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Mexico floods kill 80, leave thousands stranded in resort of Acapulco | Wash Post

Mexico floods kill 80, leave thousands stranded in resort of Acapulco | Wash Post | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The toll from devastating twin storms climbed to 80 on Wednesday as isolated areas reported deaths and damage to the outside world, and Mexican officials said that a massive landslide in the mountains north of the resort of Acapulco could drive the number of confirmed dead even higher.


Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said federal authorities had reached the cutoff village of La Pintada by helicopter and had airlifted out 35 residents, four of whom were seriously injured in the slide. Officials have not yet seen any bodies, he said, despite reports from people in the area that at least 18 people had been killed.


“It doesn’t look good, based on the photos we have in our possession,” Osorio Chong said, while noting that “up to this point, we do not have any (confirmed) as dead in the landslide.” Osorio Chong told local media that “this is a very powerful landslide, very big ... You can see that it hit a lot of houses.”


Mayor Edilberto Tabares of the township of Atoyac told Milenio television that 18 bodies had been recovered and possibly many more remained buried in the remote mountain village. Atoyac, a largely rural township about 42 miles (70 kilometers) west of Acapulco, is accessible only by a highway broken multiple times by landslides and flooding.


Ricardo de la Cruz, a spokesman for the federal Department of Civil Protection, said the death toll had risen to 80 from 60 earlier in the day, although he did not provide details of the reports that drove it up.


In Acapulco, three days of Biblical rain and leaden skies evaporated into broiling late-summer sunshine that roasted thousands of furious tourists trying vainly to escape the city, and hundreds of thousands of residents returning to homes devastated by reeking tides of brown floodwater.


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Jazz VanHemert's comment, September 26, 2013 10:29 PM
Since Mexico seems different than states in the United States I thought this article would be interesting to share about how its different than other natural disasters that happen to the states. It is very eye-opening that some places are treated differently then other places even though they all had the same effect. Mexico's government can help for the damage of the town so many are homeless.
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With Sub-$60 Oil, Fracking & Tar Sands Losses Threaten Whole Financial System | Paul Mobbs | It's Our Economy

With Sub-$60 Oil, Fracking & Tar Sands Losses Threaten Whole Financial System | Paul Mobbs | It's Our Economy | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Brought about by the recent fall in oil prices, investors are beginning to review the economics of unconventional oil and gas. For the last few years there have been a number of damning reports about the economics of unconventional fossil fuels.

Now it seems those long-ignored observations are being taken seriously by the money-lenders of Wall Street.

John Maynard Keynes was one of the most significant economists of the Twentieth Century, whose observations still draw the ire of pundits and politicians today.

One of his better-known economic aphorisms was, “If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.”

Sound advice, but what if you owe hundreds of billions? Then it becomes a problem for the whole economic system, not just the bank.


During the early 2000s a lot of Wall Street’s ‘funny money’, based around complex investment schemes, flowed into unconventional oil and gas developments. It was seen as the new ‘revolution’ in America’s energy system, and a new, politically approved path to energy independence.


When that funding stream collapsed, after the 2007/8 financial crisis, the number of drilling rigs operating in America collapsed too.

In the wake of the crisis the US and other governments instituted quantitative easing(QE) – in effect conjuring ‘free money’ from governments, given at near zero rates of interest to the major banks and finance institutions.


Problem was, in the wake of the crisis, there was little to invest all that ‘new funny money’ in. Throwing free money after bad, the US fracking industry mopped up a large wad of QE cash, and shortly after the number of drilling rigs in the US took off again.


Looking for a fast return, sections of the finance industry specialise in ‘high risk’ or ‘junk’ investments – which in America is reckoned to be worth $1,300 billion.


Over the last 10-15 years the global finance system has loaned the American unconventional oil and gas industry hundreds of billions of dollars. Today somewhere between $150 and $550 billion of those loans are considered to be ‘junk’.


Now, as oil prices fall, the precarious, Ponzi scheme nature of these investments is being exposed – although the basic facts were made public by the New York Times over four years ago.


There’s a whole lot of reasons why many have seen ‘fracking’ as an economic train wreck waiting to happen. What’s triggered today’s reality-check is the large and fast fall in oil prices, and recent studies which have exposed the flaws in the investment models which underpin the industry.


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Big News: More Tariffs on Solar Panels from China | Jennifer Runyon | Renewalble Energy World

Big News: More Tariffs on Solar Panels from China | Jennifer Runyon | Renewalble Energy World | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Yesterday, December 16th, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its final findings in the 3-year long trade war between the U.S. and China. Additional tariffs will be imposed on modules from China and Taiwan. Although this is good news for SolarWorld and other American solar PV manufacturers, many in the U.S. solar industry are not celebrating and the decision is expected to further divide an already shaken solar industry.

Specifically, Commerce determined that imports of certain crystalline silicon PV products from China have been sold in the U.S. at dumping margins ranging from 26.71 percent to 165.04 percent and that imports of certain crystalline silicon PV products from Taiwan have been sold in the U.S. at dumping margins ranging from 11.45 percent to 27.55 percent. Finally, Commerce determined that imports of certain crystalline silicon PV products from China have received countervailable subsidies ranging from 27.64 percent to 49.79 percent. Named in the suit, Trina Solar and Renesola/Jinko received final dumping margins of 26.71 percent and 78.42 percent, respectively. Commerce also found that 43 other exporters qualified for a separate rate of 52.13 percent (PDF of fact sheet here lists all 43 exporters beginning on page 7.)

The China-wide entity received a whopping final dumping margin of 165.04 percent — this is for companies that did not cooperate with the investigation.

In the Taiwan AD (anti-dumping) investigation, mandatory respondents Gintech and Motech received final dumping margins of 27.55 percent and 11.45 percent, respectively. All other producers/exporters in Taiwan received a final dumping margin of 19.50 percent.


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This is something important for solar goers. We need to take a deep notice of it. 

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Zimbabwe | Regulator to develop National Broadband Plan | TeleGeography.com

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has revealed that it is to begin working on a new National Broadband Plan in 2015 in an effort to boost the country’s high speed internet sector, as well as the wider economy.


The regulator says it will produce a draft plan after studying the development of internet markets around the world, before giving local telcos and internet service providers (ISPs) an opportunity to comment on its proposals.The final plan will then go to parliament for approval.


Acting director general of POTRAZ Baxton Sirewu told local news portal Techzim that the aim of the project is to promote the development of the internet sector through improved network coverage and increased customer take-up. He added that broadband services play a ‘vital role’ in underpinning the national economy.


According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Zimbabwe was home to just 48,500 fixed broadband subscribers at the end of September 2014, equivalent to a household penetration rate of just 1.5%, a full three percentage points below the regional average.

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50 years of gentrification: will all our cities turn into 'deathly' Canberra? | Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian

50 years of gentrification: will all our cities turn into 'deathly' Canberra? | Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

What makes a liveable city? Having lots of nice parks, you might think, a decent public transport system, good schools and hospitals, great architecture, exciting nightlife, easy access to the countryside. These are just some of the factors used by organisations who draw up annual lists of “the most liveable cities in the world”. And yet somehow, they end up with Canberra.

This year, for the second year running, Australia’s political capital was named the best city in the world by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), a result that made northern hemisphere observers wonder if, down under, they were looking at the rankings upside down.

Canberra is a deathly place. It is a city conceived as a monument to the roundabout and the retail park, a bleak and relentless landscape of axial boulevards and manicured verges, dotted with puffed-up state buildings and gigantic shopping sheds. It is what a city looks like when it is left to politicians to plan.

So what other cities make it on to the rankings? The Economist Intelligence Unit puts Melbourne in first place, followed by Vienna, Vancouver, Toronto, Adelaide and Calgary. There is never any mention, on any list, of London or New York, Paris or Hong Kong. There are no liveable cities where you might actually want to live. It makes you wonder if their chief parameter is finding a place where you won’t be disturbed from reading the Economist on a windswept plaza, surrounded by the soulless wipe-clean charm of an identikit downtown. Liveability, it seems, is defined by a total absence of risk or chance, pleasure or surprise. It is an index of comfort, a guide to places where you can go safe in the knowledge you’ll never be far from a Starbucks.

The one thing many of these cities have in common is that they are places where Jan Gehl has worked his magic. The Danish guru of streets and public spaces has made a career out of travelling the world to whisper sweet nothings about pedestrianisation and pavement cafes into the ears of enrapt mayors. He has become the patron saint of liveability.


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Paris Wants to Keep Central Neighborhoods From Becoming 'Ghettos for the Rich' | Feargus O'Sullivan | CityLab.com

Paris Wants to Keep Central Neighborhoods From Becoming 'Ghettos for the Rich' | Feargus O'Sullivan | CityLab.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

What can you do when a once socially mixed neighborhood starts turning into a “ghetto for the rich”? Quite a lot, according to the city of Paris.


As part of a massive home-building drive, the government of France’s capital has just announced a plan to stop housing displacement in central neighborhoods. It might just be the most radical Europe has yet seen.


Earlier this week, the Conseil de Paris published a list of 257 addresses (containing over 8,000 apartments) that the city would have a "right of first-refusal" to buy, in order to convert to subsidized housing.


Located in areas that are being gentrified, the city’s plans would both increase subsidized rental options and ensure that at least some housing in these areas remains affordable to lower- and middle-income residents.


The plans operate within existing laws rather than creating new ones—but as you can imagine, real-estate professionals aren’t exactly delighted with the proposals.


The nuts and bolts of the plan are as follows. When apartments at any of the 257 addresses come up for sale, they must by law be offered first to the city. The apartment should still be sold at the market price —but the price offered would nonetheless be decided by the city, not the seller.


If the landlord doesn’t like what’s offered, he or she can appeal to an independent judge to have it re-priced, or can withdraw the property from the market. What the landlord can’t do, however, is sell the apartment on to someone else without the city having bowed out first.


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What might the future look like if we took climate change seriously? | Merrian Borgeson's Blog | NRDC.org

What might the future look like if we took climate change seriously? | Merrian Borgeson's Blog | NRDC.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new analysis lays out several detailed “pathways” to a low-carbon future for the United States, and offers practical guidance for policy makers. The bottom line finding is that there are multiple ways we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with known technologies and with an incremental cost equivalent to less than 1 percent of gross domestic product. But the choices we make in the short term matter a lot if we want to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

This work is important because the negotiations in Lima last week set a positive direction for the international climate agreement planned for next December in Paris. As the United States considers its strategy, it is important to reflect on what it would take – on a nuts and bolts level – to meet an aggressive climate target. This includes talking about sources of energy, power lines, industrial facilities, homes and buildings, cars and trucks and the fuels they run on – the physical infrastructure necessary to massively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.


With all the international dialogue and ongoing climate modeling, there has been surprisingly little analysis done on what needs to happen to respond to climate change from the perspective of physical infrastructure. And while sure, no one can predict the future, we need to start imagining (in detail) the range of options that would enable the United States to meet an aggressive climate target over the longer-term. We need to be able to credibly ask whether proposed policies can reduce emissions enough – or whether they lead to dead ends that may meet short term targets but foreclose upon the future we need to build.


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Here Are 5 Countries Where Solar Power Is Making a Revolution | Juan Cole | Truthdig.com

Here Are 5 Countries Where Solar Power Is Making a Revolution | Juan Cole | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Developing countries of the global south don’t have enough electricity. Sometimes rural populations are only just now getting electricity.


Ironically, many of them can leapfrog conventional power and go straight to solar and wind.


Indeed, in the next generation, renewables will be a central element in national development.


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German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world’s cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it’s increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world’s billions of cellular customers.

The flaws discovered by the German researchers are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower – that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because of the lax security on the network.


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Global 4K UHD TV Shipments Up 700% | Greg Tarr | TWICE.com

Global 4K UHD TV Shipments Up 700% | Greg Tarr | TWICE.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Global 4K Ultra HD TV shipments are expected to exceed 11.6 million units in 2014, on the way to topping 100 million units by 2018, according to new research issued by Futuresource Consulting.

The firm said 4K UHD sets are expected to grow nearly 700 percent year on year in 2014, with China accounting for over 70 percent of global demand.

In Western Europe and North America, share of 4K demand for 2014 will represent 10 percent and 8 percent respectively, with demand expected to grow at 72 percent CAGR until 2018.

“4K adoption is forecast to grow quickly from 2015 onwards with over 100 million shipments projected in 2018, representing 38 percent of the total TV market,” said David Tett, Futuresource research analyst. “An indication that 4K is quickly becoming mainstream was the availability of many sets at discounted prices during last month's Black Friday.”

Sales of 4K TVs are expected to be concentrated on the larger screen sizes, generally 50 inches, but screens smaller than 40 inches will become more widely available with 4K in the coming years, Tett said. Native 4K content remains scarce, and many consumers are currently buying sets on the basis that they can up-scale HD content and will be future-proof, in preparation for when native 4K content is more widely available.


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EC urges Germany to withdraw or amend FTR proposal | TeleGeography.com

Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission (EC) has concluded that the approach of the German telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), for the calculation of fixed termination rates (FTRs) does not follow the European Union (EU) recommended approach and leads to competition and consumer harm.


According to the FNA, FTRs for alternative fixed operators will be based on the previously applied methodology for incumbent operator Telekom Deutschland (TD), but the EC says that, if adopted, the new rates in Germany would be over 200% higher than in member states that follow the EC’s recommendation.


Brussels says it now requires the FNA to withdraw its proposal or to amend it in order to bring it in line with the EC’s guidelines.


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Cyberattack on German steel factory causes 'massive damage' | Loek Essers | NetworkWorld.com

A German steel factory suffered massive damage after hackers managed to access production networks, allowing them to tamper with the controls of a blast furnace, the government said in its annual IT security report.

The report, published Wednesday by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), revealed one of the rare instances in which a digital attack actually caused physical damage.

The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory’s office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. Spear phishing involves the use of email that appears to come from within an organization. After the system was compromised, individual components or even entire systems started to fail frequently.


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Smaller, faster, greener "high-rise" 3D chips are ready for Big Data | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

Smaller, faster, greener "high-rise" 3D chips are ready for Big Data | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Stanford engineers have pioneered a new design for a scalable 3D computer chip that tightly interconnects logic and memory, with the effect of minimizing data bottlenecks and saving on energy usage.


With further work, the advance could be the key to a very substantial jump in performance, efficiency, and the ability to quickly process very large amounts of information  –  known as "Big Data"  –  over conventional chips.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the context of chip design, that link is usually the data bus that connects the memory and logic components and fetches data from memory, delivers it to the logic units for processing, and then sends it back over for storage.

As it turns out, both CPU speeds and memory size are advancing at a much faster rate than the throughput speed of the data bus is improving. This means that when processing large amounts of data the CPU has to slow down to a crawl, constantly waiting for new data to arrive, wasting a lot of time and energy in the process. And things are only going to get worse as the gap increases. Couple this trend with the huge interest in Big Data in recent years and it’s easy to see how, if nothing is done to address this, we might end up with a serious problem on our hands.


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Desolenator churns out clean drinking water using solar power | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com

Desolenator churns out clean drinking water using solar power | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Desalination may one day prove the savior for regions of the world where clean drinking water is scarce, but current technology dictates that this process is often expensive and energy-intensive. The team behind the Desolenator has high hopes of delivering water security to those in need, with a mobile desalinator that runs purely on energy from the sun.

At a time when the planet’s population is set to grow substantially and rising global temperatures are adding further uncertainty to the supply of fresh water, considerable effort is going into advancing desalination technology and making it cheaper and more accessible.

In 2010, IBM commenced work on a solar-powered desalination plant to bring fresh water to the Saudi desert, while later in that same year MIT revealed designs for a portable system powered by photovoltaic panels. Only yesterday we wrote about the Odyssée desalinator, an all-in-one system that uses wave-power to produce clean drinking water on the spot.

Now the developers of the Desolenator are promising the lowest cost per liter compared to any other available system of its scale. Their solution takes the form of a mobile, flat-screen television-sized unit with a top, slanted surface covered by an array on photovoltaic panels. Complete with all terrain wheels for mobility, the team says that the Desolenator is built to last 20 years.

The device is claimed to be more dependable than traditional desalination systems that rely on reverse osmosis, a technique where specialized membranes are used to filter out undesired particles. Part of this is because it has no moving parts, but more importantly, it is entirely energy independent.


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Argentina approves new telecoms law | TeleGeography.com

Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the National Congress, has approved a new telecommunications law, replacing the existing legislation that dates back to 1972.


Reuters reports that legislators voted 131 in favour and 97 against the ‘Digital Argentina’ bill, which will allow companies to provide bundled telephone, internet and cable television services. It also creates the Autoridad de Aplicacion de las Tecnologias de la Informacion y las Comunicaciones (AFTIC), a new seven-member body responsible for controlling and regulating all ICT-related matters.


‘Telecommunications should be a human right,’ said Mario Oporto, president of the communications committee, adding: ‘Information and communications technologies should work in the public interest.’


Critics argue that the new bill, which still needs to be signed by President Cristina Fernandez to be enacted, will benefit market leaders rather than increasing competition.


‘Instead of defending the interests of users … this is a measure designed to secure and expand the business interests of the telecoms companies, further cementing their dominant positions,’ argued opposition legislator Roy Cortina of the Socialist Party.

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Externet to launch cable internet in 100 Hungarian locations | TeleGeography.com

Hungarian telco Externet has announced it intends to launch cable internet services in 100 locations across the country, according to the Budapest Business Journal.


The company began operations as an internet service provider (ISP) in 1996 and currently offers ADSL, mobile internet, IPTV and landline telephone services.


A time scale for its cable internet roll out has not been given.

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Engaged universities contribute to economic development | Rebecca Warden | University World News

Engaged universities contribute to economic development | Rebecca Warden | University World News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Engaged universities – those that see engaging with the wider community as part and parcel of their mission – can use these activities to contribute to economic development too. Around the globe, universities are doing this in various ways, some in ways you might expect, others in ways that might surprise you.

But there is plenty more for them to do. Academics and civic engagement activists grappled with the question of the best ways to do it at the Talloires Network Leaders Conference in Cape Town this month, where economic development was one of three main themes.

The most obvious way in which universities contribute to economic development, particularly locally, is as employers and purchasers of goods and services.

Ira Harkavy, director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, is an advocate of the idea of universities as anchor institutions. These are non-profit organisations that never move and are therefore highly motivated to invest in their geographic location.

A university attracts businesses and highly skilled people to a city and may offer cultural amenities such as museums, theatres and extension courses for the city’s people and those of the surrounding area. As a consumer of large tracts of land, it can have a significant impact on local builders.

Harkavy argues that, together with medical institutions, universities act as powerful economic engines in cities. “In the city of Philadelphia, eight out of 10 of the largest employers are meds and eds,” he says, and this pattern is to be found in big cities across the US.

So far so good. But what does this have to do with civic engagement you may ask? The answer lies in the how as much as the what.

If a university makes meeting civic goals part of its economic decisions, by deciding to buy locally or employ more women or people from ethnic minorities for instance, the economic impact becomes civic too.

“So even traditional activities can be transformed through the aims, goals and the process of how the university works,” says Harkavy. “If they are designed to benefit both the community and the university, you can take standard activities, like teaching, research, technology and business development and transform them into a civic activity.”


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Obama sure sounds like he’s about to reject the Keystone pipeline | Ben Adler | Mother Jones

Obama sure sounds like he’s about to reject the Keystone pipeline | Ben Adler | Mother Jones | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Speaking at his end-of-the-year press conference on Friday afternoon, President Obama sounded very much like he's poised to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. He gave his sharpest assessment to date of its potential costs and benefits—lots of costs and few benefits.

Climate hawks rejoiced, not only because of Obama's implied opposition to Keystone, but because he finally confronted American ignorance of how the oil market works, and attempted to reorient our energy policy around reality.

At the press conference, Obama took a question from The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin on what he will do about the Keystone XL pipeline, which congressional Republicans plan to try to ram through in January. Eilperin said Obama has in past comments "minimized some of the benefits" of Keystone. Obama responded that he has merely accurately characterized the benefits, which are objectively minimal, and walked Eilperin through a lesson in macroeconomics.

Here are the highlights:


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Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One of New York's top financial regulators is laying out a new policy on Bitcoin and other virtual currencies after a flood of public feedback encouraged the agency to scale back its proposed rules.

New revisions to the proposal would trim some requirements on Bitcoin-related businesses, and clarify others. Among the key changes? Companies covered by the regulations will no longer be required to store the addresses of every person involved in a Bitcoin transaction — an idea privacy hawks have said would deter people from adopting virtual currencies. Now, companies regulated by New York's so-called BitLicense will only be required to gather transaction information from their own customers, said Ben Lawsky, New York's superintendent of financial services, at a Washington conference Thursday.

In addition, covered companies will only have to store that information for seven years, down from the 10 years Lawsky's agency, the department of financial services, was previously considering.

"Virtual currencies really sit at that crossroads of the much more lightly regulated tech sector and the more heavily regulated financial sector," said Lawsky, who added that all financial companies ought to be supervised to "ensure that consumers' money doesn't just disappear into a black hole."

That said, the new rules will be clarified to cover only those companies that actually engage in sending money from one place to another, said Lawsky. They won't apply to software companies that offer consumers Bitcoin "wallets" where they can store their digital cash. Nor will the rules apply to retailers that simply take bitcoins as payment for goods and services. Private individuals who "mine" or invest in bitcoins won't be required to apply for a license from the state government, either.


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Public Citizen Report Reveals Dents, Holes in Keystone XL Southern Half Weeks Before Planned Startup | Steve Horn | DeSmogBlog.com

Public Citizen Report Reveals Dents, Holes in Keystone XL Southern Half Weeks Before Planned Startup | Steve Horn | DeSmogBlog.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is supposed to begin pumping up to 700,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day through the Cushing, OK to Port Arthur, TX route within weeks. But is it ready to operate safely?

Public Citizen has released a chilling report revealing that the 485-mile KXL southern line is plagued by dents, faulty welding, exterior damage that was patched up poorly and misshapen bends, among other troubling anomalies.

In conducting its investigative report, “Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline,” Public Citizen worked on the ground to examine 250 miles of the 485 mile pipeline's route. The group and its citizen sources uncovered over 125 anomalies in that half of the line alone. These findings moved Public Citizen to conclude the southern half of the pipeline shouldn't begin service until the anomalies are taken care of, and ponders if the issues can ever be resolved sufficiently.

After President Barack Obama temporarily denied a permit for Keystone XL's northern half in January 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted Keystone XL's south half a legally dubious Nationwide Permit 12 to expedite construction. Soon after, President Obama issued his own Executive Order in March 2012 calling for the expedited building of the south half in de facto support of the Corps' permit.

An August report by industry intelligence firm Genscape said the pipeline, rebranded by Transcanada as the “Gulf Coast Project,” will ship tar sands dilbit through the line beginning in the first quarter of 2014. Now, the race to build the south half literally looks like it could come with major costs and consequences.


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Polar bears feel the heat as icy habitat shrinks | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Polar bears feel the heat as icy habitat shrinks | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Arctic is changing faster under the influence of the warming climate than anywhere else on Earth, scientists have confirmed.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says Arctic air temperatures continue to rise more than twice as fast as they do globally − a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.

The extent of snow cover in April 2014 in Eurasia was the lowest since 1967, and sea ice extent in September was the sixth lowest since 1979.

Some Arctic polar bear populations have been badly affected by the progressive shrinking of Arctic sea ice.

But NOAA says: “Natural variation remains, such as the slight increase in March 2014 sea ice thickness and only a slight decrease in total mass of the Greenland ice sheet in summer 2014.”

Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, a decline in the reflectivity of the ice at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, shrinking spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean, and the declining populations and worsening health of some bear populations are among the findings described in NOAA’s Arctic Report Card 2014.

“Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade and climate,” Craig McLean, of NOAA, told the annual American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco.


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BT, Sky, and Virgin “hijacking” browsers to push porn blocks | James Templeton | Ars Technica

BT, Sky, and Virgin “hijacking” browsers to push porn blocks | James Templeton | Ars Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

BT, Sky, and Virgin Media are hijacking people's web connections to force customers to make a decision about family-friendly web filters. The move comes as the December deadline imposed by prime minister David Cameron looms, with ISPs struggling to get customers to say yes or no to the controversial adult content blocks.

The messages, which vary by ISP, appear during browser sessions when a user tries to access any website. BT, Sky,TalkTalk and Virgin Media are required to ask all their customers if they want web filters turned on or off, with the government saying it wants to create a "family friendly" Internet free from pornography, gambling, extreme violence and other content inappropriate for children. But the measures being taken by ISPs have been described as "completely unnecessary" and "heavy handed" by Internet rights groups.

The hijacking works by intercepting requests for unencrypted websites and rerouting a user to a different page. ISPs are using the technique to communicate with all undecided customers. Attempting to visit WIRED.co.uk, for example, could result in a user being redirected to a page asking them about web filtering. ISPs cannot intercept requests for encrypted websites in the same way.

BT is blocking people's browsers until they make a decision, making it impossible for customers to visit any websites once the in-browser notification has appeared. A spokesperson for the UK's biggest ISP said: "If customers do not make a decision, they are unable to continue browsing. The message will remain until the customer makes a decision."

BT explained that the message does not force people to activate BT Parental Controls and if a user selects "No" they will be taken to a confirmation page and be able to continue browsing without the message reappearing.

Digital rights organization Open Rights Group (ORG) said that ISPs risked encouraging customers to trust hijacked sessions by displaying messages in this way.


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Analogue is all I want? Armenia says no, as DTT bill is sent to Parliament | TeleGeography.com

Ashot Melikyan, head of the Armenian commission for freedom of speech, has announced that the country’s transition from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT) took a major step forward this week with the news that a bill defining the terms of the switchover have now been sent to Parliament.


The government has set a date of 1 June 2015 for the migration to a DTT standard, putting Armenia in step with the single European digital TV standard.


Ms Melikyan commented that amendments made to the nation’s law on TV and radio in 2010, allow for some 18 TV channels to switch from analogue to digital by 20 July 2015. The transfer of existing channels will be paid for by the government, although Arka News notes that ‘practically nothing is mentioned about private multiplexes’.


According to Ms Melikyan though, the DTT legislation needs to be amended to clarify how new private multiplexes will be allowed to enter the local market. ‘We are discussing how to transfer to a simple licensing method. This means TV companies will be able to decide on their own how they will broadcast – through state-funded, satellite or cable multiplexes,’ she said.

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France: Free Mobile to offer 3G/4G services on Paris metro | TeleGeography.com

French cellco Free Mobile has signed an agreement with state-owned public transport operator Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) to deploy 3G/4G networks on the Paris metro and on lines A and B of the RER, an underground rail system which serves Paris and its suburbs.


According to a joint press release, HSPA+ and Long Term Evolution (LTE) access will be extended to all Free subscribers with a compatible handset imminently, both in stations and on trains.

Emmanuel Pitron, secretary general of the RATP Group, said: ‘In today’s world, where people are constantly on the move and need permanent connectivity, this new agreement with [Free] will enable RATP to offer new services to its customers … It demonstrates RATP’s aim of providing full coverage to the seven million people who use its travel networks every day, whatever their mobile operator.’

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Trojan program based on ZeuS targets 150 banks, can hijack webcams | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Trojan program based on ZeuS targets 150 banks, can hijack webcams | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new computer Trojan based on the infamous ZeuS banking malware is targeting users of over 150 banks and payment systems from around the world, security researchers warn.

The new threat, dubbed Chthonic, is based on ZeusVM, a Trojan program discovered in February that is itself a modification of the much older ZeuS Trojan.

“The Trojan is apparently an evolution of ZeusVM, although it has undergone a number of significant changes,” security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post. “Chthonic uses the same encryptor as Andromeda bots, the same encryption scheme as Zeus AES and Zeus V2 Trojans, and a virtual machine similar to that used in ZeusVM and KINS malware.”

Like ZeuS, Chthonic’s main feature is the ability to surreptitiously modify banking websites when opened by victims on their computers. This technique, commonly known as Web injection, is used to add rogue Web forms on banking websites that ask victims for sensitive information, like credit card details or second-factor authorization codes.

However, Chthonic has a modular architecture that allows cybercriminals to extend the Trojan’s functionality. The Kaspersky Lab researchers found Chthonic modules designed to collect system information, steal locally stored passwords, log keystrokes, allow remote connections to the computer through VNC, use the infected computer as a proxy server and record video and sound through the computer’s webcam and microphone.

According to Kaspersky Lab, there are several Chthonic-based botnets with different configurations, suggesting the malware is being used by different groups.


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Deloitte's Amsterdam HQ becomes world's most sustainable office building | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

Deloitte's Amsterdam HQ becomes world's most sustainable office building | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Deloitte's new corporate headquarters in Amsterdam has been certified as the most sustainable office building in the world by BREEAM. The Edge was awarded an "Outstanding" rating with the highest ever BREEAM score of 98.36 percent. It takes the title from One Embankment Place in London.

BREEAM (short for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) is an approach for assessing and rating the sustainability of buildings. It is licensed for use by independent assessors around the world and is claimed to be "the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings." Among the criteria considered during a building's assessment are energy and water use, transport links, materials used, waste and management processes.

According to the building's designers PLP Architecture, The Edge is the second largest building to ever achieve BREEAM's Outstanding certification. The building covers 40,000 sq m (430,000 sq ft), and features a mix of passive temperature control and energy-efficient design, and generates its own electricity, too.


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