World News - part 4

FBI Shuts Down $14 Billion Internet Fraud Ring

FBI Shuts Down $14 Billion Internet Fraud Ring

WORLD

  • Online advertising scam impacted millions of hijacked computers
  • Malware redirected search queries from infected systems to sites featuring ads for their clients
  • Computers affected in 100 countries, including machines owned by NASA

The FBI has dismantled an internet fraud ring that illegally earned at least $14 billion from an online advertising scam that impacted millions of hijacked computers around the world, including some at NASA.

Six Estonian nationals have been arrested in Estonia and charged with five counts of wire and computer intrusion crimes relating to the fraud, which took place from 2007 to October 2011. A seventh suspect, a Russian national, is still at large.

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Japan Approves $11.5 Billion In Taxpayer Funds For TEPCO Aid

Japan Approves $11.5 Billion In Taxpayer Funds For TEPCO Aid

WORLD

  • Japan approves $11.5 billion disaster relief fund for TEPCO
  • Demand for nuclear power could drop 15% before 2035
  • Tokyo determining how to dispose of nearly 45 million cubic meters of remaining radioactive waste

Japan’s government has approved a plan to provide Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) with relief funds totaling nearly $11.5 billion in an effort to address the costs incurred by the March 11 tsunami – rendering the Fukushima nuclear power plant out of commission and injuring nearly 160,000 victims by way of radiation leaks and evacuation.

This perceived bailout plan from the local government, which uses public funds, came on the heels of TEPCO’s release of updated figures showing massive mid-year net losses, with the expectation of losing over $8 billion by year end. The $11.5 billion fund is anticipated to cover the cash-strapped utility until the close of its fiscal year in March 2012.

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Consistent Nutritional Food Rating Proposed

Consistent Nutritional Food Rating Proposed

WORLD

  • US Institute of Medicine says food should rate fat, sodium and sugar content
  • Obesity rates have doubled in last 30 years
  • Without Obama administration system, may not be executed

A new report from the US Institute of Medicine says that food products need better nutritional content labels that clearly show fat, sodium and sugar content to help consumers make better diet choices.

It suggests a new nutrition label system, which would be visible on the front of food packaging, that uses a series of points, check marks or stars on a scale of zero to three, based on serving size. If key elements (sodium, fat, sugar) are balanced, the food gets a point. A healthy product could get a maximum of three points, while some foods or beverages may get zero points.

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Galileo Satellites Launched as European GPS Takes Off

Galileo Satellites Launched as European GPS Takes Off

WORLD

  • Soyuz rockets take two Galileo satellites into orbit
  • New GPS system to generate up to $124 million for European economies
  • $6.2 billion in public funds already spent with a further $9.6 billion required

The European GPS program Galileo has successfully launched its first two satellites from the European Space Station in French Guiana. The global navigation system is scheduled to become operational in 2014 and will play a major part in generating as much as $124 million for European economies over the next 20 years.

The satellites were launched on Russian Soyuz rockets to an altitude of 23,000 kilometers, with another two set for launch in 2012.

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US, UK and Other Countries Bolstering Cyber Security Defenses

US, UK and Other Countries Bolstering Cyber Security Defenses

WORLD

  • US Cyber Command deciding on legal framework for “active defense” taken in cyberspace
  • Britain and other countries also hiring cyber experts for their militaries
  • Researchers warn of risk from new Stuxnet-like worm

The United States is in the process of defining legal framework that would guide any offensive action the country may take in cyberspace, according to a statement by a senior military official.

Air Force General Robert Kehler, who is in charge of the US Cyber Command, said discussions were still “ongoing” with regard to how to protect Defense Department networks and what options could be made available to policymakers if ever the order was given to take offensive action.

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Energy Access Imperative for World’s Poor Population

Energy Access Imperative for World’s Poor Population

WORLD

  • Access to energy for world’s poor will cost $48 billion per year
  • Green solutions could limit carbon emissions to 0.7%
  • 2012 “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All"

Access to electricity could bring about massive changes in education, health and economic prosperity for the world’s poorest nations, according to the International Energy Agency. The IEA said in a new study that at a cost of $48 billion per year, energy-deprived countries could have access to electricity within 20 years, which would make a dramatic difference to billions of people living in substandard conditions.

Some 3 billion people worldwide, mostly women and children, are exposed to high levels of indoor air pollution because they do not have access to proper cooking facilities.

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Could Kyoto Go Ahead Without Canada, Japan, Russia?

Could Kyoto Go Ahead Without Canada, Japan, Russia?

WORLD

  • 200 countries must agree at Durban talks in November for treaty to be extended
  • Airlines could require permit allowing carbon dioxide emissions during takeoff, landing at EU airports from January 1, 2012
  • EU emissions up almost 2.5% in 2010, after 7% drop in 2009

The United Nations is considering extending the Kyoto Protocol without Canada, Japan and Russia. UN talks are scheduled to take place in South Africa in November to determine how to replace or extend the treaty, which set greenhouse gas emissions limits to be respected by 2012.

Canada, Russia, and China have refused new Kyoto targets unless they apply to all major economic players; around 200 nations will still need to agree during the talks in Durban for the extension to go ahead. The EU will agree to the extension on the condition all major economies comply with a separate treaty that would be legally enforceable.

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Found: UK Shipwreck Laden With $18 Million Worth of Silver

Found: UK Shipwreck Laden With $18 Million Worth of Silver

WORLD

  • US firm to get 80% of ship’s treasure trove, UK government to get 20%
  • Steamship’s cargo of 20 tons of silver laying on sea bed since 1917
  • Odyssey recently found UK ship holding $200 million worth of silver

US firm Odyssey Marine Exploration has discovered a UK shipwreck laden with 20 tons of silver worth around $18 million. A German submarine sank the steamship Mantola in the North Atlantic off the coast of Ireland in 1917.

Odyssey sighted the Mantola while using a tethered robot in its search for another ship, and is contracted by the British Department for Transport to recover the silver. Odyssey stands to gain 80% of the silver’s worth, with the remainder going to the UK government. As private companies come up with the capital to cover expensive sea exploration projects with no guarantee they will yield favorable results, it is customary practice to divvy up any eventual profits.

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Is Demand For Asian Contemporary Art Cooling Off?

Is Demand For Asian Contemporary Art Cooling Off?

WORLD

  • Over 20% of artwork unsold in Hong Kong Autumn auction
  • Ming dynasty vase sells for record $21.6 million; art sales poor
  • Last spring auction in Hong Kong a huge success

Sales figures from Sotheby’s Autumn auction in Hong Kong suggest the roaring Asian art market may be slowing as gloomy economic forecasts send stocks plummeting worldwide.

The New York-based auction house was selling mainly 20th century Chinese and contemporary Asian art, and pulled in good prices for early works from renowned artistes like Zhang Xiaogang.

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Japan: Nuclear Plant Use Drops To All-Time Low

Japan: Nuclear Plant Use Drops To All-Time Low

WORLD

  • Nuclear plant use plummets 46% in 12 months ending in September
  • Japan operating at 20% nuclear capacity, with 11 functioning reactors
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co to axe 7,500 jobs, cut costs by $32.5 billion

The nuclear plant use rate in Japan saw a year-on-year drop in September of over 46% following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that lead to the shutdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant around 200 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Two additional reactors, Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata unit and Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai unit, were closed down in September 2011 and none have been reinstated since the March events, contributing to the declining average run rate.

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