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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Russia’s U.S. Ambassador: No Interest in Invading Eastern Ukraine

Russia’s U.S. Ambassador: No Interest in Invading Eastern Ukraine


Russia’s U.S. Ambassador: No Interest in Invading Eastern Ukraine

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 11:05 AM PDT

American lawmakers are showing concern over a Russian troop buildup along Ukraine’s border despite assurances from Russia that it will not invade the vulnerable eastern region of the country.

“We have said so many times we have no intent, no interest in crossing the border,” Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak said in an appearance on ABC’s This Week Sunday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a televised statement Saturday that Russia has “absolutely no intention of – or interest in – crossing Ukraine's borders.”

Russia’s statements did little to calm American lawmakers’ concerns over a potential invasion in eastern Ukraine. “There is no question there a 40,000-plus troops that they are staged in various areas,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, adding that the Russian troop formation looks like an invasion force.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Lavrov Sunday evening in Paris to discuss a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Another Apple-Samsung Skirmish Heads to Court

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 10:53 AM PDT

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — The fiercest rivalry in the world of smartphones is heading back to court this week in the heart of the Silicon Valley, with Apple and Samsung accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features.

The trial will mark the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented.

“There’s a widespread suspicion that lots of the kinds of software patents at issue are written in ways that cover more ground than what Apple or any other tech firm actually invented,” Notre Dame law professor Mark McKenna said. “Overly broad patents allow companies to block competition.”

The latest Apple-Samsung case will be tried less than two years after a federal jury found Samsung was infringing on Apple patents. Samsung was ordered to pay about $900 million but is appealing and has been allowed to continue selling products using the technology.

Now, jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in another round of litigation, with Apple Inc. accusing Samsung of infringing on five patents on newer devices, including Galaxy smartphones and tablets. In a counterclaim, Samsung says Apple stole two of its ideas to use on iPhones and iPads.

“Apple revolutionized the market in personal computing devices,” Apple attorneys wrote in court filings. “Samsung, in contrast, has systematically copied Apple’s innovative technology and products, features and designs, and has deluged markets with infringing devices.”

Samsung countered that it has broken technological barriers with its own ultra-slim, lightweight phones.

“Samsung has been a pioneer in the mobile device business sector since the inception of the mobile device industry,” Samsung attorneys wrote. “Apple has copied many of Samsung’s innovations in its Apple iPhone, iPod, and iPad products.”

In the upcoming case, Apple claims Samsung stole a tap-from-search technology that allows someone searching for a telephone number or address on the web to tap on the results to call the number or put the address into a map. In addition, Apple says Samsung copied “Slide to Unlock,” which allows users to swipe the face of their smartphone to use it.

Samsung countered that Apple is stealing a wireless technology system that speeds up sending and receiving data.

The most attention grabbing claim in the case is Apple’s demand that Samsung pay a $40 royalty for each Samsung device running software allegedly conceived by Apple, more than five times more than the amount sought in the previous trial and well above other precedents between smartphone companies. If Apple prevails, the costs to Samsung could reach $2 billion. Apple’s costs, if it lost, are expected to be about $6 million.

“You rarely get from the jury what you ask for, so companies aim high,” said German patent analyst Florian Mueller. “But in my opinion this is so far above a reasonable level the judge should not have allowed it.”

The problem, he said, is that each smartphone has thousands of patented ideas in it; Apple is challenging just five.

Throughout the three years of litigation, Samsung’s market share has grown. One of every three smartphones sold last year was a Samsung, now the market leader. Apple, with a typically higher price, was second, with about 15 percent of the global market.

Apple claims the following Samsung products now infringe on Apple patents: Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy SII, Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy SII Skyrocket, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Tab II 10.1, and Stratosphere.

Samsung claims the following Apple products infringe on Samsung patents: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod touch (5th generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and MacBook Pro.

With the San Jose federal courtroom just a 15-minute drive from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, even jury selection can be difficult. In the previous case, several prospective jurors were dismissed because of their ties to the company.

Kerry, Russian Counterpart Meet on Ukraine Crisis

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 10:32 AM PDT

(PARIS) — Russia on Sunday set out demands for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, saying the former Soviet republic should be unified in a federation allowing wide autonomy to its various regions as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Paris in another bid to calm tensions.

After a brief call on French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Kerry sat down with Lavrov at the residence of the Russian ambassador to France to go over Moscow’s response to a U.S. plan to de-escalate the situation as Russian troops continue to mass along the Ukrainian border.

The men said nothing of substance as they shook hands, although after Kerry ended the photo op by thanking assembled journalists, Lavrov cryptically added in English: “Good luck, and good night.”

Appearing on Russian television ahead of his talks with Kerry, Lavrov rejected suspicions that the deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops near Ukraine is a sign Moscow plans to invade the country following its annexation of the strategic Crimean peninsula.

“We have absolutely no intention of, or interest in, crossing Ukraine’s borders,” Lavrov said.

Russia says the troops near the border are there for military exercises and that they have no plans to invade, but U.S. and European officials say the numbers and locations of the troops suggest something more than exercises.

And, despite the Russian assurances, U.S., European and Ukrainian officials are deeply concerned about the buildup, which they fear could be a prelude to an invasion or intimidation to compel Kiev to accept Moscow’s demands.

In his interview, Lavrov made clear that Moscow believes a federation is the only way to guarantee Ukraine’s stability and neutrality.

“We can’t see any other way to ensure the stable development of Ukraine but to sign a federal agreement,” Lavrov said, adding that he understood the United States was open to the idea.

U.S. officials have been coy about their position on a federation and insist that any changes to Ukraine’s governing structure must be acceptable to the Ukrainians. Ukrainian officials are wary of decentralizing power, fearing that pro-Russia regions would hamper its western aspirations and potentially split the country apart. However, they are exploring political reforms that could grant more authority to local governments.

The plan that Kerry and Lavrov are discussing covers Ukrainian political and constitutional reforms as well as the disarmament of irregular forces, international monitors to protect minority rights and direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, according to U.S. officials, who say it has backing of Ukraine’s government.

Kerry and Lavrov have met several times in person and spoken by phone almost daily since the crisis began but have not yet been able to agree on a way forward. The pair met last week in The Hague, where Kerry presented Lavrov with the proposal, which was a response to ideas Lavrov gave him at a March 10 meeting in London.

Sunday’s meeting follows an hourlong phone call Friday between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Obama urged Putin to withdraw his troops from the border with Ukraine. The Russian leader, who initiated the call, asserted that Ukraine’s government is allowing extremists to intimidate ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking civilians with impunity — something Ukraine insists is not happening.

That call did little to reassure U.S. officials that Russia is not planning to invade Ukraine after its annexation of Crimea that the west has condemned as illegal and a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials in response, sparking reciprocal moves from Moscow.

In the interview with Russian television, Lavrov called the sanctions a “dead-end” strategy that would not achieve results and accused the west of hypocrisy. He said it was inconsistent for the west to refuse to recognize Crimea’s annexation, which followed a referendum on joining Russia that was overwhelmingly approved, while at the same time accepting the new government in Kiev, which was formed after the pro-Moscow president fled the country.

“If they are willing to accept the first event as legitimate, then surely they are obliged to acknowledge the second,” Lavrov told Russia’s Channel One television.

The two sides remain far apart, a situation underscored by the fact that the White House and the Kremlin offered starkly different summaries of the Obama-Putin call, which occurred while Obama was traveling in Saudi Arabia.

White House officials described the call as “frank and direct” and said Obama had urged Putin to offer a written response to a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine crisis that the U.S. has presented. He urged Moscow to scale back its troop buildup on the border with Ukraine, which has prompted concerns in Kiev and Washington about a possible Russian invasion in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin, on the other hand, said Putin had drawn Obama’s attention to a “rampage of extremists” in Ukraine and suggested “possible steps by the international community to help stabilize the situation” in Ukraine.

Goalie Named ‘Quick’ Makes Craziest Save You’ll See This Season

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:52 AM PDT

He’s more scorpion than man.

Jonathan Quick, goalie for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, just pulled out the most mind-blowing save of the season. The Kings haven’t scored much this season, but thanks to Quick, they haven’t been scored against much, either.

Belly on the ice after following a pass across the posts, the appropriately named Quick played the predator as Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets fired a rapid shot toward the net. Lifting his right leg into the air like a stinger, Quick deflected the puck back out into play, with nary a sidewards glance.

It must be seen to be believed.

Spanish Journalists Held Captive in Syria Are Freed

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:51 AM PDT

Two Spanish journalists who were kidnapped in Syria six months ago and freed on Saturday are now back home in Spain, the daily newspaper El Mundo reports.

Veteran war correspondent Javier Espinosa and Ricardo García Vilanova, an award-winning freelance photographer, were released to the Turkish military near Tal Abyad, a Syrian town close to where the pair was abducted on Sept. 16.

Espinosa’s wife, Mónica García Prieto, posted a tweet on Saturday that read Felicidad pura, or “Pure happiness.” After his return, Espinosa said, “Thanks to those who made ​​it possible for us to come home.”

The journalists were originally abducted alongside several Free Syrian Army fighters and held at a detention facility in Raqqa by a brigade of the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The group, which released the fighters after less than two weeks, is thought to be holding dozens more aid workers, religious figures and journalists.

Fears that Espinosa was in trouble began when his Twitter followers noticed his account went silent on Sept. 15. Word of his capture began to spread quietly, but a media blackout was imposed until El Mundo went public in December.

Syria is the most dangerous location in the world for journalists, press freedom groups say. The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 29 journalists were killed there in 2013 and another 61 were detained. About 30 journalists are still believed to be held throughout the country.

Some of the more high-profile cases included that of American journalists Austin Tice, who went missing in August 2012 while reporting near Damascus, and James Foley, kidnapped three months later as he was leaving Syria. Families of both reporters initially chose not to publicize their cases but have since initiated massive support and information-gathering campaigns.

The French government has also been working for months to secure the release of reporter Didier Francois and photographer Edouard Elias, who disappeared in June.

[El Mundo]

Central African Republic: Soldiers Kill 30 civilians

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:20 AM PDT

(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — Officials say Chadian soldiers killed more than 30 civilians in Central African Republic’s strife-torn capital city.

Jean-Pierre Sadou, a gendarmerie official with the regional peacekeeping force, could not confirm the death toll from Saturday’s violence but said the Chadian soldiers’ actions were a “legitimate defense” after their convoy was attacked by grenades.

Odette Dombolo, a commune mayor in the PK12 neighborhood, said the soldiers opened fire on a large crowd, killing more than 20 and injuring more than 100.

Jean Claude Yamodo, an official in the Gobongo neighborhood, said the same soldiers killed four people there. Witnesses said eight more were killed near the airport.

Bangui has seen regular violence for nearly four months, with tensions mounting between peacekeepers and Christian militia fighters.

Kate O’Mara, Former Dynasty Star, Dies at 74

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 08:35 AM PDT

Kate O’Mara, the former star of the hit American soap opera Dynasty, died Sunday morning at the age of 74.

The actor played Alexis Colby’s scheming sister Cassandra “Caress” Morrell in Dynasty. She also had roles in British series Doctor Who, Howards’ Way and Triangle. Her agent said she died on Sunday morning in a Sussex nursing home after a short battle with an illness, the Guardian reports.

She appeared in the original run of Doctor Who along with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as renegade Time Lord The Rani.

O’Mara’s first television roles were in the 1960s, but she landed her biggest gigs in the 1980s.

[The Guardian]

 

Egypt Sets Presidential Vote for May 26 and 27

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 08:05 AM PDT

(CAIRO) — Egypt’s election commission says the first round of voting for the country’s new president will be held on May 26 and 27, with results expected in early June.

In a press conference Sunday, the commission said that if a second round is necessary, it would be held in mid-June with results expected June 26.

The country’s powerful former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer, has announced his bid for office and is widely expected to win. The commission said that the window for nomination of candidates will open Monday until April 20. A three-week campaign period is slated to start in early May.

Egypt is bitterly divided over Morsi’s ouster, but el-Sissi has garnered wide support for his role in it.

Tucson Police Pepper Spray Rowdy Fans After Loss

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 08:05 AM PDT

Tuscon police arrested 15 people and used pepper spray on rowdy fans following the Arizona Wildcats’ NCAA tournament loss, police said.

Arizona lost in overtime to the Wisconsin Badgers 64-63 in the West Region final Saturday in Anaheim. Crowds leaving Tuscon bars and restaurants after watching their team’s narrow defeat didn’t disperse from the area despite police orders to do so, the Associated Press reports.

Police cruisers and baton-wielding officers that arrived on the scene were soon met with flying beer bottles, cans and firecrackers from the crowd.

Of the 15 people arrested in the fracas, 14 have been released.

[AP]

2 Spanish Journalists Freed From Kidnap in Syria

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 07:42 AM PDT

(MADRID) — Two Spanish journalists who were freed after being kidnapped for six months in Syria by a rogue al-Qaeda group are flying back home Sunday, Spain’s Defense Ministry said.

Newspaper El Mundo reported earlier that its war correspondent Javier Espinosa made contact from Turkey, where he and photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were under military protection.

A ministry spokesman said an aircraft was sent to pick up the journalists and was due in Madrid midafternoon Sunday.

It was not clear whether the journalists had escaped or were released by the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which abducted them Sept. 16.

Following news of their release, Monica Garcia Prieto, Espinosa’s partner, sent a Tweet saying: “Pure happiness.”

Syria remains the most dangerous conflict in the world for reporters, partially because of the risk of kidnapping by pro-government forces or rebels. The release of the two Spanish correspondents leaves at least another nine foreign correspondents missing in Syria as well as 10 Syrian reporters.

Press freedom groups say the Islamic State is believed to be responsible for many kidnappings and deaths since it muscled into northern and central Syria.

The Islamic State took the two Spaniards captive six months ago at a checkpoint in the town of Tal Abyad in the eastern province of Raqqa, where they are the dominant faction.

The Hanein Network, a militant website that carries al-Qaeda statements, issued a plea to the Islamic State in December to release Espinosa and Garcia Vilanova, describing them as “men who risked their lives to report the truth.”

Its home page shows the Spaniards in a soft-focus background. A masked militant of the Islamic State stands in the foreground, holding two cats, in an apparent appeal to the group’s sentimental side.

Another Spanish reporter who was seized by the Islamic State in September, Marc Marginedas, was released earlier this month.

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