TODAY

– December 27, 2014

Obama's health care overhaul turns into a sprint

The Obama administration could stumble carrying out the complex legislation, or trip up if budget talks lead to scaling back the plan.The Obama administration could stumble carrying out the complex legislation, or trip up if budget talks lead to scaling back the plan.(AP) — The long slog has turned into a sprint. President Barack Obama's health care law survived the Supreme Court and the election; now the uninsured can sign up for coverage in about 11 months.

"We are out of the political gamesmanship and into the reality," said Sandy Praeger, Kansas' Republican insurance commissioner. Next week, states have to say if they're committed to building the framework for delivering health insurance to millions.

Not all hurdles have been cleared.

Republican governors who derided "Obamacare" have to decide whether it's better for their states to now help carry it out. The administration could stumble carrying out the complex legislation, or get tripped up if budget talks with Congress lead to scaling back the plan.

"We are still going to be struggling through the politics, and there are important policy hurdles and logistical challenges," said Andrew Hyman of the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, helping states carry out the law. "But we are on a very positive trajectory."

Instead of being dismantled by a Republican president and Congress, Obama's law is now on track to take its place alongside Medicare and Medicaid. The action starts right away.

A week from Friday, states must notify Washington if they'll be setting up new health insurance markets, called exchanges, in which millions of households and small businesses will shop for private coverage. The Health and Human Services Department will run the exchanges in states that aren't ready or willing.

Open enrollment for exchange plans is scheduled to start Oct. 1, 2013, and coverage will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.

In all, more than 30 million uninsured people are expected to gain coverage under the law. About half will get private insurance through the exchanges, with most receiving government help to pay premiums.

The rest, mainly low-income adults without children at home, will be covered through an expansion of Medicaid. While the federal government will pay virtually all the additional Medicaid costs, the Supreme Court gave states the leeway to opt out of the expansion. That adds to the uncertainty over how the law will be carried out.

A steadying force within the administration is likely to be HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The former Kansas governor has said she wants to stay until the law is fully enacted.
Governors will be the main counterparts to Sebelius, and Republicans are leading more than half the states.

Some, like Rick Perry of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida, have drawn a line against helping carry out Obama's law. In other states, voters have endorsed a hard stance. Missouri voters passed a ballot measure Tuesday that would prohibit establishment of a health insurance exchange unless the Legislature approves. State-level challenges to the federal law will continue to percolate.

Other GOP governors have been on the fence, awaiting the outcome of the election. All eyes will be on pragmatists like Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia, whose states have done considerable planning to set up exchanges.

"Republican governors are at the center of the health care universe right now," said Michael Ramlet, health policy director at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank. "They do not have a uniform position."

Virginia's McDonnell, in a rebuff to the administration, said in an interview published Thursday his state would not set up its own exchange, defaulting to a federally run one. McDonnell left open the possibility Virginia might later change course.

Some governors whose states aren't ready to run exchanges are considering the administration's fallback offer to run the new markets through a partnership.

"The real question for Republican governors is: 'Are you going to let the feds come into your state?'" Ramlet said. "The question for the Obama administration is whether they are going to have more flexibility."

Major regulations are due shortly covering such issues as exchange operations, benefits and protections for people with pre-existing health problems. That could signal the administration's willingness to compromise.

A check by The Associated Press found 17 states and the District of Columbia on track to setting up their own exchanges, while 10 have decided not to do so. The federal government could end up running the show in half or more of the states.

The states on track include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Not setting up exchanges are Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Missouri and others are likely to join the list.

A recent AP poll found that 63 percent of Americans want states to run the exchanges, with 32 percent favoring federal control.

GOP governors are also seeking flexibility on expanding Medicaid. They are pressing Sebelius on whether the administration will approve partial, less costly expansions, more attractive to cash-pressed states.

As far as Medicaid, 11 states and the District of Columbia have indicated they will expand their programs, while six have said they will not. That leaves more than 30 undecided.

The states definitely expanding Medicaid include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington. Those declining include Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans say if a budget deal is going to include tax increases, it must also come with cuts to the health care law, or money-saving delays in its implementation.

While major changes can't be ruled out, they don't seem very likely to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who is close to the administration.

"I think Democrats are increasingly emboldened about the health care act," Daschle said. "The president won re-election partly by defending it. There is a new dynamic around the health care effort."

Republican attempts to amend the law will continue, he said, but outright repeal is no longer a possibility.

What should Sony do with its controversial film "The Interview?"

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Written on 12/26/2014, 11:10 am by Ben Keller
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Written on 12/26/2014, 10:47 am by 
LINDSEY BAHR, AP Film Writer
(AP) — Despite on demand availability, crowds still flocked to theaters to catch showings of "The Interview," Thursday. The film made just over $1 million in ticket sales from 331 locations for an impressive $3,142 per theater average, according to distributor Sony Pictures. Many theaters reported selling out showings. Just one week ago, it seemed no one might see the satirical comedy following hacker threats, but, in a dramatic reversal of events, the studio this week decided to allow theaters to show the film and made it available for rental and purchase on digital platforms. Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures, said in a statement that the studio is extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out for the unconventional release.
Written on 12/26/2014, 10:40 am by JEFF KAROUB, Associated Press
(AP) — When it came time to pick a college, Abby Slusher leaned toward a private school near her southeastern Michigan home for the small campus and class sizes. Her mother pushed Adrian College for another reason: A new program guaranteeing every graduate would make more than $37,000 or get some or all student loans reimbursed. Adrian is among the first colleges to take out insurance policies on all incoming freshmen and transfer students who have student loans and at least two years of school remaining. "She said, 'Look at me, I'm still trying to pay my student loans off — this would be great. I don't want you in this situation,'" said Slusher, 18, who is studying to become a social worker. "And seeing her in this situation, I don't want that." The idea has been around for a few decades at Yale Law School and for specific programs elsewhere, such as seminary and social work degrees. Some small, religious schools started offering guarantees to all new students in recent years, but Adrian President Jeffrey Docking is taking it further by framing the program as a solution to skyrocketing tuition costs and student loan defaults. His crusade has gotten the attention of U.S. lawmakers and education officials. "Obviously, we feel like this is a big solution to a big problem — maybe the biggest problem right now in higher education," Docking said. "We felt like we needed to make a grand statement." Adrian paid roughly $575,000 this year, or $1,165 per student, to take out policies on 495 students. For those who graduate and get a job that pays less than $20,000 a year, the college will make full monthly student loan payments until they make $37,000 a year. With a job that pays $20,000 to $37,000, the college will make payments on a sliding scale. There's no time limit for the payment plan, but the college caps total loan payments at $70,000 per student. Adrian's annual cost of tuition, room and board is about $40,000 before any forms of financial aid. The school has 1,700 students. Docking already sees benefits: The entering freshmen class is up about 50 students to 570; to break even, the school determined it needed about two dozen new students who took out loans. He credits the program in part for the enrollment increase but says other efforts, like launching a varsity bass fishing team, have served as a lure. About 35 miles northwest of Adrian, Spring Arbor University, a small Christian institution, offered a similar guarantee to every incoming freshman in fall 2013. A conversation with Spring Arbor's former president inspired Docking. Although Spring Arbor officials see value in the program, they're likely to scale it back next year. "For the vast majority of students, it's not a deciding factor in choosing Spring Arbor," said school spokesman Malachi Crane. "Is there a way to better tailor it to students who really need it and have the desire to have that option? For us, it makes more fiscal sense not to automatically assign it to each and every student." Both programs were made possible by the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Association, a Bloomington, Indiana-based organization that works with U.S. colleges and universities. Peter Samuelson, the organization's president, said some schools "have ramped up, ramped back down and ramped back up again" with loan programs, but overall results are positive. "There's much more likelihood they're going to complete college successfully," Samuelson said. To get word out about the program, Docking met with other university presidents and testified last year before a U.S. House higher education subcommittee. Retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., made a floor statement last June praising Adrian's program as a model for other colleges. Docking said federal education officials told him at a meeting in August that they are exploring ways to promote the program. Education Department spokeswoman Denise Horn said officials commend the college for its "creative approach" to helping students manage their loans. "We're talking about this far and wide because we hope other colleges do it as well," Docking said. Mark Kantrowicz, publisher of edvisors.com, a college planning and financing website, said such programs have grown as school administrators become more concerned about rising discount rates, or the percentage of gross tuition given back to students in the form of grants. He calls it an "arms race in recruiting students," and schools are trying to find ways to stop the discount rate from increasing. "Obviously, loan repayment assistance provides assistance after the fact, and that has value," he said. "But it would be better to charge less in the first place."
Written on 12/26/2014, 10:23 am by Hannah Esqueda
National restaurant chain Corner Bakery Cafe will open nine locations throughout the Central Valley over the next five years, including a location in Fresno in early 2016. Franchisee Doug Cross said he has a contract with franchise group owners C & L Cafe for nine Central Valley locations over the next few years. The first restaurant opened in Visalia earlier this month and the next few are already being planned for Bakersfield and Fresno. Cross said he hopes to open the first Fresno location in the planned Park Crossing retail development near Woodward Park in north Fresno. The long-delayed project was rumored to be back on track this fall and is scheduled to break ground soon. Located near the intersection of Fresno Street and Friant Road, the nearly 40-acre plot (known around town as the Fresno 40) will eventually be used as a retail, office and residential development. Cross said he thinks the development is an ideal place for the city's first Corner Bakery Cafe and hopes to open the restaurant within the first quarter of 2016. The Bakersfield location is expected to open a bit sooner, with a projection date of late 2015. All future Corner Bakery locations are being planned between Stockton and Bakersfield and Cross said he hopes to develop several different sites in Fresno alone. “I'm from the area, I was here until my mid-20s and I remember how much people like to eat out,” he said. “We think Fresno is a place where we could potentially put two or three Corner Bakery Cafe locations.” The Dallas-based restaurant chain is known for its made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner menu options as well as its catering service. Offerings range from grilled paninis and buttermilk pancakes to soups and handcrafted salads. Food is priced between $1 and $8.99. The Visalia location features murals depicting local landmarks and scenes and will offer free WiFi and bottomless cups of the restaurants hand-roasted coffee. This is the first Corner Bakery Cafe for Cross, but he said he and his wife operate several Denny's and Burger King franchises throughout Southern California. While he's still based down south, Cross said he is excited to return to the Fresno area. “We're excited to build something back in an area that we're familiar with,” he said.
Written on 12/26/2014, 10:05 am by Business Journal staff
Valley Business Bank of Visalia gave $1,000 to the Proteus Foster Family Agency to help throw its annual holiday party for foster children the agency serves in the Central Valley. The party, held Dec. 23 at Me-n-Ed's Coney Island Grill in Fresno, drew around 80 people, including children and families of the agency, to enjoy lunch, play tokens and gifts for the kids. "Special activities such as the annual holiday party, and other excursions for the children, are primarily funded through donations," said Mike McCann, CEO of Proteus, in a release. "Valley Business Bank is highly regarded in the banking industry, and this donation is a wonderful example of giving back to the community.” Established in 1997, the Proteus Foster Family Agency is a nonprofit, state-licensed foster family agency operated by Proteus, Inc. of Visalia. Under its director, Gurpreet Brar, the organization provides stable, temporary out-of-home care to children throughout Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties by certifying foster homes, matching children with foster families and giving support to children and their foster parents and families.
Written on 12/26/2014, 9:31 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Big fries are going back on the menu in Japan. McDonald's Japan said Friday it will resume serving all portion sizes of fries on Jan. 5 after resolving shortages due to labor disruptions on the U.S. West Coast. The fast-food giant began limiting customers to orders of small fries earlier this month. The company said in a notice on its website that its fry inventory had improved thanks to air shipments and extra sea shipments from the U.S. East Coast. It apologized and said it would try to avoid further shortfalls at its 3,100 outlets in Japan. Frozen french fries — cut and ready for the deep-fryer — are a leading U.S. export. Japan's locally grown potatoes are mostly eaten fresh, rather than as fries, and production has been declining for years. Most of the more than 300,000 tons of french fries consumed in the country each year come from imports of frozen, processed potatoes.
Written on 12/26/2014, 9:29 am by HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer
(AP) — Critics and early viewers agree that "The Interview" is less than a masterpiece. But thanks to threats from hackers that nearly derailed its release, it has become an event. Hundreds of theaters Thursday, from The Edge 8 in Greenville, Alabama, to Michael Moore's Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan, made special holiday arrangements for the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony Pictures had initially called off the release after major theater chains dropped the movie that was to have opened on as many as 3,000 screens. But with President Obama among others criticizing the decision, Sony officials changed their minds. "The Interview" became available on a variety of digital platforms Wednesday afternoon, including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a separate Sony website. Meanwhile, Sony and independent theaters agreed to release it in over 300 venues on Christmas. "We are taking a stand for freedom," said theater manager Lee Peterson of the Cinema Village East in Manhattan, where most of Thursday's seven screenings had sold out by early afternoon. "We want to show the world that Americans will not be told what we can or cannot watch. Personally, I am not afraid." At Atlanta's Plaza Theater, a sell-out crowd Thursday hailed the film's release, washing down popcorn with beer and cocktails and uniting for a boisterous sing-along of "God Bless America" before the opening credits. "This is way more fun than it would have been," said Jim Kelley of Atlanta, who waited outside with his daughter, Shannon. The elder Kelley added, with mocking sarcasm, "This is almost dangerous, like we're living life on the edge." Some venues showing "The Interview" were more likely to feature documentaries about North Korea than a low-brow comedy about it. At the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico, owned by "Game of Thrones" author George RR Martin, the schedule also includes the Spanish art-house release "Flamenco," the locally made "The Twilight Angel" and an Italian film festival. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which begins screening "The Interview" on Friday, will soon be hosting a tribute to "Force Majeure" director Ruben Ostlund of Sweden and a documentary about the late Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer. The back story of "The Interview" has itself played out like a Hollywood satire, in which a cartoonish farce distracts from some of the holiday season's most prestigious films: "Selma," the drama about the 1965 civil rights march; Angelina Jolie's adaptation of the best-selling World War II story "Unbroken"; and the all-star, big-screen version of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods." Security was light at many theaters, with the occasional police officer on hand. The possibility of violence was taken more seriously by the movie industry than by government officials. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that there were no credible threats. Meanwhile, Darrell Foxworth, a special agent for the FBI in San Diego, said Wednesday the agency was sharing information with independent movie theater owners showing "The Interview" out of "an abundance of caution" and to educate them about cyber threats and what help the FBI can offer. Kim Song, a North Korean diplomat to the United Nations, condemned the release Wednesday, calling the movie an "unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader." But Kim said North Korea will likely limit its response to condemnation, with no "physical reaction." Decisions to show the movie through the Internet could open up companies to hacking. Xbox and PlayStation's online gaming services were down Thursday afternoon but the cause was unclear. Meanwhile, YouTube and other Google products were not having any disruptions. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the Xbox outage but declined further comment. Sony PlayStation representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries. In Little Rock, members of an Arkansas family who say they otherwise would have never seen "The Interview" were among the first patrons at the Riverdale 10 theater. Kay Trice and her husband drove an hour from Stuttgart, Arkansas, to see the movie with their daughter and appreciated "the freedom to see it." "It should be shown in this country and somebody in North Korea should not have the right to scare us out of seeing this," Trice said. A few dozen people lined up early outside Tempe, Arizona's Valley Art theater, where tickets for all five showings on Thursday had sold out. "There are a lot of people going crazy over (the controversy). It's bigger than the movie," said Omar Khiel, 20. At the Cinema Village theater in Manhattan, the 10 a.m. screening was near capacity. Derek Karpel, a 34-year-old attorney, said that "as many people as possible should go see it. In fact, the government should subsidize tickets to make that possible." But he wasn't about to call "The Interview" a national treasure. "No one should go into expecting it to be a serious commentary on politics," he said. "But it's fun. People should go."____Jonathan Lemire and Scott Mayerowitz in New York, Eric Tucker in Washington, Bill Barrow in Atlanta, Kelly Kissel in Little Rock and Alina A. Hartounian in Tempe contributed to this report.
Written on 12/26/2014, 9:15 am by TALI ARBEL, AP Business Writer
(AP) — This year showed how sheltered the U.S. economy is from geopolitical and health crises around the world. The global economy sputtered, but the U.S. powered ahead. Employers are finally hiring enough to lower unemployment. A plunge in gas prices and a rising stock market has Americans feeling richer and spending a bit more. Those are some of the top business stories of 2014, as chosen by business editors at The Associated Press. Others include massive product disasters: A string of auto recalls after faulty ignition switches from General Motors Corp. and air bags in many car models caused injuries and deaths. Hackers stole personal information from millions of people in a wave of breaches at stores, banks, a movie studio and other organizations. We're also becoming increasingly dependent on our phones and tablets, using them to communicate, play and pay. Janet Yellen became the first woman to head the Federal Reserve and U.S. workers won higher pay as cities and states across the country raise the minimum hourly wage. Corporate deal-making was also in the spotlight. Companies acquired each other at a level not seen since 2007, the year the Great Recession began, while a burst of businesses went public. The top 10 business stories of 2014: 1. U.S. GROWS AS WORLD SLOWS: After a freezing winter put a chill on buying and selling, the U.S. economy has posted its best six months since 2003. But the rest of the world hasn't been as lucky. Japan has fallen back into recession. The 18 countries that make up the eurozone are barely growing and fear a dangerous drop in prices. Major developing nations aren't faring much better. China's growth has dropped to a five-year low of 7.3 percent. Western sanctions and dropping oil prices have decimated Russia's currency. Brazil just edged out of recession. What's helped the U.S. is its relative insulation. American consumers, not exports, are the main drivers of the world's largest economy. 2. JOBS ARE BACK: Millions of Americans still struggle with low pay and fewer hours of work than they want, and millions have given up looking for a job entirely. But five years after the recession ended, the U.S. job market is looking healthy. The unemployment rate is below 6 percent. Employers added nearly 3 million jobs, the most since 1999, as shoppers and businesses spend more. As a result, the Federal Reserve ended its recession-era stimulus program in October and is edging closer to lifting interest rates. The Fed has kept rates near zero since 2008 to spur lending and investment. 3. SECURITY BREACHES: The theft of 40 million credit and debit cards and 70 million personal records from Target last fall turned out to be just the beginning. Home Depot Inc. hackers nabbed 56 million cards and 53 million email addresses. There were breaches at Kmart, Dairy Queen, and Albertsons. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said hackers stole information covering 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. Sony employees' private information and emails were posted online. The consequences? Sony Pictures Entertainment canceled the mass release of "The Interview," a comedy about assassinating the North Korean leader, after hackers threatened to attack movie theaters. Target Corp. replaced top executives. Shops, card companies and banks sped up card security improvements. 4. OIL PLUNGE: Global crude prices have fallen to around $56 per barrel from this year's high of $115 because of more production, especially in the U.S., while slowing economies in Europe and Asia crimp demand. A rapid decline in the second half of the year pushed gasoline to about $2.30 a gallon in the U.S., the lowest price in nearly five years. Americans are pocketing $15.4 billion more a month than when gas was at its 2014 high of $3.70. Cheaper crude is also pumping up auto sales and saving airlines money on jet fuel. But drilling could slow in North Dakota's new boomtowns and other regions, hurting businesses that have cropped up. And governments in energy producers Russia, Venezuela and Iran are being squeezed, increasing the likelihood of political upheaval. 5. AUTO RECALLS: In the U.S. alone, automakers recalled more than 60 million cars and trucks. That far surpasses the previous record of 30.8 million in 2004. The bulk of those come from two problems that have led to nearly 50 deaths and dozens of injuries. Japanese air bag supplier Takata, whose air bags can inflate too fast and spew shrapnel, has fought regulators' demands to expand recalls. And GM was fined the maximum $35 million by U.S. safety regulators for dragging its feet — for a decade — over replacing faulty switches that can shut down car engines. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating both companies. 6. MOBILE MOMENTUM: PC sales are slumping, but mobile phone subscriptions are expected to reach 7 billion this year — the same as the world's population. Phone makers are launching cheaper smartphones aimed at developing countries, which could get billions more people online. Already, more than a billion people check Facebook on their phones and tablets. The social media giant spent $22 billion on a phone messaging app, WhatsApp. Uber, a hail-a-cab app, is valued at $40 billion. Apple Inc., the iPhone and iPad maker, launched a payment system that sidesteps cash and plastic. 7. STOCK MARKETS SOAR: Another year, another record. The end of the Federal Reserve's bond-buying stimulus program stressed investors this fall, but U.S. stocks kept rising, extending the bull market run to nearly six years. More companies acquired each other and big companies bought up more than $400 billion of their own stock, helping to put the Standard & Poor's 500 index on pace for a 13 percent gain in 2014. And despite the end of the Fed's bond purchases, which was expected to weigh on markets, bond prices rallied and rates dropped. 8. MINIMUM WAGE GROWTH: Inequality has been rising, and median household incomes have fallen since the recession began in late 2007. But the federal minimum hourly wage has remained at $7.25 since 2009. Labor organizers, fast-food workers and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employees have campaigned for higher pay across the country. Congress hasn't acted, but cities and states — and President Barack Obama — have. Obama raised pay by executive order for government contractors, to $10.10 an hour. By Jan. 1, 29 states and Washington, D.C. will have a higher minimum wage than $7.25. Seattle approved an increase to $15 an hour, the highest rate in the country. 9. JANET YELLEN: The Federal Reserve had been led exclusively by men for a century. Then Janet Yellen, a 68-year-old former economics professor and the No. 2 at the Fed, became the first woman to lead the central bank. Plainspoken, with a trace of her native Brooklyn in her speech, Yellen criticizes inequality, focuses on jobs growth and has tried to demystify the moves of the notoriously opaque Fed. She has also tied the failure of most economists to predict the damages wrought by the financial crisis to a lack of diversity in the field. She says that increasing diversity is a priority at the central bank. 10. LET'S MAKE A DEAL: Higher stocks and confidence lifted global mergers and acquisitions volume to highest level since 2007. With a few days to go, global deal volume has risen 20 percent to $3.41 trillion, including debt. Climbing markets make it easier to do stock deals, and borrowing is cheap. Meanwhile, initial public offerings had their biggest year since 2000. Health care companies made up 37 percent of all IPOs in the U.S., nearly double the level in 2013. And the biggest IPO ever, that of China's e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., raised $25 billion in September.
Written on 12/26/2014, 9:13 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Sony's online PlayStation store and Microsoft's Xbox site suffered disruptions to users on Christmas Day in the latest possible cyber-attacks on the companies. The PlayStation Store Twitter feed said Friday that some users were having trouble logging into its network. It said engineers were investigating. A notice on Microsoft's Xbox website said it knew some users were having trouble signing in. it said, "We're aware of this issue, and we're working to find a fix ASAP!" The problems were affecting Xbox Live Core Services, though most other applications were up and running, it said. Earlier this month the PlayStation store also experienced spells of inaccessibility. That followed a cyberattack on computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment that led to the release of confidential information on the Internet. A hacker group calling itself Lizard Squad appeared to take responsibility for the disruptions on its Twitter account.
Written on 12/26/2014, 9:07 am by Associated Press
(AP) — While tens of thousands of immigrants in the country illegally are gearing up to apply for a long-sought driver's license in California starting Jan. 2, others are being urged to think twice. Immigrant advocates say most should be able to get licensed without trouble but want anyone who previously obtained a driver's license under a false name or someone else's Social Security number to speak first with a lawyer. The same applies to immigrants with a deportation order or criminal record because law enforcement can access Department of Motor Vehicles data during an investigation. The state expects 1.4 million immigrants to apply for licenses in the first three years. Advocates don't foresee too many problems with the rollout, saying California has learned lessons from other states with similar programs.

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Written on 12/26/2014, 10:47 am by 
LINDSEY BAHR, AP Film Writer
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Written on 12/26/2014, 9:29 am by HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer
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Written on 12/26/2014, 9:15 am by TALI ARBEL, AP Business Writer
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