Friday, May 17, 2024

AP morning business brief — Feb. 21, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

Supreme Court weighs Google’s liability in ISIS terror case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking up its first case about a federal law credited with helping create the modern internet. The law shields Google, Twitter, Facebook and other companies from lawsuits over content posted on their sites by others. The justices are hearing arguments Tuesday about whether the family of a terrorism victim from California who was killed in Paris can sue Google for helping extremists spread their message. The case is the court’s first look at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, adopted early in the internet age to protect companies from being sued over information their users post online. The companies say the law has encouraged the removal of harmful content.

What is Section 230, the rule that made the modern internet?

Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today. Two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court being argued this week challenge this law. The outcome could reshape the modern internet. Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act — itself part of a broader telecom law — provides a legal “safe harbor” for internet companies.

Walmart beats Q4 expectations during holiday shopping period

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart on Tuesday reported strong sales for the holiday season as budget-conscious consumers looking for better deals flocked to its stores. The report was a good showing for the company, considering consumers had overall cut back on their spending during the traditional November-December shopping period. Though sales rebounded at stores and restaurants last month, showing shoppers are still spending despite higher prices and several interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The nation’s largest retailer also delivered full-year sales of $611.3 billion, up 6.7% compared to the prior year. But it said it expects sales to increase between 2.5 to 3% in the next fiscal year. Shares fell more 4% in premarket trading.

Wall Street weakens as higher rates keep tightening squeeze

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling on Wall Street amid worries about upcoming profits for companies and the tightening squeeze of higher interest rates. The S&P 500 was 0.8% lower early Tuesday after being closed Monday for Presidents Day. The Nasdaq composite and the Dow also fell by similar amounts. Home Depot and Walmart both fell despite reporting stronger profit for the last three months of 2022 than expected. For both, the worry was about upcoming earnings after they gave forecasts that fell short of expectations. Treasury yields kept climbing further on worries that the Fed will stay aggressive on rates to fight inflation.

Ukraine’s health care on the brink after hundreds of attacks

KRASNOHORIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — Researchers have documented more than 700 attacks against health care facilities and staff a year into Russia’s war in Ukraine. The data was verified by five organizations working in Ukraine and released Tuesday. Residents in the city of Kherson said retreating Russian forces took most of the ambulances with them. Russians engulfed the last functioning hospital in Mariupol as they as they captured the city and threatened doctors if they tried to leave. The researchers who have mapped the destruction across Ukraine say the attacks follow patterns that indicate a deliberate Russian policy. Attacking hospitals and medical personnel is considered a war crime under international law.

Buttigieg urges safety changes after fiery Ohio derailment

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wants the nation’s freight railroads to immediately act to improve safety while regulators try to strengthen safety rules in the wake of a fiery derailment in Ohio that forced evacuations when toxic chemicals were released and burned. Buttigieg announced the reforms Tuesday — two days after he warned Norfolk Southern to fulfill its promises to clean up the mess just outside East Palestine, Ohio, and help the town recover. The railroad reiterated its commitment to safety and aiding East Palestine but didn’t directly respond to Buttigieg’s criticism. The head of the EPA plans to return to the town Tuesday to talk about the next steps in the cleanup and efforts to keep people safe.

Russia suspends only remaining major nuclear treaty with US

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Moscow is suspending its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States. The move to halt Moscow’s involvement in the New START treaty sharply ups the ante amid tensions with Washington over the fighting in Ukraine. Putin made the remarks in his state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday. He also said that Russia should stand ready to resume nuclear weapons test if the U.S. does so. Such a move that would end a global ban on nuclear weapons tests in place since Cold War times. Putin accused the U.S. and its NATO allies of openly declaring the goal of a “strategic defeat” of Russia.

More restaurants are trying monthly subscriptions

Consumers are willing to pay monthly subscription fees for streaming services, pet food and even toilet paper. And now some restaurants are betting they’ll do the same for their favorite meals. Large chains like Panera and P.F. Chang’s as well as neighborhood hangouts are increasingly experimenting with the subscription model as a way to ensure steady revenue and customer visits. Some offer unlimited drinks or free delivery for a monthly fee; others will bring out your favorite appetizer each time you visit. They’re following a trend: The average American juggled 6.7 subscriptions in 2022, up from 4.2 in 2019, according to Rocket Money, a personal finance app.

Ukraine’s year of pain, death —and also nation-building

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is both grim and vexing as milestones go. It marks a full year of killing, destruction, loss and pain felt even beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine. But it also raises a question that’s unsatisfying because it can’t be answered at this partway point. How much longer until this stops? “Not soon enough” might be one response. But any peace deal looks far off as Russia’s invasion force grinds into Year Two. Neither side is close to reaching hoped-for objectives. But Ukraine is still here. That in itself is a stinging defeat for the Kremlin.

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