May 16, 2023
Heads of failed banks questioned on executive pay, how they handled risk at Senate hearing
NEW YORK (AP) — Executives from two large U.S. banks that failed dramatically in March are appearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday to respond to questions about why their banks went under and what regulators could have done to avoid the calamities. Along with questions about how these banks failed, senators used the hearing to also address executive pay and whether senior executives in the U.S. are being rewarded more for short-term gains — like rising stock prices — than for ensuring their companies’ long-term health.
Retail sales up 0.4% in April, buoyed by solid job market and declining prices in some areas
NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers picked up their spending modestly in April from March, particularly in dining out and online, buoyed by a solid job market and easing inflationary pressures. A bump up in car sales also helped results, according to the Commerce Department report issued Tuesday. But shoppers are facing plenty of challenges heading into the second half of the year from tightening credit to a weaker job market. Retail sales increased 0.4% in April from March when it was down 0.7%. It marked the first increase since January when unusually warm weather and a big jump in Social Security benefits likely spurred more spending.
ChatGPT chief says artificial intelligence should be regulated by a US or global agency
The head of the artificial intelligence company that makes ChatGPT told Congress on Tuesday that government intervention “will be critical to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful” AI systems. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday that he supported the formation of a U.S. or global agency that would license the most powerful AI systems and have the authority to ensure compliance with safety standards. His San Francisco-based startup rocketed to public attention after it released ChatGPT late last year. Lawmakers expressed concerns about the ability of the latest crop of “generative AI” tools to mislead people, spread falsehoods, violate copyright protections and upend the job market.
YouTube sends gun videos to 9-year-olds: ‘It’s not the kids. It’s the algorithms,’ study finds
WASHINGTON (AP) — YouTube is great at sending users videos that it thinks they’ll like based on their interests. But new research shows that the site’s powerful algorithms can also flood young users with violent and disturbing content. The nonprofit Tech Transparency Project created YouTube accounts mimicking the behavior of young boys with an interest in first-person shooter games. The site soon began recommending videos featuring graphic imagery of school shootings and tactical firearm training to users as young as nine. YouTube says it works hard to protect children, but the researchers say the material could traumatize vulnerable kids or send them down dark roads of radicalization and extremism.
Crypto rules get final approval to make Europe a global leader on regulation
LONDON (AP) — European Union states have given final approval to a sweeping set of beefed-up cryptocurrency rules, giving the 27-nation bloc a global lead in regulating the freewheeling sector. The European Council adopted the package of rules, known as Markets in Crypto Assets on Tuesday. It’s the final step in the 27-nation bloc’s legislative process. European Parliament lawmakers endorsed the rules in April, and they’re expected to start taking effect in phases starting in July 2024. The tighter European scrutiny follows a spate of high-profile crypto scandals including the collapse of trading firm FTX and the implosion of the TerraUSD stablecoin.
Monopoly concerns push FTC to sue to block Amgen’s more than $26B deal for Horizon
Federal regulators are suing to block biotech drug developer Amgen’s more than $26 billion deal for Horizon Therapeutics. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that the deal, announced last December, would give Amgen unfair leverage to block competition for Horizon medications. The FTC said the deal would entrench Horizon’s monopoly position on treatments for thyroid eye disease and chronic refractory gout. An Amgen representative did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment. Amgen leaders said in December that the deal would give their company a strong platform to expand into rare disease treatments.
Biden vetoes bid by Congress to reinstate tariffs on solar panel imports from SE Asia
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has vetoed a congressional resolution that would have reinstated tariffs on solar panel imports from Southeast Asia. Biden’s action settles — for now — a long-running dispute over whether to punish China for trade violations that bypass U.S. rules limiting imports of cheap solar panels from Asia. The result of Biden’s veto is that a two-year delay on tariffs will continue until at least June 2024. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about what they call unfair competition from China. Some U.S. manufacturers contend China has essentially moved operations to four Southeast Asian countries — Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia — to skirt U.S. anti-dumping rules.
Biden re-evaluating trip abroad adding urgency ahead to debt ceiling meeting at White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is considering cutting short his upcoming foreign trip because of the looming debt ceiling crisis. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden would leave Wednesday, as scheduled, for his trip to Japan for a Group of Seven summit. But he’ll return home rather than continuing on to Australia and Papua New Guinea. Biden is holding talks on the debt limit with congressional leaders before his trip.
Job cuts, no Social Security checks: How consumers could be pinched by a US government default
WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of job cuts. No Social Security checks. Disrupted services like air traffic control. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says these are some of the ways consumers could be hurt if the U.S. experienced an unprecedented government default. The U.S. could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1 if no deal is reached to raise the debt limit. Aides to President Joe Biden and Congress’ top Democratic and Republican leaders are trying to reach a deal to increase the amount of money the government can borrow to meet its financial obligations in exchange for some spending curbs. Yellen warned Tuesday that time is running out.
‘Taco Tuesday’ trademark tiff flares anew between fast food competitors
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A tiff over Taco Tuesday is heating up, with Taco Bell asking U.S. regulators to force a Wyoming-based fast-food chain to abandon its longstanding claim to “Taco Tuesday” as a trademark. Taco Bell says in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office dated Tuesday that too many businesses use “Taco Tuesday” for Cheyenne-based Taco John’s to claim exclusive rights to the phrase. Taco John’s has tried vigorously to enforce its claim to “Taco Tuesday” over the years, sending warning letters far and wide to restaurants with Taco Tuesday promotions. Taco John’s first response to Taco Bell? A new Taco Tuesday promotion.