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Analyst: Insurers could pay $800 million for shipwreck

TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2012

Akeno Sushi will open in downtown W-B

Carnival Corp.’s wrecked cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, may cost insurers as much as $800 million once employers’ liability claims are paid and the vessel is removed, according to analysts at Numis Securities. The cost of the disaster to insurers is likely to make the Costa Concordia the largest marine loss on record, said Joy Ferneyhough, a London-based analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank. The vessel cost $569 million to build when commissioned in 2004, according to a press release at the time. The grounding will cost the company as much as $95 million, or between 11 cents and 12 cents a share in fiscal 2012, it said.

AP FILE PHOTO

A 1923 L.L. Bean photo shows Leon Leonwood Bean in snow shoes with his brothers.

L.L. Bean kicking off birthday bash

French debt sells well

The Moody’s rating agency said Monday it was maintaining France’s top triple A rating and stable outlook, just days after rival Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s debt over concerns for its economy and Europe’s ability to get a handle on its debt woes. Markets seemed to shrug off the S&P downgrade, which had been expected for weeks. France easily sold about $10.9 billion of debt with very short maturities. On the secondary markets, where the issued bonds are later traded openly, the interest rate on France’s benchmark 10-year bond fell, indicating investors feel France remains a relatively good bet.

Zappos accounts hacked

Online shoe seller Zappos.com says a hacker may have accessed the personal information of up to 24 million customers. Customers’ credit card and payment information was not stolen, but names, phone numbers, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, the last four digits from credit cards and more may have been accessed in the attack, according to an email that CEO Tony Hsieh sent on Sunday to employees. Zappos is contacting customers by email and urging them to change their passwords. Zappos is owned by Amazon.com.

Jobs doll won’t be sold

The company that began advertising an incredibly lifelike Steve Jobs doll won’t sell the figurines after all because of pressure from family and Apple lawyers. In Icons had planned to offer the 1-foot-tall, lifelike figure dressed in Jobs’ trademark black mock turtleneck, rimless glasses and jeans. But the company posted a statement on its website Sunday saying it had received “immense pressure” to drop the plan.

AIMEE DILGER PHOTOS/THE TIMES LEADER

The site of Akeno Sushi, a new restaurant at University Corners Complex, which is planning for a grand opening in early March. It is owned and operated by husband and wife John and Teresa Qiu of Nanticoke.

A bright addition By BILL O’BOYLE boboyle@timesleader.com

John and Teresa Qiu discuss their restaurant, Akeno Sushi, scheduled to open this spring on Main Street in WilkesBarre.

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ILKES-BARRE – A new restaurant run by newly minted entrepreneurs is coming to the University Corners complex in downtown. Akeno Sushi will open in the space formerly occupied by Bonvie’s Beefy King, 72 S. Main St. The restaurant will be owned and operated by husband and wife John and Teresa Qiu of Nanticoke. Akeno, John Qiu said, means “bright lights and sunshine,” and he hopes his new restaurant will provide plenty of both for the downtown. “The downtown is a busy place,” Qiu said. “There are a lot of people walking by here every day.” The couple have worked at other local restaurants and felt it was time to strike out on their own. “We’re excited about this,” John Qiu said. He described the new place as a “family sushi restaurant” that will offer a fine dining experience for all ages. “Our motto will be ‘Always yummy and fresh,’ ” Qiu said. Work to prepare the space was going on Monday and Qiu said he hopes to have it ready for a grand opening in early March. “We have the movie theater around the corner and two colleges (King’s

and Wilkes) to draw from,” Qiu said. “And there are many downtown businesses with many employees.” Despite those advantages, the blocklong redevelopment has struggled to retain businesses. Bonvie’s Beefy King opened in June 2010 in space previously occupied by a Quizno’s franchise that lasted less than two years. Beefy King closed after less than a year. The adjacent Blue Chip Gourmet closed in Oct., 27 months after opening. Januzzi’s Pizza, located on the East Northampton Street façade, has operated continuously since opening in July 2007. Qiu said the new restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from11a.m. to10 p.m., and Sunday

from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Qiu said Akeno will be “a different style” sushi restaurant from the longestablished Katana in Midtown Village, at the other end of the block. “We will be more like a New York City-style restaurant,” Qiu said. “Katana is more traditional.” There will be a large sushi bar and several booths and tables, Qiu said, and Akeno also will provide take-out orders. Qiu said Akeno will have hibachi dinners prepared in the kitchen. “We won’t have the performancetype hibachi presentations,” he said. He said six employees will work at the restaurant – including the owners. “This will be good for my wife and I and our family,” Qiu said.

Mini Coopers recalled

Electric power plants choosing gas over coal

Hospital bills for millions

PITTSBURGH — The huge, belching smokestacks of electric power plants have long symbolized air pollution woes. But a shift is under way: More and more electric plants around the nation are being fueled by natural gas, which is far cleaner than coal, the traditional fuel. Nationwide, the electricity generated by gas-fired plants has risen by more than 50 percent over the last decade, while coal-fired generation has de-

BMW of North America is voluntarily recalling nearly 89,000 Mini vehicles because of a water pump malfunction that could cause a fire. The company said in a regulatory filing Monday that the water pump that cools the turbocharger in some of its cars has a circuit board that can malfunction and overheat. BMW will replace the pump at no cost to owners.

Patients at a New York City hospital are getting billed for tens of millions of dollars because of a computer error. Unemployed doorman Alexis Rodriguez says he almost became ill when he received a $44.8 million bill from the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. Turns out the company that prepares the bills had mistakenly put the invoice number in the space where the invoice amount should go.

Stock markets closed

United States stock and bond markets were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

$3.47 4.06 07/17/08

$3.32

$3.17

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By KEVIN BEGOS Associated Press

clined slightly. “Most of the people I know in the electric power industry are building natural gas” plants, said Jay Apt, a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. That’s because of low prices over the last few years and the relatively low cost of building such plants, compared with coal-fired or nuclear. But Apt cautions that the trend could stall because if too many plants embrace cheap gas, it won’t stay cheap. “The surest route to $6 or $8 gas is

for everybody to plan on $4 gas,” Apt said. Natural gas is priced per million BTU. Apt noted there was a “huge building boom” in natural gas plants from the late 1990s to 2004. There were predictions that prices would stay low over the long term. But natural gas prices spiked, and the new gas-fired plants stayed idle much of the time. Still, history may not repeat itself because of the huge surge in supply from Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

By DAVID SHARP Associated Press

FREEPORT, Maine — Back in the days before retailers like Gap, J. Crew or American Outfitters, there were guys like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch. In Maine, L.L. Bean found success without consumer research, focus groups or fashionistas to tell him what to sell. He sold only products that he personally used and tested. He backed them with a money-back satisfaction guarantee. And his larger-than-life personality was projected in his catalogs, where he came across as someone customers could trust. “The important part of L.L. was his personality. He was a hardy, enthusiastic, outgoing guy. He shouted most of his conversations because he was hard of hearing and assumed everyone else was, too. He was a genuine presence,” said his grandson, Leon Gorman, chairman of the board. The retailer that celebrates the outdoors with Leon Leonwood Bean’s Yankee sense of value is kicking off its 100th birthday celebration this week with the unveiling of a giant version of its iconic hunting boot set on four wheels. It’ll be rolling into New York City on Wednesday. A century later, the family-owned retailer that started with Bean’s hunting shoe in 1912 has grown into a business with a $1.5 billion in projected sales in its 2011 fiscal year. Along the way, the company has successfully expanded from a catalog retailer to an online retailer and a bricks-andmortar retailer, and has managed to create a customer loyalty that’s envied by others, said Kevin Lane Keller, a branding expert at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University. “They had an iconic catalog that they had figured out. Now they’re having to look at other ways to sell. That’s part of modern retailing: You have multiple channels,” he said. The company has recovered lost ground during the recession, but consumer confidence remains a concern as retailers continue to discount merchandise to entice consumers. Long term, the nation’s sedentary lifestyle is as big a concern as competitors ranging from outdoors retailers like Cabela’s to catalog merchandisers like Lands’ End. “For us the challenge is people spending less time outside and engaged in traditional activities,” said company spokeswoman Carolyn Beem.

Gesture control: It’s thumbs up for games and many other tasks YOU CAN GET a lot done by waving your arms around these days. Motion-sensitive gesture control, the technology that makes it possible, has been in the video game market for a while, and is now being adapted to other uses. Take the Xbox Kinect, for example. Simply speaking, it uses an infrared projector coupled with a camera to generate a 3D picture of whatever it happens to be pointed at (usually the player), and then uses high-end motion-capture software to interpret what it’s seeing. Players can control the games using only the movements of their bodies. Kinect uses common USB connectors to plug into an Xbox, and it’s also compatible with PCs. Since

TECH TALK

NICK DELORENZO Microsoft made the Kinect software relatively accessible, it wasn’t long before innovators began developing their own uses for the technology. People have improvised loads of practical adaptations, including the ability to control computers and software with gestures alone – no keyboard, mouse or touch-screen required. Demonstrations of similar technology have started to pop up in all sorts of places since Kinect was released. Auto manufacturers have demonstrated how vehicle controls can be operated by hand motions, and makers of surgical equipment have done the same.

In general, I think this is an impressive technology with huge potential -- both in and out of entertainment. The one downside with motion control versus touch-screen controls or even a good old-fashioned keyboard and mouse is that the sort of motions required for typing, tapping and clicking are generally fairly decisive and result from contact with a physical object. Gestures are another matter entirely, subject to unconscious cues, cultural factors, mood, injuries and

so on. Imagine if 20 years from now they’re using this technology to fly planes and someone gets a shoulder cramp. Despite that drawback, you can probably imagine that motion tracking, combined with 3D or virtual reality technology, could be used to create a completely immersive environment without the drawback of needing a keyboard, mouse or game controller to provide interaction. As for the Kinect itself, you can probably live without one for now – but it, or something like it, will probably be essential in a few years. Do I think that the technology will continue to take off? Absolutely. Would I use it to make a plane take off? Probably not. Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. E-mail him at ndelorenzo@timesleader.com.

Times Leader 01-17-2012  

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 01-17