Business Briefs – May 16, 2018

Senate Backs Effort to Restore ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable.

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate “net neutrality” rules as “political theater” because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate’s margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

At issue are rules that the Federal Communications Commission repealed in December that prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own content. Critics, including the Trump administration, said overregulation was stifling innovation, and they backed the FCC’s move, which is still set to take effect next month.

Buffett’s Company Doubles Investment in Drugmaker Teva

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Investor Warren Buffett’s company more than doubled its stake in Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals in the first quarter.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. filed an update on its U.S. stock portfolio with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

Berkshire said it held 40.5 million Teva shares at the end of March. That’s up from the 18.9 million shares of the world’s largest generic drugmaker that Berkshire held at the end 2017.

Berkshire also slashed its holdings in insurance data provider Verisk Analytics to 284,778 shares from 1.56 million shares at the start of the year.

Berkshire officials don’t typically comment on these quarterly filings.

Teva added 2.9 percent to $20.88.

Trump Says ‘No Folding’ in Trade Negotiations With China

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says there has been “no folding” in his trade negotiations with China, as he addresses his efforts to help a Chinese telecommunications company that violated U.S. sanctions.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday, “Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal.”

He added that, “There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe.”

Zuckerberg to Meet EU Officials — Dodging Public Grilling

BRUSSELS (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to speak with leaders of the European parliament next week about the data protection scandal that has engulfed his company — but might avoid a public testimony like the one he endured in the U.S.

The EU and British parliaments have been calling for Zuckerberg to submit to an on-air grilling since it emerged earlier this year that a company, political consultants Cambridge Analytica, had been allowed to misuse the data of millions of Facebook users.

Trump Reversal of Mining Pollution Rule Challenged in Court

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Environmental groups challenged the Trump administration in federal court Wednesday over its rejection of an Obama-era proposal that would have required mining companies to prove they have enough money to clean up their pollution.

The Idaho Conservation League, Earthworks, Sierra Club and other groups filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. asking it to review last year’s move to drop the rule.

An attorney for the environmental groups said the reversal under Trump leaves taxpayers responsible into the future for mining pollution that fouls waterways and endangers public health. The mining industry responded with a pledge to intervene in the case on behalf of the administration.

The proposal applied to “hard-rock” mines that extract gold, iron, lead and other minerals, but not coal.