Monday, February 21, 2011

Top-Paying Companies

©John R. Coughlin/CNNMoney

Average total pay: $318,323
For: Senior Account Executive*
Best companies rank: 52 goes to extremes to reward the top performers who have helped drive its growth. No wonder this online software provider tops this year's list of best payers.

The sales force gets hefty bonuses. The biggest earners get to enjoy goodies like "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- a $5,000 shopping spree offered during last year's sales incentive trip to Hawaii. Since Tiffany doesn't have a store in Kauai, hired local carpenters to recreate one, shipped in $1 million in merchandise from surrounding islands, and hired a violin player, chef, and even Miss Hawaii to add ambience.

Not that they don't spread the wealth around: Full-time employees receive a "Mahalo Bonus" (Hawaiian for "thank you"), twice a year -- up to 140% of the target payout. And those lucky employees who've received stock have seen their shares more than double in value over the past year.

Documents show a Miami man who is accused of putting a toxic chemical on his 10-year-old twins faced a sexual abuse allegation in 2005.

According to records released Monday, the girl told her psychologist that her father, Jorge Barahona, was touching her when she was his foster daughter. She was later adopted by Barahona.

The Department of Children and Families investigated the claim and the girl and her father denied it. Investigators closed the case.

A week ago, the boy was found critically injured in the front seat of his father's pesticide truck. The girl was discovered dead in the truck's bed.

Barahona has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.
If you're seeking to do business with your bank on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011, chances are it will be closed due to Presidents Day.

Most banks are not open on Presidents Day 2011, just like last year and previous years, as it's a federal holiday (also known as Washington's Birthday). The next business day for closed banks will be Tuesday, Feb. 22.

However, a select few banks will be open including Wachovia Bank and State Employees' Credit Union, per ENCToday.

Also, if you bank with a small local or community bank, it's best to check with them to be sure.

In addition to most banks being closed, post offices will also be closed as Presidents Day 2011 is a USPS holiday. Mail will not be delivered Monday. Federal government agencies also observe the holiday.
Holdover "Gnomeo & Juliet" nabs $24.8 million and trumps third place newcomer "I Am Number Four" while "Big Mommas" debuts at No. 5 with $19 million.

With many young people continuing to stay away from the multiplex, President's Day weekend failed to reverse the downturn at the domestic box office.

action pic Unknown came in No. 1 in a surprise victory over DreamWorks and Touchstone's I Am Number Four.

Unknown grossed an estimated $25.6 million from 3,043 for the four-day holiday weekend, well ahead of projections. A resounding 89% of the audience was over the age of 25 -- and 54% over the age of 50.

Number Four opened to an estimated $22.7 million from 3,154, several million behind what tracking showed going into the President's Day frame. The teen sci-fi adventure skewed older than expected, with 54% of the audience over the age of 25.

Number Four was always a tough sell, since it featured no big stars. Also, in going up against Unknown, it was competing with a known quantity because of Neeson's last action pic Taken.

Beating Number Four for No. 2 was 3D toon Gnomeo & Juliet -- also from Touchstone. The family film grossed an estimated $24.8 million for a cume of $55.7 million through Sunday.

Apple is under fire over its subscription terms for selling content through its iPhone and iPad.

Anti-trust regulators are considering whether the technology giant is breaking the law by forcing publishers to use its own subscription system to collect user payments.

New terms say publishers can't offer links within apps to websites where customers could purchase their products or offer a better deal from outside of the App Store.
The U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are looking into concerns from app makers that Apple wants to take a 30 per cent cut on revenue from online subscriptions, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Knee replacements last -- and last and last. We now know this thanks to a study presented Wednesday at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting. But that doesn't mean the prospect of such an operation isn't scary.

More than half a million Americans have knee replacement surgery each year. And it's the pain, either from arthritis, an injury or other cause, that spurs many to seek out surgery. This knee replacement tutorial from MedlinePlus can help dial back the fear factor. It illustrates in basic terms how surgeons cut the femur and tibia to remove a damaged joint and replace it with an artificial one. Looks easy enough
After a four-month grounding of the space shuttle fleet, NASA's countdown clocks were on the verge of ticking again Monday for Discovery's final ride into orbit.

Discovery is scheduled to blast off Thursday afternoon to the International Space Station. Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 80 percent.

When NASA tried to launch Discovery in early November with supplies and a humanoid robot for the space station, the countdown never got past the fueling phase. A hydrogen gas leak halted everything, then a more insidious problem cropped up: cracks in the external fuel tank.

The shuttle team went into overdrive to fix all the cracks in the metal struts, located on the central portion of the tank, and to reinforce the rest of the area. The problem increased the risk of broken insulating foam, the very issue that doomed Columbia in 2003.

"Discovery has been a really remarkable vehicle for us," NASA test director Jeff Spaulding told reporters Monday morning. "She still has a few more miles to go before she sleeps, though. She's taken us on many amazing journeys throughout the years, and we expect this flight to be no different than any of those."

Commander Steven Lindsey and his crew expressed gratitude for the unprecedented repairs. After arriving at Kennedy Space Center over the weekend, Lindsey called the cracking problem "probably one of the most difficult, technical challenges we've faced in recent years."

The other challenge for the crew, he noted, was the loss of the mission's lead spacewalker.

Astronaut Timothy Kopra was replaced last month after he was hurt in a bicycle crash. Stephen Bowen, an experienced spacewalker, took over. "I've got big shoes to fill," Bowen said Sunday.

Sensor device measures central aortic systolic pressure instead of blood pressure in the arm

Bryan Williams, study leader and professor of Medicine at the University of Leicester, and a team of researchers from Singapore-based medical device company HealthSTATS International and the University of Leicester, have created a revolutionary device that will change the way a person's blood pressure is measured forever.

Up until now, blood pressure has been measured in the arm using a cuff because this is a convenient and noninvasive method, but it is not always capable of accurately measuring pressure in the arteries close to the heart. Measuring the pressure in the larger arteries close to the heart, which is the central aortic systolic pressure (CASP), is important because high blood pressure in this area can cause serious damage to the heart.

But now, researchers have developed a device capable of measuring blood pressure in this area. This new device uses a sensor, which is placed on the wrist like a watch, to record the pulse wave. Then, researchers use computerized mathematical modeling of the pulse wave to read the CASP. 

NFL labor talks are in mediation. NBA labor talks are generally stuck.

Baseball is hoping to avoid those fates.

That's what union head Michael Weiner will tell players over the coming weeks, a process that started Monday when his spring training tour opened with a visit to the St. Louis Cardinals. Weiner laid out how the Major League Baseball Players Association is prepping for talks on the game's next collective bargaining agreement, with the current one set to expire in December.

"I know we're prepared to try to get it done. I'm confident that the ownership is prepared to try to get it done as well," Weiner said. "You don't know until you get to the table."

Weiner expects meetings about the next CBA to be held in both Florida and Arizona before the regular season opens. He acknowledged keeping track of the labor talks going on in football and basketball, noting they "conceivably could have an affect on our atmosphere."

The NFL's labor deal expires at the end of the day March 3, and the union fears that team owners will lock out players - and threaten the 2011 season. The NBA's deal expires June 30, and Commissioner David Stern ominously said at All-Star weekend that the sides there "have each expressed to the other our dissatisfaction with each other's proposals."

"You don't want to see a work stoppage anywhere," Weiner said, adding that the NFL and NBA unions have baseball's support.

He met with the Cardinals for about 90 minutes, his presentation often interrupted - to his liking - by questions, none of which he said caught him off-guard.

"What I'm talking about here is explaining what preparations have been done, different levels of player involvement, what our negotiating committee does, what our executive board does, what role the player membership has, how they can get information over the course of the year," Weiner said. "And then some of the mechanics of bargaining, where it takes place, all that."

Among the subjects Weiner discussed following the meeting:

- He said he would not expect the looming trials for home run king Barry Bonds (scheduled for March) and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens (scheduled for July) to cast a large pall over the 2011 season.

Even by Pentagon standards, it's an eye-popping prize: a $35 billion contract to build nearly 200 giant airborne refueling tankers. And the decade-long brawl by two defense industry titans to win it has been just as epic.

In a matter of weeks - if not days - the Pentagon will announce whether Chicago-based Boeing Co. or European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) will build 179 new tankers to replace the Air Force's Eisenhower-era KC-135 planes.

The competition is far more complex than a case of the U.S. against Europe. If Boeing wins, the air tanker would be built in Everett, Wash., Wichita, Kan., and several other states. If EADS wins, the tanker would be assembled in Mobile, Ala., at the former Brookley military base that was shuttered in the 1960s.

Either way, about 50,000 jobs would be created in the U.S.

And $35 billion could amount to a mere first installment on a $100 billion deal if the Air Force pushes ahead and buys more tankers.

The contract has touched off some of the fiercest and costliest lobbying that Washington has ever seen. The companies have spent millions on advertising and hired dozens of lobbyists to do their bidding. Lawmakers are relentlessly pressing Defense Department officials.

Replacing the KC-135 planes is critical for the military. The first aircraft - the equivalent of a flying gas station - entered the fleet in 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower occupied the White House, and the last one was delivered in 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. Today, the Air Force is struggling to keep them in flying shape.

The tankers are the one aircraft the military cannot go to war without. They allow jet fighters, supply planes and other aircraft to cover long distances, crucial with fewer overseas bases and operations far from the United States in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

With so much at stake, the companies and their backers are pursuing every edge and taking the struggle to places that military contractors don't normally go: radio and subway ads in the nation's capital among them.

An Iraqi al-Qaida operative was believed to be one of 15 militants killed in two U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt along the Afghan border Monday, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The officials said the man, identified as Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, handled the terrorist group's finances in Pakistan. He was not known to be on any published U.S. lists of wanted al-Qaida leaders, and U.S. officials do not normally acknowledge the existence of the CIA-led missile program or talk about who is being killed.

The two strikes, coming roughly 24 hours apart, were the first since the arrest of a U.S. citizen who shot two Pakistanis in late January. There had been speculation that Washington had put a hold on the disputed tactic while it pressured Pakistan to release the American, saying he has diplomatic immunity and acted in self-defense.

In the first strike, which occurred overnight Monday, three missiles hit a house in the village of Kaza Panga in the Azam Warsak area of the South Waziristan tribal region, said two intelligence officials.

Al-Iraqi was believed to be one of several foreigners among the seven dead. He was described as being in his late 30s and going by the local name "Ali Khan." Al-Iraqi is believed to have shifted to South Waziristan in 2008 after time spent in Afghanistan.

The officials said they learned of his death through agents on the ground in South Waziristan, as well as sources in the Taliban. Nonetheless, independent confirmation of such deaths is nearly impossible because of the remote, dangerous nature of the areas involved. Rarely are bodies made available as proof.

Two Libyan air force jets have arrived in Malta and military officials say their pilots have asked for political asylum amid a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters in Libya.

The two Mirage jets arrived Monday shortly after two civilian helicopters landed at the airport carrying seven people who said they were French.

A military source familiar with the situation said the jet pilots, Libyan air force colonels, were allowed to land after they communicated from the air that they wanted asylum. They had left from a base near Tripoli and had flown low over Libyan airspace to avoid detection.

The aircraft remain at Malta's airport while the pilots and helicopter passengers are being questioned by airport immigration officials.
The total exposure of Spanish savings banks to real estate and building amounts to 217 billion euros ($297 billion), of which 100 billion euros is “potentially problematic,” the Bank of Spain said today.

Bank of Spain Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez, speaking in Madrid, said provisions cover 38 percent of the assets at risk. He also said the decree tightening capital requirements for cajas was “absolutely necessary.”

Ordonez, who hasn’t spoken to reporters publicly since Dec. 13 when he said the state-run FROB rescue fund probably wouldn’t need to be tapped in 2011, described the fund as a “backstop” and a “guarantee” that all lenders will reach new capital requirements.

Spain’s government approved new capital requirements for lenders on Feb. 18 and set deadlines for lenders to meet the new rules or risk partial nationalization. The Bank of Spain is due to tell banks on March 10 how much additional capital they need and lenders planning initial public offerings have as long as a year to raise it.

Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado said on Jan. 24 the total capital requirements wouldn’t exceed 20 billion euros, and “all or part” of that would come from private investors.
Israel says it is considering ways to allow Google Street View to photograph Israeli cities, despite concerns the popular service could be used to plot terror attacks.

An official statement says a team of Israeli Cabinet ministers instructed experts Monday to work with Google to find a safe way to implement the feature "as soon as possible."

Street View allows users to virtually tour locations on a map. It is already available in 27 countries. Google uses special vehicles with panoramic cameras to take ground-level, 3-D images.

The feature has sparked intense debate about personal privacy in other countries, but in Israel, officials are concerned about putting unprecedented information about potential terrorism targets on the Internet.

Google declined to comment.
One of the world's most revered schools of Islamic learning, whose strict interpretations of the Quran inspired the Taliban, is facing a revolt against its newly appointed reformist leader - an MBA with a Facebook fan page.

Guns have been fired, accusations of idolatry tossed about and the student body of 150-year-old Darul Uloom in the northern Indian town of Deoband has been riven into rival factions.

The turmoil will come to a head Wednesday when the council that named Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi to lead the legendary seminary just last month will decide whether to fire him,

Vastani, who has promised to modernize the curriculum and rein in hard-line religious edicts, is facing a determined campaign by opponents who want to take control of the powerful institution for themselves and have hammered him for comments that appeared to praise a Hindu leader loathed by Muslims.

"People are angry with Vastanvi," said Arif Siddiqi, secretary of the powerful Islamic organization the Jamiat Ulema-i Hind, which is confident it has the votes to oust him.

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AUSTIN, Texas - Texas is preparing to give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus, adding momentum to a national campaign to open this part of society to firearms.

More than half of the members of the Texas House are co-authors of a measure directing universities to allow concealed handguns. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2009 and is expected to do so again.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who sometimes packs a pistol when he jogs, says he supports the idea.

Texas is one of about a dozen states considering the idea and has become a prime battleground because of its gun culture and size. It would become the second state, following Utah, to pass such a broad-based law. Colorado gives colleges the option, and several allow handguns.
The University of Arizona will announce today that it is establishing a civility institute, in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting rampage that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords severely wounded and six people dead.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairman for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, director Brint Milward told The New York Times.

The non-partisan center will focus on research, education and policy about civility in public discourse.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is from Arizona, and ex-Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle will serve as c0-chairs.
A windswept, five-alarm fire that killed an elderly Brooklyn woman Saturday could have been contained much faster with more men on duty, union officials charged yesterday.

Retired guidance counselor Mary Feagin, 62, died in the powerful blaze that swept through her Flatbush apartment building on East 29th Street at around 6 p.m. Twenty firefighters and 11 civilians also were injured in the blaze.

Firefighters struggled to get water on the blaze because budget cuts left each of the first three responding units short a man, said union chief Steve Cassidy.

"It never would have gotten out of control the way it did," said Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

But Fire Department officials said firefighters were up against a lethal combination: heavy winds and an open door.
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A storm system blanketed a swath of the Plains and Upper Midwest with snow and ice, with most of the snowfall in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Hundreds of flights were canceled Sunday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, officials said.

School systems that weren't closed for Presidents Day (Monday) were closed because of the storm.

Interstates resembled ice rinks and officials warned people to stay put as winds whipped the snow and reduced visibility. The snow began falling Sunday morning and continued until past midnight into Monday, a federal holiday.

Temperatures in the 40s and 50s last week had helped whittle down snow piles and expose more surface for driving or walking across most of Minnesota.

On Sunday, wintry conditions returned.

The line between heavy and light snowfall was pronounced, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Southern suburbs of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area received more than a foot of snow but northern suburbs received 2-3 inches. Parts of Minneapolis received up to 13 inches while its neighbor, St. Paul, officially reported 10.8 inches.

In western Minnesota, Montevideo reported 10.5 inches by Sunday evening, adding to officials' concerns about spring flooding.

Sustained winds churned up the snow as wind gusts of between 30 mph and 40 mph reduced visibility to a quarter of a mile for extended periods of time, forecasters said.

In downtown Minneapolis, inline skating at the Metrodome was canceled Sunday because of travel conditions and heating applied to the roof to melt snow created uncomfortably warm conditions for skating, an official said.

African Union election observers said Monday that Uganda's presidential poll suffered from several shortcomings, while two losing candidates called for Egypt-style protests.

President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's leader for 25 years, won Friday's election with 68 percent of the vote, the election commission said Sunday. His top challenger was Kizza Besigye, who took 26 percent of the vote.

The leader of the AU observer mission, Gitobu Imanyara, said that many voters couldn't vote due to the poor management of polling centers.

"Many voters with voter cards were turned away from polling stations because names could not be found on the voter registrar," Imanyara said. "A good number of polling officials did not seem to have adequate training or confidence to perform their responsibilities and as a result procedures were not properly followed."

Imanyara also said the large deployment of security forces on voting day could have intimidated some voters, and that allegations of vote buying by Museveni's side undermined the integrity of the process.

Despite those shortcomings, Imanyara said the AU mission believed the 2011 election was better than the 2006 vote.

Besigye on Sunday said widespread bribery, ballot-stuffing and harassment rendered the poll illegitimate. He rejected the outcome.

Besigye previously threatened Egypt-style protests if the results were not in line with what he and his supporters believe the true returns are. On Sunday he pledged to work "to bring an end to the illegitimate government" but he stopped short of calling for street protests, saying he was still considering his options.

Yemen's embattled leader on Monday rejected demands that he step down, saying widespread demonstrations against his regime are unacceptable acts of provocation.

However, U.S.-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for three decades, offered to begin a dialogue with the protesters. The proposal was quickly rebuffed as insincere by an opposition spokesman.

In another attempt to defuse anger, Saleh told a news conference that he has ordered troops not to fire at anti-government protesters, except in self defense. At least 11 people were killed since protests erupted earlier this month, including a youth shot dead Monday, medical officials said.

The demonstrations in Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, are part of a wave of unrest that have swept across the Arab world in recent weeks and toppled autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

Saleh's government was already weak before the protests, facing a southern separatist movement and disaffected tribesmen around the country. Saleh is quietly cooperating with the U.S. in efforts to battle an al-Qaida franchise that has taken root in Yemen, but his government exercises limited control in the tribal areas beyond the capital. The U.S. gives Yemen military aid and training.

Despite Saleh's gestures, protesters are digging in. Several hundred camped overnight in a square in the capital of Sanaa, near the city's university. Similar to the scenes in Tahrir Square in Cairo, the center of the Egyptian uprising, protesters in Sanaa pitched small tents and set up a platform equipped with loudspeakers. Protesters guarded access roads and searched those entering the square.

In the city of Taiz, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in the central square. "We will not leave this place until the downfall of the regime," activist Ahmed Ghilan said.

On Monday, a 28-year-old protester died of wounds he sustained when a hand grenade was thrown on protesters in Taiz on Friday, a hospital official said.

SUVA, Fiji (AP) -- A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake has struck in waters south of Fiji. There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning has been issued.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck on Monday 549 miles (883 kilometers) south of the capital Suva, at a depth of 335 miles (540 kilometers).

Earthquakes are common in the South Pacific.
Protesters are expected to fill and surround the Capitol in Madison, Wis., again Monday, the seventh day of demonstrations against Gov. Scott Walker's plan to increase health care and pension contributions by public employees while eliminating most of their collective bargaining rights.

Senate Democrats remain out of state to try to thwart a vote on the bill.

Snow, slush, rain and sleet kept the size of Sunday's crowd down and forced the protests indoors, but thousands still packed into the Capitol rotunda. They crammed themselves up to 10 deep along the rails of the upper floors to voice their displeasure with the Republican governor's budget-repair bill.

Union leaders for the state's teachers, health care workers and other public employees say they'll give the governor the financial concessions he wants — amounting to a pay cut of 8 percent or more — but they will stand firm on what they call union-busting proposals.

Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime is under pressure amid unprecedented protests in the Libyan capital and defections by senior diplomats.

Protesters out on the streets of Tripoli late on Sunday were met by security forces using live ammunition and tear gas.

Benghazi, the country's second city, now appears to be largely under the control of protesters.

But Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, has warned that civil war could ignite.

In a lengthy TV address, he offered significant political reforms but also vowed that the regime would "fight to the last bullet" against "seditious elements".

Gaddafi's son warns of "rivers of blood" in Libya

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's son warned early Monday that the country faces a bloody civil war if protesters refuse to accept reform offers, in a speech broadcast as gunfire rang out in the capital, saying that his father remained in charge with the army's backing and would "fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi condemned the unprecedented uprising against his father's 41-year rule as a foreign plot, but admitted mistakes were made in a brutal crackdown and urged citizens to build a "new Libya".

"Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms, we will not be mourning 84 people, but thousands of deaths, and rivers of blood will run through Libya," he said.

Human Rights Watch gave a new death toll on Monday and said at least 233 people have been killed in Libya since the anti-regime protests broke out on Feb. 15 after similar uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt which ended the long rule of two veteran leaders.
A violent, anti-government uprising in Libya has spread to the capital, Tripoli, as leader Moammar Gadhafi's son told Libyans in a televised speech the country would fall into a vicious civil war if they threw off his father's 40-year-long rule.

In a rambling address early Monday, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi warned that "rivers of blood" would consume the country's oil wealth and even see the return of colonial powers if the situation slipped further out of control.

Accusing Libyan exiles, Islamists, foreign media, drug abusers and criminals of fomenting the violence, he repeatedly said Libya was "not Egypt or Tunisia" - neighboring countries whose strongmen were swept from power in recent weeks. He described Libya as a tribal society awash in weapons that would quickly descend into civil war.

Gadhafi offered a vague package of reforms, including dialogue on the constitution and a new confederate power structure. But his main message was threatening Libyans with the prospect of chaos.

Zimbabwean police detained 46 people, including a former lawmaker, for attending a lecture and discussion group on mass uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, an independent lawyers group said Monday

Police confirmed the arrests at a meeting convened Saturday by the Zimbabwe branch of the militant International Socialist Organization where videos were shown and an agenda item allegedly asked: "What lessons can be learnt by the working class in Zimbabwe and Africa?"

Police spokesman James Sabau told state radio that authorities would clamp down on any alleged plotters of "destabilization" against the government.

The independent Lawyers for Human Rights group said those detained in Harare and expected to appear in court on Monday were holding an "academic discussion" on North Africa and deny any wrongdoing.

The group said police were drafting charges Monday against former opposition lawmaker Munyaradi Gwisai, an official of the International Socialist Organization, and labor and student activists arrested with him.

Police say attendees called for solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian workers and intended to incite Zimbabweans to hold demonstrations against three decades of authoritarian rule by President Robert Mugabe.