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5 Reasons To Buy Google’s Pixel 2 XL Over Apple’s iPhone X

Whilst there were few surprises at yesterday’s Pixel 2 launch, thanks to incessant leaks over the last few months, the Search giant did manage to pull one or two rabbits out of its hat.

But are those goodies enough to entice new customers and dismiss the lure of Apple’s new iPhone X? Let’s break down the top-five consumer friendly features you won’t get on an iPhone.

Don’t forget to look out my breakdown for why the iPhone X is the better choice tomorrow. 

Unlimited Google Drive storage for pictures and videos

Earlier this week I opined about how Google needs to extend its free Drive storage for Pixel owners to more than just pictures and videos. That, frustratingly, didn’t happen.

But the continuation of free, unlimited storage for all pictures and videos taken by Pixel owners is obviously welcome. Especially since Apple’s iCould, well, isn’t free (beyond 5GB).

In the field, the very knowledge of having that unlimited space has been freeing, in a sense. Battling with how much storage is left on your phone is a constant, nagging worry that doesn’t need to exist. And sifting through thousands of terrible photos – to see which should be binned – is never something I’m going to do, although I probably will have to at some point. But, for now, I’m happy to kick that can down the road with unlimited free storage and leave that problem to Future Me.

Assistant

During yesterday’s Google presentation I couldn’t help drifting off into a nightmarish daydream (the real kind, not the VR headset) about an AI event horizon. This daydream, backed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, was because we were being taken through Google Assistant’s new ‘features’.

Real-time language translation and object recognition that provides immediate contextual information are almost certainly the harbingers of humanity’s end. But, in the meantime, they’re also quite useful.

Aside from the gimmicks like squeezing the Pixel 2 to launch Assistant, it’s clear there are some genuinely useful everyday functionality built into Assistant. Google showed a good example of this in action: a commuter, getting into their car, and asking Google one question.

Assistant then lists out the best route to take, where they let off on the podcast they were listening to, and lists any unread messages they’ve received. You know, like an actual assistant.

Price

It’s cheaper. $150 cheaper.

Google Lens

This is more of that AI stuff that’s going to kill us all, but hopefully not until after Christmas.

Google Lens will spot a picture and give you search results based on the object it’s pointed at. For example, taking a picture of a dog will tell you what kind of dog it is – and also not to take pictures of other people’s dogs. Landmarks, food and drink, art – you name it and Lens will tell you.

Well, that’s the theory. When I tried this out last night, Lens couldn’t figure out what I’d just taken a picture of (take a look below, apologies for the dodgy camera work). It was the original Pixel phone. Humans 1, AI 0.

Pixel Buds and translation

Google’s new earphones, the Pixel Buds,combined with Assistant’s translation, are an interesting proposition.

The idea is simple: real-time language translation aided by speaking to your earphones. It’s a problem tech people have been trying to solve for yonks and Microsoft was arguably one of the first to the finish line with a similar Skype feature.

But Google’s headphones make use of a feature in the only scenario that anyone would use it: travelling. Speaking to a person face to face.

But there’s one obvious downside, both parties need to have a Pixel and Pixel Buds to use the feature, which means you’ll probably never use it in any practical sense.

Things to consider

For Assistant to work in the best way possible, you need to give it access to everything you do. It needs your information, it needs your commands it needs to understand you. Google builds a profile on you and, at some point along the chain, that profile allows Google to serve targeted adverts to you, which are huge aspect of its business.

So there are obvious privacy concerns here. Google, of course, isn’t the only company to do this. Silicone Valley relies on its ‘free’ products in order to profit from your activity (hint: you’re the product). The futuristic lifestyle these companies seemingly offer with their products come with a dark small print that you should read carefully.

There’s also a good chance that Google will struggle with stock, which could mean a lengthy wait for your pre-order to arrive. If you’re a long-time Pixel or Nexus user, this will not be news to you.

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Turkey signs deal to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems

ISTANBUL (AFP) — Turkey has signed a deal with Russia to buy S-400 missile defense systems in its first major weapons purchase from Moscow, Turkish newspapers Tuesday quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying.

The accord for the surface-to-air missile defense batteries is also Ankara’s most significant deal with a non-NATO supplier.

“Signatures have been made for the purchase of S-400s from Russia. A deposit has also been paid as far as I know,” Erdogan said in comments published in the Hurriyet daily and other newspapers.

“(Russian President Vladimir Putin) and myself are determined on this issue,” he told journalists.

The purchase of the missile systems from a non-NATO supplier will raise concerns in the West over their technical compatibility with the alliance’s equipment.

The Pentagon has already sounded the alarm, saying bluntly that “generally it’s a good idea” for NATO allies to buy inter-operable equipment.

Erdogan said Turkey was free to make military acquisitions based on its defense needs.

“Nobody has the right to discuss the Turkish republic’s independence principles or independent decisions about its defense industry,” he said in the comments published Tuesday.

“We make the decisions about our own independence ourselves, we are obliged to take safety and security measures in order to defend our country.”

The Turkish leader said the process would continue with a transfer of Russian credit to Turkey.

‘Strategic interests’

Moscow also confirmed the accord, with Vladimir Kozhin, Putin’s adviser for military and technical cooperation, saying: “The contract has been signed and is being prepared for implementation.”

He said that the S-400 was one of the most complex systems, made up of a whole range of technical materials.

“I can only guarantee that all decisions taken on this contract strictly comply with our strategic interests,” he was quoted as saying by Russian state-owned TASS news agency.

“For this reason we fully understand the reactions of several Western countries which are trying to put pressure on Turkey.”

Russia’s relations with NATO have been in crisis over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and for backing pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has currently troubled ties with the United States over a number of issues including Washington’s support of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara considers a terror group.

The Turkish-Russian contract is a sign of better relations between Ankara and Moscow since a reconciliation deal was signed last year following the 2015 shooting down by the Turkish military of a Russian plane over the Syrian border.

Moscow has accepted Ankara’s expressions of regret over the incident and the two countries have revived the relationship since then.

Ankara was also gladdened by Moscow’s response to the July 15, 2016, failed coup in Turkey.

Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to phone Erdogan offering support and sharing none of the scruples of EU leaders about the ensuing crackdown.

Houston businessman Tilman Fertitta agrees to buy Rockets for record $2.2 billion

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20588603/tilman-fertitta-agrees-purchase-houston-rockets-record-price-22-billion

 

The Houston Rockets have been sold to local billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who called the purchase of his hometown team a “dream come true.”

Terms of the sale, which was announced Tuesday, were not disclosed. A league source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, however, that Fertitta agreed to purchase the team from Leslie Alexander for $2.2 billion, a record sale price for an NBA franchise.

The sale is pending approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Fertitta is a native of Galveston, Texas, and has had courtside seats at Rockets games for the past several years.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets,” Fertitta said in a statement released by the team. “This is a life-long dream come true.”

The Rockets acknowledged the timing of the sale as Houston recovers from historic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, saying “it is truly unfortunate that this announcement is occurring amidst the aftermath of one of the biggest tragedies in the history of our great City.”

Alexander and Fertitta agreed in principle to the sale of the team Monday, league sources told Wojnarowski.

The Rockets were valued at $1.65 billion — eighth-most valuable in the NBA — by Forbes magazine earlier this year but received multiple offers that started at $2 billion, league sources told Wojnarowski.

Fertitta owns Landry’s, Inc., one of the nation’s biggest restaurant corporations, and Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. The Rockets said in a statement that Fertitta has no other partners in connection with the transaction, which also includes operation of the Toyota Center in Houston.

If the sale of the franchise is approved, the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas will not be able to offer betting on Rockets games.

Feritta told KRIV-Fox 26 earlier this year that he was interested in buying the Rockets after Alexander announced that the franchise was for sale. Fertitta also told KRIV-Fox 26 that he planned to keep the Rockets in Houston.

An original investor in the NFL’s Houston Texans, Fertitta offered $81 million to buy the Rockets in 1993, but the team was sold to Alexander for $85 million.

“I am excited to welcome and pass the torch to Tilman,” Alexander said in a statement. “He is a Houstonian, business leader and committed to the success and excellence of the Rockets both on and off the basketball court. I have personally known Tilman for over 24 years and don’t think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of our Houston Rockets.”

The Rockets won the NBA title in the first two seasons after Alexander bought the team. In 24 seasons under Alexander’s ownership, the Rockets have won 56.9 percent of their games, fifth-best in the league.

“Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity,” Fertitta said. “He has the heart of a champion. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA’s approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston.”

Israel finalizes agreements to buy 17 more F-35 jets

Israel finalized its agreement to buy 17 more advanced F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin on Sunday, the Defense Ministry said, which will bring the air force’s fleet of the aircraft to 50.

The initial decision to purchase the 17 additional F-35 fighters was made by the security cabinet in November 2016, but it took an additional nine months to hammer out the agreement with the United States and Lockheed Martin.

Israel is currently in possession of five F-35 stealth fighters, the first of them delivered in December 2016, and the air force will continue to receive the remaining 45 in small batches over the next few years.

The initial order of 33 F-35 jets is expected to be completely delivered by 2021. The new batch of 17 airplanes is set to arrive by December 2024, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

An F-35 fighter jet lands in the Nevatim air base in southern Israel on December 12, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

According to the air force, the state-of-the-art aircraft are expected to be declared operational by next year.

“Completing the deal to acquire 17 F-35 planes represents a significant and strategic addition of strength to the air force,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement.

The defense minister also noted that this deal is further evidence of “how deep the connection and military relations are between the State of Israel and our great friend the United States.”

In its statement, the Defense Ministry would not specify the exact cost of the fighters, but it noted that for the first time, the F-35 jets will cost under NIS 358 million ($100 million) per airplane, which means the additional aircraft will likely set Israel back at least NIS 6.09 billion ($1.7 billion), not including the costs of additional maintenance and support equipment.

Lockheed Martin unveils Israel's first F-35 fighter jet in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 22, 2016. (Lockheed Martin)

Dovi Lavi, the head of the Defense Ministry’s delegation in Washington, praised the US Defense Department for negotiating with Lockheed Martin to bring down the price.

“This is a significant decrease in price compared to the airplanes that the State of Israel has purchased until now,” Lavi said.

The F-35 — known in Israel as the Adir, meaning “awesome” or “mighty” in Hebrew — is a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet equipped with an array of the latest technology that is expected to anchor the Israel Air Force for years to come.

Despite taking years to produce, a high price tag, and suffering numerous setbacks, Israel’s purchase of the 17 additional F-35s appeared to be a show of confidence in the plane and its abilities.

Israel receives over $3 billion a year from the US in military aid, and early this year the two countries agreed on a new aid package that will see Israel receive $3.8 billion annually through 2028, the vast majority of which must be used on purchases from American defense companies.

POLAND TO BUY ISRAELI-MADE PATRIOT MISSILES

 

Poland has signed a memorandum of intent with the United States to buy the Patriot missile system along with interceptor missiles from Israel’s David Sling missile defense system in a deal worth close to $8 billion.

“A memorandum was signed tonight that the US government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration,” Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said on Thursday.

 

In light of ongoing tensions in eastern Europe following Russia’s occupation of Crimea, and ongoing fighting in the Ukraine, Poland has been modernizing its military, spending over $14.5b. on acquiring new weapons and military equipment, including new aerial defense systems.

The deal with US defense contractor Raytheon, which would see Poland buy eight Patriot missile defense systems, is expected to be finalized in November of this year.

While a spokesman for Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems stated that no deal has yet been signed, according to reports, the company would make an estimated $1b. from the deal, making it one of the largest deals ever signed by Rafael. Once the deal is signed, Poland will become the first export client of David Sling’s interceptor missile.

According to Ynet news, Warsaw insisted that the Patriot system be configured to use the Israeli missile due to its superior performance at only 10% of the cost of the American Patriot missile, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, low-flying cruise missiles as well as aircraft.

While a Patriot missile costs $4.5 million, a David’s Sling missile costs $450,000.

Marketed abroad under the name “Skyceptor,” David’s Sling is a joint Israeli-US project, with Rafael collaborating with Raytheon, which also produces the Patriot missile system.

Other components of the system were developed by Elta – a subdivision of Israel Aerospace Industries – which developed the system’s radar, and the Elisra subdivision of Elbit Systems, which developed the command and control mechanisms.

Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The David’s Sling missile defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 km. and 300 km.

Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 Billion

Amazon agreed to buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, in a deal that will instantly transform the company that pioneered online shopping into a merchant with physical outposts in hundreds of neighborhoods across the country.

The acquisition, announced Friday, is a reflection of both the sheer magnitude of the grocery business — about $800 billion in annual spending in the United States — and a desire to turn Amazon into a more frequent shopping habit by becoming a bigger player in food and beverages. After almost a decade selling groceries online, Amazon has failed to make a major dent on its own as consumers have shown a stubborn urge to buy items like fruits, vegetables and meat in person.

Buying Whole Foods also represents a major escalation in the company’s long-running battle with Walmart, the largest grocery retailer in the United States, which has been struggling to play catch-up in internet shopping. On Friday, Walmart announced a $310 million deal to acquire the internet apparel retailer Bonobos, and last year it agreed to pay $3.3 billion for Jet.com and put Jet’s chief executive, Marc Lore, in charge of Walmart’s overall e-commerce business.

“Make no mistake, Walmart under no circumstances can lose the grocery wars to Amazon,” said Brittain Ladd, a strategy and supply chain consultant who formerly worked with Amazon on its grocery business. “If Walmart loses the grocery battle to Amazon, they have no chance of ever dethroning Amazon as the largest e-commerce player in the world.”

The idea of Amazon, a company founded 23 years ago on the premise of shopping from the comfort of a computer screen, moving forcefully into the crowded field of brick-and-mortar retail, with its limitations on selection and lack of customer reviews, once seemed ludicrous. But in the past several years, the company has dabbled with stores, opening or planning more than a dozen bookstores around the country.

Amazon Is Trying to Do (and Sell) Everything

The company’s $13.4 billion deal for Whole Foods is the latest signal of Amazon’s ambitions to have a hold on nearly every facet our lives — like the computer servers that power our favorite websites and the food we eat.

In Seattle, it recently opened two grocery drive-through stores where customers can pick up online orders, along with a convenience store called Amazon Go that uses sensors and software to let shoppers sail through the exits without visiting a cashier.

The addition of Whole Foods takes Amazon’s physical presence to a new level. The grocery chain includes more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and Britain with sales of $16 billion in the last fiscal year. Mikey Vu, a partner at the consultancy Bain & Company who is focused on retail, said, “They’re going to be within an hour or 30 minutes of as many people as possible.”

Founded in 1978 in Austin, Tex., Whole Foods is best known for its organic foods, building its brand on healthy eating and fresh, local produce and meats. It has also long been caricatured as “Whole Paycheck” for the high prices it charges for groceries. That conflicts with a core tenet of Amazon, which has made low prices part of its mission as a retailer.

Analysts speculated that Amazon could use its $99-a-year Prime membership service, which gives customers free, two-day shipping and other benefits, to offer Whole Foods customers a better price on groceries, as it does for books in its bookstores. The stores could also serve as an advertisement to get more customers to sign up for Prime; in September the financial firm Cowen & Company estimated that Prime had 49 million subscribers in the United States, representing about 44 percent of households.

Amazon has been on a multiyear offensive to open warehouses closer to customers so it can deliver orders in as little as two hours, and Whole Foods stores will further narrow Amazon’s physical proximity to its shoppers. The stores could become locations for returning online orders of all kinds. Amazon could also use them to cut delivery times for online orders.

The $13.4 billion deal, which does not include net debt, immediately raised questions about whether Amazon’s experiments with automation, like the cashier-less checkout technology it is testing in its Amazon Go store, could eventually lead to job losses at Whole Foods stores.

“Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs,” Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said in a statement. “That is the reality today at Amazon, and it will no doubt become the reality at Whole Foods.”

Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, said it has no plans to use the Amazon Go technology to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods and no job reductions are planned as a result of the deal. Whole Foods workers are not unionized.

The move to buy Whole Foods is a further sign of the outsize ambitions of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and founder, who came under fire from Donald J. Trump during the presidential campaign last year, when Mr. Trump said Mr. Bezos had a “huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much.”

Nicole Navas Oxman, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, declined to comment about whether its antitrust division saw any issues with the proposed acquisition. Law professors who specialize in antitrust said it was unlikely regulators would block the deal.

“One question would be, does an online seller of groceries compete with a brick-and-mortar grocery store, and I think the answer is ‘yes, at some level, but that overlap is probably not terribly great,’” said John E. Lopatka, a professor of antitrust law at Penn State University.

If the deal goes through, Amazon and Whole Foods will still only account for about 3.5 percent of grocery spending in the United States, making it the country’s fifth-largest grocery retailer, according to estimates by John Blackledge, an analyst at Cowen & Company.

Groceries are purchased five times a month on average by shoppers, compared with the four times a month Amazon Prime customers typically shop on the site and two times for people who do not have Prime memberships, Cowen estimates.

“If you open up groceries, it could increase the frequency,” Mr. Blackledge said.

For Whole Foods, the deal represents a chance to fend off pressure from activist investors frustrated by a sluggish stock price as it has faced fierce competition from Costco, Safeway and Walmart, which have begun offering organic produce and kitchen staples, forcing Whole Foods to slash prices. Money managers, unhappy with the pace of the turnaround effort, have pushed for more, taking aim at the board, its grocery offerings and its pricey real estate holdings.

In response, Whole Foods has revamped its board and replaced its chief financial officer. Gabrielle Sulzberger, a private equity executive, was named the company’s chairwoman. Ms. Sulzberger is married to Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and publisher of The New York Times.

Investors are betting there may be other buyers interested in Whole Foods, and by late Friday the company’s shares rose above Amazon’s $42 a share offer, nearly 30 percent higher for the day. Amazon closed at $987.71 a share, up 2.4 percent.

Even with the bigger physical presence Amazon will gain through Whole Foods, it will have far less reach than Walmart and its Sam’s Club warehouse chain, which together account for about 18 percent of the grocery market. Walmart has almost 10 times the number of stores as Whole Foods does.

“We feel great about our position, with more than 4,500 stores around the country and fast growing e-commerce and online grocery businesses,” Greg Hitt, a spokesman for Walmart, said in a statement.

Alexa envy: Samsung may go on a $1 billion spending spree to buy up AI companies

Samsung may be about to embark on an epic spending spree acquiring companies dedicated to artificial intelligence. A report from South Korea, quoting an anonymous executive from Samsung’s United States offices, says it has a $1 billion budget put aside for buying up exciting firms working on AI.

The massive sum won’t only be used for acquisitions, but also to invest in companies involved in AI. Although there’s no question a billion dollars will buy you plenty of talent and tech, it’s still only a fraction of the $8 billion Samsung recently spent acquiring Harman International. However, while the two may not initially seem connected — Harman is best known for its in-car infotainment systems and other audio/visual equipment — it has divisions hard at work on AI projects, smart cities, and voice control. These are all key applications for AI and machine learning technology.

More: Everything we think we know about the Samsung Galaxy S8

The Harman deal hints at Samsung’s deeper interest in AI and the companies working on it, but there has been plenty more overt evidence. The most obvious is Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs, an AI company from the team behind Apple’s Siri, plus the many references to its own AI assistant coming soon, which we currently known as Bixby. Additionally, through its Catalyst investment arm, Samsung contributed to SoundCloud’s recent funding round, focusing on development of its Houndify AI platform. Joining the Catalyst program is Samsung Next, a $150 million fund for startups specializing in VR, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence.

Samsung has also spoken officially about its interest in buying up AI companies. In mid-2016, Samsung’s head of software research and development told Bloomberg, “We are actively looking for M&A targets of all sorts in the software area. We are open to all possibilities, including artificial intelligence. Intelligence is no longer an option. It’s a must.”

Samsung’s head of home appliances repeated a similar line during a CES 2017 interview. “We will continue to make efforts to develop technology and products that can really read the minds of the consumers, so they don’t even have to move a finger when the want to do something,” the executive is quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

This is the first time we’re hearing about a possible number attached to Samsung’s interest in AI, and it’s large enough to show the depth of its intent. Our first look at Samsung’s big artificial intelligence push may come with the Galaxy S8, which is expected to feature Bixby, an AI assistant to rival Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/samsung-billion-artificial-intelligence-fund-news/#ixzz4ZO1N7FqO
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Kushner family (Kikes) in talks to buy Miami Marlins

(JTA) — The family of presidential adviser Jared Kushner is in talks to purchase the Miami Marlins baseball team, The New York Times reported.

The Kushners, a New York area real estate family, regard the team’s $1.6 billion price tag as too high, the Times reported Thursday.

The negotiations, which have been ongoing for several months, are being led by Joshua Kushner, a venture capitalist and Jared’s younger brother, and Joseph Meyer, his brother-in-law and key lieutenant for the family’s investments.

The talks include a complicated financial arrangement that would include bringing in partners later, unnamed sources told the Times.

Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to President Donald Trump and the husband of his eldest daughter, Ivanka. The couple married in 2009 following her conversion to Judaism.

Neither Jared Kushner nor his father, Charles, the family patriarch who spent over a year in prison for illegal campaign donations, tax evasion and witness tampering, is participating in the effort, the sources added.

Any deal would have to be approved by Major League Baseball, which would closely scrutinize the buyer’s financing and probably seek to ensure that Charles Kushner had no role in operations, according to the Times report.

Jared Kushner, who has pledged to refrain from any involvement in transactions tied to his family to avoid the possibility of conflict of interests, had previously bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers with his brother. They eventually withdrew from the bidding in 2012. The winning group paid over $2 billion.

Representatives for the Kushners, the Marlins and the LionTree investment bank declined to comment when approached by the Times.

The Marlins are currently owned by Jeffrey Loria, a Jewish businessman from New York. He paid $158 million for the team in 2002 after selling the Montreal Expos back to Major League Baseball.

The Marlins won the World Series in 2003, defeating the New York Yankees, but since then have not returned to the playoffs.

Qatar agrees to buy $12m in fuel for Gaza power plant

Qatar has agreed to pay $12 million for fuel for the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant, in a move that seeks to end the serious energy crisis gripping the Palestinian enclave.

Gaza is currently experiencing the worst electricity shortage in years, with power supplied to households only three to four hours a day in a cold winter.

In recent weeks, Gaza residents have staged spontaneous demonstrations, including a demonstration Thursday night that saw thousands of Palestinians streaming through the streets of Jabaliya, located in the northern part of the Strip, demanding more electricity. Hamas cracked down on the dissent, arresting protesters and targeting journalists covering the protests.

Qatar agreed to the deal following a meeting Sunday in Doha between Hamas Deputy Political Leader Ismail Haniyeh and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, emir of the State of Qatar, Hamas said in an online statement.

أمير دولة قطر يوعز للسفير القطري بتنفيذ خطوات عملية في حل أزمة الكهرباء في قطاع على عدة مستويات.

Following the meeting, according to the statement, the Qatari leader ordered “urgent action to implement a number of steps to resolve the electricity crisis in Gaza.”

The Chairman of the Qatari National Committee for Reconstruction of Gaza, Muhammad al-Amadi called the Acting Director of the Palestinian Energy Authority Zafer Milhem, and told him Qatar agreed to pay four million dollars a month over the next three months, the Hamas-linked site Pal Info Center reported.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah confirmed the $12 million deal in statement to the official PA news outlet Wafa. He attributed the deal’s success to Abbas’s “continual communication” with Qatar.

The two million residents of Gaza require around 450-500 megawatts of power per day, but are receiving less than half of that. With cold winters, demand has spiked — leading to the shortages.

On Saturday, Turkey pledged to send 15,000 tons of fuel to the Gaza Strip in an effort to end the crippling electricity shortage in the Palestinian enclave.

A Palestinian girl does her homework during a power cut in the Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, on January 4, 2017. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

A Palestinian girl does her homework during a power cut in the Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, on January 4, 2017. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Energy authorities are desperately cash-strapped, in part because of unpaid bills. Nearly 70 percent of households do not pay their electricity bills, either because they can’t afford it or because of lax collection, the UN estimates.

Life has become increasingly difficult for Gaza’s 2 million residents, who are squeezed into the tiny coastal territory. Hamas’s violent takeover a decade ago triggered a border blockade by Israel and Egypt that, among other things, sharply aggravated power shortages.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah, which dominates the PA, in a bloody battle in 2007.

The two factions have been unable to form a unity government and have been in an extended dispute over tax bills on fuel imports.

AT&T Agrees to Buy Time Warner (Jewish Company) for $85.4 Billion (NOT GOOD!!!)

In the world of media, bigger remains better.

So in the wake of Comcast’s $30 billion takeover of NBCUniversal and Verizon Communications’ serial acquisitions of the Huffington Post and Yahoo, AT&T has bought one of the remaining crown jewels of the entertainment industry.

The telecommunications giant agreed on Saturday to buy Time Warner, the home of HBO and CNN, for about $85.4 billion, creating a new colossus capable of both producing content and distributing it to millions with wireless phones, broadband subscriptions and satellite TV connections.

The proposed deal is likely to spur yet more consolidation among media companies, which have already looked to partners to get bigger. This year, Lionsgate struck a deal to buy the pay-TV channel Starz for $4.4 billion. And the Redstone family, which controls both CBS and Viacom, has urged the corporate siblings, which split 10 years ago, to consider reuniting.

AT&T and Time Warner said both of their boards unanimously approved the deal.

“When Jeff and I started talking, it became clear to us very quickly that we shared a very similar vision,” Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, told reporters on a conference call on Saturday, referring to Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive. “Time Warner, we believe, is the clear leader in premium content.”

 

Most analysts and investors have noted that Time Warner was part of one of the biggest merger follies of all time, when it sold itself to AOL at the height of the dot-com boom. That combination — also pitched on the idea of uniting content and the internet — proved unwieldy and was later stripped apart to a few core businesses.

This time, however, the rise of online outlets like Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube and the shift of younger customers from traditional media have pressured media companies to seek out consolidation partners. These media companies are anticipating drops in fees from cable service providers and declining revenue from advertisers. Getting bigger would give them more negotiating leverage with both service providers and with advertisers.

Among their top priorities is finding new ways of reaching consumers. HBO, for example, offers its HBO Now service to deliver shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld” to consumers who do not have cable subscriptions.

Even Disney, widely seen as the strongest content company, with brands like Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, has been grappling with how to overcome challenges facing its network channels. ESPN, which long served as a growth engine, is now facing declining ratings and subscriber erosion, putting advertising sales into question.

“The biggest thing that we’re trying to do now is figure out what technology’s role is in distributing the great content that we have,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said at a presentation at Boston College on Oct. 5.

Comcast’s takeover of NBC has proved a model for this new world of media deal-making. While the cable giant has occasionally been scrutinized for possible regulatory violations, NBCUniversal has generally thrived under its current ownership, with NBC enjoying a ratings comeback and Universal delivering a wide range of hit films, from blockbusters like “Jurassic World” to dramas like “Straight Outta Compton.”

Still, Time Warner’s deal with AT&T is likely to face tough scrutiny from government regulators increasingly skeptical of power being consolidated among a few titans. Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, indicated on Saturday that he would seek to block the merger if elected “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

Over the last decade, Time Warner has spent significant time selling or spinning off AOL, many of the Time Inc. stable of publications, and Time Warner Cable, which was sold to another cable operator. The remaining businesses are HBO, one of the most-admired pay-TV channels; Warner Bros. movie studios; and cable channels that include CNN, TNT, Turner Sports and TBS.

Overseeing much of Time Warner’s downsizing was Mr. Bewkes, for whom Saturday’s agreement serves as validation of sorts. He faced tough questions two years ago when he turned down 21st Century Fox’s bid of $85 a share, arguing that the offer sharply undervalued his company.

Now, Mr. Bewkes has found a suitor willing to offer significantly more — $107.50 a share in cash and stock — and done so at a time when media companies are under pressure to strike their own deals. AT&T’s offer represents a roughly 35 percent premium to where Time Warner’s stock was trading before news reports of the merger talks emerged.

“Time Warner chairman and C.E.O. Jeff Bewkes and his senior management team can see where the entire legacy media world is headed: secular decline,” Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG, wrote in a research note on Saturday.

Mr. Greenfield added, “We believe Bewkes will end up being remembered as the smartest C.E.O. in sector — knowing when to sell and not overstaying his welcome to maximize value for shareholders.”

The announcement on Saturday also affirms the ambitious deal-making of AT&T. One of the former so-called Baby Bells that arose from the 1982 breakup of the original AT&T, the company has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on acquisitions to reconstitute some of its parent’s empire.

TIMELINE
AT&T’s History of Invention and Breakups
AT&T, once known informally as Ma Bell, is a storied American brand that goes back under a succession of names to the late 19th century, after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

That has included buying DirecTV for $48.5 billion, adding satellite TV subscriptions as an additional source of negotiating leverage with content providers, along with the satellite company’s steady stream of cash.

AT&T has also made other moves to acquire content. It has set up a joint venture with Peter Chernin, a prominent media executive, and the company was one of the bidders for Yahoo this year.

The telecom company has also been working on its own online video service, for which Time Warner’s trove of media could prove enormously helpful. Combining with AT&T is meant to accelerate those efforts, Mr. Bewkes said. “We think this is great for continued innovation in content,” he said during Saturday’s conference call.

Still, AT&T’s biggest rivals have not stood still. Comcast struck an agreement this spring to buy DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, adding the “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises to its media holdings.

Verizon has charted a different course, focusing more on internet-based properties and advertising technology players rather than traditional media companies. Its $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo, rooted in the aging tech company’s hundreds of millions of users, follows previous takeovers of the Huffington Post and AOL.

Not everyone seems persuaded by the latest flurry of deal-making. Disney commented on the deal in a statement late Saturday, saying, “A transaction of this magnitude obviously warrants very close regulatory scrutiny.”

Senator Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, also put out a statement cautioning approval. “I will be looking closely at what this merger means for consumers and their pocketbooks, and whether it stands up to stands up to the rigorous review standards set by the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in the last few years,” he said.

And in a Twitter post on Saturday, Steve Case, the former chief executive of AOL responsible for the doomed merger with Time Warner, wrote of AT&T’s move, “#DejaVu.”