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BMW launches new electric/hybrid brand

FRANKFURT – The German luxury carmaker BMW unveiled on Monday its long-awaited new brand, BMW i, with two new models to be equipped with electric and hybrid drive systems from 2013. The group is also creating a venture capital unit to offer mobility services such as car sharing and navigation…

City attorney, Pulitzer-winning Seattle paper call for marijuana legalization

Last year, many hopeful drug reform advocates expected California to be the first state to officially overturn the prohibition of marijuana. But after Prop. 19′s failure on the state-wide ballot at the end of 2010, few would have expected the next major push for reform would come from Washington. Yet,…

Oil soars past $105 on Libya violence

LONDON – Brent oil prices soared above $105 per barrel on Monday, striking a fresh two-year peak as deadly violence in Libya fuelled concerns over spreading unrest in the Middle East and north Africa region. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April surged to $105.15 per barrel, the highest…

Shockwaves from Libya hit Italian business

MILAN – Shockwaves from the unrest in Libya on Monday hit its former colonial overlord Italy — a top foreign investor in Libya and a country in which the North African state has also invested billions. Libya’s sovereign wealth fund and veteran ruler Moamer Kadhafi’s family own stakes in Italy’s…

Are plant hydraulics a path to adaptive dream machines?

WASHINGTON – Airplanes might soon have flexible wings like birds and robots could change shape as they please thanks to research under way on mimosa plants, researchers said. The shrub’s leaves, which can retract at the slightest of touches, could inspire a new class of structures that can twist, bend,…

US should prepare for future cyber attacks: NSA chief

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – The US National Security Agency (NSA) chief on Thursday urged top computer security specialists to harden the nation’s critical infrastructure against inevitable destructive cyber attacks. “This is an important time,” NSA and Cyber Command director Gen. Keith Alexander said during a presentation at a premier RSA…

Revealed: Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people

Update (below): HBGary Federal among bidders These days, with Facebook and Twitter and social media galore, it can be increasingly hard to tell who your “friends” are. But after this, Internet users would be well advised to ask another question entirely: Are my “friends” even real people? In the continuing…

Flash crash panel calls for market overhaul

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. regulators should stem the growing tide of anonymous stock-trading and consider charging high-frequency traders fees for the disproportionate amount of orders they send into the marketplace, said a panel of experts advising how to avoid another “flash crash.” The report laying out 14 recommendations for…

Obama to meet tech titans, including Apple’s Jobs

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – President Barack Obama Thursday headed west to meet the cream of Silicon Valley business titans, including Apple’s Steve Jobs, to seek input on how to speed up job growth and economic recovery. Obama was to dine with a small group of tech sector leaders also including…

Facebook adds civil unions to profiles

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Facebook began letting its more than 600 million members indicate whether they are in civil unions or domestic partnerships in what was seen as a victory for same-sex couples. Facebook added “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership” to the list of relationship options…

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