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Report: Apple nearing deal to buy rapper Dr. Dre’s headphone company for $3.2 billion

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(Reuters) – Apple Inc is close to buying headphone maker Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion, the Financial Times reported.

The purchase of Beats, which also runs a streaming music service, would be Apple’s largest ever acquisition, the newspaper reported. It said the deal could be announced as early as next week. (http://r.reuters.com/cap77v)

Founded by rapper Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine, Beats Electronics primarily produces products under the brand “Beats by Dr. Dre” and competes with headphones made by Skullcandy Inc, Sennheiser Electronic and Bose Corp.

“This is really puzzling,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “You buy companies today to get technologies that no one else … or customers that no one has.”

“They must have something hidden … under the hood.”

Apple-watchers have speculated that the company that upended the music industry – and today is the single largest seller of tunes – was contemplating a Spotify-like on-demand music service to go with its recently launched iRadio service and iTunes store.

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Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cooks met with Iovine, the Beats CEO, last year on a potential partnership involving Beats’ planned music-streaming service, Reuters reported in March, citing sources.(http://r.reuters.com/ter29v)

Dre – who guided the careers of a string of rap artists such as Eminem and 50 Cent – compared his company with Apple in 2011.

“We’re trying to eventually be second to Apple. And I don’t think that’s a bad position,” Dre told The Fader music website.(http://r.reuters.com/cur29v)

Apple and Beats Electronics were not immediately available for comment on the report, which was also carried in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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Beats Electronics received a $500 million investment from Carlyle Group in September that valued the company at over $1 billion.

Beats also bought back in September a 24.84 percent stake held by Taiwan smartphone maker HTC Corp.

(Reporting by Sweta Singh and Edwin Chan; Editing by Rodney Joyce)

[Image: Recording artist Dr. Dre wears a pair of Beats headphones as he attends the MLB 2010 season opener between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, in this file photo taken April 4, 2010. REUTERS/Adam Hunger/Files]

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‘Dangerous linguistic power’: A historian explains how Trump weaponizes nicknames

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Is Donald Trump the modern day Earl Long?

A three-time Louisiana governor, Long mastered the art of political ridicule seven decades ago by weaponizing nicknames. The hilarious names Long pinned on his rivals, and the rollicking stories he told about them, riveted audiences bored by puffed-up rhetoric.

While Long’s stunts may be remembered as silly hijinks, there was a sly, often deadly serious, purpose to his technique. He used it to get voters to laugh at his foes and to put them on the defensive––a place politicians never want to be. Tucked within Long’s jests were razor-sharp attacks aimed at exploiting opposition weaknesses––hidden swords inside a pea-patch cloak.

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Walmart got a $2.2 billion tax cut — now it’s laying off workers

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Walmart announced it will lay off hundreds of workers in North Carolina despite receiving billions in tax cuts that the Republican Party and President Trump claimed would spur job growth.

The giant retailer will lay off about 570 employees and close its corporate office near the Charlotte airport, despite signing a 12-year lease just four years earlier, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The work done at the Charlotte facility will be outsourced to a firm in Arkansas, according to the report.

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Amazon, Google and Facebook warrant antitrust scrutiny for many reasons – not just because they’re large

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There’s a growing chorus of U.S. politicians, antitrust scholars and consumer watchdogs calling for stricter antitrust treatment of Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants. Some even say they should be broken up.

Most recently, U.S. lawmakers launched a sweeping review to determine if these companies have become so big and powerful that they are stifling competition and harming consumers, while federal regulators are also gearing up to take action.

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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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