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Statoil and NASA have formed an agreement to explore a wide range of technologies to assist Statoil in the search for oil and gas exploration and production efforts, which are increasingly moving into frontier regions. The contract with NASA is effectuated at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena, California, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).Statoil has a solid track record of being an innovative energy company and is always looking for safer, more cost-effective and smarter solutions. Collaborating with world-leading institutions and working across disciplines has led to a number of the company’s ground-breaking solutions.“Searching for oil and gas resources has become so advanced technically over the past decade that new solutions and ideas are needed. To Statoil this is a significant opportunity to take technologies developed by NASA and JPL for the harsh and challenging environments of space and apply them to the equally demanding environments of oil and gas production,” said Lars Høier, Statoil acting senior vice president of research, development and innovation.“We’re excited to work with NASA—one of the leading research organisations globally—to evaluate the development and application of technologies that have more in common with outer space exploration than previously thought.”“This agreement is the latest example of how NASA and JPL technologies can benefit us here on Earth. It’s also an example of how collaborations with other industries can be beneficial to space exploration,” said JPL director Charles Elachi.Statoil is among the most technology-intensive of major energy producers, and annually spends USD 550 million on research, development and innovation. The agreement with NASA is complementary to the work Statoil already has underway.The contract between Statoil and NASA is expected to run from 2013 to 2018 (with the option of contract extension), and will focus on the following research areas: supercomputing, materials, robotics, development of new tools, and communication optionality.Press Release, November 25, 2013
Sir Cliff Richard has won a privacy case against the BBC over its ‘somewhat sensationalist’ coverage of a police raid of his home. The entertainer was awarded £210,000 in damages in a High Court ruling this morning.Richard, who sued both the BBC and South Yorkshire Police, claimed the BBC’s reporting of the 2014 raid was a ’serious invasion’ of privacy. He was never arrested or charged over the alleged offences.Handing down his judgment in Sir Cliff Richard v BBC and South Yorkshire Police, Mr Justice Mann said: ‘I have found that this was a serious infringement of Sir Cliff’s privacy rights, in terms of what was disclosed, in terms of the manner of disclosure and in terms of the effect on Sir Cliff.’Mann found that ‘Sir Cliff had privacy rights in respect of the police investigation and the BBC infringed those rights without a legal justification.’Richard sued SYP for breach of privacy and under the Data Protection Act 1998 after the police disclosed that he was under investigation and the date, time and place of an intended search of his home. Before the trial SYP had already admitted liability and agreed to pay £400,000 in damages plus costs. He sued the BBC on the same grounds for publicly disclosing the facts and covering the search in various broadcasts.The case revolved around subsequent dealings between the BBC and SYP. The BBC claimed the police volunteered the information whereas Richard claimed SYP was ‘manoeuvred into providing it’ from a fear and implicit threat that the BBC would or might publish news of the investigation before the police were ready to conduct their search.‘As my judgment reflects, I have accepted the SYP/Cliff Richard case on this point, and rejected the BBC’s case,’ Mann wrote. He added: ‘I find that Sir Cliff had privacy rights in respect of the police investigation and that the BBC infringed those rights without a legal justification. It did so in a serious way and also in a somewhat sensationalist way.’Nicola Cain, partner at RPC, warned that the media will now have to ‘walk on eggshells’ when reporting on police investigations.She added: ‘The judge found that even if an investigation involves public activity, and reporting on it is in the public interest, an individual can still have a reasonable expectation of privacy in not being identified. This goes against several previous decisions which recognised the importance to the media of identifying individuals in coverage.’Emma Woollcott, head of reputation protection at City firm Mishcon de Reya, said the case may spark future challenges from high-profile individuals who have been subjected to similar ’sensationalised’ news reports.David Malone, human rights and criminal barrister at Red Lion Chambers, said the case has potentially huge, and perhaps constitutional, implications for the investigation of cases of abuse alleged to have been committed by those in positions of power and influence.Malone said: ‘Parliament despite frequent debate, research and opportunity to do so – including most recently a Private Member’s Bill in June 2010 – has not legislated upon this specific issue i[the anonymity of suspects before charge].‘It is important that, in appropriate cases in the future, the police are not cowed by this judgment, and do still at the very least consider reporting the name of an individual, when that action may enable other victims to come forward to strengthen the case against that individual.’Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, confirmed it was considering an appeal.’This judgment creates new case law and represents a dramatic shift against press freedom and the long-standing ability of journalists to report on police investigations, which in some cases has led to further complainants coming forward,’ Unsworth said.’This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised. It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decision-making in the hands of the police.’In his judgment, Mr Justice Mann acknowledged that the case could have a significant impact on press reporting, but not one requiring a change in the law. ‘The fact is that there is legislative authority restraining the press in the form of the Human Rights Act, and that is what the courts apply in this area… If the position of the press is now different from that which it has been in the past, that is because of the Human Rights Act, and not because of some court-created principle.’
JAPAN: Central Japan Railway announced on October 26 that it is to build 14 pre-production maglev vehicles as prototypes for the 500 km/h trainsets that it expects to put into commercial operation on the Chuo Shinkansen route between Tokyo and Osaka from 2027 onwards. The first five-car trainset will be ready to start trial operation on the Yamanashi test track at the end of 2013.Designated as L0 (for linear, zero-emission), the trains are being developed from the MLX01 superconducting maglev vehicles now on test at Yamanashi, but will incorporate elements from the Series N700 trainsets used on the Tokaido Shinkansen. They will be decked out in JR Central’s blue and white livery, with a modified design to emphasise speed.With a squarer cross-section to the bodyshell, the L0 vehicles will have a 2+2 seating arrangement and overhead luggage racks in the passenger saloons. There will be 68 seats in the intermediate cars and 24 in the end vehicles, which will feature a 15 m long nose. The whole trainset will have a greater degree of external smoothing to minimise aerodynamic drag.Work is currently underway to extend the Yamanashi test track from 18·4 km to 42·8 km, in order to allow a longer length of sustained operation at speeds of 500 km/h and above; construction is due to be completed by the end of the 2013 financial year. The route is eventually intended to form part of the Chuo Shinkansen alignment.The pre-production L0 fleet will comprise four end cars and 10 intermediate vehicles, from which various formations can be assembled. The initial trainset is expected to begin trials as a 2+3 set, but once the additional cars have been delivered in 2015, JR Central plans to carry out tests with a 12-car formation to replicate a commercial trainset. Alternatively, the stock will be formed up as two 2+5 sets for tests involving trains passing at high speed.
Following the official launch of CRRC Corp Ltd with the completion of the merger of rolling stock manufacturers China CNR Corp and CSR Corp, CRRC held its first board meeting on June 1.Former CNR Chairman Cui Dianguo (photo) was elected Chairman of CRRC, while former CSR Chairman Zheng Changhong and President Liu Hualong became vice-chairmen. Xi Guohua, who had been serving as CNR President, was named President of CRRC, with Zhao Guangxing, Sun Yongcai, Wang Jun, Lou Qiliang, Yu Weiping and Zhan Yanjing as vice-presidents. Zhan Yanjing becomes Chief Financial Officer and Xie Jilong is Secretary of the Board.