A trade group representing some 2,000 consumer brands has sent a letter to President Biden on Monday asking for clarification about his announcement last week that all companies with more than 100 employees will soon need to require vaccination or weekly testing.
Mr. Biden last week said that the Department of Labor and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration will draft the rules, which will affect some 80 million workers.
But the mandate has raised vexing issues for employers as they deal with the practicalities of vaccination policies, said Geoff Freeman, the president of the trade group, the Consumer Brands Association.
On Monday, Mr. Freeman called on Mr. Biden to “create immediate clarity” about how private businesses should carry out aspects of the White House’s plan to achieve “our shared goal of increased vaccination rates.”
He shared 19 questions that represented a “small sampling” of those raised by the trade group’s members. Among them:
What proof-of-vaccination documentation will the companies need to collect and will booster shots also be required?
Must employees be fully vaccinated?
Will workers who have had the coronavirus still have to be vaccinated or get tested?
Will the requirements apply only to vaccines that are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration? (The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently the only shot with full approval.)
Who is responsible for vaccination tracking — the government or the individual businesses?
What are the consequences of falsifying a vaccination status?
Other questions, on testing and other policy details, covered similar ground, touching on how federal guidelines interact with state-level initiatives, who will be responsible for paying for testing and whether waivers would be allowed if employee absences or attrition results in supply chain disruptions.
Also of concern, Mr. Freeman said in an interview, is the slow pace at which government tends to move, compared with the quick decisions that private businesses are used to making. This has been a problem during the pandemic, he said.
“For 19 months, we’ve been working with either the Trump administration or the Biden administration and all of the agencies involved in this,” he said. “And the simple truth is that they have been slow to keep up with the pace of change.”
He added, “All of us want to get to the other side of this thing as quickly as possible. It’s not going to work in this scenario unless an entity like OSHA can move at the pace of the business environment.”
Major trade groups representing the business community have generally been supportive of the mandate, which gives otherwise wary businesses the cover to require inoculation.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group, has said that it “will work to ensure that employers have the resources, guidance and flexibility necessary to ensure the safety of their employees and customers and comply with public health requirements.” Another major business advocacy group, the Business Roundtable, has said it “welcomes” the Biden administration actions.
But they have also been racing to understand the measures details and implications — which can vary depending on a company’s size. Does a company’s worker count include part-time employees? What is the deadline for compliance? Will potential lawsuits slow the process down?
The White House has said it will provide more guidance by Sept. 24.
At this point, “there are more questions than answers,” said Ian Schaefer, a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb who specializes in labor issues.
Even as companies are calling their lobbyists and lawyers for more insight, many are discussing at a senior level the realities of putting a mandate in place, even if they do not yet know yet exactly what that might entail, he said.
“In the absence of actionable intelligence that gives a little bit more guidance and direction, I think they’re sort of controlling for what they can control, which is a lot of internal politics at this point,” Mr. Schaefer said.
Fueled by “The Queen’s Gambit” and “The Crown,” Netflix dominated the competition at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards over the weekend.
Netflix took home 34 Emmys at three separate ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, while Disney+, the streamer’s closest competitor, won 13 awards. HBO and its streaming service, HBO Max, the perennial Emmys heavyweight, won just 10 awards.
Each year, the Television Academy, which organizes the Emmys, announces the winners for dozens of technical awards in the lead-up to the biggest prizes that are announced at the main event, the Primetime Emmy Awards. This year’s prime-time ceremony will take place on Sept. 19 and will be broadcast on CBS.
“The Queen’s Gambit,” the Netflix limited series about a chess prodigy, won nine Creative Arts Emmys over the weekend, more than any other series. Its closest competitors, with seven awards each, were the Disney+ Star Wars action adventure show “The Mandalorian” and the NBC stalwart “Saturday Night Live.”
Although the Creative Arts Emmys are not quite prime-time ready — they include awards like best stunt performance, best hairstyling and outstanding lighting direction for a variety series — they count all the same in the Hollywood record books, and the leaderboard for the 73rd Emmy Awards is now officially underway.
The weekend ceremonies also handed out a few key acting awards. “The Queen’s Gambit” took the prize for best cast in a limited series. The Netflix show beat out a pair of acclaimed HBO series, “I May Destroy You” and “Mare of Easttown.” “The Crown” won for best cast in a drama, and the Apple TV+ show “Ted Lasso” won for best cast in a comedy. Both are favored to take more prizes at the main event.
Netflix’s dominance all but guarantees that it will win more Emmys than any other TV network, studio or streaming platform, making 2021 the first year it will beat out its chief rival, HBO, to claim ultimate bragging rights. Three years ago, in a first, Netflix tied HBO for top honors. Going into this year’s Emmys ceremonies, HBO, aided by HBO Max, led all networks with 130 nominations, one more than Netflix.
The 73rd Emmy Awards will effectively be a showcase for television achievement during the pandemic. Because of production shutdowns and delays, the number of TV shows in the second half of last year and the first half of this year declined. Submissions for the top categories this year were down 30 percent.
The ceremony, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, will take place indoors and outdoors on the Event Deck at L.A. Live, near the Emmys usual home at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Attendance will be drastically reduced but, unlike last year’s remote ceremony, most winners speeches are likely to be delivered in person.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Monday that demand for oil was expected to rebound above prepandemic levels next year.
In its Monthly Oil Report, the group said that it expected oil demand to average 100.8 million barrels per day in 2022, compared with just over 100 million barrels a day in 2019 before the pandemic took hold.
The forecast is evidence that the world economy is still heavily dependent on emissions-causing fossil fuels, despite growing concerns about climate change and a steep fall in oil demand during the pandemic. The news emerged just as world leaders were preparing for what many analysts predict will be a crucial climate summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow in November.
Sales of electric cars have grown strongly, and investment in wind and solar energy has held up surprisingly well during the pandemic, but the growth in demand for energy, especially in China and India, will offset such gains, according to OPEC forecasts.
China, for instance, is expected to consume almost 15 million barrels a day in oil next year, 1.5 million barrels a day more than it burned in 2019.
The pandemic slammed oil demand, which plummeted by around nine million barrels a day last year, or about 9 percent, OPEC said. Oil consumption has recovered strongly, but the emergence of the fast-spreading Delta variant has applied the brakes. Now, OPEC expects some of the recovery in oil demand previously forecast this year to be put off until 2022.
In its report OPEC, said that it was raising its demand forecast for 2022 by 900,000 barrels a day while slightly lowering its estimates for the final three months of this year. Oil consumption will grow by a hefty 4.2 million barrels a day next year after a surge of six million barrels a day in 2021, according to OPEC.
“The pace in recovery in oil demand is now assumed to be stronger and mostly taking place in 2022,” OPEC analysts wrote.
The Federal Election Commission has dismissed Republican accusations that Twitter violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden, in a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns.
The F.E.C. determined that Twitter’s actions regarding the Hunter Biden article had been undertaken for a valid commercial reason, not a political purpose, and were thus allowable, according to a document outlining the decision obtained by The New York Times.
The commission’s ruling, which was made last month behind closed doors and is set to become public soon, provides further flexibility to social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat to control what is shared on their platforms regarding federal elections.
The suppression of the article about Hunter Biden caused an avalanche of conservative criticism in October and prompted accusations that the tech company was improperly aiding the Biden presidential campaign, including a formal complaint by the Republican National Committee that said Twitter’s actions amounted to an “illegal in-kind contribution” to the campaign.
But the F.E.C. disagreed. The commission said Twitter had “credibly explained” that blocking the article’s distribution was a commercial decision and that the move followed existing policies related to hacked materials, according to the “factual and legal analysis” provided to the parties involved in the complaint.
The F.E.C.’s official vote on the case — the commission is split equally between three Democratic-aligned commissioners and three Republicans — is not yet public, nor are any additional statements written by commissioners. Such statements often accompany the closure of cases and can provide further insight into the commission’s reasoning.
In addition to rejecting the R.N.C. complaint, the F.E.C. dismissed other allegations that Twitter had violated election laws by “shadow banning” Republican users, or appearing to limit the visibility of their posts without providing an explanation; suppressing other anti-Biden content; and labeling former President Donald J. Trump’s tweets with warnings about their accuracy. The F.E.C. rejected those accusations, writing that they were “vague, speculative and unsupported by the available information.”
Led by Mr. Trump, Republicans have increasingly been at odds with the nation’s biggest technology and social media companies, accusing the Silicon Valley giants of giving Democrats an advantage on their platforms.
Twitter initially said that it had prevented linking to the Hunter Biden article because of its existing policy against distributing hacked materials. The article was based on material provided by Trump allies who had sought for months to tarnish the elder Mr. Biden over his son, and focused on the Bidens’ involvement in Ukraine.
But Mr. Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, acknowledged in October that blocking links “with zero context as to why” had been “unacceptable.”
Soon after, Twitter said that it was changing its policy on hacked materials and would allow similar content to be posted, including a label to provide context about the source of the information.
The F.E.C. documents reveal one reason that Twitter had been especially suspicious of the Hunter Biden article. The company’s head of site integrity, according to the F.E.C., said Twitter had “received official warnings throughout 2020 from federal law enforcement that ‘malign state actors’ might hack and release materials associated with political campaigns and that Hunter Biden might be a target of one such operation.”
The F.E.C. said it found “no information that Twitter coordinated” its decisions with the Biden campaign. In a sworn declaration, Twitter’s head of U.S. public policy said she was unaware of any contacts with the Biden team before the company made its decisions, according to the F.E.C. document.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Emma Vaughn, an R.N.C. spokeswoman, said the committee was “weighing its options for appealing this disappointing decision from the F.E.C.”
Shares of Soho China, a real estate company run by a prominent power couple, fell by one-third on Monday after Blackstone Group walked away from its deal to buy the firm.
Soho China said in a joint filing late on Friday that Blackstone would not go through with its $3 billion bid for a controlling stake in the company, without giving a reason. Blackstone, the Wall Street investment giant, and Soho China declined to comment further on Monday.
The company is controlled by Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi, a married couple who share the title of executive director. Mr. Pan, who is chairman, was one of the first Chinese entrepreneurs to use social media for public relations and has tens of millions of followers online. Ms. Zhang is well known in part for her role in a 2013 deal to buy a stake in the General Motors Building in Manhattan.
The news comes as China’s most successful business tycoons come under scrutiny and growing pressure to share more of their wealth. The deal, which would have been among the real estate sector’s biggest, was announced in June, with a regulatory review pending. It was seen as a move by the husband-and-wife team to reduce their exposure to China.
A deal for Soho China could have also shored up confidence in the country’s real estate sector, which, after years of remarkable growth, is coming under greater regulatory scrutiny as Beijing tries to put a stop to corporate binge borrowing. Developers have been forced to start paying off mounting bills under new central bank rules, called the “three red lines.”
Evergrande, China’s biggest developer, has spooked investors, home buyers and experts who are predicting a bankruptcy in the near future.
In recent weeks, real estate prices and demand in some of China’s biggest cities has started to weaken. A prominent Beijing think tank last week said the sector had “shown signs of a turning point.”
Real estate woes, plus reports of greater regulatory tightening in mainland China, contributed to a drop of nearly 2 percent in Hong Kong shares on Monday.
U.S. stocks rose in early trading Monday, with indexes pointing to a rebound after losses for five consecutive trading sessions. The S&P 500 ticked up 0.3 percent after its worst losing streak since February last week, while the Nasdaq composite was flat.
The Labor Department is set to publish its latest report on rising prices on Tuesday. The Consumer Price Index, a key inflation gauge, for August is expected to signal whether the increasing prices in the pandemic are temporary or will fade over time as Federal Reserve officials consider when to begin slowing its large-scale bond purchases.
European stock indexes were higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 ticking up 0.7 percent. Asian markets were mixed.
Oil prices rose with West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, up 1.2 percent to $70.53 a barrel. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries raised its forecast for global oil demand for 2022 to 100.8 million barrels a day, the cartel reported on Monday in its Monthly Oil Market Report.
Consumer Price Index: The Labor Department is set to publish its monthly report on price increases. Investors will look for signals on whether inflation is temporary or could last longer than economists and policymakers currently expect.
Poverty report: The Census Bureau will release its annual report on income and poverty in the United States. Poverty is expected to have risen slightly last year, despite the huge increase in unemployment, signaling that government aid helped offset the economic impact of the pandemic.
Apple iPhone event: Apple is set to unveil its latest line of iPhones and other products at a virtual event.
Retail sales: The Commerce Department will publish data on spending for the month of August. Shopping at U.S. retailers dropped sharply in July, and another decline in sales could signal a slowdown in the broader economic recovery.
Consumer sentiment: The University of Michigan will publish its monthly consumer sentiment index, a key indicator into the economic recovery. The index fell more than 13 percent in July as consumers expected price increases to continue.
More than 500,000 student borrowers — with nearly $10 billion in student loan debt — had their loans erased this year, Stacy Cowley reports for The New York Times.
President Biden has so far fended off calls for the kind of blanket debt cancellation that is a top priority of many progressive lawmakers, but a parade of relatively modest eligibility and relief enhancements adds up to a significant expansion of support for beleaguered borrowers. And more may be coming: The Education Department said it was planning regulatory changes to programs aimed at helping public servants and those on income-driven repayment plans.
There is plenty of incentive for the federal government — the primary lender for Americans who borrow for college, holding $1.4 trillion in debt owed by 43 million borrowers — to fix faltering relief programs soon. Since the pandemic took hold in March 2020, virtually all of those loans have been on an interest-free pause, which is scheduled to end Jan. 31. And every loan discharged is one fewer for the agency to service.
The department’s actions so far have generated little controversy — few oppose giving military personnel, disabled borrowers and defrauded students the relief to which they’re legally entitled — but the idea of more broadly canceling student debt is a lightning rod. Republicans dislike the idea of saddling taxpayers with the cost, and its critics on the left see it as a subsidy for those with expensive professional degrees.
“Our overall goal is permanent change,” said Kelly Leon, an Education Department spokeswoman. “We are building a student loan system that works for borrowers and provides them the relief authorized by Congress that has proven elusive for far too long.”
The push for widespread debt cancellation has overshadowed calls to mend glaring administrative problems that urgently need to be addressed, advocates say. READ THE ARTICLE →
Fannie Mae, the federally backed institution that buys mortgages from the banks, plans to peer into many people’s bank accounts — with their permission — for a record of regular rent payments to help assess qualification for mortgages.
Its data showed that only 17 percent of people who had not owned a home in the previous three years and would not have qualified for a mortgage before might do so now. But those 17 percent are drawn from a group that is disproportionately people of color, many of whom have limited credit histories and come from marginalized groups on the wrong side of a decades-long wealth gap.
Fannie Mae effectively sets many of the standards for who qualifies and what data counts, and until now, rent has not counted, despite it being the largest payment most renters make each month. For many years now, consumer advocates and industry insiders alike have agreed that this is not how things should be.
The convoluted, multistep process that Fannie is using will mean many people won’t benefit from it at first. The New York Times’s Your Money columnist, Ron Lieber, takes a look →
Source: NYT > Top Stories