Jackson doctor trial put on hold for Monday



Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman Mary Hearn said the judge in the case will meet with prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday to discuss when to resume the trial.

UPDATE 1-Zynga shares to trade as ZNGA on Nasdaq



NEW YORK, Oct 13 (Reuters) - The social games maker Zynga has chosen to list its shares on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol “ZNGA,” the company said in a filing on Thursday.The company on July 1 filed for an initial public offering of up to $1 billion, but Zynga declined on Thursday to comment further on the IPO.The company also said its top three revenue generating games for the six months ended June 30, 2011 were Mafia Wars, FarmVille and Zynga Poker.Those three games are 59 percent of online game revenue. A year earlier, those games accounted for 84 percent of revenue so the drop shows the company is able to generate revenue from a wider range of games.The company had previously said that its revenue increased by $271.5 million in the first half of 2011 compared to a year earlier. The company for the first time broke out how three of its games helped drive that increase.FarmVille accounted for $76.6 million of the revenue increase, while FrontierVille’s accounted for $70.5 million of the increase. CityVille, which launched in December 2010, generated $46.6 million in revenue in those six months.The rest of Zynga’s games accounted for the remaining $77.8 million of the revenue increase, the company said.The filing comes two days after the company unveiled a crop of new games and a new gaming service at a rare media event in San Francisco.At the event, Chief Executive Mark Pincus steered clear of discussing the IPO, but Zynga’s first-ever large media presentation was a signal to analysts the company is taking Wall Street seriously and on track to go public.

Pakistani stocks, o/n rates end flat; rupee firms



Volume was 117.8 million shares, compared with 141.7 million shares traded on Tuesday.”There was some buying in the fertiliser sector following a rise in urea prices which would increase their earnings,” said Ahsan Mehanti, director at Arif Habib Investments Ltd.Fauji Bin Qasim ended 2.28 percent higher at 62.68 rupees and Fauji Fertiliser closed up 2.53 percent at 184.90 rupees.In the currency market, the rupee firmed to 87.15/20 to the dollar compared with Tuesday’s close of 87.36/41 on increased remittances from Pakistanis living abroad.According to official data, remittances rose 25 percent to $3.3 billion in the first three months of 2010/11 fiscal year (July-June), compared with $2.65 billion in the same period last year.However remittances fell to $890 million in September, compared with $922 million received in September last year.In the money market, overnight rates ended at the top level of 11.90 percent amid tight liquidity in the market.

Tax preparers fret over first IRS fees, rules



Some fear the IRS campaign against tax fraud could squeeze out small, independent businesses and allow large competitors such as H&R Block Inc and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc to capture market share.The IRS, which plans to finalize the new fees in coming months, recently said it was open to ways to mitigate costs.To get certified, preparers will need to register and pass a competency test. Some will need to be finger-printed, pass a background check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and take continuing education classes.The IRS estimates the licensing fee for each tax preparer at between $250 and $275, but H&R Block expects the cost will be more than $400, including state fees and its own background-check expenses.The IRS fees are “a touchy and sensitive topic,” said Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Parsippany, New Jersey-based Jackson Hewitt. “The fees “do seem large, and they are large.”Practitioners say the fees, some still in flux, will trickle down to Americans who pay for personalized help with their taxes. Faced with a complex tax code, more than half of all U.S. taxpayers filed a return last year with the help of a preparer, according to the Government Accountability Office.The tax-preparation business has traditionally been a free-wheeling industry. Only California and Oregon have laws regulating it. In the rest of the country, anyone can hang out a shingle and fill out tax returns.The IRS wants to weed out illicit tax preparers who open for business in tax season and then disappear before they can be charged. Last month, for example, the Justice Department prosecuted a Florida woman who filed returns for homeless people claiming first-time-homebuyer tax credits.SHULMAN BEHIND CRACKDOWNIn June 2009, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman started an overhaul of the tax preparer system.As the proposed rules stand now, fees would hit about 450,000 preparers particularly hard — those lacking professional certifications as lawyers or certified public accountants, and those registered with the IRS as preparation supervisors.Fees and competency tests could drive out honest preparers along with swindlers, said Chuck McCabe, chief executive officer of the Income Tax School Inc in Richmond, Virginia.”The fees definitely do pose a barrier to entry,” said McCabe, whose school offers tax-preparation classes. The certification requirements are “definitely a deterrent.”Tax preparation has been a valuable job opportunity for many older people and mothers with young children looking for part-time work, he said.Older preparers might not want to pay the fees and might struggle with the competency test, McCabe said, predicting that the consequences “will create a vacuum” of preparers.Meanwhile, analysts say big firms may pay for their staffs’ certifications to retain experienced employees, and are poised to gain a competitive edge over small, independent preparers.Jackson Hewitt preparers filed 2.6 million retail U.S. tax returns for the 2010 year, while H&R Block handled 14.7 million, or about 11 percent of the total.COSTS ADD UPH&R Block said it would cost about $8 million to get roughly 100,000 company employees certified. Its 1,733 corporate franchises will also have to pay fees.”It’s definitely going to add costs,” especially for H&R Block’s franchises, said Kartik Mehta, director of research at Northcoast Research Holdings LLC in Cleveland.Still, Mehta added: “I don’t think the costs are that onerous.”The IRS agrees. David Williams, director of the agency’s return preparer office, said the costs bring the preparation business in line with the professional needs of the work.”In virtually every service profession, there are basic, minimum standards for suitability,” said Williams, who led the regulatory overhaul.Most barbers and hair stylists must pass some suitability test. “You will see those licenses on the wall,” he told Reuters, while tax preparers, who face no such requirements in most states, have access to an individual’s “most intimate financial information.”INDUSTRY WEIGHS INAt a hearing last week, industry groups raised their concerns with IRS and U.S. Treasury Department officials.The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants said it supported certification, but disapproved of its costs.”We have serious concerns regarding the level of burden that the user fee regulations will place on CPA firms, primarily small- and medium-size CPA firms,” said Patricia Thompson, who chairs the AICPA tax executive committee.H&R Block asked if the IRS would consider allowing firms to fingerprint their employees and forward the information to theFBI.Williams said the IRS would take another look at the costs, especially for fingerprinting. “Maybe there is a viable alternative that would suffice in lieu of an FBI fingercheck,” he said.The public comment period on fingerprinting fees closes on October 26.

Exclusive: Angelina Jolie visits Libya to show solidarity



"I have come to Libya for a variety of reasons, to see a country in transition at every level and to witness efforts to fully realize the promise of the Arab Spring," Jolie said."The country faces a host of challenges, including internally displaced people, refugees, rule of law, security, sanitation, education, health and other humanitarian needs. All of these pieces must be delivered and coordinated properly in an environment of reconciliation and justice."The two-day trip was Jolie’s first to Libya, but she previously visited Libyan refugees in Malta and on the Italian island of Lampedusa in June, and went to Tunisia in April to appeal for international support for people fleeing the revolution there.Jolie is an ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and is expected to announce an expanded role soon.On her Libya trip, she met representatives from UNHCR, Medecins Sans Frontieres and local non-governmental organizations delivering assistance to Libyans in Misrata and Tripoli."I will be meeting with officials from all sides but above all, listening to the local people in the street. I am here to express solidarity with them. It is the work of rebuilding and recovery that will determine Libya’s future."

Exclusive: Angelina Jolie visits Libya to show solidarity



"I have come to Libya for a variety of reasons, to see a country in transition at every level and to witness efforts to fully realize the promise of the Arab Spring," Jolie said."The country faces a host of challenges, including internally displaced people, refugees, rule of law, security, sanitation, education, health and other humanitarian needs. All of these pieces must be delivered and coordinated properly in an environment of reconciliation and justice."The two-day trip was Jolie’s first to Libya, but she previously visited Libyan refugees in Malta and on the Italian island of Lampedusa in June, and went to Tunisia in April to appeal for international support for people fleeing the revolution there.Jolie is an ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and is expected to announce an expanded role soon.On her Libya trip, she met representatives from UNHCR, Medecins Sans Frontieres and local non-governmental organizations delivering assistance to Libyans in Misrata and Tripoli."I will be meeting with officials from all sides but above all, listening to the local people in the street. I am here to express solidarity with them. It is the work of rebuilding and recovery that will determine Libya’s future."

After Kabul attack, pressure remains on Pakistan



That the situation is bad in Afghanistan is obvious. Quite how bad is open to debate following the 20-hour attack by insurgents on Kabul, though former Indian intelligence chief B. Raman put it rather succinctly on his Twitter feed @SORBONNE75. “If one considers totality of picture—anti-terror, anti-insurgency—- US far from prevailing in Afghanistan. US troops after 10 yrs in same position as Soviet troops after 8 yrs were in 1987—victory increasingly elusive.” Yet as has been the case for years, the United States has few good options in Afghanistan. Pulling out altogether would not only leave Afghanistan dealing with a bitter civil war but could further destabilise Pakistan.  Staying runs the risk of testing the patience not just of western public opinion but also of Afghans, who as the Afghanistan Analysts Network said, could come to see foreign forces as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  ”The possible perception among Afghan residents that the presence of foreigners is a catalyst for attacks may lead to a growing conclusion that the problems related to their presence far outweigh the benefits,” it said. In the meantime, talks with the Afghan Taliban in order to try to reach a political settlement  appear to be going nowhere and are unlikely to become any easier after the attack on Kabul. Early indications are that the United States is determined to stay the course – U.S. ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker played down the attack - and concentrate on  negotiating an agreement allowing it to keep troops in Afghanistan well beyond the 2014 deadline it has set for handing over security to Afghan forces. Crocker also blamed the Pakistan-based Haqqani network for the attack while  U.S. General John Allen, the head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, said the United States would continue to try to convince Pakistan to rein in the militant group. In short, business as usual and indeed business as it has been for years, with the United States trying more or less to hold its ground in Afghanistan, while struggling to convince the Pakistan army to act against the militant proxies it once nurtured to counter India. That pressure is likely to be accompanied by a continued or intensified campaign of drone bomb attacks on militant targets in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan. On the Pakistan side, there is as yet no obvious sign of a change of stance.  After a bitter fall-out following the raid by U.S. forces who found and killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, the United States and Pakistan have begun working together again – at least in targetting al Qaeda. The Pakistan army made a point of stressing “the intimate cooperation between Pakistan and United States intelligence agencies”  after the arrest in Quetta earlier this month of al Qaeda operative Younis al Mauritani. But that cooperation does not yet stretch to Pakistan turning on its former militant allies. The army says it is fighting on too many fronts already and must give priority to tackling the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other groups which threaten Pakistan rather than launching yet another military operation to clear out areas like North Waziristan, where the Haqqani network is based. The army’s reluctance to turn on its old militant allies, however, also stems from a deep-rooted psychological angst about Pakistan’s security.  Once these Islamist militant groups are gone, Pakistan will have no leverage left to defend itself against its much bigger neighbour India to the east, nor against an India-friendly Afghanistan to the west.  Traditionally, to a military mind, defence of borders equals national security – an idea that remained unchanged even after Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons. And nor would Pakistan have reliable proxies which it believes might help give it influence in Afghanistan. A report just produced outlining what the Pakistani establishment hopes to see in Afghanistan makes it clear that it still sees a role for both the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network in a political settlement in Afghanistan. It is in changing that psychological angst about Pakistan’s security that the United States has hoped to find its elusive solution. Yet there is no evidence that in the short-run Pakistan’s borders are going to become any more secure. On the Indian side, a slow-moving peace process is making slow but steady progress, helped in part by a focus on improving trade relations. But those gains are fragile, vulnerable to a major new attack on Indian territory, like the 2008 assault on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants. They are also offset by growing tensions along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with both countries accusing the other of failing to take firm enough action against militants operating on both sides.  One hope is that Pakistan will shift its focus eventually from external security to internal security – with a functioning democracy and better governance helping to deliver both political and economic security.  This internal security would in turn help it build better economic and trade ties with both Afghanistan and India, locking all three countries into the kind of economic inter-dependency that make it in their interests to retain friendly relations. But that will take very a long time. And as George Perkovich at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argued in a report titled “Stop Enabling Pakistan’s Dangerous Dysfunction”, the very process of building democracy has often been undermined by the U.S. reliance on the Pakistan army as its main partner in fighting militants. (At its worst, that conundrum means that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires it to work most closely with the Pakistan army, thereby undermining a transition to democracy in Pakistan which could make it easier for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan.) There are not going to be any easy solutions to all this.  But the United States is not the Soviet Union. For all its financial troubles, the U.S. economy is in nowhere near the state of decay that the Soviet economy reached when the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan. And unlike the Soviet Union, the United States does not have a superpower actively campaigning against it, as Moscow did when the U.S. backed insurgents fighting the Soviet occupation.  Washington’s policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan might need some rethinking, but it seems to be determined to stay the course. In that sense, the Kabul attack changed very little.