Tech: Uber fires its chief of self-driving cars
Uber has fired “the star engineer” at the center of its highstakes legal fight with Google’s self-driving-car company, said Russ Mitchell in the Los Angeles Times. Anthony Levan dow ski, a former Google employee accused of stealing the search giant’s selfdriving technology and taking it to Uber, was fired by Uber this week after he refused to hand over documents requested by a federal judge. Uber is being sued by the startup Waymo, which was spun out of Google last year, for allegedly using stolen trade secrets to build its own selfdriving cars under Levan dow ski’s leadership. “Uber has insisted that it developed its driverless technology independently.”
“Ultimately, Uber firing Levandow ski does not protect the company from the explosive charges” of Waymo’s lawsuit, said Aarian Marshall in Wired.com. Uber’s lawyers haven’t pushed back against allegations that Levan dow ski stole 14,000 documents from Google servers, “asserting instead that no record of those documents had made it to Uber’s system.” But even if Uber didn’t knowingly use stolen technology, the company’s negligence could still “be grounds for a loss in court.” The case has also been referred to the Department of Justice, which could mean a possible criminal investigation. “Either way, this very messy self-driving tech case just got way messier.”
Airlines: British Airways hit by massive outage
British Airways resumed full service this week after a “catastrophic IT failure” over the holiday weekend that temporarily stranded 75,000 passengers, said Danica Kirka in the Associated Press. The airline’s computer systems suffered a total meltdown last Saturday after a power surge, forcing the airline to cancel all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London; flights finally resumed on Tuesday. The incident “has raised questions about some older airlines’ focus on costs to the detriment of investment in new computer systems.” A similar outage in August led to hundreds of Delta flights being canceled.
Manufacturing: Carrier announces layoffs
Carrier will lay off more than 600 workers despite striking a deal with President Trump to keep jobs in the U.S., said Danielle Paquette in The Washington Post. The manufacturer of air conditioners and furnaces announced last week that it will begin laying off workers from its Indianapolis factory starting on July 20, until about 800 employees remain. On a visit to the factory in December, Trump boasted that he’d persuaded Carrier to keep at least 1,100 jobs in the U.S. in exchange for $7 million in state tax credits. The manufacturing jobs will be moved to Monterrey, Mexico.
Real estate: Home prices surged in March
“These are heady days for American home sellers,” said Paul Davidson in USA Today. Home prices increased 5.8 percent year over year in March, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national index. It is the largest annual increase in nearly three years, though “well short” of the double-digit surges experienced during the mid-2000s housing bubble. The increase was driven by a shortage of new and existing homes, “combined with steady job and income growth that’s prompting more Americans to buy houses for the first time, or trade up.”
Health care: Ohio sues drugmakers over opioid crisis
Ohio is suing five drugmakers for allegedly fueling the state’s opioid crisis, said Jeanne Whalen in The Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit targets Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical, Allergan, and a division of Endo International. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine accused the companies of being “dishon est with doctors about their painkillers’ risks” and of targeting general practitioners with aggressive marketing that downplayed the drugs’ addictive qualities. Johnson & Johnson, which sells a fentanyl patch called Duragesic, called the allegations “both legally and factually unfounded.”