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Breakfast Briefing: Apple, Bayeux Tapestry & Smart Cities

Apple Supplier Blasted

Unsuitable working conditions at China’s Catcher Technology have been unearthed in a new report.  

Editor’s Remarks: Catcher is located around six hours from Shanghai in Suqian, where its workers often stand for 10 hours a day without the appropriate equipment for handling the noxious substances they work with every day. Catcher supplies iPhone casings for Apple and its workforce is made up of uneducated labourers who are enticed by the promise of a steady wage and opportunity to work in a high-tech industry. The findings were released by China Labor Watch and Bloomberg, which have been investigating the often appalling conditions in Chinese factories that supply components to US multinationals.

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UK Banks Shun Bitcoin

No UK banks have partnered with cryptocurrency exchanges.

Editor’s Remarks: The lack of any relationships between UK banks and cryptocurrency exchanges means that UK investors currently have to move their money through a series of foreign exchange transactions and services before they can cash out their profits. As a result, they incur high fees and often the suspicion of their banks. This is contrary to many European banks, which have partnered with such exchanges. To an extent, this is because the UK retail banking sector is highly concentrated, whereas in Europe and the US the consumer has more options. The UK government is also due to release guidance on how cryptocurrency gains are to be taxed in the next few days.

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Bayeux Tapestry on Loan

Emmanuel Macron has offered to loan the famous tapestry to the UK in an effort to improve relations.

Editor’s Remarks: The offer is expected to be announced this Thursday, when Macron will meet UK officials at the Anglo-French summit at Sandhurst. The Bayeux Tapestry was commission by William the Conquerer’s brother to celebrate his 1066 conquest of England and depicts the Norman king defeating the Anglo-Saxon ruler King Harold. Although it was made in England, the piece – which measures about 35 square metres – has remained in France for the past 940 years. At the upcoming summit, Macron is also expected to petition the UK to join his combined European military initiative – a move many expect Britain’s new defence secretary Gavin Williamson to push back on.

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India’s Hike Launches New App

Hike has modified a version of Android that lets users access data without an active data connection.

Editor’s Remarks: The new software, Total, will be released on four devices in March, according to a statement made yesterday. It will enable users to message, access news and make payments through a single login portal. Total has been developed by Hike, which is often touted as India’s rival to WhatsApp, and has received backing from both SoftBank and Tencent. Total is filling a very real need: in India, more than 735 million people lack mobile internet access. In fact, only half of India’s 400m smartphone users currently use the internet, which Hike aims to address through providing a simple, functional version of the web for its customers.

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Smart Cities Take Off

Big tech deals took off in 2017 as big tech firms strived to make smart cities a reality. 

Editor’s Remarks: In 2017, 35 agreements were reached between various cities around the world and big tech companies – a huge increase from the eight that were agreed in 2016. Alphabet has launched a project to develop a miniature smart city in 12 acres of land it purchased in Toronto. Meanwhile, Alibaba is leveraging digital infrastructure in Macau, where its smart transport systems will hopefully improve efficiency for the municipal government. Saudi Arabia has also announced a plan to build a new city, to be named NEOM, which will rely fully on renewable energy as well as self-driving vehicles and drones.

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