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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nets trade Richard Jefferson to Bucks for Yi Jianlian

The championship era is completely over for the Nets - unless they can begin a new one next season.

The Nets on Thursday sent Richard Jefferson - the last remaining link to the Nets' two Finals teams earlier this decade - to Milwaukee in exchange for 7-foot Chinese center Yi Jianlian, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft.

The Nets also acquired Bobby Simmons, a 6-6 forward who has played five seasons with three different teams.

“We feel that Yi can be a very special player,” said Nets president Rod Thorn.  “He is a 20-year old seven footer who shoots the ball extremely well, and he is an excellent addition to our frontcourt.  Bobby Simmons is a veteran NBA player who has averaged 10 points for his career, and should be a rotation player for us.

“I want to thank Richard for his contributions to the Nets over the past seven years.  He was a member of Nets teams that went to two NBA Finals, won two Eastern Conference championships and four Atlantic Division titles, and leaves as the Nets' second all-time leading scorer in franchise history. He always conducted himself in a professional manner, and we wish him only the best for the remainder of his career.”

The deal not only gives the Nets one of the most promising young big men in the league, but also significant financial flexibility in the future. Jefferson is owed approximately $42 million over the next three years. Simmons has two seasons left on his contract, worth just more than $20 million, while Jianlian has just one more season of guaranteed money coming to him - $2.9 million next season.

Jefferson has been a Net since 2001, the same year Jason Kidd came to New Jersey in a trade with Phoenix. The two helped lead the Nets out of oblivion and into the Finals two years in a row. However, after Kidd was traded to the Mavericks last February, the Nets missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

Jefferson, 28, is considered one of the better small forwards in the league and is coming off his best season ever, averaging a career-best 22.6 points last season and playing in every game. But the Nets were determined to trade him, partly due to his hefty salary but also because he's considered a high-maintenance player.

Jefferson is also facing assault charges stemming from a barroom brawl he was involved in in Minneapolis season, but team sources have said that issue had nothing to do with their desire to trade him.

Jianlian averaged 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 66 games as a rookie.

The Nets have the No. 10 pick in Thursday night's draft but are rumored to be trying to move up to No. 5, perhaps to take 19-year-old Italian forward Danilo Gallinari, who could be Jefferson's heir apparent.

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H.I.V. Infection Rates Continue to Rise Among Young Men, African-Americans - NYTimes.com

Diagnoses of H.I.V. and AIDS in men who have sex with men rose significantly between 2001 and 2006 while declining in other demographic groups, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported Thursday.

ng males between the ages of 13 and 24, with an annual increase of 12.4 percent, compared to 1.5 percent for men overall. The annual increase was still higher among young African-American men who have sex with men, nearly 15 percent.

Among African-American men of all ages who have sex with men, the annual increase in diagnoses was 1.9 percent.

Experts said yesterday that the new statistics were an ominous -- but not necessarily surprising -- indicator that the epidemic continues to flourish among gay men more than 25 years after it began.

“It’s a grim report,” said Dr. Ronald Stall, an epidemiologist and professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh. “It means roughly speaking that about half of the American AIDS epidemic is occurring among a few percent of the adult population. And the terrible trends we’re seeing among white gay men are even amplified further among minority men.”

Sex between men accounted for more than 97,000 new diagnoses over the six years, almost half of the total number, according to the C.D.C. report.

In contrast, diagnoses attributed to high-risk heterosexual contact and injection-drug use declined annually by, respectively, 4.4 percent and 9.5 percent.

The findings were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the C.D.C.’s widely read public health journal. The data were based on reporting from 33 states and did not include statistics from some with large gay and minority populations, including California, Illinois and Georgia.

The agency noted, however, that the racial disparities presented in the report generally reflected national trends in the epidemiology of AIDS.

The agency reported that some of the rise could stem from higher rates of H.I.V. testing among men who have sex with men but added that “available data suggest that these increases cannot be explained by increases in testing alone.”

The C.D.C. recently launched a new H.I.V. reporting system designed to differentiate between recent and older infections. Data from the new effort should become available later this year, according to the agency, and will help experts more accurately track the impact of H.I.V. prevention programs.

Jennifer Hecht, education director at the Stop AIDS Project in San Francisco, said that lack of access to information was a key factor in the increase in infection rates.

“In a lot of ways this is connected to the administration’s policy of emphasizing abstinence-only education,” she said. “And the high rates we see among black men and other minorities indicate that it’s very much connected to larger issues like poverty and racism.”

Dr. Richard Wolitski, acting director of the C.D.C.’s Division of H.I.V./AIDS Prevention, said that several factors could be fueling the increase in diagnoses, particularly among younger men.

“Because of the new treatments, some men perceive it to be a less severe disease than it once was,” he said. “And this is a new generation that hasn’t been personally affected in the same way that older men have been.”

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FOXNews.com - Ground Beef May Be Linked to E. Coli Outbreak in Ohio, Michigan - Health News | Current Health News | Medical News

A raw ground beef sample linked to an E. coli case in Ohio has tested positive for the bacteria, Ohio Department of Health officials said.

The department is testing the sample to see if it matches an E. coli strain that has sickened at least 17 people in Ohio and 15 in Michigan, spokesman Kristopher Weiss said Tuesday.

The Michigan Department of Health said more than half of that state's residents affected by the illness reported buying and eating ground beef from Kroger groceries.

The beef was available in late May and early June in some Michigan stores and in stores in the Columbus and Toledo areas of Ohio and is no longer on store shelves, said Meghan Glynn, spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Kroger.

"We are working with state and federal investigators to determine the supplier," Glynn said. "Food safety is very important to us, and we take these issues seriously."

Of 24 cases confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 people have been hospitalized and one patient developed kidney failure. People became ill in late May and early June, according to the CDC.

No deaths have been reported.

Symptoms of E. coli infection can include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Most people recover within 5-7 days.

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Many Teens Getting Free Alcohol From Adults - washingtonpost.com

THURSDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of American teens say they've consumed alcohol, and more than 40 percent of those children say they sometimes get their alcohol free from an adult, a new federal survey found.

Among the country's estimated 10.8 million underage drinkers, more than 40 percent said they got alcohol free from an adult during the past month. One in four said they got the alcohol from an unrelated adult, one in 16 got it from a parent or guardian, and one in 12 got the alcohol from a family member, according to the survey.

"There are a relatively large number of persons aged 12 to 20 who consume alcohol," said James Colliver, a statistician with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). "A number of them are likely to get alcohol from a parent or another family member or other adult.


The survey,Underage Alcohol Use: Findings From the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, was a nationwide review based on data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, and included a random sample of 158,000 people 12 to 20 years old.

"In far too many instances, parents directly enable their children's underage drinking -- in essence encouraging them to risk their health and well-being," Acting Surgeon General Dr. Steven K. Galson said in a prepared statement. "Proper parental guidance alone may not be the complete solution to this devastating public health problem -- but it is a critical part."

Underage drinking is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths of people under 21 each year in the United States, according to the report.

Among those surveyed, about 7.2 million said they had taken part in binge drinking -- defined as drinking five or more drinks on at least one occasion -- in the past month. The rates of binge drinking were significantly higher among those living with a parent who was also a binge drinker.

"This report provides unprecedented insight into the social context of this public health problem and shows that it cuts across many different parts of our community," SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline said in a prepared statement. "Its findings strongly indicate that parents and other adults can play an important role in helping influence -- for better or for worse -- young people's behavior with regard to underage drinking."

Other findings in the report include:

More than half of those 12 to 20 engage in underage drinking. This ranges from 11 percent among 12 year olds to 85.5 percent among 20 year olds.Among people 12 to 20 years of age, some 3.5 million meet the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse each year.Most underage drinkers (80.9 percent) said they drink with two or more people and consume about 4.9 drinks. Those who drink with fewer people consume about 3.1 drinks, and those who drink alone about 2.9 drinks.For those 12 to 14 years of age, the rate of current drinking was higher for girls than boys (7.7 percent versus 6.3 percent). For those 15 to 17 years old, the rates for boys and girls were similar. Among those 18 to 20 years old, the rate was lower for girls than boys (47.9 percent versus 54.4 percent).Among underage drinkers, 53.4 percent drank at someone else's house, while 30.3 percent drank in their own home, and 9.4 percent drank at restaurants, bars or clubs.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said the problem is obvious, but the solution is elusive.

"Alcohol consumption by under-age drinkers is a significant, if stable, public health concern, contributing to thousands of highway fatalities and innumerable other ills each year," Katz said.

Less clear than the persistent presence of the problem is the solution, Katz said. "We have a good picture of the problem, but no clearly established solution," he said.

"Responsible parenting seems to be part of the solution -- with the current data suggesting that children emulate their parents in this, as in most behaviors," Katz said. "Other societies, notably France and Italy, make alcohol a routine part of family dining, and may thereby reduce its mystique to adventurous teens."

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Salmonella outbreak illnesses rise to 756 | U.S. | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 750 people have become ill in an outbreak of Salmonella linked to certain types of tomatoes, U.S food safety officials said on Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 756 people in 34 states and the District of Columbia have been infected with a rare strain of bacteria known as Salmonella Saintpaul. Of them, 95 people have been hospitalized.

The Centers for Disease Control said in a statement that no deaths have been attributed to the illness.

"However, a man in his sixties who died in Texas from cancer had an infection with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul at the time of his death. The infection may have contributed to his death," the CDC said.

Investigators are still trying to find the source of the contamination. Health officials said last Friday they expected more people to become ill because the outbreak is probably still under way.

Texas has been the hardest hit with 330 people becoming ill, followed by New Mexico with 80 cases.

Officials linked the outbreak to raw plum, Roma and round tomatoes. They have said this may be the largest U.S. outbreak of Salmonella infections from tomatoes.

According to the CDC, Salmonella Saintpaul is uncommon. The CDC sees about 400 cases of Saintpaul infections in humans each year.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, according to the FDA.

(Reporting by Christopher Doering; Editing by Maggie Fox)

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AIDS cases up in men who have sex with men | Health | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new analysis of HIV diagnoses among "men who have sex with men" points to troubling signs of increases in new diagnoses among young men who have sex with men, US health officials reported Thursday.

Public health experts use the term "men who have sex with men," or MSM, because many of these men are not strictly homosexual or even bisexual.

Between 2001 and 2006, male-to-male sex was the largest HIV transmission category in the US, and the only one associated with an increasing number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses, according to a report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The increase was highest among boys and men between the ages of 13 and 24 years who had sex with other males, particularly among ethnic minorities.

"To reduce transmission of HIV among MSM of all races/ethnicities, prevention strategies should be strengthened, improved, and implemented more broadly," health officials wrote in Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, publication of the CDC.

Testing is important, they add, because "after persons become aware that they are HIV positive, most reduce their high-risk sexual behavior."

The report describes trends in diagnoses of HIV/AIDS in 33 states that have confidential, name-based HIV case reporting.

Of 214,379 diagnoses during the study period, 46 percent were among MSM. The rate of new diagnoses declined in all other transmission categories -- injection drug use, high-risk heterosexual contact, and other routes of transmission.

Among all MSM, the estimated annual percentage change was 1.5 percent, the great majority of which involved the 13 to 24 year age group (annual increase 12.4 percent).
AIDS cases up in men who have sex with men | Health | Reuters
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MedHeadlines - Ground Beef Recalled by Kroger

All ground beef sold in Kroger stores throughout Michigan and in Colombus and Toledo, Ohio, between May 21 and June 8 has been recalled by the grocer because of an outbreak of E. coli traced back to their stores.  The company is asking all consumers in those areas to check the sell-by dates on any packages of ground beef that has not yet been consumed.  If ground beef sold during this time is found, consumers are asked to discard it or to return it to any Kroger store for full refund or replacement.

In recent weeks, 19 people in Ohio and 15 in Michigan have become ill after eating the contaminated meat, most of which was traced genetically to the same batch of ground beef sold at Kroger stores during the dates in question.  A food safety manager for Kroger says the company is taking the outbreak very seriously and is working with state health officials to locate the supplier of the contaminated meat.  The tainted meat is no longer available for sale in any Kroger stores so consumers should not refrain from buying the meats now available.

E. coli infection can cause diarrhea that can be bloody and severe and that is often accompanied by abdominal cramps.  The ages of the people sickened by the tainted beef range in age from toddlers to seniors in their late 70s.  The outbreak led to hospitalization for seven people.

To minimize the risk of getting ill from any tainted foods, Ohio health officials advise consumers to wash hands often, dry hands with paper towels when sick or when changing the diapers of sick babies, cook all meats thoroughly, avoid working with food when sick, and wash all fresh produce before preparing or eating it.

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Recent Tim McGraw Concert Fight and Concert Behavior Tips - Associated Content

This week in Auburn, Washington, country music star Tim McGraw took a rowdy concert enthusiast's behavior into his own hands. Tim McGraw witnessed a large man assault a female concert enthusiast in the audience and then Tim helped security hoist the man on stage and kick him out of the show. The timing was quite fitting, as the song being sang was "Indian Outlaw" and as the man was taken away by security, Tim McGraw never missed a beat and sang the line of the song "I ain't looking for trouble."

The Tim McGraw concert fight story interested me because I am an avid concert attendee. I have been to so many concerts that I can't even keep count anymore. Most of t he concerts I have attended are hard rock concerts such as Ozzfest, Godsmack, Shinedown, Metallica, Rob Zombie, Sevendust, and the sort. I almost always try to get floor seats or general admission for concerts, so I can try to get as close as I can to the stage. Being that I am female, I must admit, it can get pretty rough that close to the stage. You have people pushing on you from every direction, the entire time. Then you have to watch out for crowd surfers and mosh pits. I have never crowd surfed and I try to stay out of the mosh pits, but I still have still been affected by them. Here are some tips on how you can protect yourself at concerts, especially on the main floor, where it's standing room only:

1) If you are a heavy person, please do not crowd surf. It is not fair to everyone else who has to keep your big body afloat as you make your way to the stage. ( This wasn't the case though, for the Tim McGraw concert fight that broke out at the concert though) Nothing worse than having a big body land on top of your head, this hurting you head and neck!

2) Dress for the occasion. Don't wear your most expensive jewelry and open toed shoes if you plan on being in the middle of a standing only crowd. It is too easy for someone to rip try to rip your jewelry off or for it to fall off in a scuffle caused by others. Open toed shoes do not protect your feet to well either when crowds are pushing around. Wear shoes that are comfortable because you will be standing for hours on in.

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Arts, Briefly - Kanye Blogs Back - Brief - NYTimes.com

When Kanye West, right, decided to move his 8:15 p.m. appearance to 4:30 the following morning at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., last week because he wanted it dark enough for his light show, audience members were understandably upset, and they let him know it by booing, waving makeshift signs (“Kanye hates hippies!”) and scrawling anti-West graffiti. The criticism continued on the Internet. Now Mr. West has hit back on his own blog. “This Bonnaroo thing is the worst insult I’ve ever had in my life,” he wrote on his Web site, kanyeuniversecity.com. “This is the most offended I’ve ever been ... this is the maddest I ever will be.” He continued, “Call me any name you want ... arrogant, conceited, narcissistic, racist,” adding, “BUT NEVER SAY I DIDN’T GIVE MY ALL!”

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George Clooney calls for truce between actors unions - Los Angeles Times

Star is seeking common ground between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists on contract negotiations with the studios.
By Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
2:46 PM PDT, June 26, 2008
One of the industry's biggest movie stars today called on leaders of both actors unions to end a fierce and increasingly ugly feud that has put Hollywood on edge.

George Clooney stopped short of denouncing leaders of the Screen Actors Guild, but he did indirectly question a campaign the union was waging to defeat an agreement negotiated by the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

"Rather than pitting artists against artists, maybe we could find a way to get what both unions are looking for," Clooney said in a statement. "The one thing you can be sure of is that stories about Jack Nicholson vs. Tom Hanks only strengthens the negotiating power of" the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Hanks is among more than a hundred actors who are backing the contract recently negotiated by AFTRA, while Jack Nicholson this week joined more than 60 celebrities to declare their support for SAG's leaders.

Although AFTRA's deal includes pay increases for actors, SAG officials have argued that it didn't meet some of their key bargaining goals and are pressing 44,000 members it shares with the smaller union to vote down the tentative contract by July 8.

But, in his statement, Clooney suggested it was unrealistic for SAG to seek to "break a model" already negotiated by directors and writers.

The director and star of the football comedy "Leatherheads" also took to task SAG Executive Director Doug Allen, a former assistant executive director of the NFL Players Assn., for applying football analogies to Hollywood.

"Doug Allen has said on several occasions that this would be a negotiation for the linemen, not the quarterbacks," he said. "Unlike the NFL, in this guild the quarterbacks protect the linemen."

Pamm Fair, SAG's deputy national executive director, said the union "appreciates George Clooney's observations and opinions regarding our current negotiations and the critical issues facing all actors today. We welcome this valuable input."

The Oscar-winning star of "Syriana" and "Michael Clayton" has had a testy relationship with Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg. This year, Clooney along with some other high-profile actors openly called on union leaders to begin immediate negotiations with studios.

Still, Clooney said today that SAG shouldn't just "roll over and give the producers what they want" and offered two ways that high profile actors could help their union.

He suggested that a group of stars, including himself, Nicholson and Hanks, form a panel to annually review growth in online entertainment to ensure that actors get their fair share of revenues as markets emerge.

To help raise money for the union's healthcare and pension funds, Clooney also advocated that the guild raise dues for actors like himself who make "an exorbitant amount of money." Dues are currently capped at $6,000. Instead, he said, actors should pay $6,000 for each one million dollars they earn.

"The quarterbacks," he said, "have to do more."
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FOXNews.com - Report: Madonna Seeking Legal Advice for Divorce From Ritchie - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment

Madonna is seeking legal advice to end her marriage of seven years to film director Guy Ritchie, according to the Times of London.

The 49-year-old pop star reportedly has begun seeking advice from divorce attorney Fiona Shackleton, who represented Paul McCartney in his divorce from model Heather Mills.

Ritchie, 39, is believed to be consulting with Forsters, a lesser-known London law firm, the Times reported.

A spokesman for Madonna declined to comment to the Times.

Shackleton — dubbed the "steel magnolia" for her pragmatic style — also represented Prince Charles in his divorce with the late Princess Diana.

Madonna and Ritchie apparently did not have a prenuptial agreement, according to the Times, which could potentially lead to a 50-50 split of assets.

Madonna, who reportedly met Shackleton for a preliminary meeting in April, is believed to be worth about $600 million.

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WALL•E is out of this world - BostonHerald.com

Get ready to fall in love with a glorified trash compactor - and ditto for his little buddy, a cute cockroach.

“WALL•E,” the new Pixar 3-D extravaganza co-written and directed by Boston’s own Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo’), is a something of a miracle in the middle of a summer-movie season marked by sequels, reboots and comic-book superheros.

A tribute to the art of filmmaking featuring a mechanized Little Tramp-like hero of Chaplin-esque proportions, “WALL•E” starts out like a hybrid of “I, Robot” and “I Am Legend” (“I Am Robot Legend”?). It’s setting is a Philip K. Dickian, post-apocalytic, 29th century Earth poisoned by years of neglect and abuse. What’s left of humanity has left the planet.

What’s left on Earth is WALL•E (also known as Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class), a little, solar-powered, cube-shaped thingamabob with moving twin tracks, rolling binocular eyes and gangly metal appendages (think Mars Rover meets R2-D2).

All seven dwarfs in one, WALL•E goes about his Sisyphean job of compacting row after row of trash, and categorizing a shed full of parts. He feeds his insect buddy a diet of indestructible Twinkie-like treats and spends his spare time watching and humming along to an old VHS of “Hello, Dolly.”

One day, a giant spacecraft lands and deposits a shapely, white, ovoid ’bot that zips around like Ironman and looks like the next generation of Apple’s iPhone. Hello, EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). Before you can say, “Madam, I’m Adam,” WALL•E is smitten, and we have the first fully mechanical romantic comedy since “Heartbeeps” (1981), a film featuring work by the late great special-effects wizard Stan Winston.

WALL•E is voiced by Ben Burtt, creator of the sounds and voices of the aliens and droids of “Star Wars,” and “speaks” in a glossary of squeaks, pops, chirps, burps, whistles, whizzes, whirs and an unmistakable meep-meep. Unlike, say, C-3PO, WALL•E is a droid of few actual words. EVE, meanwhile, has a bit of “The Day the Earth Stood Still’s” Gort in her.

Together, they enjoy la vie en rose until they find themselves aboard an enormous, mechanized space-cruiser where surviving humans have evolved into semiboneless consumer-blobs too lazy to stand up and up against evil ’bots led by a HAL??? clone and a ship’s-computer voiced by a maleficent Sigourney Weaver, who don’t want the humans to return to Earth.

Stanton pays worthy tribute to “Star Wars” and Stanley Kubrick’s incomparable milestone “2001: A Space Odyssey.” A sequence in which WALL•E and EVE waltz in the void is a beautiful, comic evocation of “2001” ’s ballet mechanique.

But “WALL•E” stands proudly and uniquely on his own two tracks. “Presto,” a short animated film preceding “WALL•E” is a total delight. Some days I just feel like a rogue robot.

(“WALL•E” contains explosive scenes that might frighten very young children.)

Rated G. At AMC Loews Boston Common, Regal Fenway Stadium and suburban theaters.

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Bloomberg.com: Canada

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- The number of travelers over the U.S. Fourth of July holiday will decline for the first time this decade after gasoline rose to a record, AAA said.

AAA said 40.5 million people will travel over the Independence Day weekend July 4-6, a 1.3 percent decrease from a year earlier. Heathrow, Florida-based AAA, the biggest U.S. motoring group, released its forecast today in a statement.

``Gas prices are continuing to take a toll on the traveler's budget,'' AAA Chief Executive Officer Robert Darbelnet said in the statement. ``The travel industry is responding, as they have in the past, with discounts, promotions and other incentives to get people traveling this holiday.''

Fuel costs and the weakest economic growth in five years during the six months ended in March may be may be prompting Americans to save money by driving less. The forecast decline in trips of at least 50 miles from home marks the second straight expected drop on a U.S. holiday weekend, following Memorial Day in May.

U.S. retail gasoline averaged $4.07 a gallon yesterday. It reached a high of $4.08 on June 15, and has risen 34 percent this year, according to AAA. Yesterday's price is 37 percent higher than a year earlier.

The decline for Independence Day travel would be the first since at least 2000, AAA spokesman Troy Green said. AAA in 2000 changed the model it uses to calculate travel, so it can't compare the forecast to figures before then, Green said.

The number of air travelers over July 4th will probably fall 2.3 percent to 4.5 million, while the number of people going by car will be 1.2 percent lower at 34.2 million, AAA said. Some 1.7 million plan to use trains and buses or other modes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

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UPDATE 1-Intuit cutting 575 jobs, 7 pct of workforce | Deals | Regulatory News | Reuters

BOSTON, June 26 (Reuters) - Financial software maker Intuit Inc (INTU.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said it plans to cut 575 jobs, or 7 percent of its workforce, resulting in a charge of $22 million in the current quarter.

Intuit said it was streamlining its operations, particularly in its general and administrative functions, and reallocating those resources to invest in key growth businesses and accelerate innovation.

As a result of the charge, which is equal to 4 cents a share, the company cut its forecast for earnings per share by the size of the charge.

It now expects to report a fourth-quarter loss per share of 18 to 20 cents.

Intuit said in a statement that it otherwise stands by its earnings guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ends July 31.

Shares in Intuit rose 1.9 percent to $28.91 in after-hours trade, up from their Nasdaq close of $28.37. (Reporting by Jim Finkle; editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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Yahoo reorganizes in strategy shift - International Herald Tribune

Yahoo announced a broad corporate reorganization Thursday that it said would allow it to compete more effectively in the wake of the breakdown of merger and partnership talks with Microsoft.

The reorganization, which has been anticipated for about a week, is the latest in a string of corporate realignments at the Internet company over the last 18 months. It also comes amid a number of high-profile executive departures.

Susan Decker, Yahoo's president, said in an interview that "any organization change is disruptive," but said the move was necessary, and that its planning had begun even before Microsoft announced its bid for Yahoo in February.

"The flip side of disruption is the opportunity for renewed growth and our ability to renew the leadership," Decker said.

The new structure raises the profiles of two senior executives, Hilary Schneider and Ash Patel.

Yahoo announced a broad corporate reorganization Thursday that it said would allow it to compete more effectively in the wake of the breakdown of merger and partnership talks with Microsoft.The reorganization, which has been anticipated for about a week, is the latest in a string of corporate realignments at the Internet company over the last 18 months. It also comes amid a number of high-profile executive departures.Susan Decker, Yahoo's president, said in an interview that "any organization change is disruptive," but said the move was necessary, and that its planning had begun even before Microsoft announced its bid for Yahoo in February."The flip side of disruption is the opportunity for renewed growth and our ability to renew the leadership," Decker said.The new structure raises the profiles of two senior executives, Hilary Schneider and Ash Patel.

Schneider, who oversees Yahoo advertising products and its relationships with other Web publishers, will be in charge of the bulk of Yahoo's operations in the United States. A protégé and close friend of Decker, Schneider joined Yahoo in 2006 and has risen quickly to one of its uppermost management positions.

Patel is a Yahoo veteran, who joined the company in 1996, and was responsible for a broad swath of Yahoo's technology infrastructure. He will now head an "audience products" division, which will be responsible for product strategy and product management for many of the company's key Internet services, including search and email.

Under the reorganization, the company also created an "insights team" chartered with better understanding the needs of Yahoo's customers and partners. The company also expanded its technology organization, creating a group that oversees its cloud computing and data storage initiatives. The technology organization is run by the chief technology officer, Aristotle Balogh, who joined the company recently.

The restructuring essentially splits apart the company's network division, which had been run by Jeff Weiner, an executive vice president who announced a week ago that he would leave. The bulk of Weiner's former organization now reports to Patel. But its media group, headed by the senior vice president Scott Moore, will now report to Schneider.

Brad Garlinghouse, another high-profile executive who is leaving and was in charge of the company's e-mail and communications products, will be replaced by Scott Dietzen, an executive with Zimbra, the e-mail company that Yahoo acquired last year. The executive running Yahoo search, Vish Makhijani, who is also leaving, is being replaced by Tuoc Luong, on an interim basis. Luong, who had worked at search engine Ask.com, will also continue to oversee search engineering efforts.

Yahoo reorganizes in strategy shift - International Herald Tribune

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Visa to reduce transaction fees for gas stations

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Visa Inc. on Thursday said it will reduce the transaction fees it charges gasoline retailers, who have complained that their profits are being eroded by them.

The fees are a fixed percentage of every transaction, usually just under 2 percent. So each time gasoline prices go up, so does the dollar amount of the fees, eating away at profit margins.

With gas topping $4 a gallon, that pushes fees toward 10 cents a gallon, close to the typical gas station's markup of 11 or 12 cents per gallon.

The credit-card company said its changes will lower fees by 14 percent on a $60 fill-up, and by 43 percent on a $120 gasoline sale. Visa also said it would cap its fee for debit-card purchases at 95 cents.

MasterCard last year capped interchange fees for gas purchases of $50 or more.

Congress has stepped up its scrutiny of the industry's "interchange fees" in recent months. Legislation in the House would require Visa and MasterCard to negotiate the fees directly with merchants, and if an agreement couldn't be reached the rates would be set by a three-judge panel.

Visa's fee reductions will initially benefit the bottom lines of gas stations, whether they are independently owned or controlled by major oil companies.

Bill Sheedy, global head of strategy for Visa, said in a written statement that "we hope to see oil companies pass these savings along to their stations and ultimately to consumers."

The National Association of Convenience Stores says that its members paid roughly $7.6 billion in credit card fees last year, while making $3.4 billion in profits.

Roger Randolph, the manager of Mr. Ed's Chevron in St. Albans, W.Va., gained attention last week by banning the use of credit cards at his gas station, because interchange fees were erasing his profits. He said Thursday he's glad to hear about Visa's plan, although he's going to wait and see how it works before deciding whether to reinstate credit-card use.

Randolph said the all-cash experiment has been working well, and he's now seeing a profit of about six cents per gallon. The main question for him is whether Visa's plan would knock that figure back into the loss category, he said.

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Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil jumped above $140 a barrel to a record as Libya threatened to cut output, OPEC's president said prices may reach $170 by the summer and the dollar weakened.

Libya may curb output because of a U.S. law that allows terror victims to seize assets of foreign governments as compensation. OPEC President Chakib Khelil said oil may surge on a European interest rate rise, France 24 reported. Oil, gold and copper climbed today as the dollar dropped because the Federal Reserve gave no signal of higher interest rates yesterday.

``The Libyan comments are helping send us higher,'' said Brad Samples, commodity analyst for Summit Energy Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky. ``The Libyans are responsible for only about 2 percent of production, but with supplies tight every missing barrel will have an impact.''

Crude oil for August delivery rose $5.09, or 3.8 percent, to $139.64 a barrel at 2:59 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a record settlement price. Futures touched $140.39 today, surpassing the previous intraday record of $139.89 reached on June 16.

``I think you're seeing a clear flight from equities into commodities,'' said Kyle Cooper, an analyst at IAF Advisors in Houston.

Record oil prices helped send U.S. stocks tumbling. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index plunged 38.82, or 2.9 percent, to 1,283.15 in New York. The Dow decreased 358.41, or 3 percent, to 11,453.42.

GM Plunges

General Motors Corp., the largest U.S. automaker, plunged the most in three years as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. advised selling the stock because of a worsening sales outlook amid soaring gasoline prices, falling consumer confidence and tight credit. GM fell $1.38, or 11 percent, to $11.43 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Libya's National Oil Corp. Chairman Shokri Ghanem declined to say when a decision would be made on whether to lower Libyan production or give any indication of the size of the cut under consideration. The African country produced an average 1.85 million barrels of crude oil a day last year, or 2.2 percent of global supply, according to a report this month from BP Plc.

Ghanem said the cuts may be made because of a law passed by Congress in January that would let families of American victims of Libyan-linked attacks confiscate Libyan assets and those of companies doing business with the North African nation. At least two lawsuits have already been filed in Washington.

U.S. legislation allowing lawsuits against the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may also lead to reductions, Ghanem said.


President George W. Bush has said he'd veto a so-called NOPEC bill passed in May by the House of Representatives, because it may limit the availability of gasoline and further increase fuel prices.

An oil price of $150 a barrel may be ``around the corner,'' Ghanem said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

A decision by the European Central Bank to increase interest rates in July may cause the dollar to decline and prompt investors to buy more oil, Khelil, who is also the Algerian oil minister, told the Paris-based television channel. Prices would ease toward the end of the year, he said.

Threats against Iran would also support prices during the summer, he said. A political crisis that would stop Iran's oil production would push prices over $200 a barrel, to possibly $400 a barrel, he said.

Saudi Arabia pledged it will pump an extra 200,000 barrels a day next month to calm the oil market at a June 22 meeting. The kingdom hosted the summit of 35 producing and consuming countries in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.

OPEC Matters

``The Saudis go out of their way to have this specific meeting outside the OPEC frameworks, and if you're the OPEC president, you want to be important, so you come out of it and say $150 to $170,'' said Roger Read, an analyst at Natixis Bleichroeder in Houston. ``He's trying to prove he matters and OPEC matters and the Saudis don't make all the decisions.''

The dollar is also lower on a forecast that the ECB will boost interest rates. The currency's drop against the euro made commodities cheaper for buyers outside the U.S. The dollar was at $1.5756 per euro as of 4:38 p.m., from $1.5666 yesterday.

``Now the worry is that the European Central Bank may raise rates, which would be the same as another Fed cut,'' said Peter Beutel, president of energy consultant Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Connecticut.

The Federal Reserve yesterday left its benchmark interest rate at 2 percent and said ``uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high'' as energy and commodity prices continue to rise. Leaving the interest rate unchanged ended the most aggressive series of rate cuts in two decades.

Commodity Rally

``Commodities are rallying because there's a lack of confidence that the Fed will raise rates,'' said Phil Flynn, a senior trader at Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago. ``They didn't raise rates yesterday and it doesn't look like they will raise them soon. Their statement yesterday was too wishy-washy.''

The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 commodities jumped 11.13, or 2.5 percent, to 463.27, after earlier reaching a record 463.41. The index gained 49 percent in the past year.

Brent crude oil for August settlement rose $5.50, or 4.1 percent, to settle at a record $139.83 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices climbed to $140.56 today, the highest since trading began in 1988.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net.

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Countrywide Financial hit with lawsuits as shareholders approve merger - Phoenix Business Journal:

At least two lawsuits have been filed against Countrywide Financial Corp. -- which will merge with Bank of America following Thursday's shareholder approval -- by state attorney general offices. More are expected to follow.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office would not comment on any pending investigation or if it would file, but officials said the agency is keeping close tabs on the issue.

"We are closely following the developments regarding Countrywide, especially those related to the businesses in Arizona," said spokeswoman Andrea Esquer.

On Wednesday, AG officials in Illinois and California filed lawsuits against the country's largest mortgage lender.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges Countrywide violated the state's consumer protection statutes by making unaffordable loans and failing to make adequate disclosures to borrowers, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday on its Web site.

In the California complaint, Attorney General Jerry Brown said Countrywide violated the state's unfair business practices and false advertising laws to market and originate sometimes-risky mortgages.

Mortgage companies are taking a lot of the heat in the current mortgage fiasco, which has spurred more than 1 million foreclosures across the country and hundreds of mortgage company shutdowns.

From March 1 to June 18, 2008, federal authorities have indicted some 400 people on mortgage fraud. Operation Cash Back in Arizona resulted in six mortgage fraud cases in which 36 defendants were charged. In the past week, 30 arrests were made in mortgage fraud-related cases in the Tucson and Phoenix areas, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI estimates that approximately $100 million in losses were inflicted by these mortgage fraud schemes.

In Arizona, the investigation included the work of the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Marshals Service, Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, and the Scottsdale Police Department.

The Illinois and California lawsuits came less than day before shareholders of the embattled mortgage firm approved the bank's acquisition by Bank of America Corp. Holders of more than 69 percent of the outstanding shares of Countrywide common stock approved the transaction.

The merger is slated to close on Tuesday. BofA is expected to cut 7,500 employees over the next two years as a result.

The Federal Reserve this month gave BofA permission to buy the subprime mortgage lender. The Fed said BofA will be the largest deposit-taking institution in the U.S. after the $4 billion purchase, with about $773 billion in deposits.

In late April, Countrywide reported a first-quarter net loss of $893 million, or $1.60 a diluted share. In the same period last year, it posted a profit of $434 million, or 72 cents a share.

The company's provision for loan losses rose to $1.5 billion from $152 million a year ago. Residential charge-offs, or loans written off as not being paid, rose to $606 million in the latest quarter from $39 million in the year-ago period.

In August, Charlotte, N.C.-based BofA (NYSE:BAC) invested $2 billion in Countrywide (NYSE:CFC) for a 16 percent stake.

Arizona continues to be one of the hardest hit states for foreclosures. Only Nevada and California have higher rates. One in every 224 Arizona households is affected by the foreclosure process.

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