Daily Archives: February 22, 2015

Telecom workers ratify agreement to end strike in New England

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>(Reuters) – Union members ratified an agreement on Sunday that ends a four-month-long strike by some 1,800 workers at FairPoint Communications, a major land-line telecommunications provider in northern New England, union officials announced.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America (CWA) in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont went on strike Oct. 17 when negotiations broke off. FairPoint used replacement workers in their absence.

Union and FairPoint negotiators reached a tentative agreement on Feb. 19, followed by three days of union member voting that ended on Sunday. The union did not disclose vote totals.

The agreement calls for a union-administered health insurance plan with improved benefits at a lower cost, union local representatives said in a statement on Sunday. FairPoint agreed to abolish a two-tier wage structure and to protect jobs from outsourcing, they said.

“This agreement is a win for our members and for future FairPoint employees,” Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400, said in the unions’statement. “We went on strike last October because we are committed to keeping good, middle-class jobs in New England.”

A FairPoint spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment but on Feb. 19 the company said the pact would give employees among the best wages and benefits in New England while enhancing the company’s competitive position in the marketplace.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Ediiting by Tom Brown)


Source: Newsjyoti Tech

New Defense Secretary hosts U.S. gathering on Islamic State strategy

Carter holds a news conference after spending the day at Kandahar Airfield

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter holds a news conference after spending the day at Kandahar Airfield February 22, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst


(Reuters) – New U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is gathering top U.S. military commanders and diplomats for talks in Kuwait on Monday about the battle against Islamic State, as America’s military effort approaches major hurdles in both Iraq and Syria.

 

Carter says he hopes the roughly six hours of largely unscripted discussions will help assess the war that he is inheriting after swearing-in on Tuesday as President Barack Obama’s fourth defense secretary.

“I’m trying to assess the situation in Iraq, Syria and the region more generally,” Carter told reporters during his first trip abroad as defense secretary.

Carter’s meeting at a U.S. Army camp in Kuwait comes against the backdrop of a fierce debate inside the United States about the U.S. strategy, which Obama’s Republican critics say is far too limited militarily to succeed.

It also comes at a moment of increasing concern about the group’s spread, with Libya emerging as a battleground for militants loyal to Islamic State.

Among the long list of participants are General Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. forces in the Middle East, retired General John Allen, Obama’s envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition and U.S. ambassadors to countries including Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Still, a senior U.S. defense official traveling with Carter stressed the gathering was a learning tool — not a sign of his concern about the strategy or a prelude to an overhaul.

“I am not expecting a major re-write of our strategy. I’m just not. He just wants to understand it and he’s the kind of guy where he needs to … dig into it,” the official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.

The United States is now restricting the role of ground troops in Iraq to advising and training local forces, focusing American firepower on a U.S.-led coalition air campaign against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

But Carter could soon be asked to make a recommendation about whether to send American forces closer to the fight, possibly as spotters for air strikes during an offensive to retake the city of Mosul that could begin in April or May.

“I’m always open to advice from our military commanders about what the best way to achieve success is,” Carter said. “That is a question that will come down the road.”

The Pentagon is also preparing to start training Syrian rebels next month at sites outside of Syria.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, editing by David Evans)


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Mercedes recalls 147,000 cars in U.S. for engine fire risk

The logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, a subsidiary of Daimler AG, is pictured covered with raindrops at a Mercedes-Benz branch in Frankfurt

The logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, a subsidiary of Daimler AG, is pictured covered with raindrops at a Mercedes-Benz branch in Frankfurt, October 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

 

(Reuters) – Daimler AG’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz is recalling more than 147,000 mid-size sedans and station wagons from 2013-2015 to check for risk of engine fires, the U.S. safety regulator said Saturday.

 

The cars have a rubber seal in the engine compartment that can fall onto the exhaust system, increasing the risk of an under-hood fire, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Among the cars being recalled are versions of the CLS-class sedan and the E-class sedan and wagon.

Mercedes said U.S. dealers will begin notifying owners and repairing the cars in mid-March.

Last week, the automaker recalled another 149,000 CLS-class and E-class cars in Europe and China for a similar problem.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Eric Walsh)


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Turkish military enters Syria to evacuate soldiers, relocate tomb

A digger, belonging to Turkish army, is parked next to a Turkish flag at the new site of the Suleyman Shah tomb in the northern Syrian village of Esmesi, Aleppo province
(Reuters) – Turkish forces swept into Syria overnight to rescue about 40 soldiers who had been surrounded for months by Islamic State militants while guarding the tomb of a revered Turkish figure.

 

The Syrian government described the operation as an act of “flagrant aggression” and said it would hold Ankara responsible for its repercussions.

The action, which involved tanks, drones and reconnaissance planes as well as several hundred ground troops, was the first incursion by Turkish troops into Syria since the start of the civil war there nearly four years ago.

The military said no clashes took place during the operation although one soldier had been killed in an accident.

The 38 soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, were brought safely home.

Normally, the detachment is rotated every six months but the last one was trapped for eight months by Islamic State fighters.

The tomb, on a site within Syria that Ankara considers sovereign territory as agreed in a 1921 treaty, was to be relocated close to the Turkish border, while Suleyman Shah’s remains were taken to Turkey.

“The remains of Suleyman Shah, along with ancestral relics, have been brought back to our country pending their temporary transfer to a new site in Syria,” said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

He told a news conference that nearly 600 soldiers, including special forces commandos, took part in the mission. Turkey had not sought permission or assistance but had informed allies in the coalition against Islamic State once it began.

“This was an extremely successful operation with no loss to our rights under international law,” Davutoglu said, flanked by the chief of the military and the defense minister.

The Syrian government said in a statement that Turkey would be held responsible for its breach of the treaty after failing to wait for an agreement from Damascus before proceeding.

The Turkish government had informed the Syrian consulate in Istanbul about the operation but had not awaited Syria’s agreement, a violation of the 1921 accord, it said.

“There will be a letter from the foreign ministry to the relevant parties in the Security Council,” Syrian Tourism Minister Bisher Yazagi told Reuters.

A Turkish security source said the operation was conducted via the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani with the support of local Kurdish authorities. Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, drove Islamic State from Kobani last month.

HISTORIC SYMBOL

Turkey has been reluctant to take an active role in the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State, partly because it wants to see the military action target Syrian government forces as much as the insurgents.

But the Turkish government said late last year that Islamic State militants were advancing on the mausoleum, perched on the banks of the Euphrates river and made Turkish territory under the treaty signed with France in 1921, when France ruled Syria.

Davutoglu had repeatedly said that Turkey would retaliate against any attack on the tomb, which was located 37 km (23 miles) from the Syrian border, but was to be relocated to Kurdish-controlled territory north of the village of Esmesi.

Near the village, within sight of the Turkish border, two tanks and armored vehicles stood guard over mechanical diggers.

Turkish soldiers raised the Turkish flag at the new site.

“Countries which do not look after their historic symbols cannot build their future,” he said on Sunday.

The Syrian government statement said the fact that Islamic State had not attacked the tomb “confirmed the depth of the ties between the Turkish government and this terrorist organization”.

Syria accuses Turkey of supporting insurgent groups that have seized control of wide areas of northern and eastern Syria, including Islamic State.

Islamic State and other Islamist groups, whose strict Salafi interpretation of Islam deems the veneration of tombs to be idolatrous, have destroyed several tombs and mosques in Syria.

Suleyman Shah was the grandfather of Osman I who founded the Ottoman Empire in 1299. Traveling through modern-day Syria, he fell off his horse and drowned in the Euphrates near the site of the mausoleum, according to historians.

Davutoglu said the tomb would be returned to its previous location once conditions allowed. He said the remaining buildings at the original site were destroyed to prevent their use after the remains were removed.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler, Ayla Jean Yackley and Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul, Seyhmus Cakan in Esmesi, Tom Perry in Beirut; Writing by Nick Tattersall and Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Rosalind Russell)


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Oscars promise suspense and maybe some surprises

A man makes final preparations along the red carpet outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, hours before arrivals for the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California
(Reuters) – Hollywood’s awards season reaches its apogee on Sunday at the 87th Academy Awards, where “Birdman” and “Boyhood” are locked in a battle for best picture and veteran actors are likely to grasp their first golden Oscar statuettes.

 

The film industry’s biggest night will serve up its share of suspense as three top honors – best picture, best director and best actor – are proving hard to predict, even for the most seasoned experts.

But those nail-biters will come at the tail end of the three-hour ABC telecast from Hollywood’s Dolby Theater, where first-time host Neil Patrick Harris will guide a show heavy on humor, magic and music from big names like Lady Gaga.

Hours before Hollywood’s A-list celebrities were due to walk the famous red carpet, a plastic tent remained in place for possible rain showers.

News crews from around the world, in tuxedos and gowns, set up for a telecast that will be seen by hundreds of millions of people in 225 countries and territories.

Meryl Streep will be vying for an Oscar for a record 19th time, in the best supporting actress category. But most, including several of the favorites, are first-time contenders.

“It’s been a long journey up to here,” said Pawel Pawlikowski, director of “Ida,” Poland’s nominee for best foreign-language film. “Of course, it would be nice to win as well, but I’m not going to collapse if we don’t.”

In a sign of how the Oscars might be split, the Film Independent Spirit Awards for small-budget movies on Saturday crowned Alejandro G. Inarritu’s show business satire “Birdman” as best feature and its star Michael Keaton took best male lead. Richard Linklater won best director for his coming-of-age tale “Boyhood,” made over 12 years with the same actors.

While both Linklater and Inarritu have been nominated for Oscars before, they have never won.

Together, “Birdman” and “Boyhood” have made $62 million at the North American box office, compared to $310 million for the most commercially successful of the eight best picture nominees, Iraq war drama “American Sniper” from director Clint Eastwood.

CRITICISM OF ACADEMY

The dearth of blockbuster movies at this year’s Oscars could diminish the number of people who tune in to watch the biggest non-sports televised event in the United States.

Last year with host Ellen DeGeneres and her selfie that broke Twitter, the Oscars pulled in its largest audience in 14 years of 43.7 million viewers.

Forty percent of American adults plan to tune in to the awards telecast, according to the annual Reuters/Ipsos Oscars poll. Forty-five percent said they most enjoy seeing who wins.

The Oscars are determined by 6,100 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a body that has taken its knocks this year for nominating no actors of color in the acting races.

Civil rights groups have called a boycott of the Oscars to protest the lack of diversity and will demonstrate before the ceremony.

But experts believe the Academy, where actors are the largest voting bloc, will reward performers with long careers with their first Oscars.

Eddie Redmayne is front-runner for best actor for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” But there might be an upset from Keaton, whose “Birdman” role had him working in very long takes.

“I had no idea how precise we had to be, and how difficult, but you know there’s no other way to do it, it’s the only way you could make this movie,” Keaton said after winning his Spirit Award Saturday.

Julianne Moore, nominated five times in her career, should win her first best actress for her role as a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”

(Additional reporting by Jane Ross; Editing by Sandra Maler and Frances Kerry)


Source: Newsjyoti Entertainment

Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel spends heavily to avoid run-off

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hug during an event in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hug during an event in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago February 19, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

 

(Reuters) – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hoping his warm hug with President Barack Obama in the last days of his re-election campaign will help him avoid a run-off in the race to lead the financially troubled, third largest city in the country.

 

Chicagoans cast votes for mayor and for aldermen on Tuesday and polls show Emanuel in danger of closely missing the 50 percent needed for an outright win, even though his massive campaign chest has allowed him to saturate the airwaves.

His most recent ad showed him hugging Obama, who visited his home city last Thursday and praised Emanuel’s “smarts” and “toughness.” The former Obama advisor has brought business investment to Chicago but has had to fight off perceptions he is uncaring about the city’s have-nots.

The race has pitted big-money Democrat Emanuel – whose campaign donors include Hollywood directors and hedge fund executives – against a progressive Democratic challenger, County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has struggled to raise funds.

A run-off would mean six more weeks of campaigning for Emanuel against the second-placed candidate, almost certainly Garcia. Three other candidates – an alderman, a businessman and a perpetual also-ran – are well behind in polls.

After making unpopular choices earlier in his four-year term to shut down dozens of underpopulated schools in poor areas of the city, Emanuel has turned more attention to lower income residents as the election loomed, passing a city ordinance to raise the minimum wage.

He has also billed himself as the only candidate who can make tough decisions to rein in the city’s budget deficit, expected to balloon to $1.2 billion by next year due to a legally mandated jump in payments to public pensions.

Emanuel, 55, is a former U.S. Congressman who became Obama’s first White House chief of staff, leaving that post in 2010 to run for mayor of Chicago. He is known for his sometimes abrasive style and is seen as cold and uncaring by many Chicagoans. But in tough financial times, he has sought to turn that to his advantage, arguing he has the personality to make hard choices.

GARCIA’S MOMENTUM STALLED

Garcia launched his mayoral bid late last year and vaulted quickly into second place, but has failed to further build momentum. Most of his campaign events are small and polls show he will take about 20 percent of the vote. [ID:nL6N0UZ4X9]

Many trade unions endorsed the incumbent, who has overseen major infrastructure projects, while Garcia was not able to win many union endorsements, even from public sector unions wary of Emanuel trying to cut the budget for their pensions.

The only union to put serious money into Garcia’s campaign was the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, whose leader, Karen Lewis, had planned to run for mayor but backed down when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Rebecca Patrick, 31, adjunct professor at City Colleges, said she transferred her planned vote for Lewis to Garcia. “It’s not a great reason to vote for somebody but I thought if he had her support, and I was impressed enough with his credentials, ok.”

Garcia has been hugely outspent by Emanuel, who had $6 million in his war chest as of Dec. 31, even after spending $4.7 million in the fourth quarter.

Garcia, in comparison spent $60,000 in the fourth quarter and ended the period with $817,000 in his campaign fund. He held back on television advertising until February.

But some voters are turned off by the big-money support for Emanuel.

“I think it’s telling that a lot of his financial support is coming from outside the city,” said Robert Schultz, 60, who cast his ballot for Garcia in early voting, which ran from Feb. 9-21.

Emanuel clearly sees Garcia, 59, as his biggest threat, focusing  his negative ads on him. Garcia, who has been a state senator and an alderman, attacked Emanuel for failing to put more police on the streets and for tax breaks for corporations.

Both candidates have to contend with voter apathy.

“I don’t hate Emanuel. I do like Garcia,” said Amariah Bradford, a marketing student who said he would not vote. “Ultimately, I think it doesn’t make a difference.”

(Editing by Frances Kerry)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

Facebook shuttle drivers ratify new Teamsters contract: WSJ

People pose with mobile devices in front of projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica

People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic


(Reuters) – Shuttle bus drivers at Facebook Inc voted on Saturday to ratify a new union contract giving them more pay, better benefits and addressing split-shift scheduling, the Wall Street Journal reported.

 

It said Loop Transportation, the contractor that employs the drivers and negotiated with Teamsters Local 853, cautioned that the agreement was not finalized and must be approved by Facebook.

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Tom Brown)


Source: Newsjyoti Tech

Hit 'Fifty Shades of Grey' retains top spot at U.S. box office

Actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan (L)  arrive for the screening of the movie 'Fifty Shades of Grey' at the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 11, 2015.                        REUTERS/Stefanie Loos

Actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan (L) arrive for the screening of the movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ at the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 11, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Stefanie Loos


<span class="articleLocatio

n”>(Reuters) – The hit film “Fifty Shades of Grey”, an adaptation of the best-selling novel about a kinky relationship between a businessman and a college student, raked in another $23.2 million in ticket sales to lead U.S. and Canadian box office charts for a second week.

The film, which stars James Dornan and Dakota Johnson as the libidinous couple, again outpaced the No. 2 release, “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, which took in $17.5 million from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates.

Third place on Oscar weekend, when Hollywood is buzzing with anticipation of Sunday’s annual Academy Awards ceremony, again went to the family-friendly “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”, based on the popular television show about a talking animated sponge. It sold $15.5 million in tickets.

The three films replicated their standings from a week ago, and also outperformed a trio of new films that opened this week.

“Fifty Shades”, a bona-fide box office bonanza, has already racked up $410 million in global sales in less than two weeks, according to Universal Pictures, the Comcast Corp unit that released the film.

“Despite an expected steep second weekend drop, the film is an unqualified success and a profit-making machine,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box office tracking firm Rentrak.

Fourth place went to “McFarland, USA”, which stars Kevin Costner as a track coach in a small California town. The film, released by Walt Disney, made $11.3 million for the three days from Friday to Sunday.

Rounding out the top five, high school comedy “The DUFF”, which stars Mae Whitman, took in $11 million. Both films scored solid reviews before proving popular with audiences.

Another new release, “Hot Tub Time Machine 2”, settled for the No. 7 spot after being outpaced by box office juggernaut and Oscar nominee “American Sniper”‘s $9.7 million haul. The film, developed and financed by MGM and which cost just $14 million, took in $5.8 million on its opening weekend, less than half the take of the original 2010 film.

“Kingsman” is an adaptation of a popular comic series starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth about a spy agency’s training program and a global threat by a tech genius.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service” was released by 20th Century Fox, the unit of 21st Century Fox. “The SpongeBob Movie” was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by David Evans)


Source: Newsjyoti Entertainment

UPDATE 1-Oscars promise suspense and maybe some surprises

(Adds weather, quotes)

By Mary Milliken

Feb 22 (Reuters) – Hollywood’s awards season
reaches its apogee on Sunday at the 87th Academy Awards, where
“Birdman” and “Boyhood” are locked in a battle for best picture
and veteran actors are likely to grasp their first golden Oscar
statuettes.

The film industry’s biggest night will serve up its share of
suspense as three top honors – best picture, best director and
best actor – are proving hard to predict, even for the most
seasoned experts.

But those nail-biters will come at the tail end of the
three-hour ABC telecast from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, where
first-time host Neil Patrick Harris will guide a show heavy on
humor, magic and music from big names like Lady Gaga.

Hours before Hollywood’s A-list celebrities were due to walk
the famous red carpet, a plastic tent remained in place for
possible rain showers.

News crews from around the world, in tuxedos and gowns, set
up for a telecast that will be seen by hundreds of millions of
people in 225 countries and territories.

Meryl Streep will be vying for an Oscar for a record 19th
time, in the best supporting actress category. But most,
including several of the favorites, are first-time contenders.

“It’s been a long journey up to here,” said Pawel
Pawlikowski, director of “Ida,” Poland’s nominee for best
foreign-language film. “Of course, it would be nice to win as
well, but I’m not going to collapse if we don’t.”

In a sign of how the Oscars might be split, the Film
Independent Spirit Awards for small-budget movies on Saturday
crowned Alejandro G. Inarritu’s show business satire “Birdman”
as best feature and its star Michael Keaton took best male lead.
Richard Linklater won best director for his coming-of-age tale
“Boyhood,” made over 12 years with the same actors.

While both Linklater and Inarritu have been nominated for
Oscars before, they have never won.

Together, “Birdman” and “Boyhood” have made $62 million at
the North American box office, compared to $310 million for the
most commercially successful of the eight best picture nominees,
Iraq war drama “American Sniper” from director Clint Eastwood.

CRITICISM OF ACADEMY

The dearth of blockbuster movies at this year’s Oscars could
diminish the number of people who tune in to watch the biggest
non-sports televised event in the United States.

Last year with host Ellen DeGeneres and her selfie that
broke Twitter, the Oscars pulled in its largest audience in 14
years of 43.7 million viewers.

Forty percent of American adults plan to tune in to the
awards telecast, according to the annual Reuters/Ipsos Oscars
poll. Forty-five percent said they most enjoy seeing who wins.

The Oscars are determined by 6,100 members of the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a body that has taken its
knocks this year for nominating no actors of color in the acting
races.

Civil rights groups have called a boycott of the Oscars to
protest the lack of diversity and will demonstrate before the
ceremony.

But experts believe the Academy, where actors are the
largest voting bloc, will reward performers with long careers
with their first Oscars.

Eddie Redmayne is front-runner for best actor for his
portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of
Everything.” But there might be an upset from Keaton, whose
“Birdman” role had him working in very long takes.

“I had no idea how precise we had to be, and how difficult,
but you know there’s no other way to do it, it’s the only way
you could make this movie,” Keaton said after winning his Spirit
Award Saturday.

Julianne Moore, nominated five times in her career, should
win her first best actress for her role as a woman with early
onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”

(Additional reporting by Jane Ross; Editing by Sandra Maler and
Frances Kerry)


Source: Newsjyoti

Ellie Goulding spends third week at top of UK music singles chart

British singer Ellie Goulding arrives for the recording of the Band Aid 30 charity single in west London

British singer Ellie Goulding arrives for the recording of the Band Aid 30 charity single in west London November 15, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall


(Reuters) – Ellie Goulding topped the British music singles chart for the third week running on Sunday, the Official Charts Company said, with her track “Love Me Like You Do” breaking the all-time audio streaming record.

 

The song, which appears in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie, was streamed 2.6 million times over the last seven days, just pipping the previous record set by Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars.

Ronson’s track remains in third place in the charts, while Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” also held steady in second.

In the album chart, U.S. rock band Imagine Dragons went straight in at the top spot with their second studio album “Smoke + Mirrors”, which was self-produced alongside British hip-hop producer Alex Da Kid.

Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour” and Ed Sheeran’s “X” both slipped one place to second and third respectively.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by David Evans)


Source: Newsjyoti Entertainment