TIME Apple

Apple Makes Huge Move Nobody Saw Coming

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks to the audience during an Apple event in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2012.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks to the audience during an Apple event in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2012. Robert Galbraith—Reuters

CEO Tim Cook says Apple is still a "growth company"

Apple has repurchased $14 billion worth of its stock after reporting disappointing fourth-quarter earnings two weeks ago, CEO Tim Cook said in a new interview.

Cook told the Wall Street Journal that Apple was “surprised” by the eight-percent drop in its share price late last month, after a weak revenue outlook and lower-than-expected iPhone sales during the holidays led to its sluggish earnings. Since then, Apple bought $12 billion worth of shares through an “accelerated” repurchase program and another $2 billion in shares from the open market, Cook said.

Shares were up about one percent in early trading on Friday.

Apple has bought back more than $40 billion of its shares in the past year, Cook told the Journal, calling it a record for any company over any similar time period. “It means that we are betting on Apple,” he said. “It means that we are really confident on what we are doing and what we plan to do. We are not just saying that. We are showing that with our actions.”

As speculation swirls around Apple’s next big move, perhaps wearable devices, Cook said he still considers Apple a “growth company” with big plans beyond the iPhone. He alluded that may include acquisitions: “We have no problem spending 10 figures for the right company, for the right fit that’s in the best interest of Apple in the long-term. None. Zero.”


TIME Prison System

Record Number of U.S. Prisoners Exonerated in 2013

Between 1989 and 2013, 1,281 people spent almost 12,500 years in jail for crimes of which they were wrongly convicted

The number of U.S. inmates exonerated after being falsely convicted of a crime hit a record high last year, according to a new study.

Eighty-seven were found in 2013 to have been wrongly convicted, according to a report out Tuesday by the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law.

Nearly half of those exonerated prisoners had been convicted of murder. About one-third of the exonerations involved cases in which no crime had occurred, the Registry found, and fewer convicts were exonerated through DNA evidence than in the past. That slow trend has been occurring for much of the last decade. The report also noted that 17 percent of those exonerated had originally pleaded guilty to crimes they hadn’t committed, specifically because those types of plea bargains can lead to reduced sentences.

Rob Warden, the co-founder of the Registry and executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, said the numbers reflect a noteable improvement in the criminal justice system. “First, the courts and prosecutorial apparatus are more willing to take these cases seriously than they once were,” he told TIME. “There was a time when you wouldn’t have gotten a court to look at a case where there was a confession. Now we know that false confessions happen quite regularly.”

Texas had the most exonerations with 13, followed by Illinois (9), New York (8), Washington (7) and California (6). Rounding out the top 10 were Michigan and Missouri with five a piece, and four each for Connecticut, Georgia and Virginia.

The Registry has 1,304 exonerations on its list dating back to 1989. Over the 1,281 documented between January 1989 and December 2013, 92 percent were men and 47 percent were black. Within that range, New York has had the most with 152, followed by California (136) and Texas (133). All together, the 1,281 defendants spent nearly 12,500 years in prison for crimes of which they were wrongly convicted.


British City Texts Residents To Urge Weight Loss

Residents of Stoke-on-Trent will be told to 'Use the stairs more' and 'Eat fruit and veg'

A city in England will begin sending “motivational” text messages to people who are obese as encouragement to lose weight, the city council said this week.

The text alerts sent out by the city council of Stoke-on-Trent, which lies about halfway between Birmingham and Manchester, range from “Use the stairs more” to “Eat fruit and veg” and “Keep a check on snacks and drinks.” The messages will be part of a roughly $16,000, 10-week program for 500 people who sign up. The council says that the weight loss scheme is a money-saving endeavor — health care costs for about 70,000 obese adults in the city come to more than $80 million a year.

“On average it costs the same amount to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight,” Adrian Knapper, the Cabinet member for health, told the BBC. “Our programme means people who already want to lose weight and have signed up with us to get support will receive a cheap and effective nudge to help keep them motivated.”

But support for the new program wasn’t unanimous.

“If the money went to community groups it could be used to support people losing weight but also for other projects,” said Abi Brown, a conservative councillor, who appreciated the thought behind the program. “The money could just be used more fruitfully.”

[BBC News]

TIME advertisements

Esurance Won the Super Bowl on Twitter Without Even Airing an Ad During the Game

Auto insurance company is giving $1.5 million to someone who tweeted with #EsuranceSave30

More than 111 million people watched the Seattle Seahawks stomp down the Denver Broncos for an easy Super Bowl win on Sunday night, but the real game was on Twitter.

And the winner, according to Nielsen’s post-game report, was undoubtedly Esurance. The auto insurance company didn’t air an ad during the telecast, during which a 30-second spot cost as much as $4 million, but it did right afterward. And it saved—big.

(MORE: Esurance’s $1.5 Million Giveaway Is Making Twitter Go Crazy)

In fact, Esurance said it saved so much it would give $1.5 million—the difference between airing it during or after the game—to a single Twitter user who used the hashtag #EsuranceSave30 before 4 a.m. EST on Monday. The ad featured John Krasinski from The Office.

More than 1.85 million tweets that included the hashtag were sent by more than 1.2 million people, Nielsen found, more than four times it’s nearest competitor. But Budweiser used two hashtags—#SaluteAHero and #BestBuds—and only 290,500 people tweeted with them about 393,700 times.

The contest winner will be announced on Wednesday during Jimmy Kimmel Live.

TIME weather

Midweek Snow Storm Will Affect 100 Million People

With people still digging out of the last one

A winter storm bringing snow and ice is expected to hit more than two dozen states and at least 100 million people from Colorado to Maine this week.

Starting on Tuesday and into Wednesday, the storm may drop six inches of snow or more on parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, according to AccuWeather. A stretch of rain will move in underneath the snow belt, affecting parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland and Rhode Island, among others.

The storm is moving in just as people are still digging out of two recent snowfalls in the Midwest and northeast.


TIME South Sudan

Aid Groups Want More Than $1B for South Sudan

Three children walk through a spontaneous camp for internally displaced persons at the United Nations Mission to South Sudan base in Juba, on Jan. 9, 2014.
Three children walk through a spontaneous camp for internally displaced persons at the United Nations Mission to South Sudan base in Juba, on Jan. 9, 2014. Phil Moore / AFP / Getty Images

1 million could be displaced by June

The United Nations and aid agencies in South Sudan jointly appealed on Monday for $1.27 billion in aid to get them through June as the seven-week crisis threatens to worsen.

A response plan made public on Monday detailed the quickly declining humanitarian situation around the country, which won independence in July 2011. At least 1,000 people have been killed since violence broke out on Dec. 15 and another 865,000 have been uprooted. The report says that figure could hit one million by June.

“The Crisis Response Plan for #SouthSudan aims to: save lives, alleviate suffering, and pre-position relief before heavy rains hinder access,” tweeted Toby Lanzer, the U.N. assistant secretary-general who is currently in Juba, the capital, as a development and humanitarian coordinator.

Aid workers have reached 300,000 people affected by the fighting, but up to seven million are now estimated to be at some risk of food insecurity. Some of the humanitarian groups participating in the call for donations include the U.N. refugee agency, International Organization for Migration and World Food Programme, among others.

Representatives for President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar agreed to a ceasefire in Ethiopia on Jan. 23 but both sides have accused the other of breaking it.

TIME Middle East

Obama Will Travel to Saudi Arabia in March

The president's visit will come after a swing through Europe

The White House confirmed on Monday that President Obama will make his first visit to Saudi Arabia in March to meet with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Obama and King Abdullah are expected to discuss the two countries’ bilateral relations and a number of key security issues in the Gulf like regional extremism, spillover from Syria’s civil war and Saudi concerns about the U.S.-led efforts to broker nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Kingdom’s regional adversary.

The trip was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal, which cited Arab officials claiming relations between the two countries were “deteriorating,” despite the White House’s no-comment. It will be tacked onto the end of Obama’s visits to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, where he will meet Pope Francis.


Iran Minister: Final Nuclear Deal Possible Within Six Months

Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says final deal within reach if 'good will' exists

Iran’s foreign minister said on Monday that a nuclear deal can be finalized within six months if there is “good will” and that he’s not worried about the possibility that the U.S. may impose new sanctions.

The new remarks from Mohammad Javad Zarif came in a speech to the German Council on Foreign Relations. “With good will we can reach an agreement within six months,” he said. “I don’t fear a decision in the U.S. Congress … The U.S. president has promised to veto it.”

In his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama said he would veto any legislation passed by Congress that threatened the negotiations with Iran. Some U.S. senators have co-sponsored a bill that would set new economic sanctions on Iran if the current talks fail. The bill is currently stalled, but Iran has said it would pull back from the negotiating table it the bill becomes law.

On Sunday, Zarif met with Secretary of State John Kerry and representatives other world powers working with Iran to secure a deal. He said the Islamic Republic was committed to moving forward with negotiations in order to reach a “balanced” long-term agreement: “I think the opportunity is there, and I think we need to seize it.”

A preliminary deal for Iran to scale back its nuclear program in return for an easing of crippling economic sanctions was reached in November under the stipulation that a more final resolution would be negotiated within the six months that followed.



Report: Corruption Costs E.U. Over $162 Billion A Year

The Headquarters of EU in Brussels, Belgium.
The headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. Getty Images

Three out of four Europeans think corruption is widespread, finds report

A first-of-its-kind report issued by the European Union on Monday found that corruption across 28 member states costs the EU economy $162.19 billion a year.

The EU Anti-Corruption Report found that 76% of Europeans think corruption is widespread and 56% say the level of corruption in their own country has risen over the past three years. The report notes that many member nations have taken steps in recent years to battle petty or institutional corruption, but that results aren’t even across the states.

“Corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the result of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue,” said European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in a statement on Monday. “Member states have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s report shows that it is far from enough.”

Despite its finding that graft is endemic throughout the E.U., the report found that Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden are among the most transparent and least corrupt. Countries that need improvement include Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Spain, said the report.

TIME South Africa

Mandela Left $4.1 Million In Will

APTOPIX South Africa Mandela Mourning
A military honor guard lines the route for former South African president Nelson Madela's funeral procession as it makes its way to his final resting place in his home village of Qunu on Dec. 15, 2013. Elmond Jiyane / AP

Estate to be distributed to family, staff, former schools and the African National Congress

Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, left behind a will worth at least $4.1 million with instructions to distribute it among family, staff, former schools and the African National Congress.

The executive director of the 40-page will, Dikgang Moseneke, told reporters Monday that the document was read to Mandela’s relatives earlier in the day. Moseneke said the “provisional inventory” was worth $4.1 million but that it could change when it’s looked at more carefully. He didn’t yet know of any contestation to the will’s provisions.

Reuters reports that Mandela’s estate includes an upscale home in Johannesburg, a more modest house in the Eastern Cape province and proceeds from book sales.

Mandela died on Dec. 5 aged 95. He was buried 10 days later in his home village of Qunu.


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