Monday, February 27, 2012

Nokia pins hopes on cheaper Windows smartphone


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Struggling cell phone maker Nokia kicked off the world's largest mobile phone trade show Monday by unveiling a new low-cost Windows smartphone that operators could give away free to customers, and another aimed at snap-happy consumers demanding better photo quality.

Chief executive Stephen Elop told reporters at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the new phones — a low-price euro189 ($254) smartphone that runs on Windows software and the , a handset with a high-resolution 41 megapixel camera — demonstrate "the actions necessary to improve the fortunes of Nokia."

"With great products for consumers, I think the rest will fall into place," Elop said.

In many countries, cell phone companies subsidize the sale of smartphones to customers who sign contracts. The low price of the new phone means their out-of-pocket costs would be low, even if they give the handset away.

But shares of Finland's Nokia Corp. were down more 6 percent to euro4.07 ($5.45) in Helsinki Monday afternoon after the announcements, erasing gains made Friday on investor hopes that Nokia would map out bolder plans to claw back market share. Learn More..

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Europe seals new Greek bailout but doubts remain


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers agreed a 130-billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue for Greece on Tuesday to avert an imminent chaotic default after forcing Athens to commit to unpopular cuts and private bondholders to take bigger losses.

The complex deal wrought in overnight negotiations buys time to stabilize the 17-nation currency bloc and strengthen its financial firewalls, but it leaves deep doubts about Greece's ability to recover and avoid default in the longer term.

After 13 hours of talks, ministers finalized measures to cut Athens' debt to 120.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, a fraction above the target, securing a second rescue in less than two years in time for a major bond repayment due in March.

"We have reached a far-reaching agreement on Greece's new program and private sector involvement that would lead to a significant debt reduction for Greece ... to secure Greece's future in the euro area," Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the Eurogroup of finance ministers, told a news conference.

Greece will be placed under permanent surveillance by an increased European presence on the ground, and it will have to deposit funds to service its debt in a special account to guarantee repayments. Learn More...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Independent group inspecting Apple suppliers


NEW YORK (AP) — Apple said Monday that an independent group, the Fair Labor Association, has started inspecting working conditions in the Chinese factories where its iPads and iPhones are assembled.

Amid growing criticism over labor and environmental practices —especially in China— Apple, last month, disclosed a list of suppliers for its popular gadgets for the first time.

The FLA team began the inspections Monday morning at Foxconn City in Shenzhen, China, Apple said Monday. The complex employs and houses hundreds of thousands of workers.

Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. employs an estimated 1 million to 1.1 million people in China at a series of huge factory campuses. Foxconn assembles iPads and iPhones for Apple, Xbox 360 gaming consoles for Microsoft and other gadgets for companies including Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Learn More...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

NASA says Russian space woes no worry

WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA says it still has confidence in the quality of Russia's manned rockets, despite an embarrassing series of glitches and failures in the Russian space program.

A leak developed recently during a test of the next Soyuz capsule scheduled to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, so Russian space officials have decided not to use it. That delays upcoming launches.

NASA relies solely on Russia to take crews to the space station.

NASA space station manager Michael Suffredini said he still considers the Soyuz rocket the world's most reliable space system.

"I have confidence in the focus and abilities of the managers who build the systems and fly those systems," Suffredini said Thursday during a NASA teleconference. Learn More...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scientists puzzled by region outside solar system


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A glimpse beyond our solar system reveals the neighborhood just outside the sun's influence is different and stranger than expected, scientists reported Tuesday.

One oddity is the amount of oxygen. There are more oxygen atoms floating freely in the solar system than in the immediate interstellar space, or the vast region between stars.

Scientists were unsure why, but they said it's possible some of the life-supporting element could be hidden in dust or ice.

"We discovered this big puzzle — that the matter just outside of our solar system doesn't look like the material inside," said David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

The discovery came from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft, which launched in 2008 to study the chaotic boundary where the solar wind from the sun clashes with cold gases from interstellar space. Learn More...