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Vegetarian Beef Farmer Moves Herd to Greener Pastures

For committed vegetarian Jay Wilde, taking over his father’s central England beef farm in 2011 gave rise to a significant ethical dilemma: how could he continue running his family business, while adhering to his principles?

This year, Wilde took an unusual decision to resolve that conflict: he donated his Derbyshire farm’s herd of 63 cattle, which would have fetched £45,000 pounds ($58,250) if sold for meat, to an animal sanctuary.

“It just seemed difficult to look after the animals for two to three years and get to really know them, and then send them to slaughter. It felt as if you were betraying them”, Wilde told the BBC.

Wilde believes that his cows have emotions and can sense when they’re going to be killed. After donating the herd, Wilde said that he plans to refocus his farm on growing organic vegetables and field crops without any animal inputs.

The herd now resides at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary near Frettenham, where they will live out the remainder of their lives, effectively as pets.

While Wilde accepted that his new farm may be less profitable, his principal desire was for his animals to be happy.

“I hope that when they arrive at the refuge the cows will run down the ramp of the truck into the field and think ‘wow! We’ve come on holiday'”, he said.

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Qatar, Isolated by Neighbors, Plans Gas Output Boost

The politically isolated Gulf nation of Qatar says it plans to boost production of liquefied natural gas by 30 percent over the coming years.

State-run Qatar Petroleum made the announcement in the capital, Doha on Tuesday, a day after Qatar handed over its response to a list of demands by Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia that have cut ties with their tiny neighbor.

QP President and CEO Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said the production increase stems from a decision to double anticipated output from a new gas project on the southern portion of its vast underwater North Field.

The increase will over time give Qatar the capacity to produce 100 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year, up from 77 million.

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Renewable Energy Surges, But Fossil Fuel Still Powers Most of Economy

Renewables are a fast-growing part of the energy that powers the United States, but a government report shows fossil fuels still provide energy for most of the economy.

The Energy Information Administration says petroleum, natural gas, and coal provided 81 percent of the energy for the world’s largest economy in 2016.

That is lowest rate of U.S. fossil fuel use in a century, and the change is partly due to a major fall in coal usage to generate electricity. In many cases, coal has been replaced by less-polluting natural gas or zero-emission technologies like solar and wind generation.

An earlier EIA report says renewable energy sources account for most of the new electric generating capacity, with perhaps 24 gigawatts added in the United States during 2016.

In the meantime, markets are pondering efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit output and boost prices. The oil price is down around 14 percent this year due to output from the United States, Nigeria, Libya and some other nations.


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Export Boom? Eurozone Shows Britain How it’s Done

Feted by some British newspapers as proof of a Brexit vote windfall, Britain’s recent export recovery ranks as the worst among Europe’s major economies, according to one closely-watched measure.

Surveys of manufacturers across Europe published by data firm IHS Markit on Monday underlined Britain’s challenge as it tries to become an export-led dynamo outside the European Union.

The export orders gauge of the UK Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index slid to a five-month low in June.

While still indicating growth in exports, it left Britain as the weakest performer in terms of foreign orders, barring Greece, among big western European economies for a fourth month running.

That’s a poor return for the pound’s 12 percent fall against a range of currencies since the Brexit vote a year ago.

It also casts doubt over the belief among some Bank of England officials that strong exports will help make up for a slowdown in consumer spending, suggesting the British economy could cope with a first interest rate hike in a decade.

“Sterling’s depreciation has been the least successful in Britain’s post-war history,” said Samuel Tombs, economist at consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics consultancy.

Since sterling began to fall at the end of 2015, net trade has dragged on the economy, unlike after earlier sharp falls in the exchange rate in 1967, 1975, 1992 and 2007/08, Tombs said.

Some indicators have suggested exporters are doing well.

The Confederation of British Industry’s gauge of manufacturing exports, which is based on a different methodology to the PMIs, hit a 22-year high in June.

But the official data is more muted: goods trade export volumes rose at an annual rate of 5.3 percent in the three months to April, the best showing since January 2016 but still below rates seen through most of 2015.

As well as putting Britain’s export recovery into context, the latest figures suggest Britain’s plan to become an export-led “champion of free trade” — as trade minister Liam Fox put it — is not entirely in its own hands.

Its success will hinge just as much on how well its competitors fare in winning business in the same markets and, on that score, the euro zone is showing its muscle.

“I think that is a reflection of the euro area, in terms of them winning global trade gains due to the weak euro,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said.

The euro is 17 percent weaker against the U.S. dollar than at the end of 2014, despite a recent rally.

Part of the underperformance of British exporters in relation to the euro zone may reflect the fact that they have hiked selling prices faster, to help recoup rising energy and imported material costs exacerbated by the weak pound.

While the euro zone’s export price index rose 2.7 percent between the third quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2017, Britain’s increased more than 8 percent.

Increased volatility in sterling, which historically has been more stable than the euro against the dollar, might also be weighing on potential buyers of British goods.

“It’s not so much that the UK is doing badly, it’s just that the euro zone is doing very well at the same time,” said Williamson.

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World’s Biggest Container Shipping Line Operating Close to Normal After Cyberattack

A global Danish transport and logistics company says it has restored most of its information technology systems after experiencing a major cyberattack last week that affected companies and government agencies in more than 60 countries.

A.P. Moller-Maersk says it resumed container deliveries at its major ports Monday, but said it may take another week to restore all computer functions.

The cyberattack that hit the world’s biggest container shipping line also affected U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck, FedEx subsidiary TNT, London based international law firm DLA Piper, and Kyiv’s Oschadbank,


Ukrainian authorities have blamed Russia for masterminding the attack.  Russia denies the charge.

Ukraine has repeatedly come under fire from high-powered cyberattacks tied to Moscow, but several independent experts say it is too early, based on what is publicly known, to come to a firm conclusion about who is responsible for this attack.

The hackers encrypted data on infected machines and demanded a ransom to give it back to its owner.  Some researchers question the motivation behind the attack, saying it may not have been designed to collect a ransom, but instead to simply destroy data.

Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab says the code used in the hacking software would not have allowed its authors to decrypt the stolen data even after a ransom had been paid.

The computer virus used in the attack includes code known as “Eternal Blue”, a tool developed by the U.S. National Security Agency that exploited Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and which was published on the internet in April by a group called Shadowbrokers.  Microsoft released a patch in March to protect systems from that vulnerability.

The attack bore resemblance to the previous “WannaCry” hack, that sent a wave of crippling ransomware to hospitals across Britain in May, causing the hospitals to divert ambulances and cancel surgeries.  The program demanded a ransom to unlock access to files stored on infected machines.

Researchers eventually found a way to thwart the hack, but only after about 300 people had paid the ransom.

Last week, Tim Rawlins, the director of the Britain-based cybersecurity consulting firm NCC Group, told VOA the attacks continue to happen because people have not been keeping up with effectively patching their computers.

“This is a repeat WannaCry type of outbreak and it really comes down to the fact that people are not focusing on what they should be focusing on, the very simple premise of patching your systems,” Rawlins said.


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Qatar’s Stock Market Falls as Neighbors’ Demands Unmet

Qatar’s stock market fell sharply Sunday as a deadline for Doha to accept a series of political demands by four Arab states was expected to expire later in the day with no sign of a resolution.

The Qatari stock index sank as much as 3.1 percent in thin trading, bringing its losses to 11.9 percent since June 5, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties, accusing Doha of backing militants.

Stocks tumbled across the board Sunday, with 41 lower and only one higher. Qatar National Bank, the largest listed lender in the Gulf, lost 3.1 percent.

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Samsung Recycles, Sells Galaxy Note 7 in South Korea

Samsung Electronics said Sunday its recalled Galaxy Note 7 phones will be recycled and sold starting this week in South Korea. 


The Galaxy Note FE phone, using unused parts in the recalled Note 7 smartphones, will go on sale in South Korea Friday at 700,000 won ($611), about three quarters of its original price. 


The company said the supply will be limited to 400,000 units. Overseas sales plans will be determined later, it said in a statement. 


Samsung said the Note FE has “perfect safety.”

Black eye for Samsung


The original Note 7 was one of the biggest black eyes in Samsung’s history. When it was launched in August 2016, the Note 7 was Samsung’s answer to Apple’s upcoming iPhone. It was also one of the most expensive Samsung phones with the price starting at $850. 


But after reports emerged that its batteries were prone to overheat and catch fire, Samsung recalled the phone in less than a month of its launch and released another one with replaced batteries. But the second batch also tended to overheat, prompting Samsung to discontinue the Note 7. 


The debacle dealt a blow to Samsung’s corporate image. Aviation authorities around the world banned the pricy phone on flights and photos of scorched Note 7s circulated on social media. Samsung spent billions of dollars to recall the Note 7 and fix its damaged brand. 


Earlier this year, the company released the investigation results and blamed flaws in design and production of batteries supplied by two battery makers.

Environmentalists urged reuse of parts


After Samsung recalled millions of Note 7 phones, environmental activists have pressured the South Korean tech giant to reuse the electronics parts to reduce waste. Samsung said the Note FE is part of its efforts to minimize waste.


The Note FE, short for “Fan Edition,” features the screen measuring 5.7 inches (14.48 centimeters) diagonally and the stylus pen.

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Dakar Fashion Week Takes Style Back to the Streets

One of Dakar Fashion Week’s biggest events is free — a fashion show in working class neighborhood, Niary Tally. The event’s founder, Senegalese designer Adama Paris, says the so-called “Street Show” is her favorite event of the week because she gets to take fashion back to the streets where it originates. Ricci Shryock has more from Dakar.

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US Warns Nuclear, Energy Firms of Hacking Campaign

The U.S government warned industrial firms this week about a hacking campaign targeting the nuclear and energy sectors, the latest event to highlight the power industry’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Since at least May, hackers used tainted “phishing” emails to “harvest credentials” so they could gain access to networks of their targets, according to a joint report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The report provided to the industrial firms was reviewed by Reuters Friday. While disclosing attacks, and warning that in some cases hackers succeeded in compromising the networks of their targets, it did not identify any specific victims.

Industry looking into intrusions

“Historically, cyber actors have strategically targeted the energy sector with various goals ranging from cyber espionage to the ability to disrupt energy systems in the event of a hostile conflict,” the report said.

Homeland Security and FBI officials could not be reached for comment on the report, which was dated June 28. The report was released during a week of heavy hacking activity.

A virus dubbed “NotPetya” attacked Tuesday, spreading from initial infections in Ukraine to businesses around the globe. It encrypted data on infected machines, rendering them inoperable and disrupting activity at ports, law firms and factories.

On Tuesday the energy-industry news site E&E News reported that U.S. investigators were looking into cyber intrusions this year at multiple nuclear power generators.

Reuters has not confirmed details of the E&E News report, which said there was no evidence safety systems had been compromised at affected plants.

Worry since 2016

Industrial firms, including power providers and other utilities, have been particularly worried about the potential for destructive cyber attacks since December 2016, when hackers cut electricity in Ukraine.

U.S. nuclear power generators PSEG, SCANA Corp and Entergy Corp said they were not affected by the recent cyberattacks. SCANA’s V.C. Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina shut down Thursday because of a problem with a valve in the non-nuclear portion of the plant, a spokesman said.

Another nuclear power generator, Dominion Energy, said it does not comment on cyber security.

Two cyber security firms said June 12 that they had identified the malicious software used in the Ukraine attack, which they dubbed Industroyer, warning that it could be easily modified to attack utilities in the United States and Europe.

Industroyer is the second piece of malware uncovered to date that is capable of disrupting industrial processes without the need for hackers to manually intervene.

The first, Stuxnet, was discovered in 2010 and is widely believed by security researchers to have been used by the United States and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. government report said attackers conducted reconnaissance to gain information about the individuals whose computers they sought to infect so that they create “decoy documents” on topics of interest to their targets.

In an analysis, it described 11 files used in the attacks, including malware downloaders and tools that allow the hackers to take remote control of victims’ computers and travel across their networks.

Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips, the three largest U.S. oil producers, declined to comment on their network security.

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India Launches New Economic Era With Sales Tax Reform

India early on Saturday introduced its biggest tax reform in the 70 years since independence from British colonial rule.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) replaces more than a dozen federal and state levies and unifying a $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion people into one of the world’s biggest common markets.

The measure is expected to make it easier to do business by simplifying the tax structure and ensuring greater compliance, boosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic credentials before a planned re-election bid in 2019.

At a midnight ceremony in parliament’s central hall Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee together launched the new tax by pressing a button.

“With GST, the dream of ‘One India, Great India’ will come true,” Modi said.

For the first midnight ceremony in the central hall in two decades, Modi was joined by his cabinet colleagues, India’s central bank chief, a former prime minister and major company executives including Ratan Tata.

The launch, however, was boycotted by several opposition parties including the Congress Party, which first proposed the tax reform before it fell from power three years ago.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – the architect of India’s economic reforms – also gave it a miss.

Complex Structure

It has taken 14 years for the new sales tax to come into being. But horse trading to get recalcitrant Indian states on board has left Asia’s third-largest economy with a complex tax structure.

In contrast to simpler sales taxes in other countries, India’s GST has four rates and numerous exemptions.

The official schedule of rates runs to 213 pages and has undergone repeated changes, some taking place as late as on Friday evening.

Many businesses are nervous about how the changes will unfold, with smaller ones saying they will get hit by higher tax rates.

Adding to the complexity, businesses with pan-India operations face filing over 1,000 digital returns a year.

While higher tax rates for services and non-food items are expected to fuel price pressures, compliance is feared to be a major challenge in a country where many entrepreneurs are not computer literate and rely on handwritten ledgers.

“We have jumped into a river but don’t know its depth,” said A. Subba Rao, an executive director at power firm CLP India.

‘One Tax, One Market, One Nation’

Poor implementation would deal a blow to an economy that is still recovering from Modi’s decision late last year to outlaw 86 percent of the currency in circulation.

In a bid to mitigate the impact on the farm sector, the GST rates for tractors and fertilizer were slashed on Friday to 18 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

HSBC estimates the reform, despite its flaws, could add 0.4 percentage points to economic growth.

An end of tax arbitrage under the GST is estimated to save companies $14 billion in reduced logistics costs and efficiency gains.

As the GST is a value added tax, firms will have an incentive to comply in order to avail credit for taxes already paid. This should widen the tax net, shoring up public finances.

“The old India was economically fragmented,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. “The new India will create one tax, one market for one nation.”