– October 21, 2014

Fresno State to provide credit for Rome study program

College students nationwide will now get credit through Fresno State when they study abroad in Rome.College students nationwide will now get credit through Fresno State when they study abroad in Rome.Fresno State's Division of Continuing and Global Education will give students nationwide academic credit when they participate in a program to study abroad in Rome.

Formerly arranging credit from their own college or university, students signed up with the American Institute for Roman Culture will now be able to transfer their credit from Fresno State when they take the one- to eight-week trip to learn the history and culture of Rome as they pursue their degrees.

According to Russell Statham, manager of Administration and Global Operation for the Division of Continuing and Global Education, the partnership will elevate Fresno State's visibility among higher education institutions throughout the country.

"Students from Brown University, Northeastern University, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin, and many other institutions have participated in AIRC's programs in the past," said Statham in a release. "Now, all students who complete AIRC's programs in Rome will receive from Fresno State for their study abroad experience."

About 50 students are participating in AIRC's resident programs in Rome this year beginning with the summer 2013 term.

The trips provide facilities and housing for students taking courses in history, Latin, excavation and conservation, journalism/communications, archaeology, video production and social/digital media.

Students enrolled in the Institute's programs also have access to studio and classroom spaces in nearby venues, including foreign institutes and private palaces.

Applications can be downloaded and submitted through AIRC's website at

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Latest Local News

Written on 10/21/2014, 9:27 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said Tuesday the company hasn't been keeping up with the times and that changes are in store for its U.S....
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:26 am by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press
(AP) — There's a strict set of standards for organic foods. But the rules are looser for household cleaners, textiles, cosmetics and the organic dry cleaners down the street. Wander through the grocery store and check out the shelves where some detergents, hand lotions and clothing proclaim organic bona fides. Absent an Agriculture Department seal or certification, there are few ways to tell if those organic claims are bogus. A shopper's only recourse is to do his or her own research. "The consumer should not need a law degree to read a label," says Laura Batcha, president of the Organic Trade Association, the industry's main trade group. Concerned about the image of organics, the association is pressuring the government to better investigate organic claims on nonfood items.___FROM SOAP TO T-SHIRTS According to the Organic Trade Association, sales of those nonfood organic products were about $2.8 billion last year, a small share of the overall organic market but growing rapidly. Among the most popular items: household cleaners, cosmetics, gardening products, clothing, sheets and mattresses. USDA doesn't regulate any of those items, though, unless they're made entirely from food or agriculture products overseen by its National Organic Program. That's when they can carry the familiar "USDA organic" seal or other official USDA certification. The rules are murkier when the items have ingredients that aren't regulated by USDA, like chemicals in soaps or makeup. The department doesn't police the use of the word organic for nonfood items, as it does with food. Some examples: —Personal care products. Companies can brand any personal care product as organic with little USDA oversight as long as they don't use the USDA organic seal or certification. Some retailers like Whole Foods Market have stepped in with their own standards requiring organic body care items sold at their stores to be certified. There's also a private certification called NSF/ANSI 305, but most consumers don't know to look for that label. —Clothing, sheets and mattresses made from organic cotton or other organic fibers. Some items are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, a third-party verification organization that reviews how the products are manufactured. Like body care, most consumers don't know about it. —Gardening products. Some gardening products may be approved by USDA for use in organic agriculture, but not be certified organic themselves. There are clear standards for items within the scope of USDA's regulation, says Miles McEvoy, the head of department's National Organic Program. "The areas that are outside of our scope could cause some confusion."___THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT CRACKS The Federal Trade Commission normally investigates deceptive claims. But the agency demurred in its "Green Guides" published in 2012, saying enforcement of organic claims on nonfood products could duplicate USDA duties. The FTC says a claim is only deceptive if it misleads consumers, so it needs to study consumer perceptions of the word organic. The agency has proposed a study, but officials weren't able to say when it might begin. The Organic Trade Association's Batcha says the lack of enforcement could erode confidence in the organic industry as a whole. The industry has similarly been fighting overuse of the word "natural," which has no legal meaning at all. Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group that publishes online consumer databases on cosmetics and cleaning, is blunt: "Companies are chasing the consumers and the government is in the rear-view mirror."___ORGANIC DRY CLEANERS Some dry cleaners promote "organic" on their windows and in their stores, but there is no legal definition for that practice. Mary Scalco, CEO of the industry group Drycleaning and Laundry Institute, said some of those businesses may actually be using petroleum-based solutions, which are not generally perceived as organic by the general public. "The difficult part is the scientific meaning of organic and the consumer perception of the word," she says. Scalco says she is telling member companies to make sure their customers know what organic means. "Because there is no real regulation on this right now, you want to make sure you don't mislead the public," she says.___ SMART SHOPPING So what's a consumer to do, especially when organic products are often more expensive and the market is continuing to grow? Right now, retailers are the first line of defense. Four years ago, Whole Foods Market announced strict standards for labeling in the store's well-stocked cosmetics, home cleaning and clothing aisles. The retailer also requires all products to list ingredients. "In areas where there isn't a government regulation, we have stepped up to create our own," says Joe Dickson, global quality standards coordinator for the Austin, Texas-based chain. David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, has fought for years to get the USDA to expand its powers on organics to include personal care products. He says Whole Foods' standards have helped clean up the market, but there are still less scrupulous companies that stretch the meaning of the word organic to include petroleum-based oils and nonorganic palm and coconut oils that make up the base of many personal care products. Some grocery stores, spas and online retailers have no standards at all. Bronner advises shoppers to read labels carefully and scan lists of ingredients. If you find several unpronounceable ingredients that sound like chemicals, "it's probably not organic," he says.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:22 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — America has rejected the idea of cappuccino-flavored Lay's potato chips. Frito-Lay says Wasabi Ginger won its contest that gives people a chance to create a new flavor, beating out the coffee-flavored chips and the two other finalists — Mango Salsa and Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese. Parent company PepsiCo Inc. says about 1 million total votes were cast online for the Do Us A Flavor promotion, a sales driver it has launched in more than a dozen countries. In the U.S., bags of the four finalist flavors hit shelves in late July and people were able to vote on Facebook and Twitter for their favorites through this past weekend. It was the second year for the U.S. contest, which is designed to send customers to stores in search of the flavors. Last year's winner, Cheesy Garlic Bread, is still on shelves. The winner, Meneko Spigner McBeth, was informed at a dinner for finalists Monday night in New York City. McBeth, a registered nurse from Deptford, New Jersey, will get $1 million or a set percentage of a year in sales, whichever figure is larger. Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay's chief marketing officer, said this year's winner is evidence Americans want more ethnic flavors, even though the top four Lay's flavors remain Original, Barbecue, Cheddar & Sour Cream and Sour Cream & Onion. He said he couldn't have imagined Lay's selling a Wasabi Ginger flavor when he joined the company eight years ago. "We're kind of getting into a new flavor territory," Krishnan said. "When I went to school, Mexican food was exotic." As for the cappuccino flavor — which was described as "NASTY" and "gross" in some comments on Lay's Facebook page — Krishnan defended its performance, although he wouldn't say how many votes it got. "The fact that it made it out of our selection process to make it to the final four is no small feat," he said. The contest began in the United Kingdom, where Frito-Lay sells chips under the Walkers brand. Since then, it was launched in 14 countries before coming to the U.S. last year. Winning flavors in other countries include Pizza in Saudi Arabia, Shrimp in Egypt, Sunday Roast in New Zealand, Pickled Cucumber in Serbia and Aline's Caesar Salad in Australia. Given its success, Krishnan said the company is looking to launch the contest in other countries as well. Krishnan wouldn't specify how much of a sales lift the contest provides. But in the latest quarter that ended Sept. 6, PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, said revenue for its Frito-Lay North America division rose 3 percent, reflecting a 2 percent gain in volume and 1 percent gain from higher prices.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:20 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are no longer part of Dish's programming lineup as a deadline has passed for the satellite TV provider and Turner Broadcasting to renew their distribution agreement. Dish Network Corp. said Tuesday that Turner refused to extend the overall deal. But Turner— a division of Time Warner Inc. — said in a statement that it has worked for months to come up with a fair agreement and that the two sides have been unable to reach a deal. Other Turner channels removed from Dish's programming include Boomerang, Adult Swim, HLN, truTV, CNN en Espanol and Turner Classic Movies. Englewood, Colorado-based Dish said that it is still committed to reaching an agreement with Turner that will allow the channels to return to its lineup quickly. For its part, Turner said it is hopeful Dish will return to the negotiating table and that a deal will be completed. Shares of Dish Network rose $1.47, or 2.53 percent, to $60.17 in morning trading, while shares of Time Warner Inc. slipped 11 cents to $77.58.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:18 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Verizon Communications Inc. on Tuesday reported higher net income and revenue in its third quarter, helped by strong wireless subscriber growth and demand for its FiOS Internet services. The New York-based company earned $3.69 billion, or 89 cents per share, up from $2.23 billion, or 78 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier, when the company had fewer outstanding shares. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting earnings of 90 cents per share. The largest U.S. cellphone carrier posted revenue of $31.6 billion, up 4 percent from $30.3 billion a year earlier. Analysts expected higher revenue of $32.2 billion, according to FactSet. Verizon, which bought out its wireless division from British cellphone carrier Vodafone Group this year, said it added 1.5 million net retail wireless connections in the quarter. It ended September with 106.2 million wireless connections, including 100.1 million that involved monthly service contracts. In a conference call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Francis Shammo said promotion pricing has helped Verizon push customers into plans that should increase sales of phones using the more efficient 4G LTE network. Continued success in 4G adoption in the fourth quarter "will create profitable growth for us as we enter 2015 and beyond," Shammo said. The company also added 162,000 FiOS Internet subscribers and 114,000 FiOS video net subscribers. Verizon's shares rose 16 cents to $48.64 in morning trading Tuesday. As of Monday's close, the shares had declined slightly more than 1 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 3 percent. The stock has fallen 3 percent in the last 12 months.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:17 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — McDonald's says its profit and sales declined as the world's biggest hamburger chain saw customer traffic fall around the world. The company said sales fell 3.3 percent globally and in the U.S. during the third quarter. In the region encompassing Asia, where a major McDonald's supplier was shown on TV repackaging expired beef, the figure fell 9.9 percent. "By all measures our performance fell short of our expectations," CEO Don Thompson said. The company, which has more than 35,000 locations around the world, said it expects its challenges will continue into the current quarter, with global sales to be down for October as well. In the U.S., McDonald's Corp. is fighting to hold onto customers amid intensifying competition and shifting tastes toward food people consider more wholesome. Chipotle, which touts the quality of its ingredients, said Monday its sales rose 19.8 percent at established locations. Steve Ells, co-CEO of the Mexican food chain, said the results show people are realizing "there are better alternatives to traditional fast food" and that he expects the trend to continue. McDonald's, meanwhile, has been working on improving its image. In addition to focusing on a simplified menu, the company said Tuesday its revamped marketing in the U.S. will stress its food quality. Last week, for instance, McDonald's launched a social media campaign inviting customers to ask questions about its food. It began with frank questions like, "Why doesn't your food rot?" and "Is the McRib made from real pork?", showing just how bad some of the perceptions about McDonald's food can be. In southern California, McDonald's is also testing a "Build Your Own Burger" concept that lets people pick the bun, beef patty and toppings they want by tapping a touchscreen. The test is intended to address the popularity of places that let people customize their meal. Affordability is another issue, with Thompson noting that the people who tend to go to McDonald's are struggling more financially than customers who might go to other chains. Over in China, an undercover TV report this summer showed one of its major suppliers repackaging expired meat. The plant stopped operations and many of McDonald's restaurants in the country were left unable to sell burgers, chicken nuggets and other items. The chain's reputation took a hit as well. For the quarter, revenue declined to $6.99 billion, short of the $7.23 billion Wall Street expected. Net income declined to $1.07 billion, or $1.09 per share. Adjusted for one-time costs, earnings were $1.52 per share. Analysts expected $1.37 per share. Shares of McDonald's were down 2 percent at $89.60.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:15 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The mayor of this Southern California city announced his resignation Monday in the wake of his arrest for an alleged drunken-driving crash that injured four cheerleaders. Alan Long said he would step down from the City Council but only for the current term and he intends to seek a council seat in the Nov. 4 election. Long, 44, said that he expected to be exonerated of wrongdoing but he wanted to avoid "even one hint of impropriety" during the legal process. Long is retaining his job as a battalion chief with the Anaheim Fire Department while the investigation continues. Long's pickup truck rear-ended a car stopped at an intersection Thursday night, police said. The car was carrying high school cheerleaders and four of them, ages 14 to 17, received moderate to major injuries, authorities said. Long has apologized for the accident. A breath test showed that Long had a blood-alcohol level of .07, which is below the legal limit of .08 but the mayor seemed to be impaired and failed field sobriety tests, police said. Long's resignation is not an admission of guilt but "every place he goes, this comes up, and it casts aspersions upon the city," Long's attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, told the Los Angeles Times ( ). "There are a lot of accidents that are not crimes," she said. "Alcohol was consumed, but it's our position that he was not under the influence of alcohol at the time he was driving." Murrieta is a Riverside County city of more than 100,000 people, located about 75 miles east of Los Angeles. Long made national news in July when he encouraged residents to oppose a federal government plan to process Central American immigrants at the U.S. Border Patrol facility in Murrieta. Protesters blocked the road forced buses carrying immigrants to turn around.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:13 am by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — The iPhone again proved to be the engine behind Apple's blockbuster financial performance, driving quarterly results well past expectations. Excitement for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models sparked sales of 39.3 million iPhones in the last quarter — a record for the months of July through September — and made up for more disappointing sales of the company's iPad tablets. "Those are Picasso-like numbers," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives, referring to the iPhone, which contributed $23.7 billion in sales, or more than half of the company's $42.1 billion in quarterly revenue. He said the new iPhone models are "what's going to put fuel in Apple's growth engine." Apple said iPhone sales rose 21 percent over the same period a year earlier. By contrast, iPad revenue fell 14 percent, to $5.3 billion for the quarter. While analysts have reported an industry-wide decline in tablet sales, the iPad figures were still lower than Wall Street had expected. The company said it expects total revenue, from all products, of between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion during the quarter that ends in December. That suggests Apple will likely beat the expectations of analysts, who were forecasting $63.7 billion in holiday-quarter sales, according to FactSet. Apple began selling its latest iPhones just one month ago. CEO Tim Cook told analysts on a conference call that the company is struggling to keep up with demand for the new models, which feature a larger screen and other new features. "At this point, we're selling everything that we make," he said, although he added that he expects supply will catch up with demand in coming weeks. "It's a good problem to have." Cook also noted that Apple has only begun selling the new iPhone in China in recent days, so the numbers for last quarter don't reflect sales in that huge market. And he said he believes the company's new digital payment system, Apple Pay, which launched Monday, is a "killer feature" that will persuade more consumers to buy the latest iPhone models. Apple's signature smartphone has contributed the bulk of the company's revenue and profit in recent quarters. In an interview, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said the company's strongest growth rate in seven quarters is also a reflection of strong demand for Mac computers and its online app store. Maestri and Cook both professed not to be worried about the decline in iPad sales. Apple is counting on interest in new iPad models coming out this week and a partnership with IBM, which will create new tablet software for business users, to help shore up tablet sales in the coming month. Ives said there are signs the tablet market may be saturated, and that some customers are opting for iPhones instead, especially with the larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus on the market. "Going forward, you're going to see more diminished growth for tablets," he predicted. Cook said he's not concerned if some customers decide to buy Mac computers or iPhones instead of iPads. "At the end of the day, what matters to us is that customers come into our ecosystem," added Maestri. Apple's profit rose more than 12 percent for the three months that ended Sept. 27 to $8.47 billion, or $1.42 per share. Total sales also climbed over 12 percent year-over-year, to $42.12 billion. Both measures topped the $1.31 a share on $40 billion in revenue expected by analysts. Apple's stock closed Monday at $99.76, and rose less than 2 percent in after-hours trading. Shares have surged more than 35 percent this year, when adjusted for a seven-to-one stock split earlier this year. The stock is off slightly since hitting an all-time adjusted high of $103.30 last month.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:11 am by MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Google's music-subscription service will try to anticipate its listeners' mood swings as it amplifies its competition with Pandora, Spotify and other popular services that play tunes over the Internet. Starting Tuesday, the $10-a-month All Access service will make music suggestions based on educated guesses about each subscriber's mood and likely activities at certain points in the day or week. For instance, a subscriber who opens the service on a smartphone on a Monday morning might be offered a playlist suited for commuting, going to the gym or getting motivated for work. Opening the app on Monday evening, though, might generate songs appropriate for eating dinner, studying or unwinding. Six different music mixes created for different emotions and activities — with such labels as "Jumping Out of Bed" or "In The Lonely Hour" — will be automatically displayed for All Access subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. The mixes won't be played unless the subscriber selects one. The feature won't be immediately available in the other 43 countries where All Access is sold. The mood music also will be tailored to each listener's tastes, so a subscriber who already has signaled a preference for rock and an aversion for country music would be more likely to hear the Rolling Stones perform "Monkey Man" than "Dead Flowers" in their mixes. Subscribers also will be able to request playlists designed for specific activities such as napping or housecleaning. Google's attempt to cater to people's moods reflects the growing importance of delivering soundtracks that suit listeners' discrete tastes and lifestyles. Making the right recommendation is becoming more crucial now that Google, Pandora and Spotify have secured the licensing rights to most of the same music. "The content is roughly the same, so the main thing you can do for a user now is to have the right context," said Brandon Bilinski, product manager for Google Play Music, which runs All Access. "We want to get our listeners to the right music to fit the mood and make them feel good." Google Inc. picked up the mood-melding technology in its July purchase of Songza, a free music service with about 5 million listeners. Google's All Access service launch just 17 months ago, leaving the company that runs the Internet's dominant search engine and other leading digital services in the unfamiliar position of trying to catch up. Pandora Media Inc.'s free Internet radio station boasts 76 million monthly listeners, while Spotify has 40 million listeners, including more than 10 million subscribers to its $10-per-month service. Google hasn't disclosed how many people subscribe to its All Access service, which offers a music library spanning 30 million titles. Selecting songs based on listener's shifting moods is similar to what a smart music player called Aether Cone does. That player draws upon the music from another subscription service called Rdio Unlimited, which also charges $10 per month. Pandora, Spotify and other services all strive to lead their audiences to mixes and genres that will please them, though the others tend to depend on computer algorithms that analyze each person's preferences and listening histories. Combining human knowledge with a computer's analytical powers is similar to what Beat Electronics was doing with its own music-streaming service before Apple Inc. bought it for $3 billion earlier this year. Apple has said Beats' recommendation system eventually might be blended into its own music-streaming service, though that hasn't happened yet. Google's new feature includes several thousand playlists assembled by Songza music aficionados that include DJs, performers and critics. Songza's hand-picked playlists will be slightly adjusted by algorithms programmed to learn more about each listener's tastes and habits. As time goes on, Google hopes to provide even more nuanced playlists that acknowledge a person's mood is likely to be much different while driving to work on a Friday morning than a Monday morning. For now, though, the Mountain View, California, company will depend on cues from each subscriber. "We can be smart about a lot of things, but it's really hard to tell a person's mood," Bilinski said.
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:07 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Staples is looking into a potential credit card data breach and has been in touch with law enforcement officials about the issue. The office supplies retailer said Tuesday that if it turns up any data discrepancies during its investigation, customers won't be responsible for fraudulent activity on their credit cards as long as it is reported in a timely manner. "We take the protection of customer information very seriously, and are working to resolve the situation," spokesman Mark Cautela said in a statement. Earlier this month Sears Holdings Corp. reported a breach at its Kmart stores that started last month, saying some customers' credit and debit cards may have been compromised. Other breaches have occurred at retailers including Target Corp., Supervalu Inc. and Home Depot Inc.. Shares of Staples Inc., based in Framingham, Massachusetts, slipped 3 cents to $12.27 in midday trading. Its shares have fallen 23 percent over the past year.

Latest State News

Written on 10/21/2014, 9:15 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The mayor of this Southern...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:13 am by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — The iPhone again proved to be...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:11 am by MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Google's music-subscription...
Written on 10/20/2014, 1:58 pm by ANICK JESDANUN, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Apple's mobile payment system,...

Latest National News

Written on 10/21/2014, 9:27 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:26 am by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press
(AP) — There's a strict set of...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:22 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — America has rejected the idea of...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:20 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Channels such as Cartoon Network...