Tag: america

ZTE fears US action could hit results

Chinese telco outfit ZTE fears that penalties it expects to incur for allegedly breaking US sanctions against Iran will be a kick in the bottom line.

In March, the US government hit ZTE with some of the toughest-ever US export restrictions for the alleged breaches. It has since issued temporary reprieves on the curbs, which are now due to take effect next month.

ZTE said in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange said that it had been actively cooperating and communicating with relevant U.S. government departments to reach a conclusion of the investigation.

“The outcome of the settlement issues still remains uncertain but will likely have a material impact on the financial conditions and operating results of the company.”

Measures it has taken to placate Washington include a management overhaul and the appointment of a new chief export compliance officer based in the United States.

If no settlement or reprieve extension were reached before the deadline, US suppliers would be banned from doing business with ZTE, which could cut off much of the Chinese company’s supply chain. ZTE relies on US suppliers for about one-third of its components.

EU says Apple ruling not “anti-American”

apple queueThe EU is fighting Apple’s spin that somehow demanding it pay the same tax as everyone else is “anti-American”.

Apple is telling its Tame Apple Press, and its “lobbied” US politicians, that the EU is targeting it as part of an anti-American campaign inspired by those nasty communist Europeans.

But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Sunday that the EU ruling was clearly based on facts and existing rules and was not a decision aimed at the United States,

France and Germany have come out to back Brussels on the decision.

Juncker said EU Commission investigations on taxation had mainly targeted European companies.

The decision comes amidst a coordinated global initiative to crack down on tax evasion by multinational companies, spearheaded by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The ruling against Apple has pushed the issue into the limelight and raised the risk of significant push-back from the United States, analysts say, where some lawmakers are saying the result represents a European encroachment on the US potential tax base.

Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD Center for Tax Policy and Administration, dubbed Apple’s tax planning “outrageous” but, like Juncker, said the decision was based on enforcing current regulations.

Saint-Amans said he believed it would be unlikely to serve as a precedent for enforcement on future income earned by multinationals.

China and USA rattle their techie sabres

ChinaThe Chinese government has reacted to US moves that ban the export of some technologies by imposing its own export bans on products sold to America.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Chinese companies making supercomputers and high end drones will have to get an export licence before they’re allowed to sell kit to the USA.

Chinese supercomputers which rattle along faster than eight teraflops will need an export licence from the Ministry of Commerce

High end drones from Chinese company DJI will also require a licence to be exported to China, according to the Journal.

But Chinese firms will only require an export licence if they’re looking to sell high powered drones that have a flying time of over an hour.

The USA blocked the export of computer components used in the world’s most powerful supercomputer, the Tianhe-2.

Panasonic wows with super tablet

Panasonic has managed to take the cake for creating a tablet which has more bells and whistles on than it than a Morris Dancing convention in Norfolk.

At CES 2014, Panasonic debuted its Toughpad 4K UT-MA6 tablet, the 20-inch screen sports a resolution of 3840 x 2560 pixels. Meant for graphic artists and designers, the tablet starts at $5,999. The tame Apple press pointed out that was enough to buy 14 iPad Airs, and have money left over. It is a rare day when the Tame Apple Press can complain that something else is too expensive.

However it is a brilliant tablet. It has a magnesium alloy case and glass-fibre bezel and back, which provides a measure of protection, as it is able to survive drops from 2.5 feet. Moreover, these materials bring the overall weight of the tablet to 5.6 pounds, while keeping it just 0.49 inches at its thickest.

Unlike other tablets it also can do some thinking. It has a 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-3687 processor with vPro, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia Quadro K1000M graphics, and a 256GB SSD. A built-in battery provides up to 2.5 hours of juice. Ports include USB 3.0, Ethernet, a docking connector and a DisplayPort which itself is capable of 4K output.

You can get a slightly cheaper model which costs $5,999, has a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-3437U GHz vPro Processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M GPU and 8GB of RAM. It also lacks a rear-facing camera and the DisplayPort.

It is hard to see who would bother buying it, but you really have to admire the technology. 

Americans want cheap tablets

London-based Datawind has announced that it will start flogging its $38 UbiSlate tablet computer in the United States early next year.

The US is one of the few places in the world where expense is not really a problem and Apple makes a fortune flogging its overpriced, er higher margin, toys.

Datawind has plenty of experience selling its tablets to the third world, so should be able to cope with places like Texas.

In India, Datawind tablets outsell Apple’s iPad. It wants to sell three models in the United States, ranging in price from $38 to as much as $149 with varying specs and capabilities.

Suneet Singh Tuli, Datawind’s CEO, said the company’s goal is to bring the least expensive computers possible to schools and low-income communities. He said he especially wants to reach children who have limited access to the Web, or no connectivity at home.

Datawind keeps its costs down by not using the most updated components.

The $38 7-inch touchscreen UbiSlate 7Ci tablet runs on Google’s Android 4.0 and features a 1-gigahertz, single-core processor. It has 4 gigabytes of storage with microSD card slots for additional storage. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800×480 pixels.

Datawind’s $38 tablet is available now on the company’s website and it will be available through more retailers next year after the Consumer Electronics Show in January

The top of the range model is the the UbiSlate 3G7, that runs on 3G networks with free unlimited Web browsing, for $150. The UbiSlate 3G7 features a dual-core processor and will run Google’s Android 4.1. 

Colorado town wants to sell drone hunting licences

The Colorado town of Deer Trail is seriously considering plans to issue hunting licences that would allow locals to hunt and shoot down US government drones.

As outlandish as it sounds, the report comes from Forbes, not The Onion.

The ordinance was proposed by Deer Train resident Phillip Steel and he even worked out a compensation scheme. Anyone who shoots off a piece of the drone would get $25, while trigger happy yokels who bag an entire drone would get $100.

The technical details have been worked out as well, which means Steel gave his proposal quite a bit of thought. We find this genuinely surprising. Only drones flying below 1,000 feet can be shot at and the only weapons permitted are 12-gauge shotguns or their smaller siblings. Of course, Government drones rarely operate at a few hundred feet and even if they did the chances of hitting one flying at 1,000 feet with a shotgun are miniscule. 

Steel told a Denver TV station that he never saw a drone overfly Deer Trail and said the ordinance is symbolic in nature. With a population of 546, the town doesn’t appear to be a prime target for evil government killer robots. On the other hand, reality doesn’t really apply to right-wing conspiracy circles who believe a Kenyan-born socialist Muslim is out to get them. 

The fact that drones can be used for things other than incinerating people with Hellfire missiles doesn’t seem to register in rural America. Drones can be used to nab criminals, watch out for forest fires and intercept smugglers, but many people are worried about the scope for intrusion.

Lenovo welcomed in the US

While the US is attempting to purge Huawei from the US, it seems to be jolly keen to have Lenovo in the country.

The PC maker hosted a grand opening ceremony attended by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory at its first US plant in Whitsett.

Ironically the move is being seen as the “return of PC manufacturing to the US” and Lenovo is adding 115 new manufacturing jobs in North Carolina and is on track to fully ramp up production by the end of June.

The 240,000-square-foot Whitsett facility provides Lenovo with logistics, customer solutions, national returns centre, and now manufacturing production.

The plant will make the ThinkCentre M92p Tiny desktop, ThinkPad Tablet 2, ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook and more. The new manufacturing line arms Lenovo with the capability to deliver products to customers with even greater efficiency and reliability, in addition to offering an expanded and more valuable set of PC-related services, including custom product configurations, imaging, asset tagging, bundling of products, and more.

Governor Pat McCrory does not seem to share the US fear of Chinese companies. After all he can see that Lenovo’s operations are estimated to positively increase state output by more than $1 billion.

He also does not appear to care about Lenovo putting any backdoors into hardware which will allow US PCs to be controlled by Beijing or any other excuses that are being touted in Washington at the moment.

He said that he was proud to have the Chinese company in his state as it was continuing to invest in North Carolina, bringing needed jobs to the Greensboro area and providing a foundation for future economic growth in the state. 

America faces high tech workforce shortage

Talk of immigration reform in the US has been halted by partisan bickering for years, and it might be about to start taking its toll on the economy, coupled with less than stellar high school education.

New York state faces a shortfall of thousands of skilled techies to sustain the growth of its tech sector and GlobalFoundries (GloFo) is starting to sound the alarm. America’s Edge held an event in Albany on Tuesday and announced that New York faces a shortage of 350,000 mid-level skilled workers by 2018. 

The organisation called for education reform that would enable the US workforce to compete in a truly global marketplace. It wants to see more science, technology, engineering and math introduced at high-school and middle-school levels. America’s Edge believes that seven out of ten jobs created in New York between 2008 and 2018 will require formal education beyond high school, reports The Business Review

The challenge for tech companies is to partner with schools and hook kids on math and science while they’re young. Since tech is now cool rather than geeky, they should have no shortage of willing candidates, but on the other hand it remains unclear whether the schools themselves can deliver what is truly necessary.

3D-printed gun maker gets US firearms licence

Defense Distributed, the world’s first maker of 3D-printed guns, has managed to obtain a federal license to manufacture and market firearms in the US.

The cheeky and controversial outfit has gotten plenty of coverage in recent months, as many observers expressed fears that 3D-printed weapons could prove tough to regulate. However, since anyone with a pulse and a body temperature in excess of 35 degrees Celsius can already get an assault rifle in the Land of The Free, we really don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Getting a proper licence could help Defense Distributed shake the largely negative public perception. Now it is a legitimate gun maker, and gun makers don’t take a lot of flak in the States. That’s what the National Rifle Association is for. It takes the heat and gets the limelight, while at the same time few people can name a single exec in the industry. On the other hand, NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre is a household name.

However, although it now has a federal licence, Defense Distributed has a long way to go before it can churn out complete guns using solely 3D-printed bits, like its open source Wiki gun. It is focusing on specific components instead, such as receivers, grips and high capacity magazines. The latter are perhaps the most controversial. Any legislative effort to limit the capacity of magazines could be rendered pointless if anyone with access to a 3D printer is able to download and print a high capacity magazine.

Defense Distributed openly mocks the ongoing gun debate in the US. The outfit chose to name its high-capacity magazine prototypes “Cuomo” and “Feinstein”, in honour of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Dianne Feinstein, two fairly outspoken advocates of gun control. In fact, Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco after mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk were gunned down by a rival politician in City Hall. Feinstein was one of the first people on the scene and she even tried to plug Milk’s wounds with her bare hands.

With that in mind, naming a high-capacity rifle magazine “Feinstein” sounds rather tasteless. However, it should be noted that Defense Distributed is incorporated in Texas, parts of which could be considered a Mecca of bad taste. 

Iceland's government warns of Wikileaks vendetta

Iceland’s government has warned one of its MPs not to travel to the US because the Land of the Free is about to engage on some wholesale arrests of those involved with Wikileaks.

Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir says her lawyers have seen documents confirming that a grand jury investigation into Wikileaks’ whistleblowing is underway in the US.

Jónsdóttir co-produced a video, released by Wikileaks, showing United States soldiers shooting civilians in Baghdad from a helicopter.

She said that already the US Department of Justice (DoJ) tried to hack by legal means into her social media accounts without her knowledge.

Unfortunately Twitter’s legal team managed to unseal the DoJ’s secret document and provide  a chance to defend personal information in court from being used in a dragnet – for the first serious attacks on Wikileaks’ supporters and volunteers.

The speaker of the Icelandic parliament raised the issue at the International Parliamentarian Union (IPU) last year which backed her.

It said that it was concerned that the national and international legal framework concerning the use of electronic media, including social media, was not enough to provide sufficient guarantees to ensure respect for freedom of expression, access to information and the right to privacy.

Jónsdóttir has parliamentary immunity under Icelandic law when she carries out political activity. The US clearly ignored that.

She thinks that it is proof that Julian Assange is clearly not overreacting to his fear of possible extradition to the US.

She said that the fact that that her Twitter information sought was clearly material to establishing key facts related to an ongoing investigation.

During a second meeting at the Icelandic State Department to discuss my Twitter case Jónsdóttir got a message from the newly appointed US Ambassador Luis E Arreaga.

Ambassador Arreaga had been instructed by the US Department of Justice to tell Jónsdóttir that if she ever popped over to the land of the Free, the border agents would not get out their rubber hoses. She would not have to face an involuntary interrogation.

However the Icelandic State Department strongly advised her against travelling to the US, the Guardian reports.

Shortly after that her lawyers spotted at least two sealed grand jury documents relating to her when requesting access to all documents pertaining to her case.

The ironically acronymed WTF (the CIA’s WikiLeaks Task Force) has been building a case against Assange and others from Wikileaks for two years, she said.

There is no doubt that the US wants to get even with Wikileaks and Assange has every reason to worry about being extradited to the US, be it from Britain or Sweden, or any country that cannot or will not give him a guarantee against extradition.

She said the best possible answer to the current situation is for Sweden to provide similar guarantees.