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Ford to drop Microsoft from car systems

Ford has found a new software partner to power its in-car entertainment and communications systems, making plans to drop technology from Microsoft in favor of software from BlackBerry.

For its Sync in-car system, which connects to mobile phones for access to music and other digital services, Ford intends to use software called QNX made by BlackBerry rather than the embedded version of Windows, Microsoft’s operating system, according to two people briefed on the automaker’s plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans are still private.

News of the switch was first reported in the February issue of the Hansen Report, an auto industry newsletter.

Problems with Ford’s in-car systems, especially as the company introduced versions that came with dashboard touch screens, hurt the company’s customer satisfaction ratings in recent years. Ford was Microsoft’s most prominent partner in the automotive business for its software. For years, Microsoft has tried to make variations of its Windows operating system an ingredient in technologies used in a variety of industries, including health care and manufacturing, but none of the efforts has achieved anything like the company’s success in PCs.

—Nick Wingfield and Jaclyn Trop, The New York Times

Ugandan president signs anti-gay law

LONDON — Brushing aside Western threats and outrage, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda significantly strengthened Africa’s anti-gay movement on Monday, signing into law a bill imposing harsh sentences for homosexual acts, including life imprisonment in some cases, according to government officials.

The move came weeks after Museveni’s Nigerian counterpart, Goodluck Jonathan, took similar steps in his own country, threatening offenders with 14-year prison terms. The Ugandan law seemed even tougher, threatening life terms on charges including “aggravated homosexuality,” meaning homosexual acts with a minor, a disabled person or someone infected with HIV.

“We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone,” Museveni said, according to The Associated Press, alluding to Western pressure to reject the bill.

He signed the legislation at his official residence at Entebbe, near the capital, Kampala, in front of government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists who had said they found no genetic basis for homosexuality — a conclusion that Museveni cited in support of the new law, the AP said.

While Western gay-rights campaigners have accused U.S. evangelical Christian groups of promoting anti-gay sentiment in Uganda, Museveni accused “arrogant and careless Western groups” of seeking to draw Ugandan children into homosexuality.

—Alan Cowell, The New York Times

Camels linked to spread of deadly virus in people

A new study suggests that camels are the major source of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, a viral disease that has sickened 182 people and killed 79 of them since it was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The animals are most likely to infect people through respiratory secretions — from coughing, sneezing, snorting or spitting — that travel through the air or cling to surfaces.

People with chronic illnesses like diabetes, lung disease or kidney failure, or other conditions that weaken their immunity, seem to be most susceptible, and should avoid close contact with camels, researchers say.

Saudi Arabia has had the most cases, other Middle Eastern countries have had a few and a handful of travelers from that region have taken the disease to Europe. There have been no cases in the United States. Although people have infected one another, the disease is not highly transmissible among humans, so researchers say that unless the virus changes to become more contagious in people, the risk of global spread does not seem high.

The new study provides the first evidence that the virus is widespread in dromedary camels (the kind with one hump) in Saudi Arabia, and has been for at least 20 years.

Younger animals are more likely than older ones to be infected and contagious. The virus invades the camels’ nose and respiratory tract, but does not kill them. It is not known whether it even makes them sick.

—Denise Grady, The New York Times

Arizona governor is pressed to veto faith-based bill

PHOENIX — As the Arizona Legislature sent a bill to her desk Monday that would grant business owners the right to invoke religion to refuse service to gays and others, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, faced pressure from many corners to veto the measure, which has cast unwanted national attention on Arizona.

Elected officials, civic leaders and business groups spoke out against the measure, which passed both houses of the Legislature on Thursday.

On Twitter, Arizona’s U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, also Republicans, had nearly identical posts, with both of them saying they hoped Brewer would veto the bill. An executive from Apple Inc., which plans to build a big manufacturing plant in Mesa, called Brewer to urge her to reject it, and W. Douglas Parker, chairman and chief executive of American Airlines, sent her a letter citing the state’s “economic comeback” and saying, “There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far.”

Their calls were echoed by three Republican state senators — Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley, all members of the party’s conservative camp — who had helped pass the legislation in the first place.

—Fernanda Santos, The New York Times