The Associated Press: Clinton still insists she's more electable
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Her chances of securing the Democratic presidential nomination narrowing by the day, Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted Tuesday that she would be a stronger candidate than Barack Obama to square off against John McCain in November.
The former first lady has refrained from criticizing Obama directly in recent weeks as he has built an almost insurmountable lead among the delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. But without mentioning his name, Clinton strongly implied that if the Illinois senator becomes the nominee he could be headed for defeat in the general election.
"We have not gone through this exciting, unprecedented, historical election only to lose," Clinton told several hundred supporters here. "You have to ask yourself, who is the stronger candidate? And based on every analysis of every bit of research and every poll that's been taken and every state a Democrat has to win, I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall."
With just three primaries left in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota and 86 delegates yet to secure, Clinton trails Obama by nearly 200 delegates. To keep alive her slender hope of winning the nomination, she is counting on a Democratic Party rules committee Saturday to restore the delegations from Michigan and Florida, whose primaries were voided when they moved into January in violation of party rules.
Clinton and her advisers also have pressed the case with uncommitted superdelegates that she is better positioned than Obama to win in November, pointing to her primary victories in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Even so, most superdelegates choosing sides in the past several weeks have sided with Obama.
Earlier Tuesday, Clinton visited an Indian reservation where she pledged her commitment to tribal sovereignty and Indian health care.
"I want to be a strong partner with Indian country," Clinton told several hundred people in Pablo at Salish Kootenai College on the sprawling Flathead Indian reservation. Among other things, she promised to name a representative of the American Indian community to work alongside her in the White House.
Clinton's visit came a week before primaries in Montana and South Dakota are expected to feature a sizable representation of American Indian voters.
In an exceptionally scenic setting of snow-covered mountains and tall pine trees, the former first lady was greeted by dancers performing a spiritual dance and given a set of moccasins and a necklace by Joe McDonald, president of the tribal college.
"Wear this next to your heart," McDonald told her. Clinton wore the beaded necklace as she spoke, and appeared moved by the scene that greeted her.
"I humbly ask for your support," she said to applause.
Americans Indians are expected to make up as much as 20 percent of next Tuesday's Democratic primary voters in Montana, and more than 10 percent in South Dakota, where Clinton was headed Wednesday. She planned to visit the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to several thousand members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Obama also has paid heed to American Indian concerns, even as he has begun to focus on the likely general election contest against McCain. Earlier this month, he visited Montana's Crow Indian reservation and was adopted into the Crow Nation during a private ceremony.
McCain also has ties to American Indians. He is from Arizona and is a former chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Microsoft sees big growth for its Windows Mobile operating system.
A Microsoft executive in Asia told Reuters on Tuesday that sales will increase at least 50 percent over the next year as demand for smartphones picks up.
Eddie Wu, the software company's managing director of OEM embedded devices in Asia, said the company expects to sell 20 million "units" of its software in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, which ends in June, according to the article. And the company expects to grow at least 50 percent annually over the next two years, he added. Microsoft sold more than 11 million units of its Windows Mobile software in its 2006-2007 fiscal year, which ended June a year ago.
Wu told Reuters that the company is seeing the fastest growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Brazil, Russia, and India. Demand is also strong in Europe and the United States.
Windows Mobile is a software operating system used on smartphones. Companies such as Motorola, Samsung, and High Tech Electronics (HTC) have all released products that use it. And Sony Ericsson introduced a new Windows Mobile phone earlier this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Smartphones, which offer e-mail, Web surfing, music, and other Internet services, are growing in popularity. In the first quarter of 2008, sales of smartphones in the U.S. accounted for about 17 percent of all mobile phone sales, the NPD Group reported. This was an increase of 10 percent over the previous year. The increase in smartphone demand comes as sales of cell phones in general are declining in the U.S.
Microsoft has been working hard to cash in on the growing demand for smartphones. Earlier this year, Microsoft released version 6.1 of theWindows Mobile operating system. This version includes an updated browser, which is supposed to make Internet surfing on a mobile phone look and feel like it does on a desktop. The company also has added support for Adobe Systems' Flash.
Windows Mobile 6.1 will be available on a number of manufacturers' phones including HTC, Samsung Electronics, Motorola, and Pantech. And carriers including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Alltel have already announced that they will offer the upgrade.
Despite predictions for strong growth, Microsoft still faces tough competition, and it may have a hard time increasing its market share as competition intensifies. Apple is rumored to be getting ready to launch the 3G, or third-generation, version of the iPhone in a few weeks. The company has already announced software upgrades that should make the iPhone more appealing for business users.
What's more, new phones using Google's Android operating system will soon hit the market. And competitors such as Research In Motion with its BlackBerry devices and Symbian, which is used on Nokia and LG Electronics phones, are also expected to continue to grow.
Since mid-March, Apple Inc. has imported nearly 200 ocean containers full of what are termed "electronic computers," which experts said is a likely reference to the anticipated 3G iPhone. According to ImportGenius.com, which uncovered the mystery shipments, about 40,000 iPhones could fit into each container, or some 7.5 million phones in all.
The shipments couldn't come at a better time. The current iPhones are out of stock at every Apple store in Manhattan, and a number of AT&T outlets are also reporting a shortage. As of May 12, meanwhile, iPhones were no longer available for order on the company's Web site. This would not be the first time Apple has employed a strategy of allowing old products to be sold off before launching a replacement, analysts said.
"There isn't just a shortage of iPhones in New York, but they are generally not available around the world," an analyst who covers Apple, but does not have clearance to speak for attribution, said. "It is an old trick of analysts to study which products are no longer available, as those are likely the ones that Apple will introduce in some new form."
Apple declined to comment, and AT&T maintained that its stores do have a supply of the phones, although a visit to two stores and calls to a handful of others found none.
The iPhone shortage has only served to create more demand. Anticipation is so high, in fact, that rumors of a new shipment of iPhones sparked a rush last week on Apple's Fifth Avenue outpost, with fans spontaneously lining up in the hopes of being first to buy the item.
Wall Street is widely expecting CEO Steven Jobs to announce the new 3G iPhone at Apple's trade show next month in San Francisco. It would mark the first major upgrade to the iPhone, which was introduced last June.
As for the shipments, "starting March 19, I saw that Apple was shipping 40 containers of these 'electronic computers,' and then gradually every two or three weeks another large shipment would appear," a founder of ImportGenius.com, Ryan Petersen, said. With all of the add-ons expected to come with the new iPhone, dubbing the product an electronic computer is logical, Mr. Petersen said. "Based on expectations that the phones will be announced on June 9, they likely need millions of units in the country to satisfy demand, so it seems they are preparing for this."
Adding to the rumor mill is an internal memo that was handed out to AT&T employees requesting they not take vacation between June 15 and July 12 because of an "exciting summer promotional launch." The company, which has an exclusive agreement with Apple to distribute the iPhone, issued a similar memo last year before the phone's launch.
The new iPhone is expected to feature third generation wireless technology technology, which is about 10 times faster than the current iPhone's network connection. There are also rumors regarding other features, including a switch that would allow the user to turn off the 3G network connection, which is expected to use up large amounts of battery power. It may also be lighter, with plastic replacing the aluminum-magnesium shell to reduce its heft by as much as 2 ounces from its current weight of 4.8 ounces. There is also talk that Apple is negotiating with record labels to allow consumers to download music off the AT&T network rather than just Wi-Fi, and a real GPS system that would be an upgrade from the current software the phone relies on.
Lehman Brothers expects iPhone sales to reach 1.7 million in the third quarter and 2.55 million in the fourth quarter. "To date, we believe it is possible to calculate that Apple's 3G iPhone will be able to serve a market of about 650 million wireless subscribers," a report to clients by Lehman Brothers analyst Ben Reitzes read. "We believe this figure could grow considerably by the fall to even 1 billion, potentially enabling Apple to exceed its goal of selling 10 million iPhones in calendar 2008."
Apple's stock rose 2.9% yesterday, to $186.43.
Microsoft is finally opening up about when Windows 7 will ship, but the company continues to share just a few, yet tantalizing details of what the eagerly anticipated OS update will be all about.
The latest tidbit to drop is multitouch interface support. At the Wall St. Journal's D Conference Tuesday evening in Carlsbad, Calif., company founder and chief software architect Bill Gates and chief executive Steve Ballmer are scheduled to unveil a laptop with a touchscreen that accepts multiple, simultaneous touches. The effect is quite reminiscent of what's possible with the world's most popular, commercially available gesture-based interface device: the iPhone .
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Officially, Windows 7 is scheduled to ship three years after the general availability of Windows Vista , according to Microsoft. Vista's business editions launched on Nov. 30, 2006, which would mean the software could ship as early as that date in 2009, with a beta release in advance. Vista's editions for the home market launched Jan. 29, 2007.
To be fair, this is not Microsoft's first foray into the multitouch arena. The company's innovative "Surface" computing platform, which combines cameras to sense the gestures and touches of either a single user or multiple users, allowing them to interact with a table-top full of digital objects. Surface then uses a projector to project the image onto a screen. Windows 7 would use touchscreen technology to achieve similar effects.
Microsoft would not say specifically whether the OS will support gestures as well as multitouch support, like Surface does. Given the gesture support in Apple's products, however, something similar is likely.
A video posted on Microsoft Windows Client Communications Team Director Chris Flores' blog shows the interface on a laptop and table-mounted LCD screen. During that demonstration a user edits and manipulates photos with his fingertips, navigates a map and plays a virtual piano.
A spokesperson for Microsoft said the company is "working closely with OEMs, IHVs and ISVs to bring the best touch experiences to Windows PCs. The Windows and Surface teams are also working together closely to deliver the best and most innovative touch experiences to customers."
"Touch is quickly becoming a common way of directly interacting with software and devices," Flores wrote on his blog, in something of a validation of the touch and gesture based platform introduced on Apple's iPhone. "Touch-enabled surfaces are popping up everywhere including laptop touch pads, cell phones, remote controls, GPS devices, and more."
TeliaSonera To Bring iPhone to Nordic, Baltic Countries - Hardware - IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness
The iPhone is heading to Scandinavia and parts of the former Soviet Bloc. Nordic telecom company TeliaSonera has entered into a deal with Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) to bring the iPhone to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia later this year, according to a statement released by the company on Tuesday. The company did not say whether its deal with Apple would be exclusive, like that between Apple and U.S. dealer and service provider AT&T Wireless, or whether it would follow in the model the company has taken with Italy, where multiple providers will carry the iPhone. Before the Italian deal earlier this month, Apple had been signing exclusive deals with carriers on a country-by-country basis. O2, for example, is Apple's British iPhone partner. TeliaSonera also made no comment on whether it would be selling Apple's current iPhone product or whether it would be bringing the much-anticipated and speculated 3G version of the iPhone to the Nordic and Baltic regions. Analysts and Apple enthusiasts have speculated that Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, will announce the launch of the 3G iPhone at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference on June 9 in San Francisco. The company, however, has neither confirmed nor denied reports that it is manufacturing a version of the iPhone that will run on 3G networks which are capable of transmitting data at faster speeds than the current product. The iPhone was criticized on its release for its lack of Exchange compatibility, rendering it less useful as a business tool. Apple said it expects to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008.
Nordic telecom company TeliaSonera has entered into a deal with Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) to bring the iPhone to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia later this year, according to a statement released by the company on Tuesday.
The company did not say whether its deal with Apple would be exclusive, like that between Apple and U.S. dealer and service provider AT&T Wireless, or whether it would follow in the model the company has taken with Italy, where multiple providers will carry the iPhone. Before the Italian deal earlier this month, Apple had been signing exclusive deals with carriers on a country-by-country basis. O2, for example, is Apple's British iPhone partner.
TeliaSonera also made no comment on whether it would be selling Apple's current iPhone product or whether it would be bringing the much-anticipated and speculated 3G version of the iPhone to the Nordic and Baltic regions.
Analysts and Apple enthusiasts have speculated that Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, will announce the launch of the 3G iPhone at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference on June 9 in San Francisco. The company, however, has neither confirmed nor denied reports that it is manufacturing a version of the iPhone that will run on 3G networks which are capable of transmitting data at faster speeds than the current product.
The iPhone was criticized on its release for its lack of Exchange compatibility, rendering it less useful as a business tool.
Apple said it expects to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" schooled the competition over the long Memorial Day weekend, as the fourth appearance of Harrison Ford in the role of the adventuring archaeologist raked in nearly $127 million at the North American box office, contributing to an estimated $312 million worldwide.
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by Media By Numbers LLC:
1. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," Paramount, $126,917,373, 4,260 locations, $29,793 average, $151,958,445 (includes $25 million opening on Thursday), one week.
2. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," Disney, $29,810,163, 3,929 locations, $7,587 average, $97,855,173, two weeks.
3. "Iron Man," Paramount, $26,111,130, 3,915 locations, $6,670 average, $258,278,546, four weeks.
4. "What Happens in Vegas," Fox, $11,363,713, 3,188 locations, $3,565 average, $56,609,605, three weeks.
5. "Speed Racer," Warner Bros., $5,272,202, 3,112 locations, $1,694 average, $37,481,539, three weeks.
6. "Made of Honor," Sony, $4,240,435, 2,393 locations, $1,772 average, $39,901,734, four weeks.
7. "Baby Mama," Universal, $4,208,105, 2,158 locations, $1,950 average, $53,016,250, five weeks.
8. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Universal, $2,269,775, 1,073 locations, $2,115 average, $58,798,745, six weeks.
9. "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay," Warner Bros., $1,163,460, 750 locations, $1,551 average, $36,152,416, five weeks.
10. "The Visitor," Overture Films, $940,037, 270 locations, $3,482 average, $4,591,262, seven weeks.
11. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!," Fox, $625,105, 488 locations, $1,281 average, $152,076,723, 11 weeks.
12. "The Forbidden Kingdom," Lionsgate, $556,015, 487 locations, $1,142 average, $51,358,618, six weeks.
13. "Then She Found Me," ThinkFilm, $503,004, 150 locations, $3,353 average, $2,181,214, five weeks.
14. "Young at Heart," Fox Searchlight, $425,820, 212 locations, $2,009 average, $2,510,297, seven weeks.
15. "Nim's Island," Fox, $397,290, 426 locations, $933 average, $45,794,492, eight weeks.
16. "College Road Trip," Disney, $360,438, 283 locations, $1,274 average, $44,275,094, 12 weeks.
17. "Drillbit Taylor," Paramount, $346,197, 218 locations, $1,588 average, $32,537,768, 10 weeks.
18. "Son of Rambow," Paramount Vantage, $323,617, 152 locations, $2,129 average, $939,530, four weeks.
19. "Prom Night," Sony, $253,294, 287 locations, $883 average, $43,818,159, seven weeks.
20. "Roman De Gare," IDP, $201,142, 35 locations, $5,747 average, $706,277, five weeks.
Nine of 10 tests show Las Lomas water clear of mercury | thecalifornian.com | The Salinas Californian
A second round of tests on a Las Lomas water system came back negative for mercury in 90 percent of the samples analyzed, a California Water Service Co. said.
The latest round of testing on water samples taken during the weekend showed Tuesday ``non-detect'' levels of the metal in nine out of 10 samples in the water system, with one test coming back positive for mercury contamination, according to the company.More tests are expected this week after water company workers noticed Saturday a water storage tank at the end of Las Lomas Drive had been tampered with. The Monterey Count Sheriff's Office is investigating whether someone contaminated the tank, which serves about 3,000 customers between Sill and Garin roads.
Jim Smith, a spokesman for California Water Service, said the single positive test showed above two parts per billion of mercury. Two parts per billion or below is the safe drinking standard.
``Our No. 1 concern is that customers get back online and get high-quality water,'' Smith said.
No wells serving the water system tested positive for mercury, he said, and the contaminated tank has been isolated and the entire system flushed.But residents who are served by the water system are still under a ``no drink order'' pending further testing, which means residents will have to rely on bottled water for at least a week, Smith said.
He said the company has been receiving calls from people served by the tank who are complaining of sore throats or headaches. The company is telling them to seek medical help.
Smith said someone would have to be exposed to heightened levels of mecury for a long period to fall ill from it.
Sueanne Buggy, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health, said service to customers can't resume until the department's labs verify California Water Service's tests and confirm the water is safe.
The cause of the contamination in a water tank is thought to be vandalism, but the matter is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Office. No one in the Sheriff's Office was available Tuesday to comment on the matter.
California Water Service personnel noticed the vandalism during a routine visit to the water tank Saturday. Workers noticed the tank's ladder lock was missing and the hatch at the top had been forced opened.
On Sunday, when initial test results came back showing heightened mercury levels, water company workers went door to door, notifying residents not to drink from their faucets.
California lawmakers are pondering a reform of plastic surgery laws which will ensure that patients are informed of the risks they are facing. Also, outpatient clinics may have to be up to higher standards than before.
"These [clinics] are not hospitals. You have to raise the standards," said state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development, quoted by LA Times.
The changes in current law were partly prompted by the scandal surrounding the death, six months ago, of Kanye West's mother following liposuction and breast implant surgery. Donda West, 58, died in November after she underwent cosmetic surgery without receiving a physical examination.
As such, Yolanda Anderson, Donda's niece and the cousin of Kanye West, along with Calif. Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, introduced a bill that would require patients to receive a physical exam before plastic surgery. AB 2968 will add to existing legislation which requires that cosmetic surgery clinics must be accredited by an agency recognized by California State. This means the clinic is required, among other things, to have resuscitation equipment and procedures to transfer a patient to a hospital.
Donda died due to cardiovascular problems caused by existing heart disease and clogged coronary arteries. Another cosmetic surgeon had previously refused to perform the surgery because he thought Donda West had a high risk of heart attack. She eventually had a complex cosmetic operation which involved significant liposuction, enlargement of both breasts and muscle tightening.
Donda was a scholar, the former chairwoman of Chicago State University's English department.
California lawmakers are pondering a reform of plastic surgery laws which will ensure that patients are informed of the risks they are facing. Also, outpatient clinics may have to be up to higher standards than before.
Childhood obesity, rising for more than two decades, appears to have hit a plateau, a potentially significant milestone in the battle against excessive weight gain among children.
But the finding, based on survey data gathered from 1999 to 2006 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in Wednesday’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, was greeted with guarded optimism.
It is not clear if the lull in childhood weight gain is permanent or even if it is the result of public anti-obesity efforts to limit junk food and increase physical activity in schools. Doctors noted that even if the trend held up, 32 percent of American schoolchildren remained overweight or obese, representing an entire generation that will be saddled with weight-related health problems as it ages.
“After 25 years of extraordinarily bad news about childhood obesity, this study provides a glimmer of hope,” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the childhood obesity program at Children’s Hospital in Boston. “But it’s much too soon to know whether this is a true plateau in prevalence or just a temporary lull.”
The data come from thousands of children who have taken part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys — compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics at the C.D.C. since the 1960s — and represent some of the most reliable statistics available on the health of American children.
The most recent data is based on two surveys — one in 2003 to 2004 and one in 2005 to 2006 — that included 8,165 children ages 2 to 19. In that group, about 16 percent of children and teenagers were obese, which is defined as having a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile on United States growth charts. For example, a 10-year-old girl who is 4-foot-7 would be considered obese if her weight reached 100 pounds. By comparison, about 5 percent of children and teenagers in the United States were obese in the 1960s and 1970s. As startling as those numbers are, the good news is that from a statistical standpoint, obesity rates have not increased since 1999. Estimates for the number of children who fall into the overweight or obese category also have remained stable at about 32 percent since 1999. Overweight is defined as at or above the 85th percentile.
In fact, the number of children who fall into the obese category decreased from 17.1 percent to 15.5 percent between the 2003 and 2006 surveys, but the decline was not statistically significant. So the researchers combined data from both surveys to enhance the statistical strength of the numbers.
The plateau follows years of excessive weight gain among American schoolchildren. For instance, in 1980, 6.5 percent of children age 6 to 11 were obese, but by 1994 that number had climbed to 11.3 percent. By 2002, the number had jumped to 16.3 percent, but it has now appeared to stabilize around 17 percent.
“It doesn’t mean we’ve solved it, but maybe there is some opportunity for some optimism here,” said Cynthia Ogden, the lead author of the journal report and an epidemiologist for the National Center for Health Statistics.
The researchers did not give reasons for the leveling off of childhood obesity rates. One concern is that the lull could represent a natural plateau that would have occurred regardless of public health efforts.
“It may be that we’ve reached some sort of saturation in terms of the proportion of the population who are genetically susceptible to obesity in this environment,” Dr. Ogden said. “A more optimistic view is that some things are working. We don’t really know.”
Data collected from a handful of obesity programs around the country suggest that the trends may be real.
In Somerville, Mass., a communitywide intervention led by nutrition researchers at Tufts University included doubling the amount of fruit served for school lunch, painting crosswalks to encourage walks to school and increasing physical activity in after-school programs.
Last year, the medical journal Obesity reported that during the 2003-2004 school year, Somerville schoolchildren gained less weight than children in nearby communities. The researchers are trying to replicate the program in rural areas in other parts of the country.
In Arkansas, a statewide obesity effort has eliminated vending machines in elementary schools, added a half-hour of daily physical activity to the school curriculum and sent home annual childhood health reports alerting parents about obesity risks. As part of the program, school officials in the past four years have tracked the weight and height of 475,000 children, and those numbers show that average body mass index rates in Arkansas have held steady.
“If the national data are now showing that as well, then probably we’re seeing the early effects of increased awareness and focus,” said Dr. Joe Thompson, a pediatrician and director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, which collects the state’s student body mass index data. “But to achieve a long-term reversal is going to require a comprehensive and coordinated effort to make sure we’re reaching all kids across the U.S.”
One trend that has not changed in the new data are differences in obesity risk based on age and race. Children 2 to 5 were significantly less likely to be overweight compared with adolescents ages 12 to 19. While about 14.5 percent of white adolescent girls were obese, the numbers jumped to 20 percent for Mexican-American teenage girls and 28 percent for black teenage girls.
Among boys, Mexican-Americans were also more likely to have a high body mass index compared with white boys. Despite the differences, obesity rates have also appeared to stabilize among minority children.
One worry is that as obesity rates stabilize, financing for childhood health efforts will wane. Despite the success of the Arkansas program, for instance, a financial crunch prompted the state legislature recently to cut physical activity programs in seventh through 12th grade.
While the latest data suggest the obesity epidemic may have been contained, researchers say the real question is whether it is possible to reverse the obesity trend among American schoolchildren.
“We still lack anything resembling a national strategy to take this problem seriously,” said Dr. Ludwig, co-author of an editorial accompanying the obesity report. “The rates of obesity in children are so hugely high that without any further increases, the impact of this epidemic will be felt with increasing severity for many years to come.”
DEYANG, China (AP) — Liu Yisi sits on a hospital bed, reading a comic book. His nose is bruised, swollen and cut, and his left arm is heavily bandaged.
While his physical injuries from China's May 12 earthquake are healing, mental trauma has made the 13-year-old withdraw into mostly silence.
Li Fuhong, a psychology professor who voluntarily drove nearly 200 miles to the disaster zone, speaks softly to Liu. He coaxes the boy to tell him what happened when he escaped the ruins of his school in the city of Mianzhu and makes him repeat these words: "The bad events are over. The future will be better. I need to be strong."
The teenager is lucky to be getting help. Across central China's disaster zone, many other such victims with mental trauma are going untreated because health services are already strained.
Hospitals and clinics were destroyed along with so much else across Sichuan province in the quake, leaving acute shortages of staff and facilities. In the immediate aftermath, medical services have focused on treating crushed and broken bones, amputated limbs and on preventing disease outbreaks.
Experts warn that mental trauma could be a hidden toll for many survivors.
The government says the quake may have killed more than 80,000 people, leaving many more to deal with the deaths of loved ones. Millions have had their homes shattered and their lives thrown into turmoil. No government estimate of people needing psychological help has been released, although the state-run Legal Daily newspaper quoted an expert as saying they could number as high as 600,000.
Teams of psychologists, psychiatrists and volunteer counselors like Li Fuhong have gone to the hardest-hit areas, where mental health professionals have been swamped.
"China has been struggling to help thousands of people distressed and traumatized in the unprecedented earthquake that ravaged many parts of Sichuan," the official Xinhua News Agency said last week. "Many volunteers and experts have rushed to quake zones but psychologists are still in great demand."
In the past, there has been a social stigma attached to mental illness in China. Increasingly fast-paced — and stressful — lifestyles stemming from two decades of economic success have forced a greater awareness of the problem.
Xinhua reported last year that there were 16 million mental patients in the country but services at the grass roots level were still lacking, and public awareness was minimal. Health officials have said that by of the end of 2006, there were only 1,124 mental institutions, with 146,000 beds and 19,000 psychiatrists or assistant psychiatrists.
Hospitals left standing by the quake have been overrun with serious injuries. The government has rushed more than 10,000 doctors or nurses to the area and a dozen field hospitals have been erected, Health Ministry spokesman Sun Jiahai said Tuesday in Beijing.
Signs of mental and emotional strain are widespread.
Relatives, weeping inconsolably, fall to the ground in front of plastic-wrapped bodies of sons and daughters killed in a school collapse in Hanwang. In the town of Beichuan, so badly damaged that it has been abandoned, villagers stare blankly in shock at what used to be their homes. Some talk with gratitude about having escaped with their lives — only to dissolve into tears.
Metin Basoglu, head of trauma studies at London's Institute of Psychiatry at King's College and the director of the Istanbul Center for Behavior Research and Therapy in Turkey, said 80 percent of the survivors could be expected to suffer short-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that can develop after a person is exposed to a terrifying event in which physical harm has either occurred or was threatened.
Half will have longer-term problems, which include obsession with the trauma, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing, loss of interest in life, irritability, memory problems and hyper-vigilance — a state of constant alertness.
"Fear is the most serious problem," Basoglu said. "Many people will find that their fear of earthquakes interferes with their everyday activities," including sleeping, bathing — even walking into a building.
In the Deyang City No. 1 People's Hospital, the scene was chaotic last week as doctors and nurses rushed from one injured person to the next as they lay on beds cramming hallways and in tents on the hospital grounds. Away from the hubbub, Li — the counselor from Southwest University in Chongqing — talked quietly with the teenager, Liu.
Liu's mother, Zhao Xiaoxia, said the normally outgoing teen barely ate in the days after the disaster, and could not fall sleep unless she was holding his hand.
But the therapy by Li seems to be working.
"Now," Zhao said with a broad smile, "he wants fried chicken."
In another sign that health care professionals will not reach everybody in need right away, the Ministry of Health has issued a handout of guidelines on how to help survivors, rescue workers and volunteers who have experienced the carnage. Blue flyers circulated by Sichuan health authorities offer concern and compassion from the ruling Communist Party.
"When we're facing a disaster, the first thing we want to do is to continue living," it said. "That's the only way we can fight the disaster."
To make up for the shortage of counselors, doctors are encouraging survivors to look after each other, trying to create support systems in quake-shattered communities.
In Shifang, a town surrounded by rice fields where two chemical plants collapsed and buried more than 600 people, a steady stream of people visited three tables lined with medicines and staffed by doctors from the Taiwan-based Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation.
"It's different from America here. Social and familial support is strong and it makes people feel better, safer," said Chien Sou Hsin of the foundation. "It's a special thing."
China is officially atheist, and there were no signs apparent that people were taking solace in religious counseling.
Basoglu, the trauma expert, and his colleagues have developed a method for dealing with large numbers of survivors from disasters — work that grew from his experience after two quakes killed 19,000 people in Turkey in 1999. The method encourages victims to confront their fears and the simple message can be delivered through pamphlets, television or radio.
"Once they overcome their fear, all other PTSD and depression symptoms disappear," he said.
For some, recovery seems far away.
The nights have been the hardest for retired soldier Luo Tiangui. He flails violently in his hospital bed, eyes unblinking and shouting incoherently. "I am a bad person," he says, over and over.
Luo, 57, was buried in his house but survived with a broken thigh and fractured ribs. His mental state is more fragile.
Lying shirtless and sweating, Luo stared at the ceiling, murmuring "It's on fire, it's on fire" — one of the many hallucinations his family says he's been suffering.
Doctors said Luo has suffered a great fright, and he's being given drugs to help him sleep. They have told his family they should share happy moments with him in the hope that it helps.
At his bedside, Luo's wife, Wei Yunqun, and 21-year-old daughter, Luo Cui, stroke his hands, which did not stop trembling. The TV above his bed is kept off so he isn't bombarded with news from the quake.
"It's too hard to bear," said Wei, 54, her eyes filling with tears as she looked at her husband, a former construction worker and furniture-maker.
"There was never anything wrong with his mind," Cui said.
Earthquake survivors rest on Tuesday after hunting for their belongings in the rubble in the town of Hanwang, in China's Sichuan province. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)
An estimated 80,000 people were forced to abandon their homes in China's earthquake-ravaged Sichuan province on Tuesday, amid fears that a massive lake is on the verge of flooding.
Emergency workers aimed to have all residents who live downstream from the Tangijashan lake in northern Beichuan county leave, state news agency Xinhua reported.
The lake formed when landslides triggered by the May 12 earthquake sent piles of debris into the Jianhe River, causing a lake to form that is believed to contain 128 million cubic metres of water.
More than 1,800 police and soldiers arrived at the site Monday and have been working ever since to pull the debris from the lake, which is on the brink of overflowing.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government announced Tuesday that the death toll in the quake has risen to 67,183, up by about 2,100 from the day before. Another 20,790 people are still reported missing.
Premier Wen Jiabao has suggested the death toll will eventually surpass 80,000.
The millions who survived are now struggling to find shelter, food and clean drinking water. Others are coping with the threat of landslides, with 1,300 forced to flee their homes in Quingchuan county due to landslide fears. Quingchuan official Li Guoping said 23,000 people in total may have to leave the area.
Adding to the threat Tuesday, thunderstorms were forecast for parts of Sichuan this week — a taste of the coming summer rainy season. At the same time, an earthquake expert said Tuesday that aftershocks, like the one that killed eight people on Sunday, could continue for months.
"Judging from previous earthquakes of a similar magnitude, this time the aftershocks may last for two or three months," He Yongnian, a former deputy director of China Seismological Bureau, told Xinhua.
The death toll from
Those numbers have been rising as recovery efforts continue in the hardest hit areas of
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, aftershocks as strong as 6.0 continue to rock the area. More than 450,000 have lost their homes to aftershocks following the May 12 earthquake.
SHANGHAI — The Chinese authorities are evacuating 150,000 people threatened by possible flooding from a lake in southwestern China formed by landslides following this month’s earthquake, and military engineers struggled Tuesday to dig sluiceways to drain the water safely.
The landslides dammed a major river in Tangjiashan, just north of Beichuan, one of the towns hardest hit by the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province. Relief officials have ordered the immediate evacuation of those in the region whose towns would be swept away if the dam burst.
Heavy rains have fallen on parts of western Sichuan Province in recent days, causing water levels to rise fast on the dammed river.
With roads throughout the area destroyed, army teams dropped earthmoving equipment close to the lake by helicopter and have been ordered to work around the clock to create sluiceways.
As fears about flooding intensified, the earthquake zone was struck by another powerful aftershock on Tuesday. Scientists said the earthquake registered a magnitude of 5.4. Hundreds of miles away and 30 minutes later, a 5.7-magnitude tremor was registered in Shaanxi Province. Chinese state media said that more than 420,000 houses were destroyed by the two aftershocks, The Associated Press reported, but it was unclear whether the homes were still inhabited. Meanwhile, the official death toll from the May 12 earthquake rose again to 67,183. More than 20,000 people remain missing.
On Sunday, another powerful aftershock struck northern Sichuan Province. The aftershock, with an estimated magnitude of 6.0, killed at least eight people, injured more than 400 and toppled 70,000 buildings in the mountains to the north of Chengdu, the provincial capital, according to the government.
The aftershocks have renewed the terror for millions of earthquake survivors who are living in tent camps, subsisting on instant noodles and waiting for the earth to stop shaking.
The Basic Instinct star believes the disaster may be payback for China's policy towards the Tibetans.
She made her comments during a red carpet interview in Cannes last week, a video of which has just surfaced on YouTube.
Asked if she had heard about the situation in China, Stone replied: "Of course. You know, it was very interesting because at first I am not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans, because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else, and so I have been very concerned about how to think and what to do about that because I don't like that.
"Then I have been concerned about, oh, how shall we deal with the Olympics? Because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine.
"And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened and I thought, 'Is that karma, when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?'"
Stone, 50, said her attitude softened after she received a letter from a Tibetan charity which planned to launch a relief programme for victims of the earthquake.
"They wanted to go and be helpful, and that made me cry," she said. "It was a big lesson to me that sometimes you have to learn to put your head down and be of service even to people who aren't nice to you."
Outraged Chinese citizens have already begun posting their responses on YouTube and calling for Stone to apologise.
One young man says: "Why can't we put the debate about the Chinese government away and just think that people died? When I watched her video I was very upset about her opinion. She is a good lady, she is beautiful and she works for the world, for everybody who needs help. But this time I can't accept her opinion. Sharon Stone should say sorry to the people who died in the earthquake. I just want to get everybody's attention and let her know her opinion is wrong."
This is not the first time that Stone has offered her opinion on world affairs.
Earlier this year, the star of Catwoman spoke out about the war in Iraq.
"I feel at great pain when the spotlight is on the death of 4,000 American soldiers, while 600,000 Iraqi deaths are ignored," she told an Arab newspaper. "War is not a movie, it is a tragedy of dead bodies, victims, the disabled, orphans, widows and the displaced."
In 2006, she embarked on a peace mission to Israel. At a press conference with Shimon Peres, the former Israeli Prime Minister, she announced: "I would kiss just about anybody for peace in the Middle East," before discussing her nude scenes in Basic Instinct 2.
Ryoichi Teraguchi / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
KYAUKTAN, Myanmar--A woman whose village was devastated by Cyclone Nargis early this month whispered about food shortages out of earshot of a government official.
I visited an evacuation camp in the village of Kyauktan, about 30 kilometers southeast of Yangon, on Monday afternoon, accompanying the Japanese government's inspection team.
While Myanmar's ruling junta is apparently proud of this camp, pointing to it as an example of the success of their relief activities, the living conditions of the people there seemed to prove that assistance for cyclone victims in the Southeast Asian country has been far from sufficient.
The Japanese delegation reached the tent community on a hill near a tributary of the Yangon River after driving for about an hour on the rough road from Yangon in cars flying Japanese flags.
The evacuation camp was established about a week after the cyclone battered the village on May 3.
About 190 people who lost their houses were staying in about 40 green tents donated by China.
Bamboo was laid on the floor inside the nine-square-meter tents and wooden benches were used for beds.
"People can get enough aid materials, including food, that have come from inside and outside of the country," an administrator of the evacuation center said.
But a middle-aged woman who was living with five family members in a muggy tent told me otherwise while the administrator was away.
"The government distributed rice to us and sweets to children at first," she whispered.
"But recently we haven't received much food to eat. Food is running short," she added.
A Laotian medical team was working at the camp. The administrator claimed that fewer than 10 people suffered from diarrhea.
The villagers also appeared to be short of clothing.
Many men were naked from the waist up, their bare feet covered in mud from the sodden ground of the camp.
The woman did not know about the international conference held in Yangon on Sunday, at which 51 nations pledged to support her cyclone-devastated country.
The Japanese delegation was allowed to visit the camp since it was believed to be a "model case."
Osamu Uno, vice minister of foreign affairs, who leads the delegation, asked the cyclone victims whether they had enough food.
One of them answered he had plenty of food--after the administrator shouted something in the Myanmar language. The delegation was allowed to visit the camp just for 15 minutes.
Many fallen trees remained on the roads from Yangon to the evacuation camp, three weeks after the cyclone hit the area.
Myanmar's ruling junta claims the relief period is over and a reconstruction period has started, but its assertion seemed to be divorced from reality.
Myanmar's junta keeps democracy activist locked up
2 hours ago
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's military regime on Tuesday extended the house arrest of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, refusing to bow to international pressure of the sort that persuaded the generals to let in foreign help for cyclone victims.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate who has been detained for more than 12 of the past 18 years, had her detention extended by one year, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
On Wednesday, her National League for Democracy party denounced the extension as "illegal," saying it would launch an appeal. Party spokesman Nyan Win said the regime should also open a public hearing on the case.
Her detention has long been the symbol of the regime's heavy-handed intolerance of democratic opposition to its rule, and there is a worldwide campaign lobbying for her release.
President Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the extension of Suu Kyi's house arrest but stressed that the U.S. would continue to provide aid for Myanmar's cyclone survivors.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed disappointment at her continued arrested, calling her case crucial to the democratization of Myanmar. And British Foreign Secretary David Milliband said he was "was saddened, if not surprised."
"While our immediate focus is on relieving the suffering caused by the recent cyclone, restoration of democracy in Burma is still vital for that country's long-term future," Milliband said.
Adding to criticism against the junta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda said Suu Kyi's continued detention went against the "goodwill of the international community" in its efforts to aid Myanmar in its momement of need.
"While we are all trying to help, this is very much against that spirit," he told The Associated Press in the Philippines.
The extension of Suu Kyi's detention came as Myanmar, also known as Burma, was still fending off worldwide criticism for its inadequate aid effort after Cyclone Nargis.
The storm left an estimated 2.4 million people in desperate need of food, shelter and medical care, according to the United Nations. The government says the deluge killed 78,000 people and left 56,000 missing.
Only after intense international pressure and a personal appeal by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who flew to Myanmar last week for talks with the junta's chief, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, did the government relent and agree to let foreign relief workers into the Irrawaddy River delta, the area hit hardest by the cyclone.
"International aid workers are starting to move to the delta," Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian effort, said Tuesday. Helicopters also began shuttling high-energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals into the hardest hit area Tuesday, he said in Bangkok, Thailand.
Myanmar's leaders are leery of foreign aid workers and international agencies because they fear an influx of outsiders could undermine their control. The junta is also hesitant to have its people see aid coming directly from countries such as the United States, which it has long treated as a hostile power seeking to invade or colonize.
But the Suu Kyi, daughter of the country's martyred independence leader, Gen. Aung San, has long been regarded by the generals as the biggest threat to their power.
Her National League for Democracy party is the country's largest legal opposition group, and it retains the loyalty of millions of citizens despite two decades of repression.
The party won the most seats in 1990 elections, but the military refused to convene parliament. Instead, it harassed and arrested members of the party, setting a pattern that still stands.
Tuesday was the anniversary of the abortive election victory, and about 200 members attended a ceremony at the party headquarters.
Standing in front of the dilapidated building, about 30 supporters held a banner calling for Suu Kyi's release and chanted: "Aung San Suu Kyi. Release her immediately."
They also observed a minute of silence for those killed by Cyclone Nargis and for "democracy heroes" while plainclothes police videotaped and photographed the participants.
Police later hauled away about 20 party members who were protesting Suu Kyi's detention. Witnesses saw riot police shove the protesters into a truck as they were marching from the party headquarters toward Suu Kyi's home.
The intersection on the street to Suu Kyi's house, always barricaded, was more closely guarded than usual Tuesday. The barricades were pushed aside to let some Home Ministry officials go to her house Tuesday afternoon to deliver the order extending her detention.
In the first week after the cyclone, Suu Kyi lived in virtual darkness after the storm blew part of the roof off her house, according to one of her neighbors.
The neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid government harassment, said electricity lines to Suu Kyi's dilapidated lakeside bungalow were snapped by the cyclone, and he could see candles burning at night in her house.
Suu Kyi's latest period of detention started in May 2003 after a motorcade in which she was traveling was attacked by a pro-government mob. An unknown number of her followers, perhaps several dozen, were killed in the attack, which was regarded by some diplomats and specialists following Myanmar affairs as a botched assassination attempt.
She has appeared in public only once in the past five years — she was allowed to stand at the open gate of her compound during last September's pro-democracy protests in Yangon. Only a few hundred demonstrators who were allowed to march down her street got a glimpse of her.
She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia in 1991 for her nonviolent attempts at promoting democracy.
Ban said he briefly discussed the issue of Suu Kyi and the democratization process with Myanmar's military leaders during his four-day visit to the country to press for international aid workers to be allowed into the country to help cyclone survivors. He said that for "sensitivity reasons" he couldn't elaborate, "but believe me that I am very much committed to work very hard for the democratization of Myanmar."
Pelago Inc., a Seattle startup that is developing a social networking application for mobile devices, has raised $15 million in new funding.
Other investors are Reliance Technology Ventures Ltd., of Mumbai, India; Silicon Valley venture capital firms DAG Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Trilogy Equity Partners, of Bellevue; and Bezos Expeditions, the investment vehicle of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos.
Kleiner Perkins, Trilogy, and Bezos Expeditions all took part in Pelago's initial $7.4 million funding in 2006.
Pelago, founded by two veterans of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), is developing an application called Whrrl that lets friends share and find information on places and events in a city on their mobile devices and online. The startup said it would use its funding for "strategic technology investments and partnerships" to continue deploying in North America and overseas markets.
Stephan Noll, managing director of the T-Mobile Venture Fund, will join the Pelago board of directors.
Clothing seller Gap Inc. changed its web site to let shoppers fill their online carts with merchandise from each of its four brands.
San Francisco-based Gap (NYSE: GPS) sells clothes under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Piperlime brands.
The new web feature lets shoppers browse and choose products from each brand and buy them and ship them as one order. Piperlime, the company's shoe business, will ship its products separately.
The company posted a banner with an exclamation point across the top of its web sites and added pop-up type ads that cover part of the screen to let shoppers know about the new service.
Last week Gap reported a drop in first quarter earnings despite higher sales, and said its same store sales -- which compare performance at brick-and-mortar stores open at least a year -- fell 11 percent.
Gap has 3,100 stores. Glenn Murphy became its chairman and CEO in August 2007, at which time he got a $1 million signing bonus, according to the company's proxy card.
May 28 (Bloomberg) -- LG Electronics Inc. and China's Haier Group Corp. are among potential suitors that may acquire General Electric Co.'s century-old appliances division, said Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive officer of the U.S. company.
``The players become very obvious,'' Immelt said during a breakfast meeting with businessmen in Seoul today. ``It's Haier in China, LG in Korea and so on. Of course, LG is one of the leading candidates.''
Buying GE's unit would help Seoul-based LG Electronics challenge Whirlpool Corp.'s lead in the production of appliances worldwide, while a purchase by Haier would give the Chinese company a household name to help drive its U.S. expansion. GE said this month it may sell the unit amid calls for the company to speed up divestitures of slower-growing operations.
``Both LG and Haier need GE to break into the U.S. market because it has a very strong brand,'' Castor Pang, an analyst at Sun Hung Kai Securities in Hong Kong, said. ``Buying GE would be a big advertisement for them. After all, the U.S. market is still a very big market.''
GE's appliances division may fetch as much as $8 billion, according to estimates by analysts at Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
LG is ``carefully monitoring'' the sale of GE's appliances division, Chief Executive Officer Nam Yong said yesterday, declining to comment whether LG would bid. The Korea Exchange asked LG Electronics to clarify by today whether the company is interested in bidding.
Na Joo Young, a spokeswoman for LG, declined to elaborate on Nam's comments. Zhao Rui, a spokeswoman at Haier, declined to comment.
Immelt said today the sale of the appliances unit ``will be a long process.'' Other potential bidders mentioned by Immelt included Mexico's Controladora Mabe SA and Turkey's Arcelik A.S.
There have been ``lots of inquiries'' about the appliances unit, mostly from outside the U.S., and GE is also considering a spinoff, Immelt said this month. ``We within GE agree that every business has to have a global footprint,'' he said today.
GE's appliances business had 27 percent of the U.S. market in 2006, the latest available data, according to Stephen Tusa, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. The unit had revenue of $7.2 billion in 2007, according to Credit Suisse Group estimates.
LG, Haier Sales
LG Electronics posted sales of 11.8 trillion won ($11.3 billion), including those of overseas affiliates, in 2007 from appliances. The North American market accounted for 29 percent of the division's first-quarter sales.
China's Economic Observer reported on May 24 that Haier is considering buying the GE unit and has held talks with China Development Bank on financing a bid. Still, the Qingdao, China- based company hasn't contacted GE yet, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified Haier official.
Haier, China's largest maker of home appliances, is the parent of Hong Kong-listed Haier Electronics Group Co. and Shanghai-listed Qingdao Haier Co. In 2005, the company, which sells products in the U.S. through retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc., pulled out of a $1.28 billion bid for U.S. appliance maker Maytag Corp.
Haier Electronics will have sales of about HK$10.6 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2008, UBS AG analysts Randy Zhou and Erica Poon Werkun said in January. Qingdao Haier, which sells refrigerators and freezers, will have sales of 33.5 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) this year, according to UBS.
LG Electronics shares fell 0.7 percent to 138,000 won at 12:27 p.m. in Seoul. Haier Electronics was unchanged at HK$1.2 in Hong Kong trading, while Qingdao Haier gained 0.8 percent to 12.07 yuan in Shanghai.
Sales of washers, refrigerators and other appliances accounted for more than half of last year's $13.3 billion in sales at GE Consumer & Industrial. GE had total revenue of $172.7 billion last year. More than half of the company's sales come from overseas, while the appliances division is tied to a single market, primarily in the U.S.
Other potential bidders mentioned in analyst reports earlier included South Korea's Samsung Group and Stockholm-based Electrolux AB, the maker of Frigidaire appliances.
Videocon Industries Ltd., India's largest consumer electronics maker, is studying the viability of a bid for the appliances division, Venugopal N. Dhoot, chairman of the Aurangabad-based company, said May 23.
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A New York judge ruled against Dell Inc on Tuesday, saying the computer maker engaged in fraud, false advertising, deceptive business and abusive debt collection practices.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi said Dell lured customers with advertisements offering "no interest" or "no payment" financing options, but its financing arm would charge higher rates.
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose office filed a lawsuit against Dell in May 2007, said the court will hold further proceedings to determine how much Dell will have to pay its customers in restitution.
Shares of Dell closed up 30 cents, or 1.42 percent, at $21.49 on Nasdaq.
Dell said it disagreed with the ruling, but has not decided whether to appeal.
"We don't agree with this decision and will be defending our position vigorously. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to provide the best customer experience possible," the company said in a statement.
"We are confident that when the proceedings are finally completed the court will determine that only a relatively small number of customers have been affected," it said.
Cuomo's office had sought an injunction against Dell's practices, and unspecified damages to affected customers.
(Reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi; additional reporting by Sue Zeidler; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
May 27 (Bloomberg) -- JetBlue Airways Corp., the discount carrier partly owned by Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said it deferred deliveries of 21 Airbus SAS A320 jets to further slow its expansion amid higher jet-fuel prices.
The aircraft have been delayed until 2014 and 2015 instead of arriving next year through 2011, JetBlue said in a statement today. The New York-based airline also said it plans to sell $160 million in debt that can be converted into stock, with the proceeds going to pay existing borrowings.
JetBlue joins carriers such as AMR Corp.'s American Airlines in curbing growth and paring costs to blunt an 83 percent surge in fuel prices in the past year. JetBlue now will add 11 planes in 2009 through 2011, down from a planned 32.
``This is the kind of thing that has to happen right now and is absolutely rational,'' said analyst Robert McAdoo of Avondale Partners in Kansas City, Missouri, who rates JetBlue shares ``market perform'' and doesn't own them. ``This is the functional equivalent of American cutting back.''
JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Dave Barger said in the statement that ``it is essential to take a more financially conservative approach to managing our business.'' Pushing back the aircraft deliveries will mean taking on less debt and enhancing access to funds, he said.
JetBlue rose 21 cents, or 5 percent, to $4.41 at 5:19 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. While the shares have fallen 25 percent this year, that's the fourth- best performance among 14 carriers in the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index.
The deferred deliveries were announced as American began detailing cuts for its May 21 plan to reduce U.S. capacity by as much as 12 percent. American, the world's largest airline, said it will drop flights between Chicago and Buenos Aires and Chicago and Honolulu.
JetBlue said last month that its capacity will shrink for the first time ever in the fourth quarter as the airline sells six planes to trim costs. It also earlier pared 2008 expansion to between 3 percent and 5 percent from a previous plan of as much as 8 percent.
This year's initial target already marked a retreat from JetBlue's annual growth in seating capacity of more 20 percent earlier this decade. That expansion was the fastest among major U.S. airlines, boosting JetBlue's net debt fivefold from 2003 through the end of 2007.
The new debt sale will be divided into two $80 million public offerings, JetBlue said. Morgan Stanley & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. will be joint managers, JetBlue said.
Credit-default swaps linked to JetBlue bonds fell 240 basis points to 3,010 basis points, according to CMA Datavision in New York. The contracts, which are designed to protect bondholders against default, have surged almost sixfold in the past year. A rise in price indicates a decline in the perception of credit quality.
First MLK grandchild born - CNN.com
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The first grandchild of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born Sunday in Atlanta.
Martin Luther King III's wife Andrea Waters King gave birth to a girl on Sunday.
The girl, named Yolanda Renee King, is the daughter of Martin Luther King III and his wife, Arndrea Waters King, the family said in a statement.
The newborn weighed in at 7.5 pounds. Her birth comes two years and two days after her parents were married.
"We are excited about our precious gift from God and cannot express how fortunate we feel to have our beautiful baby girl. It is truly the happiest day of our lives. I know my parents are smiling down from heaven," the new father said in the statement released by Matlock Advertising and Public Relations, which works with the King family.The girl carries the first name of her father's sister, the oldest of the four King children, who died last year.
(LifeWire) -- Weddings are supposed to be a time to celebrate new beginnings. But for Shay Nowick, whose friend asked Nowick to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, it was the beginning of the end -- of their friendship.
Even before the wedding, Nowick says their relationship had been "rocky."
"She was one of those friends who made you feel bad if you didn't call," Nowick, 36, a technology director in San Francisco, says of her former pal. Still, she wanted to support her friend on her special day.
But as the wedding approached, Nowick says, she felt overwhelmed by her friend's bickering and constant demands. On the big day, smiles were few and far between.
"By the end of the day, it was clear we weren't going to be friends," she says.
Soon thereafter, they argued on the phone. Her friend hung up on her, Nowick says, and that was that.
When friends grow apart, commit acts of betrayal or demand too much time and energy, what's the best way to end the relationship?
There are right ways and wrong ways, says Kerry Patterson, a consultant on human interaction in Provo, Utah. "It's one thing when it dies a natural death, but when it's one-sided, you have to be really sensitive."
Pulling a disappearing act
The most common way people choose to break up is to withdraw and stop communicating, says Patterson, author of "Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations and Bad Behavior." In such cases, the other person should be able to pick up on the cues.
That's what happened to Nicolette Schumacher, 24, a sales account manager in San Francisco. After living together for four years and helping each other through everything from boyfriends to bad hair days, her best friend "just disappeared."
"We had no falling-out, no fight. We were really good friends," says Schumacher. But her friend gradually ceased to follow through on plans, stopped taking her phone calls, and didn't return repeated e-mails and voice mails. Schumacher got the hint, but she didn't know why.
"It totally caught me off guard. It's like losing a family member," she says.
Mailing it in
If you want some final contact but a live conversation is too hot to handle, you can put it in writing.
"People say that if you're really angry with someone, you should write a letter because it captures so much more," says Christen O'Brien, a conference director in San Francisco who had frequent spats with a friend whom she describes as "really needy."
But it was a guy who caused their relationship's ultimate demise. When a man her friend was eyeing fancied O'Brien (although O'Brien says the interest wasn't returned), a fight ensued after the friend sent O'Brien a heated e-mail. They traded several e-mails and O'Brien says she stopped responding.
Is such behavior acceptable? That may depend on the type of friendship, cautions Patterson. He says people use e-mail as a way to avoid face-to-face conversation.
"You can do it, but it's the least polite and helpful. But it's also the safest because it won't lead to a conversation that you can't handle," says Patterson. However, he adds, "I've never heard of it used in any but a disdainful way."
Months later, O'Brien's friend e-mailed her, seeking to rekindle the relationship. O'Brien has yet to reply. "Even though I have a lot of feelings for her as a friend," she says, "I think it's best we don't talk."
That's what Sheila Heen, a lecturer on negotiation at Harvard Law School, advises: If you've made a decision to end a friendship, stick with it and enforce boundaries, she says.
Should you discuss why?
Having a conversation with the friend about what happened and why might open the door to a painful and unproductive negotiation -- or it could save the friendship.
Schumacher, the sales account manager from San Francisco, would have appreciated having that conversation. "I just feel bad because I don't know what I could have done. There's nothing I can think of."
If a friend is breaking up with you, Patterson says, "you can be gracious and say you don't want to be needy, or you can ask for feedback."
If you go with the latter option, Patterson says, "Ask for specificity. Many times they'll say, 'It's not you, it's me.' But that's a big lie, because there's two people in a relationship."But no matter who's doing the breaking up and how, Patterson says, the main thing is to be careful with your friend's feelings: "Make sure that when burning the bridge, you don't burn the person."
Fast-moving California fire destroys 10 homes - CNN.com
(CNN) -- An aggressive wildfire has burned 10 homes and spread across 3,000 acres in Northern California, officials said Thursday.
Flames were threatening at least 50 more homes, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
About 200 children at a 4-H Club camp were told to take immediate shelter as high winds fanned the flames in the Santa Cruz mountains.
The wildfire was burning in rugged terrain in Santa Clara County and moving south towards Santa Cruz County, south of San Francisco.
About 190 people from the two counties had been evacuated, officials said.
The Summit Fire began around 5:30 a.m. PT (8:30 a.m. ET) Thursday near Mount Madonna County Park in Santa Clara County.
Five fixed-wing aircraft and four helicopters were dropping water on the fire, fanned by sustained winds of 15 mph to 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.
Officials ordered a so-called Supertanker, a jumbo jet modified to battle fires from the air.
- iReport.com: Are wildfires affecting you?
- KGO: Local coverage
State fire officials said at least 149 firefighters but likely many more were battling the blaze, which is being fueled by dry brush. Strike teams from across Northern California were being mobilized.
Aerial video footage from local TV station helicopters showed structures and vehicles engulfed.
The Santa Cruz Mountains are dotted with multimillion-dollar homes.
The Santa Clara and Santa Cruz sheriffs were handling evacuations.A Red Cross evacuation center was established at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, said Officer Dinah Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.