BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators will decide by Oct. 3 whether to clear world No. 1 online social network Facebook's $19 billion offer for mobile messaging startup WhatsApp, the European Commission said on Monday. Facebook requested EU approval last week, the Commission's website showed. The EU competition watchdog can either clear the deal unconditionally, demand concessions or extend the preliminary review into a wider probe. Facebook expects to close the deal, its largest in its 10-year history, this year. U.S. ...
A Chinese anti-trust regulator said on Monday it has given Microsoft Corp 20 days to reply to queries on the compatibility of its Windows operating system and Office software suite amid a probe into the world's largest software company. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) questioned Microsoft Vice President David Chen and gave the company a deadline to make an explanation, the agency said in a short statement on its website. Microsoft is one of at least 30 foreign companies that have come under scrutiny by China's anti-monopoly regulators as the government seeks to enforce its six-year old antitrust law. According to a state media report on Monday, Microsoft's use of verification codes also spurred complaints from Chinese companies.
(Reuters) - Apple Inc plans to enable its next iPhone to become a mobile wallet by allowing owners to securely make mobile payments in a store with the touch of a finger, Bloomberg said on Sunday, citing a person familiar with the situation. The agreement includes participation by Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc and American Express Co and will be announced Sept. 9 along with unveiling of the next iPhone, according to the source, who Bloomberg said asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
By Silke Koltrowitz BIEL (Switzerland) (Reuters) - Swatch Group is happy to go it alone with a launch next year of watches with "smart" features to compete with so-called wearable gadgets from the big tech companies, a market potentially worth $93 billion. Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek said these new watches might allow the wearer to count the number of steps they take and calories they burn. "All the big technology firms want to work with us and I don't rule out that we are or could be collaborating in some areas. Apple Inc has just invited media to a "special event" next month, fuelling speculation it might present a much-anticipated "iWatch." The possibility of an iWatch launch is partly responsible for Swatch shares losing almost 15 percent so far this year, lagging a 3 percent rise in the European sector.
By Leila Abboud, Pamela Barbaglia and Stephen Jewkes PARIS/LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia has lost a promising path to earnings growth by failing to secure Brazilian broadband business GVT and may now turn from hunter to hunted in a fast-consolidating telecoms industry. Winning the auction for French media company Vivendi's GVT was vital for both Telecom Italia and its rival, Spain's Telefonica, as their European markets have been shrinking. Italy was gripped by a mobile price war for much of last year, revenue is falling and competition remains tough. Telecom Italia lost out to Telefonica as it could not afford to top its 7.45-billion-euro offer for GVT.
By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. Shrem, the former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, will plead guilty next Thursday in New York federal court to unlicensed money transmission, Marc Agnifilo, his lawyer told Reuters in an email. Prosecutors had previously charged Shrem with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and failing to file suspicious activity reports with government banking authorities. Federal authorities shut down Silk Road last year, though a new Internet marketplace under the same name was launched in November.
With just over a week to go until the iPhone 6 is finally unveiled, Apple’s most important product launch of the year, the company may have a major scandal to deal with that’s directly related to its iOS ecosystem. Mashable reports that hackers managed to break into a number of iCloud accounts belonging to certain celebrities, and alleged nude photos and even compromising videos have been posted as a result. It’s not clear how the hack was possible or whether or not iCloud was indeed hacked by a malicious third party interested in stealing such sensitive information in order to sell it online. The hackers first took to 4chat to tease the “goods,” revealing they managed to access handsets belonging to quite a
The iPhone 6 is widely expected to include an NFC chip that will enable mobile payments on the device, a move Apple is finally ready for. In addition to leaks that seem to prove the iPhone 6’s hardware will support wireless payments, fresh reports from Bloomberg and Re/code indicate that Apple has recruited the three major credit card providers to back its iPhone wallet plans. FROM EARLIER: Watch a fully assembled iPhone 6 boot up for the very first time Bloomberg has learned from a person familiar with the matter that Apple has inked deals with Visa, MasterCard and American Express, which will be confirmed during the iPhone 6’s September 9th media event. Re/code also confirms that at least American Express is on
Renowned cryptographer Hal Finney, known for his work on PGP encryption software and on early Bitcoin development, has passed away on Thursday following a five-year battle with ALS – a terrible disease that’s currently enjoying a viral funding campaign thanks to the “Ice Bucket Challenge” meme – but the programmer hoped that one day technology will heal him. According to Wired, Finney has become an early adopter of a kind of tech that’s only seen in movies, human cryopreservation. In other words, his body will be frozen and kept in that state until a solution comes along to revive him, if that ever happens. After his death was pronounced, Finney’s body as flown in Arizona to the Alcor Life Extension
Dark, gritty, and violent, yet thoughtful and thought-provoking — such has been the style of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, and it has now been applied to Pixar's 2004 superhero movie The Incredibles. The resulting trailer mixes music from The Dark Knight with a menacing voiceover from antihero Syndrome to build up tension toward an explosive, though inconclusive, finale. Whereas the family-friendly original reached its predictable happy ending, this darker reimagining of The Incredibles leaves you guessing as to the eventual fate of the superhero protagonists.
Technology that generates touchable 3D imagery was unveiled in Japan Monday, with its developers saying users could pull and push objects that are not really there. "Touching is an important part of human communication but virtual reality has until now been lacking it," its chief executive Natsuo Koda told a press conference. "This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3D world," said Koda, a former Sony researcher on virtual reality. It works by fooling the brain, blending the images the eye is seeing with different patterns of vibration created by a small device on the fingertip, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of "3D-Haptics Technology" and chief technical officer at the firm.
New reports claim that a new virtual wallet is almost certainly going to be one of the iPhone's biggest new features. According to Re/Code, "Apple has reached an agreement with American Express to work together on its new iPhone payments system" and the new feature will enable owners to make digital payments in physical stores without a credit or debit card. Apple CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of his desire to do something innovative or creative with the 500 million+ iTunes accounts with connected credit cards at his company's disposal, and the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S -- the company's current flagship smartphone, launched 12 months ago -- was seen by many as the first step towards Apple moving into mobile payments, allowing consumers to use their handsets in lieu of a physical wallet, cash or credit card.
Microsoft started teasing its Lumia 730 "selfie phone" last month with an invite to a press conference in Berlin on Thursday. While the invite teased "join us for more face time" and a Lumia camera, Microsoft has posted a fresh teaser today that’s simply a selfie photo. In an obvious nod to what Microsoft devices chief Stephen Elop previously described as a "selfie phone" during a private internal company meeting, it’s clear Microsoft is preparing to unveil its Lumia 730 on Thursday. While Microsoft's selfie teaser photo looks impressive if it came from the front-facing camera of the Lumia 730, it's not clear if this is simply a marketing photo.
Hundreds of nude, semi-nude, and revealing pictures of female celebrities were leaked overnight after being stolen from their private collections. Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and pop star Ariana Grande were among the celebrities apparently shown in the pictures, which were posted on infamous web forum 4chan. It's unclear how the images were obtained, but anonymous 4chan users said that they were taken from celebrities' iCloud accounts.
Japan on Monday relaxed a ban on the use of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets in flight, following similar moves by the United States and the European Union. From Monday, passengers were allowed to use a wide range of mobile electronic devices if they were switched to "flight mode" during the take-off and landing of newer planes, the transport ministry has said. This disables cellular service, so passengers will still not be able to make calls or send texts. The changes came after similar decisions by the US and European Union last year, and after Australia last week relaxed similar rules for passengers on Qantas and Virgin Australia.
By Pavel Polityuk and Polina Devitt KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of "direct and open aggression" which he said had radically changed the battlefield balance as Kiev's forces suffered a further reverse in the war with pro-Moscow separatists. Ukraine's military said its troops had been ordered to pull back from a vital airport in the east of the country, near the city of Luhansk, where they had been battling a Russian tank battalion. Poroshenko said in a speech there would be high-level personnel changes in the Ukrainian armed forces, whose troops fled a new rebel advance in the south which Kiev's Western allies say has been backed up by Russian armored columns. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called on Sunday for immediate negotiations on the "statehood" of southern and eastern Ukraine, blamed Kiev's leadership for refusing to enter into direct political talks with the separatists.
PARIS (AP) — The death toll in the partial collapse of a four-story apartment building has risen to seven in a northeastern Paris suburb after emergency crews pulled the body of an elderly woman from the rubble.
The measure, signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in June and due to take effect Sept. 1, would require doctors who perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice. "Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges," Federal Judge John deGravelles wrote in the decision. Abortion rights activists applauded the decision, the latest in a string of rulings against similar measures, saying it would give doctors more time to seek hospital privileges. "Today’s ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights," said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued to block the law on behalf of three of the state's five clinics.
By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - When Charlie Crist last governed Florida, his green energy and climate policies made him few friends among the state's powerful electricity corporations. Florida's three largest utilities have poured money into the re-election campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott in an expensive and closely watched political battle for the nation's largest swing state. As Republican governor between 2007 and 2011, Crist "sent shivers through the entire utility system," said Colleen Castille, who headed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Jeb Bush. Crist was a darling of clean energy advocates, hosting a climate change summit in 2007 alongside another green Republican, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - All five people aboard a single-engine airplane died after it crashed on Sunday in a field beside a runway during an attempt to land at a northern Colorado airport, authorities said. Peter Knudson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the Piper PA-46 aircraft went down shortly before noon near the Erie Municipal Airport, about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Denver. Knudson said the plane took off from Centennial Airport, south of Denver, with five people aboard, and was landing in clear weather at the Erie airport when it crashed. Emergency crews found three people dead inside the wreckage of the six-seat airplane when they arrived at the scene, said Roger Rademacher, assistant fire chief with Mountain View Fire Rescue.
Ukrainian forces were forced to retreat from Lugansk airport in the face of a Russian troop attack as Moscow soldiers moved into key eastern cities Monday, Kiev said, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin evoked "statehood" discussions for the conflict-torn east. Putin accused Europe of ignoring the Ukrainian military's "direct targeting" of civilians in the conflict and said the offensive pushed by insurgents there were simply an attempt to expel Kiev's forces from residential areas. He also urged the EU to show "common sense" after its threat to impose more sanctions on Moscow over the months-long crisis that has sank East-West relations to their lowest level since the Cold War. The latest accusations of Russian troops partaking in the fighting that has pitted pro-Moscow rebels against Kiev's troops came as a "contact group" of Russian, Ukrainian and OSCE representatives was due to discuss the conflict during a meeting in Minsk.
A suspected case of the Ebola virus has been discovered in the Swedish capital Stockholm, a local official told AFP on Sunday. Aake Oertsqvist, a specialist in infection control responsible for the Stockholm area, was quoted as saying the risk of an Ebola outbreak in Sweden was "very low".
By Michael Martina and James Pomfret BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Pro-democracy activists vowed on Sunday to bring Hong Kong's financial hub to a standstill after China's parliament rejected their demands for the right to freely choose the former British colony's next leader in 2017. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) endorsed a framework to let only two or three candidates run in the 2017 leadership vote. All candidates must first obtain majority backing from a nominating committee likely to be stacked with Beijing loyalists. The relatively tough decision by the NPC - China's final arbiter on the city's democratic affairs - makes it almost impossible for opposition democrats to get on the ballot.
By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared "state land, on the instructions of the political echelon" by the military-run Civil Administration. "We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” a State Department official said in Washington, calling the move "counterproductive" to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June.
Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militiamen backed by US air strikes pressed a fightback against jihadist-led militants Monday, buoyed by breaking the 11-week siege of a Shiite town. The breakthrough to the town of Amerli is the biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since militants led by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group overran much of the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad in June. It came as the United States carried out limited air strikes in the area, the first time it has expanded its more than three-week air campaign against IS beyond the north, while the United Nations announced that violence in Iraq killed more than 1,400 people in August. Iraqi forces kept up the momentum of their advance on Monday, with Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen retaking Sulaiman Bek, a town north of Amerli that had been an important militant stronghold.