In this Oct. 11, 2013 file photo Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic Jamal Al Jamal is pictured in Prague, Czech Republic. Jamal Al Jamal, who was injured in an explosion in his residence in Prague-Suchdol, has died in a hospital on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/CTK, Krumphanzl Michal, File)
Wall Street ended 2013 with its positive momentum intact, advancing in its final trading day of the year on the back of positive consumer confidence data. The S&P 500 rose 29.6 percent over the year, its best annual performance since 1997, while the Dow climbed 26.5 percent in its best year since 1995. The Nasdaq jumped 38.3 percent, its best year since 2009. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 finished the final trading day of 2013 at record closing highs.
Apple Inc has never worked with the U.S. National Security Agency and is unaware of efforts to target its smartphones, the company said in response to reports that the spy agency had developed a system to hack into and monitor iPhones. Germany's Der Spiegel reported this week that a secretive unit of the NSA, which is under fire for the extent and depth of its spying programs around the world, makes specialized gear and software to infiltrate and monitor a plethora of computing devices, including mobile phones. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-941262.html) The report included an NSA graphic dated 2008 that outlined a system in development called DROPOUTJEEP, described as a "software implant" that allows infiltrators to push and pull and retrieve data from iPhones such as contact lists. In a statement issued Tuesday, the NSA did not comment on any specific allegations but said that its interest "in any given technology is driven by the use of that technology by foreign intelligence targets." "The United States pursues its intelligence mission with care to ensure that innocent users of those same technologies are not affected," the agency added.
By Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to narrow differences between Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks this week that are intended to guide the sides toward a deal in April, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Kerry departs for the region on Wednesday in his first trip after a Christmas break. Israel and Palestinians resumed peace talks in July after a three-year break aimed at producing a peace agreement within nine months to end their decades-old conflict. Such a step would also demonstrate to both Israelis and Palestinians that progress is being made.
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss BOSTON (Reuters) – Billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors is ending its life as a hedge fund with a 20.10 percent gain this year, marking one of the industry's best returns even after SAC pleaded guilty to insider trading charges, a source familiar with the numbers said. Cohen reported the number to outside investors on Monday as he prepares to stop managing money for wealthy clients after his firm last month agreed to plead guilty to insider trading and pay a $1.2 billion penalty. The number, although not final for the year because it does not include returns made on the last two days of the year, puts SAC among the $2.5 trillion hedge fund industry's best performers for 2013. The returns, possibly the last that outside investors with Cohen will see, are sure to mark a high point in an otherwise tough year for SAC.
By Steve Barnes LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) – Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr on Tuesday rejected a request from the governor to step down after the state’s Ethics Commission found that Darr violated campaign finance rules. Amid a fight that has national political implications, Darr, a Republican and political newcomer, said in a statement his focus was on putting things right with the people of Arkansas. “He will not resign,” Amber Pool, Darr’s communications director, told Reuters. Darr accepted the Ethics Commission’s finding on Monday of 11 violations.
(Reuters) – Hewlett-Packard Co said it would cut 5,000 more jobs, bringing the total number of layoffs to 34,000, or 11 percent of its workforce. The company said in a regulatory filing on Monday that it would record a charge of $4.1 billion in 2014, up from its prior estimate of $3.6 billion. (http://r.reuters.com/kyf75v) HP is striving to get back to growth through job cuts and focusing on businesses with longer-term potential such as enterprise services. HP had estimated that it would cut about 29,000 jobs through fiscal year 2014. The company had about 317,500 employees as of October 31. …
They have denied it before and they will deny it again: Apple has no idea why, how of if the National Security Agency can bug your iPhone, and they certainly aren't helping the spying agency do it. Apple released a statement Tuesday denying any cooperation with the NSA, again, and condemning the spy agency's alleged hacking of their phones. "Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products," the company said, per AllThingsD. On Monday, Der Spiegel and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum leaked NSA documents, taken from a hacking software and hardware catalogue from the Access Network Technology division.
Apple says it was unaware of an NSA software implant that could control iOS devices and denies that it worked with the NSA to make surveillance easier. In a statement to All Things D, the company said "Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products." The program in question is called DROPOUTJEEP, described in a leaked 2008 slide as a tool capable of turning on and capturing data from iOS microphones and cameras and remotely pulling files, contact lists, text messages, location data, and more. While security researcher Jacob Appelbaum suggested that the program could only work as perfectly as the NSA claimed with help from Apple, the leaked documents describe the FBI, NSA, and CIA covertly intercepting a variety of electronic devices to install malware, not necessarily with the company's knowledge.