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Vic Gundotra, Googles head of social, doesnÂt care about every song his friends are listening to and every article theyÂve read. ÂWe do not believe in over-sharing,Â he said at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. Gundotra may not have said âFacebook,â but his comments were aimed directly at the worldÂs No.1 social networking service, which recently introduced a so-called Âfrictionless sharingÂ feature in which a user can elect to have all their online activities Â such as the names of the videos theyÂre watching and the songs theyÂre listening to Â automatically broadcast to their friends. ÂCuration matters,Â Gundotra said. ÂThere is a reason why every thought in your head does not come out of your mouth.Â GundotraÂs fledgling social network, Google+, has only a fraction of FacebookÂs more than 750 million users. And many observers have wondered whether the world really needs Google+, given that it doesnÂt do anything drastically different from Facebook. With Facebook increasingly pushing the boundaries on the amount of personal information that people share online, Google may have found a soundbyte-ready raison dÂetre (that is, in addition to the strategic rationale of preventing Facebook from eating GoogleÂs lucrative online advertising business). ÂWe want to do social in a way that is more like real life, where you actually take time to think about how you express your thoughts, your ideas,Â Gundotra said. Having just announced last week that Google+ has surpassed the 40 million user mark, Gundotra, who was joined on stage by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, had little to share in terms of statistics Â especially when it came to any details about how active those 40 million users actually are on Google+. But the pair did provide a few other interesting updates on the service. Users of Google+ will soon be able to use pseudonyms, in addition to their real names, Gundotra said. The company is still figuring out the best way to do that Â so as to prevent creating an atmosphere in which trolls and creeps post inflammatory messages under cover of anonymity Â but Google will eventually support alternative forms of identity for users of the service, Gundotra said. He also said that Âbrand pagesÂ will be available Âimminently,Â allowing businesses to hang a shingle on Google+ as they currently can on Facebook. And he said that Google, which derives 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, will not keep Google+ as an ad-free zone for much longer. ÂWe have some clever ideas weÂll be announcing shortly,Â Gundotra said.
By Wendell RoelfCAPE TOWN, Oct 18 (Reuters) - South Africa plans to place limits for carbon emissions on top polluters who may face penalties if they do not conform to the new regulations, a climate policy paper showed on Tuesday.Africa’s biggest economy wants to cut CO2 emissions by 34 percent over the next decade but has little flexibility to make fast changes with major employers among the top polluters and its cash-strapped power sector almost fully reliant on coal.The government said the planned emissions cap, marking a more assertive state approach, will provide some flexibility and carbon offset initiatives, but transgressors could be fined.”It’s like a speeding fine — if you go over the speed limit, you get caught, you get busted and fined,” Peter Lukey, acting deputy director general at the Department of Environmental Affairs told Reuters.He said the limits, to be set up within the next two years, would focus on key sectors such as electricity, fuels, and the mining and transport industries. Targeted companies and sectors will need to submit plans on how they plan to tackle emissions.”The policy as it is, is do-able and viable, although a key concern is implementation. There are no fixed targets at this stage but the objectives are ambitious,” Johan Muller, industry analyst at Frost and Sullivan consultancy, told Reuters.The national climate policy, approved by cabinet last week, also aims at balancing South Africa’s climate agenda with its ambition to reduce a chronic 25 percent unemployment rate.A mooted carbon tax plan proposed earlier this year was already criticised for hurting South Africa’s job creation plans, putting the government in a bind ahead of hosting a global climate summit later this year.”Government will assess the vulnerability of the different economic sectors to climate change and develop sector job resilience plans,” the policy paper said.More than 1 million jobs have been shed since South Africa’s recession in 2009.Minister for Environmental and Water Affairs, Edna Molewa said she believed the policy, to be reviewed every five years for additional regulatory or legislative amendments, would strengthen South Africa’s negotiating position at the COP 17 global climate summit to be held later this year.”The policy as concluded now is really going to give quite a whole lot of leverage… As one of the high emitters of the world, we are taking action,” Molewa told reporters.Officials and analysts have muted expectations of the summit to agree on game-changing results capable of producing a new and binding pact to slash greenhouse gases.Power utility Eskom and petrochemicals group Sasol , which collectively pump out more than half of the country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions of around 500 million tonnes, are the nation’s main polluters.Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is also expected to mention climate change when he presents his medium-term budget on Oct. 25, with additional incentives to encourage and reward efforts to curb emissions on the table.South Africa plans to cut emissions by 34 percent and 42 percent below its ‘business as usual’ emission growth trajectory by 2020 and 2025 respectively.Already, the state has introduced an electricity generation levy, a motor vehicle emissions tax and a levy on incandescent light bulbs to prompt consumers towards a greener future.A water-scarce country, most of South Africa’s emissions derive from energy supply, with about 85 percent of the country’s electricity generated by coal-fired power stations.
Following an audit at BPM earlier this year, the Bank of Italy had criticised the excessive grip the lender’s employee-shareholders hold on its strategy — hindering cost-cuts and a streamlining of the bank.Last week the central bank asked BPM to completely renew its top ranks as the Milanese bank moves to appoint new management and supervisory boards.BPM said in a statement it had changed the bylaws that it would put forward to shareholders on Oct 22.In the latest version, the management board — and no longer the supervisory board — could decide on the admission or exclusion of new shareholders.This and a number of other changes prodded by the central bank all went in the direction of increasing the management board’s independence and powers.An association of BPM’s employee-shareholders owns less than 4 percent of the mid-tier lender but controls shareholder meetings because of a one-head-one-vote rule in BPM’s bylaws.BPM’s shareholders will appoint the supervisory board which in turn will name the management board.BPM said that, in the latest version of the bylaws, the supervisory board could give its opinion on a matter if asked by the management board and it would not be binding.In a further move aimed at loosening the control employee-shareholders have over shareholder meetings, the limit on the number of proxy votes had been raised to five from three.This change should allow greater representation of non-employee shareholders at the meetings and had been rejected by BPM’s shareholders earlier this year.Shares in BPM closed up 6.4 percent on Friday, leading gains on Italy’s blue-chip FTSE MIB stock index .FTMIB, as speculation mounted on changes to its top management.
Visitors can enter the soap-like bubbles and experience a sense of floating in a futuristic galaxy at Berlin’s contemporary art museum and former station, Hamburger Bahnhof.The “Cloud Cities” exhibition, which runs until January 15, aims to offer a utopian vision of architecture and to stimulate contemplation on space and the earth’s fragile ecology.Saraceno, 38, says he wants to bring people who can no longer see the stars due to light pollution to a better awareness of the way the earth is floating in a galaxy.”We are flying at the very moment, the question is: are you aware of it?” said Saraceno, who is something of a renaissance man bridging science and art in his works.”These bubbles are biospheres, like the earth which is flying around the sun at a very high speed.”The Argentine artist, who prefers to describe himself as a “citizen of planet earth,” studied architecture and art in Buenos Aires and Frankfurt, as well as completing a NASA space program in Silicon Valley.Ultimately he aims to create a flying city of his biosphere-bubbles, which he says would lift skywards as the sun heated up the interior and the air pressure changed within. He uses plants with no roots, as earth would weigh the bubbles down.”You feel like you are in another realm, like an astronaut,” said nine-year old museum visitor Jan Benno, excitedly bouncing around in one of the bubbles suspended above the ground. “Or like a fly caught in a spider’s web.”Saraceno has exhibited works worldwide including at the 2009 Venice Biennale but this is the first exhibition to show 20 of his bubbles in one go.INTERACTIVE SPIDER’S WEBSaraceno, who is wary of explaining his work too directly, wants museum-goers’ physical interaction with the artworks to stimulate their own imagination and thought processes.Twenty plastic bubbles of varying sizes, some covered with plants, are strung from a wire spider web sprawling within the massive Hamburger Bahnhof, which served as the terminus for trains from Hamburg in the 19th century.Saraceno has long been fascinated by the strength and flexibility of spider webs, creating giant webs for his Biennale show “Galaxies Forming along Filaments, like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider’s Web.”“Scientists and journalists try to explain the geometry of the universe as a three-dimensional spider web,” said Saraceno, who, with arachnologists, scanned Black Widow webs into a computer in order to conceive how to construct one himself.Steep, rickety ladders lead up to the two largest bubbles, with diameters of 7 and 12 meters. Inside, the exhibition appears from another, muted, perspective. It feels like a bouncy castle and when you move, the web of wires stretches.Saraceno says he wants to reflect on social and environmental interconnectedness: “By moving one, the whole system reverberates through space conveying a sense of responsibility.”He added: “By building a flying city, we may learn how to live better and more sustainably on a flying earth.”Visitors must carefully close flaps behind them on entering the bubbles to sustain an adequate level of air pressure. If one bubble deflates, it impacts the whole constellation. The plants, inside or covering the bubbles, are carefully kept humid.”It is a very delicate equilibrium when you are trying to build up an ecosystem,” he said. “You have to have the right temperature, the right amount of air.”FLOATING MUSEUM?Saraceno says he was exciting about using the space of the former station, built in neoclassical style in the mid 19th century. The station was turned into a traffic museum in the early 20th century, and finally into an art museum in 1996.”It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said 80-year old museum-goer Lorna Mattison, from Britain, gazing up at the bubbles. “And very Berlin: enterprising and forward-looking.”Saraceno, who caused some consternation among his architect colleagues when he said he wanted to create a floating city, says he is now working with engineers on a floating museum.While he likes Berlin, he also misses the sun of his native Argentina, and a floating museum would enable him to get above the city’s grey cloud-cover.”People talk about traveling exhibitions, but what if the museum itself was traveling?” asked Saraceno. “At the moment, it is just in my mind, but hopefully it will catalyze someday!”
European shares were flat after recent gains and following data showing China’s trade surplus narrowed for a second straight month in September, with both imports and exports lower than expected.It reflected global economic weakness, which along with the euro zone debt crisis has kept investors avoiding aggressive risk taking over the past months.In Europe, however, there appeared some traction to the idea that policymakers were working on a cogent plan to solve the debt crisis, or at least reduce its threat.Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, outlined a broad plan on Wednesday to tackle the euro zone’s two-year debt crisis, fuelling optimism.”Maybe the political decisions are finally coming through,” said Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management.This was to be tested later in the day by a sale of up to 6.5 billion euros in Italian bonds across four separate maturities. Italy is one of the euro zone countries most under stress in the crisis and is seen as too big for the rest of the bloc to bail out.Of particular interest was the fate of a reopening of 2025 bonds, marking the first sale since mid-July of bonds that fall outside the current scope of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programmes.Yields on Italian 10 year bonds were up ahead of the sales, trading around 5.78 percent.STOCKS MIXEDOn stock markets, the FTSEurofirst 300 recovered early losses to sit flat to slightly lower still heading for its third straight week of gains, something it has not achieved since March/April.World stocks as measured by MSCI were up a quarter of a percent.Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei rose nearly 1 percent, catching up with U.S. and European gains from Wednesday.The euro hovered near a one-month high holding gains made the previous day as traders continued to cover short positions in the single currency, which may eke more gains in the near-term even if a sustained rally seems unlikely.Analysts said the euro may have a little more room to rise as investors clear out bets to sell the currency, which have piled up in past weeks.But they added that few in the market were keen to take on fresh “long” positions betting on further gains by the single currency unless euro zone authorities unveil a comprehensive strategy to fight the region’s debt crisis at a summit on Oct. 23.