Business Briefs – December 20, 2017

Trump Orders Boost in Production Of Critical Minerals

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is ordering the government to boost production of critical minerals used for manufacturing everything from smartphones to wind turbines and cars. An executive order to be issued Wednesday directs federal agencies to find ways to increase exploration, mining and processing of critical minerals and streamline permits for private mining companies. Mr. Trump calls U.S. reliance on foreign minerals a national security risk.

After Net Neutrality: Brace For Internet ‘Fast Lanes’

NEW YORK (AP) – Now that federal telecom regulators have repealed net neutrality, it may be time to brace for the arrival of internet “fast lanes” and “slow lanes.” The Associated Press queried seven major internet providers about their post-net-neutrality plans, and all of them equivocated when asked if they might establish fast and slow lanes. None of the seven companies — Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Sprint and T-Mobile — would rule out the possibility.

Big vs. Boutique: Battle Brews In California Weed Business

ADELANTO, Calif. (AP) – California has long been known for its boutique marijuana market, producing world-famous buds on small plots in the so-called Emerald Triangle, north of San Francisco. But with broad legalization starting Jan. 1, the state is seeing more companies with big, all-in-one pot operations that include farms, laboratories and factories. Some fear corporate-level businesses will eventually doom mom-and-pop growers and sellers, much as Big Tobacco dominated its market.

Students Defrauded by For-Profits May Not Get Full Relief

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Education Department is abandoning the Obama administration’s practice of fully wiping out the student loans of those who had been defrauded by for-profit colleges and will start granting some students only partial loan relief. Under President Barack Obama, tens of thousands of students deceived by now-defunct for-profit schools had over $550 million in loans canceled in full. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Wednesday that process was not fair to students or taxpayers.