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Brazil's ban on U.S. Internet services may prove futile | NetworkWorld.com

Brazil's ban on U.S. Internet services may prove futile | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Brazil's government is considering installing new hardware locally to reduce the country's dependence on U.S. services for Internet access. The move comes in response to reports that the U.S. government had intercepted emails and phone calls of Brazilian citizens, its state-run oil company and the country's president, Dilma Rouseff.


In order to bypass the U.S., Brazil is considering several steps, including opening local data centers that would be subjected to the country’s privacy laws, removing sensitive data from the cloud and storing it locally, and potentially creating a BRICS cable connecting to the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok through a series of cables running through South Africa and Asia.


In addition, President Rousseff is pursuing legislation that would require major Internet companies, including Google and Facebook, to store all data gathered in Brazil in the country’s local data centers.


The efforts follow President Rousseff’s decision to postpone a scheduled trip to visit the U.S. this week and demand an apology from U.S. President Barack Obama after evidence of NSA spying in Brazil appeared in documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this month. The documents reportedly indicated that the NSA had spied on Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobas, as well as the office of President Rousseff. Others were named in the reports, including Google and Mexico’s new president Enrique Pena Nieto.


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ksraju's curator insight, September 20, 2013 7:07 AM

BRAZIL INTERNET OR BRAZNET ???????????????? INDIAN INTERNET IS ALSO KEY. ALREADY CHINA CREATED CHINAINTERNET.

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Our Global Future in the 21st Century is based on "The Third Industrial Revolution" which finally connects our new ICT infrastructure with distributed energy sources that are both renewable and sustainable
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Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com

Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The number of people using the Internet is growing at a steady rate, but 4.2 billion out of 7.4 billion will still be offline by the end of the year.

Overall, 35.3 percent of people in developing countries will use the Internet, compared to 82.2 percent in developed countries, according to data from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). People who live in the so-called least developed countries will the worst off by far: In those nations only 9.5 percent will be connected by the end of December.

This digital divide has resulted in projects such as the Facebook-led Internet.org. Earlier this month, Facebook sought to address some of the criticism directed at the project, including charges that it is a so-called walled garden, putting a limit on the types of services that are available.

Mobile broadband is seen as the way to get a larger part of the world’s population connected. There are several reasons for this. It’s much easier to cover rural areas with mobile networks than it is with fixed broadband. Smartphones are also becoming more affordable.

But there are still barriers for getting more people online, especially in rural areas in poor countries.

The cost of maintaining and powering cell towers in remote, off-grid locations, combined with lower revenue expected from thinly spread, low income populations, are key hurdles, according to the GSM Association. Other barriers include taxes, illiteracy and a lack of content in local languages, according to the organization.

At the end of 2015, 29 percent of people living in rural areas around the world will be covered by 3G. Sixty-nine percent of the global population will be covered by a 3G network. That’s up from 45 percent four years ago.


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Audi claims first synthetic gasoline made from plants | Eric Mack | GizMag.com

Audi claims first synthetic gasoline made from plants | Eric Mack | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Just weeks after producing its first batch of synthetic diesel fuel made from carbon dioxide and water, Audi has laid claim to another synthetic, clean-burning and petroleum-free fuel called "e-benzin." The fuel was created by Audi's project partner Global Bioenergies, in France.

In late 2014, Global Bioenergies started up the fermentation unit for a pilot program to produce gaseous isobutane from renewable biomass sugars such as corn-derived glucose. Gaseous isobutane is a sort of raw material for the petrochemical industry that can then be refined into a variety of plastics, fuels and other applications.

The next step in the process was to run the material through a conditioning and purification process, allowing it to be collected and stored in liquid form under pressure. Some of it was then sent to Germany to be converted into isooctane fuel, creating a pure, 100 octane gasoline.

"To me this is a historic moment," says Global Bioenergies CEO Marc Delcourt. "It is the first time that we have produced real gasoline from plants."


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Texas Governor Greg Abbott: Deadly Flooding Is 'Absolutely Massive' | Jim Forsyth | HuffPost.com

Texas Governor Greg Abbott: Deadly Flooding Is 'Absolutely Massive' | Jim Forsyth | HuffPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday described the flash flooding that had killed at least three people in his state as "a relentless wall of water that mowed down huge trees like they were grass."

Abbott declared states of disaster in 24 counties and flew over the area south of Austin to assess the damage caused by tornadoes, heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and flooding that forced evacuations and rooftop rescues and left thousands of residents without electrical power.

"This is the biggest flood this area of Texas has ever seen," Abbott said.

"It is absolutely massive - the relentless tsunami-type power of this wave of water," the governor said.

He described homes that were "completely wiped off the map" by the dangerous weather system that struck Texas and Oklahoma.

Widespread severe thunderstorms were forecast to continue on Monday in north-central and northeast Texas and southern Oklahoma, likely bringing destructive winds, tornadoes and hail, the National Weather Service said.


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Meet the woman who oversees one of the world's largest climate funds | Katie Fehrenbacher | Fortune.com

Meet the woman who oversees one of the world's largest climate funds | Katie Fehrenbacher | Fortune.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Climate Investment Funds hopes to stimulate clean energy projects in the developing world.

For a woman that manages an $8.3 billion fund that supports clean energy projects around the world, Mafalda Duarte is rather under-the-radar.

Duarte is the manager of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), a financial mechanism that was created in 2008 and has amassed billion-dollar pledges from developed countries — like the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and Germany — for a variety of projects that lower carbon emissions. The funds are also used to kick start new markets in developing countries like, for instance, a large solar thermal farm in Morocco, a geothermal plant in Indonesia and energy efficiency upgrades for buildings in Turkey.

The CIF isn’t a regular fund in the traditional, private sector sort-of-way. The money is dispersed by development banks (like the World Bank and the Asian and African development banks) that work with local governments, regional developers and private investors. A big chunk of the funds that are allocated to these projects are in the form of low-cost loans, but some are also given as grants (depending on the project and a country’s economy).


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Nepalese telcos to share networks in areas hit by earthquake | TeleGeography.com

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has proposed a range of network sharing measures to help speed up the restoration of communications services to areas hit by the recent devastating earthquakes.


The Himalayan Times reports that the regulator wants to use money from the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) to build passive telecom infrastructure including towers and fibre, which will then be shared by telecoms providers.


Operators will bid to deploy sections of the shared network, with the rollout contract going to the firm requiring the lowest level of subsidies. Rival firms will be able to use the infrastructure to help reconnect their own customers.

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Telekom Romania offers integrated fixed, mobile service MagentaONE | TeleGeography.com

Romanian incumbent Telekom Romania has confirmed the full commercial launch of its new integrated fixed line and mobile service, MagentaONE, which allows residential and business customers to enjoy a one-stop-shop for their telecoms needs. Telekom Romania is a unit of Deutsche Telekom, which has already launched the integrated service in Germany and Slovakia.


According to an unconfirmed report from Mediafax, by the end of last month Telekom Romania had already attracted more than 100,000 subscribers to MagentaONE in its soft-launch phase.


Nikolai Beckers, CEO of Telekom Romania, said: ‘With MagentaONE, customers can find in one place all the necessary services for fixed and mobile telephony: one-stop-shop, one single call centre, one bill, one MyAccount application [including a mobile app]. We are among the first countries that implement the group’s expertise and skills and this is now confirmed through the launch of MagentaONE commercial concept.’


Further, the new offer opens the vista to a new version of interactive IPTV, it says, and is designed to help drive future revenue growth. Telekom Romania said its revenues in the first three months of this year decreased by 7.7% year-on-year to EUR241 million (USD264.7 million) from EUR261 million.

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FTTdp to be trialled in France in the coming months | TeleGeography.com

French telecoms regulator Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) has announced that the expert committee on copper networks, which was set up in Q2 2013, has concluded its ‘investigative procedure’ and has delivered a favourable opinion on the potential deployment of VDSL2 technology in the last mile of copper networks, which in turn marks the first step towards the introduction of fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) technology into operators’ rollout plans.


FTTdp is a form of next generation network architecture where fibre is terminated very close to the customer’s premises; however, unlike a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) configuration, FTTdp reuses existing copper or coaxial cable to connect a customer’s premises to the fibre network.


The working group concluded that any deployment plans must include a trial phase under actual conditions, before any large-scale rollout is performed, in order to test the technical aspects of FTTdp and to examine any of the questions that its operational implementation might raise.


Further, the group concluded that FTTdp could also be a way to improve FTTH networks’ occupancy rates by providing a greater diversity of connection solutions in the customers’ premises. Arcep pointed out that following the expert committee conclusions, a series of FTTdp trial rollouts will be implemented in the coming months.


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Free-market dogma has jacked up our electricity bills | David Cay Johnson Opinion | Al Jazeera America

Free-market dogma has jacked up our electricity bills | David Cay Johnson Opinion | Al Jazeera America | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new analysis shows that people pay 35 percent more for electricity in states that abandoned traditional regulation of monopoly utilities in the 1990s compared with states that stuck with it. That gap is almost certainly going to widen in the coming decade.

Residential customers in the 15 states that embraced wholesale markets paid on average 12.7 cents per kilowatt-hour last year versus 9.4 cents in states with traditional regulation.

Now 3.3 cents extra may not seem like much until you consider the volume of power people consume. Last year American residential customers paid for 1.4 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity.

You might think that the higher prices in the 15 states with markets would encourage investment, creating an abundance of new power plants. That, at any rate, is what right-wing Chicago School economic theories on which the electricity markets were created say should happen. The validity of these theories, and flaws in how they were implemented, matter right now because Congress is considering a raft of energy supply bills that include some expansion of the market pricing of wholesale electricity.

The theory that markets produce the best prices is generally true. The electricity markets are based on a single price, known as the clearing price, for all electricity sold at auction. The idea is that high prices will signal investors to build more power plants, bringing down future prices.

Yet just 2.4 percent of new electric generating capacity in 2013 “was built for sale into a market,” electricity-market analyst Elise Caplan showed in a study last fall fittingly titled “Power Plants Are Not Built on Spec.” The rest were built in states with traditional regulation or under long-term supply contracts that essentially guaranteed repayment of loans to build the plants.

Here’s another measure of failure: Areas covered by electricity markets have 60 percent of America's generating capacity, but enjoyed just 6 percent of new generation built in 2013.

If unregulated markets are invariably better, as the Chicago School holds, why was 94 percent of new generating capacity built in traditionally regulated jurisdictions? Don't owners and executives detest regulation? Why isn’t regulation hobbling investment?


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Canada: Prime Minister Harper's attack on scientists | Editorial | Winnipeg Free Press

Canada: Prime Minister Harper's attack on scientists | Editorial | Winnipeg Free Press | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand the Harper government's muzzling of scientists is both an assault on democracy and on the pursuit of pure knowledge.


It's behaviour typical of a government so desperate to control the message it threatened to fire a marine biologist who did an interview on sharks without first getting the required political approval. Now that's dumb. And scary.


And it's also why federal scientists gathered in Ottawa Tuesday to protest the gag orders and what they call "partisan interference in the development of public science."

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents about 15,000 scientists and engineers, says intellectual freedom is more important to its members today than issues surrounding wages or benefits.

The scientists say they can't do their jobs under the current reign of control and message management that treats even the most innocuous information, such as the life of ground squirrels, as privileged information that can't be shared publicly without first enduring a battery of communications and political experts.

Provincial and federal governments in Canada over the last 50 years have been exercising greater control over information provided to the public -- hence the proliferation of so-called communicators -- but the trend has accelerated and intensified to the point of absurdity under the administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

There's nothing terribly new about Mr. Harper's silencing of the public service -- even his own MPs are afraid to speak their minds on minor subjects without prior approval -- but this is the first organized push-back by the civil service since the Conservatives were elected in 2006.


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Newer technology pushes out CDMA in Africa, bringing faster speeds | Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji | NetworkWorld.com

Newer technology pushes out CDMA in Africa, bringing faster speeds | Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A variety of technologies, LTE in particular, is making CDMA obsolete in many parts of Africa, bringing faster mobile communication to people throughout the region.

This month, Orange, which operates LTE networks in Mauritius and Botswana, said it is moving its Kenyan subscribers off CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and that it will launch five LTE networks in Africa this year. CDMA can no longer favorably compete with 3G and LTE, CEO Vincent Lobry said in February.

On its part, Telecom Namibia shut down all its CDMA sites on March 31 after moving its customers to faster HSPA+ and LTE networks. It said it wanted to repurpose spectrum and offer mobile voice, data, and video services over a more modern platform.

CDMA appears to be waning as subscribers flock to other types of networks. For example, Ghana’s sole CDMA operator, Expresso, ended 2014 with a subscriber base of 119,059, down from November’s figure of 120,667. Expresso is owned by Sudatel. Sanctions on Sudan have hit Sudatel’s recapitalization efforts, affecting services.

4G—including LTE—is considered superior to 2G including CDMA because it is is faster, offering lower latency. It is also more flexible in how it uses spectrum.

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The Knowledge Economy in the Arab Region | Sudan Vision Daily

The Knowledge Economy in the Arab Region  | Sudan Vision Daily | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This paper employs both the descriptive and comparative approaches and uses the definition of knowledge and knowledge indicators used in the literature to examine the existence and development of the knowledge economy in the Arab region. We fill the gap in the Arab literature and present a more comprehensive analysis of the development of knowledge indicators in the Arab region.


Our findings support the first hypothesis that the knowledge economy exists in the Arab region and coincides with a substantial knowledge gap compared to other world regions. Our results corroborate the second hypothesis concerning the variation in knowledge indicators, according to the structure of the economy in the Arab region, and support the third hypothesis concerning the poor and slow progress in the trend of knowledge– related indicators in the Arab region.


Therefore, it is essential for the Arab region to enhance the knowledge economy and indicators to achieve economic development in the Arab region.


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Ocean energy: EU leads in technology development and deployment | EurekAlert.org

New technologies in the last decade have shown slow but steady progress of ocean and sea energy power: about 30 tidal and 45 wave energy companies are currently at an advanced stage of technological development worldwide, many of them nearing pre-commercial array demonstration and others deploying full-scale prototypes in real-sea environment, according to a new JRC ocean energy status report.

The EU is at the forefront of technological development of ocean energy power plants, with more than 50% of tidal energy and 45% of wave energy developers based in the EU, as well as the majority of ocean energy infrastructure. The current pipeline of projects could bring Europe's combined tidal and wave energy capacity up to 66 MW by 2018, a significant step forward for a nascent sector. The first tidal energy array is expected to be deployed in the UK in 2016, becoming the first ocean energy array project worldwide to be completed.

Ocean energy represents one of the few untapped renewable energy sources and its development is attracting the interests of policymakers, utilities and technology developers. In recent years, slow technological progress has hindered technology development and reduced investor confidence in ocean energy. The JRC report analyses the sector, assessing the status of ocean energy technologies, ongoing developments, related policies and markets. In Europe, the highest deployment potential is located along the Atlantic coast, with further localised exploitable potential in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas and in the outermost regions (e.g. Reunion, Curacao).


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China's Revolution In Wind Energy | Niall McCarthy | Forbes.com

China's Revolution In Wind Energy | Niall McCarthy | Forbes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Back in 2010, China became the world’s largest wind energy producer and the boom is continuing unabated, fuelled by government support and ambitious renewable energy targets. Data from the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA) revealed that wind energy surpassed nuclear for the very first time in 2012 to become the country’s third largest source of electricity, after coal and hydro-electric power.

In 2014, wind power production in China stood at 153.4 TWh compared to nuclear’s 130.6 TWh. Even though wind has outpaced nuclear, a lack of energy reform and flexibility in the system means that it will prove difficult to displace coal in the short term. A report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) stated that China will need to reform its grid operation and electricity market to replace large amounts of coal with reliable forms of renewable energy.

According to a forecast from Statista, the future still remains lucrative for Chinese wind turbine manufacturing with operating revenue expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2020. The Gansu Wind Farm Project is currently under construction in western Gansu province and highlights China’s wind energy ambition. When fully completed, it is expected to become the world’s biggest collective windfarm.


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NHK and FIFA to hold 8K live public viewings | Robert Briel | Broadband TV News

NHK and FIFA to hold 8K live public viewings | Robert Briel | Broadband TV News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

NHK will produce 8K (Super Hi-Vision)broadcasts of ten matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.

The coverage will include Japan v Cameroon and the final, as joint productions with FIFA, and present most of these as live public viewings at two venues in Japan, two in the US and one in Canada.

Access to the viewing will be free, but prior application is required to participate in these events. Recorded 8K content will be screened at other times when there is no live feed.

The games will be played in the period between Tuesday, June 9 and Monday, July 6.

In the US, the viewings will be held at the NBC Television Network Headquarters, Rockefeller Center (New York, NY) and at the Zanuck Theater (Los Angeles, California). Ub Canadaat the International Broadcasting Center in Vancouver, and in Japan at the Aeon Cinema, Kohoku New Town, Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama City, and at SKIP City Sai-no-Kuni Visual Plaza (Kawaguchi City).

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The Hole in Brian Potts' WSJ Critique of the "Solar-Panel Craze.” | John Farrell | ILSR.org

The Hole in Brian Potts' WSJ Critique of the "Solar-Panel Craze.” | John Farrell | ILSR.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In his Sunday Wall Street Journal commentary on May 17, Brian Potts suggests that cost is the bottom line in the electric customer shift to solar, and that rooftop solar costs too much. But his defense of the utility’s view of energy costs leaves a big hole in the big picture: the value of solar energy.

First, his cost estimates don’t add up. He claims utility-scale solar costs 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, but Vote Solar reported that the Palo Alto, CA, municipal utility signed solar contracts for 6.9 cents nearly two years ago. Prices fell 13% in 2014 alone, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The attack on rooftop solar also falls short. The break-even price for a rooftop system in Palo Alto is 10.8 cents over 25 years (calculated with NREL’s System Advisor Model), 50% higher—not 3.5 times higher— than the utility scale solar array. Mr Potts may be right that net metering isn’t the perfect policy for compensating solar producing customers, but that’s because it’s a compromise accounting method to accurately track electricity sent back to the grid. This was done because it is the easiest way for the utilities to accommodate solar with their old meters and antiquated billing systems.

Net metering and Mr Potts both ignore the value of solar energy: to an electric grid that favors energy production in the afternoon and on hot, sunny days; as a zero-volatility fuel source; as a hedge against environmental compliance costs; as a near-zero water consumer in an era of drought. He ignores the numerous state studies that show a net benefit from net metering.

Most notably, Mr Potts ignores the opportunity cost of propping up a dying monopoly business model to fend off innovative entrepreneurs and customers. The rooftop v. utility-scale solar argument is a utility-contrived proxy for their defense of a 20th century model of monopoly control of the utility system.


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NY: What was human cost of dumping PCBs in the Hudson? | Jim Coffin | The Albany Times Union

NY: What was human cost of dumping PCBs in the Hudson? | Jim Coffin | The Albany Times Union | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

On a warm Friday evening this past August, Schuylerville's Class of '64 celebrated their 50th reunion. The class had numbered 65 at graduation. But last summer when they gathered to reminisce, only 35 were present. A handful had sent their regrets. Thirteen could not attend. They were dead.

At the eastern edge of Schuylerville, about a half-mile from the site of the reunion party, sits a lazy stretch of the Hudson River and the remains of a bathing beach. In 1970, the EPA banned swimming there. And more than 45 years later, the beach remains closed along with a 50-mile swath of the river between Fort Edward and Albany — still unfit for fishing, swimming or recreation — the largest Superfund site in America.

In the '50s and '60s, however, the beach thrummed with activity. My siblings and I, joined by most of the other kids from the village, spent nearly every summer day there — swimming, playing tetherball, listening to WPTR on transistor radios and lunching on peanut butter sandwiches. We delighted in the Hudson's waters — gargled it, swallowed it, shook it from our ears, and spat it at one another. Our moms would warn us to stay out of the river for at least an hour following lunch lest we suffer a stomach cramp and drown. We had no idea of the real danger the river posed.

Over the span of three decades — from 1946 to 1975 — hundreds of unsuspecting children from every little river town downstream of Fort Edward were being dosed with poison because the General Electric Company, motivated by greed and with uncaring arrogance, knowingly dumped more than 1.3 million pounds of highly-toxic and carcinogenic PCBs into the Hudson and then chased that venom with cancer-inducing TCE. Internal company documents clearly show that by the 1960s, GE officials knew that PCBs posed a serious public health threat, and that on at least one occasion, in 1968, the company misled regulators about dumping toxins in the Hudson.

They'll say that what they did wasn't illegal — not technically anyway, since environmental laws as we now know them weren't then on the books. But, immoral — well, that's a different issue. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed: "Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked."


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Australia Dumbs Down as Abbott Bets on Baristas Over Brains | Michael Heath | Bloomberg Business

Australia Dumbs Down as Abbott Bets on Baristas Over Brains | Michael Heath | Bloomberg Business | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Australia is betting on plumbers and coffee-shop owners over scientists and researchers to drive the nation’s next wave of economic growth.

The country that brought you refrigerators, black-box flight recorders, bionic ears and Wi-Fi will cut its research budget by 7 percent over the next 12 months, and another 10 percent in the following three years. At the same time it’s offering tax cuts and write-offs in this year’s budget for small firms to buy equipment like espresso machines and lawnmowers as the centerpiece of a plan to build a “stronger and more prosperous Australia.”

The government is reducing spending in the face of budget shortfalls after a 30 percent drop in commodity prices in 12 months and an end to the country’s mining investment boom. Helping small businesses to pick up some of the slack has lifted consumer confidence to its highest in 16 months and boosted shares of retailers like Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. and JB Hi-Fi Ltd.

“Having this reliance on the bottom end of the economy, like small businesses, is a short-term fix,” said Andrew Hughes, a lecturer at the College of Business and Economics at Australian National University. “Cutting back on research is insanity.”

Every country in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development bar Australia has a plan to grow its scientific enterprise to help transition into technology, innovation and development, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb said.

“For 20 years, we have presided over declining levels of participation in science and mathematics” while the country assured itself that students will be fine with calculators, Chubb wrote this month in an article on his website. “I think about the sort of jobs a child in school today might want to do in 10, 20, 50 years. And I wonder, which of those jobs will not require an understanding of science?”

Australian school students underperform in science and mathematics tests compared with every other high-income economy in Asia apart from New Zealand, according to a report issued this month by the 34-nation OECD.


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New Zealand extends rural broadband tax | TeleGeography.com

The government of New Zealand is to extend the country’s Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL), which collects payments from domestic telcos in order to help fund rural telecoms infrastructure projects.


The TDL requires payments totalling NZD50 million (USD36.5 million), with the level of contribution based on an operator’s annual revenues.


While the levy was originally planned to be lowered to NZD10 million a year from 2016/17, the new Telecommunications (Development Levy) Amendment Bill extends the NZD50 million requirement to 2018/19.

Communications Minister Amy Adams commented: ‘Continuing the TDL at its current level until 2019 will ensure the telecommunications industry invests in rural and remote areas so the connectivity needs of all New Zealanders can be met, irrespective of where they happen to live.’


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France: Arcep submits draft decision on shared fibre access to EC | TeleGeography.com

Following a second consulation on a draft proposal with regards to the technical and operational processes of sharing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks, French telecoms regulator Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) has submitted the amended document to the European Commission (EC).


Arcep disclosed that the pace of shared fibre-optic local loop rollouts has increased considerably in recent months, with 4.06 million eligible premises as of end-2014.


As the future success of fibre-optic services will depend on internet service providers’ (ISPs’) ability to sell homogenous products nationwide, Arcep said, it is therefore essential that the terms and conditions for accessing fibre networks be homogenous, to enable the market’s ‘industrialisation’.


Further, Arcep pointed out that as this is a ‘symmetrical’ decision (i.e. applying equally to all market players involved in fibre network rollouts), the document will be submitted for approval to the minister responsible for electronic communications, before it is published and comes into force.

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Nigeria: Relief for telecoms operators as deal reached to end fuel crisis | TeleGeography.com

Nigerian fuel wholesalers have reached an agreement with the government to resume distribution, after weeks of disruption impacted on the country’s telecoms, aviation and banking sectors, Reuters reports.


The country’s mobile operators, including South African-owned MTN and UAE-based Etisalat, warned that the fuel shortage was disrupting their services, as it prevented them from supplying diesel to base stations and switches. ‘Services are already degraded and some of our customers are already feeling the impact,’ Funmilayo Onajide, spokeswoman from market leader MTN Nigeria, was quoted as saying, while Etisalat Nigeria yesterday announced ‘possible disruptions to its operations and services as a result of the current nationwide scarcity of petroleum products,’ adding that it was ‘working assiduously to minimise the impact given the circumstances.’


The statement continued: ‘The scarcity of petroleum products has impacted every sector of the economy and the provision of telecommunications services is no exception. We are however working with partners and doing all that is possible to continue to deliver quality services in spite of the challenge. Such a prolonged situation threatens our ability to re-fuel all our sites … thus negatively impacting service.’


However, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria has told reporters that fuel marketers had resolved to call off their campaign of depot closures after a meeting with the finance minister and lawmakers. Chinedu Okoronkwo of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association said that he expected petroleum product supplies to normalise within 24 hours.

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US Congress manufactures doubt and denial in climate change hearing | Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian

US Congress manufactures doubt and denial in climate change hearing | Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

US Congress periodically holds hearings on issues related to climate change. Because the subject has become a partisan one in America, they generally follow a predictable pattern – Democrats invite science and policy expert witnesses who agree with the expert consensus on human-caused global warming and the need to address it, and Republicans invite witnesses who disagree.

John Christy at the University of Alabama at Huntsville is one of the fewer than 3% of climate scientists who publishes research suggesting that humans aren’t the primary cause of the current global warming. He’s thus become one of Republicans’ favorite expert witnesses.

Last week, the Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing to discuss draft guidance by the the President’s Council on Environmental Quality to include carbon pollution and the effects of climate change in the consideration of environmental impacts of federal projects, as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. Needless to say, the Republicans on the committee don’t like the idea, as is clear from the hearing highlights and lowlights in the video below.


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MA: Advanced Manufacturing: Marine Robotics And Other High-Tech Add To The Cape's Economy | Sean Corcoran | WCAI.org

MA: Advanced Manufacturing: Marine Robotics And Other High-Tech Add To The Cape's Economy | Sean Corcoran | WCAI.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Lined up on the manufacturing floor of Hydroid, a company based in the Cape Cod town of Bourne, the underwater robots look like torpedoes, with tail fins and rear propellers. They're different sizes, some six feet long, others more than double that length. The biggest one is painted a bright yellow submarine color, while the smaller ones are dark gray with black, so they're less easy to see when underwater.

"Two-thirds of our business is with the US Navy," said Hydroid president Duane Fotheringham. "We're also in 17 navies around the world. "

Hydroid is an underwater robotics company that's experiencing tremendous growth - growth that's trickling down into the Cape's economy.

"The primary use for our equipment is mine countermeasures," he said, "so it takes the men out of the field. So instead of putting people in there or ships into the minefield to do minesweeping and mine detection, you can use robots to do that dirty work instead."

The robots are called Remus, and they cost anywhere from $200,000 to multiple millions, depending upon what it does. They're fully autonomous robots. You program them and put them in the water, where they swim about and perform their mission, whether it's mapping the ocean floor or hunting for mines. 24-to-72 hours later, they come back with their data.


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Russia Threatens To Block Access To Facebook, Google And Twitter Unless They Obey New Bloggers Law | Glyn Moody | Techdirt

Russia Threatens To Block Access To Facebook, Google And Twitter Unless They Obey New Bloggers Law | Glyn Moody | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Last year, Techdirt wrote about yet another of Russia's new laws aimed at taming the troublesome internet world. Its most striking feature was that bloggers with more than 3,000 visitors a day were required to register on a special list, and to abide by general mass media restrictions. We noted then that blogs located overseas were not covered by the new law. But according to this report in The Guardian, based on a story in Izvestia, it seems that the law is now being applied to foreign service providers too: Facebook, Google and Twitter are all being threatened with fines or even bans for non-compliance:

The [Russian communications agency's] deputy director, Maksim Ksenzov, had issued a warning to the three companies on 6 May, telling them they were in violation of the bloggers law because they had not provided requested data on the number of daily visitors to several users' pages, as well as information allowing the authorities to identify the owners of accounts with more than 3,000 daily visitors

The companies are threatened with fines, but these are relatively modest: up to 300,000 roubles ($6,000) for the first offense. Subsequent infringements lead to bigger fines or a ban on the website for up to 30 days. As The Guardian points out:


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Identity theft going viral in Southeast Asia | Edwin Seo | Enterprise Innovation

Identity theft going viral in Southeast Asia | Edwin Seo | Enterprise Innovation | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

According to a Symantec report, in Singapore alone, cybercrime cost the average victim S$1,448 ($1,056) in 2013, three-and-a-half times the global average of $298. By 2020, the overall impact of cyberattacks on the global economy is estimated to be as high as $3 trillion.

The continued rise in these figures is driven by several key trends: more people spending more time online, thanks to the proliferation of broadband connectivity; an increase in financial transactions online, including e-commerce; and rapid adoption of mobile devices, often with fewer security measures in place than traditional computers. Trend Micro’s report The Invisible Becomes Visible anticipates that in 2015 data breaches will more frequently hit the mobile devices that carry consumer data, and the companies that store it.

Southeast Asia is a nexus of all of these developments – which is why we can expect identity theft to explode in the region in the coming few years. Smartphone and tablet penetration is skyrocketing there, bringing online millions of new users; 62 percent of Internet users in Indonesia and 41 percent in Thailand use only a smartphone to connect, compared with 11 percent and 6 percent in the US and UK, respectively. And 37 percent of Singaporeans and 32 percent of Malaysians made their latest purchase online, beating out the 29 percent in the US (Google Consumer Barometer).


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Most efficient solar energy dish in the world uses engine developed in 1816 | Matthew Humphries | Geek.com

Most efficient solar energy dish in the world uses engine developed in 1816 |  Matthew Humphries | Geek.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Swedish company Ripasso Energy has created a new, state-of-the-art solar energy dish, which it believes is the most efficient in the world. One of the key elements of Ripasso’s system is an engine originally thought up nearly 200 years ago in 1816.

Ripasso’s CSP system works by combining a parabolic mirror with a Stirling engine. The 12 meter diameter mirror dish looks like a typical satellite dish, but its job is to focus the sun’s energy on a “tiny hot point” that then drives the Stirling engine.


Unlike other, similar systems, Ripasso’s uses no water to produce electricity. The Stirling engine is a closed-cycle regenerative heat engine that uses an enclosed gas to drive pistons and turn a flywheel. The large dish constantly turns to ensure optimal solar energy capture from the sun, the hot point powers the Stirling engine, and electricity is produced.


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