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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal agency voted to kick off the repeal of “net neutrality” rules designed to keep broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from interfering with the internet. It’s the latest change that the Federal Communications Commission has made to ease regulation of the phone, broadcast and cable industries. Undoing the net neutrality rules – which, for instance, block providers from favoring their own apps and services over those of competitors like Netflix – may be the biggest battle yet triggered by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The tech industry, which sees net neutrality as necessary to innovation, is already pushing back by lobbying politicians, sending letters of protest to the agency and starting to rally supporters. Read more
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s president is vowing to remain in power despite a damaging new corruption allegation, but Latin America’s largest nation could very well be rudderless as long as he stays at the head of what one analyst is calling a “walking dead administration.” President Michel Temer struck a defiant note Thursday, promising he would be found innocent in a Supreme Court investigation into allegations that he endorsed a scheme to pay hush money to a former influential legislator who is now in prison for corruption. But Brazil and his administration will not shrug off the incendiary allegations so easily. Read more
BEIJING (AP) — Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as “combustible ice” has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the seafloor off their coastlines. But experts said Friday that large-scale production remains many years away – and if not done properly could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases. Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels. Read more
WASHINGTON (AP) — A sizable majority of rural Americans backed Donald Trump’s presidential bid, drawn to his calls to slash environmental rules, strengthen law enforcement and replace the federal health care law. But last month, many of them struck a sour note after White House aides signaled that Trump would deliver on another signature vow by edging toward abandoning the North American Free Trade Agreement. Farm Country suddenly went on red alert. Trump’s message that NAFTA was a job-killing disaster had never resonated much in rural America. NAFTA had widened access to Mexican and Canadian markets, boosting U.S. farm exports and benefiting many farmers. Read more
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart saw online sales surge as it changed up its shipping offers, and drew more shoppers to its stores as well in the most recent quarter even as retail overall is more competitive. The world’s largest retailer said Thursday that sales at established stores rose for the eleventh straight quarter, and customer traffic rose for the tenth quarter in a row. That’s a contrast with many rivals that saw both those figures drop. Online sales at Walmart.com rose 63 percent, dramatically up from the 29 percent growth in the previous quarter. Though the company has been buying up smaller internet retailers, Wal-Mart said a majority of the increase was through Walmart.com and was fueled by changes in its shipping strategy and a discount for shoppers who pick up their online orders. Read more
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