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GDP surge should not blind us to the dangers of an interest rate rise

Some on the monetary policy committee at the Bank of England are likely to press for increases, but the recovery remains weak

George Osborne has repeatedly promised to fix the roof while the sun is shining, and after official figures last week showed GDP growth picking up sharply in the second quarter, it seemed that the clouds have finally lifted.

With the Bank of England’s policymakers due to meet on Thursday, the news that the slowdown in the first quarter was just a blip sent traders scrambling to price in an interest rate rise in the coming months.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

The innovators: the personal rape alarm with a fast track to the police

Personal Guardian device fixes to clothing and alerts police to exact location of attack via monitoring station

When a woman was raped in the apartment complex where Rebecca Pick lived, the Strathclyde University student felt scared – and angry. The victim had screamed for help but failed to attract the attention of passers-by.

“It was terrible,” says Rebecca, 22, who has recently graduated in marketing and enterprise. “I thought then that we should have some way of being certain that we can get a response.”

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Barnaby Joyce says Trans Pacific Partnership agreement not dead yet

The agriculture minister has not given up on Australia signing the TPP and says the trade minister, Andrew Robb, is still ‘at the table’

The agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, has not given up on Australia signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, potentially the world’s biggest regional trade agreement.

Week-long negotiations over the TPP ended in Hawaii on Saturday without an agreement. Sticking points for Australia are sugar and dairy, but Joyce says the process is ongoing.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

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