Te'o tells ESPN: Not involved in creating hoax

NEW YORK (AP) — Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o insisted he had no role in the bizarre hoax involving his "dead" girlfriend and told ESPN on Friday night that he was duped by a person who has since apologized to him.

In an off-camera interview Friday with ESPN, Te'o said Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old acquaintance who lives in California, contacted him two days ago and confessed to the prank. Deadspin.com first exposed the scheme on Wednesday and indicated Tuiasosopo was involved in it.

"I wasn't faking it," ESPN quoted Te'o as saying during the 2 1-2 hour interview. "I wasn't part of this. When they hear the facts they'll know. They'll know there is no way I could be a part of this."

Te'o said he first met Tuiasosopo in person after the Southern California game in November. According to the linebacker, Tuiasosopo told him he was the cousin of Lennay Kekua, the woman who Te'o believed he had fallen for through Internet chats and long phone conversations. But Kekua never existed.

"Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing," Te'o told ESPN. "According to Ronaiah, Ronaiah's one."

The Tuiasosopo family has declined several interview requests from The Associated Press since Wednesday.

Te'o said he never met Kekua face-to-face and when he tried to speak with her via Skype and video phone calls, the picture was blocked. Still, he didn't figure out the ruse.

He also told ESPN that he lied to his father about having met Kekua. To cover that up, he apparently lied to everyone else.

After he was told Kekua had died of leukemia in early September, Te'o admitted he misled the public about the nature of the "relationship" because he was uncomfortable saying it was purely an electronic romance.

"That goes back to what I did with my dad. I knew that. I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet," he said. "So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away."

Te'o's first interview since the story broke came at the end of a day that started with Notre Dame posting a podcast of athletic director Jack Swarbrick's radio show, during which he implored the Heisman Trophy runner-up to speak publicly about the episode. Already, it had turned the feel-good story line of the college football season into a dark and strange one.

Te'o took Notre Dame's advice, but this was no Lance Armstrong-with-Oprah Winfrey made for TV mea culpa.

ESPN conducted the interview with Te'o at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where Te'o is preparing for the NFL draft and hopes to be among the first-round picks. The network produced only still photos of the interview, with reporter Jeremy Schaap sitting at large table with the linebacker. Schaap then provided details on "Sports Center" and a story was posted on ESPN.com.

Some wondered whether Te'o had been in on the fake girlfriend scheme in an attempt to gain positive publicity and attention. Schaap said Te'o firmly denied that. The nation's best defender also said the hoax affected his play in the BCS national championship, a 42-14 loss to Alabama in which he performed poorly.

Te'o told ESPN that he wasn't entirely sure he was the victim of a hoax until earlier this week, just two days ago, when Tuiasosopo apologized. As Notre Dame officials said earlier, he did get a call from the person posing as Kekua on Dec. 6 — but it was to tell him she had not died at all, and to carry on their courtship.

Te'o was confused. He finally confided in his parents over Christmas break in his home state of Hawaii and told Notre Dame coaches what was going on Dec. 26, according to Swarbrick.

"My relationship with Lennay wasn't a four-year relationship," Te'o said. "There were blocks and times and periods in which we would talk and then it would end," but he offered her a "shoulder to cry on" when she told him her father had died.

Te'o said he was told Kekua was in a coma following an April 28 car accident, but she awoke the following month. He never made an attempt to visit her in the hospital.

"It never really crossed my mind. I don't know. I was in school," he told ESPN.

Then came the day in September when his grandmother died and the woman known as Kekua reached out to him.

"I was angry. I didn't want to be bothered," he told ESPN. "We got in an argument. She was saying, you know, I'm trying to be here for you. I didn't want to be bothered. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to be by myself. Last thing she told me was 'Just know I love you.'"

Te'o was told later that day Kekua had died.

ESPN did not play audio of the interview, relying instead on descriptions of Te'o and his statements from reporter Schaap. Audio clips were posted later. According to the reporter, Te'o was calm, and had no interest in going on camera.

"He was very relieved, he told me at the end of it, to have had a chance to tell his story," Schaap said.

Te'o told ESPN the relationship with Kekua dated to his freshman year at Notre Dame, the 2009-10 season, and they met via Facebook.

Te'o also provided details of just how devilish the hoax was — how Kekua spoke to his mother about Mormonism, how he could hear a supposed ventilator when she was in her coma, even how she sought his checking account number so she could send him some money (he declined).

At the Notre Dame student union early Saturday, many people didn't even seem to notice the story about Te'o playing out on television.

In the lounge section, six people watched ESPN as the report aired on TVs on opposite sides of the room and several said they weren't satisfied with what they saw and heard.

Tony Stedge, a freshman from Seattle, said he supports Te'o, but he'd still like to hear from the star player.

"I think he should be able to do it in his own time, whenever he is comfortable," he said.

Te'o's comments to ESPN though made it sound as if he is ready to put this all behind him — and Tuiasosopo.

"I hope he learns," Te'o said. "I hope he understands what he's done. I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."

He added: "I'll be OK. As long as my family's OK, I'll be fine."


Associated Press writer Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., contributed to this report.

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Why Africa backs French in Mali

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  • French intervention in Mali could be turning point in relationship with Africa, writes Lansana Gberie

  • France's meddling to bolster puppet regimes in the past has outraged Africans, he argues

  • He says few in Africa would label the French action in Mali as 'neo-colonial mission creep'

  • Lansana: 'Africa's weakness has been exposed by the might of a foreign power'

Editor's note: Dr. Lansana Gberie is a specialist on African peace and security issues. He is the author of "A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone." He is from Sierra Leone and lives in New York.

(CNN) -- Operation Serval, France's swift military intervention to roll back advances made by Jihadist elements who had hijacked a separatist movement in northern Mali, could be a turning point in the ex-colonialist's relationship with Africa.

It is not, after all, every day that you hear a senior official of the African Union (AU) refer to a former European colonial power in Africa as "a brotherly nation," as Ambroise Niyonsaba, the African Union's special representative in Ivory Coast, described France on 14 January, while hailing the European nation's military strikes in Mali.

France's persistent meddling to bolster puppet regimes or unseat inconvenient ones was often the cause of much outrage among African leaders and intellectuals. But by robustly taking on the Islamist forces that for many months now have imposed a regime of terror in northern Mali, France is doing exactly what African governments would like to have done.

Lansana Gberie

Lansana Gberie

This is because the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are a far greater threat to many African states than they ever would be to France or Europe.

See also: What's behind Mali instability?

Moreover, the main underlying issues that led to this situation -- the separatist rebellion by Mali's Tuareg, under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), who seized the northern half of the country and declared it independent of Mali shortly after a most ill-timed military coup on 22 March 2012 -- is anathema to the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Successful separatism by an ethnic minority, it is believed, would only encourage the emergence of more separatist movements in a continent where many of the countries were cobbled together from disparate groups by Europeans not so long ago.

But the foreign Islamists who had been allies to the Tuaregs at the start of their rebellion had effectively sidelined the MNLA by July last year, and have since been exercising tomcatting powers over the peasants in the area, to whom the puritanical brand of Islam being promoted by the Islamists is alien.

ECOWAS, which is dominated by Nigeria -- formerly France's chief hegemonic foe in West Africa -- in August last year submitted a note verbale with a "strategic concept" to the U.N. Security Council, detailing plans for an intervention force to defeat the Islamists in Mali and reunify the country.

ECOWAS wanted the U.N. to bankroll the operation, which would include the deployment a 3,245-strong force -- to which Nigeria (694), Togo (581), Niger (541) and Senegal (350) would be the biggest contributors -- at a cost of $410 million a year. The note stated that the objective of the Islamists in northern Mali was to "create a safe haven" in that country from which to coordinate "continental terrorist networks, including AQIM, MUJAO, Boko Haram [in Nigeria] and Al-Shabaab [in Somalia]."

Despite compelling evidence of the threat the Islamists pose to international peace and security, the U.N. has not been able to agree on funding what essentially would be a military offensive. U.N. Security Council resolution 2085, passed on 20 December last year, only agreed to a voluntary contribution and the setting up of a trust fund, and requested the secretary-general "develop and refine options within 30 days" in this regard. The deadline should be 20 January.

See also: Six reasons events in Mali matter

It is partly because of this U.N. inaction that few in Africa would label the French action in Mali as another neo-colonial mission creep.

If the Islamists had been allowed to capture the very strategic town of Sevaré, as they seemed intent on doing, they would have captured the only airstrip in Mali (apart from the airport in Bamako) capable of handling heavy cargo planes, and they would have been poised to attack the more populated south of the country.

Africa's weakness has, once again, been exposed by the might of a foreign power.
Lansana Gberie

Those Africans who would be critical of the French are probably stunned to embarrassment: Africa's weakness has, once again, been exposed by the might of a foreign power.

Watch video: French troops welcomed in Mali

Africans, however, can perhaps take consolation in the fact that the current situation in Mali was partially created by the NATO action in Libya in 2010, which France spearheaded. A large number of the well-armed Islamists and Tuareg separatists had fought in the forces of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and then left to join the MNLA in northern Mali after Gadhafi fell.

They brought with them advanced weapons, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles from Libya; and two new Jihadist terrorist groups active in northern Mali right now, Ansar Dine and MUJAO, were formed out of these forces.

Many African states had an ambivalent attitude towards Gadhafi, but few rejoiced when he was ousted and killed in the most squalid condition.

A number of African countries, Nigeria included, have started to deploy troops in Mali alongside the French, and ECOWAS has stated the objective as the complete liberation of the north from the Islamists.

The Islamists are clearly not a pushover; though they number between 2,000 and 3,000 they are battle-hardened and fanatically driven, and will likely hold on for some time to come.

The question now is: what happens after, as is almost certain, France begins to wind down its forces, leaving the African troops in Mali?

Nigeria, which almost single-handedly funded previous ECOWAS interventions (in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, costing billions of dollars and hundreds of Nigerian troops), has been reluctant to fund such expensive missions since it became democratic.

See also: Nigerians waiting for 'African Spring'

Its civilian regimes have to be more accountable to their citizens than the military regimes of the 1990s, and Nigeria has pressing domestic challenges. Foreign military intervention is no longer popular in the country, though the links between the northern Mali Islamists and the destructive Boko Haram could be used as a strategic justification for intervention in Mali.

The funding issue, however, will become more and more urgent in the coming weeks and months, and the U.N. must find a sustainable solution beyond a call for voluntary contributions by member states.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lansana Gberie.

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WGA’s new media nominees include “Dexter,” “Walking Dead” projects

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – The writers of projects based on cable TV hits “Dexter” and “The Walking Dead” were among the nominees for outstanding achievement in writing for new media and videogames announced Wednesday by the Writers Guild of America.

John Esposito was nominated for “The Walking Dead: Cold Storage” and Scott Reynolds was nominated for “Dexter Early Cuts” in the derivative new media category.

To be eligible for awards, a stand-alone new media program or episodes written for a new media series must have first been exhibited on a new media platform – from the Internet to cell phones – between December 1, 2011 and November 30, 2012.

In original new media, nominations went to Jay Rodan for “Lauren,” Michael Cyril Creighton for “Jack in a Box,” Cory Cavin, Bill G. Grandberg and Josh Lay for “Model Wife,” and Morgan Evans for “The Untitled Webseries That Morgan Evans Is Doing.”

In videogame writing, the nominees were Marv Wolfman for “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two,” Bruce Feirstein for Activision’s “007 Legends,” Christopher Schlerf for Microsoft’s “Halo 4,” John Garvin for Sony’s “Uncharted: Golden Abyss,” Richard Farrese and Jill Murray for Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation,” and the team behind “Assassin’s Creed III.”

Winners will be honored at the 2013 Writers Guild Awards on Sunday, February 17, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

TV News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Fed ‘underestimated 2007 crisis’

The US Federal Reserve may have underestimated the looming 2007 global financial crisis, released transcripts from its meetings that year have shown.

The documents suggested Fed Governor Ben Bernanke wanted to hold off from addressing rising panic in the markets.

He said in December of that year that he did not “expect insolvency or near insolvency among major financial institutions”.

Yet many US banks and other financial firms had to be rescued in 2008.

With most of the country’s major lenders discovering billion-dollar losses linked to bad mortgage debt as the US housing market collapsed, investment banks such as Bear Stearns needed government funds ahead of being sold off cheaply, while another, Lehman Brothers, was ultimately closed down.

In 2008, the US government also had to bailout the federal mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Although the financial crisis started in the US as a result of the sharp downturn in the country’s housing market, it quickly spread around the world as US mortgage debt had been repackaged and sold to banks and other financial institutions around the globe.

‘No indication’

The released Fed documents from 2007 also suggest current US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner underestimated the crisis.

Mr Geithner, who at the time was president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, said in August of that year: “We have no indication that the major, more diversified institutions are facing any funding pressure.”

Meanwhile in October 2007 Janet Yellen, another member of the Fed’s most senior committee, the Federal Open Market Committee, said: “I think the most likely outcome is that the economy will move forward toward a soft landing.”

The Fed did, however, take some action in 2007 to try to resolve the growing problems in the financial sector, cutting US interest rates three times.

In September it reduced its core rate to 4.75% from 5.25%, where it had been for more than a year. Two other rate cuts followed by the end of the year, before numerous further reductions in 2008.

And Ms Yellen said in December that “the possibilities of a credit crunch developing and of the economy slipping into a recession seem all too real”.

US rates currently stand at between 0% and 0.25%, where they have been since December 2008.

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Why New Credit Card Regulations Can Make Or Break A Small Business

By the time you read the words “business credit card laws,” you might very well be half asleep and no one would blame you. The thing is, small business owners need to know what’s going on in the credit card world if they want to maximize profits and ultimately avoid going belly up.

In the Past
You see, small business credit cards are essentially living in the past. Because they aren’t covered by the personal finance law passed in 2009 to reform the system, they’re still subject to the same crooked tactics made commonplace by banks prior to the recession. That includes double-cycle billing, payment allocation designed to cost you the maximum amount of money, and most importantly, arbitrary interest rate changes for existing balances.

That last part makes small business credit cards very unreliable funding vehicles, as they cost you the debt stability required to confidently allocate funds. How are you supposed to operate when you could wake up one day to drastically higher costs thanks to a bank executive raising interest rates in order to earn a bonus?

It’s therefore fair to wonder where you’re supposed to turn, considering that you neither want to sacrifice debt stability by using a small business credit card nor protection from personal liability by using a general-consumer credit card.

This is where things get particularly interesting. A lot of folks believe that business credit cards insulate their personal finances from the economic vagaries of running a small business, but that’s merely a common falsehood.

All of the major credit card issuers hold small business owners personally liable for debt. It makes sense when you think about it, since they pull your personal credit card reports when making approval decisions and require that you list your Social Security Number on applications.

The Solution
There is indeed an effective solution to your plastic predicament. Since a general-consumer credit card won’t increase your personal liability any more than a business card but will confer CARD Act protections upon you, you should use one for funding purposes. Not only will this afford you debt stability, if you can score one of the 0% offers currently on the market, you’ll also be able to avoid interest for a year (or more) and therefore save a lot of money (read the fine print on these deals as you could be hit with higher interest once the interest-free period ends).

But what about rewards? Well, since small business credit cards offer unparalleled business-oriented rewards, help you track company spending, and give you the power to set spending limits for employee authorized users, you should use one to facilitate everyday expenses. Debt stability won’t be an issue because you should always pay for such purchases in full each billing period.

Using two cards, specifically targeted to different types of transactions, will enable you to cobble together a far better collection of terms than you’d ever be able to find on a single card.

The Bottom Line
Ultimately, heeding this advice will make the road to small business success somewhat less bumpy. It won’t automatically turn your company into a force to be reckoned with, but it will help you save hundreds of dollars and attain a clearer perspective on your company’s operations. I don’t have to tell you how much that’s worth to a budding small business, especially in today’s economy.

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Wall Street Week Ahead: Earnings, money flows to push stocks higher

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With earnings momentum on the rise, the S&P 500 seems to have few hurdles ahead as it continues to power higher, its all-time high a not-so-distant goal.

The U.S. equity benchmark closed the week at a fresh five-year high on strong housing and labor market data and a string of earnings that beat lowered expectations.

Sector indexes in transportation <.djt>, banks <.bkx> and housing <.hgx> this week hit historic or multiyear highs as well.

Michael Yoshikami, chief executive at Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California, said the key earnings to watch for next week will come from cyclical companies. United Technologies reports on Wednesday while Honeywell is due to report Friday.

"Those kind of numbers will tell you the trajectory the economy is taking," Yoshikami said.

Major technology companies also report next week, but the bar for the sector has been lowered even further.

Chipmakers like Advanced Micro Devices , which is due Tuesday, are expected to underperform as PC sales shrink. AMD shares fell more than 10 percent Friday after disappointing results from its larger competitor, Intel . Still, a chipmaker sector index <.sox> posted its highest weekly close since last April.

Following a recent underperformance, an upside surprise from Apple on Wednesday could trigger a return to the stock from many investors who had abandoned ship.

Other major companies reporting next week include Google , IBM , Johnson & Johnson and DuPont on Tuesday, Microsoft and 3M on Thursday and Procter & Gamble on Friday.


Perhaps the strongest support for equities will come from the flow of cash from fixed income funds to stocks.

The recent piling into stock funds -- $11.3 billion in the past two weeks, the most since 2000 -- indicates a riskier approach to investing from retail investors looking for yield.

"From a yield perspective, a lot of stocks still yield a great deal of money and so it is very easy to see why money is pouring into the stock market," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

"You are just not going to see people put a lot of money to work in a 10-year Treasury that yields 1.8 percent."

Housing stocks <.hgx>, already at a 5-1/2 year high, could get a further bump next week as investors eye data expected to support the market's perception that housing is the sluggish U.S. economy's bright spot.

Home resales are expected to have risen 0.6 percent in December, data is expected to show on Tuesday. Pending home sales contracts, which lead actual sales by a month or two, hit a 2-1/2 year high in November.

The new home sales report on Friday is expected to show a 2.1 percent increase.

The federal debt ceiling negotiations, a nagging worry for investors, seemed to be stuck on the back burner after House Republicans signaled they might support a short-term extension.

Equity markets, which tumbled in 2011 after the last round of talks pushed the United States close to a default, seem not to care much this time around.

The CBOE volatility index <.vix>, a gauge of market anxiety, closed Friday at its lowest since April 2007.

"I think the market is getting somewhat desensitized from political drama given, this seems to be happening over and over," said Destination Wealth Management's Yoshikami.

"It's something to keep in mind, but I don't think it's what you want to base your investing decisions on."

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Armstrong admits doping: 'I'm a flawed character'

CHICAGO (AP) — He did it. He finally admitted it. Lance Armstrong doped.

He was light on the details and didn't name names. He mused that he might not have been caught if not for his comeback in 2009. And he was certain his "fate was sealed" when longtime friend, training partner and trusted lieutenant George Hincapie, who was along for the ride on all seven of Armstrong's Tour de France wins from 1999-2005, was forced to give him up to anti-doping authorities.

But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN network, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.

"I'm a flawed character," he said.

Did it feel wrong?

"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary."

"Did you feel bad about it?" Winfrey pressed him.

"No," he said. "Even scarier."

"Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?"

"No," Armstrong paused. "Scariest."

"I went and looked up the definition of cheat," he added a moment later. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."

Wearing a blue blazer and open-neck shirt, Armstrong was direct and matter-of-fact, neither pained nor defensive. He looked straight ahead. There were no tears and very few laughs.

He dodged few questions and refused to implicate anyone else, even as he said it was humanly impossible to win seven straight Tours without doping.

"I'm not comfortable talking about other people," Armstrong said. "I don't want to accuse anybody."

Whether his televised confession will help or hurt Armstrong's bruised reputation and his already-tenuous defense in at least two pending lawsuits, and possibly a third, remains to be seen. Either way, a story that seemed too good to be true — cancer survivor returns to win one of sport's most grueling events seven times in a row — was revealed to be just that.

"This story was so perfect for so long. It's this myth, this perfect story, and it wasn't true," he said.

Winfrey got right to the point when the interview began, asking for yes-or-no answers to five questions.

Did Armstrong take banned substances? "Yes."

Did that include the blood-booster EPO? "Yes."

Did he do blood doping and use transfusions? "Yes."

Did he use testosterone, cortisone and human growth hormone? "Yes."

Did he take banned substances or blood dope in all his Tour wins? "Yes."

In his climb to the top, Armstrong cast aside teammates who questioned his tactics, yet swore he raced clean and tried to silence anyone who said otherwise. Ruthless and rich enough to settle any score, no place seemed beyond his reach — courtrooms, the court of public opinion, even along the roads of his sport's most prestigious race.

That relentless pursuit was one of the things that Armstrong said he regretted most.

"I deserve this," he said twice.

"It's a major flaw, and it's a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome. And it's inexcusable. And when I say there are people who will hear this and never forgive me, I understand that. I do. ...

"That defiance, that attitude, that arrogance, you cannot deny it."

Armstrong said he started doping in mid-1990s but didn't when he finished third in his comeback attempt.

Anti-doping officials have said nothing short of a confession under oath — "not talking to a talk-show host," is how World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman put it — could prompt a reconsideration of Armstrong's lifetime ban from sanctioned events.

He's also had discussions with officials at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, whose 1,000-page report in October included testimony from nearly a dozen former teammates and led to stripping Armstrong of his Tour titles. Shortly after, he lost nearly all his endorsements, was forced to walk away from the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997, and just this week was stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics.

Armstrong could provide information that might get his ban reduced to eight years. By then, he would be 49. He returned to triathlons, where he began his professional career as a teenager, after retiring from cycling in 2011, and has told people he's desperate to get back.

Initial reaction from anti-doping officials ranged from hostile to cool.

WADA president John Fahey derided Armstrong's defense that he doped to create "a level playing field" as "a convenient way of justifying what he did — a fraud."

"He was wrong, he cheated and there was no excuse for what he did," Fahey said by telephone in Australia.

If Armstrong "was looking for redemption," Fahey added, "he didn't succeed in getting that."

USADA chief Travis Tygart, who pursued the case against Armstrong when others had stopped, said the cyclist's confession was just a start.

"Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit," Tygart said. "His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."

Livestrong issued a statement that said the charity was "disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us."

"Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course," it said.

The interview revealed very few details about Armstrong's performance-enhancing regimen that would surprise anti-doping officials.

What he called "my cocktail" contained the steroid testosterone and the blood-booster erythropoetein, or EPO, "but not a lot," Armstrong said. That was on top of blood-doping, which involved removing his own blood and weeks later re-injecting it into his system.

All of it was designed to build strength and endurance, but it became so routine that Armstrong described it as "like saying we have to have air in our tires or water in our bottles."

"That was, in my view, part of the job," he said.

Armstrong was evasive, or begged off entirely, when Winfrey tried to connect his use to others who aided or abetted the performance-enhancing scheme on the USPS team

When she asked him about Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who was implicated in doping-related scrapes and has also been banned from cycling for life, Armstrong replied, "It's hard to talk about some of these things and not mention names. There are people in this story, they're good people and we've all made mistakes ... they're not monsters, not toxic and not evil, and I viewed Michele Ferrari as a good man and smart man and still do."

But that's nearly all Armstrong would say about the physician that some reports have suggested educated the cyclist about doping and looked after other aspects of his training program.

He was almost as reluctant to discuss claims by former teammates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis that Armstrong told them, separately, that he tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse and conspired with officials of the International Cycling Union officials to cover it up — in exchange for a donation.

"That story wasn't true. There was no positive test, no paying off of the labs. There was no secret meeting with the lab director," he said.

Winfrey pressed him again, asking if the money he donated wasn't part of a tit-for-tat agreement, "Why make it?"

"Because they asked me to," Armstrong began.

"This is impossible for me to answer and have anybody believe it," he said. "It was not in exchange for any cover-up. ... I have every incentive here to tell you yes."

Finally, he summed up the entire episode this way: "I was retired. ... They needed money."

Ultimately, though, it was Landis who did the most damage to Armstrong's story. Landis was stripped of the 2006 Tour title after testing positive and wound up on the sport's fringes looking for work. Armstrong said his former teammate threatened to release potentially destructive videos if he wasn't given a spot on the team. That was in 2009, when Armstrong returned to the Tour after four years off.

Winfrey asked whether Landis' decision to talk was "the tipping point."

"I'd agree with that. I might back it up a little and talk about the comeback. I think the comeback didn't sit well with Floyd," Armstrong recalled.

"Do you regret now coming back?"

"I do. We wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't come back," he said.

The closest Armstrong came to contrition was when Winfrey asked him about his apologies in recent days, notably to former teammate Frankie Andreu, who struggled to find work in cycling after Armstrong dropped him from the USPS team, as well as his wife, Betsy. Armstrong said she was jealous of his success, and invented stories about his doping as part of a long-running vendetta.

"Have you made peace?" Winfrey asked.

"No," Armstrong replied, "because they've been hurt too badly, and a 40-minute (phone) conversation isn't enough."

He also called London Sunday Times reporter David Walsh as well as Emma O'Reilly, who worked as a masseuse for the USPS team and later provided considerable material for a critical book Walsh wrote about Armstrong and his role in cycling's doping culture.

Armstrong subsequently sued for libel in Britain and won a $500,000 judgment against the newspaper, which is now suing to get the money back. Armstrong was, if anything, even more vicious in the way he went after O'Reilly. He intimated she was let go from the Postal team because she seemed more interested in personal relationships than professional ones.

"What do you want to say about Emma O'Reilly?" Winfrey asked.

"She, she's one of these people that I have to apologize to. She's one of these people that got run over, got bullied."

"You sued her?"

"To be honest, Oprah, we sued so many people I don't even," Armstrong said, then paused, "I'm sure we did."

Near the end of the first interview installment, Winfrey asked about a federal investigation of Armstrong that was dropped by the Justice Department without charges.

"When they dropped the case, did you think: 'Now, finally over, done, victory'?"

Armstrong looked up. He exhaled.

"It's hard to define victory," he said. "But I thought I was out of the woods."


AP Sports Writers Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, Eddie Pells in Denver and Dennis Passa in Melbourne contributed to this report.

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U.S. 'needs tougher child labor rules'

Cristina Traina says in his second term, Obama must address weaknesses in child farm labor standards


  • Cristina Traina: Obama should strengthen child farm labor standards

  • She says Labor Dept. rules allow kids to work long hours for little pay on commercial farms

  • She says Obama administration scrapped Labor Dept. chief's proposal for tightening rules

  • She says Labor Dept. must fix lax standards for kid labor on farmers; OSHA must enforce them

Editor's note: Cristina L.H. Traina is a Public Voices Op Ed fellow and professor at Northwestern University, where she is a scholar of social ethics.

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama should use the breathing space provided by the fiscal-cliff compromise to address some of the issues that he shelved during his last term. One of the most urgent is child farm labor. Perhaps the least protected, underpaid work force in American labor, children are often the go-to workers for farms looking to cut costs.

It's easy to see why. The Department of Labor permits farms to pay employees under 20 as little as $4.25 per hour. (By comparison, the federal minimum wage is $7.25.) And unlike their counterparts in retail and service, child farm laborers can legally work unlimited hours at any hour of day or night.

The numbers are hard to estimate, but between direct hiring, hiring through labor contractors, and off-the-books work beside parents or for cash, perhaps 400,000 children, some as young as 6, weed and harvest for commercial farms. A Human Rights Watch 2010 study shows that children laboring for hire on farms routinely work more than 10 hours per day.

As if this were not bad enough, few labor safety regulations apply. Children 14 and older can work long hours at all but the most dangerous farm jobs without their parents' consent, if they do not miss school. Children 12 and older can too, as long as their parents agree. Unlike teen retail and service workers, agricultural laborers 16 and older are permitted to operate hazardous machinery and to work even during school hours.

In addition, Human Rights Watch reports that child farm laborers are exposed to dangerous pesticides; have inadequate access to water and bathrooms; fall ill from heat stroke; suffer sexual harassment; experience repetitive-motion injuries; rarely receive protective equipment like gloves and boots; and usually earn less than the minimum wage. Sometimes they earn nothing.

Little is being done to guarantee their safety. In 2011 Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis proposed more stringent agricultural labor rules for children under 16, but Obama scrapped them just eight months later.

Adoption of the new rules would be no guarantee of enforcement, however. According to the 2010 Human Rights Watch report, the Department of Labor employees were spread so thin that, despite widespread reports of infractions they found only 36 child labor violations and two child hazardous order violations in agriculture nationwide.

This lack of oversight has dire, sometimes fatal, consequences. Last July, for instance, 15-year-old Curvin Kropf, an employee at a small family farm near Deer Grove, Illinois, died when he fell off the piece of heavy farm equipment he was operating, and it crushed him. According to the Bureau County Republican, he was the fifth child in fewer than two years to die at work on Sauk Valley farms.

If this year follows trends, Curvin will be only one of at least 100 children below the age of 18 killed on American farms, not to mention the 23,000 who will be injured badly enough to require hospital admission. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries. It is the most dangerous for children, accounting for about half of child worker deaths annually.

The United States has a long tradition of training children in the craft of farming on family farms. At least 500,000 children help to work their families' farms today.

Farm parents, their children, and the American Farm Bureau objected strenuously to the proposed new rules. Although children working on their parents' farms would specifically have been exempted from them, it was partly in response to worries about government interference in families and loss of opportunities for children to learn agricultural skills that the Obama administration shelved them.

Whatever you think of family farms, however, many child agricultural workers don't work for their parents or acquaintances. Despite exposure to all the hazards, these children never learn the craft of farming, nor do most of them have the legal right to the minimum wage. And until the economy stabilizes, the savings farms realize by hiring children makes it likely that even more of them will be subject to the dangers of farm work.

We have a responsibility for their safety. As one of the first acts of his new term, Obama should reopen the child agricultural labor proposal he shelved in spring of 2012. Surely, farm labor standards for children can be strengthened without killing off 4-H or Future Farmers of America.

Second, the Department of Labor must institute age, wage, hour and safety regulations that meet the standards set by retail and service industry rules. Children in agriculture should not be exposed to more risks, longer hours, and lower wages at younger ages than children in other jobs.

Finally, the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must allocate the funds necessary for meaningful enforcement of child labor violations. Unenforced rules won't protect the nearly million other children who work on farms.

Agriculture is a great American tradition. Let's make sure it's not one our children have to die for.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Cristina Traina.

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Bolshoi’s artistic director attacked in Moscow

MOSCOW (AP) — The artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater‘s ballet troupe was attacked with acid in Moscow and his eyesight is threatened, the theater said Friday.

Sergei Filin, a 42-year-old former ballet star, was approached Thursday night by an unknown man who splashed acid on his face as he got out of his car outside his home in central Moscow, Russian television reported.

Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova, who visited Filin at the hospital Thursday night, told The Associated Press that his condition is stable but his eyesight is threatened.

Filin was appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi‘s ballet company in March 2011. He danced for the Bolshoi on and off from 1988 to 2004 when his sustained a severe injury onstage.

The theater’s director general Anatoly Iksanov told Russia’s Channel One that he believes the attacked is linked to Filin’s work.

“He was a man of principle and never compromised,” Iksanov said. “If he believed that this or that dancer was not ready or was unable perform this or that part, he would turn them down.”

Several stars at the Bolshoi including Nikolai Tsiskaridze, one of its most celebrated dancers, have complained about what they call Filin’s unfair treatment of dancers at the Bolshoi.

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Which Tax Haven Is Right for You?

Once confined to a few tropical islands riddled with yachts and flashy drug dealers, the tax haven market has morphed into a sprawling tableau of low-tax zones that cater to wealthy individuals and multinationals. For the uninitiated, an abbreviated catalog of haven types.

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MoneyTV with Donald Baillargeon, 1/18

LOS ANGELES, CA–(Marketwire – Jan 18, 2013) – Obama’s assault politics, solar breakthrough, frack water cleanup, STEM education, fuel cells, reverse mortgages; this week on MoneyTV with Donald Baillargeon. MoneyTV is the internationally syndicated television program all about money and what makes it happen, (http://www.moneytv.net), featuring informative interviews with company CEOs, providing insights into their operations and outlooks for their futures.

Free information packages from the featured companies can be requested by sending an email to [email protected]

The television program can also be viewed online immediately at www.moneytv.net.

Featured companies on this week’s program include:

XsunX Inc. ( OTCBB : XSNX ) CEO Tom Djokovich announced the company has begun the final phase in preparing their CIGSolar System for client demonstrations and mentioned a video demonstration will be available in the coming weeks.

Neah Power Systems, Inc. ( OTCBB : NPWZ ) CEO Chris D’Couto provided an update of recent company activity and a look forward.

OriginOil, Inc. ( OTCBB : OOIL ) CEO Riggs Eckelberry announced the company was taking its frack water cleanup technology on the road for demonstrations in Texas.

PCS Edventures, Inc. ( OTCQB : PCSV ) CEO Robert Grover announced a prestigious addition to the company’s board.

The Mortgage Minute Guy Roger Schlesinger discussed the advantages of reverse mortgages.

MoneyTV debuted in 1996 and is broadcast internationally in more than 180 million TV households in over 75 countries.

A complete menu of TV listings is available at the MoneyTV web site, http://www.moneytv.net

MoneyTV Executive Producer and Anchor Donald Baillargeon is also the host of MoneyRap Radio, http://www.moneyrap.com and the daily television program Global Financial News Minute with Donald Baillargeon.

MoneyTV with Donald Baillargeon television program, Copyright MMXII, all rights reserved. MoneyTV does not provide an analysis of companies’ financial positions and is not soliciting to purchase or sell securities of the companies, nor are we offering a recommendation of featured companies or their stocks. Information discussed herein has been provided by the companies and should be verified independently with the companies and a securities analyst. MoneyTV provides companies a 3 to 4 month corporate profile with multiple appearances for a cash fee of $ 11,995.00 to $ 17,250.00, does not accept company stock as payment for services, does not hold any positions, options or warrants in featured companies. The information herein is not an endorsement by Donald Baillargeon, the producers, publisher or parent company of MoneyTV.

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Chinese, U.S. data push global shares to twenty-month high

LONDON (Reuters) - World shares hit a 20-month high on Friday as encouraging data from the United States and China boosted prospects for the global economy, while the yen hit new lows ahead of next week's Bank of Japan meeting.

China's economy grew at a slightly faster-than-expected 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, the latest sign it is pulling out of a post-global financial crisis slowdown that produced its weakest year of economic growth since 1999.

The positive news came on top of strong U.S. labor and housing market reports on Thursday, providing fresh impetus to a recent strong and broad financial market rally.

MSCI's index of leading world shares <.miwd00000pus> was at it highest level since May 2011 at 551.90 points as trading got underway in Europe and after Tokyo and Hong Kong stock markets surged and the S&P 500 in New York hit a five-year high.

"We've got good numbers out of China, we had some good numbers out of U.S. yesterday ... The general sentiment is pretty good," said Neil Marsh, strategist at Newedge.

"There will probably be some phases of consolidation as we go forward, but the markets remain pretty resilient. More people are putting their cash to work now in riskier assets like equities, and there is no sign of that stopping at the minute."

European stocks opened higher, with London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> up between 0.2 and 0.3 percent <.l><.eu><.n>. The region's data highlight of the day comes from British retail figures.

Industrial commodities jumped, leaving platinum and palladium near multi-month highs hit on Thursday, while oil prices edged up, with U.S. crude up 0.1 percent at $95.61 a barrel and Brent futures adding 0.2 percent to $111.27.


The strong U.S. data and mounting expectations for more aggressive easing by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) next week lifted the dollar to its highest since June 2010 of 90.21 yen, and the euro to its peak since May 2011 of 120.73 yen.

The single currency was steady against the dollar at $1.3378.

Expectations that the new Japanese government will pursue massive fiscal spending and push for more aggressive BOJ easing to drive Japan out of years of deflation and economic slump have spurred heavy yen selling since November.

Sources told Reuters the BOJ will at its January 21-22 meeting consider removing the 0.1 percent floor on short-term interest rates and commit to open-ended asset buying until the 2 percent inflation target is reached.

In bond markets, German two-year government bond yields rose 0.25 percent to near their highest in nearly 10 months, with traders citing growing concerns in money markets over early bank repayments of three-year European Central Bank loans.

Banks can start making repayments on January 30, and the ECB will publish how much will be repaid then on January 25. A larger-than-expected repayment of around 400 billion euros would effectively tighten conditions and push up interbank rates.

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Will Waterman)

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Manti Te'o girlfriend's death apparently a hoax

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Not long before Notre Dame played Michigan State last fall, word spread that Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o had lost his grandmother and girlfriend within hours of each other.

Te'o never missed a practice and made a season-high 12 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in a 20-3 victory against the Spartans. His inspired play became a stirring story line for the Fighting Irish as they made a run to the national championship game behind their humble, charismatic star.

Te'o's grandmother did indeed die. His girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never existed.

In a shocking announcement Wednesday night, Notre Dame said Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose "death" from leukemia was faked by perpetrators of an elaborate hoax. The goal of the scam wasn't clear, though Notre Dame said it used an investigative firm to dig into the details after Te'o disclosed them three weeks ago.

The hoax was disclosed hours after Deadspin.com posted a lengthy story, saying it could find no record that Kekua ever existed. The story suggests a friend of Te'o may have carried out the hoax and that the football player may have been in on it — a stunning claim against a widely admired All-American who led the most famed program in college football back to the championship game for the first time since 1988.

"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online," Te'o said in a statement. "We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. "

However, he stopped short of saying he had ever met her in person or correcting reports that said he had, though he did on numerous occasions talk about how special the relationship was to him.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating," he said. "In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was."

Word of the hoax spread quickly and raised questions about whether the school somehow played a role in pushing the tale.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said at a news conference that Te'o told coaches on Dec. 26 that he had received a call from Kekua's phone number while at an awards ceremony during the first week of December.

"When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same person he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead. Manti was very unnerved by that, as you might imagine," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the school hired investigators and their report indicated those behind the hoax were in contact with each other, discussing what they were doing.

The investigators "were able to discover online chatter among the perpetrators that was certainly the ultimate proof of this, the joy they were taking," Swarbrick said. "The casualness among themselves they were talking about what they accomplished."

Swarbrick said for Te'o "the pain was real."

"The grief was real. The affection was real," he said. "That's the nature of this sad, cruel game."

Swarbrick added: "Nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota."

Swarbrick said Notre Dame did not take the matter to the police, saying that the school left it up to Te'o and his family to do so. He added that Notre Dame did not plan to release the findings of its investigation.

"We had no idea of motive, and that was really significant to us. ... Was somebody trying to create an NCAA violation at the core of this? Was there somebody trying to impact the outcome of football games by manipulating the emotions of a key player? Was there an extortion request coming? When you match the lack of sort of detail we lacked until we got some help investigating it with the risk involved, it was clear to me until we knew more we had to just to continue to work to try to gather the facts," Swarbrick said.

The Deadspin report changed all that.

Friends and relatives of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told Deadspin they believe he created Kekua. The website said Te'o and Tuiasosopo knew each other. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Tuiasosopo by telephone were unsuccessful.

As for Kekua, Deadspin said she does not have a death certificate. Stanford, where she reportedly went to school, has no record of anybody by that name, the website said. Deadspin said a record search produced no obituary or funeral announcement. There is no record of her birth in the news.

There are a few Twitter and Instagram accounts registered to Lennay Kekua, but the website reported that photographs identified as Kekua online and in TV news reports are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua.

Te'o talked freely about their relationship after her supposed death and how much she meant to him.

In a story that appeared in The South Bend Tribune on Oct. 12, Manti's father, Brian, recounted an anecdote about how his son and Kekua met after Notre Dame had played at Stanford in 2009. Brian Te'o also told the newspaper that Kekua had visited Hawaii and met with his son. Brian Te'o told the AP in an interview in October that he and his wife had never met Manti's girlfriend but they had hoped to at the Wake Forest game in November. The father said he believed the relationship was just beginning to get serious when she died.

The Tribune released a statement saying: "At the Tribune, we are as stunned by these revelations as everyone else. Indeed, this season we reported the story of this fake girlfriend and her death as details were given to us by Te'o, members of his family and his coaches at Notre Dame."

The week before Notre Dame played Michigan State on Sept. 15, coach Brian Kelly told reporters when asked that Te'o's grandmother and a friend had died. He said Kekua had told Te'o not to miss a game if she died. The linebacker turned in one of his best performances of the season and his playing through heartache became a prominent theme during the Irish's undefeated regular season. He finished second in Heisman voting.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life," Te'o said in his statement.

"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been."

Te'o and the Irish lost the title game to Alabama, 42-14 on Jan. 7. He has graduated and was set to begin preparing for the NFL combine and draft at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this week.

"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life," he said in his statement, "and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL draft."

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Did Scientology ad cross line?

The Church of Scientology is also at fault for thinking the advertorial would survive The Atlantic readers' scrutiny, Ian Schafer says.


  • The Atlantic published and pulled a sponsored Scientology "story"

  • Ian Schafer: On several levels, the ad was a mistake

  • He says the content was heavy-handed and comments were being moderated

  • Schafer: Experimenting to raise revenue makes sense, but standards should be clear

Editor's note: Ian Schafer is the founder and CEO of a digital advertising agency, Deep Focus, and the alter ego of @invisibleobama. You can read his rants on his blog at ianschafer.com.

(CNN) -- "The Atlantic is America's leading destination for brave thinking and bold ideas that matter. The Atlantic engages its print, online, and live audiences with breakthrough insights into the worlds of politics, business, the arts, and culture. With exceptional talent deployed against the world's most important and intriguing topics, The Atlantic is the source of opinion, commentary, and analysis for America's most influential individuals who wish to be challenged, informed, and entertained." -- The Atlantic 2013 media kit for advertisers

On Monday, The Atlantic published -- and then pulled -- a story titled "David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year." This "story" went on to feature the growth of Scientology in 2012.

Ian Schafer

Ian Schafer

Any regular reader of The Atlantic's content would immediately do a double-take upon seeing that kind of headline, much less the heavy-handed text below it, shamelessly plugging how well Scientology's "ecclesiastical leader" Miscavige has done in "leading a renaissance for the religion."

This "story" is one of several "advertorials" (a portmanteau of "advertising" and "editorials") that The Atlantic has published online, clearly designated as "Sponsor Content." In other words, "stories" like these aren't real stories. They are ads with a lot of words, which advertisers have paid publications to run on their behalf for decades. You may have seen them in magazines and newspapers as "special advertising sections."

The hope is that because you are already reading the publication, hey, maybe you'll read what the advertiser has to say, too -- instead of the "traditional" ad that they may have otherwise placed on the page that you probably won't remember, or worse, will ignore.

There's nothing wrong with this tactic, ethically, when clearly labeled as "sponsored" or "advertising." But many took umbrage with The Atlantic in this particular case; so many, that The Atlantic responded by pulling the story from its site -- which was the right thing to do -- and by apologizing.

At face value, The Atlantic did the right thing for its business model, which depends upon advertising sales. It sold what they call a "native" ad to a paying advertiser, clearly labeled it as such, without the intention of misleading readers into thinking this was a piece of journalism.

But it still failed on several levels.

The Atlantic defines its readers as "America's most influential individuals who wish to be challenged, informed, and entertained." By that very definition, it is selling "advertorials" to people who are the least likely to take them seriously, especially when heavy-handed. There is a fine line between advertorial and outright advertising copywriting, and this piece crossed it. The Church of Scientology is just as much at fault for thinking this piece would survive The Atlantic readers' intellectual scrutiny. But this isn't even the real issue.

Bad advertising is all around us. And readers' intellectual scrutiny would surely have let the advertorial piece slide without complaints (though snark would be inevitable), as they have in the past, or yes, even possibly ignored it. But here's where The Atlantic crossed another line -- it seemed clear it was moderating the comments beneath the advertorial.

As The Washington Post reported, The Atlantic marketing team was carefully pruning the comments, ensuring that they were predominantly positive, even though many readers were leaving negative comments. So while The Atlantic was publishing clearly labeled advertiser-written content, it was also un-publishing content created by its readers -- the very folks it exists to serve.

It's understandable that The Atlantic would inevitably touch a third rail with any "new" ad format. But what it calls "native advertising" is actually "advertorial." It's not new at all. Touching the third rail in this case is unacceptable.

So what should The Atlantic have done in this situation before it became a situation? For starters, it should have worked more closely with the Church of Scientology to help create a piece of content that wasn't so clearly written as an ad. If the Church of Scientology was not willing to compromise its advertising to be better content, then The Atlantic should not have accepted the advertising. But this is a quality-control issue.

The real failure here was that comments should never have been enabled beneath this sponsored content unless the advertiser was prepared to let them be there, regardless of sentiment.

It's not like Scientology has avoided controversy in the past. The sheer, obvious reason for this advertorial in the first place was to dispel beliefs that Scientology wasn't a recognized religion (hence "ecclesiastical").

Whether The Atlantic felt it was acting in its advertiser's best interest, or the advertiser specifically asked for this to happen, letting it happen at all was a huge mistake, and a betrayal of an implicit contract that should exist between a publication of The Atlantic's stature and its readership.

No matter how laughably "sales-y" a piece of sponsored content might be, the censoring of readership should be the true "third rail," never to be touched.

Going forward, The Atlantic (and any other publication that chooses to run sponsored content) should adopt and clearly communicate an explicit ethics statement regarding advertorials and their corresponding comments. This statement should guide the decisions it makes when working with advertisers, and serve as a filter for the sponsored content it chooses to publish, and what it recommends advertisers submit. It should also prevent readers from being silenced if given a platform at all.

As an advertising professional, I sincerely hope this doesn't spook The Atlantic or any other publication from experimenting with ways to make money. But as a reader, I hope it leads to better ads that reward me for paying attention, rather than muzzle my voice should I choose to interact with the content.

After all, what more could a publication or advertiser ask for than for content to be so interesting that someone actually would want to comment on (or better, share) it?

(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said native advertising accounts for 59% of the Atlantic's ad revenue. Digital advertising, of which native advertising is a part, accounts for 59% of The Atlantic's overall revenue, according to the company.)

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ian Schafer.

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Bigelow directs “Zero Dark Thirty” torture critics to Washington

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The director of Oscar-nominated thriller “Zero Dark Thirty” on Wednesday defended the film’s depiction of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, saying criticism would better be directed at the U.S. officials who ordered such policies.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Kathryn Bigelow said she personally opposed any use of torture, but said it was a part of the decade-long hunt for the al Qaeda leader that the film could not ignore.

“Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement,” Bigelow wrote of criticism of the movie’s torture scenes from Washington politicians, the media and human rights groups.

“I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen,” said Bigelow, who won two Oscars in 2010 for her Iraq war movie “The Hurt Locker.”

“Zero Dark Thirty” was nominated last week for five Academy Awards in February, including best picture, screenplay and actress for Jessica Chastain.

But Bigelow was overlooked in the directing category in a snub that many Hollywood awards watchers attributed to weeks of negative publicity over the film.

A group of senators in December chided distributor Sony Pictures in a letter, calling the film “grossly inaccurate and misleading” for suggesting torture helped the United States capture bin Laden in May 2011.

Actor David Clennon, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that selects Oscar winners, has urged fellow members not vote for the movie, accusing it of promoting torture.

However, in its first week of nationwide release, the movie topped the North American box office on Sunday, taking in $ 24 million.

Bigelow said her personal belief was that “Osama bin Laden was found due to ingenious detective work. Torture was, however, as we all know, employed in the early years of the hunt. That doesn’t mean it was the key to finding bin Laden. It means it is a part of the story we couldn’t ignore. War, obviously, isn’t pretty, and we were not interested in portraying this military action as free of moral consequences.”

“Bin Laden wasn’t defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation,” she concluded.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Safety fears hit more Dreamliners

Leithen Francis, Aviation Week: ‘Some 787 operators will ask for compensation from Boeing’

Boeing’s troubled 787 Dreamliner continues to face problems as more global regulators and airlines grounded the plane on safety concerns.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered US airlines to stop using 787s temporarily after a battery fault caused an emergency landing in Japan.

Airlines in Chile and India quickly complied by grounding their Dreamliners.

Boeing said that it stood by the integrity of the 787.

A string of issues have raised questions about the 787′s future.

In recent weeks Dreamliners have suffered incidents including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire. However, it is the battery problems that have caused the most concern.

On Wednesday, an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight made an emergency landing because of a battery malfunction. That caused them to ground all 17 of their Dreamliners and Japan Airways followed suit.

The FAA said that airlines must demonstrate battery safety before flights can resume.

‘Every necessary step’

The FAA added that it had alerted the international aviation community of its airworthiness directive so that other authorities could take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their countries.

Leithen Francis, from Aviation Week, said that could mean more bad news for Boeing in the coming days.

“When the FAA issues an airworthiness directive civil aviation and airlines around the world have to follow the FAA airworthiness directive, particularly in regards to the 787 because it a US-designed and developed aircraft,” he told the BBC.

Boeing said it supported the FAA but added it was confident the 787 was safe.

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Dreamliners in use

  • Air India: 6

  • All Nippon Airways (Japan): 17

  • Ethiopian Airlines: 4

  • Japan Airlines: 7

  • LAN Airlines (Chile): 3

  • Lot Polish Airlines: 2

  • Qatar Airways: 5

  • United Airlines (US) 6

  • Total: 50

Source: Boeing

Chief executive Jim McNerney said: “We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787′s safety and to return the airplanes to service.

“Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers.”

Boeing shares closed down more than 3% on Wall Street on Wednesday.

Complying airlines

United Airlines, the only US airline currently operating Dreamliners, said it would immediately comply with the FAA’s directive and would begin re-accommodating customers on alternative aircraft.

Chile’s LAN announced it would suspend usage of its three Dreamliners in co-ordination with the Chilean Aeronautical Authority.

Indian aviation regulators also complied by ordering Air India to stop operating its 787s.

“The FAA has issued an advisory to ground the Dreamliners. We took a decision after that,” said director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra.

“As of now there is no clarity on when the Dreamliners will be back in service. Boeing has to satisfy everyone with safety standards.”

Continue reading the main story

Dreamliner’s problems

15 January: ANA flight NH 692 from Yamaguchi Ube is forced to land shortly after take-off due to battery problems. The airline grounds all its 17 Dreamliners. Japan Airlines follows suit, grounding its fleet of seven 787s

11 January: ANA reports a crack in the window on the pilot’s side of the cockpit on a Tokyo to Matsuyama flight. It causes no problems but the return flight is cancelled. The same airline says another Dreamliner flight is delayed due to an oil leak from a generator inside an engine

9 January: ANA cancels a 787 flight from Yamaguchi to Tokyo because of a brake problem

8 January: Japan Airlines cancels a Boston to Tokyo flight after about 40 gallons (151 litres) of fuel spills

7 January: An electrical fire breaks out on board a Japan Airlines Dreamliner shortly after it lands in Boston, following a flight from Tokyo

13 December: Qatar Airways grounds one of its 787s after several manufacturing faults cause electrical problems

4 December: A United Airlines flight is forced to make an emergency landing in New Orleans because of an electrical problem

All together with the Japanese airlines, who are the Dreamliner’s biggest customers, four-fifths of the 787s in use are now not flying.

Mr Francis said this could have an effect on airlines currently considering ordering 787s, causing them to choose rival Airbus’ A330 instead, which is a comparable aircraft and a proven product.

Under investigation

Late on Wednesday, the FAA said it would work with the manufacturer and carriers on an action plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.

“The in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013,” the regulator said.

“The AD (airworthiness directive) is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery.”

It said the battery failures resulted in the release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke, and the cause of the failures was under investigation.

“These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment,” the FAA said.

BBC News – Business

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Futures signal mixed Wall Street open

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 rising 0.1 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.2 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures falling 0.1 percent.

Airlines scrambled on Thursday to rearrange flights as Europe, Japan and India joined the United States in grounding Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated.

Earnings reports from major U.S. companies such as Citigroup , Intel , Bank of America and BlackRock , due later in the day, will be scrutinized for hints about the market's near-term direction.

First-time claims for jobless benefits for the week ended January 12 are due at 1330 GMT. Economists forecast a total of 365,000 new filings, compared with 371,000 in the previous week.

The Commerce Department releases housing starts and permits for December at 1330 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 903,000 permits in December, compared with 900,000 in the previous month.

Top executives at Goldman Sachs have been considering deep cuts to staffing levels and pay for at least two years, but feared too many layoffs would leave the firm unprepared for an eventual pickup in business, people familiar with the bank said.

Shares in Dutch telecoms company KPN rose more than 4 percent on Thursday after a report that U.S. peer AT&T is looking at an acquisition in Europe, including KPN and UK carrier Everything Everywhere.

AT&T is considering buying a telecoms company in Europe to offset growth constraints in its home market, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the company's thinking.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd reported a 32 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit as its cutting-edge technology keeps it ahead of rivals in the mobile gadget boom.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases its January business activity survey at 1500 GMT. Economists forecast a reading of 5.8, versus 4.6 in December.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.fteu3> was flat in morning trading on Thursday.

The S&P 500 ended nearly flat on Wednesday as solid earnings from two major banks and a bounceback in Apple shares offset concerns about a lower forecast for global growth in 2013.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was down 23.66 points, or 0.17 percent, at 13,511.23 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was up 0.29 points, or 0.02 percent, at 1,472.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was up 6.77 points, or 0.22 percent, at 3,117.54.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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Lance Armstrong may not be done confessing

Lance Armstrong may not be done confessing.

His interview with Oprah Winfrey hasn't aired yet, but already some people want to hear more — under oath — before Armstrong is allowed to compete in elite triathlons, a sport he returned to after retiring from cycling in 2011. In addition to stripping him of all seven of his Tour de France titles last year, anti-doping officials banned Armstrong for life from sanctioned events.

"He's got to follow a certain course," David Howman, director general of World Anti-Doping Agency, told the AP. "That is not talking to a talk show host."

Armstrong already has had conversations with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials, touching off speculation that the team leader who demanded loyalty from others soon may face some very tough choices himself: whether to cooperate and name those who aided, knew about or helped cover up a sophisticated doping ring that Armstrong ran on his tour-winning U.S. Postal Service squads. Former teammate Frankie Andreu, one of several riders Armstrong cast aside on his ride to the top of the sport, said no one could provide a better blueprint for cleaning up the sport.

"Lance knows everything that happened," Andreu told The Associated Press. "He's the one who knows who did what because he was the ringleader. It's up to him how much he wants to expose."

World Anti-Doping Agency officials said nothing short of "a full confession under oath" would even cause them to reconsider the ban. Although Armstrong admitted to Winfrey on Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs, Howman said that is "hardly the same as giving evidence to a relevant authority." The International Cycling Union also urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims that the sport's governing body hid suspicious samples, accepted financial donations, and helped Armstrong avoid detection in doping tests.

Winfrey wouldn't detail what Armstrong said during their interview at a downtown Austin hotel. In an appearance on "CBS This Morning," she said she was "mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers." What had been planned as a 90-minute broadcast will be shown as a two-part special, Thursday and Friday, on Winfrey's OWN network.

The lifetime ban was imposed after a 1,000-page report by USADA last year outlined a complex, long-running doping program led by Armstrong. The cyclist also lost nearly all of his endorsements and was forced to cut ties with the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997. The damage to Armstrong's reputation was just as severe.

The report portrayed him as well-versed in the use of a wide range of performance-enhancers, including steroids and blood boosters such as EPO, and willing to exploit them to dominate. Nearly a dozen teammates provided testimony about that drug regimen, among them Andreu and his wife, Betsy.

"A lot of it was news and shocking to me," Andreu said. "I am sure it's shocking to the world. There's been signs leading up to this moment for a long time. For my wife and I, we've been attacked and ripped apart by Lance and all of his people, and all his supporters repeatedly for a long time. I just wish they wouldn't have been so blind and opened up their eyes earlier to all the signs that indicated there was deception there, so that we wouldn't have had to suffer as much.

"And it's not only us," he added, "he's ruined a lot of people's lives."

Armstrong was believed to have left for Hawaii. The street outside his Spanish-style villa on Austin's west side was quiet the day after international TV crews gathered there hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Meanwhile, members of his legal team mapped out a strategy on how to handle at least two pending lawsuits against Armstrong, and possibly a third.

Former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, alleges in one of the lawsuits that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. government by repeatedly denying he used performance-enhancing drugs. The False Claims Act lawsuit could require Armstrong to return substantial sponsorship fees and pay a hefty fine. The AP reported earlier Tuesday that Justice Department officials were likely to join the whistleblower lawsuit before a Thursday deadline.


Jim Litke reported from Chicago, Jim Vertuno from Austin, Texas. Stephen Wilson in London and John L. Mone in Dearborn, Mich., also contributed to this report.

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