AP News


Billboard Awards defend Michael Jackson hologram PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 16 May 2014 19:24
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tech companies have filed an emergency lawsuit to prevent the Billboard Music Awards from using their patents to project a Michael Jackson hologram at this weekend’s show.
Hologram USA Inc. and Musion Das Hologram Ltd. sued Jackson’s estate and dick clark productions in federal court over technology known for digitally resurrecting deceased rapper Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella music festival.
A lawyer representing the show’s producers and Jackson’s estate responded to the suit Friday by stating that if the virtual performance from the King of Pop were blocked, they would be irreparably harmed.
Judge Kent Dawson held a brief hearing Friday afternoon in a Nevada federal court and said he would rule on the case by the end of the day.
Plans to use the hologram during the show Sunday emerged with the lawsuit. Show producers still haven’t confirmed that they plan to feature a 3-D image of Jackson, but they had been promoting a “history-making performance” at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena that would promote the singer’s latest posthumous album, “Xscape.”
Attorney Michael Feder, representing the show and Jackson estate, said in his filed response that the holographic performance has been planned for months and had been discussed with Alki David, who owns the rights to the technology that creates and projects lifelike images to appear alongside live performers through Hologram USA and Musion.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Jackson’s estate, called the lawsuit in a statement “ludicrous” and said it had “no merit.”
Hologram USA and Musion say one of their products is being used without authorization by a competitor to create a segment that depicts Jackson performing a new song, “Slave to the Rhythm.”
Hologram USA obtained the rights to the patents after the bankruptcy of Florida effects house Digital Domain, which created the Shakur performance to wide acclaim two years ago.
The lawsuit also names John C. Textor, the chairman of Florida-based Pulse Entertainment Corp. who was the former head of Digital Domain. Pulse is accused of using the hologram techniques without a proper license. A phone message left for Textor was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit names Atlanta-based Pulse Entertainment Inc. as a defendant. Ken S. Johnson said the company was listed incorrectly because it had no connection the Billboard Music Awards.
In March, Hologram USA sued Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International over its show, “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. The show features a performance by a digital rendition of Jackson, which the company also contends is an unlicensed use of its technology.
The case is being handled in a Los Angeles federal court and Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts have been granted an extension until May 23 to respond to the lawsuit.
LOS ANGELES — Tech companies have filed an emergency lawsuit to prevent the Billboard Music Awards from using their patents to project a Michael Jackson hologram at this weekend’s show.
Hologram USA Inc. and Musion Das Hologram Ltd. sued Jackson’s estate and dick clark productions in federal court over technology known for digitally resurrecting deceased rapper Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella music festival.
A lawyer representing the show’s producers and Jackson’s estate responded to the suit Friday by stating that if the virtual performance from the King of Pop were blocked, they would be irreparably harmed.
Judge Kent Dawson held a brief hearing Friday afternoon in a Nevada federal court and said he would rule on the case by the end of the day.
Plans to use the hologram during the show Sunday emerged with the lawsuit. Show producers still haven’t confirmed that they plan to feature a 3-D image of Jackson, but they had been promoting a “history-making performance” at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena that would promote the singer’s latest posthumous album, “Xscape.”
Attorney Michael Feder, representing the show and Jackson estate, said in his filed response that the holographic performance has been planned for months and had been discussed with Alki David, who owns the rights to the technology that creates and projects lifelike images to appear alongside live performers through Hologram USA and Musion.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Jackson’s estate, called the lawsuit in a statement “ludicrous” and said it had “no merit.”
Hologram USA and Musion say one of their products is being used without authorization by a competitor to create a segment that depicts Jackson performing a new song, “Slave to the Rhythm.”
Hologram USA obtained the rights to the patents after the bankruptcy of Florida effects house Digital Domain, which created the Shakur performance to wide acclaim two years ago.
The lawsuit also names John C. Textor, the chairman of Florida-based Pulse Entertainment Corp. who was the former head of Digital Domain. Pulse is accused of using the hologram techniques without a proper license. A phone message left for Textor was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit names Atlanta-based Pulse Entertainment Inc. as a defendant. Ken S. Johnson said the company was listed incorrectly because it had no connection the Billboard Music Awards.
In March, Hologram USA sued Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International over its show, “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. The show features a performance by a digital rendition of Jackson, which the company also contends is an unlicensed use of its technology.
The case is being handled in a Los Angeles federal court and Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts have been granted an extension until May 23 to respond to the lawsuit.
 
GM recall investigation reveals banned words PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 16 May 2014 19:23
DETROIT (AP) — What do the words “safety,” “chaotic” and “problem” have in common?
They’re all on General Motors’ list of banned words for employees who were documenting potential safety issues.
The revelation of the 68-word list is one of the odder twists in GM’s ongoing recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches.
On Friday, the U.S. government slapped GM with a $35 million fine for failing to report the deadly defect for more than a decade. The government also released a 2008 GM training document that includes the list and warns employees to stick to the facts and not use language that could hurt the company down the road.
The word “defect,” for example, “can be regarded as a legal admission” and should be avoided, the company document says.
Adjectives like “bad,” “terrifying,” “dangerous,” “horrific” and “evil” are on the list. So are unflattering terms like “deathtrap,” “widow-maker” and “Hindenburg.” Even seemingly benign words like “always” and “never” made it on the list.
From there, it veers into the extraordinary. “Kevorkianesque” — as in the late assisted-suicide activist Jack Kevorkian — and “Corvair-like” — a reference to the GM car once called “unsafe at any speed” by Ralph Nader — are on it; so is “apocalyptic,” “grisly” and “rolling sarcophagus.” Phrases like “unbelievable engineering screw-up” and “potentially disfiguring” were also discouraged.
GM said flowery language simply wasn’t helpful in getting to the root of a problem. Saying “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen,” for example, isn’t as useful as saying, “Windshield wipers did not work properly.” But it also warned that language could be misinterpreted later by someone outside the company. Employees were asked to think how they would feel if something they were writing was reported in a major newspaper.
David Friedman, the acting chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Friday that the materials were part of a larger problem at GM, where engineers were reluctant to send documents with words like “defect” up the chain of command.
“The fact that GM took so long to report this defect says there was something very wrong with the company’s values,” he said.
GM said Friday that employees are now encouraged to discuss safety issues.
“We encourage employees to be factual in their statements and will continue to work with NHTSA to improve our safety processes,” the company said in a statement.
But Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said what GM did isn’t unusual. Automakers are required by federal law to report safety defects to the government within five days of discovering them, so they’re careful not to use language that will trigger that law.
“The D-word — ‘defect’ — is banned in any auto company.  GM just confirms it,” Ditlow said.
DETROIT — What do the words “safety,” “chaotic” and “problem” have in common?
They’re all on General Motors’ list of banned words for employees who were documenting potential safety issues.
The revelation of the 68-word list is one of the odder twists in GM’s ongoing recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches.
On Friday, the U.S. government slapped GM with a $35 million fine for failing to report the deadly defect for more than a decade. The government also released a 2008 GM training document that includes the list and warns employees to stick to the facts and not use language that could hurt the company down the road.
The word “defect,” for example, “can be regarded as a legal admission” and should be avoided, the company document says.
Adjectives like “bad,” “terrifying,” “dangerous,” “horrific” and “evil” are on the list. So are unflattering terms like “deathtrap,” “widow-maker” and “Hindenburg.” Even seemingly benign words like “always” and “never” made it on the list.
From there, it veers into the extraordinary. “Kevorkianesque” — as in the late assisted-suicide activist Jack Kevorkian — and “Corvair-like” — a reference to the GM car once called “unsafe at any speed” by Ralph Nader — are on it; so is “apocalyptic,” “grisly” and “rolling sarcophagus.” Phrases like “unbelievable engineering screw-up” and “potentially disfiguring” were also discouraged.
GM said flowery language simply wasn’t helpful in getting to the root of a problem. Saying “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen,” for example, isn’t as useful as saying, “Windshield wipers did not work properly.” But it also warned that language could be misinterpreted later by someone outside the company. Employees were asked to think how they would feel if something they were writing was reported in a major newspaper.
David Friedman, the acting chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Friday that the materials were part of a larger problem at GM, where engineers were reluctant to send documents with words like “defect” up the chain of command.
“The fact that GM took so long to report this defect says there was something very wrong with the company’s values,” he said.
GM said Friday that employees are now encouraged to discuss safety issues.
“We encourage employees to be factual in their statements and will continue to work with NHTSA to improve our safety processes,” the company said in a statement.
But Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said what GM did isn’t unusual. Automakers are required by federal law to report safety defects to the government within five days of discovering them, so they’re careful not to use language that will trigger that law.
“The D-word — ‘defect’ — is banned in any auto company.  GM just confirms it,” Ditlow said.
 
Notre Dame OK amid power outage on graduation eve PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 16 May 2014 19:04
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An underground electrical fire has left hundreds of homes and businesses without power in South Bend as thousands of people come to town for the University of Notre Dame’s weekend commencement.
The college campus is about 2 miles north of downtown South Bend and wasn’t affected, but university officials urged students on Friday to tell their families and other guests to check in with hotels and restaurants to ensure they’re open.
Indiana Michigan Power says it cut power in downtown South Bend as a precaution after a fire late Thursday seriously damaged power circuits in underground vaults that house part of the city’s electrical grid.
Two generators are being brought in to help power several businesses, including the DoubleTree hotel. Power isn’t expected to be restored until Sunday evening.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — An underground electrical fire has left hundreds of homes and businesses without power in South Bend as thousands of people come to town for the University of Notre Dame’s weekend commencement.
The college campus is about 2 miles north of downtown South Bend and wasn’t affected, but university officials urged students on Friday to tell their families and other guests to check in with hotels and restaurants to ensure they’re open.
Indiana Michigan Power says it cut power in downtown South Bend as a precaution after a fire late Thursday seriously damaged power circuits in underground vaults that house part of the city’s electrical grid.
Two generators are being brought in to help power several businesses, including the DoubleTree hotel. Power isn’t expected to be restored until Sunday evening.
 
Okla. sheriff’s tweets among most popular in US PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 16 May 2014 19:01
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma County’s sheriff wants basketball fans and the Oklahoma City Thunder to know that streaking is illegal — but cheering, loudly, for the NBA team has yet to land anyone in the local jail.
If that doesn’t sound like typical law enforcement advice, agency spokesman Mark Myers believes, that’s a good thing.
Myers runs the sheriff’s office Twitter account, which has become one of the most popular in the nation for mid-sized law enforcement agencies thanks to tweets ranging from cheering on the Thunder — “(hash)Thunder down for WHAT?!!!!” — to taking followers along on DUI checkpoints and selfies of the sheriff.
“I’ve decided we want our brand to be more personable, and we want to have a conversation with people about what we’re doing,” said Myers, a former television reporter who is convincing the agency to look into new ways people absorb information.
“Since I came out of a news background, I have just been like, ‘Wow, I can almost do a 24-hour news cycle about what the people in our agency are doing.”’
Law enforcement agencies around the country use social media to interact with the public. But Myers said the live-tweeting from Oklahoma County, home to Oklahoma City, has helped the agency develop an identity among residents who typically don’t have much interaction with law enforcement — because they’re not getting arrested.
On Throwback Thursdays, a social-media trend where users post old photos, Meyer tweets century-old photographs of lawmen on horseback or his office’s dive team in the 1980s. Fugitive Fridays host tweets about the area’s most wanted criminals, while other messages are about severe weather or potential scams.
But non-police business dominate other tweets, 140-character messages employing hashtags and “at” symbols to help users find and follow each other.
“If you are running the (at)OKCMarathon tomorrow, you should be in bed...not watching the (at)okcthunder. Good luck Sunday!” Myers tweeted in April. And while his beloved Thunder were amid a losing streak, he tweeted, “Streaking is illegal in Ok County.”
Such interactions have helped him attract and engage with the office’s 21,000 official Twitter followers, making it the most followed mid-sized law enforcement agency behind only Maryland’s Howard County police.
“If people are paying attention to you when you talk about the Thunder, think about how many people will be paying attention to you when there’s actual really important information,” Myers said.
Myers began live-tweeting from drunken-driving checkpoints two years ago, and the number of followers jumped by 4,000 after the first night. Although he sometimes reveals the locations, Myers said he thinks people enjoy following along as people get busted.
“Tweet-alongs are replacing ride-alongs where people can see what we’re doing,” Myers said. “We’re using that format for a few things, hanging out with our warrant squad like a modern-day posse, the DUI checkpoints and patrols.”
Cindy Evans, a 48-year-old mother from Ratliff City, is among those followers of (at)OkCountySheriff.
“Sometimes their tweets are funny, but they’re effective because lots of people are on Twitter and can help find the criminals when they might have trouble finding them otherwise,” Evans said.
Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow, a spokeswoman at the Oklahoma City Police Department, said her agency likes what the sheriff’s office is doing — but prefers to emphasize “business-related things” its social media feeds. Her agency has around 12,000 Twitter followers.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma County’s sheriff wants basketball fans and the Oklahoma City Thunder to know that streaking is illegal — but cheering, loudly, for the NBA team has yet to land anyone in the local jail.
If that doesn’t sound like typical law enforcement advice, agency spokesman Mark Myers believes, that’s a good thing.
Myers runs the sheriff’s office Twitter account, which has become one of the most popular in the nation for mid-sized law enforcement agencies thanks to tweets ranging from cheering on the Thunder — “(hash)Thunder down for WHAT?!!!!” — to taking followers along on DUI checkpoints and selfies of the sheriff.
“I’ve decided we want our brand to be more personable, and we want to have a conversation with people about what we’re doing,” said Myers, a former television reporter who is convincing the agency to look into new ways people absorb information.
“Since I came out of a news background, I have just been like, ‘Wow, I can almost do a 24-hour news cycle about what the people in our agency are doing.”’
Law enforcement agencies around the country use social media to interact with the public. But Myers said the live-tweeting from Oklahoma County, home to Oklahoma City, has helped the agency develop an identity among residents who typically don’t have much interaction with law enforcement — because they’re not getting arrested.
On Throwback Thursdays, a social-media trend where users post old photos, Meyer tweets century-old photographs of lawmen on horseback or his office’s dive team in the 1980s. Fugitive Fridays host tweets about the area’s most wanted criminals, while other messages are about severe weather or potential scams.
But non-police business dominate other tweets, 140-character messages employing hashtags and “at” symbols to help users find and follow each other.
“If you are running the (at)OKCMarathon tomorrow, you should be in bed...not watching the (at)okcthunder. Good luck Sunday!” Myers tweeted in April. And while his beloved Thunder were amid a losing streak, he tweeted, “Streaking is illegal in Ok County.”
Such interactions have helped him attract and engage with the office’s 21,000 official Twitter followers, making it the most followed mid-sized law enforcement agency behind only Maryland’s Howard County police.
“If people are paying attention to you when you talk about the Thunder, think about how many people will be paying attention to you when there’s actual really important information,” Myers said.
Myers began live-tweeting from drunken-driving checkpoints two years ago, and the number of followers jumped by 4,000 after the first night. Although he sometimes reveals the locations, Myers said he thinks people enjoy following along as people get busted.
“Tweet-alongs are replacing ride-alongs where people can see what we’re doing,” Myers said. “We’re using that format for a few things, hanging out with our warrant squad like a modern-day posse, the DUI checkpoints and patrols.”
Cindy Evans, a 48-year-old mother from Ratliff City, is among those followers of (at)OkCountySheriff.
“Sometimes their tweets are funny, but they’re effective because lots of people are on Twitter and can help find the criminals when they might have trouble finding them otherwise,” Evans said.
Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow, a spokeswoman at the Oklahoma City Police Department, said her agency likes what the sheriff’s office is doing — but prefers to emphasize “business-related things” its social media feeds. Her agency has around 12,000 Twitter followers.
 
Stock market manages slight gain after choppy day PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 16 May 2014 18:59
NEW YORK (AP) — Better results from retailers and demand for telecommunications shares helped push the stock market to a small gain on Friday.
Telecoms rose the most among the 10 industries in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Their jump followed news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway made a new investment in Verizon Communications. Other big-name investors, including John Paulson, also reportedly took stakes. Verizon climbed $1.11, or 2 percent, to $49.07.
Major indexes spent much of the day meandering around the breakeven mark. Stocks started higher at the open but reversed course after a report on consumer confidence showed a drop last month. The market took a sudden turn up in the last hour of trading, turning minor losses into minor gains.
“We’ve had a lot of starts and stops recently,” said Dan Cook, a director at Nadex, an exchange in Chicago. “We’re at high levels, so it’s a time to be cautious.”
The S&P 500 index gained 7.01 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,877.86.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 16,491.31. The Nasdaq composite index rose 21.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to finish at 4,090.59.
Investors said the choppy trading reflects a larger uncertainty. The stock market is trading near record highs, but investors see little reason for excitement. Earlier in the week, the S&P 500 index notched all-time highs two days in a row. On Thursday, mixed economic news and a weak earnings report from Wal-Mart Stores drove the market to its worst day in more than a month.
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, said traders who hunt for patterns in the market’s moves have spotted some warning signs worth noting. For instance, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note recently dropped to its lowest point this year. That’s usually a sign of an economic slowdown.
“But most of the economic reports are coming in better than people thought,” Paulsen said. “If you only paid attention to the bond market over the past few years, you’d think the world was going to end. Not the stock market. Which one was right?”
Before the market opened Friday, the government reported that builders started work on more houses in April, as U.S. construction surged to its highest pace in six months. Nearly all of that increase, however, came from new apartment buildings, a sign that Americans are still struggling to buy single-family homes.
Nordstrom surged $9.06, or 15 percent, to $70.55, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The department store chain reported higher quarterly profits than analysts had expected late Thursday, as better sales at its discount Rack stores boosted results.
J.C. Penney surged $1.36, or 16 percent, to $9.73. Rising sales helped the retailer turn in better results than analysts expected late Thursday. Sales at stores open at least a year — a key gauge of a chain’s health — increased more than 6 percent in its first quarter.
NEW YORK — Better results from retailers and demand for telecommunications shares helped push the stock market to a small gain on Friday.
Telecoms rose the most among the 10 industries in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Their jump followed news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway made a new investment in Verizon Communications. Other big-name investors, including John Paulson, also reportedly took stakes. Verizon climbed $1.11, or 2 percent, to $49.07.
Major indexes spent much of the day meandering around the breakeven mark. Stocks started higher at the open but reversed course after a report on consumer confidence showed a drop last month. The market took a sudden turn up in the last hour of trading, turning minor losses into minor gains.
“We’ve had a lot of starts and stops recently,” said Dan Cook, a director at Nadex, an exchange in Chicago. “We’re at high levels, so it’s a time to be cautious.”
The S&P 500 index gained 7.01 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,877.86.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 16,491.31. The Nasdaq composite index rose 21.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to finish at 4,090.59.
Investors said the choppy trading reflects a larger uncertainty. The stock market is trading near record highs, but investors see little reason for excitement. Earlier in the week, the S&P 500 index notched all-time highs two days in a row. On Thursday, mixed economic news and a weak earnings report from Wal-Mart Stores drove the market to its worst day in more than a month.
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, said traders who hunt for patterns in the market’s moves have spotted some warning signs worth noting. For instance, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note recently dropped to its lowest point this year. That’s usually a sign of an economic slowdown.
“But most of the economic reports are coming in better than people thought,” Paulsen said. “If you only paid attention to the bond market over the past few years, you’d think the world was going to end. Not the stock market. Which one was right?”
Before the market opened Friday, the government reported that builders started work on more houses in April, as U.S. construction surged to its highest pace in six months. Nearly all of that increase, however, came from new apartment buildings, a sign that Americans are still struggling to buy single-family homes.
Nordstrom surged $9.06, or 15 percent, to $70.55, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The department store chain reported higher quarterly profits than analysts had expected late Thursday, as better sales at its discount Rack stores boosted results.
J.C. Penney surged $1.36, or 16 percent, to $9.73. Rising sales helped the retailer turn in better results than analysts expected late Thursday. Sales at stores open at least a year — a key gauge of a chain’s health — increased more than 6 percent in its first quarter.
 
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