Reuters

Technology • Internet & Web
Telegram and Signal have unprecedented growth after a controversial change in WhatsApp's privacy terms
Telegram and Signal have unprecedented growth after a controversial change in WhatsApp's privacy terms
Credit: Signal Foundation

Messaging applications Telegram and Signal see impressive user growth in the wake of confusion over updated terms of service notification from Facebook-owned encrypted messaging service WhatsApp.

Telegram said on Wednesday it had surpassed 500 million active users globally, while Signal took the number 1 spot on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store's top free apps lists this week.

Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp before selling it to Facebook and then co-founding the Signal Foundation, told Reuters that "We’ve seen unprecedented growth this past week." He also said Signal was working to improve its video and group chat functions, allowing it to compete better with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and other conferencing apps that have become vital to day-to-day life over the past year. Privacy advocates have jumped on the WhatsApp changes, pointing to what they say is Facebook's poor track record of supporting consumers' interests when handling their data, with many suggesting users migrate to other platforms.

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Apple aims to produce self-driving cars by 2024, Reuters reports
Apple aims to produce self-driving cars by 2024, Reuters reports
Credit: unsplash/Carles Rabada

Reuters reports that Apple is aiming to produce self-driving passenger vehicles, known as "Project Titan", by 2024. The cars are rumoured to include a breakthrough battery technology, sources told Reuters. Apple has declined to comment on the matter.

Regional News • Asia • China
China to vaccinate 50m people in high-priority group by Lunar New Year
China to vaccinate 50m people in high-priority group by Lunar New Year
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters is reporting that China plans to vaccinate 50 million people by the Lunar New Year in mid-February, with the Sichuan province starting the vaccination roll-out by early January. High-priority groups will receive the Covid-19 vaccination by Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech Ltd first, these include health workers, police officers, firefighters, customs officers, cargo handlers, transport and logistics workers.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US considers lifting entry bans for Europeans
Cologne Bonn Airport in April 2020
Cologne Bonn Airport in April 2020 Credit: © Raimond Spekking (via Wikimedia Commons) (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters reports that the White House is considering lifting travel bans for Brazil, UK, Ireland and numerous European countries. Even though President Trump has not made a final decision on the matter, the White House coronavirus task-force, as well as public health and federal agencies, back the plan to reopen the borders for international travel.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook to be possibly shut down in Vietnam following censorship requests
Facebook to be possibly shut down in Vietnam following censorship requests
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

A senior official from Facebook has told Reuters that the Vietnamese government is pressuring the platform to censor more local political content on the social network. If the company does not comply it could face a ban in the country. Vietnam's foreign ministry stated on the matter that "spreading information that violates traditional Vietnamese customs and infringes upon state interests".

Regional News • Americas • United States
US reports over 100,000 cases in 24-hour-period, global daily record
US reports over 100,000 cases in 24-hour-period, global daily record
Credit: Navy Medicine from Washington, DC, USA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States have reported 100,233 Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour-period, setting a global single day record, according to Reuters. India previously set a single day record in September with a total of 97,894 cases.

Regional News • Europe
Rome to impose a nightly curfew
Rome during the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020
Rome during the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020 Credit: Camelia.boban (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Lazio region in Italy that includes the capital Rome plans to introduce a curfew from midnight to 5 am to try to reduce the surging Covid-19 infections.

According to Reuters, sources in the regional government said the new rules would be effective from Friday. Also, the source said, the region would introduce restrictions on schools and universities.

Business • Entrepreneurship & Startups
The We Company reverts back to WeWork name
The We Company reverts back to WeWork name
Credit: unsplash.com/Eloise Ambursley

The We Company, once known as WeWork, will revert its name back to WeWork.

"We want to be strategic. We want to be innovative. We want to be impactful. We want to be WeWork," so the new CEO of the once and future WeWork, Sandeep Mathrani in the internal memo seen by Reuters.

The "We" brand was first introduced in January 2019 as the parent company of shared office provider WeWork to broaden its brand from shared office spaces to a lifestyle company.

Regional News • Asia
Pakistan also bans TikTok
Pakistan also bans TikTok
Credit: Kon Karampelas

Pakistan officials announced Friday a ban on TikTok after receiving complaints of "immoral and indecent" content on the popular video-sharing app.

In a press release, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority stated that given a "number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video sharing application TikTok, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued instructions for blocking of the application."

Reuters quotes an official involved in the decision: "We have been asking them repeatedly to put in place an effective mechanism for blocking immoral and indecent content."

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
KLM flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam searched after bomb threat
A KLM Boeing 737
A KLM Boeing 737 Credit: Julian Herzog (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters reports that the Saturday KLM flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam (KL1376) was evacuated before just before the departure on after a bomb threat was received, which later appeared to have been a false alarm.

KLM informed that passengers and crew have been taken off-board of the Boeing 737 and are safe, the flight will departure now on Sunday

Business • Economy
Spain: CaixaBank and Bankia merger blessed by shareholders
Spain: CaixaBank and Bankia merger blessed by shareholders
Credit: CaixaBank

Spanish banks CaixaBank and Bankia teams agreed to a merger that would create an entity with total assets of about 665 billion. Reuters reports that sources close to the deal confirmed the main shareholders greenlight the merger, to be signed in the next few days.

The new bank would surpass Santander and BBVA in the Spanish market with a combined market share of around 30%. Both Santander and BBVA would remain bigger globally, but not in Spain.

Regional News • Europe
Belarus: Accreditations from western media journalists removed

Journalists working for western media outlets had their accreditations removed on Saturday in Belarus. This comes a day after a German ARD TV crew was arrested in their hotel and later deported. Journalists affected worked for Reuters, Radio Liberty, AFP, AP and BBC, among others.

Climate & Environment
Mauritius arrests captain of Japanese ship over oil spill
MV Wakashio
MV Wakashio Credit: Nagashiki Shipping

The authorities of Mauritius arrested Tuesday, the captain of the Japanese vessel MV Wakashio. The ship struck the coral reef off the Indian Ocean island nation on July 25 and caused a massive oil spill.

Inspector Siva Coothen told Reuters: "We have arrested the captain of the vessel and another member of the crew. After having been heard by the court they have been denied bail and are still in detention."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
The German government denies recent call between Merkel-Lukashenko happened
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko Credit: Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters report that a spokesman for the German government denied that any phone call had taken place between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko since the August 9 election.

Earlier Monday Interfax news agency reported Alexander Lukashenko said he received a phone call on Sunday from the German Chancellor.

Regional News • Asia • China
ByteDance accused of censoring anti-China content in Indonesia
ByteDance Logo
ByteDance Logo Credit: ByteDance

Reuters reports that, from 2018 to mid-2020, ByteDance censored content in its BaBe app in Indonesia. According to Reuters sources, local moderators were instructed to remove content perceived as critical of the Chinese government.

Articles with references to 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, or to Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, were among those taken down.

In a statement, BaBe disagreed with the claims: "A cursory search on the BaBe app shows numerous articles and videos that highlight the type of content these claims say we would remove."

ByteDante has previously faced criticism as TikTok, one of their applications, has been criticizes for its alleged data harvesting on behalf of the Chinese state.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Boeing 737 MAX not expected to fly before October
Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing 737 MAX Credit: Jeroen Stroes Aviation Photography (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Reuters report that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is unlikely to unground the Boeing 737 MAX before sometime in October. The aircraft was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal accidents that killed 346 people.

Boeing has said it expects to resume deliveries of the 737 MAX before September 30 following regulatory approval.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
iPhone assembler Foxconn allegedly plans $1 billion investment into plant in India
Foxconn factory at Czech Republic
Foxconn factory at Czech Republic Credit: Nadkachna (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The Taiwanese hardware and technology company Foxconn allegedly plans to invest up to $1 billion in India. The goal is to expand an existing factory southeastern India near Chennai where the company assembles iPhones for Apple.

According to a source published by the news agency Reuters "There’s a strong request from Apple to its clients to move part of the iPhone production out of China". Neither Foxconn nor Apple have commented on the news.

Regional News • Asia • China
Democracy activists' books disappear from Hong Kong libraries after new law
Democracy activists' books disappear from Hong Kong libraries after new law
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

Books written by prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy figures, including Joshua Wong and lawmaker Tanya Chan, have started to disappear from the Chinese-ruled city’s public libraries. According to Reuters, the books are being reviewed to see whether or not they violate a new national security law.

On Twitter, Joshua Wong wrote "Less than a week after #NationalSecurityLaw has been put in place, #Hongkong's public libraries started to put books under review and suspend them from lending, including two of mine published in 2013 and 2015.".

Regional News • Africa
Ethiopia: Hundeessaa protests continue, over 80 people killed, military deployed
Jawaar Mahaammad, an Ethiopian-born prominent activist and politician, was arrested on Wednesday during the protests following Hundeessaa's murder. Mahaammad played a great role in 2016 Oromo protest.
Jawaar Mahaammad, an Ethiopian-born prominent activist and politician, was arrested on Wednesday during the protests following Hundeessaa's murder. Mahaammad played a great role in 2016 Oromo protest. Credit: Dotohelp / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Protests following the murder of Oromo musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa continue for a second day. More than 80 people have been killed, 35 people have been arrested. Oromo politician Jawaar Mahaammad is one of the arrested. Reuters reports that the military was deployed in Addis Adaba.

Police say they have arrested two people in connection with Hundeessaa's murder.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Art & Design
France arrests six in theft of Banksy artwork from Bataclan
Fire door, Bataclan
Fire door, Bataclan Credit: Banksy

Reuters reports french officials arrested six people near France’s Italian border in connection with the theft of a mural by British street artist Banksy that memorialized the victims of the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

The piece was spray-painted onto an emergency exit door at the Bataclan theatre, and it was stolen in January 2019 by a team of hooded thieves. Detectives tracked it down in a barn at a farmhouse in the Abruzzo region of Italy earlier this month.