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Ecuador drills near an Amazon nature reserve calls it the start of a new era

Ecuador drills for oil near an Amazon nature reserve and the government blamed the international community for this failure

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Members of the media inspect measures taken at the ITT, or block 43, oil block by Petroamazonas to minimize impact on the environment during oil production in Tiputini, Ecuador, Sept. 7, 2016. Source: VOA
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  • Ecuador began drilling for oil Wednesday near an Amazon nature reserve known as Yasuni
  • Around half of Ecuador’s income comes from oil, according to the World Bank.
  • Correa’s government blamed the international community for the failure of a plan once seen as a possible model for other developing countries seeking to resist the lure of oil money

Ecuador began drilling for oil Wednesday near an Amazon nature reserve known as Yasuni, a site that President Rafael Correa had previously sought to protect from development and pollution under a pioneering conservation plan.

Correa in 2007 asked wealthy countries to donate $3.6 billion to offset revenue lost by not drilling in the Yasuni National Park. But the initiative was scrapped in 2013 after it brought in less than 4 percent of the amount requested.

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Correa’s government blamed the international community for the failure of a plan once seen as a possible model for other developing countries seeking to resist the lure of oil money. Wednesday’s drilling by the state oil company Petroamazonas began in the ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) block at Tiputini, which is just outside Yasuni. Ishpingo and Tambococha are within the Yasuni reserve itself.

Workers walk past machinery at Miranda Port in Tiputini, Ecuador, Sept. 7, 2016.
Workers walk past machinery at Miranda Port in Tiputini, Ecuador, Sept. 7, 2016. Source: VOA

Correra has said previously that drilling would affect less than 1 percent of the reserve.

“It’s the start of a new era for Ecuadorean oil,” said Vice President Jorge Glas after a tour of the site Wednesday.

“In this new era, first comes care for the environment and second responsibility for the communities and the economy, for the Ecuadorean people,” he told reporters, adding that the cost of production was less than $12 per barrel.

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Ecuador is OPEC’s smallest member and has suffered heavily from the fall in oil prices. Around half its income comes from oil, according to the World Bank.

It is also one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, boasting Amazon rainforest, Andean mountains and the Galapagos Islands.

The end of Ecuador’s conservation initiative for the eastern Yasuni, a vast swath of rainforest on the equator, drew outrage from environmentalists when it was first announced.

“This is the worst imaginable place to be drilling for oil. The world can simply not afford to lose a place like Yasuni,” Kevin Koenig, Ecuador program director at Amazon Watch, said in a statement.

About 1.67 billion barrels of oil lie under Yasuni’s soil.

With output from the Tiputini field, Ecuador’s oil production will rise to some 570,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a current level of about 550,000 bpd, government officials say. (VOA)

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Google withdraws YouTube app from Amazon Fire TV

Google hasn’t been happy about Amazon’s anti-competitive nature when it comes to allowing rivals to sell their own hardware items – like smart speakers and media players – on Amazon.com.

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The Google Cloud Platform will help in the growth of enterprises in India. Wikimedia Commons
The Google Cloud Platform will help in the growth of enterprises in India. Wikimedia Commons
  • A disagreement between both the companies fires up their rivalry.
  • Although Amazon is working fine with Apple TV, The disagreements with Google are not seeming to end.
  • This rivalry has made Roku, the biggest streaming service in the U.S.A.

The feud between Amazon and Google continues today with the early removal of YouTube from the Fire TV – a move Google had said wouldn’t take place until January 1, 2018. But as a number of Fire TV owners have now noticed, launching the YouTube app today informs you that you can choose to watch “YouTube and millions of other websites” by using a web browser. You then have the option to choose from Amazon’s own Silk browser or Firefox, with a click of a button.

Amazon's rivalry with Google intensified . Wikimedia
Amazon’s rivalry with Google intensified. Wikimedia

The disagreements between the companies that led to this consumer-unfriendly stance go back several years.

Google hasn’t been happy about Amazon’s anti-competitive nature when it comes to allowing rivals to sell their own hardware items – like smart speakers and media players – on Amazon.com. The retailer has long refused to stock devices that competed with its own – like Apple TV, Chromecast, Google Home, and others – in an effort to promote Amazon products like Echo speakers and Fire TV.

However, Amazon and Apple recently negotiated an agreement that brought the Apple TV back to Amazon and Amazon’s Prime Video app to Apple TV.

Meanwhile, it seemed discussions between Amazon and Google were improving earlier this month when the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra reappeared on Amazon.com. (They’re still showing as “currently unavailable,” however.)

The other issue at hand was that Amazon had launched its own version of Google’s YouTube player for its Echo Show device, without working with Google to ensure core features were accessible. There’s been quite a bit of back and forth on this matter, with Google pulling that player, only to have Amazon surreptitiously work around the block by implementing a web version of YouTube instead.

That led Google this month to declare that it would pull YouTube entirely from Amazon’s hardware lineup, including Fire TV. The player was yanked immediately from Echo Show, but Fire TV owners were told that the app would work until January 1, 2018.

It would be unusual for Google to actually pull the YouTube app ahead of its deadline, which indicates this change – to point YouTube users to web browsers instead – may have come from Amazon’s side.

That theory is further backed up by the fact that sideloading the YouTube app onto Fire TV will continue to display the “warning” message, according to a report from AFTVNews.com and commenters on Reddit.

However, it’s unclear if Amazon’s choice to redirect YouTube users to web browsers ahead of schedule is fully rolled out. One report from Cord Cutter News said you’ll only see the browser choice screen if you have a browser installed on your Fire TV, for example. (Update: a recompilation of the app’s code, though, indicates the app has been changed to only point to the web browser – no matter if you have one installed or not.)

Amazon Fire TV Logo. Wikimedia Common
Amazon Fire TV Logo. Wikimedia Common

On two Fire TV devices we have here (a prior generation and new generation player), we’re only seeing the browser choice screen as of today. And many users worldwide are reporting the same, per Twitter.

We’ve reached out to Amazon and Google for comment. Google has not responded, but a rep from Amazon offered the following statement:

“I can confirm that YouTube and millions of other websites are accessible by using a web browser like Firefox or Silk on Fire TV.”

With all this drama, is it any wonder that Roku is the top streaming device in the U.S.?

Consumers don’t want to be jerked around like this all because two competitors can’t work out a reasonable solution that serves both their interests. At the end of the day, Amazon and Google only hurting themselves by alienating their overlapping customer base – a group that easily could (and probably should) switch to Roku at this point. IANS