Company Highlights: Job Cuts, COVID Fraud

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Gap cuts 500 corporate jobs as part of cost-cutting

NEW YORK (AP) — Gap is cutting 500 jobs at businesses in San Francisco and New York as it seeks to cut spending amid sluggish sales, a company spokesperson confirmed. The job cuts follow years of struggles at the San Francisco-based retailer, which operates stores under its namesake brand as well as Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. But the pandemic as well as soaring supply chain costs have taken an even heavier financial toll on the retailer. And last week, Gap and Kanye West ended their partnership to distribute the rapper’s clothing line under the Yeezy name. As of January 29, the company had approximately 97,000 employees. About 9% of them, or 8,700, work on company sites.

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Feds: 47 exploited pandemic to steal $250 million from food program

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal authorities have charged 47 people in what they call the largest fraud scheme to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by robbing and defrauding the government of $250 million. Documents released on Tuesday accuse the defendants of charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and corruption. Prosecutors say the defendants set up businesses that claimed to provide food to thousands of low-income children across Minnesota, then sought reimbursement through a federal program. But prosecutors say few meals were served and the defendants used the money to buy luxury cars, property and jewelry. This year, the US Department of Justice has made prosecuting pandemic-related fraud a priority and stepped up enforcement actions.

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FTC reviews Amazon’s $1.7 billion deal to buy iRobot

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot for $1.7 billion. In a regulatory filing Tuesday, iRobot said it and Amazon received a request for additional information as part of an FTC review of the merger. Both companies said they would cooperate with the FTC’s review. The investigation is the latest Amazon deal scrutinized by regulators amid growing concerns over the company’s market power. Earlier this month, securities regulators made a similar request to Amazon and One Medical, the primary healthcare company the e-commerce giant plans to buy for $3.9 billion.

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GOP AG pushes Visa, Mastercard and AmEx not to track gun sales

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of Republican attorneys general is pushing major payment networks — Visa, Mastercard and American Express — to drop plans to start tracking sales at gun stores, arguing the plans could invading consumer privacy and pushing the legal sales weapon out of the traditional financial network. The letter comes more than a week after payment networks announced they would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for sales at gun stores. The Second Amendment lobby and its supporters argued that the merchant code would do a poor job of tracking potential red flags and could unfairly flag legal gun purchases.

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Britain’s Truss doesn’t expect a UK-US trade deal any time soon

NEW YORK (AP) — Prime Minister Liz Truss kicked off her first visit to the United States as a British leader by admitting that a U.K.-U.S. free trade deal won’t happen until years. On his way to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Truss said “there (are) no negotiations currently going on with the United States, and I don’t expect that ‘they start in the short or medium term’. term.” It is a stark contrast to the position of his immediate predecessors, Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Both have dangled the promise of a deal with the world’s biggest economy as one of the main prizes for the exit of Great Britain from the European Union.

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NTSB wants all new vehicles to check drivers for alcohol

DETROIT (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that all new vehicles in the United States be required to have blood alcohol monitoring systems that can prevent an intoxicated person from driving. The recommendation, if adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, could reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes, one of the leading causes of road deaths in the United States. The new push to make roads safer was included in a report on Tuesday of a horrific accident last year in which a drunk driver’s SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck near Fresno, California, killing both adult drivers and seven children.

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Manchin rails against ‘revenge policy’ on permit plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin railed Tuesday against what he called the “revenge policy” used against him, as House and Senate liberals team up with Republicans to oppose to its permit acceleration plan for gas pipelines and other energy projects. Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to include the permit package in an interim government funding bill in exchange for his support of landmark legislation to curb the climate change. But in recent weeks, Democrats and environmental groups have lined up to oppose the clearance plan, calling it bad for the country and the climate.

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The Swedish central bank raises its key rate by one point

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden’s central bank raised its key interest rate by a whopping percentage point to tackle the highest inflation in more than 30 years. Tuesday’s move is the first in a series of big hikes expected from central banks around the world this week. The Riksbanken says inflation rose rapidly to 9% in August, “undermining household purchasing power”. The bank raised its benchmark rate to 1.75% and said it would continue to tighten over the next six months as it tries to bring inflation back to its 2% target. In making the big hike, he pointed out that other central banks were rapidly raising rates as consumer prices soared.

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Amid an energy shortage, Paris’ Champs-Élysées decorates shop lights

PARIS (AP) — The committee governing Paris’s Champs-Elysees said it is turning off the lights of shops on the famous avenue a few hours earlier each night to help save energy as the war in Ukraine tightens the electricity market in Europe. The plan announced on Tuesday means that the lights of stores on the avenue will go out at 10 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. It will come into effect on October 15. Stores on the avenue that stay open past 10 p.m. will “naturally” get an exemption, the committee says. The dazzling Christmas lights on the avenue will also be affected – and will now be switched off at 11:45 p.m. instead of 2:00 a.m.

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The S&P 500 fell 43.96 points, or 1.1%, to 3,855.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 313.45 points, or 1%, to 30,706.23. The Nasdaq fell 109.97 points, or 1%, to 11,425.05. The Russell 2000 Small Business Index fell 25.34 points, or 1.4%, to 1,787.50.

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