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Apple denies e-book pricing conspiracy

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SAN FRANCISCO — Apple denied a charge that it schemed with publishers to hike prices for e-books, portraying itself as a hero for prying Amazon’s “monopolistic grip” from the market.

“The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simple not true,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said in an emailed statement a day after a Department of Justice antitrust suit was filed.

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“The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.”

The Justice Department sued Apple and five publishing firms Wednesday alleging a conspiracy to raise prices and limit competition for e-books. It immediately announced a partial settlement in the case.

Officials said three of the publishers agreed to end the scheme to force retailers such as Amazon to accept a new pricing plan that ended their ability to offer discounts for electronic books.

Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster reached a settlement but the case will proceed against Apple and the other two — Macmillan and Penguin Group — “for conspiring to end e-book retailers’ freedom to compete on price,” the Justice Department said.

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Attorney General Eric Holder said that as a result of the conspiracy, “consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles,” and competition was eliminated.

Prior to the introduction of Apple’s iPad, online retail giant Amazon sold electronic versions of many new best sellers for $9.99.

After Apple’s “agency” model was adopted, the prices rose to $12.99 and higher, the suit said, and price competition among retailers was “unlawfully eliminated.”

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Erdogan threatens to restart Syria operation after Trump insists Turkey ‘very much wants the ceasefire’

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Scattered fighting flared in northern Syria on Friday despite a ceasefire deal as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he would resume a full-scale operation against Kurdish forces if they do not withdraw from a border "safe zone."

US President Donald Trump said Erdogan told him there had been "minor sniper and mortar fire" in the region "that was quickly eliminated" and the Turkish leader assured him in a call that "he very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work."

Mustefa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), accused Turkey, however, of violating the ceasefire deal reached during a visit to Ankara on Thursday by US Vice President Mike Pence.

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Bizarre Trump fan has dreamed of sitting on president’s gold toilet since she was a child

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An event held at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. earlier this year featured a group of fanatical Trump supporters, including one who said she has dreamed for years of sitting on the president's gold toilet.

As the Washington Post reports, a June 22nd gala at Trump's D.C. hotel thrown by the organization Virginia Women for Trump to celebrate the president's birthday included a talk delivered by a woman named Lucretia Hughes, who said she has been fascinated by Trump ever since seeing a "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" that showed off a solid-gold toilet in his home.

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Trump blurts out a startling statement: ‘We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East’

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President Donald Trump made a startling statement Friday afternoon while boasting about how he believes he handled his widely-condemned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Northern Syria – a move that had opened the gate to ethnic cleansing of America’s now-former allies, the Kurds.

“We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East, the oil that we’re talking about, the oil that everybody was worried about. We have the U.S. control of that,” Trump said, minutes after concluding a talk with the first two women astronauts to participate in an all-women spacewalk.

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