Xi handed ‘trump card’ as Taiwan’s export ban could trigger Apple shortages: ‘Disaster!’

Last week, top US democrat Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan prompted fury from China, which regards the island as a breakaway province and part of its sovereignty. In a retaliatory measure, Beijing began hosting military drills with live fire near the island and also hit Taipei with economic sanctions. Chief among these sanctions was a ban on natural sand export, which is crucial for making semiconductors.

A semiconductor chip is an electric circuit forming a crucial component of a wide range of technological devices, ranging from 5G tech to computers, cars and gaming hardware.

Manufacturing semiconductors is critical to Taiwan’s economy, accounting for about 15 percent of its GDP and nearly 40 percent of its exports.

Taiwan also dominates the world in exports of semiconductors, accounting for 64 percent of the global manufacturing revenue according to TrendForce.

Given the critical importance of Taiwan’s exports to global trade, Gina Chon, a columnist for Reuters warned that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping could hold these exports hostage if tensions get worse.

She wrote: “If strains between China and Taiwan continue to worsen, the People’s Republic has a trump card: threatening to cut off the island’s exports, which include products from pivotal chipmaker TSMC, formally known as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing.”

She noted that aside from these initial sanctions and military drills, “the People’s Republic could threaten to retaliate further.

“A naval blockade and a no-fly zone, for example, could in theory keep Taiwan’s main products from heading around the world.

“Isolating or disrupting TSMC would be a fresh disaster for the global economy.

“As tensions rise to threats that can cause real consequences, China holds a big chip in its hand.”

Losing semiconductors from Taiwan would be devastating for the US, as the Biden administration’s 100-Day Supply Chain Review Report says, “The United States is heavily dependent on a single company – TSMC – for producing its leading-edge chips.”

The fact that only TSMC and Samsung (South Korea) can make the most advanced semiconductors (five nanometres in size) “puts at risk the ability to supply current and future [US] national security and critical infrastructure needs”.

To end this reliance, the US has been trying to attract TSMC to the US to increase domestic chip production capacity.

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  • 2 часа, 36 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    UK heatwave: Expert reveals how to save your home from BOILING in scorching temperatures

    Forecasters have warned that more dry weather and temperature rises are expected next week as the impacts of climate change get laid bare on Britain, with some areas expected to see low or mid-30s degrees Celsius heat. One change households can make is installing reflective insulation technologies, which Actis UK and Ireland sales director, Mark Cooper said has the “specific ability to counteract heat transfer via radiation”.

    He said: “This helps to reflect the solar heat and keep the property at a constant low relative temperature”.

    While Government intervention to ramp up the roll out of installation had been slow, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did eventually tell Ministers to find £1billion in funding to go towards a major home insulation scheme, according to reports.

    Although his tenure is ending, Gillian Charlesworth, the CEO of the Building Research Establishment, told Express.co.uk “there’s growing optimism that the Government is starting to recognise the importance of insulation as we experience increasingly extreme temperatures”.

    And as the help with this is yet to be provided to households by the Government, Ms Charlesworth shared other short-term and long-term tips Britons could use to alleviate the burden of the sweltering heat.

    She told Express.co.uk: “In the short-term, it’s recommended that households keep windows and blinds closed at certain times of the day, waiting until early evening to open them again.

    “In the longer-term, upgrading windows to double or triple glazing can also help households in the summer, particularly for those who have homes with thinner walls.

    “Installing canopies and shutters in larger buildings will also help provide winter warmth and summer cool.”

    Other experts have also highlighted the importance of insulation amid scorching temperatures.

    Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth told openDemocracy: “The beauty of insulation is that it slows the process of heat moving through walls.

    “So, in the winter it stops warmth escaping from well-insulated buildings, while in the summer it does the opposite – it actually slows heat moving into our homes.”

    Michael Swainson, who is also from BRE and a construction expert, said that “insulation will reduce the amount of heat gain from a hot loft in the summer”, disputing claims heat is trapped by having insulated walls.

    This comes as meteorologists warn that the UK is likely to regularly see temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, even if the world manages to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, as climate scientists have urged is necessary to save humanity from disaster.

    Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, the organisation which raised the alarm, warned that the UK has already been suffering from extreme heat as a result of the warming of 1.1C to 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

    She said: “If you take that up by another 0.3C, these [heatwaves] are just going to become much more intense – we’re likely to see 40C in the UK although we have never seen those kinds of temperatures (before).

    “As we hit 1.5C of global warming, that’s going to not just become something that we see once or twice, it’ll start to become something that we see on a much more regular basis.”

  • 6 часов, 36 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    ‘Norway first!’ Panic as UK’s BIGGEST importer of gas poised to cut supplies off

    The cost of gas and electricity in the UK is at an eye-watering level, despite the fact that Britain imports very little energy from Russia. This is because both the UK and its major gas supplier Norway, are part of the open market, meaning that prices in the rest of Europe affect the UK. Britain is connected to Norway via a 450-mile interconnector that joins Blyth, Northumberland to Kvilldal power station through cables that run through the North Sea.

    This power station, which is Norway’s largest hydroelectric plant, is crucial to the National Grid’s ability to keep the lights on in the UK when domestic electricity generation is low.

    Norway is responsible for over 60 percent of the total gas demand, being the single biggest supplier of gas to the UK.

    However, this link is now under threat as politicians in Norway face pressure on account of soaring energy prices.

    Oslo generates nearly all of its electricity through hydropower, thanks to its abundance of mountain plateaus, natural lakes and fjords.

    The country is also the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world, trailing behind Russia and Qatar, which is why it was dubbed the “battery of Europe”.

    However, as Russian supplies to Europe are squeezed, increased demand for Oslo’s power has led prices in Norway to reach 10 to 20 times higher than before, according to Morten Frisch, a Norwegian energy consultant based in the UK.

    Given that most interconnectors are in the south of Norway, both ends of the country face extreme disparities when it comes to energy prices.

    While electricity in northern households can cost €2 per megawatt (£1.69), families in the southwest of the country can pay a staggering €550 per megawatt (£464).

    Furthermore, Norway is also facing low water reservoir levels, following a dry spell during spring and summer, meaning its hydroelectric power plants have low supplies.

    Mr Frisch told the Telegraph “This is not something you can just fill up at will.

    “When they run dry, they run dry, and it’s likely to take a minimum of three months, possibly six months, before they can be refilled by rain.

    This has led to Olso’s government facing pressure from campaigners, calling on Norway to cut itself off from Europe.

    In a 600,000-strong Facebook group named Vi som krever billigere strøm (meaning “we who demand cheaper electricity”), users have expressed outrage over a “price contagion” that has spread from Britain and Germany, and demanded that Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre take action.

  • 6 часов, 36 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    Archaeology discovery: Humans and neanderthals were engaged in 100,000 year battle

    Homo neanderthalensis, or neanderthals, and Homo sapiens, which are us, both sprung from the same evolutionary branch. Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. The people were refer to as cavemen headed up to Europe and Asia while Homo sapiens stayed put in Africa.

    However, it was this split which ultimately led to war for the top spot between the two species.

    Both Homo sapiens and neanderthals were extremely adept at hunting, fighting and organising – three traits key to warfare.

    While neanderthals boomed out across the world, humans were forced to stay in Africa.

    However, it was because of the immense breeding power of humans that we eventually had to move out of Africa in search for new habitats and food.

    Unfortunately for humans, neanderthals had already made their mark on the planet and occupied the placed humans wanted to make their own.

    This led to a battle for dominance between the two species which your ancestors won.

    Humans and neanderthals share very similar anatomy and they also had 99.7 percent the same DNA.

    As you can imagine, this means they were virtually the same as us; which included being extremely territorial and to take whatever is there for the taking.

    According to Nicholas Longrich, senior lecturer in evolutionary biology and palaeontology at the University of Bath, said it was their resistance and humans need to conquer which led to a 100,000-year war to determine who was top dog. Ultimately, humanity won out.

    Mr Longrich said: “War leaves a subtler mark in the form of territorial boundaries. The best evidence that Neanderthals not only fought but excelled at war, is that they met us and weren’t immediately overrun.

    “Instead, for around 100,000 years, Neanderthals resisted modern human expansion.

    “Why else would we take so long to leave Africa? Not because the environment was hostile but because Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe and Asia.

    “It’s exceedingly unlikely that modern humans met the Neanderthals and decided to just live and let live.

    “If nothing else, population growth inevitably forces humans to acquire more land, to ensure sufficient territory to hunt and forage food for their children.

    “Instead, for thousands of years, we must have tested their fighters, and for thousands of years, we kept losing. In weapons, tactics, strategy, we were fairly evenly matched.

    “Finally, the stalemate broke, and the tide shifted. We don’t know why. It’s possible the invention of superior ranged weapons – bows, spear-throwers, throwing clubs – let lightly-built Homo sapiens harass the stocky Neanderthals from a distance using hit-and-run tactics.

    “Or perhaps better hunting and gathering techniques let sapiens feed bigger tribes, creating numerical superiority in battle.

    “Even after primitive Homo sapiens broke out of Africa 200,000 years ago, it took over 150,000 years to conquer Neanderthal lands.

    “In Israel and Greece, archaic Homo sapiens took ground only to fall back against Neanderthal counteroffensives, before a final offensive by modern Homo sapiens, starting 125,000 years ago, eliminated them.

    “This wasn’t a blitzkrieg, as one would expect if Neanderthals were either pacifists or inferior warriors, but a long war of attrition.

    “Ultimately, we won. But this wasn’t because they were less inclined to fight. In the end, we likely just became better at war than they were.”

  • 6 часов, 36 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    Scientists baffled: Earth’s rotation ‘wobbles’ as it moves further away from Sun

    On Tuesday, July 26, researchers recorded a new world record which shows the planet is rotating faster than ever before, causing the days to get shorter. Using precise calculations and atomic clocks, scientists noted the change in time with the shortest day so far. However, scientists then noted that despite this record, the Earth may actually be slowing down, causing days to get longer.

    Matt King and Christopher Watson from the University of Tasmania wrote: “But despite this record, since 2020 that steady speedup has curiously switched to a slowdown – days are getting longer again, and the reason is so far a mystery.”

    The Earth doesn’t take exactly 24 hours to spin around its axis, it usually varies ever so slightly, with even events like earthquakes influencing this time.

    Professors King and Watson said: “Over millions of years, Earth’s rotation has been slowing down due to friction effects associated with the tides driven by the Moon.

    “That process adds about 2.3 milliseconds to the length of each day every century.

    “A few billion years ago an Earth day was only about 19 hours.”

    However, over the past 20,000 years since the last ice age, melting polar ice sheets have reduced the surface pressure on the Earth, causing the mantle to steadily move towards the poles.

    The researchers wrote: “Just as a ballet dancer spins faster as they bring their arms toward their body – the axis around which they spin – so our planet’s spin rate increases when this mass of mantle moves closer to Earth’s axis.

    “And this process shortens each day by about 0.6 milliseconds each century.”

    Once scientists account for minor rotation speed fluctuations we know happen due to the tides and seasonal effects, they were baffled by the findings.

    They discovered that despite breaking a record for the shortest day, “the long-term trajectory seems to have shifted from shortening to lengthening since 2020”, marking an “unprecedented shift” over the last five decades.

    Researchers have come up with a number of different theories about why this is taking place, with some suggesting that weather events like melting ice caps or back-to-back la Nina may have played a role.

    Some even hypothesised that it could be related to the huge volcano explosion in Tonga injecting huge amounts of water into the atmosphere, however, that seems unlikely given that the eruption took place in January this year.

    Professors King and Watson added: “Scientists have speculated this recent, mysterious change in the planet’s rotational speed is related to a phenomenon called the “Chandler wobble” – a small deviation in Earth’s rotation axis with a period of about 430 days.

    “Observations from radio telescopes also show that the wobble has diminished in recent years; the two may be linked.”

    While the Earth appears to be suddenly slowing down, it is also moving further away from the Sun.

    According to NASA, the Earth is on average about 150 million kilometers away from the giant fiery ball of flames, spinning around in an elliptical orbit.

    However, the average distance between Earth and the sun has been slowly increasing over time, particularly as the Sun loses mass.

    Nuclear fusion, which involve converting mass into energy, is what powers the Sun.

  • 8 часов, 36 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    ‘Doesn’t make sense!’ Truss’ energy reform plan could send bills soaring higher

    UK households currently face the crippling effects of an energy crisis brought about by the skyrocketing costs of wholesale gas over the past year. With millions of Britons facing fuel poverty this winter as energy bills are set to reach £3,400 a year, tackling this crisis will be at the forefront of the next prime minister’s agenda. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has repeatedly announced her plans to help families by “immediately” scrapping the green levies applied on bills.

    Writing in the Sunday Telegraph today, Ms Truss noted that she wanted to “immediately tackle the cost-of-living crisis by cutting taxes, reversing the rise on National Insurance and suspending the green levy on energy bills.”

    However, Will Hodson, the consumer champion from the How To Save It campaign has urged the next prime minister to avoid “short-sighted” cuts, arguing that they will only worsen the energy crisis.

    Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “It’s difficult to know exactly what the overall position is for either of the candidates if they assume different ones at different times.

    “Taking the most important thing first, [Ms Truss] is taking on the green levies.

    “I don’t think any aspiring prime minister should be ditching green levies.

    “So much of energy feels complicated and hard to understand and at times its quite simple- we’re in the mess that we’re in because we’re reliant on expensive fossil fuels from overseas and because we use too much energy because our homes are largely inefficient.”

    According to Full Fact, green levies on UK energy households make up about eight percent of the energy bills, which means that under the current price cap, a maximum of £157 was taken from consumers as for environmental projects.

    Mr Hodson noted that the green levies on consumer bills served two crucial objectives, developing alternative sources of energy to fossil fuels like oil and gas, and supporting energy efficiency measures that would help households use less energy.

    He added: “in order words, that’s precisely how we get away from spending as much as we are on our energy right now, and I think scrapping it is the wrong thing to do and short-sighted.”

    He had “no doubt” it would worsen the energy crisis adding “let’s start with what candidates can do to alleviate the suffering of households in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

    “You have a £400 off everyone’s bills in the country, you’ve got targetted support in the form of £150 off council taxes.

    “You’ve got winter fuel payments being increased, so there are targeted ways to help people with the winter ahead that we’re already doing.

    “What we don’t need from any candidate is ideological swipes, what we need is pragmatism

    “Getting rid of green levies doesn’t make sense in any meaningful timeframe.”

    He compared these promises to green levies cuts made by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013 when he pledged to end “green crap” policies.

    Mr Hodson said: “As a matter of fact it’s been shown that when David Cameron cut the ‘green crap’ famously, the decision he took led to British bills going up by hundreds of pounds because of that short-sighted cut.

    “We need to support British households and the way to do is largely in the forms we’ve seen emerging already.

    “We don’t need to destroy our hopes of developing alternatives to gas and improving our energy efficiency so we use less of it.”

  • 10 часов, 36 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    Musk primed to snub EU ‘bureaucracy’ and build new Tesla gigafactory in the UK

    At a shareholder conference last week, the Tesla CEO unveils plans to build an additional 10-12 large-scale electric vehicle manufacturing facilities, known as gigafactories. Mr Musk noted that these new plants will “really be Gigafactories,” and would aim for output of between one and a half to two million units per factory. He also noted that the EV giant may be able to announce an additional factory this year, with Canada seemingly being the frontrunner.

    However, Britain is not ready to count itself out just yet, as Ben Houchen, the Conservative Mayor for Tees Valley, urged the world’s richest man to build a factory in the North East of England.

    In a letter seen by The Telegraph, Mr Houchen wrote: “In the UK, where we have an £82billion automobile industry which leads the world in the production of high-end vehicles, it would surely make sense for Tesla to develop a serious presence, with Teesside being the best possible location to do this.”

    The Tees Valley mayor promised that the region could offer Mr Musk “hundreds of acres of ideal developable land” while avoiding “the bureaucratic entanglements seen at other sites”.

    This appears to be a dig at Germany, which hosted Tesla’s most recent gigafactory, which opened earlier this year.

    The EV manufacturer experienced major delays in firing up the gigafactory in Berlin and repeatedly took to Twitter to complain about red tape in Germany.

    “Sigh,” Mr Musk tweeted in response to an article posted about a consultation process for local citizens to express objections.

    In a second tweet, he added, “What they are doing is just not right” as the plant faced protests from union workers and climate activists.

    Tesla is currently looking to manufacture 1.5 million EVs this year alone and plans to produce as many as 20 million cars a year in the future.

    Such a staggering figure would put Tesla’s output as over two much as Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, which sold 9.6 million cars last year.

    Mr Houchen noted that through the Teesside Freeport, the region would be able to offer Mr Musk access to customs incentives.

    Industry figures show that Britons have already purchased a total of 21,000 new Teslas this year alone, and this number is only expected to grow as the UK looks to ban new petrol vehicle sales from 2030.

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