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NATO’s Back in Business, Thanks to Russia’s Threat to Ukraine

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 21:17

Back in 1993, during the earliest days of the Clinton Administration, Senator Richard Lugar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned that with the Soviet Union history, NATO needed to “go out of area, or out of business.”

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Like any self-respecting, self-perpetuating armed bureaucracy, the alliance got the hint, deploying forces—and, in some cases, fighting—in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Gulf of Aden and Libya.

President Clinton may have moved from the world stage, and Senator Lugar may have lost the 2012 Indiana Republican primary to an ultimately-defeated Tea Party candidate, but NATO—thanks to Russia’s threat to Ukraine—is now firmly back in business, finally in its own area.

The North Atlantic alliance made clear Wednesday that “a political solution is the only way forward” in dealing with Russia’s threats to its former fellow Soviet republic. That may be the only way forward for NATO and the West. But Russia may not be willing to play fair.

“We call on Russia to be part of the solution,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. “To stop destabilizing Ukraine, pull back its troops from the borders and make clear it doesn’t support the violent actions of well-armed militias of pro-Russian separatists.”

Good luck with that, Secretary General.

When NATO faced a similar situation in the Balkans in the 1990s, importuning for political solutions failed and ended with thousands of bombing runs against Serbian targets. The Serbs are Slavs, as are the Russians. So are the Ukrainians. Ethnicity isn’t destiny, but it plays a role.

NATO hopes that Thursday’s meeting in Geneva among representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and the European Union will de-escalate tensions. “We continue to call on Russia to take action that deescalates the situation and the tensions in Ukraine by returning its forces to their pre-crisis positions and numbers; moving its forces from the Ukrainian border as well from Crimea; ceasing its support for armed separatist groups that have seized government buildings, blockaded roads and stockpiled weapons in eastern Ukraine; and engage directly in a dialogue with Ukraine about its concerns when it comes to ethnic Russians in parts of Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

U.S. aid to Ukraine so far has consisted of 300,000 Meals-Ready-to-Eat for famished fighters in the field. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Wesley Clark, the retired Army general who served as NATO’s commander during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, is urging deliveries of nonlethal aid, including body armor, night-vision goggles and aviation fuel to help Ukraine thwart any Russian invasion. The list only serves to highlight how little the West is willing to do to help Ukraine. No one believes it will make much difference if Russian tanks cross the border.

“We’re actively considering forms of assistance, the kinds of assistance that we may be able to provide to Ukraine,” Carney said. “We are not considering lethal assistance, but I’m not going to itemize the types of assistance that are under consideration.”

Rasmussen made it clear that NATO is making military moves—but only to calm its jittery new members who fear Moscow. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land,” he said. “Air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region. Allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere, as required.”

But their mission is limited to defending NATO’s 28 member states. There is no appetite in the West for military action to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty, despite a 1994 pact among Russia, Britain and the U.S. pledging to honor its borders.

So it looks like the Cold War has returned: the Soviet Union crushed uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, while NATO observed from the sidelines. Russia did it in Georgia in 2008, and Crimea last month. It could happen in Ukraine momentarily. Once again, NATO will be watching.

Categories: Magazines

Milwaukee Bucks Will Be Sold for $550 Million

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:53

The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks will be sold for $550 million, the team announced in a press conference Wednesday.

The team’s owner of 29 years, former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, said he wanted to establish a succession plan. Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital Management and Wesley Edens, co-founder of Fortress Investment Group LLC are buying the team from Kohl, Bloomberg reports.

“Marc and I are very pure in our ambitions to be good owners,” Edens said. “We are delighted to be in Milwaukee and we want to stay in Milwaukee. I think there’s no doubt this market can be successful.”

Kohl agreed to give a gift of $100 to Milwaukee toward the building of a new basketball arena for the team. The new owners also pledged at least that amount toward construction costs.

“I’m very optimistic, even more so than I can express, about the future of basketball in this city,” Kohl said. “They have embraced that concept that this is Milwaukee’s team.”

The deal is still subject to the approval of the owners of the NBA’s 29 other teams.

[Bloomberg]

Categories: Magazines

Fox News Launches Show With 4 Women and 1 ‘Outnumbered’ Man

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:50

Fox News is introducing a noontime panel show titled “Outnumbered,” featuring four permanent female hosts and one rotating male cast member.

“Outnumbered combines a distinctive group of FOX talent with unique experiences and insights that will make for compelling news programming,” said network Senior Vice President Jay Wallace in a statement. “We look forward to once again pushing the envelope with the addition of this new show and are confident the revised line-up will only strengthen the FNC brand.”

Panelists on the show will include Harris Faulkner, Sandra Smith, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros, Variety reports.

“Happening Now,” the two-hour long show that currently runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be bifurcated into two one-hour segments beginning at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“Outnumbered” is set to debut April 28.

[Variety]

Categories: Magazines

Lamar Odom Signs with New York Knicks

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:32

Lamar Odom is heading home to the east coast after signing with the New York Knicks, team owner Phil Jackson announced Wednesday.

Odom, a native of Queens, leaves the Los Angeles Lakers immediately to start practicing with the Knicks on Thursday, The New York Daily News reports.

Odom will finish the season with the New York team, though he’s unlikely to play in the one game the Knicks have left, their meeting with the Toronto Raptors Wednesday. As Sports Illustrated notes, Odom has had his share of challenges of late, including a recent back injury that forced him to back out of a deal with a team in the Spanish ACB League, pDUI charges and time spent in rehab. His wife Khloe Kardashian filed for divorce last December.

[NY Daily News]

Categories: Magazines

Sony Says 7 Million PlayStation 4s Have Been Sold Worldwide

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:26

Sony’s coming out swinging one day before U.S. retail tracker NPD’s game sales numbers are due: the international electronics behemoth says it’s shipped more than 7 million PlayStation 4 game consoles since the system arrived last November. That figure is as of April 6.

Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Andrew House doles out the usual kudos in the press release, but adds that the company is “still facing difficulties keeping up with the strong demand worldwide.” In recent months, analysts and pundits alike have speculated that Sony’s sales might be higher still were the company able to provide retailers sufficient inventory to keep the system on shelves, though in fairness to the Xbox One, the PS4 is presently available in at least three or four times as many countries (Sony says 72 total countries and regions at this point).

The company adds that PS4 software sales are robust at more than 20.5 million to date (split between worldwide retail and digital downloads via the PlayStation Store through April 13). And there’s some crowing about games to come, in particular PS4 exclusives like DRIVECLUB, MLB 14: The Show and The Order 1886, as well as indies like N++, Secret Ponchos, Transistor, Octodad: Dadliest Catch and Daylight.

Related, Sony says over 135 million “shares” (pictures, videos, etc.) have been captured using the sharing button on the DualShock 4 controller. And between Twitch and Ustream, the company says players have delivered over 4.9 million gameplay broadcasts and nearly 90 million spectate sessions.

Sony community manager (and former GamePro editor) Sid Shuman announced the news on Sony’s PlayStation blog, and notes that the company will “have some great new details to share with you regarding our upcoming PS4 system software update very soon.”

Stay tuned tomorrow evening, when we’ll likely have Microsoft’s response, which’ll include Titanfall sales and give us a sense for whether that game — arguably the most important Xbox One exclusive for the first half of 2014 sales-wise — helped Microsoft make inroads on Sony’s lead.

In any event, 7 million units sold this early in a set-top’s lifecycle (we’re not six months out) is very, very good news for Sony, and the games industry in general.

Categories: Magazines

Being Creative Outside of Work Makes You Better at Your Job

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:00

Have a creative outlet has long been considered good for your well-being, but a new study suggests it will help you be better at your job.

Researchers from San Francisco State University surveyed 341 employees about their creative activities, including what they do during downtime, how creative they are at work and how well they supported their employer and co-workers.

The researchers let the interviewees determine for themselves what “creative activities” meant — and the results spanned from writing to video games. Originally, the researchers wanted to know if having a creative outlet impacted a worker’s performance by allowing them to detach and recover from a stressful work day. But they realized it wasn’t so simple because it’s hard draw to a line between career and hobby for some people. For example, a wedding photographer by trade may take pictures of landscapes in their free time. The work is still very similar to their day job, so “detaching” from the daily grind doesn’t fully apply.

What they discovered was that partaking in creative activities was linked to experiencing mastery, control and relaxation, as well as reported positive work performance related outcomes.Why? The researchers are not certain, but it’s likely that people learn new skills through their other activities, and these skills may be applied to their daily work.

“It can be rare in research to find that what we do in our personal time is related to our behaviors in the workplace, and not just how we feel,” said study author Kevin Eschleman, an organizational psychologist at San Francisco State University in a statement.

Even though what the participants defined as “creative” was different for each person, the researchers said that whatever the activity was, it provided them with some form of self-expression and ability to discover something new about themselves. This type of experience can have implications beyond just relaxation after a hard day, but can actually help people with their day-to-day duties, like problem-solving.

The study is published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Categories: Magazines

TIME 100: Egyptian Presidential Candidate Leads TIME 100 Poll

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:27

Correction: Appended, April 16.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the man largely responsible for ousting the former president of Egypt in a coup d’etat last year holds a commanding lead in the TIME 100 reader poll, with pop icons Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga neck and neck close behind.

Though the final TIME 100 list of the most influential people of the year worldwide is always ultimately chosen by the editors, TIME seeks the input of readers in an online poll.

The recording artist Rihanna, who made the TIME 100 in 2012, is currently in fourth place, followed by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, whose TIME cover last year proved… um… divisive among his fans.

Next down the list are Beyonce and Miley Cyrus followed by the only other non-pop icon in the top 10, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has made headlines in recent weeks by unrepentantly banning social media in his country amid mass protests. Singers Katy Perry and Taylor Swift round out the top 10.

Displeased with what you see? Fear not, for voting is still open, but not for long. Polls close at 11:59 p.m. on April 22, with the final winner announced April 23. We’ll announce our official TIME 100 list on April 24.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. He is the former defense minister of Egypt and a presidential candidate.

Categories: Magazines

Online Matchmaker Zoosk Files $100M IPO

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:17

The online dating website Zoosk filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday announcing a planned $100 million initial public offering.

The San Francisco startup was founded in 2007 and began as a website but has been particularly successful as a mobile app, grabbing the number one grossing dating app spot in the Apple app store. The 26-million member service, with users spread across 80 countries, saw revenues of $178 million last year for a net loss of $2.6 million in 2013, Techcrunch reports. In 2012, the site posted a significantly higher net loss of $20.7 million and revenues of just $109 million.

While Zoosk’s earnings have yet to hit positive territory, the service has been gaining users at a rapid pace. According to its IPO filing, by the end of 2013 Zoosk had a total of 26 million members and 650,000 paying subscribers — up 44% and 35%, respectively from 2012.

Bookrunners for the IPO include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and RBC Capital Markets, according to Techcrunch.

[TechCrunch]

Categories: Magazines

Rapper Severs Penis, Jumps off Building in Apparent Suicide Attempt

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 18:39

Andre Johnson, a Los Angeles area rapper with connections to the Wu-Tang Clan, cut off his penis before leaping from an apartment building in North Hollywood early Wednesday.

Los Angeles Police Sgt. William Man said Johnson was seriously injured but survived. He and his penis were taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for treatment.

Johnson, who performs under the name Christ Bearer, has been a member of the Long Beach hip hop group Northstar, which was once a part of the Wu-Tang Clan family, CNN reports.

[CNN]

Categories: Magazines

Heart Attacks, Strokes Related to Type 2 Diabetes Drop Dramatically

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 18:37

The rates of type 2 diabetes-related complications, like heart attacks, kidney failure, strokes, and amputations, have significantly dropped in the last 20 years.

In the new study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at four major data sets and found that the rates of heart attacks and deaths related to high blood sugar dropped 60% from 1990 to 2010. The rates of lower extremity amputations, as well as strokes, dropped by about 50%, and end-stage kidney failure by 30%.

“We were a bit surprised by magnitude of the decrease in heart attack and stroke,” lead study author Edward W. Gregg, a senior epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The New York Times.

Still, over the same study period, the number of Americans with diabetes tripled, rising to 26 million. While the sharp decline in compilations is reassuring, it’s likely because the medical community has gotten better at diagnosis and treatment.

[The New York Times]

Categories: Magazines

Here’s What’s Wrong With That Viral “World’s Toughest Job” Ad

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 18:19

The Internet got collectively teary-eyed over Tuesday’s viral video about the “World’s Toughest Job,” which is—surprise!—motherhood. The video, which turns out is actually an advertisement for Cardstore.com, comes from that Dove Beauty model of feel-good videos that you don’t know are ads until it’s too late and you’ve already shared it on Facebook. And with almost eight million views in less than two days, it’s safe to say that millions have emailed the link to their moms with some XOXOs and a laundry question or two.

But the cutesy ode to motherhood doesn’t do the “profession” justice. And even worse, the video makes it sound like being a dad consists of an occasional game of catch and an awkward sex talk in comparison. By fetishizing all the things moms do for their kids, we’re forgetting that both parents are responsible for their children, and we’re put the burden of care solely on the women. This ad shouldn’t be about motherhood, it should be about parenthood.

MORE: What Stay-at-Home-Moms Need: Dad to Do the Dishes

The idea that the 135-plus hour work week, the lack of breaks and holidays, the sleepless nights and the constant vigilance is just for moms and not for dads is part of the reason moms have it so rough. Maybe if this was an ad for fathers, moms could take a lunch break once in a while. But don’t keep your fingers crossed for a Father’s Day version.

The “World’s Toughest Job” ad is a token of appreciation, which is nice, but you’d think those 8 million views could have gone toward something that could actually help moms in a tangible way, like the Paycheck Fairness Act or more affordable childcare or workplace flexibility. But even if Cardstore.com wants to stay in the neutral warm-and-fuzzy area popular with greeting card companies, they could have at least expanded it to include the 189,000 stay-at-home dads who were their kids’ primary caregivers in 2012, or celebrated the millions of other dads who do just as much for their kids as moms do.

Not to mention that the whole idea of motherhood as a “job” is a touchy subject. That was a major weapon in the Mommy Wars, when stay-at-home mothers argued that their “jobs” were much more important than any workplace career, which was a backhanded jab at women who chose to work in an office. Since a recent Pew Study shows that the number of stay-at-home moms has increased to 29% after decades of decline (although mostly among women who can’t find jobs,) we might be seeing a resurgence of this idea.

MORE: More Mothers Are Staying Home

We already have a serious motherhood fetish, we don’t need schmaltzy ads making it worse. Let’s spread some of this mom-love towards the dads who do just as much.

Categories: Magazines

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young on Hiatus Over ‘Ill Health’

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:52

AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young, 61, is taking some time off from the band due to concerns over his “ill health,” the band announced Wednesday via Facebook.

Malcolm Young, brother to AC/DC guitarist and wearer of trademark tie-with-schoolboy-shorts Angus Young, has been with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted group since its founding 40 years ago.

“Malcolm would like to thank the group’s diehard legions of fans worldwide for their never-ending love and support,” the band said in the statement. “In light of this news, AC/DC asks that Malcolm and his family’s privacy be respected during this time. The band will continue to make music.”

Categories: Magazines

Why Sanctions Will Cost Russia More Than America

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:37

When Secretary of State John Kerry meets with his Russian counterpart in Geneva on Thursday to discuss Russia’s incursions into eastern Ukraine, his trump card will be the threat of wide-ranging sector sanctions, the most serious response leveled by the Obama administration. And while Kerry has argued that enacting sanctions on Russian banking, energy, mining, arms and other industries would have a “profound impact” on the country’s economy, he has also said sanctions could have economic affects back home. “If you start going down that road,” he told a Senate committee panel last week, “it’s not just them who feel it, we’ll feel it too.”

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Calculating the potential impact of sanctions on Russia’s behavior versus the cost borne by the American economy is now an important part of Washington’s decision-making over how to manage the Ukrainian crisis.

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American business interests are concerned about the cost of sanctions. Some name-brand U.S. giants like ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and General Motors invest or earn billions of dollars in Russia, as the New Republic recently noted. “The U.S. business community recognizes the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine as well as the damage to the global economy that sanctions could inadvertently unleash,” says Myron Brilliant, the head of international affairs at the Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber urges policymakers to continue to gauge carefully the impact sanctions could have on already disappointing economic growth in a number of key markets as they chart a path forward,” Brilliant says.

But hawks at the State Department see the cost of wide-reaching sanctions as comparatively small next to America’s global business activity. U.S. exports to Russia totaled $11.2 billion in 2011, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, while Russian exports to the U.S. totaled $26.4 billion. Because those exports represent a larger part of Russia’s overall economy, Moscow would be hurt more than the U.S. in a trade war: Russia’s total exports in 2011 were $508 billion, compared to $1.37 trillion for the U.S. Last month alone, the U.S. exported over $190 billion worth of goods.

“The fundamental thing is that Russia’s GDP is 2.9% of global GDP, and U.S. trade with Russia is about 1% of total U.S. trade,” says Anders Aslund, a Russian specialist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “In the big scheme of things, Russia’s economy doesn’t much matter,” he adds.

For their part, U.S. businesses say billions of dollars in lost trade is too much to pay for an uncertain result. They say that American sanctions would have a limited impact on the Russian economy and prefer the State Department to work with the European Union, which has much closer ties to Russia. Unilateral sanctions, says the Chamber’s Myron Brilliant, would “certainly be ineffective.”

But unilateral sanctions are likely all that is available, for now. There is bipartisan support for sector sanctions on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including from ranking Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and members Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). But the European Union is hesitant to move forward with harsher sanctions.

If the U.S. does go it alone, the most powerful sanctions could be financial, increasing the cost of capital for Russian companies even without the support of the Europeans. If the U.S. targets the top four state-run Russian banks, argues Aslund, the E.U. could even benefit economically and the U.S. could significantly hurt the Russian economy. “If Russian finances are being hit, which I favor, then the money would flow out of Russia,” says Aslund. Russia’s GDP would decline by “several” percentage points, he argues, while acknowledging that he wasn’t sure if it would “halt” Putin’s aggression.

For now, the betting is mixed on whether the State Department will go ahead with energy sector sanctions, which are particularly important since a major source of Russia’s wealth comes from what it extracts from the ground. Edward Chow, an international energy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that the State Department is “getting much closer” to announcing such measures, thanks to the deteriorating conditions in eastern Ukraine. “It will be more symbolic than hurt in the very short run, but it’s not completely negligible,” says Chow. Aslund says that “nobody” is arguing for oil sanctions, but leaves open the possibility of natural gas sanctions.

Categories: Magazines

Obama’s $600 Million Plan to Help You Get a (Better) Job

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:31

In a joint appearance at a community college in Pennsylvania Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced $600 million in investments in job training programs. The investments are a part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to follow through on Obama’s agenda without Congress’ help by redirecting existing funds to job training efforts.

The administration is asking more colleges to partner with businesses and industries to prepare students with the skills businesses are looking for in potential employees. Obama said Wednesday the Labor Department is offering $500 million worth of grants to community colleges with these types of programs as a part of an existing Trade Adjustment Assistance and Community College and Career Training competitive grant program, which has previously rewarded schools that connect out-of-work Americans with jobs in regional economies. Obama also touted a $100 million expansion of apprenticeship programs, which the administration calls a proven path to employment and entry into the middle class. About 87% of apprentices are employed upon completion, and the average starting wage is around $50,000.

“The bottom line is if you’re willing the work to get a promotion or get a job America’s job training programs should be working to give you a chance,” Obama said.

The goal, Obama says is to provide more good paying jobs and ensure employees have the training necessary to obtain them as a part of his four-part opportunity agenda. The President also called on Congress to invest in ready-to-work programs that support better training, though he noted the work he’s doing can be done without their help. Obama has called on Vice President Biden to lead the effort to improve American job-training. Biden said Wednesday he’s working to help more Americans find work industries that have been expanding in the aftermath of the recession so that more can ascend to the middle class.

The President and Vice President appeared at the Community College of Allegheny County’s West Hills Center, which Obama said is representative of the kind of job training the administration is trying to encourage across the country.“We need to take a job-driven approach, that’s what you’ve done in Allegheny County,” Obama said.

“The point is real simple; the backbone of this country is a strong and striving middle class,” Biden said. “It’s been the distinguishing feature of our economy for the last 150 years.”

Categories: Magazines

Most Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls Released

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:58

Nearly all of the 129 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted earlier this week by the Islamist group Boko Haram “have been freed” but eight remain missing, the Nigerian military says.

The military is conducting a search-and-rescue operation for the remaining girls and one of the alleged kidnappers has been apprehended. Neither the girls’ condition nor the reason for their release were immediately clear, CNN reports.

The girls were abducted Monday night from their dormitories at their school in northeastern Nigeria, where the militant Islamist group has been waging a campaign of violence and terror for years. After a gun battle with authorities, militants loaded the girls onto busses and drove them away in a caravan.

[CNN]

Categories: Magazines

Long-Haired Lady Sues Walmart for Ruining Her Locks

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:55

A Portland, Oregon, woman is suing Walmart for $10,000 over a bottle of shampoo she says got her butt-length hair into such a tangled mess she was forced to cut most of it off.

Jennifer Fahey, 30, says she has had waist-length hair since childhood. She claims that within seconds of applying Equate Everyday Clean Dandruff Shampoo to her hair it was so knotted she was forced to cut all but about four inches off.

The lawsuit, which identifies shampoo manufacturer Vi-Jon as a defendant as well, requests $10,000 in compensation for “past, present and future physical and emotional pain and suffering, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment, expenses for replacement hair, along with diminished and lost wages” as well as “loss of life’s pleasure and activities.” The bottle of shampoo, according to The Oregonian, runs about $3.44.

Walmart could not be reached for comment.

[The Oregonian]

Categories: Magazines

Google Shares Slump on Disappointing Earnings

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:47

Google missed analyst expectations in its first quarterly earnings report of the year due to declining cost-per-click rates for its search ads and rising costs to ensure its search engine is used on various platforms. The tech giant brought in $15.4 billion in revenue, a 19 percent jump from a year earlier that still missed analyst expectations of $15.54 billion. Earnings per share were $6.27, off the mark from analyst expectations of $6.41 per share.

The cost-per-click rate that Google charges businesses to place ads in its search engine was down 9 percent year-over-year, though it was flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. The figure had been tumbling during 2013 as more users transition to mobile devices, where Google is not able to charge as much for its ads. The downward trend in cost-per-click rates has affected the search industry as a whole.

The company’s traffic acquisition costs, the money it pays to ensure that its search engine is the default in places like Apple’s Safari browser, also increased significantly, from $2.96 billion in the first quarter of 2013 to $3.23 billion in the most recent quarter.

Google agreed to sell its unprofitable Motorola phone unit to Lenovo for $2.91 billion in January, which will ease overall losses for the company in the future. Google shares slumped more than 5 percent after-hours trading on the disappointing earnings report. The company’s share price has fallen considerably in recent weeks as part of an overall decline in tech stocks.

Categories: Magazines

Gmail Lets Users Share Images Auto-Uploaded from Their Phones

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:40

My friends and family probably don’t know this, but I have photos of them on Google+ stretching all the way back to October 2011, when I bought a Samsung Galaxy S II and set up automatic photo backups.

These photos aren’t public, and the vast majority of them are visible to no one except me. That’s because I haven’t bothered to share them.

The reason is not complicated: Most of the people I know don’t actively use Google+, so sorting through and sharing my photos on Google’s social network would be a waste of time. Still, I auto-upload my photos anyway, using Google’s unlimited storage (for images of 2048 pixels or less) as a glorified backup service.

The recent addition of Google+ photo attachments in Gmail may be a sign that Google has recognized the fate of its own network. Instead of forcing people to share photos through Google+, Google is now letting Gmail users attach photos directly to their messages, using a new “Insert Photo” button at the bottom of the email. As a way of sharing photos I’ve snapped from my phone, it’s incredibly convenient.

Google

I will be considerably more likely to share my auto-uploaded photos over email than Google+. Sharing images via email is more private, more convenient and less proprietary. I know my recipients won’t have to visit Google+ or even have a Gmail account to view the images I send. And on my end, I’ll no longer have to wade through the Google+ interface just to find a photo, download it and re-upload it again.

There are now more ways than ever to auto-upload photos to Google+. The latest version of Android includes a new “Photos” app, separate from the main Google+ app, that can automatically upload camera images. In December, Google released an auto-backup desktop app for Windows and Mac. And in October, the Google+ iOS app gained background uploads, allowing users to back up their photos without having to periodically re-open the app.

But without a good way to share those photos, users are essentially stuffing their pictures in a dusty closet, and Google is just wasting server space. By liberating automatic photo uploads from Google+, Gmail is making those photos more social than they ever were on Google’s social network.

 

 

 

Categories: Magazines

The ‘Most Haunted Island’ on Earth Is Now Up for Auction

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:29

For those who watched American Horror Story and thought, “Gee, it looks like Connie Britton is having a fantastic time, how can I recreate this living experience?”—you’re in luck. To pay off its public debt and appease the European Union’s budgeting guidelines, Italy is auctioning an island off of Venice that just happens to be considered one of the most haunted places on earth! Or as HuffPost puts it, “Like Hell, but in Italy.” Getting driven into madness by ghosts is so much more fun when you get to eat pasta while doing it!

Why should you be afraid of the deserted Venetian island of Poveglia?

For starters, it is deserted. Even though it’s beautiful and incredibly close to Venice, one of the most fannypack and Segway-tour-filled cities in the world. Literally 10 minutes from Saint Marco Square.

Poveglia’s sordid history serves asa good explanation for why no one wants to go there. The 17-acre island became a dumping ground for Europeans dying of the plague. And as the rumors have it, the ghosts of the plagued still haunt the island. Things took a turn for the lighter in 1922 when a hospital for the elderly—thought to be a cover for mental institution—was opened. Cue widely spread rumors of botched lobotomies and a doctor who threw himself to his death from a hospital tower. No doubt a side-effect of getting haunted by the patients he was maiming.

Other fun facts: there’s a local saying that goes “When an evil man dies, he wakes up in Poveglia,” there are rumors that the soil is made 50% out of human ash, and talk that an American TV host was possessed during a recent visit to the island.

Apart from that, though, we’re sure it will make a great spot for a destination getaway.

Categories: Magazines

U.S. Stocks Rise, Extending Gains Into Third Day

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:16

Stocks are higher for a third day in a row after more U.S. companies report solid earnings and on encouraging news about China’s economy.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 19 points, or 1 percent, to close at 1,862 Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 162 points, or 1 percent, to 16,424. The Nasdaq rose 52 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,086.

Yahoo rose 6 percent. The Internet pioneer said it was benefiting from its lucrative investments in Asia.

Airline stocks also rose sharply. Delta gained 5 percent, jetBlue rose 6 percent and American Airlines rose 5 percent.

Bank of America fell 2 percent after booking $6 billion in legal costs over its home loan practices.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.64 percent.

Categories: Magazines