Social networking website Facebook and Internet telephone company Skype are in talks to establish a partnership that is aimed at integrating their communication services, Wall Street Journal said, citing a person familiar with the situation.
Under the proposed partnership, Facebook users would be able to sign into Skype through their Facebook Connect accounts, the Journal said.
Once signed in, the users would be able to send text messages, voice chat and video chat with their Facebook friends from within Skype, according to the paper.
The integrated functions are built into Skype’s 5.0 version, which is expected to be released in the next few weeks, the person told the paper.
Enabling Skype’s voice and video chat on Facebook would be a “logical progression” to the partnership, the person told the paper.
Facebook and Skype could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.
(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Hans Peters)
Femi Kuti takes the stage and launches into his politically tinged music the same way his famous father used to, carrying on a tradition some say represents the best of Nigeria 50 years after independence.
“Being an artist in Nigeria … is still part of the struggle,” the son of the late Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti who is also a respected musician in his own right told AFP in an interview at his club, the New Africa Shrine.
“My songs are a fight against corrupt governments,” he added ahead of his performance, which saw him play into the early hours of the morning, his dancers gyrating in cages as he sang in pidgin English, widely spoken here.
Nigeria’s well-known struggles with corruption and poverty have deeply stained the reputation of Africa’s most populous country, which celebrates 50 years of independence on October 1.
But its politically engaged artists, writers and musicians have been a source of great pride, with their work and activism earning praise throughout the world.
The list includes writers like Chinua Achebe, author of what some call the great African novel, “Things Fall Apart,” as well as Wole Soyinka, the continent’s first Nobel laureate in literature.
Both have been outspoken critics of Nigerian political leaders, and Soyinka last week launched a political party ahead of elections early next year.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, the environmental activist in the oil-rich Niger Delta region executed by the government 15 years ago, was also a writer.
Young novelists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have won international recognition as well.
Femi Kuti’s father Fela harshly criticised the government in the oil-rich nation and even formed a commune, the Kalakuta Republic, that he declared independent from Nigeria.
“It’s because of this music that people are enlightened and children will be enlightened tomorrow, so there is great hope,” Femi Kuti said of his father’s work.
A new generation of artists appears to be emerging as well, with galleries in Lagos, a teeming city of some 15 million people, drawing increasing attention.
But while the country’s serious-minded artists and musicians garner much of the praise, popular culture in Nigeria has also become highly lucrative.
Its fast-growing African film industry, known as Nollywood, has become the third most important non-oil export sector and the second largest employer after agriculture, according to the World Bank.
“Nigeria can lead Africa … only if it were not for corruption,” said Ken Okoli, an arts and sculpture lecturer at Amadu Bello University in northern Nigeria.
Mahmud Ali Balogun, a filmmaker, said Nigerians seem to have a “boldness to express ourselves” that accounts for such success in film and music.
The sheer size and diversity of Nigeria — 150 million people from some 250 different ethnic groups — creates a mix that leads to art that provokes, some say.
“It’s the only country on this planet with this diverse kind of culture,” said flute player Tee-Mac Omatshola Iseli.
North Korean state media published the first official images Thursday of Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of leader Kim Jong Il and heir apparent of the impoverished, nuclear-armed state.
A photo of senior Workers’ Party officials appeared on the front page of Thursday’s edition of the authoritarian regime’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper, two days after the party concluded its biggest political gathering in 30 years to elect new leaders.
An article accompanying the photo listed the names of those in the picture, which was taken outside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang where the embalmed body of the country’s founder Kim Il Sung lies in state.
Recent mentions of Kim Jong Un in state media — and now the release of his photo — have confirmed what many analysts suspected for the past two years: that Kim Jong Un has been anointed to succeed his father and carry the family’s rule into a third generation.
The round-faced Kim Jong Un — unsmiling with his hair combed straight back — was one of the officials named and was sitting in the front row near his father with a military officer between them. In the photo, the 20-something Kim bears a resemblance to both his father and grandfather. Other similar photos were carried on inside pages.
The release of the photos, some of which were also carried by the state news agency, comes after the younger Kim earlier this week was handed top military and party posts at a Workers’ Party conference.
Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said a photo of Kim Jong Un had never been published before. She said the young man sitting near Kim Jong Il appears to be the son.
The official Korean Central News Agency announced Tuesday that Kim Jong Un had been promoted to a four-star general in the Korean People’s Army — the first mention of his name in the country’s tightly controlled state media. State media have yet to offer any description or biographical information about Kim Jong Un, or even to refer to him as the leader’s son. The younger Kim has two older brothers, Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Chol, who appear to have lost out in the succession scenario.
Kim Jong Un was also mentioned in several dispatches Wednesday announcing the names of people who were given posts at a rare meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party held the day before. In addition to his military title, he was made a member of the organization’s governing central committee and was also named to its military commission.
Several purported photos of the younger Kim have circulated for some time, mostly obtained and published by Japanese media. Kim Jong Il’s former Japanese chef says Kim Jong Un resembles his father in looks, tastes and personality, going so far as to call him a “spitting image.”
Kim Jong Il, 68, took over as the leader of North Korea in 1994 when his father Kim Il Sung died of heart failure in what became the first hereditary succession in the communist world. He is believed to have suffered a stroke two years ago and concerns about possible political instability in the country — which has active nuclear and missile programs — should he die without having designated a successor are a focus of regional security concerns.
The Palestinians dug in ahead of a crucial meeting Thursday with Washington’s Mideast envoy, saying they can’t be expected to continue peace talks unless Israel reverses a decision to lift restrictions on West Bank settlement construction.
Neither side seems to want the month-old talks to collapse, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are publicly at an impasse, with a Monday deadline looming.
President Barack Obama’s emissary, George Mitchell, is making a secretive last-minute attempt to rescue the negotiations. He was to travel to Abbas’ West Bank headquarters Thursday, after meeting with Israeli leaders on Wednesday. Mitchell said after talks with Netanyahu that he is undaunted by what he described as “bumps in the road,” but offered no glimpse of a possible compromise.
The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, announced she’s heading to the region “as a matter of priority” after talking to Mitchell and international Mideast envoy Tony Blair. Starting Thursday, the EU foreign policy chief will meet with Netanyahu, Abbas and Mitchell over two days to try to prevent the collapse of negotiations. She reiterated in a statement that the European Union regrets Israel’s decision not to extend a 10-month-old moratorium on West Bank housing starts that expired this week.
Netanyahu has said extending the construction curb could fracture his pro-settlement governing coalition, but has also said he wants to keep negotiating with Abbas. Obama wants a deal on the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel within a year.
Abbas advisers on Wednesday stopped short of posing an ultimatum, but signaled they would accept nothing less than an extension of the moratorium. Veteran Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said Israel should be blamed for any breakdown of the negotiations if it insists on expanding settlements on lands claimed by the Palestinians for their state.
Abbas on Wednesday was quoted as saying, without elaborating, that he is ready to make a “historic decision” when Arab League foreign ministers meet Monday in Cairo to review the negotiations. It wasn’t clear whether Abbas meant he was ready to quit the talks or whether he was simply trying to create some last-minute leverage.
On Saturday, Abbas will consult top officials from his Fatah Party and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision-making body before sitting down with the Arab officials.
Hanna Amireh, a member of the PLO body, said there was widespread opposition to resuming talks without a settlement curb.
“The consensus is that since the entire world is in favor of a Palestinian state and against settlements, then let us throw this problem in the face of the world and see what they can do about it,” Amireh said.
However, in the end the decision is up to Abbas. Fatah and the PLO have routinely backed his decisions in the past and are unlikely to rebel against him now. The Arab League is also expected to back Abbas’ recommendations.
Should he stay in the talks without a moratorium, Abbas would lose more credibility among Palestinians already skeptical of Washington’s ability to deliver a deal. Yet Abbas may be reluctant to walk away from talks because his international standing and future as a leader are tied to the quest for a peace deal.
Abbas’ bitter Hamas rivals, who seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, would benefit from the talks’ failure as a reflection of their position that nothing can be gained by negotiating with Israel.
In comments published Wednesday on the website of the pro-Hamas newspaper Felesteen, Hamas’ Gaza strongman Mahmoud Zahar renewed his call to Abbas to quit the negotiations.
Commenting on the Palestinian uprising that followed the failed U.S.-led peace effort at Camp David in 2000, Zahar claimed the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat instructed Hamas to carry out “a number of military operations in the heart of the Hebrew state” after he allegedly “felt the failure of his negotiating” with Israel.
At the time, Arafat had said he sought to restrain Palestinian attacks so peace talks could succeed.
Zahar and other Hamas spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.
The state bailout of Anglo Irish Bank stands at about 29.3 billion euros, and the nationalised lender could need an extra 5.0 billion euros under a worst-case scenario, the Central Bank said Thursday.
The bill could therefore potentially hit 34.3 billion euros, which is roughly equivalent to the nation’s annual taxation revenues, and comes amid comes amid mounting concern about sky-high levels of eurozone state debt.
“The Central Bank estimates that an additional 5.0 billion euros of losses, above the 29.3-billion-euro base estimate, are possible under a severe hypothetical stress scenario,” it said in a statement.
Anglo had previously indicated that the restructuring would cost about 25 billion euros.
The Central Bank added Thursday that Ireland’s biggest lender, Allied Irish Banks, would need to raise another 3.0 billion euros by the year-end. The group was originally told to raise 7.4 billion euros by the end of 2010.
Ireland’s banking sector was ravaged by the global financial crisis, a fierce recession and a domestic property market meltdown.
At the same time, the nation is struggling to maintain investor confidence in its ability to control its huge public debt and deficit, amid similar fears over Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan forecast on Thursday Ireland’s public deficit will hit 32 percent of gross domestic product this year, following state support to the banking sector.
“There will be a very substantial spike in Ireland’s general government deficit in 2010 as a result of the capital support that we are providing to our banking system, totalling almost 20 percent of GDP,” he said in a statement.
“On a purely headline basis our general government deficit for 2010 will be around 32 percent of GDP.”
The government remained “fully committed” to cutting the deficit to below 3.0 percent of GDP by 2014, he added.