Mark Obama Ndesandjo will reportedly recall his father's abusive behavior. Also: A Turkish court suspends the trial of men accused of "corrupting public morals" for publishing a century-old novel; and a new e-book subscription service launches.
Nearly a year ago, the stream that runs through the mining town of Majiapo suddenly turned bright orange. Today it looks like a winding river of Gatorade, cutting through the terraced Chinese countryside.
But it tastes much worse.
“It’s got a strong taste, like ammonia, and it smells like sulfur," says villager Ma Huiming. "It stains your skin orange.”
Ma says he and the hundreds of other people who live here drink this water and bathe in it. He takes me to the village well beside the river. We peer inside at the orange water. “It’s completely toxic," Ma says, "But we’re too poor to afford to drink anything else. I worry about what it’ll do to my children, what kind of diseases they’ll get. People who can afford to leave for the city have moved.”
The orange water is caused by acid mine drainage -- discharged water from a coal mine -- it’s contaminated with sulfuric acid and a range of heavy metals. It’s a problem throughout Shanxi province, which provides a third of China’s coal. Ma says his employer, Yangmei Group, which runs a mine a few miles up the river, is responsible.
So I go there.
I arrive at lunch break -- coal miners are outside a canteen eating noodles. When they see a foreigner with a microphone, a yelling match breaks out between workers who begin complaining about the water and workers who warn me to leave. Miner Zhang Quanding shows me his bowl of noodles. “Look at this water!" Zhang yells. "Pigs wouldn’t even drink water like this! I’ve had diarrhea for weeks!”
Zhang says workers have complained to management, but the complaint was ignored. Upon hearing this, the boss emerges from the canteen and yells at Zhang. Another miner shouts: “A true Chinese person wouldn’t talk to a foreign journalist.”
Zhang shoots back: “A true Chinese person can’t drink this water.”
Downstream, villager Ma Huiming says it would be best if the Yangmei Group shut down the mine. Both the Yangmei Group and the local government denied requests for interviews. Ma says he’d like to return to farming, but between the toxic water and the coal dust in the air, it’s become too difficult to grow anything.
As a red truck packed with black rocks rumbles through the village, Ma says he’s left with only one choice: mining more coal.
China's largest Bitcoin exchange, BTC China has been forced to stop taking Chinese currency. The move follows a reported meeting this week between payment processing companies in the country and the People's Bank of China, and a decision by national financial agencies in the country earlier this month that effectively banned dealing in Bitcoin, the so-called cryptocurrency -- which Marketplace Tech has been looking at all week -- seems either on the verge of collapse or going to the next level.
Eric Posner is a professor of Law at the University of Chicago who has been studying Bitcoin. He says people should stop thinking of it as a currency.
"It's more like a payment system that people can use to transfer dollars from one place to another, and the way you transfer your dollar is you buy a Bitcoin, ship it through the internet, and then the other person gets it and converts it into a dollar," Posner says.
One reason Posner says he's not bullish on the idea of Bitcoin as a currency has to do with the government's inability to control its supply. Governments, he says, need to be able to control currencies through economic highs and lows.
"f there's a recession, for example, you need to increase the money supply, and if there's a boom, you need to reduce the rate at which money grows," Posner says. "If the government has no control over the supply of the money that people use because people have used Bitcoin, it won't be able to use these instruments to help control the economy. I don't think the government would tolerate that, and I don't think the public would want the government to give up this important instrument. And, so I think the government would find a way to ensure that Bitcoins did not replace the dollar as our currency."
That's why Posner is a fan of the idea of governments regulating Bitcoin exchanges. "The exchanges are absolutely essential," he says. "If I'm a merchant who accepts Bitcoins, I want to be able to immediately be able to convert my Bitcoins into dollars. But if an exchange exists, there's got to be servers, there's got to be employees, there's going to be even a building somewhere with people in it -- and the government can go after those things."
If Posner's advocacy of regulating Bitcoin exchanges sounds like it undermines one of the basic tenents of the cryptocurrency -- frictionless transfer of money from one party to another -- Posner says you're right. Regulation will weaken that feature of Bitcoin. But, regulating the exchanges will help bring Bitcoin out of the shadows and into the mainstream.
"If you think of [Bitcoin] as just a very useful mechanism for transferring value from one place to another, then regulation will not undermine that goal. It will actually improve that by making the use of Bitcoins more secure, protecting people from some of the illegal or undesireable uses of Bitcoin -- for example, to finance criminal activity or to buy drugs."
Phil Robertson has been suspended from the popular A&E reality show for saying, among other things, that homosexuality is sinful and comparing gays to "the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers." He says he's reflecting "what the Bible teaches."