This Week in Business: A Brexit Battering, and Mark Zuckerberg Plays Defense

This Week in Business: A Brexit Battering, and Mark Zuckerberg Plays Defense

- in Automotive

Need a break from impeachment season? Here’s a quick catch-up on what happened this week on the business and tech fronts, and the news to know heading into Monday.

CreditGiacomo Bagnara

Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally managed to cobble together a new Brexit deal with the European Union last week, three months after his “do or die” promise to get Britain out of the E.U. by the Oct. 31 deadline. Markets were temporarily buoyed by investors’ optimism that the plan could actually get a nod from Parliament. But British lawmakers promptly dashed those hopes on Saturday, when they rejected Mr. Johnson’s proposal and brought the whole mess back to square one. Three possibilities remain: a no-deal exit from the European Union, which could be economically disastrous; a second referendum on whether to leave at all; or a general election that could put new leaders in power.

President Trump will host the next Group of 7 summit in June at Trump National Doral, his luxury resort near Miami. The choice of venue reignites questions about a conflict of interest: Is it O.K. for Mr. Trump to request that other countries pay for rooms at one of his own properties? Since taking office, he has denied making any profits from the Trump Organization — but the company has not disclosed its profits for the last several years, so who really knows? Critics say the decision potentially violates the emoluments clauses of the Constitution, which prohibit government officials (like, say, the sitting president) from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments.

A Boeing pilot who worked on the technology for the 737 Max plane admitted in 2016 that there was a problem with a new automated system — and that he had lied, “unknowingly,” he says — to the Federal Aviation Administration about it. That was more than two years before two of the 737 Max aircraft crashed and killed 346 people, resulting in the whole fleet being grounded. Now that transcripts of the pilot’s messages have been made public, the F.A.A. is demanding to know why Boeing didn’t provide them earlier. The Department of Justice is still conducting a criminal investigation of who’s at fault for the jets’ faulty systems.

CreditGiacomo Bagnara

The monthlong strike at General Motors, which has shut down over 30 auto factories, could be resolved soon. The United Automobile Workers union said on Wednesday that it had reached a tentative agreement with G.M. that would increase wages and provide a better way for temporary workers to become full-time. And not a moment too soon. Analysts say G.M. has hemorrhaged about $2 billion since the strike started, and the almost 50,000 striking workers have gone without their regular paycheck. But the proposed deal isn’t finalized yet, and G.M. has held fast on several key points. (It won’t reopen several plants that it recently idled, for instance.)

Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, will appear before Congress on Wednesday to defend Libra, the company’s proposed cryptocurrency, which has been met with skepticism since Day 1 and is now losing backers left and right. Mr. Zuckerberg is also fighting accusations that his platform is enabling the spread of misinformation. The company announced last month that it wouldn’t moderate or fact-check politicians’ ads or content, saying free speech was in the public interest. “People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world,” Mr. Zuckerberg said last week. No one’s arguing with him there — but what kind of force it is remains up for debate.

The ratty pea green sweater that Kurt Cobain wore for Nirvana’s famous 1993 performance on MTV’s “Unplugged” will be auctioned at New York’s Hard Rock Cafe this Friday. Unwashed since Mr. Cobain wore it last (gross), the mohair-blend cardigan has been carefully preserved in tissue paper, complete with a cigarette burn, a spot where a button should be and several mysterious stains. It was last sold four years ago for just under $114,000, and auctioneers now expect it to fetch about $300,000.

Uber laid off 350 employees last week, its third round of cuts in recent months, as it struggles to curtail losses after a disappointing initial public offering earlier this year. Speaking of troubled companies, Juul has now suspended all sales of its fruit-flavored e-cigarettes in the United States, both online and in stores, as the death toll of vaping-related lung illnesses rose to 33. On a brighter note, NASA’s first all-female spacewalk finally happened on Friday, after a spacesuit snafu delayed plans to do it earlier this year. (At the time, the space station did not have enough suits in the right sizes for the female astronauts.)

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