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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yahoo! HotJobs: Enter for a chance to win a 9-day luxury vacation to Tahiti.

Tom Musbach, Yahoo! HotJobs

The slowdown in the U.S. economy is threatening a necessity for workers: vacations.

According to the annual Yahoo! HotJobs vacation survey, 51% of respondents said they plan to skip taking a vacation this year, opting to save money instead.

Not a Frivolous Matter

"Vacations are usually the first thing to go when people feel job or economic pressure," says Joe Robinson, a trainer in work-life balance and author of "Work to Live." He continues, "We're programmed to believe that free time is worthless, a frill to shove aside, but vacations are as important as watching your cholesterol or getting exercise."

Skipping a vacation can also be bad for your employer.

Milo and Thuy Sindell, founders of Hit the Ground Running and authors of "Job Spa," say, "You are not helpful to the company and your coworkers when you are not operating at full capacity. Vacations help you to get rejuvenated to come back to work at full capacity."

Make It Work With Less

For those tempted to skip vacation this year due to financial worries, experts recommend the following tips:

  • Remind yourself: Vacation is not a luxury. "You owe it to yourself, your family, and your company to take care of yourself by stepping out of the office for at least a few days at a time," says Liz Bywater, president of the Bywater Consulting Group, which helps improve organizational performance.
  • Put aside some funds each week. "Even $50 a week [or less] can add up and make your trip happen," says Robinson.
  • Plan leisure activities near home. "Stay at home and read, garden, hike, jog, bike, or whatever you like to do but never have enough time for during the weekends," say the Sindells. "Or be a tourist in your own city."
  • Try home-swapping. You can swap with someone you know in another city, or use an online service, such as homexchange.com or even vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). "It can have the look and feel of a vacation at a much more affordable housing cost than paying for hotel or resort lodging," says Michael Haubrich, president of Financial Service Group and an expert in financial planning for career issues.
  • Keep the itinerary simple. Travel columnist Donald D. Groff recommends selecting a destination within 200 miles (a three-hour drive) from your home. If you're traveling by plane, fly nonstop whenever possible. "The sooner you get to your destination, the sooner your relaxation begins," Groff says.

Stress-Busting Strategies

The economic downturn is also adding to workers' stress levels. Nearly a third of the respondents (31%) are worried by how the economy is affecting their workplaces, and 34% said they feel pressure to improve their performance for fear of being laid off.

With 55% of respondents admitted to being "burned out" by work, stress and fatigue add another threat to vacations. Experts say you can prevent the threat in the following ways:

  • Start small. "Start with an afternoon off to do something you really enjoy, even if it's just a walk at the beach or a visit to a farmer's market," says Beth A. Levin, author of "Making a Richer, More Fulfilling Life a Reality."
  • If planning is a burden, don't. "Instead of planning a vacation, just take time off to be at home and figure it out each day as you go," the Sindells suggest.
  • Enlist back-up support. Ask a trusted coworker to back you up while you're away and offer to return the favor, Bywater suggests. "It's much easier to relax when you know someone's got you covered."
  • Choose according to what you need. You may need a peaceful retreat from stress, or you may benefit from something more active and exciting. "Avoid the kind of vacation that will leave you even more exhausted than before," she adds.
  • Give yourself a deadline. "Stop thinking about it and just do it," says Bywater. "Think of it as 'doctor's orders.'"
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Continental will cut 3,000 jobs, retire aircraft, reduce flights - Wichita Business Journal:

Continental Airlines will cut 3,000 jobs, or 6.7 percent of its 45,000 employees; retire 67 mainline aircraft; and reduce mainline flights because of soaring fuel costs, making it the second major airline in as many days to announce cutbacks.

In a release Thursday, the Houston-based airline (NYSE: CAL) said it will offer voluntary programs to reduce the number of employees it will furlough or involuntarily lay off. The company said it will detail the programs next week.

The job cuts will occur after the peak summer season, except for management and clerical reductions, which will start sooner.

Company Chairman and CEO Larry Kellner and President Jeff Smisek decided not to take salaries or any incentive program payments for the rest of 2008 in light of the actions.

In a memo to employees, Kellner and Smisek said: "The airline industry is in a crisis. Its business model doesn't work with the current price of fuel and the existing level of capacity in the marketplace. We need to make changes in response."

Continental has three daily departures from Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport.

Starting in September, Continental will reduce the number of its flights, with fourth-quarter domestic mainline departures decreasing 16 percent from the same period last year. This will result in a fourth-quarter decrease of domestic mainline capacity by 11 percent compared with last year. The airline said it will give details of flight reductions or eliminations by the end of next week.

Chicago-based United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA) said Wednesday that it will ground 100 fuel-inefficient aircraft, reduce domestic mainline capacity by 17 percent to 18 percent and cut 1,400 to 1,600 salaried management employees and contractors, including 500 previously announced job cuts.

Continental said it will ground its least-efficient planes by speeding the retirement of its Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 fleets. The airline removed six older aircraft from services in the first six months of 2008 and will retire an additional 67 Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft, 37 of them in 2008 and 30 in 2009. Twenty-seven of the 67 aircraft will be removed in September, and all 737-300 aircraft will be retired Continental's fleet by the end of 2009.

Continental said it will continue to take delivery of new, fuel-efficient NextGen Boeing 737-800s and 737-900ERs, 16 of them in the second half of 2008 and 18 in 2009.

By the end of the second quarter, Continental will operate 375 mainline aircraft. That number will decrease to 356 in September and 344 at the end of 2009.

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Verizon Wireless Confirms Deal To Buy Rival Alltel For $28 Billion

Verizon Wireless has agreed to acquire regional wireless carrier Alltel Corp. for $28.1 billion in stock and debt, a deal that will create the nation's largest cellphone company and a more potent rival to AT&T Inc. (T).

The agreement comes just seven months after Alltel was sold to TPG Capital and a unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) in a $27.5 billion leveraged buyout. The rapid resale is a powerful sign of how the credit crunch is roiling the business world.

Under the deal, expected to close by the year's end pending regulatory approvals, Verizon Wireless will acquire Alltel's equity for approximately $5.9 billion and assume approximately $22.2 billion in Alltel's debt.

Verizon Wireless - owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone PLC (VOD) - expects to realize synergies after integration costs of more than $9 billion. Verizon is looking at saving about $1 billion in the second year after completion of the deal through administrative cuts and by eliminating roaming fees currently paid to Alltel.

Verizon Communications shares were recently up 5.2% at $38.92. Vodaphone American Depositary Shares were up 1%, to $30.42.

The new entity will have more than 80 million customers, including Alltel's 13.2 million subscribers as of the first quarter. AT&T, currently the nation's largest cellphone operator, had 71.4 million customers as of its last quarterly report.

The agreement comes as the U.S. wireless industry faces an increasingly saturated market. About four in five U.S. consumers own a cellphone, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The main drivers of growth for the large carriers are making acquisitions or selling new mobile-data services such as Web access for phones.

AT&T and Verizon have also benefited from the sluggish performance of the No. 3. carrier, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S). The two companies have poached millions of customers from Sprint over the past year, but analysts see that as a temporary trend. "We are concerned that as industry growth continues to slow, Sprint's market-share losses will not be able to provide support forever," Morgan Stanley analyst Simon Flannery wrote in a research note Wednesday.

In order for the potential deal to pass muster with regulators, Verizon will likely have to divest itself of some regional assets, where its coverage overlaps significantly with Alltel or where both carriers are major players, people close to the talks said. The Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission would have to approve a merger.

Verizon was among the companies that considered buying Alltel last year when the company put itself on the block. But it ultimately concluded that the resulting increase in Alltel's share price made a deal too expensive. That provided an opening for private-equity firms, whose business it is to buy companies and later resell them at a profit.

Since the credit squeeze began last year, banks have been eager to escape financing commitments struck during the private-equity lending boom. Some lenders have used lawsuits and threats to win new terms.

The Alltel deal is the latest in a long line of mergers engineered by Verizon Chairman and Chief Executive Ivan G. Seidenberg. It is the second big-ticket transaction this year by Verizon Wireless, following its purchase of more than $ 9 billion in radio spectrum at an FCC auction.

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Stocks rise following jobs report, retailer data: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

By Tim Paradis, AP Business Writer

Stocks rise following jobs data, retailer monthly sales reports; Verizon Wireless strikes deal NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street rose sharply Thursday after investors got some comforting news about the economy -- a drop in the number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits and some better-than-expected retail sales in May. The Dow Jones industrials rose more than 140 points.

The market got an additional boost from word that Verizon Wireless will acquire Alltel Communications LLC for $5.9 billion in cash and the assumption of $22.2 billion in debt.

The Labor Department's report that applications for unemployment benefits came in at 357,000 -- a decline of 18,000 from the previous week -- offered investors some relief about the health of the job market a day ahead of a key monthly reading.

While the weekly readings can show volatility, the latest drop left applications for benefits at their lowest level since mid-April. Still, the four-week average for those getting benefits rose to 3.086 million, the highest since March 2004.

Among retailers reporting solid May results, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said sales at stores open at least a year rose as consumers sought bargains.

Subodh Kumar, global investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Assoc. in Toronto, said the jobs figures and the Verizon Wireless deal offers some investors reassurance about the health of the economy.

"It looks like the U.S. is not in recession but, I would say, tepid growth," he said, adding that the Verizon-Alltel is "encouraging."

"Companies are willing to invest in their businesses," Kumar said.

In midday trading, the Dow rose 143.05, or 1.15 percent, to 12,533.53.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 16.45, or 1.19 percent, to 1,393.65, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 32.44, or 1.30 percent, to 2,535.58.

Stocks finished mixed Wednesday following sizable declines in the first two sessions of the week.

Bond prices fell Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 4.02 percent from 3.98 percent late Wednesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude oil rose $1.75 to $124.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The weekly jobs report came as investors continue to grapple with concerns about tightness in the credit market, the effect of still-high energy prices and a slumping housing market.

With the weekly jobs numbers in hand, Wall Street was looking ahead to the Labor Department's monthly employment reading, due Friday morning. That report often draws widespread attention because a spike in unemployment could upend consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

"I think tomorrow will be somewhat of a similar kind of a day in the sense that if the news is at or above expectations I think investors may be willing to buy in," Kumar said, referring to Friday's employment report.

In corporate news, Verizon Communications Inc. rose $2.19, or 5.9 percent, to $39.17 after the announcement of Verizon Wireless' deal. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone PLC. Alltel was sold to TPG Capital and a unit of Goldman Sachs Group in a $27.5 billion leveraged buyout about seven months ago.

If completed, the deal would push Verizon Wireless past AT&T Inc. to become the biggest operator in the U.S.

Continental Airlines Inc. rose 77 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $15.25 after announcing plans to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce its capacity in the fourth quarter by 11 percent as it grapples with surging jet fuel prices. Company officials said the industry's business model "doesn't work with the current price of fuel."

Wal-Mart said its May same-store sales rose 4.4 percent. Excluding the effect of fuel, same-store sales rose 3.9 percent. The stock, which like Verizon Communications is one of the 30 that comprise the Dow industrials, rose $1.94, or 3.4 percent, to $59.62.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 484.2 million shares.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 10.98, or 1.48 percent, to 754.69.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished down 0.65 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.42 percent, Germany's DAX index declined 0.34 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.16 percent.

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'Survivor' winner appeals to Supreme Court - CNN.com

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) -- "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch has appealed his tax evasion conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, his attorney said Tuesday.


Richard Hatch was convicted for failing to pay taxes on his "Survivor" winnings.

Hatch was convicted two years ago of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he won on the debut season of the hit CBS reality series. The Newport man was sentenced to more than four years in prison.

Hatch's lawyer, Michael Minns, has said his client confronted producers about cheating during taping of the show, and a producer promised his taxes would be paid if he kept quiet and went on to win the competition. CBS has said Hatch's claims have no merit.

In a brief filed with the Supreme Court on May 23, Minns argued the judge improperly prevented Hatch from testifying about the conversation.

Minns also argued the judge unfairly limited his cross-examination of the tax accountant who prepared Hatch's tax returns and who was a key witness for the government.

"He's extremely optimistic about his appeal," Minns said. "He still believes the system should work."

The U.S. Supreme Court takes up only a small number of the appeals it receives.

Minns also said Hatch was writing a book about "his experiences with the legal system and his disappointment not just with the problems that he suffered but with the problems other people have suffered that he has met."

Hatch also was convicted of evading taxes on his earnings as co-host of a Boston radio show and from rental properties. He was acquitted of seven fraud charges related to a charity he planned to open for troubled youth.
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Obama's potential running mates - CNN.com

(CNN) -- After emerging as victor in the long and bruising contest to seize the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential race, Barack Obama's next move is to choose a running mate.


Barack Obama has a broad spectrum of candidates as potential running mates.

And that search for a vice president is getting some added support.

Caroline Kennedy has joined Obama's vice presidential selection team, a campaign spokesman said Wednesday.

Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson is heading up the search team, and former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is also serving on the committee.

Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, formally endorsed Obama late January in a New York Times op-ed piece titled, "A President Like My Father."

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," Kennedy wrote. "But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president -- not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose tenacious refusal to surrender the nomination contest turned the Democratic race into one of the most nail-biting in modern U.S. political history, has indicated that she would be willing to sign up on a joint ticket.

But while Clinton's appointment could help heal rifts in the party after weeks of divisive campaigning from both candidates, Obama has the pick of a broad field of candidates from across the political spectrum. iReport.com: Whom do you see as VP?

Here is a list of possible front-runners:

  • Evan Bayh: What he lacks in charisma, the telegenic Bayh makes up for in national security credentials, having served on both armed services and intelligence committees in the Senate.
  • Joseph Biden: A six-term senator who helms the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden could offer the heavyweight foreign policy experience that Obama is often accused of lacking. But at 65, and seen as part of the U.S. political furniture, he could undermine Obama's message of change.
  • Michael Bloomberg: Since ruling out his own independent bid for presidency, the mayor of New York has been seen as a potential running mate for both Obama and McCain. For Obama, the media tycoon and former Republican would help mitigate the Democrat's problem with Jewish voters brought on by rumors that he is a Muslim but do little to attract the white, working-class vote.
  • Wesley Clark: This former NATO commander, who failed in his bid for the 2004 presidential nomination, was seen as a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, a fact that could help unite the party. But the 63-year-old's tough reputation as a no-nonsense soldier is unlikely to win much backing among party activists.
  • Hillary Clinton: Although the "dream ticket" of a Obama-Clinton campaign could help harness Clinton's power base of women and white working-class Democrats, the prospect of uniting the two rivals has won mixed support. A non-scientific CNN.com poll said 60 percent of people were not in favor of the move.
  • Chris Dodd: A long-serving senator with solid foreign policy credentials who was considered as a running mate for John Kerry's failed presidential bid in 2004, Dodd presents the same problems as Biden.
  • Charles Hagel: A close friend of fellow Republican John McCain, Obama's general election rival, Hagel's strong anti-war in Iraq stance has generated cross-party appeal, and though an unlikely choice, he could be seen as the man to attract wavering Republican voters.
  • Ed Rendell: As an outspoken Clinton supporter, Rendell could rally support for Obama, and as governor of swing state Pennsylvania, he could help secure key votes, but his popularity is limited outside Philadelphia.
  • Bill Richardson: The New Mexico governor, who identifies himself as Hispanic, could help sway the burgeoning Latino vote in addition to lending heavyweight foreign policy credentials as a former United Nations ambassador.
  • Kathleen Sebelius: The two-term governor of mainly Republican Kansas, Sebelius has proven cross-party support, but the rising Democratic star lacks a national profile.
  • Jim Webb: Another rising star, straight-talking Webb has dismissed his vice presidential prospects, but his appeal as a Vietnam veteran and successful novelist are clear. Webb's bluntness, however, led one commentator to label him an "unguided missile."
  • Other names mentioned in the running include: Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

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    Jolie confidants: 'ET' knew twins source fake - CNN.com

    NEW YORK (AP) -- "Entertainment Tonight" aired a story about the birth of Angelina Jolie's twins despite being repeatedly told beforehand that the report was based on information from someone impersonating Jolie's assistant, according to documents and two people with knowledge of the exchange.


    Angelina Jolie is pregnant with twins, and media sources are swarming to report developments.

    The celebrity newsmagazine denied Wednesday that it knew about an impostor before the broadcast. The identity of the impostor remained unknown.

    On Friday morning, the show posted a story on its Web site and sent an e-mail alert to media outlets saying it had confirmed the birth of Jolie's twins. The Associated Press picked up the report.

    "Entertainment Tonight" did not name its source at the time. It later revealed that the report was based on e-mails from someone it thought was Jolie assistant Holly Goline.

    Shortly after the story was posted but several hours before the broadcast aired, Goline told "Entertainment Tonight" that she was not the person with whom they had been corresponding, a person with direct knowledge of the conversation told The Associated Press. That account was confirmed by another person close to Jolie.

    " 'Entertainment Tonight' was told before the broadcast that their information came from an impostor," said the second person. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

    The people said there were several conversations Friday, by e-mail, text message and telephone, between Goline and "Entertainment Tonight." Meanwhile, the story was quickly challenged by several other celebrity news outlets.

    The TV show stood by its story Friday night, with host Mary Hart saying on the air, "Just this morning, a source who says she was inside the delivery room tells us yes, the babies were born and yes, mother and babies are fine."

    Later that night, the manager of Jolie's partner, Brad Pitt, told AP that the babies had not been born.

    The show said in a statement Wednesday that it first learned of an impostor from a letter from Jolie's attorney Monday -- three days after the broadcast.

    " 'Entertainment Tonight' takes this very seriously and is, of course, concerned that the show may have been victimized by someone allegedly posing as a member of Ms. Jolie's team," the statement said. "We are actively investigating the matter and are reaching out to law enforcement agencies."

    The show has not mentioned the story on the air since the initial report, and the story has been deleted from its Web site.

    The 27-year-old program is the top-rated entertainment newsmagazine on television, with an average nightly audience of 6.6 million viewers, more than double any competitors. The twins, who Jolie says are due in August, are one of the biggest stories of the year in celebrity journalism, with their first photographs expected to fetch at least $10 million. (The first pictures of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt reportedly fetched a $4 million donation to charity from People magazine.)

    The mystery of who was sending the e-mail fit perfectly into the world of celebrity gossip, in which rumor and thirdhand sources coalesce into "facts" at the speed of the Internet. Even before the "Entertainment Tonight" report, there were international rumors of the twins' birth, possibly started by an OK! magazine story that did not report the babies were born, but speculated on possible names.

    According to an "ET" executive, the report of the twins' birth began with Sharlette Hambrick, an "ET" producer. Hambrick told the show that she had obtained a BlackBerry e-mail address for Goline from a contact at CNN, according to the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information.

    According to e-mails provided to AP by the show, Hambrick sent a message to the BlackBerry address asking for confirmation of "reports swirling" that Jolie had given birth.

    The reply came back: "Yes she did. I was actually in the room with her. They are doing fine and so is mom."

    Goline has never had a BlackBerry e-mail account, one of the people with knowledge of the exchange said. Hambrick referred a call from The Associated Press to the show's public relations representative.

    Shortly after "Entertainment Tonight" posted the story, Hambrick called the real Goline seeking more details, and Goline told her verbally and through text messages that Hambrick had been dealing with an impostor, the people with knowledge of the exchange said.

    E-mails obtained by AP show that Hambrick sent a message to Goline's real e-mail address showing the exchange with the impostor, asking "Are you saying this is now not your e-mail address? That you did not send me these e-mails?"

    Goline responded: "This is not my e-mail."
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    Junk dealer's $100,000 gold cup found under bed - CNN.com

    DORCHESTER, England (CNN) -- Englishman John Webber thought nothing of the small shiny cup, passed down from his junk dealer grandfather and stashed under a bed for years -- until appraisers said it was an ancient Persian artifact.


    The ancient Persian gold cup, thought to date from the third or fourth century B.C., fetched $100,000 at auction.

    The five-and-a-half-inch gold cup -- which experts have dated as being possibly from the third or fourth century B.C. -- fetched $100,000 at an auction in Dorchester, southern England, Thursday.

    The identify of the successful bidder wasn't immediately known.

    The relic features the double faced ancient Roman god Janus, the god of gates and doors who always looked to both the future and past and is often associated with beginnings and endings. The cup has two faces with braided hair and entwined snake ornaments at the forehead.

    Webber's grandfather, William Sparks, was a rag and bone man, the British term for a junk dealer, Duke's said, who established the iron merchants Sparks and Son in Taunton, Somerset, in southwestern England, in the 1930s.

    Sparks acquired the cup along with two other pieces, also up for auction, some time in the 1930s or 1940s, the spokeswoman said.

    Before he died, Sparks gave the items to Webber, who didn't realize their value, the spokeswoman said.

    "Because he mainly dealt in brass and bronze, I thought that was what it was made from," Webber told the Bournemouth News and Picture Service. "I put it in a box and forgot about it. Then last year I moved house and took it out to have a look and I realized it wasn't bronze or brass.

    Don't Miss

    "I sent it to the British Museum and the experts there hadn't seen anything like it before and recommended I had it tested at a laboratory. So I paid quite a bit of money for it to be examined by a lab the museum recommended. And they found the gold dated from the third of fourth century B.C."

    Webber, who is now in his 70s, said he remembers the cup from when he was a small boy. "It's been quite exciting finding out what it was," he told the agency.

    Webber brought the items to Duke's at the start of the year for potential sale, because he wanted to "realize some money," the auction house spokeswoman said.

    A spokeswoman for Duke's Auction House, which is selling the cup, said the cup is believed to be from the Archaemenid empire in ancient Persia.

    The other two items are a second century B.C. round gold mount with a figure, probably of ancient Greek hero Ajax, who besieged Troy, and a decorated gold spoon with an image of a Roman emperor.

    "He had a good eye for quality over the years," said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be named, "and anything interesting he'd put aside."

    Scientists analyzed trace elements of a gold sample taken from the cup to determine its age, and analysts from Oxford University concluded they are consistent with Archaemenid gold and goldsmithing, Duke's said.
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    Police kill man in standoff over FEMA trailer - CNN.com

    NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- A man fatally shot by police after a 10-hour standoff Wednesday had suffered with mental illness for much of his life, and it worsened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a family member said.

    Ending a 10-hour standoff, police shot and killed a New Orleans man who lived in a FEMA trailer.

    Eric Minshew, 49, ordered Federal Emergency Management Agency workers to leave his trailer when they arrived for an inspection Tuesday afternoon, according to accounts from police.

    Later, police said he fired at them several times and was fatally shot after pointing a handgun at officers who tried to arrest him. No officers were injured.

    Rosemarie Brocato, who lives about a block away from the house, said she had told police, "He's sick. Please don't shoot him. He needs help."

    The man had moved into the family home about eight years ago, with no money and no job, his brother, Homer M. Minshew III, said Wednesday. He survived the hurricane, but the family was awaiting government aid so they could either pay the house off or fix it up and sell it.

    He suffered for years with mental problems that "got a lot worse after the storm," his brother said. He felt his hopes of inheriting his parents' home -- a place he'd felt a strong connection to -- diminish, he said. He owned a gun because he had gotten a job as a security guard, according to his brother.

    "He had a lot of serious mental issues and would all of a sudden go off on a rant about the government, the local, state government, the feds and everything else," he said. "He has some issues. He just snapped. Thank God nobody else got hurt."

    James Arey, commander of the police department's crisis intervention team, said the man had not been treated and that the case "doesn't have anything to do with Katrina." Police did not officially release Minshew's identity.

    The trailer was near the family home on a block that appeared abandoned. Many houses have gone unrepaired since the storm, and have broken windows. Taped to Minshew's front window were a USA Today front-page article headlined "Do you have a legal right to own a gun?" and a no trespassing sign.

    The porch held a wreath, a cross and a plywood sign with "Jesus is my Messiah" in green paint. A car in the driveway had two flat tires.

    Brocato said Minshew lived alone after the storm and that his short temper seemed to get worse. He seemed very lonely, she said, often stopping her to talk for a half-hour at a time when she passed his house.

    "He just needed someone to talk to, I guess. I felt sorry for him," she said.

    The FEMA inspection was a first step toward reclaiming the trailer. The federal agency has been pushing to get residents out of trailers across the Gulf Coast, in part because possibly dangerous levels of the chemical formaldehyde have been found in many of them.

    FEMA spokesman James McIntyre said the agency cannot release any specifics about the case, such as when the man got the trailer or whether anyone else lived there with him. The officers involved in the shooting have been reassigned to administrative duties during the investigation, said Officer Garry Flot, a police spokesman.

    "This is a very unfortunate situation and our prayers go out to the family of the deceased," he said.

    Lakeview, one of the city's more affluent neighborhoods, was under as much as 11 feet of water after the levee on the nearby 17th Street Canal broke during Katrina on August 29, 2005.

    While it has been one of the fastest to recover, it is not without scars from the flood. Some trailers were still parked outside homes under renovation, schools and firehouses have been slow to reopen and there are many vacant lots where homes were demolished because of damage suffered during the storm.
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    U.N. passes piracy pursuit powers - CNN.com

    United Nations (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday gave nations new powers to pursue pirates into the waters off Somalia, an effort to combat a new spate of hijackings off the Horn of Africa.


    The Spanish-registered Playa de Bakio was seized by pirates off Somalia in April.

    The unanimous resolution calls on U.N. members to use "all necessary means to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery," and authorizes warships to chase pirates into Somali territorial waters if necessary.

    "This allows and calls on the member states to assist the authorities in Somalia to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

    Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional government has said it would welcome international assistance in battling the pirates. Video Watch action being taken to counter piracy »

    Monday's resolution also encourages U.N. member states to provide technical assistance to the Somali government and cooperate in the prosecution of captured pirates.

    A French-led squadron, which includes U.S. and German ships, is currently patrolling the Somali coast. Still, three European freighters were hijacked last week in the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea off the Horn of Africa.

    The Gulf of Aden in particular has become a treacherous stretch for shipping in recent months, with more than two dozen pirate attacks reported since the beginning of 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

    Nine of those have been successful hijackings, the bureau said.

    Cyrus Mody of the bureau told CNN last week that Somali pirates appear to take ships "purely for financial gain." In seven hijackings this year, most were resolved with a ransom payment, Mody said, adding that the pirates in Somalia typically treat the crews on the hijacked ships well.

    It is difficult to tell whether a single group is responsible for the hijackings, given that there are at least four pirate groups in the country, he said.

    Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional government has said it would welcome international assistance in battling piracy, which the Security Council has now declared an aggravating factor in the situation there.

    Somali leaders are struggling to restore order after about 15 years of near-anarchy, and are also battling an Islamic insurgency.

    Meanwhile, the international flotilla first dispatched to prevent the spread of the al Qaeda terrorist movement has taken an increasingly prominent role in battling piracy.

    In April, French commandos captured six pirates who had just released the crew of a hijacked luxury yacht and were trying to escape with the ransom. The gang have been taken to France for trial.

    The resolution was backed by the United States, France, Britain and Panama.
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    Probst: Problems on new 'Survivor' - CNN.com

    WEST HOLLYWOOD, California (AP) -- Jeff Probst says the upcoming season of "Survivor" has already hit a few snags.


    Jeff Probst says preproduction on "Survivor: Gabon" is being hampered by some events.

    "Survivor: Gabon -- Earth's Last Eden" has been plagued with several preproduction problems, Probst told The Associated Press at the opening of the new restaurant Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood on Wednesday. The dilemmas for the 17th season of the CBS reality show, which begins filming in Africa later this month, range from encroaching animals to slow shipments.

    "Our shipping has been really delayed," Probst said. "One aspect of 'Survivor' that is different from a lot of shows is that we have to ship throughout the season, and we're about 30 days behind now, which is a major problem. We're going to be fine on the show, but the crew housing is not there. We're going to be in tents."

    Other than the habitation hindrance, Probst also said a crane had fallen over and a cargo hold containing about $100,000 worth of food had gone missing. The lumber used for building props and set pieces for challenges and Tribal Council, however, had safely arrived.

    Probst said the "Survivor" crew was also having an issue with something that was already present: wildlife.

    "We have a danger problem with animals that we're trying to figure out how to handle," the "Survivor" host said. "There's so much truly wild life out there, we're not sure what to do. We don't want the animals around for a safety reasons, but we'd love to have a hippo sneak in every so often. I just got a call from our executive producer that we've got hippo tracks at base camp."

    "Survivor: Gabon," which will feature 18 castaways living in the wilderness in the West African country, will be filmed in high-definition and is slated to premiere in the fall. It's the first time the competitive reality series has returned to Africa since its Kenya-set third season. Probst said he doesn't think the snafus will halt production.

    "These things for us usually have a way of turning into good things," he said.
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    Illnesses tied to raw tomatoes - CNN.com

    ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- An outbreak of salmonella food poisoning first linked to uncooked tomatoes has now been reported in nine states, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.


    A salmonella outbreak in the Southwestern U.S. has been tied to large varieties of tomatoes.

    Lab tests have confirmed 40 illnesses in Texas and New Mexico as the same type of salmonella, right down to the genetic fingerprint.

    An investigation by Texas and New Mexico health authorities and the Indian Health Service tied those cases to uncooked large tomatoes.

    At least 17 people in Texas and New Mexico have been hospitalized. None have died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Thirty people have become sick with the same Salmonella Saintpaul infection in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Illinois and Indiana. CDC investigators are looking into whether tomatoes were culprits there, too.

    In Texas and New Mexico, raw large tomatoes -- including Roma and red round tomatoes -- were found to be a common factor in the 40 illnesses. But no farm, distributor or grocery chain has been identified as the main source, said Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC epidemiologist working on the investigation.

    "The specific type and source of tomatoes is under investigation," she said.

    Salmonella is a bacterial infection that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. The bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.

    Most infected people suffer fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps starting 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness tends to last four to seven days.

    Many people recover without treatment. However, severe infection and even death are possible. Infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for severe infections.

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    In Texas and New Mexico, the patients ranged in age from 3 to 82. Of the 40 patients, 38 were interviewed. Most said they ate raw tomatoes from either stores or restaurants before becoming ill between April 23 and May 27.

    An additional 17 cases are under investigation in New Mexico, CDC officials said.
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    Cell phone users secretly tracked in study - CNN.com

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Researchers secretly tracked the locations of 100,000 people outside the United States through their cell phone use and concluded that most people rarely stray more than a few miles from home.


    The study found that nearly half of the people tracked kept to a circle little more than six miles wide.

    The first-of-its-kind study by Northeastern University raises privacy and ethical questions for its monitoring methods, which would be illegal in the United States.

    It also yielded somewhat surprising results that reveal how little people move around in their daily lives. Nearly three-quarters of those studied mainly stayed within a 20-mile-wide circle for half a year.

    The scientists would not disclose where the study was done, only describing the location as an industrialized nation.

    Researchers used cell phone towers to track individuals' locations whenever they made or received phone calls and text messages over six months.

    In a second set of records, researchers took another 206 cell phones that had tracking devices in them and got records for their locations every two hours over a week's time period.

    The study was based on cell phone records from a private company, whose name also was not disclosed.

    Study co-author Cesar Hidalgo, a physics researcher at Northeastern, said he and his colleagues didn't know the individual phone numbers because they were disguised into "ugly" 26-digit-and-letter codes.

    That type of nonconsensual tracking would be illegal in the United States, according to Rob Kenny, a spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission. Consensual tracking, however, is legal and even marketed as a special feature by some U.S. cell phone providers.

    The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature, opens up the field of human-tracking for science and calls attention to what experts said is an emerging issue of locational privacy.

    "This is a new step for science," said study co-author Albert-Lazlo Barabasi, director of Northeastern's Center for Complex Network Research. "For the first time we have a chance to really objectively follow certain aspects of human behavior."

    Barabasi said he spent nearly half his time on the study worrying about privacy issues. Researchers didn't know which phone numbers were involved. They were not able to say precisely where people were, just which nearby cell phone tower was relaying the calls, which could be a matter of blocks or miles.

    They started with 6 million phone numbers and chose the 100,000 at random to provide "an extra layer" of anonymity for the research subjects, he said.

    Barabasi said he did not check with any ethics panel. Had he done so, he might have gotten an earful, suggested bioethicist Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania.

    "There is plenty going on here that sets off ethical alarm bells about privacy and trustworthiness," Caplan said.

    Studies done on normal behavior at public places is "fair game for researchers" as long as no one can figure out identities, Caplan said in an e-mail.

    "So if I fight at a soccer match or walk through 30th Street train station in Philly, I can be studied," Caplan wrote. "But my cell phone is not public. My cell phone is personal. Tracking it and thus its owner is an active intrusion into personal privacy."

    Paul Stephens, policy director at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, said the nonconsensual part of the study raises the Big Brother issue.

    "It certainly is a major concern for people who basically don't like to be tracked and shouldn't be tracked without their knowledge," Stephens said.

    Study co-author Hidalgo said there is a difference between being a statistic -- such as how many people buy a certain brand of computer -- and a specific example. The people tracked in the study are more statistics than examples.

    "In the wrong hands the data could be misused," Hidalgo said. "But in scientists' hands you're trying to look at broad patterns.... We're not trying to do evil things. We're trying to make the world a little better."

    Knowing people's travel patterns can help design better transportation systems and give doctors guidance in fighting the spread of contagious diseases, he said.

    The results also tell us something new about ourselves, including that we tend to go to the same places repeatedly, he said.

    "Despite the fact that we think of ourselves as spontaneous and unpredictable ... we do have our patterns we move along and for the vast majority of people it's a short distance," Barabasi said.

    The study found that nearly half of the people in the study pretty much keep to a circle little more than six miles wide and that 83 percent of the people tracked mostly stay within a 37-mile wide circle.

    But then there are the people who are the travel equivalent of the super-rich, said Hidalgo, who travels more than 150 miles every weekend to visit his girlfriend. Nearly 3 percent of the population regularly go beyond a 200-mile wide circle. Less than 1 percent of people travel often out of a 621-mile circle.

    But most people like to stay much closer to home. Hidalgo said he understands why: "There's a lot of people who don't like hectic lives. Travel is such a hassle."
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    FDA urged to ban 8 food dyes - CNN.com

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A consumer advocacy group called on the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to ban the use of eight artificial colorings in food because they have been linked to hyperactivity and behavior problems in children.


    Controlled studies conducted over three decades have shown that children's behavior can be worsened by some artificial dyes, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The group noted the British government is successfully pressuring food manufacturers to switch to safer colorings.

    Over the years, the FDA has consistently disputed the center's assertion. The agency's Web site contains a 2004 brochure that asks the question: "Do additives cause childhood hyperactivity?"

    "No. Although this hypothesis was popularized in the 1970's, well-controlled studies conducted since then have produced no evidence that food additives cause hyperactivity or learning disabilities in children," the agency said.

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    Julie Zawisza, an FDA spokeswoman, said Tuesday that color additives undergo safety reviews prior to approval for marketing and that samples of each artificial coloring are tested. She said the agency reviewed one of the studies that the center cites in calling for a ban.

    "(We) didn't find a reason to change our conclusions that the ingredients are safe for the general population," Zawisza said. "Also note that the European Food Safety Agency has a similar view as FDA's."

    Dyes are used in countless foods and are sometimes used to simulate the color of fruits or vegetables. The additives are particularly prevalent in the cereals, candies, sodas, and snack foods pitched to children.

    "The purpose of these chemicals is often to mask the absence of real food, to increase the appeal of a low-nutrition product to children, or both," said the center's executive director, Michael F. Jacobson. "Who can tell the parents of kids with behavioral problems that this is truly worth the risk?"

    The center's petition asks the FDA to require a warning label on foods with artificial dyes while it mulls the group's request to ban the dyes outright.

    Health Library

    Robert Brackett, chief science officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence confirms the safety of certified food dyes.

    "Based on these findings, there is no need for consumers to alter their purchasing and eating habits," Brackett said. "They and their children can safely enjoy food products containing these food colors."

    The colorings the center seeks to ban are: Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, and Yellow 6.
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