Headline News

  • Venezuelan hedge fund manager to learn sentence for massive Connecticut fraud scheme


    BRIDGEPORT, Conn. –  Nearly four years after he confessed to running a massive fraud scheme, a former hedge fund manager is expected to be sentenced in a Connecticut case that had its biggest fallout in Venezuela, where the state oil company had hundreds of millions of dollars invested with the disgraced financier. Francisco Illarramendi pleaded guilty in March 2011 to several counts of fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT As the director of several funds in Stamford, prosecutors say Illarramendi lied repeatedly to investors and creditors as he tried to cover up investment losses exceeding half a billion dollars, taking $20 million for himself including $5 million to build a lavish home in New Canaan. A court-appointed receiver recovered much of the money but prosecutors say losses still exceed $200 million. Prosecutors have urged U.S. Judge Stefan Underhill in Bridgeport to sentence Illarramendi to at least 12 years in prison on Thursday. Illarramendi …

    January 29, 2015 1:38 am
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Politics

  • Top Nevada lawyer joins suit against Obama’s immigration relief plan


    (Reuters) – Nevada’s newly minted Republican attorney general has joined a multi-state lawsuit seeking to block President Barack Obama’s order easing the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, without the support of the state’s moderate governor. Attorney General Adam Laxalt, sworn in Jan. 5 after a campaign that focused at times on challenging federal overreach, said that Obama’s November order undermines the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. “The president cannot bypass the people’s elected representatives in Congress just because they do not pass the laws he wants,” Laxalt said in a statement on Monday. However, Laxalt joined the lawsuit without the backing of Nevada’s top elected official, Governor Brian Sandoval, a popular moderate Republican who easily won re-election. Laxalt’s office called to advise the governor that he would join the lawsuit, but the two men did not speak, said Laxalt spokeswoman Patty Cafferata, adding that aides to both are arranging a …

    January 29, 2015 1:59 am
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Stocks

  • Average 401(k) balance hits record $91,300


    401(k) balances reached a record high last year, thanks to a soaring stock market and larger contributions from workers participating in the savings plans. At Fidelity, the average 401(k) balance hit $91,300 by the end of 2014. While that’s up just 2% from 2013, it’s a jump of more than 30% from 2011’s average balance of $69,100, Fidelity reported. The increase was due in part to the stock market, which saw the SP 500 climb by more than 10%– its third year of double-digit gains. But a spike in worker contributions also played a significant role. Workers and their employers contributed an average of $9,670 in 2014, up 4% from the year before. “The 401(k) is the sole source [of retirement savings] for many,” said Fidelity vice president Jeanne Thompson. “I think there is heightened awareness of the importance of putting money into the 401(k).” On average, employees socked away 8.1% of their salary, the …

    January 29, 2015 12:18 am
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Sports

  • New recruit Ichiro keen to repay Marlins faith


    (Reuters) – Future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki said he wanted to return the faith shown by Miami Marlins executives after they flew to Japan to convince the veteran to sign for the Florida ball club. The 41-year-old outfielder agreed a one-year contract on Tuesday with the Marlins after his two-and-a-half year stay with the New York Yankees ended last year. “I am humbled that they flew 18 hours to get here, this is something that just doesn’t happen,” Suzuki was quoted as saying by Kyodo News on Thursday after signing up for a 15th year in MLB. “The club exhibited such a strong desire to sign me, and I am motivated to repay their desire. As a player, it’s something I’ve been looking for the past two years.” Ichiro moved to Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Seattle Mariners in 2001 before joining the Yankees in 2012. He is a 10-times All Star who …

    January 29, 2015 1:39 am
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World News

  • Japan probes new ‘hostage recording’


    29 January 2015 Last updated at 04:52 Kenji Goto is a well-known freelance journalist and film-maker Japan says it is investigating a purported new voice recording of hostage Kenji Goto, who is being held by Islamic State (IS) militants. The person in the recording says a Jordanian pilot held by IS will be killed unless an Iraqi prisoner held by Jordan is freed by sunset on Thursday. A spokesman for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the recording, posted on YouTube, was being analysed. Jordan has offered to free the Iraqi prisoner in exchange for the pilot. But it has said it wants confirmation that Moaz al-Kasasbeh is safe, and has made no reference to securing Mr Goto’s release. The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo says it appears from the latest message that IS is not ready to accept that offer. The Japanese government appears to have become a spectator in this drama, as the …

    January 29, 2015 1:39 am
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Technology

  • Data retention scheme still not clear-cut for telcos and others, inquiry told


    Australia’s peak body for IT and communications companies says organisations still face considerable uncertainty over whether they will need to retain Australians’ web and phone data as part of the federal government’s mandatory data retention scheme. At a parliamentary inquiry into plans to retain web and phone data for two years the chief executive of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Susan Campbell, said a number of organisations it represented were still uncertain about the scope of the government’s plans. The plan to retain web and phone data will mean that a range of telecommunications and service providers will need to keep an as-yet-unspecified set of data. While it is clear that organisations such as Telstra, iinet, Vodafone and Optus would need to retain data, it is less clear, for example, whether providers of voice-based web services would need to keep data for two years. The AIIA – which represents more than 400 organisations including …

    January 29, 2015 1:59 am
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Science

  • Long-necked ‘dragon’ discovered in China


    Related images(click to enlarge) University of Alberta paleontologists including PhD student Tetsuto Miyashita, former MSc student Lida Xing and professor Philip Currie have discovered a new species of a long-necked dinosaur from a skeleton found in China. The findings have been published in a new paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Qijianglong (pronounced “CHI-jyang-lon”) is about 15 metres in length and lived about 160 million years ago in the Late Jurassic. The name means “dragon of Qijiang,” for its discovery near Qijiang City, close to Chongqing. The fossil site was found by construction workers in 2006, and the digging eventually hit a series of large neck vertebrae stretched out in the ground. Incredibly, the head of the dinosaur was still attached. “It is rare to find a head and neck of a long-necked dinosaur together because the head is so small and easily detached after the animal dies,” explains Miyashita. The new species belongs …

    January 29, 2015 2:00 am
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Health

  • AstraZeneca bets on gene editing for broad range of new drugs


    LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca said on Thursday it had struck four research collaborations in the hot area of genome editing as it bets on a new technology to deliver better and more precise drugs for a range of diseases. The academic and commercial tie-ups will allow British-based AstraZeneca to use so-called CRISPR technology across its entire drug discovery platform in areas such as oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system medicine. CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, allows scientists to edit the genes of selected cells accurately and efficiently. It has created excitement since emerging two years ago and is already being tipped for a Nobel Prize. The collaborations with Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the Innovative Genomics Initiative in California, the Broad Institute and Whitehead Institute in Massachusetts, and Thermo Fisher Scientific build on an in-house CRISPR programme at AstraZeneca that has been running for over a year. Other drugmakers, keen …

    January 29, 2015 1:59 am
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Entertainment

  • How Robin Wright and Ben Foster rekindled their love


    More: Sorry, Hollywood, Robin Wright won’t play arm candy roles The House of Cards actress and the Lone Survivor actor are engaged again, two months after they called their relationship quits, Us Weekly reports. “They are fully back together and really happy,” the insider told the magazine about the pair, who have been spotted together, with Wright sporting her engagement ring once again. “Ben is the nicest guy. She knows she has a keeper.” The two are proof that a broken engagement doesn’t necessarily spell the end of a relationship, especially if the couple is willing to put in some work, the source continued. “There were a bunch of issues before, a lot because of distance and her schedule, but they are working on them,” the insider said. “It is worth it to be with a guy like this who really cares about her so much.” More: House of Cards trailer — are Frank and …

    January 29, 2015 12:18 am
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Editorial

  • Five ways Obama could make Castro pay Cuba’s $6 billion debt to Americans


    In his half century reign of terror, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro committed manifold atrocities. Documented evidence reveals him to be a ruthless tyrant who endlessly abused the most basic of human rights –a man who played a pivotal role in bringing the world to the precipice of nuclear annihilation for 13 harrowing days in October of 1962. Beyond his crimes against humanity and the callous suffering he inflicted on the people of Cuba, he ruined the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Americans. He stole their land, homes, bank accounts, possessions and businesses. He absconded with their property under the guise of “nationalization.” But he is, in truth, a thief. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Will his victims now be fairly compensated or otherwise see the return of their confiscated property in the wake of America’s first steps toward rapprochement with Cuba? The answer is both legal and political. Will his victims now be fairly compensated or otherwise …

    January 29, 2015 1:59 am
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Odd News

  • Unions turn lights off on French prime minister


    PARIS (Reuters) – An inquiry was under way on Wednesday after French trade unionists turned the lights off on a keynote speech by Prime Minister Manuel Valls in protest at planned energy reforms. Valls was starting a speech to about 700 people in support of his Socialist party’s candidate for a by-election on Tuesday night when the lights went out and his microphone turned silent. The electricity stayed off for about an hour, not just at the venue, but in the whole neighbourhood in Audincourt, eastern France. Valls resumed his speech once the power had come back on. The mines and energy federation of France’s militant CGT union said in a statement it supported the action. “When we are not listened to, we must make our point differently, so we cut the power, voila,” regional CGT head Marc Pautot said on radio France Info. Electricity distribution group ERDF, part of state-controlled utility EDF, said it …

    January 28, 2015 5:53 pm
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