Happy 74th, Willie!
"You Are Always On My Mind":
See it at youtube.com
Willie talks about peace and the environment:
See it at youtube.com
And Happy Birthday, Mrs. Mac!
Dick Mac Recommends:
Ore. gov. starts week on food stamps
By JULIA SILVERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Apr 25, 3:27 AM ET
If Gov. Ted Kulongoski seems a little sluggish this week, he's got an excuse: he couldn't afford coffee.
In fact, the Democratic governor couldn't afford much of anything during a trip to a Salem-area grocery store on Tuesday, where he had exactly $21 to buy a week's worth of food — the same amount that the state's average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries.
Kulongoski is taking the weeklong challenge to raise awareness about the difficulty of feeding a family on a food stamp budget.
Accompanied by reporters and food stamp recipient Christina Sigman-Davenport, Kulongoski headed straight for a display of organic bananas, only to have Sigman-Davenport steer him toward the cheaper non-organic variety.
The governor pined wistfully for canned Progresso soups, but at $1.53 apiece, they would have blown the budget. He settled instead for three packages of Cup O'Noodles for 33 cents apiece. Kulongoski also gave up his usual Adams natural, no-stir peanut butter for a generic store brand, but drew the line at saving money by buying peanut butter and jelly in the same jar.
"I don't much like the looks of that," said Kulongoski, 66, staring at the concoction.
Other shoppers in the store were bemused by Kulongoski's quest.
"Obviously, he doesn't shop often," Barb Sours of Salem said, as Kulongoski bounced around the aisles in search of granola. "He's all over the place."
Kulongoski did pause to chat with shoppers John and Bonnie White of Salem, telling them all about his $21 limit.
"Don't spend it all in one place," John White warned.
Along the way, Sigman-Davenport, a mother of three who works for the state Department of Human Services and went on food stamps in the fall after her husband lost his job, dispensed tips for shopping on a budget. Scan the highest and lowest shelves, she told the governor. Look for off-brand products, clip coupons religiously, get used to filling, low-cost staples like macaroni and cheese and beans, and, when possible, buy in bulk.
At the check-out counter, Kulongoski's purchases totaled $21.97, forcing him to give back one of the Cup O'Noodles and two bananas, for a final cost of $20.97 for 19 items.
After the hourlong shopping trip, Kulongoski said he was mindful that his week on food stamps will be finite and that thousands of others aren't so lucky.
"I don't care what they call it, if this is what it takes to get the word out," Kulongoski said, in response to questions about whether the food stamp challenge was no more than a publicity stunt. "This is an issue every citizen in this state should be aware of."Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
"The American public should be absolutely outraged by this unprecedented and dangerous intrusion into the private relationship between a woman and her doctor. Today five men with a gavel -- two of whom were handpicked by George W. Bush - decided that they know more about medicine than do doctors. We have never before seen such a politically motivated and unwarranted invasion into the private relationship between a woman and her doctor."
Reuters - An image that NBC News say they received from Cho Seung-Hui, the shooter in the Virginia Tech shootings, is seen as it is aired on the NBC Nightly News, April 18, 2007. The gunman who went on a deadly rampage at Virginia Tech university this week paused between shootings to mail a rambling account of grievances, photos and videos to NBC, the network said. (Courtesy of NBC News/Handout/Reuters) Wed Apr 18, 7:57 PM ET
State police chief Steve Flaherty said, "We're rather disappointed in the editorial decision to broadcast these disturbing images."(See, Reuters article at yahoo.com)
Red Bulls acquire Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel
April 17, 2007
SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Red Bulls signed Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel from English Premier League club Aston Villa on Tuesday, their second acquisition under MLS' rule allowing teams to add players outside the salary cap.
The Red Bulls hope to have the 31-year-old available to play within two weeks, club spokesman Eric Tosi said. Angel will join former U.S. international midfielder Claudio Reyna, also acquired under MLS' designated player rule, and Dutch goalkeeper Ron Waterreus.
Both were added since the Red Bulls hired ex-U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena late last season.
"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity," Angel said by telephone from Aston Villa's stadium in Birmingham, England. "I can't wait to join my teammates and start as soon as I can."
Angel's arrival is the latest high-profile player acquisition since MLS adopted in November its designated player rule, which gave teams the ability to sign up to two players outside the $2.1 million salary cap.
The Los Angeles Galaxy announced the signing of David Beckham in January, followed by the Red Bulls' acquisition of Reyna and the Chicago Fire's acquisition of Mexican forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
"(That) did play a part, all the big names going to the league," Angel said in explaining his reasons for the transfer. "When I had the opportunity to talk to Bruce, I wanted to be a part of what they were trying to do.
"The fact that MLS is trying to improve, bringing in well-known players from all over the world, it's been a great help."
Arena has been rebuilding the team since his arrival in late July, which came not long after his contract with the national team was not renewed following the U.S. team's first-round elimination at the 2006 World Cup.
"In November we traded with Chivas USA for a second designated player with the hopes of bringing in a proven forward and midfielder," Arena said. "With Juan Pablo Angel we met those goals. He's a fantastic addition, not only to the club but to MLS."
Angel was Aston Villa's most expensive acquisition in club history when he joined the northern English team in 2001 for $14 million. But after Aston Villa acquired John Carew from Lyon and Ashley Young from Watford during the January transfer window, Angel's playing time decreased.
He last played for the club on Jan. 31 against Newcastle and last started a match 11 days earlier against Watford.
Angel is likely to boost interest in the Red Bulls among New York City's sizable Colombian immigrant population.Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Updated on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 8:12 pm EDT
Most of those killed were students attending classes at a hall at Virginia Tech, where the gunman apparently used chains to lock doors before shooting the victims, university and police officials said.
Fifteen people were wounded, included those shot and students hurt jumping from windows in a desperate attempt to escape the gunfire, officials said.
"There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society," CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. "That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision." - AP Thursday, April 12, 2007, 7:49 PM ET
Asked about the flying of the Confederate flag in some Southern states, Giuliani said, "That's a good thing to be left on a state-by-state basis." - AP, Tuesday, April 10,2007, 9:45 PM ET
Circuit City laying off 3,400 store workers
Thursday, March 29, 2007
By MAE ANDERSON AND ELLEN SIMON
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK -- A new plan for layoffs at Circuit City is openly targeting better-paid workers, risking a public backlash by implying that its wages are as subject to discounts as its flat-screen TVs.
The electronics retailer, facing larger competitors and falling sales, said Wednesday that it would lay off about 3,400 store workers immediately and replace them with lower-paid new hires as soon as possible.
The laid-off workers, about 8 percent of the company's total work force, would get a severance package and a chance to reapply for their former jobs, at lower pay, after a 10-week delay, the company said.
Analysts and economists said the move is an uncertain experiment that could backfire for the chain. The risks: Morale could sink and customers could avoid the stores. Also, knowledgeable customer service is one of the few ways Circuit City can tackle competitors that include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., they say.
"This strategy strikes me as being quite cold," said Bernard Baumohl, executive director of The Economic Outlook Group. "I don't think it's in the best interest of Circuit City as a whole."
While other companies, such as Caterpillar Inc., have introduced two-tiered wage systems, where newer workers make less, firing workers and offering to rehire them at a lower wage is very rare.
"I don't think you're going to find too many examples," of this, said Ken Goldstein, labor economist for the Conference Board, a business research group. "That certainly has not been a trend we've seen."
Circuit City, the nation's No. 2 consumer electronics retailer behind Best Buy Co. Inc., says the workers being laid off were earning "well above the market-based salary range for their role." They will be replaced with employees who will be paid at the current market range, the company said in a news release.
"We haven't done something called (a) wage management initiative before," company spokesman Jim Babb said. "All companies at one time or another need to go through and make sure their cost structure works with market conditions."
Customers at the store questioned the move.
"I don't think it's fair," said Hamilton Smith, an 88-year-old retired federal worker who had just bought some batteries at Circuit City. "You need to give people a living, working wage."
He said he would think twice before shopping at the company's stores again.
Circuit City's cuts come at a time when other retailers are trying to put more knowledgeable workers on store floors. Home Depot Inc., whose new chief executive is struggling to reignite sales growth at its stores, said it has raised pay to attract skilled tradespeople, such as carpenters and electricians.
The Home Depot is adding 15,000 jobs this year, spokesman Jerry Shields said.
Circuit City's move, by contrast, "shows they're positioning for another tough year," said Timothy Allen, a Jefferies & Company Inc. retail analyst. Not only will service levels at the store suffer, he said, but "you've lost 3,400 customers/employees."
© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
iTunes to offer DRM-free music from EMI
At the special event in London on Monday, EMI Music announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital music available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions and that Apple iTunes Store will be the first retailer to offer the higher quality, DRM-free music. The Cupertino-based company will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads and without any digital right management (DRM technology). Pricing will be $1.29/€1.29/£0.99; however, iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price. The new higher-quality, DRM-free songs will be available in May.
Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.
The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available. Starting today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality, the company said. "EMI is releasing the premium downloads in response to consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players," the company said. "EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms."
"Our goal is to give consumers the best possible digital music experience. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans," said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group. "We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music.
"Apple have been a true pioneer in digital music, and we are delighted that they share our vision of an interoperable market that provides consumers with greater choice, quality, convenience and value for money."
"Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free."
EMI also announced that is introducing a new wholesale price for premium single track downloads, while maintaining the existing wholesale price for complete albums. EMI expects that consumers will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free downloads from a variety of digital music stores within the coming weeks, with each retailer choosing whether to sell downloads in AAC, WMA, MP3 or other unprotected formats of their choice. Music fans will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free digital music for personal use, and listen to it on a wide range of digital music players and music-enabled phones.
EMI's move follows a series of experiments it conducted recently. Norah Jones's "Thinking About You", Relient K's "Must've Done Something Right", and Lily Allen's "Littlest Things" were all made available for sale in the MP3 format in trials held at the end of last year.
EMI Music will continue to employ DRM as appropriate to enable innovative digital models such as subscription services (where users pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to music), super-distribution (allowing fans to share music with their friends) and time-limited downloads (such as those offered by ad-supported services).
"Protecting the intellectual property of EMI and our artists is as important as ever, and we will continue to work to fight piracy in all its forms and to educate consumers," Nicoli added. "We believe that fans will be excited by the flexibility that DRM-free formats provide, and will see this as an incentive to purchase more of our artists' music."
EU competition watchdog bites Apple over iTunes prices
by Dorothee Moisan
April 3, 2007
After launching action against Microsoft and Intel, the European Union's competition watchdog has taken aim at another US computer giant, Apple, over the price of songs on its online music store.
The watchdog, the European Commission, alleges that Apple has broken EU competition laws by charging different prices for music on its iTunes websites depending on which country they are downloaded from.
The action, notified to Apple in a "statement of objections" two years after the problem was first raised, was welcomed Tuesday by consumer groups, many of which have already complained about the US giant's practices in Europe.
European online shoppers are only able to download music from iTunes in their country of residence -- or where their credit card is registered -- and prices differ in the European Union's member countries.
The Commission claims that distribution arrangements between Apple and major record companies impose "territorial restrictions" on music sales.
"The very fact that you are unable to buy the same tunes at the same price, or you are unable in some cases to even buy the same tune at all, is a problem for us," said competition affairs spokesman Jonathan Todd.
Apple, which the Commission says has online stores in 15 of the EU's 27 member countries, denies breaking the rules.
"We don't believe Apple did anything to violate EU law," it said in a statement, and suggested it was under pressure to set prices from the major record labels it deals with.
"Apple has always wanted to operate a single, pan-European iTunes store accessible by anyone from any member state, but we were advised by the music labels and publishers that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us," the company said.
Todd conceded that the record majors, which he refused to name but are probably EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG, did have an influence but he said that Apple only has itself to blame.
"They are the ones that have entered into these agreements," he said.
The statement of objections -- a first formal step in the Commission's anti-trust procedures -- sent Friday was a nice surprise for consumer groups, some of whom thought their complaints had fallen on deaf ears.
"It is definitely something that we welcome," said a spokeswoman for the European consumers organisation BEUC, which unites around 40 national consumer groups in Europe. "For consumers, the market remains segmented."
The case arose two years ago when British organisation Which? lodged a complaint against iTunes alleged "territorial price discrimination," claiming it had isolated Britain's downloadable music market and caused overcharging.
Which? said again late last year that a song cost a British online shopper 1.17 euros, compared to 0.99 euros -- an 18 percent difference -- for a shopper in the eurozone, the 13 countries sharing the single currency.
The spokeswoman said BEUC feared the Commission had "buried" the problem.
The EU regulator has hotly pursued Microsoft for abuse of market dominant position since 2004 with its near-ubiquitous Windows software system, and has been investigating chipmaker Intel for similar reasons.Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Agence France Presse.
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