TOP 5 CORPORATIONS GOING BIG ON SOLAR

ikea-solar

Don’t think solar can save you or your community money? Guess again.  In today’s cut-throat economy, businesses rarely act without thinking in their bottomline’s best interest.  Solar power was once considered uneconomical and was something championed only by environmentalists or hippies, but those days are long gone; corporate boardrooms around the world have embraced it as a solid, money-saving investment.  Check out the companies below to find out who has made the business-savvy decision of adding solar to cut costs, while shrinking their carbon footprints.  If going solar is a smart decision for these guys, you should consider finding out how Mosaic can help you save money with solar.

1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

walmart

With installations like this one on a Wal-Mart in Foothill Ranch, California, the multinational retail corporation led the way for corporate solar installations in 2013, reaching 89 MW of installed solar capacity. Wal-Mart is now generating more energy from the sun than 38 U.S. states, enough to power 22,250 U.S. homes. While it’s currently producing more solar energy today than the entire country did in 1987, Wal-Mart still has room to grow and plans to install even more systems atop its stores’ rooftops in the coming year.

2. Costco Wholesale Corp. 

Costco Wholesale bulked up its solar capacity in 2013 and now has 78 solar installations on warehouses and stores in states such as Hawaii, Colorado, California, and New Jersey. Costco has reached 47 MW of installed solar capacity, which puts it in second place behind Wal-Mart on the list of businesses generating the most solar energy.

3. Kohl’s Corp.

kohls

Kohl’s impressive commitment to green power, which saw the company meet its ambitious goal of achieving net zero emissions each of the past three years, continued this year as the department store conglomerate reached a total solar capacity of 44 MW. In 2013, 14 new store locations added solar energy, bringing their total to 140 stores, and the company is on track to meet its goal of having 200 active solar installations by 2015.

4. Apple Inc. 

After completing the nation’s largest end user-owned onsite solar photovoltaic array at the end of 2012 in Maiden, North Carolina, Apple started to construct another 20 MW solar installation on nearby land, which aims to produce nearly 42 million kWh of solar energy by the end of 2013. All together, Apple boasts 40.7 MW of solar energy capacity, putting it in fourth place on the list of companies that produce the most solar power.

5. Ikea Group

Rounding out the top five on the list of companies rapidly going solar is furniture giant Ikea, which started construction on the store dubbed “IKEA Miami” in 2013. Besides being notable for its massive size (more than triple the size of a typical Wal-Mart), the store’s roof is also making waves with a solar array of 4,620 panels capable of generating 1.7 million kWh of electricity every year. IKEA aims to put solar panels atop 90 percent of its U.S. locations, and the company is currently generating 35 MW of solar energy from its stores’ installations.

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Pirates, eat your heart out: Rolls-Royce envisions crewless drone freight ships

Rolls-Royce doesn’t just make cars. Technically, the Rolls-Royce this story refers to doesn’t make cars at all, as it sold its car division to BMW back in the 1990s. No, the Roll-Royce I’m talking about is the jet engine and ship manufacturer. And its Ocean Blue team has a wild new idea: crewless drone freighters.

The ships, envisioned above, work much like self-driving cars or drones, along with remote human intervention, by relying on cameras and sensors to autonomously pilot their course. The Rolls team has constructed a virtual prototype of the autonomous ship bridge in its offices in Alesund, Norway, where it is running simulations of the operating system.

The London-based company claims the ships would be faster, cheaper to operate, and have a smaller carbon footprint.

Oskar Levander, the company’s vice president of innovation in marine engineering and technology told Bloomberg: “Now the technology is at the level where we can make this happen, and society is moving in this direction. If we want marine to do this, now is the time to move.”

Understandably, there’s much pushback from ship worker unions and as well as some regulatory hurdles to overcome before the self-piloted ships set sail. That said, Rolls anticipates the drone vessels to be in the Baltic Sea within a decade.

The European Union is encouraging the research with a $4.8 million study called the Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks (MUNIN), which is a GPS system that would keep drone ships from falling off course.

According to Business Insider, “MUNIN catches sight of the smaller ship well in advance, identifies that it will crash if it stays on the same course, then reroutes, following the green arrow to prevent an accident.”

We’re quite intrigued by the drone ship concept and will be following the story closely. So be sure to check back often for updates.

This Map Shows The Huge Scale Of Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian Plan

Russia Vladimir PutinThe ongoing political crisis in Ukraine has brought a renewed attention to the Eurasian Union, Vladimir Putin’s grand dream of a political and economic union that would bridge the gap between Europe and Asia.

The protests in Kiev only began last month when President Viktor Yanukovych made an unexpected u-turn on a proposal that would have established free trade and furthered political cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union, an agreement that was seen as a possible precursor to EU membership. Instead, Yanukovych began to move toward an agreement with the Russian-directed Eurasian Customs Union (ECU), which includes Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan at present.

The ECU is seen as a precursor to the broader Eurasian Union, a project close to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s heart, which some say he sees as essential to his legacy. It’s his plan not only to give Russia and allies a way to compete with economic giants such as the United States, China, and the EU, but also to put Russia firmly at the center of regional power.

To put this all in context, let’s look at a map of the European Union versus the Eurasian Customs Union as they stand right now:

eurasian union
  • Red shows countries that are currently part of the Eurasian Commission — Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
  • Pink shows the countries that are considered candidates to join the Eurasian Union — Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
  • Dark blue shows the 28 member states of the EU, including almost all of western Europe and much of the eastern side of the continent.
  • Light blue shows the states that are considered potential EU member states. This includes recognized candidates (Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey) and others that have either not applied yet or not had their applications recognized (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo).
  • Green shows states that seem to have a choice between the European Union and the Eurasian Union. Along with Ukraine, we have Georgia, the former Soviet republic that has plans to join the EU but has been listed as a potential member of the Eurasian Union by Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev.

As you can see the big red blob that represents the ECU already has a clear size advantage over the EU, and it covers a natural resource rich land in Russia and Kazakhstan. The three nations currently involved have a combined population of around 165 million people and a $2.3 trillion GDP. Add in Ukraine and Georgia and you would get around 205 million people and $2.5 trillion GDP.

Those are big numbers, but they still pale in comparison to the EU, which has more than 500 million inhabitants and a GDP of more than $16 trillion. China has a population of 1.3 billion and a GDP of $8.2 trillion, and the USA has a 313 million population and a GDP of almost $16 tillion.

The ultimate hope for the Eurasian Union is that countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will join. More fantastical plans exist too: One Russian politician (a member of the Putin-linked United Russia party) has floated the idea of eventually broadening the union to include historical allies such as Mongolia and Finland, or even Cuba and Venezuela.

Still, it’s a risky venture for Putin — the immigration implications may be huge for Russia, a country that already deals with a lot of ethnic strife, and you have to question the sanity of any nation entering an economic partnership with Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship and poorest country.

Putin is a big idea kind of guy, however, and he may be more interested in the symbolism than the reality of his plan. The Russian president has publicly said that the fall of the U.S.S.R. was a “genuine tragedy” and the “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” Putin wasn’t talking about Communism here, he was talking about Russia losing its grand geopolitical position as the center of an empire.

The Eurasian Union is his plan to regain that position. It may be a long shot, but right now its all he’s got.

MELTDOWN: BITCOIN CRASHES TO $576

Bitcoin fell from a high of $1,079 to a low of $576 today. This is according to data from Mt. Gox. Also, this represents a breathtaking 46% crash.

Currently, Bitcoin is back to the $700 level. This is still down a whopping 35%.

The sharp moves come in the wake of China’s clampdown on the controversial digital currency.

Earlier this week, the People’s Bank of China announced it was barring the country’s banks from handling the Bitcoin. (That Thursday announcement was followed by a 30% intraday crash.)

That was followed by this announcement from Baidu, aka “the Chinese Google”:

Due to the recent fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin larger unable to protect the interests of users, in response to the risk of state-controlled bitcoin spirit Baidu music accelerate decision to suspend with immediate effect from accepting bitcoin buy accelerate music services.

Horrific price volatility has been one of the biggest criticisms.

This week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch currency strategist David Woo initiated coverage of Bitcoin, assigning a $1,300 fair value.

“We believe Bitcoin can become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money transfer providers,” wrote Woo in a 14-page note to clients. “As a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth, in our view.”

Here’s a Bitcoin price chart from Clark Moody:

bitcoin

Turkish PM Erdogan hit by allegations of son’s meeting with ‘Al Qaeda financier’

ISTANBUL // An alleged meeting between the son of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a Saudi businessman accused by the United States of being an Al Qaeda financier has intensified the scent of scandal and corruption enveloping the Turkish government.

According to findings by investigators leaked to Turkish media, Yasin Al Qadi is suspected of involvement in a scandal over the sale of land in an upmarket neighbourhood in Istanbul. His alleged meeting last year with Bilal Erdogan could implicate the prime minister’s family in the affair.

The allegations could not come at a worse time for Mr Erdogan, whose government is reeling from a series of corruption allegations.

Ugur Bayraktutan, a member of parliament for the opposition Republican People’s Party, last week launched an official query in parliament, asking Mr Erdogan whether his son Bilal had met with Yasin Al Qadi, 58, a Saudi national accused by the US of being an Al Qaeda supporter.

Under parliamentary rules, Mr Erdogan is obliged to answer the question within a month.

The accusations come after prosecutors last month ordered the arrests of dozens of people, including the sons of two of Mr Erdogan’s former ministers, suspected of being involved in a separate corruption scandal.

According to reports by Radikal, Milliyet and other Turkish newspapers, Mr Al Qadi was on a list of names due to be arrested in a second wave of arrests as part of investigations into several corruption cases. The reports said the arrests were cancelled after the prosecutor, Muammer Akkas, was taken off the investigations.

Bilal was included in a group of people that were to be questioned as “suspects”, said reports, quoting sources in the judiciary.

Several Turkish media have carried pictures said to show Mr Al Qadi talking with Bilal in the lobby of an Istanbul hotel in April. According to the Taraf newspaper, prosecutors suspect the Saudi businessman was involved in talks about the sale of a publicly-owned piece of land in the upscale Istanbul district of Etiler to private investors for US$460 million (Dh1.69 billion), less than half its market value.

Umut Oran, another CHP politician, in his own parliamentary query, asked Mr Erdogan whether Bilal acted as a mediator in efforts to sell the land to Mr Al Qadi and others. Istanbul’s mayor Kadir Topbas has denied that the area had been sold.

Last week Taraf claimed that Mr Al Qadi also entered Turkey illegally four times before being taken off the UN sanctions list in 2012, with the blessing of the Turkish government. He remains on a US terrorism blacklist.

Mr Bayraktutan, the MP, said Mr Al Qadi was protected by the prime minister’s security detail during those visits.

“Al Qadi was here illegally, there are pictures proving it,” Mr Bayraktutan told The National.

There has been no reaction by Mr Al Qadi to the allegations that he was involved in the land deal or that he entered Turkey illegally.

A property company in Istanbul named in news reports as being connected to Mr Al Qadi did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Erdogan said foes of the government were trying to draw him into the corruption scandal by targeting members of his family. Bilal is one of two sons of the prime minister, who also has two daughters.

“They are aiming at my son, but it’s me they want to get,” the prime minister said on a recent visit to Pakistan.

But Ilter Turan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, said as yet there was “no satisfactory explanation of the relationship” between Bilal and Mr Al Qadi.

Mr Al Qadi is accused by US authorities of financing Al Qaeda, a charge he has in the past denied. His charitable Muwafaq foundation was identified by the US Treasury department as an Al Qaeda front and placed on a terror list in October 2001. The United Nations removed Mr Al Qadi from a separate list of people under sanctions because of Al Qaeda connections in October 2012.

The businessman has had strong commercial and political connections in Turkey for years. As early as 2006, Mr Erdogan publicly defended Mr Al Qadi against terrorism charges, telling a television interviewer that the businessman was “a charitable person who loves Turkey”.

A report by Forbes in 2008 alleged that Mr Al Qadi used his friendship with Mr Erdogan to avoid UN sanctions.

Keecker launches polymath home entertainment robot

Keecker has launched a new home entertainment robot

Keecker has launched a new home entertainment robot

CES always throws up some gadgets that are more radical and fun than most, and this year is no different. Keecker, founded by ex-Google employee Pierre Lebeau, has unveiled an all-singing, all-dancing smart robot aimed at “redefining the home entertainment and connected devices market.”

Keecker’s new Wibot is a sleek creation that transports itself from room to room with a variety of multimedia functions at the ready. The device stands at 25 inches (63.5 cm) tall and features video projection, 360-degree audio and video capture, audio speakers, web browsing, gaming and video calling. It is is also able to monitor temperature, humidity, sound volume and light levels.

The Keecker robot features video projection, 360-degree audio and video capture, audio spe...

The Wibot is controlled by iOS, Android and web-based apps and is provided with one terabyte of internal storage space as well as a dock for recharging the unit. Perhaps most excitingly, Keecker plans to publish an open API for the Wibot, allowing developers to create their own apps and uses for the device.

There’s no shortage of promise from Keecker. Its website modestly states that the Wibot is “a device that will change everything,” and Lebeau himself says, “Creating a new dimension between technology, entertainment and our imagination, Keecker merges the physical and digital worlds for the first time.”

In reality, the US$4,000-$5,000 price tag will ensure that the Wibot remains fairly exclusive, at least initially. Getting your hands on one will also require plenty of patience – the Wibot is currently at prototype stage and will reportedly go through a Kickstarter campaign before delivery begins towards the end of the year.

The Top 10 Studies Of 2013 Proving The Medicinal Power Of Cannabis

cann

Just because a substance is illegal does not mean it is bad. In fact, many legal substances are responsible for a variety of ailments, prescription drugs alone are responsible for killing over 100,000 people each year. Cannabis was considered a harmful drug for many years despite the fact that scientific evidence to prove it is greatly lacking. All of the evidence points to this plant having great benefits for the human body. It’s 2014 now, and more people are becoming aware of the fact that our body actually produces compounds called endocannabinoids, and they play an important role in many processes within the body that help to create a healthy environment. Cannabis activates the cannabinoid receptors in the body. It’s important to note that the best method of ingestion is not through smoke, because this changes the chemical structure of the plant. Cannabis is a powerful key to good health when we eat it vs. smoking it. 

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