Posts Tagged ‘smartphones’

Digital devices and parenting — “We definitely noted more engagement where there wasn’t a device available”

March 11, 2014

By PERRI KLASS, M.D.
The New York Times

Every age of parenthood — and parenthood at every age — yields some discouraging metric, some new rating system on which parents can be judged and found wanting. We endlessly jury family dinner rituals, day care and nannies, parents’ readiness to follow schedules, or to ignore the rules and follow their child’s directives. Whatever you are doing is probably wrong. Yes, you, yes, right now. Put down that cellphone and listen to me.

In a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers observed diners in Boston-area fast food restaurants, looking at the new family configuration of adult, child and mobile device. The researchers were trained in anthropological observation techniques, looking in detail at what went on between children and the adults taking care of them (the researchers had no way of knowing if they were parents), with a focus on the adults’ use of devices like smartphones and tablets.

The object was to observe, and to find out what kinds of questions we should be asking about these new digital devices as they relate to parenting. Not surprisingly, most used some kind of mobile device, either continuously or intermittently or at the end of the meal. Of the 55 groups observed in the study, only 15 had no device in play.

“We definitely noted more engagement where there wasn’t a device available,” said Dr. Jenny Radesky, the lead author and a fellow in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center. Adults who were typing and swiping were more fully focused on their screens than those who were making phone calls. The ones paying most attention to their children were, of course, not doing any of those things.

Children can feel hurt by this lack of attention, said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical and consulting psychologist, who interviewed 1,000 children, along with many parents, teachers and young adults, about the role of screens in children’s lives in researching her book, “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age.”

“Children of all ages — 2, 15, 18, 22 — used the same phrases to talk about how hard it is for them to get their parents’ attention when they need it: sad, angry, mad, frustrated,” she said. They were complaining that their parents were focused on screens, she continued, “like a child’s chorus of all ages, talking about this new sibling rivalry, only it’s not a new member of the family — it’s a new screen, it’s a device.”

As mobile devices have become increasingly ubiquitous in family life, some have raised alarms that increases in accidental injuries in young children might be due to parents too busy texting or emailing to keep a proper eye on their charges.

And evidence from screens that have been with us a lot longer — television screens — raise concerns about the impact on language and development. In a 2009 study in which researchers had children wear recording devices, each hour of audible background television was associated with a decrease of 500 to 1,000 adult words spoken per day.

Are some parents more attentive, and others more distracted, regardless of the particular distraction? Was it different for those of us who remember holding our young children at bay so we could finish reading (or writing) a chapter in a book?

“A really important question, are these devices just a marker for different parenting strategies and/or different satisfactions, different styles — or is the device itself impacting those interactions?” Dr. Radesky said.

My guess is that the answer is probably all of the above. Tending young children is hard work and (dare I admit) sometimes boring. Any distraction literally right at hand, from the righteousness of urgent work emails to the mindlessness of the games that I used to yell at my own children for playing, is at least occasionally tempting.

Dr. Steiner-Adair noted that children old enough to know the word “hypocrite” were always ready to apply it to parents who made rules about children’s screen use (no texting at the table!) but disregarded those rules themselves. We are all highly susceptible to the idea that our own messages or imperatives or contacts are singularly urgent.

“We as parents have to be much more mindful about how our own wiring is interacting with technology in those moments when our children need us,” Dr. Steiner-Adair said. “We have to think about how we check in with ourselves about the importance of getting one more email done — these are very tricky moments because they happen all the time.” On her blog, she suggests eight times of day when parents might pay special attention, from driving time and school pick-up to bed and bath.

Dr. Radesky pointed out that while some adults observed in the Boston study were completely absorbed in devices, many used them intermittently, balancing electronics with engagement with children. “As a mother of two young children, I understand how important it is to take a break sometimes, to be connected with work and with friends,” she said.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and an author of “Einstein Never Used Flashcards,” has studied use of e-books and other electronics by parents and children and said the lesson of all the studies is that what really matters is the back-and-forth relationship.

“Look for something that’s active, engaging, meaningful and interactive,” she said. “The bad news and the good news is, you can’t outsource learning to an app, but the good news is there’s really room for us, two minutes of time, five minutes of time, look into our children’s eyes, have the conversation.”

Your Personal Data May Hemorrhage To Spy Agencies Via App Data Collection

January 27, 2014
  • US and UK spy agencies piggyback on commercial data
  • Details can include age, location and sexual orientation
  • Documents also reveal targeted tools against individual phones

By James Ball
The Guardian

Angry Birds.

GCHQ documents use Angry Birds – reportedly downloaded more than 1.7bn times – as a case study for app data collection.

The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents.

 

The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.

Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes.

Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets.

Exploiting phone information and location is a high-priority effort for the intelligence agencies, as terrorists and other intelligence targets make substantial use of phones in planning and carrying out their activities, for example by using phones as triggering devices in conflict zones. The NSA has cumulatively spent more than $1bn in its phone targeting efforts.

The disclosures also reveal how much the shift towards smartphone browsing could benefit spy agencies’ collection efforts.

golden nugget
A May 2010 NSA slide on the agency’s ‘perfect scenario’ for obtaining data from mobile apps. Photograph: Guardian

One slide from a May 2010 NSA presentation on getting data from smartphones – breathlessly titled “Golden Nugget!” – sets out the agency’s “perfect scenario”: “Target uploading photo to a social media site taken with a mobile device. What can we get?”

The question is answered in the notes to the slide: from that event alone, the agency said it could obtain a “possible image”, email selector, phone, buddy lists, and “a host of other social working data as well as location”.

In practice, most major social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, strip photos of identifying location metadata (known as EXIF data) before publication. However, depending on when this is done during upload, such data may still, briefly, be available for collection by the agencies as it travels across the networks.

Depending on what profile information a user had supplied, the documents suggested, the agency would be able to collect almost every key detail of a user’s life: including home country, current location (through geolocation), age, gender, zip code, martial status – options included “single”, “married”, “divorced”, “swinger” and more – income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and number of children.

The agencies also made use of their mobile interception capabilities to collect location information in bulk, from Google and other mapping apps. One basic effort by GCHQ and the NSA was to build a database geolocating every mobile phone mast in the world – meaning that just by taking tower ID from a handset, location information could be gleaned.

A more sophisticated effort, though, relied on intercepting Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and using them to collect large volumes of location information.

So successful was this effort that one 2008 document noted that “[i]t effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.”

The information generated by each app is chosen by its developers, or by the company that delivers an app’s adverts. The documents do not detail whether the agencies actually collect the potentially sensitive details some apps are capable of storing or transmitting, but any such information would likely qualify as content, rather than metadata.

Data collected from smartphone apps is subject to the same laws and minimisation procedures as all other NSA activity – procedures that the US president, Barack Obama, suggested may be subject to reform in a speech 10 days ago. But the president focused largely on the NSA’s collection of the metadata from US phone calls and made no mention in his address of the large amounts of data the agency collects from smartphone apps.

The latest disclosures could also add to mounting public concern about how the technology sector collects and uses information, especially for those outside the US, who enjoy fewer privacy protections than Americans. A January poll for the Washington Post showed 69% of US adults were already concerned about how tech companies such as Google used and stored their information.

The documents do not make it clear how much of the information that can be taken from apps is routinely collected, stored or searched, nor how many users may be affected. The NSA says it does not target Americans and its capabilities are deployed only against “valid foreign intelligence targets”.

The documents do set out in great detail exactly how much information can be collected from widely popular apps. One document held on GCHQ’s internal Wikipedia-style guide for staff details what can be collected from different apps. Though it uses Android apps for most of its examples, it suggests much of the same data could be taken from equivalent apps on iPhone or other platforms.

The GCHQ documents set out examples of what information can be extracted from different ad platforms, using perhaps the most popular mobile phone game of all time, Angry Birds – which has reportedly been downloaded more than 1.7bn times – as a case study.

From some app platforms, relatively limited, but identifying, information such as exact handset model, the unique ID of the handset, software version, and similar details are all that are transmitted.

Other apps choose to transmit much more data, meaning the agency could potentially net far more. One mobile ad platform, Millennial Media, appeared to offer particularly rich information. Millennial Media’s website states it has partnered with Rovio on a special edition of Angry Birds; with Farmville maker Zynga; with Call of Duty developer Activision, and many other major franchises.

Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, said it had no knowledge of any NSA or GCHQ programs looking to extract data from its apps users.

“Rovio doesn’t have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks,” said Saara Bergström, Rovio’s VP of marketing and communications. “Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned [NSA and GCHQ].”

Millennial Media did not respond to a request for comment.

In December, the Washington Post reported on how the NSA could make use of advertising tracking files generated through normal internet browsing – known as cookies – from Google and others to get information on potential targets.

However, the richer personal data available to many apps, coupled with real-time geolocation, and the uniquely identifying handset information many apps transmit give the agencies a far richer data source than conventional web-tracking cookies.

Almost every major website uses cookies to serve targeted advertising and content, as well as streamline the experience for the user, for example by managing logins. One GCHQ document from 2010 notes that cookie data – which generally qualifies as metadata – has become just as important to the spies. In fact, the agencies were sweeping it up in such high volumes that their were struggling to store it.

“They are gathered in bulk, and are currently our single largest type of events,” the document stated.

The ability to obtain targeted intelligence by hacking individual handsets has been well documented, both through several years of hacker conferences and previous NSA disclosures in Der Spiegel, and both the NSA and GCHQ have extensive tools ready to deploy against iPhone, Android and other phone platforms.

GCHQ’s targeted tools against individual smartphones are named after characters in the TV series The Smurfs. An ability to make the phone’s microphone ‘hot’, to listen in to conversations, is named “Nosey Smurf”. High-precision geolocation is called “Tracker Smurf”, power management – an ability to stealthily activate an a phone that is apparently turned off – is “Dreamy Smurf”, while the spyware’s self-hiding capabilities are codenamed “Paranoid Smurf”.

Those capability names are set out in a much broader 2010 presentation that sheds light on spy agencies’ aspirations for mobile phone interception, and that less-documented mass-collection abilities.

The cover sheet of the document sets out the team’s aspirations:

mobile theme 1
The cover slide for a May 2010 GCHQ presentation on mobile phone data interception. Photograph: Guardian

Another slide details weak spots in where data flows from mobile phone network providers to the wider internet, where the agency attempts to intercept communications. These are locations either within a particular network, or international roaming exchanges (known as GRXs), where data from travellers roaming outside their home country is routed.

mobile briefing 2
While GCHQ uses Android apps for most of its examples, it suggests much of the same data could be taken from iPhone apps. Photograph: Guardian
mobile briefing 3
GCHQ’s targeted tools against individual smartphones are named after characters in the TV series The Smurfs. Photograph: Guardian

These are particularly useful to the agency as data is often only weakly encrypted on such networks, and includes extra information such as handset ID or mobile number – much stronger target identifiers than usual IP addresses or similar information left behind when PCs and laptops browse the internet.

The NSA said its phone interception techniques are only used against valid targets, and are subject to stringent legal safeguards.

“The communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets are not of interest to the National Security Agency,” said a spokeswoman in a statement.

“Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true. Moreover, NSA does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission. We collect only those communications that we are authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – regardless of the technical means used by the targets.

“Because some data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of data. In addition, NSA actively works to remove extraneous data, to include that of innocent foreign citizens, as early as possible in the process.

“Continuous and selective publication of specific techniques and tools lawfully used by NSA to pursue legitimate foreign intelligence targets is detrimental to the security of the United States and our allies – and places at risk those we are sworn to protect.”

The NSA declined to respond to a series of queries on how routinely capabilities against apps were deployed, or on the specific minimisation procedures used to prevent US citizens’ information being stored through such measures.

GCHQ declined to comment on any of its specific programs, but stressed all of its activities were proportional and complied with UK law.

“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters,” said a spokesman.

“Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework that ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

 

• A separate disclosure on Wednesday, published by Glenn Greenwald and NBC News, gave examples of how GCHQ was making use of its cable-tapping capabilities to monitor YouTube and social media traffic in real-time.

GCHQ’s cable-tapping and internet buffering capabilities , codenamed Tempora, were disclosed by the Guardian in June, but the new documents published by NBC from a GCHQ presentation titled “Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV” set out a program codenamed Squeaky Dolphin which gave the British spies “broad real-time monitoring” of “YouTube Video Views”, “URLs ‘Liked’ on Facebook” and “Blogspot/Blogger Visits”.

A further slide noted that “passive” – a term for large-scale surveillance through cable intercepts – give the agency “scalability”.

The means of interception mean GCHQ and NSA could obtain data without any knowledge or co-operation from the technology companies. Spokespeople for the NSA and GCHQ told NBC all programs were carried out in accordance with US and UK law.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/nsa-gchq-smartphone-app-angry-birds-personal-data

Your Phone Apps Can Give Up Personal Data To Spy Agencies

January 27, 2014

When a smartphone user opens Angry Birds, the popular game application, and starts slinging birds at chortling green pigs, spies may be lurking in the background to snatch data revealing the player’s location, age, sex and other personal information, according to secret British intelligence documents.

By , JEFF LARSON and

In their globe-spanning surveillance for terrorism suspects and other targets, the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have been trying to exploit a basic byproduct of modern telecommunications: With each new generation of mobile phone technology, ever greater amounts of personal data pour onto networks where spies can pick it up.

According to dozens of previously undisclosed classified documents, among the most valuable of those unintended intelligence tools are so-called leaky apps that spew everything from users’ smartphone identification codes to where they have been that day.

The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

The eavesdroppers’ pursuit of mobile networks has been outlined in earlier reports, but the secret documents, shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica, offer far more details of their ambitions for smartphones and the apps that run on them. The efforts were part of an initiative called “the mobile surge,” according to a 2011 British document, an analogy to the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. One N.S.A. analyst’s enthusiasm was evident in the breathless title — “Golden Nugget!” — given to one slide for a top-secret 2010 talk describing iPhones and Android phones as rich resources, one document notes.

The scale and the specifics of the data haul are not clear. The documents show that the N.S.A. and the British agency routinely obtain information from certain apps, particularly some of those introduced earliest to cellphones. With some newer apps, including Angry Birds, the agencies have a similar capability, the documents show, but they do not make explicit whether the spies have put that into practice. Some personal data, developed in profiles by advertising companies, could be particularly sensitive: A secret 2012 British intelligence document says that spies can scrub smartphone apps that contain details like a user’s “political alignment” and sexual orientation.

President Obama announced new restrictions this month to better protect the privacy of ordinary Americans and foreigners from government surveillance, including limits on how the N.S.A. can view “metadata” of Americans’ phone calls — the routing information, time stamps and other data associated with calls. But he did not address the avalanche of information that the intelligence agencies get from leaky apps and other smartphone functions.

And while he expressed concern about advertising companies that collect information on people to send tailored ads to their mobile phones, he offered no hint that American spies routinely seize that data. Nothing in the secret reports indicates that the companies cooperate with the spy agencies to share the information; the topic is not addressed.

The agencies have long been intercepting earlier generations of cellphone traffic like text messages and metadata from nearly every segment of the mobile network — and, more recently, computer traffic running on Internet pipelines. Because those same networks carry the rush of data from leaky apps, the agencies have a ready-made way to collect and store this new resource. The documents do not address how many users might be affected, whether they include Americans, or how often, with so much information collected automatically, analysts would see personal data.

“N.S.A. does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission,” the agency said in a written response to questions about the program. “Because some data of U.S. persons may at times be incidentally collected in N.S.A.’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for U.S. persons exist across the entire process.” Similar protections, the agency said, are in place for “innocent foreign citizens.”

The British spy agency declined to comment on any specific program, but said all its activities complied with British law.

Two top-secret flow charts produced by the British agency in 2012 show incoming streams of information skimmed from smartphone traffic by the Americans and the British. The streams are divided into “traditional telephony” — metadata — and others marked “social apps,” “geo apps,” “http linking,” webmail, MMS and traffic associated with mobile ads, among others. (MMS refers to the mobile system for sending pictures and other multimedia, and http is the protocol for linking to websites.)

In charts showing how information flows from smartphones into the agency’s computers, analysts included questions to be answered by the data, including “Where was my target when they did this?” and “Where is my target going?”

As the program accelerated, the N.S.A. nearly quadrupled its budget in a single year, to $767 million in 2007 from $204 million, according to a top-secret Canadian analysis written around the same time.

Even sophisticated users are often unaware of how smartphones offer a unique opportunity for one-stop shopping for information about them. “By having these devices in our pockets and using them more and more,” said Philippe Langlois, who has studied the vulnerabilities of mobile phone networks and is the founder of the Paris-based company Priority One Security, “you’re somehow becoming a sensor for the world intelligence community.”

Detailed Profiles

Smartphones almost seem to make things too easy. Functioning as phones — making calls and sending texts — and as computers — surfing the web and sending emails — they generate and also rely on data. One secret report shows that just by updating Android software, a user sent more than 500 lines of data about the phone’s history and use onto the network.

Such information helps mobile ad companies, for example, create detailed profiles of people based on how they use their mobile device, where they travel, what apps and websites they open, and other factors. Advertising firms might triangulate web shopping data and browsing history to guess whether someone is wealthy or has children, for example.

The N.S.A. and the British agency busily scoop up this data, mining it for new information and comparing it with their lists of intelligence targets.

One secret 2010 British document suggests that the agencies collect such a huge volume of “cookies” — the digital traces left on a mobile device or a computer when a target visits a website — that classified computers were having trouble storing it all.

“They are gathered in bulk, and are currently our single largest type of events,” the document says.

The two agencies displayed a particular interest in Google Maps, which is accurate to within a few yards or better in some locations. Intelligence agencies collect so much data from the app that “you’ll be able to clone Google’s database” of global searches for directions, according to a top-secret N.S.A. report from 2007.

“It effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a G.C.H.Q. system,” a secret 2008 report by the British agency says.

(In December, The Washington Post, citing the Snowden documents, reported that the N.S.A. was using metadata to track cellphone locations outside the United States and was using ad cookies to connect Internet addresses with physical locations.)

In another example, a secret 20-page British report dated 2012 includes the computer code needed for plucking the profiles generated when Android users play Angry Birds. The app was created by Rovio Entertainment, of Finland, and has been downloaded more than a billion times, the company has said.

Rovio drew public criticism in 2012 when researchers claimed that the app was tracking users’ locations and gathering other data and passing it to mobile ad companies. In a statement on its website, Rovio says that it may collect its users’ personal data, but that it abides by some restrictions. For example, the statement says, “Rovio does not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13 years of age.”

The secret report noted that the profiles vary depending on which of the ad companies — which include Burstly and Google’s ad services, two of the largest online advertising businesses — compiles them. Most profiles contain a string of characters that identifies the phone, along with basic data on the user like age, sex and location. One profile notes whether the user is currently listening to music or making a call, and another has an entry for household income.

Google declined to comment for this article, and Burstly did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Saara Bergstrom, a Rovio spokeswoman, said that the company had no knowledge of the intelligence programs. “Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned,” Ms. Bergstrom said, referring to the N.S.A. and the British spy agency.

Another ad company creates far more intrusive profiles that the agencies can retrieve, the report says. The apps that generate those profiles are not identified, but the company is named as Millennial Media, which has its headquarters in Baltimore.

In securities filings, Millennial documented how it began working with Rovio in 2011 to embed ad services in Angry Birds apps running on iPhones, Android phones and other devices.

According to the report, the Millennial profiles contain much of the same information as the others, but several categories listed as “optional,” including ethnicity, marital status and sexual orientation, suggest that much wider sweeps of personal data may take place.

Millennial Media declined to comment for this article.

Possible categories for marital status, the secret report says, include single, married, divorced, engaged and “swinger”; those for sexual orientation are straight, gay, bisexual and “not sure.” It is unclear whether the “not sure” category exists because so many phone apps are used by children, or because insufficient data may be available.

There is no explanation of precisely how the ad company defined the categories, whether users volunteered the information, or whether the company inferred it by other means. Nor is there any discussion of why all that information would be useful for marketing — or intelligence.

Unwieldy Heaps

The agencies have had occasional success — at least by their own reckoning — when they start with something closer to a traditional investigative tip or lead. The spies say that tracking smartphone traffic helped break up a bomb plot by Al Qaeda in Germany in 2007, and the N.S.A. bragged that to crack the plot, it wove together mobile data with emails, log-ins and web traffic. Similarly, mining smartphone data helped lead to arrests of members of a drug cartel hit squad for the 2010 murder of an employee of an American Consulate in Mexico.

But the data, whose volume is soaring as mobile devices have begun to dominate the technological landscape, is a crushing amount of information for the spies to sift through. As smartphone data builds up in N.S.A. and British databases, the agencies sometimes seem a bit at a loss on what to do with it all, the documents show. A few isolated experiments provide hints as to how unwieldy it can be.

In 2009, the American and British spy agencies each undertook a brute-force analysis of a tiny sliver of their cellphone databases. Crunching just one month of N.S.A. cellphone data, a secret report said, required 120 computers and turned up 8,615,650 “actors” — apparently callers of interest. A similar run using three months of British data came up with 24,760,289 actors.

“Not necessarily straightforward,” the report said of the analysis. The agencies’ extensive computer operations had trouble sorting through the slice of data. Analysts were “dealing with immaturity,” the report said, encountering computer memory and processing problems. The report made no mention of anything suspicious in the enormous lumps of data.

Retired police captain kills man for texing in a movie theater — The Psychology of Texting is Just in its Infancy, But Early Studies Show Danger Signs

January 14, 2014

Dr. Keith Ablow, MD, one of America’s leading psychiatrists, commented today on the tragic story of a former Police Captain that allegedly shot and killed another man in a movie theater. The man who was killed has been texting on his smartphone during the film’s screening — apparently enough to annoy fellow theater goers.

Dr. Ablow said the study of this kind of behavior is in its infancy but he said the very earliest studied seem to indicate that people who spend a lot of time texting on their smartphone often “achieve some level of de-humanized behavior.” They may become more, anxious, depressed, and intolerant of real people trying to carry on a normal conversation in person — or on the phone.

We spoke to a  psychiatrists who treats people who are having trouble with “addictive behavior” today and were told that frequent texting “causes a difficult to explain loss of normal patience and kindness. People become short with others more easily when talking face to face and this more easily leads to misunderstands, anger, resentments, conflicts and even violence.”

Two doctors told us if you have frequent contact with young adults who cannot seem to rid themselves of anxiety, depression and unhappiness and other hindrances to  operating calmly and normally in the real world it might be time to put the old smartphone away for a spell and experience “real life” for a day or two.

Doctor Ablow also said that arguments between people when a smartphone is involved have some  of the same frightening hallmarks of how the human brain works during road rage. The use of the “machine” or “device” somehow seduces the brain into a false sense of reality that encourages us to perform out of character  and over the top risk-taking and violence.

Below the Daily Mail article on the shooting in the Texas cinema, you’ll find an article (that is a few years od but came recommended by Dr. Ablow)  from Forbes on psychology of texting.

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  • Chad Oulson had been texting his three-year-old daughter while he waited for Lone Survivor movie to start
  • Retired Tampa officer Curtis Reeves, 71, shot victim in the chest after row
  • Nicole Oulson was shot in the hand as she tried to protect her husband
  • Terrified movie-goers say they heard arguing and saw popcorn being thrown before gun was fired
  • Reeves claims he feared for his safety after being hit by an unknown object

By Daily Mail Reporter

A 43-year-old father was shot dead by a retired cop in a Florida cinema after row about him texting his three-year-old daughter as they waited for the movie to start, witnesses said.

Chad Oulson was shot in front of his wife and horrified movie-goers during an argument with 71-year-old Curtis Reeves.

The victim’s wife, Nicole, was injured in the shooting after holding her hands out to try to shield Mr Oulson during the confrontation at a movie theater near Tampa on Monday.

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Deadly shooting: Chad and Nicole Oulson (pictured with their three-year-old daughter) were shot in a movie theater over cell phone texting

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Deadly shooting: Chad and Nicole Oulson (pictured with their three-year-old daughter) were shot in a movie theater over cell phone texting

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Senseless killing: Nicole Oulson was shot in the hand and Chad Oulson shot fatally in the chest.Senseless killing: Nicole Oulson was shot in the hand and Chad Oulson shot fatally in the chest

After Reeves fired at his chest the victim was heard saying: ‘I can’t believe I got shot’, according to Fox News.

Reeves has been charged with second-degree homicide after the shooting, which happened at about 1.30pm during a screening of the Mark Wahlberg film, Lone Survivor.

About 25 people were in the theater at the time and witnesses said they heard an argument between two men at the back of the room moments before.

Pasco County Sheriff’s officials said the shooting happened when Reeves asked Mr Oulson to stop texting at the theater in Wesley Chapel, a suburb about a half hour north of downtown Tampa.

More…

Reeves and his wife were sitting behind Mr Oulson and his wife. Mr Oulson told Reeves that he was texting with his three-year-old daughter, Charles Cummings, who was at the screening, said.

In the arrest report, Reeves claimed that he was in fear of being attacked after being hit in the face by an unknown object.

‘It ended almost as quickly as it started,’ sheriff’s spokesman Doug Tobin said. The sheriff’s office says an off-duty Sumter County deputy detained Reeves until police arrived.

‘Somebody throws popcorn. I’m not sure who threw the popcorn,’ Mr Cummings, who, as a birthday treat, was about to watch the movie at The  Grove 16 Theater, said.

‘And then bang, he was shot.’

Mr Cummings and his son Alex, who both had blood on their clothes as they walked out of the theater, told reporters the show was still in previews when the two couples started arguing.

Mr Cummings said the man in the back row, later identified as Reeves, got up and left the auditorium, presumably to get a manager.

Man shot dead over texting dispute in Florida theater
Grim task: Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, front, walks out to update reporters after an argument between patrons over texting sparked a shooting that left one person dead and another injured today.Grim task: Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, front, walks out to update reporters after an argument between patrons over texting sparked a shooting that left one person dead and another injured today

But he came back after a few minutes, without a manager and appearing upset. Moments later, the argument between the two men resumed, and the man in the front row stood up.

Officials said Mr Oulson asked Reeves if he reported him to management for using his phone.

Shooter: Curtis Reeves took a gun to the movies with him this afternoon and used it to kill husband and father Chad OulsonShooter: Curtis Reeves took a gun to the movies with him this afternoon and used it to kill husband and father Chad Oulson

Mr Cummings said the men started raising their voices and popcorn was thrown. Authorities said Reeves took out a gun, and Mr Oulson’s wife put her hand over her husband, and that’s when Reeves fired his weapon, striking Mrs Oulson in the hand and her husband in the chest.

‘I can’t believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie,’ Mr Cummings said. ‘I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.’

Mr Cummings, who said he was a combat Marine in Vietnam, said Mr Oulson fell on to him and his son.

‘Blood started coming out of his mouth,’ Alex said. ‘It was just a very bad scene.’

Mr Cummings said his son went to call 911, while he and another patron, who claimed to a nurse, began performing CPR on the victim.

A man sitting next to the shooter grabbed the gun out of his hand, and the suspect did not attempt to get away, Mr Cummings said.

Mr Oulson and his wife were taken by ambulance to a Tampa-area hospital, where he later died.

Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said in a news release that Reeves was a captain when he retired from the department in 1993.

She added that he was instrumental in establishing the agency’s first tactical response team.

After he retired, Reeves worked security for the Busch Gardens theme park and was on the board of a neighboring county’s Crime Stoppers organization. Reeves’ son also is a Tampa officer, police said.

Police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, January 13, 2014.  A moviegoer shot and killed one person and wounded another on Monday when an argument over text messaging in the Florida theaterPolice tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, January 13, 2014.  A moviegoer shot and killed one person and wounded another on Monday when an argument over text messaging in the Florida theater
Aftermath: Curtis Reeves was led away in handcuffs wearing a white jumpsuit after police removed his clothing for evidenceAftermath: Curtis Reeves was led away in handcuffs wearing a white jumpsuit after police removed his clothing for evidence
Heated argument: The former cop and the victim argued before Reeves shot Oulson in the chest, killing him.Heated argument: The former cop and the victim argued before Reeves shot Oulson in the chest, killing him
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco (C) speaks to the media as police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, January 13, 2014.Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco (C) speaks to the media as police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, January 13, 2014

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said an off-duty deputy  secured the gun and detained the suspect at the theater until  authorities arrived.

‘The victim was on his cellphone, he was texting. We believe he was  making some kind of noise. This noise led to an altercation,’ Mr Nocco said in a press conference.

‘During that altercation, the suspect decided to pull out a .380  and he shoots the victim.’ The suspect, also sat with another person, opened fire in the couple sat in the row in front of him.

‘It’s absolutely crazy it would rise to this level over somebody just texting in a movie theater,’ the sheriff added.

Mayhem: Curtis Reeves was reportedly furious that Chad Oulson was texting during the previews, sparking an argument that ended with Oulson dead.Mayhem: Curtis Reeves was reportedly furious that Chad Oulson was texting during the previews, sparking an argument that ended with Oulson dead

Mr Cummings said that the victim had told Reeves he was just sending a text to his young daughter.

‘When you hear there’s a shooting at a movie theater, the first thing you  think is the worst. But I can tell our citizens this is an isolated  incident,’ Sheriff Nocco said.

‘These are two people that fate just brought them together today,’ he continued.

Cobb Theatres released the following statement on Monday afternoon: ‘We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred earlier today, and  our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

‘The theatre is currently closed, and we are actively working with the  sheriff’s office on this investigation. This was an isolated altercation between two guests that escalated unexpectedly.

‘The safety, security and comfort of our guests and team members are always  our top priorities, and we are truly heartbroken by this incident.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2538812/Gunman-shoots-husband-dead-i
njures-wife-dispute-texting-movie-Florida-theater.html#ixzz2qOwLZTHS

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The Psychology of Texting is Just in its Infancy

 

Alice G. Walton, Contributor

The psychology of texting is starting to sprout as a hot-button area, though the research is still amazingly in its infancy. From what studies tell us (and from simple observation), we love love love our texts. It’s been clear for a while that cells phones serve a host of purposes: they make great fashion accessories, security blankets, and lunch dates. When you have nothing to do, or don’t want to look uncool because you’re the only single in a crowd of couples, there’s nothing like checking your cell phone to give you an edge.

But people use texts for a variety of other purposes. What’s fascinating is what people are willing to say in texts that they would never say in person. Somehow it’s OK to be a little more revealing, forthright, and feisty than it is when you’re talking face to face. And this honesty-via-text works both to our detriment and betterment. So why is it that texting gives us this extra oomph?

The short answer is because it puts some extra space between us and our recipients. It removes us from reality just enough so that we get up the chutzpa to say these things we’d normally be too anxious to reveal or ask of another. For this very reason, some psychiatrists, like Dr. Alan Manevitz, at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, have integrated texting in their practices, encouraging patients to text message what’s happening in their lives in real time. While this sounds like it would be enough to drive a psychiatrist mad, it actually serves a great purpose.

Once upon a time, Manevitz says, people came to their psychiatrists to lie on the couch and free-associate, ratting off whatever was on their mind. Now, texts let us do this from the field. “Texts allow us to capture people’s voices in the situations they’re in, right when they’re in them. Then when they come in to the office, we talk about what’s happened, but I’m already aware of it through their texts in the preceding week. The events are captured instantaneously. This is not from memory (which can pose accuracy problems), it’s in real time.”

Texts also allow patients to be more comfortable opening up about their experiences than they tend to be in person. They’re more willing to reveal the thoughts they’ve had, says Manevitz, or the choices they’ve made, which is particularly true for teens who are experimenting with new activities and substances that they might be ashamed to reveal on the couch.

The best explanation of the phenomenon, Manevitz says, is Oscar Wilde’s well known quote: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” The masks that texts give us can make us refreshingly honest, mildly annoying, or pushed further, they let us be a little bit deviant.

A couple of recent studies have found more people using texts for not-so-great things, like bullying and “sexting,” which can border on harassing if it’s undesired. A study earlier this week found that “text-bullying” has become much more commonplace in the last few years. The rates of “victimization and perpetration” on the Internet steadied, but the text versions of these acts rose significantly.

Another new one revealed that 13% of kids engage in sexting, sending suggestive messages via cell, and almost as many have taken part in sharing nude or explicit photos. Sexting may be fun, but it is not always a positive experience for those involved, the study found. It’s also linked to a higher prevalence of depression in teens, and a greater likelihood for suicide attempts. This doesn’t mean that the one causes the others – only that the two tend to coexist.

Though most of the text studies are done in adolescents, it’s probably safe to say that adults are also using texts in some creative ways. Texting without thinking, says Manevitz, like firing off an angry one to your ex or boss is common, since there’s a satisfying immediacy involved in this method of communication. But, if used well, the very nature of texts also allow us to check ourselves, since we see the words before they are sent – which cannot happen in verbal communication. (Manevitz actually recommends sending yourself the text first, to test it out, which can be a good method for self-monitoring.)

So texts do have their benefits, but it’s a double-edged sword. Their existence has actually helped out the health industry, who have used text messages to help people improve themselves in the weight loss and quitting smoking departments. One recent study found that smokers were twice as likely to quit when they took part in a program that did things like send back words of encouragement when participants typed “lapse” into their cell phones after breaking their abstinence, or typed “crave” to receive tips to get through cigarette cravings.

It will be interesting to see if researchers start to devote more time to studying adults’ use of text messaging in other arenas. They’ve surely changed the way we interact in more ways than just these. Have you noticed that you behave differently in text than in email, phone, or in person? How have texts changed the way you communicate with others?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2011/11/23/psychology-texting-
smarphone-why-your-smart-phone-says-more-about-you-than-you-do/2/

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How To Stay in the Present Moment

by Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, EdM

The other night I was discussing the “how to” of being present with a friend of mine. I fell back on the old Zen standby, “Chop wood, carry water.” Her 13-year-old daughter, who was sitting with us, chimed in with the incisive understanding of delicate concepts that belongs only to a child, “So, don’t chop water when you should be carrying wood.” Exactly right.

Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic. That’s one of the reasons that the NTSB reports that texting while driving is the functional equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. You just can’t effectively attend to two things at once – even the superficially automatic ones.

So, how do we stay present? The first thing to recognize is that, try as we might, we really can only do one thing at a time, so we ought to do that thing wholeheartedly. Most of our time is spent in the past or the future, rather than the present moment. What we end up doing is passing through that moment on the way to somewhere else and, in doing so, we miss the moment. That’s how life ends up passing us by – we do it to ourselves.

              

Rehearsing – and that’s all we’re doing is rehearsing — the past is problematic because it’s something that can’t be changed. It’s done, set in stone, immutable and immovable. Certainly we can change our relationship to the past, but staying there is simply ruminative and, for some of us, baldly destructive.

Anticipating the future is also problematic – even futile — because, no matter how much we’d like to convince ourselves otherwise, we can’t really control the direction in which things will go. We can set an intention, true, but, in the end, the universe has a way of deciding.

Staying present, then, means staying here – right here – and there are a few simple steps that can lead us to the experience of profound attention and a direct experience of the moment that we’re in.

Take a breath – breath, along with change, is the only constant, and being present starts with the breath. Simply draw a deep breath and let it out through your nose. When we breathe through our mouth it triggers a subtle anxiety response, which increases heart rate and redirects blood flow. That’s why you rarely see elite runners and cyclists panting, and why one of my own martial arts instructors used to make us train for hours with a mouthful of water. A slow release of breath through the nose has the opposite effect of mouth-breathing, and draws a relaxation response.

This technique and intention is also taken in part from the Theraveda Buddhist meditation tradition. Try it out – take a breath and, when you exhale, what happens? Exactly – nothing. In the Theraveda tradition – the oldest of the Buddhist traditions – meditation practitioners are taught to focus on the out-breath because on the out-breath nothing happens. Everything falls away for that simple span of time – a breath.

What are you doing right now? – consider, as a correspondence to that moment of suspended breath-time, what you’re doing right at that moment. For most of you, right now, you are reading. Are you just reading? Where are your thoughts? Your emotions? Your hands? Your sense of time? You are reading – that’s it…so, just read.

Not being present is easy. There are bills to pay, and kids to pick up at school. There are doctor’s appointments and reports to write, books to read, parents to resent, loved ones to miss and the list goes on and on. With all that going on – past and future – it’s no wonder that presence is so elusive. It is not, however, as elusive as you might believe.

Be a witness – in becoming aware of what you are doing – exactly what you are doing – in any given moment, bear witness to it. Observe it, name it and stand away from it — all at once. The moment is now…now…now…now… When we cling to a “now”, rather than simply bearing witness to it and letting it pass by, we become trapped in time as it passes.

The great Zen teacher Takuan wrote in one of his essays on swordsmanship that the mind cannot come to rest on a thing – in this case he meant an opponent or a technique or a stance — because then the mind itself becomes trapped by that thing and we, turn, become trapped by the trap. The mind must flow like the breath if we are to remain constantly and consistently present in the moment and not mired in the past or at the sufferance of anticipating the future.

Let the rest go – much like bearing witness, or engaging witness consciousness as the wisdom teachings refer to it, whatever is not there in that moment let go. Be there, right there, right then. That’s all.

The concept of nirvana is often misconstrued as the experience of great peace and the attainment of bliss. That is the outcome of nirvana. Nirvana itself translates to something more like “no holding” or “no clinging”. It is this release that brings freedom, which affords that great peace and attainment of bliss. Travel light — what we do not need in that moment, don’t take on board.

Come back to the breath – when the world or your thoughts begin to again intrude, simply come back to the breath. Inhale, and release your exhale to unbind yourself from the shackles of the past and the anxieties of the future. The constancy of breath can create the constancy of presence for us, if we choose to show up.

The act of being present is, in a sense, a meditation without meditating. The stillness here, though, comes from action – breathing, attending, witnessing, releasing and breathing again. This simple cycle can profoundly change the way that we experience our world.

Samsung Electronics shifting to Vietnam from China for manpower, workforce, cost savings

December 16, 2013

BOTTOM LINE: To protect profits as labor costs rise in China, the firm is looking to Vietnam, with one analyst saying it may make 80% of its phones there some day

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  Bloomberg
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Samsung Electronics Co built the world’s largest smartphone business by tapping China’s cheap and abundant workforce, but is now shifting output to Vietnam to secure even lower wages and defend profit margins as growth in sales of high-end handsets slows.

By the time a new US$2 billion plant reaches full production in 2015, China’s communist neighbor will be making more than 40 percent of the phones that generate the majority of Samsung’s operating profit.

The Suwon, South Korea-based company’s second handset factory in Vietnam is due to begin operations in February, according to a Nov. 22 statement posted on the Web site of the local government where the plant is located.

“The trend of companies shifting to Vietnam from China will likely accelerate for at least two to three years, largely because of China’s higher labor costs,” said Lee Jung-soon, who leads a business incubation team of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in Ho Chi Minh City. “Vietnam is really aggressive in fostering industries now.”

Hanoi has approved US$13.8 billion of new foreign projects this year through Nov. 20, a 73 percent increase on a year earlier, according to the General Statistics Office in Hanoi. Of this, South Korea led with US$3.66 billion.

Intel Corp, the world’s largest chipmaker, opened a US$1 billion assembly and testing plant in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010. Nokia Oyj said its facility near Hanoi producing Asha smartphones and feature handsets became fully operational in the third quarter.

LG Electronics Inc is building a new 400,000m2 complex to make televisions and appliances as part of a US$1.5 billion investment plan.

“The country is politically stable and has a young, increasingly well-educated workforce,” LG said in an e-mailed statement. “Like [South] Korea, Vietnam understands what it takes to rebuild an economy after a devastating war.”

Samsung’s new plant is expected to make 120 million handsets a year by 2015, said two people familiar with the company’s plans, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. That would double the current output from the country and compares with the 400 million global total Samsung shipped last year.

With about one-third of the global smartphone market, Samsung may eventually produce as many as 80 percent of its handsets in Vietnam, said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Securities Co in Seoul who has been tracking the company for more than a decade.

“The handset business is all about assembling well-sourced components,” Lee Seung-woo said. “The most important thing is manpower.”

After setting up in China in 1992, Samsung now has 13 manufacturing sites and seven research laboratories there, according to its June sustainability report. The 45,660 employees in China make up more than 19 percent of Samsung’s global workforce, the largest source of labor outside South Korea, it said.

Record economic growth that made China the second-biggest economy has fueled wage inflation, pricing many workers out of low-end jobs. The base monthly salary for a factory worker in Beijing was US$466 last year, compared with US$145 in Hanoi, according to a survey of pay conducted by the Japan External Trade Organization.

“The rule of the game is now changing to how much market share you can win over rivals,” LIG Investment & Securities Co analyst Hong Sung-ho said from Seoul. “Many companies are now scratching their heads to figure out how to cut manufacturing costs.”

Samsung’s complex in the Yen Binh Industrial Zone of Thai Nguyen Province, north of Hanoi, will pay no tax for the first four years and half the full rate the following 12 years, the local government’s Web site shows.

While tax breaks and cheap workers are lures that other countries such as India and Indonesia could offer, Vietnam’s closer location to existing Samsung production bases in China and South Korea is an extra incentive, said Than Trong Phuc, managing director of technology-focused investment fund DFJ VinaCapital LP in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Other countries can match or even beat the incentives that Vietnam is offering, but Vietnam is very close to Samsung’s supply chain,” Phuc said. “You see [South] Korean companies everywhere you look in Vietnam, right and left.”

The government is watching you

June 13, 2013

What you spend. Where you eat. Who you call. Where you travel. What you Google. What you give to charity.

Recent reports of government access to records from phone companies, Internet providers and credit card companies raise anew questions of just how much other people can know about you, especially in the age of the Internet and high technology.

They watch from the air, from cameras, from computers. And you help them, volunteering vast amounts of information about yourself in the magnetic stripe on the back of your credit card, the SIM card in your phone, the sites you visit on the Internet.

The government has access to some of it. And might have access to more from the vast corporations that compile it.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/13/193487/the-government-is-watching.html#storylink=cpy
Related:

Forget the CIA and NSA; Every Gadget You Own Has Serious Spy Potential

June 13, 2013

Recent headlines about PRISM — the U.S. government program that allows security officials to spy on people’s Internet activity — confirm what conspiracy theorists have long been foretelling: Big Brother is watching.

But is the government the only one keeping tabs on what you search for, watch and discuss with friends? The truth is, there are others out there — businesses, advertisers, scammers — hoping to line their pockets by collecting your personal data.

And they have a variety of tools at their disposal to gather the information they need — tools you might even have with you right now. That’s right — everything from the smartphone in your pocket to the television in your bedroom can potentially be used to spy on you.

Here are some ordinary gadgets with serious spy potential.

LiveScience.comBy Elizabeth Palermo, TechNewsDaily Contributor | LiveScience.com 

Smartphones

You know your phone is smart, but just how smart is it? Smart enough to sense your every movement. Smart enough to capture your every word.

Smartphones possess an arsenal of powerful features — including microphones, GPS receivers, accelerometers and Wi-Fi antennas — that are meant to help users communicate and access information, but those very same tools can also be used for spying.

John Harrison, a representative with security software company Symantec, said mobile devices are increasingly playing host to the kinds of malware once found only on PCs, such as remote-access Trojans (RATs). RATs turn devices into Bond-esque spy tools, stealing passwords, recording video and audio, and launching attacks on other systems.

Chinese soldiers surf the Internet at an Internet bar in an army base in Huaibei, in eastern China's Anhui province, April 14, 2005.

Chinese soldiers surf the Internet at an Internet bar in an army base in Huaibei, in eastern China’s Anhui province, April 14, 2005. Reuters

And smartphones are also vulnerable to other kinds of hacks. In 2010, researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey performed a series of rootkit attacks on smartphones, demonstrating how to remotely activate a device’s microphone to secretly record conversations.

The researchers were also able to install malware that allowed them to track a user’s movements using the phone’s GPS receiver.

According to the researchers, smartphone malware is even more dangerous than malware designed for nonmobile operating systems because users take their phones everywhere they go.

Read it all:

http://news.yahoo.com/forget-nsa-tec
h-gadgets-spying-170109659.html

Japan’s Rare Earth Discovery Bad News for China’s Monopoly, Price Fixing Plans

March 25, 2013

rare earth minerals, japan finds rare earth minerals, earth minerals, rare minerals, how many rare earth minerals are there, what are rare earth minerals, japan mining, mining in japan, mining in asia, china rare earth minerals

Japan just announced that they’ve discovered a deposit of rare earth minerals off their coast in the Pacific Ocean that, if commercially viable, could change the worldwide market for the expensive materials. The deposit could yield as much as 80 to 100 billion tonnes of rare earth minerals and though Japan isn’t being specific about which materials they’ve found there, it is likely to contain gold and copper. China currently holds an estimated 97% of the world’s stores of rare earth minerals, which are used in many high tech gadgets like solar panels, cell phones, television sets and vehicles

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Read more: Japan Finds Vast Reserves of Rare Earth Miner
als Under the Ocean Floor | Inhabitat – Sustainable
Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

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By Phil Muncaster

Posted in Science, 25th March 2013 05:44 GMT

Japan is celebrating the find of an “astronomically” high level of rare earth deposits at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, a discovery which will further undermine China’s failing attempts to control the global supply of the substances.

The deposits, a vital component in the production of a range of high technology equipment from smartphones to catalytic converters, were found around 5.8km under the ocean surface near Minami Torishima island south-east of Tokyo.

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Tiny  Minami Torishima Island May Sit Atop a Vast Wealth of  Rare Earth

“We detected an astronomically high level of rare earth minerals in the mud we sampled,” Tokyo University boffin Yasuhiro Kato told Reuters.

“When researchers brought back the data to me, I thought they must have made a mistake, the levels were so high. The fact is this discovery could help supply Japan with 60 per cent of its annual needs merely with the contents of a single vessel.”

The find follows a much larger discovery by Japanese marine researchers in the Pacific two years ago and if the rare earths can be extracted cheaply enough, it could crucially give Tokyo the tactical upper hand over China in the on-going cat-and-mouse game between the two over supplies.

Beijing halted exports to Japan in September 2010 after a maritime dispute and has actively restricted exports to all countries since in a bid to drive up prices and force manufacturing investment onto its shores.

However, despite being investigated by the WTO for such policies, China has suffered in recent months as a slowdown in global demand combined with other countries re-starting their own mining operations, has sent prices tumbling.

In October last year, its largest mining company for light rare earths, Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth Hi-Tech Company, was forced to suspend operations for a month to let demand pick-up. Japan take more than half of China’s supply but is thought to have imported just 10,000 tons in 2012 – its lowest volume in a decade.

While last weekend’s undersea discovery will be well-received in Tokyo,, it’s unlikely to have any big repercussions in the near term, short of forcing China to keep its prices low.

China claims it holds less than a third of global rare earth reserves despite providing more than 90 per cent of the world’s supply.

China smartphone shipments to rise to 460 million by 2017

March 7, 2013

 

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s smartphone shipments are expected to rise sharply to 460 million by 2017 and will make up nearly all mobile phone sales, research firm IDC said, as increasingly wealthy consumers opt for more feature-filled phones.

China has more than 1 billion mobile phone subscribers, with many switching from low-end feature phones to smartphones in the past few years as prices become more affordable with some smartphones selling for less than 1,000 yuan ($160) apiece.

A man looks at a Huawei mobile phone as he shops at an electronic market in Shanghai January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A man looks at a Huawei mobile phone as he shops at an electronic market in Shanghai January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Handset vendors, such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Apple Inc, ZTE Corp, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and others, shipped a total of 213 million smartphones in 2012, more than double 2011 figures, according to IDC.

No rankings of top smartphone vendors in China were immediately available from IDC analysts.

Smartphones made up almost 58.8 percent of total handsets shipped in China in 2012, with the figure expected to rise to 78.4 percent in 2013 and 90.1 percent in 2017, IDC said.

(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Matt Driskill)

If It Comes From China: It Could Be Counterfeit

December 17, 2012

 

Beijing, Dec 17 (IANS) Cheap mobile phones that closely resemble high-end globally-recognised devices are slowly fading out from markets across China, and are being replaced by brands looking to break into the budget phonemarket.

In south China’s Shenzhen city, known as the “birthplace of counterfeit phones”, shops with “for rent” signs can be seen everywhere, the China Daily reported Monday.

Although the city has long been known as one of the country’s top sellers of electronic products, government data indicates that more than 3,500 shops, most of which were mobile phone dealers, have closed and retreated from the market.

This year’s Canton Fair, the country’s largest small commodities expo held in Guangzhou, featured a small number of counterfeit phones, an “unthinkable occurrence in previous years”.

Industry experts said manufacturers of counterfeit phone do not have the technological know-how to compete with global brands like Apple and Samsung.

However, domestic brands have made breakthroughs that have allowed them to offer inexpensive smartphones, thus cutting into the counterfeit phone market.

Among the 10 biggest phone manufacturers in China last year, domestic brands ZTE, Huawei and TCL were ranked third, fifth and ninth respectively, in terms of smartphone sales.

Domestic smartphones cost less than 1,000 yuan ($160).

Tang Ruijin, director of the Shenzhen Federation of Mobile Communication, said counterfeit manufacturers have retreated to underdeveloped overseas markets like southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Huawei unveiled a quad-core mobile phone processor. Huawei is one of few companies that develops its own computer chips, while many foreign brands still use Intel chips.

A shopkeeper selling counterfeit shoes waits for customers at stall in Beijing November 27, 2007. Chinese authorities have been fighting to allay fears over sub-standard and counterfeit goods. Reuters.  China has been and still is the “couterfeit” center of the world.

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In Israel: Cheap Smartphones, Viagra Are Not Necessarily the Real Thing

Israelis’ favorite goods to smuggle last year were cell phones, Viagra and fake brand-name clothes, said the customs authorities at Ben-Gurion International Airport in their annual report. Customs caught people smuggling undeclared goods 10,082 times last year – up from 9,850 in 2010. Taxes on these goods totaled NIS 80 million.

The most popular cell phones were the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy SII. Of the thousands of phones confiscated, most were caught in packages, not actually on travelers. However, agents recalled one woman in her 60s caught hiding 44 iPhones in her stockings. Another person, a 22-year-old customer-retention team leader at cell phone company Pelephone, was caught with eight iPhones taped to his body.

Customs inaugurated its body scanner in 2010. Last year, the machine

caught people trying to smuggle counterfeit medications, gold jewelry, diamonds, drugs and cash, said Rafi Gabay, head of customs at the airport.

And then there were the more unusual catches. A man flying in from Brussels was caught with eight red siskins, a type of rare bird. The birds were in plastic containers on his body. Many attempts to smuggle goods through delivery services involved fake brand-name clothing and cell-phone accessories. Agents also found a kit for breaking into vehicles.

Last year also was a record one for ecstasy-smuggling attempts. Agents caught 140 shipments of the illegal drug, mostly via delivery but also on passengers. One particularly creative man flying in from Bangkok hid the pills inside picture frames displaying pictures of the Thai king.

Some 12.2 million people passed through customs on 90,000 flights last year – up from 11.4 million on 86,000 flights in 2010. Of the travelers, 200,000 had their baggage scanned by customs. In 22% of all packages checked, customs found something significant. “One out of every five packages that we checked contained a serious violation,” said Gabay.


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