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News Briefs

EMachines Files For Initial Public Stock Offering


An Irvine, Calif., company that came out of nowhere to become one of the United States’ largest PC makers by selling computers for less than $600 said Tuesday it plans to raise $200 million in an initial public stock offering.

EMachines Inc. has sold about a million personal computers since it began shipments in November, and the company now accounts for one of every nine PCs sold in retail stores in the United States. It has yet to turn a profit, however. EMachines lost $3.9 million on revenue of $351 million through the first half of this year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made Tuesday.

The company was formed last September and is primarily owned by two Korean companies, TriGem Computer and Korea Data Systems Co., which own 28.5 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively. The company got a huge boost in June from America Online Inc., the country’s largest Internet service provider, when it signed a marketing agreement in which AOL would provide rebates of up to $400 to EMachines buyers. As part of the deal, AOL took an 8.7 percent stake in the company.

Industry experts credit EMachines’ strong start to effective planning and execution.

“EMachines is really focused on production efficiency, and they lined up their production, distribution and outsourcing relationships before anything else, making sure they were concrete before going forward,” said Matt Sargent, an analyst with InfoBeads.

Jordan Cracks Down on Hamas


The Islamic Resistance Movement, the militant Palestinian organization responsible for some of the bloodiest killings and suicide bombings directed against Israel, has for years operated more or less openly in Jordan.

With tolerance from the late King Hussein, activists from the group, known by its initials as Hamas, maintained offices around the capital city of Amman, granted interviews, issued statements and went about their business. Their understanding with Jordanian authorities was that they were free to express their views -- including advocating terror -- and associate with whom they chose, as long as they did not involve themselves in violence.

On Monday that changed.

In a swift, sudden crackdown, Jordanian police raided and closed several offices in Amman, arrested 12 activists and issued arrest warrants for four senior Hamas figures, at least three of whom are believed to be traveling in Iran. The Jordanian authorities said they discovered that the offices of the Hamas activists were fronts for a “non-Jordanian group” to conduct illegal activities.

Wildfire Focus Shifts To Southern Calif


Two dozen huge wildfires burned Tuesday across 150,000 acres of the West, with the largest blazes roaring through the bone-dry scrublands at the edge of the Mojave Desert.

Residents in Las Vegas, more than 200 miles away, reported seeing smoke drifting above their city from the Southern California fires.

Thousands of residents from five towns and settlements were ordered or asked to evacuate, and hundreds of campers, too, were chased out of the forests.

A few dozen structures, including some homes and trailers, have been destroyed in Southern California. Five people were arrested Monday for looting the homes of residents fleeing the flames and smoke. One firefighter lost his life over the weekend, perhaps from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 23 large fires reported in six western states, being battled by 11,000 firefighters, supported by 849 engines, 102 helicopters and eight military C-130 aircraft converted to air tankers. Most of the firefighters have now been shifted from Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Texas to work in Southern California.

Last week, the biggest blazes were in Northern California, where fires blackened 76,468 acres, with the largest burns centered in the Plumas, Shasta and Trinity National Forests between Sacramento and Redding. So smoky were the blazes that downtown Sacramento was veiled in gray ashy fog last Thursday. These fires are now largely under control.

“Right now, Southern California is the priority for fire managers,” said Janelle Smith, an information officer with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, which tracks the wildland fires around the country, serving as a sort of brokerage for firefighters and their equipment.

Jack Ford to Join ABC News


ABC has made it official: Jack Ford is leaving NBC to join the alphabet network’s news division. Ford will report legal and other stories and will be an anchor for “20/20.” He’ll also substitute for Charles Gibson on “Good Morning America.”

There’s been wide speculation that ABC wants him to take over for Gibson, who returned as a “GMA” anchor along with Diane Sawyer when that morning show went into a ratings free fall. Both Gibson and Sawyer have said they’ll stay with the show through the end of the coming TV season in May.

Ford and ABC News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said no promises have been made that Ford will inherit Gibson’s job.

Ford spent the last five years as co-anchor of the “Today” weekend editions and as NBC News’s chief legal correspondent, providing analysis for “Today” as well as for “Dateline NBC” and “NBC Nightly News.” The former trial attorney began his TV career in 1983 at New York’s WCBS. He was an anchor for Court TV from the network’s inception in 1991 until 1994.