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China’s new leadership is ratcheting up pressure on Western tech and media companies | Quartz

China’s new leadership is ratcheting up pressure on Western tech and media companies | Quartz | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It may get increasingly difficult for Western media and technology firms to operate in China. That is because of a two-pronged campaign against Western media and the tech companies that make the devices on which the Chinese consume their news and entertainment.

 

On March 15, Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV aired a searingly critical documentary about Apple’s customer service.

 

At around 8:20 p.m., just after the broadcast, Chinese celebrities started bashing Apple on Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo. This began looking orchestrated when Taiwanese American actor Peter Ho seemed to accidentally leave the instruction “post around 8.20″ on his Weibo comment.

 

China’s just-installed president Xi Jinping and his cabinet seem to be becoming hostile to US tech companies as a way of championing their domestic rivals. Separately, the nation’s new leaders also want Western media to quit reporting on China’s inequality and official corruption. Having not been chosen by the public, they are paranoid about coverage that may affect their credibility.

 

CCTV’s Apple documentary claimed the company charged Chinese users for replacing faulty iPhone back covers, when it does this in other countries for free. Instead of denying this, Apple responded with a bland statement on its Weibo page (Chinese, registration required) saying “we attach high importance to all consumers’ feedback and comments.”

 

Many Chinese netizens criticized CCTV instead of Apple. “Talk about avoiding the big issues,” this comment by one Weibo user that was representative of many said. “Focusing on Apple when we are breathing polluted air…drinking poisoned milk [a reference to this ongoing scandal].”

 

The latest Chinese offensives against Western media and tech companies have included:

 

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France: SFR debuts LTE-A in Toulon; adds three new fibre markets | TeleGeograhy.com

French telco SFR has launched Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) 4G mobile technology in the city of Toulon. The new network uses 800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum to provide a maximum theoretical download rate of 187.5Mbps, SFR says, although real-world speeds will be somewhat lower. It plans to extend coverage to other major cities by the end of the year.


Rival operators Bouygues Telecom and Orange switched on their own LTE-A services in June and July respectively. SFR now claims 75% population coverage for its combined 3.5G dual-carrier HSPA+ (DC-HSPA+) and 4G LTE networks.

Separately, SFR says it has introduced its 1Gbps fibre-optic services to customers in the cities of Lens, Limoges and Massy, following on from its fibre launch in Saint-Quentin at the end of September. The operator’s fibre network is now deployed past 2.1 million households in 53 areas of very high population density, as well as 148 other areas, with the firm now claiming 220,000 fibre subscribers. SFR offers a bundle of 1Gbps broadband internet access, unlimited fixed voice calls within France and to 100 destinations worldwide, plus 170 TV channels for EUR32.99 (USD42.15) a month.

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Italian Parliament Publishes Draft Internet Bill Of Rights | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

Italian Parliament Publishes Draft Internet Bill Of Rights | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

For several years, Techdirt covered the twists and turns of the "Marco Civil" saga, Brazil's bill of rights for the Internet, which finally passed back in March.


Rather depressingly, this welcome move seemed to be something of a one-off, but now the Italian Parliament has announced its own draft bill of rights. Here's the introduction (original in Italian -- pdf):


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Building Trades Chief Lauds Fracking Boom, Shrugs Off Environmental Concerns | Cole Stangler | ecology.iww.org

Building Trades Chief Lauds Fracking Boom, Shrugs Off Environmental Concerns | Cole Stangler | ecology.iww.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In its quest for jobs, the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO hasn’t shied away from taking on environmentalists and progressives. The latest flashpoint is fracking, the controversial drilling practice propelling the nation’s fossil fuel energy boom.

On this issue, public tolerance is waning, but the trades unions aren’t backing down.

On Tuesday, the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee released a report by Dr. Robert Bruno and Michael Cornfield of the University of Illinois which found that from 2008 to 2014, oil and gas development created 45,000 new jobs in the Marcellus Shale region—an area that includes parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The data came from the BCTD; the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, a joint labor-management committee that oversees collective bargaining agreements in the construction industry; and Industrial Info Resources, a third party specializing in “global market intelligence.”

Two days later, BCTD president Sean McGarvey, who also serves as chair of the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee and whose union is a member of the committee, praised the report and defended the thriving industry.


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Angola Cables gets USD260m bank guarantee for cables; Movicel expands 4G | TeleGeography.com

Angolan banks have approved a USD260 million bank guarantee for the Angola Cables consortium, earmarked for building the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) undersea fibre-optic cable connecting the African country to Brazil, plus involvement in a joint project to roll out onward connectivity between Brazil and the US (the ‘Americas Cable’ in partnership with Google and others). IT Web Africa reported the news, which came via an Angolan presidential order issued to local press.

Also in Angolan news, Sapo.ao reported that Angola’s second largest cellco Movicel has expanded its 4G LTE network coverage to Cacuaco in Luanda province, having deployed five new LTE base stations and opened a retail outlet in the suburb. The network was launched in the capital Luanda and Cabinda in April 2012 before being expanded to other selected areas.

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Italy: 3 Italia offers unlimited data via Wi-Fi in partnership with FastWeb in Monza | TeleGeography.com

The Italian cellular operator 3 Italia has partnered with fibre-based broadband provider FastWeb to launch a new mobile Wi-Fi service.


The new offering, dubbed 3 Wi-Fi, combines the cellco’s 3G and 4G mobile networks with wireless LAN access points connected to the FastWeb fibre-optic network.


A one-month trial of the service has been launched for 35,000 users in the city of Monza, offering unlimited data usage via Wi-Fi. Handsets automatically switch between the two networks when in range of a Wi-Fi signal, without interrupting the internet connection. There are currently 34 access points installed around Monza, 3 Italia says.

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UK: BSkyB mulling MVNO options? | TeleGeography.com

Alternative British multiservice provider BSkyB is said to have held talks with some of the country’s leading mobile network operators with regards to a possible mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) launch.


According to The Times, the satellite broadcaster is understood to have held early-stage discussions with mobile market leader EE, as well as both Vodafone UK and O2 UK.

Last week, BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch was cited as saying that his company was in constant contact with the country’s cellcos, but noted that the introduction of a Sky-branded mobile phone service would only be forthcoming if Sky felt that there was consumer demand. ‘We’ll always remain open to opportunities, and this is something that we keep a close eye on. We keep our options under review. If we thought there was strong customer demand, then we can be in a good place to respond. We’ve got a very significant customer base already that we know we can cross-sell into very successfully,’ Darroch said of the possibility of expanding the operator’s range of services.

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Beating Climate Change by Retooling the Economy—The Story Begins in Navajo Country | Mary Hansen | Yes! Magazine

Beating Climate Change by Retooling the Economy—The Story Begins in Navajo Country | Mary Hansen | Yes! Magazine | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

“I grew up without running water,” Nichole Alex, a young woman from Dilkon, Ariz., says in a video released by the activist group Black Mesa Water Coalition. Alex grew up on the Navajo reservation in the rural Black Mesa region of Arizona, where for decades a controversial coal mine emptied the region’s aquifer, leaving local wells dry.


“I grew up traveling 20 miles to gather water,” Alex continues. “That’s not fair, that my community is being sacrificed to power the valley here.”

In 1970, the Peabody Coal Company began mining on the reservation. Although tribal members were initially enthusiastic about the jobs the mine would provide, over time the relationship grew rocky. The company built a coal slurry pipeline that cut straight through the reservation and pumped billions of gallons of water from the Navajo Aquifer. Peabody mixed the water with coal and pumped the fluid mixture to a power plant in Nevada where the coal was burned to generate electricity for the nearby cities of Phoenix and Tucson, as well as other parts of the Southwest. But local people like Alex were left without access to water.

It’s a story echoed around the country: From the East Bay in California to the mountains of Appalachia, fossil fuel companies have drilled, burned, and mined their way into towns, cities, and rural areas—especially communities of color, as well as indigenous and low-income ones—disrupting the lives of people and damaging the environment.

But local residents have fought back. In 2001, Navajo and Hopi youth created the Black Mesa Water Coalition to stop the depletion of the Navajo Aquifer. They educated their peers and neighbors about the problem, and eventually persuaded the Navajo Tribal Council to cut off Peabody Coal’s access to the aquifer. That work, combined with a lawsuit that charged Peabody with violation of the Clean Air Act, helped to force the shutdown of the Black Mesa coal mine in 2005.

The problem with that outcome was that it left many residents of the reservation without jobs. About 300 Navajo and Hopi people had worked for Peabody, according to the advocacy group Cultural Survival . Efforts by the Black Mesa Water Coalition and its allies to create green jobs through traditional livelihoods, like wool-making and farming, have made only a small dent in the unemployment rate, which hovers around 50 percent. Furthermore, the land where the coal mine had been is not suitable for living or farming.

The story of Black Mesa illustrates a realization that is sweeping through the network of organizations, individuals, and coalitions working to fight global warming: While the burning of fossil fuels causes climate change, simply shutting down these industries leaves workers and their families behind, and often result in a familiar conflict over “jobs versus the environment.” That in turn prevents many workers and low-income groups from joining the fight against climate change—something movement leaders say they cannot afford.


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Learn What Spatial Analysis Can Do for You | ESRI.com

Learn What Spatial Analysis Can Do for You | ESRI.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is for people who know something about data analysis and want to learn about the special capabilities of spatial data analysis.


Spatial analysis focuses on location to gain a deeper understanding of data. Spatial analysis skills are in high demand by organizations around the world.


You'll get free access to the full analytical capabilities of ArcGIS Online, Esri's cloud-based GIS platform. Previous experience with GIS software is helpful, but not necessary for tech-savvy problem solvers.


Could you and your career go places with spatial analysis?


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New Li-ion anode achieves 70 percent charge in just two minutes | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

New Li-ion anode achieves 70 percent charge in just two minutes | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have developed a new, proof-of-concept anode for lithium-ion batteries that can charge to 70 percent of its capacity in only two minutes and has a very long lifespan of ten thousand charge/discharge cycles. The advance could lead to the production of high-rate lithium-ion batteries, with interesting implications for personal electronics and, perhaps, even electric vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries owe their popularity to their ability to store large amounts of energy into a relatively small and light package; however, they can take a fairly long time to charge. This is largely due to the limitations of the battery anode, which is usually made of graphite. Namely, the lithium ions inside the battery need to travel a longer distance than strictly needed to reach the anode, taking more time than necessary. Secondly, the limited surface area of the electrode also slows down the rate at which the charging/discharging electrochemical reactions can take place.

A team of scientists led by Professor Xiaodong Chen has developed a proof-of-concept battery anode that addresses both these problems at the same time. The researchers replaced the standard graphite anode with a gel material containing long nanotubes made out of titanium dioxide, resulting in a much faster-charging battery which is also significantly more long-lived.


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Cheap, ultra low-power light source runs on just 0.1 Watts | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new low-cost flat panel light source that could pioneer a new generation of brighter, cheaper and greener lighting devices to rival LEDs. The device uses arrays of highly conductive carbon nanotubes to deliver evenly-distributed illumination with high efficiency and a power consumption as low as 0.1 Watts – about 100 times lower than that of light-emitting diodes.

LED lights are renowned for their high efficiencies, but the fact that only a fraction of the photons they produce actually ends up illuminating the surrounding environment suggests that there is still much room for improvement. One alternative approach explored by Prof. Norihiro Shimoi and colleagues was to build a structure based on carbon nanotubes, one-atom thick layers of carbon folded into a cylindrical shape.

This state-of-the-art device has a diode-like structure like LEDs but, curiously enough, the way in which it produces light is actually closer to the cathode ray tubes used in the TVs and computer monitors of the past century. Under the influence of a strong electric field, each carbon nanotube acts as a tiny cathode ray tube that releases a high-speed beam of electrons from its tip. These electrons then hit a phospor screen kept under vacuum and, in the process, release a small amount of energy that causes the phospor to glow.


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Unplugged: Michigan Governor Signs GM-Supported “Anti-Tesla” Bill Into Law | Robert Sorokanich | Car&Driver.com

Unplugged: Michigan Governor Signs GM-Supported “Anti-Tesla” Bill Into Law | Robert Sorokanich | Car&Driver.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

General Motors, the largest U.S.-based automaker, released a statement today supporting a last-minute addition to Michigan House Bill 5606 that would effectively prohibit Tesla from selling cars in the state using its preferred business model, or even providing customers with information about its cars. It’s the classic David-versus-Goliath tale, where Goliath wants the state of Michigan to take away David’s slingshot.

The Michigan bill, originally focused on franchise-dealership fees, included a last-minute amendment addressing direct-to-consumer auto sales through manufacturer-owned showrooms. That amendment, added by Republican State Senator Joe Hune, was tossed onto the bill at the very last minute, a procedural loophole that meant the amendment never underwent public comment or debate on the State Senate floor. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder just signed the bill into law.

Snyder, also a Republican, is up for re-election in a couple of weeks. If he didn’t sign the bill, he would have likely faced an immediate onslaught of attack ads paid for by Michigan’s auto dealers—something that would not have helped his cause in a race he leads by a slim margin.


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Ford wants to keep drivers alert on the long road to autonomous cars | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Ford wants to keep drivers alert on the long road to autonomous cars | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Self-driving vehicles will make the driver redundant, but long before that, smarter cars may leave the driver thinking about other things.

Ford is already studying that problem, anticipating an evolution toward autonomous cars that will take a lot longer than projects by the likes of Google may suggest. For now, the motorist is still in charge—with some help.

“We still have a driver-centric model. We still think the driver needs to be engaged,” said Don Butler, Ford’s executive vice president of connected vehicle and services. Drivers and passengers are “more comfortable” when they have some control over the vehicle, he said during a session at GigaOm Structure Connect in San Francisco.

Ford thinks autonomous cars will be real, but for now it’s adding automated assistance one feature at a time. For example, it makes vehicles that can park themselves, and that can keep drivers from drifting into the next lane.

There are technological, regulatory and social challenges to making fully autonomous cars a reality, Butler said in an interview.

Cars may not be ready to drive themselves in all areas and in all weather conditions, he said. Less structured environments outside of cities may be more of a challenge, for example. Some governments may not be ready to deal with the implications of regulating autonomous cars. And most consumers don’t yet trust their cars to drive safely, Butler said. Putting the vehicle in charge full-time even raises ethical questions, such as what’s the least harmful action when a collision is inevitable.

Instead of building fully autonomous cars, Ford plans to gradually add more technology to help drivers.


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Microsoft discloses zero-day flaw, publishes quick fix | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft discloses zero-day flaw, publishes quick fix | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Microsoft has published a temporary fix for a new zero-day flaw that affects nearly all versions of Windows and is currently being exploited via PowerPoint.

The flaw affects all Windows releases except Windows Server 2003, the company wrote in an advisory Tuesday. It can be exploited if a user is coaxed into opening a malicious Office file containing an OLE (object linking and embedding) object. OLE can allow a user to edit a PowerPoint file from within a Word document, for example.

“At this time, we are aware of limited, targeted attacks that attempt to exploit the vulnerability through Microsoft PowerPoint,” the company said.

A successful attacker would gain the same rights as a logged-in user and could put other programs on an infected computer. Microsoft said some attacks that compromise accounts without administrator rights may pose less of a risk.

The fix, which Microsoft calls the ”OLE packager shim workaround,” is for 32- and 64-bit versions of PowerPoint 2007, 2010 and 2013.

Microsoft said attacks could take place via email, with the attacker sending a potential victim a malicious file or by luring a person to a compromised website containing “specially crafted content.”

“An attacker would have to persuade the targeted user to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a hyperlink that directs a web browser to the attacker-controlled website,” Microsoft wrote.


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How Beneficial is CFD Analysis? Mehul Patel | CFD Consulting Services

How Beneficial is CFD Analysis? Mehul Patel | CFD Consulting Services | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

CFD stands for computational fluid dynamics. CFD Analysis Services is the methodology in which, various computational algorithms and equations are being solved in order to determine and optimize the fluid flow in the different engineering processes. CFD Analysis is provided different services in a cost effective and high resolution manner of engineering.

With the advancement in the computer aided technology, now the CFD analysis procedure is being implemented in a plethora of engineering applications.


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Amazon deforestation picking up pace, satellite data reveals | Jonathan Watts | The Guardian

Amazon deforestation picking up pace, satellite data reveals | Jonathan Watts | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has accelerated rapidly in the past two months, underscoring the shortcomings of the government’s environmental policies.

Satellite data indicates a 190% surge in land clearance in August and September compared with the same period last year as loggers and farmers exploit loopholes in regulations that are designed to protect the world’s largest forest.

Figures released by Imazon, a Brazilian nonprofit research organisation, show that 402 square kilometres – more than six times the area of the island of Manhattan – was cleared in September.

The government has postponed the release of official figures until after next Sunday’s presidential election, in which incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ party faces a strong challenge from Aécio Neves, a pro-business candidate who has the endorsement of Marina Silva, the popular former environment minister .

But the official numbers are expected to confirm a reversal that started last year, when deforestation rose by 29% after eight years of progress in slowing the rate of tree clearance.

Among the reasons for the setback are a shift in government priorities. Under Rousseff, the government has put a lower priority on the environment and built alliances with powerful agribusiness groups. It has weakened the Forest Code and pushed ahead with dam construction in the Amazon.

The environment ministry has tried to step up monitoring operations and campaigns to catch major violators, but farmers and loggers have also become more sophisticated by clearing areas of less than 25 hectares – below the range that can be detected by the Deter satellite, which the government had been using until recently.


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EU drops anti-dumping case against China | TeleGeography.com

The European Union (EU) has ended a long-standing battle with China over the import of telecoms equipment, abandoning threats to levy punitive tariffs on Chinese vendors, Reuters writes, citing the EU’s trade chief.


As previously noted by CommsUpdate, the European Commission (EC) claims that the swift rise of Chinese vendor Huawei’s market share in the European telecoms equipment market could only be achieved with state aid, in contravention of global trade rules. The EC alleged that Huawei was being subsidised by the Chinese government, through the provision of cheap loans to the vendor and its prospective customers, enabling the manufacturer to undercut its European rivals.


EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who has championed the campaign against the Chinese vendors since May last year, said that the case has been resolved and that an investigation will not go ahead. De Gucht told press that Beijing has agreed to discuss limited export credits to Chinese companies, a step the EU hopes will help bring China in line with international rules.


Further, Brussels and Beijing have agreed to task an independent authority to monitor the market share of Chinese vendors in Europe and European companies in China. Indeed, the strongest opponents of De Guchts’ campaign against Chinese vendors came from their European rivals, who feared being shut out of the lucrative Chinese market by reciprocal action from Chinese authorities.


China and the EU will also cooperate on industrial research, agreeing to equal treatment of companies bidding for publicly funded research and development projects.

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Belarus | Beltelecom to connect 100,000 Minsk apartments to GPON by 2015 | TeleGeography.com

Belarusian national PTO Beltelecom says that by next year, it will have connected 100,000 apartments in the capital Minsk to its Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON).


According to Dmitry Doroshko, chief engineer of the telco’s ‘Minsk City Telephone Network’ branch, the GPON upgrade supports ultra-high speed connections of up to 1Gbps and will deliver triple-play – television, broadband access and voice telephony – on a single cable.


Work on the build-out of the GPON began in Minsk in 2011 and today, the technology is available in all new buildings.

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Philippines : PLDT notches 400 TD-LTE cell sites; total 4G base stations reach 1,800 | TeleGeography.com

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has confirmed that it expanded its Time-Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) network to more than 400 cell sites as of 30 September, more than double the 200 TD-LTE sites that had been installed as of April this year.


The expansion covers existing locations such as Cebu, alongside new areas like the province of Bohol and the tourist centre of Boracay, Aklan. Thedeployment also covered other provinces in central and southern Luzon and Mindanao.

In addition, the domestic telecoms giant claimed a total of 1,400 Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) LTE cell sites in service at end September. All FDD LTE base stations support PLDT’s tri-band LTE strategy, which encompasses the 850MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands.

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EC directs German telecoms regulator to alter MTR proposal | TeleGeography.com

The European Commission (EC) has called on the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), Germany’s telecoms regulator, to amend or withdraw its current mobile termination rate (MTR) proposals.


According to a press release from the EC, with the BNetzA having sought to introduce MTRs for mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) sipgate Wireless, which are up to 80% higher than in most other European Union (EU) Member States.


EC Vice President Neelie Kroes was cited as saying: ‘I am very concerned by the fact that Germany continues to ignore the reasonable demands of the European Commission – setting it apart from all other Member States. Its approach towards mobile termination rates flies in the face of the internal market, and is detrimental to consumers.’

With an investigation into the matter having gotten underway back in May 2014, the EC claims the German authorities have ‘failed to provide justified reasons during the investigation … as to why it should be granted special treatment and be exempt from following the method calculating MTRs set out in the EU telecoms rules (see IP/09/710 and MEMO/09/222)’. Further, it is understood that the Body of European Telecoms Regulators (BEREC) has expressed its full support for the Commission’s position.


As such, the FNA is now required to either amend or withdraw its MTR proposal, and should it fail to comply with the EC’s recommendation legal action could be initiated.

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Stunning Scenes From California's Central Valley Drought | Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge

No matter what you have read or seen so far on California’s historic Central Valley drought, you probably haven’t been touched by it as much as you will be by the following video from the New Yorker.

Terribly sad.


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How A 'Small But Mighty' Team Of Googlers Is Using Maps To Save People And The Planet | Jillian D'Onfro | BizInsider.com

How A 'Small But Mighty' Team Of Googlers Is Using Maps To Save People And The Planet | Jillian D'Onfro | BizInsider.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It's 2008 and five Google employees are in the Brazilian rainforest.

They're standing still as members of the Surui tribe delicately paint elaborate patterns of deep blue dots and lines on their arms, backs, and torsos.

The Surui made the ink from a native fruit called the jenipapo and it won't fade for nearly a month — though they warn the Googlers it will last longer if they're jealous people.

The ceremony takes place in Lapetanha, a village in the Amazon rainforest, and home of an indigenous people who didn't have their first contact with outsiders until 1969.

The Googlers are there as part of Google Earth Outreach, a team that helps nonprofits and other organizations and communities use Google Earth and Maps tools to attack major environmental and social problems. The Surui used the paint and other rituals to welcome the Goolgers into their village before receiving several days of training on how to use a computer and Google Earth. The people had watched their land get destroyed by the logging and mining industry, and they wanted to learn how to use Google Maps to help.


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UK: Floods don't wash with this amphibious floating house | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

UK: Floods don't wash with this amphibious floating house | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Living in an area prone to flooding has historically meant that you need high sockets and deep pockets. Baca Architects, however, has come up with an altogether more ingenious solution. Its "amphibious house," designed to float on floodwater before being gently placed back down, is nearly complete.

The house, called Formosa, is situated 10 m (33 ft) from the River Thames in Buckinghamshire, UK, in an area is designated as Flood Zone 3b. Not only is this an area at high risk of flooding, but it is recognized as a functional floodplain where water must be allowed to flow or be stored at times of flooding. As such, any building must both remain operational during times of flooding and not impede the flow or storage of water.

Formosa was granted planning permission in 2012, and is designed to rise by up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in the event of a flood. Baca says that such a level would is well above the current and future predicted levels for the area and company director Richard Coutts told Gizmag at the time of planning approval that such a flood would be "a one in one-hundred year event."


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New software claimed to provide more accurate EV range estimates | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com

New software claimed to provide more accurate EV range estimates | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If there's one thing that keeps people from buying electric cars, it's range anxiety – what if your battery runs out before you reach your destination? Although most EVs do feature systems that estimate range, they can't always be relied upon. A new software system, however, is said to be accurate to within two miles.

In existing electric vehicles, range is calculated based on the battery's charge level combined with the average amount of energy that's been consumed on the trip up to that point. If users then have to climb a long hill or go on a freeway with a high speed limit (as just a couple of examples), that estimate changes.

This could result in drivers being initially told that they can complete a trip based on their current charge level, only to be informed part way through that it's no longer possible.

A program developed at North Carolina State University, however, accesses multiple online databases to see what energy-using factors will be involved in getting from the present location to a given destination – this includes things like road grades, traffic levels, speed limits, and weather. It also takes the battery's charge level into account, along with the performance characteristics of the battery and the vehicle.


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Amid California's drought, a bruising battle for cheap water | Bettina Boxall | LATimes.com

Amid California's drought, a bruising battle for cheap water | Bettina Boxall | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5.

"Congress Created Dust Bowl." "Stop the Politicians' Water Crisis." "No Water No Jobs."

They dot the Westlands Water District like angry salutations, marking the territory of California's most formidable water warrior. Their message is clear: Politicians and environmental laws are more to blame for Westlands' dusty brown fields than the drought that has parched California for the last three years.

In truth, neither is to blame for Westlands' woes so much as the simple fact that the nation's largest irrigation district is in the wrong place.

In a state where three-quarters of the water use is by agriculture, powerful farm districts such as Westlands play an outsized role in the rough-and-tumble world of water politics.


Westlands and its wealthy farmers are exercising their considerable clout to maintain a flow of cheap water from the north despite a harsh truth. In all of California, there may be no worse place to practice the kind of industrial-scale irrigated agriculture that Westlands is famous for than the badly drained, salt-laden lands that make up roughly half the district.


Westlands has persevered for decades by battling other farmers for supplies, repeatedly suing the U.S. government and spending millions of dollars trying to roll back environmental restrictions on water deliveries — all while planting lucrative nut crops that can't survive a season without water.


Now it is a driving force behind the most ambitious water project proposed in California in decades, the $25-billion plan to send Sacramento River supplies south to Westlands and elsewhere through two giant water tunnels burrowed under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


The water would help Westlands for a time. But the expensive tunnels would merely delay the inevitable: The more Westlands is irrigated, the more its land will be ruined.


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Industry can head off IoT privacy rules, former US official says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

Industry can head off IoT privacy rules, former US official says | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Internet of Things is raising a host of concerns over the control of data that could lead to government regulation, but tech companies can rein in those worries on their own if they act fast, according to a former White House technology official.

The kinds of information that connected devices can collect, such as health and fitness data, are more intimate than what consumers are used to sharing on the Web, said Nicole Wong, former U.S. Deputy CTO. In addition, it’s harder to make users comfortable with the use of that data, she said.

Any company that gathers data from consumers has to be transparent about what it collects and how it’s used, in order to build trust, Wong said during a panel at the GigaOm Structure Connect conference in San Francisco. Web and mobile products have ways of communicating that message and giving users choices, but many IoT devices don’t, she said. As examples, she cited the lights in a consumer’s home and future monitoring devices that are injected in the bloodstream.

“Where is the consent happening?” Wong said. “At what point does the user say, ‘I object to that collection’?”

With connected devices arrayed around consumers’ homes and bodies and potentially collecting data that government and other third parties can access, a danger is that people may start to self-consciously regulate their own lives, said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I begin to feel, even in my own home, that I’m being watched in some way,” Stanley said. “I begin to monitor my own behavior because I’m worried about what people who access that data are going to think of me.”


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Roger Smith's curator insight, October 22, 6:15 PM

self regulation at the industry level, like that is going to happen.   We have already seem how industry regulation works with organisations like Google and Facebook.