Walk held in honor of Trayvon Martin attracts hundreds including actor Jamie Foxx

Saturday was a day of remembrance for Trayvon Martin, as about a thousand people — including actor Jamie Foxx — united with the late teen’s family to march, pray, listen to music and hear inspirational messages, while pressing for justice in his killing.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation sponsored the “I am Trayvon Day of Remembrance Community Peace Walk,” to honor the unarmed, Miami Gardens teen fatally shot in Sanford on Feb. 26 of last year by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

“We’re here to let the community, and particularly teenagers, know that they have the right to walk in peace without being followed, without being harmed and without being killed,” Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told The Miami Herald at the start of the event at Ives Estate Park at 20901 NE 16th Ave. in north Miami-Dade. She said the walk would be held annually.

Fulton, Trayvon’s father Tracy and brother Jahvaris held up a huge banner and marched through the park as the crowd trailed them, chanting “I am Trayvon Martin.” Many wore T-shirts emblazoned with Trayvon’s picture, as the line snaked toward a bandshell.

Last Tuesday would have been Trayvon’s 18th birthday, which has inspired a series of activities all week in his honor, including a dinner Sunday night.

“This is not an event, this is a movement,” Reverend Jamal-Harrison Bryant from the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore told supporters at the bandshell. The goal, he said, was “justice for all people.”

The shooting of black, 17-year-old Trayvon by Zimmerman, an Hispanic, sparked widespread outrage, and led to protests and rallies nationwide, as well as ongoing controversy over Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, profiled the teen, who was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman said he fired in self defense. He is out on bond. His trial is scheduled to begin June 10.

“We did not come here today to grieve. We came to be energized and recharged,” Bryant told the crowd. “We came to make a commitment to Tracy [Martin] and Sybrina [Fulton] that we are not going to rest until we see justice for their son. Trayvon Martin has become all of our sons and our brother.”

Foxx, an Academy Award winning actor, wore a red t-shirt with Trayvon’s picture at the center, and said he came in support because he is a father.

“Every once in a while, something comes around that touches you like nothing else,” Foxx said, of Trayvon’s slaying.

“I wasn’t going to miss this day, and I’m not going to miss a day in the future when we can step out and remember Trayvon,” he said.

Trayvon’s parents expressed gratitude for Foxx’s appearance, as well as for the crowd’s support.

“We’re not going to stop fighting. We are going to fight for our kid. We are going to fight for your kids,” Fulton said. “It’s not just about us; it’s about all our kids.”

Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan also took the stage, saying Trayvon’s parents “give a new definition to Stand your Ground: to stand for your children and to be committed to your children and to be committed to your community.”

Gospel singers, mime dancers and others performed, as the day unfolded with celebration, tinged with sadness and reproach.

“It’s a great event to keep the awareness, to keep the fight alive for Trayvon Martin and his family,” said Martin Maultsby, 40, who lives in Miami Gardens and is the director of the Florida Youth Football League. “Any time you can come out to support your cause, it lets the family know they are not in this fight by themselves.”

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Double Take Celebrity Lookalikes

Stacy Keibler and Heidi Klum

ETonline has found the lookalikes to the stars and, it turns out, it's
their Hollywood peers. Click the pics and let us know if you think these
celebs bear a resemblance to one another. 

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Kayaker, 71, hospitalized after fall in freezing Broad Channel

A 71-year-old man was rushed to the hospital with hypothermia after he fell in the frigid waters off Queens while kayaking, authorities said.

The kayaker was rescued by divers off the coast of Broad Channel. They hauled him onto land at E. 12th Street and Cross Bay Boulevard before he was taken to Jamaica Hospital, officials said.

The elderly adventurer is lucky to be alive.

"He did not have a life jacket," a police source said.

The other man was rescued from the kayak by a helicopter and taken to Floyd Bennett Field, where he was later taken to a hospital.

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Are gun maker stocks in your portfolio?

Are there guns in your investment portfolio? It’s an issue that some politicians and gun-control advocates are raising after recent mass shootings prompted calls for tougher laws.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote letters to six mutual fund companies asking them to sell their stock in gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. It’s a critical concern in Chicago, where more than 500 people were murdered last year.

Fund companies should “send a clear and unambiguous message to the entire gun industry that investors will no longer support companies that profit from gun violence,” Emanuel wrote in his letters last week.

Other city leaders, including those in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, are considering similar steps with their pension funds.

Gun control is the kind of issue that can wake investors up to the fact that money in a fund portfolio or 401(k) affects more than just their retirement security. The financial markets support all kinds of companies, including many that an investor may believe aren’t contributing to the greater good.

But whatever one thinks about gun control, removing such an investment from a portfolio on moral grounds isn’t always a simple matter. There are potential costs from putting your principles before profits.

Recognize that over the last 10 years Smith & Wesson has posted an average annualized return of 17 percent, compared with the 8 percent return of the broader market. Similarly, Sturm Ruger, the largest publicly traded gun company, has returned an annualized 23 percent over that time. The vast majority of gun manufacturers are privately held.


There would be other potential costs if fund companies or 401(k) managers were to sell gun maker stocks in response to the recent controversy. These companies have obligations to serve the financial interests of vast numbers of individual fund shareholders and plan participants with varying opinions about guns.

For employers sponsoring 401(k) plans, their hands can be tied unless the plan established a mandate to avoid investing in gun makers, says Kathleen McBride, founder of consulting firm FiduciaryPath.

She advises financial professionals who are fiduciaries, a legal designation requiring them to act in the best financial interests of their clients. That obligation is a chief concern cited by Vanguard, among the six fund companies that Emanuel is pressuring. A Vanguard spokeswoman said mutual funds “are not optimal agents to address social change.”

A spokesman for American Funds, which also received a letter from Emanuel, said: “If social issues may have an effect on the investment potential of a company, we take those issues into account as part of the investment process.”

For example, a stock fund manager might expect that gun laws are likely to become more restrictive. That would cut into industry sales, leading the manager to conclude that stocks of gun makers are bad long-term investments. Such a fund manager could justify selling such stocks as beneficial for shareholders. But the manager wouldn’t be justified in selling simply because of moral objections.


Making changes only gets more complicated with low-cost index funds, which own all the stocks in a given market index.

If such a fund doesn’t track the index closely, then it ceases to be an index fund — no matter whether some of the stocks may be viewed as morally objectionable by some investors.

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Poll: Floridians favor Medicaid expansion

The vast majority of Floridians want lawmakers to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, according to a new survey sponsored by the Florida Hospital Association and conducted by a Republican-leaning pollster.

Of 600 voters polled, 62 percent said the state should take the money and use it to reduce the number of uninsured Floridians. Nearly half of respondents, 49 percent, said they felt strongly about accepting the money. The survey was conducted Jan. 15-17 by Public Opinion Strategies and has a 4 percentage point margin of error.

The Senate's Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act will discuss Medicaid expansion during a meeting Monday. Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he isn't swayed by polls because the feedback he receives directly from constituents is a mixed bag.

"I'm out talking to voters and to the people that I represent to ask them what they think, and that does persuade me," Negron said.

Hospitals generally support the Medicaid expansion, as well as the wider health care law, because more people would have insurance and therefore be able to pay for the services they receive. However, Florida legislators and Gov. Rick Scott have said they are worried about the long term costs of adding 1 million people to the Medicaid rolls.

They are not alone.

So far, only six states led by Republican governors have indicated that they will participate in the Medicaid expansion. This week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Michigan Gov. John Snyder said they would like to accept the federal funding.

In addition to releasing the poll Friday, the Florida Hospital Association announced the launch of "The Florida Remedy," a campaign it is leading to influence lawmakers to support the Medicaid expansion.

"Floridians believe that everyone should have access to high quality, affordable health care, and this is a remedy the vast majority of voters support," Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben said in a news release.

Under the Florida Remedy campaign, the state is urged to support the expansion now but vow to pull back if the federal government ever withdraws financial support. The campaign also ties the expansion debate into Florida's proposal to privatize Medicaid, which is awaiting federal approval.

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Chris Daughtry Reveals Weight Loss, Six Pack Abs

"From 2010 to now," captions singer Chris Daughtry to a jaw-dropping then-and-now photo detailing his incredible weight loss and body transformation over the span of three years.

Sporting muscled arms, rock-hard abs and bulging muscles, the American Idol alum took to Twitter to show off all his hard work in the gym. The picture is quite a contrast to Daughtry in 2010, when the performer was significantly heavier.

Pics: Shocking Movie-Role Body Transformations

Prior to revealing his super-buff body, Daughtry gave a shout out to his 90 Day Challenge trainer, Jen Hendershott, who helped perfect his physique.

"Big THANKS to @jenhendershott for being an incredible leader and helping me achieve my fitness goal," he wrote. "You're awesome:)"

Pics: Chris Daughtry Snuggles with Twin Babies

Wanna see more? Click here for more shirtless shots of the singer's road to body perfection.

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Deers of joy: Seemingly dead fawn pulled from icy waters 'licked' back to life by family of deer

It’s like the Enchanted Forest out there.

Suffolk County cops pulled a seemingly-dead fawn out of icy waters in Fire Island today — and a family of deer came up to it and licked it back to health!

Suffolk County police officer with the fawn.Suffolks County police officer feeding fawn popcorn.

Suffolk County PD

Marine Bureau officers Robert Femia and Peter Bogachunas were nearing the Davis Park Marina on their boat about 1:04 p.m. when they noticed a little baby deer’s head among pieces of ice and slush floating on the water about 30 yards from shore.

“They don’t know how long it’s been there, so they maneuver their boat close to the deer, pick it up and throw it into the boat,” said Lt. Raymond Epp, of the Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau, who met the officers on the dock as they tried to rescue the little animal.

The cops quickly covered the brown-eyed deer in several thick blankets but, despite their best efforts, the little guy remained freezing wet and motionless.Suffolk County police officer with the fawn.Suffolks County police officer feeding fawn popcorn.

Suffolk County PD

Suffolk County police officer with the fawn.

Suffolk County police officer with the fawn.Suffolks County police officer feeding fawn popcorn.

Suffolk County PD

Suffolks County police officer feeding fawn popcorn.

“It wasn’t flailing or kicking, it was just sitting there,” Epp said. “We weren’t sure if it was in shock of hypothermia.”

That’s when the Enchanted Forest-like miracle happened: Three deer — an adult and two young babies that appeared to be members of the fawn’s family — came out of the woods and began to lick the little guy.

Slowly, he started to come back to life, first blinking its big brown eyes, then getting up slowly and moving around the dock.

The officers took the fawn over to the station house and fed it warm popcorn, which the little guy took gladly. “We had limited food,” Epp explained.

After a few minutes, the fawn started to get even more alert and ran off with the other deer.

“I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my daughter about it,” said Epp, who has an 11 year old. “It was just such a nice, heartwarming story.”

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Sign up for Feb. 21 Miami Herald Small Business Forum

Prepare your best pitch for the Miami Herald’s Small Business Forum, Feb. 21 at the south campus of our sponsor, Florida International University.

In addition to how-to panels and inspirational stories from successful entrepreneurs, our annual small business forum will include interactive opportunities with experts to learn about financing options and polish your personal and business brands.

During our finance panel, audience volunteers will be invited to explain their financing needs to the group. During our box-lunch session, they will be invited to pitch their business or personal brand to our coaches.

Those who prefer just to listen will be treated to a keynote address by Alberto Perlman, co-founder of the global fitness craze Zumba. Panels include success stories from the local entrepreneurs who founded Sedano’s, Jennifer’s Homemade and ReStockIt.com; finance tips from experts in small business loans, venture capital, angel investments and traditional bank loans; and insiders in the burgeoning South Florida tech start-up scene.

Plus, it’s a real bargain. $25 includes the half-day seminar, continental breakfast and a box lunch.

Register here.


8 a.m.

Registration and continental breakfast, provided by Bill Hansen Catering

8:30 a.m. Welcome

Host: David Suarez, president and CEO, Interactive Training Solutions, LLC

•  Jerry Haar, PhD, associate dean & director, FIU Eugenio Pino and Family Global

Entrepreneurship Center

•  Alice Horn, executive director, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE South Florida)

•  Jane Wooldridge, Business editor, The Miami Herald

Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge Overview:

•  Nancy Dahlberg, Business Plan Challenge coordinator, The Miami Herald

8:45 a.m. Session I – Success Stories

Moderator: Jerry Haar, PhD, associate dean & director, FIU Eugenio Pino and Family Global

Entrepreneurship Center


•  Jennifer Behar, founder, Jennifer’s Homemade

•  Matt Kuttler, co-president of ReStockIt.com

•  Javier Herrán, chief marketing officer, Sedano’s Supermarkets

10 a.m. Session II – All about Tech

Moderator: Jane Wooldridge, Business editor, The Miami Herald


•  Susan Amat, founder, Launch Pad Tech

•  Nancy Borkowski, executive director, Health Management Programs, Chapman Graduate School of

Business, Florida International University

•  Mark Slaughter, CEO, Cohealo.com

•  Chris Fleck, vice president of mobility solutions at Citrix and a director of the South Florida Tech Alliance

11:15 a.m. Keynote

Speaker: Alberto Perlman, CEO and co-founder of Zumba® Fitness

Introduction: Jane Wooldridge, business editor, The Miami Herald

11:45 a.m. Session III – Show me the money: Financing your small business

An interactive session featuring audience volunteers who will be invited to make a short investment pitch before a panel, including experts in microlending, SBA loans, traditional bank loans, venture capital and angel investing. Audience volunteers should come prepared with a two-minute presentation that includes details about current backing, how much money they are seeking and a brief synosis of ow that money would be used.

Moderator: Melissa Krinzman, founder and managing director, Venture Architects


•  Marjorie Weber, chairman, SCORE of Miami-Dade

•  Cornell Crews, Jr., program director, Partners for Self Employment

•  Darius G. Nevin, co-founder, G3 Capital Partners, a mid-market and early-stage investment company

•  Boris Hirmas Said, chairman of the board, Tres Mares S.A. (Santiago, Chile) and entrepreneur in

residence at the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center

1 p.m. Lunch session - Polish your Pitch, Brighten Your Personal Brand

An interactive session featuring audience volunteers who will be invited to make short pitches about their businesses and themselves. Audience volunteers should come prepared with a two-minute presentation.

Coaches: Melissa Krinzman of Venture Architects and Michelle Villalobos of Mivista Consulting

advise audience volunteers on how to best pitch themselves and their products.

Box lunch provided by Bill Hansen Catering

All speakers confirmed unless otherwise noted. Agenda is subject to change without notice .

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Miami changes course on acting city manager

There’s a slight change in plans at Miami City Hall.

Luis Cabrera, an assistant city manager and deputy police chief, will no longer fill in for City Manager Johnny Martinez later this month. Instead, the responsibilities will go to a different assistant city manager, Alice Bravo.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado had originally tapped Cabrera to be in charge while Martinez recovers from knee surgery. But on Thursday, Miami City Attorney Julie O. Bru said Cabrera could not be both deputy police chief and acting city manager.

Her reasoning: the Florida Constitution prohibits municipal employees from holding more than one office.

“In an abundance of caution, it would be prudent of you not to accept the temporary appointment of city manager or even in an acting capacity,” Bru wrote in a legal opinion addressed to Cabrera.

The city attorney did not, however, see any problems with Cabrera serving as both deputy police chief and assistant city manager. That’s because assistant city manager is not considered an office, she wrote.

Cabrera, who had asked the city attorney to weigh in, said he respected Bru’s opinion.

Martinez will be out beginning next week.

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Mindy McCready Admitted to In-Patient Facility

Following the death of Mindy McCready's boyfriend David Wilson on January 13, ET has now learned that the country star has been admitted to an in-patient facility.

RELATED: Last Year's Biggest Celebrity Scandals

A rep for McCready confirmed the news today, going on to add: "While taking appropriate, much needed and deserved time to grieve, [McCready's] sons have been placed in foster homes where they are comfortable and cared for. We have no further statement at this time."

McCready has two sons: 6-year-old Zander (fathered by McCready's ex Billy McKnight) and 9-month-old Zayne (who she had with now-deceased boyfriend David Wilson).

This news comes after McCready spoke to Today last week, denying any involvement with the shooting that resulted in Wilson's death.

RELATED: Mindy McCready Denies Killing Boyfriend

Wilson, a record producer, was initially rushed to the hospital after suffering a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound that did not immediately kill him. McCready recalled how she discovered him after the shooting. "I just started screaming, calling 911. I laid down next to him and just pleaded with him not to die." The singer said Wilson "was responding" after the shooting, but only making sounds, not words.

McCready, 37, had several successful country albums in the '90s, but her career was later overshadowed by domestic abuse issues, drug and DUI arrests and a suicide attempt.

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B'klyn teen found stabbed to death at cousin's house, killer still on the loose

A Brooklyn teen was found stabbed to death this afternoon, law-enforcement sources said.

The 18-year-old was discovered in his cousin's bedroom about 2:50 p.m. on Suydam Street near Wilson Avenue, sources said.

He had several stab wounds, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The killer is still on the loose.

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Miami startup that turns text to video receives $1 million in seed funding

Guide, a new technology startup based in Miami, announced Tuesday it has closed a $1 million round of seed funding from investors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sapient Corp., MTV founder Bob Pitman, actor and producer Omar Epps, and early Google employee Steve Schimmel. The Knight Foundation is supporting Guide through its new early-stage venture fund, the Knight Enterprise Fund.

Led by CEO and founder Freddie Laker and COO Leslie Bradshaw, Guide’s team of seven is focused on turning online news, social streams and blogs into video for users who may be cooking, exercising, commuting or getting ready in the morning. The free application offers consumers a selection of about 20 “anchors” — including a dog, a robot and an anime character — that will read the article and present the accompanying photos, pull-out information and video clips in its video presentation. Revenue drivers for Guide could include in-app purchases, advertising-based anchors and customizations from publishers, said Laker, a former vice president at SapientNitro.

Laker and his team plan to launch a public beta next month, which they plan to do with a splash at the huge technology conference South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

Read more about Guide here on the Starting Gate blog. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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Judge orders state to release emails in suit over Gov. Scott's plan for Tallahassee park

Some governors left bronze statues behind. Others contributed a library or a sun room to the Governors’ Mansion.

Gov. Rick Scott envisions a legacy that would create Governor’s Park, across a six block by three and a half block area in downtown Tallahassee.

The boundaries of the proposal are contained in a memo and maps that state officials attempted to withhold from disclosure in a lawsuit filed by Tallahassee lawyer Steve Andrews as part of a fight over land that once belonged to Gov. LeRoy Collins.

Citing Florida’s public records law, a judge ordered release of documents that outline the park plan after reviewing 120 records that the Department of Environmental Protection tried to shield from public view.

"After conducting an in camera inspection of 120 emails, the court finds that 105 emails were public records … and improperly withheld from the plaintiff after a public records request,’’ Circuit Judge John Cooper wrote in his Jan. 29 order.

Andrews sought the records after filing a lawsuit against Scott and 15 other officials involved in the state’s attempt to block him from buying land where his office is located. The land in question is owned by the Collins estate and fronts Monroe Street, the north-south thoroughfare through the heart of the capital city.

The proposed park would surround the Governor’s Mansion and an adjacent site known as The Grove, the ancestral home of territorial Gov. Richard Keith Call and the final home of the Collins family.

The state bought the Collins home in 1985 with plans to create a museum and visitors center. Maps included in the email released Wednesday indicate that the park would include both mansions and about 120 additional lots now in private ownership in an area between Monroe and Bronough streets.

Andrews signed a contract to buy his office building for $580,000 after then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning signed a letter rejecting the state’s right of first refusal to buy the property. Scott’s office objected at the last minute, and Scott and the Cabinet voted to buy it a year ago in spite of the contract between Andrews and the Collins estate.

The lawsuit grinds on, with more than a dozen lawyers representing various state agencies and a separate lawsuit filed by Scott and the Cabinet against John Aurell, Collins’ son-in-law and executor of the Collins estate. The judge has rejected state accusations of fraud and breach of contract against Aurell, calling them without merit.

Andrews said the state will spend some $10-million if it proceeds with the park plan as outlined.

"It’s a lot of money when you think that Governor Collins’ legacy is that he was the first southern governor to advocate publicly for the passage of civil rights legislation,’’ Andrews said. "Even Gov. Charlie Crist refused to do repairs and paint the Governor’s Mansion because so many people in the state were losing their homes to foreclosure.’’

A spokeswoman for Scott did not respond to questions about the cost of the plan or explain why the records were withheld from public view.

The tradition of governors enhancing the mansion is longstanding. Some redecorated; others added a pool, tennis courts, fencing and a garage, often at state expense.

Since Gov. Bob Graham’s wife Adele created a private foundation, additions have mostly been paid for with private donations. The Grahams built a large sun room on the north side of the mansion.

Former Gov. Bob Martinez raised money for a bronze manatee sculpture on mansion grounds, and former Gov. Lawton Chiles left a large bronze sculpture of children walking on a log. Former Gov. Jeb Bush used his fundraising ability to add a library.

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5 Things You Don't Know About LL Cool J

This NCIS: Los Angeles star rose to fame in the 1980s to become one of the most successful rap artists of all time. Since then, he's established himself not only as an actor, but also an entrepreneur with his own record label, production company and social networking site. Here are five things you probably don't know about LL Cool J -- host of this Sunday's Grammy Awards!

1. Has said that Bruce Lee inspired him to act.

PICS: Star Sightings

2. Had to endure 12-16 hour filming days while writing his fitness book LL Cool J's Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle.

3. Is nearly fluent in Spanish and has studied Arabic because his NCIS: Los Angeles character Sam Hanna is fluent in the language.

VIDEO: LL Cool J Promises Night of Grammy Surprises

4. His favorite concerts ever were the 2009 launch of U2's "360 Degrees" tour in Barcelona and Run-D.M.C.'s "Raising Hell" tour.

5. His favorite cologne is Gendarme.

RELATED: LL Cool J Captures Intruder Inside His Home

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Quick-thinking cop saves convulsing B'klyn man

A quick-thinking cop saved the life of a man in downtown Brooklyn, authorities said.

A distraught woman approached Officer Kenia Marte about 1:35 p.m. Jan. 22 while she was driving her sergeant on Schermerhorn and Nevins Street, cops said at a 76th precinct community council meeting yesterday.

When Marte reached the 53-year-old, he couldn't speak and was convulsing—but had two pills of nitroglycerin in his hand, which is used to treat heart conditions.

“She knew exactly what to do,” said Captain Jeffrey Schiff at the meeting.

Marte placed the medication under the man’s tongue, and began to administer CPR, while her sergeant called for an ambulance, authorities said.

Rebecca Harshbarger

Captain Jeffrey Schiff and Officer Kenia Marte.

FDNY paramedics responded, and gave him CPR until the patient reached Long Island College Hospital, where he stabilized, cops said.

Marte was recognized at the 76th precinct community council meeting yesterday for her life-saving work, where she was honored as the command’s cop of the month. She has five years on the job.

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Miami startup that turns text to video receives $1 million in seed funding

Guide, a new technology startup based in Miami, announced Tuesday it has closed a $1 million round of seed funding from investors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sapient Corp., MTV founder Bob Pitman, actor and producer Omar Epps, and early Google employee Steve Schimmel. The Knight Foundation is supporting Guide through its new early-stage venture fund, the Knight Enterprise Fund.

Led by CEO and founder Freddie Laker and COO Leslie Bradshaw, Guide’s team of seven is focused on turning online news, social streams and blogs into video for users who may be cooking, exercising, commuting or getting ready in the morning. The free application offers consumers a selection of about 20 “anchors” — including a dog, a robot and an anime character — that will read the article and present the accompanying photos, pull-out information and video clips in its video presentation. Revenue drivers for Guide could include in-app purchases, advertising-based anchors and customizations from publishers, said Laker, a former vice president at SapientNitro.

Laker and his team plan to launch a public beta next month, which they plan to do with a splash at the huge technology conference South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

Read more about Guide here on the Starting Gate blog. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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Jackson Health System, Kendall Regional battle over trauma

Kendall Regional Medical Center lost one battle in the trauma wars Tuesday at the Miami-Dade County Commission, but has launched a new attack in Tallahassee, asking state regulators to reject a Jackson Health System request that Kendall maintains would force it to close its trauma center.

With about 100 supporters packing commission chambers wearing red T-shirts saying “Kendall Trauma Saves Lives,” Commissioner Javier Souto asked his colleagues to reconsider a Jan. 23 resolution, passed 10-0, authorizing Jackson to take legal action to protect its trauma programs.

Jackson has been complaining that its Ryder Trauma Center has been losing about $28 million a year since the state allowed Kendall Regional to open a second Dade trauma unit in November 2011. State regulators, meanwhile, have delayed granting licenses for trauma centers at Jackson North and Jackson South hospitals.

Souto said his office had been bombarded by 4,000 emails complaining that the commission had acted hastily in granting Jackson legal approval. “A big chunk of people are very offended.”

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said many of the “thousands” of emails he received quoted a Kendall executive as saying that the commission resolution was intended to “force Kendall to close its trauma center.”

“That’s a lie,” Diaz said. The commission simply gave Jackson an ability “to defend itself.”

The motion to reconsider died on a 6-6 vote.

Mark McKenney, medical director of the Kendall center, issued a statement calling the commission vote “a shame.” During his center’s first 15 months, “we have seen more than 2,550 trauma patients. ... Kendall Regional is dedicated to providing care to a community of 2.5 million people that, as the seventh most populated county in the U.S., has been greatly underserved. The facts are clear about the need for trauma services, and we will continue to fight to provide these vital medical services.”

Meanwhile, the fight at the state level continues. In early January, Jackson asked Department of Health officials for an administrative hearing over state inaction on its two trauma-care licensing requests. Jackson complained that regulators have granted provisional licenses to Kendall and Ocala hospitals under a policy that state courts have ruled invalid.

The Jackson petition maintained that “all provisional licenses issued under the invalid trauma need rule should be revoked.”

On Monday, the Kendall and Ocala hospitals filed their own motions in the case, asking that Jackson’s petitions be dismissed because it “had no right” to request that the licenses of other centers be rejected. If those motions were rejected, the HCA facilities asked that they be allowed to intervene in the Jackson proceedings.

Also on Monday, Jackson Chief Executive Carlos Migoya sent an email to county and state political leaders saying that the trauma legal filings were “highly technical. It is vital to understand that Jackson has not initiated any legal action against any other hospital, hospital system or trauma center in this issue.” On Tuesday Jackson spokesman Edwin O’Dell said, “We are limited as to what we can say during these complex regulatory proceedings.” But he noted that the Health department had suspended Jackson’s trauma applications while approving others. “We seek a level playing field on which our community’s taxpayer-owned hospital system is treated fairly and can compete fairly.”

State regulators are now working to come up with a trauma regulation that courts will deem fair to all parties. Health officials have been insisting that Miami-Dade, with 2.5 million people, needs several trauma centers.

: On Tuesday, an advisory committee from the American College of Surgeons told Florida Health officials about steps they could take to come up with fair trauma regulations.

Jackson officials maintain that, with helicopter transport, its Level 1 trauma center is just minutes away from any place in the county and that it has a highly experienced trauma staff always on duty, while Kendall Regional, a Level 2 center, has to call in specialists to treat complex cases.

Herald staff writer Patricia Mazzei and Tampa Bay Times reporter Tia Mitchell contributed to this article.

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Jennifer Lawrence on Her SAG Wardrobe Malfunction

When Jennifer Lawrence took the stage to pick up her well-earned Best Actress SAG Award for Silver Linings Playbook, it appeared as if she had a wardrobe malfunction, with her dress coming apart at the seams. The world later learned that the dress was designed to do that, but at Monday's annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon, Jennifer explained that she wishes she could "take that back."

Pics: Fierce Fashions at the Oscar Luncheon

"The fashion moment that I wish I could take back was accepting the SAG Award and the bottom of my dress falling off," she says with a laugh to ET's Nancy O'Dell."I would definitely take that back. It didn't really fall off, it just gave the appearance of falling off, which is just the same. ... You can't put a tier dress on somebody that walks like a linebacker."

Watch the video to find out which designer Jennifer plans to go with on Oscar night, plus see her fun reaction to a photo of herself taken years ago for Teen Vogue!

Video: J-Law Suffers Wardrobe Malfunction? 

Stay tuned to ETonline for complete Oscar night coverage when the 85th Annual Academy Awards hosted by Seth MacFarlane airs live on Oscar Sunday, February 24, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.

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Credit card scammers steal more than $200M

A New Jersey-based crime ring with New York ties used fake identities to create 25,000 bogus credit cards and steal more than $200 million in one of the largest schemes ever investigated by federal authorities, officials said today.

Agents arrested 18 people who were allegedly involved in an elaborate fraud scheme that lasted nearly 10 years and stretched across dozens of states and several, according to a criminal complaint.

Authorities said the creative crew even doctored credit reports to pump up the fake cards’ spending and borrowing power, then borrowed and spent as much as they could without ever paying back the colossal debt.

To pull off the ruse, feds said the scammers would, in some cases, buy real Social Security numbers from people leaving the country.

In other cases, they just simply made up Social Security numbers.

They also created 80 sham companies that allowed them to run bogus charges through credit-card swipe machines.

And they also enlisted the services of small jewelry stores in Jersey City that supplied them with a steady stream of fresh IDs.

With their library of identities, the scammers ran up as much credit as they could on individual cards before tossing them aside and moving on.

“This type of fraud increases the costs of doing business for every American consumer, every day,” said Paul Fishman New Jersey’s US Attorney

Fishman said the suspects bought luxury cars, electronics, spa treatments, high-end clothing and millions of dollars in gold.

The leaders, Fishman said, were Babar Qureshi, 59, of Iselin, New Jersey, and Muhammad Shafiq, 38, of Bellerose, New Jersey.

Eleven live in New York, six in New Jersey, and one in Pennsylvania. Most are Pakistani, and some are US citizens, Fishman said.

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Construction starts on new Royal Caribbean ship

The newest ships from Royal Caribbean International will be called Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, the Miami-based cruise line announced Tuesday.

Royal Caribbean revealed the names of the 4,100-passenger vessels while announcing that the first piece of steel had been cut for the first of the two ships, Quantum of the Seas, which will launch in fall of 2014. Its sister ship will debut the following spring.

The new ships have been in the design and planning stage for three years; they will be built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. A ceremony marking the start of construction was held recently at the yard.

Royal Caribbean late last year ordered a third Oasis-class vessel, the sibling to the largest cruise ships in the world. With room for 5,400 passengers, the ship is scheduled for delivery in mid-2016.

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More mismanagement issues arise at Citizens Insurance

State regulators knocked Citizens Property Insurance Corp. this month for unnecessary travel costs, failing to negotiate on multimillion-dollar vendor contracts and spending more than $10,000 a month on vacant office space.

The Office of Insurance Regulation’s “market conduct examination” — which reviews Citizens’ operations over the last two years — offers the latest evidence of institutional problems at the mammoth state-run insurer.

According to the report, Citizens has mostly followed its policies, but in some cases those policies were too lax, leading to expensive repercussions for the company.

The report found that Citizens “does not appear to place any emphasis on price negotiation, instead relying on best and final offer” from its private contractors, who collect one-fifth of the $2 billion in annual premiums paid by policyholders.

Citizens is now pushing back against the state’s findings, arguing that it follows state law and has its own rigorous policies to get the best services at a competitive price.

“In situations not covered by [state law], Citizens conducts competitive solicitations using the same style of processes as state agencies (i.e., Invitations to Bid, Requests for Procurement and Invitations to Negotiate),” said spokesperson Christine Ashburn, in an email. Ashburn said Citizens president Barry Gilway has asked the state’s Insurance Commissioner to amend the report.

OIR also criticized Citizens for expensive travel and meals that surpassed federal and state guidelines for acceptable expenses. That finding comes on the heels of a Herald/Times investigation and a Chief Inspector General report highlighting lavish spending by executives, including $600-a-night hotel stays in Bermuda.

At the same time, Citizens has been squeezing homeowners by slashing coverage and raising rates, claiming that it does not have enough money to pay for a major hurricane strike.

“I really don’t get why they don’t have enough money,” said Gina Guilford, of Miami, whose homeowner’s insurance premium doubled last year. “Their rates have been rising steadily and there has been no major hurricane in years. Mismanagement is my guess. Why should any of us have to pay for a government-run insurance agency’s inability to manage funds and their employees?”

After media reports and the state’s Chief Inspector General documented Citizens’ corporate expenses, the company announced new policies to crack down on spending abuses.

Still, the OIR report fuels critics of Citizens and could hamper the efforts of some lawmakers who are determined pass major insurance reforms this year to help the state-run insurer raise its rates faster.

“This report further highlights the operational deficiencies, blatant disregard for state policies and lack of oversight and fiduciary responsibilities by Citizens Property Insurance,” said Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, in a statement.

Artiles has been critical of Citizens’ aggressive push to shrink its rolls and has been part of a coalition of South Florida Republicans and statewide Democrats voting against cost-hiking insurance legislation.

As Citizens seeks to shed many of its 1.3 million policies, it has been bogged down by a series of corporate scandals. Last year, Gov. Rick Scott twice called on his inspector general to investigate Citizens, after the Times/Herald reported on lavish travel spending and allegations of corporate misconduct. The company’s Office of Corporate Integrity was disbanded after it uncovered evidence of waste at the company, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance packages paid to executives who resigned amid scandal.

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Second-generation iPad mini could pack a display with 324 pixels per inch

Apple (AAPL) may be about to make up for delivering a disappointingly low resolution for its first-generation iPad mini display. BrightWire reports that supply chain sources have told Chinese website My Drivers that the next-generation iPad mini will indeed feature a 7.9-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, or 324 pixels per inch. For comparison, consider that the original iPad mini delivered a resolution of just 163 pixels per inch, less than both the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle Fire HD and the Google (GOOG) Nexus 7, which both featured displays with resolutions of 216 pixels per inch. BrightWire’s report also backs up earlier rumors we’ve heard about Apple choosing AU Optronics to make an HD Retina display for its next-generation iPad mini.

[More from BGR: iOS 6.1 untethered jailbreak now available for download, compatible with iPhone 5 and iPad mini]

This article was originally published on BGR.com

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Five Things You Don't Know About Bruno Mars

Known for his powerful voice and compelling live performances, Grammy nominee Bruno Mars is slated to join Rihanna and Sting for a special performance during this Sunday's Grammy Awards telecast. Here are five things you probably don't know about this talented crooner.

1. Born Peter Gene Bayot Hernandez on October 8, 1986 in Hawaii - he is of Puerto Rican and Filipino descent.

2. His catchy public name was inspired by famed professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino and the plant Mars.

PICS: Stars Set to Perform at Grammys

3. Began performing onstage as a toddler and at age 6, appeared in the 1992 comedy Honeymoon in Vegas playing a young Elvis impersonator.

4. Wrote the hit song F--- You for Cee Lo Green.

5. Named one of Time magazine's Top 100 most influential people of 2011.

VIDEO: Are Bruno Mars' Sisters Just As Talented?

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Jurors reject EAst Village bar terrorizer's insanity defense

It took a Manhattan jury less than four hours today to reject the insanity defense of a psychotic, racist gunman who had held an East Village wine bar hostage in June, 2002, announcing, "White people are going to burn tonight!"

Steven Johnson, an African American, AIDS-infected, unemployed Brooklyn barber, had spent the 40-minute siege pistol-whipping and holding guns to the throats of his 15 hostages, while ranting, "Die, mother f---ing cracker!" Johnson's previous two trials, at which he also used the insanity defense, ended in a mistrial and an overturned verdict; he now faces life in prison for kidnapping and attempted murder.

"White people must die and pay for what they have done to my people," the barbecue lighter-waving fiend had shouted at his terrified captives, all of whom were white.

He had left home that night ten years ago with a homemade catheter strapped to his leg, and a bag packed with dozens of plastic wrist cuffs, three handguns, a 30-inch sword, a barbecue lighter and a squirt bottle of kerosene.

Even before he barged into Bar Veloce on Second Avenue, he'd shot a young passerby, who was also white, on the street outside the bar. During the siege, he also shot a female hostage in the leg, and a sushi chef who'd peered into the bar to see what was going on.

The harrowing standoff only ended when the bezerk bigot was jumped by two female hostages, young women barely in their 20s who sprang into action even though they were bound at the wrists and soaked in kerosene. Both took the stand against him for the third time in December.

"Shoot him again!" Ann-Margret Gidley, now 33, remembered screaming to cops as she and fellow hero Annie Hubbard grappled with Johnson on the wine bar floor.

"They showed amazing bravery," one female juror, who declined to be named, said after today's verdict. "They were amazingly cool young women," she said. "They were pretty gutsy."

Johnson was quickly convicted today of the entire kidnapping and attempted murder case against him, save for the one count of attempted murder involving the shot Johnson fired at the sushi chef, who suffered a gunshot wound to the hand.

At each of his three trials, defense lawyers told jurors that Johnson, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and prosecutorial delusions, could not appreciate that his actions were wrong. The first trial deadlocked due to a lone, pro-acquittal holdout juror in 2004; the second resulted in a 240-year prison sentence, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality on appeal.

Defense lawyer Michelle Gelernt, who represented Johnson at all three trials, argued that Johnson did know that his actions were illegal, but suffered command hallucinations and believed that God had ordered and sanctioned his actions.

This trial had a new spin -- Johnson for the first time took the stand in his own defense, not doing himself any favors by telling jurors personally that he believed himself to be just fine.

"To be frank, I don't particularly agree with my defense as a delusion," Johnson had testified. "I'm perfectly sane."

"I didn't object to it because my advisor, who is God, told me to let it go," he explained of going along with the insanity defense.

"Everybody should be proud of me," he told jurors. "I stood up for my people. . .I didn't do this. God did this. He put the ideas in my head," he said, calling himself "the next Malcolm X."

On cross, though, assistant district attorney Steinglass reminded Johnson that days after the standoff, he had told a doctor at Rikers Island that, "White people killed my girlfriend and I am out for revenge." The girlfriend had died of AIDS, according to testimony.

Steinglass also reminded Johnson that during the standoff itself, he was caught on a 911 tape taunting cops and proclaiming that he was having "mad fun." When a female hostage started crying and praying, telling Johnson, "Jesus loves you," Johnson answered "Shut the f--- up" and kicked her repeatedly in the face. "Correct," Johnson answered when reminded of those kicks.

In one bizarre exchange, Steinglass asked Johnson whether God had told him specifically who he wanted killed.

"The enemies of my people," he answered.

"And who are the enemies of your people, Mr. Johnson?" the prosecutor asked.

"The white man," Johnson explained.

"All white men?"

"I said not all white men," Johnson answered.

"So how," the prosecutor asked, "do you decide which white men are worthy of killing?"

"They all look the same to me," he answered.

Sentencing has been set for March 8 by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald.

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Bright spots in Latin America despite global economic uncertainty

There are bright spots as Latin American and Caribbean economies begin the year but the uncertain health of the U.S. economy, the lingering financial crisis in Europe and more sluggish growth in China are casting shadows over the region.

A decade ago, dim prospects in those major markets would have delivered a knock-out punch in the region, but this year Latin American and Caribbean economies are expected to grow by 3.5 percent and average 3.9 percent growth in 2014 and 2015, according to a World Bank forecast. The United Nations’ Economic Commission has a slightly more sanguine forecast of 3.8 percent growth in 2013.

Both are better than the 2.4 percent growth the World Bank is forecasting for the global economy and the mere 1.3 percent increase it is predicting for high-income countries.

The U.S. economy grew by 2.2 percent in 2012. But the economy shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2013 also could be sluggish..

“That creates a soggy start for 2013 in Latin America,’’ said David Malpass, president of Encima Global, a New York economic consulting and research firm.

With a recession in Japan, even slower growth expected in Europe than in the United States, and questions about whether the dip in the Chinese economy has bottomed out and whether the United States will be making sharp cuts in defense spending and other federal programs come March 1, Latin American and Caribbean nations can’t really depend on the industrialized world to spur growth.

The region must look inward and undertake structural reforms that will allow growth from domestic factors, said Malpass, who was in Miami in January for an event organized by the University of Miami’s Center for Hemispheric Policy.

Panama’s $5.25 billion investment in expansion of the Panama Canal is an example of the inward focus that will pay off down the road, said Malpass. By 2015, Panama plans to have completed two new sets of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal and the deepening and widening of existing channels to accommodate the so-called Post-Panamax ships too big to traverse the current locks.

“It’s a difficult period but a period where developing countries are growing solidly but not as quickly as they might otherwise want to,’’ said Andrew Burns, the lead author of the World Bank’s annual Global Economic Trends report.

That means they should focus on investment in infrastructure and healthcare, structural policies, regulatory reforms and improvements in governance that will pay future dividends down the road, Burns said.

Such economic reforms, plus high commodity prices enjoyed by countries with fertile fields and mineral wealth, helped the region move beyond the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 far more quickly than it did when it was so dependent on economic cycles in the rest of the world.

Economic growth slowed in Latin America and the Caribbean from 4.3 percent in 2011 to an estimated 3 percent but that was still better than the 1.3 percent growth high-income countries managed in 2012, according to The World Bank.

China will continue to play a major role in Latin America and the Caribbean this year but whether the slowdown in China has reached its low point is subject to debate. But it’s relative. Slow growth in China would be brisk growth elsewhere. China says its gross domestic product grew 7.8 percent in 2012, the most tepid growth in 13 years and a comedown from 9.3 percent growth in 2011.

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Motorcyclist killed in multi-car crash on Interstate 75 in Broward

A motorcyclist was killed Sunday morning in an accident on Interstate 75 in Pembroke Pines.

The northbound cyclist, who was heading north on the highway around 5 a.m., slammed his 2011 Harley Davidson into the rear of an SUV just north of Pines Boulevard.

The impact sent the rider, who was not wearing a helmet, flying off his bike and onto the roadway, where he was struck by another oncoming vehicle. That driver, who did not realized what he had hit, drove on to the next exit where he called police.

I-75 was shutdown for hours as the Florida Highway Patrol conducted an investigation.

The name of the victim has not been released.

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BlackBerry searching high and low in India, Indonesia

NEW DELHI/JAKARTA (Reuters) – Research in Motion Ltd must chart a tough course in its two key emerging markets of India and Indonesia: quickly launch cheaper handsets to woo lower-end subscribers while restoring its tattered brand among the countries’ status-conscious.

The company, which is rebranding itself BlackBerry after its best-known smartphone, has won millions of followers in these two Asian countries, mostly by selling cheaper handsets and offering service packages as low as $ 2 a month. So it’s unlikely that the Z10 model introduced last week, which operators in India expect to sell for around $ 750, will appeal to the users it must reach if it is to build market share.

“It’s clear that not only are India and Indonesia among the largest markets but in terms of future smartphone growth, they’re amongst the ones with the most potential,” said Melissa Chau, senior research manager at technology research group IDC in Singapore. “But the two devices that have been launched are not well aligned to the needs of these two markets.”

While the company does not break down its sales by country, data from IDC shows that Indonesia was BlackBerry’s biggest market outside the United States and Britain last year, while India was ninth.

ABI Research said that BlackBerry accounted for nearly half of Indonesia’s smartphone shipments in 2012. Compare this with a global share of just 5.3 percent. In India, the world’s second-largest mobile phone market, BlackBerry ranks third after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Nokia.

In both countries, young people are drawn by low-cost handsets allowing them to communicate for free on the BlackBerry Messaging Service (BBM). Almost all carriers offer services for the device. Indonesia’s XL Axiata Tbk PT, for example, saw a 45 percent jump in BlackBerry subscribers last financial year after offering packages for as little as 20 cents per day.

But this picture is changing rapidly.

The rise of messaging services such as WhatsApp that are not confined to any single operating system and the proliferation of cheap Android devices have diluted the BlackBerry’s appeal.

Mickey Nayoan, a 32-year old product designer in Jakarta, swapped his BlackBerry for a Samsung phone six months ago and isn’t missing it.

“I survived without BlackBerry because there’s WhatsApp,” he said. “More and more people use it and so I don’t need BBM anymore.”

At the same time, higher-end users have deserted what is increasingly seen as a low-end brand.

“When they came up with the cheaper versions, that took the allure off the brand for many Indonesians who are very status-conscious,” said Ong Hock Chuan, a Jakarta-based communications consultant.


While BlackBerry remained the number one smartphone brand in Indonesia in the second quarter of last year, the most recent period for which rankings were available, Android overtook it as the most popular operating system, according to IDC.

IDC said when it released the data last September that this was partly because of delays in the launch of the BlackBerry 10. The Z10 is likely to launch in the second half of February in India and in late March in Indonesia.

Data from StatCounter, a website which estimates mobile web traffic, shows BlackBerry’s share in Indonesia falling from about 20 percent in 2011 to about 5 percent last year.

On the other hand, carriers and users say, glitches with BlackBerry services and a perception that the brand has lost some of its luster mean that it will be hard to sell the Z10 and a keyboard model, the Q10, even to better-off users.

“It really depends on how BlackBerry 10 performs. If it can fix problems of previous BlackBerry (services) it could succeed in the market,” said Hasnul Suhaimi, CEO of Indonesia’s XL Axiata. But for now, he said, “it will just be about people swapping out existing devices.”

To reverse this, BlackBerry must announce cheaper devices quickly, analysts say. BlackBerry launched handsets designed on its old platform for just such users in India and Indonesia last year.

“The Z10… is obviously a high-end product and India is not a market at that price point,” said Anshul Gupta, an industry analyst at technology advisory firm Gartner in Mumbai. “We don’t know exactly what will be coming here, but I would expect them to launch different models in India which would give them more traction.”

(Additional reporting by Henry Foy in Mumbai and Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore; Writing by Jeremy Wagstaff; Editing by Emily Kaiser)

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Justin Timberlake Performs New Music 20 20 Experience

Justin Timberlake hit the stage to perform new music for the first time in ages on February 2 and much to the crowd's delight, JT proved the long wait was well worth it.

RELATED - Justin & Jessica's Long Road to The Altar 

At DIRECTV's Super Saturday Night party in New Orleans, La, Timberlake not only performed his latest single, Suit & Tie (complete with Jay-Z cameo), but he debuted two new songs: Little Pusher Love Girl and Bad Girl.

VIDEO - Watch Justin's Suit & Tie Lyric Video

Both tracks are slated to be on Timberlake's forthcoming third solo album, The 20/20 Experience, hitting stores on March 19.

Watch all JT's performances below!

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Deadly deserts


Ralph Peters

Violence in Allah’s name in northern Africa won’t end in my lifetime — and probably not in yours. The core question is: To what extent can the savagery be contained?

From the Atlantic coastline to the Suez Canal, struggling governments, impoverished populations and frankly backward societies struggle to find paths to modernization and to compete in a ruthless global economy. Religious fanatics for whom progress is a betrayal of faith hope to block development.

Still, if the only conflict was between Islamist terrorists and those who want civilized lives, the situation could be managed over time. But that struggle forms only one level in a layer cake of clashing visions and outright civil wars bedeviling a vast region. Much larger than Europe, the zone of contention encompasses the Maghreb, the countries touching the Mediterranean, and the Sahel, the bitterly poor states stretching down across desert wastes to the African savannah.

AFP/Getty Images

Figthers of the Islamic group Ansar Dine

The Sahel is the front line not only between the world of Islam and Christian-animist cultures in Africa’s heart, but between Arabs and light-skinned tribes in the north, and blacks to the south. No area in the world so explicitly illustrates the late, great Samuel Huntington’s concept of “the clash of civilizations.”

If racial and religious differences were not challenge enough, in the Maghreb the factions and interest groups are still more complicated. We view Egypt as locked in a contest between Islamists and “our guys,” Egyptians seeking new freedoms. But Egypt’s identity struggle is far more complex, involving social liberals, moderate Muslims, stern conservative Muslims (such as the Muslim Brotherhood) and outright fanatics. The military forms another constituency, while the business community defends its selfish interests. Then there are the supporters of the old Mubarak regime, the masses of educated-but-unemployed youth and the bitterly poor peasants.

Atop all that there’s the question of whether the values cherished by Arab societies can adapt to a globalized world.

The path to Egypt’s future will not be smooth — yet Egypt’s chances are better than those of many of its neighbors. Consider a few key countries in the region:


Viva la France! (Never thought I’d write that in The Post.) Contrary to a lot of media nonsense, the effective French intervention in Mali demonstrates that not every military response to Islamist terror has to become another Afghanistan: The French are welcome.

As extremists invariably do, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its allies rapidly alienated their fellow Muslims — after hijacking a local uprising. The local version of Islam is far more humane and tolerant than the Wahhabi cult imposed by Islamist fanatics. To the foreign extremists, the Malian love of Sufi mysticism, ancient shrines and their own centuries of religious scholarship are all hateful — as is the Malian genius for music that’s pleased listeners around the world.

Have a comment on this PostOpinion column? Send it in to LETTERS@NYPOST.COM!

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Hollywood cardiologist’s ties with St. Jude sales rep raises red flags

Mark Sabbota, a Hollywood cardiologist, regularly implants $5,000 pacemakers in patients at Memorial hospitals in South Broward — generating, last year alone, more than a half-million dollars in sales for a manufacturer called St. Jude Medical.

Sabbota, public records show, also happens to be partners with a St. Jude sales rep in two corporations that run frozen yogurt shops.

What’s yogurt got to do with healthcare?

Perhaps nothing. Perhaps a lot. The question is connected to an on-going lobbying battle in Washington over a pending disclosure policy intended to more clearly reveal financial ties between physicians and the healthcare industry — often-murky relationships that have produced a long history of whistle-blower lawsuits, federal investigations and fines.

Sabbota, in a brief interview, adamantly denied any conflict of interest. “There has been no wrongdoing at all,” he said.

Memorial spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin also said the hospital saw no problem with the yogurt arrangement. As a “community” doctor, not a staff employee, Baldwin said Sabbota can select from a list of pacemakers approved by the hospital but has no say over what companies made the list.

“As for why he prefers to use St. Jude, I won’t speak for him,’’ she said. “You’d have to ask him that.”

But several medical ethics experts said such relationships fall in a gray area. They raise what Kenneth Goodman, bioethics director at the University of Miami, called “red flags” about whether the doctor’s motivation in choosing a device “is something other than the best interests of the patient.”

“Maybe it’s just a good business arrangement that has nothing to do with the devices he chooses,” said Charles D. Rosen, a California physician who is co-founder of the Association for Medical Ethics. “But the issue is public disclosure and transparency. You as a patient should have the right to know about a doctor’s financial relationships with companies.”

Concerns about the relationship between doctors and healthcare companies have been simmering for years. Americans are so suspicious of doctors’ connections that, in a 2008 Pew Charitable Trusts survey, 86 percent of patients said doctors should not be allowed to get free dinners from drug makers and 70 percent said doctors shouldn’t even be allowed to get free notepads and pens.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act includes a provision intended to address some aspects of these often-cozy relationships. Starting Jan. 1, healthcare companies were supposed to publicly post how much they were paying doctors. But that provision has been held up in the White House by intense lobbying.

“I don’t know why the hold-up, except the intense opposition of the industry,” Rosen said. His group, including members of the Harvard Medical School and Cleveland Clinic, wrote a letter to the Obama administration last month protesting the delay.

The group complains that the healthcare industry is trying to soften the rules so that foreign subsidiaries and doctors engaged in clinical trials wouldn’t have to reveal payments. But even if the disclosure rules are implemented, a side deal like Sabbota’s yogurt company would not have to be revealed under the new law, Rosen said.

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