Saturday, August 26, 2006

[world round-up] news in three or less paragraphs [continued]

UK British authorities recently uncovered an alleged plot to blow up airplanes using homemade explosives produced on board using chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide. Similar homemade explosives were used in the London subway bombings in 2005, which killed over 50 people.

Switzerland Researchers have developed a video-display technology that can produce an unlimited range of colours by flexing tiny artificial "muscles" that generate different shades by expanding and contracting in response to electricity.

The flexible material allows individual pixels — the dots that make up an image on a screen — to display "every single natural colour," said Manuel Aschwanden, a project researcher and nanotechnology specialist at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

By contrast, conventional displays rely on ever smaller pixels that trick the eye into seeing a colour that is in fact mixed from the three basic colours red, green and blue.

France Une organisation soutenue par de grandes entreprises veut améliorer l'image des Etats-Unis dans le monde. Et si on confiait à Disney la gestion des files d'attente des contrôles de l'immigration aux aéroports américains ? Après tout, ils s'y connaissent : ils ont révolutionné l'organisation des queues dans leurs parcs d'attractions et leurs visiteurs gardent le sourire.

L'idée fait partie de toutes celles que mijote le Business for Diplomatic Action. Cette organisation, fondée en 2004 et soutenue par de grandes entreprises comme McDonald's et Microsoft, a pour objectif d'améliorer l'image des états-Unis dans le monde.

Japan Nippon Oil Corp. plans to start importing crude oil from Russia's Sakhalin Island as early as this autumn in a bid to diversify its energy supply sources, company sources said Tuesday.

According to the sources, the company plans to make a one-time purchase of about 500,000 barrels of crude oil produced under the Sakhalin I project, which incorporates U.S. energy company Exxon Mobile Corp., the Osaka-based trading house Itochu Corp. and other firms. Nippon Oil is also considering procuring fuel from the Sakhalin I oil fields throughout the year, the sources added.

Since 2001, Japanese oil companies have imported crude oil through the Sakhalin II project, run by a consortium consisting of Royal Dutch Shell plc, Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., but shipments have to be suspended during winter when the surrounding waters freeze.

USA [again] Housing and its impact on the US consumer is supposed to be the Achilles' heel for the dollar. It's the collective "thing" that all have been waiting for as a trigger to drive the dollar into its death spiral.

Some problems with this theory: 1) Too many people seem to be expecting it. 2) The weight of US money overseas. 3) If prices continue to remain in check, expectations for rate increases globally will be reigned in. 4) If the US consumer decides to take a holiday, the current account deficit - would likely improve.

Pakistan Hezbollah has emerged as the new champion of the jihadist world, eclipsing even al-Qaeda as it battled the might of the US-backed-and-supplied Israel Defense Forces.

Shi'ite Hezbollah's newfound international popularity is likely in turn to encourage closer ties between it and Salafi-dominated al-Qaeda, which had fallen in Hezbollah's esteem for its targeting of Shi'ites in Iraq.

An Iranian intelligence official explained, "There have been some contacts between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda in the past, but those contacts were at the individual level. The two organizations never spoke to each other officially. Neither did they exchange any official delegations.

USA [yet again] Scientists in the US have developed a test that they claim could help detect chemical precursors of homemade explosives easily and can prevent potential bomb attacks on aircraft.

Christopher Chang and colleagues at the University of California in Berkeley have developed the compounds for basic research into oxidative stress, which they say could be adapted to detect the chemical precursors of homemade explosives, reported the online edition of New Scientist.

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