– February 26, 2015

S&P 500 closes above 1,700 points for first time

(AP) — The stock market roared back to record highs on Thursday, driven by better news on the economy.

The Standard & Poor's 500, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Russell 2000 index set all-time highs. The S&P broke through 1,700 points for the first time. The Nasdaq hit its highest level since September 2000.

The gains were driven by a steady flow of encouraging, if incremental, reports on the global economy.

Overnight, a positive read on China's manufacturing helped shore up Asian markets. Then, an hour before U.S. trading started, the government reported that unemployment claims fell last week. At mid-morning a trade group said U.S. factories revved up production last month. And while corporate earnings news brought both winners and losers, investors were able to find enough that they liked in companies including CBS, MetLife and Yelp.

"It's just a lot of things adding up," said Russell Croft, portfolio manager of the Croft Value Fund in Baltimore. "It's hard to put your finger on why exactly, but basically it's a bunch of pretty good data points coming together to make a very good day."

Overall, analysts said, the news was good but not overwhelmingly so. Enough to suggest that the economy is improving, but not enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to withdraw its economic stimulus programs.

Earnings results covered a wide range. Boston Beer, which makes Samuel Adams, and home shopping network operator HSN rose after beating analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue. Kellogg, health insurer Cigna and cosmetics maker Avon were down after beating earnings predictions but missing on revenue.

It's becoming a familiar template this year. Stock indexes have been setting record highs even while the underlying economy is more often described as decent, but hardly going gangbusters.

Take company earnings, the most important thing for stock investors. Earnings at S&P 500 companies are up 4.3 percent this quarter, and revenue is down 0.4 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. In previous eras, that hardly would have been considered encouraging. In the second quarter of 2007, before the financial crisis imploded, earnings rose 8.7 percent and revenue was up 5.8 percent. But compared with the second quarters of 2008 and 2009, when earnings plunged more than 20 percent each time, this year's results look positively cheery.

Other economic indicators have been following a similar fashion of not too good, not too bad. While layoffs are steadily declining, companies aren't hiring as quickly as they did before the crisis. The economy is growing, but not fast enough to drive significant job growth. The Commerce Department reported this week that the U.S. grew at a tepid annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter.

"They're not great numbers, but they're positive and they're continuing to grow," said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Exencial Wealth Advisors in Oklahoma City. "That's about all the market needs to hear."

The S&P 500 index rose 21.14 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,706.87. The Dow rose 128.48 points, or 0.8 percent, to 15,628.02. The Russell 2000 of small-company stocks rose 14.62 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,059.88.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 49.37 points, or 1.4 percent, to 3,675.74, in line with the daily gains of other indexes but not near its record. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, briefly veered above 5,000 points in March 2000, just before the Internet bubble burst.

Investors said Thursday that the S&P's crossing over 1,700 points might give consumers a psychological boost, but they were hardly crowing about a new era in stocks. Turns out it's quite common for indexes to hit records. Since 1950, the S&P has hit a new high about 7 percent of the time, or an average of about every 15 days, Courtney said. The S&P's last record close was not so long ago, on July 22.

"You've got a disconnect here between the real economy and ... the stock markets," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass. McMillan noted that while many companies were beating earnings expectations, they've also been trimming staff and lowering their own estimates.

The S&P made the jump from 1,600 to 1,700 in less than three months. The index first traded above 1,600 on May 3. The previous 100-point gain took much longer to achieve: The S&P first closed above 1,500 in March 2000.

The market's sharp advance Thursday was a stark contrast with the previous two days, when the S&P 500 moved less than a point each day. On Tuesday, investors didn't want to make big moves ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy announcement the next day. On Wednesday, the Fed didn't make much news after all. The central bank said, unsurprisingly, that the U.S. economy was recovering but still needed help. The Fed didn't give any indication of when it might cut back on its bond-buying program, which has been supporting financial markets and keeping borrowing costs ultra-low.

Among the economic and corporate news that investors digested Thursday:

— China's purchasing managers' index — a gauge of business sentiment — rose to 50.3 in July from 50.1 in June. Analysts had expected a modest decline below 50.

— The Labor Department said that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 to 326,000. That was the fewest since January 2008.

— The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said its index of manufacturing jumped to 55.4 in July, up from 50.9 in June. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

— Auto companies reported healthy sales gains for July. Ford, Chrysler and Nissan each reported U.S. sales growth of 11 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

An index of transportation stocks also rose sharply. Many investors see that sector as a leading indicator for the economy since freight and shipping companies tend to get busier as the economy improves.

The Dow Jones Transportation average jumped 208.26 points, or 3.2 percent, to 6,670.06, led by a surge in Con-way, a Michigan-based freight company that reported earnings Thursday that were far higher than investors expected. Con-Way rose $4.34, or 10.5 percent, to $45.79.

The price of crude oil rose $2.86, or 2.7 percent, to $107.89 a barrel. Gold slipped $1.80 to $1,311.20 an ounce. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose sharply, to 2.72 percent from 2.58 percent late Wednesday. That means investors were selling U.S. government debt securities, which are seen as ultra-safe, in anticipation that the economy would pick up and as they moved money into higher-risk assets like stocks.

Among stocks making big moves:

—Sprouts Farmers Markets more than doubled on the company's first day of trading, jumping $22.11 to $40.11 — another sign that investors are becoming more comfortable taking on risk.

—Yelp soared $9.70, or 23.2 percent, to $51.50. The consumer review website continued to lose money, but it sold more ads and drew more visitors.

—Dell rose 29 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $12.96. Its shareholders are scheduled to vote Friday on an offer by CEO and founder Michael Dell to buy the company.

—Exxon Mobil fell $1.02, or 1.1 percent, to $92.73, after reporting lower earnings as oil and gas production slipped. Profit margins on refining oil also fell.

What is Fresno's most important area for future growth?


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 02/26/2015, 1:27 pm by 
The Associated Press
U.S. stock indexes are drifting mostly lower, pulling the Dow Jones industrial average slightly below its latest all-time high.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:55 pm by KRISTIN J. BENDER, Associated Press
(AP) — Two stolen Italian books dating to the 17th century that were discovered in the San Francisco Bay Area and many other plundered ancient artifacts will be returned to their country of origin, federal officials say. The books, "Stirpium Historiae" and "Rariorm Plantarum Historia Anno 1601," were taken from Italy's Historical National Library of Agriculture and sold to an antiquities dealer in Italy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement. The Bay Area buyer willingly surrendered the books to investigators. ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit will return other cultural treasures to the Italian government this week, including a 17th century cannon, 5th century Greek pottery and items dating to 300-460 B.C. The items were stolen in Italy and smuggled into the U.S. over the last several years. Their value was not released. "The cultural and symbolic worth of these Italian treasures far surpasses any monetary value to the Italians," Tatum King, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Francisco said in the statement. Agents also recovered four stolen artifacts reported missing in July 2012. Three Roman frescos dating to 63-79 A.D. and a piece of dog-figure pottery from the 4th century B.C. that were illegally pilfered from Pompeii were recovered from a private art collection in San Diego and will be returned to Italy. Eleven investigations nationwide led to the recovery of the antiquities. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Rome's force for combatting art and antiquities crimes helped Homeland Security Investigations officials in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, San Diego and San Francisco. "This repatriation underscores the strong level of judicial cooperation between the U.S. and Italy, and the great attention that both countries assign to the protection of cultural heritage," said Claudio Bisogniero, Italy's ambassador to the U.S. The U.S. government has returned more than 7,200 artifacts to 30 countries since 2007, including paintings from France, Germany, Poland and Austria; 15th to 18th century manuscripts from Italy and Peru; and items from China, Cambodia and Iraq, the statement says.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:46 pm by MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
Facebook users who don't fit any of the 58 gender identity options offered by the social media giant are now being given a rather big 59th option: fill in the blank. "Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own," said a Facebook announcement published online Thursday morning and shared in advance with The Associated Press. Facebook software engineer Ari Chivukula, who identifies as transgender and was part of the team that made the free-form option, thinks the change will lead to more widespread acceptance of people who don't identify themselves as a man or woman. "We're hoping this will open up the dialogue," Chivukula said. Alison C.K. Fogarty, a gender identity researcher at Stanford University, said giving users control over the words describing their gender is a significant step in social recognition of a growing trans community, especially coming from the world's largest social media company. "People are still fighting to make room for gender identity within the socially constructed binary of male and female," Fogarty said. "Labels and identities are powerful in that they give a sense of community, a way of articulating one's experience." In February 2014, Facebook expanded gender identity from male and female to a list of dozens of options, including Androgyne, Gender Fluid, Intersex, Neither and Transgender. Those choices will all still be available. People who choose a custom gender can also choose the pronoun they would like to be referred to publicly: he/his, she/her or they/their. Facebook has a setting for users to control the audience who sees their gender. Last year's changes created an online stir, with thousands of comments — some grateful, others confused or hostile. But staff at Facebook said there was full support to take it even further this year, from CEO Mark Zuckerberg on down. As of Thursday, the free-form option rolled out to U.S. users, while the custom gender identity option with a list of words was available in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Argentina and Denmark. One thing that has not changed is an "interested in" option for Facebook users to define whom they might want to date. That option still only allows men or women, but users can click both options, one option or neither option. They can also hide it entirely. Facebook, which has 1.23 billion active monthly users around the world, would not release how many users have chosen gender identity options beyond man or woman, citing privacy concerns and a general practice of not sharing user information. The Williams Institute, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimates there are at least 700,000 people in the U.S. who identify as transgender, an umbrella term that includes people who live as a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth. Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of the advocacy group GLAAD, said that the past few years have brought "real movement in trans visibility" and that Facebook has been a leader in making that happen. "This helps to accelerate trans acceptance in our country," Ellis said. "I'm excited about the future for gender identity."
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:44 pm by 
ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press
(AP) — Internet activists declared victory over the nation's big cable companies Thursday, after the Federal Communications Commission voted to impose the toughest rules yet on broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to prevent them from creating paid fast lanes and slowing or blocking web traffic. The 3-2 vote ushered in a new era of government oversight for an industry that has seen relatively little. It represents the biggest regulatory shake-up to telecommunications providers in almost two decades. The new rules require that any company providing a broadband connection to your home or phone must act in the "public interest" and refrain from using "unjust or unreasonable" business practices. The goal is to prevent providers from striking deals with content providers like Google, Netflix or Twitter to move their data faster. "Today is a red-letter today for Internet freedom," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, whose remarks at Thursday's meeting frequently prompted applause by Internet activists in the audience. Verizon saw it differently, using the Twitter hashtag #ThrowbackThursday to draw attention to the FCC's reliance on 1934 legislation to regulate the Internet. Net neutrality is the idea that websites or videos load at about the same speed. That means you won't be more inclined to watch a particular show on Amazon Prime instead of on Netflix because Amazon has struck a deal with your service provider to load its data faster. For years, providers mostly agreed not to pick winners and losers among Web traffic because they didn't want to encourage regulators to step in and because they said consumers demanded it. But that started to change around 2005, when YouTube came online and Netflix became increasingly popular. On-demand video began hogging bandwidth, and evidence surfaced that some providers were manipulating traffic without telling consumers. By 2010, the FCC enacted open Internet rules, but the agency's legal approach was eventually struck down in the courts. The vote Thursday was intended by Wheeler to erase any legal ambiguity by no longer classifying the Internet as an "information service" but a "telecommunications service" subject to Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. That would dramatically expand regulators' power over the industry and hold broadband providers to the higher standard of operating in the public interest. "Despite the cable industry's best efforts to undermine our cause, we secured an open Internet, free from gatekeepers and corporate monopolies. We have an Internet for the people," said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, a progressive Internet activism group. Industry officials and congressional Republicans fought bitterly to stave off the new regulations, which they said constitutes dangerous overreach and would eventually raise costs for consumers. The broadband industry was expected to sue. "With years of uncertainty and unintended consequences ahead of us, it falls to Congress to step in," said Michael Powell, head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. GOP lawmakers said they would push for legislation, although it was unlikely Obama would sign such a bill. "Only action by Congress can fix the damage and uncertainty this FCC order has inflicted on the Internet," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement. Complicating the issue is that not every broadband provider agrees on what should be done. Sprint, for example, has said it doesn't think the new regulations would hurt investment. AT&T, however, supports the less stringent rules previously in place by the FCC but which were struck down in court. On Thursday, a senior company official said the FCC had gone too far and could cause irreversible harm. "Does anyone really think Washington needs yet another partisan fight? Particularly a fight around the Internet, one of the greatest engines of economic growth, investment, and innovation in history?" said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs. The FCC says it won't apply some sections of Title II, including price controls. That means rates charged to customers for Internet access won't be subject to preapproval. But the law allows the government to investigate if consumers complain that costs are unfair. Also at stake Thursday was Obama's goal of helping local governments build their own fast, cheap broadband. Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, have filed petitions with the agency to help override state laws that restrict them from expanding their broadband service to neighboring towns. The FCC was considered likely to approve these petitions, which could set a precedent for other communities that want to do the same. Nineteen states place restrictions on municipal broadband networks, many with laws encouraged by cable and telephone companies. Advocates of those laws say they are designed to protect taxpayers from municipal projects that are expensive, can fail or may be unnecessary.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:34 pm by KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Associated Press
(AP) — Graceland will always be home, but Las Vegas is set to be Elvis Presley's home away from home yet again. Officials with Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. and the Westgate Las Vegas casino-hotel revealed details Thursday of plans for "Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition - The Show - The Experience" expected to open April 23, 59 years to the day when Elvis first performed in Las Vegas. Some 28,000 square-feet will house a rotating display of memorabilia and artifacts rarely seen outside Graceland's Memphis, Tennessee, property. In addition, the very showroom where Presley performed several hundred sold-out shows when the casino-hotel was first known as The International and later the Las Vegas Hilton will be revamped by the Graceland crew to look much like it did in Elvis' day, complete with semi-circle booths. Plans include a revamped Elvis Presley sanctioned wedding chapel, too, inside the Westgate Las Vegas, with Graceland taking over its operations. Certainly Elvis-themed wedding chapels already dot Las Vegas and there has been no scarcity of exhibits and shows, including a short-lived tribute by Cirque du Soleil in 2012, but organizers say this is the real deal. Tickets go on sale Thursday. The exhibit is expected to cost $22 and tickets for performances start at $49.___BACK IN VEGAS"We walk into everything with 'what would Elvis want," said Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of the company that has owned a majority of Elvis Presley Enterprises since November 2013. "Absolutely positively, he would want to be back in Vegas." In his place to perform in the same 1,600-seat showroom will be an actor singing Elvis songs, accompanied by backup singers and an orchestra. David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, said it was destiny that he bought the property in July 2014, decades after seeing Elvis perform there, accompanied by his ex-wife whose godfather happened to be Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker. And when he did buy it, he said he wanted to bring Elvis back. As luck would have it, in a town built on it, Weinshanker wanted the same thing and saw in Siegel someone willing to reinvest in the property where Elvis lived on the 30th floor for months of the year. "It's really going to be the authentic Elvis experience," he said.___PIECES OF ELVISAngie Marchese, director of archives for Graceland, said the exhibit will be the largest Elvis exhibit outside Graceland. The clothing will come straight from Elvis' closet in most cases. Among the Vegas-centric items expected to make an appearance: — A wooden sign larger than even Elvis. His manager paid for the 24-foot tall image of a guitar-playing Elvis to advertise the singer's first performances in Las Vegas in 1956 at The New Frontier, since demolished. For the eight years Elvis Presley Enterprises has owned it, it's been mostly in storage at Graceland because of its sheer size. — The tablecloth contract. To ink the, essentially, $1 million a year contract to perform at The International, Parker and the casino-hotel's owner Kirk Kerkorian retreated to a nearby coffee shop to go over the details and make it official, signing where there was no dotted line — on the tablecloth itself — complete with coffee cup stains. — A two-piece black tunic and single-button black suit. For his first performances at The International, Elvis wore two downright demure outfits — the black tunic during the show and the black suit for the news conference afterward. Neither have felt the Las Vegas air since Elvis wore them on July 31, 1969, she said.___MEMORIES OF THE MAN"Those of us that lived it, Elvis never left the building," said Dominic A. Parisi of the performer's lingering presence.He won't say how old he is, but he was old enough to ready Elvis' rooms at the casino-hotel with meals (an early evening breakfast of well-done eggs, well-done toast, well-done bacon) and drinks, heavy on the bottled water, from 1972 to 1976 while he performed there. Now director of the casino-hotel's room service and specialty restaurants, Parisi recalled his encounters and talks with the King fondly. "He loved it here. He loved the hotel. He loved Vegas," he said. And he loved chatting one-on-one about everyday sorts of things — girls, cars and Las Vegas — Parisi said. Every once in a while, Parisi said he goes up to the 30th floor to Elvis' old suite, has a glass of wine and reminisces."Hopefully he's listening," he said.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:32 pm by 
DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
(AP) — A relationship therapy TV show that premieres Friday gives most participating couples the same prescription: Go into a modular, windowless room onstage and have sex while the studio audience waits until they're done. Not surprisingly, "Sex Box" has attracted some negative attention. The Parents Television Council, One Million Moms and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation say they've collected more than 38,000 signatures on a petition urging WE TV to shelve the show. WE says it will begin as scheduled Friday at 10 p.m. EST/PST. "Sex Box" is an adaptation of a British show where three therapists meet with couples who have relationship issues. In the first episode one woman has lost interest in sex after having a baby. The man in another couple doesn't care whether his wife has an orgasm. After some talking, therapist Chris Donaghue offers what the show clearly hopes will become a catchphrase: "Are you ready to go into the sex box?" The couple enters the room, which is bathed in hot pink spotlights while occupied. However titillating the concept, there's really nothing to see. No one undresses in public. There's not even an embrace. When the couple emerges from the sex box, stagehands rush in to make sure their silk pajamas are completely buttoned up. "The whole sex in the box thing was kind of intimidating at first but kind of exciting," said Chris Crom of Poway, California, featured on the debut with wife, Alexia, who had the post-pregnancy sex pause. "We were there more for the therapeutic time." Therapy clearly worked to some extent, since Alexia is pregnant again. For another couple, the conflict was the wife's discomfort with her husband's wish to have another woman live with them for regular threesomes at his convenience. In that case, sending the couple into the sex box seemed like an odd therapeutic solution. But Donaghue said sex relaxes a couple and brings them closer, and better able to talk through their issues. Here, the man gave up on his desire — for the time being. Sure, the sex box is a gimmick to attract attention, said Marc Juris, president and general manager of WE TV. But ultimately it's a relationship show designed to help viewers. If the gimmick pulls viewers in, they won't stay without great stories, he said. "It's very relatable and at the end of the day it's very respectful," Juris said. "It's really about stories that most of us go through. I myself learned I had many problems." His explanation leaves WE TV's critics unsatisfied. Leaders of the three groups wrote to WE: "Asking couples to have sex inside a box on a stage in front of a live studio audience is not, at the end of the day, about helping those relationships. It's about pandering to the lowest common denominator, it's about pushing the envelope to see what you can get away with, and it's about ... breaking through the clutter with gimmicks and prurience so that viewers will turn on WE TV, rather than one of your competitors." Confrontations like these help keep the Parents Television Council relevant, assuring members that it is fighting the good fight. "Sex Box" is being used in the council's campaign for legislation that would allow consumers to individually choose television networks they want to see instead of a lineup bundled together by a cable or satellite provider. For a television network trying to launch a new program in a crowded marketplace, a pre-premiere protest can, counterintuitively, be a publicity gold mine. "I believe they are bringing attention to the show, which is good," Juris said. "When they see the show, it is not what I believe they think it is." Juris moved swiftly to take advantage, putting an ad in a trade publication offering to post a link to the petition drive on WE TV's own Web site if the critics still don't like the show after seeing the first episode. Since the petition calls for WE not to air the show, it's not clear what the practical effect of such a move would be. "It's not the first time this has happened," said Tim Winter, PTC president. "Whenever you oppose something, you're going to bring attention to it. We can't allow that to dissuade us from condemning that which we feel needs condemnation."
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:30 pm by 
FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press
(AP) — Computers, cellphones and landlines in Arizona were knocked out of service for hours, ATMs stopped working, 911 systems were disrupted and businesses were unable to process credit card transactions — all because vandals sliced through a fiber-optic Internet cable buried under the rocky desert. The Internet outage did more than underscore just how dependent modern society has become on high technology. It raised questions about the vulnerability of the nation's Internet infrastructure. Alex Juarez, a spokesman for Internet service provider CenturyLink, said the problem was first reported around noon Wednesday, and customer complaints immediately began to pour in from the northern edges of Phoenix to cities like Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona. Service began coming back within a few hours and was reported fully restored by about 3 a.m. Thursday. CenturyLink blamed vandalism, and police are investigating. The CenturyLink-owned cable — actually, a set of cables bundled together in a black jacket a few inches in diameter — was buried several feet under the rocky soil in a dry wash, about a quarter-mile from the nearest houses and a couple of miles from an outlet mall. Vehicles can navigate the area easily, but foot traffic there is rare, Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said. "It's almost as if someone had to know it was there," Holmes said. Police believe the vandals were looking for copper wire — which can fetch high price as scrap — but didn't find any after cutting all the way through the cable, probably with power tools, Holmes said. "Your average house saw and wire cutters wouldn't do it," Holmes said. He said the damage was estimated at $6,000. As the outage spread, CenturyLink technicians began the long, tedious process of inspecting the line mile by mile. They eventually located the severed cable and spliced it back together. CenturyLink gave no estimate on how many people were affected, but the outage was widespread because other cellphone, TV and Internet providers used the cable, too, under leasing arrangements with the company. Such networks often have built-in redundancies that allow data transmission to be rerouted to another line if a cable is cut or damaged. But that was not the case here, said Mark Goldstein, secretary for the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council. The challenge in Arizona, he said, is that large swaths of the outage area are a mishmash of federal lands under the control of different agencies. "You can't just like go through the mountains and bury fiber. Part of the problems have to do with land ownership in Arizona. So much land is Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service or tribal," Goldstein said. The details of the vandalism came to light on the same day the Federal Communications Commission in Washington voted to impose stricter regulation over Internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.The plan, which puts the Internet in the same regulatory camp as the telephone, requires Internet service providers to act in the "public interest" and bans business practices that are "unjust or unreasonable." Police investigating the vandalism in Arizona asked local residents to come forward if they saw anyone walking or driving in the area around the time service went out. Any charges resulting would not be limited to vandalism, Holmes said. "It's endangerment," Holmes said. "When you think about that, if someone has an emergency and the only means they have of contacting or getting assistance is through their cellphone, that's just not a good thing." During the outage, Flagstaff's 69,000 residents struggled to go about their daily business. Zak Holland, who works at a computer store at Northern Arizona University, said distraught students were nearly in tears when he said nothing could be done to restore their Internet connection. "It just goes to show how dependent we are on the Internet when it disappears," he said. Many students told Holland they needed to get online to finish school assignments. University spokesman Tom Bauer said it was up to individual professors to decide how to handle late assignments. Kate Hance and Jessie Hutchison stopped at a Wells Fargo ATM to get cash because an ice cream shop couldn't take credit cards without a data connection. They left empty-handed because the outage also put cash machines out of service. "It's moderately annoying, but it's not going to ruin my day," Hutchison said. At Flagstaff City Hall, employees were unable make or receive calls at their desks. The city relied on the Arizona Department of Public Safety for help in dispatching police and firefighters. In Prescott Valley, about 75 miles north of Phoenix, authorities said 911 service was being supplemented with hand-held radios and alternate phone numbers. Yavapai County spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said authorities couldn't get access to law enforcement databases either. Weather reports from the region weren't able to reach anyone. During evening newscasts, Phoenix TV stations showed blank spaces on their weather maps where local temperatures would normally appear.___Associated Press writer Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:27 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Google will start showing ads in its online store for mobile apps and entertainment as the Internet search leader strives to bring in more revenue from smartphones and tablets. The advertising expansion announced Thursday will provide Google with a new opportunity to profit from its Android software, the world's most widely used operating system for mobile devices. Google Inc. gives away Android to device makers with built-in features designed to drive more traffic to its search engine and other services, such as its Google Play store for downloading apps. Ads will begin appearing in the Google Play store the next few weeks as part of a test program. Google makes most of its money from the ads shown in its search results, Gmail and YouTube video library. The ads shown in the Google Play store will similar to the marketing links that the Mountain View, California, company has been displaying alongside its search results for more than a decade. Even though more than 1 billion devices worldwide run on Android software, the shift to smartphones has posed some financial challenges for Google. One of them has been marketers' unwillingness to pay as much for mobile ads as they do on personal computers because of the smaller screens on phones. That phenomenon is the main reason that Google's average ad rates have been declining for more than three years. Google has offset the pricing downturn by attracting more clicks on ads. Those clicks are required for Google to be paid for most of its search-driven advertising, enabling the company to continue to boost its revenue even as ad prices have fallen. Google's ad revenue totaled $59 billion last year, a 17 percent increase from 2013. The makers of Android apps and games keep most of the revenue from the sales made in the Google Play store. Google disclosed Thursday that it distributed more than $7 billion in commissions from sales made in the Play store last year. By comparison, Apple Inc. said its app store for the iPhone and iPad generated more than $10 billion in commissions for app and game developers last year.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:26 pm by STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer
(AP) — A judge says he has ordered the suspension of the globally popular instant messaging system WhatsApp across Brazil because it has allegedly failed to help in an investigation. Judge Luiz de Moura Correia ordered the suspension earlier this month, though the service has continued to operate normally. The newspaper Folha de S. Paulo said that is because lawyers appealed the ruling. The judge would not comment on details of his decision because it is an ongoing case, but a press officer at the Piaui state's Public Safety Department says the case is linked to "sexually graphic photos of children on the app." He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing internal regulations. Mountain View-based WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp does not have an office in Brazil so the judge's order was delivered to cellphone operators. SindiTelebrasil, the association that represents those operators, said on its website that the suspension could cause "huge losses to millions of Brazilians" who use WhatsApp for personal and professional reasons.
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:24 pm by FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press
(AP) — German consumer groups said Thursday they will file a lawsuit against Facebook unless the social network changes its terms of service. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations said it has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Facebook's European headquarters in Ireland. The letter cites 19 clauses in the company's terms of service and data protection guidelines that the consumer groups claim breach German law. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas backed the complaint, saying Facebook's data protection rules are too vague. He said users should be able to opt out of certain requirements without having to quit Facebook entirely. The California-based company has faced regular legal challenges from privacy advocates in Europe. Facebook told The Associated Press in an emailed statement it was reviewing the complaint, but was surprised that it "focused on settled terms and features that have been part of Facebook and other online services for the past 10 years, such as real-name policies." "We recently updated our terms and policies to make them more clear and concise, to reflect new product features and to highlight how we're expanding people's control over advertising," the company said. "We're confident the updates comply with applicable laws."

Latest State News

Written on 02/26/2015, 12:55 pm by KRISTIN J. BENDER, Associated Press
(AP) — Two stolen Italian books dating...
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:46 pm by MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
Facebook users who don't fit any of the...
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:27 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Google will start showing ads in...
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:26 pm by STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer
(AP) — A judge says he has ordered the...

Latest National News

Written on 02/26/2015, 1:27 pm by 
The Associated Press
U.S. stock indexes are drifting mostly...
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:44 pm by 
ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press
(AP) — Internet activists declared...
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:34 pm by KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Associated Press
(AP) — Graceland will always be home,...
Written on 02/26/2015, 12:32 pm by 
DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
(AP) — A relationship therapy TV show...