Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs dies aged 56

The co-founder and former chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs has died yesterday at the age of 56, according to the company website.

On August 24, Jobs resigned from his post as CEO. He has been fighting pancreatic cancer since 2004.

Steve Jobs

Jobs, born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955, has built the most valuable technology company in the world, with a market value of $348.8 billion. He started Apple in 1976, and in 1984 the first Macintosh personal computer was released to the public. One year later he was fired from the company and he founded NeXT. In 1986 he bought Pixar which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2005. In 1996, following Apple Computer’s purchase of NeXT, Jobs returned to Apple and soon after reassumed the role of CEO. In 1998 Apple introduced the iMac personal computer, in 2001 the iPod music player and the following year the Mac OS X operating system was released. 2007 was the year of the iPhone smartphone, then the iPad tablet computer in 2010.

A statement on Apple’s website, the homepage of which currently displays a black and white photograph and the text “Steve Jobs 1955-2011”, states: “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

United States President Barack Obama said “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators — brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it”.

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates responded to Jobs’ death with a statement on his blog: “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. … I will miss Steve immensely.” The current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also expressed condolences for Jobs and described him as “one of the founders of our industry and a true visionary”.

Egyptian president will not seek re-election in September after protests

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has announced that he will not seek re-election in September 2011, after an uprising against him across the country. Mubarak stated on state television, “I will say with all honesty and without looking at this particular situation that I was not intent on standing for the next elections, because I have spent enough time in serving Egypt.” Mubarak added, “I am now careful to conclude my work for Egypt by presenting Egypt to the next government in a constitutional way which will protect Egypt.”

President Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak with George W. Bush.

Soon after his announcement, protesters filled the street, demanding that he resign immediately. United States president Barack Obama spoke with Mubarak after the announcement to discuss the situation in Egypt. Obama said at the White House, “[Mubarak] recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that change must take place. […] My belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.”

The country has released statements since Sunday calling for a “orderly transition”, with interim leadership to prepare for the September election. United States Senator John F. Kerry called upon Hosni to work to create “an interim, caretaker government as soon as possible to oversee an orderly transition in the coming months.” In Egypt, the address sparked rioting after, as citizens were angered that the president refused to resign at once. The popular uprising in Egypt began on January 25, 2011, in the wake of the Tunisian uprising weeks before.

WikiLeaks: ‘US had multiple conversations with India’

Washington, Nov 30 (PTI) The US had multiple conversations with Indian officials on the release of secret documents pertaining to India by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, according to the State Department.


President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Oval Office during the Prime Minister's state visit to the White House, Nov. 24, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“We have had multiple conversations with officials in India. And like India and other countries, we’ll continue those conversations in the coming days,” State Department spokesman P J Crowley said at his daily news conference.

Ahead of WikiLeaks’ release of a quarter million classified US documents, the State Department had reached out to India warning it about the impending leak.

“We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible release of documents,” Crowley had said. “We do not know precisely what WikiLeaks has or what it plans to do.

We have made our position clear. These documents should not be released,” he had said.

Wikileaks website attacked; millions of files to be released tonight

Wikileaks’ website is reportedly under attack as it prepares to release up to 2.7 million documents, described as “diplomatic dynamite”, detailing communication between United States embassies. “We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack,” the organisation said on its Twitter feed. The website, run by Julian Assange, retaliated by saying that even if their website goes down, several newspapers will publish the leaked files this evening.

Julian Paul Assange

The Obama administration wrote to Assange yesterday to warn him that “countless” lives would be put at risk should the documents be published. “We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US government classified materials,” the letter stated. Wikinews reported on Saturday that officials in Washington were contacting embassies around the world to warn diplomats of the leak.

President Barack Obama

Assange told reporters on Sunday: “The material that we are about to release covers essentially every major issue in every country in the world.” Wikileaks confirmed that El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian and The New York Times will be publishing the documents this evening. “The greatest anxiety is that these leaks will reveal remarks [by U.S. diplomats] of a hostile nature towards various Islamic leaders and Islamic state policies,” political analyst Peter Spencer said. Analysts have said that the letter to Obama reflects the U.S. administration’s concern over possible publication of the files, which may contain American diplomats’ opinions of other politicians, some of which may be candid and embarrassing.

NASA’s new space capsule to be ready for test flights by 2013

NASA’s Space Shuttle replacement, the Orion spacecraft, is anticipated to be ready for test flights by 2013.

Orion, part of the original Constellation program proposal, would be used in a NASA initiative to return astronauts to the moon. However, United States president Barack Obama cancelled the program in his 2011 budget. He instead advised NASA to focus on a manned mission to an asteroid, and then to Mars.

Obama supports the development of the capsule only as an emergency escape ‘lifeboat’ for the International Space Station.

Artist's impression of NASA's new Orion capsule. Image: NASA.

The end of the Space Shuttle program will see many contractors out of work. The United States Congress is debating a bill to add one more shuttle mission in the gap between the currently scheduled last shuttle mission and the first manned flight of the capsule, in order to alleviate concerns over job loss and the gap between the end of shuttle missions and the entry into service of a replacement American vehicle.

Despite uncertainty about the future and usage of Orion, Lockheed Martin, the craft’s manufacturer, continues to work on it and plans to have a fully-operational model ready by the end of 2012. The company is also drawing up flight plans for possible missions.

In the original Constellation program proposal, the capsule would have been used to transport a six-member crew to and from the International Space Station, and a four-member crew on trips to the moon. Although Obama’s newly proposed plan involves missions to asteroids and eventually Mars, Lockheed Martin officials still believe that Orion would be a prime candidate for the job.

“It’s possible to make Orion compatible with other launch vehicles,” said Josh Hopkins, a Lockheed Martin official. “It doesn’t actually look all that hard.”

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