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Last Updated 9/2/2014 3:52:29 AM EST


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U.S. military targets extremists in Somalia

In this photo taken Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 and provided by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, civilians who had left the town of Bulomarer when it was held by al-Shabab militants, return following the town's capture by African Union (AU) and Somali government soldiers, in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Somali government and AU troops have been engaging al-Shabab militants as part of their military offensive dubbed "Indian Ocean" aiming to oust al-Shabab from its last major hideouts in the southern parts of the Horn of Africa nation. (AP Photo/AMISOM, Tobin Jones)The operation focused on the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network, the Pentagon said.




'No military solution' to Ukraine crisis, UN chief warns

Villagers walk by an abandoned checkpoint in Olenivka on September 1, 2014UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Western powers Tuesday "there is no military solution" to the Ukraine crisis, after the government in Kiev accused Russia of launching a "great war". As NATO prepares to upgrade its combat readiness in eastern Europe, Ban said he was greatly concerned at developments in Ukraine and wanted to avoid further deterioration to "a very chaotic and dangerous situation". "I know the European Union, the Americans and most of the Western countries are discussing very seriously among themselves how to handle this matter," he told reporters during a visit to New Zealand. His comments came after European-mediated talks on the fast-escalating crisis opened Monday behind closed doors in the Belarussian capital Minsk, attended by Ukraine government, separatist and Russian envoys.




Peru police display record 7.7-ton cocaine haul

Police carry blocks of seized cocaine as they present it to the press at a police base in Lima, Peru, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Police announced that they seized 7.7 metric tons (8.5 tons) of cocaine in the northern town of Trujillo on Aug. 26, and that it's the largest seizure of cocaine in Peru's history. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian police displayed in a Lima airport police hangar on Monday what officials called the largest cocaine haul ever in the Andean nation, 7.7 metric tons (8.5 tons).




Doubts over whether Detroit bankruptcy plan gets job done

A vacant and blighted home, covered with red spray paint, sits alone in an east side neighborhood once full of homes in DetroitBy David Greising, Karen Pierog and Tim Reid DETROIT Reuters) - Detroit’s plan to recover from bankruptcy includes several blueprints for a new future. Detroit is far short of the $1.7 billion it needs over the next 10 years to remove abandoned buildings, replace outdated technology and increase public safety to stem the exodus from the city. “What Detroit needed to start with was a reinvestment program,” said James Spiotto, managing director of Chapman Strategic Advisors, a municipal finance consultancy. “If you don’t solve the systemic problem and fix it for real, all you’re going to do is repeat it going forward.” Detroit’s 1,034-page plan for fixing the city’s finances will be the subject of a weeks-long bankruptcy court proceeding, beginning on Tuesday.




Fast-food workers to launch intensified protests across U.S.

Demonstrators chant in the driveway during a protest at the McDonald's headquarters in Oak BrookThe protests, announced on Twitter by organizer Fight For 15, come as cities across the nation propose minimum wage increases while Democrats seek to raise the federal minimum wage ahead of this year's mid-term congressional elections. Fast food workers have launched a series of protests over the last nearly two years to bring awareness to their demands, which include the right to unionize without retaliation. In one of the last major actions, restaurant workers launched rallies in 150 cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York and Miami in May. This time, organizers are staging walkouts in more than 100 cities and plan to use nonviolent civil disobedience tactics such as sit-ins, The New York Times reported.




California high school drops mascot criticized by Arab-American group
(Reuters) - A California high school has retired its Middle Eastern-themed mascot and accompanying belly dancers and redrawn its logo after criticism from Arab-Americans that they played on harmful stereotypes, a group advocating for the change said on Monday. Coachella Valley High School agreed to use a new image of a stoic-looking Arab man to represent its sports teams, dubbed "the Arabs," said Abed Ayoub, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which worked with the school to choose the new logo.

Hong Kong police arrest 19 in pro-democracy scuffles

A pro-democracy activist is detained by the police during a confrontation in Hong KongHong Kong police said on Tuesday they arrested 19 people during scuffles with pro-democracy activists prompted by China's decision not to allow the Asian financial hub to choose its next leader. The 19, aged between 20 and 45, were arrested on Monday for illegal assembly, trying to force their way on to a carriageway, charging a police line and for pushing barriers, a police spokeswoman said. Police used pepper spray to disperse activists as Hong Kong center braces for a wave of disruptive protests against China's decision. Hong Kong is in the midst of a political upheaval as activists in the former British colony push for full democracy.




Obama notifies Congress of airstrikes in Iraq

Obama delivers remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, WisconsinWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has sent official notification to Congress of his order for last week's airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops to help Iraqis threatened by Islamic State militants.




Florida power utilities fear return of ‘Green Governor' Crist

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist greets supporters outside the North Miami Public Library in Miami in this file photoBy 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. Now, as the Republican-turned Democrat bids to return to the governor's mansion, it may be payback time. 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. ...




Cuba's new crackdown takes effect

People put their luggage in a private taxi as they arrive from the U.S. to the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Cubans braced Monday for a clampdown on the flow of car tires, flat-screen televisions, blue jeans and shampoo in the bags of travelers who haul eye-popping amounts of foreign-bought merchandise to an island where consumer goods are frequently shoddy, scarce and expensive. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)New government restrictions are upsetting travelers to the island nation.





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U.S. military targets extremists in Somalia

In this photo taken Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 and provided by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, civilians who had left the town of Bulomarer when it was held by al-Shabab militants, return following the town's capture by African Union (AU) and Somali government soldiers, in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Somali government and AU troops have been engaging al-Shabab militants as part of their military offensive dubbed "Indian Ocean" aiming to oust al-Shabab from its last major hideouts in the southern parts of the Horn of Africa nation. (AP Photo/AMISOM, Tobin Jones)The operation focused on the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network, the Pentagon said.




'No military solution' to Ukraine crisis, UN chief warns

Villagers walk by an abandoned checkpoint in Olenivka on September 1, 2014UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Western powers Tuesday "there is no military solution" to the Ukraine crisis, after the government in Kiev accused Russia of launching a "great war". As NATO prepares to upgrade its combat readiness in eastern Europe, Ban said he was greatly concerned at developments in Ukraine and wanted to avoid further deterioration to "a very chaotic and dangerous situation". "I know the European Union, the Americans and most of the Western countries are discussing very seriously among themselves how to handle this matter," he told reporters during a visit to New Zealand. His comments came after European-mediated talks on the fast-escalating crisis opened Monday behind closed doors in the Belarussian capital Minsk, attended by Ukraine government, separatist and Russian envoys.




Peru police display record 7.7-ton cocaine haul

Police carry blocks of seized cocaine as they present it to the press at a police base in Lima, Peru, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Police announced that they seized 7.7 metric tons (8.5 tons) of cocaine in the northern town of Trujillo on Aug. 26, and that it's the largest seizure of cocaine in Peru's history. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian police displayed in a Lima airport police hangar on Monday what officials called the largest cocaine haul ever in the Andean nation, 7.7 metric tons (8.5 tons).




Doubts over whether Detroit bankruptcy plan gets job done

A vacant and blighted home, covered with red spray paint, sits alone in an east side neighborhood once full of homes in DetroitBy David Greising, Karen Pierog and Tim Reid DETROIT Reuters) - Detroit’s plan to recover from bankruptcy includes several blueprints for a new future. Detroit is far short of the $1.7 billion it needs over the next 10 years to remove abandoned buildings, replace outdated technology and increase public safety to stem the exodus from the city. “What Detroit needed to start with was a reinvestment program,” said James Spiotto, managing director of Chapman Strategic Advisors, a municipal finance consultancy. “If you don’t solve the systemic problem and fix it for real, all you’re going to do is repeat it going forward.” Detroit’s 1,034-page plan for fixing the city’s finances will be the subject of a weeks-long bankruptcy court proceeding, beginning on Tuesday.




Fast-food workers to launch intensified protests across U.S.

Demonstrators chant in the driveway during a protest at the McDonald's headquarters in Oak BrookThe protests, announced on Twitter by organizer Fight For 15, come as cities across the nation propose minimum wage increases while Democrats seek to raise the federal minimum wage ahead of this year's mid-term congressional elections. Fast food workers have launched a series of protests over the last nearly two years to bring awareness to their demands, which include the right to unionize without retaliation. In one of the last major actions, restaurant workers launched rallies in 150 cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York and Miami in May. This time, organizers are staging walkouts in more than 100 cities and plan to use nonviolent civil disobedience tactics such as sit-ins, The New York Times reported.




California high school drops mascot criticized by Arab-American group
(Reuters) - A California high school has retired its Middle Eastern-themed mascot and accompanying belly dancers and redrawn its logo after criticism from Arab-Americans that they played on harmful stereotypes, a group advocating for the change said on Monday. Coachella Valley High School agreed to use a new image of a stoic-looking Arab man to represent its sports teams, dubbed "the Arabs," said Abed Ayoub, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which worked with the school to choose the new logo.

Hong Kong police arrest 19 in pro-democracy scuffles

A pro-democracy activist is detained by the police during a confrontation in Hong KongHong Kong police said on Tuesday they arrested 19 people during scuffles with pro-democracy activists prompted by China's decision not to allow the Asian financial hub to choose its next leader. The 19, aged between 20 and 45, were arrested on Monday for illegal assembly, trying to force their way on to a carriageway, charging a police line and for pushing barriers, a police spokeswoman said. Police used pepper spray to disperse activists as Hong Kong center braces for a wave of disruptive protests against China's decision. Hong Kong is in the midst of a political upheaval as activists in the former British colony push for full democracy.




Obama notifies Congress of airstrikes in Iraq

Obama delivers remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, WisconsinWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has sent official notification to Congress of his order for last week's airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops to help Iraqis threatened by Islamic State militants.




Florida power utilities fear return of ‘Green Governor' Crist

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist greets supporters outside the North Miami Public Library in Miami in this file photoBy 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. Now, as the Republican-turned Democrat bids to return to the governor's mansion, it may be payback time. 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. ...




Cuba's new crackdown takes effect

People put their luggage in a private taxi as they arrive from the U.S. to the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Cubans braced Monday for a clampdown on the flow of car tires, flat-screen televisions, blue jeans and shampoo in the bags of travelers who haul eye-popping amounts of foreign-bought merchandise to an island where consumer goods are frequently shoddy, scarce and expensive. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)New government restrictions are upsetting travelers to the island nation.





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America's cheapest gas is in this town
Gas prices are falling to nearly $3 a gallon in some parts of South Carolina, and that will soon be common in much of the country.

Russia's currency whacked as new sanctions loom
Read full story for latest details.

The economic cost of the war in Gaza
The August 26 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is giving aid workers access to the rubble to size up the damage.

Why Buffett's son bought Rosa Parks' papers
Read full story for latest details.

Indian economy gets a jolt
Read full story for latest details.

U.S. runs out of investor visas as Chinese overwhelm program
Staggering interest from the Chinese in an immigration program has led the U.S. to run out of available visas for the first time ever.

Japan's economic revival is in jeopardy
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to reshape Japan's economy. Can he end deflation and deliver a revival?

Longer work-week looms for French workers
Read full story for latest details.

2008: Worse than the Great Depression?
Former Fed chief Ben Bernanke believes the 2008 financial crisis was the worst in global history, topping even the Great Depression.

Your Labor Day BBQ will cost more
The bad news: meat prices are up from last year. The good news: beverage prices aren't.


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NASA says new heavy-lift rocket debut not likely until 2018

NASA’s Space Launch System 70-metric-ton configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's renderingBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, designed to fly astronauts to the moon, asteroids and eventually Mars, likely will not have its debut test flight until November 2018, nearly a year later than previous estimates, agency officials said on Wednesday. NASA is 70 percent confident of making a November 2018 launch date, given the technical, financial and management hurdles the Space Launch System faces on the road to development, NASA associate administrators Robert Lightfoot and Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters on a conference call. NASA estimates it could spend almost $12 billion developing the first of three variations of the rocket and associated ground systems through the debut flight, and potentially billions more to build and fly heavier-lift next-generation boosters, a July 2014 General Accountability Office report on the program said. While the rocket might be ready for a test flight in December 2017, as previously planned, the new assessment showed the odds of that were “significantly less” than the 70 percent confidence level NASA requires of new programs, Gerstenmaier said.




Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

Handout shows a trail left by a rock implanted with a motion-activated GPS unit in the so-called Racetrack Playa of California's Death ValleyBy Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.




Texas family to part ways with skeleton of mammoth found on its farm

A nearly complete skeleton of a mammoth that died 20,000 to 40,000 years ago is pictured near Dallas,Texas in this undated handout photoBy Lisa Maria Garza DALLAS (Reuters) - A North Texas family, who discovered the skeleton of a 20,000- to 40,000-year-old mammoth while mining through sediment on their farm, is preparing to turn over the remains to a local museum. In May, Wayne McEwen and his family were gathering material from a gravel pit on their property, south of Dallas, when his son struck a 6-foot (1.8 meter) tusk while operating an excavator. The rest of the near-complete skeleton was unearthed by a team from a nearby community college, who determined it was a Columbian mammoth - a slightly larger, less hairy version of the more famous woolly mammoth. The family decided to donate the remains to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.




Tricking memory in lab animals stokes hope for PTSD
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - The frailty of remembrance might have an upside: When a memory is recalled, two research teams reported on Wednesday, it can be erased or rewired so that a painful recollection is physically linked in the brain to joy and a once-happy memory to pain. "Recalling a memory is not like playing a tape recorder," said Susumu Tonegawa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who led one of the studies. The mice had been engineered so specific brain neurons could be activated with light, a technique called optogenetics.

SpaceX delays launch after test rocket explosion
By Irene Koltz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies will delay the launch of its next Falcon 9 rocket by up to two weeks following Friday’s explosion of a related prototype vehicle during a flight test, officials said on Tuesday. The privately owned company, also known as SpaceX, had planned to launch a communications satellite owned by Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd early Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On Sunday, SpaceX announced it would delay the launch of the AsiaSat 6 spacecraft for one day to review data collected during the botched test flight of a Falcon rocket demonstration vehicle that on Friday. The Falcon 9R exploded about 17 seconds after liftoff from SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas, rocket development and testing facility, video posted on YouTube by spectators showed.

Can a Severed Snake Head Still Kill? It's Possible
"Snakes in general are well known for retaining reflexes after death," said Steven Beaupré, a biology professor at the University of Arkansas. The bite reflex is stronger in venomous snakes than it is in some other carnivores because these snakes use their bite differently than other meat-eaters, Beaupré said.

Americans Are Eating Healthier, Study Finds
Americans are eating a modestly healthier diet now than they were a decade ago, but the gap in diet quality between the rich and the poor has widened, a new study finds. In an opinion article published with the new findings, Dr. Takehiro Sugiyama, of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and Dr. Martin F. Shapiro, of the University of California, Los Angeles, proposed solutions that they said could help reduce the diet quality gap between the rich and the poor.

Iceland Volcano Blasts Back to Life

Iceland Volcano Blasts Back to LifeThe crack feeding the lava flow has also expanded to the north and south, and is now almost 1 mile (1.5 km) long. The volcanic activity kicked off Aug. 16, when thousands of small earthquakes underneath the Bardarbunga volcano signaled fresh magma (molten rock) was burrowing underground. On Aug. 29, the dike punched through to the surface in the Holuhraun lava field, an older lava flow that erupted in 1797. Askja volcano is located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Bardarbunga.




Labor Day in Space: A Weightless Holiday for US Astronauts

Labor Day in Space: A Weightless Holiday for US AstronautsRight now, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson commands the International Space Station with fellow American Reid Wiseman serving as a flight engineer. The pair forms one-third of the space station's six-man Expedition 40 crew, with three Russian cosmonauts and European Space Agency astronaut rounding out the crew. "The entire six-man crew of Expedition 40 will have an off-duty day with only their exercise and one or two maintenance activities scheduled," NASA spokesman Daniel Huot told Space.com in an email. Swanson and Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev from the Russian Space Agency are due to return to Earth on Sept. 10, while Wiseman, Maxim Suraev from the Russian Space Agency and Alexander Gerst from ESA will remain in orbit until November.




Labor Day Weekend Stargazing: See Moon, Mars and Saturn Meet Up

Labor Day Weekend Stargazing: See Moon, Mars and Saturn Meet UpThe yellowish-white object to the moon's right is the planet Saturn, while the one below and slightly to the moon's left is Mars. In April, Mars was 57.6 million miles (92.7 million kilometers) away from Earth, the Red Planet's closest pass with Earth for the year.





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Amid foreign crises, Obama takes solace in U.S. economic turnaround

Obama delivers remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, WisconsinBy Steve Holland MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Throughout much of his presidency, Barack Obama has been under siege about the state of the U.S. With his handling of foreign policy under fire in confronting challenges from Ukraine to the Middle East, Obama made a Labor Day trek to Milwaukee's annual Laborfest event to underscore how he feels his leadership on the economy has paid off.




U.S. forces carry out operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia

Al Shabaab soldiers sit outside a building during patrol along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern MogadishuDepartment of Defense spokesman said. "We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.




Obama notifies Congress of ordering air strikes in Iraq's Amerli

U.S. President Obama answers questions ahead of national security council meeting at the White House in WashingtonPresident Barack Obama formally notified the U.S. Congress on Monday that he had authorized air strikes and humanitarian airdrops over the weekend in the Iraqi Shi’ite town of Amerli where Islamic State militants had trapped the civilian population. Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli and entered the northern town after the U.S. Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders he was notifying Congress of his decision under the long-standing War Powers Resolution, which gives presidents authorization for temporary military action.




Exclusive: From Seoul to Mexico City, pressure mounts to ease U.S. oil export ban

Natural gas flares are seen at an oil pump site outside of WillistonBy Valerie Volcovici, Timothy Gardner and Meeyoung Cho WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - Washington is facing growing international pressure to ease its long standing ban on crude oil exports, with South Korea and Mexico joining the European Union in pressing the case for U.S. South Korean President Park Geun-hye told a visiting U.S.




Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy expresses ‘extreme degree of skepticism’ about expanding strikes on ISIL to Syria

U.S. Senator Chris MurphySen. Chris Murphy says he would be “very unlikely” to support expanding America’s military campaign against the brutal ISIL militia from Iraq into neighboring Syria. But the Connecticut Democrat says President Obama must seek explicit authorization from Congress if he decides to widen the conflict.




Obama on ISIL: ‘We don’t have a strategy yet’

President Barack Obama listens in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, where he spoke about the economy, Iraq, and Ukraine, before convening a meeting with his national security team on the militant threat in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Declaring “we don’t have a strategy yet,” President Obama poured cold water Thursday on talk that he was poised to order imminent U.S. military strikes on ISIL fighters in Syria.




Obama’s Anti-Doctrine Doctrine
Terrorists in Syria and Iraq have been overrunning the countryside, pausing to savagely murder an American journalist. Pakistan is reeling from political crisis. The Russians just made an incursion into Ukraine, the Israelis have been blowing up every other building in Gaza, and Ebola's rampaging through West Africa. All of which has led to some of the most blistering criticism of Barack Obama's presidency.

Former Iowa Republican official admits to taking payment for support of Ron Paul’s presidential bid

In this Dec. 28, 2011, file photo, Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson speaks at a rally for Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, at the Iowa State Fair Grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Sorenson resigned from office Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2013, after investigator Mark Weinhardt’s report concluded Sorenson likely broke ethics rules in receiving $7,500 in monthly income from Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s, R-Minn., political action committee and presidential campaign in exchange for working as Bachmann’s state chair in 2011. The state senator received a $25,000 check from a high-ranking official in Ron Paul’s presidential campaign days before ditching Michele Bachmann to support Paul, and eventually received $73,000 in payments that may be linked to Paul’s campaign, the independent investigator has found. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, file)An Iowa state senator who abandoned then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to endorse Ron Paul a week before the 2012 Iowa caucuses has pleaded guilty to “concealing payments” from Paul’s campaign in exchange for his support.




On Ukraine's 'other side' to the west, fears of familiar crisis brew in tiny Moldova
The world may not be ready for another crisis on Ukraine’s borders, but one may be brewing — this time on the west, in the obscure Moldovan province of Transnistria, occupying about 1,600 square miles between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian frontier.

Ferguson Police Receive Body Camera Donation

Ferguson Police Receive Body Camera DonationOne in Six U.S. Police Departments Use Body Cameras





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EU seeks rivals' feedback on Facebook, WhatsApp deal

Illustration photo shows "likes" on WhatsApp's Facebook page displayed on a laptop screen in ParisBy Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are asking Facebook's rivals and telecoms operators whether the world No. 1 online social network's proposed $19 billion bid for mobile messaging startup WhatsApp will lead to price hikes and curb innovation. The move came after Facebook sought EU approval for the deal, the largest in its 10-year history, which will give it a strong foothold in the fast-growing mobile messaging market and pit it against telecoms companies. The European Commission said on Monday it will decide by Oct. 3 whether to clear the deal unconditionally, demand concessions or extend the preliminary review into a wider probe. In a questionnaire sent to third parties and seen by Reuters, the EU regulator asked if the deal would have a negative, neutral or positive impact on users and customers in mobile messaging and social networks.




China gives Microsoft 20 days to provide explanation in anti-trust probe

People visit the Microsoft booth during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in TaipeiA 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.




New Apple iPhone to have 'mobile wallet' function: Bloomberg

The Apple logo is pictured on the front of a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco(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.




Swatch prefers go-it-alone route for smartwatch plans

The logo of Swiss watchmaker Swatch is seen on the door of a Swatch watches shop in StrasbourgBy 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.




Telecom Italia in a bind after losing GVT bid battle

People walk past a Telecom Italia phone booth in RomeBy 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.




Exclusive: Bitcoin promoter to plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission

Bitcoin Foundation Vice Chairman Shrem exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New YorkBy 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.




Microsoft's latest Siri vs. Cortana ad aims to find the fairest voice assistant of them all

Microsoft's latest Siri vs. Cortana ad aims to find the fairest voice assistant of them allMirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? It starts with Siri "feeling pretty, oh so pretty" while staring into a mirror, before Cortana appears with Jen Taylor's unmistakable voice to subtly mock Apple's robotic tone. These types of comparisons aren't new for Microsoft as the company has used Siri to compare iPads to Windows 8 tablets.




Korean carrier upgrades eel farm, makes the Internet of (slimey) Things

Korean carrier upgrades eel farm, makes the Internet of (slimey) Things




LG and Samsung keep gluing crystals on their products and we don't know why

LG and Samsung keep gluing crystals on their products and we don't know whyCurved TVs have already been criticized for being gimmicky and superfluous to user needs, but it seems manufacturer LG has been inspired to go one better in the pursuit of absurdity — it's covered a curved OLED TV in Swarovski crystals. Gluing shiny crystals onto electrical devices and appliances before selling them at a ludicrous mark-up is a practice that has been maintained for years by technology companies, and it doesn't look like it's going away: LG rival Samsung today also announced its own range of Swarovski-studded Samsung Gear S straps. Samsung says the straps will allow customers "to revel in fresh forms of self-expression through their wearable device," and also presumably demonstrate how much money the wearer earns.




webOS port renamed LuneOS, focuses on Nexus 4 and HP TouchPad

webOS port renamed LuneOS, focuses on Nexus 4 and HP TouchPad





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Asian stocks fall, ECB uncertainty continues to pummel euro

A man stands in front of an electronic board, showing the various stock prices, outside a brokerage in TokyoSpreadbetters expected an effectively flat open for Europe, with Britain's FTSE , Germany's DAX and France's CAX forecast to open about 0.1 percent higher. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.6 percent after managing to carve out gains on the previous day. The mood was also tempered by persistent geopolitical concerns and anemic manufacturing surveys in Asia and Europe showing pockets of weakness in the global economy. Tokyo's Nikkei bucked the trend and rose 1.2 percent, with a planned cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe helping fuel reform hopes.




U.S. business lobby says concerned China antitrust probes unfair

A shadow of a man using his mobile phone is cast near Microsoft logo at the 2014 Computex exhibition in TaipeiBy Michael Martina BEIJING (Reuters) - Foreign companies are increasingly concerned they are being targeted by Chinese regulators, a U.S. The American Chamber of Commerce in China is the latest business lobby to air its grievances over a series of investigations scrutinizing at least 30 foreign firms, as China seeks to enforce a 2008 anti-monopoly law. There are growing perceptions that multinational firms are under "selective and subjective enforcement" using "legal and extra-legal approaches", the Chamber said in a report. A survey of 164 members showed 49 percent of respondents felt foreign companies were being singled out in recent pricing and anti-corruption campaigns, compared to 40 percent in a late 2013 survey of 365 members.




Burger King has maneuvered to cut U.S. tax bill for years

A man talks on his phone underneath a Burger King logo outside the restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New YorkBy Tom Bergin LONDON (Reuters) - Burger King may have taken a lot of flack in the past week for a deal that should curb its U.S.




Eric Cantor to join investment bank Moelis as vice chairman

House Majority Leader Cantor leaves after a news conferenceHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor will join investment bank Moelis & Co as vice chairman and managing director, the company said, adding that Cantor will also be elected to its board. Cantor, who was defeated in June by a Tea Party challenger in a Republican primary election, will provide strategic counsel to the company's corporate and institutional clients on key issues, Moelis said. "Eric has proven himself to be a pro-business advocate and one who will enhance our boardroom discussions with CEOs and senior management as we help them navigate their most important strategic decisions," Moelis CEO Ken Moelis said in a statement. Cantor, the No.2 Republican in the House of Representatives, was beaten by college economics professor David Brat, who accused Cantor of betraying conservative principles on spending, debt and immigration.




Insider traders in U.S. face longer prison terms, Reuters analysis shows

Galleon hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam departs Manhattan Federal Court after his sentencing in New YorkThe rise is at least partly driven by the bigger profits being earned through the illegal schemes, defense lawyers said. The trend is likely to continue on Monday when former SAC Capital Advisors manager Mathew Martoma is sentenced for what prosecutors have called the most lucrative insider trading case ever brought. In the five-year period ending December 2013, insider trading defendants received an average sentence of 17.3 months, up from 13.1 months during the previous five years, or a 31.8 percent increase, the analysis of 207 insider trading sentences shows. Cases that were reversed on appeal were excluded from the study.  The number of cases has increased, with 57 percent of the sentences imposed in the past five years.




Basel III deposit challenge looms over Islamic banks

A general view shows of the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements in BaselAs banks around the world gear up to meet tough Basel III regulatory standards, Islamic lenders face a source of uncertainty that could prove expensive for them: how regulators will treat their deposits. In most ways, Islamic banks look well-placed to cope with Basel III, which will be phased in across the globe over the next few years. Since Islamic finance frowns on monetary speculation, their balance sheets are largely clear of the derivatives and complex, risky assets that sunk some of their conventional peers during the global financial crisis. They should therefore have little trouble in meeting Basel III's minimum capital standards.




China won't force foreign auto parts makers to form local JVs: EU trade body

An employee works at a Chinese automobile factory in HefeiThe European trade body in China said Beijing is not planning to force foreign auto parts suppliers operating in the country to form local joint ventures, dismissing a report last week that had stirred concern among European firms. Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper reported that China had urged three German car parts suppliers to form partnerships with local rivals, citing the head of German parts supplier ElringKlinger AG . "The European Chamber is confident that these rumors are unfounded and that the Chinese government has no intention to require the formation of joint ventures in the sector," the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement on its website dated Aug. 29. The European Chamber said the JV rumors could be the result of a misunderstanding stemming from existing restrictions dating from 2011 for suppliers in the e-vehicle segment.




Hollande, Draghi agree on threat of deflation: official

French President Francois Hollande speaks with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi at the Elysee Palace in ParisFrench President Francois Hollande and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi agreed on Monday that deflation and weak growth were threatening the European Union's economy, an official in the president's office said. Draghi called last week for greater emphasis on fiscal stimulus over austerity - comments that irritated German leaders but were welcomed in France because they hinted at a shift away from a current emphasis on budgetary austerity. "I think the diagnosis is a shared one," an advisor to Hollande told reporters after an hour-long meeting between the Socialist president and Draghi at the Elysee presidential palace. The two men shared the view that weak growth and a threat of deflation in the European Union were problems that needed to be addressed, the advisor added.




China's Li Ning stumbles from gold medal position to no man's land

File picture of a woman walking past a Li Ning sportswear store in HuaibeiBy Donny Kwok HONG KONG (Reuters) - In 2010, former Chinese gymnast Li Ning led a surging $4 billion sportswear business, a gold-medal pinnacle echoing his victories at the 1984 Olympic Games. Now, the Li Ning business is more reminiscent of the ex-sportsman's exit from the 1988 Olympics without a podium finish. As customers have turned to aspirational global brands like Nike Inc or cheaper local firms, Li Ning has racked up heavy losses, losing four-fifths of its market value.




Twenty years on, Schaeuble pleads again for core Europe

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends a news conference at the Bercy Finance Ministry in ParisGerman Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble renewed a call for a core group of European Union countries to move ahead faster with economic and political integration, 20 years after his ground-breaking proposal fell on deaf ears in key partner France. In an article published in the Financial Times on Monday, Schaeuble proposed creating an EU commissioner with the power to reject national budgets that breach the bloc's fiscal rules, and establishing an inner-core parliament for the euro zone. "In order to make progress in all of these areas, we should keep using the approach that proved its mettle back in 1994: to establish cores of co-operation within the EU that enable smaller, willing groups of member states to forge ahead," Schaeuble wrote in the article, co-authored by fellow German Christian Democrat Karl Lamers. They acknowledged that many EU countries remain reticent about closer political union that would involve transferring more sovereignty to Europe.





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Lauren Bacall, a screen goddess of the shadows

FILE - This May 1945 file photo shows actor Humphrey Bogart, left, with his wife actress Lauren Bacall. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart’s partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo, File)NEW YORK (AP) — "Anybody got a match?" was Lauren Bacall's first line, in Howard Hawks "To Have and Have Not," and, ever since, captive moviegoers have been desperately fumbling for a light.




That look, and that voice: Bacall's best roles

FILE - This Oct. 12, 1955 file photo shows actors Humphrey Bogart, left, and his wife, Lauren Bacall at the premiere of "The Desperate Hours," in Los Angeles. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart’s partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo/Harold Filan, FIle)Lauren Bacall had the look — cool and mysterious — and she had the sound, courtesy of that irresistibly low and throaty voice.




On 'Tonight Show,' Fallon pays tribute to Williams

FILE - This June 15, 2007 file photo shows actor and comedian Robin Williams posing for a photo in Santa Monica, Calif. Williams, whose free-form comedy and adept impressions dazzled audiences for decades, died Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in an apparent suicide. Williams was 63. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Fallon paid tribute to Robin Williams on the "Tonight Show," where the late comic made many memorable, seldom-seated appearances.




Sources: Justin Bieber reaches plea deal in Fla.

FILE - This Jan. 23, 2014 file photo made available by the Miami Beach Police Dept., shows Justin Bieber at the police station in Miami Beach, Fla. According to two people directly involved with the case, Justin Bieber will plead guilty to lesser charges in his January arrest in South Florida after what police initially described as an illegal street drag race. The two people told The Associated Press Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, that the 20-year-old pop star would plead guilty to misdemeanor careless driving and resisting arrest without violence charges. Bieber also will agree to take an anger management course and make a charitable donation. (AP Photo/Miami Beach Police Dept., File)MIAMI (AP) — Pop singer Justin Bieber will plead guilty to lesser charges over his arrest in South Florida in what police initially described as an illegal street race, two people involved in the case told The Associated Press.




Robin Williams hanged self but no answer as to why

FILE - This March 27, 2010 file photo shows actor Robin Williams speaking at The 24th American Cinematheque Awards honoring Matt Damon in Beverly Hills, Calif. Williams, whose free-form comedy and adept impressions dazzled audiences for decades, has died in an apparent suicide. He was 63. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said Williams was pronounced dead at his home in California on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. The sheriff’s office said a preliminary investigation showed the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.(AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, File)SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — Although police have now revealed how Robin Williams committed suicide, the Oscar-winning actor's fans, friends and even family continue to struggle to understand why someone who spread so much joy throughout the world could find so little in his own life that he decided to stop living.




Excerpts from Lauren Bacall's book 'By Myself'

FILE - This March 16, 2002 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall waving as she enters Marble Collegiate Church in New York for the wedding of Liza Minnelli and David Gest. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart’s partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Excerpts from Lauren Bacall's 1978 memoir, "By Myself":




Taylor Swift waxes philosophical on 'Giver' themes

Taylor Swift arrives at New York premiere of "The Giver" at the Zeigfeld Theater on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)NEW YORK (AP) — Not all the actors at a star-packed news conference Tuesday for the new film "The Giver" had been familiar with Lois Lowry's acclaimed 1994 book before they made the film. But Taylor Swift sure had been.




Players go for the Scrabble title in Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The world's best Scrabble players are squaring off for the title of Scrabble champion, with the winner to be crowned in Buffalo.

Publicist: Kasem children worry about body status
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A publicist for Casey Kasem's daughter says the late radio personality's children are working with law enforcement following a report that Kasem's wife is making arrangements to have Kasem's body flown to Europe.

Williams remembered fondly by military

This Dec. 15, 2010 photo released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows actor-comedian Robin Williams performing for a USO tour at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Members of the armed forces have long held special affection for Williams, 63, who died Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 after hanging himself in his San Francisco Bay Area home. Williams never served in the military, but he was a tireless participant in USO shows. (AP Photo/U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Army Spc. Adam L. Mathis, 17th Public Affairs Detachment)NEW YORK (AP) — Robin Williams was a superstar in movies, on television and at comedy clubs.





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