Google Wash Hands In Latest Report On Government Data Demands


Requests by governments around the world for user account have doubled in the last three years, according to a new “Transparency Report” from Google(s goog), which also reveals that such requests in the US have tripled during that time.

The report is significant because Google is a bellwether for trends in how governments are collecting information related to cloud-services like Gmail or Blogger. Other tech companies publish their own transparency reports, but the Google’s version is the most insightful since it is the most detailed and the company has been publishing them since 2010.

The new report covers the first half of 2013, and shows that the number of US demands has increased to nearly 11,000, compared to the 8,500 or so requests in the previous six month period. Around the world, the total number of government requests is at a new high of 25,879. The increase reflects…

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For $5 You Can Buy A Fake Facebook Girlfriend

Not a day goes by without discovering new obscure ways that people use the social media. Thursday, BBC runs the story on how you can hire someone to pretend to be your girlfriend on Facebook for up to a week. The spot market price of fake online girlfriends seems to be about 5 dollar at the moment. And it’s about to become a relatively big business as several international websites have been launched recently, providing this rather odd service.

“The whole relationship status thing on Facebook is taken quite seriously. It’s really quite official.”

Jo Hemmings


This story seems to begin with a website that was launched in Brazil last month. It’s called “Namoro Fake,” and the site makes the following statement on its front page: “Who never thought of impressing your friends by showing up with a beautiful woman? With only a few clicks those issues can be easily solved.”

Actually, I have never thought of that!

But some obviously have. In fact, so many that similar sites are popping up all over the web.

“We received 85 000 emails in [the first] three weeks from people who wanted to learn more,” said co-founder, David Fuhriman, at the American web site “Cloud Girlfriend”

“Some would tell their stories, some would tell what they wanted in a girl, some were girls who wanted to be employed to update the status of the fake girlfriends. The response was surprising, sincere, enormous, and very international,” Fuhriman says.

Violation of Facebook Terms

offersBut “Cloud Girlfriend” was soon discovered by the Facebook attorneys who has been cracking down on fake profiles lately, and Mr. Fuhriman soon received some letters about their terms of service.

So, Mr. Fuhriman decided to back off and instead run an “anonymous” chat room service instead.

But a simple Google search quickly revealed many other sites offering online “girlfriend hire” – including one US-based website named Fiverr – a website which lists things people are willing to do for $5.

Some examples included “I will make a handmade greetings card for your loved one” and “I will record a video message in the style of Robert De Niro,” BBC reports.

Furthermore, a search for “fake girlfriend” produced reams of women (or men, pretending to be women) offering their services as a person with whom to have a make-believe relationship.

There were a few offers for fake boyfriends, but it is overwhelmingly women who offer the service, according to BBC.

A Big Deal

johemmings“The whole relationship status thing on Facebook is taken quite seriously. It’s really quite official. It’s the thing that people think about more than anything they post,” psychologist and relationship coach, Jo Hemmings, says.

Adding: “I think using a fake girlfriend is mainly to make an ex-partner jealous. To make them feel like you’ve moved on and have somebody else. You’re announcing to them – and the rest of the world – you’ve found somebody else.”

“But if you’re found out to have created this fake girlfriend, it’s a totally different scenario,” she points out.

“You’ve got a long way to fall if someone finds out its fake – it can be humiliating.”

Yeah…that, I can believe!

Have you noticed if any of your Facebook friends have got a new beautiful girlfriend lately?


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All Human Rights Reserved (h) 2013


Norsk Hydro To Take Over Vale S.A's Aluminium Businesses

Norsk Hydro ASA has signed an agreement to take over Vale S.A’s aluminium businesses to form a resource-rich and fully integrated aluminium company, securing Hydro’s bauxite supplies in a 100-year perspective, the Norwegian company announced Sunday.

“This transforming and value-creating combination takes Hydro to a new league in the global aluminium industry.”

Svein Richard Brandtzæg

“The combination will considerably strengthen Hydro’s position in bauxite mining and alumina refining, which, along with energy, are the most important input factors in aluminium production. The high quality and efficient cost base of the contributed assets will also significantly improve Hydro’s financial position,” the Norwegian company says in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.

After an engagement period of 40 years, they’re finally tying the knot – about time, some might say.

In summary, this is the marriage contract:

* Hydro has entered into an agreement to combine the majority of Vale’s bauxite, alumina and aluminium assets with Hydro’s existing business

* The transaction transforms Hydro into a fully integrated global aluminium company securing the company’s bauxite supplies in 100-year perspective

* Vale will receive a total consideration comprising USD 1.1 billion in cash and new Hydro shares equivalent to 22 percent ownership of its outstanding shares.

* As of April 30 and considering assumed net debt, this equates to a total consideration of USD 4.9 billion

* Following the transaction, Hydro will have a long position in bauxite and alumina, the key input factors for aluminium production in addition to energy

* To partly finance the transaction, support the company’s investment grade rating and capacity to implement future projects, Hydro intends to launch a fully underwritten rights issue of NOK 10 billion (approximately USD 1.75 billion).

The transaction

The transaction will provide Hydro with high-quality assets in Brazil, comprising full control and ownership of Paragominas, one of the largest bauxite mines in the world, 91 percent ownership in the world’s largest alumina refinery

Alunorte, 51 percent ownership in the Albras aluminium plant and 81 percent ownership in the CAP alumina refinery project.

“The combination will considerably strengthen Hydro’s position in bauxite mining and alumina refining, which, along with energy, are the most important input factors in aluminium production. The high quality and efficient cost base of the contributed assets will also significantly improve Hydro’s financial position.”

Vale will at closing of the transaction contribute 60 percent in Paragominas, 57 percent in Alunorte, 51 percent in Albras and 61 percent in the CAP alumina refinery project in return for a consideration comprising USD 1.1 billion of cash and 22 percent of Hydro’s outstanding share capital at that time. Hydro will also assume USD 0.7 billion of net debt within the contributed businesses as of December 31, 2009.

Prior to the combination, Hydro already has 34 percent ownership in Alunorte and 20 percent ownership in CAP.

Hydro has the right to take over the remaining 40 percent stake in Paragominas in two installments, in 2013 and 2015 respectively, against a cash payment of USD 0.2 billion for each installment.

In total, around 3,600 Vale employees will become part of Hydro as a result of the transaction, representing significant addition of competence, expertise and skills within bauxite, alumina and aluminium operations.

Vale, the world’s second-largest metals and mining company, will receive 22 percent ownership in Hydro as part of the combination, extending the close to 40 years partnership between the two companies from their current joint ownership in the Alunorte alumina refinery, the MRN bauxite mine and the CAP alumina refinery project.

The transaction also comprises additional bauxite licenses, a volume off-take agreement for Vale’s 40 percent stake in the MRN bauxite mine, in which Hydro holds 5 percent ownership, and an alumina sales contract portfolio.

The rights issue and the private placement towards Vale are subject to approval by Hydro’s general meeting of shareholders. The transaction with Vale also needs the consent of joint-venture partners in Vale assets, as well as regulatory approvals.

Hydro considers the regulatory risks attached to the combination to be limited.

The closing of the transaction with Vale is expected in fourth quarter 2010.

According to the agreement, Vale cannot increase its ownership in Hydro beyond the 22 percent contributed as part of the transaction, will retain its shares in Hydro for at least two years after the transaction closes and following the two-year period not sell shares constituting more than 10 percent of Hydro’s issued shares to any single buyer or group.

Vale will have one representative on Hydro’s Board of Directors, subject to approval by Hydro’s governing bodies prior to closing of the transaction.

Hydro has hedged the majority of the net aluminium price exposure in the contributed assets until the end of 2011, amounting to 670,000 tonnes with an expected average price of about USD 2,400 per tonne for the entire period.

A Transforming Value-Creating Combination

“This transforming and value-creating combination takes Hydro to a new league in the global aluminium industry. The deal will secure Hydro equity bauxite and alumina ownership and significantly improve our competitive position, making us more financially robust and well-positioned for growth,” Hydro’s President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg says.

“Vale is highly recognized for its strong social and environmental track record and its commitment to transform mineral resources into sustainable development. Hydro will continue to build on these high standards,”he adds-

Rights Issue

Hydro’s largest shareholder, the Norwegian state, represented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, owns 43.8 percent of the issued shares and is supportive of the transaction and the rights issue.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will put forward a parliamentary proposition to participate for its pro rata share of the rights issue, which is expected to be obtained by mid-June 2010.

The Government Pension Fund Norway (Folketrygdfondet), owner of 5.9 percent of the issued shares, is supportive of the combination and the rights issue, and has entered into an agreement to underwrite and subscribe for its pro rata share of the rights issue.

The remaining share of the rights issue is underwritten by Citi, DnB NOR Markets and BNP Paribas, subject to customary terms and conditions.

The subscription price in the rights issue will be set shortly before the extraordinary general meeting. The subscription period will commence shortly following the extraordinary general meeting, with the rights issue targeted for completion in July 2010.

At closing of the combination and following the rights issue, a private placement to Vale of 22 percent of Hydro’s outstanding shares will result in the Norwegian state’s ownership in the company being reduced from 43.8 percent to approximately 34.5 percent.

Here’s a copy of the full presentation.

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