Google all but abandoned its opposition to a recent court ruling in Europe that gives people the “right to be forgotten” on the internet. It had said that the decision would curtail freedom of information, but Google has now set up a web page through which people can request that links be removed to an article about them that they consider to be outdated or an invasion of privacy. More than 41,000 people made such a request in the first four days after the web page went live.
Apple heralded its forthcoming update to the operating system that powers its devices as the biggest since 2008. The new features on iOS 8 will include improvements to messaging and e-mail—a direct response to the growing competition from Facebook's WhatsApp and to apps provided by Google's Android operating system.
America proposed stiff tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels. An earlier tariff on the components used to make the panels was circumvented by Chinese firms outsourcing the components to Taiwan and then assembling the panels in China. America claims China's solar industry has undercut competition by receiving huge state subsidies. Although American solar-panel makers applauded the decision, cheaper Chinese panels have been a boon to solar power in America: capacity rose by 41% in 2013.
A 16% rise in imports from China helped push America's trade deficit in April to 47 billion, the highest monthly figure for two years. Total imports were 240.6 billion, a monthly record, driven by Americans buying more cars and phones from abroad.
Australia's economy grew by 3.5% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. The figure was higher than expected, boosted in part by the demand for housing amid low interest rates.
The average house price in Britain rose in May to 186,512, according to Nationwide's index, up by 11% from May 2013. The mutual bank reported “tentative signs” of cooling, as tighter standards for mortgage approvals kick in, though it was “too early to say” whether this would dampen demand. The average house price in London was 362,699 in the first quarter, according to an earlier Nationwide survey.
Having a say on pay薪酬话语权
The council in Seattle approved a rise in the local minimum wage to 15 an hour, the highest rate in any American city or state and twice as much as the federal minimum of 7.25. It will be phased in over the next few years. Eight states and Washington, DC, have increased their minimum-wage rates this year amid a national debate about inequality.
Standard & Poor's put its rating for BNP Paribas on “credit watch” until the outcome of an investigation in America into the French bank's alleged violation of sanctions against countries such as Iran becomes clear. The American government is reportedly thinking of imposing a 10 billion fine on BNP. The size of the penalty has outraged the French, with one minister warning it would be detrimental to negotiations over transatlantic trade.
Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance agreed to buy Protective Life, which is based in Alabama. The 5.7 billion deal is the biggest takeover yet by a Japanese life-insurance firm of a foreign competitor.
The European Commission gave the go ahead for Lithuania to adopt the euro next year. The Baltic state will be the 19th country to enter the euro zone, though it could be the last for some time. Other EU members in eastern Europe have not yet signed up to the exchange-rate mechanism through which their currencies must track the euro before joining the currency union.
Jersey issued its first bond on the capital markets. The British dependency is taking advantage of low interest rates to borrow 250m so it can build cheaper social housing for its residents.
Valeant Pharmaceuticalsand William Ackman, an activist investor, upped the ante in their joint bid for Allergan, the maker of Botox. Valeant increased the cash portion of the 53 billion offer and pledged to take it directly to shareholders if Allergan's board continued to oppose it. Mr Ackman said he would try to oust six Allergan boardmembers at a shareholders' meeting.
Robots of the world, unite!
The International Federation of Robotics reported that China was the biggest buyer of industrial robots last year, snapping up 36,500 units (Japan has the largest number of robots in operation). Around 179,000 robots were sold worldwide. Some think that factory owners prefer them to riot-prone workers.