Miscellany

Miscellany

Social media not always good for democracy: FB

Facebook Inc (FB.O) warned on Monday that it could offer no assurance that social media was on balance good for democracy, but the company said it was trying what it could to stop alleged meddling in elections by Russia or anyone else.

The sharing of false or misleading headlines on social media has become a global issue, after accusations that Russia tried to influence votes in the United States, Britain and France. Moscow denies the allegations.

New Mumbai metro will beat traffic, but at what cost?

A new underground metro is expected to ease the burden on Mumbai's notoriously congested roads and railways, but not everybody in India's sprawling financial capital is happy about the multi-billion-dollar project.

Announced in 2014 with much fanfare, the Metro 3 line has been hailed by backers as essential to help solve the city's traffic woes and finally provide a link to its airports.

But campaigners are angry at the felling of thousands of trees, and say it could desecrate temples and lead to the destruction of an urban forest tribal groups call home.

E-retailers innovate to fill gaps in portfolios

As part of their backward integration, e-commerce companies are working with small-scale farmers and manufacturers and branding their products. E-retailers are trying to fill need gaps in their portfolio using such brands.

For organised brick and mortar retailers, private label has been a focus area as they provide higher margins compared to other brands. They get products manufactured by contract manufacturers, brand them and sell it through their stores along with other brands.

Blockchain guarantee for diamond’s purity

Anglo American’s diamond unit De Beers aims to launch the first industry-wide blockchain this year to track gems each time they change hands starting from the moment they are dug from the ground, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by the value of its gems, has led industry efforts to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from conflict zones where gems could be used to finance violence.

New licencing system for contract staffing firms on cards

The government is in the process of bringing in licensing system for contract staffing companies by amending the Contract Labour Act. This would pave for the growth of the organised temporary staffing companies, which currently account for less than 10 per cent of the staffing activity.

The labour ministry has been conducting discussions with trade unions, contract staffing companies and industry bodies on this. The industry expects a licensing system to be introduced in a quarter or two. 

NRI Yusuffali acquires iconic Scottish hotel

Leading NRI businessman Yusuffali MA has acquired an iconic Scottish hotel based in Edinburgh in a $120 million deal clinched by Twenty14 Holdings (T14H), the hospitality investment arm of his Abu Dhabi headquartered Lulu Group International. The Caledonian, a grand Edwardian hotel overlooking Edinburgh Castle, joins his portfolio of $650 million worth of luxury properties across the UK, the Middle East and India.

America’s fastest spy plane may be back – and hypersonic

For years, Lockheed Martin Corp. has been developing a successor to one of the fastest aircraft the world has ever seen, the SR-71 Blackbird, the Cold War reconnaissance craft that the US Air Force retired almost three decades ago. Lockheed officials have said the hypersonic SR-72—dubbed the “Son of Blackbird” by one trade journal—could fly by 2030.

End of a chip boom?

After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, a sudden drop in some memory prices, followed by Samsung Electronics Co’s disappointing profit estimate, is causing jitters among investors who had bet the chip boom would last at least another year.

Amid news that the market has started losing some steam-prices of high-end flash memory chips, which are widely used in smartphones, dropped nearly five per cent in the fourth quarter-some analysts now expect the industry’s growth rate will fall by more than half this year to 30 per cent.

China is winning its war on air pollution, at least in Beijing

Concentrations of PM2.5 -- the tiny particles that pose the greatest health risks -- plunged 33 per cent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter across Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities, Greenpeace East Asia said in a report Thursday. Levels in the capital alone tumbled 54 per cent. The drops come after government policies last year forced millions of homes and businesses to switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.

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