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OK: Keystone pipeline's path cuts across Native American land, history | The Daily Citizen

OK: Keystone pipeline's path cuts across Native American land, history | The Daily Citizen | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In energy circles, the town of Cushing is well known as the hub used by New York oil traders to set the benchmark price for all U.S. crude oil. Row after row of giant oil storage tanks are lined up around a moribund downtown and a shopping strip. At the edge of town stands a sign made of white pipes declaring: "Pipeline Crossroads of the World."

 

This is also where TransCanada's existing Keystone pipeline ends and the southern leg of its new Keystone XL pipeline will begin.

 

Less well known is the fact that Cushing sits in the Sac and Fox Nation, part of a patchwork of land belonging to Oklahoma's 38 tribes, each with sovereignty over its own affairs and land.

 

TransCanada's plan to dig a trench and bury part of its $7 billion, 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline right through this land has unearthed a host of Native American opposition, resentments and ghosts of the past. Winning support in Indian country is one of the last hurdles for the project, which is touted as a key to North American energy security. The question is whether gaining tribal support is a courtesy, as the company puts it, or a legal obligation.

 

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Countries to ride on India's Open Government Data Platform | Mohd Ujaley | Express Computer

Countries to ride on India's Open Government Data Platform |  Mohd Ujaley | Express Computer | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it
Open Government Data (OGD) Platform of India has been acclaimed for its flexibility, robustness and non- involvement of commercial application. “You will notice that much of open data initiative by developing countries will ride on the technology built by India,” says Dr Neeta Verma, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre, Government of India in conversation with Mohd Ujaley.
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The net neutrality debate in India is premature | Nikolai Dobberstein | Financial Express

The net neutrality debate in India is premature | Nikolai Dobberstein | Financial Express | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It is fascinating to see the heated debate that Airtel’s Zero and Facebook’s Internet.org have triggered. However, the current net neutrality debate in India seems premature and misses the point. The debate we need to have is not how to create undifferentiated access for service providers but how to create wide-reaching and affordable internet access for all Indians. At this stage in India’s broadband journey, connectivity is the key issue.


The concept of net neutrality has been around for well over a decade. Net neutrality aims at averting blocking, throttling or prioritisation of traffic to prevent broadband providers from disadvantaging consumers by controlling access to select services and to avoid discrimination of smaller online service providers. The underlying idea is that an open internet fosters innovation and allows customers to have access to all services.


With the rise of wireless broadband, the debate intensified and created major differences in perspectives. The reason lies in the technical and economic realities associated with mobile networks. Mobile is a shared bandwidth between users in a particular antenna location (or base stations). Increasing traffic reduces the bandwidth available to each user and can even crowd out some. The real, contentious issue here is video-streaming, as it consumes a disproportionate amount of bandwidth (30-40% of data traffic in India, and expected to rise to 60%). To deliver the unquenchable thirst for more data and video, operators need to continuously deploy more coverage, capacity and spectrum. This requires huge investments, especially in India where spectrum is expensive. Naturally, operators raise the question whether service providers with a disproportionate share of traffic should have a free-ride on their investments. To this extent, operators are seeking to get providers to fund a component of the cost of delivering such services. Already in the US, Comcast and Netflix have entered into a commercial arrangement. These arrangements both benefit consumers and rebalance the burden between broadband and online service providers.


In fact, consumers should ask the question whether net neutrality always results in a better customer experience? Unfortunately, in mobile networks, content-heavy services consume a huge surplus that can affect the experience of others. Frequently, analogies of electricity utilities or highways are being used to justify the need for net neutrality. However, the comparable implication in mobile networks would be that, if one household wants to run a heavy-duty air conditioning, neighbours would not have sufficient electricity left to power their fridges, or when one consumer wants to drive his luxury car on the highway, other drivers need to go for a pit-stop.


In any case, the current net neutrality debate seems premature for India.


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Bankymoon Introduces Bitcoin Payments to Smart Meters for Power Grids | Giulio Prisco | Bitcoin Magazine

Bankymoon Introduces Bitcoin Payments to Smart Meters for Power Grids | Giulio Prisco | Bitcoin Magazine | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

South African Bitcoin startup Bankymoon has built the world’s first blockchain smart metering solution for modern power and utility grids, VentureBurn reports.


The startup outlined its plans in a presentation titled “Smart Grids and the Blockchain – Bitcoin’s first killer App” at the recent Bitcoin Conference Africa in Cape Town, South Africa. Lorien Gamaroff, founder and CEO of Bankymoon, is expected to give another presentation on May 14 at the Bitcoin Conference in Prague.


Modern “smart grids” permit efficient management of supply and demand, with Internet-connected “smart meters” that react to changing conditions and can be topped in real-time in case of need. According to Gamaroff, by 2023 most power grids will be smart: 80 percent of the grids in the United States, 60 percent in Europe and 45 percent in the Asia Pacific region.


“You’d think that with all the smartness happening in our grid, that the problems are solved,” said Gamaroff. “But, in fact, this brings us to the most difficult and biggest problem of all, which is payments. Your grid could be as smart as you like but if all customers aren’t paying, it’s worthless and it becomes unsustainable and will collapse.”


Bankymoon, founded in 2015, specializes in deep integration of bitcoin payments into current processes.


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Earth Day's Importance and Evolution Since 1970 | Steven Cohen Blog | HuffPost.com

Earth Day's Importance and Evolution Since 1970 | Steven Cohen Blog | HuffPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This Wednesday is Earth Day, an event that began in 1970 with the goals of educating the public about environmental pollution and generating political support for environmental protection. The U.S. EPA was established that same year. Five years later, I enrolled in my first class in environmental politics and by 1977 I was working in EPA's water program. In those days, the environment was a minor and relatively uncontroversial policy issue in the United States. The connection between environmental quality and public health was not yet clear, and the relationship of environmental quality to economic growth was not often discussed. More contentious issues at the time included the war in Vietnam, civil rights, the flight from cities to suburbs, and in 1973, the Arab oil embargo and subsequent "energy crisis."

Republicans and Democrats worked together on all of the environmental policies formulated during EPA's first decade. Policies to regulate water, air, toxics, solid waste, and hazardous waste were all enacted in the decade that followed the first Earth Day. That incredibly creative and important period ended when the "lame duck" Congress of December, 1980, passed the Superfund Toxic Waste clean-up bill, and when President Jimmy Carter signed an Executive Order giving EPA the authority to implement the new program on the day before he left office.

The first real effort to turn back the clock on environmental protection was attempted during the first two yeas of the Reagan Administration. Reagan appointed an anti-environmental administrator of EPA, Anne Gorsuch-Burford, and an even more reactionary Secretary of the Interior, James Watt. However, the bipartisan consensus behind environmental protection was so strong that in May, 1983, then-President Ronald Regan asked EPA's first administrator, William ("Mr. Clean") Ruckelshaus to return to head the agency. In May 1984, New York Times environmental reporter Phillip Shabecoff reported that:


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There's a place that's nearly perfect for growing food. It's not California. | Tom Philpott | Mother Jones

There's a place that's nearly perfect for growing food. It's not California. | Tom Philpott | Mother Jones | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

California is by far the dominant US produce-growing state—source of (large PDF) 81 percent of US-grown carrots, 95 percent of broccoli, 86 percent of cauliflower, 74 percent of raspberries, 91 percent of strawberries, etc.

But all three of its main veggie growing regions—the Imperial Valley, the Central Valley, and the Salinas Valley—face serious short- and long-term water challenges. As I recently argued in a New York Times debate, it's time to "de-Californify" the nation's supply of fruits and vegetable supply, to make it more diversified, resilient, and ready for a changing climate.

Here are maps of US fruit and vegetable production:


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Antarctica blows hot and cold – for now | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Antarctica blows hot and cold – for now | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

German scientists have identified a pattern of natural change in Antarctica. The discovery appears to suggest that human influence may not be a cause of apparent warming in the seas around the great, frozen continent. Instead, natural variability might have a role.

The finding doesn’t undermine the thesis that human burning of fossil fuels is enriching the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and triggering climate change: it might however account for the so-called pause in the rate of warming this century.

The verdict remains inconclusive. But new evidence published in the journal Climate Dynamics introduces a new layer of complexity in the understanding of the planetary climate system.

In brief, the rate of warming in the northern hemisphere is considerable, and highest in the Arctic Circle. Overall, the southern hemisphere remains colder, and evidence from the Antarctic has been ambiguous, although there have been widely reported fears of potentially dramatic change in West Antarctica. Rapid melting in the region would constitute a “climate tipping point” which would have consequences across the entire planet.


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World's mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes | The Guardian

World's mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A record amount of electrical and electronic waste was discarded around the world in 2014, with the biggest per-capita tallies in countries that pride themselves on environmental consciousness, a report said.

Last year, 41.8m tonnes of so-called e-waste – mostly fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances at the end of their life – was dumped, the UN report said.

That’s the equivalent of 1.15m heavy trucks, forming a line 23,000km (14,300 miles) long, according to the report, compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s educational and research branch.

Less than one-sixth of all e-waste was properly recycled, it said.

In 2013, the e-waste total was 39.8m tonnes – and on present trends, the 50-million-tonne mark could be reached in 2018.

Topping the list for per-capita waste last year was Norway, with 28.4kg (62.5lbs) per inhabitant.

It was followed by Switzerland (26.3kg), Iceland (26.1kg), Denmark (24.0kg), Britain (23.5kg), the Netherlands (23.4kg), Sweden (22.3kg), France (22.2kg) and the United States and Austria (22.1kg).

The region with the lowest amount of e-waste per inhabitant was Africa, with 1.7kg per person. It generated a total of 1.9m tonnes of waste.

In volume terms, the most waste was generated in the United States and China, which together accounted for 32% of the world’s total, followed by Japan, Germany and India.

Waste that could have been recovered and recycled was worth $52bn, including 300 tonnes of gold – equal to 11% of the world’s gold production in 2013.

But it also included 2.2m tonnes of harmful lead compounds, as well as mercury, cadmium and chromium, and 4,400 tonnes of ozone-harming chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases.

“Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials,” UN under secretary-general David Malone said.


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Siemens' world-record electric aircraft motor punches above its weight | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Siemens' world-record electric aircraft motor punches above its weight | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at Siemens have created a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft that weighs in at just 50 kg (110 lb) and is claimed to produce about 260 kW (348 hp) at just 2,500 RPM. With a quoted power five times greater than any comparable powerplant, the new motor promises enough grunt to get aircraft with take-off weights of up to 1,800 kg (2 ton) off the ground.

Researchers say they produced such a light but powerful motor by analyzing all of the components of previous electric aircraft motors and incorporating optimized improvements to these in their new prototype. Added to this, the researchers also utilized a range of computer simulation methods to model the motor prior to construction, before then applying the findings to produce the lightest and strongest set of components possible.

As a result, the new aircraft electric drive system achieves a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram. This ratio is an exceptional figure – especially if compared to similarly powerful industrial electric motors used in heavy machinery that produce less than 1 kW per kilogram, or even to more efficient electric motors for vehicles that generate around 2 kW per kilogram. The four electric motors in the Solar Impulse 2, by comparison, produce just 7.5 kW (10 hp) each.


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Australia: NBN Co to pilot faster fixed-wireless speeds | TeleGeography.com

NBN Co, the company overseeing Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) project, has outlined plans to begin a nationwide pilot in which it aims to ‘significantly boost broadband speeds available to families and businesses in rural and regional Australia’.


From May 2015 customers connecting via the fixed-wireless element of the NBN infrastructure will reportedly be able to experience increased wholesale downlink speeds of between 25Mbps and 50Mbps, double the current top wholesale offering, while wholesale upload speeds will rise to between 5Mbps and 20Mbps.

According to NBN Co, the pilot is currently expected to conclude 20 business days after the commercial launch of the 25-50Mbps/5-20Mbps wholesale speed tier product, which is scheduled to take place in Q4 2015.


Meanwhile, by the end of the NBN rollout more than 600,000 premises are earmarked to receive fast broadband via the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based fixed-wireless network.


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Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet | Hindustan Times

Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet | Hindustan Times | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began his piece defending Internet.org by talking about his visit to Chandauli, a small north Indian village newly connected to the Internet.

“In a classroom in the village, I had the chance to talk to a group of students who were learning to use the internet. It was an incredible experience to think that right there in that room might be a student with a big idea that could change the world - and now they could actually make that happen through the internet” he says.

To understand why Mr. Zuckerberg was so thrilled, substitute the word “Facebook” for “Internet” in the above quote, because that is the objective of Facebook’s loftily (and dare we say, maliciously) named “Internet.org”.

Ask Helani Galpaya, a researcher with policy think tank LIRNEasia, who in 2012 came across a curious anomaly while researching “bottom of pyramid” telephone users in Indonesia. When asked questions about the Internet, most of the respondents said they didn’t use it. But when asked about Facebook, most of them said they used it often.

“In their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” concluded Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia’s head.

This isn’t specific to Indonesia alone, as Christoph Stork, a researcher with Research ICT Africa would find out too. Stork was flummoxed when he saw that more Africans were saying they had used Facebook than they had the Internet, a statistical impossibility.

And that is exactly what Internet.org is - Zuckerberg’s ambitious project to confuse hundreds of millions of emerging market users into thinking that Facebook and the Internet are one and the same.


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Google's Project Loon close to launching thousands of balloons | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

Google's Project Loon close to launching thousands of balloons | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Google says its Project Loon is close to being able to produce and launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet access from the sky.

Such a number would be required to provide reliable Internet access to users in remote areas that are currently unserved by terrestrial networks, said Mike Cassidy, the Google engineer in charge of the project, in a video posted Friday.

The ambitious project has been underway for a couple of years and involves beaming down LTE cellular signals to handsets on the ground from balloons thousands of feet in the air, well above the altitude that passenger jets fly.

“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” Cassidy says in the video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”

Trials are currently underway with Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and with Vodafone in New Zealand, where the video appears to have been largely shot. Maps tracking the path of balloons over the country are seen at several points in the video.

At a European conference in March, a Google executive said the balloons were staying aloft for up to 6 months at a time.

At some point they do come down, and Cassidy says the company has developed a system to predict where they will land and to retrieve them.

It has also worked on a reliable launching system.

“In the beginning, it was all we could do to launch one balloon a day. Now with our automated crane system, we can launch dozens of balloons a day for every crane we have,” he said.

Google hasn’t provided any details about what a commercial roll-out of the technology might look like.


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Internet.org: delivering poor Internet to poor people | Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing.net

Internet.org: delivering poor Internet to poor people | Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing.net | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Mark Zuckerberg's Internet.org project bribes corrupt, non-neutral carriers in poor countries to exempt Facebook and other services of its choosing from their data-caps, giving the world's poorest an Internet that's been radically pruned to a sliver of what the rest of the world gets for free.

Internet.org characterizes its goals as charitable and development-oriented. In their framework, poor people either face severe data-caps that limit their access to the Internet to almost nothing, or they get unlimited access to some of the Internet, thanks to Internet.org's largesse.

That framework ignores the alternative: using the organization's might and millions to fight corruption in the telco sector, demanding network neutrality for everyone, not just people in rich countries.

The idea of "zero-rated" services from non-neutral carriers isn't a new one. In countries like India, it's long been normal for carriers to accept bribes to exempt certain services from data-caps. This phenomenon has been widely studied, and the conclusion is stark: zero-rated services do not contribute to poverty-eradication or other development goals.

People in India can join the fight for a neutral Internet there -- over 750,000 people have already signed on.


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In 2017, Norway will be first country to shut down FM radio | Lizzie Plaugic | The Verge

Norway will shut down FM radio in the country beginning in 2017, Radio.no reports. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture finalized a shift date this week, making it the first country to do away with FM radio entirely. The country plans to transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) as a national standard.

A statement released this week by the Ministry of Culture confirms a switch-off date that was proposed by the Norwegian government back in 2011. The government has concluded that the country is capable of meeting all the requirements necessary for a smooth transition to digital.

"Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio-content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality," Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey said in a statement. "Digitization will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development."

DAB currently offers 22 national channels as opposed to FM's five, and has the capacity to host almost 20 more. The cost of transmitting radio channels through FM is also eight times higher than the cost of DAB transmission, the ministry reports.


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World Malaria Day special: DiscoGnosis creates new tool to diagnose malaria in one hour! | Europa.eu

World Malaria Day special: DiscoGnosis creates new tool to diagnose malaria in one hour! | Europa.eu | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Great news to be shared with the occasion of the World Malaria Day! The new ‘lab-on-a-disc’ technology developed by EU Funded project named DiscoGnosis can diagnose malaria and also other febrile infectious diseases simultaneously in just an hour – allowing faster point-of-care treatment and precise drugs administration that could save thousands of lives.


Maurice Mutro Nigo is a Congolese nurse who came to Germany and Switzerland to learn how to use the project prototype that will allow diagnosing malaria in very short time. Watch the video to see him training to use the system, and to save many lives with only two drops of blood and a CD! 


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Digital financial inclusion in India – taking off in 2015 | YourStory.com

Digital financial inclusion in India – taking off in 2015 | YourStory.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it


The Indian financial services landscape is undergoing a tectonic shift. The last few years have seen a renewed public focus on expanding financial inclusion. Building off prior programs, the government has invested in regulatory reform, improvements to the banking system, payments, and ID infrastructure. They have also announced a series of programs targeting the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Simultaneously, we are beginning to see real shifts in the adoption of digital technologies and banking services (such as basic savings accounts and smartphones), driven by compelling use-cases, such as government subsidies, delivered directly into bank accounts, and rickshaw-hailing apps that use mobile wallets. Together these trends are unleashing tremendous innovation with the potential to speed financial inclusion for millions.
As investors in early and growth stage “social” enterprises that are speeding financial inclusion around the world, we believe startups are uniquely positioned to navigate this shifting technological, regulatory, and competitive environment. Indeed, financial sector reform in India has had many false starts, and there are still many regulatory and structural hurdles to be overcome. However, we believe India is nearing an inflection point with changes playing out in three areas that are giving birth to exciting startup financial services models: MSME finance, digital payments, and consumer services.
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Scientists Zero In on Only Solution to Climate Crisis | Alex Kirby | Climate New Network

Scientists Zero In on Only Solution to Climate Crisis | Alex Kirby | Climate New Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you want to know what we have to do to avoid catastrophic climate change, 17 of the world’s leading climate scientists have worked out a simple but challenging solution: the world, they say, must turn by mid-century into a zero-carbon society.


The signatories to today’s “Earth Statement” say: “This trajectory is not one of economic pain, but of economic opportunity, progress and inclusiveness. It is a chance too good to be missed.


“The latest science indicates that there are critical thresholds in the Earth system. Transgressing them may lead to dramatic and irreversible environmental changes.


“We are probably edging very close to such thresholds, and may already have crossed one with regard to melting of parts of Antarctica. Sea-level rise of more than one metre due to this event alone may be inevitable.”


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Huawei plans to offer public cloud service in China | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com

Huawei plans to offer public cloud service in China | Michael Kan |  NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies plans to launch a public cloud service in China in July, amid growing competition from local and foreign players.

“We hope that once it launches, we can bring some surprises to all our enterprise customers,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s acting CEO, on Tuesday at a company event for analysts.

Xu provided few details, but said Huawei aimed to offer a unique service. In China, other large tech players have already entered the public cloud space, including Microsoft and Amazon.com.
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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is currently the leading player, according to Forrester Research. And in March, it announced it would enter the U.S. cloud computing market.

Although Huawei is a global company, selling networking gear to mobile carriers worldwide, Xu said its upcoming cloud service would be limited to its home market, at least for now.

“In markets outside of China, our first priority is to work together with our telecom operators, and develop public cloud services,” he said. Xu is the acting CEO of Huawei until September under the company’s rotating CEO program.

Huawei may be coming late to the market, but it already supplies hardware and software products to clients wanting to run cloud services.


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Liberty Global's John Malone Buys Belgian Wireless | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com

Liberty Global's John Malone Buys Belgian Wireless | Mike Farrell | Multichannel.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

John Malone’s Liberty Global subsidiary Telenet is making a push into Belgian wireless, agreeing to acquire that country’s third largest mobile carrier, Base Co., in an all-cash deal valued at $1.4 billon.

The buy is Telenet’s first in the Belgian wireless market – it had previously concentrated on MVNO agreements for its wireless offerings.

In a statement Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said the deal “represents a cost-effective and unique opportunity to expand Telenet’s mobile and fixed business in Belgium.”

Telenet estimates that the deal, valued at about 4.2 times operating cash flow, will be accretive to shareholders and that the larger Telenet can easily absorb the Base business. Telenet is the largest cable operator in Belgium with about 2.1 million customers and annual revenue of $2.3 billion.

In his statement, Fries added that the Base acquisition is not a shift in strategy. “Elsewhere in Europe we will continue to focus primarily on our existing MVNO arrangements and rapidly developing WiFi networks to provide seamless mobile voice and data services to our customers,” Fries said in the statement.


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Carbon storage hopes rise again | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Carbon storage hopes rise again | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Two groups of US scientists are exploring new ways of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One technology mimics the tree by using artificial photosynthesis. The other exploits a membrane that is a thousand times more efficient than any tree.

Although the nations of the world agreed in 2009 to attempt to limit the global warming temperature rise this century to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, colossal quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide are still being emitted into the atmosphere.

So some researchers have been exploring the technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS): ways of trapping CO2 as it leaves the power station chimney or machinery exhaust and storing it for burial or reuse. Others have proposed “artificial trees” that could remove the gas from the atmosphere.

Now a team from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of California at Berkeley report in the journal Nano Letters that their “potentially game-changing” technology could capture CO2 emissions before they get into the atmosphere and then use solar energy and water to turn the captured gas into the chemical substance acetate.

Once in acetate form, the substance could be the basis of pharmaceutical drug manufacture, biodegradable plastic feedstock, or even liquid fuel.


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ESA's GOCE gravity satellite data helps produce tool for geothermal energy development | Chris Wood | GizMag.com

ESA's GOCE gravity satellite data helps produce tool for geothermal energy development | Chris Wood | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

ESA's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite might have burned up in Earth's atmosphere back in November 2013, but the wealth of data gathered by the probe before its demise is still being utilized to great effect. A team of scientists has used the readings to produce an online tool designed to make it easier than ever to locate potential geothermal energy extraction sites.

Launched on March 17, 2009, the GOCE was the first Earth Explorer mission satellite to reach orbit. The mission studied the variations in the force of gravity on the surface of the Earth, brought about by both the rotation of the planet and the position of geological features such as mountain ranges and ocean trenches. Over its four and a half year lifespan, the satellite mapped variations in the gravity field with great accuracy and detail.

The recorded data is now making possible a new tool, created by a team of scientists from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), that it is hoped will help mankind better harness a form of subsurface heat known as geothermal energy. Originating from sources such as magma and hot springs, the energy can be harnessed as a sustainable resource, but the locating, exploring and measuring of the underground sites can be problematic and expensive.

Using gravity measurements recorded as part of the GOCE mission, the online tool consists of two informative maps that combine to depict characteristics unique to geothermal reservoirs, making it easier to identify target areas with high geothermal potential.


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Netizen Report: What if Tech Companies Cave to the Kremlin’s Data Demands? | Global Voices Online

Netizen Report: What if Tech Companies Cave to the Kremlin’s Data Demands? | Global Voices Online | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Russian state media outlet RBC reported last week that US companies including eBay and Google had begun storing Russian user data on servers located in Russian territory.

Google called the reports “inaccurate” but has said nothing more about the claims. Meanwhile, eBay Russia representative Vladimir Dolgov confirmed the reports and explained that the company has been meeting with Russian regulatory authorities in an effort to come into full compliance with data localization legislation passed last July. The law requires Internet companies to store Russian users’ data in Russia, presumably with the goal of sustaining stronger state control over Internet users and their data. It goes into effect on September 1, 2015.

The policy would mark a big shift for users, creating new vulnerabilities when it comes to personal data sent to and stored using services based outside of the country. For example, right now, if Russian authorities wish to access Google user data, they must present a court order to the United States Department of Justice, which will determine its legitimacy. Google’s Law Enforcement guidelines explain that if the order satisfies US law and Google’s policies, it will be fulfilled—but if not, the user's data will remain undisclosed. The same would be true for a host of other US companies that do business in Russia. But if outside companies should comply with the new policy, there would be a much lower threshold for Russian authorities to obtain user data.

The contradictory claims of Russian media remain unresolved however. Media studies scholar and Global Voices Russian editor Tanya Lokot commented on the matter in a recent post for Global Voices:


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California drought spurs protest over 'unconscionable' bottled water business | Andrew Gumbel | The Guardian

California drought spurs protest over 'unconscionable' bottled water business | Andrew Gumbel | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Californians facing the prospect of endless drought, mandated cuts in water use and the browning of their summer lawns are mounting a revolt against the bottled water industry, following revelations that Nestlé and other big companies are taking advantage of poor government oversight to deplete mountain streams and watersheds at vast profit.

An online petition urging an immediate end to Nestle’s water bottling operations in the state has gathered more than 150,000 signatures, in the wake of an investigation by the San Bernardino Desert Sun that showed the company is taking water from some of California’s driest areas on permits that expired as long as 27 years ago.

Last month a protest at a Nestlé Waters North America bottling plant in Sacramento, the state capital, forced a one-day closure as protesters brandishing symbolic plastic torches and pitchforks blocked the entrances. The revelations have agencies from the California State Water Resources Control Board to the US Forest Service scrambling to justify a regulatory framework that is poorly policed and imposes almost no requirements on the big water companies to declare how much water they are taking.

Nestlé itself insists its water use is efficient and has minimal impact on the environment – something the activists reject out of hand.

“While California is facing record drought conditions, it is unconscionable that Nestlé would continue to bottle the state’s precious water, export it and sell it for profit,” says the petition, which is sponsored by the political activist organisation the Courage Campaign.


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Australia Considers New Copyright Law That Could Be Interpreted To Ban VPNs | Tim Geigner | Techdirt

Australia Considers New Copyright Law That Could Be Interpreted To Ban VPNs | Tim Geigner | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Some months back, our own Glyn Moody wrote about the music industry in Australia and its attempt to basically broadly multiply copyright protections, routing around the public's representatives in government to get ISPs to act as judge, jury and executioner. Then, because Glyn Moody is a witch who turned my sister into a newt, he wondered aloud whether VPNs would be the next target in the copyright industry's crosshairs.

Well, it turns out that yes, yes they are. Only this time, the industry lobbyists are going right to the Australian legislature to act as their bullies with the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015.


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Indoor Atlas: Smartphones can navigate inside buildings using magnetic fields | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com

Indoor Atlas: Smartphones can navigate inside buildings using magnetic fields | Mark Gibbs | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Navigating outdoors is easy with GPS and when augmented augmented by WiFi the the accuracy and availability of geolocation increase significantly … until you step inside a building.

Once you’re inside and there’s no GPS signal WiFi geolocation might give you a rough fix though usually you’re effectively “off the grid.” But knowing where you are inside a structure can be crucial in large factories or office buildings. It may also be crucial for others to be able to locate you.

If you want to build an app that’s capable for geolocation within a building you should take a look at Indoor Atlas, an SDK for iOS and Android, which uses magnetometer data from your smartphone and cloud-based mapping data to locate you to within 2 meters or less in real time.

The idea behind Indoor Atlas is that buildings have predictable magnetic fields caused by structural steel, wiring, machinery, ductwork, etc., and by recording the variations and filtering out magnetic noise, you can characterize an entire building and use that data to figure out where the device might be within that environment. WiFi and Bluetooth data can also be used to improve accuracy.


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Saving What’s Left of Utah’s Lost World | David Roberts Opinion | NYTimes.com

Saving What’s Left of Utah’s Lost World | David Roberts Opinion | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cedar Mesa is one of the most sublime and culturally evocative landscapes on Earth. Since 1987, I’ve made more than 60 trips to that outback in southeastern Utah, hiking, camping and backpacking on forays lasting as long as 10 days. Nowhere else in the Southwest can you find unrestored ruins and artifacts left in situ in such prodigal abundance. And though roughly 75,000 enthusiasts visit Cedar Mesa each year, that’s a drop in the bucket compared with the four and a half million who throng the Grand Canyon. By wending my way into the more obscure corners of the labyrinth, I’ve gone days in a row without running into another hiker, and I’ve visited sites that I’m pretty sure very few or even no other Anglos have seen.

Hiking through such slick-rock gorges as Grand Gulch, Fish, Owl and Slickhorn Canyons would immerse the wanderer in breathtaking scenery in its own right, even if those places were devoid of prehistoric human presence. But to stand beneath the dwellings, kivas and granaries of the Ancestral Puebloans, as well as the hogans in which Navajos once lived, and to stare at hallucinatory panels of rock art engraved and painted on the cliffs as long as thousands of years ago, is to plunge into a spiritual communion with the ancients, even if the meanings of those sites and panels lie in the limbo of the lost.

What’s still there may soon be lost, as well. Cedar Mesa embraces tens of thousands of archaeological sites that chronicle a 13,000-year history, from Paleo-Indian times until the late 19th century. Administered by the woefully understaffed federal Bureau of Land Management, the mesa is hammered every year by rampant looting that a small number of rangers are powerless to stop. The plateau and canyons remain, in the words of Josh Ewing, executive director of the group Friends of Cedar Mesa, “undoubtedly the most significant unprotected archaeological area in the United States.”

More ominously, perhaps, the Utah State Legislature has its eye on the roughly 500,000 acres of pinyon and juniper forests and its twisting sandstone canyons.

Last month, Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, signed a resolution passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature opposing additional protections for Cedar Mesa and another area, the equally pristine San Rafael Swell, and asserting that livestock grazing and energy and mineral extraction could be done in a way that would preserve the area’s “scenic and recreational values.” Before it was amended, the measure had declared livestock grazing and “environmentally sensitive energy and mineral development” as the “highest and best use” for those two areas.


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