ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A judge has reduced SeaWorld Orlando's $75,000 fine to $12,000 for the death of a trainer by a killer whale in 2010.
The Associated Press on Wednesday obtained Judge Ken Welsch's order changing the most serious citation SeaWorld faced from "willful" to "serious" in his decision.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration had issued SeaWorld two citations totaling $75,000 in the death of Dawn Brancheau. A killer whale named Tilikum grabbed her and dragged underwater violently as horrified guests watched.
During a hearing last year, SeaWorld officials argued the safety citations were unfounded and their protocol for protecting trainers was sound.
But OSHA argued that trainers should have some kind of physical barrier when working with whales.
<VIDEO> Approximately 1500 astrologers from more than 30 countries have gathered in New Orleans for the United Astrology Conference, where they are discussing everything from the economy to the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Johnny Depp has been made an honorary member of the Comanche tribe.
Depp is in New Mexico, shooting the film adaptation of "The Lone Ranger." He plays "Ranger" sidekick Tonto in the film.
Comanche Nation tribal member LaDonna Harris said Tuesday that the tribal chairman presented Depp with a proclamation at her Albuquerque home May 16. She says the Comanche adoption tradition means she now considers Depp her son.
Harris says Depp seemed humbled.
His spokeswoman, Jayne Ngo, confirmed the actor participated in a ceremony but declined to provide details.
Harris says she had read interviews with Depp that said the actor identified himself as being part Native American, so she thought it would be fun to adopt him. She ran the idea by her adult children, and they agreed.
Harris says she reached out to the "Dark Shadows" star through a friend who is working as a cultural adviser on the "Lone Ranger" set.
<VIDEO> After eight seasons of playing "Dr. House" on the medical drama House (Tu; 8 p.m.; FOX), Hugh Laurie will have to say goodbye to his character. Is he happy with how it ends? After eight seasons of playing "Dr. House" on the medical drama House, Hugh Laurie will have to say goodbye to his longtime character tonight when the show has its final episode. While Laurie had no real influence in the show's termination, is he content with the series finale? RELATED: 'House' Sets An End Date In his usual blunt manner, Laurie didn't express overwhelming excitement for the show's termination but had no grievances about the show's final episode. "House makes the point himself that he would be doing a great disservice to his patients if he operated...in pain," he said. "The physical pain he endures was a greater obstacle to the practice of his art than the drugs he took.
MINERAL, Va. (AP) - Country singer Alan Jackson has raised more than $150,000 to help a Virginia county rebuild schools damaged by last year's earthquake.
A benefit concert by Jackson drew 6,000 people to Louisa County on Sunday night. Jackson performed in the parking lot of Louisa County High School, which was closed after the magnitude-5.8 earthquake on Aug. 23, 2011.
Mineral, the town at the quake's epicenter, won the show in an online voting contest.
Media outlets report that Jackson told the crowd many of those who voted for Mineral in the contest aren't from the town. He said that shows people in America take care of each other.
Capitol Records provided about 3,000 free tickets and sold another 3,000.
NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook updated its status to "public company" on Friday.
After an anxiety-filled half-hour delay, its stock began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market for the first time as investors were finally able to put a dollar value on the company that turned online social networking into a global cultural phenomenon.
By the afternoon, the stock was trading flat at around $38. That means Facebook is worth about $104 billion, more than Amazon.com, McDonalds and storied Silicon Valley icons Hewlett-Packard and Cisco.
But as many people looked for a big first-day pop in Facebook's share price, the single-digit increase was somewhat of a letdown.
"It wasn't quite as exciting as it could have been," said Nick Einhorn, an analyst with IPO advisory firm Renaissance Capital. "But I don't think we should view it as a failure."
Indeed, the small jump in price could be seen as an indication that Facebook and the investment banks that arranged the initial public offering priced the stock in an appropriate range. It's also a supply and demand issue. Facebook offered nearly 20 percent of its available stock in the IPO, so there was enough to meet demand. In comparison, Google offered just 7.2 percent of its stock when it went public in 2004 - and rose 18 percent on day one.
To IPOdesktop's Francis Gaskins, it means mom-and-pop investors are becoming "much more educated and careful" about not buying into hype. And he said that the banks taking Facebook public have learned from the 10 IPOs of social media companies in the past year and are better able to gauge how much stock to make available in an initial offering.
It might not have been possible for the social network to live up to the hype that led up to its IPO. It's Facebook, after all, a place where people are emotionally invested in endless online diversions and rekindled friendships, an endless depository of baby photos, favorite songs and fleeting memories.
"It's probably one of the first times there has been an IPO where everyone sort of has a stake in the outcome," said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. While most Facebook users won't see a penny from the offering, they are all intimately familiar with the company.
Earlier Friday, the company's 28-year-old CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, smiled as he rang the opening bell from Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Surrounded by cheering Facebook employees and wearing his signature hoodie, he pushed the button that signals the opening of the stock market in New York. The morning's events followed an all-night "hackathon" at the company, where engineers stayed up coding software and conjuring up new ideas for Facebook and its 900 million users.
"Right now this all seems like a big deal. Going public is an important milestone in our history. But here's the thing, our mission isn't to be a public company. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected," Zuckerberg said. "In the past eight years, all of you out there have built the largest community in the history of the world. You've done amazing things that we never would have dreamed of and I can't wait to see what you guys all do going forward."
Afterward, employees tried to get back to business as usual, building the company under immense new pressure to meet shareholders' expectations. To remind everyone not to get caught up in the hoopla, Facebook's employees were given t-shirts that read "Stay focused & keep hacking."
On Thursday, Facebook and the investment bankers settled on a price of $38 per share. The company and its early investors raised $16 billion in the offering, which valued Facebook at $104 billion. That makes Facebook the most valuable U.S. company to ever go public.
Now, the stock market will begin assigning a dollar value to Facebook that will rise and fall with investor whims. It will be subject to broad economic forces and held accountable for profit it earns -or loses- from one quarter to the next.
But Facebook is one a rare companies whose IPO transcends Wall Street's money lust. It is a cultural touchstone for the way technology reshapes our lives. Since its start as a scrappy network for college students, Facebook has come to define social networking by getting people around the world to share everything from photos of their pets to their deepest thoughts.
It has done so while becoming one of the few profitable Internet companies to go public recently. It had net income of $205 million in the first three months of 2012, on revenue of $1.06 billion. In all of 2011, it earned $1 billion, up from $606 million a year earlier. That's a far cry from 2007, when it posted a net loss of $138 million and revenue of $153 million. The company makes most of its money from advertising. It also takes a cut from the money people spend on virtual items in Facebook games such as "FarmVille."
Facebook's public debut marks a new milestone in the history of the Internet. In 1995, Netscape Communications' IPO gave people their first chance to invest in a company whose graphical Web browser made the Internet more engaging and easier to navigate. Its hotly anticipated IPO lit the fuse that ignited the dot-com boom. That explosion of entrepreneurial activity and investment culminated five years later in a devastating bust that obliterated the notion that the Internet had hatched a "new economy".
It took Google's IPO in 2004 to prove that an Internet company with a disruptive idea could be profitable. In the process, the Internet search leader is forcing other industries to adapt to a new order where people have come to expect to be able to find just about anything they want by entering a few words into a box on any device with an Internet connection.
Facebook's IPO heralds a new phase of the Internet's evolution. This social era makes connections among people as important as Google's massive index of Web links. Still, the IPO will raise new pressures for Facebook to generate more revenue, perhaps by digging further into the trove of revealing information that people share on the network to sell even more targeted ads.
The IPO almost certainly will enrich other up-and-coming entrepreneurs as Zuckerberg uses the company's cash and stock to buy other startups in an effort to being in other talented engineers and promising technology. That's what has been doing for years. Since it went public in 2004, Google has spent $10.2 billion buying nearly 200 other companies. Those figures don't include Google's still-pending $12.5 billion acquisition of cellphone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., which is still awaiting regulatory approval in China.
Zuckerberg's biggest deal so far came when he agreed to buy Instagram, a maker of a popular mobile app for photos, for $1 billion. Because most of the deal is being paid for in stock, Instagram is already getting richer. Based on the $38 price for Facebook's stock, Instagram is in line to receive nearly $1.2 billion.
Though Zuckerberg rang the Nasdaq opening bell from California, people outside the stock market in Times Square snapped photos of a big blue Facebook sign that lit up the building. Some of them used their smart phones to check in to the Nasdaq on Facebook. Frederick Nolde, who was visiting from Richmond, Va., said he bought 100 shares through the online brokerage eTrade.
He thinks the company is worth $100 billion. "I think Google is a good comparison and it's worth $200 to 300 billion. The real question is how they do in mobile. If they can figure that out they'll do well."
In Menlo Park, some mourned the one that got away. Venture capitalist Mark Siegel visited Facebook's headquarters to ponder. Like many of his fellow tech startup investors with offices a short drive from Facebook on Silicon Valley's famed Sand Hill Road, Siegel said he had chances to back Facebook early on but didn't.
He said at the time, when competing social networks like Friendster and MySpace still had clout, it wasn't clear that Facebook would come out on top.
"In hindsight, any price would have been a good price to pay," said Siegel, a managing director at Menlo Ventures.
There's still time. Bruno del Ama, the CEO of asset management firm Global X Funds, is waiting until Thursday, to get in on Facebook.
"On the first day you see a tremendous amount of volatility," he said. In three days, short-sellers will be able to sell the stock, he added, so by day five, investors should see more stability. Global X has a fund focused on social media stocks, and del Ama expects "significant growth" in the sector in the coming decade. Facebook, right now, is the crown jewel of the space. And it's likely here to stay, by virtue of its position.
"Once companies have built a network, it's really difficult to displace them," del Ama said, adding that while massive companies such as Google are trying to compete with Facebook - and may have better technology - "we care about where our friends are."
<VIDEO> Lady Antebellum readies their performance in Louisville, Ky., to raise money for rebuilding Henryville, Ind., which was hit by two tornadoes in March. The country trio will also hold a mini-prom for about 200 students from Henryville High School.
<VIDEO> As the premiere of Charlie Sheen's new sitcom, Anger Management, approaches, the Golden Globe winner clearly hasn't forgotten how he was written off of his old show Two and a Half Men. RELATED: Sheen Recruits Ex for Anger Management A new trailer for the upcoming comedy features the self-professed "warlock" surviving a train crash -- a reference to his former character Charlie Harper, who was killed by a train on Men.
NEW YORK (AP) - ABC will introduce new shows about a fading country music star, a trapped submarine, alien neighbors and a creepy New York apartment building this fall.
The third-place network ordered 10 new series for next season, six of them dramas. In keeping with the year-round scheduling model now in vogue, only four new shows will start in September.
With "Desperate Housewives" ending its run and the now-cancelled "GCBs" failing to draw a Sunday night audience, ABC will move the soapy drama "Revenge" to Sundays in the fall.
Andre Braugher will star as the captain of a doomed submarine in the new "Last Resort." Connie Britton is the country legend in "Nashville." "666 Park Avenue" is the devilish apartment address, and September's only new comedy is "The Neighbors."
<VIDEO> Britney Spears and Demi Lovato are introduced as new judges on the upcoming season of the US 'X Factor' panel, as they joined producer L.A. Reid and show creator Simon Cowell at Beacon Theater in New York.
<VIDEO> At the London premiere of their new gothic comedy, "Dark Shadows," Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Eva Green talk about '70s fashion and the original TV series the movie is based on.
<VIDEO> Jurors deliberated late into the night Wednesday without reaching a verdict in the trial of the man accused of slaying Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. William Balfour has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
<VIDEO> The family of a missing 20th Century Fox film executive has set up a website in an attempt to track him down. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says 57-year-old Gavin Smith has been missing since last Tuesday night.
<VIDEO> Jennifer Lopez explains how the book 'What To Expect When You're Expecting' made her want to star in the movie, while Cameron Diaz talks about portraying a pregnant celebrity, and Anna Kendrick reveals that she cares more about dogs than babies.
<VIDEO> In character as Adm. Gen. Shabazz Aladeen, Sacha Baron Cohen held a press conference Monday in New York to answer media questions, including what really happened on the Oscars red carpet this year.
<VIDEO> Supermodel Linda Evangelista and ex-boyfriend billionaire fashion CEO Francois-Henri Pinault squared off Thursday in Manhattan Family Court. She's demanding that he pay child support for their 5-year-old son.
<VIDEO> Judge to hear daughter's request for conservatorship for ailing actress Zsa Zsa Gabor; 'Once' leads the Tony Award nominations with eleven; Another celebrity is dismissed from 'Dancing With The Stars.'
<VIDEO> The 2012 Tribeca Film closed in style the New York premiere of the superhero flick, 'The Avengers.' The film brings together a host of Marvel superheroes, each with their own feature film over the past couple of years.