Pre-orders-for-the-Apple-Watch-available

Pre-orders for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch available

The greatly anticipated Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch is available for pre-order as of April 10, 2015. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores opened all over the world to take orders and schedule appointments, for a product that is only available online and is in limited supply. The deliveries will take place on April 24, 2015 but aficionados have already made arrangements in designated countries to test the gadget out for themselves.

Also among the designated countries are UK, Australia, China, Germany and France.There are three categories of the watch available: The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport at $349, the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch at $549 and the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Edition, the price of which is $17000 and above. It’s said that there might be 38 options: 3 collections, with 6 different case types, on 18 straps, all available in 2 sizes.

A primary inspection of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores revealed that the reserve was severely short, and the 42mm stainless steel version and the 38 mm Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport are the only versions to be shipped out on the delivery date.The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch will take around 4-6 weeks for shipping. Specific boutiques in selected countries will put the products on display so that the customers can come and have a look at them.

Basically, the Watch was set to be released during the Christmas season after its announcement in September. The announcement created a lot of hype among the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)users and they have been waiting for the arrival of the Watch in the market ever since it was announced. If AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had opened up pre-orders then, it would have taken even longer for the consumers to get their watches.The SVP of AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Angela Ahrents stated the advantage of using online Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)stores to sell the watches.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)planned on issuing 25000 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)shares to the public a few days after the orders had been places. Angela Ahrents, also known as the former CEO of Burberry, is also heading the launch of the Retina MacBook, which is easier to order and attain than the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Smartwatch.The Retina MacBook is said to be available in the following colors: silver, gold and space gray at the starting prices of $1299 and the shipping time is only three days, unlike the Smartwatch whose shipping will take around one to two months.

There is also a guide available on the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Insider to help the customers decide which watch to buy. There are three main things that will aid the choosing: size, model and bands.Each watch comes in a choice of two case sizes: 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters.

Russian-Jet-Nearly-Collides-with-US-Spy-Jet-Over-Europe

Russian Fighter Jet Nearly Collides with U.S. Spy Jet Over Europe

A Russia Su-27 jet fighter flew dangerously close and nearly collided with a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft this week in the latest aerial provocation by Moscow, defense officials revealed to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Su-27 conducted the close-in intercept of an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, said officials. The incident prompted a diplomatic protest.

“On the morning of April 7th, a U.S. RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen M. Lainez.

“The United States is raising this incident with Russia in the appropriate diplomatic and official channels,” she said in a statement.

A defense official said the Russian fighter jet flew within 20 feet of the unarmed reconnaissance jet in what the official called a “reckless” encounter that endangered the lives of the RC-135 crew.

No details were available regarding the mission of the RC-135, which was in a position to monitor Russian military activities in western Russia and Kaliningrad.

In Moscow, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed the incident.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman, said the intercept was carried out after the aircraft was detected by Russian radar.

“Russian air defense radars spotted an unidentified air target over the Baltic Sea making steady progress toward the national border,” he said according to several state-controlled news outlets. The report said the U.S. aircraft was operating without its signal transponder turned on.

“No emergency situation was reported during the fly-by of the American reconnaissance aircraft,” Konashenkov said.

The RC-135 is a militarized and upgraded Boeing 707 jetliner that can be configured for several types of intelligence gathering, including photo, nuclear monitoring, and electronic spying.

The RC-135U variant involved in Tuesday’s near collision is code-named Combat Sent and conducts technical intelligence gathering on enemy electronic signals and radar emitters.

The monitoring comes amid new worries that Russia is deploying new short-range Iskander nuclear capable missiles in Kaliningrad and Russian-occupied Crimea in the Ukraine.

A second defense official said there have been no recent Russian aerial provocations near U.S. coasts. But Moscow is expected to ramp up its training operations flights around this time of year.

“That means we’re probably due for [aerial encounters] soon,” the official said.

The most recent similar encounter took place March 24 when two Su-27s, along with two nuclear capable Tu-22 Backfire bombers, conducted flights over the Baltic. The Russian jets were flying without signal beacon transponders that permit air traffic controllers to monitor their flight paths. They were intercepted by Swedish jets.

It could not be learned if U.S. or NATO jets were sent to escort the RC-135 over the Baltic Sea.

The threatening aerial encounter followed a series of provocative Russian military aircraft encounters, mainly involving the dispatch of nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers near U.S. and European coasts.

Flights of Russian strategic aircraft near U.S. and allied airspace have sharply increased as part of a campaign of nuclear saber rattling by Moscow.

Adm. William Gortney, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, expressed his military concerns about the increase in Russian military flights and provocations during a briefing with reporters the same day of the RC-135 incident over the Baltic.

“The Russians have developed a far more capable military than the quantitative, very large military that the Soviet Union had,” Gortney said, adding that Moscow has adopted a new strategic doctrine that is being demonstrated by the provocations.

“At the same time, they are messaging us,” he told reporters at the Pentagon. “They’re messaging us that they’re a global power—we do the same sort of thing—with their long-range aviation.”

Gortney said the numbers of incidents have gone up but he did not have the percentages.

“And so we watch very carefully what they’re doing,” he said. The Russians need to adhere to “international standards that are required by all airplanes that are out there,” he said, “and everybody is flying in a professional manner on their side and our side as we watch very closely.”

Eric Edelman, former undersecretary of defense for policy, said the latest incident appears to be part of a pattern of activities by Russia that began around 2007 when Russian President Vladimir Putin began protesting U.S. missile defenses in Europe. The provocative activities have taken place in both the skies and on the sea, Edelman said.

The Russians are engaged in what Edelman said is “station identification”—signaling that they remain a relevant nuclear weapons power.

“It’s part of a pattern now of very, very provocative activities, both in the air and on the sea,” Edelman said in an interview.

The Russians are signaling that “we’re still here, we’re still an important military power, your nuclear peer, and they are seeking to intimidate the Balts, Swedes, and Finns,” he said. The Baltic states are Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

A report by the European Leadership Network, “Dangerous Brinksmanship: Close Military Encounters Between Russia and the West in 2014,” states that last year NATO aircraft conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft, three times the number of intercepts in 2013. A total of 11 encounters were described as being of a serious and “more aggressive or unusually provocative nature, bringing a higher level risk of escalation.”

“These include harassment of reconnaissance planes, close overflights over warships, and Russian ‘mock bombing raid’ missions,” the report said, noting that the intensity and gravity of the incidents coincided with the Russian annexation of Crimea.

“These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs, and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a very wide geographical area.”

The report said the Russians appear to be testing NATO and European defenses, as well as using the provocative actions to contribute to an information warfare campaign.

The Russian provocations “serve as a demonstration of Russia’s capability to effectively use force for intimidation and coercion, particularly against its immediate neighbors,” the report said.

Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said in Senate testimony in February that Russian nuclear actions are a significant problem.

“Russia’s recent behavior currently poses one of our most pressing and evolving strategic challenges—challenges felt across the strategic forces mission space,” McKeon said.

“We are confronted with Russia’s occupation of Crimea, continuing Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s increasingly aggressive nuclear posturing and threats, including the prospect of nuclear weapons in Crimea, and its violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.”

Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, stated in testimony to the Senate in February that Russian aerial provocations were part of a number of “troubling actions” by Moscow

Until recently, military spokesmen have sought to play down the Russian aerial provocations, frequently dismissing intrusions into U.S. and Canadian air defense identification zones as not a threat.

“It’s ‘station identification’ and a former of intimidation, and it’s dangerous,” said Edelman, a former ambassador to Finland. “Some time something bad is going to happen, particularly against the backdrop of what’s going on in the Ukraine, and it could lead to inadvertent escalation and confrontation. It’s very dangerous.”

UPDATE Saturday, April 11, 11:10 A.M.: This article has been updated with comment from a spokesman for the Russian government, who confirmed the incident.

American-Airlines-US-Airways-get-FAA-approval-as-one-carrier

American Airlines, US Airways to get FAA approval to fly as one carrier

American Airlines, the second-largest carrier at O’Hare International Airport, expects to receive its single operating certificate Wednesday from the FAA, an important milestone in its integration with US Airways.

As of Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to officially recognize the two airlines as one during a planned ceremony at the corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

To get the single operating certificate, the airline has spent 18 months and devoted 700 employees to aligning behind-the-scenes policies and procedures and training employees, according to an internal fact sheet.

Though American and US Airways merged as corporations in December 2013 and have merged some functions — such as combining gates at O’Hare, they can’t combine flight operations until the FAA says so. The carriers expect to get that approval in the form of a paper certificate Wednesday.

However, some of the biggest milestones that customers care about are yet to come, including a single website and a single reservation system, a harrowing project that proved rocky in some other airline mergers.

That included Chicago-based United Airlines in its 2012 reservation-system combination with Continental Airlines. Compounded by poor employee training, the switchover resulted in months of widespread flight delays and cancellations, even leading to defections of business customers, hurting the airline’s profits.

At American, the carrier is not yet close to mixing American and US Airways flight crews and aircraft, which mostly amounts to working out union labor issues.

However, for operational purposes, US Airways on Wednesday will cease to exist.

Man-kids-died-from-carbon-monoxide-poisoning

Relatives: Man, kids died from carbon monoxide poisoning

A man and his seven children found dead in their Maryland home Monday were poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator they were using after the power company cut off their electricity, a couple who identified themselves as the man’s mother and stepfather said.

Police found the bodies at the home in Princess Anne after being contacted by a concerned co-worker of the father, who had not been seen for days, Princess Anne police said in a news release.

They identified the deceased only as an adult and seven young people ages 6 to the teens. They said the cause of the deaths was still under investigation.

Bonnie and Lloyd Edwards, encountered outside the home by a reporter from The Associated Press, identified themselves as the mother and stepfather of Rodney Todd, 36, whom they identified as the adult who died. They said Todd had seven children, including five girls and two boys. The Edwardses said police told them the family died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Bonnie Edwards identified the children as boys Cameron Todd, 13, and Zycheim Todd, 7; and girls Tynijuiza Todd, 15; Tykira Todd, 12; Tybree Todd, 10; Tyania Todd, 9; and Tybria Todd, 6.

Lloyd Edwards said when police told them Todd had died, “It was disbelief.”

“It’s so hard. How can you understand something like that?”

He said Delmarva Power had cut off the electricity to the house because of an outstanding bill.

“To keep his seven children warm, (Todd) bought a generator,” Lloyd Edwards said. “It went out and the carbon monoxide consumed them.”

Princess Anne Police Chief Scott Keller told the AP there was a generator in the kitchen that was out of gasoline.

Matt Likovich, a spokesman for Delmarva Power, would not say Monday night whether the power had been cut off. He said the matter was being investigated.

Bonnie Edwards described her son as a loving, caring young man who set an example for his children. “I don’t know anyone his age who would have done what he did” for his children, she said. “I was so proud to say he took care of seven kids.”

Todd was a utility worker at the nearby University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said his supervisor Stephanie Wells. Wells, who hadn’t seen Todd since March 28, said she went to the house Monday morning and knocked on the door, but no one answered. She then filed a missing-person report with police.

Princess Anne is located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Boston-bombing-Tsarnaev-wanted-to-punish-America

Boston bombing suspect Tsarnaev ‘wanted to punish America’

A prosecutor has told the jury that Dzhokar Tsarnaev “wanted to punish America” when he and his brother planted bombs at the Boston Marathon.
His lawyers admit he carried out the attacks but say he was under the influence of his radicalised brother.
If found guilty, the 21-year-old, who is charged with 30 counts, will face life imprisonment or execution.
The jury is to begin their deliberations on Tuesday, after both sides finished their closing arguments.
Three people, including an eight-year-old boy, died after two pressure cooker bombs packed with nails, ball bearings and other shrapnel detonated in April 2013. More than 260 people were injured, with many losing limbs. A police officer was shot dead during the massive manhunt.
Assistant US Attorney Aloke Chakravarty said that Mr Tsarnaev targeted the marathon in 2013, because it was a day when the world’s attention would be focused on Boston.
“He wanted to terrorise this country,” the prosecutor said as closing arguments began at the trial in Boston.
“The defendant thought that his values were more important than the people around him. He wanted to awake the mujahedeen, the holy warriors,” he said.
“He wanted to terrorise this country. He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people.”
Mr Tsarnaev shook his head slightly when Mr Chakravarty referred to him as a terrorist.
As expected, defence attorneys underscored their argument that Mr Tsarnaev was acting under the influence of his elder brother, Tamerlan, who orchestrated the plot.
“Tamerlan built the bombs, Tamerlan murdered officer Collier, Tamerlan led and Dzhokhar followed,” lead defence lawyer Judy Clarke said.
“We don’t deny that Dzhokhar fully participated in the events, but if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened,” Ms Clarke also said.
She repeatedly referred to him as a “teenager” and as a “kid”.
The court was filled with people who have been affected by the bombings and the subsequent manhunt – prosthetics, wheelchairs, and hearing aids have all been seen in the courtroom.
Defence lawyers have maintained that his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, who died during a massive manhunt, had orchestrated the attacks and by doing so they hope to spare their client the death penalty.
If convicted, a second phase will determine the punishment, and the jury will have to decide whether he will be put to death.
The attacks were the deadliest terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

Critics-call-credit-card-chip-in-US-joke

Why critics call the imminent credit card chip system in the U.S. ‘a joke’

The way Americans spend money is on the verge of its biggest change in decades, but the drumbeat of doubters continues to get louder. New chip-enabled credit cards are slowly getting into consumers’ hands in advance of a looming deadline later this year. But a Walmart executive recently told CNN that U.S. chip cards are a “joke,” and a new report examining other countries’ changeovers suggests criminals around the globe merely switched tactics and kept right on stealing from consumers’ accounts.

The switch to chip cards goes by the shorthand EMV, which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa. In Europe, when banks implemented the change, government rules forced consumers to start using credit cards like debit cards – requiring that PIN codes be entered each time a card is used. The change adds two important levels of security, or two-factor security. To complete a transaction, buyers need to have in their hands a chip card, which is incredibly challenging to counterfeit. And they must know something — a PIN — that’s not on the card.

The U.S. is poised to implement only half this system. Chip cards must be accepted by merchants by the fall deadline, but not PINs. The so-called “chip & signature” system is a half-measure, according to Mike Cook, Wal-Mart’s assistant treasurer and a senior vice president.

“The fact that we didn’t go to PIN is such a joke,” Cook told CNNMoney.com.

For example, a criminal who physically steals a chip & signature credit card will have no trouble using it to commit fraud in a store by faking the consumers’ signature.

Meanwhile, a report issued recently by analyst firm Mercator raises even more concerns that the switch to chip cards might not reduce fraud, but simply nudge criminals towards different fraud.

“Unless the payment industry tackles other growing concerns like lost and stolen card fraud, overall fraud losses will continue to spiral up toward pre-EMV levels,” the report says.

Why? So-called “card-not-present” fraud is on the rise in places that adopted EMV long ago, according Mercator’s Tristan Hugo-Webb, who is Associate Director of the Global Payments Advisory Service.

For example, the United Kingdom was one of the first countries in the E.U. to complete the switchover to EMV back in 2006. While counterfeit card fraud has shrunk — from 27 percent of all fraud in 2003 to 13 percent in 2013 — other kinds of fraud have soared. Card-not-present fraud, which includes online and telephone sales, has climbed from 29 percent of fraud in 2003 to 67 percent in 2013. Chip cards have no impact on online or telephone sale fraud because the chips cannot be used for authentication.

So as e-commerce has risen, online fraud has risen right along with it. In the U.K., there has been a sharp increase since 2011, Hugo-Webb says.

New technologies that would add a layer of authentication to online purchases, such as electronic tokens that help verify consumers remotely, have been invented but have not been implemented.

“The hope is that with the creation of new security technologies like tokenization, the industry can begin to play offense rather than always having to play defense against payment fraud attacks,” Hugo-Webb says.

The trickiest part of the migration is that the U.S. is so far behind – at least a decade behind the U.K, for example – that new payment forms, such as mobile payments, may have overtaken old-fashioned plastic cards by the time the EMV adoption is complete. To some observers that lessons the urgency of the changeover.

But Hugo-Webb says the U.S. must still migrate, even if the step doesn’t reduce fraud. It’s more a matter of holding serve, he said.

“If the U.S. decided to skip EMV….it would be more of a target than it is today,” he said. “There is still value in migrating….it’s going to take a lot longer than people expect for mobile payments to really become commonplace.”

Because of the decade-long delay, however, the value of the upgraded security will be less in the U.S. than it was in Europe, however, where banks enjoyed at least a few years of reduced fraud before criminals caught up. Here in the U.S. criminals already have quite a head start on their EMV workarounds.

That fact should help inform banks and merchants as they consider how much to invest in new forms of security for the coming generation of payment systems.

Amazon-Hammers-FAA-Over-Drone-Policy

Amazon Hammers FAA For Lack Of ‘Impetus’ Over Drone Policy

Amazon.com is not pleased with the pace by which the Federal Aviation Administration is addressing the commercial use of drones and it let the public know in a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

In a Washington, D.C. meeting with Senate members of the Subcommittee on Aviation, Operations, Safety and Security, Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, criticized the FAA for lacking “impetus” to develop timely policies for the operations of unmanned aerial systems (UASs or UAVs). Amazon, which has been pushing for greater regulatory clarity and experimental permission for its Prime Air drone delivery service, said that the United States has been far less progressive than other countries with its unmanned aircraft regulations that have, in part, stifled innovation.

“Although the United States is catching up in permitting current commercial UAS testing, the United States remains behind in planning for future commercial UAS operations,” Misener told the senators.

While Misener remained polite with his points, he made Amazon’s message clear: the U.S. is simply not doing enough for businesses that want to use drones, whether that be for the delivery of packages or the inspection of power lines. Ironically, his comments came less than three hours after the FAA issued an interim policy that streamlined the approval process for commercial drone use, granting companies that had gained exemptions under current law a “blanket” permission to fly UAVs anywhere in the U.S. with certain restrictions. Currently, it is illegal for businesses to operate drones unless they have an exemption from the FAA.

Dressed in a light gray suit and removing his glasses to address the senators, Misener stressed the differences between the U.S. and places like Europe, where the company is already testing outdoors in the United Kingdom. “Nowhere outside of the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing,” he said. That was supported by Senator Cory Booker, who passionately suggested that if the FAA been around during the time of the Wright brothers, other countries would have had commercial planes flying before a U.S. aircraft got off the ground.

“This is what is hard for me to believe,” Booker said. “The slowness at which this country is moving.”

While some had expected Booker to introduce temporary legislation to govern the commercial use of drones on Tuesday, the junior senator from New Jersey did not use Tuesday’s hearing to introduce a bill. However, those familiar with Booker’s plans said that that he is still working on a bill that would give businesses the right to use drones until the FAA settles on final rules in a process that could more than two years.

“I’m not sure how long that would take,” said Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington. As the ranking Democratic member on the subcommittee, she too discussed the “competitive disadvantages” that American companies faced with current rules.

Among those companies is Amazon, which hails from Cantwell’s home state, and only last week received an airworthiness certificate to test its delivery drones outdoors in the U.S. It was a nice gesture from the FAA, said Misener, however, it did little to advance his company’s approach. It took about a year receive approval–about six months more than in other countries–and was severely limiting by only approving one model of drone to be tested.

“We innovated so rapidly that the UAS approved last week by the FAA has become obsolete,” he said. “We don’t test it anymore. We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad.”

Other senators in the hearing stressed potential privacy concerns that come with flying drones with video capability. Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who previously introduced a bill on managing the data collected by drones, demonstrated his concerns by holding up a blue and orange UAV manufactured by French company Parrot.

“I think we can all understand that one of the primary concerns that people have about these unmanned vehicles is privacy,” said Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, the subcommittee’s chairwoman. ”UASs can significantly lower the threshold for abusive surveillance.”

Still, most of the conversation drifted back to the topic of commercial drone use and the potential for the expansion of drone regulations. Currently companies must file for case-by-case exemptions, or “333 exemptions,” in order to get FAA permission to use a drone in a business situation. To date that FAA has received more than 750 requests and approved 64, with 10 happening on Tuesday alone. Along with that, the new policy put forth by the FAA on Tuesday, grants all exemption holders an additional authorization certificate that allows operators to fly anywhere across the U.S. under 200 feet, within the line of sight and five miles away from an airport. Previously, commercial drone operators were confined to a certain block of airspace.

Some drone proponents are still not happy with the FAA’s latest rule change. The 200-foot “blanket” authorization, “doesn’t get it done,” said Michael Drobac, executive director of a lobbying group called the Small UAV Coalition, of which Amazon, Google and GoPro are members. Commercial operators will still need to go through the same traditional regulatory procedures for any flights above 200 feet, he pointed out before Tuesday’s hearing.

The country’s laws will have to be far more progressive than even the FAA’s latest concession if Amazon is to have a chance at drone delivery. Introduced by CEO Jeff Bezos on “60 Minutes” more than a year ago, drone delivery has only been tested in the U.S. at indoor facilities and within visual sight of operators. That last requirement will have to be nixed if packages are to be delivered autonomously over several miles to customers.

“It’s a technology challenge that still needs to be addressed,” said Margaret Gilligan, the FAA’s associate administrator for aviation safety, on whether drones could be trusted to fly beyond human sight. She noted that drone companies must increase the ability of drones to “sense and avoid” air traffic or other objects, though she mentioned that it may be possible in the future.

“The FAA has turned the corner,” Misener said at the congressional meeting. ”Things are getting better with respect to testing, [but it needs to improve] with future planning.”

“Let the records show you sufficiently sucked up to the FAA,” Booker replied, jokingly.

The most influential CEO’s in The United States

Chief Executive Officer of Center for a New Am...
Chief Executive Officer of Center for a New American Security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most influential CEO’s in The United States

The most powerful CEOs in America

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has 56.5 percent of the voting shares of Facebook.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, 24/7 Wall St.

Several CEOs and founders of well-known American companies have complete control over their companies. Through voting power, they control the boards and strategic decisions of these corporations. The best current example is Facebook, which will go public in a few weeks. Founder and CEOMark Zuckerberg owns enough of the voting shares in the company that his decisions cannot be overruled by outside shareholders or the board under most circumstances. Zuckerberg is also the most visible American CEO among a small group who have complete control of their companies and how long they will remain at their jobs.

The most powe

President Barack Obama and Warren Buffett in t...
President Barack Obama and Warren Buffett in the Oval Office, July 14, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

rful CEOs fall into three categories. The first are founders who are currently CEOs. They may, by themselves, or with other founders, have voting control over their companies. Larry Page of Google is the best example of this. He started the Internet search engine with Sergey Brin. Together with Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt, who they hired, the three hold shares that have nearly two-thirds of the company’s voting rights.

24/7 Wall St.: The least powerful CEOs in America

The next category is founders who no longer have the majority of the vote in their companies, but who have been in charge successfully for so long that their job security is not in question. Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com is the best example of this group. He owns slightly less than 20 percent of the company that he started in 1994. This stake is greater than that of any othershareholder. But it is his status as founder and his tremendous success that ensure he will not be replaced unless he wishes to be.

The final category of powerful CEOs are relatives of founders. These CEOs inherited the voting rights, usually from their parents, and they use those rights to run the company for another generation. The best example of this is Brian Roberts of Comcast, whose father started the company. By almost any measure, Comcast has done well financially and in the stock market. Even if it did not, Roberts would have his job.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the corporate structure, governance and voting rights of the 500 largest companies by market cap. Based on a review of company proxies, we identified those companies where the CEO had voting control of the company or was the company’s founder. We then limited the universe to those companies with market cap in excess of $30 billion.

24/7 Wall St.: America’s nine most damaged brands

1. Facebook

  • Name: Mark Zuckerberg (Age: 27)
  • Title: Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive
  • Shares: 36.1 percent of the Class A shares and 56.6 percent of the Class B shares

As the initial public offering of Facebook approaches, the company faces three major hurdles with investors. The first is the company’s worth. Estimates have pegged Facebook’s market cap once it begins to trade at $100 billion. It is unclear whether investors will support that price for a company that had only a little over $1 billion in revenue last quarter and earnings of $205 million. The second is whether it can continue to keep Google and other competitors at bay as it has done so successfully up until now. For example, Internet research firm Comscore released data late last year that showed the average U.S. Facebook user spent seven hours and 46 minutes on the site during August. That is nearly four times the time spent by visitors to Google during the same time frame. The last question is how much it matters that founder Mark Zuckerberg appears to run the company with only the most modest advice from his board. When Facebook bought the photosharing application company Instagram for $1 billion, several in the media reported that the board was not briefed about the transaction until it was well underway. Through direct and indirect control of class B stock, Zuckerberg has 56.5 percent of the voting shares of Facebook, making investors nearly powerless to affect changes in the social network company.

2. Google

  • Name: Larry Page (Age: 39)
  • Title: Founder and Chief Executive
  • Shares: 28.4 percent of all voting power among shareholders

Larry Page was the CEO of search giant Google from its founding in 1998 until 2001. He and co-founder Sergey Brin brought in Eric Schmidt to run the company as chief executive. Page took the job back last year. Among them, the three have 65.8 percent of the class B voting shares. Google’s proposed stock split would give the founders even more power. Page’s immediate challenge a little over a year into his second stint as CEO is to show that Google can expand sales beyond its traditional search business. So far, Page has not had much more success in sales diversification than Schmidt had. Google’s Android mobile operating system is now among the most widely distributed in the world, and by some measures is in first place. But Google has been unable to demonstrate how this distribution makes it money. In addition, several patent suits have been brought against Google about Android’s intellectual property ownership, which makes the sales bar for the business even higher. Investors are also concerned about the fast growth of Google’s staff, which has added rapidly to costs. Google had 33,077 full-time employees at the end of the first quarter.

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3. Amazon.com

  • Name: Jeff Bezos (Age: 48)
  • Title: Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive
  • Shares: 19.5 percent of all outstanding shares

At 48, Jeff Bezos is the grand old man of the American Internet. He founded Amazon in 1994, and the company has gone from a tiny online bookstore to the largest e-commerce business in the world. Amazon earned $130 million on sales of $13.18 billion in the last reported quarter. Bezos has increased Amazon products offerings over the years so that the company is a major force in consumer electronics, clothing, software, toys and even groceries. Bezos’s most widely regarded innovation is the e-reader business, driven by its Kindle hardware and an online library of tens of thousands of books. The Kindle and Kindle Fire tablet are leaders in the e-reader and tablet PC market. Amazon is one of the few companies that poses a threat to any of the Apple’s products. Amazon also has a large enterprise business line. Amazon Web Services offers clients e-commerce tools through the cloud. Companies that do not want to invest in their own server hardware, software and bandwidth can use the Amazon service as a turnkey solution.

4. Berkshire Hathaway

  • Name: Warren Buffett (Age: 81)
  • Title: Chairman and Chief Executive
  • Shares: 33.8% of Class B voting shares, also listed in proxy as a controlling person of the corporation

Warren Buffett is the grand old man of American investing. Buffett has been a board member of the company since 1965 and its chairman and chief executive officer since 1970. Berkshire filings to the SEC say that “Major investment decisions and all major capital allocation decisions are made by Warren E. Buffett, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO.” He has built Berkshire Hathaway into one of the largest conglomerates in the world, as well as into a holding company for stakes in a number of well-known companies. These include total ownership of GEICO Auto Insurance, International Dairy Queen and Benjamin Moore. Berkshire also has significant investments in IBM, American Express, Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo. Berkshire is one of the most valuable public corporations in the county with a market cap of more than $200 billion.

5. Oracle

  • Name: Larry Ellison (Age: 67)
  • Title: Founder and Chief Executive
  • Shares: 22.4% of company’s shares

Larry Ellison, who founded Oracle (ORCL) in 1977, has thrashed his competition in the global enterprise software industry, holding off challenges from Microsoft, SAP and a number of other companies. These companies would like to increase the part of their businesses that sell hardware and software to large businesses and governments. Ellison has made a number of shrewd buyouts, including Sun Microsystems, which increased Oracle’s business in Java software and the server market. The most powerful part of Oracle’s earnings engine is the license fees it charges its customers. The fees offer recurring revenue streams that can last for years. Not shy of exercising his control in the company, Ellison has rotated a number of people in and out of the number two position at Oracle. Its most recent president is disgraced former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd. Ellison made a public statement about how foolish the HP board was to fire a talented executive, and then snatched him up within a matter of weeks. Ellison has several extremely expensive hobbies, including the support of an entry in the America’s Cup yacht race. His boat won the most recent competition.

Also Read: America’s Most (and Least Peaceful States)

6. Comcast

  • Name: Brian Roberts (Age: 52)
  • Title: Chief Executive, Chairman and son of founder
  • Shares: Owns or controls 100% of Class B voting shares

Brian Roberts, like a number of CEOs who control the voting shares of their companies, is the son of the founder. Ralph Roberts, who is 92, cobbled together a number of small cable companies as the industry grew from largely a rural and suburban business to one that serves large cities. Comcast, which was founded in Mississippi in 1967, now has 48.9 million video, high-speed Internet, and voice over IP customers. Comcast bought a controlling interest in NBC Universal from General Electric last year. The company is now only one of the largest distribution networks in the United States, but it is also one of the largest content producers because of NBC. The government struggled with potential “monopoly” problem when it approved the transaction. The cable industry used to be a de facto monopoly because cable companies controlled discrete regions of the country. Now, however, AT&T and Verizon have laid fiber in front of tens of millions of homes so that they can compete with cable companies in the broadband Internet and video markets. Comcast must also contend with improved technology for satellite TV, which makes these services more competitive with cable.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and Comcast’s NBC Universal unit.)

7. Groupon

  • Name: Andrew Mason (Age: 31)
  • Title: Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder
  • Shares: 41.7% of Class B voting shares

Groupon (GRPN) is widely considered the most poorly run of the Web 2.0 IPOs. The online coupon company has to restate earnings for its most recent quarter because of a “miscalculation” of its customer refunds. It has cut the original revenue statements by $14.3 million. The company admitted it has a “material weakness” in its financial reporting process, a tremendous warnings sign about the quality of a company’s management. This is not the first time Groupon had to restate its financials. It had to do so before its IPO as well because of SEC and potential investors challenged how it accounted for sales. Andrew Mason has been able to insulate himself from all of these catastrophes at least as far as his job security is concerned. Mason and two other cofounders, Executive Chairman Eric P. Lefkofsky and Bradley A. Keywell, own 100% of the voting shares. SEC filings directed to by the company to shareholders say this stock ownership “limit your ability to influence corporate matters.” What is at risk for Mason is his fortune. Groupon’s shares have dropped from a post-IPO high of $31.14 to just over $10 recently.

Also Read: Nine Countries Where Everyone Has a Job

8. LinkedIn

  • Name: Jeffrey Weiner (Age: 42)
  • Title: Chief Executive Officer
  • Shares: 5.9% of voting shares

LinkedIn has done a good job convincing Wall St. that its professional social network has strong longer term prospects. From a post-IPO low of $55.98, shares have risen to more than $108. LinkedIn’s 2011 revenue was $522 million, up from $243 million the year before. Net income attributable to common stockholders rose from $3 million to $12 million. Growth rates are not the only thing that shareholder likes about LinkedIn. The company makes money from its more than 150 million members in two ways. LinkedIn sells its products online but also has a sales force that sells and markets products directly to companies. The revenue between these two businesses is nearly equal, which gives LinkedIn a diversity of sales that other social networks like Twitter do not have. CEO Jeffrey Weiner benefits from his relationship with the company’s largest shareholder, Reid Hoffman. Hoffman owns 45.4% of Class B voting shares. SEC filings by LinkedIn call his holdings as having a “significant influence over the management and affairs of the company.” Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur who made a fortune as a senior executive at PayPal. He also sits on the board of online game company Zynga.

Dementia drug manufacturer to ordered to pay huge settlement

Abbott Laboratories to pay $1.5 billion over misbranding drug

From Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer

Washington (CNN) — Abbott Laboratories has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote, the U.S. Justice Department said Monday.

The total — the second-largest payment ever by a drug company — includes a criminal fine of $700 million and civil settlements with the states and federal government totaling $800 million.

Abbott pleaded guilty to misbranding Depakote by promoting the drug to control agitation and aggression in patients with elderly dementia and to treat schizophrenia when neither use was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Justice Department said.

Abbott will be subject to court-supervised probation and reporting obligations for Abbott’s CEO and board of directors.

Under the law, a drug maker’s promotional activities must be limited to uses approved by the FDA. Promotion by the manufacturer for “off-label” uses renders a product misbranded.

In this case, Abbott pleaded guilty to misbranding Depakote by promoting the drug for off-label uses.

The company admitted that, from 1998 through 2006, it “maintained a specialized sales force trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for the control of agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, despite the absence of credible scientific evidence that Depakote was safe and effective for that use,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

“In addition, from 2001 through 2006, the company marketed Depakote in combination with atypical antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, even after its clinical trials failed to demonstrate that adding Depakote was any more effective than an atypical antipsychotic alone for that use.”

The FDA approved Depakote only for epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines.

In 1999, Abbott discontinued a trial of Depakote in the treatment of dementia due to adverse events that included drowsiness, dehydration and anorexia.

Abbott trained its sales force to promote the drug to health care providers and employees of nursing homes as better than antipsychotic drugs for controlling agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, the release said.

Abbott sales representatives touted the fact that Depakote was not subject to certain provisions of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 and its regulations intended to prevent medications from being used unnecessarily in nursing homes, it added.

“Exploiting the fact that certain OBRA provisions did not yet apply to Depakote, Abbott sales representatives stated that by using Depakote, nursing homes could avoid the administrative burdens and costs of complying with OBRA,” the news release said.

The company wound up giving millions of dollars in rebates to pharmacists at long-term-care facilities that were based on increases in the use of the drug in nursing homes they serviced, the news release said.

“In addition to using its sales force to promote the drug to health care providers and employees of nursing homes, Abbott created programs and materials to train the pharmacy providers’ consultant pharmacists about the off-label use of Depakote to encourage them to recommend the drug for this unapproved use,” it added.

“Not only did Abbott engage in off-label promotion, but it targeted elderly dementia patients and downplayed the risks apparent from its own clinical studies,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West. “As this criminal and civil resolution demonstrates, those who put profits ahead of patients will pay a hefty price.”

The company also admitted that, from 2001 through 2006, it marketed the drug to treat schizophrenia. Though the company paid for two studies of the use of Depakote to treat schizophrenia, neither met the goals established for the study, it said.

“When the second study failed to show a statistically significant treatment difference between antipsychotic drugs used in combination with Depakote and antipsychotic drugs alone, Abbott waited nearly two years to notify its own sales force about the study results and another two years to publish those results,” it said. During that time, the company continued to promote the drug for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Abbott pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for misbranding Depakote. Under the plea agreement, it will pay a criminal fine of $500 million, forfeit assets of $198.5 million, and submit to a term of probation for five years.

Under the civil settlement, Abbott agreed to pay $800 million to the federal government and to states that participate in the agreement to resolve claims that its practices caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs.

The settlement covers allegations that Abbott paid health care professionals and long-term-care pharmacy providers to induce them to prescribe the drug.

The civil settlement resolves four lawsuits pending in federal court in the Western District of Virginia under the whistle-blower provisions of the False Claims Act. As part of the resolution, the whistle-blowers will receive $84 million from the federal share of the settlement amount.

In a statement posted on its website, Abbott said it had cooperated fully with the government during its investigation.

The company plans to separate into two publicly traded companies by the end of the year.

“We are pleased to resolve this matter and are confident we have the programs in place to satisfy the requirements of this settlement,” said Laura J. Schumacher, Abbott’s executive vice president and general counsel. “The company takes its responsibility to patients and health care providers seriously and has established robust compliance programs to ensure its marketing programs meet the needs of health care providers and legal requirements.”