TIME Apple

Beats Now Part of the Apple ‘Family’

Tech giant confirms close of deal to buy headphone maker amid reports of possible layoffs

Apple has officially closed a deal to acquire headphone maker and music-streaming service Beats, the company announced Friday.

“Today we are excited to officially welcome Beats Music and Beats Electronics to the Apple family,” Apple said in a statement. “Music has always held a special place in our hearts, and we’re thrilled to join forces with a group of people who love it as much as we do.”

News emerged in May that Apple had struck a $3 billion deal to acquire Beats, a company co-founded in 2008 by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Friday’s announcement makes Apple’s biggest-ever acquisition official.

Beats’ core business is production of high-end audio equipment but it also has a music-streaming service that Apple may leverage as it continues to edge in on the evolving music industry.

News of the sealed deal comes on the heels of reports that Apple plans to cut from Beats’ payroll around 200 positions that overlap with roles already filled at Apple, 9to5mac reports. Beats currently has about 700 employees.

Apple told the site it had offered jobs to all Beats employees, but conceded that some of them were for a “limited period” only. “We’ll work hard during this time to find as many of these Beats employees as we can another permanent job within Apple,” the company said.

TIME Uganda

Uganda Court Throws Out Anti-Gay Law on Technicality

Supporters of the anti-gay law prepare for a procession backing the signing of the anti-gay bill into law, in Kampala
Supporters of the anti-gay law prepare for a procession backing the signing of the anti-gay bill into law, in Uganda's capital Kampala March 31, 2014. Edward Echwalu —Reuters

Judges say the legislature didn’t have a quorum when the bill was passed into law

Uganda’s Constitutional Court invalidated the country’s controversial anti-gay law Friday, finding that the legislature violated its own procedural rules when passing the bill earlier this year.

The five-judge panel found that the speaker of the parliament did not have a quorum—sufficient members present—to vote on the bill. At least three objections were made over a lack of quorum when the bill was passed, the Associated Press reports.

“The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was quorum,” the court wrote in its decision. “We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.”

The decision vacates a controversial law that imposes potentially lifelong prison sentences for having homosexual intercourse, as well as lengthy sentences for “attempted homosexuality” and “promotion of homosexuality.” The law enjoyed widespread support in Uganda but was condemned by Western countries and civil rights groups, many of whom have cheered the court’s decision.

An attorney for the state said it hasn’t yet been decided whether the decision will be appealed to the country’s Supreme Court.

[AP]

TIME 2014 Election

Cantor Says He’ll Resign Before Term Ends

Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., left, arrives for a House Republican strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The former House Majority Leader asked that a special election be held to expedite his replacement

Rather than finish out his full final term in Congress, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective August 18, the Republican congressman said Thursday.

Cantor, whose term in office would have extended through a lame duck session until January of next year, asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to schedule a special election to be held on Election Day, November 4, to pick his replacement. With Cantor stepping down early, the winner of that special election will take Cantor’s old seat immediately rather than having to wait until the next Congress convenes to begin the new term.

“I want to make sure that the constituents in the Seventh District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents (because) he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said.

A once-rising star in the GOP and likely next in line for Speaker of the House, Cantor’s political fortunes were reversed after his stunning defeat in a June GOP primary.

In the contest to take over Cantor’s seat, economics professor Dave Brat—who defeated Cantor for the GOP nomination in June—will square off against Democrat Jack Trammell. Both men are professors at the same school, Randolph-Macon College.

[Richmond Times-Dispatch]

TIME Gaza

Israel Suspects Soldier Captured As Cease-Fire Collapses

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning Friday between Israel and Hamas, in New Delhi, India on August 1, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning Friday between Israel and Hamas, in New Delhi, India, on August 1, 2014. Lucas Jackson—AP

A three-day ceasefire is in tatters after an exchange of fire between Hamas and Isreali Defense Forces

The Israeli military believes one of its soldiers was captured as a planned 72-hour cease-fire fell apart just hours into the deal, a spokesman said Friday. The lull in fighting collapsed in an early morning exchange of fire that left at least five Israeli soldiers and 40 Gaza residents dead.

“The [Israeli Defense Forces] is currently conducting intelligence efforts and extensive searches in order to locate the missing soldier,” the IDF said in a statement, after Israel accused Hamas of breaking the cease-fire agreement by firing rockets on Israeli forces in southern Gaza.

Lt. Col Peter Lerner, IDF spokesman, identified the missing soldier as Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23. Lerner said the soldier, from Kfar Saba, was captured early on Friday as the Israeli military was “implementing” the cease-fire and that two IDF soldiers were killed during the suspected capture.

Israel and Hamas both blamed one another for Friday’s unraveling. The deal was brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and it marks at least the fourth humanitarian cease-fire to have collapsed within hours since Israel’s latest ground operation in Gaza began earlier this month.

Kerry said on Friday that “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s attack, which led to the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the apparent abduction of another.

“Hamas, which has security control over the Gaza Strip, must immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier, and I call on those with influence over Hamas to reinforce this message,” Kerry added.

The health ministry in Gaza reports more than 1,450 Palestinians have been killed and 8,200 wounded in the violence in the Gaza Strip, Haaretz reports. At least 61 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have died in the conflict. Israel began a bombing campaign in Gaza on July 8 followed by a ground invasion with the objective of destroying tunnels that connect Gaza with Israel and are often used by militants to stage attacks and kidnappings within Israel.

It’s yet unclear how the Israeli soldier’s capture, if confirmed, may change the dynamics of Israel’s operations in Gaza.

TIME intelligence

CIA Apologizes for Snooping on Senate Staff Computers

CIA Director John Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on March 11, 2014.
CIA director John Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2014 Carolyn Kaster—AP

In a dramatic reversal from the agency's earlier position

Updated at 3:24 p.m.

A report from the CIA’s inspector general faulted agency employees for improperly accessing Senate staffers’ computers during an investigation into Bush-era CIA interrogation practices.

The report, released Thursday by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General, represents an admission that CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff to review top secret documents as part of a probe into harsh interrogation practices. Staffers were given access to special computers in a neutral facility with access to documents through a closed CIA network. By agreement, the agency was not supposed to have access to the computers used by Senate staff in the facility — an agreement the agency violated, according to the inspector general’s report.

In a reversal of his previous public comments on the matter, CIA director John Brennan apologized for the overreach.

“The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report,” CIA spokesperson Preston Golson said in a statement. According to the statement, Brennan will form an “Accountability Board” to review the report’s findings and make recommendations, which “could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues.”

The report is a vindication for Intelligence Committee chairperson Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein sent shockwaves through Washington with a long tirade on the Senate floor in March lambasting the CIA for accessing Intelligence Committee staffers’ computers.

“Heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” said Feinstein in her speech. At the time, Brennan strongly defended the agency against Feinstein’s allegations.

Feinstein struck a conciliatory tone in remarks regarding the report Thursday.

“The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March — CIA personnel inappropriately searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” Feinstein said. “Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG report to an accountability board. These are positive first steps. This IG report corrects the record and it is my understanding that a declassified report will be made available to the public shortly.”

The White House offered a vigorous defense of director Brennan’s role at the helm of the CIA.

“The fact of the matter is, director Brennan is somebody who over the course of the last five and a half years has played an instrumental role in helping the President make the kinds of decisions … that have decimated the leadership of core al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he currently is operating in a very difficult environment to ensure the safety of the American public,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday. “He is somebody who has a very difficult job, who does that job extraordinary well.”

The Justice Department announced earlier this month it would not launch a criminal probe into Feinstein’s allegations. A Senate investigation into the incident is ongoing.

TIME 2014 Election

Poll: Support for Campaign Finance Reform Strong in Key Senate Races

The U.S. Capitol as seen from Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday night, July 12, 2014.
The U.S. Capitol as seen from Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday night, July 12, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

A new survey out Thursday suggests candidates with bold proposals to reform the way elections are funded in the U.S. could have an advantage

Focusing on campaign finance reform could be a winning strategy for candidates in Senate battleground states, according to a new poll out Thursday from the Democratic polling firm Democracy Corps.

According to the survey, a majority of likely voters among Democrats (75%), Independents (64%) and Republicans (54%) see the wave of spending by Super PACs this election cycle as “wrong and leads to our elected officials representing the views of wealthy donors.” So far in the 2014 election cycle, Super PACs, which can raise unlimited sums from donors, have spent $87.5 million and counting to influence election outcomes. Though Republicans view Super PACs significantly more favorably than do Democrats, both sides benefit from the influx of cash to the tune of $43.4 million for conservatives and $41.9 million for liberals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Poll respondents were likely voters in 12 states with hotly contested Senate races selected from among people who voted in earlier off-year elections in 2006 and 2010.

The poll suggests that supporting a constitutional amendment to reverse recent Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United that eliminated some limits and transparency requirements on campaign donations could be an effective campaign tack in 2014. Overall, 37% of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supported such an amendment, including 43% of Independents. Likely voters in all 12 states overwhelmingly support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, 73% to 24%, according to the poll.

The survey results bode well for groups that have vowed to make big money in politics a central issue in the 2014 elections, including Kentucky spoof candidate Gil Fulbright and the Mayday Super PAC, which has raised nearly $8 million to spend backing pro-reform candidates in five key races around the country.

TIME Congress

Eric Cantor and John Boehner: The Bromance Is Over

As told through the lyrics of Alan Jackson's "Remember When"

On Thursday, Congressman Eric Cantor will step down from his post as House majority leader, following his shocking primary defeat in June, thus ending his Capitol Hill bromance with House Speaker John Boehner — a relationship that captivated so many hearts across the nation.

When Cantor first assumed the role of HML in 2011, some speculated that the up-and-comer was angling for Boehner’s job, but the GOP’s two top dogs were not to be defined by acrimony — after all, what good romance doesn’t begin with a little tension? (Have you seen The Notebook?)

Here, we’ve assembled a scrapbook that illustrates the bromance heard round the Beltway, each photo captioned with a lyric from Alan Jackson’s “Remember When,” because obviously. It is highly advisable to play the song as you click through the photos.

TIME Germany

Germany Now Produces 28.5% of Energy from Renewables

Wind Turbines
Wind turbines stand on June 17, 2014 near Wernitz, Germany. Sean Gallup—Getty Images

The country’s Energiewende energy transition has crossed another milestone

Germany set a new record on green energy in the first half of 2014, by producing 28.5% of its energy entirely from renewable sources, according to a report released Tuesday by the energy trade association BDEW.

The industrial powerhouse of Europe, Germany is undergoing a massive shift in the way it produces energy as it attempts to become a country powered almost entirely by solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy sources. In the first half of 2014, wind generation in Germany increased 21.4% while solar grew by 27.3%.

The state-subsidized transition to renewables, known as Energiewende, has not been without high costs. Energy prices are among the highest in Europe and greenhouse gas emissions have actually increased in the near term as Germany’s post-Fukushima drawdown of nuclear power has led to an increase in the use of coal to make up for lost production.

TIME intelligence

Senate NSA Reform Bill Earns Cautious Praise From Privacy Advocates

NSA Surveillance-Privacy Report
The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013. Patrick Semansky—AP

Senator Leahy’s USA Freedom Act carries stronger reforms than a version passed out of the House earlier this year

Advocates for reform of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance activities cautiously hailed the USA Freedom Act, put forth in the Senate on Tuesday, as a major step in reforming controversial programs at the agency.

“We commend the Senate Democratic and Republican co-sponsors of this version of the USA Freedom Act, which significantly constrains the out-of-control surveillance authorities exposed by Edward Snowden,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union. “While this bill is not perfect, it is the beginning of the real NSA reform that the public has been craving since the Patriot Act became law in 2001.”

Introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, the USA Freedom Act would impose new restrictions on so-called bulk surveillance of American cell-phone records and Internet traffic, banning the practice of vacuuming up all cell-phone metadata from a particular area or phone-service provider, for instance. The legislation also places restrictions on what business records the government can collect, imposes new transparency requirements on the government, and creates a position of a special privacy advocate to represent civil-liberties interests in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secretive body that oversees NSA surveillance activities.

Many in the technology industry, where business has been threatened by investors skittish at NSA snooping on Internet traffic in the U.S., have joined calls for serious NSA reform. Privacy advocates contend that the exposed surveillance efforts also weaken security protocols of American companies.

The bill “would go a long way toward stemming the costs of the NSA’s spying programs and restoring trust in the American Internet industry,” said Kevin Bankston, policy director with the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. “But ensuring that a strong version of USA Freedom becomes law is only the first step toward repairing the damage that the NSA has done to America’s tech economy, its foreign relationships, and the security of the Internet itself.”

Compared with similar legislation passed in May by the House, also called the USA Freedom Act, the Leahy bill goes significantly further in curbing what civil-liberties groups see as extraconstitutional overreach by the NSA since passage of the 2001 Patriot Act gave the spy agency broad new surveillance powers. Privacy advocates pulled support for the House bill before it came to a vote, after substantial changes to the measure gutted the bill of key reform provisions. It’s unclear if the Senate will take up the Leahy bill before the November midterm elections.

TIME cities

UCLA Begins Clean-Up After Massive Water Main Break

Water gushes from a broken water main on Sunset Boulevard on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles
Water gushes from a broken water main on Sunset Boulevard on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles July 29, 2014 in this still image from aerial video from NBCLA.com. NBCLA.com/Reuters

The university's Pauley Pavilion was flooded after millions of gallons of water gushed from a broken water main

Updated July 30, 6:21 am ET

The University of California-Los Angeles began the task of cleaning up damaging flash floods Wednesday, after a broken water main spilled millions of gallons of water onto campus and nearby Sunset Boulevard.

The water main broke at around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, officials said, sending a 20-to-30-foot fountain of water gushing into the air. Water was shut off at around 7 p.m., but not before an estimated 8 to 10 million gallons spilled into the surrounding areas — including the historic Pauley Pavilion, where UCLA’s basketball teams play.

“Pauley Pavilion has taken quite a bit of water,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said on Tuesday night. “It’s painful. It’s a beautiful structure. We’re of course concerned. We’ve got to let it dry out and see where we are.”

The Los Angeles Fire Department sent inflatable boats to the area to assist in the rescue effort as the flood waters inundated campus athletic fields and underground parking lots, trapping at least three people in cars, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“This is the same thing you would have in any flash flood,” L.A. Fire Dept. Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Undeterred by the rising tide, students waded barefoot through the ankle-deep puddles. Some reportedly showed up with boogie boards, much to the displeasure of authorities. “That is probably one of the most dangerous things you can do,” Moore said. “For somebody to try and boogie board in this, it’s just going to be an asphalt bath.”

Classes at UCLA were due to proceed as usual on Wednesday, though Sunset Boulevard was expected to be closed to traffic until Wednesday afternoon.

[NBC News]

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