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Rawanda: Public Officials Need ICT Training, Not Just Sensitization | AllAfrica.com

Rawanda: Public Officials Need ICT Training, Not Just Sensitization | AllAfrica.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

"There is no one here who can convince me that he uses more than 20% of the potential of his mobile or iPad," was the challenge launched by ICT Minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana, talking last week at Police headquarters where he kicked of a campaign to increase and improve the use of ICT in the public sector, which is part of a wider drive to raise awareness on technology among the general population.

 

In all likelihood, the Minister is right. While the country has a vision of becoming a regional and African information hub, and mobile telephone penetration is increasing rapidly, a lot still needs to be done to make good use of the available technology.

 

Even in Nsengimana's audience, consisting of mainly senior security officers, some were still taking notes with the good old pen and paper (as our picture on page 1 shows). Luckily, they were a minority, and most of the officials were equipped with tablets.

 

It is a different story, though, when you go down the hierarchical ladder. In most imidugudu, whenever an assembly of the people is planned, it is still common practice to send someone around the neighborhood with a megaphone to make the announcement. In this age of mobile phones and SMS, that is a medieval practice.

 

That is not to blame the local leaders. In the end, they are only common people, not ICT specialists or geeks who have the latest gadget and know every function of it. What is more, even if they would have a sophisticated smartphone, that doesn't help in compiling a list of phone numbers of all the inhabitants of the area and then sending a bulk SMS to inform them of the gathering.

 

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US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy, technology and travel firms | WashPost.com

US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy, technology and travel firms | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Freighters once carried Cuban nickel and limestone to the port of New Orleans and North Dakota beans to Havana. Cuban families ate bowls of American rice, while U.S. tourists flocked to casinos and nightclubs in Havana.

The United States’ commercial ties with Cuba were broken 54 years ago after Fidel Castro took over. Now U.S.-Cuba trade is poised to resume: President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to re-establish diplomat relations with Havana, and economic ties are expected to follow.

Among those eager for access to a Cuban market cut off by an economic embargo are U.S. farmers, travel companies, energy producers and importers of rum and cigars.

“We’ve been positioning ourselves for this day for many years,” says Erik Herzfeld, co-portfolio manager of the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin fund, which has been investing in “the cruise lines, infrastructure (companies), any company that we think will eventually have a role in Cuba.” The fund rose $1.97, or 28.9 percent, to $8.78 on Wednesday.

Gary Hufbauer and Barbara Kotschwar of the Peterson Institute for International Economics estimate that exports of U.S. goods to Cuba could reach $4.3 billion a year, compared to less than $360 million last year. And Cuban merchandise imports to the U.S. could go to $5.8 billion a year from nothing now.


Obama says Cubans should have access to “technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.” About 27 percent of Cuba’s population has access to the Internet, according to Internet Live Stats, which uses information from the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations and the World Bank to estimate the world’s Internet users. That puts the country behind countries such as Iran and Kenya but ahead of Syria and Sudan, for example.


“This could be huge, a really transformative change,” said Daniel Castro, a senior analyst for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank.


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The Sony breach may be start of new nation-state cyberattack | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

The Sony breach may be start of new nation-state cyberattack | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It has been an exceptional year for IT security breaches, which have become part of an escalating trend in destructive attacks. And they're going to get worse.

The Sony Pictures cyber attackers are doing everything they can to inflict damage on the company. They have released films, emails, medical records, and all sorts of confidential data, and are making threats of physical attacks in conjunction with the release of The Interview, a comedy about the attempted assassination of the North Korean president. On Wednesday, Sony canceled the Dec. 25 release of the movie after theater chains said they would not show the film because of the threats.

The Sony breach has the earmarks of a nation-state operation because of its sophistication and ruthlessness, and on Wednesday, U.S security officials told the New York Times they had concluded that North Korea was behind the Sony cyberattacks.

There is also serious speculation that the October attack on JP Morgan Chase, which compromised some 76 million records, was also orchestrated by a nation-state -- possibly a retaliatory move by Russia over Ukraine sanctions. In 2013, the Iranians were blamed for denial-of-service attacks on U.S. banks.

The sources of the JP Morgan and Sony attacks have not been officially confirmed, but Avivah Litan, a security analyst at Gartner, is convinced that what we are seeing is a new type of nation-state attack.

For years, the Eastern Europeans and Russians have been going after point-of-sale systems and credit card processors, and the Chinese have been involved in espionage against private sector firms, Litan said.

"But the big new thing is the nation states," she said. Russia, North Korea and China "are going after private sector companies in a very public way."

Litan said this trend of nation-state attacks will escalate.

"More political differences will be fought in cyberspace, and nation-states will retaliate against U.S. companies to make political points," Litan said.

"Private sector companies are not equipped to deal with the force of the nation states," she said. "They don't have the resources to fight them off. It's a national security issue, and there needs to be a national strategy to try to stop it. "It's really pretty serious," she said.


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Wind and Solar Power: Transforming the Grid with Clean Energy - Reliably - Every Day | John Moore's Blog | NRDC.org

Wind and Solar Power: Transforming the Grid with Clean Energy - Reliably - Every Day | John Moore's Blog | NRDC.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Despite years of successful experience, dozens of studies, and increasing utility support for clean energy, urban myth holds that electricity from renewable energy is unreliable. Yet over 75,000 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power have been integrated, reliably, into the nation’s electric grid to date. That’s enough electricity to supply 17.9 million homes.

And, as a new NRDC fact sheet published today illustrates, the electric grid can handle much higher levels of zero-carbon wind and solar power, far more than what’s necessary to achieve the relatively modest carbon emission reductions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit pollution from existing power plants. But first, a little background on how our nation’s electric system works.

The nation’s high-power transmission system is made up of three largely separate grids: one on either side of the Continental Divide (roughly) and the third in Texas. The two largest grids are further subdivided into regions managed by different regional and local utility grid operators.


Grid operators are the air traffic controllers of the power system, managing the flow of electrons from power plants to customers across thousands of miles of transmission lines. They operate the grid under extremely detailed procedures and standards.


To ensure a reliable transmission system, grid operators think in several time frames. In the immediate seconds to hours, they run the grid according to a detailed set of economic and electrical engineering rules embedded in sophisticated computer programs. These programs dispatch power plants with the lowest operating costs first, subject to important constraints to preserve the grid’s stability and avoid blackouts.


Grid operators also plan years into the future to ensure reliability. In the same way that one would not set out to drive across the desert on a half-tank of gas, they want to ensure enough power exists and can be delivered to meet consumer demand years ahead. To do so, they identify factors that could either increase or decrease the need for more power and power lines, and then plan accordingly.


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6 aging protocols that could cripple the Internet | Serdar Yegulalp | NetworkWorld.com

6 aging protocols that could cripple the Internet | Serdar Yegulalp | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The biggest threat to the Internet is the fact that it was never really designed. Instead, it evolved in fits and starts, thanks to various protocols that were cobbled together to fulfill the needs of the moment. Few of those protocols were designed with security in mind. Or if they were, they sported no more than was needed to keep out a nosy neighbor, not a malicious attacker.

The result is a welter of aging protocols susceptible to exploit on an Internet scale. Some of the attacks levied against these protocols have been mitigated with fixes, but it’s clear that the protocols themselves need more robust replacements. Here are six Internet protocols that could stand to be replaced sooner rather than later or are (mercifully) on the way out.


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Climate change is coming, and states are getting ready. Is yours one of them? | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org

Climate change is coming, and states are getting ready. Is yours one of them? | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Rising seas. Wacky weather. Drought. Climate change is leaving its mark across the country, and some states (the ones pictured here in blue) aren’t waiting until waves lap the steps of the statehouse to do something about it.

In this nifty interactive produced by the Georgetown Climate Center, you can see just how your state, local, and regional governments are doing when it comes to preparing for global warming.


These actions include protective measures, from emergency flood plans and "cool pavements" to more preventive ones such as generating clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. And if you live in a gray state without single plan in place (a.k.a. a black dot)? You may want to go down to the steps of the statehouse to ask why.


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Yurok tribe hopes California's cap-and-trade can save a way of life | Tony Barboza | LATimes.com

Yurok tribe hopes California's cap-and-trade can save a way of life | Tony Barboza | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This winter, Yurok tribe forestry crews will be four-wheeling down muddy fire roads, hiking through steep, slippery brush and trekking across more than 20,000 acres of forest to count and measure trees.

Instead of preparing to sell lumber, as it has in the past, the state's largest Indian tribe is taking stock of its firs, redwoods and tanoaks to make money in California's cap-and-trade program.

By managing its forest near Redwood National Park for carbon storage instead of timber harvest, the tribe is generating credits to sell to oil companies and other businesses that must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the state's effort to slow climate change.

When trees are allowed to grow, they absorb more carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their trunks, branches and roots. That sequestered carbon, which would otherwise be contributing to global warming, is now a valuable commodity for landowners like the Yurok.


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New study finds parallels between past and present climate change | Antonio Pasolini | GizMag.com

New study finds parallels between past and present climate change | Antonio Pasolini | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There's an element of déjà vu in the most recent political news on climate change: UN-led talks, like the recent Lima summit, that end with disgruntled environmentalists and plans for yet another summit.


At this point, our best hope is to mitigate the effects of global warming (which is occurring faster than previously thought) and, if possible, keep temperature rises to a maximum of 2° C (3.6° F).


While the future of the planet looks uncertain with unpredictable climate patterns, U.S researchers looking to the past to gain a better understanding of modern climate change have found the rate of modern, human-caused global warming resembles that which occurred almost 56 million years ago much more closely than previously thought.

A new study out of the University of Utah says the mechanisms behind the so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), a global warming event that took place around 55 million years ago when temperatures rose by 5° C (9° F) to 8° C (14.4° F), are similar to current warming trends. The PETM was first discovered in 1991 and the new study sheds light on how it happened, providing clues to the climate change the planet is now undergoing.


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Cape Cod, MA: Cape Wind close on financing delayed | Patrick Cassidy | Cape Cod Times

Cape Cod, MA: Cape Wind close on financing delayed | Patrick Cassidy | Cape Cod Times | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cape Wind won’t close on financing for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm by the end of the year as company officials had hoped, a prospect that has opponents of the project feeling more positive about their prospects for stopping it altogether.

“Sounds like Cape Wind is clearly in trouble,” said Audra Parker, president of the project’s primary opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “This is a developer, a private developer, that’s struggled for almost five years now to put full financing together, even with high-priced contracts and guaranteed revenue in hand.”

Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers confirmed by email Wednesday that the company does not expect to complete financing by the end of the year, but wrote that it expects to do so within the first quarter of 2015. The project was first proposed in 2001. Although it has survived repeated challenges, financing has long been considered the most significant hurdle left before construction can begin.

The latest cost estimate for the project was $2.6 billion, which was part of filings by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office in 2010. Cape Wind has since lined up several pieces of the overall financing for the project, totaling about $1.45 billion, including a $150 million Department of Energy loan guarantee.

In July, the GOP-controlled House approved an energy and water appropriations bill that included a measure to bar the Energy Department loan, but this week the President signed a $1 trillion spending bill Congress passed on Saturday, which eliminated the provision. The bill, however, requires the department to provide a report within 30 days as well as quarterly updates on the status of litigation and the risks of litigation to the project.


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Obama pushes for net neutrality, opposes data localization in trade pact | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

Obama pushes for net neutrality, opposes data localization in trade pact | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama’s administration is pushing two potentially controversial Internet policies in a secretive trade pact, with trade negotiators calling for other countries to adopt net neutrality provisions while rejecting policies requiring local storage of data in a secretive 50-country trade pact now being negotiated.

A leaked U.S. proposal from April would prohibit countries signing on to the Trade in Services Agreement [TISA] to reject policies requiring that data held by Internet companies and other service suppliers be held within a member country’s borders. A handful of nations have moved to require their own residents’ data to be stored within their own borders in response to recent revelations about widespread U.S. National Security Agency surveillance.

The U.S. proposal would also require member countries to give consumers some net neutrality protections, by allowing them to access the Web services and applications of their choice, subject to “reasonable network management.”

The Obama administration’s push for tech policy items in the secretly negotiated TISA raises questions about transparency and public involvement in the democratic process, said Public Citizen, a government watchdog group.

“This leak reveals a dangerous trend where policies unrelated to trade are being diplomatically legislated through closed-door international ‘trade’ negotiations to which industry interests have privileged access while the public and policy experts promoting consumer interests are shut out,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said in a statement.


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Vodafone-connected bus shelters aim to improve mobile coverage, speeds | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com

Vodafone-connected bus shelters aim to improve mobile coverage, speeds | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Waiting for a bus that never seems to arrive might have a silver lining in the near future, if you’re a Vodafone subscriber. The mobile operator has tricked out bus shelters with technology to boost mobile broadband speed.

By installing so-called small cells at the bus stops, mobile operators can move voice and data traffic off existing cellular networks to improve performance. The small cells cover a limited area and have their own connection to the operator’s core network.

While the advantages of using the mini base stations are easy to understand, finding good places to install the hardware isn’t always easy, however. To get help finding spots to place the small cells, Vodafone has signed a global agreement with outdoor advertising company JCDecaux to deploy the devices on bus shelters and stand-alone ad panels to enhance network performance.

The use of small cells that connect users to either cellular or WiFi networks will play a key role in mobile networks. Last month, Nokia demonstrated a small cell that offers speeds at up to 220Mbps using LTE-Advanced.

A pilot project in Amsterdam that included 160 connected bus shelters convinced Vodafone the small cells work well enough to be rolled out on a larger scale.


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ICANN data compromised in spearphishing attack | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com

ICANN data compromised in spearphishing attack | Grant Gross | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A so-called spearphishing attack on ICANN has compromised the email credentials of several ICANN staff members and allowed the attacker access to user information, including email and postal addresses.

The targeted phishing attack also allowed the attacker to gain access to all files in ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data System (CZDS), a centralized point for interested people to request access to so-called zone files provided by participating top level domains. ICANN gave notice of the breach Tuesday, though the CZDS aspect of the compromise was discovered earlier this month.

The CZDS compromise included email and postal addresses, telephone numbers, user names and passwords of some users of the organization’s services, although the passwords were stored as salted cryptographic hashes. ICANN recommends that CZDS users take steps to protect online accounts for which they used the same user names or passwords, and the organization is providing notices to users whose personal information may have been compromised.


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Australia: The year the NBN stood still | Mark Gregory | The Business Spectator

It’s been a year of significant outcomes for the National Broadband Network (NBN) and there’s no doubt that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be revelling in the pyrrhic victories he has secured this year.

As the minister responsible for altering the course of one of the most significant transformations of a national infrastructure project in modern history, Turnbull has no shortage of critics. But Turnbull is about to cap off 2014 with the deals with Telstra and Optus finally on the table and the last rites read on Labor’s NBN dream.

Since taking office in September 2013, Turnbull has been actively propagating the message of the multi-technology mix (MTM) NBN being a far better idea than a project that would have provided the majority of Australians with a single world leading access network technology.

Business leaders and engineers were happy to see that finally here was a minister in Canberra that understood that frequent minor upgrades to a broader range of older access network technologies would lead to a steady increase in revenue and profits for vendors and construction companies over coming decades; and this in turn would ensure the ongoing frequent NBN rollouts would be a major source of employment for decades to come.

That confidence is not shared by all, especially those who are to be consigned to a second-rate technological solution, but that’s unlikely to trouble the minister.

But it might be worth mentioning that internationally 2014 has been a shocker of a year for UK’s BT, which has been quoted on many occasions by Turnbull as a paragon of virtue when it comes to fibre-to-the node (FTTN) rollout.

Turnbull who often highlights the UK as an example of why Australia needs FTTN might be surprised to learn that in the Telegraph on December 9 an index prepared by a broadband provider Hyperoptic ranked London 26 out of 33 major European cities for broadband speeds, with an average download broadband speed of only 26.3 Mbps.

According to Karin Ahl, president of the Fibre To The Home Council (FTTH) Europe, “these findings are in line with those of the FTTH Council Europe market panorama. The UK does not appear in the FTTH Ranking because, with only 0.09pc of British homes subscribing to FTTH/B at year-end 2013, the country has not yet reached the 1pc threshold.”

"FTTH is the only future-proof way to build broadband access networks, and it is our strongly held view that the socio-economic impact of fibre broadband justifies the investment. Governments need to make the right decisions for the future, not ones based on the past, in order to build it once, and build it right.”


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Proposed Spanish Law Would Make Online Calls For Street Demonstrations, And Circulating Riot Images, Illegal | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Proposed Spanish Law Would Make Online Calls For Street Demonstrations, And Circulating Riot Images, Illegal | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Techdirt has been highlighting the growing problem of police militarization in the US for a while, and its huge impact on basic rights like free speech.


But over in Spain, the government has taken a rather different approach to muzzling dissent. Rather than turning the police into a militia that can stop demonstrations through the use of overwhelming force, it's aiming to bring in a new law that makes organizing and taking part in protests -- both on the streets, and online -- almost impossible.


Here's Global Voices' summary of what the new "Protection of Public Safety Bill" currently proposes:


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Viacom International Makes Major Middle East Move In Pact With OSN | Nick Vivarelli | Variety.com

Viacom International Makes Major Middle East Move In Pact With OSN | Nick Vivarelli | Variety.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Viacom International Media Networks is making a major move into the Middle East by launching three new 24-hour branded channels, two of which, Nickelodeon HD and Nick Jr. in dual language, English and Arabic, on Dubai-based OSN, the region’s leading pay-TV player. Besides prominent linear play, the channels will also get multi platform digital distribution in an area with a particularly high density of digital-savvy consumers.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is also an area where Viacom has considerable room for growth.

“We have a very broad geographic reach, however in the MENA region and the Middle East in particular we were relatively underrepresented,” said Viacom International Media Networks CEO and President Robert Bakish.

“If you look at the MENA region, with 113 million TV homes and pay-TV penetration at 15 percent, now up from around 5 percent in the year 2000, it’s a very young population; certainly among the youngest in the world,” Bakish noted. “These factors make it an important market and certainly over the next decade it is without question going to become a very important media market,” he added.

While Viacom previously had branded blocks playing on free-TV in MENA, these channels mark the start of a prominent presence of 24-hour branded channels.

The launch of two kids and family channels, Nickelodeon HD and Nick Jr., and international music channel, MTV Live HD, is a good fit, likely to appeal to key age demographics in the Gulf region. It also opens up significant inroads for Viacom in the lucrative consumer products, entertainment theme parks, and live music events sectors in the Middle East.


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These Dreamers Are Actually Making Progress Building Elon's Hyperloop | Alex Davies | WIRED.com

These Dreamers Are Actually Making Progress Building Elon's Hyperloop | Alex Davies | WIRED.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

When Elon Musk unveiled his idea for the Hyperloop in August of 2013, no one seemed sure what the next step would be. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO dropped a 57-page alpha white paper on us, noting he didn’t really have the time to build a revolutionary transit system that would shoot pods full of people around the country in above-ground tubes at 800 mph.

Fortunately for futurists and people who enjoy picking apart complicated plans, an El Segundo, California-based startup has taken Musk up on his challenge to develop and build the Hyperloop. JumpStartFund combines elements of crowdfunding and crowd-sourcing—bringing money and ideas in from all over the place—to take ambitious ideas and move them toward reality.

When Musk proposed his idea, JumpStartFund was fresh off its beta launch, and taking on the Hyperloop seemed like the perfect way to test the company’s approach (and drum up headlines), says CEO Dirk Ahlborn. So they reached out to SpaceX, proposed the project on their online platform, and created a subsidiary company to get to work: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc.

The incorporated entity has a fancy name and all, but it’s less a standard company than a group of about 100 engineers all over the country who spend their free time spitballing ideas in exchange for stock options. That said, this isn’t a Subreddit trying to solve the Boston Marathon bombing. These gals and guys applied for the right to work on the project (another 100 or so were rejected) and nearly all of them have day jobs at companies like Boeing, NASA, Yahoo!, Airbus, SpaceX, and Salesforce. They’re smart. And they’re organized.


The team is split into working groups, based on their interests and skills, that cover various aspects of the massive project, including route planning, capsule design, and cost analysis. They work mostly over email, with weekly discussions of their progress. Hierarchy is minimal, but leaders have naturally emerged, says Ahlborn. And if a decision needs to be made, as CEO, he makes the call.


A lot of the work is being done by 25 UCLA students. The school’s SUPRASTUDIO design and architecture program partnered with JumpStartFund, and now the students are working on all the design solutions the new transit system would require.


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New Brusnwick government to introduce fracking moratorium | Laura Brown | GlobalNews.ca

New Brusnwick government to introduce fracking moratorium | Laura Brown | GlobalNews.ca | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Premier Brian Gallant will introduce a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing that won’t be lifted unless five conditions are met.

Gallant made the announcement Thursday alongside New Brunswick Energy Minister Donald Arseneault.

“The moratorium will not be lifted unless certain conditions are met,” he said. “Our conditions focus on five key areas where more information needs to be gathered and more work needs to be done.”

Those conditions include:

  • A social license in place, which would mean that the public accepts fracking;
  • Credible information on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on health, environment and water allowing the creation of a regulatory regime with good enforcement capabilities;
  • A public infrastructure plan that addresses the issue of waste water disposal;
  • Consultation with First Nations communities;
  • A mechanism to ensure the benefits are maximized including the development of a royalty structure.


When asked if this moratorium would include the exploration stage of fracking, Gallant said if businesses want to continue exploring without doing hydraulic fracturing, that’s allowed.

“With that said, businesses may say: ‘Well we will not proceed or we cannot proceed because at certain steps we do need to use the step of hydraulic fracturing,” but I don’t want to speak on their behalf,” Gallant said.


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Can new drill tech unleash the potential of geothermal energy? | Katie Fehrenbacher | GigaOM Clean Tech News

Can new drill tech unleash the potential of geothermal energy? | Katie Fehrenbacher | GigaOM Clean Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The next generation of geothermal energy technology — called enhanced or engineered geothermal, or EGS for short — has long been just out of reach in a commercial sense. It’s been too expensive, mostly due to the high cost of drilling new enhanced geothermal wells into hard, hot rocks more than 10,000 feet below the earth’s surface.

According to next-gen geothermal startup AltaRock, though, a new type of drilling technology could help solve the problem of expensive drilling. AltaRock CEO Aaron Mandell told me that the company has entered into a partnership and created a joint venture with a company called On Energy, which is the U.S. supplier of Korean drilling company Hanjin D&B. AltaRock and On Energy plan to use a new type of “hammer” drilling tech that could help commercialize enhanced geothermal energy.


The new tech is called a “water hammer” drilling machine, and it pulverizes rock by rapidly hammering down on the rock surface with brute force and creating huge vibrations. This is different than the more commonly used drilling that employs a rotary bit (rotating cones) to grind down rock. When it comes to hard rock surfaces, rotary drilling can be really slow, the bit wears out quickly and needs to be replaced, and it’s been difficult to achieve the depths of more than 10,000 feet that EGS needs. AltaRock has faced problems with drilling through hard rocks at its sites in the past.


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EU digital economy chief downplays “Google tax” reports | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News

EU digital economy chief downplays “Google tax” reports | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Ever since Germany’s Günther Oettinger became the new EU commissioner for the digital economy, with copyright reform as part of his brief, he has been making noises about getting Google to pay some kind of “levy” for using European “intellectual works.”

I and others have been interpreting this as a desire on Oettinger’s part to extend the so-called ancillary copyright concept – where news aggregators such as Google have to pay royalties to publishers for using snippets of their text in search results – across Europe. Google’s not the only company that’s affected but, given that it has more than 90 percent market share in European search, ancillary copyright is often called the “Google tax” in the EU.

From events on Wednesday, it seemed clearer than ever before that this was what the commissioner was after. But according to subsequent pronouncements from Oettinger and sources in the Commission, he doesn’t want to extend rules that don’t work.

Just one day after formal decision new #copyright law in 2015: Prep work, exchange views EP working group #copyright http://t.co/dlM9Nx8ALg

— Günther Oettinger (@GOettingerEU) December 17, 2014

Oettinger met with members of the European Parliament’s copyright working group to talk with parliamentarians (MEPs) about his plans for a new EU-wide copyright proposal, scheduled for 2015. And Julia Reda, the Pirate Party’s sole MEP, seemed to come away from the meeting in an incandescent mood.

“At today’s debut meeting of the European Parliament’s copyright working group, digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger expressed his wish for an EU-wide ancillary copyright law for press publishers, citing it as an example area of copyright where action was required at an EU level,” she said in a statement.


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Africa's tallest skyscraper slated for construction in 2015 | Adam Williams | GizMag.com

Africa's tallest skyscraper slated for construction in 2015 | Adam Williams | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In June 2015, Dubai-based Middle East Development plans to begin work on a new skyscraper that will be the tallest in Africa. Based in Casablanca, Morocco, the mixed-use tower will rise to a height of 540 m (1,771 ft), easily dwarfing all other buildings on the continent.

The project is being developed under the working title of Al Noor Tower (Tower of Light), though Middle East Development hopes that Moroccan king Mohammed VI will give the firm his blessing to name the building in his honor. Once complete, it will be over twice the size of Africa's current tallest building, the Johannesburg-based Carlton Center, which was completed in 1973 and reaches a height of 223 m (732 ft).

Multinational Architecture firm Valode and Pistre is handling the design of the building, which is likened by those involved to a fountain pen, and tapers upwards into two blades. The building is chock full of symbolism, though as always with such claims, one wonders whether this was intended from the tower's inception or is the result of a happy accident.


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Africa's tallest skyscraper slated for construction in 2015

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The Odyssée desalinator: Using the power of the ocean to cleanse its own salty waters | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com

The Odyssée desalinator: Using the power of the ocean to cleanse its own salty waters | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Watching on as the waves crashed against the cliffs of South Corsica, France, mechanical engineer Dragan Tutić knew some were already drawing on power from the ocean to generate electricity.


But a possible use for all that motion in the ocean that had been largely unexplored, as far as he knew, was turning its salty seawater into the fresh, drinkable variety on the spot.


In the following two and a half years, Tutić and his team designed and tested a prototype for a wave-powered desalinator, and now hold hopes of deploying the system in regions where water scarcity threatens the survival of coastal communities.

"How is it possible that even today we basically don’t use this infinite reservoir?" Tutić asks Gizmag, recalling the moment that the idea for a wave-powered desalinator first came to him. "We should just take the resource and the energy to transform it at the same place. With the colliding of different concepts I’ve seen previously, I realized it was possible."

Around one month later, Tutić teamed up with eight of his fellow students at Sherbrooke University in Quebec, Canada, and got to work on making his vision a reality. Their design for the Odyssée wave-powered desalinator involves a hydraulic cylinder pump attached to buoy that floats on the surface of the water. As ocean swells move the buoy up and down, it kicks the pump into action. This builds up pressure and drives oil through a hydraulic motor, which in turns converts the linear motion into rotary motion.


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Apax Partners Sells Swiss Mobile Provider Orange for $2.9 Billion | Chad Bray | NYTimes.com

Apax Partners Sells Swiss Mobile Provider Orange for $2.9 Billion | Chad Bray | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Orange is one of Switzerland’s largest mobile providers, and it is considered a challenger to Swisscom, which dominates the telecommunications market and accounted for about 60 percent of all mobile customers last year. The Apax funds first invested in Orange in 2012.

The company will be acquired by NJJ Capital, an investment vehicle founded by Mr. Niel, the billionaire who is a co-owner of the newspaper Le Monde in addition to having founded Iliad, one of France’s largest mobile providers and a challenger to the country’s larger, more established telecommunications providers.

“Orange Switzerland has been a major and very successful investment for the Apax funds,” Gabriele Cipparrone, a partner at Apax, said in a news release. “We are proud to have been an important part of the company’s development in the last three years.”

Orange of France received net proceeds of 1.83 billion francs when it sold the business in 2012.

The latest transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and it is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.


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La venta de Orange Mobile

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How Some Really Smart NYS Fracktivists Beat Cuomo and Won the Fracking War | DailyKos.com

How Some Really Smart NYS Fracktivists Beat Cuomo and Won the Fracking War | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Something amazing happened in Albany today, something very few people thought possible just a few months ago. New York State will indefinitely extend it's moratorium and essentially ban fracking. We aren't kicking the can down the road for more studies. We're basically banning the process outright. That's a huge victory for many thousands of anti-fracking "fracktivists" who have been fighting hard and smart, against really long odds, for years now.

Here's how they did it.

It wasn't that long ago, say 2007 or so, when fracking was an issue that wasn't really on anyone's radar, though there was enough concern for the state to place a moratorium on the practice in 2008.

That began to change with the release of Josh Fox's "Gasland" documentary in 2010. That film brought the issue into focus for many people across the country and especially here in New York. That footage of tap water catching fire opened many, many eyes to what was at stake and one could sense a movement beginning to build not long after the film's release.


At the same time, the oil and gas companies that wanted to get to fracking in the worst way. There were howls from the industry to lift the moratorium. There were similar pleas from local governments and citizens hoping to cash in on the fracking boom. The industry was telling anyone who would listen that the process was safe while telling local communities how they were going to become rich if the state would just lift the ban.


And there was a genuine eagerness to get the fracking ball rolling. I've been convinced for quite some time that one of the reasons the industry was so anxious to get fracking in New York is that they knew that clock was ticking. While they could point across the Pennsylvania border and show how many jobs were being created by the boom in Marcellus Shale fracking, they knew that the reality would soon become plain. The fracking boom in Pennsylvania has indeed created lots of jobs, jobs the long left behind communities in New York's Southern Tier would desperately like to have.


But fracking has also wreaked havoc in the Pennsylvania countryside, creating an increasingly toxic nightmare. The fracking boosters knew it was only a matter of time that the gap between their sunny claims of safety and the toxic reality of the Pennsylvania shale boom would become too great to ignore any longer. It was easy for the industry to make claims about the safety of fracking back when the science was rather thin. The science would not remain thin forever, as they would one day learn.


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AIMS Newsletter no. 35 | Isabella Rodrig | November 2014 | E-Agriculture.org

AIMS Newsletter no. 35 | Isabella Rodrig | November 2014 | E-Agriculture.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

SemaGrow is an European three-years project with the objective to discover possibilities to handle big data in agriculture. The SemaGrow consortium seeks to develop techniques for distributed Web queries, data and metadata mapping as well as methodologies for scaling up to extremely large data volumes and real time performances.

More specifically, SemaGrow is strongly focused to:

  • Carry out and deliver fundamental research related to the development of novel indexing and reactive algorithms and the rigorous analysis of their complexity; – Develop infrastructural components: this is based on the POWDER framework and aims to create a significant breakthrough in semantic infrastructures;
  • Rigorous testing in a realistic environment: this is taking place over currently existing and realistically projected volumes of data for 2015 and beyond;
  • Realistic ideas for possible deployments: this is actually taking the form of operational service prototypes that real users will test during controlled trials, together with prototype integration with an already deployed data infrastructure.


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations holds the role of a data, demonstration and pilot partner of the project, implementing a reactive data analysis use case. Inter alia FAO contributes to the project with the AGRIS database that serves as a demonstrator of the technical developments within SemaGrow. The second project period of SemaGrow has ended at the 31st of October 2014. This is a small wrap up of the first achievements from the AGRIS Use Case that was developed in collaboration between FAO and SemaGrow: The SemaGrow demonstrator for the AGRIS use case with its two backend components (AgroTagger andWeb Crawler) was delivered by the FAO.


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Chinese Android phone maker hides secret backdoor on its devices | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com

Chinese Android phone maker hides secret backdoor on its devices | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad has built an extensive "backdoor" into its Android devices that can track users, serve them unwanted advertisements and install unauthorized apps, a U.S. security firm alleged today.

In a research paper released today, Palo Alto Networks detailed its investigation of the backdoor, which it dubbed "CoolReaper."

"Coolpad has built a backdoor that goes beyond the usual data collection," said Ryan Olson, director of intelligence at Palo Alto's Unit 42. "This is way beyond what one malicious insider could have done."

Coolpad, which sells smartphones under several brand names -- including Halo, also called Danzen -- is one of China's largest ODMs (original device manufacturers). According to IDC, it ranked fifth in China in the third quarter, with 8.4% of the market, and has expanded sales outside of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan to Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Western Europe.

Tipped off by a string of complaints from Coolpad smartphone users in China and Taiwan -- who griped about seeing advertisements pop up and apps suddenly appear -- Palo Alto dug into the ROM updates that Coolpad offered on its support site and found widespread evidence of CoolReaper.

Of the 77 ROMs that Palo Alto examined, 64 contained CoolReaper, including 41 hosted by Coolpad and signed with its own digital certificate.


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NY: Election over and economy improved, Andrew Cuomo kicks fracking to the curb | Philip Bump | WashPost.com

NY: Election over and economy improved, Andrew Cuomo kicks fracking to the curb | Philip Bump | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

New York state's acting health commissioner, Howard Zucker, released a report Wednesday that settled one of the most contentious political fights in the state. At some point early next year, New York will ban hydraulic fracturing -- better known as "fracking" -- because a review conducted by Zucker found "significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes" possible from the practice.

It's far more likely that the real reason the ban will go into effect is that the politics changed dramatically for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). First, the state's employment picture changed. And, second, he doesn't need to worry about reelection for a long time -- if at all.

Cuomo has avoided making a final decision on whether or not to allow fracking since he came into office. The Post's Reid Wilson outlines the years-long machinations leading up to the decision. Cuomo, who is a master of working bureaucracy, repeatedly demanded analyses of possible health outcomes like that released this week. Now he stands behind the final product.

NY1 quotes the governor in response to Zucker's announcement:


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