Europe Mulls Mobile Blackouts
September 30, 2022
Let’s Talk Later, The Scheduled Blackout’s Here
Europe’s energy woes continue, this time spilling over into the telecommunications sector. While sanctions against Russia initially looked to be putting pressure on Putin, Russia’s block on gas exports to Europe is acting as a powerful counterpunch. As winter approaches the European continent, telecom industry officials worry that power cuts or energy rationing might take down mobile networks for short periods of time. Currently, Europe is home to half a million telecom towers, with most of them connected to battery backups which can keep them up for roughly 30 minutes. Major European economies, including France, Germany, and Sweden, are currently scrambling for ways to avoid mobile outages.
In France, energy shortages are exacerbated by the maintenance of nuclear power plants, which further thins out power budgets. Enedis, the country’s main electricity distributor, is reportedly planning for a worst-case scenario of two-hour rotating blackouts. The blackouts would avoid crucial infrastructure like hospitals and government buildings, but telecoms lobbyists are still negotiating with the power giant to keep their services up through blackouts. “Maybe we’ll improve our knowledge on the matter by this winter, but it’s not easy to isolate a mobile antenna (from the rest of the network),” said one French finance ministry official involved in the discussions.
In Sweden, another solution for power rationing is being considered – telecom regulator PTS is beginning plans to finance the purchase of transportable fuel stations and mobile base stations which could be used to keep its coverage up. In Italy and Germany, telecoms lobbyists are also discussing keeping their services available through rationing. Telecom technology companies Nokia and Ericsson are also offering a helping hand, rushing to make their equipment more power efficient and utilizing software to optimize traffic flow, allowing some stations to be taken off the grid to reduce power consumption. (Reuters)
Some Good News
- Australia’s most-polluting coal plant to shut decade earlier than planned (BBC)
- New Zealand bans live animal exports from April 2023 (Guardian)
It’s Not Always Sunny In Munich
- According to four top German economic institutes, the forecast for their country’s economy next year is anything but sunny and warm. Heading into 2023 with current gas shortages and soaring energy costs, the firms predict a cold winter for Europe’s largest economy.
- The four institutes first slashed their economic growth predictions for Germany’s 2022 in half, from 2.7% to just 1.4%. This dire look at the present continues into next year, with economic growth expectations for 2023 shrinking from 3.1% to -0.4%.
- “The crisis on the gas markets is having a severe impact on the German economy,” they said in a joint statement. “Soaring gas prices are drastically increasing energy costs, leading to a massive reduction of the purchasing power.” In a worst-case scenario, Germany’s gross domestic product might shrink by 7.9% in 2023 and by 4.2% in 2024. (Reuters)
Let’s Put The War Crimes Aside
- In a rare show of cooperation, the leaders of China and Japan stressed the need for unity between the two East Asian powers following a phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The phone call marked 50 years of normalized diplomatic ties between the two nations despite their current and historical conflicts.
- Tensions between the world’s #2 and #3 economies have long been stressed over disputed territories, influence over the Asia-Pacific region, and Japanese war crimes during its occupation of China. This past month, China upped the ante once again, firing missiles into Taiwanese and Japanese territory following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
- During the call, Xi told Kishida that he attached “great importance” to China-Japan cooperation and hoped to forge stronger ties with Japan in the future. In a message to Xi read at a reception following the call, Kishida said, “We need to recollect the ties that were agreed upon 50 years ago and pour our full energy into maintaining those relations for another 50, 100 years. There just can be no other way.” (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Bridge collapses as vehicles cross in Brazil’s Amazon (Al Jazeera)
- Hungarians protest change in abortion rules (Reuters)
- More than 1,700 environmental activists murdered in the past decade (Guardian)
- Russian Borders Swamped as Putin’s Draft Order Sparks Exodus (WSJ, $)
- Meeting in Brussels Signifies a Turning Point for Allies Arming Ukraine (NYT, $)
- Suu Kyi convicted again, Australian economist gets 3 years (AP)
- Brussels promises to cap price of Russian oil after Putin escalation (Guardian)
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius
A Rain Check
- The January 6 committee had planned for another hearing on Wednesday of this week, but postponed it due to Hurricane Ian. Now, the panel says they’re looking at some time next month for rescheduling it. It’s set to be their final hearing (for now). The committee is eager to hold the meeting before midterm elections on November 8, hoping it can provide a final push for Democrats.
- In the wake of the hearing’s postponement, the committee had time to schedule a very important testimony from everyone’s favorite SCOTUS wife, Ginni Thomas. Thomas sat for about four hours in a closed-door session on Thursday. The committee wanted to speak to her about “her discussions and coordination to Mark Meadows and specifically to John Eastman,” according to Representative Pete Aguilar. (Axios, NPR)
- Governor Gavin Newsom signed two major bills on Wednesday to convert vacant commercial buildings into affordable housing. The deal between affordable housing groups and labor unions will incentivize housing projects on land that’s zoned for retail and office buildings.
- Senate Bill 6 and Assembly Bill 2011 both promise union-scale wages and an expedited construction process, and keep projects closer to city centers to avoid sprawl that would work counter to the state’s environmental goals. Newsom said the bill will help to fix the “original sin” of housing affordability. (LAT, $)
Additional USA News
- Wrongful detentions of Americans by foreign powers are fast rising, a new study says (NPR)
- Biden announces new diplomatic strategy with Pacific island nations (Axios)
- 6 Injured in Oakland School Shooting, Police Say (NYT, $)
- Biden administration kicks off student loan debt forgiveness process (CNN)
- A section of the Sanibel Causeway in Florida is destroyed by Hurricane Ian, cutting off access to the island community (NBC)
- The Pentagon announces an additional $1.1 billion in long-term aid for Ukraine. (NYT, $)
- Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice, to testify before Jan. 6 panel Thursday (NPR)
- Sandy Hook Parent Confronts Years of Abuse Tied to Alex Jones (NYT, $)
The Magic Beans
- The 9-5 grind of the rat race is probably not the best thing for our health, mentally or physically. The fuel that keeps our capitalist hell-machine running, though, might actually be a health food. According to a new study, drinking coffee regularly might protect people from cardiovascular disease and early death.
- “The results suggest that mild to moderate intake of ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle,” said Peter Kistler, the author of the study. The new look at coffee used data from the U.K. Biobank, a database that contains the coffee consumption preferences of nearly 450,000 adults, who had healthy hearts at the beginning of the study. After 12.5 years, the researchers took another look at the data, which showed that all types of coffee (ground, instant, and decaffeinated) were linked with a reduction in death from any cause.
- “Caffeine is the most well-known constituent in coffee, but the beverage contains more than 100 biologically active components. It is likely that the non-caffeinated compounds were responsible for the positive relationships observed between coffee drinking, cardiovascular disease and survival,” said Kistler. The study showed that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day was associated with the largest reduction in early death compared to people who drank no coffee at all. Maybe those jitters and trips to the bathroom are good for you? (CNN)
- Dogs can smell when humans are stressed, study suggests (CNN)
- Fossilized Fish Reveal Earliest Known Prequel of ‘Jaws’ (NYT, $)
- Juno just raced by Europa, providing our best look in 20 years at the icy world (Ars Technica)
- MacKenzie Scott, Billionaire Philanthropist, Files for Divorce (NYT, $)
- Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin speaks about racism from fans (BBC)
- A Scrapped Matthew McConaughey Movie, and When a Studio Investigates Its Own Project (Hollywood Reporter)
- Remains of SS Mesaba, ship that sent iceberg warning to Titanic, found lying in the Irish Sea (CBS)
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