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The Observer view on global mining regulation

The suffering of communities in Zambia’s copper mining region highlights the need to create a global regulatory regime

The appalling suffering of villagers living close to the mining town of Chingola, in Zambia’s copperbelt region, whose water supplies have been dangerously polluted by leaks of sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals, is both avoidable and unacceptable. As we report today, the Chingola pollution and associated environmental damage has led to serious health problems for those affected, such as potential organ failure, cancers and permanent disabilities, as well as failed crops, loss of earnings and livelihoods.

This continuing toll on life and well-being is wholly avoidable, in part because the problems associated with Vedanta Resources’ giant mine at Chingola have been common knowledge for some years.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Yes, Microsoft is uncool but don’t write it off just yet

Microsoft may look left behind as technology favours smartphones, but it is still PCs that run the world

One of my favourite cartoons shows a team of scientists in a Nasa control room clustered around a big screen. Their spacecraft has just landed on a very distant planet and has begun transmitting data back to base. A guy in overalls is saying to his assembled colleagues: “Now all we have to do is figure out how to install Windows 95.”

Ah yes, Windows 95… I remember it well. It signified the moment when Microsoft finally managed to implement the user interface invented by Xerox in the early 70s. It was launched with the biggest hype-storm that the computer industry – or indeed any other industry – had ever seen. Microsoft paid the Rolling Stones an unconscionable amount of money (we never found out how much) to use Start Me Up as the musical backdrop for the launch. The first internet boom, triggered by the web and the Netscape browser, was just beginning to roll and Windows 95 was the first Microsoft operating system to have a TCP/IP stack (needed to connect to the internet) baked in.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Verizon workers poised to strike if company fails to reach deal with unions

  • Contract covering 39,000 workers across nine states expires at end of Saturday
  • Most Verizon workers have reportedly agreed to a possible strike

Verizon workers in nine states could walk off the job as soon as early as Sunday, if union negotiators do not reach an agreement over benefits with the wireless carrier.

A contract covering 39,000 Verizon workers represented by two unions was due to expire at the end of Saturday. Last week the Communication Workers of America announced that 86% of Verizon workers covered by the contract voted to strike in a recent poll, if a new agreement was not reached.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Puerto Rico says it will not make $58m bond payment due Saturday

  • Economists see first default in territory’s history but officials disagree
  • Government fears key fund could run out of liquidity by November

Puerto Rico’s government said on Friday it would not make a $58m bond payment due on the weekend and warned that the general fund would run out of liquidity by November if no action is taken.

Related: Hedge funds tell Puerto Rico: lay off teachers and close schools to pay us back

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Shanghai in slow lane as market crash accelerates slump in luxury car sales

Little interest in showrooms as deep discounts fail to drive in customers

Business appears to be slow at the Mercedes-Benz showroom in the Jing’an district of Shanghai. There are no customers and the staff look bored. A family comes in to look at the cars but appears to have no intention of buying. A salesperson is tight-lipped when asked whether they are seeing fewer customers through the doors.

Car sales in China are slowing after years of rapid growth, and have slumped in the last few weeks. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, numbers sold in June fell 5.3% from May; this drop coincided with the stock market crash that saw the Shanghai Composite Index lose 14% in July. The association previously estimated that sales would grow 7% this year; now it thinks that figure will only be 3%.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

It’s fast, global, engaged and influential – so why isn’t Twitter flying?

While Facebook and Snapchat soar, the most immediate social media channel in the world has many experts worried

How many tech companies are saddled with the problem of enjoying global fame but struggling with lacklustre performance? Not Facebook, which revealed in its results that it has nearly 1.5 billion users logging in each month around the world. Twitter, however, is an example where participation is lagging behind reputation.

The company built around text-message-length “tweets” announced in its own quarterly results last week that it has 304 million monthly active users (MAUs), who logged in at least once a month in the past quarter. That figure was up only 0.7% from the previous quarter, while the figure for MAUs in the US stayed stubbornly at 65 million.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Chinese shares are falling, but the real fear is that the economy itself is slowing

Disastrous losses on the Shanghai exchange are leading to concern that the era of runaway Chinese growth is faltering at a critical time in the world economy

Recent events in Shanghai’s stock markets have been all too reminiscent of the tales that have entered American folk memory from the days of the Wall Street crash in 1929: of stock-tipping shoeshine boys, exhausted traders, and ticker-tape machines spooling late into the night.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index lost more than 8% of its value last Monday, and shares have suffered their worst month for six years, falling by 29% since they peaked in June.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Ex-boss of MtGox bitcoin exchange arrested in Japan over lost $390m

French-born Mark Karpeles held in connection with the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency

Mark Karpeles, the former head of defunct bitcoin exchange MtGox, has been arrested in Japan, and is reportedly to be questioned over the 2014 disappearance of nearly $390m (£250m) worth of the virtual currency.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

China's large manufacturers stall as demand weakens at home and abroad

The latest survey of the huge factory sector shows only very sluggish growth, fuelling expectations of more government stimulus

Growth at China’s big manufacturers unexpectedly stalled in July as demand at home and abroad weakened, an official survey showed on Saturday, reinforcing views that the economy needs more stimulus as it faces fresh risks from a stock market slump.

The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 50.0 in July, compared with the previous month’s 50.2. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Australia walks away from Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal talks

The trade minister, Andrew Robb, says 98% of agreement is finalised but the difficulties lie with the big four economies of US Canada, Japan and Mexico

Australia will not sign up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal in the current round of talks.

A spokesman for trade minister, Andrew Robb, confirmed that a conclusion will not be reached on the $200bn deal during the latest round of negotiations in Hawaii.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS