US and UK slap electronics ban on flights from 10 major airports
Airlines flying directly from eight countries in the Middle East and Africa to the U.S. must prevent passengers from carrying almost all types of electronic devices in the cabin, according to new security restrictions from the Trump administration. Passengers will have to check in any devices bigger than a smartphone – including iPads, Kindles and laptops before clearing security or boarding, U.S. officials said, citing terrorism concerns. The indefinite ban will affect more than 50 flights from 10 airports in the mainly Muslim countries, including major hubs such as Dubai and Istanbul, according to senior administration officials. The nine airlines affected were notified of the procedures by the U.S. at 3 a.m. ET Tuesday and must comply within 96 hours. The U.K. is considering introducing a similar ban, and an announcement could come later on Tuesday, government sources said. Top international carriers like Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines are among those that will have to implement the ban. The U.S. officials said intelligence “indicates terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation” by “smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.” The officials declined to provide specific information on the threat or why these particular airports were selected.
Apple unveils special-edition iPhone 7 in red
Apple (AAPL, Tech30) unveiled Tuesday a special red version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, to commemorate the 10-year partnership between the tech giant and Red, an organization that helps fights AIDS. The special edition iPhones, which feature a red aluminum body, will come in 128GB and 256GB models starting at $749. The red phones will be available in stores and online starting Friday for a “limited” time, though Apple declined to provide specific details about the timeframe. Apple also would not share how much money will be donated to Red through the sales of these special iPhones. Overall, Apple said, it has contributed more than $130 million as part of its partnership with Red, making the company the world’s largest corporate donor to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.
Instacart is now a $3.4 billion grocery startup
Grocery delivery startup Instacart has bagged a fresh $400 million from investors. Instacart, which is based in San Francisco, is an on-demand service that has workers shop for groceries on behalf of customers and deliver them to their doorstep. With the new round of financing, led by Sequoia Capital, the company is valued at $3.4 billion. It currently operates in 35 markets, and in the announcement Wednesday, said it expects to double that this year. Instacart has 135 partnerships with grocery retailers around the country, including chains like Whole Foods (WFM), Costco (COST) and Supervalu (SVU). The company gets a revenue share from retailers based on the size of each basket. According to Instacart’s chief finance officer and chief operating officer Ravi Gupta, it’s a “very meaningful part of our revenue.” It also charges delivery fees from customers. Gupta told CNNTech that its fastest growing source of revenue, however, comes from companies that pay to reach out Instacart customers as they’re shopping digitally.
UK inflation hits highest level in 3 years
Prices are zooming higher in Brexit Britain. U.K. inflation increased to 2.3% in February over the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics. That’s the highest level in more than three years. The pace of the increase, from 1.8% in January, also surprised analysts. The prices paid by consumers have risen steadily over the past year, marking a major turnaround from 2015 when prices were actually declining. It’s a trend that has accelerated since Britain voted to leave the European Union, triggering a sharp drop in the pound. Prices on car fuel, food, furniture and computers were among the main sources of inflation in February. The move above 2% poses a challenge for the Bank of England, which aims to keep inflation around that mark. The central bank could now come under pressure to hike interest rates from their current ultra-low levels. “Rising prices have nudged inflation well above the Bank of England’s target of 2%, and it’s expected to rise further in the coming months, but wage growth has not kept pace so many households are feeling the pinch,” said Nick Harrison, a top executive at the British bank First Direct.
Twitter suspends 62,000 accounts a month because of terrorism links
More than 62,000 Twitter accounts were shut down every month in the last half of 2016 because of links to terrorism. Over 375,000 accounts were suspended by the social media website in the last six months of 2016 in a bid to crackdown on extremism. In a report Twitter said the majority of the accounts were caught thanks to the social networks own anti-spam technology which scans tweets posted online. Since August 2015, over 636,000 Twitter accounts were shut down because of links to terrorism. Last week, MPs accused Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, of not doing enough to tackle hate crime and extremism online.