The House has approved antitrust legislation targeting the dominance of Big Tech companies by giving states greater power in competition cases and increasing money for federal regulators. The bipartisan measure was separated from more ambitious provisions aimed at reining in Meta, Google, Amazon and Apple and cleared by key House and Senate committees. Those proposals have languished for months, giving the companies time for vigorous lobbying campaigns against them. The Biden administration endorsed the more limited bill this week. House conservatives objected to the proposed revenue increase for the antitrust regulators, arguing there's been brazen overreach by the Federal Trade Commission under President Joe Biden.
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Former executives and directors of Pacific Gas & Electric have agreed to pay $117 million to settle a lawsuit over devastating 2017 and 2018 California wildfires sparked by the utility’s equipment. The settlement was announced Thursday by the PG&E Fire Victim Trust, which was established to handle claims filed by more than 80,000 victims of deadly wildfires ignited by PG&E’s rickety electrical grid. The nation's largest utility calls the settlement “another step forward" as it continues working to reduce risk from its electrical system. PG&E has been blamed for more than 30 wildfires since 2017 that wiped out more than 23,000 homes and businesses and killed more than 100 people.
New Mexico is poised to have its first unionized Starbucks store. Rank-and-file staff at an Albuquerque location of the coffee giant voted in favor of unionizing Thursday. The National Labor Relations Board conducted the election at the store at I-40 and Rio Grande Boulevard. The store was the first in New Mexico to take initial steps toward forming a labor union. Workers formally filed a petition for an election in July. A second store in Santa Fe is also looking to unionize. A representative for Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. More than 230 Starbucks branches nationwide have elected to unionize since late last year.
A television station reports that a North Carolina sheriff was recorded calling Black employees by derogatory names and saying they should be fired. Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene issued a statement arguing that the recording of the February 2019 phone call obtained by WECT-TV had been edited or altered. But he didn’t deny that he was on the call or that he made the statements. The recorded comments were condemned by the North Carolina NAACP, which demanded Greene’s resignation. The local district attorney said Thursday that he asked the State Bureau of Investigation to probe allegations of obstruction of justice within the sheriff’s office but declined to confirm it was related to the recording.
Parts of the Mississippi River are so low from weeks of drought that barge traffic is being limited at the worst possible time — as crop harvests begin. Some Mississippi River communities between St. Louis and New Orleans may see record low water levels in the coming days, including Caruthersville, Missouri, and Osceola, Arkansas. Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say that normally, tows are able to move 36 barges at a time. With the water level so low, shippers have voluntarily agreed to cut that to 25 barges. Corn and soybeans harvested in the early fall need to be moved, and barges are vital in getting the commodities from one place to another.
Ivette Garrido hurried last week to get the 6 kilograms of subsidized chicken allotted to her family by Cuba’s government and put it in the freezer, happy to have meat to get through Hurricane Ian. Now she is considering giving the chicken to her three dogs before it goes bad, as a huge power blackout caused by the storm extends beyond two days and everything in her freezer thaws amid scorching temperatures. Cuban authorities have not said what percentage of the population remains without electricity or when things will return to normal, but the Electric Union says only 10% of Havana’s 2 million people have power.
Russia is planning to annex more of Ukraine on Friday. The move represents an escalation of the seven-month war that is expected to isolate the Kremlin further, draw more international punishment and bring extra support to Ukraine. An annexation ceremony is planned in the Kremlin. The annexation would come just days after voters supposedly approved Moscow-managed “referendums” that Ukrainian and Western officials have denounced as illegal, forced and rigged. In an apparent response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called an emergency meeting Friday of his National Security and Defense Council.
FILE - Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at an event on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, at Phoenix Christian Preparatory School. A massive $1.9 billion Arizona income tax that mainly benefits the wealthy championed by Ducey and enacted by Republicans who control the state Legislature in 2021 will go into full effect next year after the state met revenue targets for the entire cut to be implemented, Ducey announced Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)