leaders also agreed to ask the ECB to recommend how the euro zone's rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, could be made most effective.
Berlin has so far opposed calls from Paris and elsewhere to increase the size of the 440 billion euro EFSF, but it might be politically easier to relent in response to an ECB call.
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said last week that Athens risked an uncontrolled default in late March unless it agrees a new aid package with the so-called troika of the euro zone, the ECB and the IMF by then.
An internal IMF memo, quoted by the German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday, said the freefall of the Greek economy has made international lenders' plans to rescue Greece obsolete, threatening the debt sustainability of the embattled euro member state.
Merkel said she wanted Greece to stay in the euro zone, and a private sector debt writedown was "a necessary but not sufficient precondition to get Greece back onto an acceptable path."
"Greece should get a chance but Greece remains a special case," she said, adding that Athens must commit to further economic reforms.
ECB Governing Council member Athanasios Orphanides wrote in Friday's Financial Times that dropping plans to force losses on investors would "help restore trust" in the euro zone and lower the borrowing costs of other governments in the currency area.
It was not clear if he was expressing a personal view or speaking for the central bank. Former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet long opposed private sector involvement in debt relief, only reluctantly accepting a "voluntary" bond swap last July.
A perceived risk of writedowns on other euro zone government bonds has spooked investors and been one major factor in raising borrowing costs for other southern European states.
Spain and Italy have to issue hundreds of billions of euros in bonds in 2012 starting this week to roll over maturing debt.
The risk premium on Spanish and Italian bonds over safe-haven German 10-year Bunds narrowed slightly on Monday, and the ECB disclosed that it had kept a tight rein on its purchases of government debt in the first week of the new year, spending just 1.1 billion euros.
The two-year-old debt crisis has raised doubts about whether the euro zone will survive in its current form, especially in non-euro Britain and the United States.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, an avowed Eurosceptic, said in a television interview he believed the single currency area would most likely hold together "but it has to take some pretty decisive steps."
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 08:06 AM PST
The New Year has called for some really big celebrations!
Our B-town biggies still seem to be in a party mood and it got obvious with the grand finale of Bigg Boss 5, Bong hottie Bipasha Basu and director-actor Farhan Akhtar's birthday bashes and the gala Mumbai Police Show (Umang 2012) this weekend. Let's find out who was spotted where looking hot and not-so hot!
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 08:02 AM PST
Given a chance, every man would want to disappear into oblivion during 'those' days of the month when their woman is menstruating. Reason: PMS-pre menstrual syndrome, which is dreaded as a nightmare by most men as the poor beings are subjected to irrational fits of anger, incessant screaming and shouting, crying without reason and bouts of depression.
So, rather than running away from the problem, which obviously you can't (and dare not), why not handle it in a smarter way that will ease your lives? We'll tell you how.
- Firstly, understand that it's not the person, but the hormones which play the brat. Your woman is bound to feel cranky and irritable. So be co-operative and try to understand her problem. Be smart enough to read the signs that will lead to anger or add up to her frustration and nip the reasons in the bud. Even though you find her behaviour funny at times, never ever make the mistake of joking around or teasing her about it. Lest you want to be crucified! And remember, as a guy you can never experience her agony.
- Doing things that she does not like you doing, can otherwise be tolerated. But this is certainly not the right time. So behave like a good boy. Keep up to your promises, don't be late when you meet her and things should be fine.
- You can also lessen her burden of work by helping her in the kitchen, paying her bills or running errands for the things that are required.
Gynaecologist Shyama Kothari says, "Periods often make women feel heavy and uncomfortable. So it's better if her man treats her special during those few days. Even if she's not looking her usual best, tell her how lovely she looks. Women feel insecure, lonely or depressed during that time. So making extra efforts to assure her of your love, and her worth will not cause any harm. Also, buying her a surprise gifts is a good idea." An important point that Dr Kothari makes is to avoid socialising. She adds, "The heaviness due to water retention causes a temporary weight gain. So usually party wear or tight fitted clothes feel tighter and uncomfortable. Also staying up late at night can aggravate the situation."
Women also tend to crave for sugary foods like chocolates during this time. Rather than commenting on the calorie aspect, it is advisable for men to join them in their sinful indulgence sessions to make it fun. Giving a relaxing head, foot or back massage to soothe her tensed nerves can work well too.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:58 AM PST
A source reveals, "Anil and Ajay would spend hours watching the movies in their hotel at night.
They would then shortlist the titles that could be remade into Bollywood films." Incidentally, the film they were shooting for is supposed to be a copy of Keanu Reeves-starrer Speed.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:55 AM PST
Sonam said, "Everybody has been telling me how good we look together, especially in our songs. I've always maintained that Abhishek is my favourite co-star. We did Delhi 6 together. In that film we had a pigeon, too. In Players, there's a pigeon. I wonder what connection Abhishek and I have with pigeons."
'Players' was promoted alongside Mission Impossible-4 when Tom Cruise visited India too! "It was a lovely experience," shared Sonam, who went on to add, "My dad's a rockstar" when asked about what she felt about Anil Kapoor's performance in the international venture.
So when do we see her share screen space with dad? "It's going to be a while. First, there's no script, and second, I'm sure I'll suffer from weak knees when acting with him."
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:52 AM PST
Juhi Parmar More Pics
The winner of Bigg Boss-5, Juhi Parmar, is ready to start life afresh after walking away with big booty of Rs one crore. In a chat with us, she speaks about pangas, bachchas and more...
After Shweta Tiwari, you are the second woman to make History in Bigg Boss...
Yes, it feels great that my fans voted for me and made me the winner. I can't thank them enough!
But, internet is flooded with 'hate Juhi' comments, where people have tagged you as being biased towards Sky (Akashdeep Sahgal) and his 'angry outbursts'...
I know I came across as biased. But then, after being with Sky 24x7, I came to the conclusion that he has no control over his anger, but at least he is honest! There were quite a few people in the show who were completely fake, but they projected themselves as virtual saints! There were ladies who were shouting louder than Sky, and not really being very dignified. So, I decided to stay back when such slanging matches took place. But later, I always told Sky that he was in the wrong. The fact is that he was very respectful and caring towards me and treated me as his sister. Then why would I break my relations with him without any rhyme or reason?
Pooja Bedi has gone on record to say that Salman was biased towards certain people. Did you feel like this anytime?
I don't know what was being shown outside. But Sunny Leone, who came much later in the show, said after entering the celebrity house that Mahek Chahal was her fave character because she did not fight with anyone. Within a week Sunny saw Mahek's behaviour and changed her opinion and said 'Mahek was my fave character, but I don't like her as a person!' At that time many of us did wonder as to why she was projected like that on telly. Inside the house, Mahek was very difficult to get along with and she poked her nose in every affair and fight! So, we did wonder if we were imagining things!
How do you plan to spend the prize money?
I plan to keep most of it aside for the kids that we will have in future. But for next 12 months, I just plan to focus on work.
And lovey-dovey plans with your actor husband Sachin Shroff?
Yes, I am ready for my second honeymoon! Sachin told me that he has just started a new show on Sahara, so it will be difficult for him to take out time, but I have clearly told him that we have to go for the second honeymoon right away. After all, I have met him after almost 100 days and lost 5 kilos inside the celebrity house. But before the honeymoon, I need to go in for a Spa and body massage! I need it badly because I am completely tired!
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:47 AM PST
Pop diva Beyonce, 30, gave birth by caesarian section on Saturday night in a private wing of the Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan with rapper Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, by her side, E! Online reported.
Initial reports had the baby's name as Ivy Blue, but those close to the couple confirmed later it was the other way around. The Houston Chronicle, Beyonce's hometown paper, was alone in spelling it Blu Ivy, without the "e".
The Twitterverse was abuzz as celebrities and fans alike delighted in news of the star couple's first child.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:43 AM PST
It was a case of second batting failure for the tourists as, chasing 261 to win, England owed the win to captain Andrew Strauss (78), Ian Bell (39) and Jonathan Trott (35) on the final day at the Global Cricket Academy ground.
Kevin Pietersen (one) and Eoin Morgan (three) flopped a second time in the match and when Bell departed at 199-6, England looked down and out before Davies (37 not out) and Broad (31) saved their blushes.
Despite the win England's batting looked rusty ahead of the first of three Tests against Pakistan which starts here from January 17.
England will have another opportunity to settle their batting on the slow, dusty pitches here as they play the second warm-up game against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI, also in Dubai, from January 11-13.
Strauss and Alastair Cook (26) looked solid during their opening stand of 63 but Afghanistan's spinner Mohammad Nabi (3-66), George Dockrell (1-28) and Majid Haq (1-42) derailed on the run chase.
Strauss and Trott added 70 for the second wicket but England lost five more wickets before reaching the 200-mark. Strauss hit 13 boundaries and a six during his 96-ball innings but his departure put England in trouble.
It was left to Broad and Davies to carry their team within one run of the victory.
Earlier, the ICC Combined XI declared their second innings at 164-9 with Afghanistan's wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad notching a second half-century of the match with a defiant 74.
Shahzad, who scored 51 in the first innings, held the Combined XI innings and added 43 for the eighth wicket with Haq who scored 256 not out. Shahzad hit 13 boundaries during his attractive 104-ball knock.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:40 AM PST
The letter was delivered to the commission by Colonel Khalid from the ISI.
Responding to the letter, the head of the commission Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that if the DG ISI wanted to provide information he should do so via a sealed envelope.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:35 AM PST
Talking to media after the hearing of the judicial commission on memogate, Akram Sheikh said Mansoor Ijaz was coming to Pakistan to testify against the Federal Government and 'to uncover the reality'.
He said in addition to Islamabad police, a contingent of army would provide security to Mansoor Ijaz during his presence in Pakistan. "The task of a person's security cannot be left to the Federation alone," he said.
"Mansoor Ijaz will be ready to answer the questions and has asked not to disclose names of those issuing threats which came from the same blackberry that Haqqani used for talking to him," said the Ijaz's counsel in memogate case.
AFP adds: The lawyer for an American businessman allegedly involved in the passing of a memo seeking US help to undermine Pakistan's military on Monday claimed his client had received emailed death threats.
The highly controversial unsigned memo was allegedly an attempt by a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari to enlist the United States military's help to head off a military coup in Pakistan last year.
The businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, has claimed that Zardari feared the military might overthrow his government and accused then Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, of crafting the memo with the president's support.
"Death threats have been received by Mansoor Ijaz through email," Ijaz's lawyer Akram Sheikh told a Pakistani commission probing the case.
The commission ordered tight security for Ijaz upon his arrival in Pakistan to appear at the hearing.
"Army security can also be provided on the request of Akram Sheikh, the lawyer of Mansoor Ijaz," the commission ordered.
Sheikh said Ijaz would appear for the next hearing.
"The government also wants to implicate Ijaz in false cases," Sheikh told the commission.
The commission also ordered Pakistan's embassies in London and Bern to issue a visa for Ijaz "without any condition" so that he could appear at the hearing.
Tensions between the powerful army and government soared over the note, allegedly delivered to then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, in May last year and made public by Ijaz in October.
The commission comprising three judges also heard from Haqqani who denied any involvement in the memo.
"I had no role in creating, drafting and delivering the memo," he said.
Forensic experts from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) also briefed the commission about the possibility of retrieving BlackBerry messages allegedly sent between the pair.
A request by the ISI chief, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha for an in camera briefing was turned down by commission head Justice Qazi Faiz Eisa, who said that any sensitive information should be provided in a sealed envelope.
"We will see after receiving this envelope that which part of the information is sensitive and what should be made public," Eisa said.
The hearing was adjourned until Monday, January 16.
The memo offered to overhaul Pakistan's security leadership in exchange for American assistance, as public relations plummeted after the secret US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2 last year.
Haqqani resigned over the affair and the Supreme Court has stopped him from leaving Pakistan.
Monday was the second meeting of the commission, being held in the capital Islamabad, which is expected to submit its findings within four weeks.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:26 AM PST
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:21 AM PST
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:17 AM PST
I just arrived in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. I am pretty sure I know what to expect but then again, the show is designed to show off wonders in technology never seen before so I'm ready to be wowed.
Here is what will not surprise me: Android tablets. I expect the show to be littered with as many Android tablets as the streets of Las Vegas are littered with flyers for topless bars. They'll be everywhere. A few of them may even be memorable.
Last year's show had more Android tablets than I could count, all running Honeycomb, the version of Android that was optimized for tablets. This year the tablets will be running Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android optimized for tablets.
Don't get me wrong, Android tablets are nice but even with a speedy processor and operating system, it is tough to compete with the iPad 2 and the Kindle Fire. I'm prepared to be impressed but can't really imagine how a manufacturer can stand out in the legion of Android tablets on the show floor.
I also expect a lot of innovation in consumer-grade cameras. This is the first year that the annual Photo Marketing Association's camera show overlaps with CES so the industry's new cameras will be on display along with other electronics.
Digital cameras have to really wow these days in order for consumers to take note since we are all carrying such great cameras in our cell phones. I expect to see more bang for your buck in camera innovation, both in the point-and-shoots, as well as in the high-end removable lens point-and-shoots, and of course the ultra high-end digital SLRs.
What I am most excited about is a more interactive television experience. TVs can do a lot these days. They can access the Internet, stream movies and TV shows, and give me information like weather, sports, and stock prices. But the remote control hasn't really evolved to meet these new capabilities and the TV doesn't seem to want to talk to me as much as I want to talk to it.
I expect the TV to become a lot more like my computer. I expect to see TVs with more advanced remote controls, including a full QWERTY keyboard, motion control, and voice control. LG already has a product close to this with the LG Magic Wand and I am expecting a lot more like it. It's time that our TV lets us interact with it a little. Have a little chat. I just hope it doesn't listen when I'm watching sports. I don't always talk nicely in those cases.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:13 AM PST
To accommodate the influential couple's demand for privacy at Lenox Hill Hospital, other new and expecting parents said they were essentially put on "lockdown" and even booted out of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) -- on the same floor as Beyonce's delivery "suite" -- so the pampered songstress and her party could come and go unencumbered.
Jay Z and his wife Beyonce (wearing Christian Louboutin shoes) watch the New Jersey Nets play the Phoenix Suns in the second quarter of their NBA basketball game in Newark, New Jersey, February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)
Totally Insane Star Baby Names
Really creative, or borderline child abuse? You decide!
"They just used the hospital like it was their own and nobody else mattered," raged new dad Neil Coulon, whose efforts to see his premature, newborn twins in the NICU were disrupted by the birth of little Blue Ivy Carter.
"They locked us into the NICU and would say, 'You can't come out to the hallway for the next 20 minutes.' When I finally was able to go back out, I went to the waiting room and they'd ushered my family downstairs!"
Beyonce, 30, and 42-year-old Jay-Z -- whose real name is Shawn Carter -- welcomed their new princess, Blue Ivy, born by C-section, at the Upper East Side hospital Saturday night.
The baby is reportedly named for her dad's album, "Blueprint" and her mom's favorite number, four -- represented by the Roman numeral IV, or "Ivy."
The drama surrounding Blue Ivy's long-awaited arrival began Friday night, when Beyonce checked in under the name "Ingrid Jackson" and settled into her sixth-floor suite to have the baby.
By Saturday night, Blue Ivy and Beyonce had been moved down to a pad on the fourth floor, where her Grammy-winning mom and rap-legend dad showed her off to friends, the hospital employee said.
A hospital spokeswoman said the hospital has special patient suites and that rooms can be reserved.
She declined to give the cost and said published reports that Jay-Z shelled out $1.3 million for "an entire floor" were exaggerated, but would not say by how much.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:08 AM PST
Protesters crashed the former governor's campaign rally at an Exeter-area high school, chanting "Mitt Kills Jobs." and other insults. The shouts could be heard even after some of them were escorted out of the event.
Romney was polite with the protesters as he spoke, saying he respected their views but wished they would be more polite.
However, Christie didn't hold back when it was his turn to address the packed high school gymnasium.
When a heckler yelled, "Christie kills jobs," Christie was ready with a response - New Jersey style.
"Really?" Christie replied. "Something may go down tonight but it's not going to be jobs, sweetheart."
Christie, a potential vice presidential running mate should Romney win the Republican presidential nomination, has emerged as one of Romney's top surrogates on the campaign.
He deftly turned the protesters' complaints into criticism against Democratic President Barack Obama, who will face Romney or another Republican in next November's election.
Obama has "encouraged these people to be angry at Mitt and angry at me because we stand up for what we believe in," he said.
"Mr. President, you're up there in the family quarters of the White House, put your feet up and don't worry about it. Mitt Romney is going to bring people together," said Christie.
The crowd roared its approval.
"He handled them just the way I would expect him too, an intellectual beat-down," said Mike Gianino, 51, of Newton, New Hampshire. "I think Christie is just the right amount of punch."
The Romney event was one of many GOP candidate events planned this week, as the candidates race to gather supporters before Tuesday's primary.
Knocking Romney off his perch before Tuesday won't be easy.
He has spent the better part of two years essentially adopting the state as his own and now holds a comfortable lead in pre-primary polls as his rivals essentially battle for second place.
Roughly $5 million has been spent on TV ads in the state by candidates and political action committees aligned with them -- called super PACS -- with most of the money coming from a pro-Jon Huntsman group and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Romney has spent roughly $1 million.
The former Massachusetts governor won the Iowa caucuses last week by a scant eight votes over Santorum.
Santorum was followed by Paul, with Gingrich fourth, Texas Gov. Rick Perry fifth and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann in last place. She has since quit the race.
Huntsman, the former Utah governor, skipped Iowa in hopes of a breakout showing in New Hampshire.
South Carolina comes next, on Jan. 21, the first Southern state to hold a primary. Perry is skipping New Hampshire to campaign full-time in South Carolina in hopes of reviving his candidacy.
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 06:57 AM PST
TEHRAN, Iran – An Iranian court has convicted an American man of working for the CIA and sentenced him to death, state radio reported Monday, in a case adding to the accelerating tension between the United States and Iran.
Iran charges that as a former U.S. Marine, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati received special training and served at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged intelligence mission. The radio report did not say when the verdict was issued. Under Iranian law, he has 20 days to appeal.
The 28-year-old former military translator was born in Arizona and graduated from a high school in Michigan. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, a professor at a community college in Flint, Michigan, has said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.
His trial took place as the U.S. announced new, tougher sanctions against Iran over a nuclear program that Washington believes Tehran is using to develop a possible atomic weapons capability.
Iran, which says it only seeks nuclear reactors for energy and research, has sharply increased its threats and military posturing against stronger pressures, including the U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's Central Bank in attempts to complicate its ability to sell oil.
U.S. State Department has demanded Hekmati's release.
The court convicted him of working with a hostile country, belonging to the CIA and trying to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism, Monday's report said.
In its ruling, a branch of Tehran Revolutionary Court described Hekmati as a mohareb, an Islamic term that means a fighter against God, and a mofsed, or one who spreads corruption on earth. Both terms appear frequently in Iranian court rulings.
In a closed court hearing in late December, the prosecution asked for the death sentence for Hekmati.
The U.S. government has called on Iranian authorities to grant Swiss diplomats access to Hekmati in prison. The Swiss government represents U.S. interests in Iran because the two countries don't have diplomatic relations.
Hekmati is a dual U.S.-Iranian national. Iran considers him an Iranian since the country's law does not recognize dual citizenship.
Similar cases against Americans accused of spying have heightened tensions throughout years-long standoff over Iran's nuclear program.
Iran arrested three Americans in July 2009 along the border with Iraq and accused them of espionage, though the Americans said they were just hiking in the scenic and relatively peaceful Kurdish region of northern Iraq. They were eventually released and returned to the United States.
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