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The Smiths Bass Guitarist Andy Rourke, Dead At 59

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LONDON, England – Andy Rourke, bass guitarist for The Smiths, one of the most prominent British bands of the 1980s, died Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, according to former bandmate Johnny Marr. He was 59.

In a lengthy Instagram post, guitarist and songwriter Marr paid respect to Rourke, whom he first met as a youngster in 1975.

“Throughout our teens, x, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player,” Marr explained.

During their brief tenure as a four-piece band, The Smiths purposefully avoided the mainstream of popular music, establishing a cult following on the indie music scene.

Though much of the focus was on Marr’s songwriting connection with frontman Steven Patrick Morrissey, better known as Morrissey, the sound of The Smiths was heavily influenced by Rourke’s bass and his rhythm section partner, drummer Mike Joyce.

As their fame grew, the band recorded some of the most memorable British songs of the 1980s, including “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Girlfriend In A Coma.”

the smiths

The Smiths purposefully avoided the mainstream of popular music, establishing a cult following on the indie music scene.

The Smiths’ songs were thought to be melancholy, yet they were darkly hilarious and accompanied by rousing and uplifting guitars. Their albums, including “The Queen is Dead” and “Meat is Murder,” are still required listening for every self-respecting music listener, and they are at the vanguard of the vinyl record revival.

“I was present at every single one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session,” Marr explained. “Sometimes I was the producer, and other times I was his proud mate and cheerleader.” Watching him play such amazing baselines was a true honor and something to behold.”

Marr claimed he and Rourke kept in touch after the band broke up, recalling that Rourke played in his band at Madison Square Garden as recently as September 2022.

“It was a special moment that we shared with my family, as well as his wife and soul mate Francesca,” Marr said. “Everyone who knew Andy will remember him as a kind and beautiful soul, and people who love music will remember him as a supremely gifted musician.” Andy, congratulations. We’ll miss you, dude.”

Following The Smiths, Rourke worked with The Pretenders and Sinead O’Connor, the Stone Roses’ Gary Mounfield and New Order’s Peter Hook in the supergroup Freebass.

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SOURCE – (AP)

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Nissan Accused Of Dumping Its Electric Car Pioneers

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Owners of Nissan Leaf electric cars have accused the company of “dumping its pioneers” after it informed that its app would no longer work with older models.

nissan

Nissan Accused Of Dumping Its Electric Car Pioneers

According to the company, the app, which allows remote control of features such as heating, is no longer working since the UK’s 2G network has been turned off.

Customers have reacted angrily, telling the BBC that they did not expect it to be pulled.

Experts predict that the problem will affect more electric vehicles as the market expands.
The app’s withdrawal affects around 3,000 Leafs and e-NV200 vehicles manufactured before 2016.

The older vehicles have 2G control modules connecting with the app.

According to the BBC, Nissan said: “The NissanConnect EV app currently linked to Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 vehicles produced up until 2016 will shut down from 1 April 2024 in preparation of the 2G technology sunset.”

nissan

Nissan Accused Of Dumping Its Electric Car Pioneers

According to the report, “Owners will, however, still be able to use key features such as Climate Control Timer and Charging Timer directly from their car’s Navigation System.”

Affected drivers expressed dismay to the BBC, partly because mobile network operators will not phase out 2G until the decade’s end.

“I was very surprised,” remarked Max Siegieda, Manchester’s 2013 Nissan Leaf owner.

“I expected at least six months, if not a year, to organize alternatives. This is a significant component of the car that’s being discontinued.”

nissan

Nissan Accused Of Dumping Its Electric Car Pioneers

He described the app’s remote access for amenities like heating the car or charging remotely at cheaper times as “a major selling point” when he purchased the car used in 2022.

He had already considered upgrading but now says he would be “reluctant” to buy another car  “because of the lack of notice” they provided about the app termination.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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Apple Gets Fined Nearly $2 Billion By The EU For Hindering Music Streaming Competition

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LONDON — On Monday, the European Union imposed its first antitrust penalty against Apple, fining the US tech behemoth almost $2 billion for unfairly favouring its own music streaming service by prohibiting rivals such as Spotify from informing users how to pay for cheaper subscriptions outside of iPhone apps.

Apple prohibited streaming services from informing users about payment options available through their websites, which would avoid the 30% fee charged when people pay through apps downloaded from the iOS App Store, according to the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm and top antitrust enforcer.

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Apple Gets Fined Nearly $2 Billion By The EU For Hindering Music Streaming Competition

“It’s illegal. And it has had an impact on millions of European consumers who were unable to freely choose where, how, and at what price to purchase music streaming subscriptions,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, at a news conference in Brussels.

Apple, which opposes the judgment, acted in this manner for a decade, resulting in “millions of people who have paid two, three euros more per month for their music streaming service than they would otherwise have had to pay,” she said.

It culminates a heated, years-long battle between Apple and Spotify for music streaming domination. Five years ago, a complaint from the Swedish streaming service sparked the investigation that resulted in the 1.8 billion euro ($1.95 billion) penalty.

The ruling comes the same week that new laws are implemented to prevent tech behemoths from dominating digital markets.

The EU has spearheaded global attempts to push down on Big Tech companies, including three fines totalling more than 8 billion euros for Google, charges against Meta for distorting the online classified ad market and forcing Amazon to reform its business practices.

The commission stated that Apple’s sanction is so hefty because it includes an additional lump sum to dissuade it from repeating the offence or other internet companies from committing similar offences.

It is not the only punishment that the tech behemoth could face. Apple is also attempting to resolve a second EU antitrust investigation into its mobile payments service by committing to open up its tap-and-go mobile payment system to competitors.

Apple fired back at the commission and Spotify, announcing it would appeal Monday’s penalties.

“The decision was reached despite the Commission’s failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm, and ignores the realities of a market that is thriving, competitive, and growing fast,” the business said in a press release.

It claimed that Spotify would gain from the EU’s stance, citing that the Swedish streaming behemoth met with the commission over 65 times throughout the probe, has a 56% share of Europe’s music streaming market, and does not pay Apple for using its app store.

“Ironically, in the name of competition, today’s decision just cements the dominant position of a successful European company that is the digital music market’s runaway leader,” Apple said in a statement.

Spotify hailed the EU penalties but did not answer Apple’s charges.

“This decision sends a powerful message — no company, not even a monopoly like Apple, can wield power abusively to control how other companies interact with their customers,” Spotify wrote in a post on its website.

apple

Apple Gets Fined Nearly $2 Billion By The EU For Hindering Music Streaming Competition

The commission’s examination was initially focused on two concerns. One example was the iPhone maker’s policy of forcing app developers selling digital material to utilize its in-house payment system, which charges a 30% commission on all subscriptions.

However, the EU later shelved that to focus on how Apple restricts app developers from informing their users about cheaper options to pay for subscriptions that do not require using an app.

According to the research, Apple prohibited streaming businesses from informing users about the cost of subscription offers outside of their apps, including links to pay for alternative subscriptions, and even contacting customers about alternate pricing alternatives.

“As a result, millions of European music streaming users were left in the dark about all available options,” Vestager stated, adding that the commission’s inquiry revealed that slightly over 20% of consumers who would have signed up for Spotify’s premium service did not do so due to the restrictions.

The fine comes just before new EU laws to stop big corporations from dominating digital markets are slated to take effect.

The Digital Markets Act, which goes into force on Thursday, imposes a set of do’s and don’ts on “gatekeeper” corporations such as Apple, Meta, Google parent Alphabet, and TikTok parent ByteDance, putting them under the prospect of heavy fines.

apple

The EU fines Apple nearly $2 billion for impeding music streaming competition.

The DMA’s restrictions are intended to deter tech titans from engaging in the type of behaviour at the centre of the Apple inquiry. Apple has previously stated that it will comply by allowing iPhone customers in Europe to use app stores other than its own and allowing developers to offer alternative payment mechanisms.

Vestager warned that the commission would closely monitor how Apple followed the new guidelines.

“Apple will have to open its gates to its ecosystem to allow users to easily find the apps they want, pay for them in any way they want and use them on any device that they want,” she said.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Boeing Wants To Buy Back The Company That Builds The Body Of Its Troubled Max Planes

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Boeing announced that it is in talks to acquire Spirit AeroSystems, a significant supplier that was part of Boeing until its 2005 sale and was also implicated in an Alaska Airlines mid-air door plug explosion.

The Wall Street Journal and the Seattle Times reported on the negotiations earlier Friday. Spirit shares rose 15% in Friday trading on the reports. However, shares were down 10% from the Alaska Air incident in early January to Thursday’s close and 70% since a March 2019 tragic crash of a Boeing 737 Max, which resulted in a 20-month banning of the jet.

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Boeing Wants To Buy Back The Company That Builds The Body Of Its Troubled Max Planes

Boeing sold Spirit in 2005 for $900 million in cash. Spirit AeroSystems, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, manufactures critical components for several Boeing aircraft, notably the 737 Max fuselage. The pieces are subsequently shipped by train to Boeing’s facility in Washington state.

“We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders,” the company stated late Friday night. “Although there can be no assurance that we will be able to reach an agreement, we are committed to finding ways to continue to improve the safety and quality of the airplanes on which millions of people depend each and every day.”

Spirit has faced its own set of quality control challenges in recent years. The problems had gotten serious enough that Boeing agreed to give it more money to remedy Spirit’s quality and reliability issues, affecting Boeing’s output. The payments resulted in an additional $60 million in revenue last year and $395 million in 2024 and 2025.

These payments indicate Boeing’s incentive for a contract with Spirit. It can only return to profitability if the problems at Spirit are also resolved. And it will cost Boeing money to resolve those issues, whether it is the largest client or the owner of those businesses.

boeing

Boeing Wants To Buy Back The Company That Builds The Body Of Its Troubled Max Planes

Last year, Boeing contributed $3.9 billion to Spirit AeroSystems’ revenue, accounting for approximately 64% of total revenue. Spirit’s second largest customer is Airbus, which competes with Boeing. If Boeing repurchases Spirit, it will unlikely be able to retain that portion of the business.

After reports of a prospective sale raised shares, Spirit’s market capitalization at the close of trade Friday was $3.7 billion, or a little less than what Boeing paid Spirit as its largest supplier last year. However, after five years of net losses totalling $31.5 billion, Boeing’s balance sheet finished 2023 with only $12.7 billion, a decrease from $14.6 billion the previous year.

An initial study from the National Transportation Safety Board on the January incident with the door plug blowing out aboard the Alaska Airlines aircraft discovered that the jet left Boeing’s plant in October with four bolts missing that were required to secure it in place.

However, Boeing replaced the door plug and the missing bolts since the fuselage arrived at the factory with issues with five rivets installed by Spirit AeroSystems. Even if Boeing was ultimately to blame for the mishap, quality flaws at Spirit could have played a role.

The NTSB has yet to assign blame for the event.

boeing

Boeing Wants To Buy Back The Company That Builds The Body Of Its Troubled Max Planes

However, the bolts are only one of several quality difficulties that Spirit AeroSystems has faced in recent years. Fuselages were supplied to Boeing with work remaining on them, resulting in “out-of-sequence” work, which may have contributed to Boeing’s quality difficulties.

In 2023, it used a “non-standard manufacturing process” to attach pieces of the fuselages, halting deliveries of 737 Max jets. Just a month earlier, a Spirit employee informed Boeing that two holes may not have been drilled strictly to Boeing’s specifications, forcing Boeing to repair approximately 50 planes that still needed to be delivered.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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