MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Experts say a promise by Argentina’s president-elect to expel Venezuela from the Mercosur trade bloc seems unlikely to be fulfilled.
Venezuela became a full member of the South American bloc in 2012 in an effort to link the region’s most powerful agricultural and energy markets.
Argentina’s new leader, Mauricio Macri, says he’ll push to remove Venezuela over its government’s jailing of opposition leaders. Emphasizing his commitment, during his victory celebration Sunday night Macri took a picture with Lilian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader in Venezuela jailed early last year.
An expulsion would be a huge shift for a region where several countries have left-leaning democratic governments with close ties to Venezuela.
But Mercosur members and academics say it is unlikely to happen unless President Nicolas Maduro’s government doesn’t respect the results of Venezuela’s crucial Dec. 6 congressional elections.
“The conditions are not there,” Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said after Macri won Argentina’s runoff election.
He was referring to the requirements of Mercosur’s “democratic clause,” which says a member country can be sanctioned if it has “broken the democratic order.”
Rupture of the democratic order is tantamount to a coup, political analyst Daniel Chasquetti said.
“If Macri had read the democratic clause closely he would have realized that it’s not that easy to apply to Venezuela today, except if something serious happens in the elections,” Chasquetti said.
Brazil and Paraguay have still to comment on the issue. Macri takes office Dec. 10, and Argentina’s petition is likely to be reviewed during a Mercosur meeting in Asuncion, Paraguay on Dec. 21.
NEW YORK (AP) — If any fans are planning to serve their Thanksgiving meal after an NFL game, don’t bother rushing the turkey to the table — games are stretching out longer.
The NFL always aims for games to last about three hours. Through 11 weeks of this season, the average time of game has been 3 hours, 9 minutes, 26 seconds. In 2014, the average game was 3:05:46 over the same period.
Don’t blame that extra 3 minutes, 40 seconds on the weather, more commercials, extended halftimes, more overtime games or even more replay reviews.
The league says reviews have actually gone down, but they are taking longer. That’s one reason for the longer games, along with other referee discussions — many not involving replay — and major injuries.
Video reviews this year are down to 266 from 273 a year ago. But more calls have been overturned: 113 this year compared to 97 at this stage last season.
The average length of review has been 41 seconds in 2015. Yet the delays for those reviews can extend another 1 1/2 minutes because many times a television timeout starts during a review.
With 1.66 stoppages for an instant replay review per game, the delay per game works out to about 3:45 in real time. The NFL says 34 of 160 games (21 percent) have had no stoppages for instant replay reviews.
A year ago, the average number of stoppages for a review per game was 1.70 for the entire season, slightly higher than the 11-week pace of 2015. Overall, 40 of 256 games had no stoppages for the 2014 season.
In college, where every play is reviewable, game clocks stop on first downs, and scoring is higher than in the pros, the NCAA says the average length of a game is 3:22. That is the longest since 2005, when it was 3:21.
So far this season, 86.1 percent of FBS games have had a replay review in the video booth. But only 2.1 percent have required an actual stoppage of play. A mere .65 calls have been reversed in 693 games through Tuesday.
Football has not been in the spotlight concerning length of games in recent years the way baseball has. Major League Baseball instituted rules to speed up the game this year.
Baseball video reviews came into existence for widespread challenges in 2014, when the average length of games stretched to 3:02. This season, it was down to 2:56.
The average length of time for video review in baseball in 2015 was 1:51.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this story.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Marissa Mayer’s nearly four-year attempt to turn around Yahoo needs a turnaround itself, repeating a pattern of futility that has hobbled one of the Internet’s best-known companies for the past decade.
Like her predecessors as Yahoo CEO, Mayer has been unable to snap the company out of a financial funk despite spending billions on acquisitions and new projects. Yahoo’s stock has sunk by 35 percent so far this year as investors’ frustration with the follies have mounted, spurring calls for her replacement.
“This is like an ’emperor has no clothes’ situation,” says Eric Jackson, a Yahoo shareholder and managing director of the New York hedge fund Ader Investment Management. “The company and the shareholders would be better served with her leaving.”
Jackson, though perhaps Mayer’s most outspoken critic, isn’t alone.
After conferring with investors, SunTrust analyst Robert Peck recently wrote a letter to Yahoo’s board recommending that the directors consider firing Mayer. Activist investor Jeffrey Smith of hedge fund Starboard Value is urging Mayer to abandon a spin-off of the Yahoo’s most valuable asset — a $30 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group — and sell the company’s Internet business instead.
If Mayer continues down her current course, Smith is threatening to lead a shareholder mutiny aimed at overthrowing Yahoo’s board next year — a rebellion that, if successful, could lead to her ouster.
Yahoo’s own employees seem dispirited as well. Mayer’s approval rating among those who posted on the employer-review website Glassdoor.com has fallen to 73 percent from 99 percent after her July 2012 hiring.
At least a dozen members of Yahoo’s management team have left in the past year. The departures have included two of Mayer’s top lieutenants, former marketing and media chief Kathy Savitt and former development and acquisitions chief Jacqueline Reses.
Yahoo Inc. declined to comment for this article.
Mayer has repeatedly expressed confidence that Yahoo is heading in the right direction, most recently during her October review of the company’s disappointing quarterly performance. “I have very aggressive expectations for Yahoo’s core business,” she said. “We have the right talent, the right strategy, and the right assets to drive long-term sustainable growth for our investors.”
Yahoo’s revenue fell 8 percent from the previous year after subtracting the company’s advertising commissions, its steepest decline since Mayer became CEO. It’s likely to fare even worse in the October-December quarter, given that that company expects net revenue to drop by about 20 percent.
Now Mayer is drawing up plans for another major shake-up, one likely to eliminate hundreds of jobs as Yahoo sharpens its focus on “fewer products with higher quality,” as she said in October. Mayer promised more details in January.
It wasn’t supposed to get this bleak with Mayer at the helm. She came to Yahoo as a widely respected technology executive who had helped build Google into the Internet’s most powerful company while repeatedly outmaneuvering Yahoo with products that attracted more traffic and advertising.
Mayer’s arrival was supposed to herald a promising new era after the disheartening downfalls of the four CEOs that preceded her. Those executives — Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz and Scott Thompson — either resigned or were dumped when it became apparent that they couldn’t revive the growth that made Yahoo one of the Internet’s biggest successes during the dot-com boom of the 1990s.
Things started well. Mayer bought dozens of startups to bring in more engineering expertise in mobile devices and overhauled Yahoo’s apps for weather, sports, Flickr and email. She made big splashes by hiring former NBC News anchor Katie Couric to handle online video reports and acquired the trendy blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion.
The moves haven’t really paid off, although Mayer continues to boast about Yahoo’s progress in the important mobile and video markets. None of Yahoo’s services rank among the top 50 free apps in Apple’s store, and the company’s expansion into original video programming resulted in a $42 million charge to account for the duds.
Investors are still awaiting proof that that Tumblr or any other of Mayer’s acquisitions will be worth what Yahoo paid.
“Across all dimensions, her efforts haven’t delivered the results that people might have expected,” says S&P Capital IQ analyst Scott Kessler.
At one point in Mayer’s tenure, Yahoo’s stock had more than tripled from where it stood when she took over. The gains, though, were almost entirely tied to Yahoo’s large stake in Alibaba, which it acquired in a $1 billion deal negotiated a decade ago. That holding — in retrospect, Yahoo’s best investment ever — soared in value as Alibaba’s e-commerce bazaar boomed, prompting investors to snap up Yahoo shares in order to profit while Alibaba was still privately held.
When Alibaba went public last year, Yahoo sold a portion of its holdings and then announced plans to spin off its remaining $30 billion stake into a new holding company to avoid paying taxes on future gains. Now that strategy, too, is under a cloud; the Internal Revenue Service has declined say that the spin-off will qualify for the expected tax exemption.
Mayer plans to complete the spin-off by January anyway. Starboard’s Smith thinks she has that exactly backward; he wants Yahoo to retain the Alibaba stake and sell its websites, mobile applications and advertising services. It’s unclear who would buy them, given their malaise.
Kessler likens Mayer’s plight to a star quarterback who signs with a National Football League franchise that’s in the doldrums. “When the quarterback starts out, people get very excited about the potential and opportunities,” he says. “But when the performance on the field turns out to be less than stellar, people are understandably going to blame the quarterback that came in with so much fanfare.”
Follow AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke at https://twitter.com/liedtkesfc . Read his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/michael-liedtke
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo has starred in a decade-long soap opera during which it’s run through five CEOs, fended off a hostile takeover bid from Microsoft and sparred (often unsuccessfully) with activist investors who muscled their way on to the Internet company’s board.
Expect more drama next year. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to buy more time for the turnaround she promised after the Sunnyvale, California, company lured her away from Google three-and-half years ago.
Here’s what Yahoo’s next chapter could look like based on what we know now:
THE CONQUERING HEROINE
This is, of course, the story line that Mayer, 40, has envisioned all along. She has pledged that Yahoo’s revenue will eventually increase at the same clip as overall digital advertising revenue, something that the company hasn’t come close to doing yet.
It still might happen if Mayer’s big bets on mobile applications and online video pay off and Yahoo gets the all-clear from the feds to use Google’s search technology to attract more traffic and sell more advertising. Mayer also has indicated that Yahoo is working on products that could draw people to use its services more frequently. Some unsubstantiated reports suggest that Yahoo plans to unveil a digital assistant to compete against Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana.
THE BIG PURGE
Many investors believe Yahoo remains bloated, given that its net revenue has fallen from $5.4 billion in 2008 to a projected $4 billion this year.
In an apparent attempt to placate Wall Street, Mayer plans to jettison an unspecified number of services that have either been losing money or are barely money. Depending on how deep she cuts, hundreds of Yahoo workers could lose their jobs. Yahoo ended September with 11,500 employees and contractors, down 32 percent from when Mayer was hired in July 2012.
Yahoo is planning to spin off its $30 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce bazaar Alibaba Group into a separate company called Aabaco either next month or in January. The maneuver is designed to dodge a huge tax bill Yahoo would face if it sold the Alibaba stock itself, but it might not work. The IRS has refused to clear the plan in advance for a tax exemption.
Based on preliminary feedback from tax lawyers, Yahoo believes the spin-off will quality for tax-free status. That opinion still doesn’t guarantee that Yahoo won’t be saddled with a tax bill of more than $10 billion. The tax uncertainty hanging over the Alibaba spin-off is among the reasons that Yahoo’s stock has fallen 35 percent so far this year.
SELL OR ELSE
Activist investor Starboard Value is so worried about the tax problem that it wants Mayer to scrap that idea and sell Yahoo’s Internet business — that is, everything that most people associate with the Yahoo brand — instead.
If Mayer doesn’t back down, Starboard is threatening to gather enough shareholder votes to toss out Yahoo’s board of directors, which includes Mayer. It probably couldn’t stage that mutiny until the summer, if then.
Yahoo has faced two other shareholder rebellions since 2008, one by led by Carl Icahn and the other led by Daniel Loeb. Both Icahn and Loeb wound up with seats on the company’s board. Neither investor remains a director now.
Under the Starboard plan, Yahoo might end up as nothing but a holding company that owns stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. Yahoo Mail, its websites and other services still used by hundreds of millions of people would belong to a new owner — assuming anyone wants them.
THROWING IN THE TOWEL
Some investors want Yahoo’s board to replace Mayer. The directors have given no indication that they have lost faith in Mayer and she seems intent on finishing the job she started.
Mayer, 40, is about to take on another challenge at home; she is due to give birth to twin girls in December. If things continue to deteriorate at Yahoo and more shareholders clamor for a new CEO, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision Mayer deciding to step down to spend more time with her children at some point next year.
Follow AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke at https://twitter.com/liedtkesfc . Read his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/michael-liedtke
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Cadet pillow fights like the bloody one that left 30 injured this summer will be banned and actions are being pursued against many of those involved, U.S. Military Academy officials said Wednesday.
First-year students, known as “plebes,” organize the annual pillow fight as a way to build camaraderie after a grueling summer of training. But the pillow fight on Aug. 20 escalated into a free-for-all with plebes being hit from behind and knocked to the ground. Injuries included a broken nose, a fractured cheek and 24 diagnosed concussions, according to a report on the pillow fight released Wednesday.
“While never officially sanctioned, it is now officially banned, and we will take appropriate action to ensure that all faculty, staff, leaders, the Corps of Cadets and everyone at West Point knows that it will not be tolerated,” West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen said in a statement.
There were reports that some cadets were injured by hard objects placed in pillow cases after photos and video of the melee circulated on social media. But the report said many injuries were caused instead by elbows and falls to the ground. One cadet was identified by military police as striking another cadet with a hard object in a pillow case. One cadet was found unconscious.
The report said upper-class cadets did not take proper control of the fight to ensure the safety of pebes. Caslen said the incident could have been prevented with better communication between cadet leadership and senior military personnel before the pillow fight.
“I’m troubled by the failure to mitigate and lead, and by the conduct of those whose actions contributed to this incident,” Caslen said. “I am taking appropriate action based on these findings — to include administrative actions against senior military members and cadets alike — to send a clear message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated at our nation’s premiere military academy.”
HARWICK, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania woman has been ordered to pay $600 for hurling driveway gravel at her next-door neighbor’s drone.
Mark Shock says he was finishing up a flight in Harwick on Aug. 30 when Martina Wlodarski hurled a stone and hit the remote-controlled aircraft.
A video shows the drone going haywire after being hit. Shock says two blades flew off and nearly hit him in the face.
Wlodarski says she was frightened by the 3.5-pound aircraft and acted in self-defense.
Criminal mischief charges were dropped on Monday as the neighbors agreed that Wlodarski would pay Shock restitution.