Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The third busiest Atlantic storm season officially drew to end on Tuesday

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...Image via Wikipedia
The third busiest Atlantic storm season officially drew to end on Tuesday but the U.S. shoreline and its key energy producing hubs were mostly untouched by any of the year's major storms.
Local weather conditions that developed during the season thwarted meteorologists predictions that as many as five storms would strike the U.S. coastline.
"There's no way we could tell that we would see that," said William Gray, who founded Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project.
The 2010 season spawned 19 named storms, tying for the third most active season with 1897 and 1995, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Of those storms, 12 became hurricanes, tying the second highest season in 1969. There were five major hurricanes in 2010.
Most forecasters had predicted between 14 and 21 named storms, eight to 12 of which were expected to be hurricanes, with as many as six of those major hurricanes.
Only one tropical storm, Bonnie, made landfall in the United States, striking south Florida in July.
"We were at the bottom end of the range of impacts on the U.S. coast," said Joe Bastardi, chief long-range meteorologist and hurricane forecaster for Accuweather.com.
On average, 25 percent of storms in a given year are expected to make landfall, Gray said.
"This year it was more like 2 to 3 percent," he said. "We were very lucky."
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High risk check processing at eComTechnology

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Comcast customers from Boston to Washington, D.C., lost Internet access late Sunday


Image representing Comcast as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Comcast customers from Boston to Washington, D.C., lost Internet access late Sunday evening due to an issue with the DNS servers.


Comcast subscribers up and down the East Coast lost Internet access on Nov. 28. While the company said access was restored, there were still a handful of users reporting issues as of Monday morning.
Comcast's customer service initially reported an "Internet-related issue" on Twitter under the account Comcastcares late Sunday evening before following up with, "Internet outage larger than just Boston."
The network outage appeared to be widespread, "primarily located in New England/Greater Boston and DC/Beltway areas," Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas told eWEEK. According to various reports from affected users, the region included New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C.
Twitter complaints started around 8 p.m.
Based on the Twitter feed, Comcast appeared to have fixed the problem shortly before midnight, just in time for Cyber Monday, a big day for online holiday shopping. Comcast engineers are carefully monitoring the service to make sure there are no other outages, Comcast said.
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Some say price cuts on Google TV Sony Blu-ray players and TVs indicate the service is in trouble

NEWS ANALYSIS: Some say price cuts on Google TV Sony Blu-ray players and TVs indicate the service is in trouble. Toshiba and Vizio may launch Google TV products at the Consumer Electronics Show.


Media are lining up on the Web to sound the death knell for Google TV, the marriage between Web and channel surfing that spawned some pricey hardware products from Logitech and Sony.
Google TV is the search engine's bid to successfully wed television programming with Web surfing. Users may watch TV, surf the Internet and access Web applications from Android 2.1-based companion boxes, Blu-ray players and companion boxes.
TechCrunch noted that Sony has dropped the price of its Google TV-enabled Blu-ray player from $399 to $299.
PC Magazine learned Sony also pared its Google TV set prices. The 46-inch, Google TV-enabled Sony TV is now $1,199, down $200. The 40-inch set is available for $898, a $100 discount.
However, the discounted TVs and Blu-ray players, available at sonystyle.com, Sony Style stores and Best Buy, are only on sale until Nov. 29.
Logitech Revue, the least expensive way to access Google TV, seems to be holding steady at its initial $299 price point.
The problem we have with the conclusion that Google TV is dying based on thee price-cutting reports is that they come during Black Friday weekend, the busiest holiday shopping weekend of the year.
It's quite normal for consumer electronics, or any product provider for that matter, to severely slash prices to boost sales.
On the other hand, if the sales prices persist, it may be an allowance that demand is weak. And people can thank the media for that.
The service only launched in October, but media quickly set to throwing shovelfuls of dirt on it despite knowing full well that Google has a history of building, releasing and iterating on most of its software products.
Early reviews have largely buried Google TV as being a beta build lacking content, shunned as it has been by NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox Websites, among others.
Google TV owners worried that their product will be abandoned may take comfort in the fact that Toshiba and Vizio are said to be launching their own Google TV products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Samsung Electronics may be mulling Google TV sets as well, Bloomberg reported Nov. 24.
Vizio was the leading maker of LCD television sets in the United States in the third quarter, with Toshiba coming in sixth place, iSuppli data shows. Naturally, support from these heavy-hitting TV providers would be welcome.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

62% wouldn't use Facebook as primary email

More than 62 percent of over 3,680 participants in a recent online poll said they wouldn't use Facebook Messages as their primary e-mail service.
Some 17 percent of respondents in the poll, conducted by the Wall Street Journal, said they would use Messages as their main e-mail, while 20 percent said they weren't sure.
Facebook Messages launched Nov. 15 to funnel e-mail, instant messaging and SMS text messages to one @facebook.com e-mail alias so that users can manage their communications through a single inbox.
The model, as envisioned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, eschews e-mail's traditional address entry, subject lines, carbon copies and blind carbon copies for a simpler, faster messaging model.
Some view the service as a threat to Google's Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Live Hotmail, and perhaps even as a replacement for Microsoft Outlook or IBM Lotus Notes in some cases of business use.
While the poll—in which one reader commented, "Personally, I don't have a FB account ... kinda creeps me out. Gmail works for me"—threw cold water on that flame of thought, analysts are less ready to dismiss Facebook's growing clout.
Messages won't do much harm to existing service in the near term, but that could well change, Gartner analyst Matt Cain told eWEEK.
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Early discounts may have taken some of the shine off Cyber Monday

Early discounts may have taken some of the shine off Cyber Monday but the key online holiday shopping day is still expected to attract bargain hunters who may not have had their fill over the weekend.
Cyber Monday -- a term coined five years ago for the day many people return to work after Thanksgiving and make online gift purchases on their computers -- remains a prime shopping day online. But its novelty has now been partially eclipsed by e-commerce promotions earlier in the season, including on Thanksgiving itself.
Retailers from BestBuy.com to Walmart.com and Staples.com have even opted to offer Cyber Monday deals one day early, on newly coined "Cyber Sunday."
The key is versatility, online experts say, as well as making sure shoppers heading to the Web always find something to inspire them to click on a sale.
John Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of BestBuy.com, said Cyber Monday remains a "really viable marketing concept," but smart retailers must offer choice.
"There's demand out there, but you have consumers spending their time differently," he said. "If you don't have one group that shops early, you'll have those who say 'I'll enjoy my Thanksgiving and those same deals or as-good deals will be there Cyber Monday.'"
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

WinRAR compression at eComTechnology

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Apple had a hit with the iPhone 4

Apple Inc.Image by marcopako  via Flickr

Apple had a hit with the iPhone 4, despite some controversy. With the approach of 2011, however, the question becomes what features will end up in the next iPhone.


Apple’s annual iPhone refresh has become a calendar-marking event in the tech world, surrounded by weeks of intense scrutiny as tech blogs and pundits dissect the new device’s hardware and software capabilities. Each new iPhone attracts millions of buyers, further reinforcing the company’s position in the smartphone market—despite increased competition from the likes of Google Android.
The iPhone 4, launched in June, fulfilled its buzz and sales expectations. Despite some well-publicized antenna issues, Apple executives reported that demand for the device strained the company’s manufacturing capacity. “My phone is ringing off the hook for people who want more supply,” Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook told analysts and investors listening to Apple’s July 20 earnings call. “We’re selling everything we can make.”
Now that those antenna issues seem resolved, and the end of 2010 approaches, rumors about Apple’s next iPhone have already begun. Indeed, according to a Nov. 22 report in the Financial Times, quoting “people close to the operators,” Apple has already told several European carriers that 2011’s iPhone will not include a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card.
While conjecture about an upcoming Apple product is anyone’s game, some features seem more likely than others to find their way into the “iPhone 5,” or whatever Apple decides to call the next version of its smartphone.
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google to show content ratings

Google Nov. 24 said it will start showing content ratings for all applications on Android Market in the next few weeks.
Applications will be categorized according to All, Pre-teen, Teen, and Mature, with specific details on the rating levels located at the Android Market Help Center.
For example, according to the ratings guide:
"Apps that include references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco products or their use should be rated Teen or above. Apps that focus on the consumption or sale of drugs, alcohol or tobacco should be rated Mature. Illegal activity or content that is targeted at minors is not allowed in Android Market.
There are no changes to Android Market's content policy, but it's clear Google is taking a page from Apple's book with its own App Store, which has itself been a little inconsistent.
Apple has banned several apps for not adhering to content policies, sometimes erring on the side of caution.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

A Swedish appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling against three men behind file sharing website Pirate Bay

Image representing The Pirate Bay as depicted ...Image via CrunchBase
A Swedish appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling against three men behind file sharing website Pirate Bay, cutting their prison sentences and raising the fine.
The case was brought by Swedish subsidiaries of leading music and film companies, including Sony BMG, Universal Music, EMI and Warner Brothers as the industry continues to fight against the sharing of film and video over the Internet.
"The appeals court, like the district court, finds that the service Pirate Bay has facilitated illegal file sharing in a way which is punishable for those who carried out the service," the court said in a statement.
A lower court had last year sentenced four men linked to what is one of the world's biggest file sharing websites to one year in jail and a fine of 32 million crowns ($4.57 million).
The Svea appeals court said in a statement it had reduced the prison sentences by varying degrees, but raised the fine to 46 million crowns ($6.57 million).
The new judgment related only to three men, Fredrik Nej, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstrom.
The court reduced Neij's sentence to 10 months, Sunde's to eight and Lundstrom's to four.
A fourth man, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, was ill and could not take part in the proceedings, the court said.
Despite the court proceedings, the website has continued to function. It says on the website that it is now run by a organization and is registered in the Seychelles.
A U.S. court in October shut down another popular file sharing website, LimeWire.
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Average temperature has increased over the last 160 years


Animated global map of monthly long term mean ...
Image via Wikipedia
The global average temperature has increased over the past 160 years, but short-term trends in temperature and sea ice seem to be at odds with each other and need more research, the UK Met Office's Hadley Center said.
In a report on long and short-term climate trends, the Hadley Center found several factors that indicate a warming world and said 2010 has been one of the warmest years on record.
The report drew on the work of more than 20 institutions worldwide and used a range of measurements from satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ocean buoys, ships and field surveys.
The report showed increases in air temperatures above both land and sea, increases in water temperature and humidity, sea level rises and the shrinking of Arctic sea ice.
"The average temperature over the first decade of the 21st century was significantly warmer than any preceding decade in the instrumental record, stretching back over 160 years," the report said.
Despite variability from year to year, with some years warmer and others cooler, a clear trend of increasing global temperature can be seen from the late 1970s onwards at about 0.16 degrees per decade, the report said.
"It is clear from the observational evidence across a wide range of indicators that the world is warming," said Matt Palmer, ocean observations specialist at the Met Office.
"As well as a clear increase in air temperature observed above both the land and sea, we see observations which are all consistent with increasing greenhouse gases," he added.
However, short-term trends in temperature and sea ice seem to be at odds with each other. The rate of temperature increases has slowed over the past 10 years, while the level of sea ice has increased.
Climate models suggest that the internal variability of the climate system may be responsible for the recent decrease in the rate of warming, the report said.
Changes in solar activity, water vapor, increased aerosol emissions from Asia and changes to the way sea surface temperatures are measured over the past decade could have contributed to some artificial cooling, the report said.
"We expect warming to increase in the next few years ... However, other future external factors, such as volcanic eruptions or changes in solar activity, could prolong the current reduction in warming," the report said.
More research is needed into some of the factors that influence short-term climate trends, which are not fully understood or represented in climate models.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

As demand for cloud-based storage soars


Image representing Box.net as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

storage providers are boosting limits to attract and retain users.


More online storage companies are increasing storage limits for free accounts in order to attract new users and to keep existing ones from switching elsewhere.
The latest storage service to boost storage limits for free accounts from 2 GB to 5G is Pro Softnet, with its IDrive Online Backup product. Mobile Media also said its Jupiter Files hosted online storage platform, expected early first quarter of 2011, will offer "unlimited storage capabilities" for free. Box.net started it all Oct. 28 by increasing its free account storage from 1 GB to 5GB, followed shortly by Sugar Sync Nov. 11. DropBox is hanging on to its 2 GB limit for free accounts for now, and Carbonite and Mozy offer only free trials.
Box.net CEO Aaron Levie wrote in a blog post at the time that hard drive efficiency has improved "nearly 400 percent" since 2006, allowing Box.net to store five times the amount of data in the same space.
Cloud-based storage offers "tremendous" economies of scale, said Levie, making storage even cheaper for storage providers and end-users alike.
While Box.net is just passing along to customers the results of efficiency improvements, it also highlights how much cloud-based storage has boomed in 2010. Cloud-based storage accounted for nearly 40 percent of the core cloud market in 2010, according to a recent report by the 451 Group. The report called the storage sector “fertile,” predicting that cloud storage will experience the strongest growth amongst cloud platforms in the years ahead.
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Malware authors have been very busy this year.

Panda Security LogoImage via Wikipedia
Malware authors have been very busy this year.
How busy? According to Panda Security, 20 million new strains of malware have already been created this year – the same total as in all of 2009. The shortened lifespan of the malware combined with the increased number of variants demonstrate a shift in the cyber-crime landscape, where many variants are now being created to infect a small number of systems before they disappear, the vendor said.
 “Since 2003, new threats have increased at a rate of 100 percent or more," said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, the company's research arm, in a statement. "Yet so far in 2010, purely new malware has increased by only 50 percent, significantly less than the historical norm."
“This doesn’t mean that there are fewer threats or that the cyber-crime market is shrinking,” he said. “On the contrary, it continues to expand, and by the end of 2010 we will have logged more new threats in Collective Intelligence than in 2009. It seems hackers are applying economies of scale, reusing old malicious code or prioritizing the distribution of existing threats over the creation of new ones.”
 The average number of new threats created each day has reached 63,000 to date, the company said, a figure roughly the same as what was reported in recent research from McAfee.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Richard Branson's Choices

The British mogul on parting with his beloved Virgin Records to help save Virgin Airlines, and contemplating a merger with another carrier

As told to Diane Brady

http://images.businessweek.com/mz/10/48/370/1048_mz_122etchardchoices.jpg

Bryce Duffy for Bloomberg Businessweek
I had been running Virgin Records since I was a teenager. By 1992 the record company had just signed Janet Jackson and the Rolling Stones, which felt like an accomplishment. We had tremendous acts: Genesis, Peter Gabriel, the Culture Club, the Spice Girls, the Sex Pistols, and Lenny Kravitz.
At the time, British Airways had launched what became known as the "dirty tricks" campaign to try to drive our airline out of business. We were small and the lengths they went to in trying to get rid of us were considerable. The only way to get British Airways to call their tanks off of our front garden was to get a billion-dollar check by selling the record company. [British Airways apologized and ultimately paid 500,000 pounds in damages to Branson and another 110,000 pounds to Virgin.]
As it turns out, it was likely the best business decision of my life: We sold the company at the peak of the record business. But after telling the staff that we had sold, I set off running with tears streaming down my face. I passed an Evening Standard sign that said "Branson sells for 560 million pounds" and realized how bizarre it would look to people if they saw me sobbing my head off.
Before I do anything, I first get tons of feedback. But sometimes I still say "screw it" even if everybody thinks I'm mad. My record company executives said I was crazy to go into the airline business. And I can't say all of our directors were thrilled with Virgin moving into space travel, but I'm a bit of a maverick. I listen, but I've got the final say. Then it's up to me to make it work so I don't lose my credibility.
Now the decision is whether the airline can remain independent. We are trying to protect ourselves against the British Airways-American Airlines (AMR) alliance. It is likely we'll have to join an alliance, too, even though it's not something I particularly want to do. I value our independence, and I think the competition authorities have made a mistake in allowing all these airlines to cozy up together. They've reset the rules, but we've got to play by the new rule book.
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Oracle will be banking the largest U.S. copyright infringement award on record -- $1.3 billion

The logo of Oracle CorporationImage via Wikipedia
Oracle will be banking the largest U.S. copyright infringement award on record -- $1.3 billion -- from longtime enterprise application rival SAP after a federal court jury on Nov. 23 concluded that amount was fair restitution in a 3-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit.
Oracle, in its lawsuit filed in 2007, claimed that SAP -- through an affiliate division -- illegally downloaded more than 8 million instances of its customer-support software and hundreds of thousands of pages of supporting documentation from one of its Web sites, then used those tools to lure some 350 customers away from Oracle and over to SAP.
SAP took corporate responsibility for its affiliate's actions in a court document filed Oct. 28 and officially apologized on Nov. 16. There was no immediate indication that SAP would appeal the decision.
"We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary," SAP corporate spokesman Jim Dever told eWEEK via email.
"This will unfortunately be a prolonged process and we continue to hope that the matter can be resolved appropriately without more years of litigation.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Environment groups have condemned President Yoweri Museveni's order to allow an investor to build a golf course in Uganda's biggest national park


Yoweri Museveni and Condoleezza Rice.
Image via Wikipedia
Environment groups have condemned President Yoweri Museveni's order to allow an investor to build a golf course in Uganda's biggest national park, saying it would disturb wildlife and hit tourism.
Museveni earlier this month told the state-run Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to allow the Madhvani Group to build the golf course and a swimming pool in Murchison Falls National Park, which straddles the River Nile.
Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for the east African economy which attracted about 800,000 foreign tourists in 2009, data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics shows.
"Uganda has laws that clearly describe what investment projects can be undertaken in nature reserves," Frank Muramuzi, executive director of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), told Reuters.
Museveni rejected UWA objections to the project, saying there was no evidence the facilities would harm the park's ecosystem and they would draw more visitors to the park.
"These laws do not permit projects like golf courses. It is outrageous that a president should be violating the law in such a brazen manner," Muramuzi said.
The 3,800 sq km park has populations of antelopes, chimpanzees, elephants, birds, lions and leopards.
UWA had argued large numbers of people in one area would scare animals and escalate poaching while the buildings and fences would disrupt natural movement patterns.
Muramuzi said NAPE would send a petition to Museveni to reverse the order and would sue the government if he ignored them. Kenneth Kakuru, executive director of Greenwatch Uganda, said Museveni's order was illegal and should be fought in court.
The Madhvani Group was not able to provide an immediate response when contacted.
In 2006, plans by Madhvani for a golf course in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda's second biggest, provoked outrage and UWA stopped the plan.
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eCheck processing for internet merchants

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Avistar provides a high-definition video conferencing solution to businesses

Avistar provides a high-definition video conferencing solution to businesses looking to maximize their video conferencing abilities.
Businesses have been promised affordable, reliable and easy-to-use video conferencing for years. Most solutions on the market, however, turn out to be more hassle than they are worth. Avistar has been able to deliver where others have not with Avistar C3, a family of products that brings high-definition, multiparty video conferencing to most any business desktop.
Unlike cloud-based or cloud-hosted solutions, Avistar C3 uses a client/server approach to build a video conferencing system. That approach gives a business full control over how, when and where to deploy video conferencing and also provides a means to do in-house conferencing (desk-to-desk, conference-room-to-conference-room) without passing out any information over a public Internet connection. What’s more, that approach eliminates the “on-demand” and subscription fees associated with hosted video conferencing services while giving administrators control over bandwidth, security and connectivity.
Avistar offers several bundles under the C3 product line, including bundles designed to integrate with Microsoft OCS, HP RGS and Citrix ICA, as well as standalone bundles, such as C3 Communicator, C3 Conference and C3 Connect–each of which varies in the included components, number of sessions supported and overall feature sets.
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Facebook accounts for 25% of page views


Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase
Facebook.com accounted for 25 percent of page views in the United States for one week in November, up from 16.7 percent this time a year ago.
The social network, which grew 60 percent from a year ago, also logged 1 in 10 U.S. Internet visits, according to researcher HitWise. Google notched 7 percent of visits.
The page view traffic, almost four times that of No. 2 destination YouTube and five times that of Google, isn't a big deal on its face. It's the other stats' ramifications for the online ad market that are huge.
Facebook also leads in online engagement time. comScore said in September U.S. Web users in August spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook, compared with 39.8 million minutes on all of Google's Websites.
Google for years has been the top destination in traffic, page views and minutes spent online, buoyed by its own search engine, Gmail and the popular YouTube video-sharing Website.
Facebook's rise may make it the top target for advertisers seeking a larger online audience with the social network's 500 million-plus users.
Worse still for Google is that Facebook Connect and the social plug-ins such as the Like button help the social network extend its tendrils outside the Facebook.com walled garden.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Environmental groups have one last chance to convince Canada’s nuclear-energy watchdog to reject

A radioactive materials diposal area at the Bruce Power Nuclear facility located in Tiverton, Ontario.

Environmental groups have one last chance to convince Canada’s nuclear-energy watchdog to reject a plan to haul 16 decommissioned radioactive steam generators across the Great Lakes on their way to Sweden for recycling.
About 80 organizations from across Canada, the United States and Sweden are submitting their final pleas Monday to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, insisting its panel should reject a plan by Bruce Power to ship about 1,600 tonnes of radioactive waste through Canada’s Great Lakes.
The commission gave environmentalists 30 days to file final comments.
Critics say the route would set a "dangerous" North American precedent as the largest shipment to travel on the Great Lakes. The generators would then move through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Atlantic Ocean.
Most are asking that Bruce Power provide more time and resources so they can conduct their own environmental-risk assessments.
"They absolutely refused to do any of these things. All we have now is an opportunity to say our piece and get criticized and cross-examined by the proponent," said John Bennett of the Sierra Club Foundation.
"They’re trying to establish that they can ship this stuff out of the country and once they get the first shipment into Sweden, then the Great Lakes (are) open and there’s hundreds of thousands of tonnes of stuff going down Canadian waters. This is not about 16 steam generators,” he said.
The destination for the radiation-laced steel is a recycling plant in Studsvik, Sweden, that is meant to safely break down 90 per cent of the metals and return 30 per cent of the steel to Canada, where it will be used to produce commercial products.
Read more: http://www.canada.com/technology/Green+groups+take+final+shot+block+Great+Lakes+nuclear+shipment/3862847/story.html#ixzz15x1qtzmY
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Ontario won't stop double-ending

Ontario moves to tighten rules around real estate agents 'double-ending,' but won't ban the practice If legislation is pa...