Saturday, June 29, 2013

Case Study Shows Google+ Sign-Ins Are Working, Increased Snapette Sign-Ups By 16%

sign-in-with-googleOne developer feature Google is really stressing these days is Google+ Sign-in, the company’s recently launched authentication tool for third-party sites and mobile apps. While the company will continue to support its standard Google Sign-in tool as well, it’s pushing hard to get users to switch to its new system. The Google+ version has the advantage (or not, depending on your perspective) of being linked directly to Google’s social network and profiles and?can therefore provide sites with easier registration system and more information about their users. A number of large companies have now integrated Google+ Sign-ins, and we are starting to get some data about how things are going. Mind you, these are somewhat self-selected Google partners, but the results are still pretty interesting.?Most companies don’t want to go on the record with their numbers, but Google just published a case study with Snapette that’s pretty much in line what we’ve been hearing, too. Snapette Case Study: 44.2% Use Google+ Sign-ins, Registrations Up 16% The latest numbers come from mobile shopping app Snapette, which launched in 2011, and this marks the first time we’re seeing some of these stats for a service that uses Google+ Sign-in. Just over 44 percent of the service’s users now use Google+ to sign in to their accounts. That’s a bit higher than the 40 percent acceptance rate Google itself cited earlier this year. Snapette also says it’s been seeing an uptick in user registrations since integrating this feature. The company says it saw “an increase in registered users of 16% above average growth” since it started using this tool.


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Lester pitches Red Sox to 7-4 win over Blue Jays

BOSTON (AP) ? With one ace already on the disabled list, the Boston Red Sox weren't taking any chances when their other star pitcher landed awkwardly after a pitch late in the game.

By that point, though, Jon Lester had more than done his job.

Lester pitched into the eighth inning before jamming his right hip and leaving the game, and Dustin Pedroia homered during a seven-run second to help the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-4 in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.

"I slipped a little bit. I guess the doctors were kind of calling it a little jammed hip, a type of zinging sensation down my leg." Lester said. "It just didn't feel normal and like I said, at that point in the game, especially with that offense ? they can score some runs in a hurry ? so there's no point in trying to be a hero. We've got a long way to go the rest of the season."

Toronto, which reeled off 11 straight wins this month, had won 12 of its past 14 games and 15 of 19 to close within 6? games of the AL East-leading Red Sox.

Then the Blue Jays ran into Lester.

The left-hander retired 10 straight to begin the game and didn't allow a hit until the fifth. But he exited the game with a 7-2 lead after giving up consecutive singles to start the eighth and running the count to 3-0 on Emilio Bonifacio.

Farrell came darting out of the dugout as the infielders crowded around Lester. Moments later, Lester walked off the field and Junichi Tazawa came on in relief.

"The final pitch that he threw, his landing foot kind of gave way and he jammed his hip," Farrell said. "Given where we were in the ballgame and the number of pitches he had thrown, he clearly had done his job and we weren't going to take any chances."

It was quite a scare for Red Sox Nation.

Clay Buchholz, who is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA, hasn't pitched since June 8 because of neck stiffness and a sore shoulder.

Lester, however, isn't concerned about his leg. He has experienced this before and doesn't think he will miss any starts.

"I'm not too worried about it. The doctors didn't seem worried about it," he said. "I actually feel fine now. Walking off the field, it just kind of stays with you for a little while, and then after the docs looked at me, I feel normal. Hopefully that will carry over to tomorrow and we won't have to worry about it."

The Blue Jays capitalized when Lester left the game, cutting the deficit to 7-4 on a sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes and a groundout by Jose Bautista.

Koji Uehara preserved the lead with a perfect ninth for his third save.

Lester (8-4) was charged with four runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in winning for just the second time in his last eight starts.

"I feel that responsibility to go out there and save the bullpen and that's what we tried to do tonight," Lester said. "Obviously would have liked to give (Tazawa) a little better situation than what he came into, but he kept us with the lead and that's the main thing."

After starting the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA through his first nine starts, Lester struggled over his past seven, going 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA.

He returned to form just in time to face baseball's best team in June ? and Boston's bats provided him all the support he needed.

The Red Sox jumped all over Chien-Ming Wang, tagging the right-hander for seven runs while batting around in the second. Wang (1-1) lasted just 1 2-3 innings, allowing all seven runs on six hits with two walks and no strikeouts.

"They dropped seven on us," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Against a good pitcher, you are never going to catch that. Too much to overcome."

Lester needed only 30 pitches to get through three innings and didn't allow a baserunner until Bautista walked with one out in the fourth.

Melky Cabrera singled for Toronto's first hit with one out in the fifth and moved to second on a base hit by Rajai Davis. Maicer Izturis drove them both home with a double to left-center.

Yet it wasn't enough to make up for Boston's blistering start.

Wang allowed the first seven batters to reach base during the drawn-out second.

David Ortiz and Mike Carp walked, Daniel Nava delivered an RBI single off the Green Monster in left field and Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with an RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0.

Stephen Drew's double to right scored Nava, and consecutive base hits by Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury stretched the lead to 5-0 before Wang even managed an out.

It got even worse.

After inducing a double play, Wang served up Pedroia's fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot that landed in the first row of Green Monster seats and ended Wang's evening after just 45 pitches.

"We swung the bats well," Pedroia said. "A lot of guys strung together some quality at-bats. It was a huge inning for us."

NOTES: The Red Sox played their 81st game, marking the 16th consecutive season Boston has owned a winning record halfway through the season. ... Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, on the DL with a neck strain, has been shut down for two to three days with lingering soreness in his right shoulder, according to Farrell. Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed inflammation in the bursa sac area, but no structural damage. Farrell said he hopes Buchholz will resume throwing this weekend. ... Ellsbury has hit safely in eight straight games and 22 of the past 25. ... Wang fell to 6-7 in 16 career appearances against the Red Sox. ... Toronto RHP Josh Johnson (1-2, 4.60 ERA) will face Allen Webster (0-2, 11.25) in the second game of the series Friday. ... Carp returned to the lineup after missing three games and eight of the past nine with right hamstring tightness.


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How a Fridge Full of Beer That Only Unlocks for Canadians Gets Made

As part of a recent ad campaign, Canadian beer company Molson Candian took a fridge full of its special adult beverage all around Europe to share with the thirsty masses. But there was a catch?the only way to unlock the boozy treasure was by scanning a Canadian passport. And though you may have already seen the commercial itself making the rounds these past few days, chances are you haven't seen what's actually the coolest part of the whole campaign?how a Canuck-specific cooler gets made.




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Friday, June 28, 2013

'Big givers' get punished for being nonconformists

June 27, 2013 ? People punish generous group members by rejecting them socially -- even when the generosity benefits everyone -- because the "big givers" are nonconformists, according to a Baylor University study.

The study, published in the journal Social Science Research, showed that besides socially rejecting especially generous givers, others even "paid" to punish them through a points system.

"This is puzzling behavior," said researcher Kyle Irwin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "Why would you punish the people who are doing the most -- especially when it benefits the group? It doesn't seem to make sense on the surface, but it shows the power of norms. It may be that group members think it's more important to conform than for the group to do well."

"Free-riders" -- those who were stingy but benefited from others' larger contributions -- also were nonconformists and ostracized.

Irwin and co-researcher Christine Horne, Ph.D., a sociologist at Washington State University, conducted a "public goods" experiment with 310 participants. Each person was given 100 points (which translated into opportunities to win a gift card) and had to decide how many to give to the group and how many to keep. Contributions were doubled and divided equally regardless of how much people donated. Decisions were made via computers, and individuals did not know or communicate with other group members before making their decisions. (In the experiment, other group members actually were simulated, with pre-programmed behavior.)

Each participant was told that he or she would see the amounts of four others and be the fifth giver, with a sixth person ending the sequence. The final giver always was pre-programmed to be stingier or much more generous than the others.

Each group member had the opportunity to "pay" via the points system to punish those who contributed the most. The "punisher" would have to give up one point for every three points he or she deducted from the most generous member.

Each member also rated on a scale of 1 to 9 how much they wanted each of the others to remain in the group.

Group members' donations averaged 50 percent of their resources. The "stingiest" individual gave only 10 percent, while the most generous one gave 90 percent.

Irwin likened the punishments to shunning or poking fun at someone who had done the bulk of work in a group project for a class -- or even kicking the person out of the group.

"There could be a number of reasons why the others punish a generous member," he said. "It may be that the generous giver made them look or feel bad. Or they may feel jealous or like they're not doing enough."

Irwin suggested that at some point, if the contributions became very large, group members' wish to benefit might override their desire to punish.


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TSX climbs as U.S. data buoys mood

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Thursday, helped by gains in most major sectors, as U.S. economic data lifted investor sentiment and eased concerns about the recovery in the world's largest economy.

At the same time, the market cheered comments from a Federal Reserve official who said the U.S. central bank's asset purchases would be more aggressive than the timeline outlined last week if U.S. economic growth and the labor market turn out weaker than expected.

Further boosting the mood was data showing German unemployment dropped unexpectedly in June and that Britain did not suffer a double-dip recession early last year as previously thought.

The index's gains was limited by declines in telecoms stocks, which fell for the second straight day after reports that U.S. giant Verizon Communications Inc is looking to enter the Canadian market.

On the data front, U.S. consumer spending rebounded in May and new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, suggesting the U.S. economy remained on a moderate growth path.

"The data into the second quarter has continued to show a nice improvement in the U.S. economy," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.

"A solid economy that can stand on its feet does not need quantitative easing," he added. "If the economy improves to a point where that goes away, it's actually a good thing."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.gsptse> closed up 53.88 points, or 0.45 percent, at 12,005.78.

Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, rose more than 1 percent, with gold-mining stocks climbing. Barrick Gold Corp was up 0.5 percent at C$15.57, and Goldcorp Inc rose 1.9 percent to C$23.85.

Energy shares added 0.3 percent, helped by higher oil prices. Suncor Energy Inc gained 1.3 percent to C$30.84.

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose 0.2 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia added 0.5 percent to C$55.82.

Toronto-Dominion Bank

said it has agreed to become the primary credit card issuer for Aeroplan, an air travel loyalty program owned by Aimia , which could end rival CIBC's long-standing partnership with Aeroplan.

Aimia's shares were up 10.6 percent at C$15.40. CIBC rose 0.4 percent to C$75.31, and TD gained 0.5 percent to C$83.90.

The telecoms group slipped 0.7 percent. Telus Corp gave back 2.9 percent to C$29.82, and Rogers Communications Inc lost 3.2 percent to C$40.35.

Canada's large telecoms players have had it good without any serious competition except with each other, Cieszynski said.

Verizon's entry could potentially be "a pretty big shakeout," he added. "Verizon is a major company with very deep pockets, very familiar with competing in the North American telecoms marketplace."

BlackBerry slipped 3.7 percent to C$15.05, a day ahead of its quarterly report.

Despite Thursday's gains, the benchmark Canadian index is down 3.4 percent since the start of the year.

The sentiment for Canadian stocks is "mediocre at best," said Philip Petursson, managing director, portfolio advisory group, at Manulife Asset Management. "I don't think investors are embracing Canadian equities as they once used to."

($1=$1.05 Canadian)

(Editing by Peter Galloway and Leslie Adler)


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'A Night With Janis Joplin' heads to Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) ? The boozy, bluesy, hot-mama howl of Janis Joplin is heading to Broadway.

Producers said Wednesday that the musical "A Night With Janis Joplin" starring Mary Bridget Davies as the iconic singer will start previews at the Lyceum Theatre on Sept. 20.

The show, written and directed by Randy Johnson, has a live onstage band and features Joplin hits and classic songs such as "Piece of My Heart," ''Mercedes Benz," ''Me and Bobby McGee," ''Ball and Chain" and "Summertime."

The show has already been staged at Portland Center Stage in Oregon; the Cleveland Play House; Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; the Pasadena Playhouse in California; and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Davies, who was raised in Cleveland, first won the role in 2005 after beating 150 actresses. She has appeared in the musical revue "It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues" and another Joplin musical, "Love, Janis." She has toured with Joplin's band, Big Brother & the Holding Company and has released the album "Wanna Feel Somethin.'"

Joplin rose to fame during San Francisco's 1967 "Summer of Love," gaining acclaim when she performed her version of blues singer Big Mama Thornton's "Ball and Chain" at the Monterey International Pop Festival. She died of a heroin overdose in Hollywood in 1970.




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Google refreshes Maps and Earth with 800,000 megapixels of new satellite imagery

Google refreshes Maps and Earth with 800,000 megapixels of new satellite imagery

It's not easy being a satellite; permanent imaging gear becomes outdated mere months after launch, and Mother Nature is constantly caught photobombing close-ups, throwing naughty clouds between a lens and the shot. All that makes for some pretty inconsistent online viewing. Fortunately, Google's stepped in to set things straight, combining the magic of photo stitching with the capture power of a brand-spanking-new Landsat 8. The result is a cloud-free planet, enabling millions of web-equipped "explorers" to realize improved aerial views as seen from 438 miles above sea level. It's pretty spectacular, and it's about friggin' time.

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Source: Google Maps


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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wall Street Fundamentals Releases New In-Depth Stock Reports on AEE, ETR, EXC and POM

On Monday, the 10-year Treasury yield spiked to 2.644 percent, the highest in nearly two years. The treasury yield has surged over 1 percent from its intraday low of 1.614 percent on May 1st. There are currently 165 companies (roughly 33 percent) in the S&P 500 Index with dividend yields higher than the 10-year Treasury yield, compared to 257 companies at the end of March. The recent surge in yields has triggered a selloff in defensive stocks among investors who flocked to the riskier equities in a low interest-rate environment.

Ameren Corp. (NYSE:AEE - News) shares traded in the range of $33.84 to $33.90 Wednesday before settling to close at $33.84, an increase of 1.29 percent. The stock appears to be facing resistance at the $34.47 and $34.87 levels. The company currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.40 a share, $1.60 annually, for a dividend yield of roughly 4.7 percent. Shares of Ameren have fallen approximately 2.0 percent in the past month.

More information on Ameren and access to the free equity report can be found at:

Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR - News) shares traded in the range of $69.18 to $70.52 Wednesday before settling to close at $70.28, an increase of 1.62 percent. The stock appears to be facing resistance at the $70.50 and $71.14 levels. The company currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.83 a share, $3.32 annually, for a dividend yield of roughly 4.7 percent. Shares of Entergy have gained approximately 2.0 percent in the past month.

More information on Entergy and access to the free equity report can be found at:

Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC - News) shares traded in the range of $31.14 to $31.50 Wednesday before settling to close at $31.35, an increase of 0.87 percent. The stock appears to be facing resistance at the $31.36 and $31.98 levels. The company currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.31 a share, $1.24 annually, for a dividend yield of roughly 4.0 percent. Shares of Exelon have fallen approximately 9.5 percent in the past month.

More information on Exelon and access to the free equity report can be found at:

Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:POM - News) shares traded in the range of $19.99 to $20.27 Wednesday before settling to close at $20.19, an increase of 1.41 percent. The stock appears to be facing resistance at the $20.40 and $20.63 levels. The company currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.27 a share, $1.08 annually, for a dividend yield of roughly 5.4 percent. Shares of Pepco have fallen approximately 5.0 percent in the past month.

More information on Pepco and access to the free equity report can be found at:

Wall Street Fundamentals offers our members a full range of investor services including in-depth equity reports on your favorite companies and timely market updates featuring the hottest stocks trending in the marketplace.

Activate your always free membership by signing up at today.

Disclaimer: Information, opinions and analysis contained herein are based on sources believed to be reliable, but no representation, expressed or implied, is made as to its accuracy, completeness or correctness. The opinions contained herein reflect our current judgment and are subject to change without notice. We accept no liability for any losses arising from an investor's reliance on or use of this report. This report is for information purposes only, and is neither a solicitation to buy nor an offer to sell securities. Certain information included herein is forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, but not limited to, statements concerning manufacturing, marketing, growth, and expansion. Such forward-looking information involves important risks and uncertainties that could affect actual results and cause them to differ materially from expectations expressed herein. Wall Street Fundamentals has no financial relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this release.

Wall Street Fundamentals


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Fed Up Teachers Refuse to Teach Summer School in Texas

Summer school in Dallas is lacking one critical component.

On Tuesday, classes began in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) with about 6,000 students, and a very limited amount of teachers.

?We?ve never had a shortage for summer school, never. And I?ve been in DISD for about 12 years,? Angela Davis, president of the National Education Association, a teachers group, told a Dallas television station.

So, what?s the problem?

Teachers blame Superintendent Mike Miles, a leader who they claim has a very heavy hand when it comes to management. Davis told the television station that teachers were very stressed during the school year.

Michael Messer, regional organizer for Save Texas Schools in Dallas-Fort Worth, agreed.

?Since the board hired Mike Miles to be superintendent, his heavy-handed approach has left the teachers and staff demoralized,? Messer told TakePart. ?The school board and Mike Miles decided to fire two principals and approximately 400 teachers in late May. Many experienced teachers have left the profession in response to these harsh measures. At some point, you have to expect people to start standing up for themselves, even if their typical response to administrative adversity is to grin and bear it for the students.?

Messer said that teachers can refuse to teach summer school because their contracts do not obligate them to do so. Teachers are only paid a daily rate for teaching summer classes.

He said teachers have been extremely stressed since spring 2012 when the district school board decided to increase class sizes and extend the workday by 45 minutes. They do not get the support they need to do their jobs, he said.

?These moves made the teachers? jobs more difficult by adding extra paperwork to their already busy schedule,? he said. ?It insulted them by insinuating that they did not already work enough hours to justify their salary. Anyone who is or knows a teacher understands just how much personal time they devote to grading homework, writing lesson plans, and heading after-school programs.?

An anonymous blog dedicated to issues in the Dallas school district paints a dire picture. A teacher in the district wrote that while conditions during the regular school year are tough, summer school poses its own set of problems.

?The entire student body consists of the students who failed despite all interventions. A large percentage of these same students are disruptive and unable to behave appropriately in a classroom,? she wrote. ?It?s a tough gig to jump in the trenches with so many below-level kids and get them up to speed so they can promote to the next grade.?

Teachers attempt to do their best in summer school with struggling students, but it?s tough. In addition, this year there is additional stress for teachers. The staff will be closely monitored with ?more spot observations.? She adds, ?In short, teachers were promised more opportunities to get fired.?

The teachers aren?t the only ones saying enough is enough. This week, the school district?s communications chief quit her job just days after the personnel chief and the operations chief quit.

Because of the shortage, students who must attend summer school in Dallas may be placed in larger classes. And more students in one classroom means less one-on-one attention. Therefore, students who were already having trouble understanding the material (or had failed the controversial STAAR exams) have less time with a teacher to explain, Messer said. ?It renders summer school an ineffective waste of taxpayer funds, and the students are more likely to repeat classes.?

Related stories on TakePart:


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Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play edition hands-on (video)

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play edition handson video

It's probably not a huge stretch to say that Samsung's Galaxy S 4 running stock Android was the biggest surprise to come out of Google I/O last month. The handset -- officially called Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play edition -- is now on sale in the Play store for $649 alongside a special version of the HTC One. Spec-wise, the phone is identical to AT&T's 16GB model and supports the same bands (including LTE). It's powered by Qualcomm's 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB or RAM and features a 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 13-megapixel camera with flash, removable 2600mAh Li-ion battery and microSD expansion. While we briefly handled the phone at I/O, it wasn't until yesterday that we got to spend some quality time with it. Hit the break for our first impressions and hands-on video.

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Source: Play store

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Miley Cyrus' 'We Can't Stop' Director Explains Video's Strangest Images

Director Diane Martel breaks down Miley's new video to MTV News, including the origins of the French fry skull and twerking teddy bears.
By Jocelyn Vena, with additional reporting by James Montgomery


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Brazil protesters, police clash near soccer match

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) ? Brazilian protesters and police clashed Wednesday near a stadium hosting a Confederations Cup soccer match, as thousands of demonstrators trying to march on the site were met by tear gas and rubber bullets.

Brazil's senate voted to increase penalties for those found guilty of corruption, responding to a key demand made by protesters across the country.

Anti-government protesters in part angered by the billions spent in World Cup preparations picked up tear gas canisters and lobbed them back at police, along with a shower of rocks. A dense fog of the acrid gas enveloped the mass of protesters, who were about a mile (2 kilometers) away from the stadium where Brazil was playing Uruguay in a semifinal match of the warm-up tournament for next year's World Cup.

Police set up a 2-kilometer (1-mile) perimeter around the stadium, normal procedure for international tournaments. Mounted police and riot units maintained another security line about 1 kilometer (half-mile) from the stadium.

"The protesters started this when they tried to break through our outer barrier," said police Capt. Flavio Almeida. "We had no choice but to respond."

Two protesters were hurt, including a 21-year-old man who fell from an overpass and was in critical condition.

By the time the match ended in a 2-1 Brazil victory, most of the protesters had dispersed. In another area of Belo Horizonte, a group of masked young men shattered the windows of car showroom and set the shop on fire.

About 50,000 protesters had earlier massed in a central plaza in Belo Horizonte.

"We don't need the World Cup," said Leonardo Fabri, a 19-year-old protester. "We need education, we need better health services, a more humane police."

It's the latest protest to turn violent as Latin America's biggest country has been hit by nationwide protests since June 17.

Elsewhere in Brazil the situation was mostly calm, in part because Brazilian lawmakers were taking action to meet protesters' demands.

The senate on Wednesday approved legislation to ratchet up penalties for those found guilty of corruption and would take away the ability for a pardon, amnesty or bail for those convicted. The measure must be approved by the lower house before it's signed into law.

The lower house late Tuesday voted 403-9 to drop a measure that would have limited the investigative powers of federal prosecutors, a bill that many feared would make it harder to prosecute official corruption.

"This movement scored a big victory by the killing" of that legislation, said Leila Marques, a 19-year-old protester in Brasilia. "But it can't stop now. We have to do more to clean up corruption."

The wave of protests that hit Brazil began as opposition to transportation fare hikes, then expanded to a laundry list of causes including anger at high taxes, poor services and high World Cup spending, before coalescing around the issue of rampant government corruption.

It has become the largest eruption of public demonstrations Brazil has seen in two decades.

At many protests across Brazil in the past week, a sea of signs denounced the proposal to strip prosecutors of the ability to investigate, known as the "PEC 37" measure. Many demonstrators vowed to keep returning to the streets until it was knocked down.

"The PEC 37 only served to protect the corrupt," said Aline Campos, a 29-year-old publicist at a recent protest in Brasilia. "Society wants more effort to combat corruption, not less."

Federal prosecutors were behind the investigation into the so-called "mensalao" cash-for-votes scheme that came to light in 2005. It involved top aides of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva buying off members of congress to vote for their legislation.

Last year, the supreme court sentenced two dozen people in connection with the case, and it was hailed as a watershed moment in Brazil's fight against corruption. However, those sentenced have yet to be jailed because of appeals, a delay that has enraged Brazilians.

On Wednesday, the top court again flexed its anti-corruption muscles by ordering the immediate imprisonment of congressman Natan Donadon, who was found guilty on corruption charges in 2010 and who has now exhausted all appeals.

Before mass protests broke out on June 17, the PEC 37 legislation appeared heading to easy victory in the lower house of congress.

"It was on the streets that the blindness of the politicians was lifted," said Domingos Dutra, a congressman who has often butted heads with leaders of his ruling Workers Party.

Congress also approved a bill earmarking 75 percent of oil royalties to fund education and 25 percent to health services.

Earlier this week, President Dilma Rousseff announced investments of $23 billion in transportation and said her government would start projects aimed at five key areas where protesters have demanded improvements: fiscal responsibility and controlling inflation, political reform, health care, public transport and education.

Rousseff also said she would push for an assembly with power for propose constitutional amendments that that would hear from the Brazilian public. Opposition lawmakers questioned that action, arguing that only congress has the right to call such an assembly.

After meeting with the chief justice of the supreme court on Tuesday, Rousseff's office said Wednesday she will continue to push for a plebiscite on political reform, but dropped the push for the constitutional assembly.

In Belo Horizonte, protester earlier Jose Barbosa Neto used a megaphone to try to talk to Brazil's football players outside the hotel where they were staying.

"I'm against all the money that was spent to build stadiums while our people are suffering across the country. I'm here protesting peacefully for a better country," he said. "I don't want to be watching these matches, I'd rather be protesting for a better country."


Associated Press writers Marco Sibaja in Brasilia and Bradley Brooks and Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Court of public opinion looms large in George Zimmerman murder trial

George Zimmerman listens to a jury consultant in court this week. Opening arguments in the murder trial will be??

On paper, Seminole County, Fla., criminal case No. 2012-001083-CFA is a second-degree murder trial, one that could send George Zimmerman to prison for life.

But in the court of public opinion, the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin has roused a national conversation about racial profiling, self-defense, gun control, vigilantism, civil rights and more.

A trial that speaks to something more than just the individuals involved is good for civic discourse, says Jason Johnson, a political science and communications professor at Hiram College in Ohio.

?That is a very good result of this case,? Johnson told Yahoo News. ?Depending on your demographics and your experience, there are different parts of this case that pop out to you.?

Opening arguments in the high-profile trial, which will be streamed live on Yahoo, begin at 9 a.m. ET Monday.

Zimmerman was a volunteer crime watchman in his gated Sanford, Fla., community when he shot and killed Martin during a scuffle on a dark neighborhood sidewalk in February 2012.

Minutes before the shooting, Zimmerman phoned police to report Martin, 17, as a suspicious person and, against the advice of a 911 dispatcher, continued to follow him through the neighborhood. Martin, a Miami high school student, had been at a nearby convenience store and was walking back to a family friend?s house where was he visiting.

[RELATED: A look at the jurors for George Zimmerman's trial

Zimmerman, who is of mixed heritage and self-identifies as Hispanic, says he shot Martin in self-defense. He maintains that the teen attacked him, pounded his head into the pavement and tried to get his holstered handgun. Martin died at the scene from a single gunshot to the chest. Sanford police didn?t initially arrest Zimmerman, who suffered a bloody nose and head lacerations in the fight.

While no one witnessed the confrontation, Martin had been on his cellphone with his girlfriend shortly before the scuffle. The woman, identified in court records as Witness No. 8, could provide key testimony for the state's argument that Zimmerman pursued Martin. A neighbor heard the pair fighting and was on the phone with 911 when the fatal shot was fired. Faint screaming is heard in the background of the call. Prosecutors say it was Martin. Zimmerman says it was him. On Friday, Judge Debra Nelson is expected to rule if audio experts will be allowed to testify.

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of Trayvon Martin, listen as the charges against George Zimmerman??

Many viewed the early lack of charges against Zimmerman as unequal justice for a black victim. More than 2 million people signed an online petition demanding ?Justice for Trayvon Martin,? and demonstrators protested in Sanford and elsewhere across the country. President Barack Obama drew criticism from some when he addressed the tragedy during a public briefing in the White House Rose Garden.

?All of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen,? Obama said 19 days before Zimmerman was eventually charged by a special prosecutor assigned to take over for local police.

?But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.?

Johnson, the professor, says the president?s remarks proved to be pivotal.

?That?s when we knew that this case was going to be about more than this particular kid getting killed,? Johnson says. ?It was going to be about notions of violence, and respect, and profiling in America in general.?

These issues have nothing to do with Martin?s death, says Robert Zimmerman, George?s father. He recently released an e-book titled, ?Florida v. Zimmerman: Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of My Son.?

?Every attempt was made to portray the events as a white, racist, neighborhood watch volunteer stalking, pursuing, and then murdering a little black boy simply getting candy for his little brother,? Robert Zimmerman writes in the book. ?Absolutely none of this portrayal was at all accurate, and clearly known not to be true by individuals involved.?

[PHOTOS: See pictures of key players and evidence in the case

Zimmerman, himself a former judge, contends prosecutors are on a ?politically motivated witch hunt? fueled by ?race-baiters? seeking fortune and fame.

?A wholly justified and necessary action by George turned into a national issue,? he writes. ?What Americans have been told by the media for well over a year will finally be exposed and the truth presented. The egregious and self serving conduct of the Scheme Team, prosecutors, and others will hopefully be fully exposed.?

According to public documents, an FBI investigation didn't uncover any evidence that Martin?s death was motivated by race. However, Johnson said the case still has racial components that can?t be overlooked.

?Race is a lot more nuanced than we often report and discuss in public discourse,? he said. ?This is one of those cases that?s going to demonstrate how nuanced it really is.?

While the country debates the role race played, Sanford continues to heal from the community unrest. For several months, many of the town?s clergy have been gathering with federal and local mediators to share their congregation?s concerns.

Next week they?ll play peacekeepers at the trial. Four seats in the courtroom are set aside for local ministers, while other pastors plan to mingle among spectators outside the courthouse.


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Hoeven-Corker Changes Nothing (Powerlineblog)

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