Can sanctions deter North Korea?

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

























  • N. Korea said Thursday it plans to carry out new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches

  • It said they are part of new phase of confrontation with United States

  • George A. Lopez says North Korea's aim is to be recognized as a 'new nuclear nation by fait accompli'

  • The Security Council sanctions aim to deteriorate and disrupt N. Korea's programs, says Lopez

Editor's note: George A. Lopez holds the Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. He is a former member, UN Panel of Experts on DPRK.

Indiana, U.S. (CNN) -- North Korea has responded to new Security Council sanctions condemning its December 12 rocket launch with a declaration that it plans a third nuclear test and more missile launches. Politically, it has made unambiguous that its "aim" is its enemy, the United States.

In this rapid reaction to U.N. sanctions, the young government of Kim Jong Un underscores what Security Council members have long known anticipated from the DPRK. Their end-game is to create a vibrant, integrated missile and nuclear weapons program that will result - as in the cases of Pakistan and India - in their being recognized as a new nuclear nation by fait accompli.

Read more: North Korea says new nuclear test will be part of fight against U.S.

In light of DPRK defiance - and a soon to occur nuclear test - the Security Council's first set of sanctions on North Korea since 2009 may seem absurd and irrelevant. These sanctions will certainly not prevent a new DPRK nuclear test. Rather, the new sanctions resolution mobilizes regional neighbors and global actors to enforce sanctions that can weaken future DPRK programs and actions.

Read more: U.N. Security Council slams North Korea, expands sanctions

The utility, if not the necessity, of these Security Council sanctions are to deteriorate and disrupt the networks that sustain North Korea's programs. Chances of this degradation of DPRK capabilities have increased as the new sanctions both embolden and empower the member states who regularly observe - but do nothing about - suspicious vessels in their adjacent waterways.

The resolution provides new guidance to states regarding ship interdiction, cargo inspections, and the seizure and disposal of prohibited materials. Regarding nuclear and missile development the sanctions expand the list of material banned for trade to DPRK, including high tech, dual-use goods which might aid missile industries.

Read more: South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland

These new measures provide a better structure for more effective sanctions, by naming new entities, such as a bank and trading companies, as well as individuals involved in the illicit financing of prohibited materials, to the sanctions list. To the surprise of many in the diplomatic community - the Council authorizes states to expose and confiscate North Korea's rather mobile "bulk cash." Such currency stocks have been used in many regions to facilitate purchases of luxury goods and other banned items that sustain the DPRK elites.

Finally, the Security Council frees the Sanctions Committee to act more independently and in a timely manner to add entities to the list of sanctioned actors when evidence shows them to be sanctions violators. This is an extensive hunting license for states in the region that can multiply the costs of sanctions to the DPRK over time.

Read more: North Korea's rocket launches cost $1.3 billion

Whatever their initial limitations, the new round of U.N. sanctions serve as a springboard to more robust measures by various regional and global powers which may lead back to serious negotiations with DPRK.

Despite its bluster and short-term action plan, Pyongyang recognizes that the wide space of operation for its policies it assumed it had a week ago, is now closed considerably. To get this kind of slap-down via this Security Council resolution - when the launch was a month ago - predicts that any nuke test or missile launch from Pyongyang will bring a new round of stronger and more targeted sanctions.

Read more: North Korea silences doubters, raises fears with rocket launch

Although dangerous - a new game is on regarding DPRK. Tougher U.N. measures imposed on the North generated a predictable response and likely new, prohibited action. While DPRK may be enraged, these sanctions have the P5 nations, most notably China, newly engaged. A forthcoming test or launch will no doubt increase tensions on both sides.

But this may be precisely the shock needed to restart the Six Party Talks. Without this institutional framework there is little chance of influencing DPRK actions. And in the meantime, the chances of greater degrading of DPRK capabilities via sanctions, are a sensible next best action.

Read more: Huge crowds gather in North Korean capital to celebrate rocket launch

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of George A. Lopez.

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Disney says JJ Abrams to direct next ‘Star Wars’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It’s official. The force is with J.J. Abrams.

The Walt Disney Co. issued a statement Friday night confirming reports that had been circulating for two days that Abrams, Emmy-award-winning creator of TV’s “Lost” and director of 2009′s “Star Trek” movie, has been pegged to direct the seventh installment of the “Star Wars” franchise.

“J.J. is the perfect director to helm this,” said Kathleen Kennedy, the movie’s producer and president of Lucasfilm, which was acquired by Disney last month for $ 4.06 billion.

“Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience,” Kennedy said in the statement.

The movie will have a script from “Toy Story 3″ writer Michael Arndt and a 2015 release.

Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” in the original trilogy, will work as a consultant on the new project.

Abrams has already headed the reboot of another storied space franchise, “Star Trek,” for rival studio Paramount Pictures. The next installment in that series, “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” is set to hit theaters May 17.

But he has long been known as a “Star Wars” devotee. Abrams spoke about the plot of the original “Star Wars” in the lecture series “TED Talks” in March 2007, and reportedly became enamored of “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof partly because Lindelof was wearing a “Star Wars” T-shirt when they first met.

In 2009, Abrams told the Los Angeles Times: “As a kid, ‘Star Wars‘ was much more my thing than ‘Star Trek‘ was.”

In Friday night’s statement he called it an “absolute honor” to get the job.

“I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid,” Abrams said.

Lucas himself said in the statement that “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”

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Scots cities top house price list

House prices have risen faster in Aberdeen and Inverness than any other UK cities over the past decade, a survey has suggested.

The Bank of Scotland report said average prices rose by 94% in the Granite City between 2002 and 2012.

Inverness saw prices climb by 81%, with Dundee (+73%) and Perth (+70%) also featuring in the top five UK cities.

The bank said Aberdeen had particularly sharp increases because of the importance of the oil sector.

According to the survey, cities recorded higher house price growth than the UK average over the past 10 years.

Prices in cities increased by an average of 38%, from £125,276 in 2002 to £173,322 in 2012. This compared to a 29% rise for the UK as a whole.

Northern Irish cities Lisburn and Belfast had the smallest price rises over the last 10 years, up by just 2% and 3% respectively.

The bank said this largely reflected a substantial decline in house prices across Northern Ireland since 2007.

Ely and Southampton recorded the smallest increases in England, while Stirling (+35%) and Glasgow (+45%) experienced the lowest house price growth among cities in Scotland.

Source: Bank of Scotland

Average House Price 2002

Average house price 2012

10-year change (%)





































Stoke on Trent




BBC News – Business

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Claim Post Resources Inc. Acquires 51% of Frac Sand Project in Southern Manitoba (Canada) and Options a Permitted Property Suitable for Loading Unit Trains of Frac Sand

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Jan 25, 2013) – Claim Post Resources Inc. (TSX VENTURE:CPS) (the “Company“) announces that it has signed an amendment to its agreement with Char-Crete Ltd. to acquire nine contiguous silica sand quarry leases, encompassing approximately 428 hectares (1,050 acres) (see press release dated August 27, 2013). The property is located 3km from a paved highway near Seymourville, 200km North-East of Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) (the “Seymourville Property“). Under the amended agreement, Claim Post paid $ 400,000 to Char-Crete and acquired a 51% undivided interest in the Seymourville Property. Claim Post can acquire the remaining 49% interest by payment of an additional $ 300,000 on or before March 31, 2013. In addition, Char Crete has agreed to grant Claim Post an option to purchase a fully permitted industrial property in Winnipeg for use as a railroad loading and storage area for a payment of $ 400,000 on or before February 17, 2013. If Claim Post chooses to exercise the option the purchase price of the property will be $ 2,700,000.

The Seymourville Silica Sand deposit was discovered in 1977 and was drilled by Manitoba government geologists in 1981 and again in 1989. The deposit is the Lake Winnipeg Formation on-shore extension of the Historical Black Island silica deposit. Black Island silica was mined from 1928 to 2003 when it was incorporated into a park. Black Island sand was used as feed stock to manufacture glass, fiber glass, foundry sand and early frac sand by the oil industry.

The President of Claim Post Resources, Charles Gryba, stated: “We are very pleased to have acquired a 51% interest in the nine quarry leases from Char-Crete Ltd; we look forward to acquiring the balance of the property in the coming months. Our first priority will be to start a drilling program and API – ISO testwork towards completing a NI 43-101 report. The next step would be to commission an independent Preliminary Economic Assessment of the deposit to confirm the economics of taking the Seymourville Silica Sand Deposit to commercial production. A major step forward in de risking the project was acquiring an option on a permitted property suitable for setting up a frac sand terminal in Winnipeg with access to rail.”

High silica sand deposits are very rare in Western Canada because the glaciers either destroyed the deposits or mixed in other minerals unsuitable for frac sand. Horizontal drilling and fracking in the US and Western Canada has been very successful. The Seymourville deposit has 20 – 40 mesh and 40 – 70 mesh sand used for the fracking in the Bakkens in Southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and also 40 – 70 mesh and 100 mesh sizes suitable for natural gas fracking in the world class Montney, Horn River and Laird River basins along the Alberta – British Columbia borders.

Access to rail transportation and being closer to the market are key advantages required for any successful industrial mineral project. The option to purchase an industrial site in Winnipeg that has access to both the CN and CP rail systems is a major advantage. In 2012, the US produced 31 million tons of frac sand and CN hauled 70,000 rail road cars of frac sand from Wisconsin through Winnipeg to Western Canada. Claim Post”s frac sand is about 1,000 km closer to the Canadian market.

Claim Post Resources intends to maintain its exploration properties in Timmins, Ontario which are highly prospective for both gold and base metals. The Company continues to seek joint venture partners and strategic arrangements with other companies in the industry to advance the exploration of the large Timmins land holdings.

Claim Post Resources Inc. is a Canadian based mineral exploration company and a reporting issuer in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The Company currently holds a 100% interest in the mineral rights to about 1145 staked claim units and 63 patented claims (~200 km sq. or 72 sq. miles), wholly within the city limits of Timmins, Ontario. The Company continues to stake ground as it becomes available and drop lower priority claims from time to time. There are 45,788,831 common shares of the Company issued and outstanding.

Statements in this release that are forward-looking reflect the Company”s current views and expectations with respect to its performance, business, and future events. Such statements are subject to various risks and assumptions, some, but not necessarily all, are disclosed elsewhere in the Company”s periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. Such statements and information contained herein represent management”s best judgment as of the date hereof based on the information currently available; however actual results and events may vary significantly. The Company does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement.

Marketwire News Archive – Yahoo! Finance

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Wall Street Week Ahead: Bears hibernate as stocks near record highs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks have been on a tear in January, moving major indexes within striking distance of all-time highs. The bearish case is a difficult one to make right now.

Earnings have exceeded expectations, the housing and labor markets have strengthened, lawmakers in Washington no longer seem to be the roadblock that they were for most of 2012, and money has returned to stock funds again.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> has gained 5.4 percent this year and closed above 1,500 - climbing to the spot where Wall Street strategists expected it to be by mid-year. The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> is 2.2 percent away from all-time highs reached in October 2007. The Dow ended Friday's session at 13,895.98, its highest close since October 31, 2007.

The S&P has risen for four straight weeks and eight consecutive sessions, the longest streak of days since 2004. On Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 ended at 1,502.96 - its first close above 1,500 in more than five years.

"Once we break above a resistance level at 1,510, we dramatically increase the probability that we break the highs of 2007," said Walter Zimmermann, technical analyst at United-ICAP, in Jersey City, New Jersey. "That may be the start of a rise that could take equities near 1,800 within the next few years."

The most recent Reuters poll of Wall Street strategists estimated the benchmark index would rise to 1,550 by year-end, a target that is 3.1 percent away from current levels. That would put the S&P 500 a stone's throw from the index's all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 reached on October 11, 2007.

The new year has brought a sharp increase in flows into U.S. equity mutual funds, and that has helped stocks rack up four straight weeks of gains, with strength in big- and small-caps alike.

That's not to say there aren't concerns. Economic growth has been steady, but not as strong as many had hoped. The household unemployment rate remains high at 7.8 percent. And more than 75 percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 26-week highs, suggesting the buying has come too far, too fast.


All 10 S&P 500 industry sectors are higher in 2013, in part because of new money flowing into equity funds. Investors in U.S.-based funds committed $3.66 billion to stock mutual funds in the latest week, the third straight week of big gains for the funds, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.

Energy shares <.5sp10> lead the way with a gain of 6.6 percent, followed by industrials <.5sp20>, up 6.3 percent. Telecom <.5sp50>, a defensive play that underperforms in periods of growth, is the weakest sector - up 0.1 percent for the year.

More than 350 stocks hit new highs on Friday alone on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Transportation Average <.djt> recently climbed to an all-time high, with stocks in this sector and other economic bellwethers posting strong gains almost daily.

"If you peel back the onion a little bit, you start to look at companies like Precision Castparts , Honeywell , 3M Co and Illinois Tool Works - these are big, broad-based industrial companies in the U.S. and they are all hitting new highs, and doing very well. That is the real story," said Mike Binger, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, in Shoreview, Minnesota.

The gains have run across asset sizes as well. The S&P small-cap index <.spcy> has jumped 6.7 percent and the S&P mid-cap index <.mid> has shot up 7.5 percent so far this year.

Exchange-traded funds have seen year-to-date inflows of $15.6 billion, with fairly even flows across the small-, mid- and large-cap categories, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group, in New York.

"Investors aren't really differentiating among asset sizes. They just want broad equity exposure," Colas said.

The market has shown resilience to weak news. On Thursday, the S&P 500 held steady despite a 12 percent slide in shares of Apple after the iPhone and iPad maker's results. The tech giant is heavily weighted in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 <.ndx> and in the past, its drop has suffocated stocks' broader gains.


In the last few days, the ratio of stocks hitting new highs versus those hitting new lows on a daily basis has started to diminish - a potential sign that the rally is narrowing to fewer names - and could be running out of gas.

Investors have also cited sentiment surveys that indicate high levels of bullishness among newsletter writers, a contrarian indicator, and momentum indicators are starting to also suggest the rally has perhaps come too far.

The market's resilience could be tested next week with Friday's release of the January non-farm payrolls report. About 155,000 jobs are seen being added in the month and the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 7.8 percent.

"Staying over 1,500 sends up a flag of profit taking," said Jerry Harris, president of asset management at Sterne Agee, in Birmingham, Alabama. "Since recent jobless claims have made us optimistic on payrolls, if that doesn't come through, it will be a real risk to the rally."

A number of marquee names will report earnings next week, including bellwether companies such as Caterpillar Inc , Inc , Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc .

On a historic basis, valuations remain relatively low - the S&P 500's current price-to-earnings ratio sits at 15.66, which is just a tad above the historic level of 15.

Worries about the U.S. stock market's recent strength do not mean the market is in a bubble. Investors clearly don't feel that way at the moment.

"We're seeing more interest in equities overall, and a lot of flows from bonds into stocks," said Paul Zemsky, who helps oversee $445 billion as the New York-based head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management. "We've been increasing our exposure to risky assets."

For the week, the Dow climbed 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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Azarenka secures back-to-back Australian titles

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Victoria Azarenka won her second consecutive Australian Open title, beating Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a dramatic final that contained a break for fireworks, two medical timeouts and a nasty fall to the court by Li.

The Chinese star first tumbled to the court after twisting her left ankle in the fifth game of the second set and had it taped.

On the first point after a 10-minute pause in the third set while fireworks boomed overhead from nearby Australia Day celebrations, Li fell over again and slammed the back of her head on the court. The 2011 French Open champion was treated immediately and had another timeout before being allowed to resume the match.

Azarenka, who broke down in tears and sobbed into her towel when the match ended, won five of the next six games to claim her second major title and retain the No. 1 ranking.

The 2-hour, 40-minute match featured 16 service breaks, with Li losing her service nine times.

The win meant that Azarenka will maintain the top spot and Serena Williams, who lost in the quarterfinals, will become the new No. 2 in the rankings.

On a crisp Saturday night, Azarenka won the coin toss and elected to receive, a ploy that seemed to work when a nervous Li was broken to start the match. After a double fault on the first point, Li's forehand long gave Azarenka the early lead.

The capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena was firmly behind Li, cheering loudly when she was introduced. Azarenka, meanwhile, had her errors applauded, and one spectator even mocked the loud hooting sound she makes when she hits a shot.

The chill from the crowd was a remnant of Azarenka's semifinal win over American teenager Sloane Stephens, when Azeranka was criticized for taking a questionable 10-minute medical timeout near the end of the match.

In the second set, a few fans heckled Azarenka over the incident. One man yelled, "Take a deep breath, Vicky."

By the end of the match, she appeared to have won some of the fans back. Azarenka's friend, rapper Redfoo, yelled down to her from the player box "You deserve it," and she later blew kisses to the crowd. Someone else in the crowd shouted "Victoria, we love you."

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Cantor CEO: 'Off the fiscal cliff we go'

Part of complete coverage on

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN

January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)


  • 'U.S. fiscal cliff still coming' in form of failure to raise debt ceiling, Cantor Fitzgerald CEO

  • More than 25% of CEOs feel world economy will get worse in 2013, says PwC survey

  • U.S. House of Representatives passed short-term debt ceiling increase Jan. 23

  • Lutnick: 'Dumb lending' caused 2008 credit crisis

Hong Kong (CNN) -- The world thought the U.S. fiscal cliff deadline was December 31, but "the fiscal cliff is (still) coming", says Richard Lutnick, CEO of global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

"You're going to watch the U.S. do crazy, crazy things this year," said Lutnick to CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The Republican Party that was elected to control Congress... (is) going to cross their arms and they are not going to raise the debt ceiling ultimately unless they get severe spending cuts, and the Obama administration is not going to give it to them."

If Congress fails to act, the U.S. and the world economy will have a "dreadful" 2013, Lutnick said.

Following this week's PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of global CEO confidence, Lutnick appears to be one of the more than 25% who think the world economy is more likely to deteriorate in 2013.

Despite Lutnick's concerns, on January 23 the Republican-controlled House of Representatives did pass a bill that would allow the U.S. Treasury to borrow new money through mid-May. President Barack Obama has said he would not oppose the proposal if it reaches his desk, although he prefers a long-term debt ceiling increase.

Lutnick adds that to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, regulators need to actually address issues that caused it.

"What caused the credit crisis was just dumb lending. When you lend money to people who can't pay you back, you go broke."

Looking ahead to 2013, Lutnick says the biggest risk to global growth is the U.S. hitting the debt ceiling -- whether in the short- or long-term.

"Off the fiscal cliff we go. We (the U.S.) are irrational and we are silly... we are dopey."

Part of complete coverage on

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)

Global policymakers, leading thinkers and key entrepreneurs are gathering in Davos. CNN brings you the latest news, views and musings live.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1040 GMT (1840 HKT)

As extreme weather events cost the global economy billions each year, the "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of the agenda, Andrew Steer writes.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)

Economic empowerment offers a win-win scenario for Saudi Arabia and its women, Mounira Jamjoon writes.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)

The recession in Europe is entering its fifth year and unemployment doesn't look like it will be returning to normal levels anytime soon.

January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)

What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.

The globe's greatest economic minds meet in Davos next week. With financial crises in the U.S. and Europe, CNN asks: What is your economic mood?

Many eurozone countries face dropping employment even as basic costs rise. But not everyone is suffering. Explore our interactive for more.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)

In 2013, the greatest risk of conflict lies in the geopolitical struggle between Japan and China, according to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)

CNN's Richard Quest explores the topic that will be on every delegate's lips at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)

It was January 25, 2011, when the brisk winds of change from Tahrir Square swept through the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)

The world's political and business elite will converge on Europe's highest-altitude town for the annual talk-shop that is the World Economic Forum.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)

On July 1, 2013 the 27-nation European Union will become 28. But is the Adriatic country ready to join Europe's elite club?

January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)

The great Davos talking shop is now up and running, with delegates of all levels of importance, shapes and nationalities putting the world to rights.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)

After five years in crisis the eurozone's new leader has emerged. With influence reaching from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean Sea.

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“Hansel and Gretel” is Grimm news for weekend box-office rivals

LOS ANGELES ( – “Hansel and Gretel,” a Grimm’s fairy tale on special effects and 3D steroids, is ready to wreak some box-office havoc this weekend on its way to the number one spot.

Paramount has exerted considerable marketing muscle behind the R-rated action fantasy, and it seems to be connecting. “Hansel and Gretel” will take in more than $ 25 million over the three days, industry analysts say. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play bounty hunters tracking and killing witches all over the world in this version of the classic fairy tale,

The weekend’s other wide openers, the ensemble sketch comedy “Movie 43″ and the Jason Statham-Jennifer Lopez crime thriller “Parker,” don’t figure to be among the leaders.

Last week’s top film, Universal’s horror thriller “Mama,” starring Jessica Chastain, is likely to take a hit from “Hansel and Gretel” but should still finish among the leaders. Best Picture Oscar nominees “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Silver Linings Playbook” will continue to be in the mix, too.

Renner’s star is rising on the heels of “The Avengers” and “The Bourne Legacy,” but the best thing “Hansel and Gretel” will have going for it at the box office might be the bump it will get from premium pricing at its 3D and Imax locations. Paramount has its first 2013 release in roughly 3,300 locations, a whopping 2,900 of which are 3D, and in 300 Imax theaters.

What could work against “Hansel and Gretel” is its R-rating, which will limit its reach with younger fan boys, but late tracking suggests the film’s appeal has broadened. Paramount is also opening “Hansel and Gretel” in 19 foreign markets this weekend, and a solid overseas performance will be critical if it’s to offset its roughly $ 50 million budget.

Hansel and Gretel,” a co-production of Paramount and MGM, was written and directed by Tommy Wirkola (“Dead Snow”) and co-stars Famke Janssen and Thomas Mann. The film is produced by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Kevin Messick and Beau Flynn.

“Movie 43″ is unlike anything to hit the box office recently. Proudly rude and crude, Relativity‘s R-rated ensemble sketch comedy took four years to make and has 12 directors and twice that many stars.

The cast of “Movie 43″ features Oscar nominees Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts, along with Seth MacFarlane, Halle Berry, Common, Richard Gere, Greg Kinnear, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Emma Stone, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Dennis Quaid, Sean William Scott, Kristen Bell and Elizabeth Banks. That’s a lot of star wattage but most of the roles are cameos.

Also appearing are Anna Faris, Liev Schreiber, Johnny Knoxville, Kieran Culkin, Kate Bosworth, Bobby Carnavale, Will Sasso, Josh Duhamel, Snooki and … you get the idea. The budget was just $ 6 million, so everyone worked for scale.

Even the sketches were solicited from agencies, actors and friends and came in the form of treatments, scripts and phone pitches.

Peter Farrelly (“Shallow Hal”), who put the project together along with Charles Wessler, a producer on most of the Farrelly brothers films, directs one of the segments. Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner and Jonathan van Tulleken direct the others.

“It was really all about schedule with a lot of these people,” Farrelly said. “Charlie would call and they’d say, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do it, but I’m in the middle of a movie. I can do it in nine months, next September.’ And he’d just go, ‘Fine, we’ll see you in September.’ That’s why this film took four years to make – it wasn’t sitting on shelf somewhere. We’d get who we’d get when we’d get them, and that’s how it worked.”

The sketches are tied together by a storyline involving a down-and-out movie producer (Quaid), who’s pitching projects to a studio exec (Kinnear) and his boss (Common). The shorts ensue.

There haven’t been press screenings, so the critics haven’t gotten their hands on it. It’s hard to tell from the red-band trailer how funny the film will be, but there’s little doubt some will be offended – we’re not talking “Love Actually” here – by the raunch and low-brow humor.

That’s intended to be part of the appeal, of course, but points up a box-office conundrum: how successful can a film be when a large part of the audience most likely to most enjoy those kind of laughs can’t get in because of the R rating? Relativity is banking on 18-34-year-olds, and analysts and the studio see it making around $ 8 million or $ 9 million over the three days.

The film has already made more than its budget in the foreign pre-sales, which were handled by Lionsgate International. It’s among the first releases overseen by Relativity‘s new international distribution unit, Relativity International, and has taken in approximately $ 8.5 million since opening earlier this month in Russia.

In “Parker,” directed by Taylor Hackford (“Ray”), Statham plays a professional thief with a conscience, who doesn’t steal from the poor or hurt innocent people. Double-crossed after a gang heist, he heads to Palm Beach, Fla., and teams with one of their victims (Lopez) for revenge.

The presence of Lopez, who has a major music fan base, provides something of an X factor for “Parker.” She hasn’t been seen in a box-office hit since 2005′s “Monster In Law,” but her voice helped “Ice Age: Continental Drift” ring up $ 875 million worldwide last year.

Statham’s last movie was the ensemble action film “Expendables 2,” which opened to $ 28 million and went on to make $ 85 million last year. But the tracking and social media hasn’t been strong, and “Parker” will be hard-pressed to match the performance of Staham’s 2011 film “The Mechanic,” which opened to $ 11 million and made $ 29 million. Film District has it in 2,224 locations.

John J. McLaughlin adapted the script from “Flashfire,” the 19th “Parker” novel, written by Donald Westlake under the name Richard Stark.

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Apple steps up labor audits, finds underage workers

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc stepped up audits of working conditions at major suppliers last year, discovering multiple cases of underage workers, discrimination and wage problems.

The iPhone and iPad maker, which relies heavily on Asian-based partners like Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group to assemble the vast majority of its iPhones and iPads, said on Thursday it conducted 393 audits, up 72 percent from 2011, reviewing sites where over 1.5 million workers make its gadgets.

Apple in recent years has faced accusations of building its profits on the backs of poorly treated and severely underpaid workers in China.

That criticism came to the fore around 2010, after reports of suicides at Foxconn drew attention to the long hours that migrant laborers frequently endure, often for a pittance in wages and in severely cramped living conditions.

Foxconn is the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry and employs 1.2 million workers across China.

Under Chief Executive Tim Cook, who took over from Steve Jobs in 2011, Apple has taken new steps to improve its record and boost transparency, including the extensive audits of its sprawling supply chain. Last year, it agreed to separate audits by the independent Fair Labor Association.

In an interview on Thursday, Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams said the company has increased its efforts to solve two of the most challenging issues – ensuring there are no under aged workers in its supply chain and limiting working hours to 60 hours a week.

While child labor reflected a small percentage of the workforce, Apple is now investigating its smaller suppliers – which typically supply parts to larger suppliers and hence face less oversight on such issues – to bring them into compliance, sometimes even firing them.

“We go deep in the supply chain to find it,” Williams said. “And when we do find it, we ensure that the underage workers are taken care of, the suppliers are dealt with.”

In one case, Apple said it terminated its relationship with a component maker Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co Ltd after discovering 74 cases of underage workers.

Officials at Pingzhou Electronics could not be reached despite three telephone calls from Reuters.

Apple also discovered an employment agency that was forging documents to allow children to illegally work at the supplier.

Apple reported both the supplier and the employment agency to local authorities, the company said in its latest annual report on the conditions in its supply chain.

Apple has audited both small and ancillary suppliers, as well as large ones such as Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co, for working conditions. It found 95 percent of sites audited complied with avoiding underage labor.

Child labor is an issue that is part of the larger supply industry as the component maker that Apple found violated child labor laws supplied parts to more than a hundred different companies, including automotive companies, Williams said, vowing to eradicate under aged labor from the industry.

“I don’t know how long it will take to get there but that’s our goal,” said Williams, who has spent a significant amount of his 14 years at Apple in Asia managing the supply chain.


For 2013, Williams said a key focus for Apple will be student interns and ensuring that suppliers do not abuse the internship system, especially in China where many colleges require students to complete internships as part of their curriculum.

Some companies in China are solving labor shortages by employing students. Last September, city officials of the northeastern Chinese coastal city of Yantai ordered vocational high schools to send students to a large plant run by Foxconn – a key contract manufacture for Apple and other large electronics companies like Hewlett Packard – to overcome a shortage of workers.

Another focus areas has been “bonded labor”, where agencies who help immigrant workers find jobs take a substantial portion of the worker’s pay.

Apple said in the report that it asked suppliers to reimburse $ 6.4 million in excess foreign contract worker fees in 2012, according to the report.

The company said it achieved 92 percent compliance with a maximum 60-hour work week in its supply chain. Where violations were discovered, Apple took action, it said in its report.

Apple also found and stopped discriminatory practices against women workers in 34 supplier facilities that required pregnancy testing and 25 facilities that tested employees for certain medical conditions, the report said.

(Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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Swingplane Ventures, Inc. Provides Historical Data on the Algarrobo

SANTIAGO, CHILE–(Marketwire – Jan 25, 2013) – Swingplane Ventures, Inc. ( OTCBB : SWVI ) (the “Company”) is pleased to update information on the History of the Algarrobo property.

Swingplane Venture Inc.’s (the “Company”) Algarrobo Property (the “Property”) is an Iron Oxide-Copper-Gold (IOCG) property located approximately 850 km north of Santiago, in the III Region, Province of Chanaral, Chile. The city of Copiapo is located approximately 43 km to the southeast of the Property, with the small port city of Caldera 25 km to the east. The Property consists of 32 tenures, comprising a total of 6,161 ha (15,224 acres).

The following anecdotal history for the Property and immediately adjacent area has been modified slightly from Stromberger (2012). The following anecdotal history of the Property and immediate area was compiled by the Property Vendor. The historical information has not been verified.

A copy of his non NI 43-101 compliant report is available at:

“Copper from limited surface exposures on, and immediately adjacent to, the Algarrobo Property was first mined in the late 1700s. Since that time, approximately 35 mines have been excavated on 4 primary and approximately 10 secondary veins. It has been estimated that the historical British operator produced copper ore having a cut-off grade of +/- 6% Cu.

Major copper mines around the world generally average less than 1% copper, a prime example is Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg mine which has approximately 2.5 billion tonnes of copper grading at 1.1%.

The Algarrobo copper deposit was discovered in 1808, with large scale industrial mining operations initiated in 1868 and active for approximately 25 years. In 1890, a report on the Algarrobo mines by Francisco San Roman led to an evaluation of the feasibility of constructing a railroad line from Caldera to facilitate transport of copper ore at lower transportation costs. The railroad was also expected to permit more efficient exploitation of the mineral reserves, given that the cut-off grade for the Algarrobo copper ore was 12% Cu at that time. Ore quality and reserves at that time were deemed to be of sufficient grade and tonnage for the British operator of the mines to undertake construction of a 20 km railroad from the port of Caldera to Algarrobo. “High grade ore”, thought to comprise ore greater than 15% Cu was shipped directly to England, while “low grade ore”, ore grading less than 15% Cu, was processed at a local smelter in Caldera prior to shipment to England. (Note: “Ore” is used in the context of the reference cited and may not be NI 43-101 compliant).

The railroad operated into the 1940s, with a cable car system used to transport ore from mining operations at an elevation of approximately 1100 m to the railhead at approximately 650 m. In the mid-1900s, a road was also built from Caldera, allowing re-processing of ore waste on several occasions. The mine dumps left by the British operator provide some clues regarding the grade of ore extracted from the historical operations. Over approximately 20 years, between 1960 and 1980, the waste dumps have been reprocessed three times by local miners. ENAMI, the state controlled Chilean mining company, constructed the 35 km road to the area for this purpose. Available records document that the grade of material initially processed graded between 6 – 8% Cu, dropping to a grade between 4 – 6% Cu during the second phase of processing and 3-4% from the third phase. The material remaining is estimated to grade between 1.5 – 2% Cu. The railway is still on the property today.

No quantitative data are available with regard to cumulative production for the Property. In his report, San Roman estimated approximately 800,000 tonnes of 12% plus mineral had been extracted by the 1890s, with close to the same amount of material in the waste dumps, grading between 3% and 4. At this time, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 tonnes of “low grade” dump material remains.

From the 1920′s until 1997, sporadic manual production on a limited basis was undertaken by local miners (pirquineros) on extensions of the veins previously mined. Most of the workings evident on the Algarrobo Property, and immediately adjacent ground, have been excavated and operated using hand tools, with limited mechanization and are, therefore, generally restricted to surface and/or shallow sub-surface workings, at depths ranging between 5 meters to 40 meters. Local pirquineros claim that until 1973 they sold ore grading 6% Cu and above to ENAMI as direct smelting ore. In 1973 ENAMI raised the cut-off grade for direct smelting ore to 12% Cu. All of the ore mined by the pirquineros has been hand sorted to meet the ENAMI requirements.

In 1997, American Canyon Mining initiated processing of mine waste dumps for recovery of low grade copper, with assayed grades between 1.5% and 2.5% copper, on a preliminary test basis in leach pads on site. Approximately 9,000 tonnes of mineralized, low grade ore was crushed, screened and piled after laboratory leach tests showed satisfactory results. The project was shut down in 1998 due to the decline in copper prices” Stromberger (2012).

In 2000, the property vendor, Gunter Stromberger, undertook a sampling program of some of the workings and waste dumps on the Property and immediately adjacent ground. A total of 160 samples were taken from surface, near surface and underground workings. The results of this program will be reported in a separate Press Release.

In 2009, the property vendor undertook a rotary drill program in an attempt to assess vein continuity and grade in the near sub-surface. A total of 10 holes were drilled, with four (#11 – 14) abandoned due depth of overburden ( > 25 m – the amount of casing available). Generally, the holes that encountered bedrock documented anomalous background levels of copper, ranging from 0.10% to a maximum of 1.05%. Six of the holes intersected copper mineralized veins. The results of the drill program will be reported in a separate Press Release.

Between 2010 and early 2012, the property vendor exposed several high grade copper mineralized veins at surface and developed an approximately 3 m wide x 4 m high drift, the “Veta Gruesa Centre” Drift on the Veta Gruesa. A second drift, the “Exploration” Drift, is located approximately 350 west of the Veta Gruesa Centre drift and had just encountered the footwall of the Veta Gruesa at the time of the Company’s Due Diligence property evaluation in February, 2012.

Since the Due Diligence property evaluation in February, 2012, the property vendor has opened up two additional drifts on behalf of the Company, comprised of a third drift on the Veta Gruesa (Veta Gruesa East), the False Estaca Drift and initial development on the Descubridora Vein. Heavy equipment has exposed high grade copper mineralization immediately below a thin veneer of eolian sand, believed to correlate to the workings defining the Descubridora Vein. This exposure is actively being developed into a drift at this time. In addition, heavy equipment is currently working to remove sand in order to expose the Descubridora Vein approximately 40 m farther west and at slightly lower elevation so as to provide a second drift on this high grade copper vein. Finally, ore is currently being stockpiled at surface in anticipation of receipt of the license required to sell the ore from the Property to the government-owned ENAMI facility at Copiapo, located approximately 43 km to the south.

The content of this news release has been reviewed by Rick Walker, B.Sc., M.Sc., P. Geo., a Qualified Person for the purposes of NI 43-101, with the ability and authority to verify the authenticity and validity of the data herein.

Michel Voyer
President and Director

Safe Harbor Statement




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Stock futures edge up, S&P 500 poised to extend rally

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures gained on Friday after Procter & Gamble reported a higher quarterly profit and as the S&P 500 looked set to extend its best winning streak in more than six years.

The strong start to the year has been attributed to solid corporate earnings, agreement in Washington over raising the debt limit, encouraging recovery signs in the global economy and seasonal inflows to equity markets.

Those factors helped the S&P 500 rally for a seventh day on Thursday to a five-year peak. But the index is struggling to move convincingly above 1,500, a level it surpassed briefly Thursday for the first time since December 2007.

"You have had more confidence from fund managers to provide more allocations to equity markets," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management, who added equities were looking more attractive than bonds or cash.

Procter & Gamble , the world's top household products maker reported a higher profit on Friday and raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year. Shares were up 1.4 pct at $71.42 in premarket trading.

Earnings have helped drive the stock market's recent rally. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent have exceeded expectations, above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

Microsoft Corp's quarterly profit edged lower as Office software sales slowed ahead of a new launch, offsetting a solid but unspectacular start for its Windows 8 operating system and sending the company's shares down 1.1 percent.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.2 point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 44 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.75 points.

Echoing a more positive tone in Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi said he expects the euro zone economy to recover later this year, adding that financial market improvements have not yet trickled into the general economy. Draghi was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday.

Halliburton , the world's second-largest oilfield services company, is also due to report results.

Apple stepped up audits of working conditions at major suppliers last year, discovering multiple cases of underage workers, discrimination and wage problems. The shares, which fell 12 percent Thursday after disappointing earnings, edged up 0.2 percent to $451.80.

Honeywell , the diversified U.S. manufacturer, will be in focus as it reports earnings, with modest growth in demand for systems used to manage large buildings expected to be offset by declining sales to the military.

The Commerce Department releases new home sales data for December at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT). Economists forecast a total of 385,000 annualized units, compared with 377,000 in November.

Economic Cycle Research Institute releases its weekly index of economic activity for January 18 at 10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT). In the prior week the index read 130.

European shares <.fteu3> rose 0.1 percent after a survey showed German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Murray beats Federer, reaches Australian final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has beaten Roger Federer for the first time in a Grand Slam event to advance to the Australian Open final against top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Murray, who became the first British man to win a major in 76 years when he beat Djokovic in last year's U.S. Open final, missed a chance to serve for the match in the fourth set before beating Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 in a tense semifinal Friday.

The No. 3-ranked Murray, who lost Australian finals in 2010 and 2011, will be playing his third consecutive major final when he takes on two-time defending champion Djokovic on Sunday.

Murray lost the Wimbledon final to Federer — their third meeting in a major — before his career breakthrough in New York.

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Meet today's most ambitious women


  • Report: Women in Brazil, Russia, India and China more ambitious than U.S. counterparts

  • Extended families, affordable childcare makes it easier for mothers to work, says author

  • Eldercare and "daughterly guilt" are a more significant barrier than in Western world

  • Women report: Assertiveness not considered feminine in China and India

Editor's note: Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an economist and the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation, a Manhattan-based think tank where she chairs the Task Force for Talent Innovation, a task force of more than 70 global companies focused on fully realizing the new stream of talent in the global marketplace.

New York (CNN) -- The rapid growth in emerging markets over the past decade has made them fertile ground for the development of new approaches to attracting and managing talent.

Among the biggest beneficiaries: Ambitious, educated women in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC). Following the trend in developed nations, BRIC women are graduating from university at rates equal to or exceeding men. As they enter the professional workforce in their home countries, these women have an unparalleled opportunity to leapfrog their Western counterparts.

Research from the think tank I set up, Center for Talent Innovation, shows that their career ambitions and commitment overwhelm those of women in the U.S.

Their career ambitions and commitment overwhelm those of women in the U.S.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

In my book, "Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women are the Solution," written with Ripa Rashid, we say some 76% of Chinese women, 80% of Brazilian women, and a whopping 86% of Indian women aspire to the top job, compared to only 52% of their U.S. counterparts. Over 80% in Brazil, Russia and India love their jobs, versus 70% in the U.S.

Yet their promising futures too often are derailed by family-rooted "pulls" and workplace-centered "pushes."

Although childcare is one of the most common career killers for women in the United States and Western Europe, it is rarely a serious problem in the emerging markets. Parents and in-laws frequently live nearby and are willing to pitch in to help care for their grandchildren. Nannies and household help are, for the most part, affordable and readily available.

Instead, BRIC women confront a series of family and social pressures that pile onto women when they marry, ratchet up after they have children, and become almost crushing as their parents and in-laws get older.

Eldercare is a ticking time bomb, especially in countries where filial piety is tightly woven into the cultural value system.

Although elders today represent a net benefit to the female career professional in BRIC markets, demographic projections a huge leap in the percentage of the population over 60.

This dramatic shift will land squarely on professional women. While many women in our sample did not have children, the vast majority -- 81% -- do have eldercare responsibilities. "Daughterly guilt," already substantial across the BRICs, actually exceeds maternal guilt in India and China.

Gender bias remains an indisputable reality of the workplace
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

In spite of the tremendous gains in women's status in the BRICs over the past two decades, gender bias remains an indisputable reality of the workplace.

In India and China, over 25% of CTI survey respondents believe women are treated unfairly in the workplace owing to their gender; in India, the number is 45%.

More than half of educated women in India and nearly half of their counterparts in China have encountered bias severe enough to make them consider scaling back their career goals -- or quitting altogether. (Russia is the exception, in part owing to a Communist legacy that integrated women into the workplace better than elsewhere in today's emerging markets.)

Even a sizable percentage of men agree that women are treated unfairly because of their gender.

The most commonly encountered types of bias involve lingering stereotypes about women's abilities and commitment to work.

These deeply rooted prejudices can impact women's careers in a range of ways, from curtailed assignments to smaller salaries to penalties for taking maternity leave.

Women also have to fight cultural stereotypes that bar them from coveted assignments. More than half of the women surveyed are interested in international assignments, with most seeing them as critical to their career advancement.

Yet because it's assumed that a woman's responsibilities are to her home, and that her husband and children will take precedence over commitment to her career, she is often passed over in favor of a man.

Employers who wish to maximize their potential need to understand (women's) complicated career dynamics.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett

But assertiveness can be difficult for women brought up in cultures that place great value on women's submissiveness and reticence, as in India and China, or consider it a trait that detracts from women's essential femininity.

Many women surveyed felt crippled by this cultural bind, a sense further reinforced by the absence of senior female role models, mentors, sponsors and access to leadership training. Time and again, the women spoke of how hungry they are for more support from their employers and how much they would benefit from programs that would help them break out of their shells.

A nuanced understanding of the cultural and social influences is essential to doing business effectively anywhere, yet the "think global, act local" mantra that is the cornerstone of many successful business strategies rarely extends to managing talented women in emerging markets.

Employers who wish to maximize their potential need to understand their complicated career dynamics.

Only by creating policies and practices that enable ambitious, educated women to flourish will companies ensure that the tomorrow's leaders get the skills and support they need today.

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From bombastic to beloved, Joachim Sauer’s trip to Wagner’s “grail”

BERLIN (Reuters) – In his youth, theoretical chemist Joachim Sauer found the music of Richard Wagner “bombastic”. All that changed when he was in his early 20s with a chance encounter with Wagner’s ‘Siegfried’.

Now the annual Wagner summer festival in Bayreuth is one of the few occasions when the media-shy Sauer is seen in public with his wife, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This year, the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth, is a special one for the many millions of “Wagnerians” who share Sauer’s passion. It was the chance to talk about Wagner’s music, and only about music, that prompted Sauer to speak to Reuters.

“If you ask me what is the best good fortune in my life of course I say that I have seen in my lifespan the Wall coming down, the reunification,” said Sauer, 63, who grew up in communist East Germany.

“But the second, which comes with it, is perhaps that I now can go to Bayreuth.”

Sauer, considered a top expert in his field for his quantum chemical work with catalysts used in the chemical industry, and also in cars, met for an interview in English over dinner recently at the restaurant of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin where he went on to see Puccini’s “Tosca”.

“They see me all the time at Bayreuth and think I only like Wagner’s music and it’s not true,” Sauer said. He also likes Beethoven, Mozart, some of the Romantic repertoire, even the music of the 20th century, and Verdi’s “La Traviata”, which he considers a masterpiece.

But what is it about Wagner’s music that Sauer, a slender, fit and cordial man whose smiling countenance throughout the dinner of fish and a glass of white wine belied his somewhat dour image in the German press, finds so engaging, if not to say addictive?

His conversion occurred by chance when he came home one day exhausted, he said.

“I was studying chemistry and this is a physically hard job because you are in the laboratory, you work hard and you come home in the late afternoon or in the evening and you always needed a break. So I would stretch out on the sofa, switch on the radio and listen to this special radio program which has a lot of classical music and I was listening to something. I didn’t know what it was but I found it very interesting.

“And at the end it turned out it was a piece of ‘Siegfried’” – from Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. “So I told myself, ‘You’re an idiot…you should listen to it.’ So this was how it started.”

“It never ends, it’s so rich,” Sauer added, speaking of the appeal of Wagner’s operas, which include the story of the “swan knight” in “Lohengrin”, the 16-hour-long “Ring” and conclude with the quest for the Holy Grail in “Parsifal”. “And they are all so very different.”

He said Bayreuth, Wagner’s purpose-built opera house on the “Green Hill” in Bavaria, is unique in allowing busy people like himself, with a fulltime career as a professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, to get away from their daily routines and pay full attention to nothing but Wagner’s operas.

“Many people would be very proud if they had invented it. Therefore I am strictly against any good advice they would give to open it to change, to open it to other composers, to do all types of things. All wrong, because this is a unique thing and don’t touch it.”


Like many passionate Wagnerians, Sauer more or less throws up his hands when asked how many times he has seen the various operas – regularly since his 20s and at Bayreuth every year since 1990, when East and West Germany were reunited, was his rough estimate.

He said one of his greatest Wagner moments unexpectedly was a 1990s staging by the late Brecht disciple and leftist playwright Heiner Mueller of Wagner’s intensely romantic “Tristan und Isolde”, in which two unrequited lovers are united in death.

“It was really the best piece I have seen in Bayreuth so far…. I often have trouble with what is called the ‘regie theater’ where the director takes over but in this case it made sense not only in an intellectual way but also an emotional way,” Sauer said, still clearly passionate about a production that set part of the drama in a post-apocalypse world where the moribund lover Tristan, sung by Siegfried Jerusalem, wore dark sunglasses and was covered with concrete dust.

This year Bayreuth will unveil a new “Ring” by deconstructionist Berlin theatre director Frank Castorf, who has been known to dispense with whole sections of text in plays he directs, with the young Russian Kirill Petrenko conducting.

Sauer, who enjoyed the previous Bayreuth “Ring” under Wagner-immersed German conductor Christian Thielemann, is keeping an open mind. Little has been revealed about the Castorf version, apart from snippets on blogs and websites saying it will use a revolving stage and that Castorf is under orders not to make cuts.

“We take the risk. The music is still there,” Sauer said, with a wry hint of humor.

(editing by Janet McBride)

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Stock futures signal losses; all eyes on Apple

PARIS (Reuters) – Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.22 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.02 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 1.3 percent at 1014 GMT.

Shares of Apple Inc will be in the spotlight after the world’s biggest tech company missed Wall Street’s revenue forecast for the third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations, fanning fears that its dominance of consumer electronics is slipping.

Shares of the company traded in Frankfurt were down 8 percent early. They sank 10 percent to $ 463 in after-hours trade on Wall Street on Wednesday night, wiping out some $ 50 billion of its market value – nearly equivalent to that of Hewlett-Packard and Dell combined.

A U.S. trade panel that specializes in patent disputes will review a potentially key decision in the patent fight between Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc over smartphones and tablets.

European shares were mostly flat in morning trade, as bullish economic data out of China offset Apple‘s weaker-than-expected figures which fanned earnings worries in the technology sector. <.eu></.eu>

Noble Corp , owner of the world’s third-largest offshore drilling fleet, reported on Wednesday a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as it struggled with maintenance for five high-end rigs, even as demand for its most capable units increased.

Raymond James Financial Inc said quarterly profit rose 27.6 percent, boosted by strong performance from its brokerage and capital markets divisions.

Investors in U.S.-based mutual funds pumped $ 9.32 billion into stock funds in the week ended January 16, the second consecutive week of inflows for such funds, data from the Investment Company Institute showed on Wednesday.

Hard disk drive maker Western Digital Corp‘s second-quarter results beat analysts’ expectations, helped by growth in its enterprise segment. Shipment in the enterprise segment rose about 10 percent from first-quarter levels to 6.63 million units, analyst Nehal Chokshi of Technology Insights Research told Reuters.

Japanese regulators have joined their U.S. counterparts in all but ruling out overcharged batteries as the cause of recent fires on the Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner, which has been grounded for a week with no end in sight.

Amgen Inc on Wednesday projected revenue for 2013 that exceeds Wall Street estimates and said it was on track to deliver on its 2015 forecasts well ahead of schedule.

Pamplona Capital Management, holder of 9.3 percent of Nabors Industries Ltd , has become “increasingly concerned” about the underperformance of the drilling rig contractor’s shares, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Symantec Corp plans to slash its management ranks and reorganize into 10 business areas, but has decided not to sell off major assets after a strategic review by its new early this month.

SanDisk Corp’s modest revenue outlook disappointed investors looking for a rebound in memory chips widely used in smartphones and tablets, sending its shares lower.

Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street on Wednesday with a quarterly profit after the video subscription service added nearly 4 million customers in the United States and abroad, sending its shares 35 percent higher in after-hours trading.

Among the companies set to report results on Thursday feature Bristol-Myers Squibb , Lockheed Martin , 3M Company , Microsoft , Raytheon , Starbucks , AT&T Inc. , and Xerox Corp. .

On the macro front, investors awaited weekly jobless claims, at 1330 GMT, Markit Manufacturing PMI for January, due at 1358 GMT, and December leading economic indicators, due at 1500 GMT.

The S&P 500 rose for a sixth day on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected profits from IBM and Google but the rally could be halted as Apple‘s after-hours miss sent its shares lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> rose 67.12 points or 0.49 percent, to 13,779.33, the S&P 500 <.spx> gained 2.25 points or 0.15 percent, to 1,494.81, and the Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> added 10.49 points or 0.33 percent, to 3,153.67.</.ixic></.spx></.dji>

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson)

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Stock futures drop as Apple revenue miss halts stocks rally

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures fell Thursday as a revenue miss by Apple triggered a slide of nearly 10 percent in its shares in after-hours trading, and analysts said equities may be due for a pullback after a six-day rally for the S&P 500.

Apple Inc missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for a third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations, fanning fears its dominance of consumer electronics is slipping. The shares dropped 9.5 percent to $465.40 in premarket trading, wiping out about $50 billion of its market value.

However, some positive economic news looked set to put a floor under stock prices. Growth in Chinese manufacturing accelerated to a two-year high this month and a buoyant Germany took the euro zone economy a step closer to recovery, business surveys showed on Thursday.

"The march to 1,500 on the S&P is looking quite strong, the question is will Apple be the spoiler?" said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

"My guess is that while Nasdaq might suffer losses today, both the Dow and the S&P may do otherwise based on economic news out of China and Europe."

The S&P 500 rose for a sixth day on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected profits from IBM and Google . But the rally that has lifted stocks to five-year highs could be halted by Apple's after-hours revenue miss, especially on the technology heavy Nasdaq index.

S&P 500 futures fell 3.7 point and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 6 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 34.75 points.

Corporate earnings have helped drive the recent stock market rally. Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday showed that of the 99 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings, 67.7 percent have exceeded expectations, above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

Investors in U.S.-based mutual funds pumped $9.32 billion into stock funds in the week ended January 16, the second consecutive week of inflows for such funds, data from the Investment Company Institute showed Wednesday.

European shares were little changed in midday trading as mixed company earnings coupled with conflicting economic data from the region made investors wary, with indexes at multi-year highs. <.eu/>

Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street on Wednesday with a quarterly profit after the video subscription service added nearly 4 million customers in the United States and abroad, sending its shares nearly 40 percent higher in premarket trading.

On the macro front, investors awaited weekly jobless claims, at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT), Markit Manufacturing PMI for January, due at 8:58 a.m. (1358 GMT), and December leading economic indicators, due at 10:00 (1500 GMT).

Among the companies set to report results Thursday were Bristol-Myers Squibb , Lockheed Martin , 3M Company , Microsoft , Raytheon , Starbucks , AT&T Inc. , and Xerox Corp. .

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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