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Archive for the ‘Europe News’ Category

The consequences of cheap oil

In Americas, Europe News, World News on February 26, 2016 at 10:31 am

By Tom Harford

After years in which $100 oil was the norm, the price of Brent crude is now around a third of that. Assume for a moment that Russia and Saudi Arabia fail in their efforts to get the price back up. Will $30 oil change the world? The answer is yes, of course. Everything is connected to everything else in economics, and that is particularly true when it comes to oil. For all the talk of the weightless economy, we’re not quite so post-industrial as to be able to ignore the cost of energy. Because oil is versatile and easy to transport, it remains the lubricant for the world’s energy system.

The rule of thumb has always been that while low oil prices are bad for the planet, they’re good for the economy. Last year a report from PwC estimated that…

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Scientists claim they can create babies without men by injecting eggs with artificial sperm

In Europe News, Tech on February 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

By John Von Radowitz

The Chinese team says the new discovery could pave the way for exciting new treatments to boost male fertility

Scientists have claimed they have found a way for women to have babies without men by creating artificial sperm.

The team from China claim they have created healthy mouse babies by injecting laboratory-made sperm into eggs to produce mouse offspring.

The scientists claim their stem cell technique could pave the way for new treatments for male fertility.

But British experts have called for the results to be independently verified and pointed out that any practical application is likely to be a long way off.

The mouse cells produced were technically “spermatids” – undeveloped sperm that lack tails and cannot swim.

Yet when they were injected into…

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Anxious greeks emptying their bank accounts

In Europe News on December 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm

By Ferry Batzoglou

Many Greeks are draining their savings accounts because they are out of work, face rising taxes or are afraid the country will be forced to leave the euro zone. By withdrawing money, they are forcing banks to scale back their lending — and are inadvertently making the recession even worse.

Georgios Provopoulos, the governor of the central bank of Greece, is a man of statistics, and they speak a clear language. “In September and October, savings and time deposits fell by a further 13 to 14 billion euros. In the first 10 days of November the decline continued on a large scale,” he recently told the economic affairs committee of the Greek parliament.

With disarming honesty, the central banker explained to the lawmakers why the Greek economy isn’t managing to recover from a recession that has gone on for three years now: “Our banking system lacks the scope to finance growth.”

He means that the outflow of funds from Greek bank accounts has been accelerating rapidly. At the start of 2010, savings and time deposits held by private households in Greece totalled €237.7 billion — by the end of 2011, they had fallen by €49 billion. Since then, the decline has been gaining momentum. Savings fell by a further €5.4 billion in September and by an estimated €8.5 billion in October — the biggest monthly outflow of funds since the start of the debt crisis in late 2009.

The raid on bank accounts stems from deep uncertainty in Greek households which culminated in early November during the political turmoil that followed the announcement by then-Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou of a referendum on the second Greek bailout package.

Papandreou withdrew the plan and stepped down following an outcry among other European leaders against the referendum, and a new government was formed on Nov. 11 under…

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New questions raised over Dominique-Strauss Kahn case

In Americas, Europe News on November 28, 2011 at 3:41 am

By Paul Harris

New questions have been raised about the events in the New York hotel room where the former International Monetary Fund head and French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn was alleged to have sexually assaulted a hotel maid.

The case against Strauss-Kahn was eventually dramatically dropped by a Manhattan court, but the scandal forced him to resign his IMF post and destroyed his chances of becoming the leading leftwing candidate to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency.

An exhaustively researched article in the New York Review of Books, published by veteran American investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein, has cast fresh doubt on exactly what happened in the Sofitel hotel room on 14 May between Strauss-Kahn and his accuser, Guinean-born maid Nafissatou Diallo.

In passages sure to delight Strauss-Kahn supporters and conspiracy theorists, Epstein’s lengthy article studied hotel door key and phone records and traced links to Strauss-Kahn’s potential political rivals, appearing to suggest the possibility that he had been set up.

Such allegations have been raised before, especially by some French media commentators. Some polls taken in France as the scandal dominated world headlines revealed sympathy for Strauss-Kahn. One showed that 57% of French people thought he had been the victim of a smear campaign. Diallo and her lawyers, however…

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European super X-Ray to study Earth’s core

In Europe News, Tech, World News on November 15, 2011 at 7:14 am

By The Inquisitr

Scientists have long speculated exactly what may reside at the center of the Earth’s core and now researchers at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility plan to find out through the use of a super X-ray beam.

The ESRF has been recently configured to use a huge particle accelerator that can create various intense X-Ray beams which provide scientists with an atom-level look at subjects. Called the ID24 the machine will allow scientists to subject metals to extremely high pressures and temperatures that are normally only observed in Earth’s core, they will then observe what happens to those objects to better understand our planets core.

In an official ESRF news release the process is explained:

The ID24 beamline works like an active probe rather than a passive detector, firing an intense beam of X-rays at a sample. It uses a technique called X-ray absorption spectroscopy where the way how atoms of a given chemical element absorb X-rays is studied in fine detail. From this data not only the abundance of an element can be deducted but also its chemical states and which other atoms, or elements, are in their immediate neighborhood, and how distant they are. In short, a complete picture at the atomic scale of the sample studied is obtained.

According to Popular Science ID24 won’t begin experimentation until Spring 2012 but when it finally goes into production researchers hope to receive 1 million measurements per second which in turn will show them precisely what happens when elements such as Iron are heated to 10,000 degrees.

By examining how metals examine at extreme depths scientists also hope to…

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Why is U.S. using X-Ray security scanners Europe rejects as unsafe?

In Americas, Europe News, World News on November 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm

By AllGov

In the late 1990s, experts insisted it was highly unlikely the U.S. would rely on new x-ray body scanners at airports and other security checkpoints. But the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, reversed that thinking and today there are hundreds of the machines in use, despite health concerns that have kept the technology out of Europe.
Some health specialists argue that even low-level radiation exposure poses an unacceptable risk to Americans going through airports. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), though, sees things differently, claiming body scanners are safe and effective. Nonetheless, on Tuesday John Pistole, the administrator of TSA, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that his agency will authorize a new, independent study of x-ray and body scanner safety.
The safety of medical x-ray machines is overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Non-medical x-ray machines, such as those used at airports, are less well-regulated. The FDA does have some power to set safety standards for such uses, but when airport scanners began to gain acceptance, the FDA allowed the scanner industry to set its own standards. As for TSA, it approved the scanners without even allowing a period of public comment.
About 250 x-ray scanners are currently in U.S. airports, along with 264 body scanners that use a different technology. TSA officials intend to…

French warships hit Somalia coastline

In Europe News, World News on October 31, 2011 at 5:44 am

By Press TV

The missiles are reported to have struck the town of Kuda and the port of Kismayo, a Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday.

Witnesses said that four cruise missiles hit near Kismayo while another six missiles struck Kuda.

There has been no immediate report on the number of casualties.

Kenyan officials confirmed the French navy’s role in Somalia. However, Paris denied having deployed any warships in the area.

The French navy is said to be assisting Kenyan forces which crossed into Somali borders more than a week ago in hunt for al-Shabab fighters.

Kenyan troops have launched an air and ground offensive against Somali’s al-Shabab fighters, accusing the group of kidnapping foreigners on its soil.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

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Europe begs China: Desperate Euro chiefs look East to fund huge bailout gamble

In Europe News, World News on October 29, 2011 at 3:01 am

By James Chapman

Europe is holding out the begging bowl to China in an effort to keep the rescue package for the single currency alive.

In a clear sign of how the balance of world power has tipped towards the East, EU leaders hope China can be persuaded to hand over huge sums to help bail out the eurozone.

In a further embarrassment, it emerged that the one trillion euro bailout fund announced in the early hours of yesterday does not really exist.

The pot contains only a quarter of that amount, and the rest of the money likely to be ‘leveraged’ – using the existing 250billon euros as security to borrow the rest.

Markets initially reacted with relief after all-night talks on the debt crisis engulfing the eurozone ended with agreement on a three-part package of measures after weeks of bickering.

EU leaders said they would boost an existing euro bailout fund to at least £880million (a trillion euros), recapitalise dangerously exposed European banks and write off half of Greece’s towering debts.

But in the cold light of day, it became clear that there were almost no details on how the bailout mechanism, supposed to act as a guarantor for debt-stricken countries in danger of defaulting on what they owe, might operate.

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Chaos Computer Club: German gov’t software can spy on citizens

In Big Brother, Europe News, Tech on October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

By Bob Sullivan

A well-regarded Germany-based hacker group claims a German government-created Trojan horseprogram is capable of secretly spying on Web users without their consent.

The group says on its website that it obtained and analyzed a piece of software that is supposed to be a “lawful interception” program designed to listen in on Internet-based phone calls as part of a legal wiretap, but its capabilities go far beyond legal bounds.

The program is capable of logging keystrokes, activating Webcams, monitoring Web users’ activities and sending mountains of data to government officials, the club said.

To cover its tracks, the data is routed through rented servers located in the United States, the club alleges.

“To avoid revealing the location of the command and control server, all data is redirected through a rented dedicated server in a data center in the USA,” the Club said on its website.

The German government has yet to comment on the findings, but already, antivirus companies are reacting to them. Security firm F-Secure will detect and disable the alleged government monitoring software if found on clients’ computers, it announced on Saturday.

“Yes, it is possible the Trojan found by CCC is written by the German government. We just can’t confirm that,” said Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure’s chief technology officer, via Twitter.

The program, labeled a “backdoor” because it can open a computer to surreptitious access, targets certain applications for keylogging, including Firefox, Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ and others, according to…

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Children to be banned from blowing up balloons, under EU safety rules

In Big Brother, Europe News on October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

By Bruno Waterfield

Children are to be banned from taking part in traditional Christmas games, from blowing up balloons to blowing on party whistles, because of new EU safety rules that have just entered into force.

The EU toy safety directive, agreed and implemented by Government, states that balloons must not be blown up by unsupervised children under the age of eight, in case they accidentally swallow them and choke.

Despite having been popular favourites for generations of children, party games including whistles and magnetic fishing games are to be banned because their small parts or chemicals used in making them are decreed to be too risky.

Apparently harmless toys that children have enjoyed for decades are now regarded by EU regulators as posing an unacceptable safety risk.

Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a a long coloured paper tongue when sounded – a party favourite at family Christmas meals – are now classed as unsafe for all children under 14.

The new rules are designed to protect children from the chance that a piece of the whistle could be swallowed and cause choking.

The EU directive will also force manufacturers and retailers to attach safety warnings to toys hitherto regarded as harmless.

Official guidance notes: “For latex balloons there must be a warning that children under eight years must be supervised and broken balloons should be discarded.” Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, warned that toy safety bans were part of a trend to micro-manage children’s lives at the expense of allowing them to explore, learn and have…

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