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There is no end to demand for what many consider to be Italy’s white gold, the marble from the Tuscan town of Carrara, a name synonymous with the very best money can buy in the world today. It is no secret, and it is not new. The quarrying in these mountains has been going on for more than 2,000 years.
The Romans were the first to be lured by the stone’s beauty and millions of tourists to this day still flock to admire some of the most magnificent ancient monuments made with this special stone, the likes of the Pantheon and Trajan’s Column in the Eternal City. And then there are famous statues like the David and the Pietà by Renaissance master Michelangelo.
So what is happening in Carrara today?
Artists, sculptors and architects have never ceased making regular pilgrimages here. M.J. Anderson, an American, first came to Carrara as a fledgling sculptor 36 years ago, drawn by the beautiful marble. Considering herself somewhat of a deconstructionist, she likes to take things apart.
“The great thing about carving marble is that once that stone is gone, it’s gone. You can’t lament about it and this keeps you moving forward in the creative process,” she said.
Sculptors like Anderson realize they are dealing with something quite extraordinary here.
“Carrara marble is consistently good. It does not fracture. It’s mined in a very cohesive manner. There’s no surprises when you are carving it. The molecules are put together very well and there’s so many different kinds of marble here. That is what is so special: there is gray, white and cream, in different densities as well and so a sculptor can find anything they want here that will suit their needs,” Anderson said.
That is what is bringing orders – and big money – from all over the world, from Arab nations and emerging markets like China, India and Thailand. Clients want their kitchens, bathrooms and staircases in their homes made from this precious material. Others come with specific ideas for a marble statue, which they commission from the very best marble sculptors in existence. To name just one example: a request came, in recent years, for a huge block to build a massive statue of Buddha.
A boom in the construction of mosques, especially in the Arab world and north Africa, has meant even more demand and big business for the marble quarrying companies. The Saudi Binladin Group, one of the world’s largest construction companies, acquired 50 percent of Marmi Carrara in recent years. Marmi Carrara owns a third of the quarries that are operational in the area today.
“Just the name Carrara basically says it’s the world’s best marble. It is the most beautiful. It has a centuries’ long history of being the best marble in the world and people come here looking for and wanting the very best,” Anderson said.
What is new is that the demand is moving away from the traditional markets.
“America has been extracting resources for a long time. Now, the money has shifted to the Middle East and they are the ones extracting the resources. That has always been the case. The Romans started the big quarries here in Carrara when they were building cities all over the Mediterranean basin and they were shipping marble out of here. It indicates where the world is shifting, where the resources are going and where the building is taking place,” said Anderson.
The great sculptors have historically been Italian, but now they come from all over world, and some have settled here. Students like 19-year old Xintong Gao come here to learn and take their knowledge home. He said his love of art, painting, and sculpture brought him here from China and he set his sights on enrolling at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara.
Working the marble may be a labor of love, but Gao said it is no easy work.
Not only is learning to sculpt the marble difficult, but extracting it has been a challenge for hundreds of years. Modern technology has made it easier and today the use of large quantities of diamond-tipped wires, saws and heavy earth-moving equipment is essential. The marble industry employs thousands of people but for those quarrying inside the mountains it is sometimes also dangerous work.
The demand is also taking its toll on the land.
Environmentalists have been expressing huge concerns for years that quarrying is dangerously eroding the mountains and significantly affecting the magnificent landscape of the Apuan Alps here. From afar, it looks like snow but in reality it is the bright marble that makes these mountains white all year round.
“It’s beautiful to see the quarries. They’re dramatic. They’re fabulous, the way the light hits these walls of marble,” said Anderson.
Admittedly, she notes, the environmentalists’ concerns are not without a basis. “Of course marble does not re-grow. It’s not sustainable. It was made billions of years ago. It is terrible that extraction is occurring at such a rapid pace because of the industrialization. Marble is being taken out of here so fast that entire mountain tops are disappearing. They are extracting marble from the center of these mountains as well and so it is a huge concern. Worldwide the extraction of resources is a concern and what we are looking at here is also a really terrible mining practice,” she said.(VOA)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
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"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)
If the US loses Chinese companies, Wall Street will gradually alienate itself from the world's most prosperous market and the US will no longer be the true global financial centre, Chinese state media claimed.
Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, announced on Friday that the company is starting the work of delisting from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and initiating preparations for listing in Hong Kong.
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One day before Didi made the statement, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a mandate requiring foreign companies listed in the US to provide audits for inspection. Otherwise, they could be delisted from NYSE and Nasdaq in three years.
"The new SEC regulation clearly targets Chinese companies listed in the US. Analysts believe that it could lead to more than 200 companies being kicked off US exchanges," Global Times reported.
Also Read : The forgotten Indo-China War
Didi is the first Chinese company, which announced that it would delist from the NYSE after the SEC issued its new regulation. The company got listed in the US in June without the approval of Chinese regulatory authorities, sparking concerns that the information of hundreds of millions of Chinese users would be leaked to endanger China's national security. More than 20 apps linked to the company were subsequently removed from mobile stores. The SEC's new regulation has compressed Didi's space for financing in the US from the other direction, the report said.
It will become more difficult for Chinese digital technology and application companies to get listed in the US in the future.Unsplash
There have already been voices in the US demanding most of the "China concept stocks" be removed from the US. Scrutiny of "China concept stocks" is expected to get stricter. The US provides various excuses such as "financial security" and "national security" for such scrutiny, the report said.
It will become more difficult for Chinese digital technology and application companies to get listed in the US in the future. This will cause losses to both sides. But the tendency shows that China has greater initiative to adjust and adapt to new conditions, the report said.
Global Times said Chinese companies have other alternatives, and if they go back to China, they will greatly enhance the attractiveness of the mainland and Hong Kong capital markets, creating the possibility of gradually changing the global financial landscape. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Wall street, China, stocks, companies, businesses, losses, regulations, prosperous, technology, authorities, delisting.)
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