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Hacking courses offer cybercrooks tips on how to hone skills | NetworkWorld.com

Hacking courses offer cybercrooks tips on how to hone skills | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A growing number of experienced hackers have begun offering structured hacking courses for crooks seeking to make a career in cybercrime.


The courses range from the basics of online fraud to advanced courses on online anonymity tools, botnets, cleaning up electronic evidence and dealing with law enforcement, according to RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.


Often, the courses have a formal curriculum similar to that adopted by legitimate academic institutions, said Limor Kessem, a cyber intelligence expert at RSA, in a blog post Wednesday.


Many courses even have strictly enforced absentee policies where students are required to provide advance notice if they are unable to attend a class, or forfeit part of the fee for a missed session. Some of the courses come with offers to help graduates find jobs with underground cyber communities while in other cases, those teaching the courses vouch for their star pupils via underground channels, Kessem wrote.


The courses are typically advertised in known hacker networks. The classes are usually held via live Skype videoconferencing sessions with "professors" partaking in question-and-answer sessions with their students.


Seasoned hackers have always offered such advice to aspiring cybercrooks, said Berk Veral, senior product marketing manager at RSA. What's different now is the proliferation of such services, he said. Over the past few months, RSA has observed a sharp spike in the availability of online cybercrime courses, a majority of which appear to be based out of Russia or taught in Russian.


"We used to see one or two people advertising such courses in chat rooms and forums where cyber criminals hang out," Veral said. The number of such courses has increased significantly, he added. "The courses are much more organized with different curriculums and different courses for different skill levels," he said.


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EU Moves To Create Internet Fast Lanes, Pretends It's Net Neutrality By Redefining Basic Words | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

EU Moves To Create Internet Fast Lanes, Pretends It's Net Neutrality By Redefining Basic Words | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In 2014, it really looked like Europe was moving towards strong net neutrality, while the US was going to allow for special fast lanes on the internet. In 2015... everything has gone the other way. The US passed real net neutrality rules, while Europe has not only decided to kill net neutrality, but has done so in a way where they pretend that they're actually supporting net neutrality.

In some way, this isn't a surprise. EU Digital Commissioner Gunther Oettinger recently mocked net neutrality and its supporters, saying they had turned it into a "Taliban-like" issue. Then a month ago, rumors started to fly that the weekly "trialogue" meetings between the EU Commission, the Council of the EU and the EU Parliament was looking to ditch net neutrality altogether. Instead, it appears that the final solution was actually to redefine net neutrality to pretend they were offering it, while really killing it. And, as a consolation prize, they're killing off roaming charges around Europe (which can be pretty extreme). But that is little consolation for the fact that they're actually destroying net neutrality in the process.

The little trick being pulled by politicians who apparently think the public is too stupid to understand this is to redefine net neutrality. First, they claim that the "open internet" is really important and they won't allow paid prioritization. This part all sounds good:


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Graphene takes on a new dimension | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Graphene takes on a new dimension | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Graphene is the modern go-to material for scientists and engineers looking to create all manner of new electronic devices. From ultra-frugal light bulbs (both big and small), to super-efficient solar cells, flexible displays and much more, graphene is a multi-tasking marvel. However, in all of these instances, graphene in its original form of atom-thin, flat sheets has had to be used with peripheral supports and structures because it lacks a solid shape and form of its own. Now researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have come up with a way of creating 3D objects out of graphene that opens up the possibility of fashioning a whole new range of innovative electronic devices.

To create 3D shapes in graphene, the researchers first had to ensure that their approach was sufficient to maintain the structural integrity of the material when it was subjected to deformation. As such, the team used an underlying substrate former over which they laid a film of graphene that had been soaked in solvent to make it swell and become malleable. Once overlaid on the former, the solvent then evaporated over time, leaving behind a layer of graphene that had taken on the shape of the underlying structure. In this way the team was able to produce a range of relatively intricate shapes.


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China Announces New Long-Term Commitment to Curb Climate Change | Jake Thompson | NRDC.org

China Announces New Long-Term Commitment to Curb Climate Change | Jake Thompson | NRDC.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

BEIJING (June 30, 2015) – China announced today a new long-term commitment to reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. As the world’s largest carbon emitter and renewable energy market, this post-2020 climate commitment is intended to solidify China’s engagement at the Paris climate conference this December.

This commitment comes on the heels of the joint US-China climate announcement last November, in which China committed to peaking its carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier while increasing clean energy to 20 percent of total energy consumption by 2030. This also builds on China’s 40-45 percent carbon intensity reduction target for 2020 and its efforts develop a national carbon cap and trade program by 2017.


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Toshiba readies scorpion-like robot for Fukushima nuclear plant | Tim Hornyak | CIO.com

Toshiba readies scorpion-like robot for Fukushima nuclear plant | Tim Hornyak | CIO.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the ongoing battle to clean up Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Toshiba is deploying a novel robot that’s a bit like a scorpion.

Developed with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), the cylindrical machine is designed to enter the primary containment vessel (PCV) of the Unit 2 reactor at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. The catastrophe sparked a nuclear emergency and long-term evacuations.

Toshiba wants to deploy the device to help determine the condition and location of melted-down fuel in the reactor, which is too dangerous for workers to enter. The effort is part of decommissioning work at the plant that’s expected to take decades.

The robot is 54 centimeters long, and can put itself right-side up if it topples over. It has a joint near its middle that allows it to raise its tail like a scorpion, bringing a camera and LED lights to bear on its environment, complementing another camera and LEDs in its nose section.

The video feed will be used by operators using devices resembling PlayStation game controllers. Control signals are sent to the robot through a wire. The 5 kilogram machine also has a thermometer and a dosimeter. It can withstand about 100 Sieverts per hour of radiation for 10 hours.

The robot could get hit by as much as 70 Sieverts per hour of radiation in the No. 2 reactor, which would be about seven times that encountered by robots that ventured into the No. 1 reactor, a Toshiba spokeswoman said.

In April, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power sent shape-shifting, snake-like robots developed by IRID and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy into the No. 1 reactor. One machine got stuck, but another helped provide a detailed look at the inside of the PCV.

Toshiba, which has produced a lifelike android robot and a line of robot vacuum cleaners, began development of the nuclear probe in 2013. It’s slated to be deployed in the next two months, but the electronics maker doesn’t have a backup unit in case it gets stuck.


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Understanding the Bankers Assault on the Greek People | Daily Kos

Understanding the Bankers Assault on the Greek People | Daily Kos | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

We need to understand the crisis of austerity being imposed by European bankers on Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal, among others. A catastrophe on the scale of the Great Depression has been forced upon Greece for over five years under the deceptive description of a “bailout.”


Lets start with a few basics usually not considered in the corporate media descriptions of the crisis.


What happened ?


1. In 2010 and 2011, mainly German and French banks in pursuit of high profits made massive loans to Greek firms. When the banks recognized that this was a high risk, they were bailed out (not Greece) by transferring the debt from the banks to the public institutions like the European Central Bank and the IMF. Now the ECB and the IMF are trying to force the Greek government to cut pensions, education, salaries, and health care to pay for the bail out of the banks.

These funds were transferred from banks, the ECB, and the IMF to pay back banks, the ECB and the IMF. Few funds were used to assist the Greek people. That is loans are being used to refinance the debt. They are recycled back to Germany, France and other nations’ banks. (Macropolis, http://www.macropolis.gr/...)

2. The German nation owes as much money to the Greek people as Greece owes to Germany and the European Central Bank combined.
But Greece can not collect from Germany. Germany has the political and economic power (and allies such as the U.S.) to enforce debt repayment by starving the Greek economy and forcing the Greek nation into a great depression. (Hallinan, “Greece, Memory and Debt.” (http://www.dsausa.org/...)


3. The current policies are imposing a depression on Greece. Austerity policies have produced a decline in the Greek economy by over 25% since 2010. John Maynard Keynes explained this effect of imposed austerity during a depression way back in the 1930s, but the bankers and the governments they control choose to ignore this reality in part because it is not in their interest.


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6 reasons why we’re underhyping the Internet of Things | Dominic Basulto | WashPost.com

6 reasons why we’re underhyping the Internet of Things | Dominic Basulto | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Just when you thought the Internet of Things couldn’t possibly live up to its hype, along comes a blockbuster, 142-page report from McKinsey Global Institute (“The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype”) that says, if anything, we’re underestimating the potential economic impact of the Internet of Things.


By 2025, says McKinsey, the potential economic impact of having “sensors and actuators connected by networks to computing systems” (McKinsey’s definition of the Internet of Things) could be more than $11 trillion annually.

According to McKinsey, there are six reasons we may be underhyping the Internet of Things.


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American Food 2.0 - USA Pavilion | Expo Milano 2015

American Food 2.0 - USA Pavilion | Expo Milano 2015 | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Our theme for the USA Pavilion is American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet. Expo Milano 2015 will enable the USA Pavilion to showcase the United States as an innovator not only in the food sector, but also in many aspects of culture, science and business. Feeding ourselves engages a massive infrastructure, advanced technologies, and dynamic systems that touch on just about every aspect of the world we live in. Each step from farm to table reflects a set of values and connections that impact our identities and shape our future.

Using interactive exhibits and state-of-the-art digital media, the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 will highlight American industry, products, and entrepreneurship within the contexts of sustainability, nutrition and health, technology and innovation. Our official partnership with Italy will position the United States as a destination for business, entrepreneurship and travel. The USA Pavilion will promote collaboration to strengthen bilateral ties between the United States and Europe and the rest of the global community in order to tackle food-system challenges together.


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Bill Gates to invest $2bn in breakthrough renewable energy projects | Emma Howard | The Guardian

Bill Gates to invest $2bn in breakthrough renewable energy projects | Emma Howard | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Bill Gates has announced he will invest $2bn (£1.3bn) in renewable technologies initiatives, but rejected calls to divest from the fossil fuel companies that are burning carbon at a rate that ignores international agreements to limit global warming.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Gates said that he would double his current investments in renewables over the next five years in a bid to “bend the curve” on tackling climate change.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, lead by Gates and his wife, is the world’s largest charitable foundation. According to the charity’s most recent tax filings in 2013, it currently has $1.4bn invested in fossil fuel companies, including BP, responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In March, the Guardian launched a campaign calling on the Gates’ Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest from coal, oil and gas companies. More than 223,000 people have since signed up to the campaign.

Gates dismissed the calls of the fossil fuel divestment movement – which has already persuaded more than 220 institutions worldwide to divest – on the basis that it would have little impact.

Instead he said there was an urgent need for “high risk” investments in breakthrough technologies. He said that a “miracle” on the level of the invention of the automobile was necessary to avoid a climate catastrophe and that current renewables are not yet close to being able to meet projected energy needs by 2030.

Gates told the Financial Times that the only way current technology could reduce global emissions is at “a beyond astronomical cost” and that innovation is the only way to reach a positive scenario.


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Sri Lanka: SLT to deploy island-wide Wi-Fi solution | TeleGeography.com

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is deploying an island-wide carrier-grade Wi-Fi solution in partnership with manufacturer Ruckus Wireless and vendor Alepo. Combining Ruckus ‘ZoneFlex’ indoor and outdoor access points – centrally managed with two Ruckus SmartCell Gateways – with Alepo BSS/OSS software, SLT plans to introduce multiple Wi-Fi product offers to its customers.


These include: single-use pre-paid services, bundled subscriptions for existing broadband customers, automated offload for mobile users, and partnerships with external providers for roaming and wholesale. The deployment follows successful interoperability testing which SLT conducted earlier this year with Alepo and Ruckus.

SLT Group CEO Dileepa Wijesundera commented: ‘With our extensive country-wide fibre-optic network, we are able to provide the end-to-end infrastructure required, delivering carrier-grade Wi-Fi to business locations as well as crowd-sourcing public places … We are aiming to adopt an aggressive expansion strategy for this solution, and already have a pipeline of additional retail sites that we will be launching very soon.’

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Australia's 'Mobile Black Spot Programme' to deliver nearly 500 new or upgraded base stations | TeleGeography.com

Australia’s Federal Government has announced that its ‘Mobile Black Spot Programme’ will deliver almost 500 new or upgraded mobile base stations around the country, with Telstra responsible for the bulk of these – 429 – and Vodafone Australia covering the remaining 70.


A press release confirming the development called it ‘the most significant one time increase in mobile network coverage to outer metropolitan, regional and remote Australia delivered by a single public funding programme’.

In total the new and upgraded base stations will reportedly provide new handheld coverage to 68,600 square kilometres and new external antenna coverage to over 150,000 square kilometres, while more than 5,700 kilometres of major transport routes will receive new handheld or external antenna coverage.


Further, there will be handheld or external antenna coverage to all or part of around 3,000 of the black spot locations nominated by the public as part of the consultation phase of this programme; such a figure represents almost half of the 6,221 locations without service that had originally been nominated.


In terms of geographical spread, New South Wales will see the most new or upgraded base stations (144), followed by Western Australia (130), Victoria (110), Queensland (68), Tasmania (31), South Australia (11) and Northern Territory (five). The first base stations funded under the programme will be rolled out before the end of 2015 and the rollout will continue for a three year period.


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US supreme court strikes down Obama's EPA limits on air pollution | Suzanne Goldenberg & Raya Jalabi | The Guardian

US supreme court strikes down Obama's EPA limits on air pollution | Suzanne Goldenberg & Raya Jalabi | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The US supreme court struck down new rules for America’s biggest air polluters on Monday, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to set limits on the amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxins coal-fired power plants can spew into the air, lakes and rivers.

The 5-4 decision was a major setback to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and could leave the agency more vulnerable to legal challenges from industry and Republican-led states to its other new carbon pollution rules.

The justices embraced the arguments from the industry and 21 Republican-led states that the EPA rules were prohibitively expensive and amounted to government overreach.

But the EPA pointed out that most plants had already either complied or made plans to comply with the ruling.

“EPA is disappointed that the court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance,” the agency said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The EPA “remains committed to ensuring that appropriate standards are in place to protect the public from the significant amount of toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities and continue reducing the toxic pollution from these facilities,” the agency added.


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In Massachusetts, groups push to bolster solar panel program | Steve LeBlanc | Cape Cod Times

In Massachusetts, groups push to bolster solar panel program | Steve LeBlanc | Cape Cod Times | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The increasing popularity of solar panels is prompting environmental groups to call for lifting what they describe as arbitrary limits on a key program designed to encourage renewable energy use in Massachusetts.

So-called "net-metering" allows homeowners, businesses and local governments to sell excess solar power they generate back to the grid in exchange for credit on their bills.

Renewable energy advocates say 171 communities across the state have already reached the cap. They say that's slowing the state's efforts to reach its goal of 1,600 megawatts of installed solar capacity by 2020.

"We want to make sure that we can get as much solar power in Massachusetts as quickly as possible," said Ben Hellerstein, state director of the advocacy group Environment Massachusetts. "We don't have time to waste."

While individual homeowners are exempt from the cap, it's making it harder for larger projects and residents of apartment buildings to benefit from the program, Hellerstein said.

The cap is calculated as a percentage of each company's highest historical peak load — the most electricity consumed by their customers at any one time. Private facilities are capped at 4 percent, public facilities at 5 percent.

Norton Town Manager Michael Yunits said he's worried the cap is jeopardizing a large solar array planned for a former landfill in town.

Yunits said if the state doesn't raise the cap, the project developer could pull out, costing the town an estimated $300,000 a year.

"We've been planning this for two years and to suddenly have everything end now would be a disaster," Yunits said. "There are a lot of other towns looking into the same thing."

Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, has filed a bill to raise the net-metering cap, allow an exemption for any project of 1 megawatt or less, and create a tax exemption for "community solar" projects that let residents of apartments or businesses that aren't able to install rooftop solar panels create offsite arrays.

It would also set a solar energy goal of 9,500 megawatts — or about 20 percent of the state's energy usage — by 2025.


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The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody's Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak | David Dayen | New Republic

The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody's Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak | David Dayen | New Republic | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Obama administration’s desire for “fast track” trade authority is not limited to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, that may be the least important of three deals currently under negotiation by the U.S. Trade Representative. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bind the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and the European Union. And the largest agreement is also the least heralded: the 51-nation Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

On Wednesday, WikiLeaks brought this agreement into the spotlight by releasing 17 key TiSA-related documents, including 11 full chapters under negotiation. Though the outline for this agreement has been in place for nearly a year, these documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, an example of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, which outstrips even the TPP.

TiSA has been negotiated since 2013, between the United States, the European Union, and 22 other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and others scattered across South America and Asia. Overall, 12 of the G20 nations are represented, and negotiations have carefully incorporated practically every advanced economy except for the “BRICS” coalition of emerging markets (which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

The deal would liberalize global trade of services, an expansive definition that encompasses air and maritime transport, package delivery, e-commerce, telecommunications, accountancy, engineering, consulting, health care, private education, financial services and more, covering close to 80 percent of the U.S. economy.


Though member parties insist that the agreement would simply stop discrimination against foreign service providers, the text shows that TiSA would restrict how governments can manage their public laws through an effective regulatory cap. It could also dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, and turn those services over to the private sector.


You begin to sound like the guy hanging out in front of the local food co-op passing around leaflets about One World Government when you talk about TiSA, but it really would clear the way for further corporate domination over sovereign countries and their citizens.


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Solar Impulse makes third attempt at record flight | David Szondy | GizMag.com

Solar Impulse makes third attempt at record flight | David Szondy | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Solar Impulse 2 has resumed the longest leg of its round-the-world flight. After being grounded for almost four weeks, the single-pilot craft rolled out discretely from Nagoya, Japan today in the hope of taking advantage of improved weather conditions over the Pacific Ocean as it heads for Hawaii.

Solar Impulse 2 has been stranded in Nagoya since June 1 when it was forced down due to deteriorating weather along its five-day flight path. After an aborted attempt to resume its circumnavigation on June 23, the Solar Impulse organization was worried that continuing poor conditions, the local rainy season, and shortening days might result in the mission being postponed for another year and the solar-powered craft stored in a Japanese hangar.

But now another attempt is underway.


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China passes 200m subscriber 4G mark | TeleGeography.com

China’s 4G user base passed the 200 million milestone at the end of May, with the nation’s trio of wireless providers adding more than 20 million net new subscriptions in that month alone, according to the latest statistics from sector regulator the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).


4G users totalled 200.774 million at the end of May, up by 22.816 million from end-April, although 3G users slipped by 10.462 million over that period to 455.842 million as customers upgrading to the newer platform outpaced the growth of new 3G users.


Similarly, customers are increasingly shifting to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections, with 85.965 million subscribers using the technology, an increase of 4.002 million compared to end-April, whilst the number of xDSL users fell by 2.985 million to 76.674 million.

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What Does 'Low Dose' Mean When It Comes to Exposure to Toxic Chemicals? | Genna Reed | AlterNet.org

What Does 'Low Dose' Mean When It Comes to Exposure to Toxic Chemicals? | Genna Reed | AlterNet.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The chemicals that we’re exposed to in our daily lives are often approved by the government under the assumption that they’re safe in small doses, even over a long period of time. For years, regulators relied on the old adage “the dose makes the poison” to try to explain their logic. While that might have appeared true for certain chemicals for many years, we now live in a world where exposure to a large variety of chemicals is unavoidable and it’s finally becoming clear that we can’t evaluate these chemicals in isolation.

Think about a simple picnic in a city park. The air you breathe is filled with particulate matter from car exhaust, the landscaping was likely treated with chemical fertilizers and Roundup or another weedkiller, the plastic surrounding your food or drink items might contain BPA or phthalates, your drinks could contain preservatives, the antibacterial spray you use on your hands after eating might contain triclosan and the sunscreen you apply on your skin probably contains nanomaterials. Now extrapolate that scenario to each and every activity you partake in on a daily basis.

The agriculture sector experiences this chemical cocktail at a more extreme level. The inputs that may go onto a farm in a growing season could include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium–filled fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. These chemicals have individual limits to how much can be used in a season, but these limits don’t take into account all of the other chemicals that will be applied throughout the year. Herbicide use has gone up as weeds have become resistant to the most popular herbicide, glyphosate (Roundup), requiring the use of older, more toxic herbicides like 2,4-D and dicamba. In effect, agricultural workers, farmers and surrounding communities are exposed to a mix of chemicals, the combined, or “synergistic,” effects of which have never been studied.

But this month, a study by 174 scientists from 28 countries was released that, for the first time, looked at how low levels of exposure to 85 different chemicals over time could have synergistic impacts on the development of cancer. All of the chemicals were selected because they are ubiquitous in the environment and are not classified as human carcinogens on their own. However, because each of these chemicals disrupts different pathways and mechanisms in people, the authors hypothesized that interactions between different chemicals and pathways could elevate the risk of cancer.

The teams found that 50 out of 85 of the chemicals could impact cancer-causing pathways at low doses that are realistic in the environment. The research is compelling but preliminary, and calls on regulators to change their risk assessments to consider the impacts of chemical mixes and conduct more research on environmental triggers of cancer and on different chemical mixes and their effects on various cancer-related disruptions.


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New York State Ban On Fracking Made Official | Justin Milulka | DeSmog Blog

New York State Ban On Fracking Made Official | Justin Milulka | DeSmog Blog | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

“After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative.”

Those were the words many activists in New York never expected to hear from Joe Martens, head of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, but they were included in a statement released today as New York made the state’s ban on fracking official.

This step in the process was expected after the release in May of the massive 1,448 page report on fracking that was seven years in the making which also was preceded by the Cuomo administration announcing they planned to ban fracking back in December.

While there had been some mentions in the media that the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on fracking and drinking water contamination might cause trouble for the Cuomo administration, it appears that trouble was limited to predictable Republican statements about Cuomo’s decision being based on “controversial scientific studies.”

As explained in detail in this DeSmog piece by Sharon Kelly, if you read the EPA report and didn’t just rely on headlines in the New York Post to get your information, the report actually provides support for New York’s decision for a fracking ban.

New York now is the only state with known large amounts of shale deposits that has enacted a ban on fracking. In the past week, the state has also released a new energy plan with goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (below 1990 levels) by 2030 and 80% by 2050 and to produce 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

As the oil industry prepares to roll out fracking technology around the globe, New York has taken an important step in showing the world what a “reasonable alternative” looks like.

As DeSmogBlog concluded in our 2011 report Fracking the Future, the risks to our water, health and climate our simply too great to continue this fossil folly.


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A Changing Arctic Continues to Surprise | Peter Sinclair | ClimateCrocks.com

A Changing Arctic Continues to Surprise | Peter Sinclair | ClimateCrocks.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Any associations you might have with Alaska being a generally chilly place, actually, were belied by last month’s heat wave: with average temperatures 7.1 degrees above normal, the state had its hottest May in 91 years of record-keeping. Above, via NASA’s Earth Observatory, is what that deviation looked like.


Meteorologists attributed the unusual heat to a “kinked jet stream that is sending air masses in a more north-south flow than the more typical east-west direction” — a pattern that may be connected to two typhoons in the Pacific.


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Ovum: FTTx Spending to Reach New High, Surpass $1 Billion | Andrew Burger | Telecompetitor

Ovum: FTTx Spending to Reach New High, Surpass $1 Billion | Andrew Burger | Telecompetitor | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Network operators’ spending on FTTx fiber optic equipment is going to reach a new high in 2015, according to new market research from Ovum. FTTx spending on optical equipment will exceed $1 billion this year following a record $953 million in 2014.

Spending on FTTx optical components will stay strong though it will drop to $985 million in 2016, Ovum forecasts. Strong demand for passive optic networking (PON) equipment is driving growth. Uptake of FTTx optics by Chinese carriers in particular is fueling growth.

“Numerous positive factors are driving the FTTx optics market to new levels, including FTTH network deployments by China Mobile and the continued network builds by China Telecom and China Unicom,” Julie Kunstler, report author and Ovum principal analyst, intelligent networks and components team, commented.

FTTx network deployments by North American multiple service operators (MSOs), telcos and the Google Fiber expansion are also adding to growing FTTx optics spending. Deployments are also proceeding in Europe, and the Middle East. Small deployments are taking place in South and Central America and Africa.

Ovum’s latest forecast excludes large FTTx deployments in large and heavily populated India, Brazil and Indonesia “Large deployments in these countries would provide a significant uptick to the units forecast and consequently to revenues,” Kunstler pointed out, “as would faster deployments of next-gen PON because the ASPs for next-gen PON optics are higher than those for non-next-gen.”


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Gizmag's top 10 pavilions from EXPO 2015 | Bridget Borgobello | GizMag.com

Gizmag's top 10 pavilions from EXPO 2015 | Bridget Borgobello | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Gizmag recently took a tour through the impressive grounds of World Expo 2015, which opened in Milan last month and features exhibitions from 143 participating countries. Here we've put together a list of our top 10 pavilions – the cream of a very fine crop which are a must see for anyone planning a visit to the Expo or those simply keen for a closer look at the best of what's on offer.

Located half an hour outside of the city center of Milan, the Expo grounds cover more than one million square meters (10.75 million sq ft), incorporating an array of arresting architectural projects and unique landscapes that represent different cultural identities. This year's world exposition is dedicated to the sharing of diverse and innovative ideas under the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," which saw many countries express ideas on how we can address the big questions surrounding global food supply.

Here's our pick of the 10 best World Expo pavilions:


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France Takes Its War On Uber Up A Notch: Arrests Top Execs | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

France Takes Its War On Uber Up A Notch: Arrests Top Execs | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Last week, we noted some bizarre happenings in France, as taxi drivers unwilling to compete against Uber decided to stage a "protest" which actually looked a lot more like a riot. They overturned Uber cars, held passengers and drivers hostage and lit fires around the country.


You might think that this updated version of Luddites smashing machines would lead to a similar result -- getting laughed at and confined to the dustbins of history. But, this is France we're talking about. Politicians quickly ordered a crackdown on Uber including ordering law enforcement to seize the cars of Uber drivers.

And, that's not all. Now it's being reported that two of Uber's top French execs have been arrested.


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Switzerland: Cablecom introduces 500Mbps broadband | TeleGeography.com

Swiss full-service provider UPC Cablecom has boosted the peak download speed available to residential customers to 500Mbps, although the top speed is reserved for customers signing up to multi-play offerings.


Coinciding with the upgrade, the UK-backed operator has unveiled a range of new offerings with higher transfer rates, additional free minutes of calls to Swiss networks, as well as TV options – such as video-on-demand (VoD), replay and over-the-top (OTT) service ‘Horizon Go’ – and access to Wi-Fi hotspots via Cablecom’s Wi-Free service.


Of the new packages, two include the new top broadband speed of 500Mbps, namely: ‘Horizon Super Trio’, which includes all of the features listed above as well as cable TV and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) for CHF129 (USD138.2) per month (CHF99 for the first two months under the current promotional offer); and ‘Super Horizon Duo’, which bundles broadband and VoIP with VoD, Horizon Go and Wi-Free for CHF119 per month (CHF89 for the first two months under the current promotion).

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Cancer-Causing Chemicals Found in Drinking Water Near Texas Fracking Sites | Anastasia Pantsios | EcoWatch

Cancer-Causing Chemicals Found in Drinking Water Near Texas Fracking Sites | Anastasia Pantsios | EcoWatch | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A research team at the University of Texas at Arlington has published a peer-reviewed study, A Comprehensive Analysis of Groundwater Quality in the Barnett Shale Region, in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The heavily fracked Barnett shale region, with more than 20,000 wells, covers a swath of counties in north Texas surrounding the populous Dallas-Fort Worth area. It also sits beneath two major aquifers.

“The exploration of unconventional shale energy reserves and the extensive use of hydraulic fracturing during well stimulation have raised concerns about the potential effects of unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOG) on the environment,” the authors write. “Most accounts of groundwater contamination have focused primarily on the compositional analysis of dissolved gases to address whether UOG activities have had deleterious effects on overlying aquifers. Here, we present an analysis of 550 groundwater samples collected from private and public supply water wells drawing from aquifers overlying the Barnett shale formation of Texas.”

The team, led by UT Arlington chemistry professor Kevin Schug, found elevated levels of 10 metals and 19 chemicals as well as high levels of ethanol and methanol. The chemical compounds found included benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes, which have been associated with a range of negative health impacts including cancer. Schug said that his team’s work was “the most comprehensive groundwater study in connection to this whole process.”


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Is facial recognition a threat on Facebook and Google? | Mike Elgan | ComputerWorld

Is facial recognition a threat on Facebook and Google? | Mike Elgan | ComputerWorld | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Both Facebook and Google have been working hard at using computers and algorithms to identify people in photos. They've gotten really good at it.

We still don't know what they'll do with that technology. To a large degree, it's up to us. But first, we have to understand what's possible.

Facebook is one of the leading organizations in the world developing facial-recognition algorithms. Facebook software can now identify people in photographs as well as people can. Facebook's DeepFace (no, I'm not kidding -- it's called DeepFace) can tell whether the subjects in two different photographs are the same person with 97% accuracy. That's even better than the FBI's own Next Generation Identification system.

DeepFace achieves this amazing feat by analyzing faces, turning them into 3D models, then making it possible to recognize the faces from angles and under lighting conditions that are different from those in other photos of the same person. The technology uses more than 120 million parameters, and a page on Facebook's research website explains that the company "trained it on the largest facial dataset to-date, an identity labeled dataset of four million facial images belonging to more than 4,000 identities."

But that's not enough for Facebook. It wants to be able to identify people even when their faces aren't showing. Toward that end, Facebook researchers are developing a system that looks at hairstyle, body shape, posture, clothing and so on.

Facebook can now recognize people whose faces aren't showing with 83% accuracy.

Tellingly, the company tried to avoid freaking people out with this research by developing the algorithm using Flickr pics, not Facebook photos.

While Facebook's ability to recognize people is astonishing, so is Google's.


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US Supreme Court rejects EPA's regulation of power plants' emissions of mercury and other toxins | Daily Kos

US Supreme Court rejects EPA's regulation of power plants' emissions of mercury and other toxins | Daily Kos | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The U.S. Supreme Court plunked a setback into the lap of the Environmental Protection Agency Monday by trashing the agency's regulation of emissions of mercury and other air toxins from electricity-generating plants. The court overturned a lower-court decision in the case of Michigan v. EPA stating that the agency had acted reasonably when it chose not to considering costs first in its effort to control those emissions. The justices split 5-4, with the four liberals on the side of the EPA and the four conservatives and Justice Anthony Kennedy on the side of industry and the states that had sued.

The ruling—Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency and two other consolidated cases—is a major disappointment for environmentalists and drag on the Obama administration's efforts to reduce toxic emissions.

It was under the Clinton administration that the EPA began work on the mercury and air toxins rules. That was stopped when George W. Bush became president and restarted when President Obama was elected.

The EPA considered cost irrelevant to its decision to regulate MATS. It agreed that it could have interpreted a provision in the law that cost is relevant but "chose to read the statute to mean that cost makes no difference to the initial decision to regulate," the majority decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia stated. The agency argued that it was appropriate to consider only public health risks—not industry costs—when it decided to regulate emissions from coal- and oil-fired generation plants.

The agency's decision raised objections from industry and more than 20 states. They argued that the regulations would force consumers to pay more for electricity and harm the coal industry. The regulations would cost $9.6 billion annually, according to EPA estimates, but it would provide health benefits of at least $33 billion.


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