Business Highlights


Here we go again: Paris attacks may renew encryption debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The deadly attacks in Paris may soon reopen the debate over whether — and how — tech companies should let the government sidestep the data scrambling that shields everyday commerce and daily digital life alike.

So far, there’s no hard evidence that the Paris extremists replied on encrypted communications to plan the shooting and bombing attacks that left 129 dead on Friday. But it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they did.

The widespread use of encryption technology in everyday life worries the intelligence and law enforcement communities and some are using the recent attacks as occasion to argue for restrictions.


Marriott becomes world’s largest hotelier, buying Starwood

NEW YORK (AP) — Marriott International is poised to become even larger with plans to take over rival chain Starwood in a $12.2 billion deal that will make it the world’s largest hotelier.

The stock-and-cash deal, if completed, will add 50 per cent more rooms to Marriott’s portfolio and give it more unique, design-focused hotels that appeal to younger travellers. The acquisition is also likely to start another round of hotel mergers.

Marriott could walk away with 5,500 properties around the world, adding Starwood’s Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis brands to its portfolio.


Google antsy as California slow on self-driving car rules

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google has found itself somewhere that has frustrated many before: waiting on the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The tech titan wants the freedom to give the public access to self-driving prototypes. But before granting that permission, California regulators want Google to prove these cars of the future already drive as safely as people.

The Department of Motor Vehicles was supposed to write precedent-setting rules of the road by last Jan. 1. Nearly a year later, it is still struggling.

Delay is not what Google had in mind when it pushed the 2012 legislation that made California one of the few states officially to authorize self-driving cars.


‘McPick 2’: McDonald’s new deal to replace Dollar Menu

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s the Dollar Menu, take two.

McDonald’s hopes it has a catchy, new deal that will be as hugely popular as its Dollar Menu. Early next year, the fast-food chain will launch the “McPick 2” menu, which will let customers pick two of the following items for $2: a McDouble, a McChicken, small fries and mozzarella sticks.

The offering, the latest effort by the company to revive slumping sales, has gained the necessary votes from franchisees to make it onto the national menu. It will be available in U.S. restaurants for a five-week run starting Jan. 4.


Media General rejects Nexstar bid, but willing to talk

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Television company Media General rejected a $1.9 billion buyout offer from Nexstar Broadcasting on Monday, but said that it’s still willing to talk.

The Nexstar bid comes in the wake of a $2.4 billion bid from Media General Inc. for Meredith Corp., which owns television stations and publishes about 20 magazines. Media General said in September that a deal with Meredith would create a company with almost 90 television stations in 54 markets and magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living.

Some see the bid from Nexstar as an attempt to drive a wedge between Meredith and Media General.


Apple to open retail store in Singapore powered only by sun

SINGAPORE (AP) — Apple will open its first retail store in Singapore, which will also be Southeast Asia’s first to be powered solely by solar energy, officials said Monday.

Solar energy developer Sunseap Group said in a statement that it will provide the store with renewable energy by harnessing its systems set up across 800 of the city’s rooftops. The tech-giant, however, did not reveal the store’s location in Singapore or the opening date, likely to be in 2016.

A Singapore government official also confirmed the venture.


Hundreds of union members picket in strike at Kohler Co.

KOHLER, Wis. (AP) — Hundreds of union members and their supporters picketed at the gates of the Kohler Co. on Monday in the first strike at the Wisconsin manufacturer in more than 30 years.

The workers want higher pay, lower health care costs and an end to a two-tier wage scale that they say unfairly limits many employees with less seniority to about $13 an hour regardless of the type of work they do. Kohler — which makes kitchen and bath fixtures, small engines and generators, and runs golf and resort destinations — says it is “very disappointed” that its final offer was not accepted and said union officials may have misrepresented what could be achieved in a strike.


US reaches $95.5M settlement in for-profit education case

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A company that operates for-profit trade schools and colleges across the U.S. and Canada has agreed to pay $95.5 million to settle claims it illegally paid recruiters and exaggerated the career-placement abilities of its schools.

Under deals announced Monday by the Justice Department and state attorneys general, Education Management Corp. also agreed to forgive $102.8 million in loans it made to more than 80,000 former students.

The company runs 110 schools for chefs, artists and other trades, including The Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University.


Liberty Global to buy Cable & Wireless for $5.3 bln in stock

DENVER (AP) — International cable TV company Liberty Global says it is acquiring Cable & Wireless Communications, a London-based telecommunications company with operations in the Caribbean, for stock and a special dividend worth $5.3 billion.

Liberty Global PLC, which is controlled by billionaire John Malone, said it would fold Cable & Wireless into its LiLAC business unit, which it spun off with a tracking stock in July. Combined, the entities will have 10 million subscribers of video, broadband Internet access, and fixed and mobile phone service.


US startup challenges Japan to giant robot battle

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Giant fighting robots still haven’t left the realm of science fiction, until now.

Megabots Inc., an Oakland, California-based startup, has built a 15-foot mechanical gladiator and challenged a Japanese firm to an international battle for robot supremacy.

Tokyo-based Suidobashi Heavy Industries, maker of the 13-foot opponent, accepted the challenge, setting the stage for the first giant robot battle of its kind next year.

Win or lose, it’s all part of Megabots’ plan by to make gladiator-style robot combat into big-time entertainment — a mix between Ultimate Fighting Championship and Formula One auto racing — while developing new industrial technologies and inspiring a new generation of engineers.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 237.77 points, or 1.4 per cent, to close at 17,483.01. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 30.15 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 2,053.19. The Nasdaq composite index added 56.73 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 4,984.62.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed $1, or 2.5 per cent, to close at $41.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 9 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to close at $44.56 a barrel in London. In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.239 a gallon, heating oil rose 0.4 cent to $1.385 a gallon and natural gas rose 2.4 cents to $2.385 per 1,000 cubic feet.