Amazon’s self-driving delivery robots head to California

NEW YORK — Amazon’s self-driving robots will be roaming the streets of another neighborhood.

The online shopping giant said Tuesday that the six-wheeled robots, about the size of a smaller cooler, will begin delivering packages to customers in Irvine, Calif. It comes after Amazon began testing them in a suburb of Seattle at the beginning of the year.

Amazon said the robots, which are light blue and have the Amazon smile logo stamped on their sides, are able to avoid crashing into trash cans or pedestrians. Still, a worker will accompany the robots at first.

Other companies have been testing similar delivery robots on college campuses, delivering burgers or soda to students.

Amazon said its robots, which it calls Scout, will be delivering orders to doorsteps Monday to Friday and only during the day.

The appeals panel said the judge’s “cursory” settlement analysis was insufficient. It expressed particular concern about the broad release of claims for money damages and the payments to outside groups.

On Friday, the government said that employers added 164,000 new jobs in July, and the unemployment remained 3.7%, near a 50-year low. Those job gains are enough hiring to keep the unemployment declining over time.

But employers have pulled back a bit from last year. In the past three months, job gains have averaged just 140,000 a month, compared with 237,000 in the same period in 2018.

That slowdown likely reflects some caution among businesses as the economy downshifts. Growth slowed to just 2.1% in the April-June quarter, down from 3.1% in the first three months of the year.

The data in Tuesday’s report — known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey — measures total hiring, while the figure in Friday’s jobs report reflects net job gains after layoffs, quits and retirements are subtracted.

The number of people quitting their jobs also changed little in June, according to the JOLTS report. Quits are a positive sign because most people leave their jobs when they have another offer, usually at higher pay. Roughly 2.3% of workers quit their jobs in June, a figure that has been unchanged for the past year.

Belgian prosecutors settle with HSBC in tax dodging case

BRUSSELS — Belgian prosecutors said Tuesday they have reached a settlement worth nearly $335 million with a Swiss private banking branch of HSBC over a longstanding fraud and tax dodging case.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office said it was able to reach a settlement partly because of a “change in the wealth management within HSBC,” noting the bank had stopped certain offshore services, improved transparency and appointed an anti-fraud director.

The prosecutor’s office had accused the company in 2014 of massive organized fiscal fraud and forming a criminal organization to the benefit of over 1,000 wealthy clients that cost the Belgian authorities “hundreds of millions of euros.”

HSBC said it could not comment on the case since any settlement would still be subject to court approval.

Panel overturns settlement approval in Google privacy suit

DOVER, Del. — A federal appeals court has rejected a settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Google spied on users’ online activity using tracking “cookies,” even when privacy settings were set to prevent the snooping.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that a Delaware judge erred in approving the settlement in 2017.

The settlement called for Google to stop using the cookies for Safari browsers and to pay $5.5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal expenses, incentive awards to class representatives, and contributions to data privacy organizations, some with prior ties to Google.

In return, Google was released from potential liability for money damages.

U.S. job openings flat in June at 7.35 million

WASHINGTON — The number of open U.S. jobs was largely unchanged in June and hiring slipped, suggesting the job market has cooled a bit.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of available jobs fell by just 0.5%, to 7.35 million. That’s down from a record high last November of 7.63 million, but still a healthy level. Total hiring slipped 1% to 5.7 million, below a record of nearly 6 million in April.

Despite the flat readings in job openings and hiring, the figures point to a still-healthy job market. There are nearly 1.3 available jobs for every unemployed person. Historically, those out of work outnumbered open positions. The current figures indicate that businesses remain hungry for workers, a sign they are confident the economy will keep growing.

The Associated Press

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