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Ecuador Is Literally Powerless in the Face of Drought

Drought-stricken hydro dams have led to daily electricity cuts in Ecuador. As weather becomes less predictable due to climate change, experts say other countries need to take notice.
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Ecuador is in trouble: Drought has shrunk its reservoirs, and its hydroelectric dams have had to power down. The government has been forced to cut electricity to homes for hours at a stretch, and in mid-April, President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency. Since then, homeowners have been taking cold showers and struggling without internet access, while restaurants have been serving up meals by candlelight to avoid closing and losing perishable food. For businesses, that’s the worst, says Etiel Solorzano, a Quito-based tour guide for Intrepid Travel. “Three hours of no power? You can go bankrupt for that.”

Some days, the power outages have lasted up to eight hours or more, says Juan Sebastián Proaño Aviles, a sustainability coordinator and mechanical engineering professor at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Things have improved a little—power cuts are now no longer a daily occurrence—but Proaño Aviles expects sporadic energy shortages to continue for years. “It’s going to be a problem,” he says. “We have to do something pretty fast.”

In regions that receive most of their precipitation in a short period each year—like Ecuador, Southeast Asia, and the American West—reservoirs have historically been effective at storing water. (In Ecuador and Southeast Asia, a rainy season contrasts a dry season, while the American West gets heavy snow during fall and winter.) Managing agencies can then gradually release the stored water throughout the year to generate power as needed. This dependability helped make hydropower the largest renewable electricity source in the world.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the day…

The UK is racing towards a winter energy crisis

Gas prices are spiking and the energy markets are coming under increasing pressure. The combination may lead to a bleak winter
The UK is racing towards a winter energy crisis
Winter is coming – and it looks like it’s going to be a rocky one. The price of natural gas in the UK has increased more than 420 per cent year on year. In mainland Europe, prices are tracking a similarly sharp trajectory. And a perfect combination of other factors – including environmental conditions and unpredictable accidents – is putting the industry under further strain.

These price fluctuations have a knock-on effect: the price of electricity – often generated from gas – is spiking, while household suppliers are hitting the wall as catastrophically high wholesale prices make their businesses uneconomical. Seven UK supply firms have gone out of business so far this year. Bills for end users are forecast to rise 20 per cent, according to Citigroup.

It all makes for grim reading – particularly as gas remains a key source in powering our homes and business. But we should get used to it. According to some experts, it’s just the first flashing warning light on the dashboard of a car heading headlong into a prolonged, painful crash.

Almost everything that could go wrong with the energy markets is currently going wrong – and there are few easy fixes. First, take the climate crisis: our fixation on low-cost fossil fuels has engendered a situation that makes us more susceptible to supply shocks as we try and wean ourselves off the thing that helped cause the problem in the first place. “We always had these geopolitical risks,” says Adi Imsirovic, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and a former oil trader with 30 years’ experience. “Now we have climate change risks that are essentially a premium on the prices.”

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A Response to McAfee: No, the “Environmental Kuznets Curve” Won’t Save Us


A number of people have asked me to respond to a piece that Andrew McAfee wrote for Wired, promoting his book, which claims that rich countries – and specifically the United States – have accomplished the miracle of “green growth” and “dematerialization”, absolutely decoupling GDP from resource use. I had critiqued the book’s central claims here and here, pointing out that the data he relies on is not in fact suitable for the purposes to which he puts it.

In short, McAfee uses data on domestic material consumption (DMC), which tallies up the resources that a nation extracts and consumes each year. But this metric ignores a crucial piece of the puzzle. While it includes the imported goods a country consumes, it does not include the resources involved in extracting, producing, and transporting those goods. Because the United States and other rich countries have come to rely so heavily on production that happens in other countries, that side of resource use has been conveniently shifted off their books.

In other words, what looks like “green growth” is really just an artifact of globalization. Given how much the U.S. economy relies on globalization, McAfee’s data cannot be legitimately compared to U.S. GDP, and cannot be used to make claims about dematerialization. If McAfee wants to compare GDP to domestic resource consumption, then he needs to first subtract the share of US GDP that is derived from production that happens elsewhere. He does not. Nor is this possible to do.

Ecological economists have been aware of this problem for a long time. To correct for it, they use a more holistic metric called “raw material consumption,” or Material Footprint, which fully accounts for materials embodied in trade.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine

Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine

They are soldiers, but the 77th Brigade edit videos, record podcasts and write viral posts. Welcome to the age of information warfare.

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Abarbed-wire fence stretched off far to either side. A Union flag twisted in a gust of wind, and soldiers strode in and out of a squat guard’s hut in the middle of the road. Through the hut, and under a row of floodlights, I walked towards a long line of drab, low-rise brick buildings. It was the summer of 2017, and on this military base nestled among the hills of Berkshire, I was visiting a part of the British Army unlike any other. They call it the 77th Brigade. They are the troops fighting Britain’s information wars.

“If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking,” was written in foot-high letters across a whiteboard in one of the main atriums of the base. Over to one side, there was a suite full of large, electronic sketch pads and multi-screened desktops loaded with digital editing software. The men and women of the 77th knew how to set up cameras, record sound, edit videos. Plucked from across the military, they were proficient in graphic design, social media advertising, and data analytics. Some may have taken the army’s course in Defence Media Operations, and almost half were reservists from civvy street, with full time jobs in marketing or consumer research.

From office to office, I found a different part of the Brigade busy at work. One room was focussed on understanding audiences: the makeup, demographics and habits of the people they wanted to reach. Another was more analytical, focussing on creating “attitude and sentiment awareness” from large sets of social media data. Another was full of officers producing video and audio content.

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What Empire Loyalists Are Really Saying When They Bash Julian Assange

What Empire Loyalists Are Really Saying When They Bash Julian Assange

Wired has just published what might be the single most brazenly dishonest and manipulative piece of down-punching empire smut that I have ever read. An article by Virginia Heffernan titled “The Real Houseguest of the Ecuadorian Embassy” revolves around the outright lie that Julian Assange is suing the Ecuadorian government because he doesn’t feel like cleaning up after his cat and maintaining basic hygiene in the embassy he’s been confined to since 2012. In reality, the legal case arose from the fact that despite being granted political asylum for his journalism, Assange has for months been cut off from the world and forbidden to practice journalism by the new government of Ecuador, and would remain unable to practice journalism under the new conditions Quito recently imposed upon him.

The article reads as though its author is attempting to force snarky humor through a thick fog of hatred and personal misery while seeing how many lies she can pack into each paragraph. Heffernan claims falsely that Assange is “wanted on various criminal charges”; Assange has not been charged with anything. Heffernan claims falsely that Assange “has been closely linked to the Kremlin and Russian president Vladimir Putin”; this is just objectively false with no evidence backing it up whatsoever. Heffernan claims falsely that “the distinct possibility has surfaced that during his embassy tenure Assange communicated with Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s consigliere, via magic decoder rings or the internet”; there’s no evidence that Stone had any back channel with WikiLeaks, and the information he notoriously amplified was already public. Heffernan claims falsely that WikiLeaks is “Russia-aligned”; another assertion for which there is zero evidence and much evidence to the contrary.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Opens 2018 with Fake-News Bang, Suggests Russia Plotting to Cut Trans-Atlantic Internet Cables

US Opens 2018 with Fake-News Bang, Suggests Russia Plotting to Cut Trans-Atlantic Internet Cables

US Opens 2018 with Fake-News Bang, Suggests Russia Plotting to Cut Trans-Atlantic Internet Cables

Well, that didn’t take long. Just five days into 2018, and the American fake news industry is already up and running, churning out tasteless whoppers faster than Burger King.

Wired magazine has joined the greasy ranks of other Western mythmakers now fueling a black wave of anti-Russia hysteria by mass-producing a never-ending unsubstantiated claims and outright lies against the Kremlin.

The article begins with a doomsday scenario involving some “terrorist organization or nefarious nation” making the reckless decision to cut the undersea fiber optic cables that connect people across the world. So out of all the numerous diabolical groups that now populate the planet, who did Wired nominate as the most likely to pull off such a wanton act of sabotage? Yes, you got it. Putin’s Russia.

The obvious question for any rational thinking person is: Why would Russia do such a thing? Because, according to Wired, the Russian Navy has been “repeatedly caught snooping near the cables” that run along the entire expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean. Wired conveniently fails to remind its readers, however, that any country with a naval force would be forced to pass these lines on numerous occasions in the course of its travels. But acknowledging as much would be putting facts before fiction, and of course we can’t have that.

So where does Wired get its information regarding these latest nefarious plans on the part of Russia? From yet another purveyor of Russian fake news – arguably second only to the Washington Post – the New York Times.

“Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict,” the Times breathlessly reported back in 2015.

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Remember the Russian Attack on the Internet?

Remember the Russian Attack on the Internet?

In 2016, a bot, named Mirai, wrecked havoc over the global internet with massive waves of DoS attacks on anything, from French telecoms, to U.S. web services, to Russian banks, to African airports and beyond. Per Wired, “As the 2016 US presidential election drew near, fears began to mount that the so-called Mirai botnet might be the work of a nation-state practicing for an attack that would cripple the country as voters went to the polls.”

Of course, the minute there is any suspicion of the ‘nation-state’ actors behind the attack, we know that is the code word for ‘the Russians’. And, of course, given the sheer number of ‘security research’ lackeys eagerly awaiting for the U.S. or UK or EU dollars/pounds/euros in grants and subsidies, the ‘Russian’ spectre loomed large in the wake of Mirai havoc. Here’s a snapshot:

  • http://www.itsecurityguru.org/2016/10/12/research-shows-russian-hackers-could-be-behind-the-mirai-botnet/
  • https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/who-shut-down-u-s-internet-friday-n671011
  • https://twitter.com/hackerfantastic/status/782840355116969984
  • https://www.networkworld.com/article/3130504/security/record-iot-ddos-attacks-raise-bar-for-defenders.html
  • https://www.csoonline.com/article/3144200/security/expect-more-iot-botnet-attacks-mirai-source-code-now-freely-available.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/22/business/internet-problems-attack.html

But, in the end, the famous DoS attack was down to just three U.S. students: https://www.wired.com/story/mirai-botnet-minecraft-scam-brought-down-the-internet/?mbid=social_twitter. Which, sort of, begs a question: how many ‘security experts’ of the ‘Russian spectre looms large over everything’ variety have lost their lucrative contracts with the Government, the media and the think tanks that provide platforms to the endless Russophobic hysteria? My bet is: none. Like in the good old days of the Soviet empire, you can’t get fired for lying in Pravda… 

U.S. Grid Narrowly Escapes Apocalyptic Attack

U.S. Grid Narrowly Escapes Apocalyptic Attack


The American grid security story grows increasingly grim. Last week, security consulting firm Symantec warned that recent cyberattacks gave hackers direct access to the nation’s power grid on multiple occasions, according to a new report by Wired.

This time, not only the United States was exposed, said Symantec. Europe also experienced similar vulnerabilities, proving the hackers could have induced blackouts on both sides of the Atlantic. Thankfully, this apocalyptic scenario didn’t happen.

In spring and summer 2017, the Dragonfly 2.0 hacker group—a primary culprit featured in cybersecurity reports from many experts lately—launched campaigns against energy companies. They succeeded 20 times, hacking their way into full access to their target companies’ corporate servers and operations controls. This meant they could turn off circuit breakers that control the direct flow of electricity to homes and businesses.

“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage… being able to flip the switch on power generation,” Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst, told Wired. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the U.S., and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.” Related: Venezuela Just 24 Hours Away From Formal Declaration Of Default

The Ukrainian grid power blackouts of 2015 and 2016 are generally considered the firstinstances of cyberattacks wreaking havoc on a nation’s power supplies. Analysts believe that the perpetrator of the first attack on Ukraine’s power back in December 2015 was the Sandworm team, a group of hackers who previously targeted Europe and the United States. An updated version of their most lethal software, Blackenergy 3, was at the root of Ukraine’s initial power crisis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Someone Is Lying | Zero Hedge

Someone Is Lying | Zero Hedge.

Yesterday, moments before the North Korea “hacking” tragicomedy escalated into full retard mode with Sony pulling The Interview, or a movie that absent the attention would certainly be a flop, Wired released an article titled: “North Korea Almost Certainly Did Not Hack Sony” (title subsequently changed to the one below as can be seen in the URL alias “http://www.wired.com/2014/12/north-korea-did-not-hack-sony-probs), which however, and for the better, retains its content as it is quite critical in debunking the latest government “certainty.”

Continue reading here for the full story, because moments after the Wired piece hit, we got this “confirmation” from the NYT:

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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