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North American Edition
11th June 2021
U.S. inflation surge is highest in 13 years
The U.S. economy’s rebound from the pandemic is driving the biggest surge in inflation in nearly 13 years, with consumer prices rising in May by 5% from a year ago. The Labor Department said last month’s increase in the consumer-price index was the largest since August 2008, when the reading rose 5.4%. The core-price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, jumped 3.8% in May from the year before—the largest increase for that reading since June 1992. Prices for used cars and trucks leapt 7.3% from the previous month, driving one-third of the rise in the overall index. The indexes for furniture, airline fares and apparel also rose sharply in May. Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, said that sharp rises continue to be concentrated in parts of the economy that were most whipsawed by the pandemic - in prices for used cars, airfares and hotel stays, for example. “That suggests that this is part of the dislocation from the reopening, and I would expect that . . . inflation will settle down later this year,” Mr. Faucher said. “When you take a step back and look broadly at inflation throughout the economy, there are lots of areas where prices move very slowly, and it’s going to take a lot to get a sustained acceleration beyond these temporary factors.”
Gig companies press for legislation to shield business model
The New York Times reports that gig economy companies are pressing for legislation in New York State that classifies drivers as contractors, meaning they are not entitled to protections like a minimum wage and unemployment benefits. They are backing state laws in New York, and elsewhere, that would cement drivers' status as contractors in exchange for a union. The push in New York is stalled amid opposition from labor groups as the state's legislative session winds down this week. California passed a law in 2019 that effectively gave gig workers the legal standing of employees. Reuters also reports on how the gig companies' push for state-level worker laws has exposed divisions within organized labor over whether to bargain with the companies, or insist on workers being reclassified as employees with full protection of U.S. labor standards - and a clear legal right to join unions.
Workplace safety rule on Covid risks is limited to health care
A rule announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) detailing steps that employers must take to protect workers from the risk of Covid-19 will apply only to the health care sector and not to other high-risk workplaces, as had been originally suggested by the Biden administration. “The science tells us that health care workers, particularly those who come into regular contact with the virus, are most at risk at this point in the pandemic,” Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh said. “So following an extensive review of the science and data, OSHA determined that a health care specific safety requirement will make the biggest impact.” Health care employers will be required to provide protective equipment, and screen and triage patients for the risk of the contagion, among other measures. Employers will also have to provide adequate paid time off for workers to receive vaccinations and manage any side-effects. Workers who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Incentives to job seekers grow
Employers are turning to new incentives beyond traditional monetary rewards, including college scholarships and guaranteed admission to management training programs. “We knew we had to do something radically different . . . when you have other companies looking for the same type of worker, ” said Tamla Oates-Forney, chief people officer at Waste Management, which will pay for employees to earn bachelor's and associate degrees, as well as certificates in areas such as data analytics and business management.  “There is such a war for talent that compensation isn't a differentiator,” she says, adding “You can never have too many drivers  . . . When you think about Amazon and Walmart, we're going after the same population.” In a significant expansion, the company will begin offering these scholarships to spouses and children of workers this year for enrollment in January. Jim Fish, Waste Management's chief executive, says: “We can do something that really changes people's lives . . . For someone with kids in high school, this is a big deal.”
Goldman bankers ordered to report vaccine status before return to office
Goldman Sachs bankers in the U.S. have been ordered to disclose their Covid vaccine status ahead of a return to the office. While the firm has strongly encouraged employees to get vaccinated, a memo to staff said: "We understand that the choice to get vaccinated is a personal one." The bank went on to say that registering vaccination status would help plan for a safer return to the office.
Rep for Sears Canada retirees claims insolvency laws are unjust
A court-appointed representative for Sears Canada retirees said Tuesday that Canada's bankruptcy laws should be changed to avoid future financial hardship for members of other underfunded pension plans. Kenneth Eady, a former Sears Canada management employee who now represents 17,000 other pensioners, told MPs that he doesn't believe it's fair that Canada's two bankruptcy laws give banks more protection than pensioners. In the Sears Canada bankruptcy process, which hasn't yet been completed, there wasn't enough money to fund pension shortfalls after debts to banks and active employees were repaid ahead of other classes of creditors. Mr Eady said that Sears Canada retirees would have been helped if the proposed amendments to the two laws were in place when Sears Canada filed its initial request for court protection in June 2017.
GameStop falls 27% on potential share sale
GameStop shares lost more than a quarter of their value on Thursday, closing at $220.39, their biggest one-day percentage loss in 11 weeks. The drop came a day after GameStop said in a quarterly report that it may sell up to 5m new shares, sparking concerns of potential dilution for existing shareholders. "The threat of dilution from the 5m share sale is the dagger in the hearts of GameStop shareholders", said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management. "The meme trade is not working today, so logic for at least one day has returned."
Apple's 'private relay' feature not available for users in China
Apple has said that a new ‘private relay’ feature designed to obscure a user’s web browsing behaviour from internet service providers and advertisers will not be available in China for regulatory reasons. The feature was one of a number of privacy protections Apple announced at its annual software developer conference on Monday, the latest in a years-long effort by the company to cut down on the tracking of its users by advertisers and other third parties. Apple’s decision to withhold the feature in China is the latest in a string of compromises the company has made on privacy in a country that accounts for nearly 15% of its revenue.
IRS probes $200m 'fake Tesla income' tax refund fraud
U.S. tax authorities were duped between 2016 and 2020 into sending $13.8m to fraudsters who had filed false refund claims to the tune of $210m, according to a government application for the forfeiture of a property in California. The IRS only detailed one of the alleged schemers’ activities who filed false returns through a trust he ran and claimed to have received significant interest income from a number of major banks as well as electric car maker Tesla and payments giant PayPal, according to the forfeiture application. Interest income is the amount due from a company to an investor or lender for taking their money. The defendant was named in the court filing as “a principal orchestrator” of the fraud, informed the IRS that those companies had paid that income on to the IRS but the tax authority said the claims were “entirely fictional,” according to the government. 
AG Garland makes tax leaks to ProPublica 'a priority'
Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday the investigation of who leaked reams of tax information about wealthy Americans to the ProPublica news organization will be a priority for him, calling the situation “astonishing.” In an appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee, he described it as "an extremely serious matter," adding "People are entitled, obviously, to great privacy with respect to their tax returns.” ProPublica reported on Tuesday that it had obtained tax information covering more than 15 years that shows the richest Americans - including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, media titan Michael Bloomberg and investor Carl Icahn - paid little or no federal income taxes. The nonprofit news organization said it didn’t know the source of the information and didn’t solicit it.
Mike Tyson sues Australian streetwear retailer
Culture Kings Former world champion boxer Mike Tyson is suing Australian streetwear retailer Culture Kings for allegedly using his likeness to sell T-shirts without permission. The clothing in question was not advertised as being unaffiliated with Mr Tyson and was sold alongside other official merchandise on the company’s website, with the boxer claiming their sale conveyed that Culture Kings had the approval or sponsorship of Mr Tyson, which was not the case. Mr Tyson has said this amounts to misleading and deceptive conduct under Australian Consumer Law, and that Culture Kings has made false and misleading representations. He is seeking losses and damages, an injunction preventing Culture Kings from selling the merchandise in question, and to be paid all profits made by the retailer from the sale of the offending apparel.
Deloitte expands cloud cybersecurity footprint with CloudQuest acquisition
Deloitte has announced plans to acquire CloudQuest, a cloud security management provider, for an undisclosed sum. CloudQuest, which was founded in 2017 by Nishan Sathyanarayan, Ramesh Menon, and Vijay Sarathy, offers a platform to assess the security of a company and act to remediate potential issues. It features Google Cloud Platform (GCP) hierarchy-aware orchestration that allows it to use GCP-specific information - like the origin of an event or resource access permissions - to determine how to handle automation in response to security events. CloudQuest’s technology also integrates with a range of enterprise ticketing and security analytics tools, automatically creating tickets and assigning to resource owners with priorities based on rules-defined criteria.

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