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Towards a coherent international cyberspace policy for the EU | EU Info Society News

Towards a coherent international cyberspace policy for the EU | EU Info Society News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

I welcome today's debate on cybersecurity. This discussion could not come at a better time.

 

Every day, people across the world use digital technologies for all kinds of activity, from communication to healthcare, from entertainment to banking. Not to mention businesses and governments using these networks to deliver their many services.

 

The digital transformation offers a boost to all. A stronger society; a more prosperous economy; a platform to exercise human rights. We must ensure that our citizens and our businesses can get all those benefits, securely.

 

Overall the internet offers a boost to productivity, innovation, economic growth. It creates 5 jobs for every 2 lost. That’s an opportunity we can't turn our backs on: we should do everything we can to achieve them. But rising threats, rising vulnerabilities, and lack of trust all stand in the way.

 

The reasons for these risks vary. Sometimes it's about outright attacks; sometimes it's people making mischief; sometimes just mistakes or natural disasters.

 

And indeed some of these cases are high-profile. In 2011, for example, you may recall the case of Dutch certification company Diginotar; or the security breaches at national registries for the EU's emissions trading system. Two years ago the Dagmar storm wrecked millions of communications links. And so on.


The costs of insecure systems are high. According to the World Economic Forum, over the next decade, there is a 10% chance of a major breakdown costing over a quarter of a trillion dollars.

 

In just one year, PWC found that three quarters of UK small businesses, and 93% of large ones, had suffered a cybersecurity breach. Bear in mind each breach can cost tens of thousands of euros; for a large business ten times that. And the cost of data breaches can be millions, not to mention the reputational damage.

 

And risks are mounting. According to Symantec, the total number of attacks increased by 81% in just one year. And in ever more forms: denial-of-service, Trojans, worms, identity theft, botnets, phishing, you name it. And I know that many of you will yourself have experienced incidents with significant impacts.

 

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BBC Has 12 More Articles Shoved Down The Google Memory Hole Thanks To 'Right To Be Forgotten' | Techdirt.com

BBC Has 12 More Articles Shoved Down The Google Memory Hole Thanks To 'Right To Be Forgotten' | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The European Court of Justice's awful "right to be forgotten" ruling is continuing to memory hole perfectly factual stories -- but publications like the BBC are bringing them back to light.


Google has informed the BBC of 12 more stories that it is removing from its index thanks to requests from individuals who'd prefer that their history no longer be accessible to the public. While Google does not reveal who is making the request, it's often not too difficult to figure it out -- even though Google is now warning the BBC that sometimes the requester's name may only be in the comments.


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Snowden reveals automated NSA cyberwarfare program | Grant Gross | ComputerWorld.com

Snowden reveals automated NSA cyberwarfare program | Grant Gross | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The U.S. National Security Agency has a cyberwarfare program that hunts for foreign cyberattacks and is able to strike back without human intervention, according to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.


The NSA cyberwarfare program, called MonsterMind, uses software to look for traffic patterns indicating possible foreign cyberattacks, according to Snowden, quoted in a lengthy profile in Wired.


MonsterMind could automatically block a cyberattack from entering the U.S., then retaliate against the attackers, according to the Wired story.


Snowden, when he was working as an NSA contractor, was concerned that MonsterMind could lead to misdirected counterattacks. "These attacks can be spoofed," he told Wired. "You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?"


MonsterMind also creates privacy problems, because it would have to access nearly all the communications coming into the U.S. in order to work, Snowden told Wired. "If we're analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows," he said. "That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time."


A program such as Snowden described would raise major concerns, the American Civil Liberties Union said.


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Maine Gov. LePage appeals to Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick as tariff to pay for gas pipeline falters | MassLive.com

Maine Gov. LePage appeals to Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick as tariff to pay for gas pipeline falters | MassLive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has written to Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, imploring him to get on board with a plan to fund new, regional natural gas pipeline infrastructure through a shared, six-state ratepayer tariff. LePage's letter was first published by the Bangor Daily News.


"It has come to my attention that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has decided not to continue additional gas capacity for New England," wrote LePage in his Aug. 14 letter to Patrick. "This is a colossal mistake."


LePage wrote that failure to expand natural gas infrastructure in New England "will increase our already high-cost electricity prices, challenge our existing businesses and residents, and make it harder to attract new investment into our region."


LePage's letter to Patrick was copied to Conn. Gov. Dan Malloy, N.H. Gov. Maggie Hassan, R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, and Vt. Gov. Peter Shumlin.


The missive comes as Massachusetts grapples with a proposal from Kinder Morgan to push a high-capacity natural gas pipeline through the state's northern tier. Opposition to the Tennessee Gas pipeline plan has been fierce, with Governor Patrick only saying he's "skeptical" of the pipeline's proposed route, while remaining open to natural gas projects in general.


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Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. | Mike Bostock and Kevin Quealy | NYTimes.com

Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. | Mike Bostock and Kevin Quealy | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it
Droughts appear to be intensifying over much of the West and Southwest as a result of global warming. Over the past decade, droughts in some regions have rivaled the epic dry spells of the 1930s and 1950s. About 34 percent of the contiguous United States was in at least a moderate drought as of August 12.

Things have been particularly bad in California, where state officials have approved drastic measures to reduce water consumption. California farmers, without water from reservoirs in the Central Valley, are left to choose which of their crops to water. Parts of Texas, Oklahoma and surrounding states are also suffering from drought conditions.

The relationship between the climate and droughts is complicated. Parts of the country are becoming wetter: East of the Mississippi, rainfall has been rising. But global warming also appears to be causing moisture to evaporate faster in places that were already dry. Researchers believe drought conditions in these places are likely to intensify in coming years.

There has been little relief for some places since the summer of 2012. At the recent peak this May, about 40 percent of the country was abnormally dry or in at least a moderate drought.

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CA: Big Oil Has Spent $63 Million on Lobbying in Sacramento Since 2009! | Dan Bacher | LAProgressive.com

CA: Big Oil Has Spent $63 Million on Lobbying in Sacramento Since 2009! | Dan Bacher | LAProgressive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state’s environmental policies than Big Oil.


An ongoing analysis of reports filed with the California Secretary of State shows that the oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, collectively spent $63,947,616 lobbying California policymakers between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014.


The Western States Petroleum Association, led by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, topped the oil industry lobby spending with $26,969,861.


“The oil industry is spending over $1 million per month lobbying Sacramento, with the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) as the second overall leading spender so far in 2014 with almost $3 million spent in the past six months,” according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. “Chevron, with $1.3 million spent so far in 2014, is also among the top five. If money speaks, Big Oil has the loudest voice in politics.”


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Colorado Town Sues State, Gov. Hickenlooper and COGA to Protect Right to Ban Fracking | EcoWatch.com

Colorado Town Sues State, Gov. Hickenlooper and COGA to Protect Right to Ban Fracking | EcoWatch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In a state wracked with clashes over its explosive expansion of fracking, residents of Lafayette, Colorado just outside Boulder, have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the state of Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) from taking away the town’s right to ban the practice.


Citizens in Lafayette, which is a Home Rule Community under Colorado law, voted last November to pass a Community Bill of Rights under its Home Rule Charter that banned fracking and established the right of citizens to a healthy environment. In December COGA sued the city to overturn its Bill of Rights, claiming that while citizens don’t have a right to clean air and water or self-governance, COGA has a constitutional right to frack under the state’s Oil and Gas Act.


Citizens responded by filing a first-of-its-kind class action suit in June, arguing that parts of the Oil and Gas Act violate the right to local self-governance. The preliminary injunction, filed yesterday in the Boulder County District County, would prevent COGA’s lawsuit from moving forward until its own is decided and declare parts of the Oil and Gas Act unconstitutional.


The plaintiffs are part of the Colorado Community Rights Network, a group founded late last year to protect the rights of communities to make decisions locally on issues like fracking. They are represented by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based group that provides affordable representation to communities clashing with deep-pockets corporations. CELDF executive director Thomas Linzey said of the Lafayette lawsuit:


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Facebook says most outbound email is encrypted now | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

Facebook says most outbound email is encrypted now | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Nearly all of Facebook’s outbound notification emails are now encrypted while traveling the Internet, a collaborative feat that comes from the technology industry’s push to thwart the NSA’s spying programs.


In May, only 58 percent of the social networking site’s email was encrypted when it was sent since the receiving entity must have the technology, called STARTTLS, enabled, wrote Michael Adkins, a messaging integrity engineer at Facebook, on a company blog.


Since that time, Microsoft, Yahoo and other email providers have enabled STARTTLS, which has pushed the percentage of Facebook’s encrypted messages to 95 percent, he wrote.


Many major technology companies vowed to put stronger defenses in place to protect data after documents leaked by Edward Snowden detailed the depth of the NSA’s surveillance programs.


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Icelandic Volcano Rumbles Raises Eruption Fears | NationalGeographic.com

Icelandic Volcano Rumbles Raises Eruption Fears | NationalGeographic.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Earthquake swarms are shaking up a large ice-capped volcano in Iceland, raising worries of an eruption that could trigger flooding and send ash clouds into the atmosphere.


The 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano triggered floods and ash plumes that halted air travel to Europe. (Related: "Iceland Volcano Erupts Under Ice, Triggers Floods.")


Icelandic officials report that the minor quakes have occurred since Monday near the Bárđarbunga volcano, the country's second highest mountain at 6,560 feet (2,000 meters). It lies in the remote central region of Iceland under the largest glacier, Vatnajökull. The ice above the volcano's central caldera is about 2,300 feet (700 meters) thick. (Related: "Pictures: Iceland Volcano Erupts, Under Ice This Time.")


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UK: Has satellite broadband’s time come? | Bob's Broadband Blog

The last couple of weeks has seen a flurry of activity with councils around the UK lining themselves up for the second round of BDUK funding for Superfast broadband. Assumptions that BT might get an automatic “kick in” of the additional £250m funding look premature.


Many councils we are talking to have discovered the truth about what final coverage for Phase 1 looks like and are not best pleased. Most are missing the target by at least 10% with the most rural areas being worst hit, also as we predicted.


Some are girding their loins for leaving the framework and doing a complete new procurement and are talking about using local suppliers and smaller projects, all of which makes some sense but comes with its own risks.


So if FTTC has run out of steam which technologies are going to be the big winners? Our prediction is that wireless will win big but that, maybe surprisingly to some people, satellite broadband could pick up significant share. Why is that?


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Map: All the places where the CDC says you can't drink the water | Vox.com

Map: All the places where the CDC says you can't drink the water | Vox.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Centers for Disease Control has opinions on which countries' drinking water is safe, and 5thEye has mapped their advice:


As you can see, the CDC is very cautious, essentially arguing that only the richest countries have safe drinking water. In my personal experience, drinking tap water in Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Russia, and even the dread Mexico has worked out just fine. But your mileage may vary.


The World Health Organization uses a looser criteria for access to safe water, and by their standards it is a very serious problem in quite a few very poor countries but not many of the middle-income ones on the CDC map.

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Breaking News: Oregon Rejects Key Permit for Coal Export Terminal | EcoWatch.com

Breaking News: Oregon Rejects Key Permit for Coal Export Terminal | EcoWatch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The state of Oregon stood up to dirty coal exports today by denying a key dock-building permit. This denial is a major victory for residents and climate activists who have waged a huge, high-profile campaign against coal exports. Oregon’s decision today shows that our state leadership values clean air, our climate and healthy salmon runs.


Coal export proponent, Ambre Energy asked the Oregon’s Department of State Lands for permission to build a new loading dock to ship Powder River Basin coal down the Columbia River to ocean-going ships bound for Asia. Oregon said no, saying the coal export project “would unreasonably interfere with the paramount policy of this state to preserve the use of its waters for navigation, fishing and public recreation.”


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Turkey Expresses Outrage at Reports of Routine Spying by Germany, a NATO Ally | NYTimes.com

Turkey Expresses Outrage at Reports of Routine Spying by Germany, a NATO Ally | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

After angrily insisting for months that “friends don’t spy,” the German government struggled Monday to respond to news media reports that its intelligence services routinely spy on Turkey, a NATO ally, and inadvertently captured at least one conversation each involving Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was secretary of state and her successor, John Kerry.


While officials in Berlin sought to play down the reports, Turkey summoned the German ambassador to demand an immediate investigation. “If there is even a bit of truth in these allegations, this is a grave situation that requires an explanation by Germany,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


In a tone of outrage heard repeatedly from politicians in Berlin over the past year when addressing widespread allegations of spying by the United States’ National Security Agency, the Turkish government demanded that German authorities “present an official and satisfactory explanation to the allegations,” adding that “if true, these practices should be terminated at once.”


Turkey remains on a list of countries targeted by Germany’s foreign intelligence service that was drawn up in 2009 and remains relevant today, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday, attributing the information to documents leaked to the Central Intelligence Agency. The magazine also reported that the German foreign intelligence service, known by its initials, BND, had captured individual conversations of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kerry while they were in the Middle East.


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Mass. Governor Deval Patrick walks away from accord with other New England governors | Boston Business Journal

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick walks away from accord with other New England governors | Boston Business Journal | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The New England governors’ plan to impose a new tax on our electricity market to pay for natural gas pipeline construction was a bold proposal — one that’s never really been tried before — to solve our region’s natural gas constraint issues.


But without Massachusetts involved, it’s almost impossible to pull off.


Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration has decided to put its support for this massive infrastructure investment on hold. This decision follows the Massachusetts Legislature’s failure to approve Patrick’s “clean energy” bill, a bill that would have allowed utilities in this state to enter into long-term contracts for Canadian hydropower, with a goal of building new power lines into New England.


The region’s governors, through the New England States Committee on Energy, had proposed a separate electricity tariff to help subsidize those power lines. Now, the future of both tariff proposals is up in the air.


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New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security | Robert Lemos | Ars Technia

New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security | Robert Lemos | Ars Technia | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The amount of personal data traveling to and from the Internet has exploded, yet many applications and services continue to put user information at risk by not encrypting data sent over wireless networks. Software engineer Tony Webster has a classic solution—shame. 


Webster decided to see if a little public humiliation could convince companies to better secure their customers' information.


On Saturday, the consultant created a website, HTTP Shaming, and began posting cases of insecure communications, calling out businesses that send their customers' personal information to the Internet without encrypting it first.


One high-profile example includes well-liked travel-information firm TripIt. TripIt allows users to bring together information on their tickets, flight times, and itinerary and then sync it with other devices and share the information with friends and co-workers. Information shared with calendar applications, however, is not encrypted, Webster says, leaving it open to eavesdropping on public networks. Among the details that could be plucked from the air by anyone on the same wireless network: a user's full name, phone number, e-mail address, the last four digits of a credit card number, and emergency contact information. An attacker could even change or cancel the victim's flight, he says.


So far, TripIt and 18 other applications and services have made the shaming list, many submitted by other people fed up with the security missteps of companies, Webster says.


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Landslides After Heavy Rain Kill at Least 36 in Japan | NYTimes.com

Landslides After Heavy Rain Kill at Least 36 in Japan | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

At least 36 people were killed and seven missing in the western Japanese city of Hiroshima on Wednesday after heavy rain caused flash floods and landslides that buried victims alive as they slept in their homes, the police said. Hundreds of soldiers have been sent to the scene to dig for survivors.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had been on summer vacation, cut short a game of golf to rush back to Tokyo to lead the response to the disaster, government officials said. While deadly landslides are common in this densely populated, mountainous nation, death tolls rarely reach this high.


According to the police, the dead included two brothers, ages 2 and 11, who were buried when a wall of mud engulfed their home in a neighborhood that sits at the foot of a steep mountainside. A firefighter also died during rescue operations, the police said.


The landslides took place around 3:30 a.m. local time, after rainfall of up to four inches per hour was recorded by the national weather agency. Many of the victims appeared to have been asleep when entire hillsides, heavy with the weight of rainwater, suddenly gave way.


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Fracking Fluid Survey Shows Missing Information | ScientificAmerican.com

Fracking Fluid Survey Shows Missing Information | ScientificAmerican.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A US survey of almost 250 chemicals used in fracking has identified potentially harmful compounds and exposed a lack of information about them that is hampering efforts to understand fracking’s environmental impact.


Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, involves pumping high-pressure water into shale formations kilometres beneath the ground to break the formations apart, releasing the gas and oil they contain. In the US, fracking operations have regenerated the domestic oil and gas industry, boosting production and driving down energy prices. The US chemical industry has also benefited from cheaper feedstocks, such as ethene, giving it a competitive edge over other regions.


Governments and chemical companies in other countries are hopeful that fracking might be similarly fruitful outside the US. However, the potential environmental costs of fracking have also brought criticism and resistance from campaign groups and the public. In particular, the effects of chemical additives used as part of the fracking process have raised concerns – formulations whose precise ingredients are often protected as proprietary information.


‘Right now, public knowledge is limited,’ says William Stringfellow from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, speaking at the 248th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco, US. ‘So we want to resolve exactly what chemicals are being used in fracking fluids. And then to examine their hazards and risks.’


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10% Of Iceland Is Now A Prohibited Area | DailyKos.com

10% Of Iceland Is Now A Prohibited Area | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This is part three of Eldfjallavakt, where we've been monitoring the serious situation in Iceland's largest volcanic system, Bárðarbunga.


Picture the flow rate of a large (150-200 m³/s) river - say, 3x the rate of the Thames at London, or 1/3rd the rate of the Hudson at New York City. Now picture it comprised of an explosive variety of very gassy magma, 5-10 kilometers underground. Now picture that it has nowhere to go, yet it's still flowing at that rate via plowing through solid rock by creating an earthquake every two minutes. And picture that it's doing this before having any sort of pressure release to help the process along. On a rift system that's caused regular eruptions that have released so much gas and altered the climate so much that they've frozen the Mississippi River at New Orleans and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq.


This is what's currently going on under Bárðarbunga, and is why we're watching it. More after the fold.


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US: GPS is Tracking West’s Vanishing Water, Scientists Surprised to Learn | Michelle Nijhuis | NationalGeographic.com

US: GPS is Tracking West’s Vanishing Water, Scientists Surprised to Learn | Michelle Nijhuis | NationalGeographic.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Throughout the western United States, a network of Global Positioning System (GPS) stations has been monitoring tiny movements in the Earth's crust, collecting data that can warn of developing earthquakes.


To their surprise, researchers have discovered that the GPS network has also been recording an entirely different phenomenon: the massive drying of the landscape caused by the drought that has intensified over much of the region since last year.


Geophysicist Adrian Borsa of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and his colleagues report in this week's Science that, based on the GPS measurements, the loss of water from lakes, streams, snowpack, and groundwater totals some 240 billion metric tons—equivalent, they say, to a four-inch-deep layer of water covering the entire western U.S. from the Rockies to the Pacific. (Related: "Water's Hidden Crisis"


The principle behind the new measurements is simple. The weight of surface water and groundwater deforms Earth's elastic crust, much as a sleeper's body deforms a mattress. Remove the water, and the crust rebounds.


As the amount of water varies cyclically with the seasons, the crust moves up and down imperceptibly, by fractions of an inch—but GPS can measure such small shifts. (Related: "California Snowpack Measure Shows No End in Sight for Drought")


Borsa knew all this when he started to study the GPS data. He wasn't interested in the water cycle at first, and for him the seasonal fluctuations it produced in the data were just noise: They obscured the much longer-term geological changes he wanted to study, such as the rise of mountain ranges.


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Finland: DNA and Sonera unveil plan to cooperate on joint network rollout in northern, eastern areas | TeleGeography.com

Finnish mobile network operators DNA and TeliaSonera Finland have inked a major cooperation agreement under which they will construct a joint network in the northern and eastern parts of the country.


Announcing the development in a press release, DNA has claimed that the agreement will allow both operators to provide customers in these areas with ‘more comprehensive, high-quality high-speed telecommunications connections’.


To undertake the project, DNA and Sonera will establish a new company, Suomen Yhteisverkko Oy, which will take responsibility for constructing a new 2G/3G/4G joint network, which will cover approximately 50% of the geographical area of the country, and around 15% of the population.


It was also specifically noted that the two operators will combine their respective Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable spectrum in the 800MHz band ‘to enable higher speeds and better service standards’. With DNA taking a 49% stake in this new company, Sonera will hold the remaining 51%, and the JV is expected to launch ‘as soon as possible’.


Meanwhile, both companies have confirmed they will continue to compete independently with regard to their products and pricing models in the areas involved.


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NASA’s green rocket fuel set for major space test | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com

NASA’s green rocket fuel set for major space test | Michael Cooney | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

NASA said today it would launch a spacecraft that would for the first time test fire green propellant technology in space.


NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will use a small satellite using a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel/oxidizer mix, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, is also is known as AF-M315E propellant. This fuel may replace the highly toxic hydrazine and complex bi-propellant systems in-use today, NASA said.


The green propulsion system will fly aboard a Ball Aerospace & Technologies Configurable Platform 100 satellite and is slated for launch on a Space X rocket in 2016.


Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory the green propellant is less harmful to the environment, increases fuel efficiency, and diminishes operational hazards. The propellant offers nearly 50% higher performance for a given propellant tank volume compared to a conventional hydrazine system and will feature a catalyst technology, pioneered by Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA stated.


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Antibacterial soap exposes health workers to high triclosan levels | MedicalExpress.com

Antibacterial soap exposes health workers to high triclosan levels | MedicalExpress.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Handwashing with antibacterial soap exposes hospital workers to significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan, a widely-used chemical currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a study led by researchers from UC San Francisco.


Triclosan, a synthetic antibacterial agent, is found in thousands of consumer products, including soaps, cosmetics, acne creams and some brands of toothpaste. The FDA is reviewing its safety based on a growing body of research indicating that it can interfere with the action of hormones, potentially causing developmental problems in fetuses and newborns, among other health concerns.


In the current study, published in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers analyzed urine samples from two groups of 38 doctors and nurses – three fourths of them women – at two hospitals, identified as Hospital 1 and Hospital 2. Hospital 1 used an antibacterial soap containing 0.3 percent triclosan, while Hospital 2 used plain soap and water.


Workers at Hospital 1 had significantly higher levels of triclosan in their urine than workers at Hospital 2.


The scientists also asked the study participants if they used a popular commercial toothpaste containing triclosan. While those who did had higher triclosan levels than those who did not, the researchers found that washing with antibacterial soap accounted for even higher triclosan levels than did brushing with the toothpaste.


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The Next New Media: Typewriters and Handwritten Letters | Paul Budd | CircleID

The Next New Media: Typewriters and Handwritten Letters | Paul Budd | CircleID | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Who would have thought that typewriters and handwritten letters would ever be back in fashion? But back in 2013 it was reported that Russia was buying large quantities of typewriters. When this was further investigated the country denied that this was for security reasons.


Since the Snowden revelations there has been a further rush on typewriters, both by government officials and by a range of, mainly corporate, businesses. In general they are used for confidential information — rather than being sent electronically it is posted, couriered or hand delivered.


Those with reasonable handwriting have also gone back to this form of communication; American Presidents have been among the most prolific users of handwritten letters and notes — obviously restricted to the group of contacts that they trust. That is not to say, of course, that those letters and notes won't pop up in the intriguing world of political and big business.


But certainly handwritten communications very significantly reduce the potential for snooping by others, such as the various national spy agents.


But even in these senior government and corporate circles this can only be used for communications that are classified as being of the highest level of confidentiality, as it is impractical to deploy typewriters and hand written communication at any larger scale within organisations.


At the same time, as we reported shortly after the Snowden revelations, billions of dollars have been spent on internal security audits, and on further security improvements, mainly with encryption technologies (cryptography). But not just technologies are scrutinised, internal security systems — or the lack of them — have also been audited.


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Busting the Bureau of Land Management’s Frackopoly | Wenonah Hauter | EcoWatch.com

Busting the Bureau of Land Management’s Frackopoly | Wenonah Hauter | EcoWatch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Even without looking at a photo album, I can picture in my mind’s eye a vacation photo from the gorgeous BLM-managed (Bureau of Land Management) land near Moab, Utah. That image of my family and friends on a bicycle trip in the red rock lands, perfectly faded by time, carefully preserved for posterity. Nowhere in that photo does a fracking rig, or any telltale signs of industrial activity appear. But skip ahead fifteen or twenty years into the future, and this photo could be telling an entirely different story.


That’s because parcels of BLM-managed land like the ones near Moab Valley, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and so many others in the U.S., may be at risk from nearby fracking. President Obama’s BLM controls access to more than 700 million acres of federally owned mineral rights, some of which sit adjacent to public parks.


Some 38 million acres of that land is currently leased, and over the past three years, the oil and gas industry has drilled over three thousand new wells, 90 percent of which have been (or will be) fracked. In fact, existing and proposed drilling and fracking operations overseen by the BLM threaten public lands, nearby watersheds, air quality and the health and safety of surrounding communities in 27 states.


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Germany: Uber Back Online In Berlin And Hamburg After Court Suspends Earlier Ban | TechCrunch.com

Germany: Uber Back Online In Berlin And Hamburg After Court Suspends Earlier Ban | TechCrunch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Four days after being banned in Berlin by local taxi regulators on safety grounds, Uber is back on track in both that city and Hamburg. The company just released a statement confirming the news after the presiding judge of the Berlin Administrative Court today suspended the regulator’s ban on Uber “until further notice”. The ruling said Uber can continue its business in Berlin and follows a similar suspension granted recently in the city of Hamburg.


Fabien Nestmann, GM for Germany said in a statement:


“This is good news for the great people of Berlin and the thousands of German citizens already benefitting from Uber’s great services. We’re delighted to continue to bring our fresh and new ride-sharing service UberPOP plus our licensed limo service, UberBlack to Berlin and other cities in Germany, as we challenge the old policies that were written before the smartphone was even invented. Uber’s number one priority is safety and we would like to underline that every driver on the Uber platform is insured. Today’s news supports freedom of choice and progress, as Uber seeks to bring better, safer and cheaper transport options to everyone.”


Last Thursday Berlin officials said the U.S. company, which operates in over 150 cities around the world, was not doing enough to protect its passengers from unlicensed drivers and had also failed to provide adequate insurance for its drivers or their passengers in accidents. Thus, they said it was in breach of the Public Transport Act.


Uber appealed the ban, saying the Senate’s decision was “anything but progressive,” and it was “seeking to limit consumer choice for all the wrong reasons.” Uber says it does not operate a taxi service.


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Mexico files complaint against mine in acid spill | Houston Chronicle

Mexico files complaint against mine in acid spill | Houston Chronicle | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Environmental authorities filed a criminal complaint Monday against a copper mine that spilled 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of acids into two rivers that supply water to tens of thousands of people in northern Mexico.


The Attorney General for Environmental Protection said in a statement that it filed the complaint against the Buena Vista del Cobre mining company, which runs the Grupo Mexico-owned mine in Sonora state.


The office said it has also ordered an inspection of all Buena Vista del Cobre's properties to verify the company is complying with environmental laws.


Authorities have said the spill near the U.S. border was caused by defects in newly constructed leaching ponds, which hold the overflow of acids used to separate metal from crushed rock.

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