Update on the latest business


Stocks edge higher

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks are edging higher in midday trading on Wall Street, chipping away at the week’s losses.

Microsoft is pushing up the technology sector after the software maker blew past Wall Street’s profit forecasts and reported solid growth for its cloud computing business.


Banks helped nudge the broader financial sector higher. Capital One rose 3.1% after reporting solid financial results.

Industrial stocks are also gaining, with Boeing up more than 4% and Caterpillar up 2%. Health care stocks are falling.

Markets have been volatile throughout the week as investors assess the latest corporate earnings reports. Financial results have so far been mixed. The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Monday and then wobbled from there.


Trump to nominate Eugene Scalia for labor secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he will nominate lawyer Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to be his new labor secretary.

Trump tweeted the news Thursday evening, less than a week after his previous secretary, Alexander Acosta, resigned amid renewed criticism of his handling of a 2008 secret plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted earlier this month for sexually abusing underage girls.

Scalia is currently a partner in the Washington office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher firm. If confirmed, it will be a return to the department where Scalia previously served as solicitor in President George W. Bush’s administration, overseeing litigation and legal advice on rulemakings and administrative law. He has also worked for the U.S. Department of Justice.


China calls on US to ‘correct’ Iran sanctions

BEIJING (AP) — China is calling on Washington to “correct” sanctions imposed on Chinese companies accused of helping Iran acquire materials for its nuclear program.

A foreign ministry spokesman on Friday said U.S. pressure on Iran and its “long-arm jurisdiction” against companies in third countries is the “root cause” of tension with Tehran.

The spokesman, Geng Shuang, said, “We urge the United States to immediately correct this wrong approach and earnestly respect the legitimate rights and interests of all parties.”

The U.S. Treasury said Thursday it imposed sanctions on what it called a network of front companies and agents. It said they are based in Iran, China and Belgium.

Geng said Beijing opposes nuclear proliferation but rejects Washington’s unilateral sanctions.


Virgin Orbit in launch deal with UK’s Royal Air Force

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Virgin Orbit says it has been selected by the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force to provide launches of small satellites on short notice.

The Long Beach, California, company announced Friday that the first launch for the ARTEMIS program could come as soon as 2020.

Virgin Orbit is developing an air-launch system in which a rocket carried aloft under the wing of a special Boeing 747-400 is released then fires its engine to insert payloads into orbit.

The company recently conducted a key drop test over a desert range.

Using the jet allows launches to be conducted at optimal locations around the world.

Launches for the RAF will be conducted on as little as a week’s notice.

Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.


Germany: Facebook to appeal fine under hate speech law

BERLIN (AP) — Facebook says it plans to appeal German authorities’ decision to fine it 2 million euros ($2.2 million) under a law designed to combat hate speech.

The Federal Office for Justice said July 2 Facebook failed to meet transparency requirements for handling hate speech complaints, and contended the company’s report for the first half of 2018 didn’t reflect the actual number of complaints about suspected illegal content. Facebook disputes that and says the legislation lacks clarity.

A Facebook statement Friday stressed its desire to comply fully with the German law and said the fine notice provided “some helpful new guidance.” It said it would appeal the decision “to get the clarity we need” but intends to drop the appeal and make necessary changes once it resolves the issue with German authorities.


New Hampshire court upholds rejection of Northern Pass plan

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court has affirmed a state committee’s rejection of a proposal to build a hydropower transmission line that would carry electricity from Canada to markets in southern New England.

In its Friday ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a decision by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee over concerns from communities and environmentalists that the Northern Pass project would harm the region’s tourism industry and hurt property values.

The utility company behind the project, Eversource, had argued that the committee never considered all the evidence supporting the project or the possible ways the company could mitigate opponents’ concerns. The court rejected those arguments.


Kenya’s president launches Africa’s largest wind farm

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s president has launched what officials call Africa’s largest wind farm, a project that is reducing electricity costs in a bid to attract investors to East Africa’s commercial hub.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said Kenya is the only African nation to reach the goal of making renewable energy 75 percent of its energy mix. The Lake Turkana Wind Power project, which first connected to the national grid last year, is expected to provide 17 percent of the country’s energy.

The wind farm officially launched on Friday is expected to significantly reduce reliance on costly diesel-powered generators.

Project chief executive Rizwan Fazal has said electricity from the wind farm already has helped to significantly reduce the cost of power.


Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga hires new CEO

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A Volkswagen plant in Tennessee is getting a new chief executive who in the coming months will work on an $800 million expansion and oversee two vehicle launches.

The Times Free Press reports 58-year-old Tom du Plessis will be taking over as CEO for Frank Fischer who took the position temporarily in May.

The 11-year vet with Volkswagen says it’s an interesting time for the factory. The Chattanooga plant held a union vote in May that didn’t pass. Du Plessis declined to comment on it.

The factory is going to launch a new five-seat SUV based on the Atlas and the 2020 Passat by year’s end. The plant also plans to break ground on an $800 million electric vehicle facility with plans to produce a new SUV in 2022.


Fast-growing web of doorbell cams raises privacy fears

UNDATED (AP) _ Police departments around the country are partnering with the doorbell camera company Ring in an effort to fight crime and create a sort of modern-day neighborhood watch.

But critics say the partnerships raise privacy concerns and turn neighborhoods into places of constant surveillance. They also say Ring, a subsidiary of Amazon, appears to be marketing its cameras by stirring up fear of crime at a time when it’s actually decreasing.

Ring has an app called Neighbors, which encourages residents to share videos of suspicious activity. Some police departments simply use the app. But others are providing subsidies, matched by Ring, to offer hundreds of discounted cameras to residents.

Ring says sharing video with law enforcement is always voluntary and privacy is protected. But one critic says the subsidies allow Amazon to use taxpayer funds to expand into people’s private lives.

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