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    The Semiconductor Industry Association said worldwide chip sales totaled $84 billion for the second-quarter, a 2% increase from the year-earlier period and a 1% increase from the previous quarter. It reported global sales for June of $28 billion, a 2% increase from the year-earlier period. So far sales for 2015 are 3.9 percent higher than the same time last year.

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    The following are mergers under. APPROVALS AND WITHDRAWALS. -- German insurer Axa Konzern and Compugroup Medical Mobile DTL to set up a joint venture. NEW LISTINGS. -- Dutch chipmaker NXP to acquire U.S. peer Freescale. EXTENSIONS AND OTHER CHANGES. -- Oilfield services provider Halliburton (HAL) to buy rival Baker Hughes (BHI) in a stock and cash transaction. FIRST-STAGE REVIEWS BY DEADLINE.

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    * To receive $85 million in cash. * Sale is Nice's second since May. * Company to focus on analytics business. By Steven Scheer. Israeli software provider Nice Systems (NICE) is selling its video surveillance technologies unit to private equity firm Battery Ventures for up to $100 million, its second divestment in three months as it focuses more on its analytics business.

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    * Western companies reducing investment, costs and product lines. * Increasing bad debts are also a headache. * China equities rout dashes hopes of return to growth. By Tom Bergin. The Chinese slowdown is forcing many Western companies to take a hard look at their businesses there, leading many to reduce investments, costs and product lines and to tackle increasing bad debts.

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    German carmakers BMW , Audi and Mercedes , will pay around 2.5 billion euros to buy Nokia's (NOK) maps business, a transformational deal that will help them to develop self-driving cars. Daimler BMW and Audi will each hold an equal stake in the business, known as HERE, keeping it from falling into the hands of a new rivals which are emerging from Silicon Valley.

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    China's factory activity shrank more than initially estimated in July, contracting by the most in two years as new orders fell and dashing hopes that the world's second-largest economy may be steadying, a private survey showed on Monday.

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    * July factory activity shrinks more than feared - private survey. * Official reading showed growth stalled, services edged up. * Reinforces expectations of more policy easing soon. * Stock market slump adding fresh risks for economy.

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    A consortium of German premium carmakers has agreed a deal to buy Nokia's (NOK) mapping business HERE, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday. The consortium of Daimler BMW and Volkswagen's premium division Audi, has agreed to pay close to 2.9 billion euros, one of the people said. Daimler declined to comment while BMW, Audi and Nokia (NOK) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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    When coal was king, it fueled more than half of the nation’s electricity. It fired up American industry and powered an ever-growing variety of household appliances and electronics. And American presidential hopefuls paid homage to coal, courting mine owners and miners whose unionized ranks once numbered more than 400,000.Barack Obama was no exception. As a state legislator in 2004 and again as a U.S. senator, he supported proposals for huge federal subsidies to turn coal into motor fuel and ease America’s reliance on oil imports. “With the right technological innovations, coal has the potential to be a cleaner-burning, domestic alternative to imported oil,” Obama said in June 2007.All of that has changed. On Monday, the Obama administration takes on the coal industry with the final version of rules it has dubbed the Clean Power Plan, a complex scheme designed to reduce, on a state-by-state basis, the amount of greenhouse gases the nation’s electric power sector emits. The main target: coal.Today, more people in the United States work jobs installing solar panels than work in the coal industry. Ideas for using liquefied coal for cars never materialized. Industrial users have become more efficient. And coal’s share of electricity generation is waning, with natural gas and renewable energy taking its place. Only a handful of coal power plants have been built in recent years, and the Sierra Club keeps a tally of canceled coal-fired power plants like trophies on the wall.The reason for the focus on coal is that it remains the largest U.S. producer of greenhouse gases at a time when President Obama is striving for an agreement at the December climate summit in Paris. In March, the United States submitted its own goal to the United Nations, vowing to reduce by 2025 U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels. Trimming coal emissions must be a part of that.The president has been leaning on other world leaders one by one — from China, India, Brazil and more — to make commitments to slash emissions. China pledged to a peak year for emissions; India came up with daunting renewable-energy targets; and Brazil said it would protect rain forests that absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide.[White House set to adopt sweeping curbs on carbon pollution]But while the president has made inroads abroad, he has had to fight a rear-guard action at home, where Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have accused him of waging a “war on coal” — and the jobs that go with it. Obama has said his energy policy is an “all of the above” strategy, and his energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, has encouraged Southern Co. (SO) in its effort to build a highly efficient coal plant that would inject carbon dioxide emissions into old oil fields to enhance recovery and store the carbon dioxide there permanently.But carbon capture and storage is costly. Moreover, natural gas is suddenly cheap. And utilities have been turning to natural gas, especially since oil and gas companies using fracking techniques have figured out how to tap vast natural gas resources locked in shale rock.Natural gas emits about half the greenhouse gases as coal does during combustion. Obama has talked about natural gas as a “bridge” to a renewable future, and increasingly, Obama’s “all of the above” strategy has looked like an all-but-one strategy.The executive branch can impose its will on states and utilities because of the Clean Air Act. The legislation was intended to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury that cause soot, exacerbate asthma and damage brain cells. But on April 1, 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide was also a pollutant and therefore subject to regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency.As president, Obama initially supported a different way to restrict carbon dioxide emissions: a cap-and-trade system that would have tried to harness market forces within a set of administrative rules. But that did not pass in the Senate. Another approach, restricting carbon emissions by taxing them, has never garnered much support in a Congress opposed to any tax increases.That has left the Obama administration with the regulatory option and put it on a collision course with McConnell. The Republican leader has urged states to rebel against the EPA plan, just as he encouraged states to withhold their cooperation with the Affordable Care Act. In the end, ironically, the states trying to assert their opposition will sacrifice the flexibility they have under the Clean Power Plan. The EPA is setting targets, but states can come up with their own strategies. If the states refuse, only then will federal regulators impose a plan of their own.In the end, the Republican resistance to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan should find little basis in law. Whatever the quality of the EPA’s plan may be, it has a legal responsibility to press ahead.In its 2007 ruling on whether the EPA could — indeed, must — regulate carbon dioxide, the Supreme Court said: “Agencies, like legislatures, do not generally resolve massive problems in one fell swoop, but instead whittle away over time, refining their approach as circumstances change and they develop a more nuanced understanding of how best to proceed.”[What you need to know about Obama’s biggest global warming move yet]“Foes of the Clean Power Plan have admitted they hope to ‘gum up the works’ for the EPA with their barrage of litigation. But they are likely to lose,” David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.The business world understands this well, whatever the politicians might say. And many utilities have been changing their mix of fuels not only to meet earlier EPA regulations and renewable quotas adopted in more than half of U.S. states, but also for their own business reasons, cutting costs and boosting profits.Duke Energy, for example, has retired 40 of its older coal units across the Carolinas and the Midwest since 2011 and replaced them with natural gas plants and “state-of-the-art” coal plants that are more efficient. In Florida, Duke has invested more than $3 billion in new generation, allowing for the retirement of half of the state’s coal-fired fleet by 2018, the company said. The company is also investing in some renewable projects.All this talk about killing coal hasn’t helped coal mining companies. Over the past 15 months, Walter Energy Inc. (WLTGQ), Patriot Coal Corp. (PATZQ) and James River Coal Co. (JRCCQ) have filed for bankruptcy, hit by particularly sharp drops in coal used in the manufacture of metallurgical coal needed for making steel. Alpha Natural, a major supplier to power plants, is teetering and is contemplating bankruptcy, too, according to Bloomberg News.Still, coal isn’t done yet. The arithmetic of electricity is challenging. The EPA is trying to reduce electricity use while the country’s population and gross domestic product keep growing — no small feat. Although the Clean Power Plan leaves room for nuclear energy, high capital costs and long construction times have kept nuclear plants off most drawing boards. Only five are under construction; they will just barely offset a handful that closed recently.But there’s no question that the outlook for coal has changed. Although the National Mining Association says coal plants generated 57 percent of U.S. electricity as recently as 1988, coal-fired power plants still provided a more modest 34 percent of electricity generation in the first five months of this year, according to the Energy Information Administration. (Wind accounted for 4.4 percent in 2014, the EIA says.)Coal advocates liked to call the United States “the Saudi Arabia of coal.” Today, however, the vast U.S. reserves are more often described in accounting terms as “stranded assets,” meaning that a portion will never be tapped. Coal still provides much of the energy needs of the United States, but it has lost its throne.






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    Microsoft (MSFT) will end support for Windows 7 in early 2020. Microsoft Corp.' s Windows 10 launch won't be the savior the PC industry is seeking-- but the death of Windows 7 in a few years might be. The company's unprecedented decision to offer the Windows 10 upgrade free-of-charge to consumers and some businesses helps solidify Microsoft (MSFT) as a cloud software company.

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    Facial recognition isn't science fiction -- it's used by Facebook, in airports and even in churches. But there aren't any federal laws that regulate how businesses can use the technology. In fact, a new report from the Government Accountability Office says the government doesn't even really know where or how facial recognition tech, which typically uses software to verify or identify a person based on images of their face, is being used by companies in the United States.[The government tested facial recognition tech on thousands of travelers at a Washington area airport]"Facial recognition technology is currently being used in a number of commercial applications in the United States, but the full extent of its present use is not known," the report says. "The International Biometrics & Identification Association, other industry trade organizations, and [Federal Trade Commission] staff told us they knew of no comprehensive reliable information on the extent to which U.S. businesses use facial recognition technology."If the government doesn't know how it's being used, consumers are even less likely to understand the technology's privacy implications, said Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law. "It's remarkable that the government's lead investigative organization really has no idea how broadly this technology is being deployed — it speaks to how far we are from adequate privacy protections," he said.[Skipping church? Facial recognition software could be tracking you]No federal regulations explicitly deal with facial recognition tech. But there are some laws about how companies use personal information in the medical and financial industries that may potentially apply to some uses of facial recognition tech, the GAO report noted. The Federal Trade Commission could also go after companies if the way they use it doesn't line up with their privacy policies. And Texas and Illinois have also passed biometric privacy laws that privacy advocates believe require companies to get people's consent before they use the tech on them.The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration is currently running a series of multi-stakeholder meetings aimed at coming up with a set of voluntary rules for commercial uses of facial recognition technology. But privacy groups dropped out of the meetings earlier in the summer, saying that they didn't believe the process would result in any meaningful protections for consumers.[The government’s plan to regulate facial recognition tech is falling apart]Industry advocates, such as Carl Szabo, policy counsel at online advertising trade group NetChoice, say that more transparency should be enough to alleviate much of the privacy concerns raised by consumer groups. "Once people know facial recognition technology is being used, they can react," he said. Transparency requirements would also give groups like the GAO more insight into how exactly the tech is being used, Szabo said.Bedoya and other consumer advocates say that isn't enough — instead arguing that consumers also need to have meaningful ways to consent to being caught up in facial recognition systems. The issue was central to privacy group's decision to bow out of the NTIA process, he said.But Szabo argued that express consent doesn't always make sense for the way that facial recognition tech might be used. If someone has a facial recognition system with a camera to verify the identities of employees entering a secure work place, he argued, the system would have consent from the employees, but not necessarily anyone who walked by the camera and was automatically compared against a database of people approved for access."The idea of consent as a general concept is great, but once you try to apply it to how it actually works it's not so simple," Szabo said.






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    Apple (AAPL) is reportedly preparing to launch its next generation of its Apple TV set-top box this September, according to a report in BuzzFeed. But a streaming service is likely one thing that will be missing from the device, said Angelo Zino, equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ, who predicts that the absence of a streaming service will ultimately be disappointing to both consumers and investors.

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    * Western companies reducing investment, costs and product lines. * Increasing bad debts are also a headache. * China equities rout dashes hopes of return to growth. By Tom Bergin. The Chinese slowdown is forcing many Western companies to take a hard look at their businesses there, leading many to reduce investments, costs and product lines and to tackle increasing bad debts.

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    Picture this: You walk into your local supermarket, grab a gallon of milk, and then tell the cashier that you'd like to pay less for it--and sure enough, the store obliges. And you repeat the process time and time again, resulting in savings of hundreds of dollars over the years. It sounds pretty ridiculous, right?

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    A toy company wants to put a talking dinosaur in your kid's bedroom. Elemental Path, a New York based smart-toy company, has created a smart dinosaur toy that aims to tutor children on educational subjects. The toy can learn its owner's name and adapt to their personality, thanks to technology provided by the IBM Watson supercomputer.