The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

China to construct public opinion polling platform

Want China Times, Xinhua 2013-02-28

China will build its largest-ever platform for conducting online public surveys, a senior researcher said Wednesday.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) will gather 600,000 volunteers to take part in the surveys over the next three years, with their opinions to be sent to policymakers in central government branches and local governments, according to Liu Zhiming, a senior CASS researcher in charge of the program.

Increasingly outspoken netizens are actively discussing every aspect of China from politics and economics to social issues, according to Liu.

Online opinions are critical for the Chinese government to make fair policies and maintain stability, said Liu.

The number of Internet users reached 564 million, or 43 percent of the country's population, by the end of 2012, according to figures released by the China Internet Networks Information Center.

Sina Weibo, China's biggest microblogging site, had over 500 million subscribers by the end of 2012, Sina Corp. announced on Feb. 20.

Netizens have accrued greater power in shaping society in recent years, using microblogs and other forms of new media to expose corrupt government officials and voice their opposition to government policies.

Xi Jinping speaks in Beijing in January.
(Photo/Xinhua)

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mobile makers set sights on grandparents

The Daily Star, Virginie Grognou, February 26, 2013

An employee holds Apple's iPhone 4s (L) and Samsung's Galaxy S III at a
 store in Seoul in this file photo from August 24, 2012. (REUTERS/Lee
Jae-Won/Files)
                              
BARCELONA: As smartphone giants Apple and Samsung battle for the wallets of tech-savvy youngsters, a growing number of manufacturers is trying to lure a fast-growing new market: their grandparents.

Handset makers at the world's biggest mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain, showed off a slew of new devices aimed at the hundreds of millions of older people put off by the complexity of the latest iPhones and Android-powered smartphones.

One of the leaders of the segment in Europe, Austrian firm Emporia, launched a new handset, the Emporia Connect, at the February 24-28 Mobile World Congress.

The sleek-looking black and silver flip phone is designed not to be "stigmatising" yet easy enough for older buyers to use, said Emporia's general manager for France, Christophe Yerolymos.

It has a keypad with larger numbers and an emergency button that will send an SOS along with data pinpointing the location of the phone.

The phone features a system called Emporia Me, with an array of remote control features for the owner's family, allowing a child or grandchild to check the device's location, battery status, or ensure the volume is up.

While it is not a smartphone and has no mapping service, it does have an orientation feature that lets a user push a single button to get turn-by-turn audible instructions for returning to a car while on a shopping trip, for example.

"Emporia is a company in growth, strong growth, even in the heart of the economic crisis we're in at the moment in Europe," said Yerolymos.

Japan's Fujitsu rolled out a European version of a smart phone for seniors, the Stylistic S01, which first launched in mid-2012 in Japan where it lured buyers from a wider age range than the group anticipated, from 45 years upwards.

It is an Android-based smartphone with large, simplified icons, and a "family alert" button that will send a message along with geo-localisation data.

But it also has an unusual touch-screen that will only respond when the user presses a bit harder so as to avoid launching applications by mistake, said Fujitsu Europe-Middle East-Africa product marketing director James Maynard.

"You can actually pre-touch and then when you know which button you want to press, you can exert a little bit more pressure," he said.

"It's made to grow with you so as you become more confident you naturally will exert more pressure on to the device. It's a stepping stone from a feature phone to a smartphone and using a touch panel for the first time."

Kapsys, a French firm, showed off its SmartConnect handset aimed at seniors.

The firm is in discussions with operators including Orange and is hoping to launch the device for about 400 euros ($520) in Europe in June and then in the United States by the end of 2013, said chief executive Aram Hekimian.

The SmartConnect boasts familiar features for the market: large icons, text in large characters, remote access for family members and also an SOS button with geo-localisation.

But it also incorporates a digital magnifier, enabling the user to roll the phone over text to facilitate reading, for example. The phone is rich in voice command functions, too, allowing the user to avoid fiddly buttons.

"Seniors today are used to having access to technology. As they get older they will want access to the same functions, the same technologies," Hekimian said.

Kapsys estimated the potential market for the telephone at 600 million people, he said. "Our goal is to capture one percent of that market by 2015."



“ …   Attitude Adjustment (Social Networking, Internet, New Paradigm)

Let me talk about number three, attitude adjustment. Some of you are starting to put together some things that Kryon has said in the past. Years ago, I channelled information that has now come to fruition and now you can begin to understand it, but then, you did not. We gave you this phrase: "When everyone can talk to everyone, there can be no secrets." In your current Earth society, this has now become something called social networking. Even before this term existed, I told you about it. There would be a time on the planet when all could talk to all, instantly. Can you see how that would disarm old paradigms of communication? Do you see how that might disarm information that was incorrect? Do you see how that might disarm drama and untruth? When everyone can talk to everyone - this is what is happening!

So, technology has given you the beginning of something that some of you, especially the older ones, look at and don't want anything to do with. You say, "It's a fad of the young people." I want you to adjust your attitudes toward this. Let a young person show you what they can do and how many friends that they can talk to all at once, instantly. Let them show you what happens when they want to communicate something so they put it in a certain place and, suddenly, hundreds know instantly. It is a new paradigm of the way Human Beings are going to communicate.

I wish to tell you where that's going to eventually lead, for social networking has no borders. What happens when a young Israeli is talking to a young Iranian or a Palestinian about something they saw on their networking devices? The ideas fly across the borders in a way that they never could before. What happens to the intermingling of friends in a technical paradigm where hundreds talk to each other instantly, perhaps in a land where they never did before? The result? It will continue to create understanding about those they only have heard about or have been told about. Now they can see and hear them, and will know they all want the same thing! This is a new paradigm of communication, but more than that, it becomes the way of the future, where everyone can know everything accurately and almost instantly.  It will be one of the catalysts for peace on the planet.

There is more here than meets the eye, dear ones, and your attitude is everything. For if you look at all this and say, "Well, this is a fad, and is just for the young," if this is you, then you're missing it totally. Let a young person explain what they can do and let the light bulb go on in your mind, for the evolution of the Human species is here and this is never going away. If you don't like all this, then social networking is only going to get worse for you! We say that in a humorous and facetious way.

There will come a day when this will be the way of it in all things. It will be impossible to be a hermit. You'll always have more friends than you thought possible. These are the things we are asking you to look forward to, but it's going to require you to look at them differently and adjust. That was number three. …”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yahoo chief bans working from home

Marissa Mayer has ordered an end to 'remote' work as all staff are told to be in the office as part of a new era of collaboration

The Guardian, Charles Arthur, technology editor, 25 February 2013


Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has left hundreds of staff facing the tough choice
 of relocating from home to Yahoo's nearest office by June - or quitting.
Photograph: Peter Kramer/AP

Surfing the web from at home might be just what Yahoo's chief Marissa Mayer wants her audience to do – but she has banned employees of the company itself from working "remotely", in an edict sent out last Friday to Yahoo's thousands of staff.

Several hundred staff must now relocate their home offices to Yahoo's nearest office outpost by June – or quit, as the former Google chief gets serious about getting the company's staff back into "meat space" so it can be a contender in the web space.

The memo from human resources chief Jackie Reses – but driven by Mayer – says that "to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices."

But the mood of Yahoo's 11,500 employees – down from 14,100 at the end of 2011 – can be guessed from the fact that the memo is marked: "PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION – DO NOT FORWARD" and that it has been forwarded to the news site AllThingsD by "a plethora" of staff, according to senior editor Kara Swisher, who broke the story.

The memo points out that even those who only work one or two days in the office will have to submit to the new regime. But it seems that what Mayer has in mind is the provision of more water coolers and coffee machines: "Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings," it says. "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

Mayer was hired in secret and took over in July 2012, and soon afterwards announced that she would be having her first child – which was duly born in October. Mayer however eschewed maternity leave to go straight back to work.

Having won a number of awards – including being ranked in the "Top 50 Best Places to Work" by Business Insider in 2013, and "Top 500 Green Companies" by Newsweek in 2010 – Yahoo may find itself winning another, for "biggest group of suddenly annoyed professionals". Although the memo says that "Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job", a number are now wondering if it might be exactly that.

One former Yahoo worker commenting at AllThingsD said that working from home made them far more productive than being in the office: "Why? I didn't have to put up with numbskull self-important programmers constantly yakking to each other LOUDLY from the next set of cubicles about non-work-related stuff, and I wasn't being distracted every 20 minutes by some bored soul coming over to my desk to go for coffee or foosball, or just to talk about the spreading ennui of knowing we were working for a company whose glory days were long over."

The UK press office declined to say whether staff here will be affected: "we do not comment on internal matters," a spokesman said.



Neelie Kroes: More ICT in schools, please

DutchNews.nl, Monday 25 February 2013

ICT is underused in schools and the young are in danger of not being able to cope with the digital society, writes Neelie Kroes

The Royal Dutch Academy of Science recently added its findings to what is becoming a considerable stack of reports about a worrying lack of digital skills among students.

The Academy concludes that schools must incorporate compulsory digital skills in the curriculum. It will give future ICT workers a good basic knowledge but more is needed to prepare people for life in the digital society.

Status  

The Dutch educational system, to a large extent, still reflects a society dominated by status and hierarchy. Little attention is paid to individual talents and learning needs.

Society doesn’t only need eggheads but carers, builders and creators as well. Talent can surface in all sorts of ways and we shouldn’t measure each individual with the same tape measure. We have to stimulate other ways of thinking, not discourage it.

Hierarchical barriers  

Whether it’s the work floor or a joint development of open-source software, new technology is enabling us to break down hierarchical barriers. Traditional views on competition, control and secrecy are gradually being replaced by a culture of openness, collaboration and shared information. Modern entrepreneurs and businesses are adapting their business structures and welcome diversity. Isn’t it about time we shared these ideas with our children while they are young?

Schools have been slow to see what new technologies can do to improve education and adapt it to the individual needs of students. ICT is offering us a wealth of challenging new ways of teaching and learning. The founder of media theory, Marshall McCluhan, said those who separate education and entertainment don’t understand either. More than thirty years after his death and many technology generations later, this concept still hasn’t caught hold. Many schools use ICT but are far from profiting from its enormous potential.

Shortage

The world is changing rapidly. Europe is on the verge of a huge shortage of properly trained ICT workers. We need talented young men and women to fill the gap. If we want to lead in the field of knowledge and innovation we shouldn’t teach our children the skills their parents needed but those they will need in the future. The educational system has to become more flexible and diverse.

At the beginning of the last century people buying a Ford automobile could choose any colour as long as it was black. Is that what we want for our educational system or will we enable it to keep up with the new technologies of a changing world?

Neelie Kroes is euro commissioner for the Digital Agenda


Related Articles:

China's 'grass roots' consumers changing online business

Improving Internet access in emerging markets: Google


"THE OLD SOUL 2013 TOOLKIT" – Jan 13, 2013 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Text version)

“ …   Attitude Adjustment (Social Networking, Internet, New Paradigm)

Let me talk about number three, attitude adjustment. Some of you are starting to put together some things that Kryon has said in the past. Years ago, I channelled information that has now come to fruition and now you can begin to understand it, but then, you did not. We gave you this phrase: "When everyone can talk to everyone, there can be no secrets." In your current Earth society, this has now become something called social networking. Even before this term existed, I told you about it. There would be a time on the planet when all could talk to all, instantly. Can you see how that would disarm old paradigms of communication? Do you see how that might disarm information that was incorrect? Do you see how that might disarm drama and untruth? When everyone can talk to everyone - this is what is happening!

So, technology has given you the beginning of something that some of you, especially the older ones, look at and don't want anything to do with. You say, "It's a fad of the young people." I want you to adjust your attitudes toward this. Let a young person show you what they can do and how many friends that they can talk to all at once, instantly. Let them show you what happens when they want to communicate something so they put it in a certain place and, suddenly, hundreds know instantly. It is a new paradigm of the way Human Beings are going to communicate.

I wish to tell you where that's going to eventually lead, for social networking has no borders. What happens when a young Israeli is talking to a young Iranian or a Palestinian about something they saw on their networking devices? The ideas fly across the borders in a way that they never could before. What happens to the intermingling of friends in a technical paradigm where hundreds talk to each other instantly, perhaps in a land where they never did before? The result? It will continue to create understanding about those they only have heard about or have been told about. Now they can see and hear them, and will know they all want the same thing! This is a new paradigm of communication, but more than that, it becomes the way of the future, where everyone can know everything accurately and almost instantly.  It will be one of the catalysts for peace on the planet.

There is more here than meets the eye, dear ones, and your attitude is everything. For if you look at all this and say, "Well, this is a fad, and is just for the young," if this is you, then you're missing it totally. Let a young person explain what they can do and let the light bulb go on in your mind, for the evolution of the Human species is here and this is never going away. If you don't like all this, then social networking is only going to get worse for you! We say that in a humorous and facetious way.

There will come a day when this will be the way of it in all things. It will be impossible to be a hermit. You'll always have more friends than you thought possible. These are the things we are asking you to look forward to, but it's going to require you to look at them differently and adjust. That was number three. …”



“… The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification

Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.

I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " 

Improving Internet access in emerging markets: Google

Google.org Blog, Monday 2/25/2013

People are constantly finding new ways to use the Internet to address our biggest challenges: global education, health care, clean water, effective government. But we’ve only scratched the surface on the potential of the Web. Today, 5 billion people still don’t have access to the Internet and the opportunity it provides.

Google is doing work to get more people connected, especially in places where Internet access lags the most. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we’ve created programs such as Google Apps Supporting Programs for Education, offered technical assistance such as caches for Internet providers, and generated ideas to build Internet capacity.

To help bring the next billion people online, Google.org is announcing today our support of two organizations that share our mission to connect the world: the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and the Internet Society (ISOC).

We are providing $3.1M to the NSRC to grow their work to bring local network engineering expertise to universities and national research & education networks (NRENs) across Sub-Saharan Africa. Through labs and a train-the-trainers program, NSRC will provide hands-on training on campus network planning, deployment, and management for over 600 university and NREN staff. Their work will bring the Internet to students and staff at over 50 institutions and increase network engineering know-how in Sub-Saharan Africa.

KENET-NSRC Campus Network Design Workshop,
Photo: NSRC

Lesotho IXP setup. Photo Credit: ISOC/Michuki Mwangi

We are also supporting ISOC, providing $1.3M to improve and create Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in emerging markets. IXPs play a big role in core Internet infrastructure, allowing Internet Service Providers to peer locally (and cheaply), which can lower end user costs, promote competition, and improve user experience. ISOC will create a toolkit for those who want to create and improve IXPs and build an industry portal to share IXP information and data.

Some of the brightest minds are working to improve lives in new ways through the Internet. By supporting the work of NSRC and ISOC, we can make sure that those opportunities are available to more people in more parts of the world.

Posted by Jennifer Haroon, Principal, Google.org

Monday, February 25, 2013

China's 'grassroots' consumers changing online business

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2013-02-25

A screenshot of Momo, a social networking app. (Internet photo)

Businesses in China may be overlooking a flourishing "grassroots" market of 500-600 million online consumers. With a modest monthly income of 2,000-3,000 yuan (US$320-$480) and located mostly in rural areas, these consumers nonetheless dispose of 40% of their income on internet shopping, entertainment, and friend-making, according to the Beijing-based Economic Observer.

As a result, Zhang Xiaowei, founder of retail website mmb.cn, embraces a business model aimed not at crowded urban markets but at China's villages.

In the same vein, yy.com, an multimedia website for finding friends, targets netizens in the countryside and migrant workers in cities, rather than white-collar workers. Different from QQ and other instant messaging websites, yy.com can help clients through voice and video chat and provides various channels, including entertainment, gaming, and education.

The music division of yy.com, for instance, recruits signers to perform to boost attendees, who pay in pre-purchased virtual money before the show. Profit is split 8:2 between the site and performer.

Originally a provider of gaming and audio software, yy.com has transformed into a platform for entertainment and education. Some performing artists have found their way into the national spotlight through the platform.

Karaoke, another common pastime in China, is at the core of 9158.com, which provides live video karaoke and boasts a large number of grassroots stars and idols. Clients can visit the video-channel "chat room" to sing karaoke, listen to songs, play games, and strike up conversation. A host for a virtual room could potentially gather tens or hundreds of thousands of fans, who spend several cents or dollars to buy them virtual gifts, such as virtual flowers, which generate real income.

The Economic Observer noted that 9158.com satisfies the entertainment needs of numerous netizens in the countryside and migrant workers in cities during their leisure time after long, arduous work. Often restricted to factory dormitories, employees can connect to a wider social circle through these platforms.

The karaoke site and several subsidiary websites host over 20,000 video chat rooms with a total of 100-200 million registered clients and 20-30 million active clients. At any one time, servers are capable of holding 700,000 clients online. It racks up monthly revenue of 70 million yuan (US$11.2 million), which translates into a 70% market share.

In the new wave of mobile shopping, immomo.com is the first platform dedicated to mobile e-commerce in China, offering shopping to mainly farmers, migrant workers, and residents of third- or fourth-tier cities. Zhang Xiaowei, founder of the site, claims that, "our aim is to serve the grassroots masses, as an e-commerce revolution is taking place in rural areas in China." At present, the e-commerce site has become China's largest mobile business-to-consumer website, boasting annual sales of 500 million yuan (US$80 million).

In Dec. 2012, immomo.com joined hands with Tencent to invest 400 million yuan (US$64 million) for remaking the website into an operational, logistics, procurement and R&D center for mobile e-commerce in China.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Samsung unveils 8-inch tablet with phone capability

The Daily Star, AFP, February 24, 2013

A handout photo released on February 24, 2013
shows  a Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 8.0, the
 latest version of its oversized smartphone lineup.
AFP PHOTO / Samsung Electronics
                              
SEOUL: Samsung on Sunday unveiled an eight-inch tablet with phonecall capability to rival Apple's recently launched iPad mini and to cement its market dominance by offering devices in a variety of sizes.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 features an eight-inch screen and, where it may steal a march on its rival which measures 7.9-inches, the ability to make phone calls.

The new device, now being marketed by Samsung as a "tablet", is powered by Google's Android software and will be showcased at the four-day Mobile World Congress in Barcelona beginning on February 25, the company said in a statement.

Like previous incarnations of the Galaxy Note, the device comes with a stylus pen allowing the user to write or draw on the screen, which can be split in two to run various programs at the same time.

Global sales will begin in the second quarter, the firm said.

Samsung is the world's top maker of smartphones and mobile phones in general.

The latest device -- the first from the company to feature an eight-inch screen -- is set to fill a gap in the firm's wide product lineup, which ranges from the flagship smartphone Galaxy S to the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 and the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab tablet PC.

The firm has recently shifted its focus to its Galaxy Note, which turned out to be far more popular than the larger Galaxy Tab, offering the Note in various sizes in a move that blurred the lines between smartphones and tablet PCs.

Samsung said the launch of the Galaxy Note 8.0 will "reignite the mid-size tablet category" -- a segment increasingly crowded by rival products including the iPad mini that launched last November and Google's seven-inch Nexus 7.

Samsung and Apple accounted for more than half of all smartphone sales in the final quarter of 2012 -- 29.0 percent for Samsung and 22.1 percent for Apple -- according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Related Article:


Friday, February 22, 2013

Google challenges Apple with high-end laptop

Google - AFPGlenn Chapman (AFP), 21 February 2013

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, introduces the Chromebook
and Chromebox on June 28, 2012 (AFP/File, Kimihiro Hoshino)

SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Thursday unveiled a touch-screen notebook computer designed for high-end users, throwing down a gauntlet for Apple and its MacBooks.

Google said its Chromebook Pixel computers blending tablet and laptop technology, boasting heavyweight Intel chips and screens tailored for rich graphics, were released in the United States and Britain, starting at $1,299.

"People will give up a MacBook Air for this," Google Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai said while showing off the premium end of what, to now, were low-priced notebook computers that serve as windows to Internet-based services.

A Pixel model featuring built-in connectivity to the Verizon mobile Internet service will hit the market in April at a price of $1,449, according to Google.

The version available Thursday allowed connections to the Internet with wireless hot-spot technology or cables.

"It's a great looking product," Om Malik of technology news website GigaOm said at the Pixel debut in San Francisco.

"But Google is facing a selling problem, they have to compete on price originally and build a developer base for a high-end product."

Google hoped people look beyond comparing Pixel prices with competitors such as MacBooks or laptops built on Windows 8 software to see the value the touch-screen and the massive terabyte of Google Drive online data storage included.

"It is clear that touch is here to stay and that it is the future," Pichai said. "I am sure every laptop will have touch in the future."

He described the Pixel screen resolution as superior to that on any laptop being shipped today, including Apple's premium MacBook models.

Google also set out to remedy a complaint by Chrome notebook users frustrated when trying to work with documents or spreadsheets made with Microsoft's widely used Word or Excel software.

Within three months, Google will release Quickoffice software for handling those types of files, according to Pichai.

The announcement adds a new dimension to the rivalry between the two tech giants, which are in a fierce battle over smartphones and tablets.

"This is for power users we expect to live completely in the cloud," Pichai said. "The Pixel is about pushing the state of the art."

Google custom built Pixel and is producing it with the help of electronics manufacturers in Taiwan.

Google intended to make a profit on Pixel sales, but said the main intents were to more deeply mesh the California-based Internet giant's money-generating products and services into people's lives.

Pixels were also intended to set an example for other device makers to follow, according to Pichai.

"Chrome notebooks bring the best of Google together; search, maps, Gmail, and more just a click away," Pichai said. "And since we are obsessed with speed, this Chromebook is screamingly fast."

Google was working with third-party application developers to tailor Pixel programs.

"The goal is to get the Pixel in the hands of all our early adopters as well as developers," Pichai said. "We think our ecosystem will respond well."

Google introduced the first Chromebook in mid-2010 in a challenge to Windows operating software at the heart of Microsoft's empire.

The array of Chromebook makers has grown to include Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard, with previous models offered at bargain prices when compared to high-end laptops.

When Chromebooks were first introduced, then Google chief executive Eric Schmidt predicted that "cloud computing will define computing as we all know it" and that the offering was a viable third option to computers built on Apple and Windows platforms.

Shifting operating software to banks of servers on the Internet means that Google tends to matters such as updating programs and fending off hackers and malicious software.

Advantages include quick start-ups from disk-drive free machines and essentially being able to dive into one's desktop data from anywhere on the Internet.

People can also share their computers, with the operating system preventing snooping on one another.

Google remains devoted to its Android software for powering tablets and smartphones, following two paths when it comes to Internet-synched hardware, according to Pichai.

"So far, we have been in a world that is pretty straight forward: Chromebook laptops and Android tablets," Pichai said. "Once you start building a touch laptop, the lines blur but we are doing both."



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Admirers, protesters greet Cuban dissident in Brazil

Jakarta Globe, February 19, 2013

Cuban blogger Yoanis Sanchez says goodbye to her family upon departing
from Havana's airport on February 17, 2013

Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was greeted in Brazil on Monday by admirers and protesters at the start of a "bittersweet" foreign tour, after she finally won permission to leave Cuba.

Sanchez arrived in Recife, where she was welcomed by friends, supporters and journalists, and also by about 20 pro-Cuban protesters who waved signs accusing her of being "Yoani agent of the CIA."

Sanchez responded, "Long live democracy. I want this democracy in my country, too."

The 37-year-old philologist, who found an international audience on the Internet with her prize-winning blog "Generation Y," is known for her biting commentary, which has drawn the displeasure of Cuba's ruling communist party.

The government in Havana repeatedly denied permission for her to leave the country in response to invitations to speak in Brazil and elsewhere.

But it finally relented after easing travel restrictions for Cubans in mid-January, and eliminating the requirement of an exit visa.

Brazil is Sanchez's first stop on a three-month trip that will take here around the Americas and to Europe.

"I am very happy," she told Globo News on her arrival. "It was five years of struggle, of trying every path. I have that bittersweet feeling. I am happy for me, but I also have friends who didn't get a passport."

"The emigration reform brought some flexibility, simplified many things, but I have friends who were denied passports," she said.

She said she didn't think the Cuban government would prevent her return at the end of the tour.

"I want to stay in Cuba, to help the Cubans. I don't want to be a migrant Yoani Sanchez in another country," she said.

Besides Brazil, she is planning to visit Argentina, Mexico, Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and the United States. She plans to visit Google, Twitter and Facebook while in the United States.

"I am going to learn everything I can and I think that after this visit I will be better prepared," she said on leaving Havana.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Germany probes Amazon warehouse conditions after film

BBC News, 16 February 2013

The Amazon warehouse at Bad Hersfeld featured prominently in the film

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Germany is demanding explanations from the online retail giant Amazon after a TV documentary showed seasonal workers being harassed by security guards.

A TV documentary by state broadcaster ARD said employees' rooms were searched, they were frisked at breakfast and constantly watched.

Employment Minister Ursula von der Leyen said some employment agencies could lose their operating licences.

In a statement, Amazon said it would follow up complaints.

"The suspicion weighs heavily; therefore all facts must be put on the table as quickly as possible," Mrs von der Leyen told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"If the special investigation finds that there is some substance to the complaints against the employment agencies, then their licences are in question."

The film showed the living and working conditions of agency workers brought in to help with the Christmas rush, principally at an Amazon warehouse in Bad Hersfeld, in the state of Hesse.

It showed staff living quarters in cramped holiday accommodation a long way from the Amazon warehouse, which could only be reached by an unreliable bus service.

Many of the temporary workers came from Spain and Poland. Workers from outside Germany were shown as receiving the worst harassment from security guards from a private firm, Hensel European Security Services (Hess).

Hess was under contract to an employment agency, not to Amazon itself.

The firm said it rejected allegations that it supported the far-right. However, it confirmed its guards had carried out room searches.

In a statement on Friday, Amazon said: "Our goal is to deliver orders quickly and reliably to our customers.

"We know this only works with a contented workforce... We will follow up each incident in our logistics centres and their surroundings which is brought to our attention by our staff, and if need be, will implement thorough improvements."



George Osborne in pledge to help world's poor fight tax abuse

Chancellor reaffirms promise on aid and pledges to join forces with the developing world to help beat 'corporate cheats'

The Guardian, The Observer, Daniel Boffey, policy editor, Saturday 16 February 2013

George Osborne has pledged to drive forward a 'new agenda of transparency'.
Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters

The chancellor George Osborne has pledged to join forces with the developing world to crack down on multinationals avoiding tax in some of the world's poorest countries.

Fresh from the G20 meeting of finance ministers in Moscow, Osborne reveals in the Observer that the UK wants to rewrite the rules of the corporate game to help developing countries collect the tax that is due to them.

In remarks hailed by anti-poverty campaigners, he promises to drive forward a "new agenda of transparency" and to force oil, mining and gas giants to publish key financial data project-by-project wherever they operate.

He also reasserts the UK's goal of being the first country to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on aid next year, and reveals that a major spending focus is on improving the capacity of developing countries to hold corporate giants to account.

Writing in this newspaper Osborne makes it clear that while it is important to force multinationals such as Starbucks and Amazon to pay their tax bills in the UK and the rest of the developed world, it was the world's poorest who often needed the greatest help.

The chancellor, who also announced that he will lead a new G20 transfer pricing group examining how to stop firms shifting their taxable profits from country to country, writes: "Next year, we will have met the international commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid, the first country in the G20 to meet it. It's a historic moment for Britain. We should feel proud of that, as a nation, and it's a proud moment for me as a Conservative. We have not turned our backs on the poorest countries in these tough times.

"Our investment means 11 million children will go to school, 55 million children will be vaccinated against preventable diseases and we will stop 250,000 newborn babies dying needlessly. But it will also help developing countries to build capacity to govern their countries effectively – and tax collection is a crucial part of that."

Osborne makes his intervention following the Observer's revelation last week that Associated British Foods, the owner of brands including Silver Spoon sugar and Primark, has avoided paying millions of pounds of tax in an African state blighted by malnutrition.

The Zambian sugar-producing subsidiary of Associated British Foods, a FTSE100 company, contributed virtually no corporation tax to the state's exchequer between 2007 and 2012, and none at all for two of those years.

The company benefits from generous capital allowance and tax-relief schemes in Zambia, but an investigation by ActionAid also found that it legally funnels around a third of its pre-tax profits to sister companies in tax havens, including Ireland, Mauritius and the Netherlands, which it says is used to pay for genuine services.

Osborne commends this newspaper for highlighting the problem of tax avoidance in the developing world and vowed that the UK would use its position as host of the G8 meeting of world leaders this summer to promote "transparency and accountability in developing countries".

He writes: "We're taking action through the G20. But the problem goes much wider than the 20 major economies it represents. Last week, the Observer launched a debate over the specific problem of tax avoidance in developing companies.

"You are right to highlight this: often the poorer a nation is, the more they need the tax revenues, but also the weaker their capacity to tackle tax avoidance effectively.

"We will use the G8 to drive greater transparency as part of ensuring that revenues from oil, gas and mining can help developing countries to forge a path to sustainable growth, instead of fuelling conflict and corruption."

His comments come as research group Platform is due to publish a report on the tax records of major oil firms including Shell, which in 2005 moved the intellectual property ownership of its own brands to a subsidiary in Switzerland.

Chris Jordan, ActionAid's tax specialist, said: "George Osborne's clear commitment in today's Observer to help the world's poorest countries tackle corporate tax avoidance is a stunning development."

"Fresh thinking on this issue is long overdue and as Osborne realises tweaking the current system will not be sufficient to ensure both rich and poor countries benefit."

Adrian Lovett, Europe executive director of ONE, a grassroots campaign group, applauded Osborne's reaffirmation today of the UK's aid spending but warned the chancellor that oil, gas and mining firms would seek loopholes in any new transparency regimes.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Nick Clegg will use a speech in front of a city audience at Mansion House to call for the UK financial services to invest in the north of England as part of an effort to rebalance an economy overly dependent on London's affluence. The deputy prime minister will say: "Crucially, growth outside the capital strengthens London too. Their burgeoning private sectors are your customers. The firms in need of financial and professional services. And their breakthroughs are your gains."


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