March 8, 2014

Did you hear?

Google’s mystery barge floated Thursday to its new home in the California delta after the Internet company was ordered to move it from San Francisco.


Barge floats out of San Francisco

Google’s mystery barge floated Thursday to its new home in the California delta after the Internet company was ordered to move it from San Francisco.

The odd-looking, four-story vessel made of recycled shipping containers departed from Treasure Island to comply with a Jan. 31 regulatory order concluding that Google Inc. didn’t have the proper permits to build it there.

Construction stopped on the project late last year.

Google says the barge will serve as an interactive technology center when it’s done. However, various theories have been floated about its purpose. Among the most popular have been that Google is building a party boat, roaming data center or aquatic store.

The attention and intrigue surrounding the barge since it was first spotted last fall has been a source of amusement for Google, which issued a playful statement about its new berth.

“It’s been a busy six months for our barge and it’s grown tired of all the attention, so we are moving it to Stockton where it can have a break, enjoy the city’s delicious asparagus, warmer climate and get a bit of rest before its next chapter,” Google joked.


This phone will self-destruct

Move over Inspector Gadget. Boeing Co. is developing a self-destructing smartphone.

The Chicago-based aerospace giant, which builds jets in North Charleston, said it has developed an ultra-secure smartphone that’s marketed toward U.S. defense and security communities.

Few details have been released. What is known is the Boeing Black smartphone runs off an Android operating system, contains encrypted storage for sensitive data and has a self-destruct mode. While it doesn’t exactly blow up, if someone tries to pop open the device, it is automatically wiped of its data and made inoperable.

Smart devices are being tested across all branches of the military. Seeing an opportunity, software companies and defense contractors are developing mobile applications that will enable soldiers and defense officials to pass along intelligence and other sensitive material.

In a promotional video on Boeing’s website, the company said the Black smartphone can communicate via satellite transceivers and “discrete radio channels.” The device also has advanced location tracking and biometric sensors.

Boeing did not say how much it will cost or when it will be available to defense customers.

Food and beverage

WHO targets sugar intake

Just try sugar-coating this: The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just 5 percent of your total calories – half of what the agency previously recommended, according to new draft guidelines published Wednesday.

That includes sugars added to foods and those present in honey, syrups and fruit juices, but not those occurring naturally in fruits. The average American’s sugar intake would have to drop by two-thirds to meet the suggested limits.

WHO warned many of the sugars eaten today are hidden in processed foods, pointing out that one tablespoon of ketchup contains about one teaspoon of sugar. Under the 5 percent guideline, a person who takes in 2,000 calories a day would limit sugar to 25 grams. That’s less than a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola, which has 35 grams of sugar.

The good news? Kicking the sugar habit and limiting your intake to the recommended level will combat obesity and cavities, according to WHO’s expert panel, which reviewed 9,000 studies.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California and author of a book about the dangers of sugar, said WHO’s new guidelines could alter the food environment by forcing manufacturers to rethink how they’re using sugar in processed foods like bread, soups, pasta sauces and even salad dressings. He called the amount of sugar in processed food an “absolute, unmitigated disaster.”

Want to weigh in? The new guidelines have been published online at and the agency is inviting the public to comment via its website until the end of March.

The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed.

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