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Exclusive: Google faces new antitrust case in India over abuse in smart TVs market - sources - CNA
Alphabet Inc's Google is facing a new antitrust case in India in which the U.S. tech giant is alleged to have abused its Android operating system's position in the smart television market, a source and two lawyers involved in the case told Reuters.
NEW DELHI: Alphabet Inc's Google is facing a new antitrust case in India in which the U.S. tech giant is alleged to have abused its Android operating system's position in the smart television market, a source and two lawyers involved in the case told Reuters. The case is Google's fourth major antitrust challenge in India, one of its key markets where it is currently facing public criticism from local startups for enforcing certain policies and company charges they contend hurt their growth. Advertisement Advertisement It also comes as Google faces new antitrust challenges in the United States, and a potential antitrust probe in China that is set to look into how it allegedly uses its dominance of its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition. Google has denied any wrongdoing. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has since June been looking into allegations that Google engages in anti-competitive practices by creating barriers for firms wanting to use or develop modified versions of Android for smart TVs, such as Amazon Fire TV's operating system, according to the source, who has direct knowledge of the case. The case has been filed by two Indian antitrust lawyers, Kshitiz Arya and Purushottam Anand. They both confirmed the case filing against Google for alleged abuse in the smart television market, but declined to comment further. The source said the CCI had directed Google to submit its written responses to the allegations and that the company has sought more time. Advertisement Advertisement A Google spokesman declined comment, since the case with the antitrust body was pending. Amazon and the CCI did not respond to requests for comment. Unlike Indian court cases, filings and details of cases reviewed by the CCI are not disclosed publicly. The antitrust watchdog could order a wider investigation against Google if it finds merit in the allegations, or throw out the case completely. Smart TVs, or WiFi-enabled TVs with apps for streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, have become increasingly popular in India. Data from Counterpoint Research shows 8 million smart TV sets were sold in India in 2019. Three in five smart TVs sold in India are based on Google's Android system, which also powers nearly 99per cent of India's half a billion smartphone user base. The latest case alleges that Google's agreements with companies such as Xiaomi and TV manufacturer TCL India effectively stop them from using both the Android system and a modified version of it on different devices they make, according to the source. For example, if a company sells smartphones based on Google's Android, it cannot sell smart TVs running on competing platforms like the Amazon Fire TV system, according to the case against the Mountain View, California-based company, the source said. And in reverse, if a company's smart TV is using Amazon's Fire operating system, then that company is restricted from offering Google's popular Play Store or the Google maps app on its smartphones. Xiaomi India and TCL India, which is part of China's TCL Technology Group Corp, are both party to the case along with Google. Xiaomi did not respond to requests for comment while TCL declined to comment. In 2018, the CCI fined Google 1.36 billion rupees(US$18.5 million) for "search bias," but a company appeal against that is pending. The CCI last year also started probing Google for allegedly misusing its dominant position to reduce the ability of smartphone makers to opt for alternate versions of its Android system. Earlier this year, the CCI started reviewing a case alleging that Google abuses its market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app in the country. (Reporting by Aditi Shah and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Euan Rocha and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
World's first patient cured of HIV dies after cancer returns - CNA
LONDON: Timothy Ray Brown, the first person known to have been cured of HIV when he had a unique type of bone marrow transplant, has died in California after relapsing with cancer, his partner said.
LONDON: Timothy Ray Brown, the first person known to have been cured of HIV when he had a unique type of bone marrow transplant, has died in California after relapsing with cancer, his partner said. "It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy passed away ... this afternoon surrounded by myself and friends, after a 5 month battle with leukaemia," his partner Tim Hoeffgen said in a post on Facebook. Advertisement Advertisement Brown, born on Mar 11, 1966, became known as the "Berlin Patient" after his HIV was eradicated by treatment there in 2007. The American's case fascinated and inspired a generation of HIV doctors as well as patients infected with the virus that causes AIDS, offering a glimmer of hope that one day a cure will be found that eventually ends the AIDS pandemic. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society, said he would mourn Brown "with a profoundly heavy heart". "We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Huetter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible," said Kamarulzaman, who is also a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Malaya University. Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while living in the German capital, and in 2006 was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukaemia. Advertisement Advertisement While Brown remained clear of HIV for more than a decade after being treated, he had suffered a relapse of the leukaemia in the past year. His doctors said the blood cancer had spread to his spine and brain, and he had recently been in hospice care in his home town of Palm Springs, California. For Huetter, the German doctor caring for him in 2007, Brown's case was a shot in the dark. The treatment involved the destruction of Brown's immune system and the transplanting of stem cells with a gene mutation called CCR5 that resists HIV. Only a tiny proportion of people - most of them of northern European descent - have the CCR5 mutation that makes them resistant to the AIDS-causing virus. This and other factors made the treatment Brown had expensive, complex and highly risky. Most experts say it could never become a way to cure all HIV patients, since many of them would risk death from the procedure itself. More than 37 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV, and the AIDS pandemic has killed about 35 million people since it began in the 1980s. Medical advances over the past three decades have led to the development of drug combinations known as antiretroviral therapies that can keep the virus in check, allowing many HIV positive people to live with the virus for years. A second HIV patient, Adam Castillejo, who was known as "the London patient" until he revealed his identity this year, is also thought to be in remission from HIV after having a transplant in 2016 similar to the one Brown had. "Although the cases of Timothy and Adam are not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure, they do represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure," said Sharon Lewin, a professor and HIV specialist at Australia's Doherty Institute. She said Brown was a "a champion and advocate for keeping an HIV cure on the political and scientific agenda", and added: "It is the hope of the scientific community that one day we can honour his legacy with a safe, cost-effective and widely accessible strategy to achieve HIV remission and cure."
China coronavirus vaccine may be ready for public in November: Official - CNA
Coronavirus vaccines being developed in China may be ready for use by the general public as early as November, an official with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
BEIJING: Coronavirus vaccines being developed in China may be ready for use by the general public as early as November, an official with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. China has four COVID-19 vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. At least three of those have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency use programme launched in July. Advertisement Advertisement Phase 3 clinical trials were proceeding smoothly and the vaccines could be ready for the general public in November or December, CDC chief biosafety expert Guizhen Wu said in an interview with state TV late on Monday (Sep 14). Wu, who said she has experienced no abnormal symptoms in recent months after taking an experimental vaccine herself in April, did not specify which vaccines she was referring to. A unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and US-listed Sinovac Biotech are developing the three vaccines under the state's emergency use programme. A fourth COVID-19 vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June. Advertisement Advertisement Sinopharm said in July that its vaccine could be ready for public use by the end of this year after the conclusion of Phase 3 trials. Global vaccine makers are racing to develop an effective vaccine against the virus which has killed more than 925,000 people. Leading Western vaccine makers pledged earlier this month to uphold scientific study standards and reject any political pressure to rush the process. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Mammal-like Triassic creature beat polar winters by hibernating - CNA
The tusks of a stoutly built plant-eating mammal relative that inhabited Antarctica 250 million years ago are providing the oldest-known evidence that animals resorted to hibernation-like states to get through lean times such as polar winters.
WASHINGTON: The tusks of a stoutly built plant-eating mammal relative that inhabited Antarctica 250 million years ago are providing the oldest-known evidence that animals resorted to hibernation-like states to get through lean times such as polar winters. The research published on Thursday (Aug 27) focused on a four-legged forager called Lystrosaurus whose fossils have been found in China, Russia, India, South Africa and Antarctica. It was an early member of the evolutionary lineage that later gave rise to mammals. Advertisement Advertisement The findings indicated that Lystrosaurus entered a state of torpor - a temporary reduction in metabolic activity - to cope with the long, perpetually dark winters in the Antarctic Circle when food was scarce, although Earth then was much warmer than today and the region was not ice-bound. The findings also suggested Lystrosaurus, which may have had hair, was warm-blooded. Hibernation is a form of torpor found in warm-blooded animals like certain bears, rodents, echidnas, hedgehogs and badgers. Advertisement Advertisement Lystrosaurus, ranging from roughly the size of a pig to the size of a cow, possessed a turtle-like beak and lacked teeth except for a pair of ever-growing tusks protruding from its face useful for digging up tasty roots and tubers. These tusks had incremental growth marks visible in the form of dentine - the hard tissue that forms the bulk of a tooth - deposited in concentric circles like tree rings. The researchers examined tusk cross-sections from six Lystrosaurus individuals from Antarctica and four from South Africa, away from the polar conditions. The Antarctic tusks bore closely spaced, thick rings suggestive of periods of less deposition during a hibernation-like state. "Torpor is an incredibly common physiological phenomenon in animals today," said Harvard University paleontologist Megan Whitney, lead author of the research published in the journal Communications Biology. "We expect that torpor has been a commonly employed adaptation for a very long time," said Whitney, who worked on the research while at the University of Washington. "However, this is difficult to test in the fossil record, especially deep in time hundreds of millions of years ago." Such resilience may help explain why Lystrosaurus, which predated dinosaurs by millions of years, survived the worst mass extinction in Earth's history 252 million years ago, as the Permian Period ended and the Triassic Period began.
Climate Change - CNA
Long-dormant viruses brought back to life; the resurgence of deadly and disfiguring smallpox; a dengue or zika "season" in Europe.
PARIS: Long-dormant viruses brought back to life; the resurgence of deadly and disfiguring smallpox; a dengue or zika "season" in Europe. These could be disaster movie storylines, but they are also serious and increasingly plausible scenarios of epidemics unleashed by global warming, scientists say. Advertisement Advertisement The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe and claimed more than 760,000 lives so far almost certainly came from a wild bat, highlighting the danger of humanity's constant encroachment on the planet's dwindling wild spaces. But the expanding ecological footprint of our species could trigger epidemics in other ways too. Climate change - already wreaking havoc with one degree Celsius of warming - is also emerging as a driver of infectious disease, whether by expanding the footprint of malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitos, or defrosting prehistoric pathogens from the Siberian permafrost. "IGNORANCE IS OUR ENEMY" Advertisement Advertisement "In my darkest moments, I see a really horrible future for Homo sapiens because we are an animal, and when we extend our borders things will happen to us," said Birgitta Evengard, a researcher in clinical microbiology at Umea University in Sweden. "Our biggest enemy is our own ignorance," she added. "Nature is full of microorganisms." Think of permafrost, a climate change time bomb spread across Russia, Canada and Alaska that contains three times the carbon that has been emitted since the start of industrialisation. Even if humanity manages to cap global warming at under two degrees Celsius, the cornerstone goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the permafrost area will decrease by a quarter by 2100, according to the UN's climate science panel, the IPCC. And then there are the permafrost's hidden treasures. "Microorganisms can survive in frozen space for a long, long time," said Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. AN ANTHRAX COMEBACK? As ground thaws, once-frozen soil particles, organic material and microorganisms that had been locked away for millennia are carried toward the surface by water flows, he explained. "That's how thawing can spread these microorganisms into present day environments." There are already examples of ancient, long-frozen bugs coming to life. "When you put a seed into soil that is then frozen for thousands of years, nothing happens," said Jean-Michel Claverie, an emeritus professor of genomics at the School of Medicine of Aix-Marseille University in France. "But when you warm the earth, the seed will be able to germinate," he added. "That is similar to what happens with a virus." Claverie's lab has successfully revived Siberian viruses that are at least 30,000 years old. These reanimated bugs only attack amoebas, but tens of thousands of years ago there were certainly others that aimed higher up the food chain. "Neanderthals, mammoths, woolly rhinos all got sick, and many died," said Claverie. "Some of the viruses that caused their sicknesses are probably still in the soil." The number of bacteria and viruses lurking in the permafrost is incalculable, but the more important question is how dangerous they are. And here, scientists disagree. "Anthrax shows that bacteria can be resting in permafrost for hundreds of years and be revived," said Evengard. In 2016, a child in Siberia died from the disease, which had disappeared from the region at least 75 years earlier. 2 MILLION YEAR OLD PATHOGENS This case has been attributed to the thawing of a long-buried carcass, but some experts counter that the animal remains in question may have been in shallow dirt and thus subject to periodic thawing. Other pathogens - such as smallpox or the influenza strain that killed tens of millions in 1917 and 1918 - may also be present in the sub-Arctic region. But they "have probably been inactivated", Romanovsky concluded in a study published earlier this year. For Claverie, however, the return of smallpox - officially declared eradicated 50 years ago - cannot be excluded. 18th- and 19th-century victims of the disease "buried in cemeteries in Siberia are totally preserved by the cold," he noted. In the unlikely event of a local epidemic, a vaccine is available. The real danger, he added, lies in deeper strata where unknown pathogens that have not seen daylight for 2 million years or more may be exposed by global warming. If there were no hosts for the bugs to infect there would not be a problem, but climate change - indirectly - has intervened here as well. "With the industrial exploitation of the Arctic, all the risk factors are there - pathogens and the people to carry them," Claverie said. The revival of ancient bacteria or viruses remains speculative, but climate change has already boosted the spread of diseases that kill about half a million people every year: malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika. "Mosquitoes moving their range north are now able to overwinter in some temperate regions," said Jeanne Fair, deputy group leader for biosecurity and public health at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "They also have longer breeding periods." "CLIMATE CHANGE APERITIF" Native to southeast Asia, the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) - which carries dengue and chikungunya - arrived in southern Europe in the first decade of this century and has been moving rapidly north ever since, to Paris and beyond. Meanwhile, another dengue-bearing mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has also appeared in Europe. Whichever species may be the culprit, the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has registered 40 cases of local transmission of dengue between 2010 and 2019. "An increase in mean temperature could result in seasonal dengue transmission in southern Europe if A aegypti infected with virus were to be established," according to the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As for malaria - a disease that once blighted southern Europe and the southern United States and for which an effective treatment exists - the risk of exposure depends in large part on social-economic conditions. More than five billion people could be living in malaria-affected regions by 2050 if climate change continues unabated, but strong economic growth and social development could reduce that number to less than two billion, according to a study cited by the IPCC. "Recent experience in southern Europe demonstrates how rapidly the disease may reappear if health services falter," the IPCC said in 2013, alluding to a resurgence of cases in Greece in 2008. In Africa - which saw 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, 94 percent of the world's total - the disease vector is moving into new regions, notably the high-altitude plains of Ethiopia and Kenya. For the moment, the signals for communicable tropical diseases "are worrying in terms of expanding vectors, not necessarily transmission," said Cyril Caminade, an epidemiologist working on climate change at the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool. "That said, we're only tasting the aperitif of climate change so far," he added.
Trump Administration picks McKesson for COVID-19 vaccine distribution - CNA
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Friday that McKesson Corp would be the central distributor for future coronavirus vaccines, sending the U.S. drug distributor's shares up more than 3per cent.
REUTERS: The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Friday (Aug 14) that McKesson would be the central distributor for future coronavirus vaccines, sending the US drug distributor's shares up more than 3 per cent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is executing an existing contract option with McKesson to support vaccine distribution, the health department said. Advertisement Advertisement The HHS said the contract, which includes an option to distribute vaccines in the event of a pandemic, was awarded to McKesson as part of a competitive bidding process in 2016. Detailed planning is underway to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one or more vaccines, the HHS said. McKesson is the largest distributor of seasonal flu vaccines in the United States. The US has no approved vaccine for the new coronavirus pandemic, and drugmakers including AstraZeneca , Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are testing their experimental vaccines under accelerated timelines. Advertisement Advertisement
Colombian mom with COVID-19 gives birth to premature baby while in coma - CNA
CALI, Colombia: Diana Angola was fighting for her own life when she gave birth to son Jefferson. The 36-year-old had been put into a coma having contracted the novel coronavirus, which left her lungs barely able cope.
CALI, Colombia: Diana Angola was fighting for her own life when she gave birth to son Jefferson. The 36-year-old had been put into a coma having contracted the novel coronavirus, which left her lungs barely able cope. Doctors performed a caesarian section due to the state of her lungs and Jefferson was born at least 14 weeks prematurely. Advertisement Advertisement The case generated "a lot of shock," Paula Velasquez, a doctor specialising in internal medicine at the Versalles clinic in the southeastern city of Cali, told AFP. "We knew that there were few reported cases of survival in a context as severe as our patient," said Velasquez. Angola, who also has a daughter, was taken to hospital on May 15 with a high fever.Three days later she was put into an induced coma and kept that way until surgery. Advertisement Advertisement Because of her pregnancy, she was kept sitting up at a 45-degree angle, when those suffering from pneumonia are normally laid down flat to help their breathing. Jefferson, though premature, was born without the coronavirus - but doctors said he struggled to breathe, and that they had to revive him. "We had to go through the whole procedure of a critical patient," pediatrician Edwin Olivo, who was one of the specialists involved in the birth, said. But, he added, that although the baby remains in an incubator, he quickly started putting on weight and breathing more easily. "A human being can survive from 24 weeks with a good weight, but with a lot of technology and an effect on neurological development and the lungs," said Velasquez. PAINFUL MEMORIES Now recovered from the virus, Angola is desperate to be discharged with her son. "It's really emotional knowing that we fought, that the doctors helped us survive," she said, her voice faint. She says she doesn't know how she contracted the virus and her family insists she complied rigidly with the lockdown, first imposed on Mar 25 but which has been easing recently. In the hospital corridors, her sister Angela breathes a sigh of relief. Hospitals bring back painful memories: Two years ago her mother and another sister died in intensive care, where Diana was for several weeks. Angela remembers her sister screaming: "Don't let them put me on artificial ventilation, get me out of here, I don't want to die," after doctors told her what treatment they were proposing. With Latin America now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Angela wants her sister and nephew's case to act as a lesson for others. "There are many people who go around without face masks, who go to parties, because they don't know anyone (with the virus) they don't realise" how dangerous it is. With more than 2,600 deaths and 80,000 cases, Colombia is the sixth most affected country in Latin America in terms of fatalities and fifth worst for infections. However, the virus is spreading quickly in the country of 50 million, with a quarter of those deaths and cases reported just last week. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Apple announces new CarKey system that allows users to unlock their cars with iPhones - CNA
Apple Inc on Monday said it will switch to its own chips for its Mac computers, ending a nearly 15-year reliance on Intel Corp to supply processors for its flagship laptops and desktop.
SAN FRANCISCO: Apple on Monday (Jun 22) announced a new system that lets users share digital car keys with friends and family members via the company's iMessage system, which will work with BMW 5 Series vehicles. The system will work with iPhones running the current iOS 13 operating system so that owners can start using it when BMW vehicles arrive. Apple said more cars that work with the system will come to market next year. Advertisement Advertisement Apple also updated its mapping application with information about electric vehicle charging stations, working with BMW and Ford Motor to show stations compatible with the user's vehicle. SWITCH TO OWN CHIPS FROM INTEL Apple on Monday also said it will switch to its own chips for its Mac computers, saying the first machines will ship this year and ending a nearly 15-year reliance on Intel Corp to supply processors for its flagship laptops and desktop. Apple chief executive Tim Cook said it marked the beginning of a major new era for a product line powered the company's rise in the 1980s and its resurgence in the late 1990s. Advertisement Advertisement Silicon is at the heart of our hardware," Cook said during a virtual keynote address recorded at the company's Cupertino, California headquarters for its annual developer conference. "Having a world class silicon design team is a game changer. The silicon switch brings the Mac into line with the company's iPhone and iPads, which already use Apple-designed chips. Cook said that Apple expects the Mac transition to take about two years and that Apple still has some Intel-based computers in its pipeline that it will support for "many years". But the move will give software developers for Apple's largest pool of third-party apps - those built for iPhones and iPads - new access to its laptops and desktop for the first time. Apple software chief Craig Federighi said that for those offerings, "most apps will just work, with no changes from the developer" on the new Macs. He also said the "vast majority" of existing apps for Intel-based machines can be modified to work in "just a few days." The news came at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. The conference has gained new prominence since paid services sold through the App Store have become central to the company's revenue growth as consumers have slowed the growth of iPhone upgrades. Apple takes a 15 per cent to 30 per cent cut of the sales developers make through the App Store, which is the only way to distribute software onto Apple's mobile devices. Those fees, and Apple's strict app review process, have come under antitrust scrutiny in the United States and Europe, where regulators last week unveiled a formal probe into the company. In what appeared to be an acknowledgement of its some of its critics, Apple said it would let users select non-Apple apps as default apps for tasks like email and web browsing on iPhones and iPads. But developers still gravitate toward Apple's platform because it is lucrative, with a user base that is willing to spend money on paid apps. The annual developer conference, being held online this year for the first time because of COVID-19, is where Apple often announces access to new hardware capabilities, such as special tools for artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Apple also added new privacy protections, saying it would let users only share their approximate location with app developers and that it would require those developers to seek permission before sharing user data with other apps and websites. Apple also said it would require a privacy and security label, akin to a food nutrition label, to be shown to users before they download apps.