Snirt writes: The existence of "petrodollars" is one of the pillars of America's economic might because it creates a significant external demand for American currency, allowing the US to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting. If a Japanese buyer wants to buy a barrel of Saudi oil, he has to pay in dollars even if no American oil company ever touches the said barrel. Dollar has held a dominant position in global trading for such a long time that even Gazprom's natural gas contracts for Europe are priced and paid for in US dollars. Until recently, a significant part of EU-China trade had been priced in dollars. Lately, China has led the BRICS efforts to dislodge the dollar from its position as the main global currency, but the "sanctions war" between Washington and Moscow gave an impetus to the long-awaited scheme to launch the petroruble and switch all Russian energy exports away from the US currency.
Snirt writes: A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common."
Snirt writes: The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook. Few counterterrorism experts are surprised that the Somali group launched another attack in the Kenyan capital.
Snirt writes: "A leading US expert on missile defence has raised doubts about the efficacy of Israel's Iron Dome defence system. Israeli officials say it hit some 84% of the targets engaged in
last year's conflict with Hamas in Gaza. But Professor Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests the
defence system's success rate may have been "drastically lower"."
Snirt writes: "The BBC reports that Germany's development minister has suggested food tainted with horsemeat should be distributed to the poor. Dirk Niebel said he supported the proposal by a member of the governing CDU party, and concluded: "We can't just throw away good food." The opposition dismissed the idea, but a priest said it should be considered."
Snirt writes: Symbian is now officially dead, Nokia confirmed today. In the company’s earnings announcement that came out a little while ago, Nokia confirmed that the 808 PureView, released last year, was the very last device that the company would make on the Symbian platform: “During our transition to Windows Phone through 2012, we continued to ship devices based on Symbian,” the company wrote. “The Nokia 808 PureView, a device which showcases our imaging capabilities and which came to market in mid-2012, was the last Symbian device from Nokia."
Snirt writes: "Is Nokia asking Indian contractors to do its dirty work? That’s the question on the minds of some Nokia employees and labor representatives following the Finnish handset maker’s announcement that it is laying off as many as 300 IT employees and sending as many as 800 more to Indian IT firms Tata and HCL — both of which have operations in Finland."
Snirt writes: "Damien Dinning, a Nokia executive who headed up the company's imaging department, has left the
company. Dinning previously worked with Nikon and then oversaw the release of the Nokia N8, the 808 PureView, and the Lumia 920 — three phones with category-leading
cameras at the time of their
Snirt writes: "A group of ex-Nokia staff and MeeGo enthusiasts has formed Jolla (Finnish for "dinghy"), a mobile startup with the aim of bringing new MeeGo devices to the market. According to its LinkedIn page, Jolla consists of directors and core professionals from Nokia’s MeeGo N9 organization, together with some of the best minds working on MeeGo in the communities."
The prize now stands at 8 million kronor, down from the 10 million of 2011.
“The reason behind this
decision is that the financial
markets are really unstable and there are reasons to suspect that this turbulence will continue for a while still,” said Lars Heikensten, head of the Nobel Committee, to the TT
news agency. “Long term, we aim to raise the figure, even though we think that the Nobel Prize’s value should lie in the prize
itself and not the prize money,” he said. While Heikensten admits that it was a “tough decision” to cut the prize money, he told the news agency that it’s not the first time the prize sum has been altered, adding that it has been lowered and raised several times over the past few years."
Snirt writes: "In an article published Wednesday by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the semi-retired Florida gynecologist Adam Ostrzenski declared that he had found it. This was after conducting a postmortem examination of an 83-year-old woman in Warsaw Medical University's Department of Forensic Medicine."
Snirt writes: "Finnish phone maker Nokia has suffered a loss of $1.2 billion loss for the first quarter of 2012. This contrasts with a €344 million profit a year earlier. Sales fell to €7.4 billion in the quarter from €10.4 billion a year ago. The Nokia president and chief executive, Stephen Elop, said Nokia would accelerate its cost-cutting efforts amid what he described as a mixed response to its new Lumia smartphones with Microsoft."
Snirt writes: "I have often wondered if webpages and applications built with a black background consumed lesser energy when compared with bright colored pages. Naturally, I am always inclined to use black background mode when presented with the choice just as in the case of the terminal, cmd prompt and autodesk autocad in order to reduce glare. Webpages are rare to find in black though, except for a few 'hacker community sites', which I find quite readable. Since black implies absence of light (I assume black pixels don't need energy), would this help reduce the carbon foot print of the pc monitors?"
Snirt writes: "Nokia has announced a new smartphone, the 808 Pureview, which has an unprecedented 41-megapixel camera and is expected to launch in Europe in May. The €450 device, however, which was announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, runs on software that Nokia is phasing out in favour of Windows Phone."