Archive for February, 2019

Shell suspends drilling in Alaska

By admin | 苏州美甲

Royal Dutch Shell will suspend drilling in offshore Alaska after a US court decision and as the oil major streamlines operations following a slump in annual profits, it said on Thursday.

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The Anglo-Dutch group said it would halt the project this year after a federal appeals court last week ruled that the US government had improperly relied on inadequate information in the process of awarding licences for exploration in Alaska.

“The recent decision … raises substantial obstacles to Shell’s plans for drilling in offshore Alaska,” Shell said in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

“As a result, Shell has decided to stop its exploration programme for Alaska in 2014.”

Chief executive Ben van Beurden said it was a disappointing outcome, “but the lack of a clear path forward means that I am not prepared to commit further resources for drilling in Alaska in 2014”.

“We will look to relevant agencies and the court to resolve their open legal issues as quickly as possible.”

Shell revealed the news in a poor results statement that also laid out plans to sell off $US15 billion ($A17 billion) of assets over the next two years.

Capital spending will also be reduced to $US37 billion in 2014, from $US46 billion in 2013.

“We are making hard choices in our worldwide portfolio to improve Shell’s capital efficiency”, van Beurden added.

Two weeks after a profits warning, Shell confirmed that net profits dived 39 per cent to $US16.371 billion in 2013, compared with $US26.712 billion a year earlier.

Shell shocked investors earlier this month with its first profit warning for a decade, blaming high exploration costs, pressures across the oil industry and disruption to Nigerian output.

Russia names suicide bombers

By admin | 苏州美甲

Russian security services have published the names of the alleged suicide bombers who carried out two deadly blasts last month, and say they had also arrested two suspected organisers.

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The National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) released the names in a statement just a week before the Winter Olympic Games are set to open in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

It named the bombers who killed 34 people in the southern city of Volgograd in twin blasts on December 29 and 30 as Asker Samedov and Suleiman Magomedov.

The two were identified shortly after the attacks, the NAC said, adding that they were from an Islamist group based in Buinaksk, a town in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan.

The statement said security forces had also detained in Dagestan two brothers who helped the suicide bombers.

“Brothers Magomednabi and Tagir Batirov, who were involved in transporting the suicide bombers to Volgograd, have been detained,” it said.

A well-known North Caucasus Islamist website earlier this month posted a video of two men who it said were about to become suicide bombers in the “operation in Volgograd”.

The video included footage of the damage and scattered dead bodies from the blasts that struck the main Volgograd train station and a trolleybus.

In the video, two young men warned of “presents” in store for President Vladimir Putin and visitors to the Olympic host city Sochi.

Sochi’s proximity to the Russian North Caucasus and Georgia’s rebel region of Abkhazia, has led to unprecedented security measures.

Insurgents based in the North Caucasus are seeking to set up an Islamist state in the region and have vowed to disrupt the Sochi Games to undermine Putin.

Trust in government bucks global trend

By admin | 苏州美甲

Australia appears to be bucking a global trend of distrust in governments since the election of the coalition last September.

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But a new global survey suggests Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his team still have work to do.

The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer showed trust in the Australian government as an institution jumped 14 points in the past year to 56 per cent, compared to a global average of 44 per cent.

“While trust levels in the United States and Europe have witnessed historic declines, Australia has bucked the trend and found confidence in the new government,” Edelman Australia CEO Michelle Hutton said on Friday.

In its 14th year, the barometer is a global study of 27,000 participants across 27 countries examining levels of trust across the institutions of government, business, non-government organisations and the media.

Ms Hutton said the latest survey has seen a significant rise in trust across all of Australia’s institutions and sectors, rebounding from the crisis in leadership.

However, before the Abbott government gets too smug, the survey also sends a warning it must work harder to engender trust among everyday Australians.

It found that three in five Australian respondents do not trust government leaders to tell the truth, while two in five do not trust them to make ethical and moral decisions.

“Last year, our new prime minister announced Australia was ‘open for business’ with the intent to rebuild trust among Australians and sustain confidence in business,” Ms Hutton said.

“While this year’s results paint a rosy picture for government and business, expectations are high – and as recent history has shown us, Australians have a low tolerance for leaders that fall short of what was promised.”

Peanuts used to control peanut allergy

By admin | 苏州美甲

Small doses of peanut powder taken over several months seemed to induce tolerance in children with the potentially deadly allergy, a research team wrote in Wednesday’s The Lancet medical journal.

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After six months of treatment, dubbed oral immunotherapy or OIT, 84 per cent to 91 per cent of the children in a trial could safely tolerate daily doses of 800 milligrams of peanut powder – the equivalent of about five peanuts, wrote the team.

This was 25 times the amount they could tolerate before the therapy, and much larger than any accidental dose is likely to ever be.

“The treatment allowed children with all severities of peanut allergy to eat large quantities of peanuts, well above the levels found in contaminated snacks and meals, freeing them and their parents from the fear of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction,” said study leader Dr Andrew Clark from Cambridge University Hospitals.

“The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically.”

The trial involved 99 allergic children aged seven to sixteen. One in five of the kids receiving OIT reported “adverse events” – mostly mild itching of the mouth, the authors said.

They stressed that people should not try the treatment at home as more research was needed.

Peanut allergy affects about one in fifty children and is the most common cause of fatal food allergy reactions, said a press statement. About 10 million people around the world are allergic to peanuts.

Symptoms vary from mild to severe, from swollen lips or shortness of breath to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

While “exceptionally promising”, the method remains experimental, Matthew Greenhawt from the University of Michigan Food Allergy Center wrote in a comment also carried by The Lancet.

“It is unknown if OIT can produce lasting tolerance,” he wrote

Google sheds Motorola in $US2.91b deal

By admin | 苏州美甲

Google has agreed to sell Motorola to Chinese technology giant Lenovo for $2.

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91 billion, after a lacklustre two-year effort to turn around the smartphone maker it bought for $12.5 billion.

The deal ends Google’s run as a handset maker after it biggest-ever takeover, which was announced in 2011 and finalised in 2012.

It also provides Lenovo footholds in smartphone and tablet markets, while acting as a peace offering to Samsung and other partners that make devices powered by Google-backed Android software.

“It is win-win,” said analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies in Silicon Valley.

“Google keeps the patents and the research group, and they keep partners off their back, while Lenovo gets what they need to get into the US smartphone market.”

The deal comes a week after Lenovo said it would buy IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3 billion, giving it a platform to compete in that sector with US giants Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

However, Lenovo’s Hong Kong-listed shares dived 8.21 per cent to $HK10.06 ($A1.47) on Thursday as investors were spooked about Motorola’s profitability.

Motorola failed to gain traction in a rapidly evolving smartphone market now dominated by South Korea’s Samsung and US-based Apple.

Lenovo chairman and chief executive Yang Yuanqing said the acquisition “will immediately make Lenovo a strong global competitor in smartphones. We will immediately have the opportunity to become a strong global player in the fast-growing mobile space.”

The Chinese company was the fifth-largest smartphone maker in the fourth quarter, with a 4.5 per cent market share, barely behind fellow Chinese maker Huawei and South Korea’s LG, according to a report by research firm IDC.