German Media Links Bitcoin to Weapon Used in Terror Attack
German media have linked bitcoin to the recent Munich shooting in which a lone gunman killed nine people. The shooter apparently acquired the gun on the Darknet, with Bitcoin being the most likely form of payment. With politicians calling for stricter guns laws, there is speculation that European regulators will introduce legislation against anonymous online transactions using cryptocurrency.
As Germany is trying to cope with the latest terrorist attack, a suicide bombing in Ansbach, the possible implications of a previous incident are only starting to form. Numerous media reports in the German media are linking Bitcoin Bitcoin While some may still be wondering what is Bitcoin, who created Bitcoin, or how does Bitcoin work, one thing is certain: Bitcoin has changed the world.No one can remain indifferent to this revolutionary, decentralized, digital asset nor to its blockchain technology.In fact, we’ve gone a long way ever since a Florida resident Laszlo Hanyecz made BTC’s first official commercial transaction with a real company by trading 10,000 Bitcoins for 2 pizzas at his local Papa John’s.One could now argue that While some may still be wondering what is Bitcoin, who created Bitcoin, or how does Bitcoin work, one thing is certain: Bitcoin has changed the world.No one can remain indifferent to this revolutionary, decentralized, digital asset nor to its blockchain technology.In fact, we’ve gone a long way ever since a Florida resident Laszlo Hanyecz made BTC’s first official commercial transaction with a real company by trading 10,000 Bitcoins for 2 pizzas at his local Papa John’s.One could now argue that Read this Term to the Munich shooting which might lead to a further crackdown on cryptocurrency use by European governments. Apparently the consensus is that the shooter must have illegally acquired the gun on the Darknet and many of the German newspapers that reported it specifically mentioned Bitcoin as the preferred payment method of users on the clandestine network. Needless to say, this is all despite the fact that the investigation is far from over. While the immediate reactions by German politicians were mainly calls to increase the toughness of the country's strict anti-gun ownership laws, demands for a clampdown on anonymous online transactions with cryptocurrency can't be far behind considering that the media is tying it with the rising threat of terrorism. European regulators have already had bitcoin in their sights for a long time, linking it to terror financing, drug trafficking, tax avoidance and other nefarious ventures. We last saw this play out following the Paris attacks which led to demands to further curtail anonymity on European cryptocurrency exchanges, despite no evidence that it was related to the event in any way. Now, when bitcoin is seen as the most likely method to have been actually used by a mass murderer for the purchase of a weapon, European authorities will have all the legitimacy and urgency to act against it.
Sunrun to demonstrate VPP using rooftop solar-plus-batteries
Sunrun has joined forces with Southern California Edison (SCE) to demonstrate a virtual power plant (VPP) using rooftop solar and storage. The residential rooftop solar equipment company said it will network 300 of its Brightbox systems to show how SCE could use them during peak demand. Customer service senior VP Jill Anderson said the VPP trial will enable the company to compare home battery plants with larger capacity generators. Sunrun agreed a 20 MW peak capacity contract with grid company New England Independent System Operator in 2019 and a VPP deal with East Bay Community Energy.
It is also true that not many of Sunrun’s direct rival installer or leasing companies have done VPP roll-outs. Tesla played up the VPP capabilities of Powerwall when it launched in 2015 before the company then acquired installer SolarCity but most of its VPP activity has been outside the US, with South Australia the setting for the biggest home solar-storage VPP in the world so far in which Tesla is a key participant. Recent studies of the first six months of that South Australia VPP showed that the systems delivered significant revenues. The majority of VPP projects in the US have been done by storage providers that have the added capability to intelligently manage and control their systems either themselves or through third party controls: the likes of Sunverge, Sonnen and most recently SimpliPhi Power have joined the VPP party. Sunrun itself earned a major industry landmark deal when it got a 20MW peaking capacity contract with regional grid operator New England Independent System Operator (ISO) in February 2019. Also last year, the company won a VPP deal with California non-profit energy supplier East Bay Community Energy to deploy 500 systems on low-income housing units to help facilitate the speedy retirement of a fossil fuel plant in Oakland, California. In a blog for this website, written as an interview between NEXTracker CTO Alex Au and Sunrun’s Vp of energy services Audrey Lee, Lee said that to win the New England ISO deal, the company had to answer the same sort of questions that a conventional centralised power plant developer would be asked. Ultimately, Lee said, New England ISO saw the 20MW residential virtual power plant as a “new valuable resource that can add reliability to their system”. “In these scenarios, instead of just using the battery for backup power, we can maximise its utilisation by including it in wholesale market capacity so it can be used like a power plant,” Audrey Lee said, in the interview which you can read here. On the latest project, Sunrun said that between now and the middle of next year, up to 300 of Sunrun’s Brightbox solar-plus-storage packages will be networked. They will demonstrate how a VPP can be used by SCE to provide peaking capacity to the grid, keep homes backed up in the event of power outages and overall show how the connected technologies can help the state of California decarbonise its grid. “As we continue to decarbonise the power grid it is essential that we find innovative solutions enabling clean, affordable and reliable service. The Virtual Power Plant will help us understand how home battery systems can perform similar to single large capacity energy sources to benefit all customers,” SCE’s senior VP for customer service, Jill Anderson, said.
Mobile World Congress cancelled over coronavirus fears
This year’s annual Mobile World Congress, which was due to be held in Barcelona on 24 February has been cancelled after more than 40 of the world’s biggest technology and telecommunications companies pulled out over fears of the spread of the coronavirus. The GSMA, which organises the congress, may have to bear the cost of a full cancellation, unless the Spanish government declares the outbreak a health alert. The show is estimated to be worth around €500m to the city with the hospitality sector taking the biggest hit.
The world’s largest mobile phone trade fair, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled after scores of the world’s biggest technology and telecommunications companies pulled out over fears of the spread of the coronavirus. The MWC, which was due to be held in Barcelona on 24 February, was expecting more than 100,000 delegates from about 200 countries across the four days of the conference. On Wednesday, GSMA, which organises the congress, was forced to admit it would have to axe this year’s event after more than 40 companies pulled out citing health and safety concerns. Q&A How can I protect myself and others from the coronavirus outbreak? Show The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine. The UN agency advises people to: Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers Advice about face masks varies. Wearing them while out and about may offer some protection against both spreading and catching the virus via coughs and sneezes, but it is not a cast-iron guarantee of protection Many countries are now enforcing or recommending curfews or lockdowns. Check with your local authorities for up-to-date information about the situation in your area. In the UK, NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. Was this helpful? Thank you for your feedback. The list of no-shows had grown to become a who’s who of the world’s biggest tech and telco firms including BT, the owner of mobile firm EE, Facebook, Nokia, Ericsson, the US chipmaker Intel, Cisco, Amazon, Vodafone and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom. The Chinese firm Huawei, the controversial smartphone and 5G component maker that was scheduled to be one of the event’s biggest exhibitors, had flown employees to Spain to self-quarantine in advance. The GSMA had banned travellers from Hubei, the province at the centre of the virus outbreak. Approximately 5,000-6,000 (5-6%) of the attendees each year have come from China. The trade show’s organisers had attempted to allay concerns by announcing more stringent health and safety measures including a ban on handshakes, and taking attendees’ temperatures. However, this appeared to backfire, galvanising companies who had been monitoring the situation to confirm they would pull out. John Hoffman, the chief executive of GSMA, said the virus had made it impossible to hold the event. “The GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concerns and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” said Hoffman. “The host city parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the host city partners will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.” The organisation may have to bear the cost of a full cancellation unless the Spanish government changes its position on the coronavirus and moves to declare a health alert. It will also represent a significant loss to Barcelona and the city’s hospitality industry. The show is estimated to be worth about €500m (£420m) to the city and provides 14,000 part-time jobs for local workers.
New Zealand reinstates coronavirus restrictions after first locally-transmitted case in 102 days
All four of the cases were found within one household in South Auckland. None of the new cases had recently traveled outside of New Zealand. The new restrictions across Auckland and New Zealand will take place from midday on Wednesday and last at least three days until midnight on Friday.
CNN — New Zealand’s most populous city has gone back under lockdown after new locally transmitted coronavirus cases broke the 102-day streak the country had gone without recording a local infection. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed four new locally transmitted coronavirus cases on Tuesday night, and announced that Auckland will temporarily see level three restrictions introduced for three days starting from midday on Wednesday, local time. All four of the cases were found within one household in South Auckland according to New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. He added that none of the new cases had recently traveled outside of New Zealand. “We have been preparing for that time, and that time is now,” said Dr Bloomfield adding that the “health system is well prepared.” “In line with our precautionary approach we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift actions with us, as of 12 noon tomorrow, Wednesday August 12, we will be moving Auckland to level 3 restrictions,” said Ardern. She added that this will give health officials time to conduct urgent contact tracing and assess the situation. The new restrictions mean that businesses including restaurants, bars and non-essential shops will have to close. People will also now only be allowed to leave their homes to conduct essential activities such as picking up supplies from grocery stores. Gatherings over 10 people will also be restricted in Auckland. Schools in Auckland will also be closed for three days. Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand will go into level two restrictions. Under the restrictions groups of no more than 100 people can gather in one place. Social distancing must also be practiced at hospitality businesses, while public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure one meter physical distancing and record keeping. The new restrictions across Auckland and New Zealand will take place from midday on Wednesday and last at least three days until midnight on Friday.
Honda plans to cancel gasoline-only cars in Europe by 2022
Japan's Honda has said it will stop manufacturing gasoline-only vehicles in Europe by 2022, and will electrify all cars sold by the same date, three years earlier than previously targeted. Tom Gardner, Honda senior VP for Europe, told Sky News' Iain King it would "considerably change the line-up" of vehicles offered by the company. Gardner also said Honda had made the "tough decision" to import cars into Europe rather than produce them there, due to already-established supply chains.
Honda has announced plans to stop producing gasoline-only cars by 2022. The carmaker said it will "electrify" all of its models sold in Europe within the next three years - which includes making many models hybrid. Hybrid vehicles carry a traditional internal combustion engine as well as a battery pack. The Japanese company has brought forward its original plan to move away from petrol-only and diesel-only vehicles by three years from its previously announced target of 2025. Speaking from Amsterdam to Sky News' Ian King Live, the company's senior vice president for Europe, Tom Gardner, said the decision will considerably change the line-up of cars it offers. He said: "Regulations are becoming clearer in Europe and we're responding to that challenge. "Honda is the world's largest engine manufacturer, and from what we have announced today we are committing to ending all mainstream non-electrified petrol and diesel production for Europe by the end of 2022." Earlier this year, Sky News first revealed Honda's decision to shutdown its Swindon factory, which employs 3,500 people. The plant in southwest England, which produces well over 100,000 Civic cars, is the company's only factory in the EU. Advertisement Responding to questions on why Honda chose to import vehicles into Europe rather than manufacture them here, Mr Gardner said the company already had an established supply chain for its electric power trains and batteries in other parts of the world that were better suited for making the hybrid cars. He added: "Unfortunately we've had to make a tough decision and similar decisions are being made across the industry. "We have to optimise our resources, our capabilities and our production systems to deliver these new vehicle. "Electrification has a number of challenges for the power train, the battery supply and in all of those things that for us, are optimised in the Japan and Asia region." Separately, Honda also announced plans to work with Vattenfall, a European electricity producer, to offer its customers a flexible electricity tariff that will allow cars to be charged at the most cost-effective times during the day.
Robert Mugabe, former Zimbabwe president, dies aged 95
Robert Mugabe, a hero of Africa’s independence struggle whose long rule in Zimbabwe descended into tyranny, corruption and incompetence, has died at the age of 95, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.As far back as November 2018, Mnangagwa, who took over from him as president, told members of the ruling Zanu-PF party that Mugabe could no longer walk.Mugabe, flanked by his wife, suggested he would vote for the opposition MDC, a party he had brutally suppressed before co-opting it in 2008 to form a supposed unity government that he still dominated.
Robert Mugabe, the deeply divisive former president of Zimbabwe, was declared a “national hero” by the ruling Zanu-PF party on Friday, as preparations for his funeral got under way in the nation he ruled with an iron first for almost 40 years. The death of the former president on Thursday night in a clinic in Singapore marks the definitive end of an era in the former British colony. Mugabe, who died aged 95, ruled Zimbabwe for close to four decades before being ousted in a military takeover in November 2017. Though initially admired as a hero of Africa’s independence struggle, his long rule descended into tyranny, corruption and incompetence, earning him international pariah status. His death prompted mixed reactions in Zimbabwe, across Africa and around the world. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power after Mugabe’s fall, called his predecessor “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people” and said Zimbabwe would be in official mourning until the former leader’s remains were brought back from Singapore and buried. Tendai Biti, a prominent opposition politician, said that though he had been tortured on Mugabe’s orders, he was not bitter. “He brought massive destruction to Zimbabwe but was a product of his era. He did not know how to make the transformation from liberation leader to national leader,” Biti told the Guardian. No plans for a funeral have been announced, but it is expected to take place in the capital, Harare, or Mugabe’s home town of Zvimba. The ruling African National Congress party in neighbouring South Africa described Mugabe as a “friend, statesman and revolutionary comrade”. In a statement, the ANC acknowledged that it had sometimes “differed vociferously” with him, but remembered “an ardent and vocal advocate of African unity and self-reliance” whose struggle had been an inspiration. Flags in Kenya were flown at half mast. But in the UK, Downing Street said that while “we of course express our condolences to those who mourn” the former leader represented “a barrier to a better future”. “Under his rule the people of Zimbabwe suffered greatly as he impoverished their country and sanctioned the use of violence against them,” a spokesman for prime minister Boris Johnson said. Mugabe had made frequent visits to Singapore to receive medical care in recent months as his health deteriorated. As far back as November 2018, Mnangagwa told members of the ruling Zanu-PF party that Mugabe could no longer walk. Once widely celebrated for his role in fighting the white supremacist regime in his homeland, Mugabe had long become a deeply divisive figure in his own country and across the continent. Emmerson Mnangagwa at a rally in November 2018. Photograph: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images His final years in power were characterised by financial collapse, surges of violent intimidation and a vicious internal power struggle pitting his second wife Grace, 41 years younger than him, against Mnangagwa, his former right-hand man. The rivalry was resolved when Mnangagwa, a Zanu-PF stalwart, took power when Mugabe reluctantly resigned after a military takeover. The news of his decision prompted widespread rejoicing. On Friday Mnangagwa thanked “former first lady Grace Mugabe for standing by her husband until the end”. Grace Mugabe became known for her lavish lifestyle and joined the Zanu-PF politburo by virtue of her leadership of the party’s influential Women’s League in 2014. She became a political liability for the ageing autocrat, however, and her outspoken criticism of Mnangagwa was one of the triggers for the military takeover that ousted her husband. But Mugabe remained devoted to his wife, calling her “my Grace” in his last press conference and demanding better treatment for his spouse from Zimbabwe’s new rulers. Timeline Robert Mugabe Show 1924 Mugabe is born in what was then British-ruled Southern Rhodesia. He is educated at Catholic schools and attends South Africa's University of Fort Hare. During the 1940s and 50s he teaches in Zambia and Ghana, where he is influenced by African independence movement leaders. 1964 After campaigning for Zimbabwe's independence, he is imprisoned for political agitation. While incarcerated, he earns two law degrees from the University of London. 1974 Released from prison, he escapes to Mozambique where Zimbabwe African National Union guerrilla fighters elect him to lead their struggle against white minority rule. 1980 Mugabe's Zanu-PF party wins independent Zimbabwe's first election and he takes office as prime minister. 1982 Mugabe deploys North Korean-trained troops to crush an insurgency by former guerrillas loyal to his liberation war rival Joshua Nkomo. Government forces are accused of involvement in the killing of 20,000 civilians, which Mugabe denies. 1987 Mugabe becomes president with sweeping executive powers after changes to the constitution and signs a unity pact with Nkomo, who becomes one of his two deputies. In 1990, Zanu-PF and Mugabe win further parliamentary and presidential elections. 1998 An economic crisis marked by high interest rates and inflation sparks riots. 2000 Zimbabweans reject a new constitution in a referendum, Mugabe's first defeat at the ballot box. Thousands of independence war veterans and their allies, backed by the government, seize white-owned farms, saying the land was illegally appropriated by white settlers. 2001 The US puts a financial freeze on Mugabe's government in response to land seizures, beginning a wave of sanctions against his regime. 2002 Mugabe wins a disputed presidential vote, which observers condemn as flawed. Zimbabwe is suspended from the British Commonwealth over accusations of human rights abuses and economic mismanagement. 2008 Hyperinflation reaches 500bn per cent, forcing millions of people to leave the country. Mugabe loses a presidential vote but wins the run-off after opponent Morgan Tsvangirai withdraws, citing violence against his supporters. A power-sharing agreement is signed. 2013 Despite reports saying Mugabe has been seriously ill with cancer, he wins another disputed presidential vote. Western observers cite multiple accounts of electoral fraud. 2017 After protesters stage the biggest show of defiance against Mugabe in a decade, he is forced to resign following an army coup and is replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. 6 September 2019 Mugabe dies aged 95. Was this helpful? Thank you for your feedback. After his fall, Mugabe was granted the status of a respected father of the nation and a generous pension by the new government. The move angered his many opponents and upset many victims of his regime. But Mugabe’s own frustration and humiliation over his ousting were clear, and voiced with typical rhetorical force at an extraordinary press conference in the grounds of his residence in Harare days before elections in July 2018. Mugabe, flanked by his wife, suggested he would vote for the opposition MDC, a party he had brutally suppressed before co-opting it in 2008 to form a supposed unity government that he still dominated. Mugabe, left, with George Silundika and Joshua Nkomo in Tanzania in the 1960s. Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images Educated at Catholic missionary schools, Mugabe became a teacher in Ghana then returned to Rhodesia in 1960 to fight white minority rule. Eventually freedom was won and Mugabe promised to embrace the country’s white population. He led the country through a golden period of economic growth and educational development that was the envy of Africa. The international community turned a blind eye, however, to human rights abuses, most notably the 1980s ethnic cleansing of at least 20,000 people in Matabeleland province. Mugabe election posters are covered in opposition MDC slogans, in Harare, 2008. Photograph: EPA Opposition rose again in 1999 as the economy floundered and trade unions organised around the Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe rigged elections and began a programme of land reform in which white farmers were forcibly evicted to make way for Zanu-PF party cronies or black Zimbabweans who lacked the skills and capital to farm. This helped throw the economy into disarray. Hyperinflation ran riot and supermarket shelves were empty. The once-proud school and health systems began to crumble. The political environment also became increasingly hostile, with activists and journalists persecuted, jailed or murdered. More than 200 people died in political violence around the 2008 election, which Mugabe was widely seen as having stolen from the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai. Robert and Grace Mugabe. The former president’s second wife remains a controversial figure in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters The late John Makumbe, a politics professor at the University of Zimbabwe, said: “He’ll be remembered as a villain. His legacy was destroyed by his staying, his violence, his imposing his own political allies and rivals. “The chameleon has its own colour: when it’s frightened, it takes on its original colour, and it’s ugly. He showed his true colours. His true colour is a killer. He killed his enemies.”
Maharashtra seeking vendors to deliver 7,500 solar pumps
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) has issued a tender for the design and manufacture of 7,500 solar water pumps, nine months after it requested tenders for installing 50,000 of the devices. The pumps are destined for farmers across the state, and vendors must include five-year guarantees on the water pumping system and 10-year assurances for the solar modules. MSEDCL said the systems must also support automated meter reading.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has issued a tender for the empanelment of vendors to design, manufacture, install, and commission 7,500 solar water pumps of 7.5 HP with the provision of data transfer by automated metering reading (AMR) to MSEDCL’s server. The projects are expected to be set up on sites owned by farmers identified across the state. Selected vendors are expected to provide a guarantee of five years for the solar water pumping system and ten years for the solar modules that are going to be installed. The last date for submission of bids is October 17, 2019. In December 2018, Maharashtra floated a similar tender for the installation of 50,000 solar water pumping systems in the state. Over the last year, the government has been encouraging the deployment of solar pumps in the country in a bid to provide energy security and financial savings to farmers. Besides, solar water pumps are also expected to help in saving water resources and reducing dependency on the grid.
Microsoft improves its AI to make it more conversational
Microsoft is making improvements to its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot systems to give a more natural flow to conversations. The changes to the Xiaolce chatbot allows it to begin speaking whilst listening to commands, interrupting the user where necessary with important information. It will also be able to continue the exchange without requiring the user to use the "wake word" to initiate a new command, helping to make it a more convincingly two-way discussion. The company intends to extend the new technology to its other chatbots, such as Zo and Rinna.
Most AI assistants can't really hold a conversation. They're fine with I-go-you-go dialogue, but most humans aren't quite so timid -- they know when to interrupt, and when to restart chat when there's an awkward pause. Microsoft wants to fix that. It just upgraded its Xiaolce chatbot AI with "full duplex" conversation that lets it start speaking when it's listening to what you're saying. As it can predict what you're likely to say next, it knows when to interrupt you with important info or say something more when both sides suddenly go quiet. Think of it as that friend who knows when to speak up without being overly rude. Besides providing a more natural flow to your conversation, it also spares you from using a smart speaker's wake word unless it's actually necessary. Many AI helpers can skip wake words when they want an immediate follow-up ("would you like me to send the message?") but this would keep the conversation humming until you're truly done. The initial plan is to spread this technology to Microsoft's other chatbots, such as Zo in the US and Rinna in Japan. It's pretty clear that this could be useful for Cortana and just about any other conversational AI, though. Instead of barking orders to a voice assistant and waiting for answers, you could hold two-way discussions that feel more like you're asking real people (albeit ones without much personality) for help.
Amazon releases Alexa-voice activated games developer template
Amazon has added a new suite of voice-activated gaming tools to the Alexa Skills Kit, in the hope it will take off in the same way as international phenomenon Pokemon Go. Amazon has been developing the gaming side of its virtual assistant, with The Wayne Investigation its most "popular and widely used" skill seemingly proving it is heading in the right direction. Amazon said users have interacted with the game "seven times more than with all other skills combined."
Amazon wants more gaming options for its voice-powered virtual assistant Alexa, and today, it's introducing a new set of tools that'll make it easier for developers to bring them to life. The gaming tools are the newest addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, a set of blueprints for creating Alexa's "skills" -- essentially the apps of the Amazon Echo and Amazon's other Alexa-enabled gadgets. Developers already had access to templates for crafting basic command-and-response skills, along with skills that put Alexa in control of smart-home devices like lights and thermostats. Developers have already trotted out games for Alexa, too -- but now, they'll be able to plot out their voice-powered gaming skills in a simplified design interface, with Amazon-approved templates to guide them through the process. Once they're finished, you'll follow the games by listening to Alexa, and interact using only your voice. Anyone who doubts gaming's potential to birth killer apps need look no further than Pokemon Go, an immensely popular mobile game that's helped introduce millions of people to the budding augmented-reality category (sure enough, there's already an Alexa skill that teaches Pokemon tips and tricks ). Amazon's team likely hopes that a new focus on Alexa-powered gaming could do the same thing for its voice-powered interface Enlarge Image The new gaming tools include a graphic interface for crafting the sorts of decision trees gamers will ultimately talk their way through. Amazon There's strong evidence that Amazon's onto something. Currently, 20 percent of Alexa's top skills are games. To date, the most popular and widely used skill in Alexa's Skill Store is The Wayne Investigation, an interactive mystery set in a pre-Batman Gotham City in which players investigate the murder of young Bruce Wayne's parents. Amazon claims that Alexa users have engaged with The Wayne Investigation seven times more than with all other skills combined, per weekly averages. That's not just seven times more than other gaming skills, that's seven times more than other skills, period. The Wayne Investigation seems to be the proof of concept for what Amazon's trying to do here. Along with a template for writing question-and-answer trivia games, the main tool in Alexa's gaming skill development kit is a decision tree template that lets developers plot out a succession of choices for players to make -- similar to the way the Wayne Investigation works, and also similar to classic text-based adventures from the early days of computer gaming. The only difference is that you'll speak your way through a story instead of typing. The new gaming tools are available today for developers with an Amazon Web Services account. We'll be sure to keep an ear out for any new interactive experiences.
Fendt e100 Vario: The battery-powered compact tractor
AGCO/Fendt has made a name for itself in the electrification of agriculture. The Fendt e100 Vario now becomes the first practical, battery-powered tractor which can be used in normal operation for up to 5 hours under actual operating conditions. The battery can be recharged up to 80% in just 40 minutes.
The Fendt e100 Vario allows the use of conventional as well as electrified implements. The electric tractor is fitted with two AEF-compliant power interfaces for electrical equipment. A short-term boost of up to 150 kW for the implements can be provided by the battery. A standard PTO connection is also available, as well as the normal hydraulic supply to implements. Therefore, the Fendt e100 Vario can be used with existing equipment with no additional caveats, but is also equipped to reap the benefits of using electrical implements. Precise and dynamic control is enabled thanks to the electrical drive. The maximum torque for the ground drive and PTO drive is supplied from a standing start. Safety is guaranteed by an insulated design and continuous, electronic system monitoring.
C-Innovation announces subsea construction partnership with BP
Edison Chouest Offshore affiliate C-Innovation (C-I) has signed a three-year Gulf of Mexico subsea construction deal with BP Exploration & Production. The contract also covers subsea inspection, maintenance and repair, and logistics. David Sheetz, manager of C-I's subsea division, said the agreement lets clients have one point of contact for all projects, saving them both time and money.
C-Innovation, LLC (C-I), an affiliate of Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) and its family of companies, has secured a three-year contract with BP Exploration & Production, Inc. (BP), the largest energy investor in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The contract encompasses subsea construction, inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) and logistics services in the Gulf of Mexico. With Port Fourchon, La., serving as the home port, the new contract will bring together ECO’s extensive fleet of multipurpose platform supply and well intervention vessels with C-I’s ROV, tooling, project management and engineering services. The scope of work includes: jumper installations; subsea tree installations; facility underwater inspections in lieu of dry-docking; commissioning of new assets; and general field support. David Sheetz, manager of C-I’s Subsea Division, said, “This is a very large and significant contract for C-I and it helps solidify our reputation as a true, single source for subsea solutions with the backing and support of the diverse family of companies within the ECO group. C-I’s ability to offer a complete suite of services allows clients to have a single point of contact for all projects, which makes budgeting easier, saving time as well as money.”
Sterling and Wilson gets INR20bn for Gujarat transmission project
Sterlite Power has secured INR20.24bn ($273m) in funding from IndusInd Bank and L&T Infrastructure Finance for a transmission project in Gujarat. Sterlite, which said the project is in line with India's renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022, will develop the project as a build, own, operate and maintain model for 35 years. The transmission project will link the wind energy zones of Bhuj in Gujarat with load centres in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Global player in the power transmission space Sterlite Power has secured funding for about Rs 2,024 crore for its power transmission project in Gujarat. The company said that, it has achieved financial closure for its Lakadia Vadodara Transmission Project Ltd (LVTPL). It further added that, we have secured funds worth Rs 2,024 crore from IndusInd Bank and L&T Infrastructure Finance. Commenting on the development, Anuraag Srivastava, Group CFO of Sterlite Power, said that “this project is aligned to our country’s renewable energy target of 175 GW RE by 2022. As a leading global developer in power transmission, Sterlite Power aims to deliver and execute large scale renewable energy transmission projects across the country.” The company had won this project in December last year under tariff-based competitive bidding process in Gujarat. The global power transmission assets developer had acquired this inter-state green energy corridor (GEC) transmission project from PFC Consulting Ltd. It will further execute this project (WRSS 21 – Part B) under Build, Own, Operate and Maintain (BOOM) model for a period of thirty five years. Moreover, this project will connect the wind energy zones of Bhuj in the state of Gujarat to the load centres in both Maharashtra and Gujarat states, the company added. Under the project, the company will be laying of 350 kms of 765 kV double-circuit transmission line connecting 765/400 kV Lakadia substation to Vadodara substation in the state of Gujarat. Additionally, the project has an aggressive timeframe of 18 months for completion.
China's patience tested by North Korea over missile launches
On Monday, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles 1,000km into the sea as China's leading politicians gathered for the annual National People's Congress. Three of these missiles landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone. It is thought that North Korea is working on a nuclear missile which has the capability of hitting the US.
In the majestic belly of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where all of China’s top political figures are currently gathered for the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) legislative session, Premier Li Keqiang kicked off proceedings Sunday by warning of “more complicated and graver situations” and “many uncertainties … both inside and outside China.” Right on cue, North Korea gave a perfect example: launching four ballistic missiles some 1,000 km into the sea off its eastern coast on Monday, three of which fell within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. They are believed part of tests to develop a nuclear-armed missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. The timing of the launch during China’s biggest political event of the year will no doubt irk the Beijing leadership. But it was likely also prompted by the huge military drills that have just kicked off between Washington and Seoul, which Pyongyang insists are a dress rehearsal for invasion. In response, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA had already threatened to “turn the stronghold of provocation into a heap of ashes through [a] preemptive nuclear strike.” “It wouldn’t be the first time North Korea has done something like this,” says Daniel Pinkston, an East Asia specialist at Troy University in Seoul, of the missiles’ timing. “There is the political dimension to these types of missile tests.” Read More: President Trump’s Shadow Hangs Over China’s Biggest Political Meeting of The Year The Chinese leadership will be especially piqued as its relations with North Korea have reached a historic low. On Feb. 19, Beijing halted imports of coal — the Kim regime’s main cash cow, bringing in some $1 billion annually — for the rest of the year. That brings China into line with the unprecedented U.N. sanctions it signed up to in March 2016, but which have only been spottily implemented so far. Pyongyang responded by accusing its increasingly reluctant sponsors of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” “This is the first step that really has significant economic consequences,” says James Nolt, an East Asia expert at the World Policy Institute. “Up until now most Chinese opposition has been rhetorical and diplomatic.” The change in Chinese attitude appears spurred by the assassination of Kim Jong Nam — elder half-brother to Kim Jong Un — using VX nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13. Kim Jong Nam lived mostly in the semiautonomous Chinese territory of Macau and was believed under the protection of Beijing. But continued North Korean belligerence has strategic repercussions for China, as it led South Korea to agree to host a battery of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile defense system, which Beijing deems part of an American strategy of containment. Delegates attend the Fifth Session of the 12th National People's Congress on March 5, 2017, in Beijing Jin Shuo—VCG/CNSPHOTO/Getty Images China is stridently against the THAAD deployment, even turning its ire on Japanese–South Korea conglomerate Lotte, which has offered land to be used for THAAD. Chinese nationalists have launched a boycott of Lotte that has (at least tacit) government approval. Lotte has five department stores and around 100 supermarkets in China, and makes almost a third of revenue from the Chinese market. “We have completely scrubbed the name of Lotte from our website,” Chen Ou, founder and chief executive of Jumei Youpin, China’s largest online cosmetics vendor, posted on China’s Twitter-like microblog Weibo last week. “I won’t sell them in the future even someone beats me to death.” In addition, Chinese officials have closed four Lotte stores after carrying out “inspections,” while travel agents in China have been instructed to stop selling South Korea packages. Just over 8 million Chinese tourists visited South Korea in 2016, up a third on the previous year. South Korean exports to China amounted to $124 billion last year, comprising a quarter of total South Korean exports. “The South Korean economy is highly vulnerable to Chinese economic retaliation,” Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement. Read More: The World Can Expect More Cybercrime From North Korea Now That China Has Banned Its Coal But Pyongyang’s continued missile tests undermine Chinese arguments that THAAD is unnecessary. Beijing repeatedly calls for a return to the six-party denuclearization talks — comprising North and South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the U.S. — which ran from 2003 to 2009 before being nixed by Kim Jong Il, former leader and father to Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Nam. However, Monday’s launch just days after the coal freeze is further evidence that nothing can persuade the regime against its pursuit of nuclear weapons, which the 33-year-old Kim believes guarantees the survival of his family dynasty. China has not offered any meaningful alternatives to THAAD other than the bromide of “talks.” “There’s quite an asymmetry to China’s response to events on the Korean peninsular,” says Pinkston. “What other measures [apart from THAAD] could South Korea take? Because this is a serious, existential threat. I never hear anything from the Chinese. It’s hypocritical and undermines China’s reputation around the world.” This is especially damaging as China attempts to recast itself as a global player in light of the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has vowed to draw down expensive military commitments oversees and embrace a nativist economic policy. The stage is set for Beijing to pick up the mantle. When Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader to address the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 17, he said, “We must remain committed to developing global free trade and investment, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation through opening-up and say no to protectionism.” Read More: Backlash Over THAAD Shows Why the Kim Clan Have Terrorized North Korea for So Long However, such assertions come in stark contrast to China’s petty retaliation against South Korea. On Sunday, Premier Li cut China’s growth forecast to “about 6.5%” — its lowest rate in 26 years. In an era of growing protectionism in the U.S. and Europe, China will be looking overseas to guarantee its future prosperity. Continuing to support North Korea regardless of its endless provocations undermines this goal and China’s attempts to appear a reliable international partner. “China will always stand on the side of peace and stability, will forever be committed to equity and justice, and will always work for world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold the international order,” Li said on Sunday. “China is a responsible country.” There is no better time to prove it. Write to Charlie Campbell at charlie.campbell@time.com.
Telematics can cut Singapore premiums by 10 percent, says AIG
The adoption of telematics devices by insurers could reduce motor premiums with AIG Singapore by at least 10% within two years. Helping to reduce accidents by monitoring driving habits including acceleration, braking and cornering, a road safety survey by AIG demonstrated that 68% of Singaporean drivers would consider installing this technology to their cars if could guarantee lower insurance premiums.
Adopting what are called telematics devices by insurers and drivers should reduce motor accidents and lead to reduced motor premiums by 10 per cent or more over the next two years at AIG Singapore, according to the insurer. A telematics device monitors driving habits like acceleration, braking and cornering, which in turn helps insurers better understand driving behaviour. AIG Singapore's head of auto insurance, Mr Manik Bucha, said technological advances like this could reduce traffic accidents. An AIG road safety survey last year found that 68 per cent of Singapore drivers would consider installing such a device if it meant lower car insurance premiums, while more than half believed telematics would improve their driving habits. AIG said accidents are likely to increase, given an expected 20 per cent rise in the number of rental vehicles on the roads next year and an influx of younger drivers buying new cars. Mr Bucha said: "Not only are drivers who use rental cars for commercial enterprise more likely to clock up higher mileage and spend more time behind the wheel, but many are young drivers who are almost twice as likely to have an accident, compared to the average driver. "Both of these factors are expected to result in a higher frequency of road accidents." The young drivers segment at AIG has recorded a 33 per cent rise in third-party property damage claims over the past 12 months, showing that these drivers are involved in more "at-fault" accidents. However, the increasing use of telematics could improve driving behaviour and mitigate the expected spike in motor insurance claims, says AIG. The insurer is releasing a telematics smartphone app early next year that will provide motorists real-time information on their driving, a score for each completed journey as well as driving tips.
Florida man who spit in cop’s face now hit with federal bioweapons charges
Federal authorities have charged a man who allegedly spit in the face of a police officer and falsely claimed to have coronavirus, with perpetrating a “biological weapons hoax.” At the end of March, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) distributed a memo to prosecutors that said, in part, that coronavirus “appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent,'” and that “the purposeful exposure and infection of others with Covid-19” could be possible grounds for terrorism charges.
Federal authorities have charged a man who allegedly spit in the face of a police officer and falsely claimed to have coronavirus, with perpetrating a “biological weapons hoax.” At the end of March, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) distributed a memo to prosecutors that said, in part, that coronavirus “appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent,'” and that “the purposeful exposure and infection of others with Covid-19” could be possible grounds for terrorism charges. Critics argue that’s a step too far. Advertisement Under US law, a “biological agent” means “any microorganism…or infectious substance, or any naturally occurring, bioengineered or synthesized component of any such microorganism or infectious substance, capable of causing…death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism.” The DOJ has aggressively cracked down on coronavirus-related fraud, but this is the first bioweapons-related coronavirus prosecution for the region around St. Petersburg, Florida, where the crime took place, a DOJ spokesperson confirmed, and among the first federal cases of its kind nationwide. According to a complaint filed in Florida district court, the incident occurred the same day James Jamal Curry, 31, bonded out of jail after an arrest on domestic battery charges. During that initial arrest, which took place outside the home of Curry’s girlfriend, prosecutors said he intentionally coughed on a cop’s arm while being loaded into a transport van. “Well I got the corona,” Curry allegedly told the officer. The next evening, Curry’s girlfriend called police to say Curry was again outside her apartment, in violation of a non-contact order. Cops arrived and apprehended Curry, who they say resisted violently. Once in the backseat of a police cruiser, Curry tried to kick out the rear passenger window. After being placed in leg restraints, he attempted to smash the window with his head. Advertisement When one of the cops reached into the car to grab Curry, he reportedly spit in her face. “A mist of spit struck her in the face and entered her mouth,” the complaint says. The police officers draped a spit hood over Curry’s head. According to the complaint, Curry then said, with a laugh: “I have Corona bitch, and I’m spreading it around.” At the jail, Curry was tested for Covid-19. A week later, according to the complaint, the results came back negative. The federal hoax charge carries a maximum sentence of five years. DOJ declined Quartz’s request for further comment.
Killer tree disease set to cost UK £15 billion
Experts are warning this outlay is just the tip of the iceberg, since many of the UK’s tree species are under threat from a raft of pests and diseases arriving here as a result of the warming climate and imports from other countries.Study leader Dr Louise Hill, plant sciences researcher at the University of Oxford, said: “The numbers of invasive tree pests and diseases are increasing rapidly, and this is mostly driven by human activities such as trade in live plants and climate change.The researchers believe the total bill could be reduced by replanting lost ash trees with other native species, but curing or halting ash dieback infection is not possible.
Ash dieback is predicted to cost £15 billion in Britain . A deadly fungus that is predicted to kill off virtually all of the country’s ash trees will leave the UK with a bill for around £15 billion, a new study has revealed. Scientists at the University of Oxford came up with the figure after assessing the predicted impact of ash dieback disease, which originated in Asia and is lethal to Europe’s native ash trees. Advertisement Hide Ad Advertisement Hide Ad First seen in Britain in 2012, the infection will cost a third more than the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001. Much of the price tag will be in lost benefits to society provided by trees, such as water and air purification and locking up carbon, but the cost of felling sick specimens is also in the bill. Nearly half of this – £7 billion – will need to be stumped up in the next ten years. Experts are warning this outlay is just the tip of the iceberg, since many of the UK’s tree species are under threat from a raft of pests and diseases arriving here as a result of the warming climate and imports from other countries. Study leader Dr Louise Hill, plant sciences researcher at the University of Oxford, said: “The numbers of invasive tree pests and diseases are increasing rapidly, and this is mostly driven by human activities such as trade in live plants and climate change. “Nobody has estimated the total cost of a tree disease before and we were quite shocked at the magnitude of the cost to society.” She says the full implications of tree diseases had not previously been quantified. The researchers believe the total bill could be reduced by replanting lost ash trees with other native species, but curing or halting ash dieback infection is not possible. They are now calling on governments to focus on preventing introductions of other non-native diseases to protect our remaining tree species. Advertisement Hide Ad Advertisement Hide Ad “It is clear that to avoid further economic and ecological impacts, we need to invest more in plant biosecurity measures,” said co-researcher Dr Nick Atkinson, senior conservation advisor for the Woodland Trust. “We need to learn from past mistakes and make sure our countryside avoids yet another blow.” At least 20 introduced pests and infections are attacking the UK’s native trees, with six at epidemic levels. Nearly 50 others could arrive here soon, which could cost a further £1bn or more. More than 60 million trees have been wiped out by Dutch Elm disease.
Milind Soman has top 5 tips for a healthy lifestyle. How many of these do you follow?
Former supermodel and actor Milind Soman has been constantly raising the bar for fitness, inspiring thousands of people across India with his determination, dedication and resolve to stay healthy no matter what the situation. Whether it's going for a run in minus degrees or opting for healthy snacks, even at 54 Milind Soman is an inspiration to many.
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TalkTalk Former TalkTalk CEO joins Southern Communications as Group Chairman
Former TalkTalk CEO, David Goldie, has joined Southern Communication's board as Group Chairman. Goldie worked with Southern's Commercial Director Mat Kirk at Carphone Warehouse/TalkTalk where they bought more than 40 businesses over five years.
Southern Communications has secured new investment from private equity firm Livingbridge (which has taken a minority stake in the company) along with a £36m loan facility from Santander and HSBC in support of its expansion strategy. The Basingstoke-based comms firm has boosted revenues from £10m to £32m in five years driven by organic growth and acquisitions and plans to double revenues within 3-5 years now it has the 'acquisition fire power' to match its ambitions. In other news former TalkTalk CEO David Goldie has joined the board as Group Chairman. The appointment reunites Goldie with Southern's Commercial Director Mat Kirk. They worked together previously at Carphone Warehouse/TalkTalk where they acquired 40-plus businesses over a five year period. Paul Bradford, CEO, commented: "With the investment from Livingbridge and the appointment of David we have secured the perfect team to drive our growth." So far Southern Communications has made eight acquisitions and has recurring revenues of more than 90%. Matthew Caffrey, Livingbridge Director, added: "Southern Communications has a strong track record of organic and acquisitive growth and a well positioned product portfolio to service the IT and telecommunications needs of SMEs." Southern Communications has 6,600 business customers and a workforce of 160-plus employees operating from four locations in the UK.
Iceland big out-performer in 12 weeks to mid-June
The pandemic drove British consumers to local convenience stores, according to data from Neilson which shows the sector experienced at 17% YoY rise in sales in the four weeks to 13 June. While all of the major supermarkets benefited from shoppers stockpiling, registering sales growth of between 3.6% and 9.3% in the 12 weeks to 13 June, Iceland was the clear outperformer with a 23.3% YoY increase in sales over the period.
Grocery sales at British convenience stores were up 17% year-on-year in the four weeks to 13 June, ahead of the 14% growth in total grocery sales, as consumers in coronavirus lockdown prioritised shopping locally, industry data showed on Tuesday. Market researcher Nielsen said online shopping in lockdown also continued to be popular, with sales soaring 115% compared to the same period last year, and maintaining the 13% share of sales recorded in the previous four-week period. Nielsen said the average spend per shopping visit across all formats was £20.32 ($25.30), a decrease of £1.30 compared to the previous four weeks. 'Frozen Food Demand' Over the 12 weeks to 13 June, Iceland outperformed all other major UK grocery retailers with a 23.2% rise in sales year-on-year, thanks to a surge in demand for frozen food products during lockdown. Sales at the Co-Operative rose 15.9%, outperforming Britain's big four major supermarket groups and reflecting the fact that it operates a network of local convenience stores. Of the big four, market leader Tesco was the strongest performer with sales up 9.3%, followed by the No. 4, Morrisons, with sales up 8.8% and No. 2 Sainsbury's , whose sales rose 7.2%. Walmart-owned Asda was the laggard, with sales up 3.6%. As was the case in May's data, the German-owned discounter Aldi lost market share. However, its discounting rival Lidl maintained its share. News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.
Crowdstrike could be the next cloud stock to soar on earnings, say options traders
Cybersecurity stock has had a wild year thus far, surging more than 175% as companies shift more and more of their workflow into the cloud. Options traders are betting that shift will manifest in big gains when Crowdstrike reports after the bell on Wednesday.
After Zoom Video 's monstrous earnings beat, options traders are betting that Crowdstrike could be the next big winner in this week's deluge of cloud stock earnings. The cybersecurity stock has had a wild year thus far, surging more than 175% as companies shift more and more of their workflow into the cloud. Options traders are betting that shift will manifest in big gains when Crowdstrike reports after the bell on Wednesday, even after a 14% rally in Tuesday's session. "Crowdstrike traded two times the average daily option volume by midmorning, more than seven times by the end of the day. The most active [Sep. 4] weekly options were the 150-strike calls. Those were trading for just over $6," Optimize Advisors CIO Michael Khouw said Tuesday on CNBC's "Fast Money." The options market is implying a post-earnings move of about 14% in either direction for Crowdstrike, and after Tuesday's close, the stock would need to move only about 9% higher for buyers of those contracts to break even. However, the stock has pulled back after yesterday's big rally, to the point where these traders will need Crowdstrike to hit that implied move on the nose to make their money back. Crowdstrike was trading about 5% lower in Wednesday's session. Disclaimer
**Smurfit Kappa Replaces EPS Boxes with Paper-based Alternative
Smurfit Kappa has launched an innovative and sustainable new pack which keeps frozen and chilled foods fresh throughout the supply chain. Made from a 100% paper-based combination of Hexacomb and corrugated, the Thermo Box keeps frozen food including fish at temperatures similar to expanded polystyrene (EPS) boxes.
Dublin, Ireland-headquartered Smurfit Kappa has launched an innovative and sustainable new pack which keeps frozen and chilled foods fresh throughout the supply chain. Made from a 100% paper-based combination of Hexacomb and corrugated, the Thermo Box keeps frozen food including fish at temperatures similar to expanded polystyrene (EPS) boxes. Smurfit Kappa was approached by Patani Global Food B.V., a global supplier of frozen and chilled foods including vegetables, meat and fish and non-food products for the catering industry. Patani ships goods from Amsterdam to worldwide locations, including to the Antilles Islands in the Caribbean, using EPS boxes. However, a rise in the amount of litter that was washing up on beaches in the region had led to a future ban on plastic waste so the company wanted an alternative solution that would not harm the environment. While the majority of existing temperature-controlled food packaging solutions depend on using EPS due to its insulation properties, Smurfit Kappa’s new Thermo Box is 100% recyclable. The pack also offers greater flexibility than EPS as it can be stored flat, therefore reducing warehouse costs. Furthermore, different sizes can be easily created and the corrugated exterior offers good brand labeling opportunities. The product is the latest addition to Smurfit Kappa’s Better Planet Packaging portfolio of products, many of which are popular substitutions for single-use plastic. Launched in 2018, this initiative seeks to reduce packaging waste through design, research and development and industry expertise. Patrick Oostveen, managing director at Patani Global Food B.V., commented: “Smurfit Kappa undertook an analysis of our supply chain to grasp all the challenges and complexities. We did a series of temperature tests to compare the new pack with the EPS box and the results showed that the Thermo Box is a really excellent product that more than fits the brief. The average temperature was even kept lower for a longer time than when using the EPS boxes.” Arco Berkenbosch, Smurfit Kappa’s vice president of innovation and development, added: “This project was the result of a successful collaborative process. Our starting point, as always, was to see how we could provide a completely biodegradable product that would not compromise on any of the required functionality. “The paper-based Better Plant Packaging solution we came up with draws strength from its corrugated and honeycomb capabilities and offers significant potential for both fresh and frozen goods and, indeed, the e-commerce sector.” The Thermo Box is currently available in a range of countries across Europe.
Instacart to hire 250,000 shoppers to deal with increased demand
US grocery delivery and pick-up service Instacart will hire a further 250,000 personal shoppers by the end of June to deal with increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The company only recently added 300,000 full-service shoppers, which brought its community to over 500,000. The additional expansion was prompted by a 500% YoY increase in order volume over one week in mid-April and average consumer basket sizes growing by 35%. Instacart plans to bring back its one-hour and same-day delivery speeds with the larger workforce, focusing on high-demand regions, such as California and New York.
Instacart has kicked off another big round of hiring, with plans to add 250,000 more full-service shoppers over the next two months to help meet soaring demand for online grocery delivery amid the pandemic. The San Francisco-based company also said yesterday it’s adding coronavirus safety measures and extending its COVID-19 paid-leave and bonus pay policies for personal shoppers. Related: Instacart moves forward with pharmacy partnership at Costco Instacart is moving quickly to try and keep pace with the unprecedented demand via a major hiring push. A month ago, the company announced plans to hire 300,000 new full-service shoppers and met that goal just weeks later, enlarging its shopper community to more than 500,000 people. Now Instacart is looking to add 250,000 new full-service shoppers. Last week, order volume jumped more than 500% year over year, and average customer basket sizes grew 35%, Instacart reported. The company said it will focus on ramping up its shopper ranks in high-demand areas such as California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and Toronto. Related: Instacart works to expedite delivery as coronavirus hikes orders “Our teams are working tirelessly to launch new products that speed up our service and open up more delivery windows for customers. We’re committed to getting back to one-hour and same-day delivery speeds,” Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart, said in a statement. “In order to do that, we’re continuing to grow our shopper community to meet the surge in customer demand.” To help fill these new jobs, Instacart said it’s partnering with more than two dozen companies across industries — including the airline, service and hospitality sectors — to hire workers displaced by the coronavirus-triggered economic downturn. “Instacart wants to serve as an additional source of income for those looking for immediate, short-term financial solutions during this time of need,” the company stated. “Instacart is also working alongside a number of other companies to expand its customers and shopper support team by bringing on experienced support agents whose previous positions were recently impacted.” Before the COVID-19 crisis, Instacart had about 130,000 full-service shoppers and 12,000 in-store shoppers to fulfill online grocery orders for same-day delivery or pickup. Full-service shoppers operate as independent contractors who pick, pack and/or deliver an order from a store to the customer’s door. In-store shoppers are part-time Instacart employees who pick, pack and stage items at a dedicated store. Instacart New features on the Instacart Shopper app are designed to make it easier to process orders and access employee benefits. On the safety side, Instacart shoppers now have access to a daily, in-app wellness check to help them identify potential COVID-19 symptoms. Shoppers completing the wellness check and confirming they are healthy can resume using the platform. Those confirming symptoms of coronavirus — such as fever, coughing or difficulty breathing — will be logged off for the day and instructed to contact a physician, Instacart said. Starting on Thursday, Instacart began rolling out new in-app messaging that makes it easier for active personal shoppers to request a free health and safety kit via the Instacart Shopper app. The kits include face masks and hand sanitizer and were developed and sourced with third-party manufacturers in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts, according to the company. Instacart noted that the last several weeks have been the busiest in its history across North America. Consequently, the company said will continue its previously announced pay bonuses for all in-store shoppers, shift leads and site managers through the duration of the pandemic. The bonuses, determined by the number of hours worked, range from $25 to $200. Also being extended for full- and part-time shoppers, shift leads, site managers and Instacart Care agents is a 14-day paid leave policy for those diagnosed with COVID-19 or put in mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state or public health authority. “Overnight, we’ve become a necessity for millions of people,” according to Mehta. “We recognize these are extraordinary times, and we take our responsibility to safely serve shoppers and customers very seriously,” he explained. “We’re focused on continuing to provide safe and flexible earnings opportunities for shoppers, while also making it possible for more families than ever before to access grocery delivery.” Overall, Instacart delivers online grocery orders from more than 25,000 stores in over 5,500 cities in North America. The company partners with 350-plus national, regional and local retailers, reaching more than 85% of U.S. households and 70% of Canadian households.
TalkTalk East London borough handed £800k for ultrafast fibre
The London Borough of Havering has been awarded £800,000 ($1.02m) from the Greater London Authority's Strategic Investment Pot to fund a new ultrafast fibre-optic network in Rainham. The new network could be used to enhance traffic management and planning as well as environmental monitoring. Meanwhile, the borough is also seeking private-sector investment to expand the service to local businesses.
Friday, Jan 4th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 1,655 The Greater London Authority’s Strategic Investment Pot has awarded £800,000 to the Borough of Havering, which will be used to deploy a new ultrafast fibre optic network into the Rainham area. This could be used for improving connectivity to both public sector sites and businesses. At present Havering is already extremely well covered by slower hybrid fibre services (FTTC) from Openreach (BT) and they have a significant level of ultrafast broadband coverage via Virgin Media’s cable network, although “full fibre” (FTTP) style connectivity is only available to a tiny proportion of the borough. The new fibre optic infrastructure could initially be used to help manage transport, traffic planning, community safety and environmental monitoring around Rainham. However the local authority also indicates their desire to attract additional private sector investment, which could support an extension to connect local businesses (this sounds a bit like Cityfibre’s favoured anchor tenancy approach). Such a move would also be supported by the Government’s new Gigabit Voucher Scheme, which offers up to £2,500 to help firms install a Gigabit capable broadband connection. Damian White, Leader of the Council, said: “This is great news for Havering. This funding will deliver new digital infrastructure and will provide greater support to businesses to gain better online access. Along with the recent announcement of the £1.6m secured for Rainham through the Good Growth Fund, this continues our commitment to ensuring that the benefits of regeneration continue to improve the lives of as many local businesses and residents as possible.” The initial public sector focused deployment is currently scheduled to begin in April 2019.
TalkTalk TalkTalk’s broadband ISP is down
TalkTalk broadband internet service provider (ISP) were briefly unable to access servers belonging to UK2.net. The website hosting company said their team investigated the issue and confirmed it was not a problem with their network. The issue was later resolved.
Thursday, Jul 5th, 2018 (4:34 pm) - Score 4,245 An unspecified network problem has been preventing TalkTalk’s broadband ISP customers from accessing any servers belonging to the website hosting company UK2.net since earlier this morning. At the time of writing nobody appears to know quite when it will be resolved. The issue, which was spotted by The Register, is not mentioned on TalkTalk’s own service status page but the provider is aware of there being a fault. Meanwhile UK2’s own service status page has, for the past 7 hours, simply stated: “Our clients report problems related to TalkTalk ISP connectivity. Clients of this ISP can’t reach different resources within our network. Our network team is working on this issue.” @UK2Help Hi there! Do you have a ticket # we can reference to take a look at this? -Sarah — UK2.NET (@UK2) July 5, 2018 UPDATE 6th July 2018 – 9:22am An update posted at 5pm yesterday by UK2 casts the blame back toward TalkTalk: “Our network team has investigated this issue and confirmed it is not an issue with our network. We are currently awaiting updates from TalkTalk regarding issues on their network.” We believe this has since been resolved but that’s not yet confirmed.
HSBC collaborating with Avant to create lending platform
HSBC has teamed up with Avant to launch a digital personal lending platform in the US. Based on Avant's Amount technology and digital capabilities, the platform will allow HSBC customers to apply online for loans of up to $30,000. Successful applicants will receive the funds the following day.
HSBC's US arm is rolling out technology from Avant for a move into the online personal lending market. HSBC is taping Avant's Amount technology and digital capabilities, which have been used by the fintech to originate nearly $5 billion in loans to more than 600,000 people. The platform has been customised to HSBC's specifications, including the bank's proprietary risk models. Customers will be able to complete the application process online and, if approved, get the funds - of up to $30,000 with terms of up to five years - the next day. Pablo Sanchez, regional head, retail banking and wealth management, US and Canada, HSBC, says: "By adding personal loans to our expanding product suite, we’re meeting the needs of today’s consumers who want a safe, fast and easy way to borrow money online." James Paris, chief strategy officer, Avant, adds: "Consumer behavior has shifted significantly. By offering online lending, forward thinking banks like HSBC are finding it to be a competitive differentiator in today’s market."
Pie Insurance introduces policies in four US states
Pie Insurance is rolling out its online workers compensation policies in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois and Tennessee. CEO John Swigart is predicting the start-up will be in between 15 to 20 US states by the end of the year, hitting 60-70% of the market. The insurtech has raised about $4.3m in seed financing.
Pie Insurance said it is ready to start selling its first workers compensation policies, and the InsurTech startup expects to be operating in 15-20 states by the end of 2018. Policies are slated to start selling in Illinois, Georgia, Tennessee and Arizona in March—a larger number of states than had been expected, Pie co-Founder and CEO John Swigart acknowledged in an e-mail blast to “Pie watchers” detailing the marketing milestone. “This was an audacious goal we set when we established the company in May 2017: stand up an entire insurance operation in less than 12 months. We did it and I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” Swigart wrote. “We had expected to only be selling in one state at launch; however, we have four states with regulatory approval…and will be selling our first policies [in] each of those states during March.” Swigart added that Pie will be expanding rapidly, with four additional filings submitted for approval with state regulators and others in the pipeline. Pie predicts it will be in 15-20 states by year-end, hitting 60-70 percent of the market. The company launched with plans to focus on the small business workers comp market and its Pie Price Predictor Tool. The tool, based on Pie’s website at www.pieinsurance.com, is designed to help educate small businesses about what they should be paying for workers comp policies versus the market average. Valen Analytics powers the tool, which businesses can use at no charge. Pie also raised $4.3 million in seed financing around the time of its debut. Longer term, Pie hopes to make its market by quoting and binding insurance policies for small businesses based on data from the predictor tool, working as a full-service managing general agent. Other updates from Swigart’s email: Pie’s initial marketing tests yielded encouraging results. According to the company, those tests showed that small business owners would be willing to shop for workers comp online, as Pie offers, rather than through various offline agency channels as is commonly done now. Pie also plans to sell through large agency partners, and Swigart said that there is “strong interest in the partner channel.” Pie added new investors and advisers, including Judd and Susan Shoval, founders of small business workers comp insurer Guard Insurance (now part of Berkshire Hathaway).
** Class-action expert denies Liberal MP's accusation of 'cherry-picking' data
Vince Morabito, a professor at Monash University, hit back at aggressive questioning from a government backbencher during a federal parliamentary inquiry. Jason Falinski accused him of cherry-picking numbers to show that there had been a slight decline in the number of class actions filed in recent years. The West Australian Labor senator Louise Pratt also complained that Falinski was verballing the witness, which he denied.
Australia’s leading academic expert on class actions has hit back at aggressive questioning from a government backbencher during a torrid federal parliamentary inquiry. “My God, is this going to be the standard of the questioning today,” Vince Morabito, a professor at Monash University, said after being peppered with queries from Jason Falinski, a Liberal MP from NSW. Falinski’s attacks on Morabito drew a warning from the inquiry’s chairman, the Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson, that witnesses should be treated with courtesy. The West Australian Labor senator Louise Pratt also complained that Falinski was verballing the witness, which Falinski denied. Falinski accused Morabito on Friday of “cherry-picking” numbers to show that there had been a slight decline in the number of class actions filed in recent years, contrary to claims made by the treasurer, Josh Frydemberg. “No, I’m not,” Morabito said. He said the terms of reference of the parliamentary inquiry included examining what had happened since the Australian Law Reform Commission looked at the issue in 2018. “Since the commission delivered its report in 2018, that is 2019 and 2020, there has been a slight decrease in a), the overall volume of class action litigation, b) the percentage of shareholder class actions, c) the involvement of litigation funders,” he said. Falinski asked if the 2020 figure was relevant, because there had been a coronavirus pandemic. “Yes it is, because one of the claims that has been made is that things have deteriorated to such an extent that urgent class action reform is required,” Morabito said. Frydenberg in May used the pandemic to justify clamping down on class actions, saying it “also exposes companies to the threat of opportunistic class actions for allegedly falling foul of their continuous disclosure obligations if their forecasts are found to be inaccurate”. The inquiry has been marked by acrimony. Last week, Labor senator Deborah O’Neill tore into a submission from Liberal thinktank the Menzies Research Centre, describing it as an “undergraduate essay that would fail”. She accused the submission’s author, James Mathias, of misquoting a federal court judge. It is also the second time in as many weeks Falinski has berated a witness during a parliamentary hearing dealing with class actions. Last week, he talked over Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic) commissioner Karen Chester as she tried to give evidence about what the regulator knew in advance of a May decision by Frydenberg to force litigation funders to hold a financial services license. Asic was only told of the decision the day before Frydenberg announced it. Falinski was also part of a group of backbenchers who laid into Asic commissioners in September 2019 over the regulator’s decision to appeal a federal court case it lost about responsible lending standards that was dubbed the “wagyu and shiraz” ruling. Asic went on to lose its appeal to the full court of the federal court and on Wednesday announced it would not pursue the matter to the high court. Morabito is widely regarded as Australia’s leading expert on class action numbers. He regularly publishes research based on a large database of class actions filed across Australia, which he maintains. Earlier in the week, Morabito disputed a claim by Frydenberg that class action numbers had tripled in recent years. He said new figures he had compiled showed the number of class actions filed actually fell slightly in the year to the end of June. In May, following lobbying from business groups, Frydenberg announced the licence requirement for litigation funders and another move that watered-down rules requiring listed companies to keep the market fully informed about their financial position. Asic opposed the change, Guardian Australia reported this week. Business groups have told the parliamentary inquiry the changes should be made permanent. However, a coalition of law firms and litigation funders hit back earlier this month, saying a crackdown on class actions could let big business run rampant without being held accountable for wrongdoing.
Adaptive Medias and Adsupply merge to combat ad-blocking
US companies Adaptive Medias, a mobile video advertising firm, and AdSupply Inc., a programmatic advertising platform, plan to close a merger deal during Q2 2016 as part of efforts to strengthen the defences of publishers and marketers against ad-blocking. Under the new agreement, Adaptive Medias will pay $8m to AdSupply Inc for a 47% share in the new company, while the remaining 53% will be owned by shareholders of AdSupply Inc. As Adobe and PageFair report that ad-blocking was responsible for an estimated $22bn in lost advertising revenue during 2015, up 41% from 2014, executives predict that the first full year as the new Adaptive Medias could help to generate revenues of $30m and therefore ensure the company can compete in a market likely to undergo consolidation.
According to its letter of intent, Adaptive Medias said it would pay AdSupply $8 million in cash and newly issued restricted stock. As a result of the deal, AdSupply shareholders would own 53 percent of the company, and Adaptive Medias' shareholders would own the remaining 47 percent. The deal, in which the two companies would merge under the name Adaptive Medias, is expected to close during the second quarter of 2016.
Asian HNWIs look to impact investing ahead of charity
High net-worth individuals in Asia are increasingly turning to 'impact investment' rather than charitable giving as a means of promoting social good whilst also making a return on their money. Responding to the trend, a number of organisations have been established to pair investors with worthwhile social enterprises. One of these is the Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange, known as "IIX". This has so far helped more than 35 enterprises raise funds of more than $28m, and has launched a 'social stock exchange'. The company aims to have arranged $1bn of social investment for its clients by 2022.
SINGAPORE -- In 2016, veteran Japanese investment banker and private equity investor Takeshi Kato embarked on a new chapter of his life. Deeply moved by the poverty and social issues he saw while working in India, Kato began investing in social enterprises through BWiz Capital, a small Tokyo-based investment company he set up with some financial help from friends. The company's portfolio ranges from OneBreath, a U.S.-based startup that provides affordable medical ventilators to hospitals in India, to Indonesia-based Krakakoa, which helps cocoa farmers seeking to produce beans for artisanal chocolate.
Boris Johnson says sorry for 'any offence caused' by burqa article
The prime minister claimed his words had been taken out of context, and added: “What [the Conservative party] have to do is have an inquiry over xenophobia and prejudice of all kinds.”At the time, he repeatedly refused to apologise despite calls for him to do so from Theresa May, the then prime minister, and Brandon Lewis, the then chairman of the Conservative party.The prime minister also used his appearance on the daytime television sofa to argue that some criminals, such as the London Bridge terror attacker, Usman Khan, were not capable of being rehabilitated.
Boris Johnson has claimed that all-out strikes on public transport will be made illegal under a new Conservative administration following major disruption on UK train routes. “I do think it’s absurd that critical transport mass-transit systems should be capable of being put out of actions by strikes, and other countries around the world have minimum service requirements for public transport – and that’s what I want to see,” said Johnson in front of an audience of textile workers near Matlock in Derbyshire. The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT) said its members on South Western Railway (SWR) were “standing firm” on the second of 27 planned strikes over the role of guards on trains. On new trains due to start running next year, SWR wants drivers to operate the doors at every stop to save time. The move to Derbyshire on Thursday by Johnson’s campaign highlighted the Tories’ hope to break through the so-called “red wall” of traditional Labour seats. Appearing at the John Smedley factory, Johnson was asked if he would “absolutely promise” to get a trade deal with the EU by the end of the transition period in December 2020. “I’ve absolutely no doubt at all that we’ll be able to make sure that the EU protects its own interests and has a deal with us that ensures that continues for the future. “If you say ‘can I absolutely guarantee that we’ll get a deal’, I think I can and I’ll tell you why – look at what we achieved … in three months with the new deal that I did,” said the prime minister. 00:48 Sadiq Khan attacks Boris Johnson's record on racism – video Asked if it was a “cast-iron guarantee”, Johnson said: “The possibility you allude to [of not getting a deal within a year] simply will not happen.” Questioned about suggestions in the Times and the Telegraph that the government would cut taxes in a February budget – contradicting the party’s manifesto, which shows taxes will go up – Johnson said: “I don’t know what you are talking about … We’re cutting taxes on business rates, we’re cutting national insurance contributions for everybody in the country, everybody paying NICs.” The Tory manifesto document shows that the party plans to reduce the government’s tax receipts by £3.195bn in 2020-21 while government revenue through taxation would increase by £3.32bn. Although personal taxes would go down, the overall tax burden would increase because of changes in corporation tax. A Conservative party statement later tried to clarify Johnson’s position. “Our manifesto does not propose increasing taxes on UK resident companies and would not put up personal taxes for hard-working Brits,” it said. “We have been very clear that we are pausing future corporation tax cuts, and will invest this money into our NHS.” Earlier Johnson apologised “for any offence caused” by his article describing Muslim women who wear a face-covering veil as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. The prime minister was confronted over the issue on ITV’s This Morning by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, who said Muslims had been hurt and offended by his remarks. Johnson replied: “People dig out all sorts of articles … I’ve already said sorry for any offence caused and I say it again.” The prime minister claimed his words had been taken out of context, and added: “What [the Conservatives] have to do is have an inquiry over xenophobia and prejudice of all kinds.” The original article written in the Telegraph last year argued the burqa should not be banned even though it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes”. At the time, he repeatedly refused to apologise despite calls for him to do so from Theresa May, the then prime minister, and Brandon Lewis, the then chairman of the Conservative party. A panel convened by the Conservative party later ruled that he should not be disciplined because he was “respectful” in the piece and had been using “satire”. In Matlock, Johnson declined to guarantee that he would subject himself to a grilling by Andrew Neil, who has questioned Jo Swinson, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. “I’m the first prime minister to have done two, or about to do two one-on-one leadership debates, several hours’ worth of phone-ins, endless press conferences and interviews with all sorts of BBC people called Andrew. “And I will continue to submit to the interrogation of the media,” he said.
Songa Offshore CFO resigns amid Transocean compulsory acquisition
Songa Offshore has announced the resignation of CFO Jan Rune Steinsland, effective 28 February. The news comes as Transocean initiates a compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares of Songa, following a previous announcement of a successful voluntary offer by Transocean for Songa.
Reference is made to previous announcements concerning the successful voluntary offer by Transocean Ltd. and Transocean Inc. ("Transocean") for the shares of Songa Offshore SE (the "Company"). Transocean has initiated a compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares of the Company. Songa Offshore SE received the resignation of the Company`s Chief Financial Officer, Jan Rune Steinsland, effective 28 February 2018. 2 March 2018 Limassol, Cyprus This information is subject to the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5 -12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.
Hastings Pier a prime example of community led redevelopment
Having now won the Stirling Prize for 2017, the newly rebuilt Hastings Pier represents a shining example of how community-led redevelopment can succeed. Hastings Pier had long remained in a state of disrepair under the stewardship of the Pier's owner, Ravenclaw. When the required renovation work was officially identified but not acted upon by Ravenclaw, the local council was able to use a Compulsory Purchase Order to force a transfer of ownership to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT). The HPWRT then oversaw the award-winning renovation and the pier is now open to the public once more.
I was blown away when I learned that Hastings Pier – once an abandoned and derelict Victorian relic – had won this year’s Stirling Prize. A community-led development has been officially declared the UK’s best new building. This victory demonstrates that excellent architecture and meaningful regeneration can be achieved through projects that are led by local citizens, and rooted in their communities. I came to know about Hastings Pier through my involvement in the campaign to save London Road Fire Station in Manchester. These two very different structures have a few important things in common. Both buildings are held in deep affection by their local communities; both recognised as having important heritage value by official bodies such as Historic England – and both were left to decay. London Road Fire Station: inspiring. Image: Andrew Turner/Flickr/creative commons. Sadly, it is not unusual for significant buildings to be left to ruin for decades, when owners can’t or won’t act to sell or save them. Situations like these can be described as “difficult” or even “delinquent” ownership. In such cases, the ownership of the site becomes a long-term stumbling block preventing regeneration – often with a knock-on effect to the wider area. Even where there is the investment and the political will to bring a building back into use, a project can be stalled permanently by a landowner who refuses to cooperate. Local consultant Jericho Road Solutions, which was involved with the campaign to save Hastings Pier, established the Community Assets in Difficult Ownership (CADO) programme to work with ten such projects, including Hastings Pier and the London Road Fire Station. Between them, these ten buildings have been empty for a total of 224 years, representing a loss to the economy of more than £1bn. Local community groups associated with each project received grants, advice and mutual support to help them progress. People power Hastings Pier was eventually freed from its private owner, Ravenclaw, through the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). CPOs are legal powers available to local authorities, which can force land owners to sell land or buildings under certain circumstances. A balance has to be struck between a person’s right to own property and the wider public interest. One example of when a CPO might be used would be to acquire land for major infrastructure projects, such as HS2. For this reason, CPOs can be viewed as a threat by local communities looking to protect their homes and land. But CPOs can also be used to buy a site needed to support urban regeneration, or to save a historic listed building which is in urgent need of repair. This latter mechanism was the one used to save Hastings Pier. In desperate need of some TLC. Image: jtweed/Flickr/creative commons. In Hastings, the pressure for the CPO actually came from the local community. Councils are often risk averse and prefer to avoid confrontational action such as CPOs – which can result in significant legal costs if things don’t go according to plan. By 2011, the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT) had been established, and was raising funds with the long term ambition of taking over the pier to run it as a community asset. But the project remained in limbo due to its “difficult owners”. With expert advice on both sides and a series of productive meetings, the HPWRT and the local council came to an agreement. The necessary building repairs were identified and Ravenclaw were given an opportunity to carry them out. When this didn’t happen, the council was in a position to acquire the pier using a CPO. The pier was then immediately transferred to the HPWRT, in what is known as a “back-to-back” agreement. The success of this strategy is a credit to the willingness of both parties to work hard at developing a constructive relationship and to try a new approach. Inspiring change The CADO programme has recommended new laws to support the regeneration of buildings that are languishing under a “difficult owner”. But until those changes can be made, I hope that local authorities and government can take confidence from the success in Hastings and view community groups as partners, working carefully to use enforcement powers that are already available to them. These strategies can secure the highest standards in architecture and – unlike much private investment in development and regeneration – the buildings belong to the community. There are also lessons here for community activists. Those working to influence their local area often find themselves reacting to proposals by developers. Precious time and resources are consumed with this essential scrutiny work to fight inappropriate developments. But the story of Hastings Pier should inspire citizens everywhere, reminding them to sometimes take a proactive approach to pursuing the kind of built environment they yearn for. Emma Curtin, Architect and lecturer, University of Liverpool. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Some NASA contractors appear to be trying to kill the Lunar Gateway
In his article, Cooke argued that the fastest and surest way for NASA to land humans on the Moon is to ignore commercial launchers, bypass the Gateway, and accelerate development of the Exploration Upper Stage.This is an interesting viewpoint given that commercial rockets cost $100 to $200 million, at most, versus the $1 billion to $2 billion cost of a single SLS rocket—not including the hundreds of millions of dollars, at a minimum, the agency would have to invest in Exploration Upper Stage development contracts with Boeing.Meanwhile, with its existing work on the SLS core stage and the upper stage, the Starliner vehicle for commercial crew, and a management contract for the International Space Station, Boeing may not be well positioned to win any of the contracts for the human landing system NASA is also seeking to build between now and 2024, these sources said.
During a hearing of the House space subcommittee on Wednesday, the outlines of a battle over the future of NASA's Artemis Moon program emerged. Yet it was not a partisan fight over whether the Republican White House plan to land humans on the Moon by 2024 should or shouldn't happen. Instead, some members of both political parties questioned how the space agency planned to conduct the Artemis program. These members, including Oklahoma Democratic representative and committee chair Kendra Horn, as well as Alabama Republican representative Mo Brooks, were particularly skeptical of private rockets in their comments and questions during the hearing. They also pressed NASA on why the agency is not moving more quickly with development of a powerful second stage upgrade for the agency's Space Launch System rocket. This "Exploration Upper Stage" would increase the amount of mass the rocket could send to the Moon from 26 tons to 37 tons. Wednesday's hearing was notable because it appears to mark an escalation in an intense lobbying battle going on behind the scenes by some contractors—most likely led by Boeing—to kill NASA's proposed Lunar Gateway and instead accelerate funding for the Exploration Upper Stage. A mixed fleet In its efforts to land humans on the Moon by 2024, NASA has opted for a "mixed fleet" approach toward building up systems in lunar orbit over the next five years. Under these plans, human crews would launch on NASA's Space Launch System rocket, which would propel the Orion spacecraft and its crew toward a Lunar Gateway at the Moon. Prior to this crewed mission in late 2024, commercial rockets would launch elements of that Gateway, as well as components of the lander that would take humans from the Gateway down to the Moon's surface. This plan, according to the space agency, balances the lower costs and capabilities of private rockets such as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy vehicle along with the heavier lift capacity of the larger SLS rocket. NASA is also concerned that enough SLS rockets cannot be built between now and 2024 to support the Artemis program, so the agency wants to buttress its manifest with reusable private rockets. However, in recent weeks there has been pushback from the traditional aerospace industry. Publicly, it began with an op-ed in The Hill by Doug Cooke, a former NASA associate administrator who helped oversee the design and early development of the SLS rocket. In his article, Cooke argued that the fastest and surest way for NASA to land humans on the Moon is to ignore commercial launchers, bypass the Gateway, and accelerate development of the Exploration Upper Stage. Advertisement This would allow the agency to fit the entire lander onto a single SLS launch, similar to the Apollo program in the 1960s. "Rather than draw on the successful Apollo model, NASA is being directed to deviate as a result of three arbitrary constraints," Cooke wrote. One of them is a requirement to use commercial rockets. "Apparently, under pressure from commercial launch providers who need additional launches to fill their manifests, NASA is being directed to break the lunar lander into multiple pieces so these can fit on less powerful commercial launchers increasing risk and constraining the architecture," Cooke wrote. NASA push back During Wednesday's hearing, NASA acting chief of human exploration (and former astronaut) Ken Bowersox disagreed with this characterization, saying there was no such pressure. "Nobody is driving us," he said. "We came to these conclusions on our own. A big driver is flexibility. We want to have multiple options. We don’t want to rely on just one system. We would like to have other systems." A NASA administration source also told Ars after the hearing, "Development of the Exploration Upper Stage was intentionally slowed down to focus on the core stage." This refers to the first stage of the large rocket, which has cost the space agency nearly $10 billion. The US Government Accountability Office has criticized both NASA's management of the core stage contract and the performance of the primary contractor, Boeing, calling both out for delays and cost increases. This initial variant of the SLS rocket, without the improved upper stage, is now unlikely to fly before at least 2021. The Trump White House inherited these long-standing issues with SLS rocket, which Congress ordered the agency to design and build nearly a decade ago. Ongoing problems with the SLS rocket led, at least in part, to the ouster of long-time human spaceflight chief William Gerstenmaier by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in July. The NASA chief has since been trying to get the program back on track. Bridenstine has decided that it is best to focus efforts on getting the core stage flying as soon as possible. Three SLS rocket flights by 2024 are probably all that Boeing can handle due to "performance issues" cited several times by Bowersox during Wednesday's hearing. This third flight would culminate in the Moon landing at the lunar south pole. The NASA chief has also defended development of the Gateway as a critical component of a "sustainable" return to the Moon. Instead of emulating Apollo's "flags and footprints" missions from half a century ago, NASA would instead like to return to the Moon to stay and eventually send humans to Mars, using the Gateway as a staging point. Political pressure A former NASA official, Cooke is now a consultant who has staked out positions that support Boeing and its contracts for the SLS core stage and the Exploration Upper Stage. (Boeing has paid him $465,000 since 2017). He appears to have made political inroads with his argument for spending more money now on Exploration Upper Stage development rather than on commercial launch vehicles. "I think that the pressure to get to commercial capabilities and drive that objective is causing us to do things that are higher risk," Cooke said at Wednesday's hearing. Advertisement It was not at all surprising to see Mo Brooks, an Alabama representative who supports Boeing and the SLS rocket—developed in his state at the Marshall Space Flight Center—supporting Cooke's argument. He read from Cooke's op-ed during Wednesday's hearing. What was surprising is that Horn and others at the hearing also appeared to be swayed by Cooke's view that bypassing commercial rockets and the Gateway would lead to a simpler and faster lunar mission. “I believe there is value in developing commercial capabilities," she said toward the end of the hearing. However, she added, "I am concerned that the decisions are not being driven by what is most efficient or effective and what is most cost efficient.” This is an interesting viewpoint given that commercial rockets cost $100 to $200 million, at most, versus the $1 billion to $2 billion cost of a single SLS rocket—not including the hundreds of millions of dollars, at a minimum, the agency would have to invest in Exploration Upper Stage development contracts with Boeing. Moreover, one of the commercial rockets—the Falcon Heavy—already exists and has flown three successful missions. Other boosters, including Blue Origin's powerful New Glenn rocket, should be ready to fly in two or three years. An SLS rocket with the better upper stage almost certainly wouldn't be ready by 2024, and NASA knows this. "At this point, there is no path by which the Exploration Upper Stage will be ready for Artemis 3 in 2024," the NASA administration source told Ars. "Hence, it is not in the critical path (for the Moon landing)." Boeing power play? Two sources familiar with this emerging battle say it appears to be a calculation by Boeing about the role it could play in the Artemis Moon landing campaign. Contracts for two major pieces of the Lunar Gateway, its power and propulsion element and small habitat module, have been awarded to Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman, respectively. Boeing is therefore unlikely—at least at this time—to play a major role in Gateway development. Meanwhile, with its existing work on the SLS core stage and the upper stage, the Starliner vehicle for commercial crew, and a management contract for the International Space Station, Boeing may not be well positioned to win any of the contracts for the human landing system NASA is also seeking to build between now and 2024, these sources said. That bidding process is now underway. It appears that Boeing has therefore decided to push hard for more funding for the Exploration Upper Stage now, which would at a minimum delay the Gateway and also deal damage to its commercial rivals in the launch business. Notably, during Wednesday's hearing, Cooke also floated another potential line of space business for the company by suggesting that one contractor should probably be responsible for integrating the entire SLS rocket. "It's not just the core stage, it's boosters and engines," Cooke said. "NASA is currently the integrator. If you want to get to a fixed price on a launch vehicle, it would seem to me it would be better to have that combined under a prime contract, where the owner of the prime contract has control of all the processes and can bring some of these efficiencies to bear." Left unsaid was that Boeing, managing the core stage and Exploration Upper Stage, would be this "prime contractor."
China's Micius satellite demonstrates promise of unhackable comms
Researchers led by Jian-Wei Pan from the University of Science and Technology China have used the Chinese quantum satellite Micius to transmit a pair of secret keys to two ground stations in China more than 1,100 km apart to establish a direct and secure communications link via satellite for the first time. The method, called entanglement-based quantum-key distribution, can identify an error-like footprint that would be left by any attempt to spy on the transmission. Paul Kwiat, a physicist from the University of Illinois, suggested that a hybrid combination of satellite and ground-based quantum communications would be the best approach.
The launch of the Chinese satellite Micius in 2016 could have been viewed as merely a single addition to the 2,700-odd instruments already orbiting Earth. But Micius, which is solely dedicated to quantum information science, arguably represents the nation’s lead in an emerging contest among great powers at the frontiers of physics. The brainchild of physicist Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China, the satellite has helped him and his colleagues achieve several groundbreaking results that are bringing the once esoteric field of quantum cryptography into the mainstream. Pan’s team presented a secure method of quantum messaging using Micius in a new paper, published on June 15 in Nature. The achievement brings the world—or China, at least—one step closer to realizing truly unhackable global communications. In 2017 the team, along with a group of researchers in Austria, was able to employ the satellite to perform the world’s first quantum-encrypted virtual teleconference between Beijing and Vienna. Despite being a huge milestone, this method was not bulletproof against hacking. Micius itself was the weak point: The satellite “knew” the sequences of photons, or keys, for each location, as well as a combined key for decryption. If, somehow, a spy had carefully eavesdropped on its activity, the integrity of the teleconference could have been compromised. To overcome this problem, the new demonstration by Pan and his colleagues ensured that Micius would not “know” anything. The trick was to avoid using the satellite as a communications relay. Instead the team relied on it solely for simultaneously transmitting a pair of secret keys to allow two ground stations in China, located more than 1,120 kilometers apart, to establish a direct link. “We don’t need to trust the satellite,” Pan says. “So the satellite can be made by anyone—even by your enemy.” Each secret key is one of two strings of entangled photon pairs. The laws of quantum physics dictate that any attempt to spy on such a transmission will unavoidably leave an errorlike footprint that can be easily detected by recipients at either station. This is the first time the technique—called entanglement-based quantum-key distribution—has been demonstrated using a satellite. (The 2017 test also distributed quantum keys. It did not utilize entanglement to the same degree, however.) “When the satellite was launched, that was a huge milestone,” says Shohini Ghose, a physicist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, who was not involved in the new study. “But [the researchers] didn’t have the level of error-detection rates that are required to actually use that entanglement to do key distribution.” The error-detection rate is vital because distinguishing between a real error and an errorlike footprint from eavesdropping is crucial for security. In addition, a high rate could mean that the keys that two ground stations receive differ from each other—a scenario that would render secure communications impossible. To improve the fidelity of their communications system, the scientists focused on boosting the light-gathering efficiency of telescopes at each of the two ground stations that monitored Micius’s transmissions—updating filtering systems and optical components to reach the necessary low error rate required for quantum-key distribution. Even though this is the first time that entanglement-based quantum-key distribution has been performed via satellite, there have been successful ground-based experiments. In ground-based quantum communications, however, the optical fibers that connect two locations absorb transmitted photons, and the rate of absorption increases over distance. “Trusted nodes” placed along the fibers decrypt and reencrypt keys to extend the key-transfer distance. But like Micius in the 2017 demonstration, each of these intermediaries possesses all the quantum keys and is thus vulnerable to hacking. Although prototype devices called quantum repeaters offer better security, the technology is not yet advanced enough to be practical. In comparison, because signals from a satellite travel through empty space most of the time, photon loss is less of a concern—allowing secure transmissions across arbitrarily large distances. That situation does not mean that the satellite-based system is inherently better than the ground-based one. “It’s kind of apples and oranges,” says Paul Kwiat, a physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was also not involved in the study. “The satellite has a couple of problems. One is there aren’t many [quantum research] satellites that are flying at the moment. Two, those satellites are not always parked over your own telescopes that you want.” Relying on a satellite’s passage overhead means secure communications can only take place at certain times of day. And even then, the technique presently requires other factors, such as reasonably clear skies, to ensure a ground station can receive a key. “I think it’s not a good strategy to say you’re trying to decide which of these two you want to buy,” Kwiat says. Instead, he adds, a hybrid system utilizing local fiber networks linked by satellites could be the best way forward. Pan says that his team’s next great task is to launch and operate a quantum satellite in a higher orbit, 10,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface. That project, he estimates, could achieve liftoff in as little as five years. From such great heights, a satellite could facilitate more frequent communication between ground stations much farther apart from one another. (Micius, in comparison, orbits only 500 kilometers above Earth, limiting its coverage of any ground station to twice per day.) With the high orbital quantum satellite, “you can perform quantum-key distribution for the whole day. Then you have much more communication time,” Pan says. He also estimates that the new satellite will be able to perform entanglement-based quantum-key distribution between two ground stations that are 10,000 kilometers apart, surpassing the distance in the new Micius study by an order of magnitude. As China surges ahead in the quest for unbreachable quantum communications, other nations are scrambling to catch up. In 2018 NASA initiated the development of a National Space Quantum Laboratory that would use lasers on the International Space Station to achieve secure communications between ground stations. In Europe, a Quantum Internet Alliance, under the €1-billion Quantum Flagship project, is in its ramp-up phase. Separately, a joint team between the U.K. and Singapore is making rapid progress toward launching its own quantum communications satellite next year. And Japan and India are also pursuing such work. So is China winning the race for a secure quantum Internet? Pan says it is too early to know. “We will need much more significant output before the quantum Internet can be a realistic thing,” he says.
ReNew Power named most prominent 2019 solar developer: Mercom
ReNew Power has been named India's top utility-scale solar developer in 2019, closely followed by NLC India and Azure Power, according to a survey by Mercom. It found the three firms were responsible for almost 35% of major installations last year, deploying more than 500 MW. ReNew Power was also among the top three developers in terms of overall cumulative installed capacity.
ReNew Power, NLC India, and Azure Power emerged as the top utility-scale solar project developers in India in terms of installed capacity in the calendar year (CY) 2019, according to Mercom’s recently released report: India Solar Market Leaderboard 2020. Together, these three developers accounted for nearly 35% of total large-scale installations in 2019. The top ten utility-scale project developers in 2019 accounted for approximately 70% of installed capacity. Total large-scale capacity additions amounted to 6.2 GW, of which the top ten developers contributed about 4.3 GW. Large-scale solar installations represented 85% of total installations, and rooftop solar made up the remaining 15%. While three companies installed more than 500 MW, none of the developers installed more than a GW in a year when utility-scale solar installations declined year-over-year (YoY) by 7%. India’s solar installations, including both rooftop and large-scale recorded in the calendar year 2019, stood at around 7.3 GW, a 12% decline YoY, and the country’s cumulative installed solar capacity rose to 35.7 GW. According to the report, Adani, ACME Solar, and ReNew Power were the top three utility-scale solar project developers in terms of overall cumulative installed capacity as of December 2019. Three developers in India have installed more than 2 GW each, and another five developers have installed more than 1 GW of large-scale projects each. In terms of the utility-scale project pipeline, Azure Power had the largest development pipeline followed by SB Energy, NTPC, ACME Solar, and ReNew Power. Three developers have a project pipeline of more than 2 GW, and four developers have a pipeline of over 1 GW each.
Adani, ADNOC, BASF, Borealis to evaluate $4bn India chemical plant
Adani, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), BASF and Borealis have joined forces to explore developing a $4bn chemical complex in Mundra, Gujarat, India. The companies aim to evaluate a propane dehydrogenation plant designed to produce propylene, which would partially be used as feedstock for a polypropylene complex owned by ADNOC and Borealis. The firms will conduct a joint feasibility study for the scheme in an attempt to exploit the technical, financial and operational strengths of each partner. The study is due to be completed early next year, with production scheduled for 2024.
Under the collaboration, the companies would evaluate a joint propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant to produce propylene Image: The site designated for the chemicalcomplex at Mundra Port in Gujarat, India. Photo: Courtesy of Adani. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Adani Group, BASF and Borealis have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conduct a joint feasibility study to evaluate a collaboration for the establishment of a chemical complex in Mundra, Gujarat, India. Following the addiction of ADNOC and Borealis as potential partners, the parties are assessing various structuring options for the proposed chemical complex to leverage the technical, financial and operational strengths of each company. The partners are expected to invest a total of up to $4bn in the facility. UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO Sultan Al Jaber said: “This exciting collaboration is in line with ADNOC’s strategy to foster mutually beneficial partnerships. As a value-adding partner, ADNOC will play a crucial role as the propane feedstock supplier to this project. “As the fastest growing global energy market, India is crucial to our international growth ambitions in the downstream sector. As such, this project allows ADNOC and its partners to capture the promising growth in the Indian polyolefins market.” The Mundra facility is planned to be entirely supplied from renewable energy resources Under the collaboration, the companies would evaluate a joint propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant to produce propylene, which is intended to be partially used as feedstock for a polypropylene (PP) complex, owned by ADNOC and Borealis. ADNOC would supply the propane feedstock for the PDH plant, and the PP complex will process the propylene based on the advanced Borealis Borstar technology. The products from the PDH plant and PP complex, planned to be built at the Mundra port in Gujarat, India, are aimed to serve the Indian market, comprising a wide range of local construction, automotive and coatings industries. The joint feasibility study is expected to be finalised by the end of the first quarter of 2020, and production is anticipated to start in 2024. Borealis CEO Alfred Stern said: “This partnership is a unique opportunity to strengthen our PP presence in India with proprietary Borealis Borstar PP technology and to create value and tangible benefits through innovation for customers across multiple industries.”
Duke the dog re-elected as mayor of his town for a third time
Duke, a nine-year-old Great Pyrenees, has won his third term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in a landslide election thanks to the “highest approval ratings in the country”.Karen Nelson of Cormorant, who said she was Duke's "adoptive mother", told The Independent that visitors often ask: "Where's the mayor?"Duke is normally busy on the farm, or hanging out at the Cormorant Pub opposite Ms Nelson's house, she said.
Sign up to our Evening Headlines email for your daily guide to the latest news Sign up to our free US Evening Headlines email Please enter a valid email address Please enter a valid email address SIGN UP I would like to be emailed about offers, events and updates from The Independent. Read our privacy notice Thanks for signing up to the Evening Headlines email {{ #verifyErrors }} {{ message }} {{ /verifyErrors }} {{ ^verifyErrors }} Something went wrong. Please try again later {{ /verifyErrors }} In the dog-eat-dog world of politics, only one can rise to the top. Duke, a nine-year-old Great Pyrenees, has won his third term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in a landslide election thanks to the “highest approval ratings in the country”. Three years ago, Duke was a fluffy nobody. But after 12 people paid $1 to cast their ballot - a fundraiser for an annual festival - Duke became the first honorary mayor of the township. "Three years ago it happened by accident. It was a write-in vote. You pay a dollar and you can vote," said David Rick, Duke's owner, as reported by ABC News. The vote took place during the annual "Cormorant Daze" festival, where locals and visitors are served warm pancakes with maple syrup and can enjoy themselves at an amusement park or browse at a craft fair. The dog has become a local celebrity, and has featured in publications like the National Geographic. He even has his own Facebook page. Karen Nelson of Cormorant, who said she was Duke's "adoptive mother", told The Independent that visitors often ask: "Where's the mayor?" and want to give him treats and take photographs. "His companion is my little black Chihuahua, Sparky - they go round together in David's truck. It used to be like 'Homeward Bound' when I had my cat, Milo." Duke is normally busy on the farm, or hanging out at the Cormorant Pub opposite Ms Nelson's house, she said. In his younger days, he used to run from the farm to the pub and greet the patrons. Now he more often hitches a ride. The mayor could not be immediately reached for comment.
New iPhone’s impact on mobile banking
After many months of speculation, token leaks and various rumours, Apple has now launched  iPhone 6s and 7 with a raft of new technologies and features, adding a powerful new dimension to iPhone’s revolutionary. The new iPhone holds an improved touch screen, which uses Apple's Force Touch technology. This means, rather than just responding to your finger, the phone can respond to different pressures to perform different functions. The latest version of this technology is apparently called 3D Touch, because it adds three dimensions to the technology. The article answers the questions of what can we expect from the much anticipated new iPhone 6s? and how might banking providers be able to take advantage of its new components to transform mobile banking for their customers?
New iPhone 6s release 2015: What 3D Touch and Apple’s new iPhone means for banking and the financial services industry The long-awaited iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are finally here and, despite being somewhat overshadowed at yesterday’s launch by the iPad Pro and Apple TV, they certainly hold much promise for the banking sector. In particular they have the potential to significantly improve mobile banking, thanks to several new and updated features. Improvements in smartphone technology have historically presented significant opportunities for the banking industry – indeed, several providers have been busy exploiting the most recent developments, exploring how they might be used to improve the process of mobile banking for customers. In February this year, for example, RBS and Natwest became the first major banks to introduce Touch ID as an authentication mechanism for their banking apps. Other providers soon followed the trend, and to great effect: our recent research has found that a third (33 per cent) of consumers say they use mobile banking more now that Touch ID has been introduced. Read more: Apple's secret weapon is a new upgrade program Meanwhile, Barclays has been taking advantage of optical smartphone technology. It recently introduced optical scanning software, enabling customers to bank their cheques from their smartphones, simply by taking a photograph of them. As a result of this introduction, they were hailed as industry leaders. Force Touch, or 3D Touch as we now know it, was presented as the hero feature, which should lead to some exciting developments in mobile banking app interfaces. Since 3D Touch brings an additional dimension to touch screen capabilities (i.e. allowing users to interact with an app via pressure as well as touch), we can expect to see a gradual streamlining of app designs. This could mean a move away from expansive menus to more intuitive means of navigation, making mobile banking easier to use than ever before. Another great feature announced was the updated, second-generation Touch ID authentication mechanism, which is up to two times faster than previous models. Already quickly becoming a crucial feature to mobile banking, Touch ID allows for the safe, secure and convenient authentication of mobile banking users without the need to remember long and often complex passwords. Apple announced that the Touch ID feature has been upgraded in speed and accuracy, to allow for even greater security and responsiveness. This will surely lead to greater uptake of mobile banking by consumers due to increased confidence in the technology. Read more: Apple TV could be a broadcast industry killer Our recent research shows that eight in ten people are ready to ditch their passwords in favour of biometric security measures. Plus, 40 per cent of consumers say they would even consider switching banks to have access to a fingerprint scanner on their mobile banking app. Banks have been taking advantage of the increasingly advanced technology presented by the launch of the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6 to make mobile banking safer, easier to use and more convenient than ever before. As a result, more customers than ever now use mobile banking as the primary way to manage their finances. It remains to be seen which bank will be the first to exploit these updated features, but suffice to say it will be an exciting time for developers keen to bring new and exciting offerings to the mobile banking market – watch this space.
IWG Indian corporates set up in-house flexible working options
A rising number of Indian businesses are setting up co-working spaces in their existing offices to capitalise on the 20% to 25% cost savings over conventional leases and  to retain a talented workforce. A survey by JLL Research revealed 56% of Indian corporate real estate leaders said increasing the flexibility of their workforce and office portfolio was a priority, compared with the global figure of 48%.
Sandeep Sethi Multinationals are moving out of their traditional office set-ups and are experimenting with teams working from co-working centers. Mainstream corporates are now the prominent demand drivers for flexible working spaces in India. But the trend is driving a bigger impact of organisations rapidly shaping up their own offices to recreate creative, collaborative spaces. According to a recent JLL Research Report, Emerging Trends in India’s Office Sector, several companies have facilitated their teams to work out of co-working centers, thereby, reaping the benefits in terms of cost and time savings. Inspired by the trend, forward-looking organisations have started offering a flexible and creative environment to their workforce within their offices. And as the human experience continues to gather momentum in driving workplace innovation, agility and creativity, having a flexible new age working environment has now become a strategic lever to attract and retain talent, enhance collaboration, boost employee’s productivity and wellbeing. As many as 56 percent corporate real estate leaders (CREs) in India believe that increasing the flexibility and agility of people and their real estate portfolios remains a priority in achieving their human experience goals. And this is above the global percentage of CREs, which is at 48 percent, according to a recent 2018 Future of Work JLL survey. An increasing number of co-working spaces in the country is therefore an indication that the trend is here to stay. And companies will continue to look for ways to reward their employees with flexible and healthy workplaces. What do stats say? There has been a steady rise in spaces dedicated to flexible workspaces in India. The report further states that new offices that are being created in tier II and III cities in India such as Jaipur, Chandigarh, Pune, Ahmedabad and Kochi are mostly operating on a flexi workspace model. Demographic profile of workforce available in these cities, paucity of ready Grade A spaces and nature of businesses have led to this shift in approach against the conventional offices. Another JLL survey has said that around 40 percent to 45 percent of the business opportunity to occupy the available flexible office space in the country is with mainstream corporates and large firms. In India’s top cities, Delhi National Capital Region, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune, flexible work spaces are likely to lead to cost savings in the range of 20 percent to 25 percent when compared with traditional leased office spaces. What does it mean for the industry? These stats prove that corporates have large amount of space in the form of co-working spaces, to use and experiment with. However, corporates cannot always rely on co-working centers across newer regions and new expansion areas. They need to have their own set-up that provides the same level of flexibility, if not cost and time saving in terms of a daily commute to the office, facilitating a certain level of governance and control. Significant gains can be achieved if the current portfolio of offices is gradually transformed and moulded to the requirements of a large workforce stationed at a particular office. Some have already started experimenting with office refurbishments and are clearly the early adopters. A large well-known e-commerce company, for instance, has kept a few floors vacant in its upcoming office spaces, to experiment with the co-working concept. Fortunately, the latest trends in the office segment suggest that big companies are consolidating in terms of space use. They now prefer a big campus instead of a number of small offices. Such a consolidation opportunity can always be utilised to transform the offices into something that enhances the human experience. It is likely that the trend will increasingly capture the minds of office administrators, strategy heads and CEOs/MDs of companies. They will continue to evolve with the passage of time. With this, the role of all stakeholders involved will become increasingly vital for the industry. As MNCs move out of their traditional office set-ups, family-run Indian companies, and small and medium enterprises will also bring that professionalism along with flexible workspaces. The author is chair, corporate solution and managing director – Integrated Facilities Management, West Asia, JLL
Armed men kidnap woman from Hilton Milan
A french women was kidnapped by four armed men at the Hilton Milan; It was discovered that the women had been at the hotel to try and scam four Indian business people before the incident. The kidnappers were apprehended by police after a high-speed chase through the city centre. Reports state that nobody was injured and it has been presumed that the kidnappers had been tipped off about her location.
Advertisement It sounds like a surreal comedy of errors. And in many ways it was. The woman was carrying a suitcase with €2million euro, mainly fake bank notes, when she was kidnapped from the lobby at the Hilton Hotel in Milan by four armed men of Albanian origin. Guests at the hotel reported to authorities seeing four armed men escort the woman out of the hotel. The police at first thought it was a standard kidnapping, until they realized that the woman herself had been at the hotel to try and scam four Indian business people. The kidnappers got away in an Alfa Romeo 147 and a high-speed chase ensued through the streets of Milan's city centre, reports Repubblica, before they were apprehended by the police. Nobody was injured, according to reports. The recovered suitcase contained a top layer of €65,000 in real currency – the rest was counterfeit money. It's presumed that somebody close to the woman informed the four kidnappers of her presence at the hotel, albeit not of the fake money. The French woman was said to be conducting a 'rip deal,' a common scam whereby buyers purchase real estate, valuable assets (e.g. jewellery) or other currencies using counterfeit money. READ MORE: Italian police bust gang trafficking in stolen ancient artefacts
Findel Findel reports doubling of half-year profits in interim results
Online retailer and education company Findel saw its half-year pre-tax profits rise YoY from £7.54m ($8.5m) to £17.1m in the 26 weeks to 28 September. Findel also reported revenue of £228m for the period, up from £224.5m over the same time in 2017. CEO Phil Maudsley said much of the profit growth was driven by Findel's online value retailer brand, Studio.
North West Business Matthew Ord Accrington-based online retail and education business Findel has more than doubled half-year profits after enjoying a period of "continued progress". For the 26 weeks to 28 September 2018, the company reported revenue of £228m compared to £224.5m for the 26 weeks to 29 September 2017. Pre-tax profits were also up from £7.54m to £17.1m. Chief executive Phil Maudsley said: "This has been a period of continued progress and profit growth, driven by Studio's hugely attractive customer proposition as a digital first, value retailer. "In particular, I am delighted to have seen more customers than ever choose to shop with Studio. More and more new customers are now recognising our incredible value, while our existing customer base is shopping more frequently and across an increased range of products." Since the period-end, which involved a quieter Q2 period, trading has been strong. Sales have been driven by Express Gifts' most successful ever Black Friday campaign, with total revenue for that business having increased by 7.7 per cent. "We have been pleased with the start to the second half, buoyed by a record-breaking Black Friday period, and we are well placed as we head into Christmas," said Maudsley. "Our expectations for the full-year remain unchanged."
IWG 82% of UK businesses open to more flexible working
Flexible working in the UK could be here to stay, as 82% of firms said they would continue with remote working for staff, despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, according to a survey by video conferencing platform Whereby. It also revealed 65% of firms aimed to downsize or reduce their office space after lockdown ended.
82%of UK businesses say they plan to stick to current remote working arrangementsimplemented during the lockdown, a survey by Whereby has revealed Thousands of employees across the UK are now working from home after offices were forced to shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak. As the pandemic continues to slow down, the UK is now taking gradual steps to ease the lockdown restrictions and allowing Britons to return to work once again. However, not all businesses are keen on returning to their old 9-5 office life. Majority of businesses are now considering allowing their staff to work from home permanently after the coronavirus lockdown, a survey by video conferencing platform Whereby has revealed. According to the survey, 82 per cent of UK businesses said they are open to the idea of allowing a more flexible working approach ‘ which means working from home could be the new norm. Meanwhile, 65 per cent of businesses said they will downsize or change office space once the lockdown is lifted. The poll surveyed about 1,5000 British professionals reliant on Whereby’s platforms. Oyvind Reed, chief executive of Whereby, said: It would appear that the unprecedented events of the past two months, which necessitated an overnight abandonment of traditional working practices, are going to result in a profound, long term change in professional behaviour. Companies and employees worldwide are being forced to revaluate all that they knew about the working day, conducting business, and managing and sustaining a team. To my mind, this research highlights two things. Firstly, remote working is not something people fear nor wish to resist: employees and decision-makers alike are recognising and embracing its benefits. Secondly, businesses are already looking ahead to how the lessons learned from lockdown might be applied to strengthen and streamline their working practices – from office rental to recruitment – once enforced remote working is no longer in place. Several SMEs have even decided to leave their offices permanently and adopt a working from home policy for their staff post-lockdown. Chief executive of Bishopsgate Financial, Mike Hampson, has declared plans to ditch its swanky London office and allow all its 18 employees to work from home with staff meetings just a few times a month after lockdown restrictions are lifted. As we were all pushed to work on new tools, we found that remote working worked really well for us, Mike said. As a team, we’re still going to have to meet up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but we don’t need a permanent office for that. Our clients have accepted it as well. I think giving up office space will become a trend and the Regus’s of this world will really struggle. The technology has only just got the stage where it’s effective when it comes to internet speed. Also, this way of working has been more productive. As businesses have been forced to work from home after lockdown, many employees have felt the benefits of remote working and many companies receive positive feedback such as a boost in morale and increased productivity. Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene said: Remote working was always going to become more common in the years ahead, but now it has been abruptly thrust upon us. While many businesses already embraced more flexible ways of working, there are some that are only just realising the wide-reaching benefits and challenges it presents. And this research reveals that organisations are now facing unprecedented demand for lasting changes ‘ ones that will create a healthier work-life balance and boost morale. This will not be an easy transition to manage ‘ particularly for those who didn’t offer flexible working before the lockdown. It’s important businesses ensure employees are fully equipped to work from home, which includes investing in hardware and software, especially communication tools. Indeed, Studio Graphene recently found that 29% of employees feel out of the loop from the rest of their organisation while working remotely. Further, open and honest company culture will prove invaluable if remote working is to be effective in the long-term. Once restrictions are lifted, we can expect more requests for permanent flexible working arrangements. And take note: businesses that ignore these calls risk losing their talent to more progressive competitors. As lockdown restrictions began to ease, more workers are being asked to return back to the workplace. It is essential that employees implement gradual measures to facilitate the transition from working at home to the office. With many firms now open to flexible working arrangements, which could see a dynamic change to how British businesses are run as employees bid farewell to their routine office life. “
NEX launches buy-side initial margin tool
TriOptima, a subsidiary of NEX Group, has launched an all-in-one solution to deal with the forthcoming non-cleared margin regulation. The buy-side tool brings together the ability to calculate initial margin amounts, manage margin calls and resolve disputes in one file, streamlining what Raf Pritchard, co-CEO of TriOptima, dubbed a "laborious" process. The tool is one of a suite of services, offered by NEX Group, aimed at dealing with the two-phase implementation of initial margin rules.
NEX Group’s post-trade derivatives technology provider TriOptima has launched a new service to help market participants meet initial margin requirements. The service will provide an end-to-end solution to calculate initial margin amounts, manage margin calls and resolve disputes, after TriOptima combined all of its services so that clients can use a single trade file to comply with the rules. Thousands of buy-side participants and regional banks are expected to come in-scope of the rules in 2019/2020 once the notional threshold for the mandatory exchange of initial margin is reduced. “We’ve simplified what can be a laborious process,” said Raf Pritchard, co-CEO of TriOptima and CEO of triResolve. “With one simple trade file, we enable market participants to meet the demands of the new non-cleared margin regulation in a simple and cost-effective manner. “Our work with phase one and two firms has given us tremendous experience and insight into the complexities of initial margin, so we are best placed to help firms that will come in-scope in 2019/20 to overcome the challenges.” NEX Group has offered market participants various services to meet phase one and two of the initial margin rules. Clients can use triCalculate to calculate their inputs for the standard initial margin model, and triResolve Margin to capture initial margin amounts and achieve an exception-based margin call process. “NEX TriOptima has helped us cope with the IM requirements in a very efficient and manageable way,” Nordea Asset Management added in a statement. “The solution provides an easy to use workflow and allows us to operate high levels of STP with its out-of-the-box integration with both MarginSphere and AcadiaSoft’s Initial Margin Exposure Manager. Together with initial margin sensitivity calculations generated by triCalculate, the integrated services provide a perfect overview via a single GUI.” The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) has warned firms that are in-scope for September this year to act now to avid missing the deadline, with data suggesting that they could face more than 1,000 newly in-scope counterparties and 9,000 new relationships in this final phase.
Changing how you view electric tractors
Battery power and charging challenges continue to limit the scalability of electrically-driven farm equipment. Picturing electric-drive technology solely in the large machines is a limiting perspective. Electric motors are perfectly suited for low-duty tasks, such as operating manure pumps and shuttling implements around the farmyard. The emergence of smaller and autonomous machines for in-field tasks requiring long hours seems like a much more attainable thing. To take-off, electric motors need to afford power (60 to 100 horse power) while being cost effective.
Electric motors are not new, but they have yet to make inroads when it comes to heavy-duty farm work. Indeed, battery power (specifically related to torque) and charging challenges continue to limit the scalability of electrically-driven farm equipment – despite exponential increases in the technology’s overall effectiveness. This is a reality, and a major reason why many of us, at least in my part of the world, remain skeptical of electric technology’s ability to usurp diesel in the field. The scalability just doesn’t seem there. As I was recently reminded by experts working for my provincial agriculture ministry, though, pulling big iron isn’t the only job on the farm – there are plenty of others, and it’s in those tasks electric motors can make a major difference. Text continues underneath image Battery power and charging challenges continue to limit the scalability of electrically-driven farm equipment. – Photo: Fendt Look to smaller jobs Picturing electric-drive technology solely in the guise of large machines hauling tillage equipment is a limiting perspective. As the two aforementioned experts mentioned to me, electric motors are perfectly suited for low-duty tasks, such as operating manure pumps and shuttling implements around the farmyard. This makes sense in a few ways. First, it’s easy to picture an electric tractor, or even a stationary electric motor in some cases, replacing a typical fossil-fuel tractor in these jobs. Really, tractors are not even needed for many of these tasks (e.g. scraping barn alleyways, operating a power take-off driven mill, etc.), though as often happens, whatever piece of equipment is available is generally assigned the task. Not burning fuel means not burning money for ever hour of work as well as idle time Second, they don’t burn fuel. Environmental considerations aside, that means they’re not burning money for ever hour of work as well as idle time. That’s cash in my pocket, and certainly something to consider in determining the return-on-investment of such machines. Emergence of smaller and autonomous machines Third – it’s not a given that large-scale equipment itself will always be dominant. The trend towards larger equipment might be something experienced now and in the past, but what about the emergence of smaller and autonomous machines (the DOT Power Platform or Fendt’s Xaver ”swarm farming” units come to mind). On this scale, and in this style, in-field tasks requiring long hours seems like a much more attainable thing. Text continues underneath image The DOT Power Platform has been listed at $300,000 per unit. How much diesel fuel would you have to save to make such an investment worthwhile? Electric motors are also already replacing equipment components like traditional hydraulic systems. This is a very low-scale example, but it highlights how the technology can be used in non-tractor form. Again, stationary electric motors shouldn’t be discounted in this sense. Pound for pound, as my ministry associated pointed-out, more can be done with electric power on this scale. Cost-effectiveness and harder to quantify factors I write to you from a small corner of North America. Here, electric motors have steadily been incorporated into many industries (e.g. automotive), as a replacement for labour and fossil-fuels for decades – but not so much on the farm. Cost surely has something to do with it. The DOT Power Platform, for example, has been listed at $ 300,000 per unit. The technology might be incredible, but can my family, as comparatively small field crop farmers, really justify that cost? How much diesel fuel would we have to save to make it worthwhile? What would the maintenance costs be generally, not to mention when something inevitably breaks? No technology works well all the time, after all. In order to really take-off, electric motors need to afford the right amount of power (60 to 100 horse power range) while being cost effective. Granted, fossil-fuel driven machinery isn’t exactly cheap, so many of these cost-efficacy issues already apply. But in this case, at least we know the horse-power and how consistently the machine will run. Again, to quote my ministry associates, “I don’t want to buy something that can’t handle [the job].” In order to really take-off, electric motors need to afford the right amount of power (60 to 100 horse power range) while being cost effective. I’m not an expert on this subject (as should be quite evident by now), but I’m prepared to believe this. And I can say, personally, if the technology does reach the right level of cost and job-effectiveness, I would love to stop burning cash in the form of diesel.
Trump's impact on mobile payments
It is still too early to conclusively predict the impact Trump will have on the mobile payments market, however Trump’s taxation plan is likely to simplify the calculation of tax bills while reducing overall payments.
What Does A Trump Presidency Mean for Mobile Payments? November 14, 2016 By: Steven Anderson Whether you’re still crying or still dancing to “Everything is Awesome” even after the recent election, there’s one thing more to consider: the impact that President-Elect Trump is likely to have on the mobile payments market. The good news here is that there will likely be a lot of impact. The bad news, however, is that not all the news is good. So, the good news first. Trump’s tax plan, if it goes through as designed, will lower a lot of people’s tax bills outright. It will not only be simpler to calculate—which means your need to pay H&R Block might be removed—but it will likely also be lower. That means more cash in pocket, and that means more potential for spending. Spending routed, at least somewhat, through mobile payment systems. That has a beneficial effect on the overall economy, sparking more sales, which means more people are needed to make and sell the things in question and generating what’s called a “virtuous cycle,” where good things make more good things. Plus, the payments industry has been improving security and offering more services, so we could see a general rise in the field thanks to those factors alone. However, Trump’s planned target of remittances from the United States to Mexico may have a serious impact on the payments industry. Bar none, the US / Mexico trade is the largest for the remittances industry. Mexico gets about $25 billion, while China comes in next at $16 billion and India third at $12 billion. Rounding out the top five is the Philippines at $10 billion and Vietnam at $7 billion. What’s more, it would have a clear impact on several firms’ operations; Western Union, for example, actually doubled its presence in Mexico, while MoneyGram partnered with Walmart to make such remittances easier to accomplish. Granted, it’s very early to predict the impact of a Trump presidency on the mobile payments market. He’s not even technically the president for another two months, roughly. Starting to think about this sort of thing now could prove valuable in the end, because knowing what may be coming allows one to plan for it in advance, and potentially, be ready for the likely changes to come.
EU hydrogen strategy: Bloc charts path towards 100% renewable hydrogen
The European Commission unveiled plans to promote hydrogen based entirely on renewable electricity like wind and solar. Low-carbon hydrogen derived from fossil fuels will also be supported in order to scale up production in the short term. Hydrogen seen as a potential silver bullet to decarbonise hard-to-abate industrial sectors like steel and chemicals.htg9yu-06i-08
Join our growing army of changemakers and get unlimited access to our premium content Hydrogen is seen as a potential silver bullet to decarbonise hard-to-abate industrial sectors like steel and chemicals, which currently rely on fossil fuels and cannot easily switch to electricity. It is also seen as a long-term solution for shipping, aviation and heavy-duty road transport where electrification is not feasible at the moment. “Hydrogen is a vital missing piece of the puzzle to help us reach this deeper decarbonisation,” said Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner who presented the strategy on Wednesday (8 July). By 2050, the EU executive estimates that clean hydrogen could meet 24% of the world’s energy demand, with annual sales in the range of €630 billion. For Europe, that could translate into 1 million jobs in the hydrogen value chain. But getting there will take time. Today, 96% of hydrogen today comes from fossil fuels, the Commission points out, saying: “The priority is to develop renewable hydrogen, produced using mainly wind and solar energy”. That will require further cost reductions in technologies such as electrolysers, which aren’t expected to be fully mature until 2030 at the earliest, the Commission said in a statement. Therefore, in the meantime, “other forms of low-carbon hydrogen are needed to rapidly reduce emissions and support the development of a viable market,” the Commission added, referring to carbon capture and storage (CCS) as well as hydrogen obtained from gas pyrolysis, which generates carbon in solid form instead of CO2. The good news is that Europe is at the forefront of all these technologies, the Commission said. “The new hydrogen economy can be a growth engine to help overcome the economic damage caused by COVID-19,” said Frans Timmermans, the Commission executive vice-president in charge of the Green Deal. “In developing and deploying a clean hydrogen value chain, Europe will become a global frontrunner and retain its leadership in cleantech,” he said. In order to scale up production, the Commission said it will follow “a phased approach”: From 2020 to 2024, the Commission’s objective is to support the installation of at least 6GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU, in order to produce up to 1 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU, in order to produce up to of renewable hydrogen. From 2025 to 2030, hydrogen needs to become an intrinsic part of Europe’s integrated energy system, the Commission says, with at least 40GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU. of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to of renewable hydrogen in the EU. From 2030 to 2050, the aim is for renewable hydrogen technologies to reach maturity and be deployed at large scale across all hard-to-decarbonise sectors, such as chemicals and steelmaking. To support Europe’s nascent renewable hydrogen industry, the Commission also set uo a European Clean Hydrogen Alliance that will bring together industry leaders, national and regional ministers as well as civil society to “build up an investment pipeline for scaled-up production” and support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU. “The Alliance is strategically important for our Green Deal ambitions and the resilience of our industry,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner in charge of the alliance. Chemicals and steelmaking Most hydrogen in Europe today is generated and consumed by the chemicals industry, which sees it as “a viable option” to reduce CO2 emissions further in the future. “Hydrogen can become an important low-carbon building block for the chemical industry’s production processes,” said Marco Mensink, director general at CEFIC, the EU chemical industry association. “As one of the largest producers and consumers of hydrogen in Europe, it is a vital first step to see that these new strategies place the chemical sector at the heart of Europe’s future hydrogen economy,” he said. Steelmaking is another key industrial sector which is expected to benefit from the widespread availability of clean hydrogen. For those sectors, the Commission intends to promote so-called carbon contracts for difference (‘CCfD’) that would remunerate investors by paying the difference between the CO2 strike price and the actual CO2 price on the EU carbon market. Transition period The difficult part will be to deal with the transition period until 2030 and avoid a lock-in effect into carbon-emitting sources of hydrogen. “Of course there will be funding for CCS and pyrolysis technology,” said a senior Commission source who briefed the press on Wednesday. “But we do not see this as a lock-in because the development of renewable hydrogen is a process that will take a while,” the official added, saying those investments have a lifecycle of around 25 years which could, therefore, be amortised by the time green hydrogen becomes competitive. “In the transition period, we’re not going for fossil-based hydrogen,” the official insisted, effectively ruling out EU support for so-called “grey” hydrogen produced from steam methane reforming without CCS. “Therefore, it is low-carbon hydrogen that we are using in the transitional period,” the official added. This is why the carbon capture and storage will be essential in the transition period, said another senior Commission official. “We need the carbon capture solutions in order to quickly decarbonise as much as possible the existing production while scaling up renewable hydrogen production at the same time,” the source explained. Russia has shown interest in developing pyrolysis technology, seeing it as a way to decarbonise its natural gas exports to Europe. ‘The right plan at the right time’ Transport and Environment (T&E), a green campaign group, hailed the Commission’s hydrogen strategy, saying it was “the right plan at the right time”. “Hydrogen is the missing link in Europe’s strategy to decarbonise planes and ships where electrification is not an option,” said William Todts, executive director at T&E. “Now the EU needs to create laws that force airlines and shipping companies to start using zero-emission fuels including hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic kerosene,” he added. T&E particularly welcomed the focus on zero-emissions trucking in the strategy, saying the Commission rightly identifies hydrogen and electrification as key technologies to achieve clean road freight. However, Todts expressed doubts as to the Commission’s strategy of promoting low-carbon hydrogen with CCS in the transition period. “Hydrogen is only as clean as the energy used to produce it, and relying on fossil gas just delays the decarbonisation of the economy which the EU has committed to,” Todts said. According to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a green campaign group, the Commission’s hydrogen strategy is simply “a gift to fossil fuel companies”. “Investing in fossil-based hydrogen, whose production is already available at industrial scale, risks making truly clean and fossil-free hydrogen uncompetitive for the EU market and creating stranded assets. It’s a costly gamble that Europe cannot afford and could easily avoid,” said Barbara Mariani, senior policy officer for climate and energy at the EEB. Frederic Simon, EurActiv.com This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner
CRISIL report projects 15 GW hybrid RE projects in India by 2025
India's wind-solar hybrid (WSH) renewable energy (RE) sector will reach 15 GW capacity by 2025, according to a study from the ratings and research agency CRISIL. While only 100 MW of WSH has currently been installed in India, 10 GW of generational capacity has been tendered or is already under construction. Furthermore, 4.5 GW of the hybrid pipeline includes energy storage, which will become a factor for peak-load balancing. Additionally, if the clause requiring both solar and wind aspects to be located in the same place is removed, WSH could become a significant portion of new projects, the report claims.
In its new report, CRISIL takes a look at wind-solar hybrid (WSH) projects in India, which it estimates will reach 15 GW capacity over the next 5 years. In its new report, ratings and research agency CRISIL has looks the case of wind-solar hybrid (WSH) projects in India. A segment that it believes is fast becoming the preferred renewable energy (RE) option in India, and it estimates will reach 15 GW of generational capacity over the next 5 years. The Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has not yet set a generation target for the nascent sector, however, WSH has received strong support from the central public sector undertaking Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and several state governments. SECI intends to set up 5 GW of solar and wind projects with storage under the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode over the next 10 years, adding to the country’s total of 37.69 GW of wind energy capacity and 35 GW of solar capacity as of fiscal 2020. WSH projects, which harness both solar and wind energy, are expected to account for a good chunk of the pipeline. In January this year, SECI invited bids for 1.2 GW wind-solar hybrid capacity under its tranche-III tender for RE projects. Among the states, Andhra Pradesh formulated a Wind-Solar Hybrid Power Policy in 2018 and has set a 5 GW generation target from WSH projects by 2022. Other windy states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra have also identified land parcels to develop WSH projects. Given this, CRISIL Research estimates ~15 GW of WSH power to come up in the country over the next five years, compared with only ~100 MW today. Of this, ~10 GW is already in the works – either under construction or being tendered – and will start feeding the grid by 2024. The agency further said that currently there are proposals to set up 3,900 MW of pure-play hybrid projects and another 4,500 MW of hybrid projects with energy storage systems. “The projects with storage are capable of catering to peak-load generation, besides improving the capacity utilisation factor. Hence, these have the potential to reduce the country’s dependence on gas and pumped hydro-based peaking plants,” it said. “We expect hybrid tariffs to be in the Rs 2.8-2.9 per unit range, with a wind-heavy hybrid configuration. We believe the pricing will become more competitive if the co-location clause (necessitating the wind and solar components to be located at the same place) is removed,” Crisil Associate Director Pinal Mehta said. Further adding that in the case of hybrid projects with storage capacity, it believes the weighted average tariff (peak and off-peak) of Rs 4.04- 4.30 per unit, as discovered in recent bids, is competitive with thermal power tariffs, which are at Rs 4.4 per unit. “Also, land availability and policies such as co-location will remain key monitorables for the viability of hybrid projects. Other challenges, including adequate transmission infrastructure and technical issues such as grid balancing, would need to be addressed, too,” the report added. As per the report, hybrid projects have found favour globally, too. Among others, China, Germany, Spain, Netherlands and the US have set up such projects to unlock value from hybrids. The advantages include lower capex costs, improved power integration and matching with the demand profile of the market.
Will the new generation of IoT data make us comfortable to give up more privacy?
For the majority of people the Internet of Things will remind them of particular devices which promote a more connected world. However, others don't disagree with the fact there will be a chance for a large market with companies such as McKinsey forecasting that in the next ten years the economic impact could reach the extent of $11tn a year. To people such as Spivack the CEO of Bottlenose, the possibilities from the Internet of Things market go well beyond money.
For most of us, the internet of things (IoT) might call to mind specific gadgets – slick innovations like Nest thermostats or the Apple Watch – that seem to owe their provenance to science fiction and promise a more wired world, as well as the inevitable automation of everyday life. Then there are people like serial entrepreneur Nova Spivack, someone who’s far less enamoured of the next IoT device than he is with something infinitely geekier: the data that can be captured. He doesn’t dispute, for example, all the predictions about what a large market opportunity IoT represents. Among such estimates is the one from consulting giant McKinsey, which forecasts that over the next decade the economic impact of IoT could reach as much as $11 trillion a year. Likewise,tech firm Cisco projects a surge in connections of people, process, data and things that could reach 50bn by the end of the decade. To Spivack, the chief executive of big-data mining company Bottlenose, the opportunities and promise of the IoT market also go much deeper than dollar signs. To him, the market’s potential has less to do with gadgets – the “things” themselves – than with the secrets and insights they unlock about the world. He points to examples including insurance­-related use cases, where a device monitoring a car’s performance could report a driver’s habits back to the corporate mothership, with the data being used to adjust premiums up or down accordingly. That’s one example among many of how, as computing power gets cheaper and smaller, sensors can turn almost anything into an internet­-connected device – which means almost anything can likewise become a data-­generation device. “The internet of things represents a major data opportunity”, says Spivack, who also co-founded the startup incubator that gave birth to Apple’s digital assistant Siri. “There’s just no other data opportunity that comes close.” Spivack’s point is that when everything comprises sensors and has an IP address of its own, the world will see a huge increase in the amount of data being generated – vast streams of data that expand at such a fast clip it takes new kinds of machines and processes to peer into the streams and find some actionable insight. In other words, he thinks it is the data and the requisite machine learning needed to make sense of it that will comprise the IoT market’s killer app. “It’s going to be the challenge of the next decade,” says Spivack. “As everything gets an IP address and starts reporting, the question will be – where is this device? What’s its status? What’s going on around it? The amount of data that every device can stream out is going to be huge.” McKinsey’s research helps prove his point. In a study of more than 150 IoT use cases, McKinsey found we may be using as little as 1% of data being generated – an indictment of how much potential is being left on the table. A typical oil rig, for example, is festooned with as many as 30,000 sensors, McKinsey notes – yet most oil companies are only using those to detect and control anomalies, not to do things like prediction and related analysis. “In a way, I think the world is becoming more like the stock market,” Spivack says. “You can now measure theories about everything and make predictions about what needs to be done when resources are running low. If every device in a factory is reporting its state all the time, including when failures happen, you can use machine learning to look at all the devices that are connected, and at what their state was before and during failure events to learn to determine the early signs of failure.” Meanwhile, the benefits of machine learning also serve to underscore the darker side of IoT. Entrepreneurs like Spivack may look forward to the business potential of IoT devices throwing off more real­-time data than has ever been available before. But those devices will give Snowden­-era consumers,already worried about things like their social-media posts and Amazon order histories being hoovered up by intelligence services, a few new questions to ask: Will the generation of IoT­-related data be enough of a benefit for users that they’re comfortable giving up more of their privacy? Do they trust the makers of connected cars, smart homes, activity trackers and the like to keep their data secure and to be transparent in their usage of that data? And not just be transparent about its usage, but its possible sale down the line to a third party? So far, available survey data about consumer attitudes towards data, privacy and the IoT market – as well as their attitudes about privacy in general – is instructive. A Ponemon Institute survey of 1,900 consumers, for example, found a whopping 82% of respondents say IoT manufacturers had not provided any details about how their personal information is handled. A recent Pew study of almost 500 Americans, meanwhile, also found that 88% of respondents said it’s important that someone or some agency or group not watch or listen to them without their permission. Likewise, 63% said it’s important to them to be able to “go around in public without always being identified”. There are a host of reasons why consumers might look at a Fitbit or smart home device and not feel the same sense of control over their privacy they might have with the more familiar computer programs and traditional devices they use every day. For one thing, notes UK communications regulator Ofcom in a recent report about the market, the IoT comprises a wide range of devices, not all of which have keyboards or screens – making it sometimes unclear what the device is doing. Meanwhile, the multiplicity of devices spans not just product classes but countries, which is why Ofcom has pointed to growing support for more international standards to govern things like data collection. “Data captured in one country may be processed or stored in another, and different countries may have different data privacy regimes,” the Ofcom report reads. Ofcom has a few suggestions to bring some order to IoT data collection, including making terms and conditions for data­-sharing simpler for consumers to understand, and that device makers should build a focus on informed consent into their products. The urgency for companies to do so will only grow as the market continues to expand and IoT devices increasingly proliferate. Examples of how that proliferation is taking place include US–based retailer Target recently opening the doors in San Francisco to an “open house” – a combination retail space, lab and meeting venue – focused on IoT. The 3,500-square-foot space will display new IoT tech as well as serving as a hands­on showroom where guests can experience the products for themselves. Carnegie Mellon University has also become a kind of test lab for IoT technology from Google, thanks to a partnership between the two organisations that calls for deploying sensors and accelerometers across the campus, among other things. The goal, says project lead investigator Anind Dey, is to deploy an IoT infrastructure campus-wide. That’s why Google gave CMU seed funding and access to Google technology, according to Dey, the Charles M Geschke director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU. “We have already begun work on this open infrastructure and have deployed it in a few spaces on campus”, Dey said. “In a year’s time, we hope to be working with the city of Pittsburgh to deploy our technology throughout the city. “The goals are to turn CMU into a living laboratory for IoT – that is, a place where research and development can go on, in the same place that users will use the technology on an everyday basis.” As part of that process, he says to expect an app store for IoT applications developed by CMU and others. Laura Ballay, a fellow faculty member at the Human-­Computer Interaction Institute, said the project also gives a sense of how there are “so many interesting applications” when investigating the ways technology can help people within the context of a city. And yet – she also thinks one of the harder things to solve when it comes to IoT is the idea of giving people the degree of control that they want. Most people, she says, would be overwhelmed by giving them complete granular control over everything an IoT device could do and the data it could collect, asking them for permission every step of the way. Device makers also can’t really build off assumptions about the consumer’s appetite for privacy today, since such attitudes morph a bit over time. Data may be one of the biggest opportunities to tap via the IoT, but if it’s not handled correctly, she and others think the market won’t have enough users for it to fully take off. It’s a tricky balance, she says – figuring out what to collect, how to use it and how to appropriately inform the user. “A lot of times technology precedes the people side of things”, Ballay said. “The technology will continue to evolve, but where it becomes interesting to me is when people enter into it and how they think technology should behave. What might have been true 20 years ago is not necessarily true today. Determining what’s right to foist on the world should be at the heart of every designer working on these projects.” To her mind, these are not things that you can necessarily ask of end users. And so the tug­-of-­war continues. On one side, IoT devices continue to multiply, with the Altimeter Group noting how this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was packed with things like connected flowerpots and Bluetooth-enabled tape measures. On the other end, there are fears that all the washing machines, toasters and cars in a given city will start flooding, sparking, smoking, and spying. “Adding a sensor to something does not magically endow it with value for its user, particularly when weighed against potential risks”, the group’s report reads. “One study found that the top reason consumers hadn’t purchased in-­home connected devices was because they didn’t understand the value. “As a society, we all face the potential to both suffer and benefit from a connected world. It is the responsibility of the entities that are digitalising our physical world to educate, to safeguard, and to help foster new, responsible behavioural precedents in the internet of things.”
RBS hit with £1bn claims in damages from small businesses
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are to hit with claims worth over £1bn from small businesses accusing the bank of driving them "to the wall for its own profit". RGL Management, which was created to gather up claims against RBS over the conduct of its now defunct Global Restructuring Group (GRG), is understood to have processed 50 claimants in less than a month after its launch, stating that "“we believe this has the potential to be a huge claim". This legal actions comes as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) prepares to publish its findings into the GRG unit, which had been set up to aid struggling businesses.
Small businesses alleging that Royal Bank of Scotland drove them to the wall for its own profit are to lodge claims worth more than £1bn against the bailed-out bank after securing legal and financial backing. RGL Management, formed to gather claims against RBS over the conduct of its now defunct Global Restructuring Group, is understood to have processed 50 claimants less than a month after its launch. The group has also secured legal representation from Humphries Kerstetter, which has previously acted for Tesco and WH Smith in a suit against credit card companies. Claims within RGL Management are expected to exceed £1bn as the group prepares for a marketing push to sign up more firms. “We believe this has the potential to be a huge claim,” said James Hayward, its chief executive. “Single businesses within our group have losses of tens of millions of pounds and thousands of businesses suffered as a result of GRG’s actions. The rate at which we are being contacted by businesses suggests our claim will be very significant.” Legal action against RBS is gathering pace even as City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority prepares to publish its report into the GRG unit, set up to help struggling businesses. The allegations about GRG gained publicity in 2013 when a former government adviser, Lawrence Tomlinson, published a report arguing the RBS division drove clients to the brink so the bank could buy their properties and make a profit. An FCA report on Tomlinson’s accusation is expected to be published within weeks. RGL Management said it was looking to swell the ranks of former GRG clients seeking redress before a courtroom fight that was likely to be met by a fierce defence from RBS. “This is about making people realise that there is a vehicle through which they can claim,” said Hayward. “We are funded, we have lawyers ready, we’re investigating and processing data and if people think they have an issue they should come and talk to us.” RGL will use funds provided by professional litigation investors to seek fresh evidence from whistleblowers and through other investigative means. RBS, which is scheduled to publish its quarterly results this week, said it would defend the claims. “We believe we have a strong case and will defend these claims vigorously,” a spokesperson said. One claimant, Nigel Henderson, said RBS pushed his hotel business into bankruptcy. He claims the bank would not let him pay off a mortgage on a hotel he owned with the £800,000 proceeds from a previous hotel sale. Henderson says GRG told him to pay £240,000 to extricate himself from the mortgage but would not then let him use the £800,000 to do so. RBS’s alleged refusal to cooperate left him saddled with huge mortgage payments that meant he was unable to continue doing business, he claims. The bank eventually petitioned for his bankruptcy and Henderson is claiming for losses “in the millions” of pounds. “They took everything from us, including our house. We were evicted,” he said. “What happened to us and thousands of other people is a travesty of justice and symptomatic of the greed displayed by the senior management of RBS, who had no interest in anything other than self-aggrandisement.”
Shopify introduces app for merchants to sell on Pinterest
Shopify has partnered with social network Pinterest, allowing its vendors to sell to the platform's users. Via a free app, Shopify merchants can turn their inventory into shoppable pins on Pinterest, giving them greater distribution. A paid version of the service is available, allowing vendors to promote their goods. The partnership with Shopify comes with Pinterest increasingly focusing on e-commerce, having pursued a number of initiatives to boost shopping on its platform.
Pinterest is continuing its push to be a major online shopping destination through a new partnership with Shopify, which will make it easier for merchants to attract new customers and boost sales. Through a new app, Shopify merchants can now upload catalogs to Pinterest and turn their products into shoppable product pins in just a few clicks. The Pinterest app on Shopify includes a bunch of helpful features, such as tag installation, automatic inventory updates and an ads-buying interface. The app automatically creates a connection between an individual store and Pinterest, so the merchant doesn’t have to edit code or add further resources — it’s all just there and ready to go. This means Shopify merchants get access to distribution across Pinterest, as well as reporting and results tracking. Importantly, it’s a free service, so indie sellers ad big brands alike can get organic promotion without spending a penny. Of course, there is a paid option too, which lets merchants promote their pins as a paid ad, bringing customers directly into their brands online store. But Pinterest shoppers are generally pretty savvy and could likely find their own way there anyway, which makes this is a genuinely useful feature for everyone — not just those with spare marketing budget. This is the latest push for Pinterest to drive shopping on its platform. Just last month it made things easier for pinners to buy what they see, while last year saw an explosion of activity from the company, including shopping-orientated Lens updates, a refreshed take on digital storefronts and the hiring of former Walmart CTO Jeremy King as head of engineering. No doubt there are more initiatives in the pipeline. The Pinterest app on Shopify is available now for merchants in the US and Canada, and will go live in countries where Pinterest ads are available — including Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — in the coming weeks.
Evans Cycles stops advertising in Mail and Sun, cites values
Evans Cycles, which has over 60 stores across the UK, will no longer advertise on the websites of the Daily Express, Daily Mail or Sun. The retailer claims that these sites contradict the firm’s “core values”. The decision came after campaign group Stop Funding Hate enquired on Twitter about its advertising policy, asking Evans Cycles to reassess. The company announced its decision to discontinue advertising on these sites on Monday.
Evans Cycles has blacklisted the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Express websites from their advertising campaigns, claiming that some of the content from the publisher's sites contradicts their "core values". The retailer, which has over 60 stores across the country, made the decisions following queries placed on Twitter about the websites featuring their adverts. >>> Evans Cycles deals: the best discounts from the Evans sale, including Castelli kit and turbo trainers Evans Cycles was initially asked to review their policies by 'Stop Funding Hate' - a campaign group set up to 'take on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express'. On Friday September 15 they were further questioned about what action would be taken, and on Monday morning (September 18) they responded to confirm that their ads would no longer appear on these websites. See more A spokesperson from the 1921 founded retailer, which owns in-house brand Pinnacle bikes, explained: “We’ve now blacklisted any advertising placements on Daily Mail, The Sun and Daily Express. Needless to say, the content highlighted to us on these outlets go against our core values as a business.” “Whilst we hadn’t previously targeted these outlets specifically, we were made aware that our programmatic advertising campaigns were appearing next to content that is very obviously at odds with our values. As a result, we have excluded these outlets from displaying any of our advertising campaigns.” In the vast majority of cases such ads are placed by an ad serving system - and then targeted automatically, as opposed to being directly placed on a chosen website. The publisher receives revenue when the advert is interacted with (appears or is clicked on) and therefore the action taken by Evans Cycles means that they won't be making payments to these publishes. >>> The media coverage of the Charlie Alliston case should be disturbing for cyclists everywhere Evans Cycles didn't make any comment on exactly which core values the newspapers "went against", but it's notable that they've been involved in the unprecedented reporting of the Charlie Alliston case. The Daily Mail, for example, published an article in which Damien Thompson of the Daily Mail commented: “The truth is that Britain’s roads are plagued by too many idiots who shoot through the traffic as if they were competing in the Tour de France, their brows furrowed in their self-righteous determination to outwit filthy, polluting motorists at every turn.” See more The response to Evans' decision has been overwhelmingly positive, with customers (new, old and returning) claiming that the decision will see them voting with their wallets in the future.
New UK PV installations in Q1 less than 10% of Q1 2017 at 72 MW
**Appears to have already been abstracted, so sending this one straight through** New solar PV installations in the UK have stalled in the first quarter of 2018, with just 72 MW installed. This is less than 10% of the 748 MW installed in the same period last year, and April saw just 9 MW of new additions. Across the whole of last year, a total of 883 MW new PV was installed, with an average monthly growth of 73.5 MW. Total installed capacity for the UK now stands at over 12 GW, but the recent poor growth rate is likely to continue, industry figures have warned.
Only 72 MW of new PV installations were added in the U.K. in the first four months of 2018, according to the latest provisional statistics released by the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Despite BEIS’ usual caveat that the figures are provisional and may be revised upwards over the coming months, the comparison with the first four months of 2017 – when 748 MW of new solar was deployed – clearly shows the market is seeing a worse than expected slowdown. In April new additions totaled only 9 MW, while in March new grid-connected PV systems tallied 13 MW. In January and February, newly installed solar capacity added up to just 35 MW and 15 MW, respectively. Overall, in 2017 new PV installations totaled 883 MW at an average monthly growth trend of around 73.5 MW. By segment, the largest proportion of U.K. solar is still represented by PV plants of 5-25 MW in size, which account for 4.30 GW, while larger PV projects have a share of 1.51 GW. Plants with a capacity of between 50 kW and 5 MW achieved a notable 3.42 GW. In the residential and commercial segment, the largest category is that for systems up to 4 kW in size – which account for 2.55 GW – followed by installations ranging from 10 kW to 50 kW (777.1 MW) and projects with a capacity of 4 kW to 10 kW (220.2 MW). BEIS however, stressed that figures for total cumulative capacity may rise, as the numbers for March 2017 are constantly being revised. Installed capacity for that month – in which the grace period for the renewable obligation (RO) certificate scheme for large-scale solar and renewables expired – has grown to 627 MW with the publication of this month's statistics. Popular content BEIS also says the statistics include two solar plants accredited for the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, the Charity and Triangle solar farms, totaling 22 MW. The CfD scheme, however, produced poor results in terms of assigned projects for PV, with wind power accounting for most of the new capacity. The scheme which brought the best results was the RO system for ground-mounted projects, which delivered more than 5.3 GW. Good results were also driven by the FIT scheme for grid-connected projects, which accounted for 3.8 GW. In a statement to pv magazine, the head of external affairs at U.K. trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA), Leonie Green, said the STA does not expect new capacity figures to get much higher this year, and that the slowdown is due to well-known issues in the British solar market. Ms Green cited, among other concerns, the exclusion of large-scale solar from the CfD scheme, the lack of a proposal for a post FIT framework from BEIS, and the 2016 re-working of the FIT program, which she says proved too constrained to work for commercial rooftop solar. “This market should be viable without subsidy today, but it has been seriously impeded by the shock rise in business rates – up to 800% for on-site, self-owned, self-consumption [installations] – last April,” said Ms Green. “Deployment figures are very disappointing but sadly no surprise. Solar is not being allowed to operate on a level playing field in the U.K., either in terms of fair tax treatment or market access. In addition, the industry has been waiting a very long time for clarity on the policy framework for smaller, local renewables when the FIT ends early next year. The lack of forward visibility is making it impossible for businesses to plan in an already difficult market.” Ms Green did concede, however, the U.K. government is giving more attention to PV technology, particularly through demanding higher new build construction standards, helping to stabilise the industry. “More than anything it is a question of providing level playing fields, with some extra care needed to ensure domestic solar remains accessible to lower income homes and social housing,” she added.
Data dashboards encouraged to spread
The US Department of Educations is encouraging states and ed-tech companies to develop and utilise learning dashboards in order to integrate data from various sources, as it helps teachers "connect the dots" to help improve student learning.
Dive Brief: The U.S. Department of Education's National Education Technology Plan puts a high priority on states, districts, and ed-tech companies developing and utilizing learning dashboards in order to integrate data from various sources. Supporters say that the push is aimed at helping teachers "connect the dots" to help improve student learning. Dashboards can also track and manage goal-setting, Education Week reports, in addition to collating data from formal assessments or building personalized-learning programs. Dive Insight: Data dashboards are already in use, and the new federal plan aims to encourage their spread. In Long Beach, California, a student data dashboard has been incorporated into a teachers' professional development program that offers personalized learning plans based on student data, past training, and teachers' areas of weakness. Yet in New York, one platform offering a data dashboard, InBloom, has been abandoned due to new legislation that bans the collection and storage of student data for use in a data dashboard. Student data privacy concerns continue to be an issue, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation's complaint about Google Apps for Education privacy setting recently capturing the attention of Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
Line's digital token Link listed for trade on Bitbox exchange
Line listed its cryptocurrency Link on the exchange platform Bitbox on a minimum of USD5 to start trading. By doing so Line envisions the possibility of growth and visibility for its token as well as keep developing Bitbox. 
Line has listed digital token Link on its cryptocurrency exchange Bitbox, making it available for trade via three digital tokens: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether. The Tokyo-based messaging platform described the launch as a milestone in its efforts to build its token economy whilst boosting Link's footprint in the marketplace. Read this Why Singapore doesn't need Bitcoin Read now Line launched Bitbox in Singapore in July this year, offering more than 30 virtual currencies including Litecoin and Bitcoincash. Operated by Singapore-based Line Tech Plus, the exchange supports 15 languages including Korean and English and is available globally, except Japan and the US. A minimum US$5 in floor value of Link, in trading fees, would be required to trade with the digital token on Bitbox. To mark the launch of Link's listing, Line said it would hold several airdrop events starting with Tron, giving Link holders Tron based on the amount of Link they own. Tron depositors and traders also will receive Link airdrops. In a crypto airdrop, digital tokens or cryptocurrencies are distributed--typically for free--to a wide number of wallet or cryptocurrency holders. Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa: "We think it is important to promote co-creation and mutual growth with Link, while ensuring Bitbox continues to develop as a user-friendly platform that adds value to those who use it and contribute to our services." The Japanese tech vendor had been aiming to grow its offline and online channels by rewarding consumers with Link and allowing them to pay for products and services using the digital token, which was launched in September. These included its dApp services, such as Wizball and 4Cast. Line added that it would soon launch new dApps services such as food reviews app Tapas, location reviews platform Step, and product reviews app Pasha.
TalkTalk Viceland launching channel on TalkTalk TV
Abstract: US lifestyle and entertainment TV channel Viceland is to launch programmes on TalkTalk TV from the end of March. The deal will run alongside Viceland’s existing agreement with Sky, NowTV and TVPlayer. The youth-oriented channel is owned by Vice Media and a number of other distribution deals are expected later this year. Viceland was launched as History International, a spin-off of A&E Networks’ History Channel, in 1996, renamed itself H2 in 2011 and Viceland in 2016.
VICELAND, the lifestyle and entertainment TV channel from VICE Media, will launch in the UK on TalkTalk TV (Channel 338) from March 27th, as the network readies a number of new distribution deals for 2018. The new deal will exist in addition to VICELAND’s on-going partnership with Sky, as well as OTT services NowTV and TVPlayer. CJ Fahey, General Manager, VICELAND EMEA & APAC commented: “2018 marks an exciting year for VICELAND in the UK, as we drive forward our commitment of delivering youth-focused, original content to audiences everywhere. We’re delighted to have the support of TalkTalk in bringing us closer to achieving this, and look forward to showcasing our programming to new viewers.” Aleks Habdank, Managing Director, TalkTalk TV, said: “VICELAND is leading the way with their original and exciting factual programming and adding them to our growing roster of content partners means we’re delivering more of what really matters to our customers – the very best TV on their terms.” Following the launch of TalkTalk’s new multiscreen platform, VICELAND will be available to watch through the set top box and via the TalkTalk TV app across multiple devices.