World briefs from The Economist

  • Updated: June 9, 2014 - 5:59 PM
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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about iOS 8 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

 

Google all but abandoned its opposition to a recent court ruling in Europe that gives people the “right to be forgotten” on the Internet. It had said that the decision would curtail freedom of information, but Google has now set up a Web page through which people can request that links be removed to an article about them that they consider to be outdated or an invasion of privacy. More than 41,000 people made such a request in the first four days after the Web page went live.

 

Apple heralded its forthcoming update to the operating system that powers its devices as the biggest since 2008. The new features on iOS 8 will include improvements to messaging and e-mail — a direct response to the growing competition from Facebook’s WhatsApp and to apps provided by Google’s Android operating system.

 

Standard & Poor’s put its rating for BNP Paribas on “credit watch” until the outcome of an investigation in America into the French bank’s alleged violation of sanctions against countries such as Iran becomes clear. The American government is reportedly thinking of imposing a $10 billion fine on BNP. The size of the penalty has outraged the French.

 

Japan’s Daiichi Life Insurance agreed to buy Protective Life, which is based in Birmingham, Ala. The $5.7 billion deal is the biggest takeover yet by a Japanese life-insurance firm of a foreign competitor.

 

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and William Ackman, an activist investor, upped the ante in their joint bid for Allergan, the maker of Botox. Valeant increased the cash portion of the $53 billion offer and pledged to take it directly to shareholders if Allergan’s board continued to oppose it. Ackman said he would try to oust six Allergan board members at a shareholders’ meeting.

 

The International Federation of Robotics reported that China was the biggest buyer of industrial robots last year, snapping up 36,500 units (Japan has the largest number of robots in operation). About 179,000 robots were sold worldwide. Some think that factory owners prefer them to riot-prone workers.

 

Political economy

America proposed stiff tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels. An earlier tariff on the components used to make the panels was circumvented by Chinese firms outsourcing the components to Taiwan and then assembling the panels in China. America claims China’s solar industry has undercut competition by receiving huge state subsidies.

 

A 16 percent rise in imports from China helped push America’s trade deficit in April to $47 billion, the highest monthly figure in two years. Total imports were $240.6 billion, a monthly record, driven by Americans buying more cars and phones from abroad.

 

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