Postal Service unveils price hikes, denies they’re meant to hurt Amazon

The U.S. Postal Service has proposed a series of price hikes including for a package delivery program used by Amazon, but the agency denied that the increases have anything to do with President Donald Trump’s frequent attacks on the company.

The changes announced Wednesday include an increase of up to 12 percent for the Parcel Select service. Large shippers like Amazon use that option to complete the final leg of delivery for packages. But the extent of the impact on Amazon was not immediately clear. Amazon, like other bulk users of the Postal Service, negotiates a special rate with USPS that is not publicly disclosed.

Amazon declined to comment on the price hikes, and the Postal Service declined to answer questions about any potential impact on the company. The increases for Parcel Select were steeper than in previous years. USPS said the new rates are the result of a Continue reading “Postal Service unveils price hikes, denies they’re meant to hurt Amazon”

DOJ sues California over newly signed net neutrality law

The Justice Department is suing California in an attempt to block the state’s newly enacted law reinstating net neutrality protections from going into effect.

The announcement comes immediately on the heels of Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to sign the bill into law. Brown had until midnight on Sunday to approve the measure, which was passed by the state’s legislature last month.

“The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We will do so with vigor. We are confident that we will prevail in this case — because the facts are on our side.”

Consumer advocacy groups touted the law as offering the strongest internet protections in the country. But the telecommunications industry Continue reading “DOJ sues California over newly signed net neutrality law”

SEC sues Elon Musk, alleging securities fraud

The SEC filed a lawsuit against Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday, alleging securities fraud.

In a filing in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors allege that Musk made a "series of false and misleading statements" on Twitter that he had secured funding to take the company private.

Tesla shares spiked when Musk tweeted on Aug. 7, "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."

The suit alleges Musk made the claim despite the fact the "had not even discussed, much less confirmed, key deal terms, including price, with any potential funding source."

Representatives for Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Tesla spokesperson confirmed last week that the company was cooperating with a DOJ probe into Musk’s remarks. According to reports, the DOJ probe was being run in tandem with the inquiry by the SEC.

DOJ probing Elon Musk’s Tesla buyout tweet

The Justice Department is looking into Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweeted claim last month that he had “secured funding” to take the company private, a spokesperson for the company confirmed today.

“Last month, following Elon’s announcement that he was considering taking the company private, Tesla received a voluntary request for documents from the DOJ and has been cooperative in responding to it,” the Tesla spokesperson said.

Bloomberg reported today that federal prosecutors had opened a fraud investigation into Musk’s claim of securing take-private funding, for which he never offered evidence.

“We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process," the Tesla spokesperson said, maintaining Tesla believes "the matter should be quickly resolved.”

Spokespeople for the DOJ declined to comment, telling POLITICO the agency generally doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

The probe is being run in tandem with a Securities Continue reading “DOJ probing Elon Musk’s Tesla buyout tweet”

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and wife Lynne to buy Time magazine

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff are buying Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million in cash, the latest example of a tech mogul acquiring a major news publication.

Meredith Corp., which purchased Time Inc. nine months ago, said in a statement the transaction is expected to close within 30 days.

"The Benioffs are purchasing TIME personally and the transaction is unrelated to Salesforce.com, where Mr. Benioff is Chairman, co-CEO and founder," the statement said. "Mr. and Mrs. Benioff will not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions, which will continue to be led by TIME’s current executive leadership team."

The Salesforce CEO will be in good company in tech industry circles. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post for $250 million five years ago, and Laurene Powell Jobs, via her Emerson Collective, took a majority stake in The Atlantic Continue reading “Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and wife Lynne to buy Time magazine”

Twitter permanently suspends Alex Jones, InfoWars

Twitter permanently suspended Alex Jones and his far-right website InfoWars on Thursday, citing tweets and videos that violated its policies against abusive behavior.

The action came a day after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified to two congressional committees, including over Republican allegations that his company suppresses conservative voices, a charge Jones has spearheaded.

During the first hearing Wednesday, Jones made a surprise appearance, at points sitting feet away from Dorsey in the front row of hearing room. The InfoWars host, known for peddling baseless conspiracy theories, later clashed with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) outside the hearing room and sought to confront Dorsey as he exited the building after his testimony concluded.

In Congress, Dorsey challenged claims from Republican lawmakers that Twitter has stifled conservative viewpoints. "We don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period," the CEO told lawmakers. "Impartiality is Continue reading “Twitter permanently suspends Alex Jones, InfoWars”

Sessions talking to state AGs on tech’s alleged threats to free speech

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has engaged state attorneys general in talks on what the DOJ said are increasing concerns that Twitter, Facebook and Google are restricting the free flow of information, as Republicans allege anti-conservative bias from the platforms.

"The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms," Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement provided to POLITICO.

O’Malley said the DOJ "listened … closely" to a Senate Intelligence committee hearing today on foreign electioneering on social media. Google declined to send a witness acceptable to the committee for that hearing. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified. Dorsey is slated to appear solo at a House and Energy Commerce hearing this afternoon focused on how Continue reading “Sessions talking to state AGs on tech’s alleged threats to free speech”

‘Frat boy’: Alex Jones taunts Rubio in tense Senate standoff

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and InfoWars host Alex Jones clashed outside a Senate Intelligence committee hearing today, with the lawmaker saying he’d “take care of” Jones as the far-right provocateur mockingly called him a “little gangster thug" and "frat boy."

Rubio, addressing reporters outside the hearing room, was badgered with questions by Jones, who made a surprise appearance at the Senate hearing devoted to foreign interference on social media.

The exchange quickly went downhill when the senator warned the conspiracy-peddling host, who was standing beside him in the hallway, to “not touch me again.”

“I’m just patting you nicely,” Jones responded, before accusing Rubio of trying to get him arrested.

Rubio rebuffed the charge, adding: “I’ll take care of you myself.”

"Rubio just threatened to physically take care of me," Jones replied, an insinuation that Rubio disputed.

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Continue reading “‘Frat boy’: Alex Jones taunts Rubio in tense Senate standoff”

Google’s empty chair and Alex Jones: Key moments from Twitter, Facebook hearing

Despite relatively staid early lines of questioning from lawmakers, the Senate Intelligence committee’s hearing on foreign electioneering on social media Wednesday swiftly turned into unconventional political theater, complete with a conspicuously empty chair set aside to highlight Google’s absence and a notable cameo from InfoWars leader Alex Jones.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg are slated to field questions for hours on their platforms’ efforts to combat online disinformation and ongoing campaigns to influence the 2018 midterm elections. But it was Jones, who claims he’s being silenced by tech titans, who commanded attention outside the hearing room, where a scrum of reporters huddled around him as he pontificated on the wrongs he said the industry has done him.

The right-wing media figure, known for spreading baseless and inflammatory conspiracy theories, reignited criticisms that the companies are biased against conservatives after several tech platforms took down InfoWars content or banned Continue reading “Google’s empty chair and Alex Jones: Key moments from Twitter, Facebook hearing”

Trump accuses social media giants of ‘silencing millions of people’

President Donald Trump accused social media platforms of “silencing millions of people” in a tweet on Friday, again rebuking tech companies over their content moderation decisions.

“Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people,” the president tweeted. “Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!”

The missive comes amid a bevy of criticism from Republican officials over how social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have treated conservatives on their platforms.

Twitter has come under fire from GOP lawmakers and the president over allegations they have limited the visibility of posts by Republicans online — implementing a so-called “shadow ban.” But the company has denied it filters content on the basis of political viewpoints.

Last week, Trump accused tech companies Continue reading “Trump accuses social media giants of ‘silencing millions of people’”

Facebook removes hundreds of accounts tied to Iran, Russia

Facebook said Tuesday it has taken down hundreds of accounts, groups and pages over "coordinated inauthentic behavior" the most sweeping acknowledgment of continuing influence campaigns on its platform headed into the U.S. midterm elections.

The social network said 652 now-shuttered pages, groups and accounts originated in Iran and "targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US."

Facebook separately removed an undisclosed number of pages, groups and accounts that "can be linked to sources the US government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services." Those accounts were most recently "focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine" according to the company.

“We ban this kind of behavior because authenticity matters and people need to be able to trust the connections that they make on Facebook,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters.

The action comes on the heels Continue reading “Facebook removes hundreds of accounts tied to Iran, Russia”

Trump bashes FCC move to doom Sinclair-Tribune deal: ‘Disgraceful!’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday night bashed an FCC decision that likely doomed conservative broadcast giant Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media.

"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn’t approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune," Trump tweeted. "This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People. Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair. Disgraceful!"

The FCC, led by Trump-appointed Chairman Ajit Pai, unanimously voted earlier this month to send the deal to an administrative law judge for review, a drawn-out process the agency has previously used to kill mergers. Pai said he had “serious concerns” about the deal. The agency was particularly troubled by station spinoffs Sinclair sought to use to come under federal ownership limits while still retaining significant ties to the divested stations.

The move to send the Continue reading “Trump bashes FCC move to doom Sinclair-Tribune deal: ‘Disgraceful!’”

Zuckerberg defends allowing InfoWars, Holocaust deniers on Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the social media platform’s decision not to kick off conspiracy theory-peddling websites like the far-right InfoWars, saying in an interview released Wednesday that doing so would violate Facebook’s commitment to being an open platform.

The company has faced mounting criticism over the past week for allowing the Alex Jones-led site, a known purveyor of misinformation about issues like the Sandy Hook massacre and Pizzagate, to remain on the platform. Democrats grilled Facebook policy official Monika Bickert over the choice at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg responded to the criticisms during an interview with Recode.

“Look, as abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice,” the Facebook CEO said.

Zuckerberg said that instead of banning websites outright, the company removes individual posts that violate Facebook’s terms of service. Continue reading “Zuckerberg defends allowing InfoWars, Holocaust deniers on Facebook”

Zuckerberg defends allowing InfoWars, Holocaust deniers on Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the social media platform’s decision not to kick off conspiracy theory-peddling websites like the far-right InfoWars, saying in an interview released Wednesday that doing so would violate Facebook’s commitment to being an open platform.

The company has faced mounting criticism over the past week for allowing the Alex Jones-led site, a known purveyor of misinformation about issues like the Sandy Hook massacre and Pizzagate, to remain on the platform. Democrats grilled Facebook policy official Monika Bickert over the choice at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg responded to the criticisms during an interview with Recode.

“Look, as abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice,” the Facebook CEO said.

Zuckerberg said that instead of banning websites outright, the company removes individual posts that violate Facebook’s terms of service. Continue reading “Zuckerberg defends allowing InfoWars, Holocaust deniers on Facebook”

Zuckerberg, Sandberg donate to charity seeking to unite separated migrant families

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook have donated to a fundraiser aimed at reuniting migrant children separated from their parents, a company spokesperson said Monday.

The online campaign, launched by former Facebook staffers Charlotte and Dave Willner, is raising money for the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, which provides legal services and support to immigrants and refugees. According to the campaign’s Facebook page, it had raised over $2.3 million out of a $3-million goal as of Monday evening.

The Facebook representative did not say how much Zuckerberg or Sandberg contributed.

The donations come amid a growing firestorm over the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Facebook spokesperson declined to comment further on the company’s stance on the policy.

The page for the fundraiser features language highly critical of the practice.

"We are collectively revulsed Continue reading “Zuckerberg, Sandberg donate to charity seeking to unite separated migrant families”

Trump-Kim summit: Everything you need to know

President Donald Trump is poised to hold a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, the first known face-to-face between a sitting U.S. president and a head of the Asian country.

The summit is the culmination of months of posturing and negotiating between top U.S. and North Korean officials and comes less than two weeks after Trump reversed his decision to scrap plans for the meeting, which is set to take place in Singapore.

Here’s everything you need to know about the who, what, when, where and how of the highly anticipated diplomatic gathering.

When will the Trump-Kim summit be held?

The event will commence on Monday, June 11, at 9 p.m. ET, which is 9 a.m. Tuesday morning in Singapore. Trump flew to Singapore on Saturday after cutting short a visit to the G-7 summit in Canada.

Where will the Trump-Kim Continue reading “Trump-Kim summit: Everything you need to know”

Trump on possible Sessions dismissal: ‘We’ll see what happens’

President Donald Trump again stoked speculation he may fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying "we’ll see what happens" when pressed on the possibility.

"We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens," the president told reporters outside the White House when asked about the possibility of dismissing the beleaguered attorney general.

Trump has repeatedly publicly slammed Sessions for recusing himself last year from the federal probe into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election and ties to his presidential campaign.

Earlier this week, Trump tweeted: "The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself…I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined…and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!"

In late May, Trump tweeted a quote from an attorney calling Sessions recusal an "unforced betrayal of the Continue reading “Trump on possible Sessions dismissal: ‘We’ll see what happens’”

Trump says he’s ‘not above the law’ but insists he can pardon himself

President Donald Trump said Friday he is “not above the law” while insisting he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself should criminal wrongdoing be unearthed in the probe into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election.

Top Democratic lawmakers expressed deep concern after Trump claimed earlier this week he was entitled to pardon himself, blasting the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into contacts between his campaign officials and Russia as “unconstitutional.” Trump’s assertion was further undercut by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who on Wednesday said Trump “obviously” shouldn’t pardon himself because “no one is above the law.”

The president, speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday, expressed a similar sentiment when asked about the topic.

"No, I’m not above the law, I never want anybody to be above the law,” Trump said.

But Trump went on to stress that pardons “are a very positive Continue reading “Trump says he’s ‘not above the law’ but insists he can pardon himself”

Trump on Giuliani: ‘Rudy’s great, but Rudy is Rudy’

President Donald Trump on Friday brushed aside a question over whether his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is causing headaches, saying Giuliani is “doing a very good job,” but added “Rudy is Rudy.”

Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who joined Trump’s legal team to help deal with the federal probe into Russian election meddling in 2016 and ties to the Trump campaign, has grabbed headlines in recent weeks with a string of bombastic statements.

Giuliani stoked controversy earlier this week when said he did not hold the same respect for adult film actress and producer Stormy Daniels, who says she was paid to keep quiet about a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006, as he did for women in other professions.

Asked whether he was concerned about the former New York City official’s public comments, Trump voiced approval for Giuliani’s job performance.

“Look, Rudy’s great, but Rudy is Continue reading “Trump on Giuliani: ‘Rudy’s great, but Rudy is Rudy’”

Trump voices support for bipartisan pot legislation

President Donald Trump said Friday he “probably will end up supporting” bipartisan legislation to bar the federal government from interfering with marijuana legalization laws at the state level, putting him at odds with efforts by his own Justice Department to crack down on the substance nationwide.

The bill, unveiled by Sens. Cory Gardner of (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), lawmakers of two states that have voted to legalize certain types of pot use, would in effect give states the right to determine their own approach to regulating the drug.

Pressed on whether he supports the measure while addressing reporters outside the White House on Friday, the president said he supports it now and will “probably” support it going forward.

“I really do. I support Senator Gardner,” Trump said of the lawmaker’s bill. “I know exactly what he’s doing, we’re looking at it. But I probably will end up Continue reading “Trump voices support for bipartisan pot legislation”