‘App economy’ potential sizzles

Raymond Gonzalez, a Florida International University senior, is developing an iPhone application called Pet Finder that will allow users to browse the dogs and cats at the local animal shelter or request an animal for adoption. He is also part of a team creating mobile apps that track bank failures, issue alerts about earthquakes and organize homework assignments.

It’s a well-calculated effort to learn as much as he can about mobile technology as quickly as possible. “My goal is to make all these apps free and open source while using the knowledge gained to build my startup company after graduation,” said Gonzalez, who is majoring in information technology.

Whether he starts his own company or works for someone else, Gonzalez is preparing to be a player in a high-paying, sizzling new industry, one that might provide the United States with a big opportunity to increase its exports in coming years.

While the overall economy still lags, the “app economy” has created nearly 500,000 jobs in the United States since 2007, when there were none.

Companies even worry that the nation isn’t moving fast enough to produce new talent for thousands of unfilled jobs as consumers demand more and more gizmos and gadgets for their smartphones.

As a result, salaries are rising quickly: Mobile apps developers can expect pay increases of 9 percent next year, among the highest of any jobs, putting them in the range of $92,750 to $133,500 a year, according to a survey that the staffing and consulting firm Robert Half International released last month.

If the United States can maintain its dominance in the industry, many say the app economy could make a big dent in the country’s federal trade deficit. Last year, for example, more than 20 percent of the apps downloaded in China were made by U.S. developers.

“There is unprecedented opportunity for America to capitalize on exploding international markets,” Peter Farago, the vice president of marketing for Flurry, a high-tech startup in San Francisco, testified in September before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

Farago said his company had more than 100 employees and 50 open positions and that “we literally cannot find the talent we need fast enough.” He told members of the subcommittee that the app economy would become increasingly international and that the United States should do more to improve education and retraining programs and to make it easier for companies to bring and keep more talent from foreign countries.

“We’re in a human capital crunch,” added Rey Ramsey, the president and chief executive officer of TechNet, a network of technology executives that promotes the industry.

According to a TechNet study released earlier this year, the 466,000 mobile-tech jobs created since the iPhone was introduced include programmers, designers, marketers, managers and support staff for Apple, Android, Facebook and other platforms. California is by far the most dominant player in the industry, accounting for nearly one of every four jobs. New York ranks second, followed by Washington state, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia and Florida.

Among metropolitan regions, New York ranked first, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue. Miami-Fort Lauderdale ranked 19th.

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West Miami-Dade hit-and-run driver convicted, awaiting sentencing

Almost four years after a hit-and-run driver killed her 11-year-old daughter, Adonay Rosete will enter the holiday season with some semblance of closure.

That’s because a jury this month convicted the driver of two felonies in the death of 11-year-old Ashley Nicole Valdes, who was struck in January 2009 in West Kendall after a bus driver dropped her off on the wrong side of the street.

The driver, Harvey Abraham, 37, was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving death and tampering with evidence.

He will be sentenced early next year, and faces from two to 35 years in prison.

“The trial was just very hard because it took me back to that moment of her death. He took two lives that day. The dead are dead, but the living are the ones who stay behind suffering,” Rosete said this week. “But after three years, it’s closure.”

Ashley’s death spurred Miami-Dade County to implement an “Ashley Alert” text-message system for which county residents can sign up to receive alerts on crime and traffic issues. The alerts are intended to spread the word on crimes such as hit-and-run accidents like the one that killed Ashley.

In March 2009 — in a ceremony featuring dozens of the girl’s classmates — county officials also renamed the portion of Southwest 80th Street where Ashley died after her.

Ashley had just started sixth grade at Howard Doolin Middle School in West Kendall. Her mother also cares for her younger daughter, Amanda Batista, who suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a condition similar to cerebral palsy.

Ashley was killed Jan. 8, 2009, when a substitute school bus driver dropped her off on the wrong side of the Southwest 80th Street in West Kendall. She was crossing 80th Street when a Ford F-150 plowed into her, hurling her body 80 feet. Her family later received a settlement from the Miami-Dade school district.

Two school-age sisters in a nearby car witnessed the accident.

At the time, Abraham — a father of two daughters — worked as an administrative assistant at an accounting firm. He took his truck to a body shop, and even filed an insurance claim, saying he was the victim, prosecutor Suzanne Von Paulus told jurors at his trial.

As Miami-Dade traffic homicide detectives searched for the truck and fielded more than 70 tips, Allstate insurance inspected the vehicle and mailed a check to Harvey for the damage.

While the partially disassembled truck sat outside a South Miami auto body shop, a citizen — who heard about the case through the news media — called police. The shop’s owner, working with police, called Abraham to the shop under the pretense that he needed to sign more paperwork for the repair job.

Detectives arrested Abraham, who claimed he thought he had struck a dog. Jurors took 25 minutes to convict him.

“The whole thing is tragic. There was nothing he could have done to avoid this accident,” said his defense attorney, David Donet. “From the beginning he said he never realized what he hit. But he is really devastated by what happened to Ashley and is very remorseful.”

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Larry Hagman Dies

Larry Hagman, best known for playing Dallas villain J.R. Ewing, died Friday morning from complications stemming from his recent battle with cancer.

He was 81 years old.

Video: Larry Hagman Talks 'Dallas', Cancer and Veganism

"Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most," the family said in a statement via The Dallas Morning News. "When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time."

Hagman's Dallas co-stars Linda Gray (who played his wife Sue Ellen) and Patrick Duffy (who played his brother Bobby) were reportedly at his bedside when he died, The Sun is reporting.

"Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years. He was the Pied Piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew," Gray tells ET in a statement. "He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented, and I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the fullest ... The world was a brighter place because of Larry Hagman."

Video: J.R. Menaces in New 'Dallas'

Hagman, who also starred as Air Force Captain Anthony Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie, was last seen on television in TNT's Dallas reboot, where he returned to play his most well-known character.

"Larry Hagman was a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history," Warner Bros., Dallas executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, and the show's cast and crew said in a statement. "He truly loved portraying this globally recognized character, and he leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace. Everyone at Warner Bros. and in the Dallas family is deeply saddened by Larry's passing, and our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time."

"It was truly an honor to share the screen with Mr. Larry Hagman," Dallas reboot star Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Christopher Ewing, said in a statement. "With piercing wit and undeniable charm he brought to life one of the most legendary television characters of all time. But to know the man, however briefly, was to know a passion and dedication for life and acting that was profoundly inspirational."

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Sitcom star Larry Hagman dead at 81

AP Photo/NBC, file

Barbara Eden, left, and Larry Hagman in a scene from the hit 1960s TV show "I Dream of Jeannie."

LOS ANGELES — Larry Hagman, whose predatory oil baron J.R. Ewing on television's long-running nighttime soap opera "Dallas" became a symbol for 1980s greed and coaxed forth a Texas-sized gusher of TV ratings, has died. He was 81.

Hagman, who returned as J.R. in a new edition of "Dallas" this year, passed away Friday afternoon due to complications from his battle with cancer, according to a statement from the family provided to The Associated Press by Warner Bros., producer of "Dallas."

"Larry was back in his beloved hometown of Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved the most," the family said. "Larry's family and closest friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday."

Hagman was diagnosed in 1992 with cirrhosis of the liver and acknowledged that he had drank heavily for years. In 1995, a malignant tumor was discovered on his liver and he underwent a transplant.

Years before "Dallas," Hagman had gained TV fame as a nice guy with the fluffy 1965-70 NBC comedy "I Dream of Jeannie," in which he played Capt. Tony Nelson, an astronaut whose life is disrupted when he finds a comely genie, portrayed by Barbara Eden, and takes her home to live with him.

He also starred in two short-lived sitcoms, "The Good Life" (NBC, 1971-72) and "Here We Go Again" (ABC, 1973). His film work included well-regarded performances in "The Group," ''Harry and Tonto" and "Primary Colors."

But it was Hagman's masterful portrayal of the charmingly loathsome J.R. that brought him his greatest stardom. The CBS serial drama about the Ewing clan and those in their orbit aired from April 1978 to May 1991.

The "Who shot J.R.?" story twist, in which Hagman's character was nearly murdered in a cliffhanger episode, fueled international speculation and millions of dollars in betting-parlour wagers. It also helped give the series a ratings record for the time.

When the answer was revealed in a November 1980 episode, an average 41 million viewers tuned in to make "Dallas" the second most-watched entertainment show of all time, trailing only the "MASH" finale in 1983 with 50 million viewers.

It was J.R.'s sister-in-law, Kristin (Mary Crosby) who plugged him — he had made her pregnant, then threatened to frame her as a prostitute unless she left town — but others had equal motivation.

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Black Friday in South Florida: Dispatches from the front of the line

5:45 AM Aventura Mall Macy's was open but the entrance to the mall from the department store was closed. The mall opens at 6. Customers could not get into the Mall from Macy’s before 6 and had to walk outside to one of the mall entrances. An employee and a security guard said that was a mistake. Cars started backing up on the mall perimeter road, but plenty of parking spaces were still available. Around the corner from the mall, three Aventura police cars, lights flashing, were stationed next to a sign warning drivers to wear a seatbelt or face a ticket.

3:20 AM Dadeland Mall Most shoppers are standing in line for coffee at Starbucks, eating Bourbon chicken from Kelly’s Cajun Grill, munching on a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s or taking a cat nap. Those leaving are carrying bags from Macy’s, the Disney Store,

Bath and Body Works, and Victoria’s Secret.

Maria Prado, the mall manager, said she is "very impressed" with the Black Friday turnout.

"This is a critical day for retail," Prado said, of Kendall. "We are in this business to cater to what shoppers want."

2 AM, Dadeland Mall The mall is still packed with people. Many of them are gathered in the Disney Store, Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works and Macy’s. The Apple store, which had a line of nearly 150 shoppers waiting for the door to open at midnight, now only has a line of about 25 shoppers. Instead of opening at midnight, Apple is opening at 6 a.m.

At Victoria’s Secret, the security guard fell asleep standing while nearly 100 shoppers were making purchases. Husbands and infants slept outside of the store on brown couches.

12:30 AM, Dadeland Mall All retail stores were expected to open at midnight. But as of 12:30 a.m., neither the Apple store nor jewelry stores Tous or Mayors were open. Nearly 150 people were waiting outside of Apple.

According to Guest Services, stores that were not open by midnight would be fined.

Meanwhile, the rest of the mall buzzed with eager families and couples. Many shoppers were already sporting bags from Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Express and Abercrombie & Fitch.

12:06 AM, Dadeland Mall Dadeland Mall officially opened at 12 a.m., and by 12:06 a.m. a group of young girls were already walking out of the mall with Victoria’s Secret bags in hand.

As the doors opened at Abercrombie & Fitch, people shouted to get in. Some yelled "Hallelujah" as others tried to push their way through.

Friday, midnight, Sawgrass Mills After a moderate start, the pace picked up at Sawgrass Mills. By midnight the mall was packed. Human traffic jams made walking through corridors challenging. Parking lot spaces were gone by 11 p.m., and people were being sent to the BB&T center and shuttled over to the mall. Food courts were doing brisk business as shoppers grabbed a quick bite to refuel.

11:45 PM, Dolphin Mall, Gaspar Ferreiro headed to the mall Thanksgiving night to shop, and to sell. Waiting in line at the Swaroski jewelry store, the Georgia resident had a promotion of his own to offer. A sign hand-written in marker and hanging from a string on his back read: “FOR SALE WII DELUXE FOR $465.”

The hot new Nintendo video-game system sells for about $350. Ferreiro bought four when they went on sale this month, and he’s giving one to his kids. Now he’s reselling the rest at a mark-up to help pay for the one he kept. “If I make $70 [on each], that’s fine,’’ he said. “No need to take advantage of anybody.”

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Shoppers flood South Florida stores on Thanksgiving for Black Friday deals

GeGe Williams joined 18 family members Thursday for a sprawling Thanksgiving feast of turkey, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, seafood rice, stuffing and banana pudding.

They had to eat quickly. It was 11 a.m., and they wanted to get in line to shop.

“Half of us went to Walmart and half of us came here,” Williams, a fast-food cashier from Miami, said shortly before 6 p.m. from a bench outside the Best Buy at the Dadeland Station Mall.

Williams joined tens of thousands of South Florida residents in condensing or abandoning their Thanksgiving routines Thursday to snag bargains reserved for the earliest of holiday shoppers.

At a Doral Toys R Us, more than 300 people waited in line for an 8 p.m. opening, the earliest yet for a store that four years ago kept closed through Thanksgiving. But with more retailers seeing midnight openings on Friday too long a wait for holiday sales, Toys R Us opted to move its "door buster" frenzy into Thanksgiving evening.

The earlier opening brought Rebecca Sucarino to Toys R Us at 10 a.m. to claim the first spot in line. The insurance specialist was joined by her husband and friends, while her three children ate Thanksgiving with Sucarino’s mother.

This is Sucarino’s third year at the front of the line on Thanksgiving at the same Toys R Us. She’s on the hunt for baby clothes and a $100 trampoline selling for $50.

She said she’s happy to be able to afford a big Christmas haul for her three kids (ages 11, 3 and six months) but does regret having to stake out a store on Thanksgiving.

“This is my son’s first Thanksgiving. It bothers me a lot,” she said. “But it feels good to get the kids a lot of toys and not spend as much.”

While the Toys R Us line grew throughout the evening, the second group of shoppers didn’t show up until around 5 p.m.

Such was the luck of Thanksgiving Day shopping, with some die-hards realizing they had arrived hours or even days earlier than they needed to.

At a Doral Best Buy, Valentina Sierra stood by a tent she and a fellow Starbucks worker pitched there on Monday. When did the people that snagged Spot No. 2 arrive? Wednesday, Sierra said, rolling her eyes.

She planned on buying a $499 40-inch Toshiba television on sale for $179 as a gift for her parents. About 40 spots down a line topping 200 around 7 pm, Florida International University student Jason Kalil wanted the same item. He wasn’t hopeful and blamed local police.

Kalil explained he arrived around midnight and placed his tent near Sierra’s. While charging a phone Thursday morning, Kalil saw someone had inserted their tent, claiming improper dibs on Kalil’s part. A scuffle ensued, the police summoned.

“They ordered me to the back of the line,” Kalil said.

Nationwide, a similar shopping story unfolded as shoppers put down the turkey to take advantage of Thanksgiving deals.

Stores typically open in the wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving that’s named Black Friday because that’s when stores traditionally turn a profit for the year. But Black Friday openings have crept earlier and earlier over the past few years. Now, stores are opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening, hoping Americans will be willing to shop soon after they finish their pumpkin pie.

Retailers are hoping that the Thanksgiving openings will draw shoppers who prefer to head to stores after their turkey dinner rather than braving the crowds early the next morning. Overall, about 17 percent of shoppers plan to take advantage of Thanksgiving hours, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers.

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Gabriel Aubry and Olivier Martinez Involved in Brawl

Halle Berry's ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry and her fiancé Olivier Martinez were involved in a Thanksgiving altercation that turned physical, with Aubry having to be transported by ambulance to the hospital due to injuries, ET confirms.

Cops responded to a 9-1-1 call at 10 a.m. at Berry's house, and according to police sources, the fight broke out when Aubry was dropping off his daughter with Berry, Nahla, 4, to her house for Thanksgiving. Aubry reportedly initiated the altercation and was arrested for misdemeanor battery.

Related: Halle Berry & Gabriel Aubry's Custody Battle Heats Up

He will be booked when/after he is released from the hospital.

Related: Berry -- My Love for Olivier Was 'Gradual'

Just Wednesday afternoon, Aubry, Berry, Martinez and Nahla were all seen together attending a pre-Thanksgiving party in Los Angeles.

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Surf's up, Jennifer!

Playing the butt-kicking, arrow-shooting hero of “The Hunger Games” has certainly paid off! Jennifer Lawrence, known to fans as Katniss Everdeen, flaunts her toned bikini bod while surfing in Hawaii. The star, 22, was taking a break ahead of filming for the franchise’s sequel, “Catching Fire.”

Splash News

Jennifer Lawrence

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Small Business Saturday: the anti-Black Friday

Don’t want to brave the Black Friday craziness? You can get a head start on your holiday shopping, snag some deals and support local merchants by participating in Small Business Saturday.

Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is focused on promoting small business owners nationwide. Since it was started in 2010 by American Express, the promotional effort has grown into a national movement involving thousands of businesses, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. According to American Express, last year more than 100 million people nationwide participated.

“The one thing businesses have told us over and over again is that they need more customers. So we thought it would be great to create a day in the holiday weekend that focuses just on the small business and shopping locally in communities around the country,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president at American Express Open.. “That’s how Small Business Saturday got its start.”

Organizations such as the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and Coral Gables Chamber have turned Small Business Saturday into a communitywide event.

“We decided to participate because in Coral Gables we support our small businesses,” said Mark Trowbridge, president and CEO of the chamber that is participating for the second year. “Coral Gables is an economic engine and our small businesses help to drive that engine.”

American Express cardholders who sign up at shopsmall.com will get a $25 credit on their bill if they make a purchase from a participating business on Small Business Saturday. Participating businesses get free marketing support from American Express via a toolkit on its website.

On Saturday, the Coral Gables Chamber, along with American Express, the Village of Merrick Park and Books & Books will host a day of activities, including a $100 Startup Competition, inspired by the best-selling book by Chris Guillebeau. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring their most innovative ideas for a business that can be launched with just $100 (register at http://100dollarstartup.co). Finalists will pitch their startup ideas to the public at the 4 p.m. event, held at Books & Books in Coral Gables; a panel of judges will select the winners.

More than 30 Coral Gables merchants will take part in the day; many will feature discounts. At Klara Chavarria Contemporary Art, for instance, patrons can take advantage of free delivery and installation of any artwork purchased Saturday.

The free toolkit has proven an invaluable resource to business people like Michael Nucci, the marketing associate for Fort Lauderdale-based Bluewater Books and Charts, which sells nautical books to recreational cruisers. “We decided to participate last year and again this year because we thought it would give us an advantage on the sale season,” said Nucci, who will be offering a 15 percent discount on most items he sells on Small Business Saturday. “We got started and used the toolkit to get free posters made and to send out e-mail and social media promotions to attract customers. It’s a great thing for small businesses in this economy.”

In Kendall, the Recycled Closet, a consignment shop for teens, is offering 20 percent off its already discounted clothing. “I’m so glad to see American Express and communities around the nation working to help by dedicating a day to the small business owner,” said owner Jennifer Kaloti.

In Miami Beach, small businesses are embracing Small Business Saturday, said Ana Cecilia Velasco, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. “As we are a tourist destination and get heavy traffic specifically for shopping during this time, it is a natural for us to highlight the event. Small Business Saturday makes sense to us as well because Miami Beach is known for its boutique shops.”

To survive the craziness of the season, consumers may want to treat themselves, too. At Pure Therapy, in the W Hotel on South Beach, customers get a $25 gift card with purchases of $100 or more and items from local designers will be 10 percent off on Saturday. In Bal Harbour, Gee Beauty, one of the only independently owned small businesses in the Bal Harbour Shops, will treat customers to a complimentary Gee Beauty Brow shaping with a purchase of $100 or more.

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What’s open and closed for Thanksgiving

Thursday is Thanksgiving. Here is a list of what’s open and closed for the holiday on Thursday and Friday.

Federal offices: Closed Thursday

State offices: Closed Thursday and Friday

Miami-Dade and Broward county offices: Closed Thursday and Friday

Miami-Dade and Broward courts: Closed Thursday and Friday

Public schools: Closed Thursday and Friday

Post offices: Closed Thursday

Stock markets: Closed Thursday, closing early Friday

Banks: Closed Thursday

Tri-Rail: Will run a weekend schedule Thursday

Miami-Dade and Broward transit: Will run a Sunday schedule on Thursday

Garbage collection: Normal schedule in most cities

Malls: Closed Thursday, many opening very early Friday

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Brooklyn Recovery Fund dishes out $250,000 in grants to boost Sandy victims

A fund set up to support Brooklyn's recovery from Hurricane Sandy has awarded its first round of grants totaling $250,000 to 26 neighborhood organizations.

Launched by the Brooklyn Community Foundation with support from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, the Brooklyn Recovery Fund raised $1.5 million in less than three weeks, with support from a variety of donors – including $300,000 in founding contributions from Barclays Center, Brooklyn Nets and Forest City Ratner – as well as other corporations, foundations and hundreds of individual contributions.

The 26 community nonprofits getting the grants serve neighborhoods most affected by the storm, such as Brighton Beach, Canarsie, Coney Island, DUMBO, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook and Williamsburg.

These first-round grants focus on basic services – providing emergency food, home visits to seniors and the disabled, cash assistance, benefits counseling, volunteer coordination, making spaces usable for services, and similar high priority activities. This follows an earlier $25,000 grant to Gerritsen Beach Cares, which is using its grant to coordinate work by local electricians to expedite the restoration power to high priority occupied homes in which seniors, the disabled and families with small children live.

"The suffering in the aftermath of the storm demanded that we act strongly and swiftly to raise money and get it out to local nonprofit organizations who immediately stepped forward to help residents of their communities with food, shelter, supplies, clean-up, health care, and warmth," said Marilyn Gelber, president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.

“People across Brooklyn have opened their wallets since the storm, and now that money is making a difference in so many coastal communities across the borough,” said Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

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Hottest tech products of fall 2012

Every year we roll out our fall list of the products getting the most attention from readers, and every year it ends up being a list dominated by phones. But not this year. No, this time you guys are spicing things up with a surprising mix of products. Here’s what’s getting your attention right now.

Sony Vaio Tap 20

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: By slapping a battery inside a 20-inch touch-screen all-in-one, the company has given birth to a new PC category with great potential in tech-savvy homes.

The bad: The touch screen has some frustrating drag, and Sony made a few missteps among some otherwise reasonable sacrifices for portability and price.

The cost: $999.99

The bottom line: A compelling experiment in tablet-desktop hybridization, the Sony Vaio Tap 20 is a great fit for home tech enthusiasts willing to try something new.

Toshiba Portege Z935-P300

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: This Toshiba product has very good features, performance and battery life for its price and is very thin and very light.

The bad: The keyboard may be too small for some users and the laptop doesn’t feel particularly sturdy, especially the lid and display.

The cost: $779.99 to $876

The bottom line: The Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 is an excellent ultrabook value if you can overlook its few design shortcomings.

Apple iPad Mini

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The ultrathin and light design makes it seem far more intimate and booklike than the larger iPad, and its cameras, storage capacities, optional LTE antenna and general functionality offer a full iPad experience. The screen’s dimensions elegantly display larger-format magazines and apps.

The bad: It costs too much, especially considering the lower resolution of its 7.9-inch display, which isn’t a Retina Display. The A5 processor isn’t as robust as the one in the fourth-gen iPad and iPhone 5. Typing on the smaller screen is not quite as comfy.

The cost: $329.99 to $549.99

The bottom line: If you want the full, polished Apple tablet experience in a smaller package, the iPad Mini is worth the premium price. Otherwise, good alternatives are available for less money.

Apple iPhone 5

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The iPhone 5 adds everything we wanted in the iPhone 4S: 4G LTE, a longer, larger screen, free turn-by-turn navigation, and a faster A6 processor. Plus, its top-to-bottom redesign is sharp, slim, and featherlight.

The bad: Apple Maps feels unfinished and buggy; Sprint and Verizon models can’t use voice and data simultaneously; the smaller connector renders current accessories unusable without an adapter; there’s no NFC; and the screen size pales in comparison with jumbo Android models.

The cost: $199.99

The bottom line: The iPhone 5 completely rebuilds the iPhone on a framework of new features and design, addressing its major previous shortcomings. It’s absolutely the best iPhone to date, and it easily secures its place in the top tier of the smartphone universe.

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Former foster children give thanks for Casa Valentina

Every holiday season for the last six years, Lynn Hausmann hosts a Thanksgiving gathering for Casa Valentina, the residential and life skills program for youth aging out of foster care.

It’s what you do, she says, for the people you love.

“It’s simple — we are family,” says Hausmann, a member of the organization’s board of directors. “This is about opening your heart and home.”

So on Tuesday, more than two dozen current and former Casa residents and staff gathered around a U-shaped table by the pool of Hausmann’s Coconut Grove condo for the annual celebration.

They started the meal by giving thanks.

For health. And knowledge. And life. And, for Casa Valentina, the program designed to help youth transition from foster care to independence starting at age 18 by providing affordable housing and support and teaching meaningful everyday lessons such as how to balance a checkbook or navigate college admissions, even basic parenting skills.

“Casa Valentina took a chance on me,” says Cliff Innocent, 21, who joined the program last year. Now a student at Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center, Innocent is studying to become a chef. “I always knew I wanted to go to school, but it is Casa that has encouraged me to stay in school and do my best in school.”

The program started in 2006 as a way to help young women leaving Miami-Dade County’s foster care system, so many of them woefully unprepared for the next chapter. The program helped them earn high school diplomas and GEDS, enroll in college and find employment. About 60 young women have participated.

Last year, the organization partnered with other social agencies to create two more tracks for young men and mothers with young children.

This year, there are 22 residents, including 11 young women, seven young men and four mothers.

Participants receive a fully-furnished apartment near public transportation, case management, academic and career counseling and help with accessing healthcare. The program is financed through funding from The Children’s Trust, The Miami Foundation and private donations.

Participants must be in school, which qualifies them for the Florida’s Road to Independence Scholarships, a $1,000 monthly stipend open to former foster children who are passing their classes. The money is used for rent and other expenses.

The celebration started out as a potluck with the staff and some of the clients bringing a dish. It was held on the balcony of Hausmann’s fourth-floor condo. Last year, with the addition of the young men and mothers, they outgrew the space. This year, they moved it poolside.

“I got very involved with the young ladies, checking on them, helping them move into their places, helping them with school, taking them to Big Lots,” Hausmann said. “And then the holiday season came around and I started thinking, where would they go? Some of them don’t have family.”

During this year’s dinner, the residents were also introduced to the new executive director, Deborah Korge, who begins next month.

Katlin Brown joined the program two years ago with dreams of becoming a chef. Now, she is a student at Miami-Dade College graduating in May with a degree in culinary arts. She has plans to eventually open a soul food restaurant, “with an international twist.” She thanks Casa Valentina for much of her success.

“They helped me with so many things that I would not have been able to do myself,” says Brown, 21, who lives in a studio apartment in the Roads section of Miami. “They helped me with school and tutoring. They helped me get my driver’s license. They were a shoulder to cry on too. They taught me how to be a grown-up.”

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Lindsay Lohan Explains Why She Cancelled on Barbara Walters

Lindsay Lohan is opening up about the now-infamous cancellation of her pre-arranged sit down with Barbara Walters.

The actress stopped by for an interview with Tonight Show host Jay Leno on Tuesday, who pressed Lohan on the drama surrounding herself and the veteran news woman.

Related: Walters on Lohan: 'She Has A Lot of Problems'

"It's all good. I spoke to all the people that she works with," she said, assuring that although she didn't speak with Walters herself, there was no ill will between the two. "The timing wasn't right right now."

Tonight's interview with Leno was a sore spot for Walters, who expressed her "disappointment" at being cancelled on during an airing of The View earlier this month.

"I think to go on Jay Leno and be adorable and amusing, there's still all the problems," Walters said. "It would have been a wonderful interview. She could have set a lot of things straight. I think [my interview] could have helped her."

Related: Lindsay Lohan Went Method For Liz Taylor Role

Everything aside, Lohan insisted that "when it's right" Walters will be the first person she sits down with for an in-depth interview.

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Best Buy shares drop 13% as company swings to a third-quarter loss

The discount on Best Buy’s stock keeps getting deeper.

Shares of the struggling electronics chain tumbled 13 percent yesterday, hitting their lowest levels in a decade as the retailer swung to a loss on a steeper-than-expected sales decline.

The stock drop, which left Best Buy shares down 49 percent on the year at $11.96, likely cut the price for a leveraged buyout by founder Richard Schulze, according to sources.

As reported by The Post, Best Buy’s board lately has adopted a friendlier tone toward Schulze, who in August offered to buy the company for $24 to $26 a share, or more than $8 billion.

BETTER DAYS: On this Black Friday a few years ago in Staten Island, it was all systems go for the once red-hot national electronics chain.

BETTER DAYS: On this Black Friday a few years ago in Staten Island, it was all systems go for the once red-hot national electronics chain.

With Best Buy’s sales and margins dropping, sources said CEO Hubert Joly last week signaled that the company would be open to going private for $20 a share, valuing it at $6.7 billion.

After yesterday’s dismal news, however, some investors speculated that a deal could get done at an even lower price.

Likewise, speculation is rising that a revised offer from Schulze might come this month, well before an extended due diligence period is set to expire in mid- to late December.

“The bad news they were waiting for has come,” said one Best Buy investor, referring to yesterday’s dismal earnings report and stock decline.

A spokesman for Schulze didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Schulze is seeking support for his bid from private-equity firms including Cerberus Capital Management, TPG and Leonard Green Partners, with the latter two seen likely to bid together, sources said.

Despite reports that Schulze is struggling to find backers, a bigger problem may be structuring a deal in which he retains control of the company, said one source.

Best Buy swung to a fiscal third-quarter loss of $13 million as sales tumbled 3.6 percent to $10.75 billion, hit by cutthroat competition with Amazon and sluggish demand for TVs, laptops and digital cameras.

On a call with analysts yesterday, Joly admitted it will be a “hard road” to turn around the retailer’s operations.

Weakening cash flow could also complicate a leveraged buyout. The company cut its forecast for annual cash flow to at least $850 million, down sharply from its August forecast for at least $1.25 billion.

Last week, Joly outlined a plan that includes matching prices at Amazon and other rivals to curb “showrooming,” in which shoppers check out products at Best Buy before purchasing them at lower prices online.


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South Florida hotels enjoyed a strong October

South Florida hotels enjoyed a strong October, as growing demand for rooms helped boost nightly rates.

A new Smith Travel report showed the typical room in Broward County generated 9 percent more revenue per night than did it did in October 2011. For Miami-Dade, the gain in revenue-per-room (known as “revpar” in the lodging industry) was 8 percent.

Improvements in two fronts drove the change. First, vacationers and business travelers rented more rooms, with occupancy up slightly in both markets. The average Broward hotel rented 69 percent of its rooms in October, while occupancy hit 75 percent in Miami-Dade hotels.

More importantly, hotels charged more for each room. The average rate in a Broward hotel was $108 a night, up four dollars from October 2011. In Miami-Dade, the average rate jumped $10 to $152 a night.

Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys, also saw gains. Occupancy rose slightly to 66 percent, while the average room rate jumped eight dollars to $185 a night. That caused revpar, which measures occupancy and room rates, to jump 9 percent.


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Women convicted of Medicare fraud at Fort Lauderdale therapy clinic

Two women who held senior positions with a Fort Lauderdale mental health clinic escaped convictions when a jury deadlocked on Medicare fraud charges against them.

The second time around, Lydia Ward and Nichole Eckert were not as lucky.

A Miami federal jury in Miami found them guilty last week of conspiring to defraud the taxpayer-funded Medicare program in the nation’s largest mental-health clinic racket, totaling $205 million.

Ward, 47, a Ph.D who served as the former program director of American Therapeutic Corp.’s Fort Lauderdale clinic, and Eckert, 35, the clinic’s one-time therapist, are now in custody and each faces up to 10 years in prison at their January sentencings.

At trial, the 12-person jury said it was unable to reach a unanimous health-care fraud conspiracy verdict against a third defendant, Hilario Morris. He had been convicted in the first trial of conspiring to pay kickbacks to residential home operators in exchange for providing patients to American Therapeutic.

Since Miami-based American Therapeutic’s seven-clinic chain was shuttered two years ago, about 35 defendants associated with the company have been charged and convicted of fleecing the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled – including the company’s owner, Lawrence Duran, of Miami. He is now serving 50 years in prison, the stiffest Medicare-fraud punishment in history.

Among others convicted in the elaborate scheme: Three psychiatrists, Mark Willner, of Weston, Alberto Ayala, of Coral Gables, and Alan Gumer, of Tamarac.

Gumer, who cooperated with the Justice Department, testified last spring against fellow doctors Willner and Ayala, who are serving 10-year prison sentences. They were convicted of altering diagnoses and medications of thousands of patients to make it look as if they qualified for group therapy sessions so that Medicare would pay fraudulent bills submitted by American Therapeutic.

At the latest trial ending in mid-November, the jury found that Ward and Eckert personally altered patient files and therapist notes to make it appear that patients were eligible for treatment of purported bipolar conditions, schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses.

Justice Department prosecutor Jennifer Saulino said the Fort Lauderdale clinic catered mostly to people with Alzheimer’s disease, addicts and alcoholics, bused from local assisted-living facilities. She said those types of patients could not have benefitted from the treatment.

Ward’s lawyer, Dennis Urbano, and Eckert’s attorney, Michael Tein, argued their clients were unaware of the fraud and provided legitimate therapy services.

But the jury, after last week’s deliberations, found them guilty.

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HTC “happy” with Apple settlement, slams media estimates

TOKYO (Reuters) – Taiwan’s HTC Corp is happy with its patent settlement with Apple Inc, but regards media reports on details of the licensing agreement as “outrageous”, chief executive Peter Chou told reporters on Tuesday.

HTC and Apple announced a global patent settlement and a 10-year licensing agreement this month after a bruising patent war between the two smartphone makers.

The companies did not disclose details of the settlement or the licensing agreement, but HTC said it will not change its fourth-quarter guidance.

Responding to a question about media reports that HTC will pay Apple $ 6 to $ 8 per Android phone as part of the patent settlement, Chou said it was an outrageous estimate.

“I think that these estimates are baseless and very, very wrong. It is a outrageous number, but I’m not going to comment anything on a specific number. I believe we have a very, very happy settlement and a good ending,” said Chou at a KDDI Corp product launch in Tokyo.

Apple sued the Taiwanese handset maker in 2010, its first major legal salvo against a manufacturer using Google’s Android operating system. Since the suit, a patent war has engulfed competitors including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Google’s Motorola Mobility unit.

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Michael Watson and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Wireless News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Ryan Eggold: Next Taylor Swift Break-up Song?

Fresh off an appearance at Sunday night's American Music Awards, Ryan Eggold had one girl on his mind, Taylor Swift.

Fierce & Fabulous: The 2012 AMA Red Carpet Fashion

"I'm just hoping to meet Taylor Swift," he confessed of his crush at the Rolling Stone After Party in Hollywood. The 90210 actor would do just about anything to sweep her off her feet. The 11-time AMA winner is synonymous with penning songs about all her exes and Ryan's not afraid of becoming her next target. Coming up with a game plan, he told ET he'd willing oblige. "Date her for like a month and then just drop her like a rock and then get a great song out of it," he schemes.

VIDEO: Jenny McCarthy Imagines Dating Justin Bieber

Artists often use their loves as muses for lyrical inspiration. American Idol's Paul McDonald says with his blushing wife Twilight's Nikki Reed standing beside him, "I get a lot of my inspiration from this lady over here and it's good when we write together. It brings out a whole different thing than I'm used to from touring with a band."

VIDEO: Nikki Reed Duets with Hubby for 'Twilight' Song

Chicago Fire actress Teri Reeves' husband didn't need to be a hunky firefighter to win her heart. He serenaded her with a personally-written song at their wedding. "My husband is a musician. He doesn't wear a uniform, but he wears a guitar, which is equally as sexy," she gushes.

Watch the video for more about the AMAs, Dancing with the Stars, and Once Upon a Time.

VIDEO: Kesha on Justin Bieber: 'I Would Hit That'

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FBI: 4 Calif. men charged in alleged terror plot, planned to join al-Qaeda

LOS ANGELES — Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in "violent jihad," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al-Qaida leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

The trio made plans to depart in mid-November to carry out plots in Afghanistan, primarily, and Yemen, after they sold off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and made passport arrangements.

In one online conversation, Santana told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to commit jihad and expressed interest in a jihadist training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The complaint also alleges the men went to a shooting range several times, including a Sept. 10 trip in which Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack. Santana agreed.

"I wanna do C-4s if I could put one of these trucks right here with my, with that. Just drive into, like, the baddest military base," Santana said, according to the complaint.

Santana added he wanted to use a large quantity of the explosive. "If I'm gonna do that, I'm gonna take out a whole base. Might as well make it, like, big, ya know," he said.

According to the complaint, at the shooting range that day both Santana and Deleon told a confidential FBI source they were excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr.

Ten days later, during another trip to the shooting range to fire assault-style rifles, Santana told the source he had been around gangs and had no problem taking a life.

On Sept. 30, Gojali was recruited to the plot after he was asked if he had it in him to kill in jihad. Gojali answered, "Yeah, of course."

"I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. ... It makes me cry, and it gets like I'm, like, so angered with them," Gojali said, according to the complaint.

The men wiped their Facebook pages of radical Islamist content and photos of themselves in traditional Muslim attire, and devised a cover story that they were going to Afghanistan to attend Kabir's wedding.

Federal authorities said the trio and the FBI's confidential source bought airplane tickets last week for a Sunday flight from Mexico City to Istanbul, with plans to later continue to Kabul.

After Kabir began talking to him about Islam, Santana said he "accepted Islam without knowing anything about it besides it being the truth" and that he believed the religion would help him "fit in and actually be able to fight for something that's right," according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.

Kabir is being detained in Afghanistan. The other three appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Riverside, and all but Gojali were remanded to federal custody with no bail. His detention hearing was delayed.

After-hours calls left for the men's attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.

A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 3, and an arraignment is set for Dec. 5.

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

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South Florida guide to corporate gift giving

Holiday gifts to clients and colleagues can help you strengthen both business relationships and your brand. While flashing your logo at holiday time seemed insensitive back when droves of people didn’t have jobs, manufacturers — several based in South Florida — have responded with more creative ways to include branding on some very usable products that people can actually enjoy.

What’s more, some companies are coming up with highly customized gifts, whether geared to personal allergies (seems the universe has gone gluten-free) or even philanthropic affinities, so your recipients can feel good about indulging.

“This year in corporate gifting, people are trying to stand out and not give the typical branded gear, such as pens and mugs,” says Dana Holmes, editor of Gifts.com. “And people are selling unique and creative ideas — both with and without logos. People are thinking about who they’re supporting, looking local, and they want to feel more connected to the things they buy.”

Here are some ideas to help your search for thoughtful gift giving.

Ginny Bakes Holiday Boxes: This season, more people are avoiding gluten than they are the annoying office braggarts, so you can sweeten any holiday party by sending a holiday box packed with cookies made in Miami, from ingredients such as dark organic chocolate, preservative-free nuts and fruit as well as gluten-free oat flour. Ginny Bakes will deliver to any door holiday box collections such as the Chocolate Love variety, packed with Chocolate Chip Macadamia, Double Chocolate Happiness and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bliss flavors. The box arrives wrapped and ready to eat. $34; www.ginnybakes.com.

Courtly Check Candy Cottage: Hey big spender, this illuminated tabletop cottage costs just a bit less than the down payment on actual real estate, but the impact is earth-shattering. It’s not edible (think eye candy), but the hand-crafted house, with a glass-candy covered roof, a delicate wreath and tufted walls is a numbered, festive collector piece. No two are alike — even though it’s unlikely your client will get more than one this holiday season. $9,900; www.mackenzie-childs.com.

Feed 8 Godiva collections: For professionals who crave both chocolate and charity, Godiva has partnered with FEED, a nonprofit sustenance organization for children, to provide eight school meals to kids in cocoa producing regions for every box sold. Each one contains eight chocolates in four flavors: Ecuador Dark 71%, Costa Rica Milk 38%, Uganda Dark 80% and Venezuela Milk 43%. All are made with beans from its country of origin. $25 Godiva; 19575 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33180.

Crystal Custom Eyewear: Bravo executive Andy Cohen wore them on national television and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade had them at his birthday in Miami Beach, but the concept of personalized sunglass lenses was created in downtown Miami. Advertise your office catch phrase or logo across the lenses because these glasses can display the message you want your customers to see. They come in nine colors (including blue, red and pink) as well as three styles: Ray-Bay, Wayfarer and Aviator, all with 100 percent UV protection. $14.99 for a single pair or buy 100 pairs for $3.45 each, www.crystalcustom.com.

Dolce Shot: Replace everyone’s office coffee break with a Made-in-Miami energy shot that comes both packaged and packed with our city’s essence. Inside, the South Beach-style cans are one of three flavors: Splash (a crisp lemon-lime) Rise (cherry explosion) and Citrus (orange bite.) All come in two-ounce servings that are equivalent to an 8-ounce drink, with concentrated ingredients such as amino acids, vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and 80-milliliters of caffeine — about the amount in a cup of coffee. $24.99 for a case of 12; www.dolceshot.com.

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Pembroke Pines hosts winter camp for special needs kids

The City of Pembroke Pines is accepting registration for its two-week Winter Camp for special needs children ages 6 through 14.

Participants will engage in indoor and outdoor activities, games, arts and crafts, and other activities.

Participants must be independent in toileting skills and be able to administer, with supervision, their own medications.

The camp will be held at Rose G. Price Park, 901 NW 208th Ave., Pembroke Pines.

The camps will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 24 and 26 -28; and Dec. 31 and Jan. 2-4.

One week will cost $100; two weeks will cost $175. The fee does not include snacks, lunch or drinks, but it does include camp supplies. Payment is due at time of registration.

For additional information, contact Mary Wilson Palacios, Special Population Coordinator, at 954-450-3663 or mpalacios@ppines.com.

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Justin Bieber Wins Big at American Music Awardss

Justin Bieber gave an emotional thank you to his mom, Pattie Mallette, who stood on stage with the pop star as he accepted Artist of the Year, his third award of the evening, at the culmination of the 40th annual American Music Awards Sunday in Los Angeles. 

The Biebs, who brought his mother along as his date for the show, took home the first and the last award of the night, (Favorite Pop/Rock Album and Artist of the Year, respectively) as well as Favorite Pop/Rock Album for Believe.

Fierce & Fabulous: The 2012 AMA Red Carpet

Nipping at his heels with two wins this year, Nicki Minaj nabbed the awards for favorite rap/hip hop album (Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded) and favorite rap/hip hop artist.

The big-winning twosome also graced the stage to sing (once with each other) hits from their current albums. Taylor Swift, Christina Aguilera, No Doubt, Usher, Carly Rae Jepsen, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Pink also made the night memorable with elaborate, theatrical performances.

Recently departed Dick Clark, who created the show forty years ago, was honored by Stevie Wonder with a variety of songs. Whitney Houston was also fondly remembered by singer Brandy, who introduced a brief tribute to the late artist.

Here's a rundown of all the winners honored at the 40th annual American Music Awards tonight:

Artist of the year: Justin Bieber

New artist of the year: Carly Rae Jepsen

Pop/rock female artist: Katy Perry

Country female artist: Taylor Swift

Pop/rock male artist: Justin Bieber

Pop/rock band, duo or group: Maroon 5

Country male artist: Luke Bryan

Country band, duo or group: Lady Antebellum

Soul/R&B male artist: Usher

Soul/R&B female artist: Beyonce

Alternative rock artist: Linkin Park

Adult contemporary artist: Adele

Artist, Latin: Shakira

Artist, electronic dance music: David Guetta

Artist, contemporary inspirational: tobyMac

Rap/hip-hop artist: Nicki Minaj

Pop/rock album: Justin Bieber, "Believe''

Rap/hip-hop album: Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded

Country album: Carrie Underwood, Blown Away

Soul/R&B album: Rihanna, "Talk That Talk''

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President Obama discusses freedoms, offers 'hand of friendship' in Myanmar speech


President Obama speaks in Myanmar Monday.

President Obama spoke about freedoms and empowerment during a Monday speech in Myanmar, encouraging the country to continue its transition to democracy.

“Hatred in the human heart can recede,” Obama said, suggesting that “the lines between races and tribes can fade away.”

Obama offered a “hand of friendship” and US support for Myanmar – long ruled by a repressive military – and other nations that respect its people’s rights and international law.

But he also said the new civilian government must nurture democracy or watch it, and US support, disappear.

During his speech at the University of Yangon, Obama addressed America’s own restrictive past.

“Once, the color of my skin would have denied me the right to vote,” he said. “If our country can transcend its differences, yours can too.”

The speech came during Obama’s four-day trip to Southeast Asia. He’s the first US president to visit Myanmar.

With AP

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Panama Canal’s $5 billion makeover could be boon for South Florida

Huge yellow dump trucks resemble Tonka toys in a sand pile as they haul tons of rust-colored dirt and basalt rock from a 56-foot gash in the earth that will become a new access channel in the $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal.

The trucks keep rumbling up muddy terraced slopes as a quick-moving storm blurs the horizon. The rain chases away workers pouring concrete for a mammoth set of locks that will lift super-size ships for their transit across the narrow Isthmus of Panama, but the crews are back in the pit as soon as the sun returns.

By April 2015, it will all be under water — ready for the ever-bigger vessels revolutionizing international trade. The expansion is expected to double the canal’s capacity.

The 2015 target is about six months behind schedule, but U.S. ports are still scrambling to ready their channels for so-called post-Panamax ships and some say they welcome the reprieve. At this point, Baltimore and Norfolk, Va. are the only ports along the Eastern Seaboard with channels deep enough to handle the vessels when they’re fully loaded.

Call it the race for deep water as ports up and down the East Coast, including PortMiami and Port Everglades, and along the Gulf of Mexico make plans to dredge their channels, shore up their docks or rustle up funding for renovations to receive the big ships. Many won’t be ready by the time water floods the new locks.

PortMiami in position to cash in

PortMiami is further along than most and is hoping that early advantage and its position as the first major U.S. port north of Panama will make it a preferred port of call for post-Panamax ships.

Latin American and Caribbean ports also are trying to figure out how to capitalize on the expansion.

As this new phase of canal construction nears completion with 13,000 people working around the clock, there is renewed interest in preserving the history of the old Panama Canal Zone as well as the legacy of those who worked and died building the canal.

While the 50-mile-long Panama Canal has provided a maritime shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific for the past 98 years, it’s just about maxed out.

This year vessels from the four corners of the globe — car carriers from Japan, bulk carriers loaded with soybeans and wheat from the U.S. heartland, oil tankers, towering container ships carrying the output of Chinese factories to U.S. retailers — are expected to move a record 332 million tons of cargo through the waterway, said Jorge L. Quijano, chief executive of the Panama Canal Authority.

That’s only about 20 million tons short of the canal’s capacity, he said. The canal is also popular with cruise lines and dozens of cruise ships are being built that exceed the size limits of the current canal.

But the more immediate problem is that the huge cargo ships increasingly favored for trade with Asia are too wide, too long and too heavy for the current canal.

With a growing number of ships in the post-Panamax category — exceeding the specifications for the largest ship that can fit through the existing locks — the Panama Canal must expand or risk losing market share.

And post-Panamax vessels aren’t even the biggest on the high seas. Post-Panamax Plus ships, such as most U.S. tankers that carry liquefied natural gas bound for Asia, are five times too big for the Panama Canal.

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Interfaith Thanksgiving service planned for Wednesday night

Members of various faiths in Coral Gables will come together at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a spirit of unity for the annual Thanksgiving Eve Interfaith Worship Service hosted by Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 De Soto Blvd., across the street from the Biltmore Hotel.

The Rev. Dr. Laurinda Hafner, senior pastor of the church said, "We invite everyone - no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey — to a Spirit-filled service that celebrates with words and music the connections found through the awesome diversity, work and fellowship of our community."

The service will be followed by a time of friendship and refreshments that will include a variety of seasonal muffins and preserves and hot cider.

All are welcome.

Nurcracker jazz

The Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, will present a dance-inspired program featuring Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, at 8 p.m. on Nov. 30, at the university's Gusman Concert Hall, 1314 Miller Dr.

According to Terence Blanchard, artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the university, the work is an upbeat, multi-movement jazz interpretation of "The Nutcracker," by Tchaikovsky, created in 1960 by Duke Ellington and his musical collaborator Billy Strayhorn.

The concert is entitled "Terence Blanchard Presents: A Concert of American Music," and will feature Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, a ballet suite for 13 instruments inspired by ballet music that Copland composed for famed dancer and choreographer Martha Graham in 1944, and two world premieres by Henry Mancini Composition Fellows David Pegel and Rafael da Lima de Piccolotto.

At 7:15 p.m. Blanchard will host a pre-concert talk for young people involved in the institute’s community outreach program, HMI Outbound.

Scott Flavin, resident conductor of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra and Stephen Guerra, managing director of the Henry Mancini Institute, will conduct the concert.

Tikets are $15 for adults, general admission and $10 for seniors and children and may be purchased via the Frost School’s website, www.music.miami.edu/concerts or by calling 305-284-2400.

‘A Taste of Dance’

The Karen Peterson Dance Company will present "A Taste of Dance," at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1, at Excello, 8700 SW 129th Terr. The event is a fundraiser for the 2013 KPD mixed- ability educational projects.

The cost is $35 per person online at www.karenpetersondance.org and $40 at the door. Call 305-298-5879 for more information.

LGBT seniors

The critically acclaimed documentary "Gen Silent," by filmmaker Stu Maddux, will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27, at the Miami Theater Center, 9806 NE Second Ave. in Miami Shores.

The documentary addresses the question, "Do LGBT seniors need to go back in the closet?" because many LGBT seniors face the heart-wrenching decision of whether to enter a nursing home.

The program is presented by Creative Arts Enterprises, in association with Treece Financial Group, and is free and open to the public.

The screening will be followed by a panel of local experts who will address the issues discussed in the film. To view a trailer, go www.gensilent.com. For more information call Ellen Wedner at 305-573-6477 or email her at wednerfriend@hotmail.com. You may also call Michael Vita at 786-586-4286 or email him at michael@davidtreece.com.

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Kansas robber recognizes victim from prison, gives wallet back

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Reuters) – A Kansas robber who helped seize a man’s cell phone and wallet at gunpoint recognized the victim as an ex-convict he had served time with and gave the possessions back, police said on Thursday.

A Wichita, Kansas man reported that two young men approached him on the street late on Wednesday, one of them brandishing a large semi-automatic handgun, Wichita police Sergeant Joe Schroeder said.

The gunman demanded the victim’s phone and took his wallet while the second man searched his pockets, Schroeder said.

“Then, he (the second man) realized he spent some time in prison with him. He apologized, shook hands and walked away,” Schroeder said.

Although the victim went to police and said he knew one of the robbers in prison, the man said he did not think he could identify them in a suspect line-up, Schroeder said.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Walsh)

Wireless News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Buzzmakers: Lindsay Lohan Comes Clean & Janeane Marries

What had ET readers buzzing this week?

1. Janeane Garofalo: I Didn't Know I was Married!

Sometimes what happens in Vegas actually does stay in Vegas -- at least for two decades. Funny girl Janeane Garofalo is claiming she's been married for 20 years, and didn't even know it!

The Reality Bites actress told the New York Post that she and Big Bang Theory producer Rob Cohen decided to wed at a Las Vegas drive-thru chapel but never thought it would stick. "Rob and I got married, for real, which we had to have a notary dissolve not 30 minutes before we got here tonight," Garofalo said at the New York Comedy Festival reunion for The Ben Stiller Show. "We were married for 20 years until this evening."

Garofalo, 48, further explained, "We got married drunk in Vegas. ... We dated for a year, and we got married at a drive-through chapel in a cab. [We thought], 'You have to go down to the courthouse and sign papers and stuff.' So, who knew? We were married, and apparently now that [Rob] is getting married for real, his lawyer dug up something." Cohen, 63, joked, "I'm gonna get all of that Reality Bites money!"

2. Miley Cyrus: My Dad Knows Nothing

In speaking with ET's Christina McLarty, Miley Cyrus cleared up rumors that she and fiance Liam Hemsworth were planning multiple weddings, started by her dad.

According to Miley, she hasn't even set one wedding date, let alone the three ceremonies that Billy Ray told Us Weekly were going to take place.

"My dad knows nothing," Miley says, pointblank. "I think he's getting cabin fever from [Superstorm Sandy]. He got stuck in his hotel and now he's making up crazy things." Billy Ray has been in NYC, performing in a Broadway production of Chicago.

The 19-year-old singer/actress goes on to admit that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

"He does what I do: When he's sitting in a press thing, he's like, 'Let's make this fun. Let's make some stuff up,'" Miley says.

Even with this recent flub, Miley does thank her parents for doing a good job of raising her, saying, "My parents have never been super strict, and people could think that's bad or good, but people that judge me or say that I'm, like, crazy -- they don't know half the stuff their kids are doing."

3. Stephanie Bongiovi Drug Charges Dropped

Stephanie Bongiovi, Jon Bon Jovi's 19-year-old daughter, will not be charged after reportedly overdosing on heroin in her dorm at Hamilton College in New York.

According to a statement from the Kirkland Town Police Department, a female [presumably Bongiovi] was found unresponsive by an ambulance crew sent to the college early Wednesday, after a report that a female had apparently overdosed in the school's largest dorm.

Although Bongiovi and 21-year-old Ian Grant were charged with drug possession, the charges have now been dropped.

Citing section 220.78 titled "Witness or victim of drug or alcohol overdose" of New York State Penal Law -- which states that a person who seeks health care for someone who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life threatening medical emergency, as well as the individual who has overdosed or who was experiencing such life threatening medical emergency, can't be prosecuted for the possession of heroin weighing less than 8 ounces or possession of any amount of marijuana -- police said that neither Bongiovi or Grant can be charged.

There has been no statement from Jon Bon Jovi at this time.

4. Dina Lohan Addresses Cocaine Accusation

Did Lindsay Lohan lie about her mother having an alleged cocaine problem? Dina Lohan sets the record straight for ET's Christina McLarty.

"Absolutely lied. We were having an argument, it escalated," explains Dina of their October altercation which was recorded by her father, Michael Lohan. "She just wanted to hurt me at that moment. You know, mothers [and] daughters, we fight."

Dina tells Christina that it pained her to see that private family moment "go public and viral." As for accusations that she uses cocaine, Dina replies, "I hate cocaine. I don't do cocaine."

After Lindsay proclaimed that she was not being truthful about her accusations against her mother about cocaine use, Dina says, "I'm so proud of her for telling the truth because it destroyed me. I mean, I cried for weeks. It just hurt me so bad and she knew how horrible that was, and she came clean and told the truth that she lied. I'm very proud of her for that, which is very difficult to have to do."

Dina adds, "There's so much more to the story than the public sees, and it takes its toll on my children and myself, and we're just trying to move forward." Watch ET for more with our exclusive Dina Lohan interview.

5. Big Bang Cast Leads Call Me Maybe Flash Mob

Fans of The Big Bang Theory might logically assume that the cast of the hit CBS comedy has as many laughs on-screen as off. But now there is concrete proof as Kaley Cuoco just revealed in this clip of cast and crew members surprising showrunners with a flash mob of Carly Rae Jepsen's viral hit Call Me Maybe!

Kaley explains on The Big Bang Theory's Facebook page that the idea was hers and that she recruited her sister Bri to choreograph the impromptu number, which occurred during a taping on October 23 in front of a live audience.

The clip shows how the prank was carried out with secrecy and precision, with the cast re-assembling on the set immediately after the flash mob to resume taping and to hear star Jim Parsons sum up the event with one of his character Sheldon Cooper's favorite words, "Bazinga!"

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Tunnel vision

The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel will be open for tomorrow morning’s commute, Gov. Cuomo announced.

Both tubes of the tunnel — which was flooded with millions of gallons of water during Superstorm Sandy — will reopen to traffic in both directions starting at 6 a.m. Trucks are still banned from the tunnel until further notice.

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said reopening the tunnel, recently renamed the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, is “yet another step in restoring a sense of normalcy to the region.”

But other city commuters aren’t so lucky.

In the subways, the R train won’t be running between Brooklyn and Manhattan for several weeks.

Service operates in two sections, between 34th Street-Herald Square and Forest Hills, and Jay Street-MetroTech and Bay Ridge-95 Street.

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