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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — During breaks in his murder trial, Oscar Pistorius sometimes confers intensely with his camp, murmuring in the ear of his chief defense lawyer. When witnesses testify, the double-amputee athlete takes notes or sits with hands clasped, occasionally covering his face, head bowed, as though troubled by the graphic accounts of how he fatally shot his girlfriend last year.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — In 2009, the United States gave Wazhma Frogh the International Woman of Courage award for her women's rights activism in Afghanistan. Prominently displayed in Frogh's office is a picture of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granting her the award as First Lady Michelle Obama smiles, clapping by her side.
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York businessman must face criminal fraud charges for trying to claim a billion-dollar stake in social media company Facebook Inc, a federal judge ruled on Friday. Paul Ceglia, 40, is accused of forging a 2003 contract with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that supposedly entitled him to part ownership of the company. After an hour-long hearing in New York, U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter rejected Ceglia's request to throw out the charges, finding he had failed to meet the "high standard" needed to dismiss a grand jury indictment. Ceglia sued Zuckerberg and Facebook in 2010 in a federal court in Buffalo, New York, claiming that he and Zuckerberg had signed a contract while Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard University for Ceglia to invest $1,000 in a planned social networking website.
Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc said they had launched a cross-industry group to improve security for card transactions and press U.S. retailers and banks to meet a 2015 deadline to adopt technology that would make it safer to pay with plastic. The move follows several data breaches at U.S. retailers, including one at Target Corp late last year involving the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records. The new group - which includes banks, credit unions, retailers and industry trade associations - will initially focus on the adoption of 'EMV' chip technology, MasterCard and Visa said in a statement on Friday. However, the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade association, said it had not joined the group because there were no plans to immediately implement the PIN option, making for a "half-baked solution." "They're not serious about reducing fraud, unless they put a pin on," said Mallory Duncan, the NRF's general counsel.
By Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's president on Friday ruled out any ban on Facebook and YouTube after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the sites could be shut to stop his foes anonymously posting audio recordings purportedly exposing corruption in his inner circle. In the latest recording, released on YouTube late on Thursday, Erdogan is purportedly heard berating a newspaper owner over the telephone about an article and suggesting the journalists be sacked, in comments that will further stoke concerns over media freedom and Erdogan's authoritarian style of leadership. Erdogan, who rejects any accusations of corruption, blames U.S.-based Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally, for the wiretaps which he says have been "fabricated". Gulen, who denies any involvement, has many followers in Turkey, especially in the police and judiciary.
Activist investor Carl Icahn told eBay Inc shareholders in a letter on Thursday he has "not yet begun to fight" to get the e-commerce company to spin off its PayPal payments unit. Icahn, who owns just over 2 percent of eBay, also used the letter to lay out new arguments for the split. He has sparred with eBay management via open letters and press releases since January, when eBay said the pugnacious billionaire had made an unsolicited proposal for eBay to hive off PayPal and nominated two directors to the eBay board. In his latest missive, Icahn said a spinoff "could allow two separate management teams to focus more closely on the core businesses" and could also "provide a more compelling currency to attract top talent to the respective companies." He also said an independent PayPal would find it easier to land strategic partnerships with companies that compete with eBay.
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Privacy advocates have asked U.S. regulators to halt Facebook Inc's $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp until there is a clearer understanding of how the company intends to use the personal data of WhatsApp's 450 million users. But there's no guarantee that that commitment will hold true once the service becomes part of Facebook, according to the filing to the Federal Trade Commission by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, both non-profit groups. The complaint asks regulators to investigate the deal "specifically with regard to the ability of Facebook to access WhatsApp's store of user mobile phone numbers and metadata." Facebook, the world's No.1 social network with 1.2 billion users, generates the majority of its revenue by showing ads that target users by age, gender and other traits.
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will vastly expand the number of companies who advertise online and will allow Internet companies to reap more revenue than they have from customers on PCs, Google Inc Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora said on Wednesday. Small, local businesses will represent the largest influx of new marketers as they discover the benefits of reaching on-the-go consumers on their mobile devices, Arora said, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco. Google, the world's No.1 Internet search engine, generates the vast majority of its revenue from advertising. But its ad rates, like those of other Internet companies including Yahoo Inc, have been under pressure as more consumers access its online services on small-screened mobile devices, where advertising rates are lower than on PCs.
By Jeremy Wagstaff SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Some of those who have lost bitcoins in the collapse of Mt. Gox have turned to internet sleuthing to find out where their money has gone - but they're unlikely to have much luck. Forum websites like Reddit and internet relay chatrooms have attracted hordes of users as the Mt. Gox debacle unfolded in recent weeks. "The crowdsourcing so far has been a miserable failure," said Emin Gun Sirer of Cornell University, who posted his own analysis challenging several theories about what may have happened at Mt. Gox. The problem, Gun Sirer and others say, is two-fold: users of such forums are not always methodical or disciplined in their research on one hand, and on the other, bitcoin's combination of transparency and complexity invites the unwary to draw false conclusions.
Samsung says the Oscars selfie that went viral was a "surprise for everyone," after reports it was part of a pre-planned marketing stunt by the company, a sponsor of the Academy Awards. But the South Korean tech giant, which earned huge publicity when Ellen DeGeneres used a Samsung device to take the photo, said it would donate $3 million to charities of the Oscar host's choice. The Wall Street Journal reported that the stunt "wasn't entirely unplanned," saying that a Samsung smartphone was used in the show as part of a sponsorship and $20 million advertising deal with Oscar broadcasters ABC. During rehearsals Samsung executives trained DeGeneres in how to use the Samsung Galaxy, it reported.
Facebook Inc and its photo sharing subsidiary, Instagram, will delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks, Facebook announced on Wednesday. In an effort to curb what gun control advocates say is the increasing use of the social networks to circumvent checks and controls on firearms sales, Facebook and Instagram will also bar users under 18 from viewing gun offers posted by individuals or groups. "We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law," Facebook said.
By Noel Randewich SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - You can't spend bitcoins at Amazon.com or to pay your mortgage but, as the Winklevoss twins showed on Wednesday, you can use the digital currency to book a trip into suborbital space. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who famously accused Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea, said they used bitcoins to buy tickets for a high-altitude voyage on billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic commercial spaceflight venture. The brothers, Olympic rowers who earned MBA degrees from Oxford University, have become bitcoin evangelists and investors and are planning to launch a fund to make it easy to trade the digital currency on the stock market. In a blog post, Tyler Winklevoss compared Branson's space endeavor and bitcoin entrepreneurs to major historical figures who changed the way the world was perceived, like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Nicolaus Copernicus.
The online home for an archive of inspirational talks by speakers at the TED conferences unveiled a redesign on Tuesday. The TED.com re-design was the first major overhaul since the website launched in April of 2007, and comes as the flagship TED gathering behind the talks is poised to celebrate its 30th anniversary. "It is a moment when Ted.com evolves from a site of individual videos to really being a living archive of ideas," TED media executive producer June Cohen told AFP while providing an early look at the redesign. TED speakers are urged to pack "the talk of their lives" into 18 minutes or less, and now the website lets the curious take time to further explore concepts.