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either u are with technology or u are not

Posted on by mcooper

Fourth-quarter profit, excluding certain items, rose to $10.65 a share, Google said in a statement. Analysts had projected per-share earnings of $10.50, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The adjusted figure excludes items such as taxes tied to stock-based compensation. Net income rose 6.7 percent to $2.89 billion, or $8.62 a share.

Google Inc., owner of the world’s largest search engine, reported profit that topped analysts’ projections as advertisers boosted spending to reach consumers during an extended holiday shopping season. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) — Aaron Kessler, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates, talks about Google Inc.’s fourth-quarter results. He speaks with Adam Johnson and Trish Regan on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) — Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group, talks about Google Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit and outlook. The owner of the world’s largest search engine reported net income that topped analysts’ projections. Wieser speaks with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Google gained after retailers poured money into online advertising and extended the gift-buying season. Total U.S. e- commerce spending jumped 14 percent during the last two months of 2012 as retailers began promoting Web deals earlier, according to ComScore Inc. That’s helping compensate as the company relies more on mobile advertising, which tends to be less lucrative than ads on traditional computers.

“People were probably expecting something more on the downside, and results were pretty good,” said Benjamin Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities USA Inc., who has a buy rating on the stock. “The transition to mobile is still a work in progress, but they are showing they can manage that process quite well.”

Shares of Mountain View, California-based Google rose as much as 5.1 percent to $738.85 in extended trading, after earlier slipping less than 1 percent to $702.87 at the close inNew York.

Ad Costs

Rates for mobile ads can be about 55 percent less than for promotions on desktop machines, according to Covario Inc., an online marketing agency. Still, Google managed to tap the brakes on the pace of decline in the average amount advertisers paid each time a user clicks on a promotion. The so-called cost per click decreased 6 percent, following a 15 percent decline in the previous period. The total number of clicks advanced 24 percent, after a 33 percent increase in the third quarter.

“It’s big, bad Google doing pretty well,” said Jordan Rohan, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in New York. “Google continues to monetize its searches very well.”

Revenue, excluding sales passed on to partner sites, rose 39 percent to $12.2 billion, compared with $12.4 billion projected by analysts. Sales from operations excluding the Motorola Home set-top box unit, which Google agreed to sell last month, increased 36 percent to $14.4 billion.

“We ended 2012 with a strong quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Page said on a conference call. “I am incredibly optimistic about the opportunities we have as a technology company focused on user benefits.”

Global Gains

Page, who refrained from joining an earnings call last year due to difficulties with his voice, spoke in quiet tones and a voice that sounded hoarse at times.

International markets represented 54 percent of sales, up a percentage point from a year earlier and in the third quarter. Google benefited from strength in Northern European markets, Nikesh Arora, chief business officer, said during the call.

Google made a $12.4 billion purchase of smartphone-maker Motorola Mobility Holdings last year. In August, Google said it would cut 4,000 Motorola jobs and close about a third of its 90 facilities. Arris Group Inc. (ARRS) agreed to buy the Motorola Home unit for $2.35 billion in December.

With the cutbacks, Motorola now can focus on its handset business, which uses Google’s Android operating system to run the smartphones. Still, the Motorola unit had a net operating loss of $353 million.

Android Push

“We do care about profitability, and that is our goal with every one of the areas where we invest,” Patrick Pichette, chief financial officer, said during the call. “We’ve made a ton of progress.”

He said that Google’s effort to bring faster network service to users in Kansas City is performing well. The company is considering expanding the service in the future, he said.

Android, which is provided for free to manufacturers, has become a key part of the company’s push into mobile, giving Google access to user data around the world. Android snared 72 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, according to Gartner Inc.

The company also has a leadership position in search, its core business. Google grabbed 67 percent of the market in the U.S. in December, according to ComScore Inc. (SCOR) That compares to 16 percent for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and 12 percent for Yahoo! Inc.

Despite its lead, Google could come under pressure from Facebook Inc., owner of the world’s largest social-networking service. Last week, Facebook announced a new search tool that lets users discover people, photos, places and interests on the service.

When fully rolled out, the feature could give Web users an incentive to use Google less. Facebook also has a partnership with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which will deliver additional results from the Web when Graph Search doesn’t deliver clear answers to queries.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco atbwomack1@bloomberg.net

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garbage business is dangerous

Posted on by mcooper

Editor’s note: On the Streets is a roundup of mishaps, crashes and other news from the frontlines of the industry. Its purpose is not to make light of misfortune, but to remind us all to remain diligent about safety.

A driver for Waste Management Inc. was killed early New Year’s Eve after getting crushed by the truck he was driving in San Antonio, Texas.

Police say the driver, 33-year-old Richard Pezina, was trying to change lanes on the Northwest Loop 410 at about 5:40 a.m. when he over-corrected the vehicle and started fish-tailing. The truck then plunged down an embankment. Pezina was ejected from the truck, which then rolled onto him. No other vehicles were involved.

Pezina, who was pronounced dead at the scene, is survived by his wife and two young sons.

Woman killed in NYC

A 58-year-old woman walking her bike along the curb in New York City was struck and killed by a garbage truck just after noon on Jan. 4. The woman was headed east on East 23rd Street in Manhattan when a Citywide Demolition trash truck pulled into traffic in the same direction, clipped the woman and her bike and then rolled over her. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck was not cited.

Motorist pins worker

A trash worker in Dunkirk, Wis., was hospitalized in critical condition Jan. 5 after he was struck by a car while emptying trash bins into the back of the truck at around 10 a.m. The 36-year-old worker was pinned between the vehicles for 45 minutes as rescuers worked to free him. The 21-year-old driver of the Chevy Malibu that struck him was not wearing a seat belt and was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Officials say “obstructed visibility” was a factor in the accident.

Worker falls off truck

A 20-year-old sanitation worker in Dale County, Ala., was hospitalized in critical condition after falling off the back of a garbage truck during the late morning of Jan. 10. A county official said the worker slipped off the back of the truck and was dragged several feet, suffering serious leg injuries. A few days after the accident, the worker’s condition had stabilized and improved, according to family members.


A garbage worker in Birmingham, Ala., suffered only minor injuries when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver as he crossed the street while working a route just after 7 a.m. The driver was operating a burgundy Chevy Tahoe and drove away after hitting the worker. Birmingham police are asking for help from the community to find the driver.

Head-on fatal crash

A motorist was killed just after 2 a.m. on Jan. 16 when his car collided head-on with a garbage truck in St. James, N.Y. The driver of the car died on the scene. The driver of the truck was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Long Island fatal

An off-duty police officer on Long Island was killed Jan. 11 when his SUV crashed into a garbage truck in Comack, N.Y. Officials say the truck was backing up into the road when the collision occurred around 3:30 a.m. The 40-year-old police officer was pronounced dead at the scene. Police cited the garbage truck driver for “unsafe backing” and an equipment violation.

Pedestrian killed

A 62-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by a garbage truck in Cedar, British Columbia, just before 10 a.m. on Jan. 9. Further details were not available.

Truck vs. tree

The driver of a garbage truck in Breezy Point, Minn., was seriously injured New Year’s Eve after his vehicle went off the road and crashed into a tree, ejecting the driver. The crash occurred at around 7:30 a.m. The driver was airlifted to a local hospital but later released. Officials say that “driver inattention” was likely a factor in the crash.

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garbage in space

Posted on by mcooper

Much like on Earth, waste is a problem in space.

But unlike life on the blue planet, humans floating above don’t have a curb, bin or dumpster for their refuse.

Astronauts on the International Space Station store their trash until other space vehicles bring supplies. The supplies are unloaded and the waste, wrapped in the shape of a little football in transparent plastic with silver duct tape, is then placed on the supply vehicle and brought back to Earth. The waste is also sometimes burned up during re-entry.

This conundrum for dealing with space waste is one reason for NASA‘s Logistics Reduction and Repurposing (LRR) project, which began in late 2011. The project’s aim is to improve space missions by reducing the mass and volume of consumable items, finding ways to repurpose waste and reducing trash created during the mission.

Prior to the project, NASA hadn’t dealt with handling its waste in an all-encompassing platform.

“There wasn’t a big emphasis on what went up because we had the capability to bring it down,” said James Broyan, Advanced Exploration Systems logistics reduction project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “As we were looking for missions we might supply and they go somewhere, then how do you reuse things? As the mission progresses, you need more space for that vehicle. If you can reuse things over time, we may be able to increase the volume of the vehicle by repurposing items.”

Broyan has co-authored a report detailing four waste reduction projects. It involves six NASA space centers and has four major tasks to develop different technologies to fulfill the Advanced Exploration Systems’ LRR goals and will result in engineering units or prototypic hardware.

In particular, the project is being used to determine the most effective use of waste to support the International Space Station for 10 more years in low-Earth orbit.

“When people design long-term space missions, they want to be able to do something with the trash. They don’t want to have to use up volume for storing trash,” said NASA chemist Paul Hintze. “Second thing: Trash can smell. The third thing is if you have microbiological activity in the trash, you really want to minimize that. One advantage, in addition to producing something, is just getting rid of the trash.”

In a study on the waste stream from four shuttle missions, NASA found personal hygiene waste accounted for 50% of total trash and 69% of the total water; drink items were 16% of total weight and 16% water; food wastes were 22% of total weight and 15% water; and office waste and plastic film were 2% and 11%, respectively, with no water.

Shrinking waste and reducing the water is one important component of the LRR project.

Extreme compaction

On a one-year mission with four crew members, the estimated total food-related waste would be more than 8,600 pounds. Total accommodations, such as disposable clothing, paper and body towels, would account for about 5,200 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to launch and store in a spacecraft.

To help process both wet and dry waste, NASA created the Heat Melt Compactor. In the machine, waste is heated to 320 degrees Fahrenheit and can be compacted into discs that are roughly eight inches in diameter and about one inch thick.

The compactor also heats trash to dry it, sterilize it and melt any plastic. If the refuse placed inside contains more than 20% plastic, the machine will compact and melt it to form a solid rigid tile that does not expand.

The compressed trash is then cooled and the waste tile is removed. Besides shrinking trash’s volume, the trash tile has a dual purpose: a shield that may protect astronauts from solar flares and radiation.

NASA is working on a next generation design that will turn the trash disc into a 9-by-9-inch square with some rounded corners.

“There’s some discussion of would you have something that’s just deployable in case you have a solar event or would you shield some portions of the spacecraft they spend a lot of time in, like the crew quarters?” Broyan said. “That’s what we do on the [International] Space Station is we have dedicated shielding in the four U.S. crew quarters.”

The tiles would have multiple layers that are offset. Even if the tiles still had rounded corners, the next set of tiles would cover it. The whole spacecraft wouldn’t be shielded with tiles, Broyan said, only a portion to protect the astronauts.

The tiles would evolve over the course of a space mission. Early on, there wouldn’t be any. But as the mission progresses, the accumulating waste would be converted into tiles.

“Initially, you have all supplies, maybe not much dedicated shielding, and then the heat melt compactor helps convert some of those supplies to dedicated shielding,” Broyan said.

The LRR project is considering reusing the spacecraft’s cargo transfer bags to hold the tiles. The bags’ first use is to keep items organized during orbit. The bags are then used to store and transfer dry trash. Often, the bags themselves become trash if they do not have a second purpose.

NASA also is determining how these bags can be reused for possible crew items such as habitation partitions, acoustical liners, furniture or a placeholder for the radiation shielding tiles.

“If you make one to three tiles per day, you would fill up the pockets,” Broyan said. “Then you would deploy that as a radiation-shielding partition. Whether you put that against the [space craft] shell, in front of a cargo rack or inside your crew quarters is yet to be determined.”

Space waste-to-energy

For the last year, Hintze and his crew at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Fla., have been working on NASA’s Trash to Supply Gas project, another piece of the LRR.

During the project planning phase, Hintze and his staff identified a few trash-processing technologies already used at Kennedy Space Center, Glenn Research Center and Ames Research Center, deciding on the ones they wanted to pursue.

Six waste-conversion technologies were selected — pyrolysis, gasification, combustion, ozonation, catalytic reduction and steam cracking. Hintze said they will eventually select one or two of the technologies to develop further, with the ultimate goal of having a flight unit out in space in the near future.

“They all have their advantages and disadvantages,” Hintze said. “What we’ve been kind of focusing on is methane production. You can get other things out of the trash like water, oxygen and other products. One technology may be the best for methane production, while another technology may be better for something else.”

He hopes to have a suite of technologies available.

“If somebody came in and said they wanted water, we could give them water. If they wanted methane, we could give them methane,” Hintze said. “It’d be great if it was just one thing that could do everything, but it may not be.”

Technologies such as pyrolosis, gasification and combustion being considered for the trash to supply gas project are already used on Earth. But what works on the third rock from the sun doesn’t necessarily translate to the confines of a space station or shuttle.

“You have to make sure that because it’s going to be operated in a closed system, anything toxic, hazardous or really unpleasant does not get out,” Hintze said. “You can’t have the astronauts be around even something that smells bad. They live in a closed system, so if the technology releases noxious odors, you just can’t have that.”

The long-term goal is closing the life-support loop.

“Anything in the trash, you can use those elements, the atoms in it, and make new molecules that are useful for something else,” Hintze said. “When it comes to rocket propellant, if you estimate how much methane you can produce in a year from a crew of four if you were on a lunar base, the methane produced from the trash could supply one lunar ascent vehicle per year.”

A lunar ascent vehicle is the rocket that would leave the moon and take people or items back to Earth, which would make launching anything from Earth easier and less expensive.

But ease of use must be considered.

“We have to think about how much effort it’s going to take for an astronaut to operate the technology,” Hintze said. “Is it the same as throwing trash into the trash bin or will they have to do many kinds of hands-on things? Those are things we really have to think about because the astronauts’ time is very valuable.”

The technological problem comes from something more commonly and easily done on Earth — separation of the waste stream such as food, plastic and paper, human waste and clothing.

“Unlike some of the terrestrial technologies, where they take one feedstock, we’re looking at all the waste going in the there,” Hintze said. “That’s a challenge.”

Space clothes

Reuse is another facet of improving waste in space. The LRR’s Advanced Clothing System project looks at ways to create astronauts’ clothes from polymers instead of cotton-based materials. Clothing accounts for a significant portion of the weight launched on space missions. And when clothing gets too dirty to wear, it is discarded because there is no space laundry or dry cleaning available.

There are a couple advantages to having clothes made of polymer rather than cotton-based fabrics. First, antimicrobial coatings combined with high-wicking and low-moisture retention should allow the clothes to remain odor-free longer.

The other upside is it will decrease the weight on shuttles and reduce the disposal burden. Fewer clothes per mission mean more room for other items.

“If the crew can wear it longer, then you need to fly less clothing for a mission,” Broyan said. “The other benefit is if we’re looking at advanced clothing, a lot of them are polymer based, those work well with the heat melt compactor or with the trash to supply gas technologies.”

Use on Earth

NASA technology has a history of deviating from its intended purposes and spinning off into Earth’s orbital market.

Items we use every day, such as invisible braces, scratch-resistant lenses, memory foam, ear thermometers, shoe insoles and water filters, spawned from NASA inventions. In fact, NASA has filed more than 6,300 patents with the U.S. government, according to NASA Scientific and Technical Information.

The LRR project could have many implications on how we handle waste on Earth. For example, the Heat Melt Compactor could make sense for municipalities.

“Transportation costs are a large portion of recycling here on the ground,” Broyan said. “Plastic bottles and stuff aren’t very compact. I know they do mechanical compaction, but if you had a waste heat source you could soften and make more compact trash, that might be advantageous to municipal sources as well.”

The U.S. military also is interested in the trash-to-supply-gas technology because troops are often on remote bases and always need fuel. If trash can be converted into fuel or electricity, it would be beneficial.

“The same thing goes for any remote location or underdeveloped country; you can process waste products and get something useful from them,” Hintze said. “That is definitely something that will affect us here on Earth.”

Packaging materials also could gain from the LRR’s project, taking a page from the cargo transfer bags that can be repurposed into partitions for walls or other items.

“There’s been a push toward minimizing packaging material and having green packaging,” Broyan said. “Packaging materials could be something people could use afterward, and certain products are moving along in those directions. [It's about] getting people to consider [reuse] at the beginning of the product, think about what you do after it’s served one purpose.”

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north miami taxi driver shot

Posted on by mcooper

Police are investigating after a cab driver was shot during an attempted robbery and his taxi crashed into his neighbor’s home in North Miami early Tuesday.

The incident happened in the area of 145th Street and Northeast 7th Court as the driver was heading home, North Miami Police said.

Police say the driver was shot in the arm and lost control of his car, crashing it into the home and causing minimal damage. No one inside was injured.

The driver was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. Family members later identified him as 68-year-old Rabel Jean.

Jean’s daughter, Mirabelle Jean, said she heard some of the incident unfold outside the family’s home.

“I had run to the car to see if my dad was in there, he wasn’t in there so I started screaming for him and then I heard him screaming for me,” she said. “When I found him he was on the side of the neighbor’s yard, he had a big gash on his head and his arm was limp and bleeding.”

She said her father tried to drive away when he was shot.

“When I went to the back yard to get him, he just told me he that was shot, they was trying to rob him in front of the house but he tried to take off so they wouldn’t come into the house,” Jean said.

The suspect or suspects fled the scene and police are still investigating the incident.


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martin luther king day 2013

Posted on by mcooper

Here’s what’s open and closed on Monday


Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Here is what will be open and closed:

Federal offices: Closed.

Miami-Dade and Broward County offices: Closed.

Miami-Dade and Broward courts: Closed.

Public schools: Closed.

Garbage collection: No garbage will be collected in Miami-Dade or Broward.

Banks: Most are closed (but check with your specific branch).

Stock markets: Closed.

Post offices: Closed (Only Express Mail will be delivered).

Miami-Dade and Broward Transit: Regular schedule.

Tri-Rail: Regular schedule.

Miami-Dade and Broward libraries: Closed.

Malls: Open.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/19/3190813/heres-whats-open-and-closed-on.html#storylink=cpy


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3 time kiiler

Posted on by mcooper

JARRATT, Va. (AP) — He gave a nod and a wink before he sat down in the electric chair, then he uttered two statements as contradictory as the man himself: a Gaelic expletive and “God bless.”

Robert Gleason Jr. was playful and vicious, a protector and a predator. He was likeable and reprehensible. He sent Christmas cards and made me laugh on a bad day.

He was also a killer. And on Wednesday night I watched him die.

I couldn’t help but smile as Gleason strung together his last words, a mix of movie and song references that baffled the men in dark suits that lined the death chamber and the citizens and reporters with me listening intently from our green and white plastic chairs. He and I had talked several times over the past three years about what he’d say when he got there. It changed a few times. It got much shorter as the day drew closer, as he feared he’d trip over his own meticulously chosen words.

In the end, he settled on lines from the Johnny Cash version of “Jackson,” which reminded him of the woman he regretted losing, and “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles because it represented the final motorcycle ride he never got to take. I knew the expletive was coming — he’d repeated it often in his thick Boston accent. I must say I was surprised by the “God bless,” though.

Gleason flashed a thumbs up as they put the metal helmet on his head and clamp on his calf, perfectly censoring a large pinup girl tattoo. He went out on his own terms, choosing 1,800 volts of electricity over lethal injection partly because he didn’t want to go lying down.

It’s easy to call Gleason a monster. I’m not even sure those who knew and loved him would disagree. He killed at least three men — strangling the last two while locked up in the state’s most secure prisons. He’d been imprisoned for killing a man whose son was cooperating with the probe of a drug ring he was involved in.

But there was something about him that made me want to know more. And he was more than willing to oblige.

I’ll never know exactly why Gleason opened up to me. It wasn’t infatuation. He only crossed the line once, sending me a flirtatious letter. I told him to cut it out, and he never did it again.

Nor was it to convince me that he was innocent or to ask for my help, like countless other letters I’ve received from prisoners as an AP reporter. Rather, he openly discussed the graphic details of each of his crimes, and he believed passionately that he deserved to die for them.

What he wanted from me, I believe, was someone to hear him out and to tell his story. I think he also liked that I didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. We had disagreements ranging from how I wrote my stories about him to how he treated his lawyers. Several times he told me I was one of the only people in the world he trusted.

I’d first written to Gleason to request an interview after he killed his cellmate, Harvey Watson Jr. in 2009. To my surprise he wrote back within a week and was more than willing to talk. As I sat across from him at Red Onion State Prison months later, he vowed that he would keep killing until the state put him to death — a threat he would repeat many times as he sought to speed up his execution.

He was moved to a prison where inmates spend 23 hours each day in segregation, but months after he first made the threat he managed to strangle another inmate, Aaron Cooper, through a separate recreation cage. I’ve kept in contact with Cooper’s mother, Kim Strickland, since then. Although she had religious objections to capital punishment, Gleason persuaded her to testify that he deserved to die by sending her excerpts from the Bible preaching an eye for an eye.

We tell ourselves those sentenced to death are not like us. How could they be? What would that say about us?

But in Gleason I found someone who was, in many ways, like the rest of us.

This killer loved his family and was fiercely protective of them. He talked often of his mother, who died of cancer when he was young, and of his children and how he wished he’d been a better father.

He joked with my colleagues who answered when he phoned from death row and complained about the “lousy Red Sox.” He helped organize a motorcycle ride to raise money for a kid with cancer, and he took pride in the tattoos he spent years drawing on sailors, bikers and drunk coeds, and also in those that covered his own body.

We laughed about our accents, and how his Boston inflection was as distinguishable as my Appalachian twang. He signed almost every letter “Bobby from Boston” and reminisced about growing up in nearby Lowell, Mass.

As his execution neared, Gleason returned to Lowell in his dreams. He said he wished he’d gone back there one last time before getting locked up.

He was self-deprecating, sarcastic and always ready with a joke at an inappropriate time. He once quipped during court proceedings, “Even Ray Charles can see that, your honor.”

After killing Cooper, he wrote to tell me about it and included a drawing of a man peeking over a prison wall saying, “Here we go again.” Inside, he signed it “The new and improved Boston Strangler.” He didn’t laugh, though, when I put that in my story. It was one of several times the killer and the reporter didn’t see eye to eye.

Still, it’s difficult to reconcile the guy who fretted over pictures of oil-drenched pelicans after the Gulf oil spill with the one who could kill so easily that he once likened it to grabbing a beer from the refrigerator.

Gleason was adamant that he had no remorse for the lives he’d taken. He believed that before you killed a person, you’d better be able to live with what it will do to their mothers, their kids and other loved ones. If you can’t live with that, you have no business killing, he said.

He once asked why I stuck with him and his story for so long, writing to him and taking his calls when most others had long tired of him. It was my job, I told him, adding that I’d stick around through his execution. Plus, I told him, he was quite fascinating.

So on Wednesday I was there again, this time to tell the world his punishment had been carried out.

And I was there to say goodbye.

Can I call Bobby Gleason a friend? As a reporter I’m not sure I should. After all, we’re taught that you go into every story with an open mind, that you keep your feelings and beliefs from interfering. And this was a murderer, a man who not only took life but took it more than once — and was well aware of what he was doing.

This is real life, though, with all the grays between the black and the white of evil and good. There’s simply no way to spend that much time interacting with someone, anyone — to learn about them and their fears and their history — and not gradually begin to see them as more than just a cold killer identified by a number.

I do know one thing: I may eventually forget Prisoner No. 1059266. But I doubt I’ll ever forget Bobby Gleason.


Dena Potter, AP’s news editor for Virginia and West Virginia, has covered law enforcement in Virginia since 2008.

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venture capital deals

Posted on by mcooper

NEW YORK (AP) – A new study shows that funding for business startups declined in 2012, the first time that’s happened in three years, as venture capitalists spent less money on fewer deals.

Capital-intense sectors like clean technology and life sciences were among the hardest hit, according tothe MoneyTree study released Friday. It was conducted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters.

In all of 2012 startup investments fell 10 percent to $26.52 billion from $29.46 billion. There were 3,698 deals completed, down 6 percent from 3,937 in 2011. Venture investments also declined 13 percent in the final quarter of the year, to $6.4 billion from $7.38 billion a year earlier, though the number of deals was the same in both quarters at 968.

In Florida, the drop was much steeper. In 2012, investments fell 41 percent to $202.9 million, compared to $346.3 million in 2011. There were 34 deals in Florida in 2012, compared to 55 in 2011.

“General economic uncertainty continues to hinder capital investments, and venture capitalists are no different,” said Tracy T. Lefteroff, global managing partner of the venture capital practice at PwC U.S. “As the number of new funds being raised continues to shrink, venture capitalists are being more discriminating with where they’re willing to place new bets. At the same time, they’re holding on to reserves to continue to support the companies already in their portfolio.”

By industry, software remained the largest investment sector last year, the report found, with $8.27 billion invested into 1,266 deals. That’s up from $7.51 billion invested in 1,176 deals in 2011.

San Francisco’s SquareTrade Inc., which provides electronics warranties, landed the biggest round of funding in 2012 – $238 million from Bain Capital. Mobile payments startup Square Inc. was in second place with $200 million secured from Citi Ventures and others.

Nancy Dahlberg of the Miami Herald contributed to this report.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/18/3189028/venture-investments-decline-in.html#storylink=cpy


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big interest loans

Posted on by mcooper

Authorities arrested dozens of reputed members and associates of three crime families on racketeering and other charges stemming from an extortion investigation involving garbage hauling companies in New York and New Jersey.

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York, announced that 30 men were arrested on Wednesday  following a three-and-a-half  year investigation by the FBI, Westchester County Police and New York State Police. Two other men who will face charges from the investigation were expected to turn themselves in.

Authorities say many of those arrested were reputed members of the Gambino, Genovese and Luchese crime families.

Among those charged Wednesday was Carmine Franco, a 77-year-old man from Ramsey, New Jersey who authorities said had the nickname of “Papa Smurf.” Franco was once a major figure in the garbage hauling business but had been barred from the industry after being convicted of  corporate misconduct charges in 1998 for illegally disposing of trash out of state.

The indictment said that Franco continued to assert control over waste and hauling businesses by extorting proceeds from the owners of those companies.

Franco was awaiting arraignment on racketeering, extortion and other charges Wednesday. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Five reputed members of a Genovese crew located in Lodi, N.J., were also charged in the same indictment with racketeering for allegedly attempting to extort their own “protection money” from one of the company’s that Franco allegedly secretly controlled, according to the indictment.

Another man charged with extortion in the indictment is Mario Velez, a 44-year-old former New York State Police officer who had been assigned as a school resource officer at a Westchester County high school. Velez is charged along with two others in the indictment with allegedly forcing a trash hauler to turn his business over to them in 2011 while Velez was still on the police force. Velez was also awaiting arraignment Wednesday and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

More In Organized Crime

Others were charged with loan sharking to those working in the garbage hauling business. One $12,500 loan, for example, came with an interest rate of $375 a week, the indictment states. The indictment charges that other men were involved in stealing garbage containers and selling them to rival trash haulingbusinesses.

“The indictments show the ongoing threat posed by mob families and their criminal associates,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George C. Venizelos in a statement. “In addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services. The arrests – the culmination of a long and thorough investigation – also show the ongoing determination of the FBI to diminishing the influence of La Cosa Nostra.”

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business for sale

Posted on by mcooper

My last three posts have focused on Holly Hunter and her business sale that went bad. I want to thank Ms. Hunter for allowing her story to be told. Although she made some mistakes, she was willing to talk about them in the hope that others might learn from her experience.

But those mistakes are hardly unique to Ms. Hunter. In fact, many business owners have had similar experiences. The most important step owners can take when they think about selling their business is to make sure they understand the sales process. Once you start down the road, you’ll enter an alternate universe where the unexpected becomes the norm. Dealing with the unexpected is easier if you follow best practices.

If you decide the time is right to sell, here are 10 lessons that owners like Ms. Hunter have learned the hard way.

1. Hire an experienced team of advisers. You have spent years building your business, and you usually get only one shot at selling it. Having a team of advisers — an accountant, a business intermediary or broker, an attorney, a financial adviser and a business generalist — who have been down this road many times is crucial.

2. Use an intermediary to sell your business. Going through the sale of your business can be very difficult. You need an experienced intermediary or broker who will speak with the other party and represent you and only you in the sales process. Sellers who represent themselves almost always make mistakes that cost them time and money. This is not a time to cut corners in professional fees.

3. Make sure your advisers work only for you. As we saw with Ms. Hunter, her business broker was representing both sides of the deal. When this happens, the broker usually ends up working for no one — and problems occur.

4. Accept that the person who buys your business will change it. Most buyers have their own ideas about how things should be done. If your sale involves an earnout or seller financing, you want to make sure the seller’s actions won’t limit your ability to get paid any deferred money that is owed you.

5. Make sure you tie your most important employees to the business. Have them sign employee agreements that can be transferred to the new owner. The new owners may want you to stick around for a transition period, but they will want your main people to stay longer. Making sure they stay and don’t disrupt the company while it’s in transition is crucial to a successful sale.

6. Be sure your business continues to run well throughout the sales process — even when the sale becomes an all-consuming project. If sales fall through and the company falters while the owner is selling the company, it can hurt or even ruin a sale.

7. Be prepared for due diligence. It can feel like a colonoscopy and its real purpose may be to help buyers reduce the price they have to pay, but there is no getting around it. When businesses are getting ready to sell, I recommend  that they go through a mock due diligence process. This can help you figure out where your company’s weak points are and allow you to prepare responses for a potential buyer.

8. Get a personal financial plan done before trying to sell. One of the most common reasons seller’s remorse exists is that sellers often find out that they didn’t end up with enough money to reach their goals. A financial plan will help you determine how much money you need and set reasonable expectations.

9. Know what you will do with yourself after you sell the business. I’ve seen many sellers lose their way in life when they have no place to go. Before the sale, you were most likely spending between 40 and 60 hours a week at your business. You need to find a way to fill that time meaningfully.

10. Make sure you follow best practices even for the little things. Start, for example, by making all interested parties sign a non-disclosure agreement that has teeth. If possible, have an offering memorandum produced. Have a letter of intent in place with your buyer before you start to show sensitive corporate materials. Have a purchase and sales agreement that lays out the terms of the sale but also protects you after the sale from being sued by the buyer, the government or regulatory agencies.

Following the items above does not guarantee a happy outcome. But if you know what you’re getting into and have taken the time to follow best practices, you’ll be more likely to get the result you want. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about using common sense. As we’ve seen over the last several weeks, it’s easy for common sense to go out the window in a business sale.

What have I missed in this list? What do you think are the most important things to check off as you sell a business?

Josh Patrick is a founder and principal at Stage 2 Planning Partners, where he works with private business owners on creating personal and business value.

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new york wiseguys still in the business

Posted on by mcooper


Nearly 30 people connected to the waste hauling and disposal business were arrested Wednesday morning on racketeering and other charges, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

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Many of the arrests occurred in New York City and Westchester County, said the F.B.I. spokeswoman, Kelly Langmesser, adding that the charges included extortion and loan-sharking.

Some of the people arrested had previously been banned from the waste industry by regulators wary of their organized crime connections, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said. But the charges allege that those people had returned to the industry through the use of front organizations who acted on their behalf, said the official, who was granted anonymity because the charges had not yet been filed in court publicly.

The official added that some of those who were arrested had ties to the Genovese, Gambino and Luchese crime families. Among the charges are allegations that at least one of the defendants stole heavy equipment from a competitor.

The defendants include five Genovese soldiers and six associates, one Gambino soldier and one associate, as well as associates of the Luchese crime family, according to a second law enforcement official.


William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

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