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Japan's Abe orders surviving Fukushima reactors scrapped, pledges safe Olympics | Reuters.com

Japan's Abe orders surviving Fukushima reactors scrapped, pledges safe Olympics | Reuters.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the scrapping of two Fukushima nuclear reactors that survived the 2011 tsunami, a write-off that threatens to complicate a turnaround plan the operator has presented to creditors.


He also said he stood by his commitments to the International Olympic Committee of insuring a safe 2020 Summer Games.


"I will work hard to counter rumours questioning the safety of the Fukushima plant," he said.


Abe, speaking to reporters after a tour of the plant on Thursday, said he told Tokyo Electric Power Co to set a time frame for dealing with leaking contaminated water.


"In order for them to concentrate on this, I have directed them to decommission the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that are now halted," Abe said.


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Does fracking cause quakes? California needs to know. | Editorial | LATimes.com

Does fracking cause quakes? California needs to know. | Editorial | LATimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Many concerns have been raised about hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — but the one scientists know the least about is the potential for earthquakes.


Until recently, evidence linking earthquakes to fracking — the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals into rock to release the oil or gas locked within — has pointed to post-drilling operations as the culprit. In other words, the problem didn't seem to be the original fracking but the re-injection of wastewater into wells. That suggested that if a safer disposal method could be found for the wastewater, perhaps the risk could be avoided.


New events, though, indicate that the fracking process itself might also cause seismic instability. Ohio geologists reported last week that a small swarm of earthquakes in the state appeared to be linked to fracking wells; there were no re-injection wells near the area. Ohio had already announced rules to keep fracking operations a certain distance from earthquake faults and to require monitoring of even the lowest levels of seismic activity.


The earthquakes that are possibly connected to both fracking and re-injection have been small, to be sure. But large-scale fracking has not yet taken place in active earthquake territory. It's unknown what the effect would be in California, with its networks of active faults capable of large temblors. Maybe fracking would help by relieving seismic pressure through small earthquakes. Or perhaps it would be more damaging. Limited fracking has occurred for years in California, but almost all of it has been in a remote area of Kern County.


California should have better answers before it allows large-scale fracking in the Monterey Shale, a vast geological formation in the San Joaquin Valley that is believed to hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil. A law passed last year imposed various useful protections and requires the state to research fracking safety, but it does not ban new wells while the study is underway.


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Pakisatan: 3G, 4G spectrum auction to help raise GDP growth: PTA chief | Business Recorder

Pakisatan: 3G, 4G spectrum auction to help raise GDP growth: PTA chief | Business Recorder | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Dr Syed Ismail Shah on Saturday said 3G and 4G spectrum auction was a landmark event in the country's telecom history as would help raise GDP growth.


The auction would also bring more than $ 1 billion investment in the country, he said at a well-attended briefing. Dr Ismail Shah said a total of 50 MHz was being offered in the auction, with 30 MHz in 2100 band and 20 MHz in 1800 band.


He said the base price for 10 MHz in 2100 band was $ 295 million and 10 MHz in 1800 band was $ 210 million. These prices were calculated after extensive market assessment and spectrum valuation by the PTA consultant and value partners, he added.


There were two phases of the auction. The first was the sealed bid stage for demand exploration, while in the second phase there would be final auction on April 23, provided demand received were greater than supply, he said.


Dr Ismail said as per sealed bids received on April 14, the demand was greater than supply, therefore, the final auction would be held on April 23 as planned.


He said the PTA had chosen Simultaneous Multiple Round Ascending (SMRA) mechanism, which was the most preferred auctioning mechanism and widely used in modern day auctions worldwide.


He said SMRA was also preferred over the traditional open cry-out auctioning model as it allowed both auctioneer and bidder flexibility to simultaneously bid on lots of their choice, privacy and time to make educated decisions during the auction process.


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Deepwater Horizon and Experience Gained | The Energy Collective

Deepwater Horizon and Experience Gained | The Energy Collective | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Four years ago this weekend, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 men and sending 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  I flew over the site after the blowout and was stunned by the vast reach of the oil and the enormous scale of the response effort. Yet even with all the emergency vessels on site, it took 87 days to cap the well. The oil industry was woefully unprepared, and in my view, still is.


Not much has changed since then. Yet the industry is poised to enter even more forbidding waters. Shell Oil is pushing to drill in the Arctic Ocean, and its early attempts have been marked by failed emergency equipment and a drill rig grounded in a storm.


It’s time to learn from America’s experience with devastating spills. We must protect pristine places like the Arctic Ocean from drilling, have adequate safeguards in place in all areas to be drilled, and hold the oil industry accountable to a higher standard. And we must demand action now, as NRDC Trustee Robert Redford says in a powerful new video.


Four years have passed since the BP disaster, and the industry has still not fixed technical problems with faulty blowout preventers. Nor has it made major improvements in containment booms—the exact same technology the industry used 25 years ago in the Exxon Valdez spill. These booms managed to pick up just 3 percent of oil spilled in the Gulf. And they have never been proven effective in an Arctic environment covered in ice, fog, and gales most of the year.


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UK: Virgin Media leads broadband pack as UK's average speed hits 17.8Mbps | TheInquirer.net

UK: Virgin Media leads broadband pack as UK's average speed hits 17.8Mbps | TheInquirer.net | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom has announced that the UK's average broadband speed is now 17.8Mbps, with Virgin Media leading the pack.


Ofcom's latest broadband report reveals that the UK's average broadband speed rose to 17.8Mbps as of November 2013, an increase of 3Mbps in just six months. In the five years since Ofcom released its first such report, the UK's average speeds have risen from 3.6Mbps in 2008.


However, while this is a huge increase, Ofcom claims that more needs to be done, saying that the benefits of these higher broadband speeds are not shared evenly across the country.


Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said, "The growth in superfast broadband and the rise in average speeds is testament to the investment in the sector. But the benefits are not shared evenly across the UK. There is more work needed to deliver wider availability of broadband and superfast broadband, particularly in rural communities but also in some locations within cities to enable wider access to fast internet."


In rural areas, average speeds increased from 9.9Mbps to 11.3Mbps between May and November 2013. While this is a bump, Ofcom is still not happy, and it bemoaned the fact that so-called 'superfast' broadband is still limited in such areas, with some having to rely on copper wire ADSL networks.


Virgin Media was quick to speak out about this too, and has launched the Very Megafast Snail Association (VMSA) to protest against such ageing technologies, as demonstrated in the image above.


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It’s Official – Russia Completely Bans GMOs | Collective-Evolution.com

It’s Official – Russia Completely Bans GMOs | Collective-Evolution.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently announced that Russia will no longer import GMO products, stating that the nation has enough space, and enough resources to produce organic food.


If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” – Medvedev


Russia has been considering joining the long list (and continually growing) of anti-GMO countries  for quite some time now. It does so after a group of Russian scientists urged the government to consider at least a 10-year moratorium on GMOs to thoroughly study their influence on human health.


“It is necessary to ban GMOs, to impose moratorium (on) it for 10 years. While GMOs will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed. It has been proven that not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMOs are dangerous. Methods of obtaining the GMOs are not perfect, therefore, at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous. Consumption and use of GMOs obtained in such way can lead to tumors, cancers and obesity among animals. Bio-technologies certainly should be developed, but GMOs should be stopped. We should stop it from spreading. ” – Irina Ermakova, VP of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety


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Bitcoin 2.0: Unleash The Sidechains | TechCrunch.com

Bitcoin 2.0: Unleash The Sidechains | TechCrunch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

“Cryptocurrencies will create a fifth protocol layer powering the next generation of the Internet,” says Naval Ravikant. “Our 2014 fund will be built during the blockchain cycle,” concurs Fred Wilson. And Andreessen Horowitz have very visibly doubled down on Bitcoin.


Even if you don’t believe in Bitcoin as a currency, and I’ll grant there’s plenty to be skeptical about, you should be thinking: huh, a lot of extremely smart and successful people think that its underlying technology is a pretty big deal. But as I wrote myself just a few weeks ago, there’s a big difference between blockchain technology and Bitcoin itself, right?


…Maybe not.


A brief technical refresher: “blockchains” are the distributed-consensus technology introduced to the world by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, wherein a peer-to-peer network is used to codify and cryptographically verify transactions, without any central authority. What’s more, transactions can be orchestrated by programmable contracts.


Bitcoin is both the first and most successful blockchain application, but there are many, many other “cryptocurrencies,” known as “altcoins.” What’s more, there are numerous other, non-currency applications being built on new blockchains, notably Namecoin and Ethereum, and several proposals for expanding and evolving Bitcoin itself, eg ZeroCoin, MasterCoin, Colored Coins, etc.


I realize this all sounds like abstruse hair-splitting to those not yet mentally invested in cryptocurrencies; but as Ravikant put it at TC Disrupt seven months ago:


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The energy revolution is in reverse | Climate News Network

The energy revolution is in reverse | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Keeping the rise in global average temperatures to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels will not be prohibitively expensive, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says, though it won’t be easy.


There’s just one problem: the atmospheric facts show that the world is not simply ignoring the IPCC. It’s moving smartly away from the clean energy future that the Panel says is attainable towards an inexorably hotter and more risky future.


Reaching the target will mean cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40-70% over 2010 levels by mid-century, the IPCC report says. Yet what is happening at the moment is the exact opposite: average global emissions rose by a billion tonnes a year between 2000 and 2010, faster than ever before.


To avoid the worst impacts of climate change as cheaply as possible, the report urges an energy revolution to end the dominance of fossil fuels. The IPCC says  investments in renewable energy need to triple, with subsidies to fossil fuels declining and a switch to natural gas to help countries to get rid of coal.


The path to lower emissions may cost the energy giants dear, the IPCC acknowledges. “Mitigation policy could devalue fossil fuel assets and reduce revenues for fossil fuel exporters,” Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group III, which produced the report, told a public meeting here. “To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual.”


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Fiber-to-the-Antenna and LTE Deployments Strengthen Business Case for Fiber Optic Test Equipment Globally | Frost & Sullivan

The future of fiber optics is being shaped by the need for higher bandwidth, signal rates, and on-chip connections. Technologies like fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA), long term evolution (LTE) deployments along with 100 and 400 gigabyte installations are therefore bolstering the global fiber optic test equipment market. Integrated or platform-based test products, in particular, are gaining momentum for their ability to perform more than one type of test using the same test equipment.


New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the Global Fiber Optic Test Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenue of $603.8 million in 2013 and estimates this to reach $884.9 million in 2020. The fiber inspection probe is an emerging product that accounted for approximately $45 million in sales during 2013 and continues to grow at a significant pace.


For complimentary access to more information on this research, please visit:  http://bit.ly/1jIK66J.


Fiber penetration is increasing in the broadband and access space with significant roll-outs in mobility through FTTA, fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT), distributed antenna systems (DAS), and cloud or centralized-radio access networks (CRAN). Companies are employing fiber cable assemblies that cater to FTTA, while service providers are installing this technology where thousands of assemblies are generated in a week. All these factors contribute to the uptake of fiber optic test equipment.


"The proliferation of electronics and reduction in chip sizes will also augment the demand for innovative test technologies," said Frost & Sullivan Measurement and Instrumentation Program Manager Sujan Sami. "One such potential opportunity lies in micro structure fiber and hollow fiber with higher non-linear limits."


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West Virginia, Still Home | Vimeo.com

McDowell County, situated in the coalfields of West Virginia, has experienced a great boom-and-bust since 1950.


But despite the economic decline and population loss, many still call it home and feel a great sense of purpose among the mountains.


Residents speak about their connection to this place and the meaning of "home."


Featured as an Op-Doc for The New York Times.


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Singapore Solar-Powered Supertrees Made to Collect Rainwater | Natural Health Warriors

Singapore Solar-Powered Supertrees Made to Collect Rainwater | Natural Health Warriors | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

They might look like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, but believe it or not, these crazy structures actually exist, and have been standing tall in Singapore for well over a year now.


Supertree Grove is part of Singapore’s Gardens By the Bay – a massive tract of reclaimed land that the government has transformed into a giant garden. It’s part of a larger effort to eventually turn Singapore from a “garden city” to a “city in a garden;”  with the goal to raise its residents’ quality of life by enhancing the city’s greenery.


The Supertrees are a stunning example of green architecture, and are much more than just gigantic tree-shaped edifices. In addition to serving as vertical gardens, they’re also designed to mimic the ecological functions of real trees.


Each structure is outfitted with an array of photovoltaic cells that collect and store solar energy throughout the day – power that’s used to illuminate the garden when the sun goes down each night. Thanks to their unique shape, the trees also serve as rainwater collectors, and help funnel water to fountain displays and irrigation systems.


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EU approves alien species blacklist | BBC News

EU approves alien species blacklist | BBC News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The European Parliament has approved new legislation to stem the spread of invasive species such as "killer" shrimp or Japanese knotweed.


There will be a ban on the possession, transport, selling or growing of species deemed as of "Union Concern".


The list was going to be restricted to 50, but will now have no limit. It is not clear which species will be banned.


A deal between EU member states effectively means the bill will become law within a few months.


It came on the day that British MPs slammed current government policy on controlling alien species as "not fit for purpose".


The economic and ecological damage caused by non-native species such as the so-called killer shrimp and demon shrimp originally from the Black Sea, the Asian Harlequin ladybird or Japanese knotweed are estimated to cost Europe some 12bn euros every year.


In the UK the bill is at least £1.7bn.


Experts say such insects, plants and animals are one of the major causes of biodiversity loss and species extinction.


They can also spread disease and cause health problems such as asthma, dermatitis and allergies.


The new law will require member states to analyse how troublesome species enter the country and to improve surveillance systems.


Official checks at EU borders will be stepped up. Action plans on how to manage established invasive species also have to be developed.


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Heartbleed: Security experts reality-check the 3 most hysterical fears | NetworkWorld.com

Heartbleed: Security experts reality-check the 3 most hysterical fears | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Heartbleed has dominated tech headlines for a week now. News outlets, citizen bloggers, and even late-night TV hosts have jumped on the story, each amping up the alarm a little more than the last one. But while it's true Heartbleed is a critical flaw with widespread implications, several security experts we've spoken with believe the sky-is-falling tone of the reporting is a bit melodramatic.


"While this is technically a big deal,' the exposure that this has received by the media is overblown," says Greg Foss, senior security research engineer for LogRhythm, "especially when compared to other serious vulnerabilities that are responsibly disclosed every day, which few outside of the security community ever hear about."


So what do you need to worry about? Read on for the hype and the reality behind three of the most common claims to come out of the heartbleed hysteria.


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Putin told Edward Snowden that Russia doesn’t use mass surveillance on its citizens. Here’s a reality check | WashPost.com

Putin told Edward Snowden that Russia doesn’t use mass surveillance on its citizens. Here’s a reality check | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One of the more surreal moments of today's installment in Vladimir Putin's series of reliably surreal call-ins with the Russian nation was when NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden appeared, and asked the former KGB spy about surveillance.


Snowden, currently in hiding in Russia, asked Putin whether the Russian state used the tactics of mass surveillance he had helped to uncover in the United States. Putin, apparently happy to talk spy craft with another former member of the intelligence community, had a firm answer: No, we don't do that.


“You have to get court permission to stalk a particular person,” he said. “Certainly, we do not take liberty of such a vast scale, an uncontrolled scale. [...] Thank God, our special services are strictly controlled by the state and society and their activity is regulated by law."


Putin seemed confident in his answer, but let's take a step back here: Is this actually true? Not exactly, says Andrei Soldatov, editor of Agentura.Ru and one of the most prominent experts of Russia's surveillance culture.


In fact, Soldatov says, Russia even has its own version of PRISM, the clandestine mass electronic surveillance program that Snowden uncovered. It's called SORM, and has been around since 1995. During Putin's 14 years in Russian leadership, the scope of SORM has been expanded numerous times.


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Drought adds to Syria's misery | Climate New Network

Drought adds to Syria's misery | Climate New Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The conflict in Syria has devastated much of the country’s agricultural sector. But while the fighting has left large tracts of farmland abandoned, irrigation systems smashed and livestock neglected, other forces have also been at work.


Syria – and much of the Eastern Mediterranean region – is in the grip of one of the longest periods of drought on record. The World Food Programme (WFP) says the recent rainfall season in Syria, which usually lasts from October to April, produced less than half the long term average precipitation.


When the harvest of wheat – the staple food – is brought in next month it’s likely to be 30% down on last year – and less than half its pre-conflict level.


“This is part of a wider pattern of drier than average conditions which has dominated across the eastern Mediterranean from southern Turkey to western Syria, Lebanon and Jordan”, says the WFP.


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Tar sands development in Northern Alberta, Canada | Pacific Standard

Tar sands development in Northern Alberta, Canada | Pacific Standard | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama touted “more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world—the first time that’s happened in nearly 20 years.” It’s true: U.S. crude oil production has increased from about five million barrels per day to nearly 7.75 mb/d over the past five years (we still import over 7.5 mb/d). And American natural gas production is at an all-time high.


But there’s a problem. We’re focusing too much on gross numbers. (The definition of gross I have in mind is “exclusive of deductions,” as in gross profits versus net profits., though other definitions apply here, too.) While these gross numbers appear splendid, when you look at net, things go pear-shaped, as the British say.


Our economy is 100 percent dependent on energy: With more and cheaper energy, the economy booms; With less and costlier energy, the economy wilts. When the electricity grid goes down or the gasoline pumps run dry, the economy simply stops in its tracks.


But the situation is actually a bit more complicated, because it takes energy to get energy. It takes diesel fuel to drill oil wells; It takes electricity to build solar panels. The energy that’s left over—once we’ve fueled the production of energy—makes possible all the things people want and need to do. It’s net energy, not gross energy, that does society’s work.


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Governor Chris Christie is still trying to force a pipeline through the New Jersey Pinelands | Grist.org

Governor Chris Christie is still trying to force a pipeline through the New Jersey Pinelands | Grist.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In January, on the heels of the embarrassing revelation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) staffers created a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge to punish an obscure political rival, Christie and his allies were handed a defeat. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission rejected a proposed 22-mile natural-gas pipeline that would go through a national reserve of forests and wetlands. Though Christie went so far as to bully a commissioner who was skeptical of the pipeline into recusing himself from the decision, that wasn’t enough to secure approval.


But now the pipeline is back. The state’s leading power brokers want the commission to reconsider and are pressuring commissioners to change their votes, working both behind the scenes and through public statements and symbolic votes in county and town legislative bodies. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, “A growing number of elected officials from Gov. Christie to lawmakers including Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) have joined county freeholders and township officials in support of the project. They are considering ways of returning the issue to the Pinelands Commission, possibly as a ‘compelling public need’ for energy security and scores of jobs.”


The promise of merely “scores” of jobs in a state with 8.9 million residents is a clue that job creation is not the real issue. One of Christie’s top cronies is involved in the proposal. The law firm of David Samson, whom Christie appointed as chair of the Port Authority, represents Rockland Capital, owners of the power plant that the Pinelands pipeline would supply with natural gas. As Wayne Barrett noted in the New York Daily News, “Christie … was so eager to help Rockland that his [Department of Environmental Protection] and Board of Public Utilities (BPU) decided to support the pipeline, paid for by rate increases, despite that the fact that … it would run underground through 15 miles of the million-acre Pinelands, the country’s first natural preserve and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.” (Samson resigned from the Port Authority last month after the Bridgegate debacle and media reports that he is under federal investigation for lobbying for companies with business before the Port Authority.)


The B.L. England power plant, which would be served by the pipeline, currently burns coal. Christie’s Democratic predecessors had forced it to sign agreements to reduce its pollution or switch to natural gas. The Christie administration gave it a reprieve until 2015.  Switching from coal to gas could be beneficial to the climate — when burned, gas emits roughly half the CO2 that coal does (though that’s not so impressive compared to wind or solar). But in practice, natural gas drilling operations and pipelines often leak methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas, which can neutralize any climate benefit. And beyond climate change, the pipeline would pose obvious threats to the local environment.


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TrueCrypt audit finds “no evidence of backdoors” or malicious code | Ars Technica

TrueCrypt audit finds “no evidence of backdoors” or malicious code | Ars Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

On Monday, after seven months of discussion and planning, the first phase of a two-part audit of TrueCrypt was released.


The results? iSEC, the company contracted to review the bootloader and Windows kernel driver for any backdoor or related security issue, concluded (PDF) that TrueCrypt has: “no evidence of backdoors or otherwise intentionally malicious code in the assessed areas.”


While the team did find some minor vulnerabilities in the code itself, iSEC labeled them as appearing to be “unintentional, introduced as the result of bugs rather than malice.”


Since September 2013, a handful of cryptographers have been discussing new problems and alternatives to the popular security application. By February 2014, the Open Crypto Audit Project—a new organization based in North Carolina that seeks formal 501(c)3 non-profit status—raised around $80,000 toward this goal on various online fundraising sites.


"[The results] don't panic me,” Matthew Green, a Johns Hopkins cryptography professor who has been one of the people leading this effort, told Ars. “I think the code quality is not as high as it should be, but on the other hand, nothing terrible is in there, so that's reassuring.”


Green said that the second phase was now to perform a “detailed crypto review and make sure that there’s no bug in the encryption.”


Specifically, the report continued:


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WORLD BANK WANTS WATER PRIVATIZED, DESPITE RISKS | We Are Change

WORLD BANK WANTS WATER PRIVATIZED, DESPITE RISKS | We Are Change | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clichéd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture — public health is at stake.


In the run-up to its annual spring meeting this month, the World Bank Group, which offers loans, advice and other resources to developing countries, held four days of dialogues in Washington, D.C. Civil society groups from around the world and World Bank Group staff convened to discuss many topics. Water was high on the list.It’s hard to think of a more important topic.


We face a global water crisis, made worse by the warming temperatures of climate change. A quarter of the world’s people don’t have sufficient access to clean drinking water, and more people die every year from waterborne illnesses — such as cholera and typhoid fever — than from all forms of violence, including war, combined. Every hour, the United Nations estimates, 240 babies die from unsafe water.


The World Bank Group pushes privatization as a key solution to the water crisis. It is the largest funder of water management in the developing world, with loans and financing channeled through the group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). Since the 1980s, the IFC has been promoting these water projects as part of a broader set of privatization policies, with loans and financing tied to enacting austerity measures designed to shrink the state, from the telecom industry to water utilities.


But international advocacy and civil society groups point to the pockmarked record of private-sector water projects and are calling on the World Bank Group to end support for private water.

In the decades since the IFC’s initial push, we have seen the results of water privatization: It doesn’t work. Water is not like telecommunications or transportation. You could tolerate crappy phone service, but have faulty pipes connecting to your municipal water and you’re in real trouble. Water is exceptional.


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Shetland Island set for superfast broadband | Scotsman.com

Shetland Island set for superfast broadband | Scotsman.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Shetland is set to be Scotland’s first island community to get superfast fibre optic broadband as part of a £410 million project to improve internet speeds in rural areas across the country.


Homes and businesses in Lerwick, on the Shetland mainland, join Keith in Moray as the latest areas to come online in the Digital Highlands and Islands project. The project will deliver fibre broadband to 84 per cent of premises across the region by 2016.


The project will see fibre broadband services offering speeds of up to 80 megabits per second become available in the autumn, once BT engineers deploy the necessary technology.


Keith and Lerwick will both receive high speed technology for the first time, while additional premises in Nairn, Dingwall and Fort William will also be covered. Around 6,500 premises in total are set to benefit across the locations.


Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership is about rolling out reliable fibre services to our most remote areas. The first live locations in the Highlands and Islands were announced in February and around 10,000 premises can now access fibre broadband as a direct result of the project.”


“This is an important step towards ensuring that Scotland has world-class digital connectivity by 2020. Our investment, and that of our partners in the project, will extend access to superfast broadband across Scotland. This will be a key factor in ensuring Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity.”


The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the Rest of Scotland.


In total, more than three quarters of a million homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the scheme.


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Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog : California Drought/Polar Vortex Jet Stream Pattern Linked to Global Warming | Weather Underground

Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog : California Drought/Polar Vortex Jet Stream Pattern Linked to Global Warming | Weather Underground | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

From November 2013 - January 2014, a remarkably extreme jet stream pattern set up over North America, bringing the infamous "Polar Vortex" of cold air to the Midwest and Eastern U.S., and a "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" of high pressure over California, which brought the worst winter drought conditions ever recorded to that state.


A new study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, led by Utah State scientist S.-Y. Simon Wang, found that this jet stream pattern was the most extreme on record, and likely could not have grown so extreme without the influence of human-caused global warming.


The study concluded, “there is a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge during winter 2013-14, the associated drought and its intensity."


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Science Society Seeks to Shift Dialogue on Climate Change by Showing "What We Know" | ScientificAmerican.com

Science Society Seeks to Shift Dialogue on Climate Change by Showing "What We Know" | ScientificAmerican.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientific consensus that humans cause climate change is akin to the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer, says a report released today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


The report, called "What We Know," marks the kickoff of a new AAAS initiative to increase dialogue on the risks of climate change.


"Opinion polls show that more than half of the American public still think that there is a debate over whether climate change is happening or whether it is human-caused," said James McCarthy, a Harvard University oceanographer and co-chairman of the report.


McCarthy expressed hope that the report, coming from a trusted source -- AAAS publishes the prestigious journal Science -- and written by a group of esteemed American climate scientists, would get across the message that 97 percent of climate scientists are in agreement and that early action is needed on climate change.


"We are speaking in a way that we hope will be heard unambiguously," McCarthy said.


"The people that do question climate science are either for the most part not scientists or scientists who are not informed in this area," he added.


The report offers three key messages on climate change.


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5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the Developing World | EduTechDebate.org

Educational technology will continue to be implemented incrementally in many parts of the developing world.


More rapid uptake and success are unlikely to occur unless five items are addressed – power, Internet connectivity and bandwidth, quality teacher training, respect and better pay for teachers, and the sustainability of implementations.


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Epic Electric American Roadtrip shatters world record, reveals truth about Supercharging | SmartPlanet.com

Epic Electric American Roadtrip shatters world record, reveals truth about Supercharging | SmartPlanet.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Norman Hajjar is a man on a mission--in a Tesla. He’s currently crisscrossing the United States in a 12,000-mile journey to break an electric vehicle (EV) Guinness World Record, while stumping for better charging infrastructure and educating curious onlookers along the way.


When SmartPlanet spoke to Hajjar, he was somewhere west of Cleveland, Ohio, nearly three weeks into his Epic Electric American Roadtrip, having already traveled 9,253 miles, using 3,278 kwh in the process. (The stats on the site aren't updating correctly.)


That record he’s trying to break? It’s for longest traveled distance in a non-solar electric-powered vehicle and it stood at 3,534 miles. He blew right by it on his eighth day of driving.


Hajjar is managing director for Pluginsights, an EV research firm and the trip is sponsored by its parent company, Recargo Inc, which provides EV software and information services. Hajjar used the Plugshare app to help plan the roadtrip.


In traveling to all four corners of the U.S., Hajjar’s Tesla Model S sedan, powered by an 85kWh battery, has been put to the test by weather. Tire chains were even necessary in Vail, Colorado.

To see photos from his journey, click here


Has he ever been worried he won’t make it to the next Supercharger? No. Hajjar says, “You have to watch the calculations to see what the drain rate is on the battery on a mile to mile basis. You do a bunch of tests as you go to be sure that you’re not going to be in trouble. It’s relatively simple math.”


And what can you do if you notice you're not getting the efficiency level you expected from the battery? You slow down. Hajjar says, "There’s an exponential increase in drag as your speed accelerates north of 50 or 55 miles per hour. When you get up into the mid and high seventies, you’re really feeling the pain on the battery."


According to Hajjar, the three biggest variables affecting battery life are temperature, wind, and elevation.


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Tor anonymity network to shrink as a result of Heartbleed flaw | NetworkWorld.com

Tor anonymity network to shrink as a result of Heartbleed flaw | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Tor Project has flagged 380 Tor relays vulnerable to the critical Heartbleed flaw to be rejected from the Tor anonymity network, reducing the network's entry and exit capacity.


The decision has already been implemented on a Tor directory authority -- a server that maintains a list of Tor relays -- controlled by Roger Dingledine, the Tor Project leader, and is likely to be followed by other directory authority operators.


The 380 relays flagged for rejection are trusted entry relays, also known as guards, and exit relays. As a result, the immediate impact of this decision would be a 12 percent reduction in the network's guard and exit capacity, Dingledine said Wednesday in an email sent to the tor-relays mailing list.


Traffic from clients typically flows through the Tor network in three hops. The first hop is through a guard relay and the final hop, before the traffic is returned on the Internet to reach its intended destination, is through an exit relay.


Twelve percent might not sound like much, but guard and exit relays play an important role on the network and are not easy to replace. Many relays are run by volunteers, but they need to be trusted and need to have enough bandwidth at their disposal to handle traffic from multiple clients.


"I thought for a while about taking away their Valid flag rather than rejecting them outright, but this way they'll get notices in their logs," Dingledine said.


It seems that the ban might be permanent. Dingledine said that he wouldn't want those relays back on the Tor network even if they upgraded their versions of OpenSSL because their operators didn't patch the flaw in a timely manner.


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Israeli start-up, working with GE, out to detect Stuxnet-like attacks | NetworkWorld.com

Israeli start-up, working with GE, out to detect Stuxnet-like attacks | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Stuxnet malware known to have stealthily targeted Iranian nuclear facilities a few years ago was a wake-up call about how vulnerable critical industrial systems can be to cyberattack. Now, an Israeli start-up, with help from General Electric, is testing security technology that would detect Stuxnet-like attacks on critical infrastructure systems used for power production.


Two university professors, Amir Averbuch of Tel Aviv University, and Ronald Coifman of Yale, came up with mathematical algorithms that can be used in network security monitoring to detect stealthy malware targeting industrial systems. The company they founded last year with CEO Mark Gazit is called ThetaRay.


The Tel Aviv-based start-up has developed server-based technology to be used in monitoring of power-production facilities, industrial SCADA systems and other critical infrastructure. Expected to be generally available around September, the technology could also be applied to other industries, such as financial services.


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