Business Briefs – July 17, 2019

Ryanair Halves 2020 Growth Plans over Boeing MAX Delay

(Reuters) – Ryanair has slashed its growth plans for next summer, blaming delays in deliveries of Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX jet, lifting the shares of rival airlines which had feared a surge in new planes would hit ticket prices.

Europe’s largest budget airline, which has firm orders for 135 of the 737 MAX, is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the plane. The aircraft was grounded in March after crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing is working on a software fix that people close to the matter have said it hopes to present to regulators in September.

Ryanair said it expected the 737 MAX to return to service before the end of the year, with the first new planes to be delivered to it some time between January and February 2020.

U.S. Objections to French Tech Tax Overshadow G-7 Finance Meet

CHANTILLY, France (AP) – The Trump administration is objecting to France’s plan to tax Facebook, Google and other U.S. tech giants, a rift that’s overshadowing talks between seven longtime allies this week on issues ranging from digital currencies to trade.

As finance ministers from the Group of Seven rich democracies gathered Wednesday for a two-day meeting at a chateau in Chantilly, near Paris, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin planned to take a tough line against host France.

He was going to object to France’s proposed 3% tax on revenues of large tech companies with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, according to a senior U.S. Treasury official.

Congress Grills Big Tech Over Competition, Money and Power

WASHINGTON (AP) – Big Tech faced tough questions this week as federal lawmakers focused on issues of potentially anticompetitive behavior by technology giants and expressed bipartisan skepticism over Facebook’s plan for a new digital currency.

Companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon have long enjoyed nearly unbridled growth and a mythic stature as once-scrappy startups — born in garages and a dorm room and a road trip across the United States — that grew up to dominate their rivals. But as they’ve grown more powerful, critics have also grown louder, questioning whether the companies stifle competition and innovation, and if their influence poses a danger to society.

Both Democrats and Republicans had grievances to air, even if there wasn’t much consensus on what to do about them.

Data Shows Flood of Opioids Across U.S., Many of Them Generics

WASHINGTON (AP) – The maker of OxyContin has been cast as the chief villain in the nation’s opioid crisis. But newly released government figures suggest Purdue Pharma had plenty of help in flooding the U.S. with billions of pills even as overdose deaths were accelerating.

Records kept by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration show that 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills — the vast majority of them generics, not brand names — were shipped to U.S. pharmacies from 2006 to 2012.

Microsoft Reports Hundreds of Election-Related Cyber Probes

WASHINGTON (AP) – Microsoft says it has detected more than 740 infiltration attempts by nation-state actors in the past year targeting U.S.-based political parties, campaigns and other democracy-focused organizations including think tanks and other nonprofits.

A company spokeswoman would not name or further characterize the targets. All subscribe to Microsoft’s year-old AccountGuard service. It provides free cyberthreat detection to candidates, campaigns and other mostly election-related groups.

Microsoft did not say how many infiltration attempts were successful but noted in a blog post Wednesday that such targeting similarly occurred in the early stages of the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Nuclear Industry Push for Reduced Oversight Gaining Traction

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer mock commando raids to test nuclear power plants’ defenses against terrorist attacks. Fewer, smaller government inspections for plant safety issues. Less notice to the public and to state governors when problems arise.

They’re part of the money-saving rollbacks sought by the country’s nuclear industry under President Donald Trump and already approved or pending approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, largely with little input from the general public.