Huge fire erupts in downtown Fort Lauderdale as thousands lose power – Sun Sentinel

Firefighters battled a fierce blaze Tuesday night while police diverted traffic and evacuated a nearby apartment complex.

The blaze began shortly after 8 p.m. when a Florida Power and Light substation at 462 NE Sixth Ave. in downtown Fort Lauderdale was hit by lightning, a police spokeswoman said.

Thousands of residents throughout Fort Lauderdale were sitting in the dark Tuesday night after losing power around 8:05 p.m.

Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Tracy Figone said the Regal Trace apartment complex was evacuated in an abundance of caution. To protect drivers, officers also closed roads near the blaze.

“We’re diverting traffic away from the fire,” Figone said.

The fire knocked out street lights and traffic signals along busy roadways, including Broward and Sunrise boulevards.

It also reportedly forced the closing of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday night.

“It went completely dark just after 8 p.m.,” tweeted one woman there for the opening night of the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Several people took to Twitter and Instagram, posting photos and videos of the flames and billowing black smoke that was visible for miles.

Florida Power & Light reported that more than 20,000 customers had lost power Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale. It was unclear whether the blaze caused all of the outages.

By 10:30 p.m., traffic lights were clicking back on and power had reportedly been restored to all but about 1,000 homes.

Several media outlets reported early on that crews had the fire under control.

Shawn Williams told WSVN-Ch. 7 he heard four explosions right before the fire broke out.

“[It was] so scary and the explosions were so loud,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4554. Find her on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan.

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Stocks in Asia mostly decline as concerns over global growth linger; US treasury yields ‘volatile’ – CNBC

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.90 points to close at 25,657.73, while the S&P 500 finished its trading day higher by 0.7 percent at 2,818.46 — its first gain in three sessions. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.7 percent to close at 7,691.52.

The gains on Wall Street were trimmed, but the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rebounded off lows since December 2017. It was last at 2.4177 percent, as of 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN.

That benchmark rate sat at about 2.42 percent on Tuesday afternoon stateside, about 3 basis points below its session high. The 10-year’s decline caused a so-called yield-curve inversion as the 3-month Treasury bill yield moved above the benchmark rate.

Investors see a yield-curve inversion as a signal that a recession may be on the horizon, so a rise in long-term rates is being viewed as a positive right now.

That came amid the release of weak economic data from the U.S. and around the world as well as a downgraded U.S. economic outlook from the Federal Reserve.

“The risk of a US recession has increased, in large part due to the risk posed from deteriorating sentiment, but we still do not expect a US or global recession in 2019,” Esty Dwek, senior investment strategist at Natixis Investment Managers, said in a Tuesday note.

“We could see further volatility and short-term corrections in equity markets as growth fears reappear, but we continue to expect risk assets to grind higher in the coming months, though not at the January pace,” Dwek said.

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California May Require Businesses To Switch To Electronic Receipts – HuffPost

Comically long receipts have inspired Halloween costumes, stoked social media outrage and gotten the investigative journalism treatment. Now, California lawmakers are considering cracking down on them in the name of waste and energy reduction.

The bill from Assemblyman Phil Ting passed its first hurdle on Monday when the state Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee voted 6-3 to send the legislation to its next committee hearing. If it’s passed and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs it, businesses would have until 2022 to switch to an electronic receipt system and provide paper receipts to customers upon request only.

“Most of us don’t need a physical receipt for every transaction. It doesn’t make sense to kill so many trees and produce 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of one million cars on the road, to make something we don’t often need,” Ting said in a statement when he introduced the bill earlier this year.

Many receipts, his office noted, have become excessively long because of the “coupons, promotions and surveys” companies attach to them. Pharmacy chain CVS is perhaps most famous for this.

The financial penalties Ting is proposing aren’t harsh, especially for a large company like CVS. Any business found in violation of the changed rules would be allotted two warnings before incurring a $25-per-day fine with a maximum annual fine of $300. Certain small businesses with gross annual receipts under $1 million and cash-only establishments would be exempt.

The proposal to crack down on receipts, which often can’t be recycled because of additives to the paper, follows efforts across the state and elsewhere to ban plastic straws, another consumer freebie that’s difficult to recycle because of its small size. 

The bill has the support of many environmental groups but hasn’t gained traction with business leaders, who say it would be expensive for many businesses to switch to a point-of-sale system capable of handling electronic receipts.

With Monday’s passage, Ting’s bill now heads to a vote by the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. 

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Bill That Would Restore Net Neutrality Moves Forward Despite Telecom’s Best Efforts to Kill it – Motherboard

Last month, Democrats introduced a simple three page bill that would do one thing: restore FCC net neutrality rules and the agency’s authority over ISPs, both stripped away by a hugely-controversial decision by the agency in late 2017.

Tuesday morning, the Save the Internet Act passed through a key House committee vote and markup session—despite some last-minute efforts by big telecom to weaken the bill.

“Inside the beltway, this is really about maybe five companies,” Representative Anna Eshoo said during the hearing. “Across the country, the American people really get this. National polling shows that Republicans, Democrats, Independents support net neutrality. We’re still in the same old soup pot here. We need to take our lenses off and look across the country.”

Survey after survey have shown that the vast bipartisan majority of Americans supported the FCC’s 2015 rules and opposed the repeal. But the Trump FCC was quick to bow to pressure to telecom giants like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast—despite their long history of using their role as natural monopolies to hamstring competitors and nickel and dime subscribers.

The Pai repeal not only ended net neutrality, it dramatically cut back the FCC’s authority over major broadband providers, shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC critics (like former FCC boss Tom Wheeler) say lacks the authority or resources to actually police telecom giants.

With neither competition nor meaningful regulatory oversight to keep them in check, these telecom giants will have carte blanche to abuse their roles as internet gatekeepers online, net neutrality activists have repeatedly warned.

Net neutrality supporters were unsurprisingly quick to applaud the bill’s progress.

“Net neutrality is coming back with a vengeance,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of consumer group Fight for the Future said in a statement.

“Politicians are slowly learning that they can’t get away with shilling for big telecom anymore,” Greer said. “We’re harnessing the power of the Internet to save it, and any lawmaker who stands in our way will soon face the wrath of their constituents, who overwhelmingly want lawmakers to restore these basic protections.”

Greer told Motherboard that several last minute amendments were introduced by lawmakers during the markup period in an attempt to water down the bill, but all were pulled in the wake of widespread public interest in the hearing.

“It seems like the GOP retreated a bit given after the huge swell of public support,” said Greer, who told Motherboard that 300,000 people watched the organization’s livestream of the markup process. That attention “really emboldened the Democrats and shored up the ones that were wobbling,” Greer said.

The FCC’s 2015 rules were crafted over a decade of discussion, countless public hearings, and numerous court victories for net neutrality supporters. As such, activists say they viewed any attempt to modify the legislation as a non-starter, given the public clearly wanted a clean restoration of the original rules.

Despite net neutrality’s broad, bipartisan approval among consumers, telecom lobbyists have continued to encourage stark partisan divisions in Congress on the issue, something that could make the bill hard to pass. While it should pass in the House, it faces a tougher uphill climb in the Senate, and would also need to avoid a veto by President Trump.

Should the legislation fail to pass, the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules may also be restored via a lawsuit filed against the FCC by 22 state attorneys general and companies like Mozilla, who say the Pai FCC ignored all objective data and the public interest its rush to please the nation’s biggest broadband providers.

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A show dog missing at the world’s busiest airport has been found – CNN

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John McCain for supporting Khan’s family in the wake of criticism from Donald Trump.”,”descriptionText”:”Gold Star father Khizr Khan sat down with Meghan McCain and commended the late Sen. John McCain for supporting Khan’s family in the wake of criticism from Donald Trump.”},{“title”:”This fashion giant is under siege by imitators. Here’s why it’s legal”,”duration”:”07:04″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/03/18/supreme-legal-fakes-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/03/18/supreme-legal-fakes-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190315104957-gfx-supreme-legal-fakes-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/03/18/supreme-legal-fakes-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Streetwear brand Supreme is loved by celebrities and valued at $1 billion. 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“,”duration”:”01:17″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”https://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/us/2019/03/26/jussie-smollett-attorneys-say-charges-dropped-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”us/2019/03/26/jussie-smollett-attorneys-say-charges-dropped-vpx.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190312130629-01-jussie-smollett-0312-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/us/2019/03/26/jussie-smollett-attorneys-say-charges-dropped-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Actor Jussie Smollett’s attorneys say that all criminal charges have been dropped after Smollett had an “emergency” court appearance in Cook County. “,”descriptionText”:”Actor Jussie Smollett’s attorneys say that all criminal charges have been dropped after Smollett had an “emergency” court appearance in Cook County. “},{“title”:”Ex-police chief: Police and mayor thrown under the 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boom looms for delivery ward nursing staff”,”duration”:”00:58″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/health/2019/03/26/9-nurses-in-the-same-labor-unit-all-due-at-the-same-time-newsource-orig-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”health/2019/03/26/9-nurses-in-the-same-labor-unit-all-due-at-the-same-time-newsource-orig-vpx.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190325175147-nine-pregnant-nurses-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/health/2019/03/26/9-nurses-in-the-same-labor-unit-all-due-at-the-same-time-newsource-orig-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”A baby boom is coming to the labor and delivery unit of a Maine hospital, where nine of its nurses will give birth to their babies around the same time.”,”descriptionText”:”A baby boom is coming to the labor and delivery unit of a Maine hospital, where nine of its nurses will give birth to their babies around the same time.”},{“title”:”Why NASA’s all-female spacewalk is on hold”,”duration”:”01:18″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2019/03/26/nasa-all-female-spacewalk-delayed-astronauts-mcclain-koch-sd-orig.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”world/2019/03/26/nasa-all-female-spacewalk-delayed-astronauts-mcclain-koch-sd-orig.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190326120610-nasa-mcclain-and-koch-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2019/03/26/nasa-all-female-spacewalk-delayed-astronauts-mcclain-koch-sd-orig.cnn/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled to walk out of the International Space Station on March 29th, but the historic event was delayed due to a spacesuit issue.”,”descriptionText”:”Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled to walk out of the International Space Station on March 29th, but the historic event was delayed due to a spacesuit issue.”},{“title”:”Internet praises high school performance of ‘Alien'”,”duration”:”01:21″,”sourceName”:”HLN”,”sourceLink”:”https://www.cnn.com/specials/videos/hln”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/entertainment/2019/03/25/high-school-play-alien-new-jersey-mxp-vpx.hln/index.xml”,”videoId”:”entertainment/2019/03/25/high-school-play-alien-new-jersey-mxp-vpx.hln”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190325094351-alien-hs-play-new-jersey-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/entertainment/2019/03/25/high-school-play-alien-new-jersey-mxp-vpx.hln/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”A high school production of the iconic 1979 movie “Alien” has burst onto the scene and even garnered Hollywood’s attention. Drama club students at New Jersey’s North Bergen High School went all out for “Alien: The Play,” including an elaborate alien costume. HLN’s Susan Hendricks reports.”,”descriptionText”:”A high school production of the iconic 1979 movie “Alien” has burst onto the scene and even garnered Hollywood’s attention. Drama club students at New Jersey’s North Bergen High School went all out for “Alien: The Play,” including an elaborate alien costume. HLN’s Susan Hendricks reports.”},{“title”:”Michael Avenatti: Confident I will be fully exonerated”,”duration”:”00:54″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”https://www.cnn.com/”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/us/2019/03/26/michael-avenatti-speaks-court-bond-sot-ac360-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”us/2019/03/26/michael-avenatti-speaks-court-bond-sot-ac360-vpx.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190325203016-michael-avenatti-speaks-032519-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/us/2019/03/26/michael-avenatti-speaks-court-bond-sot-ac360-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks out following charges he attempted to extort Nike for $20 million. “,”descriptionText”:”Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks out following charges he attempted to extort Nike for $20 million. “},{“title”:”Khizr Khan, Meghan McCain bond over Trump feuds”,”duration”:”01:43″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”https://www.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2019/03/25/khizr-khan-meghan-mccain-view-orig-vstan-bdk.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”politics/2019/03/25/khizr-khan-meghan-mccain-view-orig-vstan-bdk.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190325154423-khizr-khan-meghan-mccain-split-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2019/03/25/khizr-khan-meghan-mccain-view-orig-vstan-bdk.cnn/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Gold Star father Khizr Khan sat down with Meghan McCain and commended the late Sen. John McCain for supporting Khan’s family in the wake of criticism from Donald Trump.”,”descriptionText”:”Gold Star father Khizr Khan sat down with Meghan McCain and commended the late Sen. John McCain for supporting Khan’s family in the wake of criticism from Donald Trump.”},{“title”:”This fashion giant is under siege by imitators. Here’s why it’s legal”,”duration”:”07:04″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/03/18/supreme-legal-fakes-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/03/18/supreme-legal-fakes-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190315104957-gfx-supreme-legal-fakes-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/03/18/supreme-legal-fakes-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Streetwear brand Supreme is loved by celebrities and valued at $1 billion. But overseas it’s waging war against “legal fakes,” companies that are legally imitating the brand in countries from Spain to China.”,”descriptionText”:”Streetwear brand Supreme is loved by celebrities and valued at $1 billion. But overseas it’s waging war against “legal fakes,” companies that are legally imitating the brand in countries from Spain to China.”},{“title”:”Video captures daring rescue from a burning car”,”duration”:”02:14″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/us/2019/03/22/btc-georgia-police-rescue-man-burning-car-newday-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”us/2019/03/22/btc-georgia-police-rescue-man-burning-car-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190322081252-btc-burning-car-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/us/2019/03/22/btc-georgia-police-rescue-man-burning-car-newday-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/atv-trending-videos/”,”description”:”Two Georgia u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/specials/us/beyond-the-call-of-duty” target=”_blank”>police officers save a driveru003c/a> before his burning car explodes in flames. 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Carbon emissions hit a record high – INFORUM

Those findings from the International Energy Agency mark a setback for the effort to rein in the pollution blamed for global warming just three years after a landmark deal in Paris where all nations committed cut emissions.

The figures showed that natural gas is becoming a preferred fuel for factories and utilities while the pace of installing renewable forms of energy is lagging. The report also indicated the strength of the global economic expansion last year, with gains in electricity consumption and more notably in the U.S.

“We have seen spectacular growth of the economy in the U.S.,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the Paris-based institution advising nations on energy policy. “We have seen several new petrochemical projects coming on line.”

Energy demand grew 2.3 percent last year, the most in a decade, according to the IEA. It showed a record 33 gigatons of carbon emissions from energy, up 1.7 percent from the previous year. Global electricity demand rose 4 percent and was responsible for half the growth in overall energy demand. Global coal demand grew for the second consecutive year in 2018, driven by Asia’s appetite for the dirtiest fossil fuel. Even as coal’s share of the global energy mix declined, it remains the world’s largest source of electricity. Natural gas use rose 4.6 percent, its fastest growth since 2010.

The U.S. increased its use of oil products at a faster rate than any other country for the first time in 20 years, overtaking China. The U.S. boosted oil use by 540,000 barrels a day, a fifth more than China even though the Asian nation has four times the population and is moving toward a less oil-intensive model in order to improve its urban air quality.

The pace of energy efficiency improvements fell, and renewables growth is didn’t keep pace with surging electricity demand, falling below 50 percent of new power supply last year.

Global output of greenhouse gases from energy-related sources rose to a record as energy demand jumped at its fastest pace in a decade.

“Renewables growth is not keeping pace with the electrification of our society,” Birol said on a call with reporters. “We need to see more support for renewables.”

VIDEO: US carbon emissions on the rise again

Global energy-related emissions hit an all-time high in 2018 of 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a growth rate of 1.7 percent, which represents the fastest increase since 2013. Coal-fired power plants, which are closing across western Europe, were the single largest contributor to the growth in emissions, accounting for 30 percent of the increase, the IEA said.

Emissions are still increasing in China and India. The U.S. saw an increase of emissions after they fell in 2017. Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the U.K. all saw declining output.

The world needs to cut the use of coal-fired power to almost nothing by 2050 to get anywhere close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a panel of United Nations scientists said in a report last year.

This article was written by Mathew Carr and Jeremy Hodges, reporters for The Washington Post.

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Hedge Funds Are Buying Oil Again | OilPrice.com – OilPrice.com

Hedge funds are buying oil once again after a pause earlier in March, signaling returning optimism about U.S. – China relations and subsiding concern about the global economy, Reuters’ John Kemp said in his latest column on hedge funds and oil bets. Even with the renewed optimism, however, the buying remains cautious, Kemp notes.

Crude oil prices have been rising pretty steadily recently, helped higher by OPEC’s production cuts and the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, while reports from the negotiating table between Washington and Beijing have been positive. Yet a further rise in prices is far from certain despite a recent report that said Saudi Arabia needed Brent at more than US$70- to balance its budget this year.

To this end, the Kingdom has been cutting more production than it was obliged to, in a counterintuitive, potentially self-harming move. It has also been cutting exports, effectively ceding market share to other suppliers. Meanwhile, Russia has not yet reached 100 percent compliance with its own production quota.

Brent is currently trading at above US$67 a barrel, with West Texas Intermediate at US$59.94 a barrel at the time of writing, both are trading slightly higher. They were both, however, higher than they were in the week to march 19, when, Kemp reports, hedge funds bought some 65 million barrels of crude, of which 50 million barrels of WTI and 16 million barrels of Brent.

The ratio between long and short positions on oil among funds is now five to one, which is certainly a sign of returning confidence in the capability of the oil market to keep prices rising. Yet it is far from the 12-to-one ratio that was recorded last September, just before prices fell off a cliff, by the way. Related: China’s Mad Scramble To Boost Domestic Oil Production

Despite the apparent nonchalance regarding the global economy, the concern is still there and economists are reminding us about it on a daily basis. Slowdown is expected for key economies such as China and India, as well as in Southeast Asia. In early March, Fitch cut its projection for the Indian economy to 6.8 percent from 7 percent, and that itself was a cut from a December revision from 7.8 percent. Meanwhile, China cut its own economic growth forecast for this year to 6-6.5 percent from “about 6.5 percent”.

Any news about economic growth projection cuts in either of these countries immediately pressures oil prices and currently explains hedge funds’ relative caution in increasing their long bets on the world’s most used commodity. Even with tensions between China and the U.S. quieting, the issue with economic growth in the world’s second-largest importer will remain an obstacle to a sustained price rise in the observable future.

There is also the question of U.S. shale, of course. While OPEC is cutting—mostly heavier grades—the U.S. is pumping more. U.S. shale is perhaps the strongest headwind for prices right now and any further reports about production increases from the EIA are bound to weigh on WTI and even Brent.

Finally, there is President Trump and his aversion to much higher oil prices. Trump has so far addressed OPEC several times via Twitter, accusing the cartel of leaving prices to rise too high. Every time this has happened, the price rally has cooled off quite quickly. We might be in for another OPEC tweet soon since Brent at US$66 is a bit above Trump’s apparent maximum tolerance for oil prices.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Minnesota utility regulators give final stamp of approval to $2.6 billion Enbridge pipeline project – Star Tribune

Minnesota utility regulators Tuesday officially bowed out of the yearslong approval process for Enbridge’s controversial new oil pipeline, but not before taking a shot at the state’s Commerce Department.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 4-0 not to reconsider its earlier approval of modifications to Enbridge’s construction permit for the $2.6 billion new Line 3. The decision was expected, and essentially sets in motion a process for pipeline opponents to appeal Enbridge’s permit for a replacement for its current Line 3.

Several environmental groups, at least two Ojibwe bands and the Department of Commerce are expected to file challenges with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Commerce Department represents the public interest in cases before the PUC, an independent agency whose members are appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms.

Enbridge in 2014 proposed replacing its 1960s-vintage Line 3, one of six pipelines that ferry Canadian oil across Minnesota to the company’s terminal in Superior, Wis. The corroding Line 3 operates at only 51 percent capacity, and Enbridge said it wants to improve safety and restore the full flow of oil.

Opponents of a new Line 3 said it would exacerbate climate change and open a new region of lakes, rivers and wild-rice waters to degradation from oil spills. (New Line 3 would follow a new route.)

Last month, Gov. Tim Walz said the Commerce Department would continue an appeal of Line 3 begun by former Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. Before any appeals can be made, though, the PUC had to go through the motions of reconsidering its earlier decision.

Normally, PUC commissioners don’t even comment on reconsiderations. “This warrants a departure from that norm because the Department of Commerce has taken an unusual position,” Commissioner Katie Sieben said Tuesday at the PUC meeting in St. Paul.

The PUC voted unanimously in favor of a “certificate of need” for new Line 3 in late June. But the commission didn’t finalize that permit until January, after several modifications were added. The modifications dealt with such issues as insurance provisions for the project and removal of the old Line 3 once the new pipeline is in place.

The modifications in most cases were offered by the Department of Commerce, and Sieben said they were critical in helping her “reach the conclusion that the overall project was in the state’s interest.”

“It’s better to replace a more than 50-year-old pipeline with one that’s safer,” she said. “For the department to argue that the commission should ignore the current condition of the very infrastructure to be replaced is nonsensical.”

After Sieben spoke, PUC Commissioner Dan Lipschultz said: “I would echo your remarks, which were really well stated.”

The Department of Commerce later said in a statement: “Our petition for reconsideration and anticipated appeal does not involve questions related to the current condition of the existing Line 3 pipeline. … In this case, the department’s position is that Enbridge did not provide a legally sufficient long-range demand forecast as required. That narrow issue was the only issue raised in our petition.”

Enbridge has defended the adequacy of its forecasts.

Lipschultz noted that Tuesday’s hearing “was the end of the [PUC’s] process for Line 3, but not the end of the process.”

Court appeals of the PUC’s Line 3 approval aren’t likely to be decided until later this year at the earliest. A decision on a separate appeal — this one regarding the environmental impact statement (EIS) for Line 3 — is expected within the next 90 days.

The EIS was done by the Department of Commerce and approved by the PUC in March 2018. Environmental groups and some Indian bands claim that the EIS was flawed, and that regulators refused to adequately consider alternatives to the proposed pipeline. The Minnesota Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the EIS last week.

Enbridge must still receive permits from Minnesota pollution-control and natural-resources regulators, as well as from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company had hoped to have those by permits by now and finish construction of its pipeline by the end of 2019.

However, Enbridge announced earlier this month that because the permitting process now isn’t expected to be done until November, the pipeline wouldn’t open until the second half of 2020.

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FTC will examine privacy policies at major internet providers – Engadget

Officials are interested in the kind of personal info ISPs collect, as well as how they do it and why. The regulators also want to know who has access to the data, whether it’s anonymized and the level of transparency. The FTC would also like to know if customers have control over their data, including options to turn down data collection or delete whatever the ISP keeps.

This won’t necessarily lead to crackdowns on any of the companies involved. It could ensure that they’re flying straight, however. And given that telecoms have sometimes played fast and loose with customer privacy, it won’t be completely shocking if the FTC tells them to alter their practices and keep sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

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Bitmain Says It Won’t Give Up on World’s Biggest Cryptocurrency IPO – Bitcoinist




Bitcoin mining giant Bitmain has officially announced its new CEO and says it will restart the IPO listing process sometime in the future. The company endured a difficult 2018 with administrative upheavals, staff layoffs, and significant losses.


Bitcoin Mining Giant Gets New CEO

In the latter part of 2018, Bitmain laid off a couple of departments amid reports of financial difficulties. In a blog post published on Tuesday (March 26, 2019), the company explained the decisions taken as part of its efforts to align its business model.

An excerpt from the statement reads:

It was a difficult but necessary decision as we continue to build a long-term, sustainable and scalable business. We did our best to compensate our employees above the legal requirement.

Bitmain also made some changes to its leadership structure with Haichao Wang, the former Engineering chief appointed as the new CEO. Co-founders Jihan Wu and Ketuan Zhan remain directors of the company and continue to have a say in “big decisions.”

Bitmain Will Restart IPO Listing Process

As reported by Bitcoinist on Monday, the Bitmain IPO application at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) expired after six months. According to the company, regulators and other mainstream stakeholders aren’t yet sold to the immense potential of the emerging cryptocurrency industry.

In the meantime, Bitmain says it will restart the application at some time in the future. Despite the failure of its first IPO application, the company said the process did deliver some positives for the company especially in the area of financial transparency.

Concerning transparency, Bitmain is yet to publish its financials for the second half of 2018. Speculation is rife with reports of huge losses for Q3 2018 of about $740 million.

Any attempt to refile another IPO application will see the company being forced to publish its financial report for Q3 and maybe even Q4 2018 depending on the reporting period stipulated by the stock exchange operator.

Bitmain Will Focus on Innovation and AI

Bitmain also revealed that its focus for 2019 will be on streamlining its business process to focus on innovation in both the cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence (AI) market.

Back in February 2019, Bitcoinist reported on the company’s new 7-nm chip touted to deliver more efficient Bitcoin mining. On paper, the new chip will offer about a 28.6 percent improvement in power efficiency, compared to previous iterations of the company’s 7-nm chip.

For innovation in the AI scene, the blog post also mentions agreements already inked with important stakeholders across China. Bitmain says it plans to lead the way in terms of cutting-edge innovation for neural processors.

What do you make of Bitmain’s stated goals for 2019 after the difficulties experienced in 2018? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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