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Iceland's Data Centers Are Booming -- Here's Why That's a Problem
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

The southwestern tip of Iceland is a barren volcanic peninsula called Reykjanesskagi. It's home to the twin towns of Keflavik and Njardvik, around 19,000 people, and the country's main airport. On the edge of the settlement is a complex of metal-clad buildings belonging to the IT company Advania, each structure roughly the size of an Olympic-size swimming pool. Less than three years ago there were three of them. By April 2018, there were eight. Today there are 10, and the foundations have been laid for an 11th. From a report: This is part of a boom fostered partly by something that Icelanders don't usually rave about: the weather. Life on the North Atlantic island tends to be chilly, foggy, and windy, though hard frosts are not common. The annual average temperature in the capital, Reykjavik, is around 41F (5C), and even when the summer warmth kicks in, the mercury rarely rises above 68. Iceland has realized that even though this climate may not be great for sunning yourself on the beach, it is very favorable to one particular industry: data. Each one of those Advania buildings in Reykjanesskagi is a large data center, home to thousands of computers. They are constantly crunching away, processing instructions, transmitting data, and mining Bitcoin. Data centers like these generate large amounts of heat and need round-the-clock cooling, which would usually require considerable energy.

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Google Pledges $1 Billion To Tackle Bay Area Housing Crisis
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

Google pledged $1 billion over the next 10 years to try to address an affordable housing crisis California's Bay Area. From a report: The tech giant will re-purpose $750 million of its own land for residential use, allowing the development of at least 15,000 new homes, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in a blog post on Tuesday. Another $250 million will go to incentives for developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units. The success of Google and other Silicon Valley technology companies has contributed to massive housing cost increases in the San Francisco Bay Area. The firms employ tens of thousands of high-earners who have bought or rented homes, leaving fewer options for poor and middle-income residents. Meanwhile, the supply of new houses and apartments has not kept up with demand. Read about hundreds of Silicon Valley residents living in RVs to make ends meet. "Our goal is to help communities succeed over the long term, and make sure that everyone has access to opportunity, whether or not they work in tech," Pichai said. He noted that just 3,000 homes were built in the South Bay area last year. Silicon Valley is the most expensive housing market in the country, with a median existing-home price of $1.2 million. The San Francisco and Oakland metro area is second with a $930,000 median, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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Boaty McBoatface Makes Significant Climate Change Discovery on First Mission
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

The British research submarine Boaty McBoatface has made an impressive debut in the scientific arena, discovering a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures on its maiden outing. From a report: The unmanned submarine, whose moniker won a landslide victory in a public poll to name a $300 million British polar research ship, undertook its inaugural mission in April 2017. The task saw McBoatface travel 180 kilometers (112 miles) through mountainous underwater valleys in Antarctica, measuring the temperature, saltiness and turbulence in the depths of the Southern Ocean. Its findings, published in the journal PNAS on Monday, revealed how increasingly strong winds in the region are causing turbulence deep within the sea, and as a result mixing warm water from middle levels with colder water in the abyss. That process is causing the sea temperature to rise, which in turn is a significant contributor to rising sea levels, scientists behind the project said. Antarctic winds are growing in strength due to the thinning of the ozone layer and the build-up of greenhouse gases, but their impact on the ocean has never been factored in to climate models.

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City of Berlin Backs Plan To Freeze Rents For Five Years
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

The Berlin Senate on Tuesday approved a five-year rent freeze designed to tame soaring housing costs in the German capital, bowing to pressure from residents angry that their city has become unaffordable. From a report: Once described as "poor but sexy," Berlin's housing costs have doubled over the last decade as employees lured by the strong job market move into the city. The sharp rent hikes have led some residents to ponder radical solutions, including pushing for the seizure of housing stock from landlords. Berlin's city government agreed on Tuesday on the outlines of a draft law that would include a temporary freeze on rents for five years from 2020, with a bill to be drafted. The cap means "protection against rent increases for 1.5 million apartments," tweeted the Berlin government's department for urban development and housing. Under the plan, landlords who seek to raise rates because of renovation work will also have to seek official approval for any increases above 50 cents (44p) per sq metre (11 sq ft).

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Woman Knocked Down While on Phone Wins Payout From Cyclist
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

A woman who was knocked unconscious by a cyclist will be awarded compensation, despite a judge finding she had stepped into the road while looking at her phone. From a report: Robert Hazeldean, a garden designer , who was also knocked out by the collision, will pay thousands in damages and court fees to Gemma Brushett, who works for a finance firm in the City of London and runs yoga retreats. Hazeldean was returning from work in July 2015 when he crashed into Brushett as she crossed a busy junction near London Bridge. She launched a legal claim for compensation after sustaining a minor head injury. Judge Shanti Mauger, at Central London county court, said the cyclist was "a calm and reasonable road user" and that Brushett was looking at her phone when she walked into the road in front of him. However, she ruled that Hazeldean was liable to pay damages, saying: "Cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways."

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