Business

Business News at a Glance

Posted July 8, 2018 9:13 p.m. EDT

With Cameras and AI, China Closes Its Grip

In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station. In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped police snatch two dozen criminal suspects during a big annual beer festival. With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future. Beijing is embracing technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with help from its technology industry.

Government Work Done, Tax Policy Writers Decamp to Lobbying Jobs

Six months after Republicans pushed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through Congress, many of the influential players who worked on the legislation are no longer on Capitol Hill or in the Trump administration. They are lobbyists. The two-way street between lobbying and lawmaking is well worn in Washington. But after President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp,” there was speculation that the special interests might be sidelined. And while the two-month sprint last year to pass the tax legislation left some lobbyists marginalized, the businesses scrambling to navigate the changes are increasingly recruiting the people who wrote it.

Canceling Lunch to Plug In

The bar at the Elite Cafe here was packed, but not a drink was being poured. Instead, the restaurant was flooded with the low din of typing. That’s because the Elite Cafe, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday, is not exactly a restaurant anymore and certainly not a bar. It is a co-working space. The company that laid the extension cords and power strips across Elite Cafe’s copper tables is called Spacious. Since it was started two years ago, Spacious has converted 25 upscale restaurants in New York and San Francisco into weekday work spaces.

HBO Must Get Bigger and Broader, Says Its New Overseer

Change is coming to HBO, now that it is part of the AT&T corporate family. That much was clear to the 150 employees who attended a recent town hall meeting at the network’s New York headquarters. The main speaker was John Stankey, an AT&T executive who oversees HBO in his new role as chief executive of Warner Media. During an hourlong talk, he laid out his vision for the network, and warned his audience that the months ahead would not be easy. "It’s going to be a lot of work to alter and change direction a little bit,” he said.

In Disgrace, but Fighting to Get Back in the Game

Martin Sorrell reigned as one of the most influential leaders in the advertising industry for three decades as the chief executive of the marketing colossus WPP. After he abruptly resigned in April after an investigation into alleged personal misconduct, the normally sharp-tongued, frenetic 73-year-old slipped unexpectedly out of sight. But not for long. By the end of May, Sorrell had created a new advertising company called S4 Capital, which he pitched last month at the annual advertising bacchanal in Cannes, France. Then last week, Sorrell clashed with his former employer, with both vying to purchase the same Dutch marketing firm.

CFPB Official Who Sued Trump to Step Down

An Obama-era official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who argued that she — and not President Donald Trump’s budget director — should have been handed temporary control of the agency announced Friday that she was stepping down. Last year, the official, Leandra English, sued Trump and Mick Mulvaney, the bureau’s interim director, over what she said amounted to a coup. On Friday, she said she would drop her lawsuit and leave the bureau next week now that Trump has nominated Kathy Kraninger to be the director.

Amazon Is Used to Promote White Supremacist Merchandise and Views, Report Says

Two nonprofits are criticizing Amazon for allowing its platforms to spread white supremacy and racism, identifying in a report how shoppers can buy onesies for babies stamped with alt-right images and anti-Semitic books and music. The report, which was released Friday by the Partnership for Working Families and the Action Center on Race and the Economy, said Amazon’s policies allow it to bar hateful or offensive merchandise, but the policies are “weak and inadequately enforced.” As of Sunday, Amazon appeared to have removed many of the items identified in the report but others, like a sword with Nazi symbols, remained.