Tuesday, April 17, 2012

US judge sends Apple, Samsung to settlement talks

US-judge-sends-Apple-Samsung-to-settlement-talks Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed that their chief executives would participate in settlement talks to try to resolve a patent lawsuit over smartphone and tablet technology, according to a court filing.

Apple sued Samsung in the United States last year, saying the South Korean company's Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets "slavishly" copies the iPhone and iPad. Samsung then countersued Apple.

In a court filing late on Monday, both companies agreed to the settlement conference. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Tuesday then referred the companies to a San Francisco-based magistrate judge who will lead the talks.

Representatives for Apple and Samsung could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.

Along with Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung, both companies' general counsels will also participate, according to Koh's order.

The two companies are engaged in a bruising legal battle that includes more than 20 cases in 10 countries as they jostle for the top spot in the smartphone and tablet markets. In the case before Koh, trial is currently scheduled for July.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, 11-1846.

(Reporting By Dan Levine; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Gary Hill)

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in alleged attack

About 150 Afghan schoolgirls have fallen ill after drinking poisoned water at their high school in the country's north, officials said.

The alleged poisoning on Tuesday is being blamed on hardline conservatives who oppose female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.
"We are 100 per cent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned," said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

"This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or irresponsible armed individuals," Nabizada said.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

"This is not a natural illness. It's an intentional act to poison schoolgirls," Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar's public health department, said.

None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.

The Afghan government said last year that the Taliban, which has been trying to adopt a more moderate face to advance exploratory peace talks, had dropped its opposition to female education.

But the insurgency has never stated that explicitly.

In the past acid has been thrown in the faces of women and girls by hardline Muslims while walking to school.

Education for women was outlawed by the Taliban government from 1996-2001 as un-Islamic.


Afghan President Wants US to Guarantee $2 Billion Annually

reuters_afghanistan_karzai_480_17april2012 A day after Afghan forces with NATO support fought off multiple attacks by Taliban militants, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is focusing on ensuring international financial support after most Western combat troops leave in 2014. In a speech Tuesday, Karzai said he wants the U.S. to guarantee at least $2 billion annually to fund the Afghan army and police under a strategic partnership agreement now being negotiated between the two countries.

Both the U.S. and Afghanistan want a strategic partnership agreement to demonstrate America's commitment to stay engaged in Afghanistan after 2014. Karzai said negotiations have stalled over whether or not to include in the agreement a minimum of $2 billion dollars a year to fund the Afghan army and police.

Karzai said the U.S. side indicated that in the future it may want to increase the amount of funding, but that he wants the strategic partnership document to include a written guarantee that Washington will provide at least $2 billion to Afghan security forces annually.

U.S. officials said they could pay up to about $4 billion a year to fund Afghan forces. But they also said the strategic pact is not meant to be a detailed aid package, but rather a broad framework committing both sides to continue to work together for years to come.

Sunday's attacks by Taliban militants in the Afghan capital and in the eastern Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces have raised concerns about the readiness of Afghan forces to maintain security without U.S. and NATO support.

U.S. officials are pushing to sign the deal before a NATO conference in Chicago in May.

But negotiations over the long-term pact with the U.S. have dragged on for months as Karzai has asked for specific commitments before signing. The biggest of these demands - that the U.S. transfer authority over detainees and night raids to the Afghan government - have been recently resolved.

The Afghan president's comments suggest a growing concern on the Afghan side that the U.S. will not follow through on its promises after most American soldiers leave.

The U.S. has already greatly reduced some funding for development programs in Afghanistan, and a number of NATO nations are accelerating their withdrawal timetables. On Tuesday, Australia announced it would to pull out its troops nearly a year earlier than planned.

VOA News

China decries Tokyo-hatched plan to buy disputed isles

Tokyo's controversial governor wants to use public funds to buy islands disputed between Japan and China, prompting Beijing to denounce the plan as illegal and reassert its sovereignty.

The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have long been the centre of maritime territorial disputes between China and neighbors, all citing historical and other claims over fishing areas and potentially rich gas deposits.

Shintaro Ishihara, 79, announced the idea of buying the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea from private owners during his visit to Washington and the Tokyo metropolitan government confirmed the plan on Tuesday.

In a statement citing Ishihara, the Tokyo government said the islands were "extremely important" for Japan and offered great potential for development of natural resources and fisheries.

Japanese government spokesman said he was not aware of the plan and declined further comment.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement that the islands were China's, repeating the government's long-held stance.

"Any unilateral action taken by Japan on the Diaoyu and nearby islands is illegal and invalid and cannot change the reality of China's ownership," Liu said.

Diplomatic ties between Beijing and Tokyo hit a low point in late 2010 after Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain near the disputed islands, though they have improved since then.

In 2008, Beijing and Tokyo agreed in principle to jointly develop gas fields near the islands, but progress has been slow and Japan has accused China of drilling for gas in violation of the deal.

Kyodo news agency quoted Ishihara as saying that talks with owners were already under way and that a deal could be wrapped up by the end of the year.

Ishihara, elected for a fourth term a year ago, is no stranger to controversy, admired by some for his blunt style, a rarity in Japan, and lambasted by others for a tendency to offend.

Last year, he was forced to apologize for suggesting that the March 11 earthquake and tsunami were "divine punishment" for the "egoism" of the Japanese people.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Writing by Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Apple is planning a mini iPad to be released later this year, according to reports.

ipad_2191145b A Chinese web portal, NetEase, has claimed that a mini iPad is being developed by Apple to go on sale later this year to compete with Windows 8-based tablets.

According to the blog post, (translated by Kotaku) six million units of the smaller tablet will hit shelves in late 2012. NetEase cites “Taiwan media reports” which are based on orders Apple has placed to factories, including Honhai Precision – operated by Foxconn – the manufacturer currently being investigated by the Fair Labour Association.

An Apple spokesman said: "Apple does not comment on rumours or speculation."

The latest reports follow on from an article in The Korea Times a few weeks ago which claimed Samsung had started providing Apple with new LCD technology for smaller iPads.

An unnamed Samsung official told the paper that the new smaller iPad would probably have a 7.86-inch screen – compared to the current model which measures 9.7-inches.

The Windows 8 tablets will go on sale later this year and are believed to cost a similar amount to Apple's iPad. However, Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which has yet to be released in the UK, is far cheaper and therefore seen as more of a threat.

Rumours about a mini iPad have been doing the rounds since the first model came out in 2010. Some technology pundits believe it may never happen as Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder and chief executive, was sceptical about smaller tablets and their purpose.

The Telegraph

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