Business Briefs – June 13, 2019

Over 600 Companies Urge Trump to Resolve Trade Dispute With China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Walmart Inc, Target Corp and more than 600 other companies urged U.S. President Donald Trump in a letter on Thursday to resolve the trade dispute with China, saying tariffs hurt American businesses and consumers.

This letter is the latest of many sent to the Trump administration by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the national campaign against tariffs supported by more than 150 trade groups representing agriculture, manufacturing, retail and tech industries.

Twitter Deletes Accounts Linked To Foreign Governments

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Twitter says it has deleted nearly 4,800 suspect accounts linked to Iran that the company says secretly pushed that government’s agenda. Twitter is adding those accounts and their tweets to a public database it launched last year to track its battle against government-linked misinformation. It is also adding a smaller number of deleted accounts linked to Russia, Venezuela and the Catalonia region of Spain.

Pelosi: No Debt Increase Until Spending Limits Are Raised

WASHINGTON (AP) – Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t pass must-do legislation to increase the government’s borrowing cap until the Trump administration agrees to boost spending limits on domestic programs. The California Democrat says she’ll agree to increase the so-called debt ceiling, which is needed to avoid a market-cratering default on U.S. obligations this fall, but only after President Donald Trump agrees to lift tight “caps” that threaten to cut both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

Lawmakers Say Doctored Videos Pose National Security Threat

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawmakers and experts are warning that videos altered with artificial intelligence software pose a threat to national security and the 2020 U.S. election. The technology uses facial mapping and artificial intelligence to produce videos — known as “deep fakes” — that appear genuine. The House Intelligence Committee chairman says it allows “malicious actors to foment chaos, division or crisis.” Experts say the U.S. could use sanctions and cyberattacks against producers of such content.

U.S. Airlines Are Pushing Domestic Prices Higher Again

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. airlines are pushing base fares higher again despite a recent dip in fuel prices, according to J.P. Morgan. American confirms it is raising fares on many U.S. flights by $5 each way. J.P. Morgan says Southwest is also boosting prices. In midday trading, shares of the leading U.S. airlines were all higher.

Cargill to Spend $30M for Ideas To End Brazil Deforestation

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Cargill Inc. says it will spend $30 million to fund new ideas to end deforestation in Brazil. The Minnesota-based agribusiness says more companies, governments and organizations need to work together to come up with real solutions to stop deforestation. Cargill is a key player in Brazilian soy production and soybean farming has impacted ecosystems in Brazil. Cargill says the problem is complex, but environmental groups say commodity traders like Cargill need to do more.

USDA Plan to Move Offices Sparks Concerns About Research

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it will relocate two research agencies’ headquarters to the Kansas City area, delighting Kansas and Missouri officials but intensifying critics’ fears that research will suffer and be less accessible to federal policymakers.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that moving most employees out of Washington will bring the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture closer to farmers and agribusinesses they serve. He also said the USDA would save about $20 million a year on rent and other employee costs, freeing up extra dollars for research.