Business News Archives for 2023-07

AM Business Notebook

>>Thousands Left Without Jobs Following Abrupt Yellow Closure

(Nashville, TN)  -- One of the biggest trucking companies in the U.S. is slamming the breaks and shutting down operations.  Over 30-thousand workers at Yellow trucking are now out of a job after the Nashville-based company called it quits.  The Teamsters and Yellow have been at odds after the company sued the union  --  claiming it was blocking restructuring plans needed for the company to stay afloat and avoid bankruptcy.  Additionally, the 100-year-old  is on the hook for a 700-million-dollar emergency loan paid out by the federal government during COVID.  Yellow has operations hubs throughout the U.S.

 

>>Losses For Home-Insurance Companies Piled Up In The First Six Months The Year

(New York, NY) -- Home insurers are insuring less and charging more as they try to find a way back to profitability after losing money the past five years. The higher-cost, lower-coverage trend extends to states across the country prone to hurricanes, floods or wildfires. Since the start of this year, double-digit rate increases have been approved in over 30 states. Oregon, is among states that had the biggest total of approved increases, ranging from 20 to 30 percent. In states like California, some insurers are not issuing new policies. Insured damage in the U.S. from natural disasters has topped 90 billion in each of the past three years.

 

>>Cannabis Farmers Sue State

(Portland, OR) -- Cannabis farmers have sued the State of Oregon over tests required for a certain type of mold on marijuana. Aspergillus can cause a rare respiratory disease in people with compromised immune systems, but it's not harmful to most people. Marijuana farmers argue in their lawsuit that the zero-tolerance rule established by the Oregon Health Authority will force them out of business. The lawsuit also questions why the rule is necessary in the first place.

 

>>Fed Reserve Exec Not Ready To "Declare Victory"

(Minneapolis, MN) -- A top official at the Federal Reserve says the economy is making good progress, but he isn't ready to "declare victory" over inflation. Speaking on CBS' Face the Nation, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari [[ kahsh-KAR-ee ]] agrees with recent comments by economists that a recession is not on the horizon as previously thought. There have been eleven rate hikes in the last 12 months and Kashkari said he didn't know how many more there would be. He stressed the Fed wants to get inflation back down to two-percent. Kashkari also referred to the current inflation rate of three-percent as a "headline" number, and that fluctuating oil, gas and food prices push the rate to four-percent.

 

>>Meta Plans Measures To Keep Threads Users Coming Back

(Menlo Park, CA) -- Facebook, Instagram, and now Threads-parent, Meta plans to boost retention on its new text-based social media platform. Threads enjoyed more than 100 million sign-ups in its first few days of existence. But now, less than half of those accounts are active. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company plans to institute what he calls "hooks" to keep Threads users engaged for longer periods of time, which, in theory, would encourage users to make the platform part of their daily routine. Zuckerberg says new features are coming, like a desktop version of Threads and a search bar.

 

>>Gas Prices Soar To 8-Month High

(Undated) -- Gas prices are surging to an eight month high. Triple-A says the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded hit 3.75 a gallon Sunday. That's 17 cents more than last week. Industry experts blame the spike on production cuts and record-breaking heat. They caution that prices could jump even further if there are refinery issues or a hurricane affects oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

>>Will Smith Calls Strikes "A Pivotal Moment" For Hollywood

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Will Smith is speaking out about Hollywood's labor stoppages. The Oscar-winning performer wrote on Instagram and Twitter the actors and writers strikes are a "pivotal moment for our profession." The one-time Fresh Prince belongs to SAG-AFTRA -- whose members walked off their jobs July 13th. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation replied to Smith by saying, "Thank you for your support Will!" The Writers Guild of America strike has been ongoing for nearly four months. Both unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers remain divided on key issues -- including calls for revised residual formulas for streaming content and protections against the use of artificial intelligence in film and TV production. The A-M-P-T-P represents networks, studios and streaming services.

 

>>Reports: Trump's PAC Spent $40M+ On Legal Fees This Year

(Arlington, VA) -- Former President Trump's political action committee has spent more than 40-million dollars on legal costs since the start of the year. Multiple reports indicate that number is more than double the amount Save America spent on legal fees in all of 2022. Most of the money used to defend the former president, his advisers and others comes from small-dollar donations from Trump's supporters. An official financial filing is expected to be released Monday.

AM Business Notebook

>>New Cybersecurity Disclosure Rules

(Washington, DC) -- Public companies will have to report cybersecurity incidents within four days under new rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC chief Gary Gensler said that while many public companies do reveal these types of security threats to investors, a more consistent method of disclosure would be beneficial. The new rules mean new paperwork for companies that will have to describe the nature, size, timing and impact on finances and operations.

 

>>Americans To Only Be Able To Buy LED Lights Starting Next Week

(Washington, DC) -- Americans will only be able to buy LED lights from retailers as a ban on incandescent light bulbs begins next week. The ban officially starts on Tuesday. It'll only be illegal for stores to sell the light bulbs and companies to manufacture them, but it won't be illegal to own. The Department of Energy said LED lights provide more light using less energy and last a lot longer than incandescent light bulbs. Any manufacturer who violate the ban may face a max penalty of 542-dollars per illegal light bulb.

 

>>Mayor Wants President Trump To Pay Security Bill Before Weekend Event

(Erie, PA) -- Former President Donald Trump is set to campaign in Pennsylvania this weekend, but one mayor says the candidate still owes his city for the last time he held an event there. Erie Mayor Joe Schember tells GoErie dot com that because the city has yet to receive more than 35-thousand-dollars Trump owes from a rally in 2018, they will attempt to get the former president to pay in advance this time. Schember says it's important to remember it's taxpayer money being used to pay overtime for police officers to help ensure Trump's visit is safe for everyone.

 

>>Anheuser Busch Lays Off Hundreds Of Workers After Anti-Trans Boycott

(St. Louis, MO) -- Bud Light maker Anheuser Busch is laying off hundreds after the recent fallout of a boycott against its partnership with a transgender influencer. That's nearly two-percent of its workforce in the U.S. A spokesperson for the company told The Hill it's an attempt to "simplify and reduce layers" by changing its corporate structure. After backlash from conservatives at Anheuser Busch working with trans woman Dylan Mulvaney, Bud Light lost its spot as the top-selling beer for the first time in over two decades.

 

>>Dylan Mulvaney Opens Up About "Trauma" From Bud Light Partnership

(St. Louis, MO) -- Influencer Dylan Mulvaney is sharing her experience from the controversy of her Bud Light partnership. Conservative backlash against her being a trans woman caused issues for her campaign with the beer brand. She said in a video posted to social media that today would have been her 500th day of being a girl if she kept up with her series on the matter on TikTok. Mulvaney said she chose to "scale back" her online presence to protect herself. In her eight-minute video, she thanked fellow trans and queer viewers who "came through" for her in the past few months.

 

>>Report: Tina Fey Could Replace Lorne Michaels

(New York, NY) -- Tina Fey might be replacing Lorne Michaels as the executive producer of Saturday Night Live. The New York Post reports the SNL alum is being courted for the top spot when the 78-year-old Michaels steps down. However, Michaels has said he has no plans to leave, telling the New York Times last year, "I have no plans to retire." However, in 2021 he did say he's committed to doing the show until its 50th anniversary, which is the fall of 2024.

AM Business Notebook

>>Fed No Longer Forecasting Recession

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve is no longer forecasting a U.S. recession this year. That's what Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters yesterday after the central bank raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday. He said inflation has moderated but there's still a "long way to go" to get it down to the two-percent goal. Officials pushed rates to their highest level since 2001, while leaving the door open for future rate increases. It's the eleventh rate hike since March 2022 and it follows a pause in June.

 

>>Mastercard Bans Cannabis Purchases On DebitCards

(New York, NY) -- You can no longer use Mastercard to buy cannabis products. The payment-processing corporation is telling financial institutions it's no longer allowing marijuana purchases on its debit cards. A Mastercard spokesperson said Wednesday that "the federal government considers cannabis sales illegal, so these purchases are not allowed on our systems." Most U.S. banks do not service cannabis payments because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

 

>>SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch Scrubbed, Rescheduled For Thursday Night

(Cape Canaveral, FL) -- A history-making launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket has been scrubbed. The triple-core rocket was scheduled for liftoff Wednesday night from Kennedy Space Center, carrying the largest communications satellite ever built. The launch was called off, however, just over a minute before liftoff. SpaceX says the next launch window will be Thursday night. The rocket will be carrying a nine-ton satellite that will provide broadband internet to remote areas.

 

>>Boeing Reports Nearly $150M In Losses

(Everett, WA) -- Boeing is reporting a nearly 150-million dollar loss in the second quarter. Despite struggling with higher costs in both its airline and defense business, the aircraft manufacturer says its starting to increase production of its two most popular airline planes, the 737 Max and the two-aisle 787 Dreamliner. Boeing CEO David Calhoun says the company is making progress and improving stability in its factories and among suppliers.

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve To Announce Interest Rate Decision

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting today with another interest rate hike widely expected. Last month policymakers pressed pause on rate hikes for the first time in 15 months. Officials have been striving to bring inflation down to two-percent by increasing rates all year long. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's post-meeting comments will likely provide insight into what's next for the Central Bank's policy and how it currently views the state of the economy.

 

>>UPS, Teamsters Avert Strike

(Sandy Springs, GA) -- UPS and Teamsters are avoiding a strike after reaching a tentative agreement yesterday on a new labor contract. A strike by UPS workers would have been the largest in U.S. history. Ratification of the new five year deal could take about three weeks. UPS CEO Carol Tome called it a "win-win" agreement for employees and customers. The union represents more than 300-thousand workers at the package carrier.

 

>>Bipartisan Bill Addresses College Athlete Compensation

(Washington, DC) -- A new bipartisan bill would make changes to how college athletes make money off their names and likeness. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama unveiled a bill on Tuesday called the "Protecting Athletes, Schools and Sports Act." It would establish a national standard for the use of a college athlete's name, image and likeness. It would also require the NCAA to develop a uniform standard contract for name-image-and-likeness deals.

 

>>Harvard Legacy Admissions Under Investigation

(Cambridge, MA) -- Harvard University is under investigation by the Department of Education over its use of legacy admissions. A complaint from an advocacy group alleges that the university is potentially violating federal civil rights law through legacy admissions, putting applicants of color at a disadvantage. Legacy admissions give preferential treatment to applicants who are children or relatives of alumni. At Harvard 70 percent of those applicants are white.

 

>>Disney Settles Class-Action Over Magic Key

(Anaheim, CA) -- Disney is settling a class-action lawsuit over its Magic Key annual pass. The suit accused the company of deceiving annual pass-holders into thinking they would get unlimited access to the Disney resort. The claimants add that Disney artificially limited top-tier pass-holders in favor of daily visitors. Magic Key passes range from about four-hundred-50 to 15-hundred dollars. Details of the settlement were not made public but there are about one million people who belong to one of four Magic Key tiers.

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve To Meet Ahead On Interest Rate Announcement

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve will meet this week with another interest rate hike widely expected. Last month policymakers pressed pause on rate hikes for the first time in 15 months. The Central Bank will meet today and Wednesday in Washington, D.C. with a rate decision coming after the second day. Officials have been aiming to bring inflation down to two-percent, but it remains at three-percent. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's post-meeting comments will likely provide insight into what's next for the Central Bank's policy and how it currently views the state of the economy.

 

>>IRS Agents No Longer Showing Up Unannounced

(Washington, DC) -- IRS agents will no longer show up at people's homes and businesses unannounced. The agency announced Monday that it's ending the practice and will now send letters to schedule meetings. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said showing up unannounced has created stress for taxpayers already wary of possible scams and for IRS agents who don't know what to expect when showing up.

 

>>UPS, Teamsters To Resume Contract Talks

(Atlanta, GA) -- UPS and the Teamsters union are heading back to the bargaining table. Contract negotiations set to resume later today are aimed at averting a strike by 340-thousand UPS workers. The Teamsters' five-year labor deal with the shipping giant expires at the end of the month. A strike of such magnitude could paralyze many supply chains and do tremendous harm to the economy. >>Some Say Twitter Name Change Could Wipe Out Value (San Francisco, CA) -- Some analysts suggest changing Twitter's name to X could wipe out anywhere from four to 20 billion dollars in value from the social media company. Elon Musk, who bought Twitter for 44-billion-dollars last October, announced the name change over the weekend, also noting that the bird logo would be going the way of the dodo. Joshua White, an assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University, noted that the company name Twitter has become part of the language, with verbs like "tweet" and "retweet" becoming everyday words.

 

>>Actors Set To Rally In Times Square

(New York, NY) -- Actors are planning for a major rally in the epicenter of New York City today. Those on strike will take to Times Square for the rally dubbed "Rock the City for a Fair Contract." Actors have been on strike since July 14th, joining writers who have been on the picket line since May. With writer's rooms and productions shut down, the entertainment industry has come to a grinding halt. Sticking points for both groups include residual payments from streaming services and protections from artificial intelligence.

 

>>Spotify Raises Price For Premium Subscriptions

(New York, NY) -- The cost for Spotify's premiums subscriptions are going up. The music streaming service announced a Premium Individual subscription will now cost 10-99 a month, an increase of a dollar. Meanwhile, Premium Duo subscriptions will jump two-bucks to 14-99 a month and Premium Family will now cost 16-99 a month. Premium Student subscriptions will see an increase of a dollar to 5-99.

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve To Meet This Week

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve will meet this week with another interest rate hike widely expected. Last month policymakers pressed pause on rate hikes for the first time in 15 months. The Central Bank will meet Tuesday and Wedneday in Washington, D.C. with a rate decision coming after the second day. Officials have been aiming to bring inflation down to two-percent, but it remains at three-percent. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's post-meeting comments will likely provide insight into what's next for the Central Bank's policy and how it currently views the state of the economy.

 

>>Biden Secures Commitments From Tech Giants On AI Development

(Washington, DC) -- Several leading artificial intelligence companies are agreeing to responsibly develop their cutting edge technology. President Biden told reporters on Friday that the commitment from companies including Google, Amazon and others are "real and concrete." Before a meeting with tech executives, the president said companies are obligated to ensure their tech is safe before releasing it to the public. Commitments include robust security testing of AI products, disclosure of AI-generated material and research on risks of bias and discrimination. Biden said the tech should be deployed to tackle societies biggest challenges, like curing cancer and combatting climate change.

 

>>WH Adviser Says Economy Trending In Positive Direction

(Washington, DC) -- A White House economic adviser says Bidenomics is "going in the right direction." Speaking on Fox News Sunday, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jared Bernstein noted that wages are starting to outpace inflation. Bernstein acknowledged that polls show that barely a third of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of the economy. Bernstein said he's hopeful that "consumer confidence and sentiments" will catch up to the progress he believes the Biden administration has made with the economy.

 

>>UPS, Teamsters To Resume Contract Talks Tuesday

(Undated) -- UPS and the Teamsters union will return to the bargaining table this week. Contract negotiations that will resume Tuesday are aimed at averting a strike by 340-thousand UPS workers. The Teamsters' five-year labor deal with the shipping giant expires on July 31st. A strike could paralyze many supply chains and do tremendous harm to the economy.

 

>>Musk Says He's Getting Rid Of Twitter's Bird Logo

(San Francisco, CA) -- Elon Musk says he's getting rid of Twitter's bird logo. The owner of the social media platform made the announcement in a pair of tweets early Sunday. In the first tweet, Musk said, "soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds." The second tweet said, "If a good enough X logo is posted tonight," we'll "go live worldwide tomorrow." He then posted an image of a flickering "X" with no comment. Twitter changed its business name to X Corp after Musk bought the company in October.

 

>>Barbie Beats The Bomb At The Box Office

(Los Angeles, CA) -- You could call it a "Barbenheimer" weekend at North America's box offices. Greta Gerwig's live-action feature "Barbie" is the top movie in the U.S. and Canada earning 155-million-dollars in its first weekend of release. That marks the biggest opening for any film directed by a woman. Coming in second is Christopher Nolan's biopic  "Oppenheimer" -- which made 80-and-a-half-million-dollars in its' debut weekend. The picture is about the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer -- who led America's development of the atomic bomb during World War Two. Rounding out the Top Five are the faith-based drama "Sounds of Freedom" followed by "Mission: Impossible -- Dead Reckoning Part One" and "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny."

 

>>Trader Joe's Recalls Two Cookie Products That May Contain Rocks

(Undated) -- Trader Joe's is issuing a nationwide recall of two of its cookie products that may contain rocks. One of the products is Almond Windmill Cookies with a sell-by date between October 19th and October 21st of this year. The other is Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Cookies with a sell-by date between October 17th and October 21st. Trader Joe's says all "potentially affected products" have been pulled from the shelves and destroyed. Customers who purchased either of the products should either toss them out or return them to Trader Joe's for a full refund. Trader Joe's did not indicate how rocks got into the products.

AM Business Notebook

>>Elon Musk Subpoenas Elizabeth Warren After She Calls For Tesla SEC Probe

(San Francisco, CA)  --  Elon Musk is serving a subpoena to Senator Elizabeth Warren just days after she called on the SEC to investigate Musk's role in running both Tesla and Twitter.  The Massachusetts Democrat sent a letter this week to the Securities and Exchange Commission, urging them to investigate Tesla regarding "the apparent conflicts of its Chief Executive Officer."  Now she's been subpoenaed by Musk's company, X Corp, who is demanding documents related to Warren's letter and her communications with the SEC going back to October of last year when Musk purchased Twitter.  

 

>>FTX Lawyers: Bankman-Fried Financing Defense With Misappropriated Funds

(Wilmington, DE)  --  Attorneys for failed crypto exchange FTX are accusing co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried of using ten-million dollars in misappropriated funds to pay for his criminal defense.  The lawyers filed suit Thursday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Deleware.  They say that ten-million is part of hundreds of millions of dollars Bankman-Fried is charged with stealing from the company.  He was indicted on fraud and bribery charges after FTX filed for bankruptcy late last year. 

 

>>June Home Sales At Slowest Pace Since 2009

(Chicago, IL)  --  Home sales for June are at their slowest pace in more than a decade.  The National Association of Realtors says sales of pre-owned homes last month dropped 18-point-nine-percent from June 2022, the biggest drop since 2009.  Realtors blame lack of available housing, rather than a lack of demand.  While sales of pre-owned homes are in a slump that experts don't expect to end any time soon, new home sales have made a big jump.  D-R Horton, the nation's largest home builder, is reporting a 37-percent jump in new home sales over this time last year.

 

>>NFL Owners Approve Commanders $6.05B Sale

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  NFL owners have unanimously approved the six-billion-dollar sale of the Washington Commanders.  It was voted on Thursday during a special session as owners met in Minneapolis.  The team was sold from Dan Snyder to a group led by businessman Josh Harris and NBA great Magic Johnson.  Snyder, who had owned the majority of the Commanders since 1999, has been the subject of multiple investigations over the past three years.  The price tag is a record sum for a North American sports franchise.

 

>>YouTube Increase Prices On Premium Plans 

(San Bruno, CA)  --  YouTube is bumping up its price on some of it's platforms. YouTube Premium is now two bucks more and is priced at 13-99 per month.  Those using YouTube Premium Music will see a dollar increase in it's plan to 10-99 per month. A spokesperson for the streaming giant told nine-to-five-Google that the rate hike shows the value of the ad-free services, noting it's music app has more than 100 million songs. 

AM Business Notebook

>>Jobless Claims Down

(Washington, DC) -- Jobless claims are down. The Labor Department says initial claims fell to 228-thousand for the week ending July 15th. That's down from 237-thousand jobless claims in the previous week. Most economists had been expecting today's number to come in at right around 240-thousand.

 

>>Oregon Adds Jobs, Unemployment Declines

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon's unemployment rate dropped from three-point-seven percent in May to three-point-five percent in June as the state added 57-hundred jobs. The unemployment rate is near the record low of three-point-four percent that was reached in 2019. Several sectors added jobs including government, other services, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services. Wholesale trade, transportation, warehousing, utilities and manufacturing lost jobs. Over the last year, the number of jobs in Oregon increased two-point-three percent.

 

>>Popular Rental Companies Promise To Show All Fees Upfront

(Washington, DC) -- Popular housing rental companies are promising to show so-called "junk fees" on their websites. The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that Zillow, Apartments-dot-com, and Affordable-Housing-dot-com have pledged to include all fees upfront, so prospective renters know what they're getting into. That means things like application fees and the cost of trash pickup will be included in listings. >>Netflix Ends Cheapest Basic Ad Free Option In U.S. (Los Gatos, CA) -- Netflix is ditching its cheapest basic ad free option. The basic plan was ten-dollars per month and didn't include ads. The option is no longer available for rejoining or new members. Current subscribers of the plan won't be impacted unless they change their plan or cancel it. This comes after the streaming giant began cracking down on password sharing.

 

>>Biden Convenes Meeting With Competition Council

(Washington, DC) -- President Biden is announcing new actions to increase economic competition and reduce costs for Americans. Just before a meeting Wednesday with his "Competition Council," Biden laid out initiatives to crack down on anticompetitive practices in the food and agriculture sectors, as well as hidden junk fees in the rental housing market. The president said capitalism without competition is "exploitation." The president has prioritized doing away with junk fees in a range of industries.

 

>>SpaceX Launches 15 Starlink Satellites To Orbit, Lands Rocket At Sea

(Lompoc, CA) -- SpaceX is celebrating the successful launch of 15 Starlink satellites into orbit overnight, then landing its Falcon 9 rocket on a ship at sea. The rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on the Central California Coast shortly after midnight after a one-day delay. It was SpaceX's 48th orbital mission this year.

AM Business Notebook

>> Meta Releases AI Technology Rivaling ChatGPT

(Menlo Park, CA) -- Meta is unveiling AI technology to rival ChatGPT. The tech giant's large language model will be available for free use, just like OpenAI's counterpart. The program "Llama 2" is a joint effort with Microsoft. A blog post from the Facebook and Instagram parent company says making it openly available benefits all.

 

>>Biden Creates New Anti-Competition Role On National Economic Council

(Washington, DC) -- President Biden is creating a new anti-competitive business practices role for the National Economic Council. The White House announced on Tuesday that the new focus is part of an executive order Biden issued two years ago to crack down on anti-competitive practices. The focus will be on economic sectors from agriculture to drugs and labor with an emphasis on finding ways to lower prices for consumers. Biden named NEC member Hannah Garden-Monheit as Director of Competition Council Policy.

 

>>Taco John's Abandons "Taco Tuesday" Trademark

(Cheyenne, WY) -- Taco John's is abandoning its "Taco Tuesday" trademark. The decision comes after rival Taco Bell filed a petition in May with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to end the trademark after being owned by Taco John's for more than three decades. The CEO of Taco John's said the company is dropping the fight to defend the trademark because it doesn't want to pay the legal fees. Taco John's owned the trademark in every state except New Jersey, where it's owned by Gregory's Restaurant & Bar in Somers Point. A separate challenge from Taco Bell over that trademark ownership is still pending.

 

>>Dollars Spent On Back To School Shopping To Break Records This Year

(New York, NY) -- Back-to-school spending is expected to reach a staggering 41.5-billion dollars this year. According to the National Retail Federation, dollars spent on back-to-school shopping will break records, up from 36.9-billion spent last year. Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of 890 dollars on back-to-school items, while college students and their families are expected to spend over 13-hundred dollars per person. This increase in spending is primarily driven by more demand for electronics. Sixty-nine percent of back-to-school shoppers expect to buy electronics or other computer-related accessories this year. That's up from 65-percent last year and the highest in the survey's history.

 

>>Mega Millions Jackpot Jumps, $1B Up For Grabs In Powerball

(Undated) -- There was no grand prize winner in Tuesday night's Mega Millions drawing, pushing the jackpot up to an estimated 720-million dollars. No one has won the jackpot in the multi-state lottery since April. Meanwhile, players around the country have a chance to win a one-billion-dollar jackpot in Wednesday night's Powerball drawing.

AM Business Notebook

>>Retail Sales Rise Less Than Expected In June

(Washington, DC) -- Retail sales rose slightly in June. The Commerce Department says retail sales rose two-tenths of a percent last month which is less than expected. Economists had forecast a half-percent increase. Retail sales minus autos and gas rose six-tenths of a percent in June. The data indicates consumer spending continued to grow at a slower pace than last quarter.

 

>>Federal Reserve Expects Another Rate Hike In September

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve is eyeing another interest rate hike in September. A July rate hike has been taken for granted for some time, but the Fed's decision for a September raise isn't yet clear. The committee will have a chance to analyze new inflation data before a September decision is made. Raising interest rates is thought to be the best way to combat inflation, but it also makes it more expensive to finance a house or car.

 

>>Sen. Warren Calls For Investigation Into Tesla, Twitter Ties

(Washington, DC) -- Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling on federal regulators to investigate Tesla's ties to Twitter. The Massachusetts Democrat sent a letter to the Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier today, urging the agency to look into potential "conflicts of interest, misappropriation of corporate assets, and other negative impacts to Tesla shareholders" related to CEO Elon Musk's buyout of Twitter. Warren argued the two companies may not have informed shareholders about the ways in which they've worked together. She also raised concerns about Tesla's board of directors lacking independence from Musk and suggested he could decide to "run Twitter to benefit Tesla through favorable algorithms or free advertising."

 

>>Hollywood Strikes Have Impact On Panels At Comic Con

(San Diego, CA) -- Attendees of San Diego's Comic Con this week will see some big changes this year due to the actors and writers strikes, but it's not all bad. San Diego Comic Con is the largest comic and pop culture convention in the world. This year, because of the writers and actors strikes, the star-studded presentations showcasing the upcoming blockbuster movies and TV shows, aren't happening. That doesn't mean there's any less to see or do this year, though. The giant spaces of Ballroom 20 and Hall H will now be open to showcase some lesser-known shows and movies. The most up to date schedule is posted on the Comic Con website.

AM Business Notebook

>>Earnings Results From Big Names Coming Out In The Week Ahead

(Undated) -- There's a lot to keep an eye out for coming up in the business week ahead. On the earnings front, things kick into high gear starting Tuesday with second quarter financial results due from Bank of America. Wednesday brings reports from Tesla, United Airlines and Netflix. Results from American Airlines will be released on Thursday.

 

>>Major Economic Reports Due For Release

(Undated) -- Some major economic reports will be released in the coming week. Not much on the calendar for Monday, but Tuesday brings retail sales data for June, industrial production, business inventories and the home builder confidence index. Fresh information on housing starts will be released the following day. Weekly jobless claims are due Thursday, with analysts forecasting a slight drop from the previous week. We'll also get a look at existing home sales before wrapping up the week on a quiet note with no major reports scheduled for release on Friday.

 

>>IRS Deadline For 2019 Tax Refund Is Here

(Washington, DC) -- Today is the last chance for taxpayers to claim a tax refund from 2019. The IRS says nearly one-point-five-billion dollars in refunds remain unclaimed from the year before the pandemic, and about one-and-a-half-million taxpayers may still be eligible for a refund. There's a three-year window to claim tax refunds, but in 2020 Tax Day was delayed three months because of the pandemic, so this year, the three-year deadline falls on July 17th. The IRS says the 2019 return must be filed on paper and postmarked by the end of the day.

AM Business Notebook

>>Consumer Sentiment Jumps 13% In July

(Ann Arbor, MI) -- Consumer sentiment is sharply higher in July. The University of Michigan's early reading for the month jumped 13 percent above June to its highest level since September 2021. Slowing inflation and stability in labor markets were among the key factors. The survey noted a sharp rise in sentiment among all groups except lower-income consumers.

 

>>Hollywood Shuts Down

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Film and television production is grinding to a halt in Hollywood, with actors set to hit the picket lines today. The union representing 160-thousand actors is going on strike, joining the screen writers who have been on strike for nearly two-and-a-half months. The biggest entertainment shutdown in decades means that all work covered by SAG actors must stop, as well as film and television productions shutting down.

 

>>FTC Investigates Open AI For Consumer Harm

(Washington, DC) -- The company "OpenAI" is being investigated for potentially violating consumer protection laws. The Federal Trade Commission is looking at records from the ChatGPT-maker about how it handles personal data and the potential to give inaccurate information to users. The FTC also wants to know about any complaints OpenAI has received from the public.

 

>>Amazon Sees Single Larges Sales Day During Prime Day Event

(Seattle, WA) -- Amazon says it saw its largest sales day ever during its two-day Prime Day sales event. The online retail giant announced its Prime members bought more than 375 million items and saved over two-point-five-billion dollars across the July 11th and 12th sale. Amazon said the first day of the event was the biggest sales day in its history. It added that Prime members saved more money than any other Prime Day event. Adobe Analytics reported the average money spent on an order during the event jumped nearly two-dollars from last year.

 

>>Frank Founder Accused Of Federal Fraud

(New York, NY) -- The founder of the student loan startup Frank is being accused of fraud. Charlie Javice [[ Juh-vees ]] appeared in a Manhattan federal court on Thursday along with her former employee Olivier Amar. Javice pleaded not guilty to wire, bank and securities fraud, and Amar pleaded not guilty to helping Javice fabricate millions of customers for the startup. Prosecutors allege that Javice over-reported how many users the company had in order to sell Frank to JP Morgan Chase, and that she and Amar tried to cover up the alleged fraud by providing Chase with a phony list of customers. The next hearing is scheduled for August 15th.

 

>>Cryptocurrency CEO Charged With Fraud

(New York, NY) -- The CEO of cryptocurrency platform Celsius Networks is being charged with defrauding customers. An indictment unsealed this week charges Alexander Mashinsky with misleading customers about the business. It says "Mashinsky portrayed Celsius as a modern-day bank, where customers could safely deposit crypto assets and earn interest," when in reality he operated Celsius as a "risky investment fund." The CEO's attorney said his client denies the allegations.

AM Business Notebook

>>Bend "Food 4 Less" Now "Local Acres Marketplace"

(Bend, OR) -- A popular discount grocery store changed names this week. Food 4 Less, located in the Cascade Village Shopping Center on the north end of Bend, is now Local Acres Marketplace. In a Facebook post, the store notes, the name change, is "to align with our commitment to providing the finest natural, organic, specialty and local products."

 

>>PepsiCo Q2 Report Beats Expectations

(Purchase, NY) -- PepsiCo's second quarter earnings report beat analyst predictions, despite falling demand. The company posted two-dollar-and-nine cents a share, 13 cents more than expected. Net sales rose two-point-four percent and the company raised its full-year outlook.

 

>>Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Levels This Year

(Washington, DC) -- Mortgage rates are at their highest since November. The Mortgage Bankers Association says average rates for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage went over seven percent last week, up from six-point-eight-five the week before. The MBA said markets expect the Federal Reserve will need to continue to hold rates higher longer to slow inflation.

 

>>Ex-Twitter Employees Sue Over Severance Pay

(San Francisco, CA) -- Twitter is being hit with a lawsuit from ex-employees who claim they didn't receive severance pay. Those suing the social media giant are part of terminations that happened after Elon Musk bought the company last year. The former workers are wanting 500-million dollars in damages as well as an order for Twitter to abide by all terms of a promised severance plan by paying all terminated employees what they are owed. Twitter let go about 80-percent of its workforce following Musk's takeover. Twitter is also facing a number of other lawsuits over severance pay, bonuses and layoffs that allegedly targeted women and workers with disabilities.

 

>>Elon Musk Announces New AI Company: xAI

(San Francisco, CA) -- Elon Musk is announcing a new AI company after months of teasing an alternative to ChatGPT. Musk says "xAI" will work to "understand the true nature of the universe." He promises more details on the company this Friday. Musk backed OpenAI early on, but later criticized its ChatGPT for giving "politically correct" responses.

 

>>FTC To Appeal Court Decision To Allow Microsoft-Activision Merger

(San Francisco, CA) -- The Federal Trade Commission is going to appeal a court decision to allow Microsoft to acquire video gaming giant Activision Blizzard. The FTC filed a notice of appeal Wednesday evening with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. That followed a federal judge this week denying the FTC's request for an injunction to put a temporary hold on Microsoft's 69-billion dollar merger with Activision Blizzard, whose franchises include "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft."

 

>>Oldest U.S. Craft Brewery Shuts Down

(San Francisco, CA) -- America's oldest craft brewer is shutting down after 127 years. Anchor Brewing announced it would cease operations and liquidate the business after declining sales since 2016. The San Francisco-based company cited supply-chain issues and rising costs. Another reason for the shutdown might be Sapporo, the Japanese beer company that bought Anchor in 2017. Employees talked to VinePair last month, claiming Sapporo mismanaged the company and failed to understand craft beer in the U.S.

AM Business Notebook

>>Inflation Slowing

(Washington, DC) -- Consumer prices were up three percent in June from a year earlier, about on track with analyst expectations. Numbers out from the Labor Department this morning show inflation continuing to cool from last year's 40-year-high. It's the 12th consecutive month that annual inflation has been cooling off. The closely-watched consumer price index rose just point-two percent in June from a month earlier, with gasoline and rent costs driving much of the increase.

 

>>Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Levels This Year

(Washington, DC) -- Mortgage rates are at their highest since November. The Mortgage Bankers Association says average rates for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage went over seven percent last week, up from six-point-eight-five the week before. The MBA said markets expect the Federal Reserve will need to continue to hold rates higher longer to slow inflation.

 

>>UPS, Union Negotiations Breakdown

(Atlanta, GA) -- The clock is ticking to avoid the largest strike in the U.S. since the 1950s. Talks between UPS and the Teamsters Union fell apart again. A majority of the 340-thousand UPS workers voted to authorize a strike by July 31st, and economists warn it could cause major disruption the U.S. economy.

 

>>SAG-AFTRA Strike Looms

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Hollywood studios are preparing for a possible actors strike. SAG-AFTRA's current contract with studios will expire at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday. If a deal isn't reached by then an actors work stoppage will happen, joining writers already on strike for more than two months. The deadline comes the same day that nominations for the Primetime Emmys are set to be announced.

 

>>Bank of America Ordered To Pay $250 Million In Fines

(Charlotte, NC) -- Bank of America is being ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. The bank is accused by federal regulators of multiple violations including overcharging customers on fees and opening accounts without customer consent. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ordered Bank of America to pay customers more than 100-million dollars and another 90-million dollars in fines. Bank of America is also being ordered to pay 60-million dollars in penalties by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The CFPB said Bank of America's practices are illegal and undermine customer trust.

 

>>Microsoft Able To Close Deal With Activision

(Redmond, WA) -- Microsoft will be able to finalize its Activision Blizzard merger after a federal judge decided not to block it. U.S. regulators had asked for a temporary hold on the 69-million-dollar deal while legal challenges to it progress. Now Microsoft can close the deal to acquire the video game giant that's responsible for big franchises including "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft." The judge wrote that the government "has not shown it is likely to succeed on its assertion" that the merger will smother competition in the video game markets.

 

>>No Mega Millions Grand Prize Winner, Jackpot Grows To $560M

(Undated) -- The Mega Millions jackpot is now past the half-billion-dollar mark after Tuesday night's drawing. Three people won a million dollars each for matching five of the six numbers, but there was no grand prize winner, so the jackpot for Friday's drawing will be worth an estimated 560-million dollars. The Powerball jackpot, meanwhile, is up to a whopping 725-million dollars. Those numbers will be drawn Wednesday night.

AM Business Notebook

>>Look Out For Amazon Prime Day Scams

(Undated) -- Retail experts are urging consumers to be on the lookout for potential Amazon Prime Day scams. The annual sale is wildly popular but has the potential to draw the attention of criminals looking to capitalize as well. Buyers are urged to be wary of unsolicited emails, texts, or calls and to look out for links to fraudulent websites. Another recommendation is to use only a credit card, not a debit card, for online purchases, as suspicious charges can always be disputed with the credit card company.

 

>>New York Times Closes Down Sports Desk

(New York, NY) -- The New York Times is shutting down its sports desk. The newspaper's CEO said current sports staff will move to other desks in the newsroom and there will no longer be a freestanding sports desk. The Times says it does not have plans for layoffs. Questions about the future of its sports department were raised when the paper spent half-a billion-dollars for sports news website "The Athletic."

 

>>Conventions Pulling Out Of Florida

(Undated) -- A number of conferences and events are staying away from Florida over state policies critics say target LGBT people and minorities. The conferences, including a "Game of Thrones" fan convention and a society of Black engineers meeting, argue some attendees aren't welcome in Florida. A spokesman for Republican Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis called the cancellations "nothing more than a stunt."

 

>>NYC Struggles To Fill Office Space (New York, NY) -- New York City still seems to be struggling to fill office space since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The real estate company Savill released a report unveiling Manhattan's available office space is at nearly 20-percent. That's a new high with more than 70-million square feet unoccupied. The report says the Financial District is having the toughest time coming back, with nearly 30-percent of office space available.

 

>>Red Cross Teams With Shark Week

(Portland, OR) -- Summer is a difficult time for organizations that take blood donations. Vacations and other activities keep people away from donation centers. The Red Cross has collected 50-thousand fewer blood donations than needed over the last two months. To increase donations, the Red Cross is working with Discovery for the 35th anniversary of Shark Week. Starting Wednesday, donors will be entered for a chance to win a three-night New York trip for two with a private shark dive adventure at Long Island Aquarium. Starting July 17th, donors will also get a Shark Week T-shirt. You can make an appointment to donate at RedCrossBlood dot org.

AM Business Notebook

>>Yellen Calls China Visit "Constructive" (Beijing) -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling her visit to China "constructive." Speaking on CBS's Face the Nation, Yellen said she and Chinese officials discussed the global economy and both countries' economies along with national concerns. Yellen said she also addressed reports of Chinese authorities trying to intimidate U.S. companies doing business in China. She said she informed Chinese officials any actions the U.S. takes will be "narrowly targeted and well-explained."

 

>>Coming Up In The Week Ahead

(Undated) -- Coming up in the business week ahead, readings on wholesale inventories and consumer credit are due today. Retail sales are due tomorrow along with the home builder confidence index. Housing starts come out Wednesday. Thursday brings word on first-time jobless claims and the week closes out with the import price index and consumer sentiment on Friday.

 

>>SAG-AFTRA Hopes To Avoid Strike

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Hollywood's biggest entertainment union is preparing for a possible strike even as it continues negotiations with the major studios. SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reportedly made headway in talks since both sides agreed to extend the deadline on a new film and TV contract to this Wednesday. Negotiations between the guild and the A-M-P-T-P got underway June 7th and are being closely watched in light of the Writers Guild of America strike that's now in its 68th day. Actors are supporting WGA writers and share many of the same demands. SAG-AFTRA members are calling for more pay and improved working conditions that they say have declined during the streaming era. It's also seeking increased wages to counter inflation, higher residuals from streaming and protections from the use of Artificial Intelligence. The union also wants to boost contributions to its health and pension plans. The guild's members already authorized their leaders to call a strike if they can't reach a deal.

 

>>Schumer Calls For FDA Probe Into PRIME Energy Drinks

(New York, NY) -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the FDA to investigate PRIME Energy drinks for their high caffeine levels. Speaking Sunday, the New York Democrat claimed the drink is being targeted to children as "one of the summer's hottest beverages for kids." A 12-ounce can contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is equal to about six cans of Coca-Cola or nearly two Red Bulls. Founded by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI, PRIME has gained popularity among teens on social media, despite a label on the product noting it's "not recommended for children under 18."

 

>>Prime Day: Avoid Scams

(Seattle, WA) -- With Amazon's Prime Day sales event coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday, the company is warning customers to watch out for scammers. Scammers posing as Amazon representatives is quite common and leads to millions of dollars in losses every year. The company says if there's a suspicious text or email asking to get in touch or to download software, do not reply. Instead contact Amazon customer service directly. Never pay for something you didn't order and be wary of anyone asking for a payment over the phone.

AM Business Notebook

>>Jobs Report Doesn't Live Up To Expectations

(Washington, DC)  --  The latest jobs report shows payrolls increased by 209-thousand last month.  The rise is less than expected, as analysts predicted somewhere in the neighborhood of 225-thousand new jobs.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported today that the unemployment rate remains just about where it was in May, sitting at three-point-six percent for the month of June.  
 

>>Report: Twitter Threatens To Sue Meta Over Threads App

(San Francisco, CA)  --  Twitter is apparently threatening to sue Meta over its new Threads app.  Multiple reports are citing a letter sent to Meta by a lawyer for Twitter.  In the letter, Twitter said it's concerned Meta is engaging "in systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and other intellectual property."  Meta's Threads is a text-based app that is a direct competitor to Twitter.

 

>>Uber Now Offering Accounts For Teens

(San Francisco, CA)  -- Teenagers can now have their own Uber accounts.  The new feature allows for teens to request their own rides or to order food.  The special accounts can be supervised by parents through the Family Profile in the Uber App.  A parent with an active profile can send an invite to their teen to create the account and safety features will automatically be enabled.  Thursday marked the first day the feature was active.

 

>>Pepsi Pineapple Returns Exclusively At Little Caesars For Limited Time 

(Detroit, MI)  --  Little Caesars is teaming up with Pepsi to bring a limited-edition soda to customers. The Pepsi Pineapple is returning this month for a special promotion at the pizza restaurant. The company said it wants to fuel the debate surrounding pineapple on pizza by satisfying all pineapple lovers. The Pepsi Pineapple made it's debut in 2020 for a limited time and fans of drink can taste it again on July 17th. 
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Jobless Claims Up By 12,000

(Washington, DC) -- The number of Americans asking for first-time unemployment benefits is up. The Labor Department says it received 248-thousand requests for the week that ended July 1st. That's up 12-thousand from the week prior. But it's not too far off from what most analysts had been expecting. The thinking was that today's number would be right around 245-thousand.

 

>>Meta Twitter Competitor 'Threads' Goes Live

(Menlo Park, CA) -- "Threads," Meta's competitor to Twitter, has already garnered millions of users in the hours since it launched Wednesday. The text-based social networking app allows Instagram users to post short updates, links, pictures and videos. Several high profile users were quick to join, including the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The app is available in over 100 countries, but not the European Union, over concerns around local data privacy regulations.

 

>>Hotel Workers Back, But They Might Walk Again

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Striking hotel workers are back on the job in Los Angeles - at least for now. They walked off the job for much of the long holiday weekend as they demanded higher pay and better benefits. Union officials say they might show up at other hotels with new picket lines. They add that the holiday strike only targeted 19 hotels. The union says workers could hit the picket lines at 41 other hotels at any moment. Hotel representatives accuse the union, Unite Here Local 11, of being inflexible. Last week, a deal was reached with the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown L-A.

 

>>Ad Spending for 2024 Elections Has Already Doubled 2020

(Undated) -- Spending on political advertising for the 2024 elections has already doubled what was spent for the 2020 cycle. The polls don't open for another 15 months, yet in this off-year, AdImpact reports that more than 453-million-dollars have been spent so far. By this time in the 2020 election calendar, less than 222 million was spent on political campaigns. Consultants believe this trend will continue up until election day.

 

>>Honda Recalls 100K Vehicles Due To Brake Issue

(Tokyo) -- Honda is recalling over 100-thousand vehicles due to brake issues. The recall includes certain recent-model Civic, Ridgeline, Passport, Pilot and Acura MDX vehicles. The issue involves a loose fastener that connects the brake booster and the brake master cylinder, which could lead to a possible loss of brake function. Letters notifying drivers will be mailed out next month. Owners can have their vehicles inspected and repaired at dealerships free of charge.

 

>>Powerball Nears $600M

(Undated) -- The Powerball jackpot is nearing 600-million dollars. No one won Wednesday's grand prize of 546-million, so the jackpot rolls over to Saturday's drawing and will be worth an estimated 590-million dollars. The Mega Millions jackpot is also reaching astronomical heights, and will be worth about 427-million dollars when those numbers are drawn this Friday.

AM Business Notebook

>>Fed Meeting Minutes To Offer Clues On Future Rate Hikes

(Washington, DC)  --  Minutes from the Federal Reserve's June policy meeting are expected to show an appetite for more rate hikes to bring down inflation.  The minutes, being released at 11 a.m. today, follow three weeks of Fed officials sketching out where they see policy heading.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell and others have indicated that another half-percentage point bump this year is still in play.

 

 >>Toyota Announces EV Battery Breakthrough

(Toyota, Japan)  --  Toyota says it's made a huge breakthrough in battery tech for electric vehicles.  The automaker says its found a way it believes can give a car a range of 745 miles on just a 10 minute charge.  The plan is to manufacturer the new solid-state batteries as soon as 2027.  So far these types of batteries have been prohibitively expensive but Toyota says they'll be able to slash the cost, size and weight.

 

>>Teamsters, UPS Approach Deadline For Contract Talks

(Sandy Springs, GA)  --  Today marks a crucial moment for UPS and its employees.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters targeted this morning as a deadline for the company to offer an updated contract with its union employees as a strike looms.  This gives teamsters enough time to take a vote ahead of the expiration of the current contract at the end of the month.  A strike would take roughly 340-thousand workers away from the job until an agreement is made. 

 

>>Meta Launching Twitter Rival

(Menlo Park, CA)  --   Facebook owner Meta is launching a new app to rival Twitter and says it will go live on Thursday.  The app is called Threads and is available for pre-order on the Apple App Store.  It will be linked to Instagram.  The move is the latest in a rivalry between Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter owner Elon Musk.  Last month, the pair agreed to a physical fight, though it is unclear how serious they were about actually going through with it.

 

>>Minneapolis-Based Lund's and Byerly's Workers Approve A New Contract

(Undated)  --  Minneapolis-based Lund's and Byerly's [[ BY-ur-lees ]] workers are on the job today after voting to approve a new contract over the weekend.  They'll get three to four dollar an hour raises, going into effect early next year.  The Food and Commercial Workers Union contract agreement for the two-thousand-500 Lunds and Byerly's employees averted a strike that was set to begin just before the weekend.

 

>>Report: Christmas Tree Shops To Begin Liquidating Stores Soon

(Undated) --  The popular retail chain Christmas Tree Shops is planning to liquidate its remaining stores.  That's according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.  Christmas Tree Shops filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.  If a buyer for the company is not found within the next few days, sales on any remaining items will likely begin soon.  

 

>>Nearly 1B Dollars Up For Grabs This Week In Powerball, Mega Millions

(Undated)  --  Nearly a billion dollars will be up for grabs in two nationwide lotteries this week.  There was no grand prize winner in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing, so the jackpot rolls over to Friday's drawing, when it will be worth an estimated 427-million dollars.  Meanwhile, the jackpot in tonight's Powerball drawing is worth an estimated 546-million dollars.  No one has won the Powerball jackpot since April.    Source Staff/acc      Copyright © 2023 TTWN Media Networks Inc.

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