BY R. JAI KRISHNA
NEW DELHI—An Indian court set May 23 for the next hearing in a criminal case against Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. and other companies on charges that they failed to censor objectionable content from their websites.
A court notice on Tuesday said the case will be heard by Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja at the Patiala House court, instead of Judge Sudesh …
According to a U.K. police inspector, one patrol
car is assigned to be driven from house to house to deal with people’s complaints about things written on Facebook.
Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
Here is a job that many modern, ambitious police officers would surely adore: driving around to people’s houses all day in order to listen to their complaints about Facebook.
No, these folks aren’t up in arms about losing their privacy legs. They are upset at what others have posted about them.
Who cannot thank the Daily Mail for noting that one British police inspector revealed this rather modern form of policing?
On his Inspector Gadget blog, the unnamed policeman wrote that the “Facebook car” is what is officially known as the “Diary Car” or the “Pending Car.”
He described its operation like this: “Neighborhood Constables have to drive from address to address all day, listening to endless tales of harassment on Facebook, threats by text and insults in the queue by the cigarette counter at the local Asda [supermarket].”
Some might find it refreshing that the Brits, known for their stiff-lipped valor under pressure, choose to call the police when they are maligned by the loose-lipped on Facebook.
Others might despair at the depths to which society is currently taking its trowel.
You might wonder who would be posting nasty things about these hurt, sad souls. Well, the inspector offers: “Almost all of this conflict is between vaguely related family groups, usually started over the genetic origin of whichever baby happens to be screaming in the buggy at the time.”
The family, like privacy, seems to have become an outdated–or at least remolded–concept.
Still, do these people really believe that the police can make these family members withdraw their nasty words, appease them with a box of fine Cadbury’s chocolates, or even post a large-lettered apology on Facebook?
The inspector is not an optimist: “What they all want is attention. Attention from each other, attention from us, attention from their housing officer, attention from anyone who can stave off the boredom of a life spent in confusion, childbirth, and conflict.”
Wait, isn’t attention the reason they went on Facebook in the first place?
The reaction to Yahoo!’s patent-infringement lawsuit against Facebook has been predictable. Mostly it’s been along the lines of: Yahoo is a bumbling technology dinosaur trying to cash in on the hot, young thing. Or, as Kara Swisher at AllThingsD put it, Yahoo’s new motto is “If you can’t beat ‘em—and it can’t—sue ‘em.” Swisher went on to call Yahoo a 98-pound weakling, while her commenters called Yahoo a patent troll and its management unimaginative fat cats.
“The matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court,” reads an e-mailed statement from Yahoo (YHOO). A company spokesperson declined to comment further on Yahoo’s reasoning, but an argument can be made that “dinosaur” and “patent troll” are exactly the kind of language that spurred this lawsuit. In recent years, the company has lost tons of talent while coming to be viewed as a sort of engineering wasteland. To outside observers, Yahoo appears to have given up.
The situation has gotten so bad that Yahoo gets little or no credit, even when it does something legitimately cool. About six years ago, Yahoo began assembling a team of engineers to work on software known as Hadoop. That team beavered away to turn Hadoop into the most powerful data-analysis engine of its time. Yahoo gave away its contributions to Hadoop under an open-source license, and the technology has since been embraced by thousands of companies that use it to mine sales data, hunt for clues in the genome, and figure out what to display to users on the Web. Facebook, in fact, stands as one of the biggest Hadoop users on the planet.
People in the data-analysis world know about Yahoo’s work on Hadoop, but the company has not received many accolades from a wider audience. IBM (IBM), for example, used Hadoop to train its Watson supercomputer that earned fame by winning Jeopardy. Hadoop served as a key element in building Watson’s big brain, yet IBM did little to promote that fact. And so, as the world hailed IBM as the purveyor of grand technology, Yahoo’s engineers toiled away in obscurity, consigned to pat their own backs.
Mike Olson runs Cloudera, a company that develops Hadoop technology and helps companies use the software. In a blog post last year, he rightly pointed out that many companies, including Facebook, have gone on to contribute to Hadoop since Yahoo did the bulk of the initial work. Yet there’s little question that it took a company like Yahoo to focus the people and resources that turned a fledgling open source project into a product worthy of widespread use. If you look at the ongoing contributions from Yahoo and its Hadoop spinoff, HortonWorks, you see that the company still dominates much of the work around the software.
My guess is that Yahoo’s new chief executive officer, Scott Thompson, looks at this patent lawsuit against Facebook through a couple of lenses. The first is a pure business case. Yahoo thinks it owns core technology around messaging, displaying ads, and fighting fraud and it wants to be paid for its inventions. What better time to put legal pressure on Facebook than when the company is heading toward an initial public offering and needs a clean bill of health?
The second lens, though, is more visceral. Thompson wants to send a message that Yahoo’s culture can change. This is a company that built interesting technology in the past and that continues to advance novel software. At some level, this lawsuit is a signal to employees that Yahoo should not just roll over and play dead but should feel it can take the likes of Facebook head-on.
Thompson’s predecessors did a woeful job of celebrating Yahoo’s engineering chops, turning Yahoo into a punchline. It’s an image that the company must shake if it wants to attract talent that can compete.
Handout // REUTERS
Adam Carroll, left, and Vic Toews.
By Jordan Press
OTTAWA — Adam Carroll, the former Liberal party staffer behind the Vikileaks30 Twitter account that revealed unflattering details about Safety Minister Vic Toews’ past, is being summoned to appear before a Commons committee this week — and only a doctor’s note will get him off the hook.
The House of Commons ethics committee voted behind closed doors to summon Carroll to appear before the committee on Thursday.
Carroll was expected to testify before the committee on Tuesday about his use of House of Commons resources to run the VikiLeaks account that tweeted details of Toews’ divorce and subsequent family drama.
However, a letter from Carroll’s lawyer to the committee said Carroll was not well enough to testify.
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, who has led the charge to have Carroll testify before the committee, said the summons could only be set aside if Carroll’s doctor said his health prevented him from appearing.
After the meeting, Del Mastro wouldn’t answer questions about what health issue may prevent Carroll from speaking to the ethics committee.
The decision to haul Carroll before the committee took place in secret, after Conservatives on the committee used their majority to hold debate behind closed doors.
Opposition MPs objected to the move. Liberal MP Scott Andrews told reporters he thought the move was “disgusting.”
Carroll was working in the Liberal research bureau when he set up the Vikileaks30 account.
Carroll created the Twitter account after Toews suggested in the Commons that opposing Bill C-30 was akin to siding with child pornographers.
He then began tweeting portions of Toews’ divorce proceedings along with details of Toews publicly available expense reports.
The Liberals have said Carroll has apologized for his role in the VikiLeaks account and has resigned from his job.
House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled the VikiLeaks Twitter account was an “unacceptable use of House IT resources,” but considered the matter closed after interim Liberal leader Bob Rae made a public apology to Toews.
Carroll, however, was not alone in waging an online war against Toews.
International hacker group Anonymous took up the cause, releasing a video defending Carroll and threatening to divulge even more embarrassing information about the minister.
“The Liberal party has either fired or forced out the individual behind the Vikileaks account, despite the fact that they committed no crime, in a shameful act of political cowardice,” says a computer-generated female voice in the video.
“Fellow Canadians, our own government is attempting to intimidate its citizens from not engaging in legal forms of protest by using their power to have them forced from their jobs and called before parliamentary committees.”
A House Committee said last week it would investigate that and other videos posted by Anonymous targeting Toews. The videos, House Speaker Andrew Scheer said, may have constituted a breach of Toews’ privilege as a minister.
“Those who enter political life fully expect to be held accountable for their actions — to their constituents, and to those who are concerned with the issues and initiatives they may advocate,” Mr. Scheer said in making his ruling in the House of Commons.
“However, when duly-elected (MPs) are personally threatened for their work in Parliament — whether introducing a bill, making a statement, or casting a vote, this House must take the matter very seriously.”
Not content to await the results of the parliamentary probe, though, Toews took to Twitter himself to attack opposition MPs after being given access to view the records of who had accessed his 2007 divorce records.
“It seems @PaulDewar MB organizer Thomas Linner was sent to collect dirt on my divorce records,” Toews wrote on Twitter last Thursday.
Toews then widened his net to include NDP MP Pat Martin.
“@PatMartinMP then confirmed that federal NDP wanted the documents,” he said on Twitter. “Now @CharlieAngusMP NDP are delaying #ETHI study of Vikileaks.” And, a few minutes later: “We know the Libs used public resources for dirty tricks. What are the NDP also hiding?”
Martin was quick to respond, claiming “Toews is misrepresenting what I explained to him yesterday. We had nothing to do with [Viki]Leaks and I’d rather not know his personal life.”
With files from Postmedia News and the National post
AUSTIN, Texas |
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Christina Gomez has carefully displayed her dream cribs, rockers and mobiles on Pinterest, the increasingly popular online bulletin board. Never mind that she doesn’t have a baby.
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Christina Gomez has carefully displayed her dream cribs, rockers and mobiles on Pinterest, the increasingly popular online bulletin board. Never mind that she doesn’t have a baby.
“Ah, Pinterest – where I dress my unborn children and decorate my imaginary mansion,” the San Antonio political consultant said – on Twitter – when asked about the website.
Gomez is addicted. And she’s not alone. The social site where users can “pin” images and follow others’ collections has surged in recent months to become the 16th most-visited site in the United States, according to the Web information company Alexa. That’s a higher rank than CNN.com.
Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, who grew up in Iowa collecting bugs and stamps, said on Tuesday that his goal is to help people discover things that they didn’t know they wanted. He said there are plenty of people trying to tell you what you want via billboards, catalogs or Internet ads.
“But no one has really made a lot of progress toward building a place you want to go every day to discover things that feel like they were hand-picked just for you, and that’s what I can hope we can do,” Silbermann told a packed ballroom at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference in Austin.
The self-deprecating Silbermann, who has rarely spoken publicly about the site he co-founded in fall 2009, described having “catastrophically small numbers” at first. Nine months in, there were fewer than 10,000 people on it, he said. He sought feedback from early users, giving some his cell phone number. And he didn’t quit.
Silbermann, who spoke repeatedly of wanting his site to be beautiful and display beautiful collections, said one goal of his was to create a service that offered timelessness in an era when people were obsessed with real-time sites like Twitter.
“If something is your favorite book, it’s no less your favorite book 72 hours from now or a year from now or five years from now or 10 years from now,” he said. “It still says something about who you were then and who you want other people to know you as.”
LEARNING FROM PINNING
For Gomez, who lives in a 900-square-foot home in Texas and is about to move to smaller digs in Washington, D.C., Pinterest allows her to collect things – like USB drives shaped like teddy bears - without taking up precious physical space.
Like other users, she has organized her pictures into boards with titles like “Sewing Projects,” “Gift Ideas” and “For the new house. She has used it to post pictures of clothes she already owns and to learn to cook with a crock pot.
The growth of Pinterest has been fueled primarily by women, including those planning their weddings, said Robert Quigley, who teaches new media and multimedia at the University of Texas. The draw is the site’s simplicity, he said.
“The rise of Pinterest has been absolutely incredible – it just came out of nowhere,” Quigley said. “It’s so visual, it’s easy to use and simple – yet complex enough to allow you to organize the way you want.”
Pinterest isn’t only for women.
Guillaume Driscoll, 30, a design student at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, said he and his girlfriend both use the site. Before he joined a few months ago, he was interested in clothes, but “not on a level of some of my lady friends.” He’s seen that change as he’s pinned more clothes, like colorful socks and a grey cashmere sport coat from J. Crew.
“Now, I’m starting to think about it more. What is my style? What does my style say about me?” said Driscoll, who was visiting Austin for SXSW.
Silbermann said it makes sense for people to use Pinterest to explore topics that lifestyle magazines focus on — design, home decorating, cooking and fitness — but he’s also seeing new uses like political satire (say, Mitt Romney’s fake yacht collection). Museums are using Pinterest to post art collections. Some users are posting travel guides to cities.
“Every day, literally, we see at least one board where we just couldn’t have imagined how people would use it and to me, that’s really exciting,” Silbermann said.
(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte)
Twitter is taking the San Francisco startup Posterous under its wing.
On Monday, the two companies announced that Twitter had purchased Posterous for an undisclosed amount of money and that the team that built the Posterous Spaces blogging platform would now be working on Twitter products.
Spaces, a popular service in its own right with about 15 million users, won’t be going away anytime soon in the takeover, Twitter and Posterous said.
“Posterous Spaces will remain up and running without disruption,” the two companies said in a statement. “We’ll give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service. For users who would like to back up their content or move to another service, we’ll share clear instructions for doing so in the coming weeks.”
But while Spaces won’t be shut down, Twitter made it clear that they were purchasing the talent that built the blogging platform that focuses on sharing to specific groups of friends and easily blogging from mobile phones, email and apps.
“This team has built an innovative product that makes sharing across the Web and mobile devices simple — a goal we share,” Twitter said in a blog post. “Posterous engineers, product managers and others will join our teams working on several key initiatives that will make Twitter even better.”
What specifically the Posterous team would be working on at Twitter wasn’t detailed by either company.
Posterous was founded in 2008 out of the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator off of about $15,000 in seed funding, according to CrunchBase.
Sachin Agarwal, Posterous’ founder and CEO, graduated from Stanford in 2002 with a computer science degree and was at Apple for six years as a software engineer working on the popular video editing software Final Cut Pro before starting the blogging platform.
On Monday, Agarwal said on his Spaces blog that Twitter buying Posterous was “one of the greatest days of my entire life.”
At Twitter, Agarwal said he will work as a product manager.
“The people at Twitter are genuinely nice folks who share our vision for making sharing simpler,” he said. “Everyone is passionate, excited, and truly believes in the product and the leadership.”
Having worked at Apple before, Agarwal said he sees parallels in the way the iPhone maker and Twitter operate.
“Apple and Twitter have a lot in common: a great sense of product and design, amazing leadership, phenomenal growth, and a great culture. Of all the places I could imagine working, Twitter ranks the highest. (Think about how much I would hate working at Google!),” Agarwal said in his post.
“It’s fitting to be going to the only company Apple chooses to integrate deeply with. Apple has definitely picked a side in social networking, and it’s Twitter.”
During SXSW Facebook and its partners unleashed a whole new crop of timeline apps with entries emerging from Foursquare, Nike, The Onion,Vevo, Fandango, Viddy, Endomondo, RootMusic, Foodspotting, Pose and Votizen.
You can now for example bring your Foursquare “check-ins” to your timeline page. On Vevo the timeline shows video playlists created automatically from artists you’ve indicated you “liked” within Facebook.
The new RootMusic timeline app lets people mark their favorite songs and bands and the concerts they plan on attending from the Facebook Pages of the performers. Click “favorite” or “going to go” and your intentions are posted on timeline.
I caught up with some of the companies at an event Facebook held in its Austin offices. On the new Fandango app, movie fans can add clips from movies they watch and rate to timeline. “I think movies are inherently social and so now (timeline) amplifies behavior people have always done, talk about movies, go to movies together,” says Nicholas Lehman, president of Digital Entertainment Digital Networks at NBCUniversal, which own Fandango.
The Endomondo fitness app enables runners and bikers to post workout progress (calories burned, distance, etc.) on timeline in real time as they exercise, with live maps of where they’re going. “If one of my friends is on my timeline and sees ‘hey he’s out running and it shows up every minute, he can follow me and go from there, he can send me a pep talk (that’s) read live into my headset,” says Mads Mikkelsen, Endomondo’s vice president for business development. “Those type of tools are available to make sports more fun and more social. The challenge for us now that we’re launching timeline integration is to bring all these social aspects of sports and experiences from the Endomondo environment to the Facebook environment.”
Alexa Andrzejewski co-founder of the Foodspotting app says that before timeline integration the only thing people with the app shared on Facebook was pictures of favorite food, something less than 90% of active users did. So now with the new app and the Facebook integration, users can indicate that they tried a certain food and that will appear on Timeline as well.
Aline Drucker Fornaris, a lawyer in
Miami, is on the front lines of Facebook Inc. (FB)’s new effort to
put advertising on mobile devices.
When she logs on to the social-networking site from her
BlackBerry or iPad, she sees ads for Caribbean travel deals and
a local clothing boutique. Facebook (FB) used to only have ads in the
personal-computer version — not the mobile apps — and Drucker
Fornaris isn’t happy about the change.
The ads are “incredibly annoying,” she said.
As Facebook looks to mobile advertising for its next wave
of growth, that reaction is something it wants to avoid. The
social-networking service has about 425 million mobile users –
more than half its total membership — and advertisers are eager
to target them. The challenge is to do it without overwhelming
people, who can be more sensitive to ads appearing on their
“The interest is very high — the advertisers are more
than willing,” said Marco Veremis, president of Upstream
Systems, which provides mobile-advertising technology to clients
such as Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and Nestle SA. “The issue is, mobile is a
lot more personal and intimate. The danger of someone being
angry over invasion of privacy is at the top of the mind.”
Jonathan Thaw, a spokesman for Menlo Park, California-based
Facebook, declined to comment on the strategy.
In pushing into the market, Facebook is challenging Google
Inc. (GOOG), which is the leading seller of ad space on mobile devices.
The total mobile-ad industry may bring in almost $11 billion in
revenue by 2016 in the U.S. alone, up from $2.61 billion this
year, according to research firm EMarketer Inc. So far, Google
accounts for more than 50 percent of those ads, making $750
million in sales for the Mountain View, California-based company
last year, EMarketer estimates.
Starting March 1, Facebook (FB) began allowing brands that
people “like” to send messages and ads to those users’ mobile
news feeds. If the user then makes a comment on one of the items
or “likes” it, the person’s friends get those promotions on
their own phones and tablets as well — whether they asked for
them or not. The world’s largest social network, which filed for
an initial public offering last month, is counting on mobile ads
to bring in a new source of revenue and reassure investors that
it can maintain growth.
If Facebook and its advertisers can work through the
challenges, the payoff may be bigger than what the company gets
from its traditional PC ads, according to Colby Atwood,
president of consulting firm Borrell Associates Inc. Facebook
could generate more than $1.2 billion from mobile ads in the
program’s first year, estimates another firm, Mobile Squared.
While Google has drawn criticism over how it collects
personal data, it relies on more straightforward advertising
than Facebook — running Internet-search ads or graphical
commercials within applications, for instance. Facebook’s
approach counts in part on its members promoting companies among
their friends. Facebook members who “like” brands may not
realize their preferences are used as the basis for advertising
sent to other people.
“It certainly does set off some creepy factor,” said
Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, a nonprofit group in San Francisco. “It does feel
intrusive, and people may be upset.”
At the time of its IPO filing last month, Facebook made no
ad revenue from its mobile service. The new expansion could
bolster the company’s case with shareholders as it seeks a
valuation that people familiar with the matter peg at as much as
While advertisers have shown interest in the mobile
approach, users are more resistant. About 67 percent of
Americans would find it unacceptable to receive unsolicited ads
on their phone, according to a survey of 2,105 U.S. consumers
that was commissioned by Upstream.
When it was unveiled earlier this year, the mobile-ad push
was presented as a way to provide promotions and offers that
users would want. The ads, called Sponsored Stories, began
appearing in the U.S. on the iPhone, Android devices and
Facebook’s mobile website at the beginning of this month.
“Our vision is that interaction on Facebook with a brand
is as exciting as it is with family,” Chris Cox, vice president
of product at Facebook, said last month at the company’s FMC
conference for marketers in New York.
Many users aren’t bothered by the Sponsored Stories.
“It makes me feel like I am in touch with the brands that
I like,” said Christopher Brown IV, a 40-year-old Chicagoan who
handles internal communications for a financial company. He has
“liked” such brands as the Four Seasons, BMW and Gucci. “It
doesn’t come across as an advertisement,” Brown said.
Even so, the Facebook friends who view the ads aren’t the
ones who clicked “like” in the first place. That makes the
promotions irritating, Drucker Fornaris said, “though it hasn’t
gotten to the point where I’d want to quit Facebook (FB).”
Marketers are more interested in Facebook’s mobile platform
than those of other social-media companies, said Elio Narciso,
chief executive officer of mobile-ad agency MobAVE. Among his
100 clients, those inquiring about mobile ads on Facebook
outnumber those interested in Twitter Inc. by 4-to-1, Narciso
It’s appealing to clients because they already use Facebook
themselves and understand the service, said Sacha Xavier Reich,
a partner at Neo@Ogilvy, which helps customers buy ads.
“Facebook is safe grounds for clients,” she said.
The hurdle will be getting users acclimated to the idea –
something that could take time.
“The biggest potential problem is: Will users be
overwhelmed with ads?” Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at New
York-based EMarketer. “People aren’t used to seeing ads on
To contact the reporter on this story:
Olga Kharif in Portland, Oregon, at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tom Giles at email@example.com
NEW YORK – Yahoo is filing a lawsuit against Facebook over patents, following through on a threat it made last month.
Yahoo Inc. said in a court filing Monday that Facebook has infringed 10 of its patents covering advertising, privacy controls and social networking.
Yahoo threatened to sue Facebook last month, insisting that the social network license its patents
Facebook pledged to defend itself vigorously against what it called “puzzling actions” by Yahoo.
PATENT DISPUTE: Yahoo sues Facebook over patents.
AHEAD OF IPO: The suit comes weeks before Facebook is due to cash in with its initial public stock offering.
UNSPECIFIED DAMAGES: Yahoo is asking for unspecified damages and a jury trial.
“We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation,” Facebook said in a statement.
The patent claims could cast a spotlight on Facebook’s vulnerabilities as the company tries to complete an initial public offering of stock this spring. At the end of 2011, only 56 U.S. patents had been issued to Facebook. That’s a relatively small number compared with other big tech companies. Yahoo, on the other hand, owns more than 1,000 patents.
The lawsuit comes just weeks before Facebook is due to cash in with its initial public stock offering, which is expected to value the social network at as much as $100 billion.
Yahoo defended its lawsuit, saying it has invested “substantial resources in research and development” over the years that have led to patents of technology that other companies have licensed.
“Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved,” the company said in a statement. As with many patent suits, this one will likely be resolved in a settlement or licensing deal.
Yahoo, which has seen its revenue fall steadily over the past three years, made hundreds of millions of dollars from a patent settlement that it reached with Google Inc. just before that Internet search leader went public in 2004.
STOCKHOLM, March 13, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
The brand new Web service PlainBoards.com offers a unique kind of privacy-minded forum service for businesses, groups and individuals for free. Available in an increasing number of languages, its main features include real anonymity, no requirement to register and log in to an account, and a very simple, logical and pleasant user interface.
As its founder states in its description, “In a world full of companies of all sizes and individuals who have absolutely no respect whatsoever for your privacy, we take it extremely seriously, because somebody has to.”
The intention is for virtually any business, group or individual currently using services such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with their customers and other people, to adopt and try out their own no-nonsense forum with PlainBoards. Whoever claims a board owns it and has full control of every post published as they are all pre-moderated in a thought-through management system. Users of any board can easily navigate between their favorite boards and even watch interesting threads “globally,” across multiple boards. The service combines the concept of isolated communities with a unified account system (for those who wish to use it), resulting in something with unmatched inherent safety measures for everyone involved.
The boards can be created by anyone with their own special rules, with very liberal global guidelines dictating few restrictions on the kind of discussions that may take place, while at the same time having the most strict rules on the Internet when it comes to privacy and harassments of individuals. This service may be used by everything from big companies wishing to get honest feedback and thoughts on new ideas, to small special-interest groups or projects where knowing everyone’s identity does not matter. Which is usually the case.
The service is also available in a secure, encrypted version. At PlainBoards, safety and privacy truly are cornerstones rather than hollow marketing gimmicks added on top. The aim is for the service to be regarded as the standard for anonymous and clean discussions among Internet citizens in the same manner as Wikipedia is heavily relied on for encyclopedic articles.
The site can be found at:
Please send your questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This press release was issued through eReleases(R). For more information, visit eReleases Press Release Distribution at
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