Apple shares fall as Jobs quits

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has resigned as chief executive of the technology giant and will be replaced by chief operating officer Tim Cook.

Mr Jobs, who underwent a liver transplant following pancreatic cancer, said he could no longer meet his chief executive's duties and expectations.

The Silicon Valley legend will become chairman of the firm.

The 56-year-old has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since 17 January.

In a short letter to the board of Apple, Mr Jobs wrote: "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's chief executive, I would be the first to let you know.

"Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as chief executive of Apple.

"I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

"I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you."

Apple board member Art Levinson paid tribute to Mr Jobs' contribution to the company: "Steve's extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company."

Apple shares have fallen 4.1% in the secondary listing in Frankfurt, having dropped more than 5% in after-market trading on New York's Nasdaq.

Analysts said the resignation was not unexpected, and would have little impact on the day-to-day running of the company.

"Steve is [still] going to be able to provide the input he would do as a chief executive," said Colin Gillis at BGC Financial.

"But Tim has been de facto chief executive for some time and the company has been hugely successful. The vision and the roadmap is intact."

Nor will customers see any real difference, analysts said.

"At the end of the day, consumers don't buy products from Apple because they're from Steve Jobs, they buy them because they meet their needs and they're good products, and they'll continue to do that," Michael Gartenberg from Gartner reiterated.

The company has some big products on the horizon such as the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3.

But while Apple shares slid, shares in two of Apple's main Asian rivals gained. Taiwan-based phone maker HTC rose 4.1%, while South Korea's Samsung Electronics gained 3.2%.

The firms compete with Apple in the smartphone and tablet-PC sector, and have been involved in legal battles with Apple over patent rights.

The boss of another rival in the phone market paid tribute to Mr Jobs' work.

"Steve Jobs is a visionary in the computing industry," said Stephen Elop, chief executive of Nokia.

"We look forward to both Steve and his team having a positive impact on our industry for many years to come."

Mr Jobs is widely seen as the creative force that has driven Apple to become one of the world's biggest companies.

Thanks to innovative and hugely popular products such as the iPod, the iPhone and more recently the iPad, Apple has become one of the most sought after brands in the world.

In the three months to the end of June, the company made a profit of $7.3bn on revenues of $28.6bn. It sold more than 20 million iPhones in the period and 9.25 million iPads.

The company recently became the most valuable US firm after its market capitalisation overtook that of oil company Exxon Mobil.

Mr Jobs co-founded Apple in the 1970s with Steve Wozniak, and its Macintosh computers became hugely popular in the 1980s.

In 1985, Mr Jobs left the company after falling out with colleagues, only to return in 1997 and begin Apple's transformation by launching the colourful iMac computer.

The iPod, which revolutionised the personal music-player market and spawned myriad copycat devices, was launched in 2002 and laid the foundations for the company's success over the past decade.

Next came the iPhone, which similarly revolutionised the smartphone market, while the iPad confounded some initial scepticism to prove hugely popular.

Many versions of these products have been launched while Mr Jobs has been on medical leave, and new versions that have been planned for months will not be affected by his departure, analysts said.

Source: BBC Business News


Oil prices should fall with Gadhafi overthrow

Oil prices are expected to fall, with the potential overthrow of Libyan strongman, Muammar Gadhafi, looming.
As the rather undisciplined rebels launch an offensive within the Libyan capital, Tripoli, even with the expected ressistance of pocket forces of the Libyan dictator, the overwhelming force of NATO's air support should aid the rebels in finally breaking the back of Gadhafi's ressistance.
Gadhafi's overthrow is virtually now a matter of when, not if, particularly in light of the news that his son Saif al-Islam, who was widely viewed as his heir-apparent, has been captured and is currently being held by the rebels.
Saif al-Islam was educated in the West (has a doctorate from the London School of Economics) and has been the de-facto face of the Libyan government all through the six-month civil war. 
Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo of the much maligned International Criminal Court (ICC), confirmed that Saif al-Islam was in custody of the Libyan rebels. 
The rebels also stated earlier today, that another of Col. Gadhafi's sons, Mohammed Al-Gadhafi, had been captured and was also in their custody. Col. Gadhafi's whereabouts are however unknown and it has been reported that he may have fled into neigbouring Algeria.
The immediate impact of the fall in global oil prices may not be felt for months, particularly with the uncertainty that still surrounds the identity of the rebels and the expected chaos, that is sure to follow their overthrow of Gadhafi.
Independent analysts expect oil markets to respond by Monday, with oil prices trending downwards in anticipation of an end to the Libyan crisis.
Although Libya traditionally contributes less than 2% of the world's oil supply, much of which has been cut-off since the conflict started, its loss affected prices due to its high quality and its apparent suitability for European refineries.  
If the expected overthrow of Gadhafi is followed by a smooth transitional period, then we may see oil production resume sooner from the Libyan oil reserves and that should help stabilize the markets, beginning with the European markets, analysts say.
NATO, the United States and indeed the international community, can however help in the process of ensuring that Libya does not become another IRAQ.
This is where the leadership of the United States will be paramount and one can only expect that the White House will not cede this role to either France or Great Britain, two nations (France in particular) that are deeply mistrusted in that part of the world. 

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to massive crowd at "The Response....."

Could he be the next President of the United States....?


Look out! Here comes Rick Perry....

By Michael Tomasky | The Daily Beast
Now comes Rick Perry into the crowded GOP White House race. He will surely be an instant co-front-runner along with Mitt Romney. In fact I would argue, and will one paragraph down, that he’s basically the instant front-runner  So for the sake of argument, let’s go ahead and think about a Perry-Obama race. Such a race would be about, yes, the economy first and foremost, and deficits and health care and all the rest. But an Obama-Perry race would be something else, too: a war between the two Americas, each side represented by its respective cultural standard-bearer, each side’s foot soldiers absolutely smoldering with contempt for everything the other guy stands for and indeed the way he looks. We’ve never quite had that before, not in this way, so it’s worth thinking about.
First, I think Perry becomes the frontrunner, even ahead of Mitt Romney, for three main reasons. No. 1, he fires up large chunks of the base in a way Romney does not. Romney has “default candidate” written all over him, but evangelicals and other hard-shell conservatives are never going to love a Massachusetts Mormon. They’ll love Perry. No. 2, Perry can quickly become the “establishment” candidate because the establishment of today’s GOP is not based on Wall Street or the heartland but in Texas—Karl Rove, the oilmen, the various billionaires who prime those GOP pumps. No. 3 is speculation rather than fact, but I believe Perry will demonstrate pretty quickly that he’s a better campaigner than Romney. It won’t be hard.
It will take some time, probably, for the polls to reflect all this, but they will. Republicans don’t want a posh, well-spoken Yankee who works at a place with a name like Bain Capital. In their deepest souls, they want a Texas governor. They want a shit-kicker. And here, we circle back to culture.
When my friends and I looked at George W. Bush in 1999, we shuddered like people who’d turned a street corner and stumbled across a dog’s corpse. We knew and had contempt for his beliefs, but it had nothing to do with them, really. It was just the way he presented himself. That puffed-out chest. That self-satisfied smirk. All that Jesus talk—even in the event that it was sincere, which we never quite bought, it was to a liberal deeply inappropriate to haul it into the public square like that. He represented Southern country clubs and Dodge Durangos and Browning bolt-actions and homes with no books in them (putting Laura to the side, since she wasn’t the candidate). He was the kind of man who, if I ran into him at a hospitality tent at a tailgate party, I’d make an effort to avoid. Liberals just couldn’t stand the sight of the guy. And that was before he ruined the country.
I understand that conservatives feel similarly about Obama. They look at him and see wine-and-cheese parties where people have jazz playing in the background and where talk turns to the merits and demerits of Jonathan Franzen, who drive Priuses (or is it Prii?) and buy espresso machines and live in homes with far too many books in them. And worse than that: for much of Red America, Dr. Frankenstein himself could not have stitched together a more perfect Other: urban, urbane, sophisticated, intellectual. “Black,” of course, may no longer be a deal breaker in this day and age, but it doesn’t help. Many conservatives clearly can’t stand the sight of him.
Perry, on this scale, is chillingly Bush-like. I saw a clip the other day of him saluting—an off-screen soldier, perhaps, or a flag. It was a small thing. But he looked exactly like Bush. The chest pumped up with self-regard. The overly aggressive way he thrust his saluting hand out from his forehead. He even, I swear, was smirking. I shuddered all over again.
During an Obama-Perry contest, millions of Americans on both sides would be shuddering constantly for four months. We’ve never had quite this kind of showdown culturally. Our present Kulturkampf dates only to the 1980s. There’s never been a cultural showdown of the sort Obama v. Perry would represent. Yes, Republicans hated Clinton, but he was Southern and enough of a good old boy that he cut across those lines to some extent. Gore was painted as an egghead, and was, but again Southern-ness diluted the cocktail a bit. Bush versus John Kerry is probably as close as we’ve come, but Kerry was never really quite threatening enough to Bush America to merit serious hatred. And John McCain, mostly because he was not Southern and partly because he was so old, was not nearly as perfect a foil for Obama as Perry would be.
I don’t relish this. We’re divided enough, thanks. To invoke one of Bush’s most degrading moments of smirky chest-puffery, I say don’t bring it on.


Security expert warns hackers can attack Android

BOSTON, MA - A mobile security expert says he has found new ways for hackers to attack phones running Google Inc's Android operating system.

Riley Hassell, who caused a stir when he called off an appearance at a hacker's conference last week, told Reuters he and colleague Shane Macaulay decided not to lay out their research at the gathering for fear criminals would use it attack Android phones.

He said in an interview he identified more than a dozen widely used Android applications that make the phones vulnerable to attack.

"App developers frequently fail to follow security guidelines and write applications properly," he said.
"Some apps expose themselves to outside contact. If these apps are vulnerable, then an attacker can remotely compromise that app and potentially the phone using something as simple as a text message."

He declined to identify those apps, saying he fears hackers might exploit the vulnerabilities.

"When you release a threat and there's no patch ready, then there is mayhem," said Hassell, founder of boutique security firm Privateer Labs.

Hassell said he and Macaulay alerted Google to the software shortcomings they unearthed.

Google spokesman Jay Nancarrow said Android security experts discussed the research with Hassell and did not believe he had uncovered problems with Android.

"The identified bugs are not present in Android," he said, declining to elaborate.

It was the first public explanation for the failure of Hassell and Macaulay to make a scheduled presentation at the annual Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas, the hacking community's largest annual gathering.

They had been scheduled to talk about "Hacking Androids for Profit." Hundreds of people waited for them to show up at a crowded conference room.

Hassell said in an interview late on Thursday the pair also learned -- at the last minute -- that some of their work may have replicated previously published research and they wanted to make sure they properly acknowledged that work.

"This was a choice we made, to prevent an unacceptable window of risk to consumers worldwide and to guarantee credit where it was due," he said.

A mobile security researcher familiar with the work of Hassell and Macaulay said he understood why the pair decided not to disclose their findings.

"When something can be used for exploitation and there is no way to fix it, it is very dangerous to go out publicly with that information," the researcher said. "When there is not a lot that people can do to protect themselves, disclosure is sometimes not the best policy."

Hassell said he plans to give his talk at the Hack in The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur in October.

Source: Reuters


The real meaning of cloud computing

By Eric Knorr, Galen Gruman - InfoWorld

Cloud computing is all the rage. "It's become the phrase du jour," says Gartner senior analyst Ben Pring, echoing many of his peers. The problem is that (as with Web 2.0) everyone seems to have a different definition.

As a metaphor for the Internet, "the cloud" is a familiar cliché, but when combined with "computing," the meaning gets bigger and fuzzier. Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing narrowly as an updated version of utility computing: basically virtual servers available over the Internet. Others go very broad, arguing anything you consume outside the firewall is "in the cloud," including conventional outsourcing.

Cloud computing comes into focus only when you think about what IT always needs: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends IT's existing capabilities.

Cloud computing is at an early stage, with a motley crew of providers large and small delivering a slew of cloud-based services, from full-blown applications to storage services to spam filtering. Yes, utility-style infrastructure providers are part of the mix, but so are SaaS (software as a service) providers such as Today, for the most part, IT must plug into cloud-based services individually, but cloud computing aggregators and integrators are already emerging.

InfoWorld talked to dozens of vendors, analysts, and IT customers to tease out the various components of cloud computing. Based on those discussions, here's a rough breakdown of what cloud computing is all about:

1. SaaS

This type of cloud computing delivers a single application through the browser to thousands of customers using a multitenant architecture. On the customer side, it means no upfront investment in servers or software licensing; on the provider side, with just one app to maintain, costs are low compared to conventional hosting. is by far the best-known example among enterprise applications, but SaaS is also common for HR apps and has even worked its way up the food chain to ERP, with players such as Workday. And who could have predicted the sudden rise of SaaS "desktop" applications, such as Google Apps and Zoho Office?

2. Utility computing

The idea is not new, but this form of cloud computing is getting new life from, Sun, IBM, and others who now offer storage and virtual servers that IT can access on demand. Early enterprise adopters mainly use utility computing for supplemental, non-mission-critical needs, but one day, they may replace parts of the datacenter. Other providers offer solutions that help IT create virtual datacenters from commodity servers, such as 3Tera's AppLogic and Cohesive Flexible Technologies' Elastic Server on Demand. Liquid Computing's LiquidQ offers similar capabilities, enabling IT to stitch together memory, I/O, storage, and computational capacity as a virtualized resource pool available over the network.

3. Web services in the cloud

Closely related to SaaS, Web service providers offer APIs that enable developers to exploit functionality over the Internet, rather than delivering full-blown applications. They range from providers offering discrete business services -- such as Strike Iron and Xignite -- to the full range of APIs offered by Google Maps, ADP payroll processing, the U.S. Postal Service, Bloomberg, and even conventional credit card processing services.

4. Platform as a service

Another SaaS variation, this form of cloud computing delivers development environments as a service. You build your own applications that run on the provider's infrastructure and are delivered to your users via the Internet from the provider's servers. Like Legos, these services are constrained by the vendor's design and capabilities, so you don't get complete freedom, but you do get predictability and pre-integration. Prime examples include's, Coghead and the new Google App Engine. For extremely lightweight development, cloud-based mashup platforms abound, such as Yahoo Pipes or

5. MSP (managed service providers)

One of the oldest forms of cloud computing, a managed service is basically an application exposed to IT rather than to end-users, such as a virus scanning service for e-mail or an application monitoring service (which Mercury, among others, provides). Managed security services delivered by SecureWorks, IBM, and Verizon fall into this category, as do such cloud-based anti-spam services as Postini, recently acquired by Google. Other offerings include desktop management services, such as those offered by CenterBeam or Everdream.

6. Service commerce platforms

A hybrid of SaaS and MSP, this cloud computing service offers a service hub that users interact with. They're most common in trading environments, such as expense management systems that allow users to order travel or secretarial services from a common platform that then coordinates the service delivery and pricing within the specifications set by the user. Think of it as an automated service bureau. Well-known examples include Rearden Commerce and Ariba.

7. Internet integration

The integration of cloud-based services is in its early days. OpSource, which mainly concerns itself with serving SaaS providers, recently introduced the OpSource Services Bus, which employs in-the-cloud integration technology from a little startup called Boomi. SaaS provider Workday recently acquired another player in this space, CapeClear, an ESB (enterprise service bus) provider that was edging toward b-to-b integration. Way ahead of its time, Grand Central -- which wanted to be a universal "bus in the cloud" to connect SaaS providers and provide integrated solutions to customers -- flamed out in 2005.

Today, with such cloud-based interconnection seldom in evidence, cloud computing might be more accurately described as "sky computing," with many isolated clouds of services which IT customers must plug into individually. On the other hand, as virtualization and SOA permeate the enterprise, the idea of loosely coupled services running on an agile, scalable infrastructure should eventually make every enterprise a node in the cloud. It's a long-running trend with a far-out horizon. But among big metatrends, cloud computing is the hardest one to argue with in the long term.

This article, "What cloud computing really means," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in cloud computing at

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Consolidation in Telecommunications space may present opportunities

By the Editor-in-Chief
With the recent acquisition of Qwest Communications Inc. by Centurylink™, the Monroe, Louisiana based Telecommunications outfit, it brought to a rather historic close, an unforgettable run by one of the most storied organizations in the history of the Pacific Northwest and indeed American Telecommunications.
Qwest, formely US West, has been a standard feature in the Telco space for more than three decades. But the company had struggled for the last ten years as the pace of technological advancements and innovation simply left the company behind.
Ironically though, Qwest had been at the forefront of creative marketing and innovation at the start of the last decade, having pioneered the 'one-stop-shop' model with its bundling of services for its consumer and small business market segments.
Qwest also became the first RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company) to provide Standalone DSL (also known as Naked DSL), which was a Digital Subscriber Line internet service that did not require that the customer have a landline phone service.
So what went wrong? Well, simply put, the boom of the late '90s simply engendered a sense of corporate entitlement in the early 2000s (2001-2004) as profits soared while over time, companies (most of them in the Telco space at least) simply forgot to build on the best practices that got them in the black, in the first place. 

As we have witnessed the recent mergers (mostly not of equals, hence for all intents and purposes, acquisitions) of some notable companies in the Telco space such as Nextel, Qwest and Cingular, to name a few, the convergence/consolidation in that space (Telco) may in fact present great opportunities for the technology sector, as companies with expertise in management and implementation of M&As from a corporate infrastructure (platform convergence to include ERP, CRM and other architecture) and business intelligence (strategy and innovation) perspective, may be counted on to provide invaluable intellectual and other capital, as needed, to ensure a much softer landing for the new reality.
These sure are changing times and in my next piece, I will be delving into some of the challenges and opportunities that are sure to emanate from the pervading 'spatial turbulence' in the Telco space and its adjacencies. 


Will Conservatives Elect Obama Again?

After President Obama's faltering, uncertain performance in the recent debt-ceiling crisis, and with new polling showing self-described “conservatives” outnumbering “liberals” by crushing, consistent margins, Republicans ought to face the upcoming presidential race with eagerness and confidence.

Nevertheless, political professionals uniformly predict that the president could easily cruise to re-election and will, at the very least, wage a close, hard-fought campaign against even the most formidable Republican opponent.

This glaring contradiction between the nation’s ideological tilt to the right and President Obama’s continued status as front runner for 2012 exposes two important secrets about voting patterns of the American electorate.

First, ideological orientation seldom determines the success or failure of presidential contenders. And, second, race remains a decisive factor for enough US voters to dictate the outcome of close national elections.

On ideology, Republicans felt powerfully encouraged by results of an Aug. 1 Gallup poll  showing nearly twice as many American adults calling themselves “conservative” (41 percent) as those who see themselves as “liberal” (only 21 percent). The survey reports that these numbers have remained surprisingly constant since 2009, and that liberals have languished below 25 percent for nearly twenty years.

Similar numbers in all major surveys show that the president would have to do far more than rally his liberal base to earn victory in 2012. If both Democrats and Republicans drew 90 percent support from liberals and conservatives respectively, Barack Obama would need to carry a far-fetched 85 percent of self-described moderates in order to reach a bare majority of 51 percent—a dramatic improvement of the 60 percent of moderates he won in 2008, according to exit polls.

No candidate, not even landslide victors like Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson, has ever managed to prevail among middle-of-the-roaders by the unimaginable 6 to 1 margin Barack Obama would, theoretically, need.

How, then, could the president plausibly win re-election?

By concentrating on one of the most significant but frequently overlooked aspects of  electoral behavior: in presidential contests, voters seldom (or never) make final decisions based on ideology.

Consider, for instance, the strikingly different outcomes of the last two races for the White House. In 2004, conservative incumbent George W. Bush became the first candidate of either party in 16 years to win a clear majority of the popular vote. Four years later, outspokenly liberal challenger Barack Obama  won by a decisive margin of nearly 7 percent.

Did this switch mean that a big chunk of voters shifted their ideology in the course of four years, rejecting conservatism and embracing liberalism?

Absolutely not. In fact, exit polls show that in both 2004 and 2008, precisely the same portion of voters identified themselves as conservative (34 percent), while liberal voters represented a slightly higher proportion of the electorate (22 percent) for  Kerry’s losing contest than for Obama’s historic victory (21 percent).

In other words, Obama didn’t win because he persuaded more Americans to describe themselves as liberals, or drew more previously committed liberals to the polls. He won based on a general yearning for a fresh face, vague promises of hope-and-change, and disgust with President Bush, not because voters made an ideological left turn. His candidacy scrupulously avoided ideological labels, and even drew a surprisingly big slice of conservative citizens, winning a full 20 percent of their votes.

What’s more, he’s maintained (or even bettered) that level of support among conservatives in every approval rating poll of his presidency. The most recent Gallup pulse-taking at the end of July found 22 percent of conservatives who approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president.

Considering the strident, hyper-partisan polarization in Washington, it may come as a shock that more than one out-of-five Americans who use the word “conservative” to define their ideology still think Obama does a fine job as president.

Who are these conservative Obama lovers?

The answer to that question points toward the second revelation that helps explain how an unequivocally liberal president maintains a chance to prevail in an increasingly conservative nation. The voters who support Obama in spite of ideology are to a great extent black, Hispanic, and Asian conservatives who feel drawn to right wing ideas but remain allergic to the Republican Party.

This phenomenon became painfully obvious in California in 2008, when hefty majorities of both African Americans and Latinos voted to defend traditional male-female marriage in the bitter Proposition 8 fight.

On the same ballot, Barack Obama carried the state in a landslide, powered largely by the same black and Latino voters who disagreed with Democrats on Proposition 8 (known to liberals as “Proposition Hate”).

These black, Hispanic and Asian conservatives aren’t just expressing solidarity with the nation’s first non-white president. In the Republican sweep of 2010, with Obama’s name nowhere on the ballot, Republican candidates struck out once again with voters of color, barely improving their feeble performance in minority communities of two years before.

In national balloting for House seats only 9 percent of black voters backed GOP candidates, along with 38 percent of Latinos, and 40 percent of Asians. Despite the successful GOP campaigns of new Latino governors in New Mexico and Nevada, new Hispanic House members from Idaho, Washington and Texas, and the emergence of dynamic black GOP congressmen in Florida and South Carolina, the reluctance to vote Republican barely budged from 2008.

Depressed turnout among minorities pushed the white percentage of the 2010 electorate to 77 percent. But there’s no chance that the GOP could—or should—rely on a similar victory formula in the upcoming presidential race, when participation is always higher across the board.

Conservatives in the black, Hispanic, and growing Asian communities should therefore become a special target for any GOP challenger to Barack Obama. In every ethnic enclave in America, a significant percentage of the population (many of them loyal church-goers) espouses right-leaning values but currently feels uncomfortable with the Republican Party. Part of this unease stems from multi-generational family traditions, or from the GOP’s long-standing reputation as a closed country club welcoming only elderly, white, Christian males, or from cynical Democratic efforts to suggest that any criticism of Obama proves the presence of deep-seated Republican racism.

GOP candidates and operatives must do more than dismiss such allegations; they should spare no effort in countering and disproving them. The polling numbers indicate that it’s imperative to intensify Republican outreach efforts aimed squarely at conservatives in minority communities.

If the GOP candidate can unite conservatives of every heritage and skin color, he (or she) can hardly lose in 2012. Recent surveys show that if conservatives stick together, they need to supplement their numbers with a mere one-fourth of so-called moderates in order to assemble a majority. If, on the other hand, many non-white (and even Jewish) voters once again allow ethnic instinct to overcome core conservative values, then it may allow Barack Obama another term as the anomalous left wing president of an increasingly center-right nation.

Michael Medved is an author, political commentator and conservative talk-show host on radio. 

Nigeria, Shell 'indicted' after UN details oil devastation

Nigeria's government and oil giant Shell Friday came under heavy pressure following the release of a landmark UN report detailing oil pollution that may require the world's biggest ever clean-up.
The report set out scientific evidence for the first time of devastating pollution in Ogoniland, part of the country's main oil-producing Niger Delta region where Shell and the state petroleum company have operated.
"UNEP believes that oil contamination in Ogoniland has created an environmental crisis of unprecedented proportions," Joseph Alcamo, UN Environment Programme chief scientist, told journalists in London.
"The problem is quite clear and now the question is what's the way out."
Anglo-Dutch Shell was forced to pull out of Ogoniland amid unrest in 1993, though pipelines for its Nigerian joint venture, which includes the state oil company, and other facilities remain there.
The UNEP report, which details urgent health risks such as badlycontaminated drinking water, led some to raise the possibility of lawsuits that could now be brought against Shell or others with scientific evidence to back them.
"This is a wonderful intervention on the part of the United Nations, and this has also in a way confirmed the cries of the Ogoni people over the years," said prominent Nigerian rights lawyer Femi Falana.
"There is now a scientific basis backed by the UN.... I think this now provides an opportunity for people to make legitimate demands."
Shell faced criticism from UNEP, which said "control and maintenance of oil field infrastructure in Ogoniland has been and remains inadequate: the Shell Petroleum Development Company's own procedures have not been applied, creating public health and safety issues."
UNEP also called for the oil industry and the Nigerian government to contribute $1 billion to a clean-up fund for the region, adding that restoration could take up to 30 years.
"The environmental restoration of Ogoniland could prove to be the world's most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertaken", it said.
Shell maintained its stance that most environmental damage has been caused by oil theft, sabotageand illegal refining.
The managing director for its Nigerian joint venture, Mutiu Sunmonu, says in a Shell video posted on YouTube that until illegal activity is brought under control, "there is little that can be done to bring an end to the problem of spills."
A UNEP spokesman told journalists Friday that the agency could not support Shell's assertion.
"UNEP would challenge that," said Nick Nuttall. "We don't have the data to say where the oil came from in any kind of comprehensive way, either historically or currently.
"... The fact is that the assertion of SPDC yesterday that it's largely or mainly from illegal activities, well, we can't support that statement."
SPDC is Shell's Nigerian joint venture, the Shell Petroleum Development Company.
The study of the effects of pollution in Ogoniland follows a two-year assessment by UNEP in the region of mainly farmers and fishermen.
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, which has long pushed for action in the region, said it was not nearly enough.
It said in a statement that "what is needed and the Ogoni expectation is the cleanup of our devastated environment and not a mere study to tell us what we know."
The group also called for Shell's licence in Nigeria to be revoked.
Ogoniland was the native region of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the renowned environmental activist who was executed by a Nigerian military government in 1995 after what was widely considered a show trial, drawing global condemnation.
His activism and execution drew the world's attention to Ogoniland.
His son, Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr, now works as an adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, the first head of state from the Niger Delta.
He called the report a "vindication" and expressed confidence the government would take action.
"I think he is looking down on the whole thing and smiling widely to himself," Saro-Wiwa Jr told AFP, speaking of his father.

Source: AFP

Boeing unveils first Dreamliner for delivery to ANA

SEATTLE, WA - Boeing Co on Saturday afternoon rolled out the first 787 Dreamliner to be delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways <9202.T>, decked out with the blue and white colors of the Japanese airline.
Boeing presented the plane to ANA executives and crew under clear skies at its Everett factory north of Seattle. The first domestic flights are set to start in Japan in September.
"The plane is being certified to the highest FAA standards," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager, 787 program. "But the real focus of the traveling public will likely be on customer satisfaction and the elegance of the flight."
The 787 Dreamliner is a lightweight airplane that promises 20 percent greater fuel efficiency to operators than similarly sized planes. Boeing says as much as 50 percent of the primary structure will be made of composite materials instead of aluminum.
Aviation experts expect Boeing to apply the technology to future airplanes.
The interior of the first aircraft includes 264 seats -- 12 business and 252 economy -- with personal television sets, roomier seats, an automatic toilet with a wash function, more storage, an arched entry way with a beverage bar, dimmable windows and larger lavatories.
Boeing, the world's second-largest plane maker after Airbus EADS , is about three years behind schedule in delivering the first 787 largely because of snags in the unusually complex global supply chain.
The 787 is almost finished with flight tests and is set for delivery to ANA in September.
Boeing has taken 827 orders for the Dreamliner, a record number for a Boeing plane still in development. ANA has ordered 55 Dreamliners. The planes list for about $200 million.
Boeing is developing two versions of the Dreamliner. The first version, the 787-8, will carry 210 to 250 passengers on routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles. A second version, the 787-9, will carry 250 to 290 passengers on routes of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles.
Boeing also has been talking about a third, larger variant, the 787-10, and says it is seeing strong airline interest in the plane.

Source: Reuters


After the debt deal: 5 strategic money moves to make now

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Now what? If you're confused by the debt deal and what it means for your own wallet, you're not alone.
The fine print in the deal raises more questions than it answers. Almost all discretionary federal spending will face some cuts over the next 10 years, with defense spending taking a comparatively heavy hit. The bill calls for $917 billion in initial cuts over 10 years, with roughly $350 billion of that in defense and security spending.
Perhaps more significantly, the deal sets up a bipartisan 12-member congressional committee to find another $1.5 trillion in cuts. That group's menu is wide open and could include Social Securityreductions or tax increases. If that committee fails to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings - or Congress doesn't approve its recommendations by December 23 - automated cuts begin to get triggered. Those cuts would be deep, hitting Medicare and the military but sparing Social Security, Medicaid and a handful of other programs.
So, everything's been decided and nothing's been resolved. That doesn't mean that individual savers and investors shouldn't continue to try and protect themselves from the fallout. Here are some moves to make or avoid now.
* Play defense on defense stocks, and all government contractors. "Stock investors who have companies that depend on government financing should monitor their holdings carefully," said Charles Rotblut of the American Association of Individual Investors. Defense contractors are likely to lose business as these cuts work their way through the system, but so will other government contractors, and state contractors too, as already recession-pinched states will lose some federal funding.
"Infrastructure is at particular risk, because it's going to be a lot harder for states to work on bridges, roads and highways," Rotblut said.
He suggested that investors dig into the 10K annual reports of companies to see how dependent they are on government work.
* Relax a little about your bonds. "Bonds are not as scary as before," said Don Martin of Mayflower Capital in Los Altos, California. Conventional wisdom still holds that long-term bonds will take a hit as interest rates rise, but this debt deal may defer that day for a number of reasons. With Congress making good on U.S. obligations, that diminishes the possibility of a ratings downgrade pushing Treasury rates up. And the bill's budget cuts, which mainly don't go into effect until 2013 at the earliest, could crimp economic growth, delaying the rise of interest rates.
"The economy has hit stall speed and is beginning to slip back into a recession, so with the reduction of government stimulus caused by austerity this means that stocks will go down and bonds will go up," said Martin. Investors still may want to move their bond holdings to a less-concentrated, shorter-term or more cautious approach, but there's less need to panic about them.
* Put your student loans on autopilot. The debt bill will eliminate the rebate that education borrowers get when they make a year's worth of loan payments on time. But they still may be able to get an interest-rate discount if they arrange to make their payments automatically through a bank account debit - that's worth doing.
Many graduate students will have to pay more for loans, as this deal eliminates the federal subsidies that paid interest costs on some of their loans while they were in school. Grad students may find it worthwhile to pay the interest themselves while they are in school, if they can, to avoid those costs compounding until after they graduate.
* Defer your Social Security benefits. That's been bedrock retirement advice for a while, but that new bipartisan congressional committee could make it more true than before. Here's why: Every year that you defer starting your Social Security retirement benefits, they rise by almost 8 percent. But there's a lot of talk about tinkering with the cost-of -living adjustments that apply to benefits once they've started flowing, and the bipartisan committee may do that in their next round of cuts.
If Congress shifts to a different inflation measure that moves up less quickly than the currently-used Consumer Price Index, it would limit upward adjustments on benefits. Starting benefits early means you relinquish that 8 percent a year increase and, should the COLA be nipped, start giving up buying power sooner. "That would be a significant problem for clients who rely on Social Security," said Mark Berg, of Timothy Financial Counsel, a fee-only financial planning firm. "We would encourage a wait approach on Social Security if the client can afford it."
* Expect more tumult, so, as always, save more. "If we have learned anything from this crisis, it's not to depend on the government for anything," said Bedda D'Angelo, president of Fiduciary Solutions, a Durham, North Carolina, financial -planning firm. "Entitlements change with the wind. Since pensions are being phased out too, the only sane thing to do is max out your tax-deferred retirement savings accounts."
Advisers have been telling their clients to get defensive for some time: Investors who pay down their debts, move more of their bond money to shorter-term instruments and their stock money to defensive dividend-earning stocks will be better prepared for whatever the government throws at them next, suggested money manager Daniel Romero, of Romery & Levin Wealth Management in Santa Ana, California.
"This is the fourth or fifth Armageddon situation that's come across our desk in recent years," commented Romero, who's had his clients building reserves, paying down debts and diversifying broadly into commodities, Japanese stocks, natural resources stocks and more. "Just put yourself in a situation where it won't affect you so much." At least until the next crisis.

Analysis by Linda Stern 

Key elements of the debt deal

By Andy Sullivan | Reuters

President Barack Obama announced on Sunday that Republican and Democratic leaders had agreed on a last-ditch deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and avoid a catastrophic default, and he urged lawmakers to "do the right thing" and approve the agreement.
Here is a summary of the deal, based on documents provided by both parties, as well as interviews with lawmakers and aides:
* The deal would allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling by at least $2.1 trillion in three steps. Congresswould get a chance to register its disapproval on two of these, but would not be able to block them unless it musters a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate -- an unlikely prospect.
* It envisions spending cuts of roughly $2.4 trillion over 10 years, which Congress would approve in two steps -- an initial $917 billion when the deal passes Congress and another $1.5 trillion by the end of the year.
* The first group of spending cuts would apply to the discretionary programs that Congress approves annually, covering everything from the military to food inspection.
* Those programs would be capped each year for 10 years. The caps would be relatively modest at first to avoid stifling the shaky economy -- spending for the fiscal year that begins October 1 would be only $6 billion below the current level of $1.049 trillion. The caps would have a greater impact in later years, when it is hoped that the economy will have recovered.
* Some $350 billion of the $917 billion total would come from defense and other security programs which now account for more than half of all discretionary spending. Republicans are resisting this idea and it is one of the few areas of dispute left.
* Automatic across-the-board spending cuts would kick in if Congress does not observe the caps in coming years.
* A 12-member congressional committee, made up equally of Republicans and Democrats from each chamber, would be tasked with finding a further $1.5 trillion in budget savings.
* That committee could find savings from an overhaul of the tax code and restructuring benefit programs like the Medicare elderly health program -- the politically risky decisions that lawmakers have not been able to agree on so far.
* The committee would have to complete its work by November 23. Congress would have an up-or-down vote, with no modifications, on the committee's recommendations by December 23.
* If the committee cannot agree on at least $1.2 trillion in savings, or Congress rejects its findings, automatic spending cuts totaling that amount would kick in starting in 2013.
* Those cuts would fall equally on domestic and military programs. Medicare would face automatic cuts as well, but they would be capped and fall entirely on medical providers. Social Security,Medicaid, federal employee pay, and benefits for veterans and the poor would be exempt.
* The plan also calls for both the House and the Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. This measure is not likely to receive the two-thirds vote in each chamber needed for passage, but its inclusion will make it easier for conservatives to back the overall deal.


Apple has more cash-on-hand than the US government

Here’s a frightening statistic: Apple Inc. now has more cash on hand than the entire United States federal government. As of Wednesday, July 27, the balance sheet for the US Treasury dipped down do $73.768 billion. That compares to the $76.156 billion Apple has in its deep coffers — a difference of $2.388 billion.
So, how in the name of all that’s good and fiscally responsible in this world did such a thing happen? A wide variety of individual factors are at play, here, of course. But it comes down to one basic fact: Apple makes more money than it spends while the US government spends more than it generates in tax revenue. In other words, Apple is doing a really good job at running itself, while the federal government is not.
As you all surely know by now, Washington is stuck in a relentless gridlock over how to raise the national debt ceiling. If you haven’t yet grasped the debt ceiling debate is, it works something like this: Imagine the entire US government pays its bills with a single credit card. Right now, that credit card is nearly maxed out. If the debt ceiling — the limit on our national credit card — isn’t raised by August 2, then the US won’t have enough incoming revenue to pay all of its bills.
The politicians disagree on how to go about fixing this problem, so they’re let our cash coffers dwindle perilously low, which is basically how we got to the $73.768 billion number.
On the flip side, Apple is doing extraordinarily well. The iPhone maker brought in record profits in the third quarter of this year, about $5.5 billion, which has possibly set the Cupertino, California-based electronics giant on a path towards soon overtaking Exxon Mobile to become the largest corporation on the planet.
Unfortunately, we can’t ask Steve Jobs for a bailout — according to Fortune, the federal government blows through about $10 billion every day, so even Apple’s fat bank account would only last us about a week before we’d be back to square one.
Still, we can’t help but wish Jobs would consider a run for public office.