Austrian police baffled by tens of thousands of euros scattered in Danube

Mystified police in Austria are trying to find out how more than 100,000 euros ($108,230) in 100 and 500 euro notes came to be floating down an arm of the River Danube.

Investigations have so far found no criminal act in the area in which such a sum of money had been lost, a spokesman for the Vienna police said.

One young man who spotted the wet treasure on Saturday jumped into the river to retrieve it, Oesterreich newspaper said.

Bystanders thinking he was attempting to commit suicide alerted police, who arrived just as he was fishing out the money. He is now trying to claim a share.

“The boy said he wanted to bring it to the police, but the question is whether the police found it or the boy,” the police spokesman said.

In Austria, anyone who finds cash and brings it to the police can claim between 5-10 percent of the sum and has the right to receive the whole amount if its rightful owner cannot be identified within a year.

($1 = 0.9240 euros)

(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Deepening Anti-Islamic Mood In Texas Rivals Post-Sept. 11 Climate

Nearly a thousand protesters gather across the street from the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, where a Muslim conference against hate and terror was scheduled to be held in January 2015.
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Nearly a thousand protesters gather across the street from the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, where a Muslim conference against hate and terror was scheduled to be held in January 2015. Tony Gutierrez/AP hide caption

toggle caption Tony Gutierrez/AP

A backlash against American Muslims is on the rise again, after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris and last week’s attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. Advocates say the number of hate crimes and harassment incidents today is nearly as bad as it was in the weeks after Sept. 11.

An anti-Muslim climate seems especially potent in the Dallas area.

Take Irving, Texas, for instance. The city of 230,000 borders Dallas on the northwest. More than one-third of its citizens are foreign-born. It’s home to the world headquarters of ExxonMobil and Kimberley-Clark, and one of the largest mosques in North America.

Last month, a group of protesters showed up on the sidewalk in front of the mosque, shouldering loaded rifles and holding a sign that says, “Stop the Islamization of America.” Their spokesman is a man who identifies himself as David Wright and carries a 12-guage tactical shotgun to demonstrations.

“I can show up and protest unarmed and be a sitting duck for the next pair of ISIS members that decide to come along and blow our heads off like they did in California. Or I can show up there prepared to defend myself,” Wright says in a telephone interview. He declined to give his age, profession or where he lives, fearing harassment.

Aisha U-kiu, president of American Muslim Professionals of Dallas and a graduate of MacArthur High School, speaks at a prayer vigil in support of Ahmed Mohamed in September 2015, in Irving, Texas. Ahmed, 14, was arrested at MacArthur High School when a clock he built and brought to school was mistaken for a bomb by teachers and police.

Aisha U-kiu, president of American Muslim Professionals of Dallas and a graduate of MacArthur High School, speaks at a prayer vigil in support of Ahmed Mohamed in September 2015, in Irving, Texas. Ahmed, 14, was arrested at MacArthur High School when a clock he built and brought to school was mistaken for a bomb by teachers and police. Jeffrey McWhorter/AP hide caption

toggle caption Jeffrey McWhorter/AP

In September, Irving made national news when police arrested a 14-year-old boy, Ahmed Mohamed, for bringing a homemade clock to his high school; authorities thought it looked like a bomb.

In Garland, northeast of Dallas, police killed two Islamic extremist gunmen in May outside a meeting where people had gathered to mock the Prophet Muhammad.

And in Richardson, north of Dallas, there was another armed protest at a mosque in October.

“2015 was a banner year for hatred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolex but it was centered in Irving,” says Alia Salem, director of the DFW chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a Muslim advocacy group.

Just last week, the Texas Rebel Knights, a white supremacist group, announced they, too, want to protest at the Irving mosque, though the date keeps changing.

The Islamic Center of Irving is a domed arabesque building in the middle of an Irving residential suburb. The religious leader, Imam Zia Sheik, says his mosque finds itself in a tough place these days.

“On the one hand, we have to try to maintain good relationships with everyone, and to show the Islamic hospitality and good manners,” he says. “But when you have these kinds of rallies and protests on your doorstep it becomes difficult to do that.”

The large and thriving Muslim population in the Dallas area lives and works in an environment that’s growing more hostile toward their religion. Note this recent sermon delivered by the Rev. Robert Jeffress on the Sunday after the ISIS attacks in Paris. He’s pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, one of the largest, most influential members of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Make no mistake about it,” he said from the pulpit in downtown Dallas, “Islam is just not another way to approach God. Islam is a false religion and it is inspired by Satan himself.”

At the end of the sermon, Jeffress received a standing ovation.

Many folks date the anti-Islam mood around the region to an Irving City Council meeting last March. By a narrow margin, the council passed a resolution that Muslim critics claimed was hostile to their religion, and supporters insisted was merely patriotic.

The council voted to support a state law that would have told mosque authorities their religious tribunals must conform to U.S. laws. Imams pushed back that they never intended to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, on their congregations. The bill never made it out of committee in the state capital.

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has gone on the conservative media circuit to defend her city.

“Anybody who thinks that being pro-American equates to being Islamophobe says a lot more about that person than it does about the council supporting American laws and American courts,” she said in a brief interview after a luncheon in Dallas last week.

With domestic terrorism seemingly on the rise, suspicion of American Muslims is certain to increase. Former Irving Mayor Marvin Randle says he doesn’t think his community is out of the main.

“We don’t think just because Muslims are here they’re terrorists,” he says from his office in his countertop company. “But what we read in the paper about the Muslims over in Paris and all these things makes you a little bit jittery. You still have a little question mark about it.”

Salem, director of the local CAIR chapter, says when Klansmen of the Texas Rebel Knights announced they were coming to Irving, that was the tipping point. She says in the past week, dozens of churches, synagogues, and other sympathizers have contacted her to stand in solidarity with Muslims in north Texas.

That will be on display this Saturday when two dueling demonstrations are planned outside Dallas-area mosques — one for and one against Islam.

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The U.S. Is A World Leader In Gun Deaths

Imagine that the U.S. were dropped into a different part of the world. How would its record of gun deaths compare to its neighbors?

In the wake of the mass shootings of the last few weeks, I decided to look into that question. I used a handy tool from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It turns out, the U.S. doesn’t fare too well. In five out of six regions, it would be right near the top in terms of gun deaths per 100,000 people. Only in one region is it near the bottom.

There are two important things to note. First, the IHME data exclude deaths from armed conflicts. So casualties from the ongoing conflict in Syria, for example, are not counted.

Second, data from some parts of the world are not the most reliable. “The number of gun deaths in many countries are underreported,” says Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health and epidemiology at the University of Washington. IHME makes adjustments for countries where underreporting is likely.

We should also point out that each list below includes only the ten countries in the region with the highest rate of gun deaths; in the Americas, the U.S. ranked lower but we included it for the sake of comparison.

Here’s the breakdown:

Western Europe: The U.S. Is No. 1 (Out Of 23)

If the U.S. were in Western Europe, it would have the highest rate of gun deaths by a wide margin. The U.S. has more than five times the number of gun deaths as the top Western European nation: Portugal has .66 deaths per 100,000 people compared to 3.55 in the U.S..

“If we compare the U.S. to Western Europe, which is a fair comparison in terms of socioeconomics, we are simply way, way higher,” Mokdad says.

Central And Eastern Europe: The U.S. Is No. 2 (Out Of 21)

Countries that were part of the Soviet Union have relatively high levels of gun violence. But even in this region, the U.S. ranks right near the top. Only Albania has higher levels of gun deaths, with 5.86 per 100,000 people.

There’s also an interesting correlation with a popular recreational substance. “In Eastern Europe and Russia, gun deaths are more closely associated with alcohol use, not drug abuse,” Mokdad says.

The Americas: The U.S. Is No. 13 (Out Of 20)

Compared to its neighbors in North and South America, the U.S. has a relatively low rate of gun violence. The U.S. ranks 13th out of 20 countries in terms of gun deaths — far behind El Salvador (52.39), Colombia (35.08) and Venezuela (32.66). Just six major countries in the Americas have lower rates of gun death than the U.S.’s — ranging from Argentina (3.08) to Canada (0.49).

Overall, gun violence is far worse in Central America than anywhere else in the world. And it’s largely due to one problem, says Mokdad. “In El Salvador and Honduras, there are a lot of gangs and drug trafficking, especially among younger men, and that has resulted in a big increase in gun violence.”

North Africa And The Middle East: The U.S. Is No. 2 (Out Of 21)

This might be the most surprising statistic of all: If the United States were in the Middle East, it would have the second highest rate of gun deaths of any nation — more than Libya, Egypt, Sudan and Israel combined. (Again, these numbers do not include deaths in armed conflicts.) In fact, only Iraq has a higher level of non-conflict related gun deaths.

Sub-Saharan Africa: The U.S. Is No. 8 (Out Of 43)

In areas of sub-Saharan Africa where there is not armed conflict, death rates from guns are relatively low. If the U.S. were on the continent, it would have the 8th highest number of gun deaths. It would be well ahead of most countries, including several with a violent reputation: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan.

Southeast Asia, East Asia And Australasia: The U.S. Is No. 3 (Out Of 19)

Only two countries in this part of the world have higher levels of gun violence than the U.S.: Thailand and the Philippines. By contrast, in Japan and Singapore, gun deaths are virtually nonexistent.

Mokdad says many nations in this part of the world are providing young men with a better safety net and more educational opportunities, which might help reduce gun-related violence. “If you have an education and have a future,” he says, “there is no reason to belong to a gang or to get a gun.”

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U.S. Women's Soccer Team Cancels Friendly Over Poor Field Conditions

Abby Wambach of the United States women's national soccer team (right) stands with teammates during a practice in October. The team cancelled a friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday due to the poor state of the artificial turf.

Abby Wambach of the United States women’s national soccer team (right) stands with teammates during a practice in October. The team cancelled a friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday due to the poor state of the artificial turf. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

toggle caption Elaine Thompson/AP

The World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national soccer team abruptly canceled a friendly soccer game against Trinidad and Tobago, scheduled for Sunday, because of poor field conditions.

The players and coaches, along with the U.S. Soccer Federation, decided to call off Sunday’s game in Hawaii after inspecting the artificial turf field, parts of which were peeling away from the ground.

“There were sharp rocks ingrained all over the field. They were everywhere. The artificial turf was actually pulling up out of the ground, and the turf itself was both low-grade and aging. This was a playing surface that looked like it hadn’t been replaced in years,” the team wrote in The Players Tribune.

Former U.S. soccer star Julie Foudy, tweeted a photo of the turf being lifted away from the ground.

One of the reasons @ussoccer canceled today’s game in Hawaii. #USWNT pic.twitter.com/uKJUMmOCA5

— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) December 6, 2015

The cancellation of the game, which would have been the seventh on the team’s 10-game World Cup victory tour, is the latest in a series of events that highlight the disparities between men and women’s soccer in the U.S.

Players have protested playing on artificial turf fields for years, citing bad ball bounces, painful turf burn and delayed recovery time for injuries. The complaints have been especially loud since it was announced last year that the women’s World Cup would be played on artificial surfaces instead of natural grass, prompting some international female players to file a lawsuit against FIFA, alleging gender discrimination. The men’s World Cup is played on grass.

Though the players eventually dropped the suit, they continued to be outspoken about the disadvantages of artificial turf. U.S. captain Abby Wambach called playing on it “a nightmare.”

The U.S. women’s team went on to win the World Cup, despite playing only on artificial surfaces, and shattered TV ratings for soccer in the U.S. in the process. The triumph did little to change protocol regarding field conditions for the women’s team, though; eight of the 10 victory-tour games were scheduled for artificial turf. And, according to Foudy, the field at Aloha stadium in Honolulu wasn’t inspected before the match.

That field should have been vetted months ago. And now players have to act to protect their careers and livelihood. Shaking my head. #uswnt

— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) December 6, 2015

Being told @ussoccer is working w the team & coaches to get a protocol in place similar to men’s. How not already in place is beyond me.

— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) December 6, 2015

In explaining their decision to sit out Sunday’s game, the players wrote: “Soccer is our job. Our bodies are our jobs. And nothing should ever be put in competition with our protection and safety as players.”

“Player safety is our number one priority at all times and after a thorough inspection throughout the day, we determined it was in the best interest for both teams to not play the match,” U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe said in a statement. “We regret not being able to play in front of our fantastic, loyal fans.”

The statement also said the federation would refund all tickets.

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Trump Calls For 'Total And Complete Shutdown Of Muslims Entering' U.S.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Iowa this weekend.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Iowa this weekend. Charlie Neibergall/AP hide caption

toggle caption Charlie Neibergall/AP

Donald Trump made a drastic call on Monday for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Trump’s call comes one day after President Obama’s address from the Oval Office following the shootings in San Bernardino that were carried out an apparently self-radicalized married couple. The male shooter was an American citizen, born in the United States. His wife was born in Pakistan, but was in the U.S. legally on a visa for fiancées.

Trump, the wealthy real-estate magnate who remains atop the GOP presidential field, has faced backlash for previous statements against Muslims and, before that, Hispanics. In the wake of Paris terror attacks, Trump endorsed the idea of a database to register Muslims in the U.S. and saying he would “strongly consider” shutting down some mosques.

Pointing to polling data from the Pew Research Center and the right-leaning Center for Security Policy, Trump argued that Muslims’ “great hatred” of America had reached such a peak that drastic measures should be taken. But the data — or the validity of it — isn’t what’s important.

“Without looking at the various polling data,” Trump said in a statement, “it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski clarified that the ban would apply to “everyone,” including tourists, according to ABC. He also noted that Trump would discuss it further in a speech Monday night in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

The polling Trump uses — or interprets — to substantiate his argument is also suspect. The June 2015 Center for Security Policy poll is an online survey — a method seen as less reliable than live-caller surveys. Respondents were also given limited or leading choices for their responses.

A 2011 Pew survey, which Trump appears to be referencing, surveyed Muslims in seven Muslim-majority countries — Muslims in the U.S. The word “hate” was never used — 68 percent of Muslims surveyed described Westerners as “selfish,” 66 percent called them “violent” and 57 percent said “arrogant.”

Muslim groups immediately sounded the alarm following Trump’s sweeping call.

“One has to wonder what Donald Trump will say next as he ramps up his anti-Muslim bigotry,” Council on American-Islamic Relations communications director Ibrahim Hooper told the Washington Post. “Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution to the Muslim question? I feel like I’m back in the 1930s.”

One of Trump’s rivals, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was quick to condemn the Republican’s statement.

“This is kind of thing people say when they have no experience & no idea what they’re talking about,” Christie said, according to WNYC’s Matt Katz.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Trump was “unhinged.”

He’s putting at risk the lives of interpreters, American supporters, diplomats, & the troops in the region by making these bigoted comments

— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 7, 2015

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that “every candidate for president needs to do the right thing and condemn” Trump’s statement.

.@realdonaldtrump removes all doubt: he is running for President as a fascist demagogue.

— Martin O’Malley (@MartinOMalley) December 7, 2015

The U.S. is a strong nation when we stand together. We are weak when we allow racism and xenophobia to divide us. cc: @realDonaldTrump

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 7, 2015

Democratic presidential candidates also weighed in.

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Sense Of Place Minneapolis: Hippo Campus

Hippo Campus.
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Hippo Campus. Taylor Hanson/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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  • “Souls”
  • “Suicide Saturdays”
  • “South”

Hippo Campus is a young, intricate rock band whose members are fresh out of music-conservatory high school in the Twin Cities. The band has enormous confidence in its music and live show, and has even appeared on late-night TV.

The group’s debut album, The Halocline EPs, was partially produced by Low’s Alan Sparhawk. In this World Cafe segment, we’ll hear Hippo Campus on stage and discuss the youthful rock ‘n’ roll life its members lead.

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Man named Bud Weisser accused of trespassing at Budweiser plant

A Missouri man named Bud Weisser was taken into custody for trespassing into – of all places – a Budweiser brewery in St. Louis, police said on Monday.

Police apprehended the 19-year-old St. Louis man on Thursday when he entered a secure area at the brewery and refused to leave, the St. Louis Police Department said in a statement.

Weisser was issued summonses for trespassing and resisting arrest and authorities continue to investigate the incident, police said.

Weisser pleaded guilty to burglary in July and his sentence was suspended, online court records showed.

There was no public listing of a lawyer representing Weisser and it was not immediately possible to contact him.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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At School And At Home, How Much Does The Internet Know About Kids?

Charlize, 8, plays with the Kidizoom Multimedia Digital Camera made by VTech in 2009. A recent data breach hacking sensitive information, including kid's photos, is prompting parents to look twice at their children's technology usage.
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Charlize, 8, plays with the Kidizoom Multimedia Digital Camera made by VTech in 2009. A recent data breach hacking sensitive information, including kid’s photos, is prompting parents to look twice at their children’s technology usage. Oli Scarff/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Children’s personal information isn’t supposed to be an online commodity. But whether kids are using Google apps at school or Internet-connected toys at home, they’re generating a stream of data about themselves. And some advocates say that information can be collected too easily and sometimes, protected too poorly.

Last month, a hacker stole personal information and photos of more than six million children after breaking into the computer records of a educational toy company, VTech.

VTech says that they’ve since hired a security company to deal with the breach. That might not be enough to convince Congress — Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent a letter to VTech, wanting to know if the company is complying with a law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The issue, of course, spans beyond VTech. In the toy world, there’s the new Internet-connected Barbie doll, which has also been found to have security flaws, for example. And privacy advocates have long waged a battle against cookies and other data collection based on kids’ Internet activity.

Google is one of the companies that have come under fire. A nonprofit advocacy group called Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Google’s data mining practices. More than half of classroom computers in the U.S. are Chromebooks and many students and teachers are using Google Apps For Education, a group of tools that include Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and the purpose-built Google Classroom.

Anya Kamenetz of NPR’s Ed Team and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, a staff writer for the tech news website Motherboard who has reported on the VTech data hack, spoke to All Things Considered about the issue of children’s privacy. Here are a few takeaways.


LORENZO FRANCESCHI-BICCHIERAI

On the VTech hacker’s motivation

He realized their services were really easy to break into. And he just took a peek in and found there was a lot of personal data and he was like, whoa, I should not be able to get this.

On what the hacker discovered

He analyzed it (the data) a little bit further, and he realized that you could actually link the two databases, and basically figure out who the kids were. The children database only had their first names, so you couldn’t really identify the children because you only had Mike, Lucy, Sarah, whatever. But from some other data in the files, Troy Hunt (an Internet security analyst) realized that you could actually link the two databases and figure out who the kids were, who were their parents, and effectively find where the kids lived and all this creepy information.

On sharing addresses with toy companies

If you’re a parent and you buy a V-Tech toy, put in a fake address. If the company doesn’t need that address, you might want to not give it out. And that way, there’s no damage there.

On planning for the future

The big takeaway here is that these things can happen, and as we connect more stuff to the Internet, we’re going to lose data. That’s unfortunate but that’s the reality. So we have to accept it and find ways to limit the damage if it happens — and also, hold more companies accountable as well.

ANYA KAMENETZ

On what happens when you type a search into Google

When you or I are logged in to Google, whether we’re using search, or Maps, or gmail, we have one account and that’s following us around — sometimes literally in the physical world — and it’s collecting information. When you’re logged in and using Chrome, which is their web browser, Google can actually, with permission, track your entire browsing history, every site you visit. And Google uses all this data to better target ads and search results and to improve its services, not only for you but for everyone.

On why that can pose a problem in schools

For students, the rules are supposed to be a little bit different. When students are using the Google Apps for Education and “Core Services” within them — gmail, docs, sheets, slides — Google says that they don’t collect personal data to target ads. In fact, they stopped collecting student data for ad-targeting last year after a California lawsuit questioned that practice.

But the EFF says that there’s a little bit of a sliding door, a back door: when students are logged into their student Google accounts but they’re using other Google services like YouTube videos or they’re searching Maps — that Google is collecting that information after all. And when students are using Chrome on these school-issued computers, they’re browsing the web and Google potentially has access to their entire browsing history as well.

On legal implications of such data collection

Well, that depends on who you ask. Google denies any wrongdoing here. They have signed a voluntary but binding pledge called the Student Privacy Pledge, along with 200 other companies. And that pledge says that Google will seek parental authorization before collecting data that isn’t being used explicitly for educational purposes. And EFF told me that they’re not necessarily digging into what Google is doing with this information, they just want Google to get permission.

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FTC Sues To Block The Merger Of Office Depot And Staples

The planned merger by Staples and Office Depot faces opposition from federal regulators, who say it would hurt competition for businesses buying office supplies.

The planned merger by Staples and Office Depot faces opposition from federal regulators, who say it would hurt competition for businesses buying office supplies. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

toggle caption Steven Senne/AP

The Federal Trade Commission has taken the first step toward blocking the proposed $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot, saying the deal would hurt competition in the market for office supplies sold to large corporations.

The commission filed an administrative complaint charging that the merger between Massachusetts-based Staples, the world’s largest seller of office supplies, and Florida-based Office Depot would violate antitrust laws.

“The Commission has reason to believe that the proposed merger between Staples and Office Depot is likely to eliminate beneficial competition that large companies rely on to reduce the costs of office supplies,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

Many large business customers buy office supplies by contract, the FTC said. That provides them with a wide range of office supplies at competitive prices, fast and reliable nationwide delivery, dedicated customer service and customized online catalogs, among other things, it said.

“That business-to-business market is distinct from the more competitive retail markets for office supplies sold to consumers,” Ramirez said.

The FTC blocked a merger between the companies in 1997, but the companies were hoping the changes in the market since then would persuade regulators to see this deal differently. Big-box stores and Internet retailers play a much bigger part in the business.

Staples and Home Depot issued a joint statement saying the FTC’s vision of the office supply market is outmoded and “based on a flawed analysis and misunderstanding of the intensely competitive landscape in which Staples and Office Depot operate”:

“The FTC underestimates the disruptive effect of new competitors in the digital economy. It also ignores the vigorous existing and expanding competition Staples and Office Depot face from numerous strong competitors, including office products dealers supported by large national wholesalers, manufacturers selling office supplies directly to business customers, dealers in adjacent categories, cooperatives of regional players, Internet resellers, big-box chains, and club stores.”

In addition to the administrative complaint, the FTC has authorized its staff to seek an injunction against the merger. An administrative trial will begin on the FTC’s complaint on May 10, 2016.

The FTC conducted its investigation with the Canadian Competition Bureau, which has also sued to block the merger.

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