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YAKIMA, Wash. ? A Spokane police officer used his badge as a license to brutally beat an unarmed citizen who posed no threat, then continued to disgrace his badge by constructing a web of lies to cover his actions, federal prosecutors said Monday during closing arguments.

Officer Karl Thompson has pleaded not guilty to using excessive force in the death of Otto Zehm, a 36-year-old schizophrenic man. The case has sparked heated criticism of police and city officials and demands for reform, to the point that pretrial publicity forced the trial to be moved from Spokane to Yakima.

Zehm died two days after the encounter in a Zip Trip convenience store on March 18, 2006. Thompson is not accused of killing him, but rather with violating the man’s civil rights by using excessive force and lying about the encounter to investigators.

On what would have been Zehm’s 42nd birthday, U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Victor Boutros told jurors that they can show no one is above the law, and that no one gets special attention ? not even police officers.

“The defendant abused the power entrusted to him as a police officer by carrying out a brutal and defenseless attack. He counted on the police department to whitewash his conduct,” he said. “Don’t let him minimize the fear and terror and panic he inflicted on Mr. Zehm.”

Defense attorneys were to deliver their closing arguments later Monday. They have said Thompson, 64, used his police training and experience to make a split-second decision to protect himself and the public.

Thompson has claimed that Zehm struggled and fought with him and that those actions that were not reflected in a store surveillance video of the incident because shelves and counters were in the way.

Zehm was the subject of a police search after two teenagers reported that he might have stolen money at an ATM, though it was later revealed that Zehm had done nothing wrong.

Thompson was the first officer to respond and found Zehm entering the store. The surveillance video shows Thompson rushing up to Zehm, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly striking him with a police baton. He claimed that he struck Zehm when the man ignored commands to stop and drop a bottle.

The video shows that four seconds passed between when Zehm appeared to recognize the officer and the first baton strike.

According to police, officers later hogtied and sat on Zehm. He died two days later without regaining consciousness. A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and said Zehm died from lack of oxygen to the brain due to heart failure while being restrained on his stomach.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle has prohibited prosecutors from telling the jury that Zehm was innocent on the night of the confrontation.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/crime/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111031/ap_on_re_us/us_spokane_police_beating

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Palaszewski pulls big upset on Griffin with nasty KO at UFC 137

LAS VEGAS – Hands be damned. Bart Palaszewski thought he may have broken his hands, but when he had the chance to pound out Tyson Griffin, he went for broke.

Palaszewski scored a vicious knockout of Griffin at the 2:45 mark of the first round at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The former WEC fighter was a plus-260 underdog.

“It was an emotional fight for me. It took 10 years to get here and it was a long road. Now that I’m here, I’m here to stay. My strength hasn’t gone done, but my speed has gone up. I saw him stumble and I saw my opportunity so I took a deep breath and went after him,” said Palaszewski.

Griffin is now 1-1 back down at featherweight. With a close loss to Sean Sherk at UFC 90 back in 2008, the 27-year-old climbed near the top of the mountain at lightweight. Since then, his career has been derailed by weight issues, injuries and bad knockouts. Tonight, he experienced another low.

[Related: UFC 137: Penn, 'Cro Cop' set to retire after losses]

Griffin and Palaszewski circled for the first few minutes. Palaszewski was effective with the jab and a few front kicks. Griffin tried to counter with the overhand right.

With 2:30 left, Palaszewski (36-14) landed a left hook that changed the fight and backed it up with another left that sent Griffin bouncing to his knees. A shaken Griffin jumped up and Palaszewski hopped on him. He unloaded 18 straight punches. Several right hands softened him up before another right got Griffin to drop his hands. Palaszewski landed a three-punch combo that included two hard lefts. Griffin went down and was out of it.

Griffin (15-6, 8-6 UFC) has now lost 4-of-5. He returned to featherweight in June with a fight at UFC on Versus 5. He won a decision that night against Manny Gamburyan.

For this one, he didn’t do himself any favors by missing weight by four pounds yesterday. He was fined 25 percent of his purse.

The Palaszewski knockout is the only candidate right now for the Knockout of the Night bonus. At most of the previous UFC pay-per-views, the awards have been $75,000. This was Palaszewski’s first win in the UFC. Fighting for the WEC, Zuffa’s smaller promotion, he posted a 4-3 record.

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
? Video: What happens when Ron Washington and ‘Flashdance’ collide?
? Boxing rankings: Stars not helping with confusion of catch weights
? Cardinals win World Series the easy way | Highlights

Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/mma/blog/cagewriter/post/Palaszewski-pulls-big-upset-on-Griffin-with-nast?urn=mma-wp8711

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How to Be Your Own Therapist and Solve the More Manageable Problems in Your LifeTherapy is no doubt a helpful tool when you have problems to overcome, and one of the primary strategies therapists use to uncover and solve your issues involves identifying common behavioral patterns. But you don’t always need a therapist to recognize and correct an unhealthy pattern in your life. Here’s a primer for how you can solve the problems that don’t require professional help.

The world is good at creating patterns and we have an innate ability for picking them up. As we grow, our experience becomes a giant database of information and we make associations between similar events and occurrences as a way of understanding the world. While recognizing these patterns can be an incredibly helpful tool for solving our own issues, we’re much better at recognizing them in others than we are in ourselves. We also have a tendency to see patterns where we want to see them, even when they aren’t really there. We enlist the help of therapists because they’re trained to connect the behavioral dots, but with a little work we can hone our pattern recognition skills and solve many of our own problems. In this post we’ll give you a basic introduction to how pattern recognition works, how you can use it to investigate your issues, and what you need to watch our for so you don’t identify any patterns incorrectly.

The Basics of Pattern Recognition

How to Be Your Own Therapist and Solve the More Manageable Problems in Your LifeAlthough pattern recognition is something we inherently understand, the way it works is a little more complex. One of the earliest patterns we learn to see is the structure of language. You may have heard that we can read jumbled words just fine so long as the first and last letters are in their proper place. This is possible because we recognize a few patterns. First, we know what we’re used to seeing. If my name were typed “Aadm”, most of us would recognize that as “Adam” despite the misspelling. We do because there is no “Aadm” and our brain simply corrects the name to the spelling we’re accustomed to seeing. Additionally, the context of other words makes it possible to detect misplaced letters. For example, both “from” and “form” are words, but if I said “I just got back form the grocery store” you would likely know I meant “from” instead of “form”. Relationship and family therapist Roger S. Gil explains how this happens naturally as we learn to read:

When we learn to read, we are essentially learning to recognize patterns. At first, we look at the set of lines drawn on the paper and eventually build a template that says “that pattern of lines on the paper represents a character/letter”. Once we’ve scene that pattern (i.e. character/letter) enough times, we can begin to focus on using those templates to recognize a new type of pattern: words. When we first learn a word, we often try to read it phonetically by calling upon the existing pattern templates in our memory for the letters. If we are able to sound out the word, and if it represents a word we already have in our spoken vocabulary, then we have now built a template for letters arranged in that particular order. In time, we build up a database of thousands of templates/words that we can call upon whenever our eyes come across a word we’ve already seen, rather than trying to process the word as an unfamiliar grouping of letters every time it’s shown to us. This frees our brain up to do other things like processing the idea represented by the words on the page.

This same phenomenon works in virtually the same way with many other things, including the big and small events in our lives. We learn the meaning of a particular occurrence, then how context can adjust its meaning, and finally what a repeat of that occurrence dictates about the action we should take when it presents itself.

Find Your Patterns to Solve Your Problems

How to Be Your Own Therapist and Solve the More Manageable Problems in Your LifeWhen you go to a therapist, they’re often on the lookout for patterns in your life that you’re not necessarily seeing. You might seek help to solve your anxiety issues, for example, but being anxious is just a symptom. While generic methods can be used to help, you need to actually get to the root of the problem to solve it. That’s where patterns can be of great assistance. I asked doctoral clinical psychology student Brian Newton how therapists generally solve the mystery of why a patient is having a particular issue. He suggested answering a few questions (and we’ll continue using anxiety as the example):

  • What makes you feel anxious?
  • Where do you feel anxious?
  • When do you feel anxious?
  • Who makes you feel anxious?

Answering these questions can help you reveal the pattern. Continuing with the example, if large groups make you anxious, parties make you feel uncomfortable, you feel awkward when you’re out to dinner with a large group, and loud personalities make you feel especially uncomfortable, you have an obvious pattern of having anxiety around outgoing people.

How to Be Your Own Therapist and Solve the More Manageable Problems in Your LifeThis is a straightforward issue, but the same questions work well with something lacking clarity. Let’s say that your specific problem is that you can’t stop biting your nails. You don’t like biting your nails, but you feel compelled to do it. Here’s how answering these questions can point to a pattern:

  • What makes you feel like biting your nails? When I’m bored, hungry, or feel like they’re uneven and I want to even them out.
  • Where do you feel like biting your nails? Anywhere. The location doesn’t matter. I’d prefer to do it where no one can see, but I’ll still do it in front of people.
  • When do you feel like biting your nails? Early in the morning and towards/during the evening.
  • Who makes you feel like biting your nails? Nobody.

When your situations are more specific, you often have to ask why in relation to your answers. You also have to look for correlations between things that don’t seem a like. In the answer to the first question, the subject is biting his or her nails for three distinct reasons. When things don’t seem similar, you want to figure out why they are. Here, you could ask yourself if hunger is ever paired with the other two circumstances, or if boredom tends to bring on other obsessive-compulsive behavior. In this case, we know the nail biting problem isn’t anxiety-related and no other person is causing it. That’s not a pattern. What may be, however, is the timing. This person bites his or her nails more in the morning and the evening, which are generally the times of day when we’re the hungriest. This suggests a path to explore. Is this person’s diet creating unwanted behavior and bad habits? We don’t know for certain, but answering those questions provides us with a starting point and an actual solution to try: substitute nail biting with food or chewing gum to see if it provides the same effect.

How to Be Your Own Therapist and Solve the More Manageable Problems in Your LifeThese are just a couple of examples of how finding patterns can help point to ways you can solve your problems, but essentially the process can be distilled down to the following steps:

  1. Interrogate yourself like you’re a journalist. Ask the who, what, where, when, and why questions about your problem.
  2. Cross-reference your answer to each question to look for similarities. If you’re having trouble seeing them, start comparing the seemingly different answers and ask yourself how they might relate to each other.
  3. When you find relationships and patterns in your answers, consider ways to replace your unwanted behavior with a better one or work your way up to becoming more content with the things that make you uncomfortable.
  4. Be patient. Figuring out the problem is a lot easier than implementing a solution. Changing behavior takes time and perserverance. Figuring out the problem and deciding to fix it are both important steps, but they’re only useful if you put them to good use.

You should also recognize that you’re going to be less-inclined to point out an issue when that issue is you. We don’t love being wrong or making poor choices, but we all do it from time to time (if not often). If you can’t find a pattern in your behavior, sometimes it can help to show it to a friend who can look at the situation without your own, personal bias. If you have more severe issues, however, you’ll want to see a professional for help. While it’s often good to solve problems on your own, there’s nothing wrong with getting help when you need it.

Photo by marekuliasz and Elena Stepanova

Ignore Vague Patterns to Avoid Unwanted Problems

How to Be Your Own Therapist and Solve the More Manageable Problems in Your Life The primary downside to our pattern recognition abilities is that we can often see patterns where none really exist at all. This is often the root of unwarranted phobias, conspiracy theories, undeserved blame, and plenty of other awful issues. Because are brains are so adept at pointing out similarities, and it’s exciting to feel like we’ve suddenly solved a puzzle, we often deceive ourselves into believing a pattern exists. Furthermore, we tend to prescribe meaning to these patterns just as if it were as clear as the common patterns in language. We often see these patterns as some sort of divine intervention, but they’re not. They’re either random or they’re perfectly logical. You’re leading yourself towards a problem when you believe otherwise.

For example, when I meet another person named Adam they usually think it’s neat that we have the same name. If we’re the same age, it’s no longer just neat but some kind of amazing coincidence. If we have an interest in common, the forces of nature intended us to meet. Clearly this was destiny. Except that between 1983 and 1984, there was no other time in recorded US history when Adam was a more popular name. Basically, if you’re 27 years old at the time of this writing and your name is Adam, you’re not that unique. The problem is, once we start to see a few patterns we like to believe something incredible is happening. It’s not, and this is the sort of mistake that leads to bad decisions and ignore the many more differences that likely exist.

Just like there is no magic to the false patterns we pull out of everyday life, there’s no simple solution to preventing our brains from causing this problem. We’ll always want to see the little miracles of life, even if they aren’t there. In the moment, doing so makes us happy. In the long run, however, it can cause problems so it is important to keep a critical eye when the elation of common circumstance overcomes you. All you need to do is a little research on your circumstances to figure out if you’re ignoring difference or if you’ve started to detect a real pattern. Sometimes exciting patterns do exist, but if you keep recognizing them incorrectly you might grow too cynical and miss a real one when it comes along. For these reasons, it’s important to recognize patterns accurately and use them to help you, rather than cling to them during the times when they point out primarily what you want to see.

Title photo remixed from an original by Shpilko Dimitriy (Shutterstock) and IZO (Shutterstock)


A big thanks goes out to Roger S. Gil, M.A.M.F.T. and Brian Newton, MA, for their integral contributions to this post. You can follow Roger on Twitter and check out his podcast.

You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Twitter’s the best way to contact him, too.

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/lifehacker/full/~3/Dgde9Kd62S8/how-to-be-your-own-therapist-and-solve-the-more-manageable-problems-in-your-life

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MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) ? A surfer is hospitalized after being attacked by a shark off a California beach.?

A California newspaper says ?27-year-old Eric Tarantino was attacked Saturday morning while surfing with a friend at Marina State Beach in Monterey County.

The shark bit Tarantino on the neck and forearm shortly after the two men entered the water.

The newspaper reports Tarantino’s friend helped him out of the water, and other surfers used beach towels to try to stop his bleeding.

Authorities say the Monterey man was taken to a local airport by paramedics and flown to a San Jose hospital.

His condition wasn’t known, but a state parks official says his injuries didn’t appear to be life-threatening.

The newspaper reports the shark took a 19-inch chunk out of Tarantino’s red surfboard.

?2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Source: http://www.9wsyr.com:80/news/national/story/Surfer-recovering-after-shark-attack-in-California/f7xR4TI440OqmtBrxBuUjQ.cspx?rss=114

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LAS VEGAS ? A Las Vegas man who helped federal prosecutors convict an active-duty Navy SEAL of selling war weapons and machine guns from Iraq in the U.S. was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

Omar Aguirre, 36, apologized to U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas and blamed his participation in the weapons trafficking conspiracy on an acute addiction to painkillers that he said he has been working to overcome.

Aguirre said therapy he has received since his arrest almost a year ago also helped him deal with the effects of childhood molestation.

“I know I’m going to be locked up,” he told the judge. “But at least in my mind and heart and soul, I’m free.”

Aguirre and two other men pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors in a case that led a federal jury to find Petty Officer Nicholas Bickle guilty earlier this month of 13 federal conspiracy, weapons, machine gun and explosives charges.

Bickle, 34, of San Diego, headed the weapons selling scheme, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and federal prosecutors. He could face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines at sentencing Feb. 3, but sentencing guidelines are expected to get him a prison sentence of less than 20 years. He also faces discharge from the military.

Aguirre pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to conspiracy to sell firearms without a license. Prosecutor Timothy Vasquez told Hunt on Friday that Aguirre kept his promise to help investigate and prosecute Bickle.

Hunt sentenced Aguirre to the statutory maximum, ordered him to serve three years of supervised release after prison, and allowed him to remain free until Jan. 6.

Two other former co-defendants who cooperated with prosecutors are scheduled for sentencing Jan. 6.

Richard Paul, 35, of Durango, Colo., faces 15 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty in January to conspiracy and explosives transport charges. ATF agents reported finding five pounds of military C-4 explosives at his home.

Andrew Kaufman, 37, of Las Vegas, faces five years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine. He pleaded guilty last December to conspiracy and illegal transfer of a machine gun charges.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/crime/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111028/ap_on_re_us/us_weapons_conspiracy_navy_seal

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KINSHASA (Reuters) ? A child was shot dead by police during clashes between supporters of rival political camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of next month’s election, the government and the United Nations said Saturday.

Police intervened after supporters of presidential challenger Etienne Tshisekedi clashed with a group loyal to incumbent Joseph Kabila Friday in the city of Mbuji-Mayi, a Tshisekedi stronghold in Kasai Orientale province.

“Police fired in the air and a young girl was hit, it’s a real shame,” General Charles Bisengimana, the chief of police, told Reuters by telephone. He did not give the girl’s age.

Three others were injured in the violence and running clashes between rival camps continued into Saturday in the city in central Congo, according to Mounoubai Madnodje, spokesman for the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in the country.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused the opposition of deliberately provoking the police but said the security forces needed to act “more professionally,” adding that one policeman had been arrested following the death.

The offices of Tshisekedi’s UDPS party in the capital Kinshasa were also attacked Saturday afternoon by armed men in jeeps, according to Jacquemain Shabani Lukoo, secretary general of the party.

Congo’s November 28 presidential election will be the second since the country emerged from a brutal civil war that left millions dead, and experts have warned that the poll could spark off renewed violence.

Kabila is favorite to be re-elected despite losing considerable support over his failure to tackle corruption or bring total peace to the country, still haunted by rebel groups in its eastern jungles.

Tshisekedi, a veteran opposition politician, is seen as his closest rival, with strong support in the Kasai provinces and in the capital Kinshasa.

Congo’s minerals riches have drawn billions of dollars in foreign investment, though developments has been held back by continued violence in parts of the country and worries over contract security.

(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Richard Valdmanis)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111029/wl_nm/us_congo_democratic_clashes

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Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch, front left, mimics Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) after sacking him during the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, AAron Ontiveroz) MAGAZINES OUT; TV OUT; NO SALES; NO INTERNET (MEMBERS ONLY)

Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch, front left, mimics Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) after sacking him during the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, AAron Ontiveroz) MAGAZINES OUT; TV OUT; NO SALES; NO INTERNET (MEMBERS ONLY)

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) is upended by Detroit Lions free safety Louis Delmas (26) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) raises himself off the ground after being tackled by the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) gets up off the turf after being tackled by the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) walks off the field after the Broncos lost 45-10 to the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

They were Tebowing in Israel and Australia, from on top of horses and on the bottom of swimming pools. Protesters on Wall Street paused to make a pose, and so did someone underneath the billowing dress of Marilyn Monroe’s statue in Chicago.

There were Tebowing babies, Tebowing dogs and even a Tebowing surfer.

And on Sunday there was Tim Tebow himself on one knee before the Denver Broncos played the Detroit Lions, striking the prayerful pose that has become an online sensation.

The craze was good for a few laughs. Watching Tebow play was enough to make Denver fans want to cry.

They chanted for weeks to give him the ball. They rode a wave of euphoria when he finally did get his chance and somehow pulled off a late comeback from 15 points down against Miami.

And, then, in his first start at home this season, all they could do was watch in silence as Tebow showed what most in the NFL suspected ? that he isn’t nearly ready for prime time.

Unfortunately for Tebowers everywhere, he may never be.

The hope was that Tebow would start to begin feeling comfortable in an offense the Broncos tweaked to show off his talents. The reality was he looked as lost as he did the first 55 minutes against the Dolphins, except this time there would be no chance of a comeback.

The Denver faithful were already filing out of the stadium by the time Tebow threw an interception that was returned 100 yards for Detroit’s final touchdown in a 45-10 romp that was even more lopsided than the final score indicated. Good thing, because they might have been tempted to boo the offensive ineptitude of their men in orange, and they have way too much invested emotionally in Tebow to begin booing him now.

It wasn’t just the ugliness of the day, though, that had to bother Denver fans most. It was the realization that Tebow is such a work in progress that it may be years, not games, before he ever begins to pay any dividends.

John Elway acknowledged almost as much before the game, telling ESPN that Tebow was raw yet had the kind of intangibles that makes winners in the NFL.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to look at his football ability and is that going to give us the ability next year, two years, three years, four years down the line to be competitive and compete for a world championship,” said the former Broncos star who now runs the team’s football operations.

Elway got a good look, assuming he didn’t avert his eyes as a day that began somewhat promisingly for Tebow quickly turned ugly. It probably won’t be the last look, because the way Denver’s season is going there’s no reason to trot Kyle Orton out there again.

But Elway couldn’t have liked anything he saw.

Tebow’s mechanics looked terrible, his passes even worse. He held onto the ball too long, and the Lions weren’t about to let him make a mark with his feet. He was sacked seven times, and his two turnovers were both converted into touchdowns.

No need to bore you with any more stats because the numbers don’t even come close to explaining just how bad things got in a game that was over well before halftime.

About the only positive was both Tebow and his teammates were still playing hard long after any chance to win the game had passed.

“It’s very disappointing,” Tebow said. “But this is going to test us and our integrity and character. We’ll bounce back and have a great week of practice and get ready to go try and get a win next week.”

That would be on the road against Oakland, a game in which the Broncos have little choice than start Tebow. They made the mistake of caving into fan pressure by making him the starter last week in Miami, and giving up this quickly would be a de facto admission of that mistake.

The question then becomes, are the Broncos willing to give up the entire season on the hope that Tebow will grow into a legitimate NFL quarterback? Do they need that long to figure out the future of a player who, though great in college, has shown no indication he will even rise to mediocrity as a pro?

Or are they content to trot him out there week after week because he’s become a celebrity figure that a lot of people really like?

Indeed, while Tebow’s NFL pedigree may be suspect, his celebrity pedigree isn’t. So many people were paying homage to Tebow in the last week that the website Tebowing.com was overwhelmed with pictures from around the globe with creative takes on his moment of prayer.

None were any more creative, though, than Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who struck his own prayerful pose after knocking Tebow to the ground in the first quarter.

Proof enough that even a bad day for Tebow is still a good day for Tebowing.

____

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or follow at http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/347875155d53465d95cec892aeb06419/Article_2011-10-30-FBN-Tim-Dahlberg-103011/id-e1262e03e2964a63a093a6ba0b6dd463

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) ? Google Inc is making another push to bring its Web savvy to television sets, hoping to tap into a vast new market despite consumers’ lukewarm reaction to its initial offering.

The Internet search engine unveiled a revamped version of its Google TV service on Friday, bringing new features aimed at making the product easier-to-use and more appealing to consumers.

The new 2.0 version of Google TV provides new tools for recommending movies, TV programs and online videos to TV viewers, and makes it easier for software developers to create new apps for the television screen.

“There’s a lot of thirst for using the Web in the living room,” said Google Product Management VP Mario Queiroz, who is leading the Google TV initiative.

But in a sign of the many challenges that have frustrated Google’s ambitions to conquer the living room, as well as those of other tech companies including Apple Inc, Queiroz described Google TV as a “long-term bet.”

“I don’t know what exact month this will take off,” he told Reuters during a demonstration of the new product at Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters last week. “I do think there’s been a lot of progress over the past year and this next year there will be a lot more progress.”

Google TV — which currently comes built-in on certain Sony Corp television models and on Logitech International set-top boxes — allows consumers to access online videos and websites on their TVs, as well as to play with specialized apps such as video games.

Google does not disclose how many users it has for Google TV, which was launched with great fanfare last year. But some analysts say that version 1.0 of the product has been a flop.

“The fire they were trying to start never even got a spark,” said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.

The $299 price for the least-expensive Google TV device was too high, said McQuivey (Logitech has since reduced the price of its device to $100). And the fact that many of the television networks, perhaps sensing a threat from Google, blocked the Web-based versions of their shows from being accessible on Google TV devices created confusion among consumers, he said.

But TV is too attractive a market for Google to ignore, say analysts.

For Google, which generated 96 percent of its revenue from advertising last year, television represents a significant opportunity for expansion. According to industry research firm IDC, television advertising in the U.S. this year is expected to be a nearly $70 billion market.

Having a foothold in the living room could also be important for Google as the lines between traditional media and the Internet blur and as Google moves to bolster the rich trove of amateur videos on its YouTube website with professionally-produced content.

Other tech powerhouses also recognize the TV opportunity, including Microsoft Corp, which has taken steps to turn its Xbox video game console into a general-purpose media player.

In the newly-released biography of Steve Jobs, author Walter Isaacson relates a conversation in which the recently-deceased Apple co-founder said he was interested in creating an “integrated television set” that seamlessly connected with the Internet and with all of a consumer’s electronic devices. So far analysts say that Apple’s foray into the TV market has been a rare failure for the iPhone maker.

“The reason these companies have all been eyeing this market is that there’s not that many markets that are 200 million plus units a year and have an installed base of a billion plus screens,” said IDC analyst Danielle Levitas, referring to global sales of TV sets. “You can’t ignore markets that big, on screens that are that important in terms of hours spent and media delivered.”

THE MOTOROLA FACTOR

One advantage that Google could have in the TV market is its planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc, which makes cable television set-top boxes as well as mobile phones.

“If I were Google, the first thing I would do is put (the Google TV software) into the next round of Motorola set-top boxes and say (to the cable providers) ‘We’ll give you half-off for these things, if you put Google TV in,’” said McQuivey of Forrester Research.

Google’s Queiroz declined to discuss how Motorola might fit into the Google TV plans other than to note that Google has said it plans to run Motorola as a separate business after the acquisition closes.

Beginning on Sunday, Google will automatically upgrade the software on existing Sony Google TV devices that are already in consumers’ homes, with software updates to Logitech coming shortly thereafter. New Google TV devices, from manufacturers including Samsung and Vizio, are expected next year.

Google has built Google TV on the new “Honeycomb” version of its Android operating system. The company has also redesigned the look of Google TV, replacing the cluttered, computer-like screen full of options with a more minimalist strip of graphical icons that sits at the bottom of the TV screen.

Google’s Android Market, the central clearinghouse for the smartphone and tablet apps designed to run on the Android operating system, will now be available on Google TV. That means software developers that make smartphone applications, such as Rovio’s Angry Birds, will easily be able to offer versions that run on Google TV.

But in contrast to Internet-connected smartphones, which have become incredibly popular in recent years, Web TV products from Google and other companies face a steep road as they strive to prove their worth to consumers, say some analysts.

“It’s an incredibly difficult screen to figure out,” said IDC’s Levitas, noting that unlike with smartphones and PCs, a TV is often viewed by multiple people at the same time and has two disparate experiences — standard television programing and Web content — that need to be cleverly tied together.

“The TV is going to be the last frontier we crack in terms of the connected experience,” said Levitas.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Bernard Orr)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/internet/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111028/tc_nm/us_google_tv

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