World News

Japan Targets Zero Nuclear Power By 2030s

Japan Targets Zero Nuclear Power By 2030s

WORLD

  • Ministers finalizing policy to phase out nuclear energy in Japan say media reports
  • Government previously favored increase of nuclear to 50% of electricity supply
  • Total nuclear shutdown would make Japan one of world’s top fossil fuel importers

Japan is planning to shut down all nuclear power plants by the 2030s, according to Japanese media.

The reports, carried by the public broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo News agency, said government ministers were meeting to finalize a new policy on transforming Japan into a nuclear-free nation.

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China Cuts Rare Earth Production 20%, Creates Tense Trade Relations

China Cuts Rare Earth Production 20%, Creates Tense Trade Relations

WORLD

  • China cuts production of rare earth to respect new minimum output guidelines and help protect rare earth resources
  • China produces over 90% of world rare earth supply, holds 30% of world rare earth deposits
  • Japan, the US and Europe complain to World Trade Organization that China is violating free-trade rules
  • China aims for greater control over global rare earth pricing  

Chinese government officials have decided to curb China’s production of rare earths – minerals that technology makers rely on for high-tech products – by nearly 20%. As China produces over 90% of the globe’s rare earth supply, this decision is fostering tense trade relations with the US, Japan and Europe.

Output is being reduced to adhere to new production guidelines, requiring companies to meet minimum output levels that specify mines must now produce 20,000 metric tons annually and smelting operations need to produce 2,000 tons. The impact is a halting of operations at a third of China’s 23 mines and nearly 50% of its 99 smelting companies.

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Russian Space Agency Losing Trust After Another Satellite Mission Failure

Russian Space Agency Losing Trust After Another Satellite Mission Failure

WORLD

  • Russia’s space program faces another mishap, affecting telecom services in Indonesia and Russia
  • Use of Proton-M rocket carriers suspended
  • Russian space agency now faces much doubt and scrutiny, struggles to maintain trust
  • Strict quality control issues being put in place in all of Russia’s rocket parts plants 

In an unfortunate follow-up to a series of mishaps in Russia’s space program, the country recently failed to launch two multi-million dollar satellites that were intended to provide Indonesia and Russia with telecom services.

Once a leader in the space industry, Russia’s space agency now faces much doubt and scrutiny among peers and onlookers.

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Report: Global Average Internet Connection Speeds Up To 2.6 Mbps

Report: Global Average Internet Connection Speeds Up To 2.6 Mbps

WORLD

  • Average internet connection speeds up to 2.6 Mbps from 2.3 Mbps
  • Top-fastest internet nations: South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Latvia
  • China logs 16% of source internet attack traffic, US 11%

World average internet connection speeds have increased to 2.6 Mbps in the first quarter of 2012 up from 2.3 Mbps at the end of 2011, says cloud platform leader Akamai in its recent “State of the Internet” report. Year-on-year, this new speed marks a 25% rise.

Better infrastructure, faster networks, more sophisticated technology and higher competition are said to be the leading drivers of the change.

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Nuclear Update: Japan Puts First Reactor Online Since Fukushima

Nuclear Update: Japan Puts First Reactor Online Since Fukushima

WORLD

  • Japan restarts Ohi nuclear plant reactor no. 3
  • More reactors to go online to prevent blackouts
  • Energy imports hurt Japan's trade deficit

Japan has reintroduced nuclear power to its economy, with the nation's Ohi nuclear plant reactor no. 3 the first to be restarted since last year’s Fukushima disaster.

To reinforce security, an on-site command center, raised sea wall and filtered vents are being constructed at the Ohi plant. The sea wall should be ready next year, and the final major safety measures are expected to be done within three years.

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TEPCO Saved By $12.5 Billion Bankruptcy Bailout From Japanese Government

TEPCO Saved By $12.5 Billion Bankruptcy Bailout From Japanese Government

WORLD

  • Bailout puts Tokyo Electric Power Co under temporary state control
  • 10-year restructuring plan includes cost cutting measures, new management and increased energy costs
  • Japanese public distrustful of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant meltdown in 2011

The Japanese government has agreed to pay Tokyo Electric Power Co., one of the world’s largest utilities, a $12.5 billion bailout as part of a 10-year restructuring plan that will save TEPCO from bankruptcy; it also places TEPCO under temporary state control.

TEPCO has been in financial crisis since the March 11/11 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown, which followed a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The company still owes billions of dollars in compensation claims and must pay cleanup expenses. It is expected to take decades to stabilize the Fukushima reactors and cleanup the area.

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$8 Billion Annually Invested Into US Airport Security Procedures

$8 Billion Annually Invested Into US Airport Security Procedures

WORLD

  • TSA sees 70% failure rate in detecting threats in random tests
  • US Travel Association says 66% of travelers would fly more if security procedures were less intrusive
  • Economist debate concludes US should return airport security to pre-9/11 levels and spend savings on “intelligence, investigation and emergency response”

Currently, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has an $8 billion annual budget and a 70% failure rate detecting threats related to weapons and bomb components in random tests, according to the Economist magazine.

These findings beg the question of whether the multi-billion dollar airport security measures in the US are doing more harm than good.

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Australia's “Down Under” Tourism Comes Out On Top

Australia's “Down Under” Tourism Comes Out On Top

WORLD

  • Domestic tourism contributed over $73 billion annually to Australian economy
  • Travel to Australia from China up 4.5% over last year
  • Potential to add $9 billion to Australia's tourism economy by 2020

According to a new report recently released by Tourism Research Australia (TRA), domestic tourism was responsible for contributing more than $73 billion annually to the national economy.

Further, results published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that tourism’s direct contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $34.6 billion in over 2010 – 2011. Despite the high Aussie dollar, natural disasters and global economic challenges, the numbers equate to an increase of about 2.7% in total tourism GDP over 2010 – 2011.

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Google’s New Privacy Policy: Benefit or Threat to Users?

Google’s New Privacy Policy: Benefit or Threat to Users?

WORLD

  • Google streamlines 60+ privacy plans into one
  • EU and privacy groups oppose Google sharing user information across multiple Google-owned sites
  • Google aims to improve user experience across its platforms

Google is proceeding with much-publicized plans to streamline 60+ privacy policies into one overarching policy that covers various Google platforms and services. This change will allow Google to compile and share an individual’s browsing data and web history across various Google-owned sites (e.g: Blogger, gmail, Youtube, Google +) once logged into Google.

User information was not previously shared across different services.

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Japan Approves Additional $9 Billion In TEPCO Aid

Japan Approves Additional $9 Billion In TEPCO Aid

WORLD

  • TEPCO forecasts loss from reactor meltdowns, compensation claims to near $9 billion
  • TEPCO may seek $25 billion in funding to recoup costs
  • Japanese authorities approve restart of two idled nuclear reactors

Despite receiving over $11 billion in aid from Japanese government just a few months ago, TEPCO was approved for yet another near $9 billion as it struggles to clean up from reactor meltdowns and meet compensation claims following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

By month end March 2012, TEPCO anticipates its losses will be at nearly $9 billion, which is up from its November estimate of almost $8 billion. The company, which has 29 million customers in the general Tokyo area, reported a loss of approximately $16 billion last fiscal year.

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