Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Edible bug industry hopes crickets and kin are the next sushi

DETROIT Just like raw tuna is a favorite of foodies everywhere, Robert Nathan Allen foresees a day when crickets will make their way onto consumers' plates. A growing need for more food sources as well as a desire to treat animals more humanely have proponents predicting entomophagy, or eating insects, will eventually spread more heavily to western and developed countries. They envision pancakes made with cricket flour or falafel chocked full of mealworm goodness will be just as desirable as sushi."Sushi took 30, 40 years to really become a normal thing, but kale took like five years and kale's not even very tasty," said Allen, head of Austin, Texas-based Little Herds, a nonprofit founded to educate the public on the nutritional and environmental benefits of edible insects. Allen and about 150 others are gathering at Wayne State University in Detroit through Saturday to talk about edible bugs and how to grow the nascent industry. The conference is being billed as the first of its kind in the United States.They want to overcome what one speaker called the "yuck factor," a feeling shared by many in the United States and other developed countries. From ants and beetle larvae eaten by tribes in Africa to crispy-fried locusts enjoyed in Thailand, almost 2,000 insect species are dined on by about two billion people globally today, according to a 2013 United Nations report. With the world's population growth indicating food production will need to almost double by 2050, people need to check their revulsion and give bugs a second look, the report said. Since food scientist Lee Cadesky envisions a huge food sector over time, he and his brother founded C-fu Foods in Toronto, an ingredient company that makes meat, dairy and egg alternatives from insects. Under the brand name One Hop Kitchen, they will launch this week the sale of two kinds of insect Bolognese pasta sauce made with mealworms and crickets as the stand in for the traditional ground beef ingredient. Cadesky said it fooled most consumers in taste tests at food trade shows.Edible bugs are already gaining traction with niche markets like those wanting a gluten free diet or wanting to better protect the environment because farming insects uses less land, water and feed, and results in lower greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions, industry officials said. Bugs also offer higher protein than other meat alternatives like soy or even some meats, they said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration demands edible bug products are safe for human consumption, including farmed rather than harvested from the wild due to contamination risks, Allen said. Products with bugs also must clearly be labeled as such and carry allergy warnings given many bugs share the same genetic characteristics as shellfish.However, the industry remains in its infancy. Five years ago, few products or bug farms existed, and even now the numbers are small. The money invested only totals in the millions of dollars due to further regulatory uncertainty, Allen said. To help the cause, attendees will gather Saturday to form an industry trade group to better promote the industry's interests and urge more clear federal regulations. "We know there's a lot of hurdles, but our message resonates," Allen told attendees at the conference on Thursday."The public wants something," he added. "They just don't know it's us yet."Conference organizer Julie Lesnik, an assistant professor of anthropology, said entomophagy was not a fad given the practice's long history, but the industry needs to sell itself better.To that end, one attendee's T-shirt carried this message: "Crickets are the new kale." (Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Diane Craft)

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New York art students mold clay into faces of city's nameless

NEW YORK When Amy Pekal signed up for the New York Academy of Art to hone her skills as a sculptor, she never thought she would end up assisting in a police investigation.Yet the 22-year-old student from Brooklyn and about a dozen of her classmates are doing just that by helping anthropologists at New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner identify nameless corpses that have gone unclaimed, sometimes for decades.The students participated earlier this year in a five-day forensic sculpture workshop where they used clay to reconstruct faces from the remains of a few of the medical examiner's backlog of about 1,200 cases. "Because of my skill and craft, I'm able to make a job for somebody else easier," Pekal said.The hope is that the sculptures will help families claim the remains of their loved ones and bring them closure. In cases where the cause of death was deemed to be criminal, an identification could help prosecutors find justice for the victims.Pekal, who reconstructed the face of a man found in the trunk of an impounded car in the early 1990s, said it was a humbling experience to give "identity back to somebody." "This person was forgotten," she said. While the medical examiner's office has used police sketch artists for years to help with identifications, the collaboration with the New York Academy of Art is the first time it has turned to art students.Founded in 1982, the small graduate school is known for teaching the techniques of Leonardo da Vinci and other old masters who used anatomical studies to perfect their craft. At the school's Lower Manhattan studios, it is not uncommon to see live horses, kangaroos and other animals serving as models for the students.ANATOMICAL DETAILS This is the second year the school has offered the forensic workshop. Students reconstruct the faces of about two dozen people using 3D images of skulls and the few facts available about ethnicity, sex, age and the like. In modeling the clay, they also draw on their knowledge of tissue depth and other anatomical details.But they are told not to be too creative."It's a close enough resemblance so that someone can go, 'Hey, that kind of looks like so-and-so,'" said John Volk, the school's director of continuing education. The partnership arose from a discussion between Bradley Adams, the medical examiner's director of anthropology, and Joe Mullins, a forensic imaging specialist who is the workshop's instructor.At first, the project looked to be out of the question because it was impractical for the art students to use actual human remains being studied at the medical examiner's anthropology laboratory, which is also in Lower Manhattan. That changed when the office acquired a 3D printer with the help of a federal grant.So far, the office has not cracked any cases as a direct result of the workshop, Adams said, but a student's sculpture has helped a relative recognize someone who had already been identified.That said, there is a strong chance the reconstruction of the face of a woman believed to have been missing since 1998 could result in a positive identification once DNA work is completed, Adams said.Meanwhile, photographs of the sculptures, which are kept at the examiner's office, have been posted online to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. (Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Von Ahn)

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Curry voted NBA's first unanimous Most Valuable Player

Stephen Curry on Tuesday scaled heights never reached by NBA greats such as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James when he became the first unanimous winner of the league's Most Valuable Player award.A day after returning from injury to playoff action with an explosive performance for the Golden State Warriors, Curry swept all 131 first-place votes to earn the game's highest individual honor for a second straight season.He joined Johnson, Jordan and Steve Nash as the only guards to win the honor in consecutive campaigns, having dazzled NBA fans during the regular season with one astonishing display of shot-making after another.Already established as one of the league's greatest ever three-point shooters, Curry led the NBA in scoring with an average of 30.1 points and a record 402 three-point baskets as he led the Warriors to an unprecedented 73-9 mark.The 28-year-old shot a career-high 50.4 percent from the field and achieved a free throw percentage of 90.8 while averaging 6.7 assists and a career-high 5.4 rebounds in 79 games.Curry became just the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 30 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals in a season, following Rick Barry (1974-75), Jordan (three times) and Dwyane Wade (2008-09). A pivotal figure for the Warriors as they clinched the NBA championship last season, Curry earned a total of 1,310 points in balloting for the 2015-16 MVP award.San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (634) was second, followed by Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (631). Curry's 2015-16 season is by no means done as he bids to lead the Warriors to a successful defense of their NBA title.Having played in only two of Golden State's first eight playoff games after being sidelined by an ankle injury and then a sprained knee, the inspirational point guard returned to action with devastating effect on Monday.After a successful warmup, he came off the bench and poured in 40 points to lift the Warriors to a 132-125 overtime win against the Portland Trail Blazers and a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semi-final. "I don't think anyone could have predicted the explosion," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said of Curry, who scored an NBA-record 17 points in overtime. "That was crazy."The guy had played one basketball game in three weeks." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Repair crews assess Canada wildfire damage, oil firms plan restart

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta Repair crews were expected to assess wildfire damage to the Canadian energy boomtown of Fort McMurray on Tuesday as the oil sands companies surrounding the ravaged city looked at bringing production back on line.Political leaders got their first glimpse of the city on Monday since wildfire forced 88,000 residents to flee for safety. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said they were encouraged by how much of it escaped destruction, estimating almost 90 percent of its buildings were saved. But the tour also revealed scenes of utter devastation, with blocks of homes reduced to blackened foundations, front steps and metal barbecues. Notley said 2,400 structures had burned within the city while almost 25,000 were saved.The fire, expected to grow further on Tuesday, ravaged some 204,000 hectares (504,000 acres) of Alberta. But it also moved far enough away from the evacuated town to allow an official delegation to visit on Monday. Officials warned it was not safe for residents to return, with parts still smoldering and large areas without power, water and gas. Notley said repair crews will have weeks of work ahead of them to make the city safe.The assessment by officials came a few hours after insurance experts revised sharply downward their estimates of the cost of damage from the blaze, which began on May 1. Cooler weather, which has helped firefighters battling the blaze, was expected to linger through Thursday, according to Environment Canada. Still, much of Alberta is tinder-box dry after a mild winter and warm spring.Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region. About half of its crude output, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate.Oil sands companies, which have high fixed costs, are expected to work as quickly as possible to get production back online, but face the challenge of many staff and suppliers being displaced by the evacuation. In one encouraging sign for industry, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said on Monday it restarted production at a reduced rate at its Albian oil sands mining operation in Alberta, adding it plans to fly staff in and out.But Imperial Oil said late on Monday it completed a controlled shutdown of its Kearl oil sands mining project, blaming the uncertainties associated with logistics. (Writing Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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