Thursday, 31 October 2013

Adelaide grows up: ambitious plan to bring back trams to build ‘creative city’ [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

Something is happening in Adelaide. Australia’s fifth largest city is growing up.

Biannual arts festivals have become annual events, new legislation has backed small bars, a government-endorsed laneway culture has emerged and a $ 565m upgrade of Adelaide Oval is nearing completion that will attract up to 50,000 Australian Football League supporters into the central business district regularly.

Now the South Australian premier, Jay Weatherhill, wants to fortify Adelaide’s fledgling vibrancy with an ambitious plan to install a major tram network.

His government has released its 30-year integrated transport and land use plan, which proposes five new tram lines to link Adelaide’s suburbs and beaches to the CBD, along with a city circuit to connect its entertainment and eating/shopping precincts.

The centrepiece of this plan is a tram network Weatherill wants constructed within the next decade as a crucial step towards his vision of a “creative city” and a doubled CBD population of 50,000 people.

“We want to really unlock people’s creativity, so they can express themselves and be successful in what they want to do,” Weatherill says.

“They can choose to be part of an inner-city experience, a new urban experience, or in the outer suburbs or the country – we want them to have every option available to them to suit the different stages of their life.”

The “transformation” plan was partly inspired by similar investments made in Bordeaux, France, a city that shared both Adelaide’s fortune, being in close proximity to a world-famous wine region, and its folly – it ripped up its original tram network to make way for the “era of the motor car” in the 1950s.

“This is about having a sustainable city that continues to function and doesn’t get congested, but it’s also about the attractiveness of the city and that being an asset that attracts and retains people,” Weatherill said.

The plan includes the continued electrification of metropolitan train lines, the potential for an underground city train circuit, more cycling infrastructure and the completion of a north-south freight corridor through Adelaide.

Flinders University school of the environment adjunct associate professor Clive Forster is sceptical of European cities being used as models for Australian ones but says there is a lot of enthusiasm for light-rail developments across the world.

“This is largely because of the role of fixed-rail transit in stimulating building investment because it represents a major long-term public infrastructure investment that can’t easily be moved or changed,” Forster says.

“The main issue is how to find the money for such a massive infrastructure investment.”

The full 30-year plan comes with a hefty price tag of $ 36bn and the federal government has played its card, pulling a reported $ 76m in funding from one SA train electrification project, the Gawler and Outer Harbor train line, citing a need to focus on rail freight and big road projects instead.

It is the second time the project has been thwarted after revenue write-down in the 2012-13 state budget resulted in the electrification being put on hold.

Weatherill argues there has been a dramatic increase in private and public sector investment in the city and different aspects of the transport plan would find support under the changing persuasions of federal governments.

Major rail, expressway and hospital upgrades are under way and last week Lonely Planet listed Adelaide in its top nine cities to visit in 2014 – largely due to its annual “Mad March” festive season and the Adelaide Oval redevelopment.

Weatherill says it is proof Adelaide’s transformation is being noticed internationally.

And in the true fashion of a city that is always out to prove a point, the listing was celebrated with an impromptu government-endorsed street party on one of its new laneway entertainment strips, Leigh Street.

“It was a good street party with a good vibe,” he says.

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U.S. preterm births fall to 15-year low, still worst in developed world [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Sharon Begley

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The rate of preterm births in the United States dropped to a 15-year low of 11.5 percent in 2012, according to a report released on Friday, but the country still came in dead last among industrialized nations on this measure of infant health.

The rate reflects six straight years of declines, possibly due to factors such as a drop in smoking among women of childbearing age, said the March of Dimes, the nonprofit group that produced the report.

The improvement comes during an acrimonious, partisan debate in Congress about health insurance centered on President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance plans to cover maternity care, spreading the cost of healthy pregnancies across society.

That provision led to a testy exchange on Wednesday when Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, testified before a congressional panel and defended the provision. Republican Representative Renee Ellmers retorted that the maternity requirement “is why healthcare premiums are increasing, because we are forcing (people) to buy things that they will never need.”

The requirement increases premiums for a typical policy about 3 percent, calculated James O’Connor of Milliman, an actuarial firm, in an April report for the health insurance industry.

“We are the only high-income country in the world not to have everyone covered for maternity care,” said Dr Edward McCabe, medical director of the March of Dimes.

Before the ACA, “only 16 percent of plans in the individual market covered women for maternity care,” McCabe said. “Requiring that coverage is a statement about our values as a society.”

$ 26 BILLION COST

The rate of preterm births peaked in 2006 at 12.8 percent, as women gave birth at older ages and were more likely to carry twins, triplets and higher multiples.

The reasons for the declines are unclear, but several factors likely played a role. The percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke, a risk factor for early labor, fell from 22.5 percent in 2011 to 20.8 percent last year, said McCabe.

The percentage of women in that age group who are uninsured also dipped, from 21.9 percent to 21.3 percent, government data show.

The decrease in preterm births should make a dent in healthcare spending: preemies cost the United States more than $ 26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine, or $ 51,600 per preterm baby in 2005.

In the first year of life, medical costs for a baby born before 37 weeks gestation are 12 times those of one born at 40 weeks, a full-term pregnancy.

Those costs continue for years. Preemies can suffer developmental delays, vision loss and cerebral palsy, leading to higher educational costs and lost wages, said McCabe.

The drop in preterm births in the United States since 2006 means that about 176,000 fewer babies were born too soon, calculates the March of Dimes, for an estimated $ 9 billion savings in health and societal costs.

VERMONT FIRST, MISSISSIPPI LAST

The variation in rates of preterm births among U.S. states is almost as great as that among countries.

Vermont led the nation with just 8.7 percent of births coming before 37 weeks gestation. Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon had rates of 9.6 percent or lower, the target recommended by the March of Dimes.

At least 80 countries have rates of preterm births below 9.6 percent, according to a U.N. report, “Born Too Soon,” released last year. They include China, Romania, Cuba and Latvia. And every developed country has a rate of preterm births lower than that of the United States, the U.N. report showed.

“I think it’s wonderful what the March of Dimes is doing with this report,” said Dr Wanda Barfield, director of reproductive health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s taking us to school in terms of how the U.S. is doing on preterm births: we rank 130th out of 184 countries.”

The states with the highest rates of preterm birth are Mississippi (17.1 percent), Louisiana (15.3 percent) and Alabama (14.6 percent). If they were countries, they would be among the 14 worst of the 184 for which data are available, according to the U.N. report. The global average is 11.1 percent.

Rates also varied by race. Among non-Hispanic blacks, 16.5 percent of births were preterm last year, down from 18.5 percent in 2006 and the lowest in more than 20 years. Among whites, the rate was 10.5 percent.

The high U.S. rate for preterm births is often blamed on the nation’s racial, ethnic and economic diversity, said McCabe, “but the California example refutes that.”

California, with half a million births each year, “has an incredibly diverse population, but it set up policies and procedures to make reducing preterm births a priority,” he said.

The full report is available at marchofdimes.com/reportcard

(Reporting by Sharon Begley; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Xavier Briand)

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Japan lawmaker breaks taboo with nuclear fears letter for emperor [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese lawmaker handed Emperor Akihito a letter on Thursday expressing fear about the health impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, breaking a taboo by trying to involve the emperor in politics.

Taro Yamamoto, who is also an anti-nuclear activist, gave Akihito the letter during a garden party, setting off a storm of protest on the Internet from critics shocked at his action.

“I wanted to directly tell the emperor of the current situation,” Yamamoto told reporters, referring to the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo, which has been leaking radioactivity since it was battered by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

“I wanted him to know about the children who have been contaminated by radiation. If this goes on, there will be serious health impacts.”

Akihito inclined his head as he took the letter in his hand but then handed it to a nearby chamberlain. Yamamoto said he made no comment.

About 150,000 people were evacuated from around the plant which suffered a series of explosions and meltdowns. A large area of surrounding land is off-limits due to high radiation.

U.N. scientists said this year the evacuation helped prevent rising cancer rates and other health problems. Traces of radioactive contamination have been found in rice and far out in the Pacific Ocean.

Akihito, who turns 80 in December, fills a purely ceremonial role and remains above the political fray.

He has striven to draw the imperial family closer to the people. Conservative Japanese revere him, while many others feel a fond affection towards him. Some Japanese see the family as irrelevant.

Some Internet critics called on Yamamoto to resign from parliament. “This was really low,” one critic wrote in a Web forum.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga also expressed disapproval, telling a news conference: “There is a line for appropriate behavior at such an occasion”.

(This story corrects name of chief cabinet secretary in final paragraph)

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Cigna says will increase ’14 profit despite pressures [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Insurer Cigna Corp said on Thursday it expects to increase its 2014 earnings from 2013, reflecting its smaller exposure to uncertainty around private Medicare and the rollout of individual insurance on new exchanges around the country.

Cigna, which reported third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ expectations on Thursday, has both a U.S. and overseas health insurance business and also sells disability and life insurance.

Cigna said that diversification will help it next year, which it expects to be challenging because of broad changes in the healthcare industry.

Larger competitors UnitedHealth Group Inc, WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc have recently painted 2014 as uncertain because of private Medicare cuts and changes related to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Shares of Cigna, which had fallen with other competitors after the pessimistic reports, were up 3 percent on Thursday. Shares of Aetna, UnitedHealth and WellPoint were also higher.

State-run “Obamacare” exchanges selling insurance to individuals launched on October 1 and have been struggling with technology problems. The federal exchange, which serves 36 states, has also been plagued by glitches, with would-be customers often unable to log on or encountering mysterious error messages; this week, the data center containing the information needed by all 50 states to enroll members has suffered outages.

Cigna CEO David Cordani told investors on a conference call that the company’s exposure to the exchanges is small because it is participating in only five states.

“We have cautioned not to look at this opportunity, for at least our company, as a watershed moment … It may present a long-term opportunity,” he said.

Cigna said it expects full-year earnings of $ 6.70 to $ 6.90 per share. Analysts were expecting $ 6.65, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

That is an increase of 25 to 45 cents per share from its previous outlook. The company forecast 2014 growth that will probably be less than the growth in 2013.

The company said net income rose to $ 553 million, or $ 1.95 per share, from $ 466 million or $ 1.61 per share a year earlier.

Excluding investment gains, the company reported a profit of $ 1.89 per share. On that basis, analysts on average had expected $ 1.63, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose to $ 8.1 billion from $ 7.3 billion.

The company said the results reflected continued medical cost management and a lower operating expense ratio that were partly offset by some pressure on its private Medicare plans for older people.

Medical costs were held back as cash-strapped Americans continued to cut back when possible on doctor and hospital visits.

Cigna has a private Medicare business, but it is comparatively small.

Cigna said that as of September 30, it had 13.8 million commercial customers and 488,000 customers in Medicare and Medicaid plans. The company also has a Medicare pharmacy benefit business and manages commercial pharmacy benefits.

The vast majority of commercial customers are in self-funded health plans in which Cigna administers health benefits as a third party and the company or organization is responsible for the actual cost of covering its members.

Cigna shares were up 3 percent at $ 76.85 at midday on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, after rising as much as 5 percent earlier in the session.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Matthew Lewis)

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Herbal Healer: What is edamame? – nwitimes.com [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

For thousands of years the soybean has been a valuable food source in China and Japan. Although America is the world’s leading producer (35 percent) of this nutrient-rich legume, most domestic consumers have yet to fully discover the “joy of soy.” Delicious alternatives to a myriad of milk products found in the supermarket—ice cream, yogurt, milk and margarine, all derived from a simple bean—lose nothing in the translation from cow to plant in terms of taste and nutrition. Indeed, extensive research conducted by Cornell University confirms the role of a plant-based diet as being healthier for humans and their environment as opposed to literally eating “high on the hog.”

Almost a virtual unknown in the West, edamame is winning stomachs and minds with its convenience, long list of essential nutrients and adaptability. In a nutshell, edamame is an immature soybean harvested while it is still tender, green and in the pod.

What does it do?

First mentioned in the year 1275 by the notable Japanese monk, Nichiren, edamame is low in fat and calories, and yet high in protein, fiber and most essential nutrients. In fact, one cup of edamame yields 6 percent of ALL nutrients except vitamin D. As a complete protein, this young soybean provides the full essential amino acid spectrum to assure a successful transition to a vegetarian diet. That same cup of edamame provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, helping reduce inflammation as well as the risk of cardiovascular disease.

About the herb

In Japanese, “eda” means “twig,” while “mame” translates to “bean.” Edamame is so named because it is harvested off the bush while still in the pod. Soybeans reaped at just the right time of the growing season bring edamame into a prominent role for human survival. Our numbers bursting at the seams, high protein plant foods can reduce our dependence on oil, diminishing soil resources and dangerously high saturated fats from animal sources.

Recommended dosage

Edamame serves as a tasty snack or a powerhouse addition to any dish. Since the inedible pod serves as the medium for cooking, boiling or steaming the immature bean within, the best and simplest method for snacking is to squeeze the green gems into a cup followed by a light sprinkle with mineral-rich sea salt.

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Appeals court reinstates restrictions on abortion providers in Texas [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated restrictions on abortion providers in Texas that a lower court had blocked, siding with Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott who had asked for an emergency ruling while the case is appealed.

The decision means that while an appeal is ongoing in the case, doctors who perform abortions in Texas will have to get agreements with local hospitals to admit patients as part of a sweeping new anti-abortion law.

A federal district judge had ruled on Monday, a day before the law was due to go into effect, that a section of the law pertaining to admitting privileges was unconstitutional after supporters said it would force clinics to close.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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Coke Femsa shares fall as Mexico passes food, drink taxes [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Elinor Comlay

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Shares of Mexico’s biggest bottling company fell on Thursday as Congress approved a 1 peso-per-liter tax on sugary drinks and an 8 percent tax on junk food as part of a wider tax overhaul.

The plan, which was passed by lawmakers after markets closed, aims to curb rising obesity levels as well as lift Mexico’s poor tax take.

Shares of Mexico-based Coca-Cola Femsa, Coke’s largest bottler in Latin America, closed down 1.28 percent at 159.02 pesos.

Mexico, where obesity rates are now higher than in the United States, will be the first major soda market to tax high-calorie sodas, following a handful of other Latin American and European countries.

Mexicans are the world’s biggest soda drinkers, guzzling about 707 8-ounce (0.24 liter) servings, on average, per year, according to U.S. newsletter Beverage Digest. The United States is the only other country in the same ballpark, clocking in at 701 servings.

Drink and snack food companies are expected to pass on the tax to consumers, which could put further pressure on economic growth which has slowed this year in Mexico, hurt by a drop in consumer spending.

Coke Femsa executives said on a call last week that they would pass on the tax by raising prices broadly between 12 and 15 percent.

“We think the industry will do the same thing because it’s a heavy tax,” Chief Financial Officer Hector Trevino told analysts on a call.

“Our operators are already looking at some of the strategies that we’ll follow for next year and that includes doing a full reconfiguration of our whole portfolio, even doing some downsizing,” Trevino added.

The company said it could reduce its workforce by around 3 or 4 percent and cut back on distribution routes.

Coca-Cola controls more than three-quarters of Mexico’s drinks market and stands to be hit the hardest by the soda tax, according to Beverage Digest.

Much smaller players in the market include PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

Coke Femsa did not respond to requests for comment, while a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola referred calls to Mexico’s beverages association ANPRAC.

GLOBAL TREND

Mexico’s tax could be a “game changer” as “the first of the large soft-drink consumer markets to impose a significant excise tax on full-calorie soft drinks,” wrote analysts at Credit Suisse in a report last month.

Other countries and jurisdictions may consider following suit, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Telluride, Colorado’s 800 registered voters will weigh in on a proposal to put a 1-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks on November 5, sponsor Elisa Marie Overall said. If it passes, the small ski resort town would be the first in the United States to institute such a tax. There also is a move afoot in San Francisco to put a proposed 2-cent per ounce soda tax on the ballot in November 2014.

Mexico’s one peso per liter tax is the equivalent to about 0.23 cents per U.S. ounce. A liter of Coke – 33.8 U.S. ounces – costs about 12 pesos ($ 0.92).

Soda tax proposals in Richmond, a San Francisco Bay Area city, and El Monte, located east of Los Angeles, failed last year after industry groups descended on the California towns.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year spearheaded a ban on the sale of large, sugary drinks, but a state judge declared the effort illegal after a challenge by soft drink makers and a restaurant group. New York’s highest court has agreed to hear an appeal.

Most soft-drink and food companies will self regulate and promote diet versions of their drinks as well as offering more alternative drinks such as juices, vitamin waters or just smaller sizes, said analysts in the Credit Suisse report. ($ 1 = 12.9992 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay, additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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Google sued over Nortel patents it had tried to acquire [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The group that owns thousands of former Nortel patents filed its first patent lawsuit on Thursday against a familiar target: Google, the company it outbid in the Nortel bankruptcy auction.

Rockstar, a consortium jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony, sued Google in a Texas federal court, accusing the internet search company of infringing seven patents. The patents cover technology that helps match search terms with relevant advertising, the lawsuit said, which is the core of Google’s search business.

Representatives for Google and Rockstar could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2011 Google placed an initial $ 900 million (561 million pounds) bid for Nortel’s thousands of patents. The company increased its bid several times, ultimately offering as high as $ 4.4 billion. However, Rockstar acquired the portfolio for $ 4.5 billion.

Google then acquired Motorola Mobility for $ 12.5 billion, a deal driven partly by Motorola’s library of patents.

“Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe,” the lawsuit said.

Rockstar is seeking increased damages against Google, as it claims Google’s patent infringement is wilful, according to the complaint.

The case in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas is Rockstar Consortium US LP and Netstar Technologies LLC vs. Google, 13-893.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by Andrew Hay)

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Kim Kardashian Wears Another White Dress—but Which One Is Your Favorite? Vote Now! [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


von






Cinya Burton






| Übersetzt von Cinya Burton

31. Oktober 2013 – 14:02

Kim Kardashian is definitely having a bridal moment.

The newly engaged star has worn a total of four different white dresses since getting engaged to Kanye West on October 21.

Yesterday she doubled down on the look and donned two ivory styles. The first was a jaw-dropping lace Dolce & Gabbana sheath during her visit to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Then just hours later she resurfaced in a shorter faux leather frock from the Kardashian Lipsy collection.

PHOTOS: Inside Kim’s Birthday bash

Only a week earlier she stepped out with her rapper-fiancé in Beverly Hills in a slim-fitting Nina Ricci pencil skirt and matching crop top. And the next day in Las Vegas—while celebrating her 33rd birthday—she showed off her famous curves in a skimpy dress she bought in Paris. The lace frock was similar (but not quite as see-through) to the one she would later wear on Jay Leno.

And who could forget the white swimsuit she debuted on Instagram just weeks ago? Answer: no one.

Perhaps this is Kim’s way of showing that she’s definitely got bridal palette on her mind, despite not having started her bridal gown search yet. Or maybe she’s wearing a lot of white now because she wants to try a color for her Big Day.

Only time will tell. For now let’s pick which white dress we love best.

PHOTOS: Kim K’s post-pregnancy style

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Obamacare controversy hits close to home for Capitol Hill staff [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Caren Bohan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers opposed to Obamacare are grappling with a predicament of their own making as they decide whether to move their staff into the new insurance marketplaces tied to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

More than three years ago, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa proposed an amendment to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requiring U.S. lawmakers and their aides to purchase insurance coverage on the new online marketplaces known as exchanges.

“The more that Congress experiences the laws we pass, the better the laws are likely to be,” he said at the time.

Obama’s Democratic Party, which in 2009 controlled both chambers of Congress, saw it largely as a political stunt by Republicans who see the law as government overreach and have campaigned to scrap it. But Democrats included Grassley’s proposal anyway in the bill that became law in 2010.

Now, House lawmakers face a deadline of 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Thursday to decide whether to fully follow the requirement, or exploit a loophole that allows them to keep certain staff on their current health insurance plans.

As Republicans and Obama wage a public battle over whether the administration is forcing a questionable social policy on millions of Americans, this mini-drama on Capitol Hill has personal implications for thousands of congressional aides.

While there is not a significant fear that it will cause brain drain in congressional offices or force staffers onto substandard plans, there is some angst.

A House Republican aide said staff were nervous because they did not know how much their health costs might increase.

“That’s part of the problem – we have very limited information on what our new plans are going to look like,” the aide said.

Republicans have sought to derail the healthcare overhaul since Obama took office in 2009, culminating in a 16-day government shutdown this month that has cost the U.S. economy an estimated $ 24 billion, according to Standard & Poor’s ratings agency. The law that was passed in Obama’s first term and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year mandates everyone have health insurance or pay a fine.

Top Republican lawmakers are doubling down on the notion that lawmakers and their aides should take their own medicine. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans, have decided that their staff will get coverage through the online marketplace.

Republicans are also reveling in the fact that some powerful Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are planning to take advantage of the flexibility and allowing some aides to stay on current plans.

“All the people that pushed Obamacare the hardest and bragged about the exchanges are refusing to put their people on the exchanges. It’s bizarre,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell.

But not all Republicans plan to move their entire staff onto Obamacare.

At a closed-door meeting of Republicans this week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa expressed reservations about putting House employees into an exchange when he is fighting against pushing any Americans into the exchanges, a House Republican aide said.

But asked if Issa would keep his staff out of the exchange, an Issa aide indicated he is still reviewing the matter.

(Reporting By Caren Bohan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Karey Van Hall, Ross Colvin and Grant McCool)

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Expedia Reports Strong Third-Quarter Growth [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

Expedia Reports Strong Third-Quarter Growth


Expedia, Inc. reported solid growth in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. Room nights increased by 20 percent, driven by the Chinese booking site eLong and Brand Expedia. Gross bookings were up 15 percent over 2012.


The overall growth of revenue was 17 percent year-over-year due to the increased hotel room nights as well as revenue from advertising and media, and, to a lesser extent, increased air.


Brand Expedia, trivago and Hotels.com were responsible for driving the revenue growth. Trivago, an online hotel search company with sites in 33 countries, is set to grow its full-year revenue up almost 85 percent over last year.


New strategic agreements were signed including Expedia powering the technology platforms for Travelocity-branded websites in the U.S. and Canada, while providing Travelocity with access to Expedia, Inc.’s extensive global supply and customer service operations. The Brand Expedia-powered sites are expected to launch in the first half of 2014.


Distribution agreements were signed with international airlines, including Mexico’s national airline Aeromexico.


Worldwide air revenue increased 16 percent for the third quarter due to a 9 percent increase in revenue per ticket as well as a 7 percent increase in air tickets sold. All other revenue (excluding hotel and air) increased 44 percent for in third quarter through strong growth in advertising and media revenue generated by trivago.


EBITDA increased 16 percent compared to last year’s third quarter due to the overall top-line growth and the leverage of fixed costs.


Downloads factored in to Expedia’s success. There were almost 80 million cumulative mobile app downloads since its launch, including approximately 35 million downloads at eLong as well as 25 million and 18 million downloads of the Hotels.com and Brand Expedia mobile booking apps, respectively.

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Is Moving ‘Glee’ to NYC a Good Decision? [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

Five pros and cons to shaking up the show

Is Glee leaving Lima, Ohio, forever? While there’s been no official confirmation, reports are swirling that the Fox series – which has been in turmoil since star Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose on July 13th – may soon do away with mainstay McKinley High and permanently relocate to New York City. While some of the characters, including Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer), have already made the move, it would still be a seismic shift, considering most of the cast currently wanders the halls of the fictional Midwestern school. Here are five pros and cons of this possible change for the New Directions kids.

Watch Cory Monteith’s Most Memorable Glee Performances

The Elephant in the Room
Monteith’s death led to his beloved character Finn Hudson being killed off. While the writers and producers have tried to both gloss over it and address it head-on, there’s just no getting around it: Glee will never be the same. So why not just rip the whole thing up and start over again? Filming will likely remain in Hollywood, but leaving McKinley in the past will help the show move forward.

Pick a City and Stick With It
Let’s face it: Beyond Monteith’s death, Glee hasn’t been the show fans fell in love with since Season Three, when Ryan Murphy and Co. broke up the original cast. So while it was upsetting when they moved some of the action to Gotham, it doesn’t feel like a big deal now (especially since the split-city storyline still feels jarring after two years).

Bye Bye Bree
Leaving Lima behind means the show could easily slough off some dead-weight characters. (Do we really need a second-rate Santana and Brittany in the form of Bree and Kitty?) The only problem would be keeping the core intact. How would coach Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Cheerio leader Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) make their way to the Big Apple? And, more importantly, where would small potatoes (but no less charming) characters like Beiste and Principal Figgins fit in?

If I Can Make It There. . .
Then there’s New York itself – who doesn’t love a show set in the capital of the world? The city would serve as its own character, offering new settings, storylines and adventures. (They just have to be careful not to make it too eye-rollingly unbelievable.) Plus, fans will get to see their favorite characters finally live out their Broadway dreams. But, then again, if that’s what viewers had wanted to see, NBC’s short-lived series Smash would probably still be on the air.

An End in Sight
Really, though, it all comes back to Monteith’s death. If Finn was still alive, there’s no way this move would (or should) happen. Once the choice is made, the old Glee we know will be gone forever. But isn’t that the case already? Perhaps the city’s skyline will block the dark cloud just long enough for the series to end on a high note.

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Call to regulate internet firms [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

Google, Facebook and other major companies must be regulated as they pose a greater risk to personal data than the security services, a former intelligence worker-turned-MP has said.

Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North) said large capitalist firms were harvesting data from individuals and selling it on to make billions of pounds yet, unlike the state, they were not subject to regulations to protect people.

Mr Wallace, who worked in intelligence in Northern Ireland, said he would rather have the security services grooming his internet as democratic bodies were in place to oversee their work.

But the Tory said he had yet to hear one criticism, fear or demand from fellow MPs to regulate the private sector.

The Guardian must produce evidence British spies are breaking British laws, Mr Wallace added.

He said the newspaper’s public interest defence for publishing leaked intelligence from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden hinges on whether the security services or Government have committed a crime.

Mr Wallace also said his former intelligence colleagues hated the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) also known as Ripa, which indicated they are accountable for their actions.

He said the laws did not introduce any new powers but made sure people registered how they used their existing ones.

Mr Wallace told MPs: ” Privately, without being a member of the security service or a government, I can find out where every one of you in this room shops, I can find out where you live, I can find out where you bought your car, I can find out your credit rating, I can probably get hold of everybody’s details without very much effort.

“But what I find interesting is I’ve not yet heard one criticism or fear or demand that we regulate the private sector. The big capitalist companies in America – the Googles, the Facebooks – harvest our data without your leave, sell it on to intermediaries on and on and on.

“They make millions, billions of pounds, avoid tax – I haven’t yet heard anyone saying how they all keep their servers offshore to avoid tax – and that’s the area that needs regulating and protection.

“I’m proud that our security services are regulated. I’d rather have the state than the private sector all over the world grooming through my internet capabilities because I know that we are first of all oversighted.

“Forgive me but we’re in the Houses of Parliament, we’re all elected, we are democratically elected to this House and this is the first part of the oversight. We have a home secretary appointed by a prime minister put together in a government through a democratic process.

“There’s a second part of the oversight. We have an Intelligence Act 1994, that actually started mentioning the intelligence services as if they are normal bodies like everything else.

“We have the Ripa. There’s something about Ripa, lots of colleagues criticise Ripa. I was operating before Ripa. I didn’t have to sign-off anything. I didn’t have to put a log. I didn’t have to register with anybody what I wanted to do. Ripa actually didn’t give people new powers, it made people register how they used their powers.

“Actually a good bit of legislation, not a negative bit of legislation. My former colleagues still hate it and that’s a good sign that they are accountable for how they use their powers.”

On The Guardian’s revelations, Mr Wallace said the paper is perfectly welcome to publish information of British spies breaking British laws at any time.

He said: I would be delighted to have a meeting with the editor of The Guardian and he can publish it. But until he does that he doesn’t have a public interest defence, other to say, ‘Yahoo, look at how exciting technology is, look what we can do’.

“Well, that is not a public interest defence. That’s trying to sell more newspapers.”

Mr Wallace said Britain spied on other countries to protect itself and to further its interests.

He told MPs: “I think we should be proud that we do it particularly well. Not only do we do it well, we do it better than most across the globe and it gives Britain a place at the top table.”

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Cigna says will increase ’14 profit despite pressures [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


(Reuters) – Insurer Cigna Corp on Thursday reported a third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ expectations as revenue increased and it managed medical costs in its commercial business.

Net income rose to $ 553 million, or $ 1.95 per share, from $ 466 million, or $ 1.61 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding investment gains, the company reported a profit of $ 1.89 per share. On that basis, analysts on average had expected $ 1.63, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cigna, which provides U.S. and overseas health insurance as well as disability and life insurance, said it expected full-year earnings of $ 6.70 to $ 6.90 per share. Analysts were expecting $ 6.65, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose to $ 8.1 billion from $ 7.3 billion.

The company said the results reflected continued medical cost management and a lower operating expense ratio that were partly offset by some pressure on its private Medicare plans for older people.

Cigna’s report comes after larger competitor Aetna Inc missed analysts’ earnings expectations earlier this week, in part because of funding cuts in private Medicare. UnitedHealth Group Inc’s quarter met but did not beat expectations for similar reasons.

Cigna has a private Medicare business, but it is comparatively small.

Cigna said that as of September 30, it had 13.8 million commercial customers and 488,000 customers in Medicare and Medicaid plans. The company also has a Medicare pharmacy benefit business and manages commercial pharmacy benefits.

The vast majority of commercial customers are in self-funded health plans in which Cigna administers health benefits as a third party and the company or organization is responsible for the actual cost of covering its members.

Cigna has a small individual business and is offering plans in five states on the new Obamacare health insurance exchanges. These exchanges sell new plans created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law that include government subsidies based on income.

(Corrects number of Medicare and Medicaid customers in 9th paragraph to 488,000 from 488 million)

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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Shale gas fracking a low risk to public health – review [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – The risks to public health from emissions caused by fracking for shale oil and gas are low as long as operations are properly run and regulated, the British government’s health agency said on Thursday.

Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground.

Environmental campaigners have staged large anti-fracking protests in Britain, arguing that it can pollute groundwater and cause earthquakes.

Since there is currently no fracking in Britain, the PHE report examined evidence from countries such as the United States, where it found that any risk to health was typically due to operational failure.

“The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated,” said John Harrison, director of PHE’s centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.

“Good well construction and maintenance is essential to reduce the risks of groundwater contamination,” he added.

Britain’s Conservative-led government, seeking a U.S.-style production boom to offset dwindling North Sea oil and gas reserves, has backed fracking as an “energy revolution” that could create jobs and cut energy prices.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon welcomed the report and said companies would be granted permission to frack for shale oil and gas in Britain only if their operations are considered to be safe.

“Public safety and health is paramount,” he said, adding that the government would work with the industry “to ensure stringent safety guidelines are upheld” in shale exploration.

Green activist groups say the government should instead invest more in renewable energy.

“Low risk is not the same as no risk,” said Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Helen Rimmer. “Evidence suggests fracking has contaminated drinking water in Australia and the United States. There’s no guarantee it won’t happen here.”

Greenpeace said earlier this month it would encourage British landowners to join together in legally opposing fracking, a move that could strengthen the opposition to shale exploration and development.

Responding to the PHE’s report, Quentin Fisher, a professor of petroleum geoengineering at the University of Leeds, said it was “yet another study” suggesting contamination of groundwater due to fracking was unlikely.

“The report provides even more evidence that production of gas from shale can be made very safe,” he added.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group which represents the onshore oil and gas industry, also welcomed the report, saying he hoped its findings would “reassure communities up and down the country that shale gas can be extracted with minimal risk to their wellbeing”.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Jane Baird)

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Cigna profit rises and beats analyst expectations [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


(Reuters) – Insurer Cigna Corp on Thursday reported a third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ expectations as revenue increased and it managed medical costs in its commercial business.

Net income rose to $ 553 million, or $ 1.95 per share, from $ 466 million, or $ 1.61 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding investment gains, the company reported a profit of $ 1.89 per share. On that basis, analysts on average had expected $ 1.63, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cigna, which provides U.S. and overseas health insurance as well as disability and life insurance, said it expected full-year earnings of $ 6.70 to $ 6.90 per share. Analysts were expecting $ 6.65, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose to $ 8.1 billion from $ 7.3 billion.

The company said the results reflected continued medical cost management and a lower operating expense ratio that were partly offset by some pressure on its private Medicare plans for older people.

Cigna’s report comes after larger competitor Aetna Inc missed analysts’ earnings expectations earlier this week, in part because of funding cuts in private Medicare. UnitedHealth Group Inc’s quarter met but did not beat expectations for similar reasons.

Cigna has a private Medicare business, but it is comparatively small.

Cigna said that as of September 30, it had 13.8 million commercial customers and 488,000 customers in Medicare and Medicaid plans. The company also has a Medicare pharmacy benefit business and manages commercial pharmacy benefits.

The vast majority of commercial customers are in self-funded health plans in which Cigna administers health benefits as a third party and the company or organization is responsible for the actual cost of covering its members.

Cigna has a small individual business and is offering plans in five states on the new Obamacare health insurance exchanges. These exchanges sell new plans created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law that include government subsidies based on income.

(Corrects number of Medicare and Medicaid customers in 9th paragraph to 488,000 from 488 million)

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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NJ Woman Felled by ‘Devastating Disease Doctors Have Never Heard of’ [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

PHOTO: Jennifer Brea is making a film about patients struggling with myalgic encephalomyelitis, known more commonly as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Jennifer Brea kept getting slammed by recurring illness as she was working on her doctorate in political science at Harvard University. But the extent of her declining health didn’t hit her until last year, when she went to a restaurant and said her brain was so foggy she couldn’t even read the menu.

Today, at 31, she is on medical leave from Harvard, disabled by myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME — “the most prevalent and devastating disease your doctor has never heard of,” she said. Her illness is better known as chronic fatigue syndrome in the United States, a name Brea said does a disservice to the severity of her symptoms.

“I can’t drive. I can’t leave my house unattended, and I’m in a wheelchair,” said Brea, who lives with her husband in Princeton, N.J. “Even sitting in a wheelchair is taxing for me. It is pretty much impossible for me to do what I was doing before.”

PHOTO: Jessica Taylor, 22, is confined to her bedroom with one of the most severe cases of myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME.
Courtesy Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor, 22, is confined to her bedroom with one of the most severe cases of myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME.

Before disease struck, she was training to be a professor and had led an active life. Before going to graduate school, she worked as a freelance journalist in China. Today, she said she is often bed-bound and plagued with “spells,” which she said leave her nonverbal and unable to think.

Chronic fatigue patients no longer fakes.

“I got engaged in the summer of 2012, and for months, I was just trying to figure out how I would manage to show up at my own wedding,” she said. “I got fevers and dizziness and couldn’t leave the house without bumping into things or falling over.”

But Brea is using what strength she does have to make a documentary, “Canary in a Coal Mine,” to chronicle the lives of others living with ME. Using Skype and Facetime, patients share their stories and offer glimpses of their shattered lives in real time.

“It has been a way to deal with the anger and confusion and fear,” she said of the project.

Brea recently launched a fundraising campaign on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter with a goal of raising $ 200,000 by Nov. 22 to finish the movie, which she hopes will not only bring more compassion to those living with ME but encourage awareness in the medical community and better tools for diagnosis and treatment.

New psyche disorder could label those with ME as mentally ill

Support from the patient community has been “astonishing,” according to Brea. “Some are calling it an ‘uprising from our beds.’”

The name “myalgic encephalomyelitis” was coined in Britain in the 1980s and is now the definitive name used by the World Health Organization. But in the United States, the disease is called chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, an illness that affects more than 800,000 Americans, according to the CFIDS Association of America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes CFS as a “profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity.” Its symptoms can include weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and mental concentration and insomnia.

Dr. Nancy Klimas, a neuro-immunologist with an expertise in CFS and ME at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and director of Gulf War illness research at the Veterans Administration, said the name chronic fatigue syndrome is a poor descriptor for an illness that is actually an inflammation of the brain, perhaps caused by a virus.

“I don’t think there is a soul that hasn’t lived to regret that name because it’s derogatory and easy to dismiss as an unimportant illness,” said Klimas.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Study Casts Doubt on Mouse Virus Link

A 2009 study linking chronic fatigue syndrome to a mouse virus gave patients validation and hope for a cure. Two-thirds of study subjects with chronic fatigue had the virus, called XMRV, in their blood compared with only 3.9 percent of healthy people, according to the report published in Science.

But the study was discredited later when results could not be replicated and it was discovered blood samples had been contaminated.

Klimas speculates that the illness is an autoimmune disorder that starts when patients either get an infection and “never get rid of it,” or the infection actually triggers an immune response — “like a hit and run.”

“What’s fascinating about the film is the most difficult thing to get across to the medical community is how serious this disease is,” she said. “Patients get up for a few hours and look pretty decent and then go back to bed for a couple of weeks.”

She said many doctors have no familiarity with the illness and it is not taught in medical schools but it doesn’t neatly fit into any one specialty.

A study in the 2005 issue of Family Practice, which surveyed the attitudes and how much family doctors knew about it, revealed 48 percent did not feel confident making a diagnosis, and 41 percent did not feel confident treating the illness.

Brea said her doctor dismissed her symptoms, telling her he thought it might be epilepsy, migraines or conversion disorder — “a kind of updated term for hysteria.” She eventually consulted an immunologist in Miami, who properly diagnosed her.

Some of the patients interviewed in Brea’s film have seen 20 doctors or more before getting a diagnosis.

One, 22-year-old Jessica Taylor of Rochester, England, one of the patients followed in Brea’s film, contracted a virus at the age of 14 and has never recovered.

“I tried to keep going and tried not to let it affect me because I wanted to be well and do all the normal things kids do,” Taylor said. “I had no time to be ill.”

She spent months at a time in the hospital being fed by a gastric tube.

“I am one of the most severe cases,” she told ABCNews.com. “All that time I have been bedridden completely and so I have not walked since 2006. At the moment I am stuck in the world of one room in a hospital bed at home.”

Taylor said she has “stabbing pain like having hot needles pressed” into her legs and arms — “all the time.” Her muscles don’t work, and she often has “brain fog” and can’t process information. “Sometimes I try to speak and nothing comes out,” she said.

“When I am listening to people sometimes they sound like they are speaking a foreign language.”

She said it took her an entire day of rest to prepare for the phone call from ABCNews.com. Fortunately, her iPad has allowed her to communicate with friends and to participate in the film. She recently filmed herself sitting on the edge of the bed for the first time in eight years.

“Being tired is not near to what I feel every day,” she said. “It’s beyond tiredness. It’s in every cell of my body — a force so strong that it prevents me from doing everything and affects every aspect of my life.”

Running a charity to benefit children and young adults with illness from her bed

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Shale gas fracking a low risk to public health, review finds [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – The risks to public health from exposure to emissions from shale gas extraction or fracking are low as long as operations are properly run and regulated, the British government’s health agency said on Thursday.

In a review of the potential health impact of fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations to push out gas and oil, Public Health England (PHE) said any health impacts were likely to be minimal.

Since there is currently no fracking in Britain, the PHE report examined evidence from countries such as the United States, most of which it said suggested any risk to health is typically due to operational failure.

“The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated,” said John Harrison, director of PHE’s centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.

“Good well construction and maintenance is essential to reduce the risks of ground water contamination,” he added.

Keen to stimulate a U.S.-style production boom and offset dwindling North Sea oil and gas reserves, Britain’s Conservative-led government has backed fracking as an “energy revolution” that could create jobs and cut energy prices.

Activists say the government should instead invest more in renewable energy. Environmental campaigners have staged large anti-fracking protests, arguing that it can pollute water supplies and cause earthquakes.

Greenpeace said earlier this month it would encourage British landowners to join together in legally opposing fracking, a move that could strengthen the opposition to exploration and development of shale oil and gas.

Responding to the PHE’s report, Quentin Fisher, a professor of petroleum geoengineering at the University of Leeds, said it was “yet another study” suggesting contamination of the groundwater due to fracking was unlikely.

“The report provides even more evidence that production of gas from shale can be made very safe,” he added.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group which represents the onshore oil and gas industry, also welcomed the report, saying he hoped its findings would “reassure communities up and down the country that shale gas can be extracted with minimal risk to their wellbeing”.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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Top travel websites: rent out your bike or ski gear [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

Young woman on bike

Spinlister helps people rent their bikes to other people. Photograph: Alamy

The majority of people don’t use their skis or snowboards except for one or two weeks of the year. Even many bikes spend more time in the shed that out on the road. But they don’t have to just gather dust. How about renting them out?

Spinlister.com is looking to be a major player in the growing share economy, allowing people to rent their bikes and winter sports gear to other users. The original tagline “Your bike is money” had a slight mercenary feel, but the aim is to create a peer-to-peer network based on trust. You type in a specific city or neighbourhood, then search through listings to find the best offer for your height and other requirements.

This month, Spinlister is branching into ski gear, just in time for the European and North American winter seasons. You can list your snow gear on the site now and people we will be able to start renting it from mid-December. It has also just launched Android and iPhone apps.

But why mess around contacting a stranger to arrange a pick-up time when you could just go to the local hire shop? The site – which takes 12-17% commission – works best for those looking for a particular style of bike, or someone looking to get a longer-term deal (many offer a weekly rate). Sample listings include a family bike with a built-in cargo trailer in Oregon, a Brompton in London, and a tandem in Paris (all £12-£16 a day, cheaper for a week). This fetching bike in Portland will even get you laid, says the owner.

There are measures in place to prevent someone riding off into the sunset with your gear. Renters are required to sign up with a valid credit card, so they can be charged for damage, say, or late return. The company also has a guarantee scheme for bikes (currently only in North America, but expanding in early 2014). Users are encouraged to review other users, and to verify their profile by linking to social media profiles. Put more simply: anyone who really wanted to steal a bike would be better off sticking to chain cutters.

The site has had plenty of ups and down since launching in the US in September 2012. First it tried to rebrand as Liquid, then it shut down completely, before returning in April to make a more serious go of it. Backed by a Brazilian entrepreneur in the US, Marcelo Loureiro, the plan for the year ahead involves rolling out to cover more outdoor equipment, including surfboards and camping gear.

Bikesharingworld.com This site points to a simple, but highly comprehensive Google map of public bike-sharing schemes around the world. It also shows projects in the pipeline and those that have folded. You can also follow the updates on Twitter, @bikesharingmap. See also bikes.oobrien.com, created by a UCL researcher, which goes as far as showing docking stations and their realtime usage.

Bikeshare.com Public bike sharing is now so popular that it is now a fully fledged industry with specialist consultancy firms. One such company is Cyclehop and this is their blog. It keeps tabs on new schemes and trends, with various reviews thrown in too, such as this report on bike schemes across Asia.

Travellingtwo.com: If you are planning a bike tour, seek advice from a couple who have already done it – extensively – in more than 30 countries. The site is packed with resources and yet retains a personal feel. Their book, Bike Touring Basics, is free to download.

FreewheelingFrance.com This is a great, independent site for leisure cyclists and tourers. The new accommodation section has plenty of cycle-friendly information, such as details on secure bike parking, and there is also a handy directory of bike hire companies across the country. More serious cyclists looking to tackle the Alps and Pyrenees should also try Cycling-challenge.com.

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Editor Obsessions: 6 Halloween-Inspired Products We Love! [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


von






Cinya Burton






| Übersetzt von Cinya Burton

31. Oktober 2013 – 02:00

Happy Halloween!

Not all of us choose to celebrate today’s holiday with a foam finger or animal ears. There are ways to be festive and don’t require you to wear (part of) a costume.

A few of our favorites?

Try nabbing an autumn hued polish like CoverGirl’s Rogue Red lacquer (don’t worry about the name it really paints on a fiery orange tint). Or for something even more spooky score Deborah Lippmann‘s limited edition Wicked set, inspired by the witchy Broadway show. An even simpler way to jazz up your look is a pair of Lashfully’s faux lashes—after all, if you’re going to go all out during the daytime, Halloween is definitely the perfect occasion.

PHOTOS: Whoa! Stars’ wildest beauty looks

As for wardrobe, we’re planning on wearing PacSun’s vampire statement sweater topped with Stella & Bow’s Dracula necklace and Charlotte Olympia’s Jack-o-Lantern flats. Boo-yah!

Click on to get the scoop on all of our favorite Halloween items.

PHOTOS: Editor obsessions: Halloween edition

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Market closures dramatically cut cases of new China bird flu: study [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – China should close live poultry markets in big cities to disrupt the spread of a new strain of bird flu that resurfaced there earlier this month, scientists said, after a previous shutdown was found to have slashed the number of human cases.

In a study published in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday, researchers from Hong Kong and China said that while closing markets during the height of the first outbreak of H7N9 in April may have been costly, it reduced human infections dramatically and should be done again if cases rise as feared.

The findings – of a more than 97 percent reduction in the daily number of human cases of the new H7N9 strain after the markets were closed compared with before – should give policymakers confidence that the economic costs of shutting markets is balanced by significant health gains.

“(This) is a highly effective intervention to prevent human disease and protect public health,” said Benjamin Cowling of Hong Kong University, who led the study and had it published in the Lancet medical journal.

Based on his findings, he said the best approach to minimize the spread of the H7N9 bird flu virus ahead of an expected surge in cases during the winter flu season would be to shut down markets wherever the virus is detected.

Two new human cases of H7N9 bird flu were found in China’s eastern Zhejiang province in October, the first in what some flu experts fear may be a fresh epidemic of the deadly disease to come during China’s colder winter months.

“This is of great concern because it reveals that the H7N9 virus has continued to circulate and now has the potential to re-emerge in a new outbreak of human disease this winter,” said Cowling, echoing similar fears expressed by Chinese researchers in a study published last week.

DEATH RATE 30 PERCENT

Some 45 people have so far been killed by H7N9 flu strain, many of them during a flare-up in March and April just after the virus first emerged in humans earlier in February.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it has now recorded 137 laboratory confirmed cases, suggesting a death rate for the new strain of more than 30 percent.

At the start of April, several weeks after the first human cases of H7N9 bird flu emerged, 780 live poultry markets in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Hangzhou, Huzhou and Nanjing were closed to try and halt virus spread.

The closures have been estimated to have cost more than 57 billion yuan ($ 9.35 billion), so Cowling’s team set out to study whether those costs could be justified.

The team analyzed data on every laboratory confirmed case of H7N9 in those four cities up to June 1, 2013 and entered them into a statistical calculation method called a Bayesian model which was able to quantify the before-and-after effects of shutting down the markets.

The results found the closures cut the average daily number of H7N9 human infections by 99 percent in Shanghai, 99 percent in Hangzhou, 97 percent in Huzhou and 97 percent in Nanjing.

“Without this robust evidence, policymakers would struggle to justify further closures of LPMs because of the millennia-old culture of trading live birds and the potential huge economic loss on the poultry industry in China,” said Cowling.

Yet with it, he added, the best course of action to minimize the spread of the virus ahead of the expected surge in infections in the winter would be sustained live poultry market closure in areas of high risk of disease spread, and immediate market closure in areas where the virus appears in future.

(Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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https://news.google.com/news/feeds?q=herbal [ Bus1nessN3wz ]



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NYC moves closer to tobacco-buying age of 21 [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


NEW YORK (AP) — Young New Yorkers who want to light up will soon have to wait for their 21st birthdays before they can buy a pack of smokes after lawmakers in the nation’s most populous city voted overwhelmingly to raise the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21.

The City Council’s vote Wednesday makes New York the biggest city to bar cigarette sales to 19- and 20-year-olds, and one of only a few places throughout the United States that have tried to stymie smoking among young people by raising the purchasing age. The council also approved a bill that sets a minimum $ 10.50-a-pack price for tobacco cigarettes and steps up law enforcement on illegal tobacco sales.

“We know that tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking so it’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement after the council’s vote.

Bloomberg, a strong supporter of tough smoking restrictions, has 30 days to sign the bills into law. The minimum age bill will take effect 180 days after enactment.

The city’s current age limit is 18, a federal minimum that’s standard in many places. Smoking in city parks and beaches already is prohibited as it is in restaurants.

Advocates say higher age limits help prevent, or at least delay, young people from taking up a habit that remains the leading cause of preventable deaths nationwide.

But cigarette manufacturers have suggested young adult smokers may just turn to black-market merchants. And some smokers say it’s unfair and patronizing to tell people considered mature enough to vote and serve in the military that they’re not old enough to decide whether to smoke.

“New York City already has the highest cigarette tax rate and the highest cigarette smuggling rate in the country,” said Bryan D. Hatchell , a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which makes Camel and other brands. “Those go hand in hand and this new law will only make the problem worse.”

Another anti-smoking initiative pushed by the Bloomberg administration was previously shelved ahead of Wednesday’s vote: forcing stores to keep cigarettes out of public view until a customer asks for them.

Newsstand clerk Ali Hassen, who sells cigarettes daily to a steady stream of customers from nearby office buildings, said he didn’t know if the new age restrictions would do any good.

While he wouldn’t stop vigilantly checking identification to verify customers’ age, Hassen doubted the new rules would thwart determined smokers.

“If somebody wants to smoke, they’re going to smoke,” he said.

Similar legislation to raise the purchasing age is expected to come to a vote in Hawaii this December. The tobacco-buying age is 21 in Needham, Mass., and is poised to rise to 21 in January in nearby Canton, Mass. The state of New Jersey also is considering a similar proposal.

“It just makes it harder for young people to smoke,” said smoker Stephen McGorry, 25, who started lighting up at 19. He added that had the age been 21 when he took up the habit, “I guarantee I wouldn’t be smoking today.”

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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Clamp down on hookahs, herbal liquor – The Nation [ Bus1nessN3wz ]

Chon Buri governor Khomsan Ekkachai had instructed Bang Lamung district to announce the new regulations and notify business operators earlier this month.

Bang Lamung district chief Sakchai Taeng-hor, Tuesday led 50 Territorial Defence officials, excise officials and Pattaya police to inspect service venues for the illegal selling of such items – prohibited in accordance with the Liquor Act BE 2493 and the Tobacco Act BE 2509.

Sakchai said they found most venues observed the regulations, while those who insisted on selling the prohibited items were warned and had their offence recorded.

The Nation

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Social Media and Your Business [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


 


Social media is the great equalizer. It provides unprecedented access to the smallest of players and gives them the ability to sound off, connect and drive business. It turns anyone with a smartphone, computer and Internet access a marketer. The only question is the one that most can’t answer; how do I actually do it?


The answer isn’t complicated when you get down to the nuts and bolts of using social media. Take Twitter. I was interviewed by CNN two weeks ago and the producer for the segment asked me about my new book and some other things related to my background. He told me about his own current book project and I shared some insights into what he might do to be successful in launching it. “Sho,” which is his real name, tweeted me shortly after I left and thanked me for the advice I provided. He didn’t email me, but instead found my Twitter handle and sent me a direct message.


Since that encounter a couple of weeks ago, we have been having an ongoing conversation on Twitter. He doesn’t have my cell phone, yet we can text back and forth in real time just as you would do with a real text message on the phone — one on one, but also one on one to many. That’s the beauty of Twitter. My 3,000-plus followers are able to see the conversations I’m having, since they are public, but they can just as easily be private messages. I just choose to make them public.


That’s a one-on-one example from somebody who actually met me. What about someone whom I’ve never met? Use a hashtag (#) to find people based on information they have shared on Twitter. For instance, let’s say you are looking to connect with people who are well versed about Hanoi in Vietnam.  You could simply input #Hanoi on Twitter and the most recent posts from people who have used that hashtag show up. I did this myself on my last trip there a year and half ago. 


Indeed, I discovered many different individuals who knew about specific destinations and started to have one-on-one conversations with them. I was literally able to “find” people based on the conversations they were having about a place I was interested in. They were able to provide insights and ideas for a trip that was going to take place, and I had never even met them. That’s the power of Twitter and another reason why you should be on it.


At its roots, Twitter is a personalized search engine that returns results based on that # symbol. Instead of a web page, you get someone’s musings or thoughts or shared information. A lot of it is junk, but then again so is much of the web in general. By searching based on your criteria, you can bypass that junk and get to the conversations that matter.


Creating a conversation is what social media is all about.  My “aha” moment with Twitter came when I associated its platform with texting. It was like, “duh, now I get it.”


It used to cost tens of millions of dollars to build a brand or get noticed, but social media platforms have changed the game. You can now effectively build a brand with little to no investment, other than your time. Understanding only comes with experimentation. It’s time to step into the social media laboratory.   

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U.S. food group faces legal trouble in fight over GMO labeling [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) – A lobbying group for major U.S. food manufacturers continues to run afoul of campaign finance laws in the way that it has contributed funds to block a measure that would require labeling of genetically modified foods in Washington state, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the state’s attorney general.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he will amend a lawsuit filed October 16 to raise the total amount he alleges the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) illegally concealed to $ 11 million, from the $ 7.2 million in the original complaint.

GMA represents some of the world’s largest food and beverage companies and is lobbying heavily against the measure known as I-522 that is set for a public vote in Washington state on November 5. GMA is the largest contributor to the “No on 522″ campaign.

The I-522 requires labeling of foods that are made with genetically altered crops as well as labeling of genetically engineered seeds and seed products sold in the state.

This measure would be the first of its kind in the United States and both the food industry and biotech seed companies, including Monsanto and DuPont, have poured roughly $ 22 million into a campaign to defeat it.

The attorney general earlier alleged that the GMA illegally collected and spent more than $ 7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors. After the suit was filed, the GMA registered its political committee on October 18 and produced information about a portion of its member contributions.

But the attorney general said Wednesday that $ 3.8 million in contributions appear to have been collected by the GMA from its members before it registered a political action committee, and the contributions were not reported when it submitted its disclosure documents on October 18.

“These contributions increase the total amount the GMA received and expended on electoral activity in Washington without timely registering as political committee and reporting the full amount of contributions collected,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

GMA officials said in a statement that it has provided “full transparency” to voters in regard to contributions made.

“Every single GMA contribution to the campaign and the original source of those funds (including detailed lists of companies and dollar amounts) has been reported to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission,” the group said.

The Yes on 522 campaign, which is pushing for labeling of GMO foods, repeated allegations that the food and biotech seed industry is trying to unfairly “buy” the election.

“It is clear that the GMA … broke the law. Not once but multiple times now,” said Delana Jones, campaign manager for Yes on 522.

As of Tuesday, proponents of labeling had raised roughly $ 6.8 million, compared to about $ 22 million raised by opponents, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

(Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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Marvin Gaye’s family sues ‘Blurred Lines’ composers [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Family of late soul singer Marvin Gaye sued R&B recording artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copyright infringement on Wednesday, accusing them of stealing from the Motown legend’s musical composition for the hit single “Blurred Lines.”

The suit was filed as a counter-claim to a case brought preemptively by Thicke and Williams in August seeking a court ruling to establish that “Blurred Lines” did not infringe on Gaye’s rights to his 1977 hit, “Got to Give it Up,” as members of his family had said publicly.

The suit by three of Gaye’s children cited excerpts of magazine interviews given by Thicke to support their contention that he had admitted to drawing on “Got to Give it Up” when producing and recording “Blurred Lines.”

Thicke sang the raunchy, percussive R&B song, which topped song charts around the world this year and ranked as the biggest U.S. pop hit of the summer, at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards in a provocative performance featuring pop singer Miley Cyrus.

Gaye’s daughter, Nona Marvisa Gaye, and his sons Frankie Christian Gaye and Marvin Gaye III also said in the suit that Thicke’s 2011 song “Love After War” amounted to “unlawful copying” of Gaye’s 1976 song “After the Dance.”

Their lawsuit also named Thicke’s wife, actress Paula Patton, who collaborated with her husband on “Love After War,” along with Interscope Records, Universal Music Group Recordings and Sony/ATV Music, among others.

The suit further accuses EMI, which also happens to manage the copyrights for Gaye’s music, of breach of contract and trust agreements.

The family is seeking damages of up to $ 150,000 per infringement as well as a portion of the profits from the success of “Blurred Lines” and “Love After War.”

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Walsh)

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U.S. athletes still reluctant to admit head injuries – report [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Many young athletes still do not admit when they have suffered a head injury despite increased awareness about the risks of concussions in children and teenagers, U.S. health advisers said on Wednesday, urging sports leagues and government agencies to take more action.

Various groups have tried to raise awareness about the seriousness of brain injuries, and sports leagues have implemented rule changes aimed at preventing them. Professional leagues, including the National Football League, are also wrestling with the issue amid complaints from some players about long-term impacts on the brain.

But there is still not enough data on how to prevent and treat them, the experts said in an analysis of sports-related concussions in young athletes from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. (Report: http://r.reuters.com/xus34v)

“Despite the increased attention, however, confusion and controversy persist in many areas,” panelists said the report, which was sponsored by several government agencies along with $ 75,000 from the NFL.

Overall, studies show youth concussions occur at higher rates in certain sports, during competition rather than practice and among girls, the 17-member panel concluded.

Most recovery plans call for athletes with concussions to rest, but “current research does not indicate a standard or universal level and duration of rest needed,” panelists added.

In 2009, U.S. hospitals treated 250,000 youth for sports-related concussions and other brain injuries, up from 150,000 in 2001, according to the report, which analyzed all available studies and data on 5- to 21-year-olds.

It was unclear if concussions are on the rise or whether increased awareness had prompted greater diagnoses, the report added. Reporting differences and other factors may also help explain why data show higher rates among girls, it said.

Still, many cases go unreported.

For Hannah Steenhuysen, a high school soccer goalie in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, it was hard to admit she had been hit too hard with a ball and risk missing out on her favorite sport.

“You don’t tell anyone usually when you get a headache because you don’t want to be out of the game,” she said.

Severe headaches from her second concussion last year took her off the team and left her struggling for months to catch up on assignments.

“I couldn’t watch TV or text or even read – it was really tough,” said Steenhuysen. “When I tried to go back to school, I couldn’t keep up and everything got jumbled in my head.”

CURRENT EFFORTS INADEQUATE

Concussions are a mild form of traumatic brain injury that can cause memory problems, headaches, sensitivity to light, among other symptoms. Mood changes are also a worry, and concerns remain about a possible link to mental illness.

The report urged athletic groups and federal health agencies to gather more data overall, calling current efforts “inadequate.”

Some parents have already taken steps on their own.

Bill and Suzanne Watters of Oakland, New Jersey bought their then 14-year-old son a $ 350 helmet after he suffered a concussion last year during a football game.

They disagree over whether their son should return to the field, but he is playing again this season. “He loves the game, and that’s what he wants to do,” his mother said.

The report said it “found little evidence” that helmets, mouthguards or headbands reduce the risk of concussion.

While much of the attention has centered around American football with its fierce body blows and tackling, other sports also carry risks. Bicycle crashes were the leading cause of mild brain injuries among youth, data showed.

Overall, more male athletes in high schools and college report concussions in football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling and soccer, the report said.

Among similarly aged young women, the highest rates of reported concussions were in soccer, lacrosse and basketball.

With the exception of cheerleading, head injuries were most likely to occur during competition, not practice, the report said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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New York City Council votes to raise tobacco purchasing age to 21 [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York City Council voted to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco to 21, the highest in the country, in hopes of reducing smoking among the city’s young adults.

The council voted 35 to 10 on Wednesday to raise the age requirement from 18.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an anti-smoking crusader, was expected to sign the bill, which would become law 180 days later.

Some 19,000 high school students under 18 currently smoke in the city and 80 percent of smokers start before age 21, according to the city’s health department. Youth smoking rates have hovered around 8.5 percent since 2007 after having been cut in half from 2001 to 2006.

“We need the next big thing. And this is the next big thing,” City Councilman James Gennaro, the sponsor of the bill, told reporters about the bill’s intent to further reduce smoking among the city’s youth.

Raising the minimum sales age to 21 would reduce smoking among 14 to 17 year olds by two-thirds and cut rates by a little over half for 18 to 20 year olds, the health department said.

Bloomberg, nearing the end of his third and final term, has made public health a focus of his 12 years in office, starting with a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in 2002. In 2011 the city banned smoking in outdoor venues such as public parks and beaches. Bloomberg has also targeted fatty foods, salt and sugary drinks in New York City restaurants.

Four states – Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah – and several municipalities across the country have set the minimum age for buying tobacco products at 19.

While New York would be the first major city to have a sales age as high as 21, the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts, actually led the way in 2005. Between 2006 and 2012, smoking among high school students in Needham fell by more than half, New York City officials said.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bob Burgdorfer)

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U.S. appeals court revives patent fight over AstraZeneca drug [ Bus1nessN3wz ]


By Jessica Dye

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday reinstated part of a legal fight by AstraZeneca over a patent protecting its Pulmicort Respules asthma drug, months after the court temporarily halted competitors from distributing generic versions.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reverses an earlier decision that generic drugmakers -including Apotex Inc, Sandoz Inc and Watson Laboratories Inc -had not infringed an AstraZeneca patent relating to the drug.

The court left intact a finding that another AstraZeneca patent related to the drug was invalid.

AstraZeneca said in a statement Wednesday that it had “full confidence in the strength of its intellectual property rights” concerning the pediatric asthma drug.

The defendants were not immediately available for comment after regular business hours Wednesday.

AstraZeneca had filed suit earlier this year seeking to block the generic drugmakers from introducing versions of Pulmicort Respules. The defendants countersued, saying that the patents were invalid and that they had not infringed them.

The case went to trial, and in April a federal judge in New Jersey found that one AstraZeneca patent had not been infringed, and that another was invalid. AstraZeneca appealed, and in May the Federal Circuit issued a temporary injunction to block generic versions of the drug from being distributed in the United States.

Defendants Apotex, Watson and Breath Limited had received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the drug, and Sandoz received approval while the appeal was pending, AstraZeneca said in a statement.

None of the manufacturers have launched a generic product in the United States, although AstraZeneca has an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals allowing that company to sell a generic version, the company said.

According to a regulatory filing from AstraZeneca, Pulmicort generated $ 866 million in worldwide revenue for AstraZeneca in 2012.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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