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Google’s Tez payments app now lets users handle their utility bills and more

  • Google’s Tez payment service in India has got a major update that allows users to pay their utilities and other bills via the app.
  • Now the app has gotten support to pay for bills from more than 80 organizations — including national/state electric, gas and water, and TV/internet services — with more to come soon.
  • Tez clocked 12 million users in December, just three months after launch, but Google has yet to provide an updated figure.
  • WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app used by over 200 million people in India, began rolling out peer-to-peer payments in the country with the potential to massively disrupt the status quo.
  • India is WhatsApp’s largest single country based on users, and the payment feature has been a year in the making prior to its release.

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Facebook will verify the location of U.S. election ad buyers by mailing them postcards

  • Facebook’s global director of policy programs says it will start sending postcards by snail mail to verify buyers of ads related to United States elections.
  • The cards will be sent to people who want to purchase ads that mention candidates running for federal offices, but not issue-based political ads, Harbath said, and contain a code that buyers need to enter to verify that they are in the U.S. The program is similar to ones used by Google My Business and Nextdoor when they need to verify business owners or users who want to join closed neighborhood groups, respectively.
  • Harbath told Reuters that the postcards “won’t solve everything,” but were the most effective method the company came up with to prevent people from using false identities to purchase ads.
  • In October, Facebook vice president of ads Rob Goldman published a blog post saying that the platform planned to create more transparency around ads by taking steps that include a searchable archive of federal-election ads and requiring political advertisers to verify their identity.

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Noble Group Warns Losses May Near $5 Billion as It Pursues a Deal

  • Noble Group, (noble-group) the commodity trader battling to survive, warned that it’ll report another vast loss including from the operations meant to sustain a revamped business, and while it signaled progress in debt-restructuring talks, hurdles to a deal remain.
  • Noble Group announced the deal to restructure $3.5 billion in debt last month, fending off bankruptcy after a three-year crisis marked by losses, writedowns and controversial accounting.
  • As part of the proposed deal, Noble Group has reached an in-principle agreement with an ad hoc creditors’ group and ING Groep NV (ing) , as a fronting bank, for a three-year $700 million finance facility, it said in the statement.
  • For now, given talks with creditors and finance provided by its banks, “the board is, on balance and on the basis of legal advice, satisfied that the group can continue as a going concern, until such time as the restructuring is completed,” the company said.

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Lennox Capital joins red-hot micro-cap brigade

  • Sydney-based Lennox Capital Partners, which is backed by Challenger and run by a pair of former Macquarie Investment Management stockpickers, is the latest to join the micro-cap brigade, launching a new fund this month.
  • Lennox Capital portfolio manager James Dougherty says there are significant synergies in running small-cap and micro-cap funds side-by-side.
  • Lennox Capital co-manager Liam Donohue says the average size of stocks is $350 million, while the average in its small-caps fund – which is up 26.4 per cent net of fees since inception last April – and Australia's small ordinaries index is closer to $1.4 billion.
  • Ben Griffiths, co-founder of successful small-caps investor Eley Griffiths Group, launched his micro-cap fund last March to coincide with investor appetite in stocks outside the top 200.
  • Mr Wilson says his $200 million-odd micro-cap fund gets the benefit of being part of a larger funds management group, including heightened access to companies and deals.

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Why the flu makes you feel so awful

  • We all know the symptoms of influenza infection include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue.
  • When T cells specifically recognize influenza virus proteins, they then begin to proliferate in the lymph nodes around the lungs and throat.
  • While the influenza virus is wholly contained in the lungs under normal circumstances, several symptoms of influenza are systemic, including fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.
  • In order to properly combat influenza infection, the cytokines and chemokines produced by the innate immune cells in the lungs become systemic - that is, they enter the bloodstream, and contribute to these systemic symptoms.
  • Interleukin-1 is important for developing the killer T cell response against the virus, but it also affects the part of the brain in the hypothalamus that regulates body temperature, resulting in fever and headaches.

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There's a lot of blockchain hype, but money-transfer start-up Veem is using it today

  • Veem, formerly known as Align Commerce, uses three methods of sending money: Treasury, SWIFT and blockchain.
  • SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is the decades-old system that banks use for sending international payments, which can take days to settle.
  • In the fourth quarter, Veem's blockchain-based volume more than doubled from a year earlier and accounted for 62 percent of its total transactions, Forzley told CNBC.
  • In order for Veem to move money on blockchain from the U.S. to Mexico, for example, the company transfers dollars to bitcoin locally and then from bitcoin to pesos on the other side.
  • While blockchain now accounts for the bulk of Veem's transactions, it only handled 10 percent of the total amount of money sent in the fourth quarter.

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SpaceX to launch demo satellites for its high-speed internet project

  • New York (CNNMoney) - Elon Musk's SpaceX wants to deliver high-speed internet to the world using thousands of small satellites -- and this week that plan is moving closer to reality.
  • The company is slated to launch a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 6:17 a.m. local time on Wednesday.
  • On board will be two experimental satellites that will test out the technology SpaceX plans to use for its internet service, according to public filings.
  • SpaceX's plan is to "deliver broadband services directly to [people] anywhere in the United States or around the world" at speeds similar to some of the quickest ground-based internet connections.
  • FCC chairman Pai, who was appointed by President Trump, said last week that if SpaceX gets approval for its satellite project, it'll be a first for an American-based company in the internet-in-space race.

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The gig economy is lacking in this one important respect

  • Just 16 percent of independent workers have a retirement savings plan, compared to more than half of employees who have access to an employer-sponsored one.
  • Other hurdles independent contractor's face in saving for their later decades include income that is often unsteady, and a lower average annual salary than their employee counterparts (although gig workers put in fewer hours a week on average).
  • At the Senate hearing, Olson argued that the laws should be amended to allow companies to offer workers retirement benefits, regardless of whether they're an independent contractor or employee.
  • Another retirement savings solution on the table for gig economy workers are open "Multiple Employer" plans, in which a single 401(k) plan is sponsored by multiple employers.
  • In addition, some of the states that are working on state-sponsored retirement plans, like Oregon, plan to offer the accounts to independent contractors in the near future, he said.

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Phylogenomic Reclassification of the World's Most Venemous Spiders

  • Based on the currently accepted classification [following refs12,13], hexathelids are distantly related to actinopodid mygalomorphs (Fig. 1A), an austral family that includes Australian mouse spiders (Missulena).
  • Although we did not generate UCE data for representatives of all mygalomorph families, there are no genera missing from our sample that are clear close atracine or actinopodid relatives, as suggested by recent molecular phylogenetic studies13,19,20.
  • The following pertinent clades were recovered with full support (bootstrap = 100, posterior probability = 1.0) in all phylogenomic analyses, regardless of method or model used: Avicularioidea (non-atypoids with male bulb sclerites fused, lacking abdominal sclerites, etc.), Hexathelinae (including Plesiothele), Atracinae, and an atracine plus actinopodid clade (Fig. 2, Supplemental Fig. 1).
  • Our phylogenomic hypothesis (Fig. 2) provides a robust comparative framework for addressing the evolutionary assembly of venoms, including the medically important δ-hexatoxins, in the atracine plus actinopodids clade.

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Parkland students say, 'We are going to be the last mass shooting'

  • Kasky appeared on CNN with four fellow students, including Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, who have been outspoken since Wednesday's shooting about the need to reform gun control laws.
  • The FBI failed to act on a January 5 tip of information about "Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting," the agency said.
  • There was a time when Cruz was caught at school with a gun-related object in his backpack, but Holland said teachers don't know what to do when kids exhibit "nebulous" behavior.
  • There's no question Cruz killed 17 students and staff members in Wednesday's shooting at the high school in Parkland, Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein said.

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