Daily Archives: February 25, 2015

North Carolina Senate passes opt-out measure for officials opposed to gay marriage

(Reuters) – The North Carolina state Senate voted on Wednesday to allow government officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples without fear of being fired, adding a new twist to the gay marriage debate in a region where such unions have faced strong opposition.

North Carolina, which began allowing gay marriages last year to comply with a federal court order, had banned same-sex matrimony in a 2012 referendum. It is among 37 states where gay marriage is legal.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month agreed to decide whether states can ban gay marriage in a ruling that will determine whether 13 remaining state bans will be struck down.

In North Carolina, some of the civil officers who perform marriages, known as magistrates, threatened to resign rather than perform unions that ran counter to their religious beliefs.

While the bill does not mention gay marriage explicitly, it allows employees to recuse themselves from performing marriages by citing a “sincerely held religious objection.”

After submitting their objections in writing, magistrates would be barred from performing any marriage for six months or until they removed their objections.

Senate leader Phil Berger, the Republican who sponsored the bill, cited a case in his home county in which a magistrate was forced to resign over his refusal to perform gay marriages.

Berger said the bill will allow the state to comply with the law while preserving religious freedom.  

“While the courts have taken steps to provide special rights to some, we must not ignore the constitutionally protected rights of others,” Berger said in a statement after the bill passed.

Supporters of gay marriage condemned the legislation, drawing parallels to officials’ past reluctance to perform bi-racial marriages.  

“This discriminatory bill treats gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens and distorts the true meaning of religious freedom,” Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement.

The bill, which also applies to the registers of deeds who issue marriage certificates, would require local governments to ensure that eligible couples are not denied the right to marry.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a 32-16 vote and heads next to the Republican-controlled state House, where final action on the bill could come as early as Friday.

(Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Steve Orlofsky)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

UPDATE 2-Salesforce raises full-year revenue forecast, shares jump

(Adds analyst comment, details; updates shares)

By Abhirup Roy

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>Feb 25 (Reuters) – Cloud software company Salesforce.com Inc
raised its full-year revenue forecast, betting on strong
demand for its web-based sales and marketing software and
services.

The forecast, which comes when many companies have warned of
strong dollar hurting results, pushed Salesforce’s shares up 11
percent in after-market trading.

The company reported a 26 percent jump in fourth-quarter
revenue to $1.45 billion, as it benefited from more businesses
choosing cloud software services that cost less and are easier
to manage.

“If you look at the guidance it was largely as expected even
when you factor in currency headwind,” FBR Capital Markets
analyst Samad Samana told Reuters. “So, you are seeing a strong
demand environment for the company’s products.”

Samana said bookings, a key metric and the best indicator of
demand, came in above market expectations at $2.54 billion for
the three months ended Jan. 31.

The world’s biggest maker of online sales software forecast
revenue of $6.48 billion to $6.52 billion for the year ending
January 2016, up from $6.45 billion-$6.5 billion it forecast in
November.

Analysts on average were expecting full-year revenue of
$6.50 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Salesforce, whose rivals include Oracle Corp and
Europe’s largest software group SAP SE, generates
about 30 percent of its overall revenue from outside the
Americas.

The dollar had risen 9 percent in the three months to
the end of January and is expected to continue to strengthen as
the Fed still appears to be on track to raise rates this year.

Hewlett-Packard Co on Tuesday joined a slew of U.S.
multinationals forecasting full-year earnings well below
analysts’ expectations due to the strong dollar.

Salesforce said subscription and support revenue, which
accounts for about 93 percent of total revenue, rose 25 percent,
while professional services revenue jumped 41.3 percent in the
fourth quarter.

The company’s net loss narrowed to $65.8 million, or 10
cents per share, from $116.6 million, or 19 cents per share, a
year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 14 cents per share.

The fourth-quarter results were in line with analysts’
average expectations.

Rival Workday Inc reported on Wednesday a
better-than-expected 60 percent jump in quarterly revenue,
helped by strong subscription growth for its web-based human
resources software.

Salesforce’s shares closed at $62.87 on the New York Stock
Exchange.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila)


Source: Newsjyoti Hot Stock News

Nickelodeon unveils paid streaming service for kids

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>(Reuters) – Viacom Inc’s Nickelodeon unveiled on Wednesday a paid streaming service for children called Noggin that will launch on March 5 for $5.99 a month.

The mobile subscription service will be available for Apple Inc’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

Aimed at pre-school aged children, the advertising-free app will feature shows such as Blue’s Clues, Little Bear and Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends. It will also include music and educational videos.

Noggin serves as a complement to the Nick Jr. app, which features live streaming video as well as on-demand episodes that are available with a paid-TV subscription.

Nickelodeon said it is in discussions with pay-TV distributors about offering Noggin as a premium complement to its authenticated subscribers.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


Source: Newsjyoti Entertainment

Chapter 9 a 'Wild West' solution for Puerto Rico agencies -adviser

Feb 25 (Reuters) – A proposed bill to give Puerto
Rico’s ailing public agencies a way to restructure debts under
U.S. bankruptcy law is a “Wild West” solution that would likely
hurt bondholders, an adviser for major investors argued in
written testimony ahead of a key congressional committee.

The bill to give Puerto Rico’s agencies the ability to file
under Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code – used by cities
such as Detroit, Michigan, and Stockton, California – was
proposed by the U.S. territory’s representative to Congress,
Democrat Pedro Pierluisi. It will be heard on Thursday.

“Use of Chapter 9 by any of Puerto Rico’s public
corporations will cause more harm than good, for both millions
of Americans who invested in Puerto Rico bonds and for the
Commonwealth,” according to testimony from Thomas Mayer, a
partner at Kramer Levin.

Mayer represents funds managed by Franklin Municipal Bond
Group and OppenheimerFunds Inc in respect to their investment in
$1.6 billion of bonds issued by Puerto Rico’s electric utility,
PREPA. PREPA is in dire shape, laden with about $9 billion in
debt and already deep in restructuring negotiations with
bondholders.

Using Chapter 9 would force bondholders to shoulder the
burden of PREPA’s operational failures and Puerto Rico’s fiscal
irresponsibility, Mayer said.

“Chapter 9 is the Wild West,” Mayer’s testimony said. “The
only certainty is that Chapter 9 takes a long time – at least 18
months to three years – and is very expensive.”

Pierluisi has argued that the bill empowers the Puerto Rico
government to authorize its insolvent public corporations to use
a “tried-and-true legal procedure” and would be in the best
interests of all stakeholders, including creditors.

Discussion about the bill was reignited when a federal court
on Feb. 6 struck down a local law enacted by the Caribbean
island granting agencies similar debt-restructuring authority.

Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank, which finances
many of the territory’s official functions, said Chapter 9 would
be a “useful tool for Puerto Rico’s long-term economic success,
whether or not it is actually invoked,” according to testimony
from GDB President Melba Acosta.

Acosta said Chapter 9 provides a legal regime already
understood by the markets, creditors, prospective lenders and
suppliers.

(Reporting by Nick Brown and Megan Davies)


Source: Newsjyoti Bankruptcy News

UPDATE 2-RadioShack goes to auction to test hedge fund $200 mln deal

(Updates throughout with judge approving auction process and
loan)

By Tom Hals

Feb 25 (Reuters) – RadioShack Corp
got approval on Wednesday from a U.S. Bankruptcy
Court judge to auction about 2,000 stores with an initial $200
million bid from the Standard General hedge fund.

The electronics retailer also received approval to borrow up
to $285 million. However, the judge hearing the case, Brendan
Shannon in Wilmington, Delaware, said the associated fees for
the loan had to be cut, calling it “money for nothing.”

Only about $35 million of the loan is new liquidity, with
the rest refinancing previous loans.

Shannon scheduled the auction for March 23 if competing bids
are received.

Wednesday’s hearing was the first time the bankrupt company
has put an estimated value on the sale agreement with Standard
General, which will keep about half of RadioShack’s stores open
and operate them under an agreement with Sprint Corp.

At the same hearing, RadioShack lawyers said the company had
received bids for leases to 205 of the 1,100 locations it plans
to close this month, including interest from a unit of the
GameStop Corp retail chain.

The lawyers also said the company’s name and intellectual
property would be auctioned separately and that Standard General
agreed to an initial bid of at least $20 million.

Shannon denied a request by the official committee of
unsecured creditors to force Standard General to bid in cash,
but said he needed to know more details about the exact value of
their bid.

Standard General is planning what is known as a “credit
bid,” using the $55 million it is owed on RadioShack loans to
help pay for the stores.

In addition, Standard General plans to offer loans held by
other hedge funds, which could bring its credit bid to $130
million.

RadioShack’s financial advisor, David Kurtz, the head of
restructuring at Lazard Ltd, said Standard General would bid $75
million in cash.

While Wednesday’s hearing was under way, RadioShack was
simultaneously holding an auction for the leases to the 1,100
stores it will close this month.

RadioShack lawyer Tom Howley said GameStop’s Spring
Communications was interested in some locations and called this
a “significant development” without elaborating.

GameStop has been aggressively expanding its Spring Mobile
business, which sells AT&T cellphones.

RadioShack filed for bankruptcy earlier this month after
struggling for years against online competitors.

The case is In re RadioShack Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court,
District of Delaware, No. 15-10197.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Lisa
Von Ahn and David Gregorio)


Source: Newsjyoti Bankruptcy News

Georgia takes step toward legalizing medical marijuana

(Reuters) – A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Georgia for patients with seizure disorders and other medical conditions cleared a big hurdle on Wednesday when the state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation.

The bill, which faltered last year on the last day of the legislative session, passed the House by a vote of 158-2 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

It would allow patients with diseases including cancer and multiple sclerosis to use a non-intoxicating oil derived from the marijuana plant.

To qualify, patients or their caregivers would have to register with the state Department of Public Health after getting a physician’s certification that they are being treated for one of the medical conditions covered by the bill.

Georgia would become the 12th U.S. state to allow non-intoxicating oil for medical use, said Erik Altieri, spokesman for the pro-marijuana organization NORML. Another 23 states allow regular marijuana to be smoked for medicinal purposes, said Altieri.

The bill covers a “decent range of conditions” for medical marijuana use, said Altieri. A recent trend has been for legislatures to approve bills that only allow marijuana use in cases of seizure disorders, he added.

“We hope the Senate will support it as is and not amend it to be further restrictive,” said Altieri.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Christian Plumb)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

Viking boats to cruise Mississippi River

(Reuters) – Viking Cruises Ltd will establish its first North American beachhead, a homeport in New Orleans, and will offer cruises up the Mississippi River starting in 2017, the company and Louisiana officials announced.

The move is seen as an effort to capitalize on rapidly growing interest in river cruises, which involve much smaller vessels than most ocean liners.

The company – whose boats ply the rivers of Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Egypt – will begin cruising the Mississippi with two boats in late 2017, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The cruise line plans to expand its fleet on the river to six by 2019, it said.

Depending on the season, the cruises will go as far north as Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri, or St. Paul, Minnesota, the company said.

Currently, the cruise market on the United States’ biggest river is limited, Mike Driscoll, editor of the trade publication Cruise Week said in a telephone interview.

“The view is that Viking is going to create that market,” Driscoll said.

“We are excited about the prospect of bringing modern river cruising to the Mississippi,” Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said in the statement issued by Viking and Louisiana Bobby Jindal’s office.

Each boat will carry up to 300 passengers, about a tenth of the capacity of most oceangoing cruise ships, the company said. The vessels are expected to dock near New Orleans’ historic French Quarter.

The enterprise is expected to bring 416 jobs to Louisiana, Jindal’s office said.

Viking Cruises, a privately held company whose operational headquarters is in Basel, Switzerland, was established in 1997 by a Scandinavian and Dutch consortium led by Hagen.

The riverboat company has turned its eye to the seas. It plans to being offering cruises in the Baltic and Mediterranean this spring.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

BRIEF-Bankruptcy judge says to approve process for RadioShack Corp auction

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>Feb 25 (Reuters) – RadioShack Corp :
* Bankruptcy judge says to approve process for RadioShack Corp

auction, with initial bid from standard general
* Bankruptcy judge sets auction of 2,000 RadioShack Corp
Stores for

March 21, if competing bids received
* Bankruptcy judge: to approve $285 million bankruptcy loan for
RadioShack Corp

but asks parties to discuss related fees


Source: Newsjyoti Bankruptcy News

Wisconsin Senate takes up right-to-work legislation

Hundreds of union members rally outside the State Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan O'Brien


(Reuters) – The Wisconsin state Senate on Wednesday began debating a proposal to make Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state in the nation, as thousands of demonstrators protested the measure at the state capitol.

The Republican-led state Senate is expected to approve the bill, which would prohibit requiring private sector workers to join or financially support unions, and move it to the state Assembly where Republicans also hold a majority.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a possible Republican presidential hopeful, will sign a bill if it gets to his desk, his spokeswoman has said.

Walker drew accolades from conservatives across the nation in 2011 when he ushered through legislation limiting the powers of most public sector unions in Wisconsin amid large protests at the capitol.

Supporters of the right-to-work measure contend it could attract businesses to the Midwest state, while opponents see it as an assault on organized labor that would limit union revenues.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said at the start of Wednesday’s session that the bill closely mirrors laws adopted in Indiana and Michigan in 2012.

“We have the duty to taxpayers to explore any opportunity to make Wisconsin more competitive,” Fitzgerald said.

Demonstrators interrupted Fitzgerald’s opening twice, shouting opposition to the bill before being escorted from the Senate gallery by capitol police.

“This is a sham … this is an attack on democracy,” one protester shouted.

About 3,000 demonstrators opposed to the measure gathered at about midday around the Capitol Building, the second noontime rally in as many days, in an echo of massive rallies in 2011.

“We will have no more rights as workers,” said Freeman Monfort, 83, a union member for 60 years. “This is about dignity and the working class.”

Republican leaders have fast-tracked the bill, introducing it on Monday and holding a more than eight-hour Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, which the chairman cut short by 30 minutes, citing the threat of a disruption by bill opponents.

The committee voted on party lines to advance the bill to the Senate, drawing criticism from Democrats.

“It is deeply concerning that honest, hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers have had their voices silenced by Republican senators who are unwilling to listen to the overwhelming opposition to this divisive bill,” Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said.

Fitzgerald said last week he had enough Senate support to approve the bill, which would be taken up by the Assembly next week.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Scott Malone, Lisa Lambert and Andre Grenon)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

Hackers controlling millions of PCs disrupted in Europol sweep

AMSTERDAM/BOSTON Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:18am IST

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. One of the largest ever cyber attacks is slowing global internet services after an organisation blocking ''spam'' content became a target, with some experts saying the disruption could get worse. To match INTERNET-ATTACK/ REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files (POLAND - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. One of the largest ever cyber attacks is slowing global internet services after an organisation blocking ”spam” content became a target, with some experts saying the disruption could get worse. To match INTERNET-ATTACK/

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files (POLAND – Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

AMSTERDAM/BOSTON (Reuters) – A cybercrime operation that stole banking information by hacking more than 3 million computers in Indonesia, India and other countries has been disrupted by European police with assistance from three technology companies, officials said on Wednesday.

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre coordinated the operation out of its headquarters in The Hague, targeting the so-called Ramnit botnet, a network of computers infected with malware.

Working with investigators from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain, it was assisted by AnubisNetworks, a unit of BitSight Technologies; Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) in dismantling the server infrastructure used by the criminals, Europol said.

“The criminals have lost control of the infrastructure they were using,” Paul Gillen, head of operations at Europol’s cybercrime centre, told Reuters.

Authorities simultaneously seized servers in four countries after Microsoft and the Washington-based Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center sought a court order last week in U.S. court through a sealed lawsuit, according to Microsoft.

Symantec said on its blog that the two countries with the largest number of infected computers were India – where data shows that 27 percent of infections were uncovered – and Indonesia, with 18 percent. Vietnam, the United States, Bangladesh and the Philippines followed.

The malware, installed through links on spam email or infected websites, enabled culprits to take control of the PCs and use them for criminal activities.

Symantec described Ramnit as “a fully-featured cybercrime tool,” whose features include the ability to spy on web browsing sessions, steal “cookie” credentials used to authenticate visitors to banking sites and scan hard drives in search of sensitive passwords.

Vikram Thakur, a Symantec researcher, told Reuters that he did not expect any arrests to be made by authorities who are still searching for the ringleaders.

Europol, the European police agency, has been coordinating cross-border efforts to take down criminal infrastructure on the Internet and bring to justice those responsible.

In November, U.S. and European authorities seized more than 400 secret website addresses and arrested suspects in an operation targeting black markets for drugs and other illegal services, known as Silk Road 2.0.

(Editing by Alison Williams, Richard Valdmanis and G Crosse)

Source: Newsjyoti India Technology