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Toshiba launches fuel cell charger

After years of prototypes and promises that the technology was just around the corner, Toshiba has become the first major consumer electronics maker to launch a device using direct methanol fuel cell technology. The Dynario, a charger that can replenish the batteries in gadgets like cell phones and digital cameras via USB, went on sale on Thursday on Toshiba’s Web store. DMFCs produce electricity from a reaction between methanol, water and air. The only by-products are a small amount of water vapor and carbon dioxide, so DMFCs are often seen as a greener source of energy than traditional batteries.

Microsoft CEO gives Windows 7 a hard sell

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage in New York Thursday, playing the role of chief salesman in a day of worldwide launch events, executive speechmaking and sales promotions meant to persuade consumers and businesses to migrate to Windows 7. With characteristic high energy and in his booming voice, Ballmer evoked the Windows 7 marketing mantra of “simplicity” to a crowd of about 250 journalists and analysts in a Soho loft space.  The New York launch capped a day of similar events in cities including London, Beijing, Tokyo, Hamburg and Munich.

John McCain moves to block U.S. net neutrality

U.S. Senator John McCain has introduced legislation that would block the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from creating new net neutrality rules, on the same day that the FCC took the first step toward doing so. McCain on Thursday introduced the Internet Freedom Act, which would keep the FCC from enacting rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet content and applications. Net neutrality rules would create “onerous federal regulation,” McCain said in a written statement. The FCC on Thursday voted to begin a rulemaking process to formalize net neutrality rules. The rules, as proposed, would allow Web users to run the legal applications and access the legal Web sites of their choice.

European governments issue Internet bans more often

European Union lawmakers renewed efforts Thursday to tackle the politically charged issue of whether governments can bar people from using the Internet, the same day that a new study was released claiming that Internet blocking by national governments is increasingly commonplace in Europe. National governments and the European Parliament announced that they would open formal conciliation talks in a bid to overcome the obstacle to a wide-ranging group of new laws for the telecoms sector.  The laws, dubbed the telecoms package, were scuppered in the summer, when the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to insert a clause into one of the laws that would make it illegal for a national government to ban a European citizen from accessing the Internet. National governments refused to accept the Parliament’s amendment and the whole package of laws has been held up as a result.

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