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Four students test positive in COVID-19 outbreak at Western University residence – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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LONDON, Ont. – Four Western University students are isolating off-campus after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit is declaring a COVID-19 outbreak at the residence where the four live.

Meals are being delivered to them and staff are in regular contact with them, according to the associate vice-president of housing at the London, Ont. university.

Chris Alleyne says some close contacts of the four students have also been moved to a quarantine location as a precaution.

Students who live in the residence, London Hall, are being notified of the outbreak.

The public health unit says it is following up with close contacts and advising them to quarantine and get tested.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2020.

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U.S. Justice Dept. files landmark antitrust case against Google – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Michael Balsamo And Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press


Published Tuesday, October 20, 2020 11:20PM EDT

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Google for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising – the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago.

And it could just be an opening salvo. Other major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook are under investigation at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. “It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”

Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising. The case filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers. That stifles competition and innovation from smaller upstart rivals to Google and harms consumers by reducing the quality of search and limiting privacy protections and alternative search options, the government alleges.

Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google‘s practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren’t severe enough and Google needs to be broken up to change its conduct. The Justice Department didn’t lay out specific remedies along those lines, although it asked the court to order structural relief “as needed to remedy any anticompetitive harm.”

That opens the door to possible fundamental changes such as a spinoff of the company’s Chrome browser.

Google vowed to defend itself and responded immediately via tweet: “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”

Eleven states, all with Republican attorneys general, joined the federal government in the lawsuit. But several other states demurred.

The attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah released a statement Monday saying they have not concluded their investigation into Google and would want to consolidate their case with the DOJ’s if they decided to file. “It’s a bipartisan statement,” said spokesman Fabien Levy of the New York State attorney general’s office. “There’s things that still need to be fleshed out, basically”

President Donald Trump’s administration has long had Google in its sights. One of Trump’s top economic advisers said two years ago that the White House was considering whether Google searches should be subject to government regulation. Trump has often criticized Google, recycling unfounded claims by conservatives that the search giant is biased against conservatives and suppresses their viewpoints.

Rosen told reporters that allegations of anti-conservative bias are “a totally separate set of concerns” from the issue of competition.

Sally Hubbard, an antitrust expert who runs enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute, said it was a welcome surprise to see the Justice Department’s openness to the possibility of structurally breaking up Google, and not just imposing conditions on its behaviour as has happened in Europe.

“Traditionally, Republicans are hesitant to speak of breakups,” she said. “Personally, I’ll be very disappointed if I see a settlement. Google has shown it won’t adhere to any behavioural conditions.”

The argument for reining in Google has gathered force as the company stretched far beyond its 1998 roots as a search engine governed by the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” It’s since grown into a diversified goliath with online tentacles that scoop up personal data from billions of people via services ranging from search, video and maps to smartphone software. That data helps feed the advertising machine that has turned Google into a behemoth.

The company owns the leading web browser in Chrome, the world’s largest smartphone operating system in Android, the top video site in YouTube and the most popular digital mapping system. Some critics have singled out YouTube and Android as among Google businesses that should be considered for divestiture.

Google, whose corporate parent Alphabet Inc. has a market value just over $1 trillion, controls about 90% of global web searches. Barring a settlement, a trial would likely begin late next year or in 2022.

The company, based in Mountain View, California, argues that although its businesses are large, they are useful and beneficial to consumers. It maintains that its services face ample competition and have unleashed innovations that help people manage their lives.

Most of Google‘s services are offered for free in exchange for personal information that helps it sell its ads.

In a Tuesday presentation with a handful of reporters, Google argued that its services have helped hold down the prices of smartphones and that consumers can easily switch away from services like Google Search even if it’s the default option on smartphones and in some internet browsers.

A recent report from a House Judiciary subcommittee concluded that Google has monopoly power in the market for search. It said the company established its position in several markets through acquisition, snapping up successful technologies that other businesses had developed – buying an estimated 260 companies in 20 years.

The Democratic congressman who led that investigation called Tuesday’s action “long overdue.”

“It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google‘s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anticompetitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants,” Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement.

Columbia Law professor Tim Wu called the suit almost a carbon copy of the government’s 1998 lawsuit against Microsoft. He said via email that the U.S. government has a decent chance of winning. “However, the likely remedies – i.e., knock it off, no more making Google the default – are not particularly likely to transform the broader tech ecosystem.”

Other advocates, however, said the Justice Department’s timing – it’s only two weeks to Election Day – smacked of politics. The government’s “narrow focus and alienation of the bipartisan state attorneys general is evidence of an unserious approach driven by politics and is likely to result in nothing more than a choreographed slap on the wrist for Google,” Alex Harman, a competition policy advocate at Public Citizen, said in a statement.

Republicans and Democrats have accelerated their criticism of Big Tech in recent months, although sometimes for different reasons. It’s unclear what the status of the government’s suit against Google would be if a Joe Biden administration were to take over next year.

The Justice Department sought support for its suit from states across the country that share concerns about Google‘s conduct. A bipartisan coalition of 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced a year ago they were investigating Google‘s business practices, citing “potential monopolistic behaviour.”

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas joined the Justice Department lawsuit.

AP Technology Writers Michael Liedtke in San Ramon, Calif., Matt O’Brien in Providence, R.I., and Frank Bajak in Boston contributed to this report.

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Annual inflation rate up 0.5% in September – CityNews Toronto

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Statistics Canada says its consumer price index in September was up 0.5 per cent compared with a year ago.

The reading compared with a year-over-year increase of 0.1 per cent in August.

Economists on average had expected a year-over-year increase of 0.4 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

The statistics agency says that prices were up in six of the eight components of the inflation tracker, including increases in tuition fees as students headed back to school.

The agency also says the back-to-school shopping season wasn’t as big as it was one year ago, noted by a year-over-year drop of 4.1 per cent in clothing and footwear prices.

Statistics Canada says the consumer price index would have increased by 1.0 per cent in September had a 10.7 per cent year-over-year drop in the price of gasoline not been factored in.

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Cathay Pacific to cut 5,900 jobs, end Cathay Dragon brand due to pandemic – Reuters

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost HK$2.2 billion ($283.9 million).

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions, or 24% of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.

“The actions we have announced today, however unpalatable, are absolutely necessary to bring cash burn down to more sustainable levels,” Cathay Chairman Patrick Healy told reporters.

Cathay shares jumped almost 7% during early trading and closed 2.3% higher, with broker Jefferies saying the announcement removed a key overhang on the stock.

Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have already announced similarly large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.

Cathay, which has stored around 40% of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

After receiving a $5 billion rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review.

The airline said it was bleeding HK$1.5 billion to HK$2 billion of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by HK$500 million a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.

“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.

Cathay will postpone the delivery of its 21 Boeing Co 777-9 jets on order beyond 2025, Healy said.

EXIT THE DRAGON

The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand, though in this case 2,500 Cathay Dragon pilots and cabin crew will lose their jobs.

Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Plans to merge Cathay Dragon into Cathay’s main brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told Reuters in May.

Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes in Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Healy said there would be “substantial savings” from combining Cathay Dragon’s narrowbody fleet with Cathay Pacific’s longhaul fleet and focusing on marketing of a single premium brand.

In the short-term, the closure of the Cathay Dragon brand will result in it being unable to carry cargo to Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka, and it will only send dedicated freighters to Xiamen, Chengdu and Hanoi, it told cargo customers in a memo, indicating the routes were cut for now.

Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.

In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1% compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6%.

Cathay shares have fallen 41% since the start of January.

The airline’s share register is dominated by Swire Pacific Ltd, Air China Ltd, Qatar Airways and the Hong Kong government, with only a 12% free float.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates and Louise Heavens

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