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Samsung scion's defense fights back as legal appeal begins

SEOUL (Reuters) – The heir to South Korea’s Samsung Group appeared in a packed court on Thursday for the first day of arguments in the appeal of his five-year jail term for corruption.

The 49-year-old Jay Y. Lee was convicted by a lower court in August of bribing former president Park Geun-hye to help strengthen his control of the crown jewel in the conglomerate, Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s biggest technology companies.

The appellate court hearing the appeal is likely to try to rule on the case by next February, legal experts said. Whichever side loses could take the case to the Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in South Korea.

Lee’s presence marked his first public appearance since the August ruling. He did not speak during the early proceedings other than giving his birth date and address.

The lower court in August had ruled that while Lee never asked for Park’s help directly, the fact that a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates did help cement Lee’s control over Samsung Electronics “implied” he was asking for the president’s help to strengthen his control of the firm.

The defense strongly challenged the lower court’s logic that Lee’s actions “implied” solicitation for help from Park by providing financial support for the former president’s close friend and confidante Choi Soon-sil.

The prosecution, which has lodged a cross-appeal against the lower court ruling that found Lee innocent on some charges, said the court’s decision to not acknowledge explicit solicitation for Park’s help from Samsung despite the evidence found “did not make sense”.

DEFENSE FIGHTS BACK

The defense, which spent much of its time during the initial trial refuting the prosecution’s individual charges, is expected to focus on a few key arguments in the appeal – including whether there was in fact an “ordinary type of bribery” as defined under South Korean law, which says only civil servants come under the statute.

Park’s friend Choi was not a civil servant.

The lower court found that Samsung’s financial support of 7.2 billion won ($ 6.27 million) to sponsor the equestrian career of Choi’s daughter constituted an ordinary type of bribery, as “it can be considered the same as she (Park) herself receiving it.”

The defense is expected to strongly challenge this by saying that the prosecution, on whom the burden of proof lies, has not proved collusion between Park and Choi.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Neil Fullick

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Uber’s path to win back London: data, fines and fees

(Reuters) – If history is a guide, Uber Technologies new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi is likely to dangle data sharing and a promise to pay fines and fees when he sits down with London officials to negotiate the ride service’s future in one of its most important markets.

From the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, the strategy has worked time and time again for the San Francisco company.

London transportation officials last month deemed Uber [UBER.UL] unfit to operate because of lax corporate responsibility. The move threatens an Uber stronghold at a time when Khosrowshahi is trying to salvage the company’s reputation after a series of scandals.

Police have complained that Uber was not disclosing or taking too long to report serious crimes tied to its rides, and London mayor Sadiq Khan backed the decision to pull Uber’s license.

Khosrowshahi already offered a contrite public response, which is unusual for Uber, in an open-letter apology to Londoners “for the mistakes we’ve made.” He’s also armed with local support: more than 840,000 Londoners have signed an Uber petition urging city to reconsider its decision.

Khosrowshahi is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Transport for London Commissioner Mike Brown.

A deal would be a big victory for the new Uber leader, and securing a surcharge or new data on drivers could be a win for Khan, Uber’s highest profile critic and chair of the regulator.

Uber has been willing to pay fines and institute fees in local disputes around the world. But when pressed, it has also shut down in several markets to protest measures that it says slow the service for customers or hinder driver recruitment. As recently as last week, Uber said it would pull out of Quebec rather than agree to 35 hours of training for drivers.

Uber declined to comment on London bargaining tactics. It has said it wants to work with the city “to make things right.”

There is no certainty of a deal, and neither side has portrayed the Tuesday meeting as a negotiations. But with the stake so high – 3.5 million customers won over by price and convenience have made it Uber’s biggest European market – a deal for both sides makes sense.

“The mayor just wants to get something to show constituents upset with Uber some action,” said Bruce Shaller, a former New York City transport official who has authored a book on ride-hailing apps. “Transport for London would look unreasonable to let Uber walk away.”

DATA DEALS

Uber is often described as a “big data” company that thrives because it can match customer needs to driver availability, predicting where cars will be needed and dynamically tailoring fares based on expected demand.

Though it has been loathe to share information for privacy and business reasons, awarding limited data access to cities has solved several standoffs.

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to limit the number of Uber cars in the city to clear up traffic, the company released data that helped show congestion would persist and agreed to give the city ongoing data such as the location and time of pickups.

Uber also launched a personal and public campaign in New York against the mayor, similar to the London petition but with criticism aimed directly at de Blasio. De Blasio dropped the proposal.

Portland, Oregon let Uber back into the city in 2015 after a similar promise of trip data – and a fee of 50 cents per ride to pay for oversight. The information helps the city check compliance with requirements such as 24-hour, citywide service.

“We’ve been able to use data from the company and the resources from the rides’ fees to create a regulatory scheme that is robust,” said Brendan Finn, chief of staff to Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who played the role of swing vote and wasn’t otherwise an Uber backer.

Uber has paid fines to other regulators for access: a one-month suspension in the Philippines was lifted early, once Uber paid almost $ 10 million to the government and drivers in August. Last year, Uber agreed to a $ 7.6 million fine in California to avoid suspension over a delay in turning over data sought for an analysis on the neighborhoods the company served.

Still, Uber has drawn lines when the convenience and affordability that has helped its offering stand out is threatened. The company suspended operations in places such as Macau, Bulgaria, Denmark and Hungary that are all mandating terms the company has called financially unbearable for itself and its drivers.

And talks with Australia’s Northern Territory province have been bogged down over a proposed registration fee of around $ 500 for each driver and a small per-ride fee, which Uber said were not affordable.

In Quebec, the company has provided 20 hours of training for new drivers. When the province said it wanted 35, in line with training for taxi operators, Uber said it would pull out in mid-October.

“They are more than happy with regulation,” a former Uber public policy official speaking on the condition of anonymity said of the company. “But it has to enable the market for ride sharing, and it has to exist for a public policy reason.”

Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco, Eric Auchard in Frankfurt, Julia Fioretti in Brussels, Costas Pitas and Kate Holton in London and Julie Astrid Thomsen and Teis Jensen in Copenhagen; editing by Peter Henderson and Edward Tobin

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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With Half A Billion Customers Lost, McDonald’s Gambles On Mobile Ordering To Get Them Back

McDonald’s has always boasted about the billions of customers it has served. But now it has a big problem: the 500 million potential visitors it estimates it’s lost in the past five years. It hopes mobile ordering and curbside delivery will lure them back.


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The journalist sent to Sweden by a Twitter troll reports back

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It’s been a week since independent journalist Tim Pool took up InfoWars editor-at-large and alt-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson’s offer to come to Malmo, Sweden, to investigate violence allegedly committed by migrants and refugees in the country. 

So far, Pool has posted a clip for each day he’s been in the country. Topics have ranged from a sit-down with a business owner, chatting with Ivar Arpi about self-censorship, and one Muslim resident’s perspective on the situation.

There’s also video of Pool exploring the supposed most violent “no-go zones,” escorted by Deputy Mayor Nils Karlsson.  Read more…

More about Infowars, Journalism, Tim Pool, Sweden, and Twitter


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Your Favorite Lightning Cables Are Back On Sale

Anker’s PowerLine cables are our readers’ favorite way to charge, and iPhone owners can upgrade on the cheap today. Choose from two 6′ cables for $ 16, or a single 3′ Powerline+ cable (which adds a nylon braided exterior to the kevlar-reinforced interior) for $ 10.

Read more…


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The Back Button On The Right Side Of The Phone Is Dumb, And I Blame Samsung

The back button should always be on the left side


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New Two-Lensed Camera Shows What It’s Like to Ride on the Back of Whale

Researchers from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station have developed a two-lensed camera that sticks to the backs of filter-feeding whales with suction cups. The new device has been used to capture unprecedented footage of whales in action, and it’s offering new insights into the feeding and swimming behaviors of these aquatic beasts.

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The Only Thing Left Holding Back Chinese Phones From Challenging iPhone And Samsung

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In my review of the Huawei P9, I gushed about how the device was so well-built, it threw the “Made in China” stigma out the window. In the months since, I’ve used several more Chinese phones, and my stance on that has only strengthened. The OnePlus 3, Meizu MX6, Xiaomi Mi
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Reportedly Perverted Penguins Are Now Being Harassed Back… By Climate Change

A century ago, a biologist’s observations of the “depraved” sex acts of antarctic Adélie penguins so disturbed him that he never published them and the records were lost until 2012. Now, new research finds the same species of polar bird is under threat by the potential perversion of the climate.


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VW Needs Incisive Leadership Fast; Could Piech Come Back As Interim CEO?

Volkswagen faces a crisis demanding urgent executive action which can only be handled by the short-term return of recently deposed Chairman Ferdinand Piech as CEO, or the appointment of Hans Dieter Poetsch as interim CEO.


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