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  • ‘We don’t need to buy more stuff’: the people who kit out their home for free
    by Suzanne Bearne on October 23, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Many people turning to skips or sites such as Freecycle in a bid to save money and help the planetOne man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so goes the saying. That is certainly evident through the rise of exchanges on platforms such as Olio, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor, where people happily take their neighbours’ unwanted goods off their hands. Sometimes items are new or as good as new; sometimes they are a piece of furniture to upcycle and breathe new life into. From saving money to helping the planet, many people turn to volunteer-run online communities focused on goods that would otherwise go to landfill, rather than head to Ikea. Searches for the term “Freecycle” have increased 22% from July 2018 to July 2021, while the number of people Googling “where can I find free stuff?” shot up 800% over the same period, according to the data provider SEMrush. Some scour skips, the streets, and ask around in their community for free stuff – all ways of consuming without spending a penny. Continue reading... […]

  • 20 years of the iPod: how it shuffled music and tech forever
    by Eamonn Forde on October 23, 2021 at 10:00 am

    In October 2001, the music industry was riven by piracy and had no idea how to solve it. Enter Steve Jobs, whose new device created a digital music market – and made Apple into a titanIn 2001, the record business was in freefall due to digital piracy, and the best way out of this accelerating crisis came in the shape of a white device the size of a deck of cards. The iPod, launched 20 years ago this week, was also how Apple’s Steve Jobs was able to prey on a failing business in order to avenge his own past failures – exiled between 1985 and 1997 from the company he co-founded – by turning Apple into the most profitable company in history.Before the iPod lifeline arrived in October 2001, record labels were in full panic mode. In its annual report for 2001, record company trade body IFPI called it “a turbulent” year, blaming filesharing and CD burning for a revenue slump. Jay Berman was chief exective of IFPI at the time and calls the scale of filesharing then “a crisis of momentous proportions” for record labels. “It really was,” he says, “a foreign invasion.” Continue reading... […]

  • Will Ireland’s corporation tax rise see tech companies leave Dublin?
    by Lisa O'Carroll in Dublin on October 23, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Analysts question if Dublin’s reputation as a leading tech hub could be undermined by new 15% tax rateTen years ago Dublin was nicknamed Silicon Valley’s “home from home” with tech superstars including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk queueing up to snap up office space, avail themselves of local Irish hospitality and low tax.But while the decision of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, eBay, Amazon and more recently TikTok to locate their European headquarters in the Irish capital helped cement its reputation as one of the region’s leading tech hubs, questions are now being asked about whether they will stay.Earlier this month Ireland signed up to landmark reforms for a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15%, up from the current level of 12.5% set by Dublin, in the biggest shifts for the country’s tax system in almost 20 years.Some analysts argued the nation’s economic model could be badly undermined, while the Irish finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, said earlier this year that up to €2bn (£1.7bn) a year in tax revenue could be lost by 2025. However, there are hopes the changes might not prove as existential as they first seem.“In the short to medium term, no, there won’t be an exodus, the change from 12.5% to 15% is not that significant,” said Seamus Coffey, an economist at University College Cork and former chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.Ireland had played hardball in global tax talks taking place between 140 countries at the OECD in Paris, following almost a decade of failure among world leaders to agree reforms that would equip the taxation regime for the digital age.Dublin refused to join an accord earlier this year, and only relented earlier this month at the 11th hour of negotiations after securing a key concession – earlier plans calling for a minimum rate of “at least” 15% were dropped, giving the government more certainty that it would not be ratcheted higher in future.However, the reality is that many big tech firms never paid the 12.5% headline rate set by Ireland in the first place.A Bloomberg investigation in 2010 showed how Google had cut its overseas tax rate to just 2.4% using an aggressive avoidance schemed dubbed the “Double Irish, Dutch sandwich” to effectively shuffle revenues made across Europe offshore to places like Bermuda, where the tax rate was zero.Those schemes were outlawed in 2015, giving companies five years’ notice to comply.However, while such arrangements undoubtedly helped attract Google and Facebook to Ireland in the noughties, they were merely the latest in a wave of more than 1,500 foreign firms – 800 of them American – lured in by the low-tax ethos of the country’s Industrial Development Agency since its foundation in 1949.Before them IBM, Intel, Pfizer and Apple were shown the red carpet. For at least a decade Allergan has been making the world’s supply of Botox in Westport, County Mayo, on the country’s windswept Atlantic coast.“The low tax rate started in the 1960s at zero and then went to 10%,” said Coffey. “The point of it was never to generate corporate tax revenue, but to use relatively low corporate tax to attract the companies to set up in Ireland and let them build big factories and facilities. And then we have employment.”There are other factors tempting in multinationals. Chinese-owned TikTok set up its Dublin HQ in 2018 long after the writing was on the wall for the tax avoidance loophole.“Young companies focus on things that will either kill them or help them scale in the near future. Corporate tax isn’t one of them,” said Stephen McIntyre, former head of Twitter in Ireland and a partner in Frontline Ventures, a venture capital firm in Dublin and London set up to help US tech firms expand in Europe.Joe Biden and the OECD want to promote this idea of competing on grounds other than tax, viewing the reforms as ending the “race to the bottom” between countries. Continue reading... […]

  • ‘We’ve been caught half-dressed’: ambivalent Glasgow awaits Cop26
    by Libby Brooks on October 23, 2021 at 8:00 am

    Ambivalence, industrial disputes and other issues are complicating city’s build-up to the climate conferenceDiwali candles in pretty terracotta pots are stacked around the counter at Suresh & Sons grocer in Finnieston, the Glasgow district that borders the UN-managed “blue zone” of the Scottish Event Campus. Next weekend more than 30,000 delegates from 196 countries will converge on the area for the crucial two-week Cop26 climate conference.Four days into the event is the Hindu festival of lights, Leena Kumar explains. The council advised her to talk to suppliers about getting stock delivered before the road closures begin this weekend, but it is not that easy, she says. “We are well-informed, but we still don’t know what’s going to happen,” she laughs. Continue reading... […]

  • Ministers could limit student numbers on lower-earning arts degrees in England
    by Anna Fazackerley on October 23, 2021 at 7:30 am

    Creative arts and other courses may be targeted to rein in loan debts, a plan critics deride as ‘anti-intellectual’The government is considering new plans to limit the number of students studying creative arts and other degrees with lower salary returns as part of its spending review negotiations, the Guardian has learned.With outstanding student loans reaching £140bn last year, the Treasury is understood to be keen to reduce the number of students in England studying courses producing lower salaries and therefore less likely to pay back their loans. Continue reading... […]

  • Air source heat pumps: how the costs and savings stack up
    by Miles Brignall on October 23, 2021 at 7:00 am

    The lowdown as householders are being urged to replace their old boilers with greener alternatives‘It’s been brilliant’: air source heat pump will recoup cost for ownerHouseholders are being encouraged to ditch their old gas and oil-fired boilers and replace them with new clean, green heat pumps. In the run-up to the Cop26 climate summit, the UK government has set out plans to offer grants to help households install air source heat pumps and other low-carbon heating systems over the next three years. Continue reading... […]

  • China, India and Brazil must set out their plans to cut emissions | The Secret Negotiator
    by The Secret Negotiator on October 23, 2021 at 7:00 am

    An insider says keeping temperatures within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels rests with big developing countries in G20As we get closer to the beginning of Cop26, I worry that the main goal – keeping temperature rises within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – is slipping away.The Covid-19 pandemic offered the opportunity for a global reset. We could rebuild in a way that was green and with lower greenhouse gas emissions.Every week we’ll hear from negotiators from a developing country that is involved in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations and will be attending the Cop26 climate conference. Continue reading... […]

  • ‘It’s been brilliant’: air source heat pump will recoup cost for owner
    by Miles Brignall on October 23, 2021 at 7:00 am

    Wendy and Steve Knight could not be happier after changing an oil-fired boiler for a greener optionAir source heat pumps: how the costs and savings stack upWendy and Steve Knight installed an air source heat pump (ASHP) heating system in their Grade II-listed, 18th century home in Hunton, North Yorkshire, and say they could not be happier with it.Prior to its installation in the summer of 2020, they were relying on an oil-fired boiler and spending about £1,000 a year on two oil tanker deliveries. On top of that they were spending about £900 a year on electricity. Continue reading... […]

  • Covid testing failures at UK lab ‘should have been flagged within days’
    by Ian Sample Science editor on October 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Senior scientists say problems at Immensa site show private firms should not be carrying out PCR testsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageHealth officials should have known about major failings at a private Covid testing lab within days of the problem arising, rather than taking weeks to shut down operations at the site, senior scientists say.About 43,000 people, mostly in south-west England, are believed to have wrongly been told they did not have the virus by Immensa Health Clinic’s laboratory in Wolverhampton in a debacle described as one of the worst scandals in the UK’s Covid crisis. Continue reading... […]

  • ‘Victimised for leaving a rich man’: star fund manager’s bitter break-up
    by Kalyeena Makortoff and Juliette Garside on October 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Millionaire stockpicker Terry Smith is battling his former partner of 13 years in the courts of MauritiusHe is one of the City of London’s most successful investors, with a fortune estimated at £300m, a luxury yacht and a collection of beautiful homes. But the star fund manager Terry Smith has hit heavy weather in the tropical paradise of Mauritius, from where he runs his business.Since February, Smith has been locked in an acrimonious public legal battle with his former partner of 13 years. He has launched a barrage of court cases and complaints against Teresa de Freitas, covering at least eight separate matters ranging from alleged embezzlement from a joint account, to disputes over cars and household items. She has retaliated with at least four claims of her own. Continue reading... […]

  • English local health chiefs urge extra Covid measures in break from guidance
    by Jamie Grierson on October 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

    At least a dozen officials have called for further precautions in their areas as government holds off on plan BLocal public health chiefs in England are breaking from the government’s official guidance and recommending so-called plan B protective measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases.At least a dozen directors of public health (DPHs) have called on residents in their areas to readopt protective measures such as mask-wearing and working from home. Continue reading... […]

  • Party tights: one of fashion’s favourite trends is making a comeback
    by Scarlett Conlon on October 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Adele, Tracee Ellis Ross, Naomi Campbell and Cardi B have all given their endorsement recently Little could we have guessed that when Adele announced her return to the charts this autumn that she would be bringing back one of fashion’s favourite trends with her – party tights.In the singer’s international Vogue shoot styled by editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, the star is pictured wearing not one, but two pairs of jazzy hosiery: a polka-dot and fishnet double whammy. Continue reading... […]

  • Cop26 climate deal will be harder than Paris accord, admits Sharma
    by Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent on October 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Summit president says 2015 global emissions agreement a ‘framework’ but rules were left for future talksAchieving a global climate deal in Glasgow in the next three weeks will be harder than signing the Paris agreement of 2015, the UK president-designate of the Cop26 talks has said.Alok Sharma, the cabinet minister in charge of the UK-hosted talks, just over a week away, said the task would be to get nearly 200 countries to implement stringent cuts to their greenhouse gas emissions, in line with holding global temperature increases to within 1.5C of pre-industrial levels – a goal fast receding as global carbon output continues to climb. Continue reading... […]

  • Crown gives go ahead to rival ‘net zero carbon’ North Sea schemes
    by Jillian Ambrose on October 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Exclusive: crown estates accused of greed in selling rights to ‘incompatible’ carbon capture and windfarm projectsA clash between two multibillion pound “net zero carbon” schemes is brewing in the North Sea after the Queen’s property manager granted development rights for one patch of seabed to two different projects at the same time.The crown estate will earn millions of pounds after agreeing to lease an area off the Yorkshire coast to the latest phase of the giant Hornsea offshore windfarm, as well as to a scheme led by BP which plans to begin storing carbon dioxide under the seabed. This has prompted concern that the giant wind turbines could interfere with seabed sensors for the carbon storage project. Continue reading... […]

  • ‘Secret piety’: new show reveals Andy Warhol’s Catholic roots
    by Harriet Sherwood Arts and culture correspondent on October 23, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Known for his wild parties and proud queerness, he went to church, met the pope and prayed daily with his motherHe is celebrated for his Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup prints, legendary parties, proud queerness and worship of celebrity.But Andy Warhol was raised by a devout Catholic mother with whom he prayed daily throughout the two decades in which they shared a New York home. The wild prince of pop art went to church, met the pope and financed his nephew’s studies to become a priest. Continue reading... […]

  • Weatherwatch: the climate of the Windward Islands
    by Stephen Moss on October 23, 2021 at 5:00 am

    The Caribbean islands enjoy dry and sunny weather most of the year but are vulnerable during hurricane seasonThe Windward Islands are the colloquial name for the southernmost, larger islands of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, comprising St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica, Martinique and, by some definitions, Barbados.They acquired their name during the age of exploration of the 17th and 18th centuries, when sailors crossing the Atlantic Ocean would try to choose the fastest route, taking advantage of the prevailing easterly trade winds. In doing so, they would usually pass between two groups of islands, which they named the Windward Islands on their right and the Leeward Islands on their left – names still used today. Continue reading... […]

  • Alec Baldwin voices ‘shock and sadness’ over shooting death of Halyna Hutchins
    by Luke Harding on October 23, 2021 at 1:25 am

    Actor accidentally shot and killed cinematographer on film setSome workers reportedly walked off in protest before incidentAlec Baldwin has expressed his deep “shock and sadness” after he accidentally shot and killed his director of photography with an apparent real bullet on the set of his latest movie.The actor was acting in or rehearsing for the western Rust when he discharged what he thought was a prop firearm. The cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally struck and the director Joel Souza was wounded, the Santa Fe sheriff’s office said. Continue reading... […]

  • English cities to receive transport boost of almost £7bn in budget
    by Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent on October 22, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    Funding will be used to help ‘level up’ regions including Greater Manchester and West MidlandsAlmost £7bn will be allocated in next week’s budget to “level up” urban transport in cities around England, the government has said.City regions will receive a total of about £5.7bn in sustainable transport cash, while another £1.2bn will go towards improving bus services. Continue reading... […]

  • Have Sumatran fishing crews found the fabled Island of Gold?
    by Dalya Alberge on October 22, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    Treasures worth millions found in the last five years along the Musi River could be the site of the Srivijaya empireIt was a fabled kingdom known in ancient times as the Island of Gold, a civilisation with untold wealth that explorers tried in vain to find long after its unexplained disappearance from history around the 14th century. The site of Srivijaya may finally have been found – by local fishing crews carrying out night-time dives on the Musi River near Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.Their extraordinary catches are treasures ranging from a lifesize eighth-century Buddhist statue studded with precious gems – worth millions of pounds – to jewels worthy of kings. Continue reading... […]

  • An open tent and an empty bed: desperate search for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith
    by Narelle Towie on October 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    ‘The worst part is there’s nothing more we can do,’ Ellie Smith says, after her little girl disappeared from a campsite on the WA coast. ‘We feel hopeless’It was a warm, unremarkable Friday when just around dusk Ellie Smith and her partner, Jake Gliddon, pitched the family tent at a remote campsite on Western Australia’s rugged Coral Coast.They chose the wild beach camp nestled on a small dune system at Point Quobba, about 10-hours’ drive north of Perth, for a getaway with their baby, Isla, and Smith’s daughter, four-year-old Cleo. Continue reading... […]