Graffiti reminds people Apple founder was son of Syrian migrants


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A new Banksy graffiti has appeared on a concrete bridge in the Calais migrant camp, showing late Apple founder Steve Jobs migrating from Syria.

Known as the Jungle, the makeshift town is located on what used to be a rubbish tip on the outskirts of the French port and is currently home to more than 7,000 migrants. The majority come from war-torn Syria and Afghanistan are are hoping to get to the UK to start a new life.

The timely new artwork features Jobs’ trademark spectacles, as he carries an early Apple computer in one hand a sack of belongings on his back.

Way too many Americans like to forget where we came from, how we got here, what our antecedents endured to grow and prosper.

American nativists like to forget their elected government let us in. And, of course, who they killed when they settled in.

Big Oil must grudgingly make way for Big Solar

Saving the world isn’t going to be cheap. If you sell oil, coal or old-fashioned cars, that threatens disaster. For makers of stuff like solar panels, high-tech home insulation, and efficient lighting, it’s a potential miracle.

That’s the bottom line from this weekend’s climate deal in Paris, which commits 195 countries to reducing pollution in order to head off dangerous climate change.

Global governments and companies are counting the costs and benefits from the agreement, which calls for wholesale transformations of energy, transportation, and dozens of other lines of business. Fossil-fuel producers and countries that depend on them face massive, costly disruption. Players in up-and-coming industries like renewable power and energy efficiency are looking at an unprecedented opportunity.

The Paris pact, which also calls for a review of ever-tightening pledges every five years, is the most significant global climate agreement ever, outstripping the 1997 Kyoto Accord in its scope and ambition…The deal will likely accelerate investments in technologies like renewable energy and electric vehicles — especially if more countries join the European Union and parts of North America in imposing a price or tax on carbon. The United Nations estimates upward of $1 trillion a year in spending is required to de-carbonize the global economy and prevent temperature rises scientists say could flood coastal cities, disrupt agriculture, and destroy ecosystems.

That means companies with business models threatened by a low-carbon world need to re-focus, and fast, said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity Corp., a U.S. provider of home-solar systems…Rive said on the sidelines of the Paris summit, “you’re going to defend that job because that’s your livelihood. But your livelihood is going to be destroyed.”

Executives from more traditional companies have a similar, if less stark, view. Peter Terium, CEO of German utility RWE AG, said companies like his would have to learn from the successive transformations of International Business Machines to stay relevant in a new energy system. RWE on Friday approved a plan to split into two companies, one focused on renewables and grids and the other managing declining conventional assets.

That doesn’t mean Big Oil will be closing up shop anytime soon. According to a relatively optimistic forecast of emissions cuts by the International Energy Agency, fossil fuels will still account for about 75 percent of energy demand in 2030, with coal hitting a plateau, oil growing slightly and natural gas surging…

Energy investment, though, will increasingly shift toward green power. Under another IEA scenario, renewables will attract about 59 percent of capital in the power sector over the next decade, rising to about two-thirds from 2026 to 2040. France’s Total, for example, is building out its solar business, shifting investment to gas, and expanding energy-efficiency services to cope.

Executives at companies that have moved early to get themselves ready for a lower-carbon world argue there’s nothing new about the energy transition except perhaps its scale; after all, changing technologies have been obliterating business models since at least the invention of the wheel.

“Really high-carbon industries have had their day,” said Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer at furniture retailer Ikea. “If they can adapt and reinvent themselves, fantastic! If they can’t, maybe some will just return cash to shareholders and slowly close up shop.”

One of the advantages of a globalized economy is that progressive tech – if a firm is capable of moving into global competition, planetwide distribution and sales – becomes widely accepted, faster and easier. Backwards portions of any industry will no doubt continue to drag their feet. Even more backwards politicians – the Republican Party and other wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Koch Bros. – will do their damndest to hold back time, deny any progress offered by science and technology. But, a global market offers the opportunity of scale sooner to bona fide enterprise. A global market doesn’t grow itself over time on the path of selling for cheap and dirty.

It would be great if our political infrastructure still believed sufficiently in American talent for innovation and invention to help out. Poisonally, I think too many of our politicians are owned by the two most reactionary wings of capitalism: the types who consume Earth’s resources regardless of the result and those who unblushingly are out to make a quick buck, especially with runaway shops. The first will rely on political flunkies to defend their diminishing global role. The second are already running hard to be importers instead of efficient, competitive manufacturers.

FBI investigation into FIFA bribes now includes FOX


What a brother act!Foto-net

A sports marketing company that was described in a sweeping indictment this month as retaining contracts because of the “support” of corrupt soccer officials has longstanding ties to the U.S. entertainment company 21st Century Fox, according to securities filings and other government documents.

The description of T&T Sports Marketing Ltd in the indictment signals that U.S. prosecutors have intensified their focus on media companies and what they might have known about any bribes…

When prosecutors announced their corruption investigation of world soccer’s governing body FIFA in May, they spoke in court papers about “an array of broadcasters and advertisers” but otherwise did not specifically address their role.

21st Century Fox listed T&T as a subsidiary last year in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Its investment in the company stretches back to 2002, government documents from the United States and Argentina showed…

T&T, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, does not have a listed telephone number and it was unclear if it has employees of its own

The Dec. 3 indictment said three executives “affiliated” with T&T bribed at least 15 high-level soccer officials to support the company’s exclusive worldwide broadcasting rights for events such as the Copa Libertadores, a major South American club tournament. The three executives were at the time with Argentine sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, the indictment said…

The indictment does not explain how T&T benefited from retaining the broadcasting contracts. T&T is not a broadcaster itself, but by obtaining broadcasting rights, it could resell them to major broadcasters.

21st Century Fox, which is led by media baron Rupert Murdoch, ended up with the rights to broadcast the Copa Libertadores and other tournaments…

Mere ownership in a subsidiary or affiliate involved in bribery would not be enough, however, for prosecutors to charge a major media company. There would need to be evidence the company knew or was willfully blind.

According to the indictment, T&T was owned in part by Argentina’s Torneos and in part by “a group of investors that included an affiliate of a major broadcasting company headquartered in the United States whose identity is known to the grand jury.” The description does not go beyond that.

Today, only two companies own shares in T&T. A Fox affiliate owns 75 percent and Torneos owns 25 percent, according to Torneos.

If it walks like a Rupert, quacks like a Rupert, it’s probably a Rupert.

Generating electricity by peeing in your socks

urine-power-socks-2

Peeing in one’s socks may not be everyone’s first choice for powering their mobile devices, but apparently it could be an option. A team of researchers from the Bristol BioEnergy Centre at the University of the West of England is experimenting with a pair of socks that use urine to generate electricity via miniaturized microbial fuel cells. Results have already started to trickle in, with the system used to run a transmitter to send wireless signals to a desktop computer…

The key to this rather unorthodox style of footwear is the MFC, which converts organic matter directly into electricity. Inside the MFC there is a mixture of ordinary anaerobic microorganisms that release electrons as they feed – in this case, on the urine. The technology has been under development for 30 years, but because of problems in scaling up the technology to provide significant amounts of power, it has yet to find widespread commercial application. However, it is possible to attain practical levels of power when several small MFCs are stacked and wired together.

In the case of the socks, soft MFCs were embedded into a sort of support anklet, while a pump modeled after a primitive fish heart was embedded in the heel of the sock. The reason for this is that the microbes need to circulate through the MFC to remain alive and reproduce and metabolize efficiently. As the wearer walked about, the push-pull motion circulated the urine through the MFCs, which, according to the team, generated enough electricity to send a signal every two minutes to a receiver module controlled by a PC.

Best useful suggestion so far:

Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos suggests, “…it should be possible to develop a system based on wearable MFC technology to transmit a person’s coordinates in an emergency situation. At the same time this would indicate proof of life since the device will only work if the operator’s urine fuels the MFCs.”