Obama Pitches for Education and High-tech concepts

Despite the thrust on deficit reduction President Obama is keen on investment on research and technology. To forward his high-tech and education agenda he made quick tour of the West Coast. He toured a semiconductor plant at Oregon and before that dined with head honchos of the Silicon Valley.

While Republicans have asked for budget cuts, Obama has championed for more investment in education, high speed Internet, green technologies and other high tech concepts. He feels that investment on future cannot be sacrificed for anything. According to him, “If we want the next technological breakthrough that leads to the next Intel to happen here in the United States, not in China, not in Germany, then we have to invest in America’s research and technology, in the work of our scientists and engineers.”

A proof of Obama’s eagerness in this direction is the fact that his Democratic government now has extended research and development tax credit to tech firms. Intel and many tech companies benefit from this legislative move. Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini has reciprocated by announcing the setting up of a $5 billion manufacturing facility in Phoenix, a suburb of Chandler.

The highlight of this type effort is that on crucial matters Obama tries to rope in not only supporters but also those who disagree with him on other issues. Otellini of Intel funded Republican John McCain’s 2008 election campaign and has been a critic of many of Obama’s policies. But Obama managed to rope him in for his investment efforts in education and high technology agenda.

US, Russia to implement START Treaty

Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State finalizes deal with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister on Security Policy in Munich, Germany on Feb. 5.

The two nations will implement the new treaty– new Strategic arms reduction treaty (START)  to restrict the number of nuclear weapons they can possess.

Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov traded authorization documents with each other in Germany during a ceremony to enact the treaty.

Clinton stated that the treaty would serve as a “clear-eyed cooperation” for everybody’s interest. The Russian diplomat called it a mean to enhance global stability.

US president Barack Obama signed START treaty in last April with Dmitry Medvedev, Russian President substituting the older arms control pact. The earlier deal was signed during cold war in 1991.

The new deal states that both the nations signing the treaty would limit their nuclear warheads to 1550—reducing 30 percent from the level set in 2002.

Ban Ki-Moon, U.N. chief welcomed the United States and Russia for the step and appreciated the two leaders for taking lead on the issue of reduction of nuclear weapons. The new nuclear weapons reduction deal or START treaty had been approved by the United States Senate earlier in December. Russian Parliament too passed the bill to go ahead with the treaty in the previous month.

Verizon sets record in sales, stops taking orders

The iPhone 4 of Verizon has set new milestones of record sales last night-. The overwhelming response to the product is the most successful first day sale in company’s history so far. The counting was continued while morning press release was published and it did not mention the actual number of iPhone sales.

At the launch of iPhone 4 in June, Apple had announced that the company took 600,000 orders for the device on the first day.

The latest launch by Verizon before iPhone was Motorola Droid for which the company sold 250,000 units in the first week. It is a Android-based smartphone.

However, iPhone’s pre-orders are predicted to have reached in millions on the very first day. From Feb 10 both Apple and Verizon will start selling iPhones of Verizon flavor. You can opt for an online purchase for a quicker access as it will start on Feb 9 from 3:01 am.

The new price of  the 16-gigabyte model is $199.99  whereas for 32 GB model it is only $299.99 for the 32 GB model. However for those who have been the customers of Verizon for last 20 months can purchase the same models on a discounted price. There is no mention of such change in policies on the company website so far and this is creating lot of confusions among the customers.

Winter Storm Braces Midwest, Plains in US

More than 100 million people are praying for their lives amidst a massive winter storm in the United States. Plains and Midwest part of the country.

The deadly storm has hit the country on Monday with heavy snow and ice brought down from the Rockies Mountains leading to severe cold.

St. Louis, Milwaukee and Kansas City would be covered with 2 feet snowfall or a pile of snow up to  10 feet.

The areas with less cold are also not considered safe according to the weather experts as it may lead to tornados in southern part of the United States.

The Northeast region recorded highest snowfall in the region. A meteorologist Tim Ballisty estimated that around 100 million people are expected to be affected by the winter storm.

Thousands of flights were cancelled in Chicago and several other cities fearing snowfall. Road transportation authorities have already prepared clearing equipment to avoid problems.

Northwest Indiana, Southern Wisconsin, and northern Illinois experienced a blizzard for two days till Wednesday that speeded up to 60mph.

St. Louis had an inch of ice after snowfall whereas west Columbia had a predicted snow cover around 12 inches.

Jay Nixon, governor of Missouri announced a state of emergency in the state for the safety of people and also put 600 National Guards on duty in advance.

Severe floods, mudslides cause 610 deaths in Brazil

Heavy downpour has submerged all hopes for people of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. More than 610 people have lost their lives so far and authorities are searching for missing people. There have been around 274 deaths in Nova Friburgo city whereas the figure is 263 in Teresopolis, 18 in Sumidouro and 55 in Petropolis.

The state government has declared official mourning week from Saturday in the memory of flood victims who lost their lives. Emergency assistance works are being carried in areas where people are stuck or buried under heap of mud and stones. There was no electricity in the entire region particularly in Teresopolis, Petropolis and Sumidouro and this hampered the risk operations on Friday.

Sergio Cabral, governor of Rio de Janeiro Governor declared a 7-day mourning for people who died in the floods. It is estimated that more than 6000 people became homeless while thousand of people were forced to evacuate their houses in order to save their lives.

The state has still not been able to resume electricity supply, telephone services and water in the affected area.

President Dilma Rousseff observed areas affected by floods and mudslides and assured to provide an aid of $59 million to rehabilitate the victims.

Israel tested Stuxnet virus with consent of US administration

Israel tested the notorious computer virus Stuxnet authorized by the US administration reportedly. Israel used centrifuges to test out the computer worm  taking Teheran’s nuclear program as its target to destroy. Everything was executed in a planned way with the authority of Bush administration, the report revealed.

The virus was first tested in Dimona, reported English daily from the United States. The centrifuges used by Israel for testing Stuxnet were very similar to those used Iranian nuclear sites.

In 2008, Siemens allowed the Idaho National Laboratory, to rectify problems in its computer controllers. The same computer controllers were present in the Iranian nuclear plants. Idaho National Laboratory is part of the American Energy Department that provides nuclear equipment and weapons to the United States. Testing of Stuxnet was based on the problems in the computer controllers of nuclear programs found in 2008.

The virus destroyed control over the Iranian nuclear centrifuges and recorded all activities going at the nuclear plant. When checked by the operators, the virus showed a normal routine of the plant and this confused the operators.  They stayed unaware till all the centrifuges were destroyed.

The Stuxnet virus entered the nuclear plant’s computer network through some external drives or probably through the internet. The virus was partially successful as it delayed Iran’s nuclear development, however could not completely destroy their sites.

George W. Bush, former president of the United States had allowed dissemination of this worm in 2009 reportedly and Barack Obama too nodded to develop the virus further.

US administration toughens rules for coal mining

US environmental agency repealed permit granted to the largest surface mine, that producing 10 percent of the total coal for US.

Spruce No. 1 coal mine, which is owned by Mingo Logan Coal Co.in West Virginia. The 2300 acre- mine has been in disputes since 1998.

The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA’s new decision to revoke grant from coal mine is likely to hamper many other projects too as they come under  ‘mountaintop removal’ a concept, unacceptable under agency’s new law.

The US administration had granted permit to coal mining projects during Clinton and Bush era, however the new guidelines have been implemented in April and therefore all previous permits are under revision.

Peter S. Silva, an official from the EPA stated that Spruce No. 1 coal mine, has been engaged in destructive mining practices that had affected the health of communities living nearby in Appalachian mountain region.

Spruce No. 1 coal mine has a capacity of employing250 workers and it could produce 44 million tons of coal in next 15 years had it’s permit not been taken. But theSection 404 of the Clean Water Act – implemented by the EPA has put a barrier on it. Experts call it a hard decision of the Obama administration that is likely to hamper future investment in mining.

Google’s Android may lose customers as Verizon sells iPhone

Google Inc’s business may be affected as Verizon Wireless begins selling Apple Inc’s iPhone, given the customers a fresh option to smart phones operating on the Android Operating System.

Verizon Wireless is all set to make an announcement regarding the inclusion of iPhone to its network in New York on Tuesday, according to a familiar source. Dan Hays, partner at management consultant firm PRTM, said that Verizon is expected to replace 2 million Android iPhone shipments order in a year.

Thousand of Verizon customers will prefer to go for iPhone over Android phones, and even its own Android users may switch over, said Gene Munster, an analyst in Minneapolis.

Apple Inc is expected to ship around 9 million iPhones in 2011 in collaboration with Verizon; apart from 11 million units through AT&T, the analyst said.

Android has emerged as a top-seller in the United States and accounts for 26 percent of the smartphone market as compared to 25 percent of the iPhone. RIM’s Blackberry is leading the race with 33 percent of the market.

In the first half of the year, several Android-based LTE-compatible phones are expected to be launched in the market. However, an iPhone with LTE network will take some time to be available, according to analysts.

Analysts view that Apple may perform better than Google as far as attracting Verizon users toward smartphones for the first time.

Traffic disrupted in Chicago due to snowfall

Another blow of cold covers Chicago on Friday night with snowfall. Temperature decreased to minus 12 degree Celsius according to the report by National Weather Service.

The entire northern America has been experiencing severe cold, temperatures much below freezing point and blizzard in different parts of the country. Bad weather loomed over the celebrations of Christmas and New Year too and people were bound to take shelter in their houses in stead of enjoying festivals outside.

Temperature is decreasing in entire northeast  especially in parts of Illinois and Indiana and expected to dip more.

However there will be intermittent snowfall in Chicago. Traffic will be more disturbed due to decreased visibility as per the weather department. The commuters will face more problems due to slippery roads owing to moderate snowfall up to one inch.

The Chicago city administration has fastened its service on the roads for clearing snow and the main route to the city –174 had 40 trucks of Dept. of Streets & Sanitation for monitoring bridges and overpasses to control traffic.

Many vehicles and commuters needed emergency help due to crashes that was caused by minimum visibility. The Illinois police is investigating about around 20 crashes occurred by 8:45 pm on Friday.

Microsoft redesigns Table Computer, reduces price

Microsoft Surface that had a hefty base with a large touch screen has shrunk now into a smaller version.

The new redesigned version of  the Surface is less costly and more convenient to use, to access applications that are interactive in nature and can also be used in shopping malls, banks and hotels.

The very first sample of the new Surface computer  has been demonstrated by the company on Wednesday.

The earlier version of Surface computers cost around $15,000.  Vodafone and Hard Rock Café were some Microsoft’s long term clients that used Surface computers however; it did not generate much income for the company.

The newer version of same model has been designed with a thickness of 4 inches and is very similar to a simple table commonly available. It is less costly than the larger model by $7600 and thus is expected to attract more customers. Microsoft has also added extra features in the new Surface computer that has a high definition screen of 40 inches.

Surface Computer’s new touch screen is like a camera that can be used to recognize, bar or inform passengers at airports or help in recognizing customers that visit regularly or very often to a particular shopping store.