Monday, April 15, 2024

Morning business headlines: Nov. 7, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

WeWork seeks bankruptcy protection in stunning fall for a firm once valued at close to $50 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — WeWork has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, marking a stunning but anticipated fall for the office sharing company once seen as a Wall Street darling that promised to upend the way people went to work around the world. WeWork said it entered into a restructuring support agreement with the majority of its stakeholders to “drastically reduce” the company’s debt while further evaluating WeWork’s commercial office lease portfolio. WeWork added that it was requesting the ability to cancel leases in particular locations that WeWork described as largely non-operational as part of its filing. All affected members have received advanced notice.

The IRS plan to let taxpayers digitally submit documents is ahead of schedule, Janet Yellen says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taxpayers will be able to digitally submit all sorts of tax documents and other communications to the IRS months earlier than originally planned. That’s according to a new timetable being announced Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the IRS is three months ahead of schedule on going paperless. She plans to discuss the effort in a speech at IRS headquarters that is intended to signal that a new infusion of cash for the IRS is working. But as IRS and Treasury plan to outline new customer service improvements for the 2024 filing season, Republicans continue to try to cut funding for the agency.

Inspired by online dating, AI tool for adoption matchmaking falls short for vulnerable foster kids

Former social worker Thea Ramirez has developed an artificial intelligence-powered tool that she says helps social service agencies find the best adoptive parents for some of the nation’s most vulnerable kids. But an Associated Press investigation has found that the Family-Match algorithm has produced limited results in the states where it has been used, raising questions about the ability of artificial intelligence to solve such enduring human problems. Virginia and Georgia dropped the algorithm after trial runs, noting its inability to produce adoptions. Tennessee scrapped the program before rolling it out, saying it didn’t work with their system, and social workers reported mixed experiences in Florida. Ramirez said in an email that “Family-Match is a valuable tool.”

Does an AI tool help boost adoptions? Key takeaways from an AP Investigation

An artificial intelligence-powered tool meant to help social service agencies in adoptions was inspired by online dating. Ex-social worker Thea Ramirez says the algorithm developed by two former eharmony researchers helps social service agencies find the best adoptive parents for some of the nation’s most vulnerable kids. The Brunswick, Georgia, resident has won support from public figures and says Family-Match is a valuable and helpful tool. Ramirez got her start building a website meant to bring prospective adoptive parents together with mothers giving up their babies for adoption. An Associated Press investigation finds the Family-Match tool has produced limited results. Virginia and Georgia dropped Family-Match trial runs. Tennessee killed a pilot program before rollout.

Former Meta engineering leader to testify before Congress on Instagram’s harms to teens

On the same day whistleblower Frances Haugen was testifying before Congress about the harms of Facebook and Instagram to children in the fall of 2021, Arturo Bejar, then a contractor at the social media giant, sent an email to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the same topic. Two years later, after seeing little change, Bejar is testifying before Congress on Tuesday about social media and the teen mental health crisis, hoping to shed more light on what Meta executives, including Zuckerberg, knew about the harms Instagram was causing and chose not to do anything about it.

UBS reports pre-tax loss in 3Q but says benefits of Credit Suisse merger gather steam

GENEVA (AP) — UBS has reported a $255 million pre-tax loss, shed some 4,000 jobs globally, cut costs faster than expected, and reaped billions in asset inflows in the third quarter. It comes as the giant Swiss bank moves forward with its government-orchestrated merger with rival Credit Suisse. Underlying profit before taxes came in at $884 million in the first full quarter since the merger was completed in June. Government authorities in Bern shepherded through the deal along with corporate executives to stave off a collapse of Credit Suisse and avert a banking crisis. The bank said it was one quarter ahead of schedule in reaping savings from the restructuring operations, and the headcount was down more than 4,000 during the third quarter.

Bangladesh raises monthly minimum wage for garment workers to $113 following weeks of protests

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Authorities in Bangladesh have announced a new minimum wage for garment factory workers after weeks of violent protests. Wages for entry-level workers will increase by 56% to $113 a month. Some workers’ groups rejected the increase, the first in five years, saying it was too small because of rising living costs. Workers had demanded a $208 monthly minimum wage and demonstrated for weeks in the streets, attacked factories, fought with police and burned vehicles. Bangladesh is the second largest garment-producing country in the world after China with nearly 3,500 factories employing about 4 million workers, most of them women. It annually earns about $55 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe.

AT&T offers managers a rare benefit: paid time off to care for loved ones

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T management employees are entitled to up to 15 days off caregiver leave, which allows them to care for ailing children or other relatives without eating into their vacation or personal sick days. Paid caregiver time off is a rarity in the U.S., which has no federal law requiring employers to offer paid sick or family leave. AT&T’s Vice President of Global Benefits Juli Galloway said the company decided to offer caregiver leave, as well as expanding its parental leave, to help its management employees balance their personal and professional lives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortnite maker accuses Google of bullying and bribing to block competition to its Android app store

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google on Monday confronted the second major U.S. antitrust trial in two months to cast the internet powerhouse as a brazen bully that uses its immense wealth and people’s dependence on one of its main products to stifle competition at consumers’ expense. The trial that opened in San Francisco federal court targets the payment system for the Google Play Store that distributes apps for the company’s Android software that powers virtually all the world’s smartphones that aren’t made by Apple. The Play Store case is being brought by video game maker Epic Games, which already lost in a previous trial taking aim at Apple’s app store for iPhones.

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