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Mueller investigators seek documents from the White House

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:24:12 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators is seeking information from the White House related to Michael Flynn's stint as national security adviser and about the response to a meeting with a Russian lawyer that was attended by President Donald Trump's oldest son, The Associated Press has learned. Mueller's office has requested a large batch of documents from the White House and is expected to interview at least a half-dozen current and former aides in the coming weeks. Lawyers for the White House are in the process of trying to cooperate with the document requests.

Google buys HTC's Pixel team in $1.1B bet on devices

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:57 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is biting off a big piece of device manufacturer HTC for $1.1 billion to expand its efforts to build phones, speakers and other gadgets equipped with its arsenal of digital services. It's buying the HTC engineering team that built the Pixel smartphone for Google in a cash deal, the companies said in a joint statement Thursday. Google is also getting a non-exclusive license for Taiwan-based HTC's intellectual property to help support Pixel phones. The deal underscores how serious Google is becoming about designing its own family of devices to compete against Apple and Amazon in a high-stakes battle to become the technological hub of people's lives.

Japanese video gaming adapting new tech for familiar titles

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 06:50:55 UT

CHIBA, Japan (AP) — The Japanese video game industry is finding its way out of the doldrums by adapting new technology for decades-old titles. And that energy was evident at the annual Tokyo Game Show, which opened to media Thursday before opening to the public over the weekend. "Our old fans used to play Japanese games, and those people are excited those games are coming back and they recognize them as Japanese-style games," game creator Koji Igarashi told The Associated Press at the show in Makuhari Messe hall in Chiba, a Tokyo suburb. "Truly game-like games" is the way Igarashi described the genres enjoying revival, including his side-scrolling role-playing games. His latest version will come with a 3-D movie section.

AP Interview: Japan's emoji creator saw nuance in pictures

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:48:25 UT

TOKYO (AP) — The tiny smiley faces, hearts, knife-and-fork or clenched fist have become a global language for mobile phone messages. They are displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They star in a new Hollywood film. The emoji is heir to a tradition of pictographic writing stretching back millennia to Egyptian hieroglyphics and the ideograms used to write Chinese and Japanese. Despite their ubiquity, they started in 1998 with one man: A 25-year-old employee of mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo who created the first set of 176 in one month as he rushed to meet a deadline. "I happened to arrive at the idea. If I hadn't done it, someone else would have," said Shigetaka Kurita, who now is a board member at Dwango Co.

Leaders to tech firms at UN: Yank terror postings in 2 hours

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:41:30 UT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The heads of Britain, France and Italy are setting an ambitious goal for tech companies to tackle online postings that promote terrorism: Take them down within an hour or two. Convening world and tech leaders Wednesday at the United Nations, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that internet companies are making progress but need to go "further and faster" to keep violent extremist material from spreading online. The average lifetime of Islamic State extremists' online propaganda shrank from six days to 36 hours in the first six months of this year, May said. "That is still 36 hours too long," she said.

The Latest: Twitter to meet with Senate investigators

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:01:21 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the Russia probe (all times local): 11:50 p.m. The social media company, Twitter, says it will meet with a Senate committee investigating Russia's interference in the presidential election. The company says in a statement Wednesday evening that its representatives will meet with staff of the Senate Intelligence committee next week. The committee has been scrutinizing the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media during the election. The panel has heard from Facebook. The committee's top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, had said he wanted to hear from Twitter as well to learn more about the use of fake accounts and bot networks to spread misinformation.

Asian shares weaken, dollar up after Fed's latest statement

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:55:29 UT

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower and the dollar strengthened Thursday after the Fed said it would start trimming its bond holdings and planned one more interest rate increase this year. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent to 20,453.68 as the yen weakened against the dollar, benefiting shares of exporters. But other indexes in the region fell, with South Korea's Kospi slipping 0.2 percent to 2,407.39. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.1 percent to 28,072.92 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China dipped 0.1 percent to 3,361.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent to 5,668.90.

Nevada quake lab tests new bridge design after Mexico quake

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:17:54 UT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Scientists at a Nevada earthquake lab on Wednesday tested new bridge designs with connectors they say are innovative and created to better withstand violent temblors and speed reconstruction efforts after major quake damage. University of Nevada, Reno engineers performed the experiments on a giant "shake table" to simulate violent motions of an earthquake to rattle a 100-ton (91-metric ton), 70 foot (21-meter) bridge model to determine how well it would hold up. The tests, conducted a day after a big quake struck Mexico, shook large concrete columns and beams back and forth for about 30 seconds at a time, displacing some nearly a foot before returning largely to their original spot.

Report: Hackers were snooping inside Equifax as of March

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:01:56 UT

Hackers broke into Equifax's computer systems in March, two months earlier than the company had previously disclosed, according to a Wall Street Journal report . That gave the intruders months to probe vulnerabilities and eventually gain access to the data of 143 million Americans. The Journal cited a report from the Mandiant unit of security firm FireEye that was sent to some Equifax customers this week. The breach on March 10 came two days after security researchers at Cisco Systems warned of a flaw in an open-source software package called Apache Struts. One expert told the Journal that hackers probably found the Equifax server by "spamming" the internet for computers with that flaw.

Review: Apple Watch goes solo, but don't dump your phone yet

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:25:23 UT

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — A chief gripe with Apple Watch is that it requires you to keep an iPhone with you for most tasks. The inclusion of GPS last year helped on runs and bike rides, but you're still missing calls and messages without the phone nearby. A new model with its own cellular-network connection is Apple's next step toward an untethered world. Now you can make and receive calls and messages on the watch while leaving your phone at home. But the watch still needs regular contact with an iPhone, and for most tasks, the phone needs to be on and connected, even if it's nowhere nearby. So you can't get away with ditching the iPhone altogether.

GOP report accuses watchdog of going easy on Wells Fargo

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:18:19 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could have fined Wells Fargo in excess of $10 billion for its illegal sales practices but instead settled for $100 million, according to the agency's internal documents released by Congressional Republicans this week. The CFPB also had evidence that the bank's sales problems went back to at least 2006 — far earlier than the 2011 to 2016 timetable that Wells Fargo originally admitted to, the documents show. "The bank knew since at least 2006 that its employees were gaming its incentive compensation program, yet failed to take actions sufficient to stop it," CFPB employees wrote in a 2016 confidential memo.

Business Highlights

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:39:57 UT

___ Fed announces a start to modestly reducing its bond holdings WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is announcing that it will begin shrinking the enormous portfolio of bonds it amassed after the 2008 financial crisis to try to sustain a frail economy. The move reflects a strengthened economy and could mean higher rates on mortgages and other loans over time. ___ Yellen stays quiet on wanting 2nd term WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is staying mum about whether she wants a second term as the head of the U.S. central bank. Yellen says she intends to serve out her four-year term. That term ends Feb. 3, 2018. Yellen declined to say at a news conference whether she would like to serve a second term.

Facebook tightens ad policies after 'Jew-hater' fiasco

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:33:35 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is apologizing for letting advertisers use phrases like "Jew-haters" as a targeting criteria and for not noticing it until it was pointed out. The company is also tightening policies and tools that let businesses target advertisements to its 2 billion users, hoping to ensure that this doesn't happen again. The move follows a ProPublica report that found advertisers could use terms such as "how to burn Jews" to target ads to people with those terms in their profile. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, wrote in a post on Wednesday that the company "never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way — and that is on us." It hasn't been a good month for Facebook.

How major US stock market indexes fared Wednesday

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:18:25 UT

The major U.S. stock indexes closed mostly higher Wednesday, led by gains among banks as bond yields rose. The modest gains came after investors weighed the latest policy update from the Federal Reserve, which said it would begin reducing its huge bond portfolio next month. The central bank also said it was still on track to raise interest rates later this year. On Wednesday: The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 1.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,508.24. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 41.79 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,412.59. The Nasdaq composite lost 5.28 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,456.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 5.02 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,445.42.

Fed announces a start to modestly reducing its bond holdings

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:03:54 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve will begin shrinking the enormous portfolio of bonds that it amassed after the 2008 financial crisis to try to sustain a frail economy. The move reflects a strengthened economy and could mean higher rates on mortgages and other loans over time. The Fed announced Wednesday that it will let a small portion of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet mature without being replaced, starting in October with reductions of $10 billion a month and gradually rising over the next year to $50 billion a month. The central bank left its key short-term rate unchanged but hinted at one more hike this year — most likely in December.

The Latest: Scientists: Quake test of bridge design worked

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:02:03 UT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Latest on tests for new bridge construction technology intended to withstand strong earthquakes at the University of Nevada, Reno (all times local PDT): 1:40 p.m. Scientists at Nevada earthquake lab are declaring success after testing new bridge designs they created to better withstand violent temblors and speed reconstruction after quake damage. T The University of Nevada, Reno engineers performed the test Wednesday, a day after the big Mexico earthquake. They used a giant "shake table" to simulate the violent motions of an earthquake to rattle a 100-ton, 70 foot (21-meter) bridge model to determine how well it would hold up. The research team's leader is Professor Saiid Saiidi (Sah-EED' Sah-EED'-hee).

UPS will hire about 95,000 extra workers for holiday season

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:01:54 UT

UPS is gearing up for holiday deliveries. United Parcel Service Co. said Wednesday that it plans to hire about 95,000 workers to handle the surge in packages from late November through January. That's about the same number as the last two years. Rival FedEx Corp. said earlier this week that it would hire about 50,000 people for the holiday season, the same as last year. The companies are using more automation at new facilities, which could limit the need for seasonal workers even as online shopping grows. UPS also plans to add extra charges to some residential deliveries in certain weeks during November and December to avoid volume spikes that strain its network of planes, trucks and sorting centers.

General Mills and FedEx rise while Bed Bath & Beyond dips

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:36:07 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Wednesday: General Mills Inc., down $3.21 to $52.17 The packaged food company's earnings and revenue disappointed investors as cereal sales dropped. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., down $4.29 to $22.74 The home goods retailer's second-quarter profit and sales fell short of Wall Street estimates. Adobe Systems Inc., down $6.64 to $149.96 The software maker had a solid fiscal quarter overall, but investors were concerned about results from its cloud business. Western Digital Corp., down $3.55 to $86.37 Western Digital's partner Toshiba said it approved a deal to sell its chip business to Bain Capital. FedEx Corp., up $4.50 to $220.

Markets Right Now: Stocks wobble after Fed, but close higher

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:09:12 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on developments in financial markets (All times local): 4 p.m. Stocks overcame an afternoon wobble to close mostly higher after the Federal Reserve said it would start reducing its huge bond portfolio next month and was still on track to raise interest rates later this year. Bond yields rose following the Fed's announcement Wednesday. That helped send bank stocks higher. Banks benefit from higher bond yields because it means they can charge higher interest rates on loans. PNC Financial Services rose 1.3 percent. High-dividend stocks like household goods makers fell. Kraft Heinz fell 1.2 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1 point to 2,508. The Dow Jones industrials added 41 points, or 0.

Apple says its new watch has cellular connectivity problems

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:04:51 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple confirmed that its new Series 3 Apple Watch can encounter problems connecting to a cellular network. The problems arise when the watch joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity. This can happen when the watch tries to join a Wi-Fi network the user has previously logged in to using another Apple device, like an iPhone or a computer. The company says it is investigating a fix for the problem. To work around it, users can get their phone to "forget" the network. The latest watch, which starts at $399, has been hotly anticipated because its cellular connectivity means people can use it without carrying their phone around. The watch doesn't require a new data plan, but an add-on to existing plans.

Report: Iran group hacks aviation, petrochemical industries

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:42:10 UT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A group of hackers suspected of working in Iran for its government is targeting the aviation and petrochemical industries in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and South Korea, a cybersecurity firm warned Wednesday. The report by FireEye also said the suspected Iranian hackers left behind a new type of malware that could have been used to destroy the computers it infected, an echo of two other Iran-attributed cyberattacks targeting Saudi Arabia in 2012 and 2016 that destroyed systems. Iran's office at the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday and its state media did not report on the claims.

Nest Labs adds doorbell that can recognize familiar faces

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:35:36 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Home device maker Nest Labs is adding Google's facial recognition technology to a camera-equipped doorbell and rolling out a security system in an attempt to end its history of losses. The products announced Wednesday expand upon the internet-connected thermostats, smoke detectors and stand-alone security cameras that Nest has been selling since its inception six years ago. Although Nest has been among the early leaders in the effort to make home appliances as intelligent as people's smartphones, it hasn't been able to make money to the frustration of its corporate parent, Alphabet.