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Today In The World

Dated: 23 Oct 2013
Posted by Thomas McIntyre
Category: International, Technology, Uncategorized
0 Comments

Saudi/US Relations: A deepening diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and the US fractured yesterday after Secretary of State Kerry acknowledged that Washington’s regional partner had serious misgivings about US foreign policy in the Middle East.  This came as Prince Turki al-Faisel, a leading member of Saudi Arabia’s political elite, addressed the National Council for US-Arab Relations using the harshest rhetoric yet:  “The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down, but also to help Assad to butcher his people.”

US Oil & Gas: Reports from the Energy Information Administration are countering rival countries’ claims that the current energy windfall will soon end.  With evidence supporting increased efficiencies in using fewer drilling rigs while producing larger wells in the shale formations, the U.S. passed Russia to become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. Interesting to see the small players in this space with the competitive advantage: “Smaller producers have tended to be more successful in shale than major oil companies, in part because they can move more quickly to lease up acreage before land prices rise and are more nimble at experimenting with different well designs to maximize output and drive down unit costs.”

Carbon Nanotubes: A team of Stanford engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has the potential to launch a new generation of electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips. This unprecedented feat culminates years of efforts by scientists around the world to harness this promising but quirky material.  According to industry experts, there is now no question that this will get the attention of researchers in the semiconductor community and entice them to explore how this technology can lead to smaller, more energy-efficient processors in the next decade.

Today In The World

Dated: 23 Oct 2013
Posted by Thomas McIntyre
Category: International, New Markets, Uncategorized
0 Comments

Saudi/US Relations: With Saudi Arabia recently turning down a seat at the UN Security Council, Riyadh’s frustration with the Obama Administration and its regional policies, including the decision not to bomb Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons in August and the recent détente with Iran, is beginning to create a rift between the two allies.  Notable, that prior to the planned strikes against Syria, Saudi Arabia asked for US assistance to protect their oil operations in the Eastern Province, which was turned down by US officials.  “Disappointed, the Saudis told the U.S. that they were open to alternatives to their long-standing defense partnership, emphasizing that they would look for good weapons at good prices, whatever the source, the official said.”

Space: A Tucson, Arizona company, Paragon Space Development Corp, wants to develop high-altitude balloons to send travelers to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. The trips would cost less than other proposed commercial space flights, but passengers wouldn’t experience the same intensity of weightlessness.  The company is planning to build helium filled balloons that are able to transport eight passengers up to 100,000 feet or about 19 miles above the earth’s surface.  With other companies such as Virgin and SpaceX offering similar space voyages, expect more private firms to establish commercial operations above the earth’s atmosphere.

Chinese Smog: Small-particle pollution soared to a record high in China yesterday, as airports and schools closed due to the unprecedented level of smog.  State media said the PM 2.5 reading [which measures the level of harmful particulate matter in the air] ‘exceeded’ 500. A Reuters report put the figure at 1,000, or 40 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe.