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Business news in brief

This article was published March 20, 2017 at 1:54 a.m.

Germans to try dialect filter on migrants

BERLIN -- Germany plans to test software that can automatically recognize a person's dialect to help determine whether asylum seekers are really where they claim they're from.

Germany's Office for Migration and Refugees confirmed a report on the pilot project Friday by the Die Welt newspaper.

An agency spokesman says the software would complement existing methods used to verify a person's identity.

Andrea Brinkmann said officials would still rely on a range of information, including documents presented by the asylum seeker and an expert opinion, before reaching a final conclusion.

Authorities have expressed concern that some asylum seekers from Arab countries are claiming to be from Syria in hopes of increasing their chances of staying in Germany.

Last year officials commissioned 1,405 language analyses, up from 431 in 2015.

-- The Associated Press

U.K. pulls its ads, cites YouTube content

The United Kingdom government and the Guardian newspaper stepped up pressure on YouTube to police content that appears on its platform, pulling ads from the video site because they appeared beside clips they view as inappropriate.

Ads appeared "next to extremist and hate filled videos," prompting Guardian News & Media to stop all advertising through YouTube parent Google, the British publisher said in an emailed statement Friday. The U.K. government said it suspended advertising on YouTube until the site can ensure that the ads are not placed next to content it doesn't approve of.

"Google is responsible for ensuring the high standards applied to government advertising are adhered to and that adverts do not appear alongside inappropriate content," the government said in an emailed statement.

The boycott signals a growing backlash against so-called programmatic trading, which automates the buying and selling of advertising online, and against social media providers that are seen to not be doing enough to tackle hate disseminated on their platforms. Britain's government said it summoned Google for discussions to explain how it can guarantee the state's demands are met.

-- Bloomberg News

Nor'easter a breeze for wind farm off R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The company that built the United States' first offshore wind farm says the powerful storm that hit the Northeast last week was a chance to go "full throttle" and put the turbines through their paces.

Deepwater Wind says all five turbines off Rhode Island operated at full capacity during much of the Tuesday nor'easter.

It says the wind farm automatically powered down for several hours when the sustained wind speeds exceeded 55 mph, the designated limit. Winds got as high as 70 mph.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski says the offshore wind industry loves strong storms and the wind farm handled the season's worst conditions superbly.

The blustery, late-season storm plastered the Northeast with sleet and nearly 3 feet of snow is some areas.

-- The Associated Press

Swatch takes on 2 smartwatch titans

Swatch Group AG said it's developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland's largest maker of timepieces vies with Silicon Valley for control of consumers' wrists.

The company's Tissot brand will introduce a model around the end of 2018 that uses the Swiss-made alternative, which will also be able to connect small objects and wearables, Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview last week.

The technology will need less battery power and it will protect data better, he said later at a news conference.

Switzerland's 4-century-old watch industry has been adjusting to new competition since Apple Inc. entered its territory with the Apple Watch in 2015. Hayek faces the uphill challenge of trying to outsmart Google and Apple, which have fended off would-be rivals to their operating systems in smartphones and watches.

Competition from smartwatches has hurt low-end timepieces the most, and Hayek has been adding electronic functions into Swatch's own less expensive brands such as Tissot and its namesake timepieces. This month, Swatch said it developed the world's smallest Bluetooth chip for use in watches and household objects.

-- Bloomberg News

Hulu said to test NBC cable channels

Hulu LLC, the video-streaming company, added Comcast Corp.'s NBC cable channels to a new, live, online TV service that consumers are testing, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Cable channels, including Bravo and E!, began appearing on the service Friday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the accord hasn't been announced. The parties have yet to clinch a deal to include NBC channels, including the flagship broadcast network, when the new service is sold to the public in the next couple months. The addition of the cable outlets is progress in that direction.

NBC is the lone holdout among the major broadcast networks -- and the only one owned by a cable provider.

Hulu plans to offer customers more than 40 live channels for less than $40 a month, according to the company.

-- Bloomberg News

Google bolsters fiber cable in Africa

Google Inc. is scaling up investment in Africa by laying fiber-optic cable, easing access to cheaper Android phones and training a workforce in digital skills as the U.S. technology giant seeks to expand on the continent.

"We laid about 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] of fiber in Uganda, and we are busy doing about 1,000 kilometers in Ghana," Google's South Africa head Luke McKend said in a phone interview. "We want to make sure that we cover all the bases. We want to train people and make sure that they have the devices and are able to connect to the Internet."

About 1 million people in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have been trained by Google over the past year, yet many had to complete their courses with limited Internet access due to unreliable coverage and high data prices, McKend said. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is now turning its attention to Web-focused skills training for small businesses across Africa.

Alongside U.S. competitors including Facebook Inc., Google is seeking to boost connectivity on the continent to open a new market for smartphones and services such as Web search and social media.

Younger consumers in sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly demanding quicker Internet speeds and cheaper phones to go about their business, while local wireless operators including MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. see the digital space as their fastest-growing market.

-- Bloomberg News

SundayMonday Business on 03/20/2017

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kafantaris says... March 20, 2017 at 8:39 p.m.

Archimedes said “give me a pole long enough and I will move the world.” With voice recognition, he might have said “give me a voice sample large enough and I will sort the world.”

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