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The Changing Energy System – A Blueprint for Economic Recovery link

It is ironic that the economic infrastructure contributing most significantly to global carbon emissions, is also the most vulnerable to its climate-changing impacts. Insidiously, the people who suffer the most from increasingly frequent and severe weather events are those that contribute the least to their cause. If climate change is an antagonist in this global drama, which has brought many a community to their knees following a record 2017, resilient infrastructure is the hero and the lack of political will and imagination the antihero. Nowhere are these battlelines as stark as in powering an economy with a resilient, decentralized energy matrix. Carbon emissions from electricity generation are one of the major contributors to global climate change. As 2017 showed the ...

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In a Real War Can Virtual Assets be a Haven? link

The grinding civil war in Syria, already a fierce proxy battle between the U.S., Russia, NATO allies, Turkey, Israel, Iran and Isis, has entered a new and perilous stage with this weekend’s reprisals to Bashir al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. A U.S.-led coalition, backed by military assets from France and the UK, positioned a flotilla in the Mediterranean, launching sorties of aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles delivering targeted strikes destroying Assad’s suspected chemical weapons facilities. With these strikes, Western powers aim to redraw bright redlines in Syria and remind the world on conventions in warfare that preclude the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Markets were already skittish as this wave of military action was – in contravention to ...

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Cities Held For Ransom – Lessons From Atlanta’s Cyber Extortion link

Time has run out on the city of Atlanta to respond to cyber extortionists who have successfully crippled several critical systems across the city. From first responders like the police department, which has been prevented from using certain databases, to the judicial system, city-wide payment processing for traffic fines and other areas, many citizen services in Atlanta were taken offline by a sophisticated ransomware attack. Meanwhile public servants have been relegated to switching back to analog carrying out paper-based work to maintain the semblance of business as usual in the bustling city. The cyber criminals who perpetrated this attack demanded payment of $51,000 in bitcoin, lest Atlanta face wider repercussions from this exploit, such as the deletion of critical data, ...

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Puerto Rico – The Singapore of the Caribbean? link

Well before Hurricanes Irma and Maria delivered a one-two punch to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean, Puerto Rico has had its fair share of dubious comparisons. From being likened to the Greece of the Caribbean, due to a decades-long financial tailspin yielding an eye-watering $73 billion public debt burden, to a colonial backwater, which like Washington, D.C., has a political voice but no vote on Capitol Hill, resulting in an enormous and persistent mass exodus of more than 600,000 people. There was one comparison, however, which offers a counter-factual analysis of the island’s long-range prospects. Could Puerto Rico become the Singapore of the Caribbean, as hedge fund investor John Paulson, who has invested more than ...

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When We Stop Talking About Blockchain, We Can Change the World With It link

If the internet created a world of low friction communication, blockchain can create a world of low friction value transfer. Indeed, blockchain’s power to transform the world can only be fully harnessed when we stop talking about blockchain and the hype is replaced by this technology fading to the background. Like all periods of fervor, where companies like Kodak and Long Island Iced Tea saw a spike in their share prices on the mere mention of blockchain or tokens, the quiet work that can indeed change the world is going on in the background largely unnoticed. Some of the assertions of how blockchain can be used to fix literally everything border on the absurd. As satire, blockchain’s power to solve ...

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Facebook Breaks Silence link

The coat of Teflon that usually shields Facebook and its affable leader, Mark Zuckerberg, who has matured into a techno statesman in the public eye, is beginning to wear thin. Facebook now joins a growing number of firms embroiled in a trust deficit with a case of reputation risk whiplash. But unlike an Equifax-style scandal, which was prompted by external factors and exacerbated by internal misdeeds, Facebook’s eroding market confidence appears to be self-induced by 5 days of silence and lax third-party risk management. Reports of more than 50 million personal records being accessed by Cambridge Analytica and Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University researcher whose personality quiz provided a backdoor to this data, is not only a terrible violation of ...

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Should Saudi Aramco Scrap Its Initial Public Offering? link

The recent news that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is postponing the planned IPO of Saudi Aramco stock to 2019 is both a challenge and an opportunity. Saudi Arabia, under increasing pressure to reinvent itself as a part of Vision 2030 and in response to domestic pressure, must begin right-sizing its balance sheet from being a single-cylinder oil-based economy. The opportunity is to not only do away with the planned IPO, but to turbocharge it by using an initial coin offering (ICO) as an efficient pathway to market, saving $200 million in investment banking fees in the process. In so doing, Saudi Arabia will not only be in line with Vision 2030 in terms of embracing a low-friction technologically advanced ...

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147 Million Worry About Their Identities, One Billion Have None link

In a grim case of societal Darwinism mixed with tragic irony, 147 million people struggle to protect their identities due to the Equifax breach (which recently added 2.4 million additional victims to its toll), while more than one billion people on the planet have no such luxury. In a newly released report, issued by the World Identity Network, in collaboration with the United Nations and other partners, Dr. Mariana Dahan, euphemistically the Satoshi Nakamoto of identity, Dr. Alicia Carmona and Dr. Brad Blitz, shed light on the dark recesses where the stateless and faceless struggle for the essentials of humanity – an identity. Without basic personhood, essential services, such as healthcare, education and political presence, along with safe passage through ...

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Where Banks Stand to Lose with Blockchain, Insurers Stand to Gain link

As Bitcoin’s price vacillates between a high of $20,000 and the current figure of $11,063, the most widely known cryptocurrency is not alone in the digital asset universe, nor is it alone in needing better risk management and risk transfer solutions. Indeed, Bitcoin is one of more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies, whose uses range from utility tokens attached to underlying technologies and firms the way stocks are tethered to listed companies, or digital fiat currencies backed by more traditional issuers, such as central banks. Across the entire asset class, however, the lack of universally acceptable insurance solutions continues to plague confidence among weary investors and operators. This lack of confidence often relegates cryptocurrencies to speculators, who themselves face a growing number ...

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One Thing is Clear From Davos, Blockchain is Out of Beta link

Under the decidedly grim moniker creating a shared future in a fractured world, the world’s elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum. Awaiting the arrival of President Donald Trump, delegates were regaled with prognostications about the state of the global economy and whether national retrenchment would signal the end of multilateralism as we know it. While Trump’s remarks on the closing day of the Forum signaled that America first does not necessarily mean America alone, there was one sub-theme that echoed throughout the snow-covered mountains of Davos – Blockchain, Blockchain, Blockchain. Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin’s rise to prominence (along with nearly 1,500 cryptocurrencies), is slated to transform the world, ...

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