1 US-MONGOLIA 'THIRD NEIGHBOR TRADE ACT' ON THE WAY WWW.THEDIPLOMAT.COM PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      2 CHINA'S FIGHT AGAINST SMOG MAKES PALLADIUM 2018'S BEST METAL WWW.MINING.COM PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      3 MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRESENTS GMS LICENSES WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      4 MONGOLIA CALLS FOR GLOBAL ATTENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      5 ADB OPENS A NEW WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT IN ARVAIKHEER, MONGOLIA WWW.AGENPARL.EU PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      6 CHINA TO BOOST COOPERATION WITH INDIA, MONGOLIA: DEFENSE MINISTER WWW.GLOBALTIMES.CN PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      7 DEATH ON MONGOLIA’S ‘COAL ROAD’ WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      8 MONGOLIA SHAKEN BY WIDENING LOAN SCANDAL WWW.ASIA.NIKKEI.COM PUBLISHED:2018/11/17      9 MONGOLIA’S UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS BY 2.2 PERCENT WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/16      10 MEETING MEAT DEMAND: MONGOLIA TO TRADE 17.9 PERCENT OF LIVESTOCK WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/16      БНСУ-ЫН АЖ АХУЙН НЭГЖҮҮДИЙН АУТСОРСИНГ ЗАХИАЛГЫГ ГҮЙЦЭТГЭХ ЗАЛУУЧУУДЫГ СОНГОН, ШАЛГАРУУЛНА WWW.UNUUDUR.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     НҮҮРСНИЙ ЭКСПОРТ 10 ХУВИАР ӨСӨЖ, 31.3 САЯ ТОНН БОЛОВ WWW.GOGO.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     СУДАЛГААГААР ЖДҮ ЭРХЛЭГЧИД ЗЭЭЛИЙН ХҮҮНИЙ ЗАРДАЛ ХАМГИЙН ИХ ХҮНДРЭЛ УЧРУУЛДАГ ГЭЖ ХАРИУЛЖЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     ERDENE RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT: ХАЙГУУЛЫН ЗАРДАЛ III УЛИРАЛД 42 ХУВИАР БУУРСАН WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     ГОРХИ, ТЭРЭЛЖИЙН БАЙГАЛИЙН БОХИРДОЛД АНХААРАЛ ХАНДУУЛЖ ЭХЛЭВ WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     ИРЭХ БААСАН ГАРАГТ ХОТЫН ДАРГЫГ ОГЦРУУЛАХ ЭСЭХИЙГ ХЭЛЭЛЦЭНЭ WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     “АМГАЛАН” ХОТХОНД БАЙРЛАХ ГЭРТЭЭ КАННАБИС ТАРЬЖ, УРГУУЛЖ БАЙСАН ТУРК ИРГЭНИЙГ БАРИВЧИЛЖЭЭ WWW.MEDEE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     ӨНӨӨДӨР АВТОМАШИНЫ ДУГААРЫН ХЯЗГААРЛАЛТ ҮЙЛЧЛЭХГҮЙ WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/17     ГАШУУНСУХАЙТЫН НҮҮРСТЭЙ МАШИНЫ ЦУВАА 120 КМ БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/16     ТАТВАРЫН ОРЛОГО 32.2 ХУВИАР ӨСӨЖ, ТӨСВИЙН ТЭНЦЭЛ 341.9 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГИЙН АШИГТАЙ ГАРЛАА WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/16    

Events

Name organizer Where
Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018" Frontier Securities Tokyo Japan
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London

NEWS

64x64

Ukraine's biggest lender PrivatBank nationalised www.bbc.com

 
Ukraine's biggest commercial bank, PrivatBank, has been nationalised in a move aimed at protecting 20 million customers and "preserving financial stability in the country".
The country's central bank said the problems faced by PrivatBank were mainly caused by its "imprudent lending policy" which led to capital losses.
Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has reassured PrivatBank depositors that their money is safe.
The bank is operating normally.
The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) declared PrivatBank insolvent on Sunday. The government subsequently backed the nationalisation.
PrivatBank is part-owned by the powerful billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who also has big stakes in the media and energy industries and has frequently come into conflict with President Poroshenko.
'Imprudent lending'
Central bank governor Valeria Gontareva said they were confident the decision to transfer PrivatBank to state ownership was "the only possible way to protect deposits placed with this bank and rescue the financial system".
The 20 million Ukrainians who use the bank include 3.2 million pensioners, more than 500,000 students and 1.6 million socially vulnerable households.
The nationalisation also enables small businesses to continue trading and means 3.2 million public and private sector employees will continue to be paid.
The NBU launched a study of the banking sector more than two years ago.
The stress test on PrivatBank revealed that the bank had capital shortages, which, the central bank said "apart form the crisis-related factors, were caused by imprudent lending policy pursued by the bank".
The NBU said at the beginning of this month that the bank had a capital shortfall of about $5.65bn (£4.5bn) and about 97% of its corporate loans had gone to companies linked to its shareholders.
"Being aware of all the problems faced by PrivatBank and risks posed to the health of the financial sector and the economy as a whole we could not wait any longer," said Ms Gontareva.
Commenting on the decision to nationalise PrivatBank, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said it was an "important step in [Ukraine's] efforts to safeguard financial stability".
"Ensuring that all banks operating in Ukraine meet capital and regulatory requirements is essential to maintain public confidence in the banking system and reinforce the banks' ability to support productive activities necessary for the prosperity of the Ukrainian people," she added.
...


64x64

World's oldest bank launches share offer as Italy prepares possible bailout www.rt.com

 
Troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena has started a share sale to raise cash to avoid a state rescue.
 
The world oldest lender needs to raise €5 billion by the end of the year to avert nationalization as it battles against €28 billion of non-performing loans. The share sale will last until Thursday with a debt-for-equity swap extended to retail investors.
 
Monte dei Paschi wants to find anchor investors to buy a significant chunk of the shares.
 
The bank has offered 35 percent of the shares to individual investors and 65 percent to institutions. Existing shareholders are being offered 30 per cent of shares reserved for retail investors before the sale is open to others, Bloomberg reports.
 
“Taking into consideration the risk profile and the limited period of time available to subscribe to the offer, we believe that the outcome of the deal will mainly depend on institutional investors’ decisions, starting with sovereign funds,” said Marco Sallustio a Milan-based analyst at ICBPI as quoted by the agency.
 
In case the plan doesn’t work, the government is ready to earmark €15 billion by increasing public debt, to provide Monte dei Paschi and other ailing banks with state aid.
 
According to EU banking rules, losses are covered by bondholders if taxpayer money is used to bail out the bank. Italian authorities have been considering a precautionary recapitalization of the country’s third largest bank to keep bondholder losses down, according to people familiar with the matter.
 
Monte dei Paschi stock dropped nearly ten percent to €18.71 per share in early trading in Milan before paring losses to around seven percent at €19.31.
 
The bank's shares are down almost 86 percent for the year.
...


64x64

China's famous elevated bus is now just a giant roadblock www.cnn.com

After seizing the world's attention over the summer, China's futuristic elevated bus appears to have reached the end of the line.
Video of the road-straddling bus cruising over the top of cars during a test run spread like wildfire on social media back in August. But the quirky vehicle now sits idle at the test site in northern China, where it has become a hulking eyesore.
Billed as a potential answer to China's crippling traffic problems, the elevated bus is now the source of bottlenecks in the port city of Qinhuangdao. Cars traveling in both directions have to crowd together on the other side of the road to avoid the test tracks and the 26-foot-wide bus.
"The road is narrower, of course it affects traffic," said Wang Yimin, a local mechanic who was one of several residents who grumbled about the inconvenience.
China elevated bus abandoned 2
The cavernous space bellow TEB's elevated compartment.
To host the test drive, the city built special tracks for the giant electric-powered vehicle, which is 72 feet long and 16 feet high. The company behind the bus, TEB Technology, was supposed to restore the 330-yard-long test site to its original state by the end of August, according to China's official state news agency Xinhua.
But that never happened.
"The tracks are still there and we're aware that it causes transportation problems," said a Qinhuangdao government official, who declined to be identified by name because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
"I don't know much about TEB's future plans or what we will do with the tracks," the official said, adding that residents have been calling to complain.

Shortly after the test run in August -- in which people rode in an elevated compartment as the vehicle straddled a two-lane highway -- Chinese state media began questioning the legitimacy of the project.
They raised concerns that the whole thing was a publicity stunt funded by a peer-to-peer lending program, a loosely regulated form of investment that has resulted in scams in China.
Some local news outlets reported that TEB's backers were in financial trouble after promising investors overly ambitious returns.
Repeated phone calls to TEB went unanswered. When CNN visited the company's Beijing office one afternoon last week, most of the lights were off. Inside, a miniature version of the elevated bus was circling around a scale model of the capital city.
China elevated bus abandoned 4
The TEB bus and specially-built station take up half of the road, cars need to crowd onto the other side to drive past.
An employee who was there said he didn't know what the company's future plans were for the elevated bus or any other projects.
The vehicle tested in Qinhuangdao was just a prototype, he said, and TEB planned to have a real bus ready by the middle of next year.
"But with all this money cutting off now, the company can't do anything," the employee said, declining to be identified by name because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media. His business card identified him as TEB's director of development.

The company appears to be "a good example of the risks that are involved" in peer-to-peer lending, said Zennon Kapron, the founder of Shanghai-based financial market research firm Kapronasia.
China elevated bus abandoned 3
The TEB bus sits idle, next to a station built just for the road test in August.
Experts also expressed doubts about the practicality of ever introducing the bus into Chinese cities.
The concept was originally unveiled in China in 2010. But it's not the first time a huge road-straddling vehicle has been suggested.
new york magazine elevated bus
The Landliner concept was featured in New York Magazine in 1969.
A pair of architects proposed a similar idea in 1969. The "Landliner" would have glided between Washington and Boston at 200 mph. The concept was featured as the cover story of New York magazine at the time.
But while that proposal faded into history, Qinhuangdao residents have to squeeze past the remains of TEB's concept every day.
-- Justin Robertson contributed to this report.

 
 
 
...


64x64

China set for slower growth, tighter policy in 2017 as government targets asset bubbles www.reuters.com

China's economic growth is expected to cool in 2017 as its top leaders flag tighter monetary policy and further curbs to clamp down on asset price bubbles, especially in the property market, even as a sharp drop in the yuan has fed fears of markets turmoil.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Monday forecast China's economic growth will slow again next year to 6.5 percent, which would be the slowest pace in more than 25 years, down from expected growth of around 6.7 percent for this year.

The anticipated slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy comes at a time of heightened anxiety about the yuan, which slid to over eight year lows last month on speculation of capital outflows in the wake of Donald Trump's U.S. election victory.

On top of that, a rapid rise in bank lending, a dangerous build-up of debt in the corporate sector and a property market that has failed to fully flush out speculators are threatening to derail the economy.

That probably explains why China's top leaders, who held a key meeting on the economy last week, chose to stick to a "prudent and neutral" monetary policy in 2017, while vowing to keep the economy on a path of stable and healthy growth.

Indeed, an adviser to the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said on Monday that the tone set by China's top leaders for 2017 means the current monetary policy can be tightened.

Sheng Songcheng said there would be no grounds for easing next year considering risks from exchange rate volatility, rising inflation, the stock market and the property market.

Data earlier on Monday showed growth in China's home prices slowed again in November, suggesting that government curbs were starting to pay off, although it was too early to say if the slower trend will persist given a supply shortage in some of the bigger cities.

Analysts expect Beijing will start to remove some of the policy accommodation.

"We believe there will be some change from the current relatively loose monetary policies (to a more neutral stance), and the change will start to show up from the third quarter next year," said Wang Jianhui, an economist with Capital Securities in Beijing.

Wang cites potential risks from capacity reduction efforts including an increase in bad loans and a rise in unemployment. He expects the industrial capacity reduction campaign will expand from coal and steel currently to more industries including cement.

RECORD HOME PRICES, INCREASING RISKS

Policymakers also said China will control property bubbles and strictly limit credit flowing into speculative buying as property prices have risen at record rates this year.

Data on Monday showed new home prices rose 0.6 percent month-on-month in the nation's 70 major cities, slowing from October's 1.1 percent. But year-on-year price growth was at a record 12.6 percent, highlighting why regulators are keen to keep up the pressure on the sector lest it topples over and knocks the economy.

Analysts are already expecting the property sector - a major contributor to the economy - to be a drag on growth next year. The challenge for policymakers will be in ensuring home ownership remains attractive even as they put in place curbs to temper a speculative rally.

WEAKER YUAN

A key challenge will be stemming capital outflows amid a depreciating yuan, which has fallen almost 7 percent against the dollar this year.

The yuan will depreciate against the dollar by another 3 percent to 5 percent in 2017, Ministry of Commerce researcher Jin Bosong said on Monday at a press briefing.

In yuan terms, China's exports should grow 4 percent to 6 percent in 2017, with imports up 2 percent to 4 percent, Jin said.

China's yuan firmed against the dollar on Monday after the central bank set a much stronger midpoint than the market had expected.

China's benchmark CSI 300 Index has fallen 6.6 percent since hitting an 11-month higher on December 1 as liquidity tightens and markets begin to price in a more conservative monetary policy in 2017.

The policy signal from the economic planning meeting "disillusioned investors who had envisioned a further loosening in monetary policies. Now it's clear that policies tend to tighten," Changjiang Securities said in its latest strategy report.

Meanwhile, China's bond market weakness persisted on Monday, deepening concerns over liquidity stress toward the year-end. The price of China's 10-year treasury futures for March delivery CFTH7 tumbled more than 1 percent soon after open, although it trimmed some of the losses by midday.

"Expectations for GDP growth have fallen to 6.5 percent, but if growth is slower than that, I think anything above 6.3 percent can be considered stable," said Capital Securities' Wang.

"The main focus of policymakers is on controlling risk, not growth targets."

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Elias Glenn; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

...


64x64

Mongolia Year in Review 2016 www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com

Slower economic growth and rising debt levels were the main themes of the past year, though Mongolia’s new government is acting to restore foreign investor confidence while seeking to curb the country’s growing budget deficit.

New government

Swept into office in general elections held at the end of June, winning 65 of the 76 parliamentary seats, the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) has had to contend with a shortfall in revenue due to lower returns from the mining industry at a time when state expenditure has risen sharply.

The country’s year-end budget deficit is expected to reach nearly 20% of GDP, ratings agency Moody’s said in November, a situation that could worsen over the next two years with extensive debts due to be repaid or rolled over.

Another challenge the new administration has faced is a steep decline in foreign direct investment (FDI), stemming in part from a sharp fall in commodity demand and prices, but also from concerns over policy shifts implemented by the former Democratic Party (DP) government.

At least some of these concerns were allayed ahead of the June election, with the DP government reaching an agreement on profit sharing and taxation with mining giant Rio Tinto over the Oyu Tolgoi mine. As a result, in May Rio Tinto announced it would push ahead with the second stage of the mine, with the development valued at $5.3bn.

Addressing investment hurdles in the mining industry, along with the MPP government’s commitment to streamlining FDI procedures, should go some way to boosting capital inflows and underpin a measured recovery in the commodities sector in coming years.

Ratings roll back

In mid-November Moody’s downgraded Mongolia’s government long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings from “B3” to “Caa1”, with a stable outlook.

Citing a decline in key fiscal metrics, which the ratings agency said it did not see materially reversing over the next few years, Moody’s cautioned that the government faced a number of fiscal challenges and liquidity risks.

“While we recognise that the authorities have made progress in recognising off-budget spending and defining transparent, short- and medium-term corrective actions, we expect that Mongolia's debt metrics will continue to deteriorate in the next two years while fiscal challenges will be compounded by a sharp slowdown in economic growth which places further pressure on the fiscal and external positions,” the Moody’s statement said.

On a more positive note, Moody’s said that GDP growth would increase – albeit only slightly – next year after shrinking 1.6% in the first nine months of 2016. Mining-related FDI is also set to recover, leading to a pick-up in growth, as the second stage of the Oyu Tolgoi mine project comes on-line in 2018, the ratings agency said in its November note.

IMF assistance

At the end of September, the new MPP government reached out to the IMF, seeking to open negotiations towards obtaining fiscal assistance to bridge budgetary and debt repayment gaps and improve liquidity in the domestic economy.

The IMF issued a statement in November saying that talks with the Mongolian government had been productive, with discussions covering policies that could become part of an economic and financial programme backed by the fund. Meanwhile, Mongolian officials announced they hoped a comprehensive support programme with the IMF could be finalised and in place by February.

The government has also said it would welcome loan assistance from Japan as it seeks to balance austerity measures with economic development and reignite FDI, which dwindled to just $200m last year, roughly 5% of the peak capital inflow posted in 2011.

Mongolia’s debt repayment programme and import costs have been impacted by a sharp decline in the tugrik, which fell to a record low of MNT2411:$1 in November. The currency declined 17% this year, with its retreat prompting the central bank to push up its benchmark interest rates by 4.5 percentage points to 15% to support the ailing currency.

Measured austerity

The MPP government has already moved to put in place measures likely to be met with IMF approval, including cutting state spending, consolidating budgetary expenditure and conducting studies to determine the exact level of debt owed to the private sector, including foreign companies, according to international press reports.

As a first step, in mid-October Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat announced that his government aimed to halve the budget deficit to 9% by the end of next year.

The government forecasts it will be able to bring down a balanced budget by 2020, though this may depend on revenue increases, which in turn will rely on improved commodity prices as well as austerity measures the IMF may call for under the terms of a potential agreement in the new year.

...


64x64

Japan to financially support UK nuclear projects www3.nhk.or.jp

 
The Japanese government will provide financial support for major electronics firms that are involved in the construction of nuclear power plants in Britain.
 
Increasing exports of infrastructure such as high-speed railway systems is one of the pillars of Japan's growth strategy.
 
However, Chinese companies have won the bidding for such projects by working closely with the Chinese government.
 
Japan's government plans to provide funding to help Hitachi and Toshiba to build 5 nuclear power plants in the UK.
 
The government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan will provide loans and invest in these projects.
 
The government-linked Nippon Export and Investment Insurance will be asked to provide credit guarantees to encourage Japanese financial institutions to co-finance the projects.
 
Industry minister Hiroshige Seko is planning to meet his British counterpart, Greg Clark, in Japan this week, to exchange opinions on cooperation between the 2 governments.
 
Britain's finance minister Philip Hammond told NHK on Thursday in Tokyo that his government welcomes the interest of Japanese businesses and will look carefully at the proposals that have been put forward.
...


64x64

Apple and Ireland to challenge EU tax ruling this week www.bbc.com

 
Apple plans to appeal this week against the European Commission's ruling that it pays up to €13bn (£11bn) to Ireland in back taxes.
EU regulators ruled Apple's controversial tax deal was illegal, and is demanding the record penalty.
The tech giant says it has been singled out and was "a convenient target".
Ireland is also contesting the decision, claiming EU regulators were interfering with national sovereignty.
'Misunderstood law'
Apple's European headquarters are located in Ireland - where the standard rate of corporate tax is 12.5%.
But in August, the commission said Ireland had enabled the company to pay substantially less than other businesses, in effect paying a rate of no more than 1%.
Ireland's finance ministry said in a strongly-worded statement on Monday that the European Commission had "misunderstood the relevant facts and Irish law".
"Ireland did not give favourable tax treatment to Apple - the full amount of tax was paid in this case and no state aid was provided," it said. "Ireland does not do deals with taxpayers."
And Apple's general counsel Bruce Sewell told Reuters that the commission had disregarded tax experts brought in by Irish authorities.
"Apple is not an outlier in any sense that matters to the law. Apple is a convenient target because it generates lots of headlines," Mr Sewell said.
Even if Apple lost its appeal, the record tax bill should not be a problem for iPhone maker which saw a net profit of $53bn in the 2015 financial year.
Apple is not the only company that has been targeted for securing favourable tax deals in the European Union.
Last year, the commission told the Netherlands to recover as much as €30m (£25.6m) from Starbucks, while Luxembourg was ordered to claw back a similar amount from Fiat.
...


64x64

Tax on Christmas alcohol shop is over 50%, industry says www.theguardian.com

 
Tax accounts for more than half of the total cost of the average family’s Christmas alcohol shop, a study by the wine and spirits industry has found. While alcohol duties are typically higher per head in Finland, Ireland and Germany, British consumers pay more alcohol tax than the citizens of most other European Union member states.
 
In the UK, a family spending £171.66 stocking the drinks cabinet for the festive season will hand over £88.19 of that sum to the Treasury. By comparison, the total cost of the equivalent amount of alcohol in France would be £136.89, with just £43.52 going to the taxman.
 
According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), which commissioned the research, 50% of the total cost of alcohol in the UK is accounted for by Treasury-imposed duties, while in France the levy represents on average just 32% of the cost.
 
“Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight,” said WSTA’s chief executive, Miles Beale.
 
The numbers were produced by comparing a festive-season shop consisting of five bottles of wine, two bottles of champagne, two bottles of other sparkling wine, three bottles of spirits, two bottles of port, 24 cans of beer and 12 ciders.
 
WSTA is warning that the price of wines and spirits will rise in the new year, when manufacturers and importers begin to pass on the extra costs triggered by the fall in sterling’s value that followed the decision to leave the European Union.
 
“In addition, with inflation levels rising to 1.2% in November, spirits prices will increase and wine will be hit again,” said Beale. “And that is also why it’s vital there is no increase to duty on wine and spirits at the next budget in March. The chancellor can provide welcome relief for businesses that have some extremely testing times ahead.”
...


64x64

Labour calls for closer scrutiny of tech firms and their algorithms www.theguardian.com

 
Labour’s industrial spokesperson has called for the algorithms used by technology firms to be made transparent and subject to regulation, as the party prepares the new year launch of its industrial strategy consultation.
 
Shadow minister Chi Onwurah wants to see greater scrutiny of the mathematical formulas that now control everything from the tailored news served to Facebook members to the speed at which workers are required to move around an Amazon warehouse.
 
“Algorithms aren’t above the law,” Onwurah warned this weekend. In a telephone interview on Sunday, she said: “The outcomes of algorithms are regulated – the companies which use them have to meet employment law and competition law. The question is, how do we make that regulation effective when we can’t see the algorithm?”
 
Labour’s industrial paper, due to be published after the Christmas break, will call for suggestions on how tech firms could be more closely supervised by government.
 
“We expect algorithms and data rights to be considered as part of that consultation,” said Onwurah, who was shadow digital economy minister before taking on the industrial brief. “Algorithms are part of our world, so they are subject to regulation, but because they are not transparent, it’s difficult to regulate them effectively.”
 
The business models of technology firms are increasingly being challenged by lawmakers. Google’s shopping and advertising services are under investigation by the European commission, while Uber drivers won a landmark case at a London tribunal this autumn to be considered as employees of the ride-hailing app, and therefore entitled to a minimum wage and holiday pay.
 
The equations behind the operations of digital businesses are a closely guarded trade secret. Any suggestion that they might have to hand them over to government agencies is likely to trigger a major pushback from silicon valley, where many of the biggest names are headquartered. Some commentators have compared forcing Google to share its search algorithm to ordering Coca-Cola disclose the secret recipe behind its best selling fizzy drink.
 
But pressure for reform is mounting. Social media platforms are being blamed for allowing the spread of misinformation and online abuse, conditions which some argue are fueling the resurgence of extreme politics in America and western Europe.
 
There are also signs that Google pages are being distorted by the spread of unchecked hate speech. Many search results are now reinforcing extreme views, with articles denying the holocaust or disparaging women increasingly appearing at the top of the rankings.
 
Facebook has swung between relying entirely on maths and employing humans as well as software to weed out fake news, pornography and extremist propaganda.
 
“If people were falling very ill after drinking Coca-Cola, the company would have some duty to share what could be causing that,” said Onwurah, a chartered engineer who built telecoms networks before entering parliament.
 
“Google and others argue their results are a mirror to society, not their responsibility,” she wrote in a letter published Sunday. “Google, Facebook and Uber need to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of the algorithms and machine learning that drive their profits. They can bring huge benefits and great apps, but we need a tech-savvy government to minimise the downside by opening up algorithms to regulation as well as legislating for greater consumer ownership of data and control of the advertising revenue it generates.”
 
She has raised concerns about Google being given access to NHS patient data. Its British subsidiary DeepMind, which specialises in machine learning, has signed an agreement with the Royal Free Hospital in north London to develop an app that will warn doctors when patients are at risk of acute kidney injury. Junior health minister Nicola Blackwood revealed, in response to parliamentary questions, that the government had not been shown the details of the agreement or discussed it with the hospital.
 
“Labour is having to raise the debate because the government is years behind on this and refuses to face up to the challenges of the digital era,” Onwurah said.
 
The government says it is introducing greater protection for consumers and in particular for children online. The digital economy bill, which is awaiting approval from the House of Lords, is designed to ensure that websites that allow children to access pornographic content will be blocked.
...


64x64

Revolution-era New York mine could produce hydro power www.mining.com

 
Flooding a mine is a closure strategy that mining companies often use as part of a rehabilitation plan usually decided at the beginning of a mine's operating life.
 
Once the tunnels are flooded, the mine and its workings become submerged, not just in a physical sense but in the minds of the public, who then regard that mine as finished, and the lake that fills the former pit probably assigned a recreational use.
 
An abandoned mine in New York state seemed to be destined to a similar, ignominious fate, but for a group of engineers who saw the historically-significant iron ore mine serving a more useful purpose.
 
The engineers are "pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine shafts over the years to power an array of 100 hydroelectric turbines a half-mile underground," reads a story about the centuries-old mine, located in the Adirondacks mountains of upstate New York, carried by Associated Press.
 
The mine which closed in 1971 apparently notched its mark on history for contributing iron for one of the first naval battles of the Revolutionary War on nearby Lake Champlain. According to Wikipedia, the Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. Some more colour is provided by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which sets the stage for the battle on its website:
 
The American fleet, commanded by Arnold, consisted of eight gondolas, three row galleys, two schooners, one sloop, one cutter and bateaux. The vessels in the British fleet were not only larger with better sailing characteristics, but they were also crewed by professional sailors under the command of skilled naval officers.
Electricity produced from the turbines would feed into current solar and wind producers, who lack a source of uninterrupted power, according to AP:
 
Engineers would drain roughly half of the water from the shafts and pump the remainder into an upper chamber. The water would then be released into a lower chamber, powering turbines and creating electricity. The turbines would be reversed to pump the water back up to repeat the process.
 
The project is basically an underground version of big outdoor projects that rely on the same principle. The New York Power Authority’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Project in the Catskills and the proposed Eagle Mountain project in southern California, for example, use outdoor, hilltop lakes as the upper reservoirs.
While pumped hydro power has been used for decades in the United States as the primary source of energy storage used to meet periods of peak electricity demand, mines are not typically used as reservoirs. If approved by federal authorities, the Mineville Pumped Storage Project would be one the first of its kind in America. AP points out that a similar project has been proposed for an abandoned mine and quarry in Elmhurst, Illinois.
 
North of the border, Northland Power is considering a pumped power project involving a decommissioned open-pit iron ore mine on the former Bethlehem Steel site between Ottawa and Toronto. The Marmora Pumped Storage facility would produce 400 megawatts of electricity for five hours, and create a waterfall nearly five times the height of Niagara Falls, Clean Technica reported in 2013.
...