Daily Archives: March 11, 2015

Republican high hopes for balanced budget face Senate battle

(Reuters) – A major goal of the new Republican-led U.S. Congress, passing a balanced budget, could be in jeopardy amid disagreements within the party over easing constraints on defense spending.

The latest Republican feud comes less than a month after an embarrassing spat over homeland security funding and immigration. The fight pits conservatives who want to keep the “sequestration” budget caps in place against pro-military senators who say the constraints are degrading the Pentagon’s technological edge and ability to fight wars.

With control of the Senate and the largest House of Representatives majority since World War II, Republicans hope to pass a full budget for the first time since 2009. It would aim to eliminate deficits within 10 years, cut federal benefits programs and lower tax rates.

But without a defense spending increase, it will lose key Republican votes in the Senate and could spark another bitter fight like last month’s failed effort to use Department of Homeland Security funding to block President Barack Obama’s immigration initiatives.

“I will not agree to any budget that does not stop sequestration,” said Senator John McCain, a defense hawk who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, referring to the across-the-board discretionary spending caps put in place by a 2011 budget deal.

His sentiments have been echoed by Senator Lindsey Graham and other Republicans who want to lift the caps.

But conservatives say those caps are the only real savings achieved in years of budget fights and are needed to reach their goal of a balanced budget in 10 years.

“There’s no way you can produce a responsible budget that doesn’t put every program under review,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, a senior Republican on the budget committee. “We just don’t have the money.”

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte said a solution for defense funding may be include a “deficit-neutral reserve fund” that would allow spending caps to stay in place.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price and Senate counterpart, Mike Enzi, plan to unveil their fiscal blueprints next week, with floor votes later this month.

They have released few details, except to say there would be similarities to past Republican budgets authored by Paul Ryan, who now chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

The budget resolutions do not carry the force of law, but are statements of policy priorities that help lawmakers shape future spending bills and the Republican Party’s election platform for 2016.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by John Whitesides and Lisa Shumaker)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

Reported atrocities by Iraqi forces could risk aid under U.S. law

(Reuters) – Reported atrocities by Iraqi soldiers could risk some U.S. aid under a law forbidding assistance to those responsible for human rights abuses if they are confirmed, a key senator cautioned on Wednesday.

ABC News reported that some U.S.-trained units are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the Islamic State, citing an unnamed Pentagon official.

ABC said the investigation, conducted by the Iraqi government, was launched after officials were confronted with allegations of war crimes based partly on videos and photos that appear to show uniformed soldiers massacring civilians, torturing and executing prisoners and displaying severed heads.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the author of the law, said foreign security forces are not eligible for U.S. aid if there is credible evidence that they have committed crimes such as torture, rape or executions of prisoners, if they are not being appropriately punished.

“If their (ABC’s) information is accurate, the burden is on the Iraqi Government to punish those involved and on the Departments of State and Defense to insist that they do so and to offer support in investigating and punishing those involved as the law calls for,” Leahy said in a statement.

“Otherwise the Iraqi units involved should be deemed ineligible for U.S. aid,” he said.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: “We have withheld assistance from certain Iraqi units on the basis of credible information in the past. Due to the sensitive nature of our security assistance, we are unable to discuss specifics.”

The official was unaware of the specific instances cited in the ABC report, however.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Phil Stewart; editing by Andrew Hay)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

UPDATE 2-Cloud storage company Box reports bigger loss, shares fall

(Adds company and CEO comments; updates shares)

By Sai Sachin R and Subrat Patnaik

(Reuters) – Cloud storage provider Box Inc
posted a bigger loss due to higher operating expenses, in its
first quarterly report as a public company.

Shares of Box, which listed in January, fell about 15
percent in extended trading on Wednesday after reports the
company posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.

Box, however, said in an email some analysts had erroneously
based their estimates on an inaccurate share count and that it
had actually posted a smaller-than-expected loss.

The company’s operating expenses rose about 33 percent to
$93.8 million in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31.

Box said in a statement that it had been investing “heavily”
to strengthen security for data stored in its cloud platform.

“What you’ll see from us over the next few years is far more
investment in our security technology,” Chief Executive Aaron
Levie told Reuters.

He said the company would invest in industry-specific
offerings and go after “large enterprises”.

The company announced earlier this month that it was
acquiring Subspace, which makes software for companies to enable
employees to work securely from different devices.

Founded in 2005 by Levie, a University of Southern
California dropout, and his friend Dylan Smith, Box competes
with privately-held Dropbox, Google Inc’s Drive and
Microsoft Corp’s OneDrive.

Box, whose customers include General Electric Co,
eBay Inc and AstraZeneca Plc, forecast revenue
of $63 million-$64 million for the current quarter.

The company expects adjusted operating loss of 56-58 percent
of revenue in the quarter, which translates into $35.3
million-$37.1 million.

Box, whose first outside investment came from billionaire
investor Mark Cuban in 2005, has venture capital firm Draper
Fisher Jurvetson as its biggest investor with a 19.2 percent
stake as of Jan. 23.

Draper Fisher has earlier backed companies such as Skype,
Tesla Motors and Tumblr.

Box’s net loss attributable to shareholders widened to $52.9
million, or $2.64 per share, in the fourth quarter from $43.5
million, or $3.46 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company had a loss of $1.65 per share.

Revenue rose 61.3 percent to $62.6 million.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of $1.99 per share
and revenue of $58 million, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S.

Box’s shares were down 13.8 percent at $17.70 after the
bell. Up to Wednesday’s close, the stock had risen more than 46
percent since its debut on Jan. 23.

(Editing by Kirti Pandey)


Source: Newsjyoti Hot Stock News

UPDATE 1-Australia's IFM Investors to pay $5.7 bln for Indiana toll road

(Adds comment from IFM Investors, changes dateline)

(Reuters) – Australia’s
IFM Investors said on Thursday it had agreed to pay $5.73
billion to buy the bankrupt operator of a major U.S. toll road,
making its biggest overseas investment.

IFM Investors, which is owned by 30 Australian pension funds
and manages $43 billion, said the purchase of ITR Concession Co
LLC gave its investors access to core infrastructure in the
world’s largest capital market.

“ITR represents a rare opportunity to acquire a large,
high-quality, US-denominated transportation asset, giving our
investors direct linkage to US GDP and CPI,” IFM’s global head
of infrastructure, Kyle Mangini, said in an emailed statement.

The 15-mile (24-km) toll road spans northern Indiana,
forming a critical transportation link between highways leading
to major East Coast cities and Indiana, Chicago and the western
United States.

ITR put itself up for sale when it filed for bankruptcy in
September after it was unable to support its $6 billion in debt.
The company, owned by units of Spanish infrastructure company
Ferrovial SA and Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd
had paid $3.8 billion to the state of Indiana in 2006
for the right to operate the toll road for 75 years.

Soon after the deal closed, the United States slid into a
deep recession. Traffic volume on the toll road in 2013 was 10.7
percent below the 2007 level, according to documents filed with
U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. It is currently used by nearly
130,000 vehicles a day.

IFM Investors said the road’s strategic importance to the
North American transportation network ensured that it remained a
valuable asset.

“ITR is a core infrastructure asset with defensive
characteristics, demonstrated by strong financial resilience
during the recession,” Mangini said.

ITR will use money raised from the sale toward repayments to
its creditors.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware and Jane Wardell
in Sydney; Editing by Alan Crosby and Jonathan Oatis)


Source: Newsjyoti Bankruptcy News

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Cloud storage company Box reports bigger loss

(Corrects headline and paragraph 1 to say “bigger”, not
“bigger-than-expected”, and paragraph 12 to say “$1.99 per
share”, not “$1.17”)

(Reuters) – Cloud storage provider Box Inc
posted a bigger loss due to higher operating expenses, in its
first quarterly report as a public company.

Shares of Box, which listed in January, fell about 15
percent in extended trading.

The company’s operating expenses rose about 33 percent to
$93.8 million in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31.

Box said it had been investing “heavily” to strengthen
security for data stored in its cloud platform.

The company announced earlier this month that it was
acquiring Subspace, which makes software for companies to enable
employees to work securely from different devices.

Founded in 2005 by University of Southern California dropout
Aaron Levie and his friend Dylan Smith, Box competes with
privately-held Dropbox, Google Inc’s Drive and
Microsoft Corp’s OneDrive.

Box, whose customers include General Electric Co,
eBay Inc and AstraZeneca Plc, also forecast
revenue of $63 million-$64 million for the current quarter.

The company expects adjusted operating loss to be 56-58
percent of revenue in the quarter, which translates into $35.3
million-$37.1 million.

Box’s net loss attributable to shareholders widened to $52.9
million, or $2.64 per share, in the fourth quarter from $43.5
million, or $3.46 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company had a loss of $1.65 per share.

Revenue rose 61.3 percent to $62.6 million.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of $1.99 per share
and revenue of $58 million, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S.

Box’s shares were trading at $17.51 after the bell. Up to
Wednesday’s close, the stock had risen more than 46 percent
since it debut on Jan. 23.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru;
Editing by Kirti Pandey)


Source: Newsjyoti Hot Stock News

A Minute With: Sean Penn on 'Gunman,' Haiti and superheroes

Actor Sean Penn poses with his Honorary Cesar Award during a photocall at the 40th Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris February 20, 2015.   REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Actor Sean Penn poses with his Honorary Cesar Award during a photocall at the 40th Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris February 20, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann


(Reuters) – Sean Penn is not all gruff voice and intense gaze. He can have a good laugh too, like when he envisions himself as a superhero.

For the thriller “The Gunman,” opening in U.S. theaters on March 20, the 54-year-old actor and activist talked to Reuters about what motivates him in both the movies and the causes he champions. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Q: What drew you to this story and the character of Jim?

A: It appealed to me in a way that a lot of action movies haven’t appealed to me, because the consequences of violence were present throughout, and yet that didn’t seem to create a ponderous weight on the energy of the picture.

Q: How important was it to have the backdrop of Democratic Republic of Congo?

A: What was important was that the epicenter of that narrative drive had a history of suffering intervention, be it political intervention or corporate intervention. And certainly DRC has had both, and continues to.

There were also some real-life parallels related to the mining interests that had happened there. That made it the appropriate choice.

Q: Has being an actor made it difficult for your voice to be heard for your activism work?

A: I’ve found it harder and easier. Criticism will come more quickly, so will reverence. Generally, both are inaccurate, but you know, I think that I approach work – whether it’s creative work, any work I do – very much as a functionary … it’s really clinical on both.

Q: As Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti, what would you want tackled urgently?

A: I’d like to see politics redefine its quality of life for people and for everybody to put their sword down and get to the table, it’s very tricky there. But I think if you want good things to happen for a country like Haiti, then you need to provide the circumstances where the Haitians can do that.

You need governance, but you also need a middle class, you need agriculture, they need to be able to export. I think that’s probably the biggest issue, the job creation that could come with the kinds of things that Haiti has all the potential in the world to export.

Q: What roles are you finding yourself drawn to? Any superhero franchises in your future?

A: You asked me with a camera on this face and in this time of my life if I would be a superhero? (laughs) Maybe, if there’s a very funny one.

Q: There’s always the villain.

A: I don’t know what I would be interested in doing next. There are some good movies made on that (superhero) stuff, let a few of them be made a year. But I’d like to see this business not drown itself in superhero movies.

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis)


Source: Newsjyoti Entertainment

Senate Democrats oppose 'blank check' for Islamic State fight

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


(Reuters) – U.S. Senate Democrats made clear on Wednesday they have serious concerns about President Barack Obama’s war authorization request for his Islamic State campaign, although they hoped lawmakers could pass a compromise measure.

The politically charged initiative would give specific authority and limitations to the seven-month-long campaign, which is being fought under broad approvals passed more than a decade ago for foreign military endeavors under President George W. Bush.

Despite appeals from top administration officials for bipartisan support, Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told a committee hearing that no Democrats backed the proposal.

Senator Robert Menendez, the panel’s top Democrat, said members of his party wanted strict restrictions on the use of combat troops and geographic limits.

“Democrats are not willing to … give this or any other president an open-ended authorization for war, a blank check,” he said.

There are also doubts among Republicans, who often criticize Obama’s foreign policy as too passive. They want the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) to have few restrictions on military commanders.

Ash Carter, Obama’s secretary of defense, testified that the administration sees a more limited campaign than in recent wars.

“It is intended … clearly to rule out the kind of campaign we waged in Iraq and Afghanistan because we don’t foresee that kind of campaign is necessary,” Carter said.

Obama’s AUMF request has made little progress since he sent it to Congress a month ago, and it may never pass.

Some Democrats want to repeal the 2001 AUMF passed for Bush’s fight against al Qaeda, a legal authority that the Obama administration is using for the fight against Islamic State that began in August.

Administration officials insist that the 2001 authority must continue to protect the country against al Qaeda.

Tensions in Congress over foreign policy are high. But Corker and Menendez said they hoped for compromise, and Corker said they would begin on working on it in the next 10 days.

Secretary of State John Kerry told the hearing that an AUMF passed by only one party would be worse than none at all, citing the need to send a united message to Islamic State militants and U.S. allies.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Leslie Adler)


Source: Newsjyoti Politics

UPDATE 5-Apple's iTunes, App Stores back online after unusually long outage

(Changes headline to reflect service resumption)

By Joseph Menn and Edwin Chan

(Reuters) – Apple Inc’s
iTunes and App Store came back online on Wednesday afternoon
after an unusually long service disruption that the company
blamed on an internal technical error.

The rare 12-hour outage began a little before 5:00 am ET,
after which users took to Twitter to vent their frustration at
being unable to access the popular mobile apps store and online
content service, using hashtags such as #itunesdown and
#appstoresdown.

Apple updated its status page at 5:04 pm ET to show that the
disrupted services, including the Mac App Store and iBooks, were
now functioning normally. The company attributed the outage to
an internal Domain Name System error.

The App Store and iTunes are a source of pride for the
world’s largest tech company and form the centerpiece of its
mobile user experience.

It’s also a rich source of revenue for the Cupertino,
California company, which takes a cut of app downloads and paid
content, including music and videos.

Revenue from services, which encompasses everything from
iTunes and the App Store to licensing, amounted to almost $4.8
billion in its fiscal first quarter, or more than 6 percent of
overall sales.

Shares of Apple, which apologized to users publicly, closed
1.8 percent lower at $122.24 on Wednesday.

The outage came just days after Apple’s highly anticipated
unveiling of the Apple Watch, its entry into the fast-expanding
wearable devices sphere. The Apple Store website was shut
briefly on Monday, a customary practice ahead of a major event.

A similar outage occurred in early September, according to
appleinsider.com.

Apple said its iCloud Mail and iCloud Account & Sign In were
also affected until about 9 a.m. ET (1300 GMT). (apple.co/YIMuUp)

“Service outages happen from time to time and we view this
as a very minor event,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives
told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Arathy S Nair, Devika Krishna Kumar
and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings,
Kirti Pandey and Bernard Orr)


Source: Newsjyoti Hot Stock News

RPT-Australia's IFM Investors to pay $5.7 bln for Indiana toll road

(Repeats story published early Thursday; no changes to text)

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – IFM Investors of Australia agreed to
pay $5.725 billion to buy the bankrupt operator of a 157-mile
(253 km) toll road in northern Indiana, the investment fund said
in statement.

The road operator, ITR Concession Co LLC, put itself up for
sale when it filed for bankruptcy in September after it was
unable to support its $6 billion in debt.

In 2006, Indiana agreed to lease the highway to ITR
Concession for 75 years in return for $3.8 billion, a record for
a road privatization deal. IFM will assume the responsibility
for contract to operate the road, according to court documents.

ITR agreed to operate and maintain the road in return for
collecting tolls.

Soon after the deal closed, the U.S. slid into a deep
recession and traffic volume on the toll road in 2013 was 10.7
percent below the 2007 level, according to documents filed with
the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago.

ITR Concession was owned by affiliates of Australia’s
Macquarie Group Ltd and the Cintra unit of Spain’s Ferrovial SA.
The money raised from the sale will go toward repaying ITR
Concession’s creditors.

IFM Investors is owned by 30 Australian pension funds and
manages $43 billion, according to a statement by the fund.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Alan
Crosby)


Source: Newsjyoti Company News

UPDATE 1-Former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO sues Virgin Group over cruise line

(Adds details from complaint in court documents, background)

(Reuters) – The former chief executive of
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd sued Richard
Branson’s Virgin Group in federal court in Miami for $300
million on Wednesday over plans by the British billionaire to
launch his own luxury cruise line.

The lawsuit by Colin Veitch, who oversaw Norwegian from 2000
to 2008, claims that Virgin muscled him out of a joint venture
to break into the industry with massive ships capable of
carrying thousands of passengers and operating as floating
resorts, according to court documents.

Veitch alleges he presented to Virgin in 2011 a plan to
launch a new cruise line focused on two “ultra ships” that would
give it a foothold in the hard-to-enter but highly profitable
luxury cruise industry, according to a complaint in the
documents.

Virgin Group announced the Bain Capital-backed cruise line
project last December. The company is in the midst of
negotiating a deal worth more than $1 billion for two ships,
Branson told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph in an
interview earlier this week.

As CEO of the new Virgin Cruises Branson hired Tom McAlpine,
former president of the Disney Cruise Line, a unit of Walt
Disney Co.

In the complaint Veitch accuses Virgin of breach of contract
after he said they agreed to a partnership deal that would net
him about $315 million over 10 years.

“Upon recognizing the potential for Virgin Cruises to be one
of Virgin’s ‘biggest, sexiest businesses,’ however, the dark
side of Virgin quickly emerged,” the filing states, citing
language used by Branson in a video shot in 2012.

Veitch claimed that Virgin later began altering the deal to
diminish his earnings and leave him as “an indentured servant
whose ownership and rewards depended completely upon Virgin’s
whims.”

Virgin went from “brand partner to bully,” the complaint
alleges.

A Virgin Group spokesman was not immediately available for
comment.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by David Adams and Eric
Walsh)


Source: Newsjyoti