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Severe smog crisis prompts unusual media transparency

BEIJING — One of Beijing’s worst rounds of air pollution kept schoolchildren indoors and sent coughing residents to hospitals Monday, but this time something was different about the murky haze: the government’s transparency in talking about it.

Even state-run media gave the smog remarkably critical and prominent play. “More suffocating than the haze is the weakness in response,” read the headline of a front-page commentary by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.

SWITZERLAND

Swatch in $1 billion deal for Harry Winston brand

GENEVA — Switzerland’s biggest watch maker, Swatch Group AG, will pay about $1 billion to acquire Canada’s Harry Winston watch and jewelry brand, officials from both companies said Monday.

The Biel, Switzerland-based company has agreed to pay $750 million to acquire the brand from Toronto-based Harry Winston Diamond Corp.

FLORIDA

Deal puts Valpak coupons on drivers’ cellphones

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The company that sends you blue envelopes stuffed with coupons also wants you to save money while you’re driving.

Valpak has partnered with Roximity, a Denver-based app developer, to bring coupons and deals to drivers of newer-model Fords and Lincolns who use the voice-controlled Sync AppLink connected to their mobile phone.

The app allows people to hear about personalized deals from stores, restaurants and other businesses as they drive. The “coupon” appears on the driver’s smartphone and can be redeemed once the car is stopped.

From wire dispatches and staff reports