Daily Archives: February 6, 2015

Yemen's Houthis dissolve parliament, assume power: televised statement

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a gathering to show support to the movement outside the Presidential Palace in Sanaa February 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a gathering to show support to the movement outside the Presidential Palace in Sanaa February 4, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah


(Reuters) – Yemen’s dominant Houthi movement dissolved parliament on Friday and said a new interim assembly and government would be formed, a move denounced by a main political faction as a coup.

Yemen has been in political limbo since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the government of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah resigned last month after the Houthis seized the presidential palace and confined the head of state to his residence in a struggle to tighten control.

Yemen’s instability has drawn international concern as it shares a long border with top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, and the country is also fighting one of the most formidable branches of al Qaeda with the help of U.S. drone strikes.

The Houthis, who became power brokers when they overran Sanaa in September, had been holding talks with the main political factions trying to agree a way out of the stand-off.

Friday’s declaration suggested that the Houthis had taken on more powers including forming the new parliament and control over the military and security forces.

Some political leaders attended the announcement, which took place at the Presidential Palace. Former interior and defense ministers were also there, indicating that the announcement might have had the blessing of some other political factions.

But this was unlikely to be tolerated by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sunni Arab allies who eye the Shi’ite Houthis with suspicion for being close to their regional rival Iran.

The new assembly is to elect a five-member interim presidential council to manage Yemeni affairs in a transitional period of up to two years, according to a televised statement.

“What the Houthis have done is political suicide and also a coup that would lead the country into the unknown,” said Nasser al-Noubah, a leader of the southern separatist movement al-Hirak.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in the Yemeni city of Taiz to reject the Houthi takeover, eyewitnesses said.

Other main political forces such as the Sunni Islamist Islah party and the Common Front coalition said they were still studying the latest developments and would meet on Saturday to declare their position.

The Houthis had set a Wednesday deadline for political factions to agree a way out of the crisis, otherwise the group would impose its own solution.

Saudi Arabia has suspended most of its financial aid to Yemen, a clear indication of its dissatisfaction with the growing power of the Houthi.

(Additional reporting and writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


Source: Newsjyoti World

U.S. measles outbreak prompts vaccine crackdown in New Mexico schools

A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson


(Reuters) – One of New Mexico’s largest public school districts, spurred by a measles outbreak that has infected about 100 people in California, will start barring unvaccinated students from class unless they have a valid state exemption, the head of the school board said on Friday.

The move by the 14,000-student Santa Fe district came as legislators in California, Oregon and Washington state are considering laws to make it harder for parents legally to opt out of vaccinating school-aged children. Bills in several other states would loosen restrictions.

The Santa Fe district notified parents this week that any students who lack up-to-date vaccinations or bona fide state waivers for medical or religious grounds will be barred from class starting on Feb. 17, board President Steven Carrillo said.

District officials have not determined how many Santa Fe public school children are unvaccinated and how many have already obtained waivers. Some schools are known to be at 100 percent compliance, others at 60 percent, Carrillo said.

The board’s action comes as New Mexico has documented a steady rise in the number of vaccine exemptions obtained by school-aged children during the past two years, up 17 percent from 2012 to 2014 to a total of 3,335 waivers.

Kenny Vigil, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health, said the total still represents less than 1 percent of school-aged children statewide, though the department has voiced concern over the trend.

“An increase in vaccination exemptions can increase the risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles,” the department says on its website.

Only one case of measles has been confirmed in New Mexico so far this winter, an unvaccinated baby who was hospitalized with the highly contagious disease in December and has since recovered, Vigil said. It was the first case since 2012.

The origin of the child’s infection is unknown, he said, but the case was unrelated to the California outbreak because the onset occurred in late November, before the first infection in California’s Disneyland is believed to have occurred.

Even so, “the impetus (for Santa Fe’s action) was obviously the measles outbreak in California,” Carrillo said, adding that other New Mexico districts would likely follow suit.

California public health officials report 99 people have been diagnosed with measles in the state, many of them linked to exposure to an infected person from outside the country who visited Disneyland in late December.

More than a dozen other cases have been confirmed in 19 other U.S. states and Mexico, renewing debate over the anti-vaccination movement. Fears about potential side effects of vaccines, debunked by the medical community, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated.

In Santa Monica, California, a toddler and infant center that was closed after one baby came down with the virus reopened on Friday under the caveat that all staff and returning children provide proof of inoculation. Fourteen infants deemed too young to be vaccinated must stay home, a spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler)


Source: Newsjyoti USA

Obama cites outcry in reversal on college savings plan

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about his plan for free community college education and middle class economics during a visit Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


(Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday said that a public backlash to his budget proposal that would have eliminated the “529” tax-free college savings program convinced him to abandon the idea.

“I’ll be honest with you, there were enough people who already were utilizing 529s that they started feeling as if, well, you know, if changing like this in midstream … it wasn’t worth it for us to eliminate it,” Obama said, responding to a question at Ivy Tech Community College.

The plan to eliminate it was met with an immediate backlash from middle-class savers, as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Obama said he first proposed the change because most people using the tax-free accounts are on “the high end” of earners.

But members of his administration “changed our mind,” Obama said because of public outcry.

Obama said a plan to pay for making the first two years of community college free would instead depend more heavily on closing tax loopholes.

Obama aimed to boost support for the community college plan, one of many proposals he has laid out recently in his State of the Union address last month and 2016 budget on Monday, which are intended to strengthen the middle class.

The plan and its $60 billion price tag over 10 years has faced skepticism from Republican lawmakers.

Obama noted that he has established 529 college savings plans for his two daughters.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Bernard Orr)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

U.S. court orders Symantec to pay $17 million for patent infringement

(Reuters) – Symantec Corp, maker of the popular Norton antivirus software, was ordered to pay $17 million in damages on Friday after a federal jury in Delaware found it had violated two patents owned by Intellectual Ventures, a major patent licensing company.

The damages award was far less than the $298 million Intellectual Ventures had been seeking. The jury also cleared Symantec of infringing a third patent.

While a blow to Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec, the verdict, which also confirmed the validity of the patents, strengthens Intellectual Ventures’ track record in court. The multibillion-dollar company has become one of the biggest patent owners in the world and only recently began suing companies in addition to its longtime strategy of licensing its wide array of patents.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Intellectual Ventures, accused Symantec in 2010 of infringing its intellectual property with the security software company’s email and Internet protection products, including Norton antivirus.

Intellectual Ventures sued three other firms at the same time. Only Symantec and Trend Micro Inc chose not to settle.

Friday’s verdict will likely have a bearing on Trend Micro’s trial, which is scheduled to begin in May.

The case is Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp, No. 10-cv-01067, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


Source: Newsjyoti Technology

UPDATE 1-Canadian streaming TV should be available for all, consumer groups say

(Adds company comment)

By Alastair Sharp

Feb 6 (Reuters) – Consumer advocacy groups want
recently launched streaming services from some of Canada’s
biggest telecom and cable companies made available to all,
telling the industry’s regulator on Friday that making the
purchase of one service dependent on purchase of another likely
breaks the rules.

The services – a joint venture called Shomi from Rogers
Communications and Shaw Communications, and
BCE’s CraveTV – aim to limit the threat posed by online
rivals such as Netflix.

But while Netflix is a cheap, stand-alone service, CraveTV
is available only to existing pay-TV subscribers with BCE or
distributors with which it has reached an agreement. Shomi is
currently available only to its parent companies’ Internet or TV
customers.

“The tied selling of streaming services, designed to favor
legacy business models and to discriminate against customers who
wish to only view programming through an internet service
provider of their choice, is something PIAC-CAC believe cannot
be supported in the current rules, nor by Canada’s broadcasting
policy objectives”, said Geoffrey White, counsel to PIAC-CAC.

PIAC-CAC is the collective acronym of two consumer groups,
the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Consumers’
Associations of Canada, who filed the applications to the
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

BCE’s Bell Media said its CraveTV service has been made
available to all Canadian distributors, “with five on board
already and four more to launch next week,” spokesman Scott
Henderson said in an email.

Shaw and Rogers separately sent similar responses to
Reuters’ requests for comment – that they are testing the
service with their own customers while evaluating other
distribution models and talking to other broadcast distributors
about carrying it.

The CRTC last week ruled that wireless companies could not
choose to make some content available to mobile viewers without
it counting against their monthly data limits, seen as a nod to
the broad principle of net neutrality.

That ruling also involved BCE, whose Bell Mobility unit said
it has 1.5 million subscribers to its mobile TV service.

The companies have not publicly disclosed how many people
have signed up for their streaming services, which both launched
late last year.

(Editing by Gunna Dickson)


Source: Newsjyoti Company affairs

Islamic State says U.S. hostage killed in air strike in Syria

MuellerPhoto1
Kayla Mueller in an undated photo.   REUTERS/Courtesy Mueller family


(Reuters) – Islamic State said on Friday that an American woman hostage it was holding in Syria was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed a building where she was being held, but Jordan expressed doubt about the Islamist militant group’s account of her death.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they could not confirm that the woman, 26-year-old humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller of Prescott, Arizona, had been killed.

Mueller was the last-known American hostage held by Islamic State, which controls wide areas of Syria and Iraq.

The group has beheaded three other Americans, two Britons and two Japanese hostages – most of them aid workers or journalists – in recent months. Mueller was taken hostage while leaving a hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in August 2013.

The group’s latest claim, detailed by the SITE monitoring group, came just days after it released a video on Tuesday showing a captured Jordanian pilot, Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, being burned alive in a cage.

Jordan’s King Abdullah, who was in Washington discussing how to deal with Islamic State militants when the video was made public, vowed to avenge the pilot’s death and ordered a stepped-up military role in the U.S.-led coalition against the group. Jordan said it had carried out a second straight day of air strikes on Friday on Islamic State positions.

“We are looking into it but our first reaction is that we think it is illogical and we are highly skeptical about it. … It’s part of their criminal propaganda,” government spokesman Mohammad Momani said in response to Islamic State’s account of what happened to Mueller.

“How could they identify Jordanian war planes from a huge distance in the sky? What would an American woman be doing in a weapons warehouse?” Momani added.

Hours after the release of the video showing the pilot burning to death, Jordanian authorities executed two al Qaeda militants who had been imprisoned on death row, including a woman who had tried to blow herself up in a suicide bombing and whose release had been demanded by Islamic State.

A representative of Mueller’s family said the family had no information on Islamic State’s statement.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the United States is “deeply concerned” over the report but had not seen “any evidence that corroborates” the group’s account.

Islamic State, in a message monitored by SITE, said Mueller died when the building in which she was being held outside Raqqa, a stronghold of the group, collapsed in a Jordanian air strike on Friday.

“The air assaults were continuous on the same location for more than an hour,” Islamic State said, according to SITE.

The group released photos of what it said were the building’s wreckage but did not include photos of Mueller.

French journalist Nicolas Henin, a former captive of the group in Syria who gained his freedom last April, said on Twitter, “Kayla Mueller was among the very last of my former cellmates still detained. I was full of hope she could have a way out.”

The U.S. military last summer carried out an unsuccessful mission to rescue American hostages held by the group in Syria.

Reuters and other Western news organizations were aware Mueller was being held hostage but did not name her at the request of her family members, who believed the militants would harm her if her case received publicity.

‘WHERE IS THE WORLD?’

Mueller, a 2009 Northern Arizona University graduate, had a long record of volunteering abroad and was moved by the plight of civilians in Syria’s civil war.

“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal – something we just accept,” Mueller’s local newspaper The Daily Courier quoted her in 2013 as saying.

“When Syrians hear I’m an American, they ask, ‘Where is the world?’ All I can do is cry with them, because I don’t know,” Mueller said.

She had worked for a Turkish aid organization on the Syrian border and volunteered for schools and aid organizations abroad including in the West Bank, Israel and India.

“The common thread of Kayla’s life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others,” according to a statement from her family’s representative.

Islamic State previously executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and Goto’s friend, Haruna Yukawa.

Among the hostages still thought to be held by the group is British photo journalist John Cantlie.

Jordan is a major U.S. ally in the fight against militant Islamist groups. It is home to U.S. military trainers bolstering defenses at the Syrian and Iraqi borders, and is determined to keep the jihadists in Syria and Iraq from crossing its frontiers.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Bell and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Tom Brown and Sandra Maler)


Source: Newsjyoti Reporter

Exclusive: Top Fox investors seek to convert voting shares, Murdoch may benefit – sources


Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman News Corp and Chairman and CEO 21st Century Fox speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California in this file photo from October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files


Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman News Corp and Chairman and CEO 21st Century Fox speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California in this file photo from October 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Files


(Reuters) – Several top investors in Twenty-First Century Fox Inc are pressing for the right to swap their voting shares for ordinary shares, which are trading at an unusual premium, even though the move could hand even more control of the company to Rupert Murdoch, according to people familiar with the matter.

Fox’s dual-class share structure already gives the 83-year-old media mogul control over 39.7 percent of voting rights, even though he and his family hold only a 12 percent equity stake.

Several Fox investors, which collectively own 8 percent of voting rights, have been unhappy about the relative performance of their shares since the company delisted from the Australian stock exchange last May, the people said.

Historically, the voting shares had traded at a premium. In the five years before the delisting, the Class B shares, which carry voting rights, traded at an average premium of 6.2 percent over the ordinary Class A shares. But the delisting caused some Australian institutional funds to sell their B shares, which now trade at a 3 percent discount to the A shares.

Frustrated with the gap, several top Fox shareholders have met with management in recent months to press for amendments to the company’s charter to allow voting shares to be convertible into ordinary shares, according to the people, who requested anonymity as the discussions are private.

They said the investors, which include major hedge funds, believe conversion rights would push up the value of the B shares, pointing to CBS Corp and Comcast Corp as examples. The voting shares of both companies can be converted and they trade at a premium to ordinary shares.

Some of the Fox investors plan to take their proposals to the next annual general meeting, expected in the fall, said the sources familiar with the matter. Changing Fox’s charter would require approval from a majority of shareholders with voting rights.

It is unclear how much support there would be for this campaign. A Fox spokesman declined to comment.

At least two major institutional investors said they had no desire to convert their shares and lose voting rights. Other shareholders may be wary that conversion would leave Murdoch with an even bigger share of the remaining voting shares.

In the past, some pension funds and shareholder proxy advisors have criticized Murdoch’s command over his media empire, and pushed to separate his chairman and chief executive roles, among other things.

Fox, which owns the Twentieth Century Fox film studio as well as broadcast and cable television networks, was spun off from News Corp in 2013 amid shareholder pressure surrounding the phone hacking scandal involving Murdoch’s newspapers in Britain. (News Corp’s voting shares are also not convertible into ordinary shares.)

Following the split, Fox chose to delist from the Australian stock exchange, in part to cut compliance costs and consolidate trading on the Nasdaq to boost liquidity in the U.S. market.

The move forced Australian institutional funds that are not permitted to own foreign-listed securities to wind down their positions in Fox. That process is still going on, and has taken longer than some investors expected, people familiar with the matter said.

Adding to the pressure, the voting shares have not so far been accepted on any S&P Dow Jones indices, whereas the ordinary shares have. S&P Dow Jones said the voting shares will be indexed in September, which would open them up to index mutual funds, exchange traded funds and index portfolios – that could help the voting shares rebalance.

Fox’s ordinary A shares have risen 3.8 percent over the past six months to $33.58, while the voting B shares have gained 2.7 percent to $32.57. The average A share trading volume per day is about 12 million shares, versus the B share volume is 4 million shares. There are 1.4 billion A shares and 800 million B shares.

Some top Fox investors are willing to give up their voting rights because Murdoch already holds a controlling stake, the sources said. Even if Murdoch’s voting rights increase, these funds believe it would not change the way the business is run.

“Once you own the controlling block that he does, the vote is not worth a terrible lot,” said one of the sources.

As for ordinary shareholders, the prospect of convertibility could be an overhang on the common shares, said Eddie Best, a lawyer specializing in capital markets at Mayer Brown LLP.

Class B “shareholders are unlikely to exercise their conversion rights if they don’t have plans to sell,” he said.

As for ordinary shareholders, “they might not love it but they might not have a choice,” Best said.

(Reporting By Nadia Damouni and Liana Baker; Editing by Tiffany Wu)


Source: Newsjyoti Business

U.S. judge rejects third request to move Boston bombing trial

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday rejected a third request by lawyers for the accused Boston Marathon bomber to move his trial out of the city, saying the jury selection process had been successful so far in identifying potential impartial jurors.

Attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, who is accused of carrying out the largest mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, have repeatedly sought to move the trial out of Boston. They have contended that too many potential jurors had a personal connection to the April 15, 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 264.

The jury selection process, which wrapped up its fifth week on Friday, has shown a number of candidates with direct ties to the event, including a man married to a nurse who tended to the wounded, as well as others who were locked down in their homes during a manhunt for Tsarnaev three days after the attack.

Still, of the more than 150 potential jurors so far brought in for questioning at U.S. District Court in Boston, a process known as “voir dire,” some have been suitable, the judge said.

“The voir dire process is successfully identifying potential jurors who are capable of serving as fair and impartial jurors in this case,” U.S. District Judge George O’Toole wrote in his ruling on Friday.

“That the voir dire process has been time-consuming is not an indication that a proper jury cannot be selected for this case,” O’Toole added. “It is rather in the main a consequence of the careful inquiry that the court and counsel are making into the suitability of prospective jurors.”

Of the 1,350 people who were brought in early last month to fill out questionnaires, a minimum of 64 need to qualify for the final pool from which a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted by a federal jury. Massachusetts state law does not allow for capital punishment and it remains unpopular in the state, a fact that has also been made clear by the jury selection process.

Prosecutors contend that Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, placed bombs at the race’s crowded finish line and three days later shot dead a police officer as they prepared to flee the city. Tamerlan died that night, following a gun battle with police.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Dan Grebler)


Source: Newsjyoti USA

JPMorgan under scrutiny over hiring of Chinese minister's son: WSJ

A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, is seen in this file photo taken September 19, 2013.  REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, is seen in this file photo taken September 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar/Files


(Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co is under federal scrutiny over hiring the son of China’s current commerce minister, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing internal emails.

The investment bank hired Gao Jue, son of Gao Hucheng, despite several issues including his poor performance in job interviews, the Journal reported. (on.wsj.com/1D5Euhd)

JPMorgan’s decision to hire Gao was “widely understood” within the company to have been supported by William Daley, a senior executive at the time and a former U.S. commerce secretary and White House chief of staff, the Journal reported.

Daley worked at JPMorgan from 2004 to 2010 and reported to Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

Gao Jue started work in the summer of 2007. He currently works at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, the report said.

Gao Hucheng, who was promoted to minister in March 2013, offered to “go extra miles” for the investment bank if it spared his son during a major layoff, the report said.

The hiring is under scrutiny from U.S. authorities who are investigating the Asian hiring practices of JPMorgan and other banks, the report said.

Federal prosecutors view Gao Jue’s hiring as a potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the investigation.

The bank, Daley, Gao Hucheng and his son are not accused of any wrongdoing, the report said.

Gao Jue’s name hasn’t previously been reported in connection with the hiring probe, which JPMorgan disclosed in a 2013 regulatory filing.

A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment on the report. A Goldman Sachs spokesman also declined comment.

The Chinese commerce ministry is not a client of JPMorgan nor a banking regulator, but can rule on mergers among multinational companies that do business in China, the report said.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are expected to reach a settlement with JPMorgan related to the U.S. antibribery law. The settlement may involve a fine and warrant an overhaul of the bank’s hiring practices, the report said.

(Reporting by Amrutha Gayathri in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)


Source: Newsjyoti Business

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Source: Reuters