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Why Japan is giving away free houses (and how to get one)

Why Japan is giving away free houses (and how to get one)

There are some 8 million abandoned homes–or akiya–in Japanese suburbia, according to The Japan Times. And if you’ve got a visa allowing you to live in Japan, some of them can be yours for free or very low prices, and the government may give you a subsidy to renovate one. There are even databases devoted to helping people find these homes, known as “akiya banks .” What’s driving the government to give away homes? In part, it has to do with Japan’s aging population: According to the World Bank, the country’s population decreased by -0.2% in 2017 alone, while China and the U.S. slowly grew 0.6% and 0.7% respectively. There are simply fewer people in Japan than there once were–roughly 1.3 million fewer people than in 2010 by one count [paywall].
Google has acquired one of India’s most popular train-tracking apps

Google has acquired one of India’s most popular train-tracking apps

Google  is increasing its efforts in India after it snapped up the team behind popular transportation app “Where is my Train.” The app claims 10 million registered users and, as the name suggests, it helps commuters track arrivals and departures as well as buying seats. That’s no small job, given that India is estimated to operate some 14,000 trains on a daily basis across the country. The app is for Android, it works offline or with poor connectivity and supports eight languages. It is rivaled by VC-backed companies like RailYatri and iXigo.
China bans most iPhone sales after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple

China bans most iPhone sales after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple

A Chinese court has banned the sale and import of most iPhone models in a stunning decision amid the trade war between the United States and China. The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit. The phones covered by the ban make up about 10% to 15% of current iPhone sales in China, according to Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. The court granted a pair of preliminary injunctions requested by Qualcomm, an American microchip maker. Qualcomm claims that Apple violates two of its patents in the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The patents allow people to edit and resize photos on a phone and to manage apps by using a touchscreen, according to Qualcomm.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission Wins at the Game Awards 2018

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission Wins at the Game Awards 2018

The Game Awards 2018 held its much-coveted event last night in Los Angeles, awarding accolades to some of the best videogames available over the last 12 months. The show has grown so much in scale that it’s now used as a platform for big announcements, with Ubisoft revealing Far Cry: New Dawn, and Epic Games officially launching the Epic Games Store. When it comes to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), these technologies are still on the fringe, with the only mention being the winner of the VR/AR category, PlayStation VR exclusive Astro Bot Rescue Mission.
Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert submits $4.6 billion proposal to save Sears

Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert submits $4.6 billion proposal to save Sears

The fund run by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert, ESL Investments, submitted a $4.6 billion proposal on Thursday to help save the bankrupt retailer with the purchase of 500 stores. Sears Holdings, which owns Sears department stores and Kmart, filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 15. In previous court filings, it has said it was in talks with ESL about a "going concern bid" that could help the company emerge from bankruptcy. The offer outlined Thursday included up to $950 million in cash through an asset-based loan facility, a "credit bid" of $1.8 billion and the assumption of roughly $1.1 billion in liabilities. The liabilities assumed include gift cards, points from its Shop Your Way loyalty program and protection agreements from Sears Home Services. Other funds include additional cash, notes and the rollover of cash collateral.
Google, Apple, Facebook face world-first encryption laws in Australia

Google, Apple, Facebook face world-first encryption laws in Australia

Australia passed new laws that allow law enforcement to access encrypted messages, legislation that leading tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, have all opposed. The laws, which passed late on Thursday Australian time, were billed as essential for national security and a vital tool for law enforcement in the fight against terrorism. The new laws come as tech companies and governments around the world debate the importance of encryption amid a changing national security landscape. Governments and law enforcement agencies across the US, Europe and other western nations argue terrorists and criminals are flocking to encrypted messaging services to escape detection. They say law enforcement needs access to these services -- and greater regulation of tech companies broadly -- to ensure public safety.
Wordpress 5.0 launches with new, block-based editor

Wordpress 5.0 launches with new, block-based editor

In the new ‘Bebo’ version of WordPress, which is named after Cuban jazz musician Bebo Valdés, we see the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, which puts each piece of content into its own distinct block, allowing creators to decide where to place it and how it appears to viewers. This essentially makes the process a flexible WYSIWYG system. WordPress says that if you prefer to use HTML and CSS, the blocks won’t be an issue. Blocks include paragraphs, images, galleries, quotes, audio, lists, embeds, and much more. For those building client sites, it’s possible to create reusable blocks that lets clients add new content anytime while maintaining the same look and feel.
Amazon Is Bringing in Elite Lobbyists Amid Seething Rage Over HQ2

Amazon Is Bringing in Elite Lobbyists Amid Seething Rage Over HQ2

Amazon might be too big to tax, but it’s not too big to freak out. As the company tries to erect a massive headquarters in America’s largest city, it has come up against staunch opposition from residents, politicians and unions—all concerned the powerful monopoly will serve to inflate rent and strain local infrastructure, especially the housing supply and subway system. And while it might seem like a trillion-dollar company could easily quash protesting naysayers, turns out CEO Jeff Bezos might actually have good reason to try and win the haters over.
Marlboro owner Altria invests $1.8 billion in cannabis company Cronos

Marlboro owner Altria invests $1.8 billion in cannabis company Cronos

Tobacco giant Altria is investing $1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group. That will give Altria a 45% stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55% over the next five years. Reports of an Altria-Cronos deal first surfaced earlier this week. The decision by Altria to go ahead with an investment in Cronos shows that Altria is serious about investing in marijuana as a new growth area as sales of traditional cigarettes slow. Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25% this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1% this year and in 2019.
UnitedCorp files suit against Bitmain, Roger Ver, Kraken and others over alleged manipulation during Bitcoin Cash hard fork

UnitedCorp files suit against Bitmain, Roger Ver, Kraken and others over alleged manipulation during Bitcoin Cash hard fork

The aftermath of the tumultuous Bitcoin Cash hard fork has hit the courts after Florida-based United American Corp. filed a suit against some of the biggest names in the cryptocurrency market, accusing them of manipulation of the Bitcoin Cash network during and after the Nov. 15 hard fork. According to a press release, Unitedcorp UAMA, -18.20%  alleges that parties including Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver and the Kraken exchange engaged in “unfair methods of competition” that were detrimental to UnitedCorp and other stakeholders.


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