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DayZ Standalone Early Access Review

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review

Price: £19.99
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Date Tested: 26/03/2014

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

Note: Early Access Reviews are critical appraisals of games still in development which are charging money for player access to their alpha and beta stages. This review is intended to give you an idea of whether the game is currently worth investing in, but without offering a final verdict.

Take a cursory glance at DayZ and it appears little has changed in the four months since release. The major content Bohemia are planning for the mod; namely vehicles, craftable bases, and broader communication channels such as radios, are still a long way from being added. Investigate a little further, however, and you’ll discover that significant changes have been made, but they’re many and small rather than large and few.

For example, rain was added about a month ago, and now players can catch the water droplets in their canteens, making it ever so slightly easier to acquire this vital resource. In addition, players can aim their guns while sat down, enabling them to sit around a campfire with friends without completely compromising their safety, or keep watch over player prisoners in a more casual, more disturbing manner.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

There are lots of different little channels that feed into DayZ’s remarkable success since it debuted on Steam Early Access at the end of last year. But one of them is this detailed way in which players can interact with their environment and the other players they encounter in post-apocalypse Chernarus. It’s this granularity of experience which Bohemia have been chasing since the Standalone release.

To understand the importance of this, it’s necessary to grasp the basis of what DayZ is, and the developer’s intent behind it. For all its layers of complexity, your ultimate goal when playing DayZ is the most basic possible. Stay alive. Do not die. See that bucket? Avoid kicking it. This is done by seeing to your needs, avoiding the zombies scattered around the environment like organic litter, and performing the delicate and potentially deadly social dance with fellow survivors you’ll inevitably encounter during your travels.

Your objective may be simple, but achieving it is anything but. Resources are scarce, and you require lots of food and water just to keep your body functional. The first hour or so of a DayZ life are a half-terrifying, half-gleeful rush as you frantically scour thenearest village for supplies, interspersed with moments of bravely running away from the prowling zombies.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

If you’re very lucky you might find enough food and water to keep you healthy. More typically you’ll either bleed to death after being attacked by your first zombie, or find nothing but rotten food, eat that in desperation, become sick, and spend the next half hour hopelessly searching for the right medication before ultimately collapsing. This is of course an entirely hypothetical scenario and definitely not what happened to me in my first and second lives.

Learning how to cope in this extremely harsh environment is a big factor in what makes DayZ so compelling. So is learning how to navigate it. Modern games are obsessed with keeping the player oriented, ensuring they always know where they are and where they are going, and there’s something about the challenge of being lost in a wilderness that is paradoxically liberating. The moment you first find a map in an abandoned car or inside a petrol station is breathlessly exciting. Then comes the puzzle of figuring out where you are on it, googling the Russian alphabet so you can translate the town signs written in Cyrillic to match them with the map names scribed in English.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

It helps that Chernarus is an incredible foundation for a game like this. Its sweeping vistas, highly realistic terrain, foreboding climate and dilapidated Baltic settlements all contribute to the sense that this is a world where nature has wrested control back from humanity, but also as a place where hope still lingers. Trekking through one of DayZ’s many forests, watching the sunlight shaft through the canopy, listening to your plodding footfall and the twittering birds in the trees is an oddly relaxing experience, providing relief between frantic zombie combat and tense encounters with other survivors.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bit-tech/gaming/~3/ScyHHkwf6n8/1


Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GamingRipplesWeb/~3/qt_HB7xmNlk/

WitStar self-driving car aims to prove safety with goldfish

December 3rd, 2013 No comments

 Guanzhou Auto WitStar
(Credit:
Car News China)

We can almost see the logic: if you had any fear a car was going to crash, would you build a fish tank into the rear armrest?

This is how the Guanzhou Auto WitStar concept, which debuted at the 2013 Guangzhou Auto Show last month, is demonstrating its safety. The glass pod has 10 goldfish inside, and if the autonomous
car were to crash, the tank would break and the goldfish would die.

Of course, we don’t expect that to happen at all. Although, according to Car News China, manufacturer Guangzhou Auto did have an autonomous driving system all figured out, with cameras and computers that reconstruct a 3D image of the surrounding environment to map a route (pretty standard for self-driving cars), the model on display seemed to have been largely crafted of foam.

If the car did go to production, though, it would be fitted with an electric motor with a range of 62 miles and a petrol-powered range extender that adds 373 miles. The car would have a top speed of 99 miles per hour and would accelerate from 0 to 31 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds.

 Guanzhou Auto WitStar

Because the car drives itself, the front two seats swivel around so that all passengers can enjoy the goldfish.


(Credit:
Car News China)

Google’s self-driving car actually appears to be pretty safe. While we’d hesitate to assume that a smaller company tests its systems as rigorously as Google, we would suppose that there’s actually a bigger danger to the onboard goldfish: you can’t run the air conditioning non-stop. We imagine an hour parked in the hot sun would have dire consequences.

Read more about the Guangzhou Auto WitStar on Car News China.

(Source: CNET Australia)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/KLqa3DcptgM/

UK’s Tesco to scan eyes, target ads accordingly

November 6th, 2013 No comments


(Credit:
Amscreen)

British chain Tesco is rolling out “Minority Report”-style eyeball-scanning tech to target advertisements at customers. The supermarket giant will install screens that scan your eyes in its gas stations. Then while you queue at the cash register, the screen will show ads it hopes will appeal to you based on your age and gender.

The screens — called OptimEyes — are made by Lord Sugar’s Amscreen company and contain built-in cameras and software that can identify certain key traits. They’ll find their way into all 450 of Tesco’s petrol stations, Amscreen said in a release, and could be used by other British supermarkets too.

“Yes, it’s like something out of ‘Minority Report,’ but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible,” Simon Sugar, son of Alan and CEO of Amscreen, told The Grocer.

Read moreof “Tesco to use eye-scanning tech to target ads at you” at Crave UK.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/wfP_hVMWEkk/

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Battery-free flashlight among Google Science Fair winners

September 25th, 2013 No comments

Hollow Flashlight

This prize-winning flashlight from the Google Science Fair works with body heat.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

How many times have you tried to switch on a flashlight, only to find the batteries are dead? Well, here’s one that works simply with the heat of your hand. All you need is to be alive — and warm.

The Hollow Flashlight is the invention of 15-year-old Ann Makosinski of Victoria, Canada, whom we wrote about in July. Her flashlight is one of four winning creations in the annual Google Science Fair.

With more than a thousand submissions, the event highlights teen innovation around the world. The grand prize of a $50,000 scholarship went to San Diego’s Eric Chen for his use of computer modeling to discover new flu medicines.

Chen is only 17 and is already trying to save the world. He used a supercomputer and biological experimentation to find ways to speed up the discovery of influenza inhibitors ahead of future flu pandemics.

Fourteen-year-old Viney Kumar of Australia, meanwhile, won in the 13 to 14 age group for developing an
Android app that warns drivers nearly 70 seconds before the approach of an ambulance or other emergency response vehicle.

Dubbed “PART,” the app uses GPS data to give motorists plenty of time to get out of the way, reducing the possibility of responders getting stuck in traffic.

Turkey’s Elif Bilgin, 16, was honored for a project in which she managed to create bioplastics from banana peels. It’s aimed at reducing the use of plastics derived from petroleum.

Meanwhile, Makosinski wants to manufacture her flashlight with Peltier tiles, components that produce electricity when heated on one side and cooled on the other.

The LEDs are lit when body heat from a user’s hand warms the exposed tiles, while ambient air in the flashlight cools the other side. Aside from experimenting with the body design, Makosinski had to modify the circuit to produce enough voltage to trigger the light.

If they can be made cheaply enough, the flashlights could help people in developing countries who don’t have access to electricity or light in the evening.

Check out the explanation and demo of the Hollow Flashlight below.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/1nbLxNaapdY/

Crackdown a political purge?

September 21st, 2013 No comments


Was the high-profile trial of Bo Xilai a signal China is trying to prove it is serious about tackling corruption?

Editor’s note: Jaime’s China” is a weekly column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and was TIME Magazine’s Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).

Beijing (CNN) — When it comes to fighting corruption, virtually all Chinese give the “thumbs up.”

They liken it to “a rat scampering across the street — everyone is crying ‘beat it up!’”

This resentment is mirrored in recent public opinion polls, which list graft among the respondents’ top grievances, along with pollution and the rising cost of living, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Far from ignoring this growing discontent, President Xi Jinping’s new administration has been targeting Communist Party officials and government bureaucrats whom they believe to be guilty of “severe breaches of discipline,” a favored euphemism for corruption.

The Chinese refer to more minor officials accused of corruption as “flies” and their more senior counterparts as “tigers.”


Disgraced Chinese politician on trial


Corruption concerns Chinese officials


China corruption exposed online


Who is China’s new leader?

So far, the campaign has claimed more flies than tigers.

But the list of high-flying officials who have gone from fame to shame include Bo Xilai, the fallen former party chief of Chongqing, who was recently put on trial and is now awaiting the court’s verdict.

Timeline: Bo Xilai scandal

The campaign has also snared the former railway minister, Liu Zhijun, who was meted a suspended death sentence, and Liu Tienan (no relation), a former vice minister of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Big catch

However, the big news this week has been the dismissal of Jiang Jiemin, 58, the minister of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), for “serious disciplinary violations.”

Jiang’s dismissal is stunning news. He is a member of the Central Committee, the Communist Party’s policy-making body, and has supervised all the central state-owned Enterprises (SOEs), which generate massive revenue and jobs.

Read: Top regulator ousted as anti-corruption drive widens

He was promoted into the post only last March. Before that, he was the former chairman of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), one of the biggest Fortune-500 companies in China.

His dismissal follows investigations into Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief of the southwestern Sichuan province, and four other top oil executives.

Many of these officials are known to be allies of Zhou Yongkang, who held senior positions in China’s oil industry. He wielded enormous influence over China’s security apparatus when he served as a member of the nine-person Politburo Standing Committee until he retired last November.

Rumors

This has prompted rumors on Chinese social media that Zhou is also being investigated.

“If the stories about Zhou Yongkang are true — and the naming of his associates as targets of corruption investigations surely indicates he is under pressure — then Xi Jinping is taking China in an especially dangerous direction,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of the book “The Coming Collapse of China.” “I think the Communist Party is in the early stages of tearing itself apart,” he added.

Chang says Xi faces grave political risks if he is indeed targeting Zhou.

“Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, senior leaders, as a means of ensuring unity and continuity of Communist Party rule, have honored the agreement not to prosecute each other,” Chang said. “If they can no longer be sure they are safe in retirement, politics will inevitably return to the brutishness of the Maoist era. Deng Xiaoping lowered the cost of losing political struggles. Xi Jinping is raising the stakes, perhaps to extremely high levels.”

Other analysts are not convinced that Xi is going after Zhou just yet.

Read: Corruption China’s top priority?

“It will be too destabilizing, “said Joseph Cheng, professor at the City University of Hong Kong. “Xi Jinping wants to use the anti-corruption campaign to enhance his popularity and consolidate his power.

“Cases of Bo Xilai and Liu Zhijun were initiated by his predecessors. Xi wants to show that he too is also going after important officials and is ready to tackle vested interests. He wants to do this before the Third Plenum of the Communist Party.”

Economic reforms

The plenum, a bi-annual conclave which sets major policies, is now scheduled to convene in Beijing in November.

The new Chinese leadership is expected to unveil a package of economic reforms later this year to stimulate domestic consumption as an alternative source of growth instead of relying on investment and exports that have propelled the economy for the past 30 years.

Cheng says Xi is showing strength, not weakness, by going after powerful vested interests.

He says Xi’s anti-graft campaign is tied to economic reform. “He wants to reduce the privileges of the state sector, to make it more competitive and innovative, and to offer a level playing field to the private sector,” Cheng explained.

On the political front, however, Xi has shown little sign of loosening up.

A document, known as “Document No. 9″ and distributed internally by the Communist party’s central committee, warns that “Western forces hostile to China and dissidents within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere.” These opponents, the document says, “have stirred up trouble about disclosing officials’ assets, using the Internet to fight corruption, media controls and other sensitive topics, to provoke discontent with the party and government.”

Public pressure

But with China’s economy slowing, the rich-poor gap growing and social tension intensifying, analysts say Xi needs to champion initiatives that resonate with the public, such as fighting graft.

Since taking over the reins as China’s paramount leader, Xi has issued warnings about how corrupt practices risk soiling the party’s image and threaten national stability.

“We must uphold the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time, resolutely investigating law-breaking cases of leading officials and also earnestly resolving the unhealthy tendencies and corruption problems which happen all around people,” Xi said in a speech addressing the Communist Party’s top discipline body, Xinhua reported in January.

Xi has even directed the spotlight on the People’s Liberation Army, where his wife Peng Liyuan serves as a senior officer. He has issued directives banning drinking and extravagant dining — particularly among senior officers — and called for audits of military-owned assets.

More recently, the PLA issued a directive tightening approval of gala performances by army singers and dancers. Military performers, like Peng, are now asked not to perform in privately-funded performances and casinos, and not to take part in local TV talent shows.

They are also ordered not to set up companies or studios for personal financial purposes.

While Xi may earn praise for showing his resolve in tackling corruption, it remains to be seen if he can sustain the campaign long enough to eradicate “all the rats which still roam the corridors of power” in China.


Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NewsRipplesWeb/~3/IokqjFczf8o/crackdown-a-political-purge

China, Russia’s love affair

September 7th, 2013 No comments


Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Moscow, on March 22, 2013.

Editor’s note: Geoff Hiscock is a former Asia business editor of CNN.com and the author of “Earth Wars: The Battle for Global Resources,” published by Wiley.

(CNN) — China’s President Xi Jinping will have plenty to discuss with his Russian host and counterpart Vladimir Putin when they meet on the sidelines of the G-20 leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg this week, as relations between the former foes grow cozier.

The hot issue is clearly Syria, where China and Russia strongly oppose any U.S.-led military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus over its apparent use of chemical weapons. Both urge restraint and call for a political solution — much to Washington’s consternation.

Xi, who calls the Sino-Russian relationship the “best” among major countries, says they will always be good neighbors who aspire to “never be enemies.” China is a major buyer of Russian weaponry and the two countries held their biggest joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan in July this year.

Obama-Putin will have chance to talk on ‘margins’ of G-20 summit

The two countries also enjoy a growing trade relationship, expected to be worth $100 billion by 2015, that is based heavily on China buying Russian energy exports such as oil and gas. As part of this energy trade, both sides see investment opportunities in Arctic and Russian Far East resources development, and in the related advancement of pipeline infrastructure and maritime transport links such as the Northern Sea Route through Arctic waters.

Putin has made it clear that he wants to see this energy trade grow even more vigorously, and has given strong backing to the various oil and gas deals struck so far by Russian-state owned energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The Russian non-state company Novatek also has a deal with CNPC involving development of the vast Yamal Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in northwest Siberia.


Chinese president visits Moscow


Obama, China’s Xi agree to work together


Obama: ‘Mixed success’ with Putin


‘On China:’ Can Xi Jinping lead?

Snowden factor

In contrast, relations between the United States and Moscow are increasingly frosty over issues such as missile defense, trade, human rights and the status of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia after releasing details of U.S. surveillance programs.

Opinion: Snowden asylum a blow to U.S.-Russian relations

More recently the crisis in Syria has heightened the rift between Washington and Moscow, with Putin rejecting claims by U.S. intelligence agencies that President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens. While China is Syria’s biggest source of manufactured goods, it is Russia that supplies most of the military equipment used by the Syrian armed forces and has been its most steadfast ally.

Putin maintains that the G-20 summit is a good forum to discuss Syria. But earlier this month, Washington decided to cancel a planned Obama-Putin one-on-one meeting in St. Petersburg scheduled for this week. The two leaders last met at the G-8 summit in Ireland in June.

Russia Xi’s first priority?

When Xi officially became China’s president in March this year, his first overseas trip was to Russia. During the visit, he described ties between China and Russia as among the most important in the world and said “it is also the best relationship between major countries.” According to Xi, China and Russia held “similar or identical positions on key international and regional issues.” For his part, Putin responded that Xi’s visit would strengthen the strategic nature of their relationship.

But things haven’t always been so rosy in the post-war era. An ideological split between the two Communist powers in 1960 saw relations cool to the point where they fought a border war in 1969. Ties were further strained by China’s brief invasion of Russian ally Vietnam in 1979 — though relations have warmed considerably since the breakup of the Soviet Union and formation of the Russian Federation in 1991.

Even today, with energy sales to China being such a key contributor to Russia’s national budget, there is always the potential for friction. Price has been one stumbling block, while the growing energy ambitions of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia also come into calculations over pipeline routes. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, for example, are already significant suppliers of Caspian oil and gas to China via pipelines that connect to its far-western Xinjiang province in the west. Russian oil from western Siberia also flows through the Kazakhstan pipeline to China. Significantly, Xi will combine his trip to Russia for the G-20 summit with state visits to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan later this month.

Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’

When it comes to China-U.S. relations, Xi so far has shown an outgoing style in pursuing what he calls the great Chinese dream of national renewal. He and Obama met as presidents for the first time at Sunnyland estate in California in June this year. While the atmosphere was relaxed at their informal get-together, Xi clearly wanted the U.S.-China dynamic to change. “We need to think creatively and act energetically,” he said, “so that working together we can build a new model of a major country relationship.”

Read: Obama, Xi talk security, North Korea

Xi wants the U.S. to acknowledge China’s emergence as a world power, not just in economic terms, but strategically as well. Xi’s goal is to convince the U.S. that the days of American strategic primacy in the Asia-Pacific region are coming to an end, and that Obama’s military “pivot to Asia” looks to some in Beijing as a policy of containment.

Read: How China could counter Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’

Obama, who is likely to have a special meeting with Xi on the G-20 sidelines later this week to continue their discussions on North Korea, cyber-security, human rights, climate change and bilateral trade and investment, has already gone some way to accommodating China’s ambitions, notwithstanding the Asia “pivot.”

Hosting Xi in California three months ago, Obama said it was inevitable that there were areas of tension between the two countries. “But what I’ve learned over the last four years is both the Chinese people and the American people want a strong, cooperative relationship,” Obama said.

This week’s G-20 is another opportunity to see how well the two sides can nurture that relationship, particularly when Syria looms as a major point of difference.


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Article source: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/03/world/asia/china-russia-relations-hiscock/index.html?eref=edition

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NewsRipplesWeb/~3/m3EENJsV0I4/china-russias-love-affair

Corruption fight or political purge?

September 6th, 2013 No comments


Was the high-profile trial of Bo Xilai a signal China is trying to prove it is serious about tackling corruption?

Editor’s note: Jaime’s China” is a weekly column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and was TIME Magazine’s Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).

Beijing (CNN) — When it comes to fighting corruption, virtually all Chinese give the “thumbs up.”

They liken it to “a rat scampering across the street — everyone is crying ‘beat it up!’”

This resentment is mirrored in recent public opinion polls, which list graft among the respondents’ top grievances, along with pollution and the rising cost of living, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Far from ignoring this growing discontent, President Xi Jinping’s new administration has been targeting Communist Party officials and government bureaucrats whom they believe to be guilty of “severe breaches of discipline,” a favored euphemism for corruption.

The Chinese refer to more minor officials accused of corruption as “flies” and their more senior counterparts as “tigers.”


Disgraced Chinese politician on trial


Corruption concerns Chinese officials


China corruption exposed online


Who is China’s new leader?

So far, the campaign has claimed more flies than tigers.

But the list of high-flying officials who have gone from fame to shame include Bo Xilai, the fallen former party chief of Chongqing, who was recently put on trial and is now awaiting the court’s verdict.

Timeline: Bo Xilai scandal

The campaign has also snared the former railway minister, Liu Zhijun, who was meted a suspended death sentence, and Liu Tienan (no relation), a former vice minister of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Big catch

However, the big news this week has been the dismissal of Jiang Jiemin, 58, the minister of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), for “serious disciplinary violations.”

Jiang’s dismissal is stunning news. He is a member of the Central Committee, the Communist Party’s policy-making body, and has supervised all the central state-owned Enterprises (SOEs), which generate massive revenue and jobs.

Read: Top regulator ousted as anti-corruption drive widens

He was promoted into the post only last March. Before that, he was the former chairman of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), one of the biggest Fortune-500 companies in China.

His dismissal follows investigations into Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief of the southwestern Sichuan province, and four other top oil executives.

Many of these officials are known to be allies of Zhou Yongkang, who held senior positions in China’s oil industry. He wielded enormous influence over China’s security apparatus when he served as a member of the nine-person Politburo Standing Committee until he retired last November.

Rumors

This has prompted rumors on Chinese social media that Zhou is also being investigated.

“If the stories about Zhou Yongkang are true — and the naming of his associates as targets of corruption investigations surely indicates he is under pressure — then Xi Jinping is taking China in an especially dangerous direction,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of the book “The Coming Collapse of China.” “I think the Communist Party is in the early stages of tearing itself apart,” he added.

Chang says Xi faces grave political risks if he is indeed targeting Zhou.

“Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, senior leaders, as a means of ensuring unity and continuity of Communist Party rule, have honored the agreement not to prosecute each other,” Chang said. “If they can no longer be sure they are safe in retirement, politics will inevitably return to the brutishness of the Maoist era. Deng Xiaoping lowered the cost of losing political struggles. Xi Jinping is raising the stakes, perhaps to extremely high levels.”

Other analysts are not convinced that Xi is going after Zhou just yet.

Read: Corruption China’s top priority?

“It will be too destabilizing, “said Joseph Cheng, professor at the City University of Hong Kong. “Xi Jinping wants to use the anti-corruption campaign to enhance his popularity and consolidate his power.

“Cases of Bo Xilai and Liu Zhijun were initiated by his predecessors. Xi wants to show that he too is also going after important officials and is ready to tackle vested interests. He wants to do this before the Third Plenum of the Communist Party.”

Economic reforms

The plenum, a bi-annual conclave which sets major policies, is now scheduled to convene in Beijing in November.

The new Chinese leadership is expected to unveil a package of economic reforms later this year to stimulate domestic consumption as an alternative source of growth instead of relying on investment and exports that have propelled the economy for the past 30 years.

Cheng says Xi is showing strength, not weakness, by going after powerful vested interests.

He says Xi’s anti-graft campaign is tied to economic reform. “He wants to reduce the privileges of the state sector, to make it more competitive and innovative, and to offer a level playing field to the private sector,” Cheng explained.

On the political front, however, Xi has shown little sign of loosening up.

A document, known as “Document No. 9″ and distributed internally by the Communist party’s central committee, warns that “Western forces hostile to China and dissidents within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere.” These opponents, the document says, “have stirred up trouble about disclosing officials’ assets, using the Internet to fight corruption, media controls and other sensitive topics, to provoke discontent with the party and government.”

Public pressure

But with China’s economy slowing, the rich-poor gap growing and social tension intensifying, analysts say Xi needs to champion initiatives that resonate with the public, such as fighting graft.

Since taking over the reins as China’s paramount leader, Xi has issued warnings about how corrupt practices risk soiling the party’s image and threaten national stability.

“We must uphold the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time, resolutely investigating law-breaking cases of leading officials and also earnestly resolving the unhealthy tendencies and corruption problems which happen all around people,” Xi said in a speech addressing the Communist Party’s top discipline body, Xinhua reported in January.

Xi has even directed the spotlight on the People’s Liberation Army, where his wife Peng Liyuan serves as a senior officer. He has issued directives banning drinking and extravagant dining — particularly among senior officers — and called for audits of military-owned assets.

More recently, the PLA issued a directive tightening approval of gala performances by army singers and dancers. Military performers, like Peng, are now asked not to perform in privately-funded performances and casinos, and not to take part in local TV talent shows.

They are also ordered not to set up companies or studios for personal financial purposes.

While Xi may earn praise for showing his resolve in tackling corruption, it remains to be seen if he can sustain the campaign long enough to eradicate “all the rats which still roam the corridors of power” in China.


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Article source: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/05/world/asia/china-corruption-crackdown-florcruz/index.html?eref=edition

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NewsRipplesWeb/~3/ZbiscyPNsd0/corruption-fight-or-political-purge

U.S. in cold as Russia warms to China

September 6th, 2013 No comments


Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Moscow, on March 22, 2013.

Editor’s note: Geoff Hiscock is a former Asia business editor of CNN.com and the author of “Earth Wars: The Battle for Global Resources,” published by Wiley.

(CNN) — China’s President Xi Jinping will have plenty to discuss with his Russian host and counterpart Vladimir Putin when they meet on the sidelines of the G-20 leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg this week, as relations between the former foes grow cozier.

The hot issue is clearly Syria, where China and Russia strongly oppose any U.S.-led military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus over its apparent use of chemical weapons. Both urge restraint and call for a political solution — much to Washington’s consternation.

Xi, who calls the Sino-Russian relationship the “best” among major countries, says they will always be good neighbors who aspire to “never be enemies.” China is a major buyer of Russian weaponry and the two countries held their biggest joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan in July this year.

Obama-Putin will have chance to talk on ‘margins’ of G-20 summit

The two countries also enjoy a growing trade relationship, expected to be worth $100 billion by 2015, that is based heavily on China buying Russian energy exports such as oil and gas. As part of this energy trade, both sides see investment opportunities in Arctic and Russian Far East resources development, and in the related advancement of pipeline infrastructure and maritime transport links such as the Northern Sea Route through Arctic waters.

Putin has made it clear that he wants to see this energy trade grow even more vigorously, and has given strong backing to the various oil and gas deals struck so far by Russian-state owned energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The Russian non-state company Novatek also has a deal with CNPC involving development of the vast Yamal Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in northwest Siberia.


Chinese president visits Moscow


Obama, China’s Xi agree to work together


Obama: ‘Mixed success’ with Putin


‘On China:’ Can Xi Jinping lead?

Snowden factor

In contrast, relations between the United States and Moscow are increasingly frosty over issues such as missile defense, trade, human rights and the status of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia after releasing details of U.S. surveillance programs.

Opinion: Snowden asylum a blow to U.S.-Russian relations

More recently the crisis in Syria has heightened the rift between Washington and Moscow, with Putin rejecting claims by U.S. intelligence agencies that President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens. While China is Syria’s biggest source of manufactured goods, it is Russia that supplies most of the military equipment used by the Syrian armed forces and has been its most steadfast ally.

Putin maintains that the G-20 summit is a good forum to discuss Syria. But earlier this month, Washington decided to cancel a planned Obama-Putin one-on-one meeting in St. Petersburg scheduled for this week. The two leaders last met at the G-8 summit in Ireland in June.

Russia Xi’s first priority?

When Xi officially became China’s president in March this year, his first overseas trip was to Russia. During the visit, he described ties between China and Russia as among the most important in the world and said “it is also the best relationship between major countries.” According to Xi, China and Russia held “similar or identical positions on key international and regional issues.” For his part, Putin responded that Xi’s visit would strengthen the strategic nature of their relationship.

But things haven’t always been so rosy in the post-war era. An ideological split between the two Communist powers in 1960 saw relations cool to the point where they fought a border war in 1969. Ties were further strained by China’s brief invasion of Russian ally Vietnam in 1979 — though relations have warmed considerably since the breakup of the Soviet Union and formation of the Russian Federation in 1991.

Even today, with energy sales to China being such a key contributor to Russia’s national budget, there is always the potential for friction. Price has been one stumbling block, while the growing energy ambitions of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia also come into calculations over pipeline routes. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, for example, are already significant suppliers of Caspian oil and gas to China via pipelines that connect to its far-western Xinjiang province in the west. Russian oil from western Siberia also flows through the Kazakhstan pipeline to China. Significantly, Xi will combine his trip to Russia for the G-20 summit with state visits to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan later this month.

Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’

When it comes to China-U.S. relations, Xi so far has shown an outgoing style in pursuing what he calls the great Chinese dream of national renewal. He and Obama met as presidents for the first time at Sunnyland estate in California in June this year. While the atmosphere was relaxed at their informal get-together, Xi clearly wanted the U.S.-China dynamic to change. “We need to think creatively and act energetically,” he said, “so that working together we can build a new model of a major country relationship.”

Read: Obama, Xi talk security, North Korea

Xi wants the U.S. to acknowledge China’s emergence as a world power, not just in economic terms, but strategically as well. Xi’s goal is to convince the U.S. that the days of American strategic primacy in the Asia-Pacific region are coming to an end, and that Obama’s military “pivot to Asia” looks to some in Beijing as a policy of containment.

Read: How China could counter Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’

Obama, who is likely to have a special meeting with Xi on the G-20 sidelines later this week to continue their discussions on North Korea, cyber-security, human rights, climate change and bilateral trade and investment, has already gone some way to accommodating China’s ambitions, notwithstanding the Asia “pivot.”

Hosting Xi in California three months ago, Obama said it was inevitable that there were areas of tension between the two countries. “But what I’ve learned over the last four years is both the Chinese people and the American people want a strong, cooperative relationship,” Obama said.

This week’s G-20 is another opportunity to see how well the two sides can nurture that relationship, particularly when Syria looms as a major point of difference.


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Article source: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/03/world/asia/china-russia-relations-hiscock/index.html?eref=edition

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Free energy, edible slime — and more offbeat crowdfunding ideas

September 4th, 2013 No comments

Arthur Fahy

Arthur Fahy wants $30,000 to develop a machine that he says produces free clean energy.


(Credit:
Indiegogo)

How can you go wrong with this description of your invention? “NO MORE ELECTRICITY BILLS. NO MORE PETROL BILLS. NO MORE HEATING BILLS. NO MORE POLLUTION”

That’s how Arthur Fahy is trying to drum up attention on Indiegogo for a device that allegedly produces free energy. He claims to have invented an electric motor that was tested at 148 percent efficiency. That would seem to be impossible.

Fahy wants $30,000 to develop the machine and “help save the world,” even though he doesn’t explain how it works (electromagnetic waves may be involved). So far, the project has raised zero dollars but it will get every penny after Indiegogo fees according to the site’s flexible funding rules. Now, some might smell a scam, but some might say it highlights the glorious free-for-all that is crowdfunding.

Of course, Indiegogo and its much larger rival Kickstarter have plenty of rules governing campaign organizers. Indiegogo users cannot “make any false or misleading post,” and Kickstarter prohibits content that is “false, misleading, or inaccurate.”

Determining where to draw that line, however, can be very tricky. Earlier this year, marketing grad Mac Bishop raised more than $300,000 on Kickstarter by promising a “miracle fiber” wool shirt that can be worn for 100 days without stinking. But the same shirt could apparently be purchased even before the Kickstarter campaign — from his father’s textile company.

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and, to a lesser extent, other crowdfunding platforms like RocketHub and FundRazr form a colorful parade of off-the-wall pitches, from raising a few grand for childbirth costs to $1.5 million for a space telescope. The vast majority of would-be business ideas probably wouldn’t survive even a few seconds on a show like “Shark Tank” but they’re fun to sift through.

Among Christianity-related campaigns on Kickstarter, for instance, there has been everything from a guy who’s supposedly the reincarnation of St. Paul the Apostle ($0 of a $75,000 filmmaking goal pledged) to a sandwich press that toasts the face of Jesus on your bread (successfully funded with over $25,000).

For those who love to plumb this wild side of crowdfunding, Your Kickstarter Sucks is a site devoted to dubious campaigns such as Anti-zombie Soap (successfully funded) and a pitch by two Pokemon fans who wanted $50,000 to travel to Japan (a total of $107 was pledged).

We love blue-sky dreamers, especially those who dream big, out-of-the-box dreams. From a giant Steve Jobs statue to motorized golf-course skateboards, check out our gallery of wacky crowdfunding ideas below.

10 super-wacky crowdfunding ideas (pictures)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/eOQLF_M3t_8/

China and Russia’s love affair flourishes

September 4th, 2013 No comments


Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Moscow, on March 22, 2013.

Editor’s note: Geoff Hiscock is a former Asia business editor of CNN.com and the author of “Earth Wars: The Battle for Global Resources,” published by Wiley.

(CNN) — China’s President Xi Jinping will have plenty to discuss with his Russian host and counterpart Vladimir Putin when they meet on the sidelines of the G-20 leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg this week, as relations between the former foes grow cozier.

The hot issue is clearly Syria, where China and Russia strongly oppose any U.S.-led military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus over its apparent use of chemical weapons. Both urge restraint and call for a political solution — much to Washington’s consternation.

Xi, who calls the Sino-Russian relationship the “best” among major countries, says they will always be good neighbors who aspire to “never be enemies.” China is a major buyer of Russian weaponry and the two countries held their biggest joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan in July this year.

The two countries also enjoy a growing trade relationship, expected to be worth $100 billion by 2015, that is based heavily on China buying Russian energy exports such as oil and gas. As part of this energy trade, both sides see investment opportunities in Arctic and Russian Far East resources development, and in the related advancement of pipeline infrastructure and maritime transport links such as the Northern Sea Route through Arctic waters.

Putin has made it clear that he wants to see this energy trade grow even more vigorously, and has given strong backing to the various oil and gas deals struck so far by Russian-state owned energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The Russian non-state company Novatek also has a deal with CNPC involving development of the vast Yamal Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in northwest Siberia.


Chinese president visits Moscow


Obama, China’s Xi agree to work together


Obama: ‘Mixed success’ with Putin


‘On China:’ Can Xi Jinping lead?

Snowden factor

In contrast, relations between the United States and Moscow are increasingly frosty over issues such as missile defense, trade, human rights and the status of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia after releasing details of U.S. surveillance programs.

Opinion: Snowden asylum a blow to U.S.-Russian relations

More recently the crisis in Syria has heightened the rift between Washington and Moscow, with Putin rejecting claims by U.S. intelligence agencies that President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens. While China is Syria’s biggest source of manufactured goods, it is Russia that supplies most of the military equipment used by the Syrian armed forces and has been its most steadfast ally.

Putin maintains that the G-20 summit is a good forum to discuss Syria. But earlier this month, Washington decided to cancel a planned Obama-Putin one-on-one meeting in St. Petersburg scheduled for this week. The two leaders last met at the G-8 summit in Ireland in June.

Russia Xi’s first priority?

When Xi officially became China’s president in March this year, his first overseas trip was to Russia. During the visit, he described ties between China and Russia as among the most important in the world and said “it is also the best relationship between major countries.” According to Xi, China and Russia held “similar or identical positions on key international and regional issues.” For his part, Putin responded that Xi’s visit would strengthen the strategic nature of their relationship.

But things haven’t always been so rosy in the post-war era. An ideological split between the two Communist powers in 1960 saw relations cool to the point where they fought a border war in 1969. Ties were further strained by China’s brief invasion of Russian ally Vietnam in 1979 — though relations have warmed considerably since the breakup of the Soviet Union and formation of the Russian Federation in 1991.

Even today, with energy sales to China being such a key contributor to Russia’s national budget, there is always the potential for friction. Price has been one stumbling block, while the growing energy ambitions of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia also come into calculations over pipeline routes. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, for example, are already significant suppliers of Caspian oil and gas to China via pipelines that connect to its far-western Xinjiang province in the west. Russian oil from western Siberia also flows through the Kazakhstan pipeline to China. Significantly, Xi will combine his trip to Russia for the G-20 summit with state visits to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan later this month.

Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’

When it comes to China-U.S. relations, Xi so far has shown an outgoing style in pursuing what he calls the great Chinese dream of national renewal. He and Obama met as presidents for the first time at Sunnyland estate in California in June this year. While the atmosphere was relaxed at their informal get-together, Xi clearly wanted the U.S.-China dynamic to change. “We need to think creatively and act energetically,” he said, “so that working together we can build a new model of a major country relationship.”

Read: Obama, Xi talk security, North Korea

Xi wants the U.S. to acknowledge China’s emergence as a world power, not just in economic terms, but strategically as well. Xi’s goal is to convince the U.S. that the days of American strategic primacy in the Asia-Pacific region are coming to an end, and that Obama’s military “pivot to Asia” looks to some in Beijing as a policy of containment.

Read: How China could counter Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’

Obama, who is likely to have a special meeting with Xi on the G-20 sidelines later this week to continue their discussions on North Korea, cyber-security, human rights, climate change and bilateral trade and investment, has already gone some way to accommodating China’s ambitions, notwithstanding the Asia “pivot.”

Hosting Xi in California three months ago, Obama said it was inevitable that there were areas of tension between the two countries. “But what I’ve learned over the last four years is both the Chinese people and the American people want a strong, cooperative relationship,” Obama said.

This week’s G-20 is another opportunity to see how well the two sides can nurture that relationship, particularly when Syria looms as a major point of difference.


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