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The New Zealand High Court has rejected a bid by a man from the Pacific
island nation of Kiribati to stay in the country as a climate-change refugee.
Ioane Teitiota - whose work visa had expired - had said rising sea-levels meant there was no land in Kiribati he and his family could return to safely.
The low-lying island nation is vulnerable to climate change.
But the judge said environmental problems did not fit internationally recognised criteria for refugee status.
"By returning to Kiribati, he would not suffer a sustained and systemic violation of his basic human rights such as the right to life... or the right to adequate food, clothing and housing," High Court Justice John Priestley wrote in his judgment.
Mr Teitiota, 37, has lived in New Zealand since 2007 but overstayed his work permit. Earlier this year the immigration department rejected his bid for asylum saying he was not facing persecution at home.
But Mr Teitiota's lawyer had challenged that decision, arguing that he and his family - including his three New Zealand-born children - would suffer harm if forced to return to Kiribati because of the combined pressures of over-population and rising sea-levels.
They told the court that Mr Teitiota was being "persecuted passively by the circumstances in which he's living, which the Kiribati government has no ability to ameliorate".
Kiribati, with a population of more than 100,000, has an average height of 2m (6,5ft) and is one of the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Visit - Climate-Change
I was impressed because I was scheduled quickly, I happened to be scheduled just a day after I called which is a time very convenient for me. They actually gave me choices of schedules which was nice because it shows that they truly care for their customers. I knew I was in good hands right after since he provided me details on how the clinic works.
As soon as I arrived at Westhill House Consulting Rooms, I felt at ease, the place was very welcoming, very comfy. And that’s not all; confidentiality is strictly enforced so I felt secure.
In addition to all of that, this Westhill House Consulting Rooms is very affordable. Yes it is low-cost. They will go by a sliding scale, and I was happy to learn my therapy sessions were going to be affordable for me for the next weeks.
I was very pleased after that first session knowing that the therapist that I talked to really suited me. There were no heavy feelings towards him. I mean, there were no hesitations I told him my every concern and I was pretty happy with his response. They were actually comforting, it relieved me. They really helped and it was just in the first session so what more in the next sessions. I believe I will be better at the end.
I can highly recommend this Westhill House Consulting Rooms, I am sure they will be as satisfied as I am. The time and money will be very worth-it. So anyway, their services are available for children, adults, couples, and family therapy. They will help people with problems in their relationships, jobs, schools, families, and also with more serious problems like depression, anxiety, ptsd, serious mental illness and drug use.
Victims often don’t realize they’ve been targeted until they discover a drop in their credit score or until a collection agency comes after them for unpaid medical bills, said Jim Quiggle, director of communications for the Coalition Against. Insurance Fraud a group that includes insurers, consumer activists and government officials. While most of the cost of medical identity theft is borne by the health care industry and government, the Poneman Institute estimates that about 36 percent of victims in 2013 incurred out-of-pocket costs such as reimbursements for services provided to impostors, legal fees and identity protection services. The average cost for these victims amounted to $18,660; in a few cases, it exceeded $100,000.
Medical identity theft can happen in several ways. In one common scenario, the criminal persuades a consumer to divulge his health insurance number. Strategies for collecting these numbers can be highly sophisticated, especially when crooks operate in teams, Quiggle said. “They might invite seniors to bogus health fairs where they take their blood pressure and give them some nutritional supplements and ask to see their Medicare cards.”
Jennifer Trussell, who investigates medical identity theft for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, has seen cases where criminal rings target senior centers or homeless shelters and offer people $50 for, say, their Medicare number. “That information is sold again and again,” she said.
Even though the victims in these instances voluntarily share their numbers, they may not realize the impact, Quiggle said. “They'll discover to their horror that their Medicare account is being rifled and even maxed out by thieves who are making false claims against their policy.”
Some cases are perpetrated by employees of medical offices or even health care providers. Trussell worked on a case involving an Iowa chiropractor who had lifted the names and dates of birth of more than 200 patients to collect fraudulent Medicaid payments. In another case, a Baltimore pharmacy owner and two employees were indicted for allegedly submitting bogus claims for prescription refills to Medicaid and Medicare.
Sometimes medical identity theft happens with the cooperation of the victim, who allows a family member or acquaintance to use his health insurance card to obtain care. Poneman Institute founder Larry Poneman said these “Robin Hood” crimes made up 30 percent of the medical identity thefts his group studied in 2013.
Giving your insurance number to someone in need might seem like a generous thing to do, but it’s still a crime and you could suffer consequences if the visits rack up bills that go unpaid or result in incorrect additions to your medical records, Poneman said. If an impostor’s blood type or medical condition gets added to your record, you could end up receiving inappropriate or even life-threatening treatment.
Electronic medical records make your medical data easier to steal, because any clerk with access to patient records can load patient information onto a thumb drive and sell it to cronies or crime rings, Quiggle said. And because the Internet makes electronic records easy to share, tracking down all the providers who have received incorrect data can be difficult.
So how do you protect yourself? Never give your medical identity credentials to anyone but those with a legitimate reason for needing this information, such as the billing person at your doctor’s office, Quiggle said. Treat with suspicion anyone who asks you for your insurance number without a good reason, and never give these numbers to telemarketers or callers conducting “health surveys.”
Closely scrutinize the “Explanation of Benefits” or “Medicare Summary Notice” documents that are sent to you to make sure that you actually received the services and products listed, he said.
If you see anything suspicious, ask to see your medical record to look for mistakes or evidence that your identity has been compromised. “A lot of people don’t realize that they have the right to read their medical records,” Poneman said. He recalls a case where a woman who stood more than 6 feet tall went in for bypass surgery; her medical record, however, showed that she was just over 5 feet tall because, unbeknown to her, an impostor had used her identity to receive care. Had she been given anesthesia and other drugs based on the impostor’s size, she could have faced serious problems with the surgery.
Think twice before sharing detailed medical information on social media, Trussell said. Posting a medical diagnosis on social media is akin to posting your address along with the dates that you’ll be away on vacation. An impostor could use that information to obtain services that might not raise red flags with your insurer. For instance, if you tweet about your diabetes diagnosis, Trussell said, it’s possible that “next thing you know, you’re getting diabetes test strips you didn’t order or receive billed to your insurance company.”
If you discover that your medical identity has been stolen, your first step should be a call to the police, Ponemon said. Next, call the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft hotline, 877-ID-THEFT, or report the problem online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Report Medicare- or Medicaid-related crimes to oig.hhs.gov/fraud/hotline or by calling 800-HHS-TIPS.
Even though you’re out walking all day, and it may seem like you’re getting a lot of exercise, you’re probably also eating a lot of high-calorie and fatty foods that pretty much negate all the good you’re doing with the walking, hiking and stair-climbing.
Those extra pieces of cake and pie for dessert aren’t helping either. Contrary to popular belief, calories do count on vacation, as much as you wish they didn’t. So, if you want to stay on track and earn those meals, you might want to add additional exercise to your vacation itinerary:
I love to be outdoors when I travel. It’s the best way to see your destination, so why not get out a little more and burn extra calories?
- Go running – You’re going to bring along a pair of walking shoes anyway, so why not make them running shoes that are also good for walking. If you run at home, then keep your routine set and get up early to run around the block or the hotel grounds.
- Jump rope – This is an easily packable item and gets you great exercise anywhere you have some extra room. Not just little kids love to jump rope. It’s fun and helps you tone and keep in shape. Make sure you buy a nicely weighted one that will stand up to the rigors of the road
You walked all day yesterday, but you got up early in order to watch the news or eat breakfast in your room. As much as you know you should put on your workout clothes and hit the gym, the thought of looking presentable just doesn’t sound appealing. You aren’t alone. While you’re waiting for your bagel to toast or you’re listening to the weather report, you can take advantage of the floor space in your room to get in a quick workout.
- Chair crunches – If you have a chair, you have a low-impact gym. Work your abs by sitting on the edge and pull your legs up or pump your legs as if you are riding a bicycle.
- Do lunges – You’ll feel a lot less awkward doing them in the privacy of your room than out in public, too.
- Calf raises – Do these anywhere, like while you are brushing your teeth, making oatmeal or waiting in line to get into the Louvre (for bonus exercise points).
Your hotel or rental property might have some useful ways to help you work out. If the weather cooperates enough to be outside, then you’re in luck.
- Go for a swim – Almost all hotels have a pool. Pack your swimsuit and you can get in some laps. If a fancy indoor pool is available, then you can swim if the weather is uncooperative.
- Use the stairs – Walk or run up the stairs to your room and you’ll start to feel the burn. Generally, the stairwell is pretty private, so you also won’t be disturbing others if you are up early or late doing this.
- Go for a run – Not close to a park or afraid to go out running in unfamiliar terrain? Strap on your running shoes and do laps around the hotel. Chances are it is surrounded by a parking lot and/or sidewalks that make it easy to get your strides in.
The consulting rooms are located in West Hill House, a quiet building in Swain's Lane, set back from the road. Swain's Lane is one of Highgate's most charming streets. It is within 50 metres of Hampstead Heath and with easy access to bus, train and underground. Local restaurants and cafés add to the friendly, village atmosphere.
- Full-time receptionist and support staff
- Purpose-built for individual and group psychotherapy
- Architect-designed and elegantly furnished
- All lighting and heating supplied from renewable sources
- Fully ventilated
- Entryphones to all rooms
- Waiting areas
- Rent by hour or session
- Daytime, evenings and weekends, 7 days a week
- Broadband free of charge
South Ayrshire householders could claim up to £1200 to install green energy upgrades to their homes.
The Green Homes Cash back scheme, managed by the EnergySaving Trust, means each South Ayrshire household could be eligible for the funding towards installing a new boiler, insulation or other energy efficiency measures.
Energy Saving Trust figures show 31 per cent of Scots householders have an interest in installing double glazing, 37 per cent are interested in fitting insulation to their home and 22 per cent would consider investing in a new energy efficient boiler.
Mike Thornton, Director, Energy Saving Trust in Scotland, said: “The Green Homes Cash back scheme gives grants to South Ayrshire householders who invest to make their home – and Scotland – a greener place to live. The scheme is also open to people who rent property, as long as they have their landlord’s permission.
“And anyone who submits a claim through the scheme before 31 December 2013 will also receive up to £150 towards the cost of the assessment through which applicable measures are recommended, making this a great time to put in insulation or upgrade your heating system.”
The Scottish Government’s Green Homes Cash back scheme lets householders claim: up to £500 for insulation measures including loft, cavity or solid wall; up to £400 to replace an old boiler and up to £300 for other measures (such as glazing, LED lighting and heating controls).
Mr. Thornton added: “A great example of how this money could be used is loft insulation – the £500 cash back could pay for the entire cost of fitting the insulation to an average three-bed semi, which can save householders up to £180 a year on their heating bills.
“They say you don’t get something for nothing, but the cash back scheme really is money in the bank for those installing energy efficiency measures.”
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “It is our belief that everyone in Scotland should live in a warm and safe home that doesn’t cost the earth to heat. Rising energy bills are a huge concern for this government, and fuel poverty is an absolute scandal in an energy rich country like Scotland. I would urge anyone who would like to reduce their energy bills to contact Home Energy Scotland hotline from the Scottish Government on 0808 808 2282 or visit homeenergyscotland.org as soon as possible to find out more.
Electric cars are clean today and will only get cleaner tomorrow
By Max Baumhefner and Cecilia Springer
Uncovering a fraud is uniquely satisfying, which is perhaps why news outlets continue to provide electric car deniers with a platform to proclaim they aren’t as green as they appear. But close examination reveals the latest round of skeptics to be lacking in substance.
Numerous peer-reviewed articles have reached the same conclusion: From cradle to grave, electric cars are the cleanest vehicles on the road today. And unlike cars that rely on oil, the production of which is only getting dirtier over time, the environmental benefits of electric cars will continue to improve as old coal plants are replaced with cleaner sources and manufacturing becomes more efficient as it scales up to meet growing consumer demand.
“Did your account for the pollution from the electricity it takes to power the vehicles?”
This question has been asked and answered. Using today’s average American electricity mix of natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, and solar, an electric car emits half the amount of harmful carbon pollution per mile as the average new vehicle. In states with cleaner mixes, such as California, it’s only a quarter as much. To find out how clean your electric car would be today, plug your zip code into the EPA’s “Beyond Tailpipe Emissions Calculator.” Those benefits will only improve as the electric grid becomes cleaner over time.
Before the Natural Resources Defense Council began advocating for vehicle electrification, we did our own homework, publishing a two-volume report in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute. The work took almost two years and concluded that a long-term shift to the use of electricity as a transportation fuel provides substantial reductions in carbon pollution and air quality benefits.
It’s essential to take a long view when examining vehicle electrification, because the electric grid doesn’t stand still. Since the time we published that report, the EPA has adopted power plant standards for mercury and other air toxics, ozone-forming emissions, fine particulate pollution, soot, and coal ash; proposed standards for greenhouse gases from new power plants; and has been directed by the president to adopt greenhouse gas standards for existing plants. Meanwhile, 29 states have adopted renewable energy targets to reduce emissions. Driving on renewable electricity is virtually emissions-free.
“Did your account for the resources it takes to build the cars?”
Producing an electric car today requires more resources than producing a conventional vehicle, generally due to the large batteries. However, comparing the efficiency of relatively nascent and small-scale electric vehicle manufacturing to the efficiency of conventional automobile production, which has benefited from more than a century of learning-by-doing, is misleading. Automakers are racing to save money and materials through recycling and more efficient production. Those who win the race will win the market.
Even with today’s technology, on a lifecycle basis, the electric car is still the cleanest option available. Higher emissions from manufacturing are more than offset by the substantial benefits of driving on electricity. We examined six peer-reviewed academic studies and found that in every case, electric vehicles win by a substantial margin, with estimates ranging from 28 to 53 percent lower cradle-to-grave emissions than conventional vehicles today.
Opponents often rely upon the original version of a Norwegian study, which has much higher estimates of emissions associated with the production of electric cars. Those skeptics generally cherry-pick from the original version of that article, and ignore the fact it was correctedpost-publication, resulting in its estimate of the comparative emissions benefit rising from 22 percent to 28 percent. In other words, even the source relied upon by skeptics shows a substantial lifecycle advantage for electric cars. The Norwegian study finds the lowest benefit relative to the other articles examined partially because it includes an estimate of emissions associated with the disposal of advanced battery materials that is higher than other studies, which brings us to the next question:
“What about mining and disposing of the materials needed to make the batteries?”
First off, there is no shortage of the materials needed to make advanced vehicle batteries. A recent article in the Journal of Industrial Ecology concludes, “even with a rapid and widespread adoption of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, lithium resources are sufficient to support demand until at least the end of this century.” Another analysis of the trade constraints associated with the global lithium market came to a similar conclusion, and noted that even a “five-fold increase of lithium price would not impact the price of battery packs.” Furthermore, companies like Simbol Materials are already finding innovative ways to acquire lithium by harvesting materials from the brine of geothermal power plants — no mining required.
Secondly, advanced vehicle batteries are unlikely to be simply thrown away; they’re too valuable. Even once they’re no longer suitable for automotive use, they retain about 80 percent of their capacity and can be re-purposed to provide grid energy storage to facilitate the integration of variable renewable resources, such as wind and solar. Automotive batteries can also be repurposed to support the electrical grid at the neighborhood level, preventing the need to invest in costly distribution system equipment. Pacific Gas & Electric plans to use money saved through the strategic deployment of used battery packs in neighborhoods throughout Northern and Central California to provide electric car drivers with rebates to reduce the purchase price of new electric cars.
Finally, those batteries that aren’t repurposed will likely be recycled. Conventional vehicle manufacturing is one of the most efficient industries in the world — around 95 percent of vehicle parts are recycled, reducing the energy needed to make more parts. It is worth noting that conventional lead-acid car batteries are consistently the most recycled product for which the EPA provides data [PDF], with a recycling rate of 96 percent. Advanced battery recycling could cut associated emissions in half, according to a 2012 study from researchers at Argonne National Laboratory. Companies are already investing in such technologies.
In summary, a sustained and serious examination of the cradle-to-grave impacts of electric cars reveals they are the cleanest option available today, and that the environmental benefits of vehicle electrification will only increase over time. That’s not only good news for the eco-conscious, but for any consumer interested in driving on a cleaner fuel at a price equivalent to buck-a-gallon gasoline.
Cecilia Springer is an associate at Climate Advisers, where she manages projects on transportation and sustainable supply chains.
Max Baumhefner is an NRDC attorney with a focus on the juncture of the electricity and transportation sectors.
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Yesterday, Google announced that it would buy privately-held Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. This was Google’s second largest acquisition ever. Nest is a smart thermostat and smoke alarm-maker which promises to give Google a leg up in the fast expanding home automation market. But the acquisition also highlights the degree to which communications technology is now embedded in ordinary devices. The benefit is convenience. The risk is privacy.
Since this is a thought piece, I am putting it outside the paywall.
Last week cryptography expert Bruce Schneier wrote an interesting piece on the NSA at the Atlantic, arguing that the intelligence agency threatens national security. His argument in a nutshell was that the NSA – in its zeal to undermine security for espionage purposes - made the digital world vulnerable to any attacker, including foreign governments and common hacker criminals. Schneier pointed to the NSA’s “collect-everything mentality” as being at the heart of the security vulnerability. And I believe this is important when thinking about embedded technology in the context of the Google acquisition.
Embedded technology or embedded systems are computer systems that operate within larger devices in order to make them ‘smart’ and more technologically advanced. Think of electronic watches, baby monitors, refrigerators or washing machines. These articles are by their very nature mechanical/electronic. But in today’s world, they also contain tiny little computers in order to enhance their functionality and ease of use. Embedded systems of this sort are literally ubiquitous. The Nest acquisition gives Google entree into this embedded technology market in its most important application, home automation.
The problem with embedded systems is that they are a major security and privacy risk. In another Bruce Schneier post, he explains:
“We’re at a crisis point now with regard to the security of embedded systems, where computing is embedded into the hardware itself — as with the Internet of Things. These embedded computers are riddled with vulnerabilities, and there’s no good way to patch them.
It’s not unlike what happened in the mid-1990s, when the insecurity of personal computers was reaching crisis levels. Software and operating systems were riddled with security vulnerabilities, and there was no good way to patch them. Companies were trying to keep vulnerabilities secret, and not releasing security updates quickly. And when updates were released, it was hard — if not impossible — to get users to install them. This has changed over the past twenty years, due to a combination of full disclosure — publishing vulnerabilities to force companies to issue patches quicker — and automatic updates: automating the process of installing updates on users’ computers. The results aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than ever before.
But this time the problem is much worse, because the world is different: All of these devices are connected to the Internet. The computers in our routers and modems are much more powerful than the PCs of the mid-1990s, and the Internet of Things will put computers into all sorts of consumer devices. The industries producing these devices are even less capable of fixing the problem than the PC and software industries were.
If we don’t solve this soon, we’re in for a security disaster as hackers figure out that it’s easier to hack routers than computers. At a recent Def Con, a researcher looked at thirty home routers and broke into half of them — including some of the most popular and common brands.”
Schneier focuses on the security risk. And that’s a big problem because these embedded technology products are never updated by end users, making them vulnerable to hackers, especially if they are internet-enabled. But then there is the privacy risk too. A lot of ink has been spilled over GPS and WiFi tracking for example. For retailers, tracking customers in-store will soon be the norm. But these tracking mechanisms can be used across retailers too in the same way tracking cookies are used across the Internet. Turnstyle Solutions has set up a WiFi tracking mechanism in downtown Toronto that uses sensors at 200 different stores, allowing the company to create a mosaic of 2 million people and their shopping habits – in the hopes of serving them with proto-Minority Report-style advertising.
We see the emerging location tracking technology developing in cars too at this year’s Detroit auto show. The Guardian reported on privacy problems:
the US government accountability office (GAO) found inconsistencies in the way automakers handle data from car owners, raising fears of privacy breaches. The study looked at information collected by Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota as well as navigation device-makers Garmin and TomTom and map and navigation app developers Google and Telenav.
“Without clear disclosures about the purposes, consumers may not be able to effectively judge whether the uses of their location data might violate their privacy,” the report noted.
Now, note, that these technologies are geared not just toward enhancing computing power but toward increasing convenience for end users. So the convenience factor is the trojan horse for security and privacy vulnerabilities. Couldn’t the government embed hidden backdoors into these systems? Couldn’t hackers break into the vendors’ computer systems to access our private information? Couldn’t someone or some company or some government use our home automation devices to watch our every move where we live and sleep? The answer to all of these questions is yes. This is what happened with the Target and Neiman Marcus data breaches, affecting 70 million customers with not just stolen credit card information but stolen email addresses, telephone numbers and other personally identifying information.
I don’t have a solution to this problem but I think it will be end up as a mutli-factored problem in a world that is increasingly dependent on always-on computing and internet communications capabilities. The economic and social impact will be in terms of theft, industrial and government espionage, privacy and freedom of speech. it’s hard to tell when, where and how the privacy and security vulnerabilities will be made manifest as serious problems but the NSA spy scandal tells you it already is one. And it is likely to get bigger unless we do find a solution.
Bruce Schneier makes a good case for seeing the security and privacy risks as social in nature. He writes:
Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective, it is extraordinarily costly. I don’t mean just the budgets, which will continue to skyrocket. Or the diplomatic costs, as country after country learns of our surveillance programs against their citizens. I’m also talking about the cost to our society. It breaks so much of what our society has built. It breaks our political systems, as Congress is unable to provide any meaningfuloversight and citizens are kept in the dark about what government does. It breaks our legal systems, as laws areignoredorreinterpreted, and people are unable to challenge government actions in court. It breaks our commercial systems, as U.S. computer products and services are no longer trusted worldwide. It breaks our technical systems, as the very protocols of the Internet become untrusted. And it breaks our social systems; the loss of privacy, freedom, and liberty is much more damaging to our society than the occasional act of random violence.
And finally, these systems are susceptible to abuse. This is not just a hypothetical problem. Recent history illustrates many episodes where this information was, or would have been, abused: Hoover and his FBI spying, McCarthy, Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, anti-war Vietnam protesters, and—more recently—the Occupy movement. Outside the U.S., there are even more extreme examples. Building the surveillance state makes it too easy for people and organizations to slip over the line into abuse.
It’s not just domestic abuse we have to worry about; it’s the rest of the world, too. The more we choose to eavesdrop on the Internet and other communications technologies, the less we are secure from eavesdropping by others.
The end result of not fixing this problem will be an erosion of the legitimacy of government and democracy, something that will eventually create economic upheaval and revolution. One way to hold this at bay is to stop government from exploiting the security and privacy loopholes. But another important factor is for citizens to start taking security and privacy seriously. The trade-off between convenience and privacy/security needs to move more in the direction of security and privacy – and by that I mean we consumers need to force companies to add security into their systems. Two-factor authentication systems and easy to use security protocols. One reason I think Bitcoin is interesting is that it sets up a way for people to interact across the web securely in a way that is independent of the security systems of one individual company. It is the technology behind Bitcoin that provides answers for the future more than the currency, which is a legacy of the increasing distrust of government and the erosion of the legitimacy of democracy.
Eventually, repeated violations of security and the erosion of privacy will lead to a breakdown in society. I think we can have the convenience and the security and the privacy. But we need to take the security and privacy seriously or we won’t get it.
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