The daily business briefing: June 6, 2017

Harold Maass
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Apple unveils its first smart speaker

Apple unveiled its HomePod smart speaker at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. The device, which is intended to rival Google Home and Amazon's Echo, will be powered by an A8 chip and feature Apple's virtual assistant, Siri. HomePod also will be integrated with Apple Music, and will start shipping later this year for $349. Apple also revealed its first new iMac in almost two years, with faster processors and brighter displays, as well as two software upgrades: iOS 11, which will feature a person-to-person payment system integrated into iMessage in addition to an improved camera; and High Sierra, the new MacOS, which will enable the Safari browser to block autoplay video. [The Guardian, Bloomberg]


Trump unveils plan to privatize air traffic control system

President Trump gathered Monday with aviation officials and prominent Republican lawmakers to announce plans to privatize America's air traffic control system. "We live in a modern age yet our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past," Trump said. The plan also calls for separating air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration, which spent $7 billion working on modernizing the aviation system during the Obama administration. Trump said in a White House ceremony that the FAA under Obama "didn't know what the hell they were doing," leaving behind "an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn't work." [The Washington Post]


Trump's sons announce launch of mid-market hotel chain

President Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, said Monday that the family company is launching a mid-market hotel chain called American Idea. Donald Trump Jr. said at a party in Manhattan's Trump Tower that the chain was inspired by their travels during their father's presidential campaign, which he described as a "crash course in America." "We saw so many places and towns and so many stories," he said. The new chain will start with three hotels in Mississippi, where the company also is building the first dozen properties in a new upscale Trump chain, Scion. The first American Idea hotels will be ready quickly, as they will be rebranded Holiday Inn and Comfort Inns the Trump Organization's Mississippi partners already own. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]


J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler stepping down

Mickey Drexler is stepping down as CEO of clothing retailer J.Crew but plans to stay on as chairman, Business of Fashion reported Monday. Drexler, who owns 10 percent of the company, will be replaced by former West Elm president Jim Brett. Weeks earlier, J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons left. Lyons was credited with driving J.Crew's success over the last decade, and Drexler was dubbed the "merchant prince" after turning around Gap in the 1990s. J.Crew has been struggling with weak sales that have led to big layoffs. [Business of Fashion]


Poll: Most Americans don't support Trump decision to ditch Paris climate deal

Fifty-nine percent of Americans oppose President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday revealed. Just 28 percent of Americans support Trump's rejection of the global climate pact, which aims to fight climate change by curbing carbon emissions. Trump described the move as necessary to save American jobs, but 42 percent of Americans actually believe withdrawing will hurt the economy. Thirty-two percent said it would help the economy. Trump's decision to pull out of the agreement, which has been signed by more than 190 nations, has drawn criticism from local leaders, major U.S. companies, and American allies. [The Washington Post]