WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it has started taking “extraordinary measures” as the government has run up against its legal borrowing capacity of $31.381 trillion. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday urging them to act to raise the debt limit. Friction between President Joe Biden and House Republicans is raising concerns about whether the U.S. can sidestep an economic crisis. Markets so far remain calm, as the government can temporarily rely on accounting tweaks to stay open. That means any threats to the economy are several months away. But this particular moment seems more fraught than past brushes with the debt limit.
AI tools can create new images, but who is the real artist?
NEW YORK (AP) — Artificial intelligence systems are training themselves on a vast collection of digitized artworks to produce new images that can be conjured in seconds from a smartphone app. But some living artists and photographers are starting to fight back against the AI software companies creating images derived from their works. Two new lawsuits take aim at popular image-generating services such as Stable Diffusion for allegedly copying and processing millions of copyright-protected images without a license. The lawsuits mark the beginning of a backlash against a new generation of tools — some of them introduced just last year — that can generate new images or readable text on command.
Climate misinformation ‘rocket boosters’ on Musk’s Twitter
WASHINGTON (AP) — New research shows climate misinformation has been flourishing on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the platform last year. Analysts at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue find searches for information about climate change turned up recommendations for content that denied the reality of climate change or made misleading claims about efforts to mitigate its effects. On Facebook owner Meta, the researchers identified thousands of ads paid for by fossil fuel companies that criticized renewable energy and the need to act on climate change. Scientists and environmental advocates say such content undercuts public support for climate policies while showing tech companies are failing to enforce their own policies against climate misinformation.
New USDA rule boosts “organic” food oversight, targets fraud
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department issued new requirements for foods labeled organic, a move aimed at cracking down on fraud and boosting oversight. The rule strengthens enforcement of the USDA’s strict definitions of organic, which requires these foods to be made with natural substances and biologically based farming methods. The rule requires USDA’s National Organic Program certification for all imported organic food, increases certifications of more businesses in the supply chain and boosts authority for inspections, record-keeping, traceability and fraud prevention practices. The new rule, announced Thursday, takes effect in March and companies will have a year to comply with the requirements.
At Davos, Thunberg visit spotlights lack of climate action
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Prominent climate activists including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate are condemning corporate VIPs and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, for prioritizing short-term profits from fossil fuels over people affected by the climate crisis. They were joined by campaigners Helena Gualinga and Luisa Neubauer and International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol at a roundtable Thursday at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering. Nakate, who at one point choked up, said that “leaders are playing games” with people’s futures. She added that the effects of climate change are “already a living hell for many communities across the African continent, across the Global South” who are facing extreme drought, heat and flooding.
Fed’s Brainard: Taming inflation may not cause big job cuts
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard said Thursday that high inflation in the United States is easing and suggested it was possible that the Fed’s interest rate hikes could slow price acceleration without causing significant job losses. Speaking in Chicago, Brainard sketched out a more optimistic outlook for inflation than some Fed speakers have in recent days. At the same time, Brainard cautioned that inflation is still high and said the Fed would have to keep interest rates elevated “for some time” to curb price growth. She did not explicitly signal whether she would support a quarter-point or half-point rate increase at the Fed’s next meeting Jan. 31-Feb. 1.
US stocks lose ground as recession fears weigh on market
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell on Wall Street as worries build that the U.S. may be headed for a painful recession. The S&P 500 fell 0.8% Thursday, as did the Dow. The Nasdaq lost 1%. Reports showed weakness in several areas of the economy, including the housing industry and manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region, though they weren’t as bad as expected and the job market appears to remain healthy. They follow worse-than-expected readings a day earlier on retail sales, a cornerstone of the economy, and industrial production. Altogether, they show an economy slowing under the weight of last year’s blizzard of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.
Netflix’s 4Q subscribers surge, long-time CEO passes baton
LOS GATOS, Calif. (AP) — Netflix’s subscriber growth is surging again. That’s providing an early sign that its shift to include ads in a cheaper version of its video streaming service is helping combat tougher competition and attract cost-conscious customers grappling with inflation. The company on Thursday disclosed a gain of 7.7 million subscribers during the October-December period, a stretch that included the debut of an ad-supported option for $7 per month. It’s the second straight quarter of strong subscriber growth after two quarters or losses. The company based in Los Gatos, California, also announced Thursday that its co-founder Reed Hastings is relinquishing his role as co-CEO to become executive chairman.
Boeing ordered to be arraigned on charge in Max crashes
DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge is ordering Boeing to appear in court next week and be arraigned on a felony charge stemming from crashes of two 737 Max jets. The judge’s ruling Thursday threatens to unravel an agreement that Boeing negotiated with the government to avoid prosecution. The judge’s ruling comes after relatives of passengers killed in the crashes say the government violated their rights by reaching a settlement with Boeing without first notifying the families. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered Boeing to send a representative to his courtroom next Thursday for arraignment.
The S&P 500 shed 30.01 points, or 0.8%, to 3,898.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 252.40 points, or 0.8%, to 33,044.56. The Nasdaq dropped 104.74 points, or 1%, to 10,852.27. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies lost 18.02 points, or 1%, to 1,836.35.