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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — American actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who starred as a death row inmate in “The Green Mile” and in other box office hits such as “Armageddon” and “Kung Fu Panda,” died at a hospital in California on Monday, his publicist said. He was 54.

Duncan suffered a heart attack nearly two months ago and had remained hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “The Oscar-nominated actor suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered,” said Joy Fehily, a publicist at public relations company Prime.

Reverend Omarosa Manigault, who was previously known to be Duncan’s girlfriend, announced his passing in a brief emailed statement from Fehily. “Manigault is grateful for all of your prayers and asks for privacy at this time,” she said, adding that Manigault was Duncan’s fiancĂ©. It had not previously been reported that the couple was engaged.

“Celebrations of his life, both private and public, will be announced at a later date,” Fehily added.

Born in Chicago, Duncan is probably best remembered for his role as death row inmate John Coffey in the 1999 drama film “The Green Mile, which earned him an Oscar nomination. But he is also known for having portrayed Bear on the 1998 disaster film “Armageddon,” the voice of Commander Vachir in the 2008 computer-animated action comedy film “Kung Fu Panda”, and Franklin Figueroa in the 2000 adventure crime comedy film “The Whole Nine Yards.”

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — Internet giant Google, Inc. on Monday said it plans to cut approximately 4,000 jobs at telecommunications company Motorola Mobility, which it acquired last year, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Patrick Pichette, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Google, said it plans to cut about 20 percent of approximately 20,000 employees at smartphones and tablets developer Motorola Mobility. “Two-thirds of the reduction is set to occur outside of the U.S.,” he said in the filing.

The cuts are designed to return Motorola’s mobile devices unit to profitability, after it lost money in fourteen of the last sixteen quarters. Google announced its acquisition of Motorola in August 2011 and the $12.5 billion deal was approved by competition authorities in Europe and the United States earlier this year.

In addition to the layoffs, Pichette said Google plans to simplify Motorola’s mobile product portfolio and shift the emphasis from feature phones to more innovative and profitable devices. The changes will also result in Google closing or consolidating about one-third of Motorola’s 90 facilities.

“Investors should expect to see significant revenue variability for Motorola for several quarters,” Pichette said. “While lower expenses are likely to lag the immediate negative impact to revenue, Google sees these actions as a key step for Motorola to achieve sustainable profitability.”

Monday’s news sent Google’s shares up as much as 2.61 percent, although most analysts said they are unsure if the changes will be enough to return Motorola to profitability.

Pichette said the company expects to incur a severance-related charge of no greater than $275 million, but he warned Google may also incur other restructuring charges which cannot be predicted at this time. “These additional charges could be significant,” Pichette said in the filing.

For the employees affected by the layoffs, Motorola promised to provide generous severance packages as well as outplacement services to help them find new jobs. “Motorola understands how hard these changes will be for the employees concerned and is committed to helping them through this difficult transition,” Pichette added.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — A California scientist has discovered that Mars has at least two plate tectonics, contrary to popular belief that the Red Planet is too small, and its interior too cold, to host plate tectonic processes, his University announced on Thursday.

An Yin, a planetary geologist and professor of Earth and space sciences at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), has been studying the surface of Mars for years and recently analyzed about 100 satellite images taken by NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft and the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“When I studied the satellite images from Mars, many of the features looked very much like fault systems I have seen in the Himalayas and Tibet, and in California as well, including the geomorphology,” Yin said on Thursday. He previously conducted geologic research in the Himalayas and Tibet, where two of the Earth’s seven major plates divide.

Yin said he found a very smooth, flat side of a canyon wall which can only be generated by a fault and a steep cliff comparable to cliffs in California’s Death Valley, which are also generated by a fault. The Red Planet further has a linear volcanic zone, which is a typical product of plate tectonics.

But the surface of Mars is also home to Valles Marineris, a system of canyons that runs along the Martian surface and is more than 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) long, making it one of the largest canyons in the Solar System. Scientists have long been in disagreement about how the canyons formed, but Yin said his new evidence shows Mars has at least two plate tectonics which are divided by Valles Marineris.

“I saw that the idea that it is just a big crack that opened up is incorrect,” Yin said. “It is really a plate boundary, with horizontal motion. That is kind of shocking, but the evidence is quite clear. The shell is broken and is moving horizontally over a long distance. It is very similar to the Earth’s Dead Sea fault system, which has also opened up and is moving horizontally.”

Yin said the two plate tectonics have moved approximately 93 miles (150 kilometers) horizontally relative to each other. He pointed out that California’s San Andreas Fault, which is over the intersection of two plates, has moved about twice as much – but they are comparable because Earth is about twice the size of Mars.

The planetary geologist, who refers to the two plate tectonics as Valles Marineris North and Valles Marineris South, said the small size of Mars may explain why there are only two plates. “Earth has a very broken ‘egg shell,’ so its surface has many plates; Mars’ is slightly broken and may be on the way to becoming very broken, except its pace is very slow due to its small size and, thus, less thermal energy to drive it,” he explained.

The discovery of plate tectonics also suggests the Red Planet may experience so-called marsquakes, and this adds further support to evidence released earlier this year that a powerful marsquake hit the Cerberus region of the planet in recent history. “I think the fault is probably still active, but not every day. It wakes up every once in a while, over a very long duration – perhaps every million years or more,” Yin said.

Earlier this year, earthquake geologist Gerald Roberts at Birkbeck, an institution of the University of London, said there is evidence that our planetary neighbor may have experienced marsquakes in the recent past. He and his team also analyzed imagery from HiRISE and examined boulders along a fault system known as Cerberus Fossae, which cuts across a lava surface on Mars.

Roberts said the images showed boulders that ranged from 2 to 20 meters (6.5 to 65 feet) in diameter, which had fallen in avalanches from cliffs. The size and number of boulders decreased over a radius of 100 kilometers (62 miles) centered at a point along the Cerberus Fossae faults.

“This is consistent with the hypothesis that boulders had been mobilized by ground-shaking, and that the severity of the ground-shaking decreased away from the epicenters of marsquakes,” Roberts said in February. He estimated that the magnitude of the marsquakes may have been greater than 7 on the Richter scale.

The scientists said the marsquake likely happened in recent history, within the last few percent of the Red Planet’s 4.5 billion year history, but it is impossible to say exactly when. The British scientists said it is possible that large magnitude quake activity is still occurring on Mars, but it will be difficult to tell until seismographs are taken to Mars.

For Yin, there is still more work to do, as he is unsure how far beneath the surface the two plates are located. “I don’t quite understand why the plates are moving with such a large magnitude or what the rate of movement is; maybe Mars has a different form of plate tectonics,” he said. “The rate is much slower than on Earth.”

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YUBA CITY, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — A hostage situation at a sporting goods store in Northern California ended peacefully on Sunday afternoon after the human held employees hostage for several hours, police said. There were no injuries.

The situation began at about 11:15 a.m. local time on Sunday when a gunman entered the Big 5 Sporting Goods store in Yuba City in Sutter County, located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Sacramento. The suspect walked up to a cashier and dragged her by her throat at gunpoint to a nearby office, where he attempted to gain entry.

The suspect then allegedly fired several rounds into the air and ordered everybody in the store to the back of the building, witnesses said. Two hostages remained in the sporting goods store while hostage negotiators tried to achieve a peaceful ending. A SWAT team also remained on standby at the scene.

Police said the situation was made more difficult because large groups of people had gathered in the parking lot.

But the situation came to a peaceful end at about 3 p.m. local time when the suspect, identified only as a 28-year-old man, surrendered and exited the store with his hands in the air before being taken into custody. It was not immediately known what was the motive for the hostage situation, or if the gunman made any demands.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — Police in Southern California believe they have identified a serial killer who may have killed at least four women, and possibly more, between 1980 and 2000, investigators announced on Friday. The suspect died in police custody in January 2008.

The first known killing happened on August 19, 1980, when 25-year-old Sonia Smith was bound, raped, strangled with a cord and her body dumped in an abandoned field in Los Angeles. Another 25-year-old woman, Phyllis McClinton, was killed on November 4, 1980, in an almost identical case, with her body also dumped in an abandoned field in Los Angeles.

Two decades later, on August 11, 2000, 45-year-old Vanessa Williams was found naked and strangled to death in a vacant field in Pomona, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. Two months later, 27-year-old Christine Fields was found strangled to death in a field in Riverside County, although she lived in Pomona and investigators believe she was not killed in the field.

In July 2007, investigators linked the murders of Smith, Williams, and Fields based on DNA evidence. They also found a person of interest when they discovered the case of a woman who was assaulted and bound in a similar manner as Smith and McClinton. The woman survived the November 1980 attack and identified Los Angeles resident Larry D. Hubbard as the attacker. He was arrested at the time and charged with false imprisonment.

Just two months before the new developments in 2007, Hubbard was arrested by police in Ontario, California, for an outstanding Florida escape warrant, stemming from a 1974 robbery conviction. Hubbard had escaped the Florida prison in 1977 and then moved to California, where he lived in Los Angeles and Pomona until he was arrested while at work in San Bernardino.

But before investigators identified Hubbard as a person of interest in the serial murders, he attempted to hang himself on June 23, 2007, while being extradited to Florida. He initially survived the suicide attempt but died of complications from his self-inflicted injuries on January 13, 2008.

Before he died, detectives requested and used a biological sample from Hubbard to compare it to evidence from the Smith case. Detectives were notified on June 22, 2012, that Hubbard’s DNA profile matched a partial DNA profile which was developed from a sexual assault kit in Smith’s case.

Investigators believe Hubbard may be responsible for more murders that have gone undetected over the three decades and are asking the public for help. Anyone with possible information is being asked to contact Detectives Luis Rivera and Elizabeth Estupinian at the Robbery-Homicide Division of LAPD’s Cold Case Special Section at (213) 486-6810.

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SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — A man whose e-mail address and password were posted online after hackers accessed Yahoo’s server last month has sued the internet giant, claiming the company failed to adequately safeguard his and others’ personal information, according to court documents.

Jarrod Allan, of New Hampshire, said he is one of approximately 453,000 users whose account information was posted online after hackers from a group calling themselves D33Ds infiltrated a Yahoo! database on July 11. Allan filed the class action complaint for negligence in San Jose, California on behalf of everyone similarly situated.

“Plaintiff Allan brings this class action lawsuit against Yahoo for failing to adequately safeguard his and others’ personal information,” the complaint says. “Mr. Allan seeks an order requiring Yahoo to remedy the harm caused by its negligent security, which may include compensating Plaintiff and class members for resulting account fraud and for all reasonably necessary measures Plaintiff and class members have had to take in order to identify and safeguard the accounts put at risk by Yahoo’s negligent security.”

According to the complaint, the credentials stolen from the Yahoo! server were originally from Associated Content, a website that allowed freelance authors to contribute text, images, and videos until they were acquired by Yahoo! in 2010. Existing Associated Content accounts were taken over by Yahoo!, which then saved this information unencrypted on its database.

Experts said the hackers used a technique known as an SQL injection attack, which works by injecting malicious commands into the stream of commands between a website application and the database feeding it. But this is a well known technique, and Allan’s lawsuit alleges that Yahoo’s servers should not have been vulnerable to this.

“The SQL injection technique used against Yahoo has been known for over a decade and had already been used for massive data thefts against Heartland Payment Systems and others,” the complaint says. “As far back as 2003, the Federal Trade Commission considered SQL injection attacks to be well-known and foreseeable events that can and should be taken into account through routine security measures.”

Yahoo! also failed to encrypt the data using standard salting and hashing techniques, which would have made it extremely difficult for hackers to read the information when it was stolen. “Yahoo failed to secure its data server containing Plaintiff’s and class members’ information from SQL injection attacks, encrypt the critical login credentials contained in the database, and monitor its network activity to identify suspicious amounts of out-bound data,” the complaint says.

In his own case, Allan said he received e-mails from two online services on July 14, informing him of the Yahoo! breach and that both services had identified him as a user with breached account information. He also received an e-mail from eBay on July 20, informing him that someone had accessed his account without permission.

“Concerned about unauthorized access to his online accounts, Mr. Allan purchased an Experian credit monitoring service for $14.95/month,” the complaint says. It adds that Allan’s Associated Content account included personal information such as his full name, e-mail address, PayPal e-mail address, date of birth, citizenship, physical address, telephone number, biography, interests, education and social security number.

In the class action complaint, Allan says he is seeking compensation in an amount to be determined at trial. He is also seeking to recover litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees for himself and any other class members.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — Police in Los Angeles have arrested a man suspected of stabbing as many as five homeless people in Southern California in recent weeks, police said on Saturday. The so-called “Death Warrant” attacker has been charged with attempted murder.

Courtney Anthony Robinson, 38, who had previously been named a person of interest in the stabbings, was arrested at around 8:40 p.m. local time on Friday in the area of Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The officers had recognized him from “community alert” fliers that were distributed in the neighborhood.

Police believe Robinson was responsible for the stabbings of three homeless people this month. He was dubbed the “Death Warrant” attacker by both local media and police after written ‘Death Warrants” were found left at the scene of each attack, but no details about the contents of messages have been released.

“It appears that Robinson targeted the victims for specific reasons but had no relation tot hem,” a police spokesperson said on Saturday.

The first attack occurred on July 3 in Los Angeles when a 50-year-old man was stabbed in the back while he was laying on a sidewalk. The next attack occurred early Tuesday when a 59-year-old man was stabbed in the back while laying on a park bench in nearby Santa Monica. The last stabbing occurred early Thursday morning in Hollywood when a female victim was stabbed in the back while laying on the sidewalk. All the victims survived.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson said Robinson is also believed to be responsible for two other stabbings in Santa Barbara, although officials did not immediately say when those attacks took place or whether the victims survived. Robinson was booked on charges of attempted murder and is being held on $500,000 bail.

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SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — Internet giant Yahoo!, Inc. on Monday announced the appointment of Google executive Marissa Mayer as its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), two months after Scott Thompson resigned over an apparent misrepresentation of his college credentials.

“I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the internet’s premier destinations for more than 700 million users,” said Mayer. “I look forward to working with the Company’s dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world.”

Mayer, 37, began her work at Yahoo! on Tuesday and is the company’s fifth CEO in five years. The media company, which is based in Sunnyvale, California, has struggled against Internet powerhouses such as Google and Facebook. Mayer was also appointed as a Member of the Board of Director’s at Yahoo!.

Yahoo! spokeswoman Dana Lengkeek stated that the appointment signals a renewed focus on product innovation to drive user experience and advertising revenue for the company, which has 700 million unique monthly visitors and whose leading properties include Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! Mobile, Yahoo! Mail, and Yahoo! Search.

Mayer joined Google in 1999 as its 20th employee and led efforts for many of Google’s most recognizable products, including the development of its flagship search product and iconic homepage for over 10 years. Most recently, she was responsible for Local, Maps, and Location Services for Google, the company’s suite of local and geographical products including Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View, and local search, for desktop and mobile.

Mayer also serves on the board of directors of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and a number of non-profits, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Ballet, and the New York City Ballet.

Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson resigned in May after a dissident shareholder called attention to his apparent misrepresentation of his college credentials. An eBay biography and Yahoo! filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission claimed that Thompson has a computer science degree from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, but the school did not offer this until four years after Thompson graduated.

Thompson only assumed the top position at Yahoo! in January of this year and soon announced his plans to cut 2,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of the company’s global workforce. The dramatic job cuts are expected to save Yahoo! about $375 million a year, although severance pay will cost the company between $125 million and $145 million this year.

The job cuts announced in April were the largest yet for the struggling company, which has failed to keep up with social media giant Facebook and internet rival Google. Former CEO Carol Bartz was fired in September 2011 as he was unable to increase Yahoo!’s revenue, despite some 4,000 jobs being cut in the last four years.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — The questions and answers website Formspring on Wednesday disabled the passwords of its more than 29 million registered users as a precaution after nearly half a million of them were posted on a website, the company’s founder said.

The website, where users can ask each other questions or be asked questions by anonymous people, said it was alerted by someone that 420,000 passwords had been posted to a security forum. The leaked passwords were camouflaged with a common cryptographic code called SHA-256 hash, a version of the SHA-2 hash function which is known to have security issues.

“Once we were able to verify that the hashes were obtained from Formspring, we locked down our systems and began an investigation to determine the nature of the breach,” Formspring founder and CEO Ade Olonoh said in a blog post. “We found that someone had broken into one of our development servers and was able to use that access to extract account information from a production database.”

The file released on the security forum did not contain usernames or other identifying information, but the company did not say whether the hackers may have been able to access them. It said it immediately ‘fixed the hole’ and upgraded the hashing mechanisms for its password database to bcrypt, which is considered more secure.

“In response to this, we have disabled all users passwords,” Olonoh said. “We apologize for the inconvenience but prefer to play it safe and have asked all members to reset their passwords. Users will be prompted to change their passwords when they log back into Formspring.”

Formspring spokeswoman Dorothée Fisher says it currently has more than 29 million registered users.

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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) — Insurgents attacked coalition service members in southern Afghanistan on Friday, killing two of them, the NATO-led International Security Assistance (ISAF) said in a brief statement. It raises the number of foreign troops killed so far this year to 209.

ISAF said two of its service members were killed on Friday as a result of two separate insurgent attacks in Afghanistan’s south. But because the multinational force defers the release of specific details to national authorities, no other details about the incident were released, including the exact location and whether any other troops were injured.

The nationalities of the service members involved in the incidents were also not immediately disclosed by ISAF, again per its policy. “It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities,” ISAF said in a brief statement, giving no specific details.

Also on Friday, U.S. officials released the identity of a U.S. soldier who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this week. The U.S. Department of Defense said 22-year-old Sgt. Jose Rodriguez, of Gustine, California, was killed on Tuesday when he was shot at in Kandahar province. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

The deaths on Friday raise the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 209, according to official figures. A total of 566 ISAF troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2011, down from 711 in 2010. A majority of the fallen troops were American and were killed in the country’s south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops by the end of this summer, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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