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BUSINESS | News in Brief:

REBTEL: Free Calling to China, Myanmar Disaster Areas | HSBC: Buys Broker | AMERICAN AIRLINES: Chicago-Tokyo | METLIFE: Tips on Retirement

REBTEL: Free Calling to China, Myanmar Disaster Areas

Mobile phone company Rebtel offered free calls to China and Myanmar May 15-22 to assist friends and relatives to reach people in those countries affected by a devastating earthquake in China and Hurricane Nargis in Myanmar, according to an announcement by Rebtel.

People who signed up at http://www.rebtel.com entered their mobile number and their friend’s mobile number in China or Myanmar.

Rebtel gave the person a local number where he/she lived to reach his/her friend.

Just by dialing the local phone number, the person could now speak with his/her friend in China or Myanmar

The service was made available in 47 countries (http://www.rebtel.com/en/Rates/Rebtel-countries/)

Rebtel is a global calling service for individuals and business. With Rebtel it’s possible to call any phone, anywhere in the world, for just pennies per minute. Rebtel’s services can be used with any mobile phone without modification or software downloads. There is no charge to set up a Rebtel account. No monthly fees, no connection fees and no hidden costs. Anyone may make a free 10 minute call to test the service. Thereafter, customers only pay for the minutes they use. Smart Calls between the 47 countries served by Rebtel are always free and only one of the two people on a call have to be a Rebtel customer. For more information, or to start using Rebtel services, go to http://www.rebtel.com.


HSBC: Buys Broker

Global banking giant HSBC said May 17 it will acquire 73.21 percent of Indian brokerage IL&FS Investsmart in an all-cash deal for $261 million to boost its presence in the growing domestic market.

“This investment is of strategic importance to HSBC as it gives us a foothold in one of the largest retail broking markets in the world,” Sandy Flockhart, chief executive officer of HSBC Asia Pacific, said in a statement.

HSBS said it will also pay Mumbai-based IL&FS an additional $19.4 million as part of a three-year non-compete agreement and will soon make an open offer to acquire up to 20 percent of the remaining shares.

HSBC’s open offer is subject to regulatory and other approval, the e-mailed statement said.

Mumbai-based IL&FS Investsmart has 2,000 employees and provides various financial services such as equity and commodity broking, investment banking and fund distribution to 138,000 customers in 133 cities.

HSBC, via its subsidiaries, will acquire 43.85 percent from E*Trade Mauritius Limited, a unit of U.S. online brokerage firm E*Trade Financial Corp (ETFC.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and a 29.36 percent from Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) for $241.6 million or 200 rupees per share, it said in a statement.



On May 1, 1998, an American Airlines MD-11 took flight from O’Hare International Airport, touching down nearly 13 hours later at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport — the first nonstop service offered by American between the two cities.  Ten years later, the Boeing 777 aircraft has long since replaced the MD-11, but the route continues to be integral to American’s international schedule.

“It is truly exciting to reach this milestone,” said Loretta Kuss, American’s director of passenger sales in Chicago.  “We are extremely proud of our international growth at O’Hare, with a network that spans four continents.”

Currently, American Airlines and American Eagle offer a total of 500 flights a day to 120 destinations from Chicago O’Hare, one of the world’s major airports.

One addition on Chicago-Tokyo flights is the introduction of American’s next-generation Business Class cabin in all of its Boeing 777s.  Features of the new Business Class include: innovative lie-flat seats, personal in-flight entertainment systems with on-demand audio and video, and an improved cabin design with power ports and increased lighting.  By the summer of 2008, all American Airlines flights on this route will be updated with the new Business Class cabin amenities.

Since the Chicago-Tokyo route began, American Airlines service has included Japanese-speaking crew members and specialized menu items. More recently, American — with assistance from employees in Japan, flight attendants, and in conjunction with Gate Gourmet International — expanded its menu options for flights between the United States and Japan that feature both Japanese- and Western-inspired selections.

One example of the Japanese-inspired entrées includes a kobachi dish of grilled eel and Japanese cucumber salad topped with yam paste and salmon roe, garnished with seaweed flakes and ginger julienne, a hassun dish of broiled Atka mackerel, Japanese-style egg omelette, shrimp ceviche with papaya and vegetable relish, with salmon roe in a cherry tomato cup and braised broad beans.

“It’s been a great 10 years, with so many innovations in the air and on the ground,” Kuss said.

“We look forward to the future, as we continue to offer our  customers new destinations, greater convenience, and the access and flexibility they count on from American.”


METLIFE: Tips on Retirement

With tax season coming to a close and rebate checks making their way to consumers, this is a great time to think about how the extra money can be used to begin planning for retirement, said an announcement from insurance company MetLife.

An Individual Retirement Account is one of many options MetLife offers clients when helping them plan for retirement and build financial freedom. Below are summaries of the different types of IRAs available to consumers: 

Traditional IRAs are generally funded with deductible contributions (provided certain income limitations are met). The owner will not be subject to current income tax on the money he or she invests — or the earnings (e.g., interest, dividends, sales of stock, etc.) generated on that money. The owner will not be taxed until the funds are withdrawn, which is usually at retirement. If the funds are withdrawn before age 59 ½, a tax penalty may apply. Withdrawals will be taxed as ordinary income. Based on federal income tax rules, IRA holders must begin to receive certain required minimum distributions from their IRAs by April 1 of the year after they reach 70 ½.

Roth IRA contributions can be made with after-tax dollars (subject to certain income limitations). Spousal IRA contributions can be made for a spouse who does not work (subject to certain income limitations).

Education IRA or Coverdell Education Savings Account contributions can be made with after-tax dollars for beneficiaries under the age of 18 (subject to certain income limitations). The earnings (e.g., interest, dividends, sales of stock, etc.) generated on such contributions are not subject to current federal income tax. The earnings are also not subject to federal income tax when they are distributed, provided they are used to pay for certain education expenses of the beneficiary. 

IRA-Based Retirement Plans. In addition to IRA plans that an individual might set up, some employers may have established IRA-based retirement plans for employees. Employer contributions to these plans enhance retirement savings.



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Free Binayak Sen:
Global Support for a Rights Activist

A pediatrician and internationally acclaimed rights activist in Chhattisgarh is languishing in jail without trial, writes Ranjitha Moorthy.

Straw Bale Homes:

A relief group says homes made from compressed straw bales can be a much safer alternative for earthquake ravaged parts of Pakistan, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.

Smithsonian’s Exquisite Exhibit of Mughal Art
The Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., has brought together 86 jewel-like masterpieces of Mughal art. A Siliconeer report.

Donate to Seva Ghana,
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EDITORIAL: A Prisoner of Conscience
AWARD: Intel Whiz Kids
SUBCONTINENT: A Monopoly on Violence
SUBCONTINENT: The Climate Challenge
GEOPOLITICS: The Barbarity of Aerial Bombing
HISTORY: ‘Komagata Maru’
PERFORMANCE: Srikanto Acharya
DIARY: From Ghana with Love
AWARD: Naranji Patel Honored
CINEMA: L.A. Film Festival
SPORTS: Sania Mirza to Play in San Francisco Bay Area
AUTO REVIEW: 2008 Toyota Avalon
TRAVEL: A Trip to Asia - The Cathay Experience
FESTIVAL: Berkeley Food Fest
CINEMA: ‘Blind Ambition’
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Bhoothnath
TAMIL CINEMA: Yaradi Nee Mohini
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
BUSINESS: News Briefs
RECIPE: Pasta Delight

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