Japan Video Games Blog


Hey guys and gals! We FIND and PROMOTE people's work, we never take credit for things we haven't written, we just love sharing the things that are interesting, but if you don't want your work or pictures shown, please let me know and I'll take it off, we're not trying to harm any one here or infringe on anyone's copyrights, just late night entertainment for my friends and I after a long days of work.

We're not making money off the site, nor are we publishing anything to other places through feedburner claiming that it's our work, just a hobby of finding cool things around the internet, that's all. Sometimes we copy and paste too quickly and a link giving you credit doesn't appear, if that's the case and you DO want your work promoted, we will add in the backlink, we would love to give credit where credit is due!

Please contact me or drop a comment on any posts you guys don't want up and I'll take it off within 24 hours, thanks!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

TG Daily - Coax is back, Dlink introduces Coax to Ethernet home networking kit

Fountain Valley (CA) – For those of you old timers who used to deal with Coax cable and Vampire Taps, Dlink’s new Coax Ethernet Adapter Kit will bring back some painful memories.  The DXN-221 bridges existing coaxial cable wired homes with Ethernet networks and can transfer at a top speed of 175 Mbps.  The kit comes with a Coax/Ethernet switch and two Coax/Ethernet adapters that can plug onto the ends of cables or wall outlets.

Many modern homes are pre-wired with Coaxial cable and outlets for easy Cable TV installation.  Basically you call up the cable company, plug in the box and you’re ready to watch the latest episodes of Battlestar Galactica and arguing whether Baltar is actually a Cylon.  Dlink’s new box allows homeowners to easily piggy back data, movies and music signals on the cable at 800MHz to 1,500MHz.  Dlink claims this frequency band allows you to transfer files without disrupting the existing Cable TV signal.


Back view of the DXN-221

The DXN-221 kit comes with the switch and two Coax to Ethernet adapters and will be available in the third quarter for $200.  Additional adapters will be $110.  This seems a bit pricy, but the product might go well with home builders who want to provide some extra value in this technological age.  So instead of stringing Ethernet cable up to the bedroom, just plug a Coax cable into the back of the DXN-221 and then plug an adapter upstairs.  This of course assumes you already have a Coax outlet upstairs.
TG Daily - Coax is back, Dlink introduces Coax to Ethernet home networking kit
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Via pushing into laptop, desktop markets with 5 new chips

May 29, 2008 (Computerworld) After watching the giants of the chip market move into its territory, Via Technologies Inc. today began pushing back against the likes of Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. by introducing five new processors.

The five single-core chips that the company launched today have been newly designed from the ground up. Unlike specialized processors from rival chip makers, products in the Via Nano processor family are designed to run in everything from small devices to laptops and even desktops.

"What's happened is [that] Intel and AMD -- well, more specifically Intel -- have come into Via's world," said Dean McCarron, an analyst at Mercury Research Inc. "Via has been plugging away for the past 10 years with low-priced processors for small form factors. In the past few years, you've had this development of low-cost PCs and the emergence of the net book category. With the Atom processor, we're seeing Intel pushing in where Via has always been."

Now, Via is stretching out of its traditional arena and into its rivals' favorite niches -- like the laptop and desktop markets.

Nano's predecessor, the Via C7, was focused on the market for small-form-factor devices. Earlier this month, Intel officially unveiled its line of low-power, newly architected Atom processors for products in the same market -- mobile Internet devices that fall in between small laptops and smart phones in size and capability.

"We've been quite successful with the C7," said Richard Brown, a spokesman for Via. "To address a much broader market, we needed to improve performance. Nano allows us to move into the mainstream desktop space and bigger notebooks, like 12- or 13- or 15-inch screens."

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at research firm Insight 64, said that he's "fairly impressed" with the Via new processors.

"It significantly improves upon performance compared with their earlier offering," said Brookwood. "For people who don't need the absolutely highest performance, the Via chip offers a good compromise in terms of performance and cost. This is not for somebody who is into heavy-duty gaming. It's not for somebody who spends all day working on Photshop or Adobe Premiere. But it sort of falls into the category of power-efficient chips. It's a little faster than Intel's Atom and comparable to some of the more affordable Celerons."

McCarron noted that the new Via chips are actually fairly old-school because they can drive a range of machines.

In past decades, chip makers actually produced processors that could be used everywhere. Then they started to specialize with families of chips for laptops and different families for desktops, for instance.

"The dirty little secret today is that most of the processor vendors still only sell one processor. They just do variations on voltage, cache size and test programs," said McCarron. "This is actually very normal for the processor market. You design one architecture and then apply it to different market segments. The main thing about this is that it is a brand-new architecture and it is the first one in some time that offers vastly greater performance. And that makes them more competitive against Intel and AMD."

Via pushing into laptop, desktop markets with 5 new chips
Blogged with the Flock Browser

The Associated Press: Obama's doctor: Democrat is in 'excellent health'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama's doctor said Thursday the presidential candidate was in excellent health at the time of his last checkup 16 months ago, but he has a family history of cancer and a big, obvious risk — a smoking habit that he's trying, again, to break.

In a one-page letter released by the campaign, Obama's longtime physician, Chicago internist Dr. David L. Scheiner, said he was summarizing 21 years of medical records, during which the Democrat suffered only minor problems such as upper respiratory infections.

But hanging over that positive assessment: Obama is a smoker who has quit but relapsed several times. Obama, 46, announced in February that he was quitting again with the aid of Nicorette gum. His doctor said only that Obama is using Nicorette "with success."

Smoking causes a list of dangerous effects, including heart disease, strokes and lung cancer — and it takes the body a long time to heal after someone quits for good. Government statistics show that 15 years after quitting, the risk of heart disease drops almost to that of a never-smoker; 10 years later, the risk of lung cancer drops by as much as half.

It wasn't clear when Scheiner had last seen Obama to verify the Nicorette use. But he said the senator's last official checkup in January 2007 found:

_Obama exercised regularly, often jogging three miles and had "no excess body fat." Actual weight wasn't disclosed.

_Excellent blood pressure, at 90 over 60. Optimal blood pressure is considered to be below 120 over 80.

_Very healthy cholesterol, with a total cholesterol of 173 (desirable is under 200); the so-called bad or LDL kind 96 (less than 100 is optimal); and the so-called good or HDL kind at 68 (desirable is over 60).

_No signs of problems on standard blood tests or a heart EKG.

Scheiner noted that Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer and his maternal grandfather died of prostate cancer.

Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society said that family history isn't strong enough to be of concern; doctors worry if a father or uncle had prostate cancer.

But black men are at increased risk of prostate cancer overall, enough that doctors often begin prostate screening, called a PSA exam, in the 40s — even though, Brawley stressed, PSA screening hasn't actually been proven to save lives. Still, Obama's PSA last year registered a very low 0.6, meaning no sign of abnormalities.

Without worrisome symptoms today and if he's stopped smoking, "it would be very hard for medical science to predict he's going to have any disease even over the next 30 years," much less the next eight, Brawley said.

The sparse information stands in contrast to Republican candidate John McCain, 71, who last week released 1,173 pages of full medical records documenting eight years of his health — including successful treatment for melanoma — and his own doctors' conclusion that he was fit for the presidency. McCain, too, was a smoker until quitting in 1980.

The Associated Press: Obama's doctor: Democrat is in 'excellent health'
Blogged with the Flock Browser

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Press hails China-Taiwan talks

Press hails China-Taiwan talks

President Hu Jintao (L) and Wu Poh-hsiung (R), Chairman of Taiwan"s Kuomintang (KMT)
The visit is the first by a Taiwanese leader since 1949

The agreement between China and Taiwan to restart formal talks on strengthening ties after almost a decade is broadly welcomed by the press.

Newspapers and commentators feel the discussions planned in Beijing next month will lay the foundations for a more stable relationship.

However, a Hong Kong commentator says there are still some doubts about long-term progress, especially on sovereignty, while one Taiwanese columnist urges that the island's politicians and business people to be wary.


There's every reason to hope for the best of times in cross-Straits relations after yesterday's meeting... There should be no doubt about the political determination of both sides to promote cross-Straits relations towards a peaceful and stable path, but it takes wisdom and time to realise that goal... The proposals, which are politically far-sighted, have also fully shown Beijing's sincerity in addressing Taiwan compatriots' concerns.


Wu Po-hsiung's mainland visit this time is indeed a 'journey of responsibility'. It is the first time a Kuomintang (KMT) chairman has taken the initiative to take concrete action to explore interaction between the two parties on both sides of the strait... Leaders of both the Communist Party and the KMT sat side by side as heads of the ruling party for the first time... Wu's visit ... should be an ideological exploration and recognition. The sooner the progress of recognition is completed, the more stable [Taiwan's] cross-strait policy will become without giving ideas like Taiwanese independence the opportunity to flourish.


As anticipated... weekend chartered flights and the passage of mainland tourists to Taiwan won Hu Jintao's approval. These are Hu's gifts to Ma Ying-jeou's government to congratulate Ma on his inauguration as president. Their significance lies not merely in the implementation of a few policies but also in the firm foundation laid in amicable relations between Taiwan and China.


In consideration of Ma Ying-jeou's proposed 'diplomatic ceasefire', Beijing has already come up with a relatively comprehensive view that China will not take the initiative to take away the few countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic ties...


Leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait yesterday held their first summit in more than 60 years, scoring a minor breakthrough on Taiwan's future participation in international bodies... Mr Wu confirmed that future talks... would be based on the principle of "seeking common ground and accepting differences"... In their public speeches, both Mr Hu and Mr Wu put their differences behind them.


A meeting of top-level leaders in Beijing yesterday gave a dramatic boost to long-soured relations across the Taiwan Strait, but some analysts remained doubtful that the two sides could resolve their political differences - especially over sovereignty... Pundits said that while the two sides were expected to have a friendly engagement in the short-term, it was inevitable that they would eventually touch on thorny political issues.


Beijing's invitation to KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung to visit China ... tells the Taiwanese that the KMT and the CCP are 'equal' but that the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan are not... The purpose of these measures is to corrode Taiwan's sovereignty and diminish the status of the Taiwanese government... Taiwan's politicians and business people operating in China should be on their guard.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Press hails China-Taiwan talks
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Judge blocks Delta's termination of Mesa contract

A federal judge Thursday blocked Delta Air Lines Inc. from terminating a regional flying contract with a subsidiary of Mesa Air Group Inc.

Mesa shares shot up almost 40 percent on the news.

Phoenix-based Mesa had warned that it would file for bankruptcy protection by July 20 and cut 700 jobs -- 14 percent of its work force -- if Delta's termination of the contract with Freedom Airlines stuck and Mesa was unable to redeploy unused aircraft.

A spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Delta said the airline was disappointed with U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper's ruling approving an injunction, and it planned to appeal.

Mesa said the contract amounts to $20 million in monthly revenue for the parent company, or about 20 percent of its total sales for 2007. Mesa has 5,000 employees overall.

"I think it is a step in the right direction -- we still have a lot of work ahead of us and we look forward to continuing to do the right thing for our partner Delta, our passengers and our people," Mesa Chief Executive Jonathan Ornstein said of the ruling Thursday. "This has been a very tough few months for us and we're happy the judge decided in our favor."

A lawyer for Delta said during a hearing in federal court in Atlanta this week that the company has the right to terminate the contract because Freedom did not maintain at least a 95 percent completion rate for three months within a six-month period.

But a Mesa lawyer said the reason Freedom fell below the minimum completion rate in October and December 2007 and February of this year was because Delta told Freedom to cancel numerous flights.

Mesa suggested it was Delta's strategy to force Freedom to not meet the necessary completion rate so it could cancel its contract with Freedom and reduce its overall domestic capacity. Delta and other major carriers have been reducing U.S. capacity because of high fuel prices.

Delta denied that it intentionally forced Mesa into the situation it found itself in.

Mesa is a major commuter carrier and operates flights as Delta Connection, US Airways Express and United Express under agreements with Delta, US Airways Group Inc. and United Airlines.

Mesa filed suit against Delta last month in an effort to prevent the company from ending its service agreements. With the injunction in place, the suit will go forward.

Mesa said it would be in serious peril without the Delta contract because Mesa would have little to no ability to redeploy the 34 regional jets it uses for Delta. US Airways and United have told Mesa they don't need the aircraft for their routes, according to Mesa.

Mesa shares rose 20 cents to 70 cents Thursday, while Delta shares rose 49 cents, or 8.7 percent, to $6.14.

Judge blocks Delta's termination of Mesa contract
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Unhappy travelers cost airlines $9 billion in revenue: survey - MarketWatch

In a survey of 1,003 travelers by the Travel Industry Association, more than half said they were fed up with flight delays and blamed airlines for the deteriorating state of U.S. air travel. They also prefer to stay home, or take alternative transportation such as a bus, train or car.
"Many travelers believe their time is not respected and it is leading them to avoid a significant number of trips," said Allan Rivlin, a partner at Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which helped sponsor the survey. "Inefficient security screening and flight cancellations and delays are air travelers' top frustrations."
The TIA estimates that more than a quarter of U.S. air travelers cancel about two trips a year to avoid dealing with security, delays and cancellations. That translates into a loss of about 41 million passenger tickets at an average roundtrip price of $700.
When lost revenue for hotels, restaurants and taxes are factored in, flight delays are costing the U.S. economy about $26.5 billion, the survey showed.
'Many travelers believe their time is not respected and it is leading them to avoid a significant number of trips.'
— Allan Rivlin, Peter D. Hart Research Associates
"With rising fuel prices already weighing heavily on American pocketbooks, we need to find ways to encourage Americans to continue their business and leisure travel," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of TIA. "Unfortunately, just the opposite appears to be happening."
Of those polled, about 62% said they think air travel in the U.S. was getting worse. About 70% of frequent flyers, or those taking at least three trips a year, thought air travel was getting worse.
Getting tarred in all this are the airlines. Despite concerns of a U.S. recession, Americans are still flying in record numbers, and domestic passenger growth in February increased by almost 2%.
That means there are more planes in the air, causing congestion at major hubs. Not helping is a growing business jet industry and an antiquated, ground-based radar system that analysts say force aircraft to fly with large buffer zones.
Airlines are also getting clobbered by skyrocketing jet fuel costs, and so far airfare has not kept pace. To make up for it, network carriers are finding new revenue sources by charging for checked baggage or premium seats, or eliminating in-flight snacks.
Though carriers still aren't covering their fuel costs, many passengers see the charges as petty, raising overall frustration with the industry.
However, the TIA survey also showed that travelers did think that airline safety and security are improving.
Unhappy travelers cost airlines $9 billion in revenue: survey - MarketWatch
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Former Ernst & Young partner charged in NYC - Forbes.com


A former Ernst & Young partner and an investment banker were charged with insider trading Thursday in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan.

James Gansman, 48, the former partner, and Donna Murdoch, 44, the investment banker, were charged in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and 11 counts of securities fraud.

They are accused of joining a scheme to trade illegally on seven separate potential merger and acquisition transactions that involved clients of Ernst & Young.

Prosecutors said Gansman, of Manhattan, provided tips, and Murdoch, of Malvern, Pa., used them to trade securities in personal accounts, earning more than $390,000 in profits.

Authorities say the illegal trades occurred between May 2006 and December 2007, when Murdoch was working as a consultant and an investment banking managing director at a broker-dealer and investment and financial services company.

Prosecutors say Gansman and Murdoch communicated hundreds of times with telephone and text messages during periods when illegal trades were occurring.

Gansman was arrested Thursday; Murdoch is expected to surrender sometime next week.

"Mr. Gansman did not participate in any wrongful conduct whatsoever," said his lawyer, Barry Bohrer. "He did not trade a single share nor make a penny on the basis of inside information and was not aware that anyone had done so."

Murdoch's lawyer, Barry Pollack, said the charges relate solely to trading in his client's personal account and have nothing to do with her job at a small investment banking firm in Philadelphia.

"We have had a number of conversations with the government and are very disappointed they have chosen to proceed in the face of what we believe is substantial evidence she did not engage in any insider trading," Pollack said.

If convicted, the defendants could face as much as 25 years in prison and more than $5 million in fines.

Former Ernst & Young partner charged in NYC - Forbes.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser

FDIC issues grim overview of bank sector - May. 29, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The mortgage meltdown and credit crunch continued to take their toll on the battered financial industry in the first quarter, according to a government report on the banking sector released Thursday.

Bank profits plummeted 46% over the same period last year, while the number of banks at financial risk rose to 90 from 53.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits of up to $100,000, reported that financial institutions earned $19.3 billion in the quarter, down from $35.6 billion in the first quarter of 2007.

Profits were much better than they were in the fourth quarter of 2007, when banks earned a total of $600 million. But FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair said at a press conference that the fourth quarter set a "pretty low bar."

First-quarter earnings were weak because the quality of home loan assets continued to deteriorate amid a battered housing market. Financial institutions also dedicated more money to cover potential losses as the fallout from bad subprime loans and the continuing credit crisis put pressure on banks' bottom lines.

"What we're seeing is continued questions about the banking sector and fewer answers," said Matt McCormick, bank analyst and portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel. "I don't see that abating anytime soon."

FDIC-insured banks set aside $37.1 billion in loan-loss provisions during the quarter - four times more than the $9.2 billion in the first quarter of 2007. The first-quarter provisions ate up 24% of the industry's net operating revenue in the quarter, up from only 6% a year ago.

"The consumer is getting pushed around on all sides, with higher gas costs, less available credit, and fewer jobs," said McCormick. "When you look at that environment, it's not a good time for banks to loan money."

Though the opposite is true for the consumer, banks count loans as assets because they charge borrowers interest. With difficult lending conditions in the slumping economy, McCormick believes the financial sector will continue to be volatile throughout 2008 and into 2009.

'Problem' banks on the rise

The FDIC said 90 banks - or 1.1% of those it regulates - were on its "problem bank list" in the first quarter, up from 53 in the first quarter of 2007 and 76 in the fourth quarter.

"The number of problem banks is rising, but from an almost non-existent level," said FTN Midwest Research analyst Peyton Green. "We will see this start to accelerate and then continue for some time."

But not all problem banks are doomed to fail. In fact in 2007 only three banks failed, even though 50 were on the watch list at the end of the previous year. So far this year, three more banks have failed.

Still, the number of banks at risk is now the highest since the third quarter of 2004. The past quarter was the sixth straight quarter in which the number of problem banks has increased. The number of problem banks were at an all-time low of 47 in the third quarter of 2006.

By comparison, Bair noted that in the early 1990s, about 10% of banks were on the FDIC's problem list. She added, however, that the number of problem banks should continue rising in the months ahead since there are growing credit quality problems.

"Without a doubt, we'll see some closures this year," said Green.

Another troubling sign is that industry reserves failed to keep pace with the rising number of troubled loans. The ratio of reserves to noncurrent loans fell to a fifteen-year low.

"This is a worrisome trend - it is the kind of thing that gives regulators heartburn," said Bair. "Given the weaker economy and rising level of problem loans, we're urging all institutions to make sure their reserves are large enough to cover expected losses."

Bair also urged banks to beef up their capital cushions beyond regulatory minimums, due to uncertainties about the housing market.

Since real estate collateral represents 60% of all bank assets, according to Green, he said that we're a long way from seeing stabilization in the bank sector.

"Real estate loans aren't just 'an' issue, it's 'the' issue," he said. "This is going to take some time to play out."
FDIC issues grim overview of bank sector - May. 29, 2008
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Report Sees Decade of High Food Prices - NYTimes.com

Record prices for farm crops should gradually come down, but they will remain substantially higher than average over the next decade because of fundamental changes in demand, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Because the recent spike in crop and food prices has been caused in part by temporary factors like drought, the report predicted that prices should decrease as weather conditions return to normal and crop yields improve.

“At least we hope they are temporary,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the O.E.C.D., alluding to the potential impact of climate change on agricultural production.

The report was critical of government policies that encouraged biofuel production, saying their environmental, energy security and economic benefits were modest at best and “sometimes even negative.”

And the report suggested that those policies should be re-examined in light of the current food crisis, as should government trade policies like export bans that do not allow farmers to take advantage of higher global prices for agriculture commodities.

The report also encouraged countries that have balked at allowing genetically modified crops to reconsider their use as a way to improve yields.

In a related matter, the World Bank on Thursday announced that it would increase its spending on agriculture and food programs to $6 billion in the coming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, up from $4 billion. The additional money includes $800 million that has already been earmarked for Africa and an additional $1.2 billion to rapidly finance such things as seeds, fertilizer and irrigation for small-scale farmers, food-for-work programs and school feeding initiatives.

“These initiatives will help address the immediate danger of hunger and malnutrition for the 2 billion people struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices,” the president of the World Bank Group, Robert B. Zoellick said, in a statement.

According to the report by the O.E.C.D. and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, released Thursday at a news conference in Paris, the anticipated causes of higher than average prices during the next decade include a doubling of biofuel production, higher fuel costs that increase the cost of producing crops and food and greater demand for food and animal feed in developing countries where incomes are rising.

Prices for vegetable oils are expected to remain the highest, 80 percent above the average from 1998 to 2007; wheat, corn and skim milk powder are anticipated to 40 to 60 percent higher; sugar, 30 percent; and beef and pork, about 20 percent. Biofuel production should account for about a third of the expected increases in prices for vegetable oils and grains.

But the authors of the report cautioned that crop prices may be more volatile because of less predictable weather patterns, the infusion of speculators in agricultural futures markets and the low levels of stockpiles of grains.

The projected increases in crop prices would have the most serious impact in poor countries, where food accounts for more than 50 percent of income and where higher prices are already pushing more people into malnourishment and starvation. Mr. Gurria said that the end of an era of cheap food was of considerable concern for the millions in the world earning less than $2 a day, and that there was an urgent need to provide more food aid to the poor.

The authors of the report encouraged increased investment in agriculture research and outreach programs in the least developed countries after years of declining support.

“Agricultural development was not given sufficient priority over the last decades, and its importance was underestimated,” said Jacques Diouf, secretary-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The report was released in anticipation of next week’s summit of world leaders in Rome to address to the steep spikes in crop and food prices, which has sparked rioting in a number of developing countries.

It noted that agricultural production is shifting away from developed countries like the United States and Europe to developing countries, which are expected to dominate production and consumption of most commodities except for cheese, coarse grains and skim-milk powder. Consumption and production are growing faster in developing countries for all major farm commodities but wheat.

Growth in demand of meat is expected to increase 2.5 percent a year in developing countries, fueling the need for more grains for animal feed. Brazil is expected to increase its share of global meat exports to 30 percent of the total by 2017.

As part of the World Bank’s announcement on Thursday, Mr. Zoellick said $200 million of the $1.2 billion would be used as grants for countries most vulnerable to the food crisis. As part of that effort, he said $10 million grants were being distributed immediately to Haiti and Liberia, as well as a $5 million grant to Djibouti.

Report Sees Decade of High Food Prices - NYTimes.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Therese Poletti’s Tech Tales » Blog Archive » Chief Yahoo: Microsoft deal became “he said, she said”

Jerry Yang, the co-founder and chief executive of Yahoo, told the audience at the All Things Digital conference that he and his team are still open to talking to Microsoft about some sort of deal, but he noted Microsoft walked away from its merger offer, and that events quickly became “he said, she said.”He pointed out that it was Microsoft who walked away from the deal. “They walked away, they withdrew their offer.”Mossberg noted that their account of events differed slightly from the version told by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer at the conference last night. Ballmer emphasized that price was the biggest issue between the two parties.“We never got through the price door,” Yahoo president Sue Decker said. Microsoft initially offered $44.6 billion, or $31 a share for the Internet company. Microsoft raised their bid to $33 a share, but Yahoo wanted at least $37 a share. Since Microsoft with

Jerry Yang, the co-founder and chief executive of Yahoo, told the audience at the All Things Digital conference that he and his team are still open to talking to Microsoft about some sort of deal, but he noted Microsoft walked away from its merger offer, and that events quickly became “he said, she said.”

He pointed out that it was Microsoft who walked away from the deal. “They walked away, they withdrew their offer.”

Mossberg noted that their account of events differed slightly from the version told by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer at the conference last night. Ballmer emphasized that price was the biggest issue between the two parties.

“We never got through the price door,” Yahoo president Sue Decker said. Microsoft initially offered $44.6 billion, or $31 a share for the Internet company. Microsoft raised their bid to $33 a share, but Yahoo wanted at least $37 a share. Since Microsoft withdrew its bid, the two companies are talking about some other sort of deal, reportedly Microsoft is looking at buying Yahoo’s search business.

Yang and Decker were also asked by co-host Kara Swisher why they should remain in their positions at the company.

“I’m a co-founder. I’ve been involved in the company a long time,” Yang said. “I do think that I’m the best person to lead Yahoo. Not only because I bleed purple and I bleed Yahoo but also because there is a big opportunity for Yahoo. It wasn’t lightly that I came to the decision to be CEO. I don’t necessarily have all the experience…..but I also felt it’s my time to really take Yahoo to the next level.”

Therese Poletti’s Tech Tales » Blog Archive » Chief Yahoo: Microsoft deal became “he said, she said”
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Oil futures tumble on questions about supply and economy - May. 29, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices fell over $4 Thursday, a day of wild price swings on the back of plummeting crude supplies, signs of a strong economy, and news the government is six months into an oil trading investigation.

U.S. light crude for July delivery settled down $4.41 at $126.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The 3.37% decline was the biggest on a percentage basis since March 19, according to the Energy Information Administration.

A report on oil inventories was perhaps the most closely watched factor.

In its weekly inventory report, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude stocks decreased by 8.8 million barrels last week. Analysts were looking for an increase of 750,000 barrels, according to a survey from Platts, an energy research firm.

But the report issued online by the EIA said "the drop was due to temporary delays in crude oil tanker off-loadings on the Gulf Coast."

Oil futures, down $1.80 to $129.23 just prior to the report, surged as high as $133.12 minutes after the 10:30 a.m. ET release.

"Everybody reacted to the headline number, but then the report says that a lot of the drawbacks are due to imports," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Alaron Trading.

He said the oil that was missing from the report could very well be floating in tankers on the Gulf of Mexico, where fog often closes ports this time of year.

The report was "not quite as bullish as it might be on first glance," he said, and the price began a fall of as much as $7.

News of a government investigation into oil trading came later in the day.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it launched a nationwide investigation into the purchase, transportation, storage, and trading of crude oil and other petroleum product contracts back in December.

While CFTC investigations are usually secret, the agency said it is making this one publicly known in response to "today's market conditions" - which include surging oil prices and a growing chorus of people who blame them on speculative investors causing a price bubble.

The CFTC did not indicate when the investigation would be completed or when the results will be made public.

The agency, which has previously said it had found no evidence speculators are artificially driving up crude prices, also said it would better monitor the oil futures markets by requesting more information from overseas exchanges. It also will require investors who do not take delivery of oil - such as indexes and retirement funds - to provide more information about their trading practices.

Also contributing to the drop in crude prices Thursday was a U.S. gross domestic product report for the first quarter that was stronger than originally reported.

If the economy appears stronger than initially expected, there is a perception that interest rate cuts are over, which would push the dollar higher, said Flynn.

"If the dollar continues to strengthen, it will continue to put downward pressure on the price of oil," he added.

The dollar has risen steadily this week, gaining more than a penny against the euro and about 2 yen. Crude oil is traded around the globe in U.S. greenbacks, and so if the dollar loses value, crude oil becomes more expensive.

By the numbers

The draw in crude oil was the largest weekly decline in crude stockpiles since September 2004, according to Amanda Kurzendoerfer, a commodity analyst at Summit Energy.

At 311.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories were in the lower half of the average range for this time of year.

Distillates, used to make heating oil and diesel fuel, increased by 1.6 million barrels and were in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Analysts were looking for a more modest 800,000 build in distillate supplies for the week ended May 23.

Gasoline supplies decreased by 3.2 million barrels last week and were near the lower limit of the average range. Analysts were looking for a 400,000 barrel gain in gasoline stockpiles.

Refinery utilization for the week came in at 87.9%, unchanged from the previous week and less that what analysts were expecting. Analysts were looking for a 0.5 percentage point increase to 88.4% operable capacity, according to the Platts survey. At this time of year, refineries should be operating at around 90% capacity.

Retail gas prices hit record highs for the 22nd day in a row, motorist group AAA's Web site showed Thursday. The nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded rose 0.8 cent to $3.952, marking the 23rd straight day that gas prices have increased.

The AAA online survey showed gas prices up nearly 10% from a month ago and almost 24% higher from year-ago levels.

While the price at the pump is painful for consumers, "if you were to look at the spread between crude and gas at this time last year and then applied that to this year, you would see much higher prices at the pump," said Kurzendoerfer.

As crude oil prices have more than doubled in price, however, gas prices have not kept pace. "Crude was at $65 a barrel in June of 2007 and now we are about double that price and gasoline prices certainly have not doubled," said Kurzendoerfer.

As a result, analysts say refineries are more interested in making distillates than they are in making gasoline.

Crude oil settled at $131.03 a barrel Wednesday, but oil prices had fallen as low as $125.96 a barrel during the day, which was more than $9 off the record high that crude oil hit last week above $135 a barrel.

In the past six months, oil prices have been supported by a weak dollar and spiking global demand in emerging markets.

Kurzendoerfer said some developing countries are easing their fuel subsidies, making diesel and gas more expensive to consumers, which would in turn limit global demand if consumers cut back when they see higher prices. If fuel subsidies in emerging markets decrease demand, the price of crude could ease.
Oil futures tumble on questions about supply and economy - May. 29, 2008
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Trump Cashes In On Property Sale - TheStreet.com

Shares of Trump Entertainment (TRMP - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) surged more than 25% Thursday on news the casino operator inked a deal to sell one if its Atlantic City properties for a healthy price.

Trump -- a stock I've been flagging as overvalued in the Bricks and Mortar mock portfolio since last year -- sold the Trump Marina for $316 million to a private developer that plans to turn the property into a Margaritaville-branded resort.

The price amounts to 11 times 2007 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization at the property. This is a bullish multiple on first glance. However, the property's EBITDA was also down 40% to $29 million in 2007.

The sale price amounts to just 6.6 times the 2006 cash flow at the property.

The sale is a mixed blessing for Trump. The company is losing one of its three properties in Atlantic City, a popular destination for families and retirees, but it can use the proceeds to reduce its heavy debt load.

The property is located in the city's marina district, where MGM Mirage (MGM - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) is planning a massive casino development in the future and where the popular Borgata Resort is located.

Trump shares surged 76 cents, to $3.65 in recent trading -- a rally that's likely helped by some short-covering, since 24% of the stock's float is sold short.

A good way for investors to think about the sale is as follows:

Trump is losing about $30 million of annual EBITDA from the Marina casino (using the 2007 annual number) but will no longer need to sink maintenance capital expenditures into the property, which I estimate at roughly $15 million annually. Thus, the net loss is about $15 million of free cash flow.

Receiving a $316 million payment for that lost cash flow represents a very attractive price for Trump.

If all of the sale proceeds are used to reduce debt, then Trump should now have outstanding debt of around $1.39 billion, with $121 million of cash.

Absent the Marina property, I estimate Trump's free cash flow will now be around $110 million in 2009. This year, cash flow is messy given the weak Atlantic City market and the massive capital expenditures for the development of a new hotel tower at Trump Taj Mahal.

Given the firm's high cost of capital and a tough Atlantic City operating environment, I continue to think Trump shares represent a difficult investment. Later this year, smoking is set to be banned on all casino floors in the market, expect for isolated smoking lounges. Meanwhile, the slot parlors of nearby Pennsylvania continue to reduce travelers to the Atlantic City market.

However, today I am removing my flag rating on Trump's stock, as I now think all the negativity in Atlantic City has been properly priced into shares.

I will be removing Trump from the Bricks and Mortar portfolio at the stock's closing price today.

Even with today's rally, shares are still down about 80% since I flagged the stock as overvalued in January 2007, making it the portfolio's best position (since flags are equivalent to short sales).

Trump Cashes In On Property Sale - TheStreet.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Appeals court finds for Merck in Texas Vioxx case - MarketWatch

According to the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based pharmaceutical giant, a Texas appeals court has reversed a 2005 jury verdict that had found Merck liable in the death of Robert Ernst, who died of a heart attack after allegedly taking the medication for several months. The Ernst case was the first Vioxx liability case to go to trial.
Shares of Merck (MRK:
Merck & Co., Inc
 Last: 38.92+0.26+0.67%
4:00pm 05/29/2008
Delayed quote data
Sponsored by:
 38.92, +0.26, +0.7%)
were up 1.5% at $39.24 during a largely bullish day for the drug sector on Wall Street.
The Texas jury had originally awarded Ernst's widow a massive $254 million, which included $229 million in punitive damages. That award was later greatly reduced by a state judge to around $26 million, with punitive damages reduced to only $1.7 million under a state law that caps such awards.
The Ernsts' lead attorney, Mark Lanier, said his firm plans to file an appeal on behalf of Ernst's widow.
Chart of MRK
"This decision was handed down by a group of judges who regularly accept campaign contributions from law firms representing corporations that appear in their courts. We will appeal this decision to the United States Supreme Court if necessary," said Lanier, in a statement.
Earlier this month, a Texas state appellate court overturned a $32 million award made in a 2006 Vioxx case that found Merck liable in the heart attack death of another Texas man, Leonel Garza. That award had also been reduced to $7.75 million under Texas law.
Merck also reported Thursday that a New Jersey appellate division has partially overturned a 2006 verdict against the company involving former Vioxx users Thomas Cona and John McDarby. The two plaintiff's cases had been bundled into one under a court order made by a New Jersey judge that aimed at reducing court load presented by thousands of Vioxx cases that had been filed in that state.
In the original verdict, a New Jersey jury found Merck liable in the injury of McDarby, but not of Cona. Both men had asserted they suffered heart attacks after taking Vioxx for some time.
Under Thursday's decision, the appellate court reversed awards against Merck for punitive damages and consumer fraud. The court did, however, uphold an award of compensatory damages to McDarby. According to reports, a jury originally awarded McDarby about $5 million in compensatory damages and $9 million in punitive damages, plus legal fees.
"Today's decisions overturn almost $40 million of damages and attorneys fees previously awarded to plaintiffs at trial," said Bruce Kuhlik, Merck's general counsel, in a statement.
"We intend to seek further review of the portion of the award that remains standing after the New Jersey decision. We continue to believe Merck acted responsibly," Kuhlik added.
Vioxx was taken off the market in September 2004 after a clinical study revealed that patients who took the drug for 18 months or longer ran a significantly higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Before being recalled, Vioxx was one of Merck's biggest products, with sales of about $2.5 billion.
Merck has repeatedly asserted that it behaved responsibly in its marketing of the product, amid accusations that some executives may have known some time that the drug could cause cardiovascular problems in certain users.
After Vioxx's recall, thousands of alleged users filed suits against the company, mostly in the state courts of New Jersey, where Merck is headquartered, and Texas. Federal suits were compiled by the district court in New Orleans. To date, only a handful of cases have actually made it to trial.
At the onset of the litigation, Merck vowed to fight each and every Vioxx case. But late last year, the drugmaker announced that it had agreed to a deal that would settle about 85% of outstanding individual claims, or about 50,000 cases, for $4.85 billion.
Earlier this month, Merck agreed to pay a total of $58 million to settle a probe conducted by various states attorneys into its marketing practices for Vioxx. The settlement will be shared by 29 states and the District of Columbia.
Appeals court finds for Merck in Texas Vioxx case - MarketWatch
Blogged with the Flock Browser

TG Daily - U.S. carbon footprint ranking: The hotspots are in the East

Washington, D.C. – Public policy organization Brookings has released a detailed per-capita footprint ranking of 100 metropolitan areas in the U.S. The study reveals that residents living in the eastern half of the country produce much more carbon emissions than residents in the West. In the most extreme case, Lexington, Kentucky, has a per-capita emissions rating that is 2.5 times higher than Honolulu, Hawaii. Brookings found that these differences can often be tracked down to development patterns, rail transit, fuels used to generate electricity, energy prices, and weather.   


A general look through the ranking reveals an overall mixed bag of emission trends, with some areas having succeeded in reducing their carbon footprint, while other areas have seen dramatic increases. For example, Grand Rapids, Michigan has seen its per-capita carbon emissions drop by 14.7% between 2000 and 2005 and San Antonio, Texas, achieved a 9.9% reduction in the same time frame. On the other end of the spectrum, energy use per capita surged in Chattanooga, Tennessee (+48%), Trenton, New Jersey (+48%) and in Sarasota, Florida (+30%). The scenario is equally divided among the largest areas: Heavy hitters such as Los Angeles and Chicago were able to keep their footprint at least somewhat stable (+0.35% and +0.68%, respectively), while the New York City area saw its carbon emissions grow by 7.7% per capita.

The top three metropolitan areas in terms of the lowest power consumption were Honolulu, Los Angeles and Portland, while Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Lexington-Fayette came in last. The average resident in Honolulu created 1.356 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, which compares to 3.455 metric tons to residents of Lexington-Fayette.

If there is any trend in Brookings’ ranking, however, then it is certainly that the highest per-capita energy consumption results are in the eastern half of the U.S.  The organization did not provide exact reasons for this trend, but stated that that the carbon footprint sizes vary due to development patterns, rail transit, fuels used to generate electricity, energy prices, and weather. For example, the mild climate on the West Coast gives California residents and advantage over people on the West Coast or in the Midwest in terms of energy that is required for heating and cooling. And, of course, the proximity of heavy industry or a port dropped a region’s ranking – Jacksonville, for example, came in at #80. However, it is interesting to note that Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry in the San Jose-Santa Clara area fared well at #23 and a per capita rating that decreased by 7.4% between 200 and 2005.  

According to Brookings, the average resident of a U.S. metropolitan area caused carbon emissions of 2.235 metric tons in 2005. This number consists of 1.31 metric tons highway use (1.004 metric tons from autos and 0.305 metric tons from trucks) and 0.925 metric tons of residential energy use (0.614 metric tons from electricity and 0.314 metric tons from residential fuels). To put these numbers into perspective, U.S. government numbers suggest that 1 acre of  trees can handle about 1.1 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year – which would mean that we would need two acres of trees for each resident of a U.S. metropolitan area to equalize created emissions.
TG Daily - U.S. carbon footprint ranking: The hotspots are in the East
Blogged with the Flock Browser

GM says 19,000 U.S. factory workers take buyouts - Forbes.com

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp (nyse: GM - news - people ) said Thursday about 19,000 U.S. factory workers -- just over a quarter of its American blue-collar work force -- had taken buyout offers to leave the automaker.

GM is under increasing pressure to cut costs in the face of weak U.S. sales and high gas prices, and analysts said the struggling automaker would have to quickly move beyond sweeping hourly job cuts by slashing production, eliminating white-collar jobs and trimming other costs.

All of GM's roughly 74,000 U.S. factory workers had been eligible for early retirement packages and buyouts intended to clear the way for hires of lower-wage workers under a deal negotiated last year with the United Auto Workers union.

"Despite significant challenges in the U.S. market, we continue to reshape our business for long-term success," Troy Clarke, GM's president of North American operations, said in a statement.

Like other Detroit-based automakers, GM has been hit hard by a U.S. auto market that has declined by a wider margin than expected and by a faster move by consumers away from gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs due to record gas prices.

GM's U.S. sales have dropped by almost 12 percent through April, a month that saw the industry's weakest sales in a decade. Analysts expect May sales to be as weak or weaker, with an even sharper drop in sales of more profitable trucks.

The weakening market has prompted Ford Motor Co (nyse: F - news - people ) to ready plans to cut white-collar jobs this summer and expectations are building that GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will use next week's annual meeting to unveil further cost-cutting steps.

"These restructuring plans look aggressive when they're announced, but it turns out that they're not aggressive enough," Argus Research analyst Kevin Tynan said. "The market is moving much faster than these restructuring plans are."

GM said most of the UAW-represented workers taking buyouts and early retirement offers, which ranged up to $140,000 in one-time payouts, would leave the company by July 1.

The acceptance rate for the cost-cutting program was lower than a similar offer GM made in 2006 for its union workers and broadly in line with expectations. More than 34,000 GM workers accepted similar buyouts in 2006.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in February he expected fewer than 20,000 GM workers to accept buyouts.

GM, like Ford Motor Co and privately held Chrysler LLC, reached an agreement with the UAW that allows it to hire new workers for some jobs starting at $14 per hour, or about half the current average hourly wage.

GM said it would fill openings with existing workers where possible but would also hire new UAW-represented workers at that lower wage rate at plants where more workers are needed.

JP Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel said the buyout acceptance rate at GM was higher than he expected and could save up to $2 billion annually as the automaker cuts production.

But in a note for clients, he also said GM could take other steps that might include eliminating its dividend, salaried jobs and slower-selling truck-based models.

Ford saw about 4,200 UAW workers take a company-wide buyout offer. The No. 2 U.S. automaker, which last week abandoned its forecast for a return to profitability in 2009, is making plant-by-plant offers available in a bid to cut costs further.

GM shares touched a 27-year low this week. They rose 1.3 percent Thursday in New York Stock Exchange trade, but have dropped 25 percent since GM reported first-quarter earnings on April 30. (Additional reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Braden Reddall)

GM says 19,000 U.S. factory workers take buyouts - Forbes.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Economic Growth Is Revised Higher - NYTimes.com

The economy grew at a faster pace than originally estimated in the first quarter, the government said on Thursday, but the nation remained mired in its most stagnant period of growth in five years.

Skip to next paragraph
The New York Times

Gross domestic product, a measure of overall economic growth, expanded at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the first three months, according to a Commerce Department report. That was higher than the initial estimate, released a month ago, which had put the growth rate at 0.6 percent.

The government revised its figures because imports dipped more than expected in the first quarter, narrowing the trade deficit. Smaller demand for imports meant less money flowed out of American businesses into foreign countries, pushing up domestic bottom lines and, in turn, the overall growth rate.

But demand for imports fell because Americans were buying less. The bleak economic outlook has made many Americans more hesitant to spend, especially on large-scale purchases like cars and kitchen appliances. Though this trend helped nudge the G.D.P. estimate up in the first quarter, it is likely to lead to a retrenchment in the business sector in the coming months.

Indeed, despite the nominal increase in the G.D.P. figure, the revised report still showed an economy struggling to tread water as the housing slump and a crisis of confidence in the credit markets weighed on investments and buying.

Inventories slipped slightly, signaling that businesses are producing fewer goods in anticipation of slack consumer demand. Imports dipped 2.6 percent, revised down from an initial estimate of a 2.5 percent increase. A measure of consumer spending, known as “real final sales growth,” was revised up from last month’s estimate of a decline of 0.2 percent, but only to the still-anemic pace of 0.7 percent.

“There is no end in sight to the economic slump,” Joshua Shapiro, an economist at the research firm MFR, wrote in a note to clients.

The Commerce Department also provides data on inflation, almost all of which remained unchanged from last month’s initial estimate. Prices rose at a 2.6 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, following an increase of 2.4 percent in the final quarter of 2007.

Over all, gross domestic product expanded 0.6 percent at the end of last year, and 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007.

Data on the G.D.P. is regularly revised; the Commerce Department’s final estimates for the first quarter will be released June 26.

In a separate report released Thursday, the Labor Department said that the number of new applications for unemployment insurance rose to 372,000 last week, seasonally adjusted. The increase, of 4,000 claims, was slightly more than economists had anticipated.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Dell 1Q profit, revenue top Street forecasts - Forbes.com

SAN FRANCISCO (Thomson Financial) - Dell Inc. late Thursday reported first-quarter net earnings rose 4% to $784 millionm, or 38 cents a share, topping the 34-cent mean estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

In the same period last year, the Round Rock, Texas-based computer giant earned $756 million, or 34 cents a share.

Revenue rose 9% to $16.08 billion, above the $15.7 billion consensus estimate.

Notebook unit growth in the quarter ended May 2 was 43%.

Dell (nasdaq: DELL - news - people ) said its headcount has been reduced by 7,000 in the past year, including a reduction of about 3,700 in the first quarter. The company has added about 2,700 employees through acquisitions, making the net reduction for the company about 5%.

Looking ahead, '[t]he company is seeing conservatism in IT spending in the U.S. particularly with its global and large customers as well as public, small and medium business accounts,' Dell said in a statement.

Dell expects the conservatism to continue through the summer.

The company also expects to have lower investment and other income driven by reduced investment balances with lower interest rates and increased interest expense driven by a higher level of debt.

Shares of Dell closed at $21.81.

Dell 1Q profit, revenue top Street forecasts - Forbes.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser