miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2012

Ryanair announce 1000 new jobs in UK - Irish Examiner

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Ryanair announce 1,000 new jobs in UK

Low-cost airline Ryanair is to create 1,000 UK jobs next year by flying one million more passengers on a number of new routes.

The Dublin-based carrier, which operates more than 1,500 flights a day across 28 countries, plans to add nine new routes to its three airports in the North West – Manchester, Liverpool and East Midlands.

Ryanair said it will add five new routes from Manchester to Corfu, Krakow, Lanzarote, Paphos and Trapani, two new routes from Liverpool to Lublin and Zadar and two new routes from East Midlands to Marseille and Menorca.

The move will add 360 jobs in Manchester, 180 positions in Liverpool and 460 roles at East Midlands airport, to an existing 6,000 staff and will see the launch of two new aircraft.

The three airports, including the new routes, will deliver seven million passengers to 111 destinations across Europe in 2013, Ryanair added.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary warned earlier this year that the low-cost airline was braced for a difficult winter as austerity measures and the eurozone crisis hit demand.

The carrier reported a 29% slide in underlying pre-tax profits to €99m in the quarter to June 30 as a 27% surge in fuel costs took its toll.

The airline will report its half-year results on November 5.

Ryanair recently offered a series of fresh concessions in a bid to win approval to take over rival Irish airline Aer Lingus.

The airline said it would move some of Aer Lingus's planes to continental Europe to operate non-Irish routes to allay concerns about a near monopoly in the domestic market.

Ryanair, which already owns 30% of Aer Lingus, said it would scrap some of its own routes from Ireland to persuade regulators to drop a previous merger rejection.

The European commission is to rule by January on Ryanair's €700m bid. Ryanair had an initial bid turned down by the commission in 2007 and dropped a second offer in 2009.

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90 percent of Europeans would vote for Obama: poll - Reuters

LONDON | Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:34pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 90 percent of northern Europeans would vote for President Barack Obama if they were able to cast ballots in the United Sates' election next week because they see Mitt Romney as too right wing, British pollster YouGov said on Wednesday.

While U.S. polls show Obama and Romney are heading for a photo finish, European voters in seven northern European countries expressed overwhelming support for the Hawaiian-born 51-year-old White House incumbent.

Romney, a 65-year-old former private equity investor, is simply too much of an unknown quantity and too right wing for European tastes, said Joe Twyman, director of Political and Social Research at the pollster.

"By continental European standards, Obama is considered right-of-centre or even right-wing," Twyman told Reuters by telephone.

"Then you have Romney who's even more right wing. You've moved even further from European comfort levels," he said.

In a Europe grappling with economic crisis and welfare systems that bond investors say are unsustainable, the rhetoric of the U.S. presidential race simply does not press the same buttons.

"Accusations of socialism (against Obama) don't exactly resonate somewhere like Denmark," Twyman said.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt reshuffled her cabinet this month, appointing the leader of the Socialist People's Party as growth and business minister.

France's socialist president, Francois Hollande, has pledged the make the wealthy pay a 75-percent tax rate on annual incomes above 1 million euros ($1.30 million).

Yougov's Twyman said the fact that Obama, who charmed many Europeans with a speech ahead of the 2008 presidential vote calling for stronger U.S. ties with Europe, has been president for four years helped his profile.

"People know a lot more Obama than about Romney. After all, he's been president for a while," he said.

The survey questioned a total of about 7500 people in Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. The populations of struggling euro zone economies of southern Europe were not included in the poll.

YouGov's poll of voter sentiment in the United States showed Obama had 48 percent support among registered voters while Romney had support of 46 percent of voters.

(Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Arsenal stars stunned by epic League Cup fightback - NDTV

London: Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin insists he always felt his side could produce one of the greatest escape acts in the club's history as the Gunners fought back from four goals down to beat Reading 7-5.

Arsene Wenger's team moved into the League Cup quarter-finals in astonishing fashion and Russia winger Arshavin played a key role in the fightback with three assists.

Arshavin has been a bit-part player this season, but he seized his chance to shine as Wenger sent out a reserve side to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday.

But for a long while it looked as though the tie would be remembered only as another disappointment for Arsenal in a spluttering season.

Arshavin himself remained convinced Arsenal, who eventually forced extra-time with a stoppage-time equaliser, would get back into the match even when they fell 4-0 down within 37 minutes.

"I did not think about when we had to equalise, I just felt that if we had the chance and God will help us, we will make a draw!" Arshavin told Arsenal Player.

"He helped us and that's why we scored in the last minute. I have lost twice 7-1, once I lost 8-3 and once I won 9-3 and now 7-5.

"But this game was one I will remember always because it was from 4-0 down."

Arshavin, who played the full mad-cap 120 minutes, saluted his team-mates for refusing to give in when no-one else expected a comeback.

"I don't think anyone here believed that we could come back. But we did it and we deserved to win," he added.

"We showed spirit because you cannot come back from 4-0 down if you don't have spirit."

Arsenal's revival was also inspired by France striker Olivier Giroud, who came off the bench to score the second goal and give the Gunners renewed hope.

Giroud helped Montpellier win the French league title last season but he admits he had never experienced anything like the Reading match in his career.

"It's the first time in my career I've played in a game like that," Giroud said.

"To be losing 4-0, we were in a very difficult position. I tried to do what I could for the team when I came on."

Such was the chaos at the Madejski that Giroud and Francis Coquelin hurled their shirts into the crowd in jubilation after Arsenal forced extra-time because they mistakenly believed the match would go to a replay.

"I thought that in cup games when you drew, there was a replay. Someone told me that!" Giroud said.

"Luckily, I was able to get the shirt back OK - the fan gave it back to me quickly so I could start the game again.

"But after the game, I threw the shirt back into the crowd again after that."

Bravo, Lord Heseltine, for saying what Britain has needed to hear for a long time - Telegraph.co.uk (blog)

Lord Heseltine issuing a challenge to the consensus

Michael Heseltine kept his cards close to his chest while composing his report on regional growth. The reason has become clear with its publication today. The report is challenging, in the sort of way that civil servants passionately dislike. It calls for an upheaval of their London power base, decentralisation of decision making, and the involvement of businessmen who have not spent entire careers learning the nuanced rationale for perpetual inaction. As such it is dangerous. It also requires proper time to digest and translate into workable policy. Therefore, these are just snap impressions.

To begin with, one passage of the report strikes me as particularly important and worthy of repetition. Regarding the economic climate, Lord Heseltine writes:

If there is an upside to the worst economic crisis of modern times it is the emergence of an audience for deep seated and radical proposals.

They distrust talk of isolated initiatives or quick wins. An ever more competitive world will only become more competitive not less. The structures and attitudes of yesterday did not work that well then and certainly will not cope with the new world order.

This is absolutely correct. The way in which we organise capital is fundamentally flawed. The Left and the Right agree on this much. Too many resources are misdirected both by the state, with its interest in wealth transfers which destroy incentive and ignore need, and business, with its obsession with useless financial products which consume wealth without producing it. The public at large is tired of the jiggery-pokery of government finance. They understand that the way we live now is unsustainable, and they are crying out for a radical whose vision extends beyond managed decline. Lord Heseltine captures the mood of the country perfectly.

Secondly, Lord Heseltine should be commended on his vision of what Britain's well-being entails. He is right to say that Britain is part of a "relentless economic war" which ought to be waged in the best interests of this country using whatever means are available to us. This is the old Tory value of pragmatism finally being resurrected. Too frequently an abstract principle has been placed before the net economic benefit of the nation as a whole. This is particularly true in mergers and acquisitions policy. Whatever the classroom benefits of globalisation and free markets, the first job of a government is to care for its own. That job gets harder every time we sell a company of national importance to foreign company which wants the brand without the workers that come attached.

Finally, Lord Heseltine is right about uncertainty over aviation and energy policy damaging Britain's reputation abroad. While the Coalition arrangements encourage the Government to defer decisions in both areas until after the next election, to do so damages our prospects of inward investment.  The temptation is to think that the storm over both policies is overblown, and that businesses do not turn away from investing in Britain because they are worried about landing slots at Heathrow. However, that is a view rooted in a services economy. An growing industrial base requires enormous investments in plants and presses, so power and a stable export route are essential. The decision should not be delayed any longer.

Lord Heseltine is one of a dwindling number of survivors from a generation which did, rather than looked for excuses not to do. His report is a serious challenge to our industrial policy and I hope it is greeted by affirming actions, not merely affirming words.

Veto threats fly in EU budget fight - Reuters

BRUSSELS | Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:34pm EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France joined a growing list of European Union governments threatening to veto the bloc's next long-term budget, turning up the heat at the start of divisive bargaining over a 1 trillion euro ($1.30 trillion) spending plan.

Wednesday's warning from Paris echoed similar threats from Denmark and Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron came under pressure from opposition lawmakers and rebels in his own party to ditch his call for a real terms freeze in EU spending and push for outright cuts.

The French ultimatum was sparked by a proposal to trim farm subsidies - jealously guarded by top recipient France - as part of a compromise from the Cypriot EU presidency to cut the 2014-2020 budget by more than 50 billion euros.

Even after the proposed cut, agriculture would remain the largest spending area, with deeper cuts penciled in for infrastructure investment in the bloc's poorest regions as well as research.

"We oppose the proposed reduction," French European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement.

"France would not support a multi-annual budget that does not maintain the funds of the common agricultural policy."

The backlash was also a warning not to cut the proposed farm budget further, after Cyprus said much deeper reductions than those outlined so far would be needed to clinch a deal.

Despite support from Ireland and Austria, France's position puts it on a collision course with Germany, Britain and other net contributors looking to slash the overall spending blueprint by 100-200 billion euros.

EU diplomats have warned privately that further cuts are likely to hit agriculture hardest. A Franco-German deal to maintain the nominal level of farm spending served as the basis for agreement on the last long-term EU budget for 2007-2013.

But German deputy foreign minister Michael Link hinted Paris could be fighting a losing battle this time, saying Berlin would continue to press for deeper overall cuts as part of a "modern budget" that prioritizes economic growth and competitiveness.

"We don't think the presidency has found the right emphasis yet," Link said.


The prospect of Britain blocking a deal loomed larger on Wednesday, as Cameron saw his room for maneuver at the budget talks shrink in the face of a parliamentary revolt.

Rebels in his Conservative party have urged the prime minister to insist on cuts to EU spending to reflect the bleak economic landscape across much of Europe.

"This government is taking the toughest line in these budget negotiations of any government since we joined the European Union," Cameron told parliament ahead of a non-binding vote on the EU budget talks.

"At best we would like it cut, at worst frozen, and I'm quite prepared to use the veto if we don't get a deal that's good for Britain," he said.

EU leaders will try to resolve their differences at a summit in Brussels on November 22-23, which is likely to involve long days and late nights of bitter horse trading.

With agriculture and regional development spending together accounting for about three-quarters of the total budget, leaders looking to limit their EU contributions may ultimately be forced into a straight choice between the two.

Poland, like most poorer Eastern member states, receives far less in EU farm support than in regional development funds, credited with helping it avoid a recession.

Making the case for maintaining development spending, Polish Europe Minister Piotr Serafin said the benefits would be felt across the EU - an argument that may sway Berlin and others in the final reckoning.

"Poland is a country that makes particular good use of structural money and has a major impact on the region's economy," he told Reuters in an interview.

"Poland generates growth in other EU members, it generates extra GDP, it adds to the overall welfare of the EU, so it's a good investment." ($1 = 0.7717 euros) (Additional reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris, Stephen Brown in Berlin, and Christian Lowe and Karolina Slowikowska in Warsaw; Editing by Paul Taylor)

In darkened NYC, safety on the list of concerns - Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK — Faced with the prospect of days without power and swaths of the city plunged into darkness at night, police brought in banks of lights and boosted patrols to reassure victims of a monster storm that they won't be victims of crime.

Some prominent galleries in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood hired private security and apartment building superintendents suddenly became guards. In Coney Island, about 100 police officers stood on corners or cruised in cars to guard a strip of vandalized stores and a damaged bank, to the relief of shaken residents.

"We're feeling OK, but at first we felt worried," 12-year-old Oleg Kharitmov said Tuesday as he walked his dog with his parents by the bank. "I'm pretty happy that the cops are here."

The precautions came on a second powerless night after the city was battered by Hurricane Sandy on Monday night and residents grappled with how long it would take to get back to normal — or at least New York's version of normal.

"Clearly, the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as officials warned that power might not be back until the weekend for hundreds of thousands of people accustomed to a life carried by subway, lit by skyline and powered by 24-hour deli.

While some bus service resumed and some bridges reopened at midday, transit officials said they couldn't predict when the subway would run again after suffering the worst damage in its 108-year history.

The storm's deadly impact grew grimly clearer as the worst of it moved off: The death toll rose to 18 in the city, including two people who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment. A fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens, while firefighters used boats to rescue people in chest-high water.

There was little sign of a crime wave, although police made multiple arrests in the city Monday and Tuesday, officials said. Charges included burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing. In one incident, three men were arrested on burglary charges after they struck a Radio Shack in Rockaway Beach, Queens, on Tuesday morning.

As night fell, nerves frayed.

Yvique Bastien waited outside an apartment complex with her two sons, her daughter, 4-month old grandchild and a pushcart full of supplies, hoping to get a ride to a relative's home from a member of her church. With the power out, it wasn't safe to stay, she said.

"We don't know what can happen to us," she said.

In Chelsea, residents strolled down darkening streets with no lights, while traffic police tried to manage major intersections.

Roberto Pineta stood in front of the apartment building where he works as superintendent, saying he took it upon himself to keep residents safe by sitting in a chair inside the front entrance, day and night, sleeping only a few hours at a time. Candles lit the entrance to a nearby apartment building where another superintendent and his staff were putting in extra hours while power is out.

"It's a little disconcerting to be in the dark, but I feel safe — these guys are great," Stacey Vuolo said as she headed to her brother-in-law's nearby apartment, which at least had cold water for a shower.

On West 24th Street, generators lit up the Andrea Rosen gallery, which had hired private security.

Down the street, artist Arlene Rush said she didn't require extra security in her third-floor studio, because it required several keys to access from the street.

"I don't really need the cops," added neighbor Guy Kloppenburg, a teacher. "We knock on each other's door to make sure everyone is OK."

Bloomberg promised "a very heavy police presence" in the darkened neighborhoods, which include much of Manhattan south of the Empire State Building, from the East River to the Hudson River. Even outside the blackout areas, police deployed vans and patrol cars with their roof lights on, along with officers on the streets in a robust show of force.

For the 8 million people who live here, the city was a different place one day after being battered by the megastorm — a combination of Hurricane Sandy, a wintry storm and a blast of arctic air.

Schools were shut for a second day and were closed Wednesday, too. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day, the first time that has happened because of weather since the 19th century, but planned to reopen Wednesday, with Bloomberg ringing the opening bell.

Problems to high-voltage systems caused by the storm forced the utility to cut power Tuesday night to about 160,000 additional customers in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Consolidated Edison, the power company, estimated it would be four days before the last of the 323,000 customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn who lost power have electricity again. For the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County, with more than 450,000 outages, it could take a week.

The city modified its taxi rules and encouraged drivers to pick up more than one passenger at a time, putting New Yorkers in the otherwise unthinkable position of having to share a ride with a stranger.

At a small market called Hudson Gourmet, in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, cashiers made change by candlelight and shoppers used flashlights to scour the shelves.

Lee Leshen used the light from his phone to make his selections — three boxes of linguine and a can of tomatoes. His power was out, but the gas in his stove worked, so he could cook.

He said he almost never cooks but is learning.


Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Verena Dobnik, Frank Eltman, Tom Hays, Larry Neumeister, Karen Matthews, Alexandra Olson, Jennifer Peltz, and Hal Ritter contributed to this report.

—Copyright 2012 Associated Press

Kate Moss Talks "Nightmare" Split From Johnny Depp: "Years and Years of Crying" - E! Online

Yes, Kate Moss is a supermodel. But she's also human, and when she and Johnny Depp broke up, she reacted how any woman of sound mind would.

She turned into a crying mess. For years. Yes, years.

Find out the truth behind the rumors of a Gwyneth Paltrow-Kate Moss catfight

"There's nobody that's ever really been able to take care of me," Vanity Fair's December cover girl told the magazine of the one-time It couple's split. "Johnny did for a bit."

She added, "I believed what he said. Like if I said, 'What do I do?' he'd tell me. And that's what I missed when I left. I really lost that gauge of somebody I could trust. Nightmare. Years and years of crying. Oh, the tears!"

Ouch! Find out how a photo of Kate Moss caught bystanders by surprise

Meanwhile, she didn't feel quite the same way about all her leading men, and admitted that she had mixed feelings about her infamous 1992 Calvin Klein campaign that skyrocketed her profile as a model.

"I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts," she said. "It didn't feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn't like it. I couldn't get out of bed for two weeks. I thought I was going to die."

She turned down a doctor's offer of Valium following the incident, after she was advised not to start pill-popping.

Check out Kate Moss' unsurprisingly stunning wedding shots

"It was just anxiety. Nobody takes care of you mentally. There's a massive pressure to do what you have to do. I was really little, and I was going to work with Steven Meisel. It was just really weird—a stretch limo coming to pick you up from work. I didn't like it. But it was work, and I had to do it."

Being beautiful can be an ugly business. Still, it's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

Check out that other model Kate (Upton) in action

Apple is so 2010 - Forbes

English: The logo for Apple Inc.

The logo for Apple Inc

Finally Apple has crumbled back under $600 as its descent resumes.  Maybe you can blame it on the infighting that broke into public view in recent days with Tim Cook firing Scott Forstall, his competitor for Apple's  top banana when Steve Jobs resigned days before his death. Or maybe recent fohpahs reveal deeper problems and competitors coming on strong.

 Press reports suggest that Forstall was as mercurial and difficult as Steve Jobs was known to be.  Recently, Forstall was on the hot seat for Siri, the speaking assistant that sometimes works and sometimes garbles everything, and the dismal failure of Apple Maps as released on the new iPhone 5. 

Also canned was Cook's own recent hire of  John Browett, as head of retail stores, only  months after he was brought  into the company from the UK's Dixon Stores.   Browett tried to apply some cost cutting measures to the stores against which store employees rebelled and he reportedly didn't mesh into the Apple culture.  Apparently, Browett just wasn't cutting Cook's mustard so one hopes the door doesn't hit him on the way out.

Press reports indicate that Apple has become the same sort of warring tribes workplace that once king of the hill Motorola had become  years ago. And, we know a decade later that Motorola is now losing money hand over fist as a division of Google. A once innovative culture became a corporate morass.  For sure, GOOG bought it for its expansive,  first mover in cellular telephony, patent position.  Google has the added problem with Motorola of producing smartphones in competition with its Android licensees who are building devjces that consumers are finding far more attractive than Motorola's designs. Think the Samsung Galaxy S 3, for example.

Sir Jonathon Ivey has long been   in charge of Industrial Design, or the brilliant hardware side of Apple design. Mrs. Steve Jobs has described him as well as Scott Forstall as part of the Apple Core so vital to the company's extraordinary success. There has been concern of late that the software end of things which Forstall was running  is not so tightly focused in its execution of one very central software design concept across all platforms and software packages.

When it comes to consumer products it is not hard to be dislodged from the top dog position. Motorola had its flip phones and then its RaZr devices that were in very high demand ten years ago. They held a high market share position that was superceded by Nokia and more recently by Apple.  Google is actually the dominant smartphone platform at this time but it is spread across several manufacturers. It does show that most people do not buy an Apple smartphone.  I believe, and we will soon see if they can deliver, that the combined Nokia/ Microsoft effort will be successful beyond current sub basement expectations.

Yes, I love my iPad and take it with me everywhere. I don't really want a Mini with its smaller screen. But, at least once or twice a week I am infuriated that I am trying to access a website that is being served up using Flash and I cannot see the slides on a conference call or access retail information from a merchant.  I'd much prefer to have a table that will allow me to access the other Windows programs that I have used for years, even if they look different and I have a learning curve to absorb. I'd like to be able to easily coordinate my Outlook calendar with other devices. 

So I am queuing up for the Lumia 920 which isn't yet for sale in the U.S. but will be available for sale any day now at ATT (or they will miss the Holiday Selling Season). Reviews for its camera are fabulous and that is very important to me.  The Geeks seem to love it and it is a fresh operating system, a description that objective observers seem to think no longer applies to Apple. U.S. Telcos are also looking for a third very viable alternative to the outrageous prices Apple has been charging. So if Nokia/Microsoft products take off, Apple will suffer from declining selling prices and margins.

Surely  Tim Cook knows that it is hard to stay at the top in his industry. Steve Jobs was unique in the degree to which he was a visionary. His gift was imagining things we never knew we wanted.  It sounds as if Tim Cook is an assertive corporate type, put in place to control those with vision who trained at Steve's right hand.  He's made his calls this week to control his warring tribes. It will be interesting in a decade to see where Apple fits into the landscape.  If devices take three years to nurture, manufacture and bring to market, then Apple has another decent couple of years to proceed with Steve's ideas. After that, they are on their own.  Maybe that is why Apple's success has not been rewarded at its peak with an outrageous multiple. 

One last thing is that today is the last day for many investment pools and mutual funds to complete their year. Owning Apple was a big winner this year, particularly until the last month. Many fund managers were willing to do anything to support the stock to retain their 2011 performance. That ends with October year end closings.  No need to have Apple as a core holding any longer. What was great about Apple for anyone running institutional money was that the price was so high (like Google, too) that if you bought a few shares you spent a lot of money without having to purchase millions and millions of shares. hose folks have put something of a floor under the stock until now. that will slip away now as many of them rush for the door.

Joan E. Lappin CFA  Gramercy Capital Management

Looking for help with your investment portfolio in these turbulent times ?Put our decades of experience to work for you. Contact us at info@gramercycapital.com. Follow Joan on twitter @JoanLappin

Mrs. Lappin, Gramercy Capital and its clients own shares in Nokia at this time.

Surface RT – hands on - The Guardian

Microsoft has released the Surface RT, the first Windows device to be designed and built by the company itself rather than by one of its hardware partners. Another thing of note is that the Surface RT, the only model currently available, has an ARM processor and runs Windows RT. An Intel-based version, called Surface Pro, is in preparation.

Windows RT is a variant of Windows 8, but locked down so that you cannot install desktop applications. That means no existing Windows software will run – only what comes pre-installed or what you download from the Windows Store. The latter will run in the new "tablet" personality within Windows 8.

Nevertheless, Surface RT does include the classic Windows desktop, though in Windows 8 form (ie without the traditional start menu), and Microsoft includes most of Office Home and Student edition: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The chance you take when buying a Surface RT is that you can do all you need using Office, the built-in apps like Mail and Calendar, and whatever you can find in the so-far sparsely populated Windows Store.

Windows 8 can be (and usually is) perplexing for users familiar with earlier versions. Surface purchasers get little help with this – Microsoft's line is that detailed help is not necessary.

"There's no need for manuals or hidden track pad gestures, just touch the screen and click naturally and just don't worry about it," said Windows chief Steven Sinofsky at the launch in New York. Unfortunately, learning the nuances of the right-hand menu, called Charms, for example, usually takes longer, while being essential for some apps.

Surface desktop The Windows desktop in Surface appears nearly the same as what you are used to.

However, once you become familiar with Windows 8 and Surface, it is generally pleasing to use. The transition between the desktop and the modern touch user interface will always be an odd one, but becomes something you accept as normal in this dual personality operating system.

Surface RT is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad core chipset, and performance is satisfactory, though by no means anything special. The bundled Pinball FX2 is playable, but not smooth. You will not buy Surface for its performance or specifications, especially since it is missing two significant features: GPS location services and mobile broadband. Internet connection is Wi-Fi only.

Elegant design

The reason you might buy Surface is for its design – this is not just another me-too Windows 8 tablet. Heavy use of custom components and an intensive design process have resulted in an elegant device. A fold-out kickstand fits perfectly and closes with a satisfying click, for example.

Microsoft also claim exceptional strength for the device, thanks to the use of VarporMg, which is magnesium processed with a Microsoft-developed technique, along with the usual Gorilla Glass on the screen. Sinofksy proved the point at the launch by strapping on wheels and using it as a skateboard.

A near-essential accessory for Surface is a keyboard cover, which comes in two varieties. The Touch cover feels like thin, flexible fabric-covered plastic, though apparently it is formed of seven layers. The keys lack any travel, but with practice you can type at a reasonable speed; I'm using it for this review. The beauty of the Touch cover is that it adds little bulk when it folds over to protect the screen.

The Type cover is more traditional, though still elegant, with keys that actually depress making it easier to type at speed. Both keyboards can also fold back under the device so there is no need to remove them when using Surface as a tablet. The magnetic attachment used by the keyboards makes a firm grip, but is easy to attach and detach, another detail that is important to the overall experience.

Surface type The Type cover is more traditional, though still elegant, with keys that actually depress making it easier to type at speed

A port on every Surface

Ports on offer include a standard headphone/headset jack socket, USB 2.0 for cameras, storage or accessories, a micro-video port for which you can get HDMI or VGA adaptors, and Micro SDXC card slot. There are front and rear cameras. I tried a Skype call using the new Windows 8 Skype client and it worked well with no headset necessary.

Windows RT seems stable, though this is not the case with some of the apps. Fortunately Windows 8 apps are easy to terminate and restart. Office 2013, although still a preview version (the final release is promised soon as a free update) performed without any issues for me.

The Surface proposition is that it is worth giving up the freedom of installing desktop applications if the reward is a stable and resilient system that is also less vulnerable to malware. The inclusion of Office makes this a plausible laptop replacement, as well as a tablet for media consumption and entertainment.

The snag is that at this early stage in the evolution of the new Windows Store, some desktop applications are hard to do without. I missed the password manager that I normally rely on, as well as Windows Live Writer, my preferred blogging tool. In some cases, as with business users who need custom applications, the inability to run existing Windows application will be more than an annoyance and make Surface unusable.

Another open question is whether Windows RT makes sense bearing in mind that Surface Pro, as well as third-party Windows 8 tablets, will run almost any existing Windows application.

For now though, Surface RT gets better efficiency, and therefore a lighter weight, thanks to ARM; and this together with the enforced simplicity of apps that can only be installed from the Windows Store makes it worth considering.

At current prices Surface RT is hardly a bargain, but what Microsoft has created is something new, an attractive device that (within certain limitations) combines work and play into a single compact package. If high-quality Windows Store apps start to flow, it will be a winner. Currently you need to be a little brave, but Surface RT is still appealing, provided purchasers understand that, Office aside, none of the huge legacy of Windows applications will run.

iPad mini reviews roundup: Smaller, not cheap, lower-res screen, still awesome - San Francisco Chronicle (blog)


Apple unveiled its long-rumored iPad mini last week, along with a tweaked version of its full-sized tablet. The reaction from tech journalists and bloggers attending the event can be summed up thusly:

"Um, it's basically a smaller iPad, with a higher price and lower resolution. But hey, nice tablet!"

Pre-orders began last Friday, with shipments headed to millions of early adopters by this Friday. And to complete the cycle, Apple's embargo has lifted on initial reviews of the iPad mini. Not surprisingly, there's a consensus among reviewers:

"Yep, it's basically a smaller iPad, with a higher price and lower resolution. But hey, nice tablet!"

The iPad mini is a new design, with a 7.9-inch display, a smaller bezel on the side when held in portrait orientation and very thin and light. Packed inside, though, is some older technology. The mini has a 1,024-by-768 resolution, like the iPad 1 and 2 – Apple opted not to go with a retina display, as in the third- and fourth-generation iPads. It also has the A5X chip found in the third-gen iPad, rather than the faster A6 processor in the newest iPad and the iPhone 5.

The reviews are generally positive – older tech can be very tolerable if the overall experience is good, and it appears to be. But Apple's getting dinged for the relatively low-res screen on a device that would be otherwise perfect for reading, and for a price that's well above what others are charging for similar-sized tablets.

You can find a comprehensive list of reviews in today's Linkpost, but here are some highlights:

From Joshua Topolsky at The Verge:

The iPad mini is an excellent tablet — but it's not a very cheap one. Whether that's by design, or due to market forces beyond Apple's control, I can't say for sure. I can't think of another company that cares as much about how its products are designed and built — or one that knows how to maximize a supply chain as skillfully — so something tells me it's no accident that this tablet isn't selling for $200. It doesn't feel like Apple is racing to some lowest-price bottom — rather it seems to be trying to raise the floor.

From Walt Mossberg at The Wall Street Journal:

So why did Apple, whose large iPad and new Macs boast extremely high screen resolution, choose a lower resolution for the Mini? The company did so because it says there are only two resolutions that allow its tablet apps to run unmodified. One is the extremely high resolution on the current large iPad, which would have boosted the cost and lowered the battery life of the Mini. The other, the one Apple chose for the Mini, is the same resolution on iPad models consumers have snapped up: the original iPad and the iPad 2, which is still on the market at $399.

This makes sense, but it means that, unlike its closest competitors, the Mini can't play video in high definition. Apple insists the device does better than standard definition, if you are obtaining the video from its iTunes service, since iTunes scales the video for the device, so it will render somewhere between standard definition and HD. It says some other services will do the same. But the lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans. In my tests, video looked just fine, but not as good as on the regular iPad.

From David Pogue at The New York Times:

By pricing the Mini so high, Apple allows the $200 class of seven-inch Android tablets and readers to live (Google Nexus, Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD). Those tablets also, by the way, have high-definition screens (1,280 by 800 pixels), which the Mini doesn't.

But the iPad Mini is a far classier, more attractive, thinner machine. It has two cameras instead of one. Its fit and finish are far more refined. And above all, it offers that colossal app catalog, which Android tablet owners can only dream about.

From Harry McCracken at Time:

In retrospect, it's not the least bit startling that Apple chose not to take on the $199 7-inchers directly. They're all clad in plastic cases, and their makers price them at the break-even point — or maybe even a bit below it — in hopes of turning a profit on later sales of books, videos, apps and other content.

Apple, by contrast, has an aversion to plastic; nearly every gadget it makes has a unibody aluminum shell. It also prefers to make an up-front profit on its hardware, which is presumably more doable at $329 than at $199.

From Tim Stevens at Engadget:

This isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn't just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple's best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn't match Apple's latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. At $329, this has a lot to offer over even Apple's more expensive tablets.

Those comparing this to the Kindle Fire HD will have a hard time, as that's a tablet manufactured to a fixed cost and designed to sell you content. This is very much more. Similarly, the hardware here is much nicer than the Nexus 7 and it offers access to the comprehensively more tablet-friendly App Store, but whether that's worth the extra cost depends entirely on the size of your budget — and your proclivity toward Android.

From Scott Stein at CNet:

But oh, that screen. It's not bad, not at all, but it's not Retina Display. It's not even as high-res as other 7-inch tablets. If you're an obsessive over crisp text, you'll notice the fuzziness. If you're comparing the Mini to a laptop, you won't. I wanted that display to be as good as the one on the iPhone 5, iPod Touch, and Retina iPad. It isn't, not now. It mars the product for me, because otherwise, the screen size and its aspect ratio is perfect for handling comics, magazines, and reading apps.

If you were on the fence about the iPad mini, do these reviews change your mind?

Clattenburg admits he wishes he'd NOT sent off Torres as ref stands accused of ... - Daily Mail

  • Did Clattenburg call Chelsea player a 'monkey'... or in his north-east accent, did he say 'shut up, Mikel'? (And how do the FA now prove that?)
  • Chelsea race case in jeopardy as club call in lawyers to probe players' claims
  • Metropolitan Police launch probe after 'complaint' from the Society of Black Lawyers 
  • Chelsea and United meet again tonight at Stamford Bridge

By Neil Ashton and David Kent


Mark Clattenburg has admitted privately that he wished he had not sent off Fernando Torres in Sunday's toxic fixture between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Clattenburg, who stands accused by Chelsea of using inappropriate and allegedly racist language towards Jon Obi Mikel and Juan Mata, has confided to friends that, given all that has happened since, he wished he had allowed play to continue following the challenge made by United's Jonny Evans.

Sportsmail understands that the 37-year-old Durham official has been left utterly dismayed at how that Torres decision has led to allegations of racism.

Crucial moment: Clattenburg has admitted he wishes he had not sent of Fernando Torres for after booking him for a second time (above)

Crucial moment: Clattenburg has admitted he wishes he had not sent of Fernando Torres for after booking him for a second time (above)

Torres was sent off for diving, but this screen grab seems to show Evans' boot touching the Chelsea striker's shin (inset)

Was there contact? Torres was sent off for diving, but this screen grab seems to show Evans' boot touching the Chelsea striker's shin (inset)

There is no facility for Chelsea to appeal Torres' dismissal. Regulations stipulate that second yellow cards cannot be rescinded. The Spain striker will, there, serve his one-match ban tonight when the two sides meet again at Stamford Bridge in the Capital One Cup.

The future of Clattenburg could come down to whether he used the word 'monkey' in his exchange with John Obi Mikel. The Consett official categorically denies the allegations.

The Sun newspaper has reported that Nigeria midfielder Mikel, who did not hear the alleged racist slur, was told by Chelsea team-mate Ramires that he was a called 'a monkey' in the match against Manchester United on Sunday.

When Ramires told Mikel that he thought he'd been called 'a monkey', at least three members of the Chelsea playing and coaching staff asked: 'Are you certain?'.

He was questioned by team-mates and staff who asked if, with Clattenburg speaking with such a strong North East accent, the official had said 'shut up, Mikel', rather than 'shut up, monkey', which has been alleged.

Ramires, who does not speak fluent English is adamant that he heard the slur, although Clattenburg denies the claims and is supported by his two assistants.

In the spotlight: John Obi Mikel leaves Chelsea training on Tuesday as the row hangs over the club

In the spotlight: John Obi Mikel leaves Chelsea training on Tuesday as the row hangs over the club


Lee Mason enjoyed his 41st birthday on Monday but his thoughts will have been dominated by his appointment to referee Wednesday's Capital One Cup game between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Click here to

Chelsea's race case against Mark Clattenburg is in danger of collapsing after it emerged that the club have employed independent lawyers to investigate the claims of their players.

The club are expected to conclude their internal investigation on Wednesday into allegations that the referee racially abused John Mikel Obi and called Juan Mata a 'Spanish t***'.

The external lawyers will then provide Chelsea with legal opinion as to whether their case will be successful. Despite issues over the available evidence, Chelsea remained robust.

Clattenburg, who has been taken off the Premier League match list this weekend, has protested his innocence since his controversial handling of Chelsea's 3-2 defeat by Manchester United on Sunday.

Now it has emerged that Chelsea are fearful of the backlash if the players have misheard or misjudged Clattenburg's conversations during the stormy clash against United.

Chelsea will proceed with the case against the referee only if they are satisfied the claims made by the players after the game will stand up to the FA's burden of proof.

It means they will need to satisfy an FA commission 'on the balance of probability', but they also have to negotiate the complexities of the Metropolitan Police's investigation into the affair.

The Met confirmed they had acted on a 'complaint' from the Society of Black Lawyers after the European champions accused Clattenburg of using racist comments. The allegations are also the subject of a Football Association investigation.

Clattenburg and his fellow professionals were said to be shocked and angered by the claims as the refereeing fraternity rallied around their colleague.

There were also suggestions of seething resentment in some quarters at the way Chelsea had made their complaint against Clattenburg public and a desire to see strong action taken against them if the official was cleared.

All smiles: Mikel was back with his team-mates in training amid the race row

All smiles: Mikel was back with his team-mates in training amid the race row

Eyes on the ball: Juan Mata (centre) and John Terry (right) during training on Tuesday morning

Eyes on the ball: Juan Mata (centre) and John Terry (right) during training on Tuesday morning

That could take weeks or even months after the police became involved in proceedings less than 24 hours after the FA's investigation began.

Chelsea themselves could yet make a criminal complaint, having appointed an external legal team to conduct their own probe, something which is expected to conclude on Wednesday.

And the FA may be forced to postpone their inquiry if the police request they do so, something they came under heavy fire for during the year-long John Terry scandal.

The police statement read: 'An investigation has been launched into alleged comments made during a football match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC at Stamford Bridge on 28 October 2012.

'Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham borough are in liaison with Chelsea Football Club and the Football Association.'

The Metropolitan Police have became embroiled in their second high-profile football racism case in 12 months after the man behind the mooted black players' breakaway union, Peter Herbert, wrote to them demanding they investigate Clattenburg.

Herbert defended his intervention, telling Sky Sports News: 'What we don't want is for it to be swept away under the carpet. It must be subject to a full and proper investigation. It is to lend some seriousness and some weight behind what is happening in football.'

Herbert admitted his complaint was based on reports rather than first-hand evidence but added: 'We weren't there but we don't need to be there in order to report an incident.

'This appears to have had some cogency and so it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. I think the Met Police have huge resources, expertise, and I have no doubt that this matter will be resolved and the truth will come out. If we've got this completely wrong then, of course, the police will tell us.'

But Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: 'Involving police or waiting causes a massive festering of the issue, which has continued to cause problems and is not good for the image of the game.

Focus: Juan Mata drives into Chelsea's Cobham HQ ahead of Wednesday's clash with United

Focus: Juan Mata drives into Chelsea's Cobham HQ ahead of Wednesday's clash with United

At the wheel: Fernando Torres was also among the players training on Tuesday morning

At the wheel: Fernando Torres was also among the players training on Tuesday morning

'Football has got to be confident enough to deal with it. I have said that to the House of Commons, the FA Council. We need to grasp the nettle and show we are more than capable of dealing with it.

'I'm quite concerned that when this happened with the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand incident, the process got elongated.

'This time, I want football to learn from it and deal with it as transparently as possible. In football, the penalties can be severe. In a court of law, the penalty for racial abuse would be a small amount in comparison to what the FA could fine.'

Taylor welcomed the FA's refusal to halt their own investigation, citing the International Cricket Council's decision to rule on the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal before it went to court.

Clattenburg, who vowed on Sunday to co-operate fully with any investigation, was expected to be spoken to by both police and the FA, possibly after submitting a written account about what took place during Sunday's game.

He has already filed what is known as an 'extraordinary incident report', which is understood mainly to deal with an alleged confrontation that took place in the referees' room after full-time.

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo, assistant manager Eddie Newton and chief executive Ron Gourlay were all present as Mikel angrily accused Clattenburg of having abused him during the match itself.

The referee, his assistants and fourth official are understood to have been stunned by the claims, with Michael McDonough, Simon Long and Michael Jones - who were miked up to Clattenburg - denying hearing anything of that nature.

Trouble: John Obi Mikel stormed into Mark Clattenburg's room

Row: Chelsea teammates say John Obi Mikel was told to 'shut up you monkey' by referee Mark Clattenburg - a claim he vehemently denies

Centre of the storm: Referee Mark Clattenburg and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel

Centre of the storm: Mystery surrounds what happened in altercations between Clattenburg, Mikel, and Mata on Sunday

Shocked: Juan Mata is unhappy with Clattenburg's alleged insult

Shocked: Juan Mata is unhappy with Clattenburg's alleged insult - the experienced referee is accused of calling him a 'Spanish t***'

The situation appears to have been complicated by suggestions Mikel or Mata may not have either, with reports claiming they were informed of the alleged abuse by team-mates.

Midfielder Oriol Romeu was quoted as having told a Spanish radio station that Mata had confirmed as much.

It is unclear whether Clattenburg would elect to continue refereeing or take a break from the game while any investigation was pending but he has accepted being stood down from officiating in the coming week.

In the spotlight: Mark Clattenburg leaves his home near Newcastle on Monday

In the spotlight: Mark Clattenburg leaves his home near Newcastle on Monday

Grabbing a lift: Clattenburg jumped into a car with fellow ref Michael Oliver

Grabbing a lift: Clattenburg jumped into a car with fellow ref Michael Oliver

Football's chiefs are scared of using microphones on referees, claims Moore

Voice: Rugby ref Wayne Barnes wear the microphone

Voice: Rugby ref Wayne Barnes wear the microphone

Former England rugby union international Brian Moore claims football's authorities are fearful of the bad language that would be exposed by equipping referees with microphones that would relay on-pitch discussions to spectators.

Moore, 50, who played in the 1991 World Cup final, nevertheless believes such a step could help to clean up football's image.

The Ref! Link system has been successfully deployed in rugby, allowing fans an insight to discussions between players and officials during matches.

Moore said: 'Not only do you record these things but you put them on the Ref! Link so that the crowd including the children and the sponsors, most importantly, can hear what they say.'

Moore, a Chelsea supporter, said football's language would be toned down 'within six weeks' of such a scheme.

'But when you speak to people in football, a lot of them say "You can't do that",' Moore told BBC Radio Five Live. 'But I say, "You can do it, you just won't". And "can't" and "won't" are very different things.

'There's no technical reason or moral reason, it's just that they're afraid people will actually hear just how bad it is. If you want to change something... then you will do something. The solution is available.'

Moore understands why referees do not typically exercise their right to book players for swearing or other bad language.

'They would never be supported by the Premier League or the FA and they would be the ones who would never ref again,' Moore said. 'While they have the power to deal with it that way, I understand why they don't.'

Ex-Football Association chief executive Mark Palios has echoed calls for referees' microphones to be broadcast to fans.

'I see no reason for not recording the conversations,' Palios told BBC 5 live. 'If we had the recordings we would have the answer to [whether Chelsea's claims are true].

'You could say people would become party to the language that goes on on the field, but it then creates a burning platform," said former Tranmere and Crewe midfielder Palios.

'The FA should follow this through and use the moment to enliven their Respect campaign and make it real.

'At the moment, Respect is an abstract term that is signified by a fading notice on the back of a park dressing-room door.

'There are very few things where there is a silver bullet but showing guys a yellow card every time there is dissent for a referee are silver bullets you could apply."

VIDEO: Clattenburg and Mikel have words on the pitch... 

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Stars hail Pride of Britain winners - Irish Independent

Sir Bruce Forsyth insisted everyday heroes were the real stars at the Pride of Britain Awards.

A star-studded gala - with guests including Jon Bon Jovi, David Beckham, the X Factor finalists, Tulisa Contostavlos, Robbie Williams and Spice Girls Mel C and Emma Bunton - paid tribute to some of the country's bravest citizens recognised in at Grosvenor House in London's Park Lane.

Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce said: "This is such a special night. Real people are the stars and this is what is all about."

David Beckham said he was always delighted to take part in the awards, adding: "The winners are always amazing, particularly the little children."

Other stars at the awards included Amanda Holden, Nicole Scherzinger, Lisa Riley, Dawn French and Tess Daly.

Among the winners, all nominated by the public, was Alice Pyne, 16, from Cumbria who received the teenager of courage award.

Alice was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma when she was 12 but has since become a powerful campaigner through her blog.

The teenager finally completed her "bucket list" earlier is year and as a result of one of her wishes has convinced 40,000 people in the UK to sign up to be a bone marrow donor. She has also set up a charity called Alice's Escapes which provides holidays to the Lake District for families with seriously ill children.

Another teenager of courage award went to Jack Carroll, 14, of Yorkshire. Jack, who has cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get around, uses stand-up comedy to laugh in the face of his chronic condition and inspire other disabled children.

Press Association

Comeback kings Arsenal in remarkable 7-5 cup win - Reuters Africa

By Josh Reich

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal battled back from 4-0 down to beat top-flight rivals Reading 7-5 on Tuesday, powering their way into the League Cup quarter-finals after one of the most extraordinary matches in the competition's 52-year history.

Manager Arsene Wenger said last week that the League Cup was at the bottom of his priority list and it looked it as his second-string Arsenal team conceded four goals in the opening 37 minutes at the Madejski Stadium.

Reading, third from bottom in the Premier League, ran riot early on thanks to Jason Roberts, a Laurent Koscielny own goal, Mikele Leigertwood and Noel Hunt.

Theo Walcott gave twice former League Cup winners Arsenal hope with a goal before halftime and impressive substitute Olivier Giroud made it 4-2 on 64 minutes with a classy header.

The Londoners were a different side in the second half with France striker Giroud making a big impact.

Defender Koscielny made up for his earlier error with another headed goal in the 89th minute before the Arsenal fans went wild with delight when Carl Jenkinson was credited with the equaliser after he smashed the ball in after Walcott had appeared to score.

The visitors thought their comeback was complete in extra-time when the much-maligned Marouane Chamakh, making his first start since January, drilled the ball home to make it 5-4.

Pavel Pogrebnyak hauled Reading level with a header from six metres and then, just as the goalkeepers were preparing for a penalty shootout, Andrei Arshavin's shot was cleared off the line and feel kindly for Walcott to grab his second goal.   Continued...

UK's Barclays looks to move on from Libor scandal - Fox Business

Barclays reports third-quarter results on Wednesday, with new chief executive Antony Jenkins aiming to restore some stability after a tumultuous summer for the UK bank dominated by fallout from the Libor interest rate rigging scandal.

Jenkins, appointed CEO at the end of August, has taken over from Bob Diamond, who resigned after Barclays was fined for its part in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. Investors are looking for clues on how radical the new CEO will be in shaking up the bank.

Jenkins, due to unveil a full strategic plan in February, is expected to focus more on retail banking and less on riskier investment banking but the shift could be gradual as the latter provides the bulk of the bank's profits.

Barclays is expected to report an adjusted third quarter pretax profit broadly in line with analysts forecasts of 1.7 billion pounds ($2.7 billion). Analysts say it is in a stronger position than rivals to cope with troubled euro zone economies and tougher finance sector regulations.

Swiss bank UBS unveiled plans on Tuesday to fire 10,000 staff and wind down its fixed income business. Barclays and Deutsche Bank stand to benefit from UBS's retreat. Deutsche Bank's investment bank produced record third quarter revenue and helped lift group profit by 20 percent.

Barclays has already warned it will take a 700 million pound charge in the third quarter for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. It is also expected to take a 1.1 billion pound accounting-related hit on the value of its own debt.

The bank suffered another blow this week when a High Court Judge ordered it to stand trial over damages stemming from Libor manipulation - the first such case to be heard in a British court.

The case relates to the mis-selling of interest rate swaps to small businesses, for which Barclays has already set aside a 450 million pound provision, a number which analysts now believe could rise further.

Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius will step down on Wednesday, handing over to David Walker, who has said he will work closely with Jenkins to shake up culture and reshape the bank.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham and Steve Slater. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Sandy leaves millions without power, death toll up - Zee News

Sandy leaves 40 dead, 7.5 million without power in US Washington/New York: As Hurricane Sandy lost its ferocious punch and veered towards Canada leaving a trail of destruction up and down the US East Coast, President Barack Obama cautioned "The storm is not over yet." It left at least 40 dead and some 7.5 million people without power along the East Coast with New York's subway system paralysed by flooded tunnels and much of America's financial hub of Manhattan, in the dark.

"We're going to continue to push as hard as we can" to provide resources, said the president who has left the campaigning for the Tuesday's election to surrogates to deal with the situation from the White House.

"No bureaucracy, no red tape," was the message to his administration, he said during an afternoon visit Tuesday to the headquarters of the Red Cross in Washington after signing Major Disaster Declarations for worst hit New York and New Jersey.

The lifeline for millions of New Yorkers spanning 468 stations and over 600 miles of track, pulsing through four of New York City's five boroughs, was expected to remain silent for days and power could be out for a week, authorities warned.

Sandy leaves 40 dead, 7.5 million without power in US

More than 18,000 airline flights have been cancelled and according to one estimate Sandy would cost America $10 billion to $20 billion in economic damages.

"The New York City subway system is 108 years old," Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was quoted as saying by the New York Times. "It has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night."

Recovery efforts across 15 states and Washington city were starting to take hold Tuesday night, but thousands of people waited in shelters, not knowing whether their homes had survived, CNN said.

Sandy leaves 40 dead, 7.5 million without power in US

Atlantic City, a resort town famed for its beaches, boardwalk and blackjack, became an extension of the ocean as seaweed and flotsam swirled in the knee-deep water covering downtown streets.

While the East Coast was still grappling with the scope of the disaster, federal officials warned that Sandy was an ongoing concern with the potential to inflict more pain on inland states.

"The coastal impacts are certainly less today than they were last night, but the effects are not zero," National Hurricane Centre Director Rick Knabb told reporters in a conference call. "There are still some fairly strong winds out of the south."

The storm was centred about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh and packing 45-mph winds Tuesday evening, bringing flood warnings to Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania and blizzard warnings to high elevations in the Appalachian Mountains.


Disney to buy 'Star Wars' producer Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion - Economic Times

LOS ANGELES: Walt Disney Co agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas's Lucasfilm Ltd and its "Star Wars" franchise for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, a blockbuster deal that includes the surprise promise of a new film in the series in 2015.

The deal unites a boutique Northern California film studio that brought special effects into the digital era with a venerable Hollywood powerhouse that has shown a knack for getting the most out of big-name entertainment brands.

Disney plans to release at least three more films in the Star Wars sci-fi saga that ranks among the biggest movie franchises of all time, Chief Executive Bob Iger told analysts on Tuesday. The last "Star Wars" picture was "Revenge of the Sith" in 2005.

Although Lucas has in the past denied plans for any new "Star Wars" movies, he said in a video interview released Tuesday on Starwars.com that he had already created story treatments outlining three more films as well as many other Star Wars story lines.

Lucas, an icon in the industry known for exercising control over the most minute details of the fictional universe he created, will remain a creative consultant on the new films, although in the video interview he cast the sale as part of a long-held personal desire to exit the mainstream film industry.

In a statement on Tuesday, Lucas said: "It's now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers." He will become the second-largest individual holder of Disney shares, with a 2.2 per cent stake.

Disney will pay about half the purchase price in cash and issue about 40 million shares at closing.

"This is one of the greatest entertainment properties of all time," Iger said.


The agreement marks the third time in less than seven years that Disney has signed a massive deal to take over a beloved studio or character portfolio, part of its strategy to acquire brands that can be stretched across TV, movies, theme parks and the Internet.

In early 2006, Disney struck a deal to acquire "Toy Story" creator Pixar, and in the summer of 2009 it bought the comic book powerhouse Marvel.

Pixar was founded by Lucas but sold for scrap to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who turned it into a much-celebrated hit-maker. Lucas had more success with Industrial Light and Magic, the pioneering digital technology company behind the special effects of many major Hollywood movies.

Industrial Light and Magic and Lucasfilms' Skywalker Sound unit do much of their work for other studios and it was not clear how they might be melded with Disney operations.

Iger said no decision had been made on whether Lucasfilm would remain headquartered in San Francisco and neighboring Marin County, where Lucas lives, although the company said it would retain operations in Northern California.

The three Marin ranches that Lucas owns, two of which host Lucasfilm operations, are not part of the deal, a Lucasfilm spokeswoman said.

David Cameron faces Tory rebellion over EU budget - BBC News

David Cameron is facing a rebellion in the House of Commons over his policy on the European Union's long-term budget.

The prime minister has told his European counterparts the budget should be frozen in real terms.

But dozens of Tory MPs have signed an amendment backing a cut, and Labour also say it should be reduced.

MPs are due to debate the EU's 2014-2020 budget proposals in what is being seen as a test of Mr Cameron's authority on Europe.

Downing Street said the final budget deal had to be "acceptable" to the UK.

Negotiations over the EU's next long-term budget, called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), are taking shape amid calls from the UK and other nations for restraint at a time when many countries are pushing through unpopular domestic austerity measures.


The European Commission has proposed a £826bn (1.025 trillion euros) budget ceiling for the period up to 2020, equivalent to 1.03% of EU gross national income (GNI). That is a 5% rise compared with the 2007-2013 budget.

Agreement must be reached by all member states and the European Parliament on a new deal.

Mr Cameron has said any above-inflation increase in the budget would be inappropriate at a time when member nations are having to make tough spending decisions at home.

He has said he would be prepared to veto any unacceptable proposal - budget decisions require the agreement of all 27 member states.

But some Conservative MPs want the UK to go further and demand a reduction in real-terms spending in future negotiations, starting at next month's EU council meeting.

The Tory rebels said they believed 40 to 60 of their colleagues would back the amendment.

MPs who have already signed the rebel amendment include Zac Goldsmith, Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin.

But, writing for the Conservativehome website, fellow Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom said the amendment was "wrong for Britain" as it did not focus on where money would actually be spent on a year-by-year basis.

"It won't produce the reform that British voters are looking for, and it could ironically result in higher cost to Britain's taxpayers, while damaging our scope for negotiations on the direction of expenditure," she said.

Budget 'increases'

Labour have indicated they could back Conservative rebels on Wednesday and vote for a budget cut, increasing the pressure on the government's Commons majority.

In 2011, the UK's net contribution to the EU budget was £9.2bn after its £2.86bn rebate.

Spending on agriculture and support for Europe's poorer regions - known as cohesion funds - account for about 80% of total proposed EU spending between 2014 and 2020.

MEPs want spending levels for those major budget items to be at least maintained at the 2007-2013 level but also want "significant increases" in budgets for competitiveness, small business, sustainable infrastructure and research and innovation.

EU leaders will hold a budget summit on 22 and 23 November. If no agreement is reached by the end of next year, the 2013 budget will be rolled into 2014 with a 2% rise to account for inflation.

Sandy: A bummer for Obama or a storm surge in the polls? - NEWS.com.au

Whose campaign will suffer the most damage? Source: AFP

SUPERSTORM Sandy struck as predicted, now the clean-up begins. But with five days to go until the US election, which presidential candidate will clean up with the voters?

A popular theory is that extreme weather events are good news for the incumbent. But that only works if they handle them right.

If the person in charge responds sluggishly and without real sympathy, like George W Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it's bad news.

But if they roll their sleeves up and look like they're doing all they can to help out, they can experience a poll surge to rival the storm surge.

Thus far, Obama has done all the right things. He has gotten his shoes good and soaked, and even pulled an all-nighter last night to demonstrate his commitment to the cause.

By contrast, challenger Mitt Romney has stuck closer to his original campaign schedule. He cancelled campaign engagements on Tuesday, but is set to be back on the hustings in Florida today.

In New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by Sandy, Republican governor Chris Christie has lavished praise on President Obama's response

"I have to say the administration, the president himself and FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] have been outstanding with us so far," Governor Christie said.

That's a bit of a slap in the face for Mitt Romney, and not just because Governor Christie normally bags anything Obama says or does.

In 2011, Mitt Romney said he wanted to close FEMA and make states pay for their own disasters. Yet here we have a state governor effectively saying "thank god for federal funding in our time of need – the same federal funding which Mitt Romney wants to axe!"


But the picture isn't all bad for Mitt Romney, who has drawn the skinniest of leads in many polls after trailing for much of the campaign.

Voting is not compulsory in America, and Barack Obama will again be praying that those who favour him actually turn up at a polling booth.

It's now doubtful whether the president will be able to galvanise these people to the polling booths next Tuesday, as some may still be cleaning up, or inconvenienced by power and transport outages.

The president could also suffer from a voter backlash in swing states like Colorado and Florida where he abandoned campaign appearances. It's fair to say that most residents of these states don't care what happens in New York City, and would rather the president stuck to his engagements.

The damage bill from this storm is now predicted to reach as much as $100 billion. The political fallout is still up for debate.

UK Govt report criticises growth strategy - The Star Online

LONDON: Britain's growth strategy of tax cuts and deregulation will not provide a fast track to economic prosperity and needs to be reassessed, according to a government-commissioned review published on Wednesday.

Lord Heseltine, the former Conservative Party deputy prime minister, warned in his six-month study on the government's economic policy that "continuing as we are is not an acceptable option."

Heseltine, who was asked to write a sweeping economic review by the government, called for a "war psychology" to overcome the economic crisis and urged for an end to ministerial uncertainty on crucial issues such as energy and aviation because "the world will not stand still - and nor must we".

However, despite cutting remarks into every aspect of Britain's low growth, the report was welcomed by the government.

"I wanted Lord Heseltine to do what he does best: challenge received wisdom and give us ideas on how to bring government and industry together. He has done exactly that. This is a report bursting with ideas and we will study it very carefully," Chancellor George Osborne said.

In the 228-page report, entitled No Stone Unturned, Heseltine makes 89 recommendations, including the need to strengthen controls on foreign takeovers to block deals deemed unfavourable to Britain.

Ministers only intervene in foreign takeovers in cases that may affect national security or when media companies are involved.

Mergers are formally assessed if the company being taken over has an annual turnover of 70 million pounds or more, or if the new entity would control 25 percent or more of its market.

If not an issue of national security, the assessment is largely seen through the interests of the consumer as opposed to the wider strategic needs of British industry.

"I reject the notion that regulation in itself hinders growth. Good, well designed, regulation can stop the abuse of market power and improve the way markets work to the benefit of business employees and consumers," Heseltine wrote in the report.

He avoided criticising ministers directly, but said that "it takes too long for decisions to be made" by the government and the message amongst Britons is "that the UK does not have a strategy for growth and wealth creation".

The report challenges government policy on a vast range of specific issues such as immigration, ways to boost infrastructure spending and the lack of a decision on where to build a four runway airport around London.

"The review raises a number of important issues that impact on the government's ability to interact effectively with business throughout the country," business minister Vince Cable said.

"Lord Heseltine's findings show where government can improve its performance in delivering better interventions. We will now need time to consider its numerous recommendations and will respond in the coming months." - Reuters