‘Fintech’ expansion lures foreign banks to Israel

By Tova Cohen TEL AVIV (Reuters) – A five-minute chat with an executive from Israeli start-up MyCheck was enough to spark the interest of Mariano Belinky, managing partner at Banco Santander's venture capital division. After more formal follow-up meetings, the Spanish bank made its first foray into Israel, investing an undisclosed sum in MyCheck, which develops customized mobile payment apps for restaurant chains such as The Cheesecake Factory. With many clients in the hospitality sector, Santander was intrigued by the possibility of providing “a new and better solution for our clients,” Belinky told Reuters at a financial technology (fintech) event hosted by Santander in Tel Aviv last month.

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EU set to agree new data privacy law with stiff penalties

By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A sweeping reform of fragmented laws governing the uses of personal data set to be agreed by the European Union on Tuesday will force companies to report privacy breaches to authorities or face stiff sanctions. EU governments and members of the European Parliament are expected to agree the new data protection law, which would replace a patchwork of 28 different laws and give regulators greater enforcement powers

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N.Y. appeals court temporarily suspends shutdown of daily fantasy sports

A New York State appeals court judge on Friday temporarily suspended an order that would have required daily fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings to stop operating in the state. The short-term stay, issued in an emergency appeal filed by the companies on Friday, allows the companies to do business in New York until at least Jan.

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South Carolina military college suspends cadets over KKK-like hoods

The Citadel military college in South Carolina said on Thursday it was suspending eight cadets after photographs were posted on social media showing them wearing pointed white pillowcases that resemble hoods worn by the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group. Seven freshmen cadets wore the hoods and all-white clothing while singing Christmas carols as part of a “Ghosts of Christmas Past” skit, according to initial findings by the college in Charleston

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Imprisoned Saudi blogger on hunger strike, wife says

By Allison Lampert MONTREAL (Reuters) – Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been on a hunger strike since Tuesday after being transferred to a “new isolated” prison, his wife, Ensaf Haidar, said on Thursday. Haidar, who lives in Canada where she and their three children were granted political asylum, confirmed the news by phone after tweeting it. Colette Lelievre, a Montreal-based campaign organizer with Amnesty International, said Thursday the group had been told Badawi was transferred to a different prison for “administrative reasons.” Amnesty had not yet independently confirmed he started a hunger strike.

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Apple releases first Arabic version of Siri

By Julia Love SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc on Tuesday released a version of its virtual personal assistant Siri for Arabic speakers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, potentially making its iPhones more attractive in a largely affluent market of more than 30 million people. The move, part of Apple's latest software updates, means people in those countries will be able to use Siri in their native tongue on iPhones, iPads and the Apple Watch.

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