Bomb threats against two U.S. airline flights on Saturday prompted North American air defense fighter planes to scramble to accompany them to their destination in Atlanta, an airport spokesman said. The planes landed safely at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, no bombs were found aboard either and the Atlanta airport has returned to normal operations, said airport spokesman Reese McCranie. Threats against Delta Air Lines flight 1156, coming from Portland, Oregon, and Southwest Airlines flight 2492, from Milwaukee, had been deemed credible, McCranie said. Several media outlets reported that a Twitter user going by the name Zortic wrote of planting bombs on the two planes, stating in a message to a Delta Twitter account, "I have a bomb on one of your planes, but I forgot which one when I left the airport.
By Mark Guarino CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Arab-American civil rights organization has asked "American Sniper" director Clint Eastwood and actor Bradley Cooper to denounce hateful language directed at U.S. Arabs and Muslims after the release of the film about a Navy marksman. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said in a letter to Eastwood and Cooper that its members had become targets of "violent threats" since early last week, before "American Sniper" went into general release. The ADC said it was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and police to assess the threats. The film tells the story of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper.
By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles area high school teacher has been suspended over a social media rant in which he said male students who reportedly had sex with two of his female colleagues should have kept their "stupid mouths shut" about the experience, a school official said on Friday. Sean Patrick Kane, an art teacher at South Hills High School in suburban West Covina, asked in a flippant post on Facebook on Sunday what had been "in the heads of the dudes who banged these ladies and then squealed?" "You should have just kept your stupid mouths shut and enjoyed it," Kane said in the same post, referring to the teenage students at the center of the sex case. The rant got the attention of officials at the West Covina Unified School District, who placed Kane on paid leave on Wednesday as they investigate his actions, district spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said. "We expect teachers to maintain a level of professionalism in their classroom and in their social media presence as well," Van Der Linden said.
League One (third tier) team Notts County have blocked Hungary from their Facebook page after it was swamped by a flood of comments about new striker Balint Bajner. The club signed the 24-year-old Hungarian on Tuesday from second tier side Ipswich Town whose own page was inundated with "No Bajner, no party!" posts when he was dropped in August. County's page received more than 1,700 new likes in two days after the under-19 international joined the world's oldest professional football club on a free transfer. The Magpies said all the messages posted by Bajner's Hungarian fans were in good fun but the club had to take action to control them on behalf of other users of the page.
By Lisa Lee, Mike Stone and Mariana Santibanez NEW YORK (Reuters) - (This story filed on January 22, 2015 has been refiled to clarify proposed creditor terms of the Caesars bankruptcy and related quotation) The term debt financing backing Apollo Global Management LLC's [APOLO.UL] buyout of information technology services provider Presidio Inc is facing pushback from loan investors wary of an unpopular sponsor, the deal's high leverage and issues related to the credit itself. To entice investors wary of Presidio's lack of hard assets, high leverage and business model, lead arranger Credit Suisse this week made some adjustments to the credit, sources said. Buyer Apollo may also be paying a price for its involvement in restructuring Caesars Entertainment Co, at a time when debt and bondholders stand to face losses on roughly $18 billion of debt.
The issue is a hot topic at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, and the forum is seeking to provide a platform for debate over ways to maintain an open, cross-border Web in the face of pressures for national regulation. Quite frankly, there is a temptation,” said Vittorio Colao, chief executive of mobile telecoms group Vodafone, who pointed to different regulatory regimes as an impediment to network traffic. A 2014 report by the Boston Consulting Group estimated the Internet economy will be worth $4.2 trillion in the major Group of 20 (G20) economies by 2016 and, if it were a country, it would rank among the top five in the world, ahead of Germany.
By Tim Cocks LAGOS (Reuters) - In Nigeria, one of the world's worst countries for kidnapping, getting in the wrong cab could end up costing you or your family a lot more than the agreed taxi fare. Many people have a "taxi guy" whom they trust to avoid this risk. It was a clear gap in the market for Easy Taxi, which like Silicon Valley's Uber uses a smartphone app and GPS technology to provide taxi services by linking up customers with a trusted driver who is nearby. In Nigeria, Easy Taxi only recruits existing taxis, but ones that are carefully vetted with all their documents in order.
By Aditi Shah NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Internet retailer Amazon and its fast-growing local rivals are driving a boom in commercial property leasing in India as their storage needs rise, with shoppers in the country going online to buy everything from televisions to groceries. Other estimates indicate office rents in India's tech hub Bengaluru could rise by as much as a fifth in the next six to nine months as e-commerce companies add to demand. The result, say developers and analysts, is a speedier than expected recovery for India's commercial property sector, badly dented by two successive years of sub-5 percent economic growth. "The best has yet to come for the sector and that will have a snowball effect on the property sector with increased appetite for office space, logistics and warehouse," said Sigrid Zialcita, managing director, research for Asia Pacific at consultant Cushman & Wakefield.
Internet services that allow people to freely access blocked websites and apps from within China have seen more severe disruptions this week, said three providers, moves that Chinese state media said were justified. The services affected include popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers Astrill, StrongVPN and Golden Frog, which are engaged in a technological arms race to one-up China's highly sophisticated Great Firewall internet censorship system. "This week's attack on VPNs that affected us and other VPN providers is more sophisticated than what we've seen in the past," said Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog.
A Saudi journalist and a member of the royal family denied rumors on Thursday that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, in hospital since December suffering from pneumonia, had died, according to messages on social media. King Abdullah, who took power in 2005 after the death of his half-brother King Fahd, is thought to be 91, although official accounts are unclear. "All that is being reported about King Abdullah's death is far from the truth," Ibrahem al-Rawsa, identified as a journalist at state-run Saudi Press Agency, wrote on his Twitter account. A member of the royal family wrote: "I give you good news.
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France appealed on Thursday for U.N. member states to work together on an international legal framework that would make social network providers share responsibility for the use of their platforms to spread messages promoting violence. "There are hate videos, calls for death, propaganda that has not been responded to, and we need to respond," Harlem Desir, French state secretary for European affairs, told reporters on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on the rising threat of anti-Semitism. The French call for a radical shift in the way governments treat social networking companies such as Facebook and Twitter came two weeks after Islamist militants killed 17 people in Paris at a satirical magazine and a Kosher supermarket. "We must ... establish a legal framework so the Internet platforms, the large companies managing social networking, so that they're called upon to act responsibly." Michael Roth, German minister of state for Europe, echoed Desir's remarks.
By Gulsen Solaker and Jonny Hogg ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey is pressing new legislation allowing ministers to temporarily ban websites and forcing Twitter to block an anonymous whistleblower as part of President Tayyip Erdogan's campaign to bring the internet to heel. Last year, Erdogan vowed to "eradicate" Twitter after allegations of government corruption were published on the micro-blogging site. The Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) would have to comply within four hours, and then apply for a court order for the ban to be extended beyond 24 hours. Communications Minister Lutfu Elvan this week defended the proposal, saying it was needed after Turkey's top court in October annulled previous legislation giving greater powers to ban websites, and saying it would only be used in emergencies.
By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union member states are unlikely to support an EU-wide ban on telecoms companies offering online services such as Facebook and Spotify for free, according to a proposal by EU presidency Latvia. EU member states are discussing net neutrality - the principle that all traffic should be treated equally - as part of efforts to agree on reform of the European telecoms sector. So-called "zero-rating", where operators offer unlimited access to certain online services - typically Facebook, music streaming or online television - is seen as good for competition and innovation as well as more choice for consumers.
Kenya is considering a request from Beijing to extradite 76 Chinese nationals charged with cyber crime for trial in their homeland, Kenya's attorney-general said on Thursday. Githu Muigai said he expected a decision soon on the request from a "friendly government" with which Kenya has strong trade and industrial ties. Some 76 Chinese nationals have been detained by Kenyan police investigating allegations of cyber crime, operating private radio services and being in the country illegally, their lawyers said on Dec. 5. Any agreement would have to meet Kenya's justice standards, he said, adding their alleged criminality involved "the security of banking, credit cards and other operations".
The lawsuit claimed that Viacom secretly kept track of children under the age of 13 who streamed videos and played video games on its Nick.com website, and shared what it learned with Google. It said both companies then without permission put text files known as "cookies" into the children's computers, letting them gather additional information that advertisers could use. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of young children who registered to use Nick.com.
By Deepa Seetharaman SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay Inc plans to cut its workforce by 7 percent, or 2,400 jobs, in the current quarter and is exploring a sale or public offering of its enterprise unit as the e-commerce company prepares to split from its payments division, PayPal, this year. The jobs will be cut across the marketplace, payments and enterprise divisions, eBay said on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings report. EBay said it entered into a standstill agreement with Carl Icahn, its largest active shareholder, and appointed to its board Icahn Capital executive Jonathan Christodoro.
By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democrats on the Senate and House commerce committees on Wednesday signaled no interest in rushing to adopt "net neutrality" legislation before the Federal Communications Commission sets new Internet traffic rules next month. Republicans have proposed a bill that seeks to ensure that Internet service providers (ISPs) treat all Internet traffic fairly on their networks, but short of the tougher regulatory regime backed by the Obama administration. Though Republicans control both congressional chambers and could pass legislation along party lines, bipartisan support would help weaken the threat of President Barack Obama's veto. The FCC plans to vote on Feb. 26 on rules aimed at ensuring "net neutrality" that are expected to follow Obama's path.
By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) - The accused operator of the online black marketplace Silk Road had a digital journal on his laptop detailing the development of the website and predicting it would become a "phenomenon," jurors heard on Wednesday. Prosecutors showed jurors in Manhattan federal court journal entry excerpts dated in 2010 and 2011 found on a laptop seized when the FBI arrested Ross Ulbricht, who authorities say operated the website where drugs and other illicit goods could be bought with bitcoins. "Silk Road is going to become a phenomenon and at least one person will tell me about it, unknowing that I was its creator," a 2010 journal entry on Ulbricht's laptop said. Prosecutors say Ulbricht operated Silk Road under the alias "Dread Pirate Roberts" in a scheme that generated $200 million in drug sales until authorities shut the website down.
By Alastair Macdonald and Robert-Jan Bartunek BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union should consider forcing Internet firms to help security services tap into coded emails and calls as part of a new strategy to combat militant attacks, the EU counter-terrorism coordinator says. The controversial proposal appears in a briefing paper from Gilles de Kerchove for EU interior ministers meeting next week which was reviewed by Reuters. De Kerchove noted that scandal over U.S. spying on global networks had prompted companies to offer more encryption. Stressing that any measures must respect fundamental rights, he wrote: "The Commission should be invited to explore rules obliging Internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide ... access of the relevant national authorities to communications (ie share encryption keys)." A spokesman for de Kerchove declined to comment on the paper.
(Reuters) - Television network NBC will post all Super Bowl commercials that air on TV to a Tumblr page moments after they air on TV, providing another way for brands to reach viewers with ads that cost up to $4.5 million for 30 seconds. People who watch the Feb. 1 game through NBC's live stream will see a different set of ads from what is shown on TV. The page on social media site Tumblr is a way for those viewers to see all of the TV ads, NBC said in a statement on Wednesday. NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp will stream the game, halftime show and other content free of charge to computers and tablets through its NBC Sports Live Extra app and website.
By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - About 20 percent of the world's fishing catch is taken illegally by poachers, experts estimate, but a new satellite tracking system launched on Wednesday aims to crack down on the industrial-scale theft known as "pirate fishing." Run by the British technology firm Satellite Applications Catapult and backed by environmental groups, Project 'Eyes on the Seas' will open a "Virtual Watch Room". Experts will be able to watch satellite feeds of the waters around Easter Island, a Chilean territory in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and the western Pacific island nation of Palau, which lacks the resources to monitor all the illegal fishing taking place near its waters. The technology analyses numerous sources of live satellite tracking data, enabling monitors to link to information about a ship's country of registration and ownership history to spot suspicious vessels.
Netflix Inc's faster-than-expected rollout in overseas markets took most analysts by surprise, setting off a flurry of price target increases on the stock. Shares of the video streaming service, which reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results, rose as much as 19 percent in early trading on Wednesday. The stock has been under pressure in recent months on fears of increased competition from Time Warner Inc's HBO, Amazon.com Inc and Hulu, as well as on-demand offerings from pay TV providers. At least 13 analysts raised their price targets on the stock, after the company said it would complete its expansion into around 200 countries within two years.
(Reuters) - French newspaper Le Monde said its Twitter account and publishing tool were hacked by Syrian Electronic Army, an amorphous hacker collective that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Le Monde sent out a tweet saying it has taken back control of its computers. "We apologize for any fraudulent posts on our behalf." A Twitter Inc spokesman in France said the company did not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. Representatives at "Le Monde" declined to comment.
By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly every U.S. weapons program tested in fiscal 2014 showed "significant vulnerabilities" to cyber attacks, including misconfigured, unpatched and outdated software, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester said in his annual report released Tuesday. Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), said program managers had worked to resolve problems discovered in previous years and security was improving, but this year's testing had revealed new vulnerabilities. "Cyber adversaries have become as serious a threat to U.S. military forces as the air, land, sea and undersea threats represented in operational testing for decades," Gilmore wrote in the 366-page report. The report comes amid growing attention to cybersecurity within the U.S. government, and was released days after fresh documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said China had stolen "many terabytes" of data about the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet.
By Harriet McLeod MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (Reuters) - A South Carolina teenager is being held in jail after being charged as an adult with murder in the fatal stabbing of another teen in an apparent fight after one messaged the other's girlfriend on the mobile Snapchat app. Matthew Joseph Fischer, 16, was arrested Sunday night after police were called by neighbors to a gated subdivision in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina to find Lucas Cavanaugh, 17, lying in the middle of the street with lacerations to his abdomen, according to a police incident report. Two females were with the victim, the responding officer reported. One, whom police identified as Robynn Davis, ran screaming toward him with a knife, saying "This is the knife." The officer pointed his patrol rifle at her and demanded that she place the knife on the ground, which she did, the police report says. A magistrate set bond at $100,000 on the weapon charge but could not set bond on a murder charge.
Streaming video service Netflix Inc said it will complete its expansion into 200 countries within two years, faster than expected, as the company builds its presence overseas while growth in the United States slows. Netflix said on Tuesday it added 4.3 million subscribers in the quarter that ended in December, beating its own guidance thanks to higher-than-expected interest overseas. In the United States, Netflix pulled in 1.9 million streaming customers, down from 2.3 million additions a year earlier, and forecast signing up 1.8 million more in the current quarter. Netflix believes the slowdown is "a natural progression in our large U.S. market as we grow," Netflix said in a quarterly letter to shareholders.
U.S. authorities announced charges Tuesday against a Washington state man they say assisted in the management of the successor website to Silk Road, an online black market bazaar where drugs and other illicit goods could be bought with bitcoin. Brian Farrell, 26, was arrested late Friday on a charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine in connection with a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Seattle that outlined his alleged role as a staff member for the Silk Road 2.0 website. Farrell's arrest came as a trial continued in New York federal court in the case of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged operator of the original Silk Road, which authorities say Ulbricht ran under the alias "Dread Pirate Roberts." Silk Road 2.0 was launched late in 2013, weeks after authorities had shuttered the original Silk Road website and arrested Ulbricht. Like the original website, Silk Road 2.0 allowed users to anonymously buy and sell drugs, computer hacking tools and other illicit items, using the digital currency bitcoin, authorities said.
By Paul Carsten and John Ruwitch BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Alibaba and Tencent spent more than $8 billion last year alone backing often strikingly similar ventures, as the Chinese Internet giants race to create online one-stop-shops to win the digital loyalty of a tenth of the world's population. Before China became the biggest smartphone market, there was little overlap between the businesses of e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, social networking firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and search engine provider Baidu Inc. Now, as more and more Chinese use their phones for everything from shopping to booking restaurants, the three companies are increasingly stepping over each other - and investing in the same services - to attract the same users. "What keeps people up at night is the fact that they might miss a certain trend or a certain hot company that really is going to bring all the attention and the users in," said Duncan Clark, managing director of Beijing-based consultancy BDA.
The online movie streaming giant's shares rose as much as 14.4 percent to $398.90, after it also reported a better-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit. The company added 2.43 million net subscribers in international markets and 1.9 million in the United States and said it expects to add about 4 million net subscribers in the current quarter. Netflix said it would offer the "controversial comedy" movie "The Interview" to U.S. and Canadian subscribers beginning Jan. 24. The Sony Pictures-produced comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is believed to have triggered a cyber attack on the studio and racked up over $40 million in sales from 5.8 million digital downloads.
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it has taken steps to clamp down on "hoaxes" and fake news stories that can spread like wildfire on its 1.35-billion member online social network. Facebook said it will not remove fake news stories from its website. "A post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chose to delete will get reduced distribution in the News Feed," Facebook explained. Facebook has become an increasingly important source of news, with 30 percent of adults in the U.S. consuming news on the world's largest social network, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
By Harro Ten Wolde WALLDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Europe's largest software group SAP SE has cut key profit forecasts and abandoned a target for higher margins, saying its stepped-up push to deliver products via the cloud would dampen profitability until at least 2018. The German company is in industry race to deliver business planning software via cloud-based internet services, rather than as packaged software running on customers' in-house computers.
Tencent Holdings Ltd, China's biggest social networking firm, has shut down 133 accounts on its hugely popular mobile messaging app for "distorting history", state media said on Tuesday, citing a government internet authority. The WeChat accounts, including one whose name translates as "This is not history", spread "fabricated information" and confused the public, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). Tencent declined to provide immediate comment. China's CAC, helmed by internet czar Lu Wei, has presided over sharp increase in state-mandated censorship and a campaign to "cleanse" the internet.
(Reuters) - Twitter Inc on Tuesday said it will buy Indian mobile phone marketing start-up ZipDial, reportedly for $30 million to $40 million, as the U.S. microblogging service looks to expand in the world's second-biggest mobile market. Bengaluru-based ZipDial gives clients phone numbers for use in marketing campaigns. The start-up's clients include International Business Machines Corp, Yum! Brands Inc's KFC and Procter & Gamble Co's Gillette. Such "unique behavior" was behind ZipDial, the start-up said in a statement announcing the Twitter deal.
By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google is only removing search results from European websites when individuals invoke their "right to be forgotten", contrary to regulators' guidelines, but will review that approach soon, the company's chief legal officer said on Monday. The issue of how far the so-called right to be forgotten should extend has concentrated the minds of Europe's privacy regulators since the continent's top court ruled in May that individuals could have "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" information removed from search results. Google has consistently argued that it believes the ruling should only apply to its European websites, such as Google.de in Germany or Google.fr in France. David Drummond, Google's Chief Legal Officer, said the Internet giant's approach had not changed since November and it would review it when a group of experts publishes a report on last year's court judgment towards the end of this month.
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - In the escalating battle of big data vs. human experts, score another win for numbers. The most accurate predictions of which movies the U.S. Library of Congress will deem "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" are not the views of critics or fans but a simple algorithm applied to a database, according to a study published on Monday. The crucial data, scientists reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are what the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) calls "Connections" - films, television episodes and other works that allude to an earlier movie. For 15,425 films in IMDB.com examined in the study, the measure that was most predictive of which made it into the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, which honors "significant" movies, was the number of references to it by other films released many years later.
Chinese anti-graft authorities are investigating a television producer related to a disgraced former presidential aide probed for graft last month, the media reported on Monday, as the leadership widens a crackdown on corruption. Luo Fanghua, an executive of the business channel at state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), is the latest of several of the network's senior producers, executives and journalists to face investigation for corruption. Luo is married to the brother-in-law of Ling Jihua, once a top aide to Chinese President Hu Jintao who came under investigation last month, according to ThePaper.cn, a state-backed news website. Luo's husband, Gu Yuanxu, was sacked from his public security post in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang after Ling came under investigation, the report said, citing the respected financial news magazine Caixin.
The U.S. National Security Agency began tapping into North Korean computer networks in 2010, an effort that ultimately helped provide evidence to persuade the Obama administration that Pyongyang was behind the cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Citing former U.S. and foreign officials and a National Security Agency document, the Times said the spy agency was able to penetrate North Korean systems with the help of South Korea and other U.S. allies after first tapping into Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the rest of the world. The newspaper quoted officials as saying the program grew into an effort to place malware that could track many networks and computers used by hackers in North Korea.
By Alexei Oreskovic and Bill Rigby SAN FRANCISCO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Virtual reality goggles, drones and data centers are all driving a hiring spree at Facebook Inc that is set to swell its ranks as much as 14 percent in the near term, according to a review of job listings on the company's website. Oculus Rift, the maker of virtual reality headsets that Facebook acquired in a $2 billion deal last year, is among the key areas slated for growth, with 54 jobs listed on its website, according to a review by Reuters of listings. Among the roles that Facebook needs to fill for the Oculus business are managers to oversee logistics, procurement and global supply chain planning - a sign, some analysts say, that the product is nearing its commercial release. The market for virtual reality headsets is still nascent.
(Reuters) - Thousands of dollars of donations have poured in from around the world to help pay for the care for newborn quadruplets of a Phoenix mother who died after giving birth to them, a fundraising website set up in the woman's name announced on Saturday. The story of Erica Morales drew international attention when the 36-year-old died shortly after giving birth to three girls and a boy on Thursday, according to a report on television station KSAZ in Phoenix. "It is so hard to know she fought so hard for her children." After years of trying and finally getting pregnant with the help of doctors, Morales, a real estate agent, died at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, leaving behind her husband, Carlos, according to Todman. Hospital officials released a statement on Saturday expressing condolences for the family but declined to provide any cause of death, or condition of the quadruplets, citing patient privacy laws.
By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. congressional Republicans on Friday proposed legislation that would set "net neutrality" rules for broadband providers, aiming to head off tougher regulations backed by the Obama administration. Lawmakers hope to counter the Federal Communications Commission's vote on Feb. 26 for rules that are expected to follow the legal path endorsed by President Barack Obama, which Internet service providers (ISPs) and Republicans say would unnecessarily burden the industry with regulation. Sprint Corp, however, broke ranks on Friday, saying it will keep investing in its networks even if the FCC goes for tougher regulations.