Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Chinese oil giant ends ops in Libya, Syria: Report

In World News on August 25, 2011 at 11:53 am


China’s largest oil and gas producer has shut down six major projects in war-torn Libya, Syria and other restive nations because of political instability, state media said Tuesday.

The decision came as Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s regime appeared close to collapse after rebels took over the capital Tripoli, and as other countries in the Middle East and Africa experienced bouts of unrest.

The projects in Libya, Niger, Syria and Algeria were run by Great Wall Drilling Co (GWDC), a subsidiary of the state-owned giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the Beijing Times newspaper reported.

Quoting company insiders, it said the exploration projects had been terminated due to “political instability” and to “protect the staff’s safety.”

The report did not detail what these projects were, but said the termination would cause 1.2 billion yuan ($188 million) in lost revenue for GWDC.

A CNPC spokesman told AFP he had no knowledge of the project terminations.

China is always on the look-out for natural resources around the world to…

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Facebook and Twitter to oppose calls for social media blocks during riots

In Big Brother, Europe News on August 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm

By Josh Halliday

Facebook and Twitter are preparing to stand firm against government ministers’ calls to ban people from social networks or shut their websites down in times of civil unrest.

The major social networks are expected to offer no concessions when they meet the home secretary, Theresa May, at a Home Office summit on Thursday lunchtime.

Ministers are expected to row back on David Cameron’s call for suspected rioters to be banned from social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, following the riots and looting across England a fortnight ago.

The home secretary will explore what measures the major social networks could take to help contain disorder – including how law enforcement can more effectively use the sites – rather than discuss powers to shut them down. The acting Metropolitan police commissioner, Tim Godwin, and the Tory MP Louise Mensch have separately explored the idea of shutting down websites during emergencies.

The technology companies will strongly warn the government against introducing emergency measures that could usher in a new form of online censorship. Attacks on London landmarks, including the Olympics site and Westfield shopping centres, were thwarted earlier this month after police managed to intercept private BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) posts – suggesting that leaving networks running can provide…

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World Bank ready to help Libya

In World News on August 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm

By Enda Curran

As rebels entered the center of Tripoli in what could be their final battle with the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, a senior World Bank official said the bank is ready to offer a new regime financial support if asked.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, one of three managing directors at the World Bank, told Dow Jones Newswires on Monday that it will use its vast experience in post-conflict rebuilding “to deal with Libya when the situation is right and when it is demanded by the people there.”

An uprising that began in February has reached the center of the capital Tripoli after months of fighting and air strikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, signaling that the government of Col. Gadhafi could be on the brink of collapse. A rebel victory would likely put added downward pressure on oil prices, which are already falling amid concerns about the slowing global economy.

“The World Bank will stand ready in supporting the people in Libya,” said Ms. Sri Mulyani.

In 2010, the country, which has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, produced 1.8 million barrels a day of crude oil and other petroleum products, according to the U.S. government. As recently as 2009, it exported 1.5 million barrels a day, ranking it 12th in the world, according to the U.S.

“It will create more stability on the price, but whether that means it will be lower than the past six months remains to be seen,” said said Ms. Sri Mulyani. The onset of fighting helped drive oil…

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The TV that watches you

In Big Brother, Tech on August 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

By Tom Simonite

A television due out soon can tell websites and online advertisers which shows you’re watching, making Web pages more intelligent.

Many people surf the Web while they watch television. Soon­­­ the websites they visit could adapt in real time to the shows being watched—automatically presenting information relevant to the show, or even tuning their ads in response to what’s on screen.

A new type of Internet-connected television, due out before the end of the year, has built-in software and hardware that send data about what is on-screen to an Internet server that can identify the content. Web pages being viewed using the same Internet connection as the TV set can then tap into that information. The system can identify any content onscreen, whatever the source, whether live TV, DVDs or movie files playing from a computer.

Flingo, the San Francisco-based startup that developed the technology, known as Sync Apps, says the new set is already being mass-produced by one of the top five television brands in the U.S. and will retail for less than $500.

“Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now,” says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. “For example, you could go to Google or IMDB and the page would already know what’s on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to…

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EU oil companies get set to return to Libya

In World News on August 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

By Andrew Rettman

EU oil firms are preparing to return to Libya amid good will generated by Nato support. The military alliance has also carried out “prudent planning” for a potential peacekeeping mission.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini on Monday (22 August) said energy company Eni has sent a delegation to meet rebel leaders in Benghazi after opposition forces entered Tripoli at the weekend, signalling the end of the Gaddafi regime.

“I won’t be revealing any secrets if I say that Eni technicians have already been called to Benghazi to reactivate plants … The facilities were made by Italians and therefore it is clear that Eni will play a No. 1 role in the future,” he told Rai TV.

Eni spokesman Cesaro Fabio declined to comment on the Benghazi trip. He told EUobserver that Eni’s oil and gas licences in the country are valid until between 2042 and 2047, however. The firm’s pre-war oil output in Libya was 270,000 barrels a day. It also operated the 10-billion-cubic-metre-a-year Greenstream gas pipeline.

Stefan Leunig, a spokesman for Germany’s Wintershall, previously on 100,000 barrels a day, said: “Starting up production could be done within several weeks under standard technical conditions. This of course depends on the state of the export infrastructure as well as a stable security situation.”

A spokeswoman for French firm Total said: “We are monitoring the situation closely to see when we can restart operations.” A spokesman for Austria’s OMV said it last had contact with rebel leaders in…

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Higgs boson is running out of places to hide

In Tech, World News on August 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

By Lisa Grossman

The elusive Higgs boson, thought to give all other particles mass, is running out of places to hide. A new deluge of data from the Large Hadron Collider‘s twin particle detectors has ruled out a wide range of possible masses for the theoretical particle.

The Higgs is the last undiscovered particle in the standard model of physics, the leading theory for how particles and forces interact.

Data from the LHC’s ATLAS and CMS detectors have now ruled out – with a confidence level of 95 per cent – all masses for the Higgs between 145 and 466 gigaelectronvolts (GeV). That covers the bulk of the mass range that is easiest for physicists to explore.

“We’re ruling out the easy bits, and we’re leaving the harder bits still to study,” says James Gillies, spokesman for CERN, the particle physics lab in Switzerland where the LHC is based. “There’s still a lot of space left, but it’s the space that’s harder for us to analyse.”

Hiding out

The announcement, made on Monday at the biennial Lepton-Photon conference in Mumbai, India, came on the heels of a hopeful whiff of the Higgs announced at the Europhysics Conference in…

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IBM unveils chips that mimic the human brain

In Tech on August 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

By Stuart Sumner

IBM has unveiled a new experimental computer chip that it says mimics the human brain in that it perceives, acts and even thinks.

It terms the machines built with these chips “cognitive computers”, claiming that they are able to learn through experience, find patterns, generate ideas and understand the outcomes.

In building this new generation of chip, IBM combined principles of nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing.

It has been awarded $21m (£12.7m) of new funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the next phase of the project, which it terms “Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics” (SyNAPSE).

“This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century,” said Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research.

Modha added that the chip may see applications in business, science and government.

“Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture.

“These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signalling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government.”

IBM states that the chips, while certainly not biological, are inspired by the architecture of the human brain in their design. Digital silicon…

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10 New ways that the government will be spying on you and controlling your behavior

In Big Brother, Tech on August 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm

By The American Dream

Are you ready for Big Brother 2.0?  If you think that the hundreds of ways that the government watches, monitors, tracks and controls us now are bad, just wait until you see what is coming.  We live in an age when paranoia is running wild.  As technology continues to develop at an exponential pace, governments all over the globe are going to discover a multitude of new ways to spy on us and control our behavior.  In a world where everyone is a “potential terrorist”, we are told that things like liberty, freedom and privacy are “luxuries” that we can no longer afford.  We are assured that if we just allow the government to watch all of us and investigate all of us that somehow that will keep us all safe.  But it isn’t just the government that is watching us.  Now we are being taught to spy on one another and to report any trace of “suspicious activity” to the government immediately.  The entire civilized world is being transformed into one giant prison grid, and many of the new technologies that are now being introduced are going to make things even worse.

The following are 10 new ways that the government will be spying on you and controlling your behavior….

#1Are you ready for “electronic skin tattoos”?  One team of researchers has created an extremely thin, extremely flexible “smart skin” that will open up a whole new world of possibilities.  Wearing “skin-mounted electronics” might seem like a great idea to tech geeks, but it also could create a whole lot of new problems.  The following is how an article in one UK newspaper described this new breakthrough….

The “epidermal electronic system” relies on a highly flexible electrical circuit composed of snake-like conducting channels that can bend and stretch without affecting performance. The circuit is about the size of a postage stamp, is thinner than a human hair and sticks to the skin by natural electrostatic forces rather than glue.

Yes, this kind of technology would be a great way to connect wirelessly to the Internet and it would…

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Coca-Cola to invest $4 Billion in China for long-term growth

In World News on August 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

By Nick Smith

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) announced Thursday that it was partnering with its Chinese bottling partners to invest $4 billion in China over three years, beginning in 2012.

Citing growth opportunities, Coca-Cola has already made a strong push into China. By the end of this year, Coca-Cola and its China bottling partners will have invested more than $3 billion in China over the last three years.

“China is one of our most important growth markets in the world as we work to achieve our 2020 Vision goal of doubling system revenues and servings this decade. The new investment is a part of our long-term commitment to invest in innovation, partnerships and a portfolio that will enable us to grow our business in a sustainable and responsible way,” Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company said in Shanghai.

China has been an increasingly attractive target market for many foreign companies, especially as it continues grow. GM (NYSE: GM [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) and Ford (NYSE: F), among many, have made strong efforts to build market share in the hugely populated country.

CEO Kent was positive about the impact the move would have for Coca-Cola’s customers.

“Besides our infrastructure and capabilities, the new investment will also focus on enhancing the consumer experience, ensuring product affordability and building brand loyalty which deliver sustainable growth,” he said.

Coca-Cola benefits not just from its namesake in China, but from other popular brands under…

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Jon Stewart: Ron Paul ignored by mainstream media (Video)

In Americas on August 17, 2011 at 10:14 am

By Ashley Portero

John Stewart ripped the media a new one on Monday night’s episode of “The Daily Show” after recounting how the mainstream media effectively ignored the presidential candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) even though he came in second in last weekend’s Ames Straw Pole in Iowa.

Stewart showed a quick series of various pundits who immediately anointed Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry as the Republican Party’s “top tier” candidates following the straw poll while sidestepping the fact that Paul received 4,671 votes, only slightly below Bachmann’s 4823. Governor Tim Pawlenty — who dropped out of the race after only earning 2,293 votes — came in third.

In contrast, Perry, a write-in candidate, came in at sixth place with 718 votes while Romney — who has been considered a top contender among the GOP after announcing his candidacy in June — came in seventh with a paltry 567 votes.

“How did libertarian Ron Paul become the 13th floor in a hotel?” Stewart exclaimed on air after playing a few highlight reels of news anchors going out of their way to keep Paul out of the straw poll discussion.

Stewart went on to show how even though Paul was warmly received during the most recent Republican presidential debate, and was even met with a round of applause after espousing on his views on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that differed from his fellow candidates, pundits still labled the 12-term congressman as “crazy” and…

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