INDEPENDENT 2024-03-22 01:04:42


Apple has illegally made the iPhone worse, US says in huge lawsuit

The US is suing Apple over its control of the iPhone.

The Department of Justice accused the company of using its control over the device to unfairly control the market for smartphones, and take money from its users.

The lawsuit accused Apple of making the iPhone worse in various ways – including reducing privacy protections and restricting features – in order to keep its monopoly over the smartphone market.

The company’s behaviour has “smothered an entire industry” by reducing the ability of developers and other to innovate and bring out new tech products, officials said.

Apple joins a list of major tech companies sued by U.S. regulators, including Alphabet’s Google, Meta Platforms and Amazon.com across the administrations of both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

“Consumers should not have to pay higher prices because companies violate the antitrust laws,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly.”

The Justice Department alleges that Apple uses its market power to get more money from consumers, developers, content creators, artists, publishers, small businesses and merchants.

The civil lawsuit accuses Apple of an illegal monopoly on smartphones maintained by imposing contractual restrictions on, and withholding critical access from, developers.

In a statement, Apple said the lawsuit “threatens who we are” and that it would “vigorously defend against it”.

“At Apple, we innovate every day to make technology people love—designing products that work seamlessly together, protect people’s privacy and security, and create a magical experience for our users,” Apple said. “This lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets.

“If successful, it would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple—where hardware, software, and services intersect. It would also set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people’s technology.

“We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it.”

Apple has already been subject to antitrust probes and orders in Europe, Japan and Korea, as well as lawsuits from corporate rivals such as Epic Games.

One of Apple‘s most lucrative businesses – its App Store, which charges developers commissions of up to 30% – has already survived a lengthy legal challenge under US law by Epic. While the lawsuit found that Apple did not violate antitrust laws, a federal judge ordered Apple to allow links and buttons to pay for apps without using Apple‘s in-app payment commission.

In Europe, Apple‘s App Store business model has been dismantled by a new law called the Digital Markets Act that went into effect earlier this month. Apple plans to let developers offer their own app stores – and, importantly, pay no commissions – but rivals such as Spotify and Epic argue Apple is still making it too hard to offer alternative app stores.

The rulings on Apple‘s App Store forced the Justice Department to look at Apple‘s other practices for the basis of a complaint, such as how Apple allows outside firms to access the chips and sensors in the iPhone.

Consumer hardware firms, such as smart-tracker maker Tile Inc, have long complained that Apple has restricted the ways in which they can work with the iPhone’s sensors while developing competing products that have greater access.

Apple began selling AirTags – which can be attached to items like car keys to help users find them when they are lost – several years after Tile had been selling a similar product.

Similarly, Apple has restricted access to a chip in the iPhone that allows for contactless payments. Credit cards can only be added to the iPhone by using Apple‘s own Apple Pay service.

And Apple has also faced criticism over its iMessage service, which only works on Apple devices.

Apple has long argued that it restricts access to some user data and some of the iPhone’s hardware by third-party developers for privacy and security reasons.

Additional reporting by agencies

XL bully destroyed after savaging rescue husky while ‘unmuzzled and unleashed’

An XL bully has been destroyed by police after it savaged a rescue dog too scared to fight back.

Alan, a seven year-old rescue husky from Florida, was set upon the moment he stepped out of his home in Liverpool city centre with a dog walker on Thursday.

The attacking XL bully came hurtling around the corner, without a lead or a muzzle, and locked down on the husky’s back, according to Alan’s heartbroken owner Simon Warner.

The “scared” husky was left with deep bite marks on his back in the communal area of the block in Leeds Street.

Merseyside Police said the offending dog was seized and officers confirmed it to be an XL bully.

A spokesman added: “With the agreement of its owner, the dog was humanely destroyed.”

Mr Warner, who had been on a trip in Australia at the time, told The Independent flew back to comfort his beloved dog that he rescued as a seven-month-old puppy.

He had been concerned the XL bully was left to roam free in the days after the attack. Police later apologised for not seizing the dog until four days after their first call out.

Mr Warner, who spent £1,000 on vet bills for Alan, said: “The bully came round the corner. Unmuzzled and unleashed it attacked him. He was with a dogwalker at the time.

“Alan put up no resistance because he has no aggression in him. Alan is a real sweetie. He loves going to pub and making friends and has never been aggressive to anyone.

“If it had been a child or a smaller dog then it would be dead. The vet said where the bite was saved him.

“He is crying when left alone and very scared when going out now. Alan is normally so confident and friendly.”

The incident comes after a rampaging XL bully was shot dead by police on a high street in Battersea, south London on Monday night.

Neighbours said the dog bit down on one man’s arms and then rounded on others who tried to come to his aid.

The dog eventually released one of the victims and sprinted 300m down the high street before being surrounded and shot dead by armed police outside a cafe.

The four men attacked by the animal were taken to hospital for treatment for injuries that were not life-threatening. The Metropolitan Police said a 22-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman had been arrested on suspicion of being the owner in charge of a dog dangerously out of control.

From February 1, it became a criminal offence to own the XL bully breed in England and Wales without an exemption certificate.

Anyone who owns one of the dogs must have had the animal neutered, have it microchipped and keep it muzzled and on a lead in public, among other restrictions.

Referring to the incident in Liverpool, dog section inspector Katie Wilkinson said: “Specialist officers from our Matrix dog section are continuing to investigate the incident to establish the full circumstances and to identify any offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

“We would like to remind the public that all Section 1 prohibited breed dogs must have received an exemption and remain on a lead and wearing a muzzle when in a public place. Merseyside Police will take action against dog owners who do not comply with the legislation.

“Our standard protocol in such cases is to for an officer to attend the incident and make an initial assessment of the dog and consider seizing it at the earliest opportunity if it is suspected of being a prohibited breed. This is to ensure the safety of the owner and wider public.

“Regrettably, in this case the dog was removed for assessment four days after the initial visit of officers. As a result of this, we will undertake communications to remind all officers attending dog bite incidents of their obligation to carry out the correct procedures.

“There were no reports of any further incident involving the dog during that period, and an investigation into the original incident continues.”

Stephen Fry criticises Ozempic after dramatic weight loss

Stephen Fry is the latest celebrity to criticise weight-loss drug Ozempic, after the medication made him violently sick.

The Blackadder star was left vomiting up to five times a day after taking the medication in a last-ditch attempt to prevent weight gain.

As an “early adopter” of the diabetes drug, which has swept Hollywood and been promoted by the likes of Sharon Osbourne and Amy Schumer, the 66-year-old shared that at first he thought the results were “astonishing”.

“The first week or so, I was thinking, ‘This is astonishing. Not only do I not want to eat, I don’t want any alcohol of any kind. This is going to be brilliant,’” he said during a recent appearance on the River Café Table 4 podcast.

Fry, however, was forced to stop taking Ozempic after he began feeling “sicker and sicker”.

“I started feeling sick, and I started getting sicker and sicker and sicker,” he said. “I was literally throwing up four, five times a day and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ So that’s it.

“The new variant, Tirzepatide Mounjaro it’s called makes it even worse apparently.”

The comedian said he was in America at the time when he read about the medication, many years ago.

“I’m an early adopter of these things. I happened to be in America, and I’d read about it, and I asked my doctor in America, my physician as they like to call them, and he said, ‘I think I can get you some.’ He tried me on it,’” Fry said.

According to The Mirror, Fry weighed over 290 pounds in April 2019. By August that same year, he had lost five-and-a-half stone due to Ozempic.

Many celebrities have commented on the use of Ozempic, with Celebrity Big Brother star Sharon Osbourne, 71, reporting she had “no regrets” about taking the drug although she feels she is now “too gaunt” and cannot put weight. Her daughter, Kelly Osbourne, incited fury after she said any critics of the drug simply “couldn’t afford it”.

Oscar-winning actor Kate Winslet is one of several celebrities to speak out against Ozempic, condemning the weight-loss medication as “terrible”.

Oprah Winfrey recently made headlines after she spoke about her own recent weight-loss journey in which she used a drug that she stopped short of mentioning by name. The talk show host did admit to using similar medication to Ozempic including Mounjaro injections.

Wales thump Finland to book Euro 2024 play-off final date with Poland

Wales thrashed Finland 4-1 in Cardiff to set up a Euro 2024 play-off final with Poland.

First-half goals from David Brooks and Neco Williams put the hosts in cruise control and raised hopes of a stress-free evening for the vast majority of a sell-out Cardiff City Stadium crowd.

Teemu Pukki banished those thoughts on the stroke of half-time with his 40th Finland goal, but Brennan Johnson quickly restored Wales’ two-goal cushion after the break and substitute Daniel James rounded off matters late on.

Wales will welcome Poland – 5-1 winners over Estonia in the other Path A semi-final – to Cardiff on Tuesday to decide a place at Euro 2024 this summer.

A far sterner test awaits from Robert Lewandowski and company than Thursday’s opponents, who were ranked 60th in the world and 31 places below Rob Page’s team.

But Wales will be comforted by a strong Cardiff record of only three defeats in 20 games during Page’s tenure.

It was almost two years to the day since a Gareth Bale-inspired Wales had beaten Austria in Cardiff to progress to a World Cup play-off final.

Bale’s retirement from football ahead of this qualification campaign had left Wales with almost an impossible hole to fill.

But taking four points from 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Croatia had given them hope there was life after their talismanic captain, although Wales – like Finland – had to settle for the play-offs after finishing third in their qualifying group.

Ethan Ampadu filled a midfield role in winning his 50th cap at the age of 23 and found himself in direct opposition to Leeds team-mate Glen Kamara.

Page’s main call surrounded his three-man strike force and the Wales boss plumped for Brooks, Johnson and Harry Wilson, leaving Kieffer Moore to join a bench that included Aaron Ramsey following a calf problem.

Wales had a dream start inside three minutes as Brooks claimed his fourth international goal.

Wilson’s shot was pushed out by Finland goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky but Brooks adjusted his feet well to volley home the rebound.

The early goal suggested lift-off for Wales but Finland responded well and enjoyed a greater share of possession and threatened sporadically.

Daniel Hakans volleyed over from Nikolai Alho’s knock-down and Pukki sent a weak effort at Danny Ward.

Joel Pohjanpalo also saw his attempt blocked while Wales were creating few moments of excitement at the other end.

That changed just after the half-hour mark after Wilson forced Hradecky into a diving stop from 25 yards.

Johnson won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Finland were perhaps expecting Wilson’s left foot to target the right of Hradecky’s goal. But Wilson ran over the ball and touched it to Williams, who gave Hradecky no chance by drilling it to his left.

Finland had a mountain to climb but they gave themselves hope on the stroke of half-time.

Pohjanpalo fed Pukki and the former Norwich striker stayed onside and cut across Chris Mepham to beat Ward with a calm finish.

The timing of the goal would have infuriated Page but Wales struck again two minutes after the restart when Ampadu met Wilson’s free-kick at the far post.

The ball fell to Brooks in a crowded penalty area and his scuffed shot fell perfectly into the path of the waiting Johnson.

Wilson curled wide as Wales sought to put the tie to bed and Moore, sent on for Brooks, fired straight at Hradecky after being slipped through by the outstanding Ampadu.

Ben Davies had a late header ruled out by a VAR check, before substitute Dan James raced through unchallenged to round Hradecky and add a fourth.

History, heritage, cuisine and culture in Split, Croatia

Historical buildings, pine forest hills and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea are just a few things to expect on a fun-filled trip to the old-world coastal city of Split. This ancient sliver of the country is steeped in eclectic history and blessed with abundant natural beauty, a dynamic food scene, and more cultural attractions you can shake a stick at. It’s an all-rounder, ideal to visit no matter the season and even for a quick city break since there are plenty of direct flights from UK cities, including Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. Here’s our must-see, must-do guide to this stunning city…

Split is Croatia’s sportiest city, often referred to as The City of Sport, thanks to the number of professional athletes that hail from the city. In fact, Split is the city with the highest number of Olympic medal winners per capita. You can see their names proudly presented on Sports Walk of Fame on the city’s west coast, including Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanišević, double world high jump champion Blanka Vlašić, and ex–NBA star Toni Kukoč.

Catch a basketball game featuring the legendary KK Split, one of the most successful clubs in Europe, at the Gripe Sports Hall, or watch a football match with HNK Hajduk Split at the Poljud Stadium to feel the electrifying passion of local fans. If you’d rather participate, take advantage of Split’s drop-dead coastal location by trying windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing; many places offer equipment rental or lessons. Or, to keep it traditional, try your hand at ‘picigin’ – a local ball game from Split that is played at the beach.

For a more cerebral experience, immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, from Roman walls to UNESCO heritage sites and historical Old Towns. Wander through preserved Roman streets lined with Gothic and Renaissance buildings and visit the oldest cathedral building in the world, Diocletian’s Palace, built between 295 and 305 A.D. The beautiful basement halls here (more commonly known as the substructures) are one of the world’s best-preserved complexes from the era of classical antiquity and central to the historical centre of Split being added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.

Dip your toe into the world of Croatian art at the Ivan Meštrović Gallery, wholly dedicated to the sculptor himself, renowned for his powerful and expressive works. There’s also the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, which delves deep into the city’s history across more than 20,000 artefacts. Plus, the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece.

If you want to learn all about the city’s history and citizens, the City Museum of Split is a must-visit. It was founded in 1947 at the stunning palace of the Papalić family and is a stunning example of late-Gothic style architecture.

There’s also the Ethnographic Museum of Split, situated inside a former residential complex in the southeastern quarter of Diocletian’s Palace. The museum holds a vast collection of artefacts that showcase the traditional way of life, customs, and cultural practices of the people of the Dalmatia region and beyond. You’ll find everything from household items and religious objects to traditional tools and clothing.

Leave some time in your itinerary to explore the city’s natural wonders and incredible beaches. Ideally situated on the Adriatic coast, Split houses some of Croatia’s finest and most picturesque beaches. Bačvice Beach is one of the most popular in the area, perfect for shallow bathing and basking in the sun; plus, there are many bars and restaurants along the front, and concerts take place throughout the summer months.

There’s also Bene Beach, located on the northeastern part of the leafy Marjan Forest Park, often referred to as the green oasis of Split. It’s usually a little quieter, so it’s perfect for finding a secluded spot, sheltered beautifully by the trees that border the shoreline. Hiking or biking in the forest park Marjan is also a great way to experience the natural landscape of the Dalmatian Coast. You can follow many routes through fragrant pine forests and scenic viewpoints – the Marjan Hill Viewpoint overlooks the entire Old Town. Finish off with a dip in the sea to cool off.

Kašjuni Beach is known for being particularly beautiful, surrounded by lush greenery and rocky cliffs. It tends to be a little quieter and less crowded with calm, crystal-clear water, ideal for snorkelling and swimming. While on the southern side of Marjan, you’ll find Kaštelet Beach, a small but peaceful fine-pebbled beach with shallow banks, perfect for dipping in and out of between basking in the sun.

Follow the scenic coastal promenade from the city centre, and you’ll eventually reach Trstenik, home to a well-equipped, picturesque beach popular amongst water sports enthusiasts. Here, you can enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. The surrounding neighbourhood is chock full of restaurants, shops and places to stay should you want to spend a few nights here.

Split also serves as an ideal hub for day excursions, offering easy access to the stunning Dalmatian islands and hinterland, each brimming with natural and cultural treasures. From the city, you can visit several of Dalmatia’s spectacular islands, including Brac, Hvar, Vis, Solta and many more. Bisevo Island is one of the most popular to visit, where the remains of a 1050 AD Benedictine monastery lay, and the Blue Cave, one of the must-see natural attractions in the country, renowned for its incredible glowy sun rays that shine through cracks in the cave, creating a magical blue glimmer.

Just a half-hour drive from the city centre, you’ll find idyllic hiking trails on mountains such as Mosor, Kozjak, and Biokovo. There’s also the Cetina River, where you can participate in heart-pumping rafting and canyoning adventures.

As a cultural hub, Split boasts a diverse timetable of not-to-be-missed events throughout the year, including Sudamja, Stories of Diocletian, Advent – Winter Joys, Split Summer Festival, the Split Carnival, Month of Gastronomy and the Split Marathon.  In recent years, the city has also emerged as a sought-after filming destination, hosting productions such as Game of Thrones and the Dark Tower movie. So it’s pretty fitting that the city is home to the Mediterranean Film Festival and the International Festival of New Film.

Food-wise, Croatia’s diverse and delicious cuisine varies significantly from region to region, with coastal areas focusing more on seafood dishes like grilled fish, octopus salad, and black risotto. Learn all about Croatian fare at a local cookery class, where you’ll get to sample and make delicious dishes and take recipes back home.

Split’s culinary scene is constantly evolving, with many restaurants opening in the city, especially in the historic centre and its surroundings. Several restaurants have been recognised by the world-famous Michelin Guide, but there are many more worth visiting, with menus brimming with local Mediterranean cuisine, often with a creative twist added by some of Croatia’s best chefs. Most of the local restaurants’ menus are made with regional, fresh produce, including just-caught seafood.

For an authentic Croatian experience and the most local atmosphere, travellers should dine at a traditional tavern-style konoba restaurant, the Dalmatian version of a tavern, where you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood and popular local meat dishes.

The local diet is also rich in seasonal vegetables, which vegetarians can enjoy in many of the city’s restaurants, with plenty of spots specialising in vegetarian and vegan fare.

Wine and olive oil are essential components of Split’s gastronomic makeup, meaning that restaurants are always stocked with exceptional Croatian wines, particularly those produced within Dalmatia. You can enjoy them with dinner or at a local wine tasting.

If you’re looking for local produce, Ribarnica is stocked with fresh seafood plucked out of the neighbouring Adriatic Sea. While Pazar Green Market is the place to go for fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, cheese, cured meat, honey, and sweet treats, for delicious eats you can sample on the spot, or take home for a slice of Split you can reminisce with.

For more Split travel ideas and inspiration, head to Visit Split or check out Instagram or Facebook

Waspi women deserve justice over the pensions scandal

Blunders happen in all bureaucracies, and the Department for Work and Pensions, and its previous incarnations, are no exception.

However, the scale of the financial and emotional damage wreaked on the Women Against State Pension Inequality – the so-called Waspi women – effectively robbed of a very large proportion of their state pension, is both wide and grievous. Every woman born between 1950 and 1960 – some 3.6 million individuals – has suffered a toll on their standard of living, and in some cases where their health has been adversely affected, the full costs involved are incalculable.

The report of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), an independent watchdog, is damning and places the responsibility for the fiasco on the state. Unusually, it directly calls for parliament to remedy matters, given the long-term reluctance of successive administrations to make amends.

Could the Lib Dems be on the brink of a new electoral breakthrough?

The Liberal Democrats have had their spring conference and have launched their local election campaign with a typically cheesy photo-op featuring Ed Davey, a giant cardboard egg-timer, and the slogan “Time’s Running Out Rishi!”.

For the first time since the brief outburst of “Cleggmania” during the 2010 campaign, the party has realistic hopes of winning a substantial number of parliamentary seats at a general election, even though it is still languishing in the polls. Davey claims it will be a “once-in-a-generation election”.

On the other hand, a likely Labour landslide means the Lib Dems may have comparatively little influence in the new House of Commons. There remain significant challenges for Davey and his loyal followers…