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Business Highlights: Amazon mystery, Holmes’ defense

December 8, 2021 GMT

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Explainer: What caused Amazon’s outage? Will there be more?

Robotic vacuum cleaners wouldn’t start. Doorbell cameras stopped watching for package thieves, though some of those deliveries were canceled anyway. Netflix and Disney movies got interrupted and The Associated Press had trouble publishing the news. A major outage in Amazon’s cloud computing network Tuesday severely disrupted services at a wide range of U.S. companies for hours, raising questions about the vulnerability of the internet. Amazon has still said nothing about what, exactly, went wrong. Some cybersecurity experts have warned for years about the potentially ugly consequences of having key internet operations dominated by a handful of big tech companies.

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Defense team rests in Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The defense team for fallen Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has rested its case in Holmes’ criminal fraud trial, setting up several days of preparation before closing arguments begin. Those arguments are scheduled to be held Dec. 16-17. The case could be turned over to the jury late in the day of Dec. 17, with deliberations continuing through most of the week of Dec. 20. Holmes, 37, has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding investors and patients by misleading them about Theranos’ progress developing new technology intended to perform hundreds of blood tests at once on just a few drops of blood. Holmes testified in her defense for seven days in total.

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Senate aims to reject Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is poised to approve a resolution overturning the Biden administration’s requirement that businesses with 100 or more workers have their employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing. The Democratic-led House is unlikely to take it up, which means the mandate would stand, though courts have put it on hold for now. Still, the vote would give senators a chance to come out against a policy that they say has sparked fears back home from businesses and from unvaccinated constituents worried about losing their jobs should the rule go into effect.

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MacKenzie Scott won’t say how much she’s giving ‘this time’

NEW YORK (AP) — In a blog post titled “No Dollar Signs This Time,” billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott said she won’t reveal how much she has given to charity since her last round of donations earlier this year, in an effort to reduce the attention she draws. Scott, whose fortunes is estimated by Forbes at $59 billion, said she wants to let the nonprofits she gives to “speak for themselves first if they choose to, with the hope that when they do, media focuses on their contributions instead of mine.” She has promised to give her wealth away “until the safe is empty.” But her latest announcement is likely going to increase calls from critics about her giving style.

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Stocks end modestly higher after a choppy day of trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended modestly higher on Wall Street Wednesday after a day of choppy trading. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 0.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.6%. Communications and health care stocks made solid gains, along with travel-related companies. U.S. crude oil prices rose, but energy stocks remained mixed. Smaller company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. Stocks are coming off a two-day rally that nearly erased their losses over the previous two weeks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.52%.

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Instagram head faces senators amid anger over possible harm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of a Senate panel examining social media’s negative effects on young people dismissed as a public relations tactic some safety measures announced by Facebook’s popular Instagram platform. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, faced lawmakers at a hearing with senators angry over revelations of how the photo-sharing platform can harm some young users. The lawmakers are demanding the company commit to making changes. Under sharp questioning by senators of both parties, Mosseri defended the company’s conduct and the efficacy of its new safety measures. He challenged the assertion that Instagram has been shown to be addictive for young people.

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Crypto execs head to Capitol as Congress mulls regulations

NEW YORK (AP) — Cryptocurrency executives went to Capitol Hill Wednesday to say their fast-growing industry understands more regulation is likely coming, but they don’t want it to squelch the next wave of the internet or send it offshore to other countries. Leaders from major crypto exchanges, mining and other related businesses testified for four-and-a-half hours before the financial services committee of the House of Representatives, which wanted to learn more about how the industry works as it wrangles with how to regulate it. Much of the discussion centered on protections for investors in a burgeoning ecosystem that critics have called the “Wild West.”

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‘Pharma Bro’ firm reaches $40M settlement in gouging case

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A company once owned by “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli will pay up to $40 million to settle allegations that it jacked up the price of a life-saving medication by roughly 4 ,000% after obtaining exclusive rights to the drug. The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement Tuesday. The FTC and seven states sued Vyera Pharmaceuticals for allegedly gouging consumers and blocking competitors from creating cheaper generic versions of the drug Daraprim after obtaining exclusive rights to it in 2015. Vyera was owned by Martin Shkreli. The drug treats a potentially deadly parasitic infection. Shkreli currently is serving seven years for hedge fund securities fraud.

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$56K Alzheimer’s drug avoiding Biden’s cost curbs, for now

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new $56,000-a-year Alzheimer’s medication that’s leading to one of the biggest increases ever in Medicare premiums is highlighting the limitations of President Joe Biden’s strategy for curbing prescription drug costs. The medication known as Aduhelm would be protected from Medicare price negotiations for more than a decade under the Democratic drug pricing compromise before Congress. That’s because the bill doesn’t allow Medicare to negotiate over newly launched drugs. Seniors soon will be paying higher premiums so Medicare can set aside a contingency fund for Aduhelm. Medicare’s Part B premium will jump by $21.60 a month next year, to $170.10.

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The S&P 500 gained 14.46 points, or 0.3%, to 4,701.21. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 35.32 points, or 0.1%, to 35,754.75. The Nasdaq added 100.07 points, or 0.6%, to 15,786.99. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 17.92 points, or 0.8%, to 2,271.71.