Tag Archives | Business

Silicon Valley Start-Up To Mine The Moon

Moon BaseA new lunar gold rush? Via Phenomenonica:

A Silicon Valley start-up, founded by an Indian-American entrepreneur, plans to mine the moon and is in the process of building robotic rovers that will search the lunar surface for precious metals and rare metallic elements.

Moon Express Inc or MoonEx, co-founded by Naveen Jain, is building the robotic rovers alongside scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Centre near San Jose, a report in the Los Angeles Times said. “MoonEx should be ready to land on the lunar surface by 2013,” Jain said.

While there is no guarantee that the moon is “flush” with these materials, MoonEx thinks it “may be a gold mine of so-called rare earth elements.”

“From an entrepreneur’s perspective, the moon has never truly been explored,” the report quoted Jain, chairman and company co-founder, as saying. “We think it could hold resources that benefit Earth and all humanity.”

MoonEx’s machines are designed to look for materials that are scarce on Earth but found in everything from a Toyota Prius car battery to guidance systems on cruise missiles, the report added.

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Adding Air to Chocolate Bars to Increase Profits

Willy WonkaWhat would Willy Wonka think? Tom Mulier reports in Bloomberg:

The recipe for chocolate bars is fairly standard: cocoa, cocoa butter or other oils, sweeteners, and perhaps some nuts or a fruity filling. Now, with prices for cocoa, sugar, and other commodities soaring, candy makers are finding a simple ingredient — air — can help pump up profits.

Nestlé is making a big push for its aerated chocolate brand, Aero, Barry Callebaut is adding more air to fillings, and Cadbury last year launched a new version of its aerated Wispa bars after reintroducing the brand in 2007.

In the past four years, cocoa prices have more than doubled amid poor harvests and growing demand. On Feb. 22, cocoa hit $3,608 a metric ton, a level it hadn’t reached in three decades. The price of sugar, the additive candy makers have often looked to when cocoa prices soar, is also on the rise as bad weather has damaged crops in Brazil.

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United States Becomes Sweden’s Third-World Outsourcing Destination

FURNITURE JOBS“It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico,” Street said.

When a large multinational corporation is looking to cut costs, what does it do? Send jobs overseas to a less modernized country — one where salaries are a fraction of those at home and the law provides few rights or protections for workers — and watch the profits roll in. We are speaking, of course, of Sweden’s IKEA, and Virginia, USA. Is this our economic future? Current reports:

Here we are, folks. Sweden’s third-world sweatshop. IKEA takes advantage of the destruction to our economy caused by outsourcing jobs by outsourcing their own jobs to the U.S. — and paying less than the workers in Sweden get ($8 in the U.S., $19 + better benefits in Sweden, for making the same products), about 50% of what the median income is in Danville (the town where IKEA’s sweatshop is located), with much stricter and abusive practices in the Danville facility, and with many less rights.

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Glenn Beck Leaving His Fox News Show

Glenn Beck Fox NewsIs he even too crazy for Fox News? Linda Feldmann writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

It’s the end of an era: Glenn Beck is leaving his daily talk show on Fox News later this year, he and Fox announced Wednesday. The show, called “Glenn Beck,” had seen a precipitous decline in ratings over the last year, and Mr. Beck’s departure was not unexpected.

Not long ago, the populist rabble-rouser of the right and self-described “rodeo clown” was flying high. Beck began at Fox a little more than two years ago, in January 2009, having jumped from CNN Headline News. Coincidentally, that was right before the birth of the tea party, and he quickly became one of the movement’s leading advocates. In March 2009, he launched the successful 9-12 Project, which sought to promote patriotic values. And last August, he drew tens of thousands of people from around the country to a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, called “Restoring Honor.”

But over the last year, “Glenn Beck” has lost more than a million viewers from its 5:00 p.m.

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OPEC Could Reap $1 Trillion This Year

OPEC Member Countries

OPEC Member Countries

Olga Belogolova writes in the National Journal:

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is set to make a record-breaking $1 trillion in export revenues this year if crude oil prices remain above $100 a barrel, an the International Energy Agency official told the Financial Times.

“It would be the first time in the history of OPEC that oil revenues have reached a trillion dollars,” Chief IAEA Economist Fatih Birol told the Financial Times. “It’s mainly because of higher prices and higher production.”

The possibility of a record-breaking year comes as continued unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, engagement in Libya, and signs of an economic recovery renew debate among policymakers over how to deal with rising global oil prices and their ties to national security.

President Obama will weigh in on the issue [on 30 March] when he speaks about his new four-part “Plan for America’s Energy Security” at Georgetown University.

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Inside Oaksterdam University: ‘Where Marijuana Gets You Higher Education’

OaksterdamJason Motlagh writes in TIME:

On the second floor of the downtown campus, a motley group of students listens to a lecture titled “Palliative and Curative Relief Through a Safe and Effective Herbal Medicine.” Not the sexiest of topics on the face of it, but there’s a catch: this is Oaksterdam University, and the medicine being discussed is marijuana. At “America’s first cannabis college,” in Oakland, Calif., the sallow-faced hippy-skater types that one expects to find sit beside middle-aged professionals in business attire, united in their zeal for the pungent green leaf. No one dares speak out of turn, until instructor Paul Armentano, a marijuana-policy expert, cites a news report that U.S. antidrug authorities plan to legalize pot’s active ingredient exclusively for drug companies’ use. “More stinking profits for Big Business,” mumbles a young man wearing a baseball cap. His classmates groan in agreement.

More than 17,000 students have enrolled since Oaksterdam opened in late 2007.

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Low-Budget Movie Companies Using BitTorrent Lawsuits As Business Strategy

Nude Nuns With Big GunsDavid Kravets writes in Wired:

On March 7, Camelot Distribution Group, an obscure film company in Los Angeles, unveiled its latest and potentially most profitable release: a federal lawsuit against BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded the company’s 2010 B-movie revenge flick Nude Nuns With Big Guns between January and March of this year. The single lawsuit targets 5,865 downloaders, making it theoretically worth as much as $879,750,000 — more money than the U.S. box-office gross for Avatar.

At the moment, the targets of the litigation are unknown, even to Camelot. The mass lawsuit lists the internet IP addresses of the downloaders (.pdf), and asks a federal judge to order ISPs around the country to dig into their records for each customer’s name.

It’s the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant getting a personalized letter in the mail from Camelot’s attorneys suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit as having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

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Rise Of The Precariat: The New Working Class

British economist Guy Standing has coined the term “precariat” to refer to the fast-growing working-class caste of the 21st century. With labor markets now globalized and “flexiblized,” the risks and uncertainties of capitalism have been transferred almost completely away from capitalists and onto workers. Below, citizens discuss living and working in post-industrial England, where large numbers scrounge to obtain low-wage, unstable jobs.

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Subway Passes McDonald’s As Dominant Global Fast Food Empire

4391792054_68563dfe0aIn the grim future years to come, we will be mandated daily to eat not a McDonald’s burger, but a Subway sandwich. Some credit for Subway’s ascension goes to the chain’s willingness to expand fast food franchising to nontraditional locations such as schools, churches, and bodies of water. CNNMoney introduces our new corporate overlords:

Subway has surpassed McDonald’s to become the world’s largest restaurant chain in terms of units, the sandwich company confirmed Monday.

Subway had 33,749 restaurants around the globe at the end of 2010, said company spokesman Les Winograd. McDonald’s had 32,737 at year end, according to a February regulatory filing from the burger giant.

“Last year was actually pretty average for us, growth-wise,” Winograd said. “We aim to open between 1,000 and 2,000 locations globally each year.”

About half of the company’s unit growth is overseas, Winograd said. Subway now has more than 1,000 locations in Asia, and it just opened its first store in Vietnam.

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Coca-Cola’s Secret Recipe Finally Revealed

Coca-ColaWell, no surprise there’s no cocaine in it (it hasn’t had that “health elixir” for quite some time) but interesting to note there’s one ingredient only Coca-Cola can get — fluid extract of coca (the leaves stripped of cocaine) — due to a deal with the DEA. Casey Chan writes on Gizmodo:

The secret recipe of Coke has been hidden and locked down for 125 years. But apparently, not anymore. This American Life says they’ve found the ingredients that make up the delicious bubbly cola and have revealed it to our delight.

The story starts with John Pemberton, a Civil War veteran who’s credited with inventing Coca-Cola. His original recipe was written down in a recipe book of various ointments and medicines that was passed down from generation to generation.

A photograph of that recipe, from that very recipe book, was taken in the Feb. 18, 1979, edition of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and only recently came to light when Ira Glass from This American Life stumbled upon it.

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