Stars rock New York to fight poverty

NEW YORK - The Black Keys, Foo Fighters and Neil Young rocked New York's Central Park on Saturday with a free concert highlighting efforts to combat extreme poverty around the world.

An estimated 60,000 people flocked to the Manhattan park's Great Lawn for the event organized by the Global Poverty Project. Unlike past benefit concerts, the main aim was to raise attention, not money.

Tickets were free, but to qualify, online concertgoers had to accumulate points by watching videos on about various elements of extreme poverty, ranging from malaria to mothers dying in childbirth.

Points also added up when those applying passed on information via social networks like Twitter.

The Global Poverty Project says it has more than met its goal of securing pledges worth more than $500 million this year from aid agencies and other donors, some of which were announced between sets at the concert.

But the concert itself was about bringing the anti-poverty message to ordinary people.

With the United Nations wrapping up its annual General Assembly, this was the perfect moment to push for mass participation in the cause, Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans said.

"Politicians, you know what they do?" Evans licked his finger and stuck it in the air. "They look to see where the wind is blowing. Civil society decides where that wind is blowing," he told journalists near the stage, with the Manhattan skyline in the background.

"We want to build a movement. It can't be just one concert."

In addition to the concert headliners, there was a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" by John Legend and performances from K'naan and Band of Horses.

Rockers used the stage to promote the poverty awareness message, helped by short videos on huge screens showing the work of anti-poverty campaigners.

"We believe these problems are solvable. All it takes is the will of the leaders, the will of the people, and that's why we're here," Legend said.

Karen Sullivan, a 43-year-old teacher attending the concert, said she agreed there was a need to get people talking about extreme poverty around the world, and accused the media of failing to spread the word.

"I think people want to know, but don't have the avenues," she said. "People say Americans don't care and I get very angry about that. I think Americans do care. They just don't know what to care about."

Perhaps many in the huge crowd, though, were at least as excited by the one-off opportunity to see their rock gods as by the idea of helping the world's poor.

"Mostly we just wanted to see the Foo Fighters. We got lucky," said fireman Stan Kowalski, 30.

Organizers say they want supporters of the Global Poverty Project to Tweet President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney with requests for a detailed discussion on foreign policy during the upcoming presidential debates.


Metallica Pay Tribute To Bassist With Free Download

Get a free 1984 show to mark 26 years since Cliff Burton died

The band are currently giving away a show that was recorded at Le Riff in Toulouse on the band's Ride The Lightning Tour.

Paying tribute to their fallen bandmate, who was killed in a bus crash in 1986, they posted a photo of Cliff and simply said "We miss you" before adding "While you're remembering Cliff on the 26th anniversary of his passing, give a listen to this free download from the 'Ride the Lightning' tour"

You can get the free download HERE

Term Insurance: Best Life Insurance for Smart People

“Do you have the best life insurance policy to protect your family?” asked a friend of mine who sells insurance.

With myriad of different types of short-term insurance policies and long-term insurance polices, it’s easy to forget that the purpose of a life insurance policy is simply to protect your family members in case if you die.

Me: I have the term insurance.

Friend:  Well, you are not thinking about your future. If I were you, I would buy a Whole Life policy instead.

His knee jerk response didn’t surprise me. In fact, I expected this response as I know that he works for a large insurance company.

Me: I do think about my future, so I buy term insurance and invest the difference in an Index fund.

Friend:  That’s good, but most people don’t have the discipline to invest. Most people spend the difference. As time goes, they find it to be harder to invest as their expenses grow.

Me: Term insurance is the best life insurance policy for the smart people. Now, may I ask you a question and expect an honest answer?

Friend: Of course. I am your friend first.

Me:  Imagine that I own a bank. I wanted to know if  you will be willing to open a savings account. Trust me, it is  insured  by FDIC. Don’t forget that I am your friend first; but you have to comply with some requirements.

Friend: What are they?

Me:  The bank will use all of your first year deposits to cover our costs, but don’t worry because part of it will be saved to protect your family if you die.  Also, we will charge 2%  fees from the second year to manage your savings account. You can borrow money at any time, but you will have to pay interest on it. Last but not least, if you die then we will protect your family for the coverage amount. The cash value will be ours to keep.

Friend:  Am I a fool to do that?  I can find a bank myself that can open a savings account without any strings attached. Why do I ever wanted to throw money away for the first year and pay you to manage my savings account?

Me:  Precisely, that’s the question I am asking you. What I described is the nemesis of my beloved term life insurance policy. The ball is in your court, my friend.

Friend:  I think I have the best insurance policy for you that can provide best of both worlds — coverage for the death benefits as well as cash value — if you die. Why don’t you buy the Universal life insurance policy? Our company always thinks about you — the client — first.

Me:  I know that you are my friend, and you work for a well-known insurance company. The only problem I have with the Universal life insurance policy is its rate of return in the long haul. The average rate of return is only 2.19% in 25 years, and measly  .99% in 50 years. I thought that Social Security run by our government returns better than that. Don’t forget that if you add average inflation rate of 3%, you are losing money by investing in a Universal Life insurance policy.

Friend:  I think you are overlooking the fact that you are not a professional money manager. You can lose everything, if you invest money yourself in equities.

Me:  Don’t worry. I have John Bogle on my side. He is kind enough to think about a common man with common sense. I can buy the life protection part of the insurance cheaply with a term policy,  and invest the rest in any of his funds randomly to beat the smartest fund manager on Wall Street consistently.

Friend:  Our company allows you to invest in growth funds, and they return in double-digit. Don’t you think that is a better strategy than simply investing in index funds?

Me:  That may be true, but I did say that John Bogle’s index funds beat most mutual funds consistently.  You will always find funds that can return in double digits for several years, but not consistently. Since I am not as smart as these fund managers are, I would rather invest in an index fund with no fees.

Needless to say that my friend had an urgent call from someone else,  so he has promised me that he will put facts together for my benefit. I am still waiting  for the best insurance policy to protect my family.


Rockin' with Call It Spring

MANILA, Philippines - Call It Spring’s latest collection allows people to express themselves, hang out with nothing but music in their hearts — whether they live for rock, shimmy to hip-hop, or dance to the DJ’s heavy bass line — and draw inspiration from the places and faces along the way.

Always blending the personal and the poetic, the campaigns play in the thoughts and dreams of this generation while catering to people’s need for individuality.

This season is all about the music, the “band aids,” the super-fans and the artists who light up the night. Revive your passion for deafening riffs and blinding spotlights: there is a rock star in all of us. All we need is the inspiration to let it shine through. Call It Spring’s F/W ’12 trends bring out the best in you this season.

The Folk Wave trend embraces all cultures and an urban celebration of outdoorsy styles — thick, chunky suede and old scuffed leather rendition that comes in a mix of rich rust and woodsy brown hues, leafy greens, poppy reds, and topaz blues. Matching this autumnal color palette are the Incan, Afghan and Texan prints, combined patterns and inspirations from far and wide.

This cool Southwestern spin nods to chukkas and gaucho boots that will certainly keep you warm and stylish this season’s biting moments. The multicultural attitude comes in distressed materials, synthetic nubuck, vegetable leathers, and ethnic print. The whole point of this trend is to bring your nature-loving fuzzy feelings to the fore.

Playful Glam takes cue from the roaring ’20s, embracing flashy sequins and glitter, sumptuous fabrics and diamond-dripping glamour. This trend combines flashy shoe silhouette lustrous mile-high heels, and sleek spit-shined brogues. All these were inspired from the secret of true style — that it knows no border, no times zones and no limits, lending the shoes their standout look.

While a shimmering pair of heels is the perfect choice for the upcoming festivities this season, get head-over-heels on Call It Spring’s lace shooties and rhinestones elements. Adding sparkle to any look, this trend muses that all you need is an opulent attitude and some bright shiny things to know that it costs nothing to live in the lap of luxury.

High Performance Chic walks the line between sophisticated (in look) and athletic (in spirit) materials taking you from the boardroom to date night with ease. This trend reflects the needs of city life, suave and modern.

Considered as the big brother of mod, the styles radiate dark muted hues like bronze, gray, nude, black with touches of indigo and red. Similarly, this trend still places a premium on performance, technical materials and an urban perspective paving way for that slick look. Don’t forget those metallic accents that result in a truly stellar pair of heels. Pointed toes, high-tops, concealed wedges, and vulcanized soles are some more essentials for a city-dweller.

While most of today’s heels are suited for after-hours or off-duty affairs, a handful of sophisticated yet comfortable and athletic daytime-appropriate options are available too. Whether it’s super elegant or a bit more playful, Call It Spring always loves to inspire and see you rocking those amazing pairs.

Call It Spring’s assorted range is available at Ayala Center Cebu, Greenbelt 3, Harbor Point, Robinsons Place Manila, Newport Mall and TriNoma.


FCDU loans up 23% to $7.768B

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign-currency loans increased by more than a fifth in the second quarter on the back of continued market confidence in the local economy, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

Loans extended by banks’ foreign currency deposit units (FCDU) jumped 23 percent to $7.768 billion as of June from previous year’s $6.314 billion, data from the BSP showed.

Compared with the first quarter, lending of FCDUs- which are branches or subsidiaries of foreign banks in the country- rose 7.3 percent from $7.240 billion.

More loans were granted “due to the stable macroeconomic conditions, low interest rate environment and strong consumer confidence” in the country, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement.

Loans were channeled mainly to public utility firms, which accounted for 26.9 percent of the total, as well as merchandise and service exporters (22.5 percent) and manufacturers including oil companies (14.9 percent).

Filipinos accounted for the bulk of loan customers, BSP said. Residents were granted a total of $6.468 billion in foreign loans, 83.3 percent of the total and up 26.6 percent and 10.4 percent from previous year and quarter, respectively.

Most loans were also long-term in nature as data showed 61.5 percent of the total will be payable over a one-year term. The balance of 38.5 percent will have to be settled with 12 months or less.

With more lending, BSP hopes banks will be able to contribute to consumption growth and boost economic activity in the process.

The Philippine economy grew by 6.1 percent as of June, slightly faster than the government’s five- to six-percent target for the year.


Happy Birthday, Avril Lavigne! Singer-Designer Turns 28

New birthday, new love (and new hair).

To say recently engaged singer Avril Lavigne is kicking off her 28th birthday with a bang would be an understatement.

The "Sk8er Boi" crooner has had quite the year, calling it quits with longtime boyfriend Brody Jenner in February, and getting engaged to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger months later in August.

And we're sure there are even bigger monuments on the horizon for this Canadian singer who recently showed off her Abbey Dawn clothing line during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

While its clear Lavigne won't be celebrating this birthday with baby news, we can't help but to wonder what birthday surprises her hubby-to-be has in store (considering the whopping 14-carat diamond he put on her ring finger).

Take a look at Avril Lavigne's hottest hairstyles!


Pink tops Billboard album chart, ‘Gangnam’ No. 1 digital song

LOS ANGELES – Pop rocker Pink scored her first Billboard No. 1 album on Wednesday, while South Korean singer Psy, who has taken the Internet by storm with his horsey dance moves, landed at No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart with his hit “Gangnam Style.”

Psy recently appeared on the “Today” show and “Saturday Night Live” to perform “Gangnam Style” while doing his choppy dance steps that vaguely recall a child riding a stick horse.

Pink’s “The Truth About Love” sold 280,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, making it the third-highest debut of 2012, behind Justin Bieber’s “Believe” and Madonna’s “MDNA.” It is the singer’s best-selling debut to date.

Pink beat debuts from Kanye West’s GOOD music rappers, The Killers and Carly Rae Jepsen. Sales of Pink’s album were aided by a major Target promotional campaign as well as Amazon MP3 offering the record for a discount price of $5. The lead single – “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” – also topped Billboard’s pop songs airplay chart this week.

K-pop viral phenomenon Psy, who has racked up some 270 million YouTube views, sold 301,000 digital copies in the U.S. last week of his “Gangnam Style” hit, knocking Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” from its month-long run in the top spot.

The 34-year-old rapper, whose real name is Park Jai-sang, told a news conference in Seoul this week he would perform the song topless if it hit No.1 on the Billboard chart.

Elsewhere, “Cruel Summer,” the latest compilation release from Kanye West’s GOOD Music label featuring West collaborating with artists including Big Sean, Pusha T and 2Chainz, sold 205,000 copies in its first week to secure the No. 2 position on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Vegas rockers The Killers came in at No. 3 with their fourth studio album “Battle Born,” selling 113,000 copies in its first week. Although the band went straight to No. 1 in the UK last week, a chart-topping album in the Billboard 200 has eluded them.

Newcomer Carly Rae Jepsen, who shot to fame with the catchy summer hit “Call Me Maybe,” released her debut set “Kiss” last week, and sold 46,000 copies, notching No. 6 on the chart.

Jepsen was just below last week’s chart-topper Dave Matthews Band’s “Away From The World” at No. 4 and Little Big Town’s “Tornado” at No. 5.

“Call Me Maybe” has sold 5.7 million copies in the U.S. to date, making it 2012′s biggest selling single behind only Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.”


Henry Rollins on Election Season: 'I Really Don't Like All This Anger'

Veteran punk and spoken word artist Henry Rollins has been touring relentlessly in one way or another for over 30 years, and all that experience has made him extra-sensitive to the ways of public speaking. When he watches a speech by Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, he doesn't just think about what they say. He deconstructs their mannerisms, word choice and sense of rhythm.

So Rollins wasn't particularly surprised when he read passages from the now-infamous video of Romney at a recent fundraiser in Boca Raton – unveiled by Mother Jones – which shows the Republican presidential nominee basically dismissing 47 percent of the U.S. population as moochers who don't pay income tax and depend on government handouts.

"Nothing [Romney] can say at this point surprises me. You know who he is when he walks in through the door," the former Black Flag singer tells Rolling Stone. "He has waterboarded and steam-pressed every bit of humanity out of himself. I've never heard a more robotic, dehumanized person in my life. Everything he says just sounds like a thoroughly wiped ass when it comes out of his mouth."

These days, Rollins has politics on his mind. On his current "Capitalism" spoken-word tour, he's hitting all 51 capital cities in the United States; he'll finish at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on November 5th, on the eve of the Presidential election. Onstage he's telling stories about his travels to countries such as Vietnam, India, Sudan and North Korea. He's also urging his audience to vote (for whichever candidate), and weighing in on the country's political discourse.

"Since we're coming up on an election, I do take the time to remind the audience that, in America, we have become extremely polarized, and that perhaps our similarities and commonalities far outweigh our dissimilarities, and we should maybe remember that," he says. "I really don't like all this anger that's going back and forth. It's just not productive."

For a guy as famously angry as Rollins, this might seem like a curious position. But he prefers addressing complex issues with cold, sober reason, just as his hero Abraham Lincoln did.

"I'm angry every day. There's plenty of stuff to be angry about, absolutely. I'll always be angry, I hope – if I'm lucky," he says. "But with this kind of thing, man, you've got to really look at it. You can't get your head around something if you're yelling."

As for the Presidential election, it's fairly obvious whom Rollins is voting for.

"I was a fan as soon as I heard him speak," he says about President Obama. "I think the last four years, you've seen an incredibly brilliant man do the best he can with a Congress that says ‘No,' and an alarmingly wide swatch of America calling him a nigger.

"When I see the hatred exacted at Mr. Obama – you know, he lowered your taxes, killed your number one bad guy and got your guys out of Iraq – I don't understand why he seems to inflame people so much. You know, unless, unless there's a race problem," he explains. "I try to give people the benefit of the doubt as long as possible. But when you see people with signs of the president with a bone in his nose or something like that, I don't know what other conclusion I'm supposed to draw."

But while he's a fan, he has mixed feelings about the president's speaking style.

"I like when he's laying down the facts, but then when he gets the applause going and he goes into Sunday preacher mode: 'I'm with ya! I'll be walkin' with ya!' Like, really? You don't talk like that, so why are you doing it now?" he says. "He does it a lot. And I don't like it.

"Also, he stammers a lot, and that doesn't sell very well with me," he adds, noting that it appears to be a deeply ingrained mannerism Obama is aware of. "He's one of the most intelligent Presidents in our lifetime, for sure. And that stammer – I don't know where it comes from. But whenever he speaks, I wish he'd lose it."

So far this year, Rollins has performed more than 100 spoken word shows. When he's done with the "Capitalism" tour, he'll return to "The Long March," a marathon talking tour he's been on since January. Starting on November 8th at Joe's Pub in New York City, he'll do a series of multiple-show residencies in New York, Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

He says he'd be fine financially if he retired, but he doesn't want to. He loves performing onstage and having a responsibility to his audience, he says, though he acknowledges that there might be another reason, too.

"My assistant says that I'm basically meditating – I have some condition – by touring. And she scolds me when I tour a lot," he says. "I say, 'Aw, come on! It's a great work ethic.' And she says, 'No, you're running from something.' She's not impressed. And that very well could be. Maybe I'm just a psycho, and the stage is a better place to go than either the loony bin or somewheres else."


Song Premiere: Bad Brains, 'Into the Future'

Click to listen to Bad Brains' 'Into the Future'


It's been five years since Bad Brains' last release, Build a Nation, but the pioneering hardcore band proves that it hasn't lost a step on "Into the Future." The title track from their new album is a song about the future, but it's connected to the group's past: roiling guitar spills over a pounding beat while vocalist H.R. drawls out the lyrics with sneering menace. "My vocalizing strengthens the impact of the group's overall deliverance of the music, and the expression of the church of music," the singer tells Rolling Stone. "The new album wouldn't be an A-plus new album if it hadn't been for the earlier music, which was equally as inspirational. And it gets better and better."

The band took its time with Into the Future, due November 20th and produced by the four musicians: H.R., Dr. Know, Darryl Jenifer and Earl Hudson. "Sometimes we bicker and deliberate amongst ourselves, and we pick out, you know, little human qualities... but it's ultimately of no concern because we have a keen sense of awareness, can push our emotions aside and get to the nitty-gritty of the sound and perform – and that's what counts. To rise above all of that: that's what the Brains can do," says H.R.


Slipknot’s Corey Taylor to Announce New Project at Dark Horse Comics Booth at New York Comic Con

This just in: Slipknot and Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor will make a special appearance 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, October 13, at this year’s New York Comic Con.

Taylor will be at the Dark Horse Comics booth — pen in hand — to announce a brand-new project.

Those are all the facts we have at the moment, folks, but the results of the project — whatever it turns out to be — are bound to be interesting, since Taylor is a well-known (and self-declared) comic geek.

“I’m such a horror geek, comic geek and action figure geek,” Taylor says on his official website. “I’m inspired by so much, from Hunter S. Thompson and Quentin Tarantino to The Dark Knight and Halloween. Just show me something that doesn’t suck, and I’m happy.”

Care to speculate on exactly what the project might be? Let us know in the comments below — and keep an eye out for updates on

New York Comic Con takes place October 11 to 14 at NYC’s Javits Center. For more info, visit


Bono to receive Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle

MEXICO CITY – Mexico will bestow the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration awarded to foreigners, on U2 singer Bono in recognition of his humanitarian work and close ties with the country.

President Felipe Calderon may deliver the medal to the Irish star during his visit to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa told reporters on Friday.

But she noted that the singer has not yet confirmed the exact date for the medal ceremony, due to prior commitments.

Espinosa said she spoke to Bono, who founded the global anti-poverty group ONE to help fight poverty and disease in Africa, to inform him of the decision.

“He said that he feels very honored and very pleased with this decision, and that Mexico is a country that he loves and admires,” she said.

Calderon, who leaves office on December 1, met with Bono at the presidential residence of Los Pinos last year to thank the singer for expressing solidarity with Mexico over the country’s drug violence during a concert in the capital.

“Mexico needs to know you are not alone and we are with you… you are not alone in the darkness,” Bono told 93,000 fans at the Azteca football stadium.


Should you upgrade to the iPhone 5?

(CNN) -- Deciding when to upgrade is a funny, sometimes expensive thing. Carrier contracts that subsidize the cost of a new iPhone are usually for two years, so it's traditional to upgrade every other model or less. You also want to time it just right, during the iPhone development cycle, so you don't buy a phone months before it's outdated.

If you are an iPhone owner who is pondering an upgrade to the new iPhone 5, here are some things to consider:

Do you long for more screen space/watch a lot of movies?

Perhaps you've heard that the iPhone 5 is taller. This is true. After testing its tallness we've found that there is more space on the screen, which is no longer as short as the previous iPhone screens.

The phone retains its width but is now 9 millimeters taller -- that's one extra row of icons. The dimensions are perfect for watching widescreen movies, which were previously smaller and letter-boxed. The space also gives all other apps a bit more breathing room. Third-party applications must now redesign their apps to fix the new aspect ratio -- which requires time and resources -- so until then, older apps will be shown at normal size, the bar of unused screen space cloaked in mourning-black.

There is a market for much larger smartphone screens, and companies like Samsung have delivered with spacious, high-resolution smartphones. This is largely a matter of preference, but if you find that the iPhone 5's screen is still just too small for you, you may need to defect to something like the Samsung Galaxy S3 which has a 4.8-inch screen.

Does your current phone feel slow?

Each iPhone is typically faster than its predecessor, and phones tend to slow down over time. Apple has added a speedier processor to the iPhone 5 in the form of an A6 chip. The company claims it is up to twice as fast, and after testing, the difference is definitely noticeable.

Holding on to a slightly slower iPhone might not be much of an issue if you primarily use it for common tasks -- calls and texts, e-mailing, Twitter and Facebook, reading, even watching movies. If you don't find yourself grumbling at how slow your phone is, and you're still reeling from the speed improvements over the last iPhone you bought, you can probably carry on blissfully unaware of the difference.

However, if you use your iPhone for bigger tasks like playing graphic games, the speed is a very welcome bump indeed. Another place it's a noticeable improvement is the camera (more on that in a moment).

There are also free steps you can take to try and speed up your current phone. Free up some hard drive space by uninstalling apps you never use, emptying Safari's cache and clearing out photos, videos and music (see exactly what's taking up space in Settings->General->Usage). Make sure you regularly close any apps running in the background.

Is your iPhone your primary camera?

Thanks to decent image quality and the ability to share photos and videos instantly, the iPhone is probably more popular as a camera than a telephoning device. The iPhone 5 has the same 8-megapixel camera sensor as the iPhone 4S, but Apple did make a few hardware tweaks to make it fit into the thinner body and to improve image quality.

The best camera improvement is actually just plain old speed. You can take rapid-fire shots as fast as your finger can tap on the shutter button. Tapping to focus is instant. For anyone who has ever missed a moment because of the iPhone's lagging trigger, this is just awesome.

Apple added a new panorama feature to the Photos app, and while there are numerous third-party panorama apps available, such as Microsoft's Photosynth, the Apple feature manages to beat them at their own game. The stitching is both faster and higher quality than competitors, and the final image is higher resolution.

Other adjustments to the camera include improved low-light images and reduced noise.

Do you use your phone for navigation?

If so, there is a slight caveat.

Every iPhone release comes with its own bit of drama. Sometimes it's overblown, like Antennaga2te, when holding your case-less phone in a very specific position could cause it to drop calls. iPhone 4S users reported battery issues. For the iPhone 5, the issue de jour is its new maps app.

Every iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 pre-installed. That means the old maps app is automatically out, replaced with Apple's first go at a map application. It adds turn-by-turn directions and nice 3D graphics, but drops transit directions and decreases accuracy.

Apple has always excelled at design and smart user interfaces, but it is not a data company. While it continues to work to make this app what it should be, the best solution is to wait for Google to release its own third-party maps app for iOS. (The company is mum on when exactly that will be, but it will probably happen soon.) In the meantime, there are many other map apps in the Apple App Store, and you can still access Google's service through Safari, thought the experience is slower and less intuitive.

Do you like beautiful things?

The most impressive part of the new iPhone is its design. Apple is comparing the level of construction to a "finely crafted watch." Like a luxury item, its design is impeccable, the attention to detail visible on every seam and surface. It also tells time.

Not everyone integrates their iPhone 5 into an outfit like a Rolex. If you are one of the many people who protect their iPhone with an opaque case, the details won't be visible to people around you. In that situation, you still get the satisfaction of a well-made device, but previous iPhones were also finely crafted and are still in perfectly good shape.

The most dramatic physical difference of the new phone is that it is thinner and lighter. But while a great overall improvement, that's not enough of a reason to warrant upgrading unless you find yourself constantly bemoaning how heavy and fat your existing phone is. If you wear skinny jeans, this might be the one upgrade you were waiting for.

Do you have anything older than an iPhone 4S?

If you have an iPhone 3GS or earlier, upgrade. Do it for the screen. The retina display introduced on the iPhone 4 has been further refined for the iPhone 5 and in side-by-side comparisons with all screens at full brightness, the colors do look more vivid on the iPhone 5.

If you have an iPhone 4, the decision is harder. Consider what new features you really need. If you would get a lot of use out of the Siri voice-assistant, for example, this is a good time to upgrade. If you are a hardcore mobile gamer or serious iPhone photographer, the speed is worth it. But if you find that your two-year-old, well-crafted iPhone is holding up nicely, perhaps stick it out for another year.

IPhone 4S owners should just relax and enjoy their current phones. Wait a year for the next iteration, when your carrier will offer you the upgrade at the subsidized price and all the iPhone 5 owners will suddenly be stuck with old technology.

source: CNN

Led Zeppelin Dodge Reunion Questions

Led Zeppelin dodged questions about possible reunion shows when surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones gathered for a press conference to launch Celebration Day, the film of their one-off concert at London's O2 Arena in 2007, The Guardian reports.

"Let me ask you a question," responded Page when first asked about a reunion. "Have you seen the film? Did you enjoy it? Then we've done our job, haven't we?"

Plant kept up the evading, rather than flat out denying: When another reporter asked if Zeppelin would "do it again," the singer replied, "With you?"

The band also spoke about the concert film itself, which features all 16 cuts played at the 2007 concert, a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, the iconic Atlantic Records head who first signed Zeppelin in 1968. The film will be released to theaters October 17th and will be available on multi-format home release on November 19th.

When asked whether any of the live tracks were overdubbed, Page noted that they were kept to a minimum while Plant admitted some of the lyrics at the end of "Kashmir" were edited "because I was running out of steam."

Filling in for late drummer John Bonham at that concert was his son, Jason. His performance was "absolutely monumental," Page said. "Nobody else could have done it."

It wasn't the first time the younger Bonham had drummed with the group, as Plant noted: "We played with him before, at his wedding," said the frontman. "But sadly he decided to go to bed at his wedding reception. Because I was a friend of the family from way back, I was the one who had to go to his room and get him out of bed."


Chase, NYSE Websites Targeted in Cyber Attacks

J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM: 41.25, -0.09, -0.22%) and NYSE Euronext (NYX) experienced website trouble Wednesday after being targeted by apparent cyber attacks. The problems come a day after Bank of America experienced prolonged issues following a separate attack.

Flashpoint Partners, an intelligence gathering network specializing in cyber threats, said it believes the Chase outage is "likely due to a sustained denial of service attack." A Flashpoint analyst told FOX Business the attack was probably caused by "a large botnet," a tactic commonly used by hacking group Anonymous. Generally, botnets function by controlling a large number of computers that have been compromised without the knowledge of the machine's owner.

Flashpoint also said that the website of NYSE Euronext’s (NYX: 25.85, -0.26, -1.00%) New York Stock Exchange is subject to a cyber attack from a group called "SaudiAnonymous1." This attack, the Flashpoint analyst said, utilized a different type of denial-of-service tool called a "webhive."

A person familiar with the matter told FOX Business a small number of users in the U.S. had trouble accessing Wednesday in a situation that lasted about an hour. The person said the problem was not widespread and did not impact any of the exchange operator's trading systems. It was unclear as to whether the apparent cyber attack caused the connectivity issues. At 5:30 p.m. ET, the Big Board's website was readily accessible.

A spokesman from NYSE Euronext said the exchange has a policy against commenting on "security matters."

Against this backdrop, a financial-services industry group raised its threat level to “high” from “elevated” on Wednesday, citing "recent credible intelligence."

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center warned of the potential for DDoS and other cyber attacks against financial institutions and said members should "maintain a heightened level of awareness," apply all appropriate updates and "ensure constant diligence in monitoring and quick response to any malicious events."

Users attempting to log onto were greeted with an error screen, blocking their access to their online bank accounts, though as of about 5 p.m. ET the site appeared to be working properly.

New York-based J.P. Morgan confirmed it was suffering from website issues, saying on its official support Twitter account that has been hit by “intermittent issues.” It added, “We’re working to restore full connectivity & apologize for any inconvenience.”, which lists website outages, started recording reports of outages on as early as 9:21 a.m. ET.

It’s not clear if Chase's website problems are directly tied to the issues that caused slowness and intermittent outages of Bank of America’s website a day earlier. A source confirmed to FOX Business on Tuesday that BofA was hit by a cyber attack focused on its domain name service infrastructure.

However, J.P. Morgan wasn’t named in a threat posted online by a group called “Izz ad-din Al quassam Brigades” that claimed responsibility for the BofA attack and also promised to attack the website of NYSE.

The group claims to be allied with Muslims and was expressing anger over a recent YouTube video mocking Islam. However, there is no way to confirm that this group is indeed Islamic or tied to the terrorist group Izz ad-din Al quassam.

J.P. Morgan didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Shares of J.P. Morgan closed up 0.19% to $41.34. NYSE Euronext shares edged up 0.23% to $26.11.

Heart’s reverse rock’n'roll dream

In the 1970s, while musicians all over the UK were dreaming of making it to America, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were dreaming of making it to Scotland.

Their sights were set on the remote Mull of Kintyre, the peninsula where ex-Beatle Paul McCartney lived. And when they found themselves at the top of the charts with 1987 single Alone, they also found time to chase their dream.

In an excerpt from their biographical book Kicking And Dreaming, out now, Ann tells how they arrived a week early for a European tour in order to hire a car and hunt McCartney down.

Their first discovery, she says, was that despite being one of the biggest acts in the States that year they were almost unknown as they headed through the southern moorlands of Scotland. “We were anonymous for the first time in years,” she recalls.

Next they discovered that the Mull of Kintyre was so remote they didn’t have time to driver there – and their only option was a ferry.

Their third discovery was that the ferry wasn’t running.

Ann says: “After an arduous journey we came to the dock, only to find that the ferry had been cancelled due to bad weather.

“The closest we got to Paul McCartney’s farm was standing on the dock, looking towards Kintyre. We knew Paul was on the other side somewhere.

“We’d made it all the way from the teenage bedroom of our Washington house to the Scottish coast – but Paul McCartney remained beyond our reach.”

Read the full excerpt at Rolling Stone in which Ann discusses her cocaine abuse, threats from fans and friendship with Stevie Nicks.


Greece raises $2.1 billion in 3-month debt auction

ATHENS (AFP) - Greece raised 1.3 billion euros (S$2.1 billion) in an auction of three-month treasury bills on Tuesday at a slightly reduced rate of 4.31 per cent, the public debt management agency said.

"Total bids reached 1.98 billion euros and the amount finally accepted was 1.3 billion," the agency said in a statement, with the rate down from 4.43 per cent at the previous auction of three-month bills in August.

The last equivalent sale on Aug 14 had been extraordinarily large, to help the government avoid a cash crunch as Greece was facing redemption of a 3.2-billion-euro bond held by the ECB.

Relying on EU-IMF rescue loans for its economic survival and having been shut out of the long-term debt markets since 2010, Greece, which faces a fifth year of continuous recession, regularly issues short-term debt.


Zynga buys social game maker A Bit Lucky

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Social games maker Zynga on Monday announced that it bought California-based A Bit Lucky and is adding the members of the small studio to its San Francisco team.

Zynga's Bill Jackson said the acquisition was part of a move to expand into new categories of play with "mid-core, multi-platform" games.

A multi-player game, Solstice Arena, being worked on by A Bit Lucky will launch as a Zynga offering.

A Bit Lucky was founded by Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard, and the studio's staff of slightly more than 20 people includes veterans of game companies such as Trion Worlds and Xfire.


Ovation Productions confirms Sting’s Manila concert

Tim Yap’s tweet was right, after all. In its latest post on its official website, Ovation Productions has announced that Sting will indeed perform in Manila on December 9 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The actual announcement reads: “Sting has just been confirmed to perform in Manila on December 9 at the MOA Arena. Tickets will be on sale starting September 21 at 12 noon at all SM Ticket outlets and online at

InterAksyon earlier reported that on September 11 multimedia personality Tim Yap tweeted about the legendary singer-songwriter’s upcoming Manila gig, complete with details of the date and venue. It was a premature announcement that came with no confirmation from the organizers involved.

This was followed by a report that several promoters, including Ovation Productions, were still bidding for the event.

Sting’s 2011- 2012 “Back to Bass” world tour has garnered spectacular reviews throughout North America, Europe, the UK, and South Africa. The tour heads to Southeast Asia in December. Sting’s Manila concert is promoted by Ovation Productions, the same group that staged Sting’s memorable sold-out concert in Manila at the ULTRA outdoor stadium in 1994.

This will be the third Manila stop for the Grammy-winning artist who scored dozens of hits both as a solo act and as frontman of The Police, the band he co-founded with guitarist Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.

Sting’s two previous concerts in the country were in 1994 for his “Summoner’s Tales” tour – also promoted by Ovation as mentioned in their announcement – and in 1996, for his “Mercury Falling” tour that was presented by J & B and Gilbey’s Gin.


Sting’s Manila concert still under negotiations, promotion up for grabs

A source from the local concert circuit who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that bidding is still ongoing for the coming Manila concert of Sting that was earlier tweeted by multimedia personality Tim Yap.

After tweeting last September 11 that Sting will perform specifically at the Mall of Asia Arena on December 9 and asked everyone to “wait for the official announcement,” Yap has since not tweeted about the matter.

The source, however, told InterAksyon that the bidding process is still ongoing and added that Ovation Productions, Dayly Entertainment and other organizers are vying for the event.

Ovation Productions, one of the oldest concert promoters in the country, promoted the Manila stop of the legendary singer-songwriter’s “Summoner’s Tales” world tour in 1994. It staged the successful return engagement of Tears For Fears this year and will bring the “American Idol Live! Tour 2012” concert to Manila this September 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Dayly Entertainment is a fairly young events production company that brought Snow Patrol and David Cook earlier this year and will next stage Maroon 5’s September 18 gig at the Big Dome.

To date, Sting’s official website does not include Manila in his ongoing “Back To Bass” world tour.

But if negotiations push through, the Grammy-award winning artists will be performing in the country for the third time.

In 1996, J & B and Gilbey’s presented Sting’s “Mercury Falling” concert held at the PSC Football Stadium.


Avril Lavigne And Chad Kroeger Hold Hands In Paris, Cuteness Ensues (PHOTO)

Avril Lavigne and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger are looking all kinds of très j'adorbz (yup, we totally just went there) while shopping together in Paris. And what better place is there to celebrate your love than the city of love, you guys?? Also, nothing spells out romance more than city streets filled with unlimited opportunities to stuff your face with croissant and pastries. (Just us?) Or even better, gross out onlookers by hand-feeding pastries to your partner. (Not that uh, we'd do that.)

The "Wish You Were Here" singer and her beau were snapped holding hands in Paris, but this isn't the first time the lovebirds have gone Parisian. The couple were snapped together back in May -- wayyy before anyone even knew they were dating and just thought they were BFFs in the recording studio working on Avril's new album. (And now that we think about it, of course they were together! Look again -- Chad was holding all the shopping bags -- classic sign of coupledom.) But now they're back, and they're officially engaged!

After all of this photographed Euro-trekking, we suppose Paris must be Avril and Chad's "place." Heidi and Spencer had Don Antonio's....and Chad and Avril have one of the most romantic, cultural, fashionable cities in the world. Different strokes, guys. And Chad, extra chivalry points to you for holding the bags!


Mitt Romney's Disastrous Energy Plan

The smirk appeared on Mitt Romney's face near the end of his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. President Obama, he said, had "promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans" and to "heal the planet." Here Romney paused, giving the crowd in Tampa a moment to savor the fact that he was about to turn climate change – arguably the greatest challenge civilization has ever faced – into a joke. "My promise," he said, "is to help you and your family."

The smirk summed up everything you need to know about the GOP's addiction to fossil fuels. Even George W. Bush – a Texas oilman and loyal servant to Big Oil – paid lip service to the importance of clean energy and the risks of climate change. But what Romney and the Republicans are offering voters this November isn't a coherent energy plan. It's a suicide note.

The nut of Romney's plan, such as it is, goes like this: Because of technological innovations like fracking, America is awash in gas and oil that we're now able to reach. If we drill the hell out of everything, including protected public lands and fragile regions like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, America can emerge as an "energy superpower." This "drill, baby, drill" policy, the Republicans claim, will lower energy prices, create 3 million new jobs, add $500 billion to the gross domestic product, boost tax revenues by $1 trillion and strengthen national security by increasing "freedom from dependence on foreign energy supplies."

This fantasy is not only a blueprint for polluting the planet and speeding up climate change – it's also precisely the energy policy that David and Charles Koch, the billionaire conservative oilmen who have pledged $400 million to help defeat Obama, would advocate if they were sitting in the Oval Office. Indeed, America's leading fossil-fuel barons have lined up behind Romney, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into his campaign, as well as the shadow groups and Super PACs that are supporting him. During a recent stop in Texas, Romney raked in nearly $7 million during a single lunch hosted by ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and other oil and gas executives. As Justin Ruben, the executive director of MoveOn, puts it: "It's not a stretch to say that the fossil-fuel industry is attempting a hostile takeover of the U.S. political system."

To bring about that takeover this November, Romney recently unveiled his so-called "energy plan" during a campaign stop in New Mexico. His vision for our energy future, like the one outlined in the Republican platform, is big on promises and Obama-bashing but short on specifics. Here are the five key talking points:

SPIN #1: Free at Last

The centerpiece of Romney's energy plan – and the Republican platform – is achieving energy independence by 2020. The slogan is touted as if it were a great and grand call to action, the energy equivalent of the race to the moon. In fact, when Romney talks about "energy independence," what he is really talking about is drilling.

Right now we import about 45 percent of our oil, which means we export about $1 billion a day to places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela. So if we drill more at home, Romney argues, or import more oil from friendly neighbors, we can eliminate our dependence on Arab sheiks and Latin American despots. Romney has vowed to bring in more oil from Canada via the Keystone XL pipeline, open up the coastlines of Virginia and the Carolinas to drilling, and empower states to speed up fracking and drilling on federal lands. Taken together, Romney claims, such moves would double oil production in North America over the next decade. "We won't need to buy any oil from the Middle East or Venezuela or anywhere else we don't want to," he declared in New Mexico.

But according to Michael Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, this notion of energy independence is "a pipe dream." For one thing, because oil is easier and cheaper to transport than coal and natural gas, it's sold on the global market – which means that what we pump out of the ground here doesn't necessarily stay here. The whole point of the Keystone pipeline, for example, is to connect the dirty oil flowing out of Canada's tar sands with refineries on the Gulf Coast, where the oil can be directly shipped to overseas markets. The only way to keep domestic oil in America – even if foreign markets are willing to pay more for it – would be to nationalize the oil industry, a solution that is decidedly not a part of the GOP's energy plan.

In short, when Romney utters the words "energy independence," he's really promoting the idea that we can drill our way to freedom – using a fear of foreigners to justify opening up fragile coastlines and wildlife sanctuaries to the Koch brothers. "The only real path to energy independence is to get off oil completely," says Steve Kretzmann, the executive director of Oil Change International, a group that advocates a transition to clean energy. A serious push for energy independence would begin by reducing the demand for oil, through tougher fuel standards for cars and higher gasoline taxes – measures that Romney refuses to consider.

SPIN #2: Drilling = Jobs

During his speech in New Mexico, Romney claimed that expanding oil and gas production would create 3 million new jobs, including 1 million in manufacturing. "Job creation numbers are always speculative," says Sean Sweeney, head of the Global Labor Institute at Cornell University. "With Romney, it's all about voodoo accounting." In fact, the jobs-creation numbers being tossed around by Republicans are pure fantasy. Romney supporter Carly Fiorina recently claimed on Meet the Press that completing the Keystone pipeline would create "over a million jobs." But even TransCanada, the company that will build the pipeline, estimates that it will create only 6,500 jobs a year.

In reality, studies show that investments to spur renewable energy and boost energy efficiency generate far more jobs than oil and coal. A recent report by the Center for American Progress and the University of Massachusetts concluded that $150 billion invested in renewable energy would generate 1.7 million more jobs than the same amount invested in fossil fuels. Another study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a national standard requiring utilities to obtain at least 25 percent of their power from wind, solar and bioenergy by 2025 would create 297,000 new jobs, generating $13.5 billion in income for rural landowners and $11.5 billion in new tax revenues for local governments. In addition, the private sector has recognized the lucrative opportunities offered by clean energy: In 2010 – for the first time ever – investments in renewable energy surpassed those in fossil fuels.

So why the Republican focus on oil and coal? First, clean energy still suffers from its image as some sort of hippie utopia. "For many working-class voters in places like Ohio, oil and gas and coal are the only 'real' forms of energy," says Kretzmann. "Many people see wind and solar as just toys. So naturally, pandering politicians play to this idea, rather than challenging voters to see that renewable energy is not only growing fast but represents a far smarter and safer bet for the future than continuing with the old ways."

Second, when it comes to campaign contributions, clean energy still can't touch the clout of Big Oil. By the end of August, the oil and gas industry had given more than $36 million to federal candidates and their PACs – nearly 90 percent of it to Republicans. ExxonMobil alone has given more than $1 million so far this year; Sunpower, the most generous solar company, has contributed only $17,000. As Ruben of MoveOn puts it: "You can't separate the Republican energy policy from the fact that the Koch brothers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the election for Romney."

SPIN #3: The GOP Is Clean

Once in a while, Romney lets the phrase "clean energy" slip into one of his speeches. The GOP platform claims it "will encourage and ensure diversified domestic sources of energy." But in Republican­speak, diversifying our energy options means diversifying fossil fuels – creating more sources of oil, gas and coal.

In reality, Republicans have long been at war with clean energy. They have ridiculed investments in solar and wind power, bashed energy-efficiency standards, attacked state moves to promote renewable energy and championed laws that would enshrine taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels while stripping them from wind and solar.

Take the wind-production tax credit, which is set to expire at the end this year. The tax break, which amounts to 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of wind-generated electricity, has allowed wind power to compete against coal, gas and nuclear energy. Today, Iowa gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind, creating 7,000 new jobs and generating $5 billion in private investment. Yet Romney has vowed to kill the wind tax credit – a move that would put some 37,000 jobs at risk, particularly in Midwestern states. Republicans from Iowa have blasted the man from Massachusetts: Rep. Tom Latham says Romney lacks a "full understanding of how important the wind-energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation," while Sen. Chuck Grassley calls Romney's plan "a knife in my back."

To be fair, Romney is not against all attempts to use the power of the federal government to boost renewable energy – just the effective ones. He supports the current federal mandate requiring 13 billion gallons of ethanol to be used in gasoline this year – a disastrous law that has diverted 40 percent­of the U.S. corn crop into fuel production, done nothing to reduce climate-warming pollution and raised food prices worldwide. "Our ethanol policy is becoming the moral equivalent of shooting some poor Indian farmers," Jeremy Grantham, a leading hedge-fund manager and global-commodities expert, has observed. "Death just comes more slowly and painfully."

SPIN #4: The Market Rules

This talking point is central to the theme of Romney's entire campaign: That unlike President Obama, he's a savvy businessman who understands how the economy works and who won't interfere in the free market. That's why Republicans continue to make such a stink about Solyndra, the solar company that defaulted on a $535 million federal loan. Romney and his surrogates point to Solyndra as proof that government should leave energy to the oil barons. During his convention speech, vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan singled out the firm for its "gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs and make-believe markets."

In fact, Solyndra was encouraged to apply for the federal loan not by Obama but by the Bush administration. In addition, the company – which was backed by $1 billion in private capital – failed because of increased competition in the solar industry, which has been booming ever since Obama's stimulus passed. But that hasn't stopped congressional Republicans from issuing subpoenas for 300,000 pages of Solyndra documents and spending $1 million in taxpayer money on a political witch hunt that has uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing or corruption.

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney understood the need to use government money to help jump-start clean energy. In 2003, he created the Green Energy Fund – a $15 million program designed to "provide equity capital, loans and management assistance to Massachusetts-based renewable-energy businesses." That was a sound plan – because in the world of energy, the government already plays a pivotal­ role in propping up the fossil-fuel industry, providing as much as $52 billion a year in annual subsidies. And that doesn't include the other costs that taxpayers and consumers bear for burning fossil fuels: polluted air and water, damaged crops, increased illness and death. The nation's most respected science organization, the National Academy of Sciences, estimates that burning fossil fuels costs Americans $120 billion a year – not counting the costs related to our changing climate, including increased floods and droughts.

When it comes to climate change, Romney is guided by polls, not science. As governor, he accepted the views of climate researchers (it's real and it's happening); as a primary candidate, he mouthed the views of crazy Tea Party denialists (it's a liberal plot to destroy the U.S. economy); now, as his party's nominee, he has adopted the views of establishment corporate denialists (maybe it's happening, but any action would be premature). The GOP platform brings up climate change only to bash it as a job killer. "We oppose any and all cap-and-trade legislation," the platform states – bluntly dismissing a proven, market-based approach to fighting climate change that the GOP once championed as an alternative to a carbon tax.

SPIN #5: Government Sucks

In mid-August, during a campaign stop in Ohio, Romney surrounded himself with coal miners and operators and accused the Obama administration of "waging a war on coal." In Romney's view, Obama – whom he has called the "anti­energy president" – is using the power of federal agencies like the EPA to snuff out the coal industry by regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. If elected, Romney promises to roll back federal regulations that are suffocating the industry. "We have 250 years of coal – why in the heck wouldn't we use it?" Romney said as the miners roared in approval. "We're going to take advantage of our energy resources to save your jobs, to create more jobs."

In fact, Obama is far from an anti-energy zealot. He has called for more offshore drilling, resisted a push to enact tougher federal­standards for fracking, and delayed tighter standards on ozone pollution and other regulatory measures needed to save lives and reduce illness, arguing that the economic impact of the new rules would be too burdensome. Even more telling, domestic oil production has increased under Obama every year he has sat in the Oval Office – making him the first president to achieve such a dubious distinction since Lyndon Johnson.

As for Obama's "war on coal" – well, there isn't one. The coal industry is indeed in steep decline: 124 coal plants have been retired in the past two years, and the percentage of electricity generated from coal has dropped below 40 percent. Things are especially tough in West Virginia, where 2,000 workers have been laid off so far this year, and more mine closures are expected in the months to come.

But the problem isn't that Obama has cracked down on mountaintop removal mining (he hasn't) or passed a tax on carbon pollution (he won't even mention it). The problem is that coal is being killed off by larger economic forces, including the falling price of natural gas and renewable energy, as well as the simple fact that, after 150 years of mining, America's mountains are tapped out. "All the cheap, easy-to-get coal in central Appalachia is gone," says Robert Ukeiley, a noted environmental lawyer in Kentucky. "That's just a geological fact. There is no politician who can change that or scapegoat anybody."

Once upon a time, Romney understood that government regulations are not about killing American industry but about preventing industry from killing Americans. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney fought for environmental controls on a coal plant that was responsible for dozens of premature deaths and 14,400 asthma attacks each year. Announcing the new regulations on coal pollution, Romney declared that he would "not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people."

But now that he's running for president, Romney has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil-fuel industry. In his new view, financed by Big Oil and Big Coal, creating jobs that kill people is apparently the price America must pay to become an energy superpower.

This story is from the September 27th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.


PH ranks No. 32 in global index on impact of the Web

SWEDEN is best in the world at putting the Web to work, ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom, according to a new global study launched by Tim Berners-Lee on behalf of the Web Foundation.

Out of the 61 developed and developing countries surveyed in The Web Index, the Philippines placed No. 32, with an overall score of 46.8, or barely half the perfect score of 100.

The Philippines scored 48.4 for “web impact,” 48.3 for “web readiness,” and 39.4 for web content, connectivity infrastructure, and web use.

Of the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), only Singapore (No.11) bested the Philippines.

However, Manila outranked Indonesia (No.34), Thailand (No.37), and Vietnam (No.47). Five other ASEAN members, namely Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Brunei were not included in the Index’s first-year run.

Designed and produced by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Web Index is “the world’s first multidimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility, and impact on people and nations.”

The 61 countries surveyed were assessed using primary and secondary data sources on the political, economic, and social impact of the Web, as well as for indicators of Web connectivity, infrastructure, web content, and web use. The study focused on available data as of 2011.

The Index measured and ranked the countries according to:

-Web Readiness or “the quality and extent of Communications Infrastructure (facilitating connectivity to the Web) and Institutional Infrastructure (policies regulating Web access and skill and educational levels enabling the full benefit of the Web).”

- Web Useor Web usage within countries (such as the percentage of individuals who use the Internet) and the content available to these Web users.”

- Web Impact assessed through social, economic and political indicators, including measures of social networks, business Internet use, and e-participation.

The Web Foundation said it will now start publishing Index every year to allow for “comparisons of trends over time and the benchmarking of performance across countries, continuously improving our understanding of the Web’s value for humanity.”

A press dispatch on the study said “the Web remains a largely untapped resource in much of the world, with only 1 in 3 people using it globally and fewer than 1 in 6 in Africa.”

The Index reveals that high broadband prices and trends toward censorship are major barriers to making the Web useful to all, the statement added.

The study showed that “almost 30 per cent of countries covered by the Index face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites, while about half of them show increasing threats to press freedom.”

“The Web is a global conversation. Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the Web,” warned Berners-Lee.

The study noted that in most countries surveyed, “broadband connections still cost almost half of monthly income per capita.”

Berners-Lee was quoted in the statement as saying that “the high price of connectivity is stopping billions of people from achieving their rights to knowledge and participation. Costs have got to come down dramatically.”

Outside the member-states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD, “the growth of successful Web-based businesses remains surprisingly poor… showing that the Web’s economic potential is also going untapped in many countries.”

Nonetheless, the positive findings from the Index include the spread of e-governance or “government data and services being made available to citizens online, as well as initiatives to encourage online participation in decision-making.”

The study showed that middle-income countries “are improving their e-governance capacities faster than the West, with Korea, Singapore and Colombia among the world’s top innovators in this sphere.”

After Sweden, the US, and the UK, the other countries on the Top 10 list of The Web Index are, in order of ranking: Canada, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, and Ireland.

Yemen landed last on the list (No.61) with a score of zero, after Zimbabwe’s 1.9 (No.60).

The other countries on the Bottom 10 list of the Web Index, by ascending order of rank, are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ethiopia, Namibia, Bangladesh, Mali, Cameroon, and Nepal.

“Since its invention by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, and its subsequent explosive growth,” the study noted that “the World Wide Web has had a profound impact on humanity. This impact is evolving continuously with the creation of new content, connectivity software and infrastructure.”

“Although the Web has been an important catalyst of social, political and economic change over the past two decades, its impact — both negative and positive—has been unevenly felt both within and across countries,” it added.

The Web Index report was written by Hania Farhan of the Web Foundation, and Debra D’Agostino and Henry Worthington of Oxford Economics.

Oxford Economics assisted in the production of the Index, and played a central role in econometrics work. Global Integrity set up and implemented the Expert Assessment survey via their Indaba platform.

Two consultative bodies provided valuable advice: The Web Index Steering Group and the Web Index Science Council.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism served as country researcher for the Philippines.


Carlos Santana to Publish Memoir in 2014

Carlos Santana is working on a still-untitled memoir that Little Brown is set to publish in English and Spanish in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reports. Santana hopes his story will "help readers discover the sanctity, grace and divinity in themselves," according to a press release the newspaper quotes. "This book is a testament to triumph, victory and success."

The book promises to include stories about some of the biggest names in music history from Miles Davis and B.B. King to Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock and Harry Belafonte. The guitar great will also write about "some of the people who have had a divine influence on his life, such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Archbishop Desmond Tutu."

Readers should also expect some navel gazing if this part of the press release is any indication: "Being recognized by all who hear a single note is a God-given miracle. This gift has been bestowed on a select few: Bob Marley, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John McLaughlin and, of course, Carlos Santana."


iPhone 5 shares its thoughts about its September 12 debut

After its greatly anticipated unveiling, and the endless tapping, stroking, pinching and praising at the event, the iPhone 5 retired for the night to its private suite.

Jony Ive stopped by to say he was very pleased with its performance on stage, and ordered iPhone 5 to get some sleep. Tim Cook plugged iPhone 5 in for a power refresh with its new Lightning connector and fondly wiped its screen of the smudges from too much handling during the auspicious event.

As the room gradually emptied, iPhone 5 thought about Steve Jobs, and how he was missed. The unveiling just wasn't the same without him. The drama and prestidigitation he brought to the stage were absent. Tim is a great guy and really knows how to run the company, but he can't sell ice to Eskimos. Then again, demand for iPhone 5 is off the charts.

If the iPhone 5 were to reflect on what had been an extraordinary, and exhausting, day, it might offer the following thoughts:

"They seemed to like me, but I was disappointed that the crowd wasn't cheering more enthusiastically. I know there were few surprises -- we don't keep secrets as well anymore --- but I felt the overall reaction was a bit muted.

"I'm taller, slimmer, lighter, faster and no more expensive than my predecessor. What's not to love? I am a far better iPhone than the 4S, and the level of precision engineering, quality and fit and finish are unmatched in the industry. Every iPhone owner and even those on the fence will want me, and if not they are dumb, or even worse, ignorant.

"I hear the complaints. I admit, they bother me. I should be wider. I should have an even taller screen than 4-inches. But those people just don't get it. Unlike my longer and wider competitors, I can still be operated with one hand, and I am even lighter and thinner. I weigh only 3.95 ounces. Compare that to the 4.7-ounce Samsung Galaxy SIII or the 6.5-ounce Lumia 920. And, I wasn't designed by a bunch of copycat cloners, who think bigger is better.

"OK, I don't have NFC like many competitors, but I don't need it now. Phil Schiller says that iOS6 Passbook is good enough for me. I do feel bad that my battery life isn't much improved, but what can I do about it? Bottom line, every pixel, byte of code, and piece of brushed aluminum in me is as close to perfection as you can get. As Jony said, 'It took all of our learning, our best thinking, to realize something so simple, so clear and yet so truly extraordinary.'

"Yet, at the same time I don't feel that extraordinary, more evolutionary. Maybe I am an extraordinary evolution. Tim said, 'Only Apple could create such amazing software, hardware, and services and put them together into such a powerful, integrated solution.' I don't want to be a 'powerful, integrated solution.' I prefer to be 'cool,' as Steve used to say.

"I appreciate all the legal efforts to eradicate the copycats and protect my unique features, but some days I do get a bit depressed. While I am close to perfection, I realize that the competition has gotten a lot better and we are overreaching with lawsuits. I know I will be the most popular smartphone by far this holiday season. The company will reap huge financial rewards and I will go down in history as the best selling phone of all time. I just worry that my successor, iPhone 6, may not have it so easy."

A restless, but proud iPhone 5 finally drifts off to sleep, as Jony requested. Overall, iPhone 5 appears to be confident, but is also feeling the pressure. Not just Apple, but the U.S. economy is depending on it to succeed. It could end up adding half a percentage point to the country's gross domestic product growth.

In the meantime, tens of millions of people are counting down to the Sept. 21 delivery date.


Mike ‘I’m a good guy’ Tyson dances to a new tune

HONG KONG – Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, once notorious for his bad boy antics, has a new goal: he’d like to dance and act in musicals.

“I’ve always been a bad guy who wanted to be a good guy,” said Tyson, 46, on the sidelines of the CLSA Investor Forum in Hong Kong this week.

“I didn’t know how to be a good guy because I was always concentrating on being bad, so I’ve learned how to be a good guy now and treat people the way I want to be treated. That’s why I have a passion for life now.”

The convicted rapist who spent three years in prison and was later declared bankrupt has found religion and mellowed. He spoke to financiers in Hong Kong about his life before and after boxing, his family and his acting career, which includes a recent one-man show on Broadway.

Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight champion in 1986 at age 20 and was undisputed world champion for several years. Convicted of rape in 1992, he later returned to the ring but added to his notoriety when he bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear in a 1997 bout.

But in Hong Kong, Tyson strutted into the room with the swagger of a boxing champion, looking dapper in a light coloured suit and white shirt, working the crowd of financiers with a toothy grin.

“I’m not drinking, I’m not getting high, I’m not womanizing, I’m not doing a lot of things that I normally did,” said Tyson, once nicknamed “The Baddest Man on the Planet”.

“This is what I’m doing now – a responsible individual, raising a family, loving my wife.”

Asked what else he wants to do in his life, Tyson paused briefly.

“I want to do some dancing thing, I want to do some musicals,” he said, to loud laughter.

CLSA, an Asia-focused brokerage, likes to make a splash with its annual forum with a high-profile keynote speaker. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and actor George Clooney have both appeared at the event.


Wolfgang Van Halen Assumes Bass Duties for Tremonti Tour

This week, Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti kicked off his first-ever solo tour in support of his solo debut, All I Was.

As an added treat for fans, Tremonti will be joined by friend and Van Halen bassist Wolfgang Van Halen for the tour.

“I am excited to be joining the band and playing this incredible music with some of my best friends in the business,” said Wolfgang in an official press statement.

It is reported that Tremonti initially wanted Van Halen to play bass on his new album, but the bassist’s commitments to his other band kept it from happening.

Wolfgang was scheduled to be on the road with Van Halen for much of late 2012, but his father, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, recently had emergency surgery following a severe bout of diverticulitis. He is expected to make a full recovery, with the band returning to the road in 2013.

Tremonti 2012 Tour Dates

Sept 20 * — Flint, MI — The Machine Shop
Sept 21 * — Lancaster, PA — The Chameleon Club
Sept 23 * — Chicago, IL — House Of Blues
Sept 25 * — New Britain, CT — Club INT
Sept 26 * — West Chester, PA — The Note
Sept 28 * — Orlando, FL — The Beacham Theater
Sept 29 * — Atlanta, GA — Vinyl
Sept 30 * — Birmingham, AL — Club Zydeco
Oct 2 * — Nashville, TN — Exit / In
Oct 3 * — Kansas City, MO — The Beaumont Club
Oct 5 * — Shreveport, LA — The Riverside Warehouse
Oct 6 — The Woodlands, TX — Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (KTBZ Buzzfest)
Oct 7 — San Antonio, TX — Sunken Gardens Amphitheater (Bud Light Kiss Fall Fest)
Oct 11 # — London, UK — O2 Academy Brixton
Oct 12 # — London, UK — O2 Academy Brixton
Oct 14 — Glasgow, UK — Garage
Oct 15 # — Newcastle, UK — O2 Academy Newcastle
Oct 17 — Birmingham, UK — Library Theatre
Oct 18 — Manchester, UK — Academy 2
Oct 20 — Amsterdam, NET — Melkweg
Oct 21 — Cologne, GER — Gebaude 9
Oct 23 — Milan, ITA — Tunnel

* HardDrive Live Tour
# Performing with Slash and Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators


Fannie and Freddie Launch New Mortgage Review Program

(TheNicheReport) — One of the thorniest issues of the housing crisis and the credit crunch has been the repurchase demands made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the reluctance by major lenders to take back deficient mortgages. According to a statement recently issued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the need for these buybacks could be eliminated in the near future.

A new review system for mortgages could be put into place after January 1st, 2013. The system is designed to carefully evaluate the quality of the credit being extended to borrowers by identifying likely negative outcomes that could compromise mortgages and make them end up as a buyback requests. Both Fannie and Freddie charge fees to the lenders for their services as mortgage investors and guarantors, and these fees have increased considerably in the last few years.

The Buyback Debate

The mortgage buyback demands have weighed heavily on the balance sheets of some of the country’s largest banks. Between the major national and regional financial institutions, there are nearly $5 billion in reserves to buy back mortgages that Fannie and Freddie consider to have been made with deficiencies or in haste during the hectic days of the mortgage bubble. The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) set the guidelines for lenders to follow during their home loan origination process, and they trust lenders to do their part when they submit mortgages to Fannie and Freddie to purchase.

The partnership between the GSEs and the major lenders turned a bit sour after the failure of mortgage-backed securities in the United States triggered major credit and financial events around the world. Fannie and Freddie were affected to the point of requiring a federal bailout and conservatorship. The U.S. housing and mortgage market may appear to be anemic, but without the mortgage GSEs to act as investors, there would be no market at all.

As Fannie and Freddie reviewed their mortgage portfolios in the days after the housing market crash, a significant pattern of origination deficiencies began to emerge and a flurry of repurchase demands ensue. Although the lenders specifically set aside reserves for this situation, some banks have questioned the buybacks in court. Fannie and Freddie argue that in their present conservatorship status, the reluctance by some banks to take back bad mortgages equates to cheating taxpayers from their own funds.

The Effect on Borrowers

The current credit and underwriting guidelines make it difficult enough for scores of applicants to take advantage of the record low mortgage interest rates. This new loan review system that is aimed to minimize losses for American taxpayers could make it even more difficult for mortgage applicants.

The current system does not leave too much margin for origination errors, and the proposed future system will not question defaulted mortgages that Fannie and Freddie guarantee as long as there are no missed or late payments within 36 months. Home loans originated by federal foreclosure prevention initiatives will not be repurchased if borrowers made timely payments for at least 12 months.