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News In Focus: A Look At The World’s Most Interesting Stories

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Hong Kong: Chinese tycoon Jack Ma will spend US$266 million through his e-commerce empire, the Alibaba Group, for a major stake in South China Morning Post (SCMP) Group.

The acquisition, which was announced last Friday, includes magazine, recruitment, outdoor media, events and conferences, education and digital media businesses of the Group.

Included in the sale is the SCMP itself — a 112-year-old newspaper, which is a popular read among Hong Kong’s business elite.

Pundits expect the SCMP to lose its independent and critical voice, but Alibaba’s executive vice-chairman Joe Tsai pledged editorial independence.

Below, IG UK analyzes the deal:

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Finance: The U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) Open Market Committee has voted unanimously on Wednesday to raise interest rates, the first time since 2006.

The decision will lead to an increase in the Fed’s benchmark federal-funds rate, an overnight interbank lending rate, by 0.25 percentage points.

The Fed explained its decision is based on the moderate expansion of economic activity.

Said Fed Chair Janet Yellen: “This action marks the end of an extraordinary seven-year period during which the federal funds rate was held near zero to support the recovery of the economy from the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression.”

Still, there are concerns that the interest rate increase may hurt the economy.

For more on this we go to Bloomberg Business:

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America: The U.S. will sell US$1.83 billion worth of arms for Taiwan, President Barack Obama’s administration told Congress on Wednesday.

It is the first major arms sale to Taiwan since September 2011.

The sale package includes two decommissioned frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and Stinger surface-to-air missiles.

It also includes support for Taiwan’s capabilities in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and a weapons system to defend against anti-ship missiles, according to the Associated Press.

China strongly opposes the sale. It threatens to penalize the companies that made the armaments and has summoned a United States diplomat to register an official protest.

The United States is required to provide weapons for Taiwan’s defense under the Taiwan Relations Act, a law dating to 1979.

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China: Air comes free. But in Beijing, fresh air can be a premium commodity.

The Canada-based startup Vitality Air has been making a lucrative business selling canned fresh Alberta rocky mountain air to the smog-plagued capital for less than two months.

Crisp air taken from Banff National Park is packed in 7.7 liter cans. A twin-pack of Vitality Air is sold in taobao.com, China’s popular Internet retail site, for 199 yuan.

This is slightly more than US$30, making each can 50 times more expensive than a bottle of mineral water in China.

The product turns out to be incredibly popular among the Beijing public.

“Our first shipment of 500 bottles of fresh air were sold in four days,” Vitality Air’s co-founder Moses Lam told the Telegraph.

For more, we go to CNN:

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Have a story that you’d like us to cover or review? Contact NewsWhistle’s Tony Church at Tony@NewsWhistle.com

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Lead-in image courtesy of El Nariz / Shutterstock.com