Tree-trimming Company Hit With Record Fine for Hiring Undocumented Workers

The government has fined U.S. tree-trimming company a record $95 million for knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants. U.S. prosecutors said the fine against Philadelphia-based Asplundh Tree Expert Co. was the largest criminal penalty ever imposed in an immigration case. Prosecutors said company managers deliberately looked the other way while supervisors knowingly hired thousands of undocumented workers between 2010 and 2014. The prosecutors said this gave Asplundh a large workforce ready to take on emergency weather-related jobs across the country, putting its competitors at an unfair disadvantage. A federal investigation into Asplundh was opened in 2015 and the company said it had since taken a number of steps to end “the practices of the past.” “We accept responsibility for the charges as outlined, and we apologize to our customers, associates and all other stakeholders,” company Chairman Scott Asplundh said. …

Westinghouse і «Турбоатом» уклали угоду про збільшення потужності українських АЕС

Американська компанія ядерної енергетики Westinghouse Electric Company і українське ПАТ «Турбоатом» підписали угоду, що передбачає збільшення потужності атомних електростанцій в Україні, повідомила компанія зі США. Як мовиться в повідомленні, Westinghouse і «Турбоатом» підписали розширений меморандум про порозуміння про партнерство в координації і співпраці задля цієї мети. Як заявив із цього приводу Азіз Даґ, віце-президент і директор-розпорядник Westinghouse щодо Північної і Східної Європи, стратегічна співпраця його компанії з «Турбоатомом» є чудовим зразком того, як американська компанія виконує свої зобов’язання перед українським «Енергоатомом», що є її клієнтом, надати їй технічні рішення для подальшого поліпшення генерувальних здатностей, ефективності і безпеки українських АЕС. «Ми також радо чекаємо на співпрацю з іншими українськими компаніями для підтримки нашої діяльності, пов’язаної з потенційним проектом «Енергетичний міст» в Україні», – додав він. Як поінформувала американська компанія, Міністерство енергетики і вугільної промисловості України нещодавно схвалило аналіз «Енергетичного мосту Україна – ЄС», що має бути втілений у партнерстві між державними і приватними компаніями. Задля здійснення цього проекту необхідно, серед іншого, значно посилити виробництво електроенергії наявними в української національної енергогенерувальної компанії «Енергоатом» реакторами ВВЕР-1000, яких в Україні працює 13. «Турбоатом», що є однією з провідних у світі компаній для розробки і виробництва турбін для атомних, теплових і гідроелектростанцій, повідомив про подію, скопіювавши допис у фейсбуці прем’єр-міністра України Володимира Гройсмана. «Сьогодні в Харкові на ПАТ «Турбоатом» підписали контрактів на 5,5 мільярда гривень. Вони стосуються постачання обладнання на українські АЕС та ТЕС, а також підвищення потужності діючих енергоблоків українських АЕС у взаємодії з компанією Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB. Для економіки це означає, що …

Senegalese Music Start-ups Race to Be West Africa’s Spotify

Senegalese start-ups are testing a fledgling market for online music platforms in French-speaking West Africa, where interest in digital entertainment is growing but a lack of credit cards has prevented big players from making inroads. Long celebrated in Europe for their contribution to “world” music – with Mali’s Salif Keita, Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour and Benin’s Angelique Kidjo household names in trendy bars – West African musicians have struggled to make money back home, where poverty is widespread and music piracy rampant. Online music providers such as Apple’s download store iTunes and streaming service Spotify are either unavailable – no one can sign up for Spotify in Africa yet – or require a credit card or bank account, which most West Africans lack. But smartphone use is surging and entrepreneurs say there is latent demand for platforms tailored to Francophone West Africa, whose Malian “desert blues,” Ivorian “zouglou” and Senegalese “mbalax” cross African borders but are only profitable in Europe, via download and streaming services. “We started by saying, look, there is a void. Because digital distribution products are made in Europe or the U.S., for Europeans and Americans.” said Moustapha Diop, the founder and CEO of MusikBi, “The Music” in the local Wolof language, a download store launched in 2016. MusikBi, like its rivals, is small and cash strapped, but with more than 10,000 users, Diop sees potential. The company received a boost in May when Senegalese-American singer Akon bought 50 percent of it, which Diop says will allow the …

Saudi Women Will Drive, But Not Necessarily Buy New Cars

What’s your dream car to drive? Saudi women are asking that question after the kingdom announced that females would be granted licenses and be allowed to drive for the first time. An Arabic Twitter hashtag asking women what car they want to drive already had more than 22,000 responses on Thursday. Some users shared images of black matte luxury SUVs. Others teased with images of metallic candy pink-colored cars. A few shared images of cars encrusted with sparkly crystals. Car makers see an opportunity to rev up sales in Saudi Arabia when the royal decree comes into effect next June. But any gains are likely to be gradual due to a mix of societal and economic factors. Women who need to get around already have cars driven by chauffeurs. And many women haven’t driven in years, meaning the next wave of buyers could be the young. That didn’t keep Ford and Volkswagen from trying to make the most of the moment. They quickly released ads on Twitter congratulating Saudi women on the right to drive. Saudi Arabia had been the only country in the world to still bar women from getting behind the wheel. American automaker Ford’s ad showed only the eyes of a woman in a rearview mirror with the words: “Welcome to the driver’s seat .” German automaker Volkwagen’s ad showed two hands on a steering wheel with intricate henna designs on the fingers with the words: “My turn.” Checking that optimism will be the reality that many …

US Supreme Court to Hear New Challenge to Labor Unions

A Supreme Court with a reconstituted conservative majority is taking on a new case with the potential to financially cripple Democratic-leaning labor unions that represent government workers. The justices deadlocked 4-4 in a similar case last year.   The high court agreed Thursday to again consider a free-speech challenge from workers who object to paying money to unions they don’t support.   The court could decide to overturn a 40-year-old Supreme Court ruling that allows public sector unions to collect fees from non-members to cover the costs of negotiating contracts for all employees.   The latest appeal is from a state employee in Illinois. It was filed at the Supreme Court just two months after Justice Neil Gorsuch filled the high court seat that had been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.   The stakes are high. Union membership in the U.S. declined to just 10.7 percent of the workforce last year, and the ranks of private-sector unions have been especially hard hit.   About half of all union members now work for federal, state and local governments, and many are in states like Illinois, New York, and California that are largely Democratic and seen as friendly toward unions.   The Illinois case involves Mark Janus, a state employee who says Illinois law violates his free speech rights by requiring him to pay fees subsidizing a union he doesn’t support, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. About half the states have similar laws covering so-called “fair share” …

Melania Trump Hosts Discussion on Opioid Crisis

Melania Trump invited experts and people affected by addiction to opioids to the White House for a listening session and discussion about the epidemic.   The first lady hosted Thursday’s event in the State Dining Room and invited journalists to attend a portion of the meeting to help raise awareness. She joined President Donald Trump at a briefing on the crisis during the president’s vacation last month at his New Jersey golf club.   WATCH: Melania Trump on opioid crisis Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, said the first lady met regularly during the presidential campaign with families who had been affected by drug abuse and addiction.   She said Mrs. Trump wants to work in tandem with the president’s drug commission on youth and prevention initiatives.   “The opioid crisis is the deadliest epidemic in American history, and it is getting worse,” Grisham said in an email. “It affects children of all ages, even before they are born. As a mother, and as first lady, she is anxious to use her platform to help.”   Grisham added that the first lady is focused on the overall well-being of children.   The president said last month that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” but he has yet to issue a formal national declaration.   “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” Trump told reporters last month during a different briefing at …

Pair of Giant Pandas From China Welcomed in Indonesia

Giant pandas Cai Tao and Hu Chun arrived Thursday to fanfare in Indonesia where a new “palace” like home that cost millions of dollars has been built for them. The male and female pair landed at Jakarta’s international airport from Chengdu and will be quarantined at Taman Safari zoo outside the capital for about a month before the public can visit. The zoo hopes the 7-year-olds will mate and add to the giant panda population. It’s built a special enclosure and facilities that cost about 60 billion rupiah ($4.5 million), Taman Safari President Tony Sumampouw told The Associated Press. There are less than 1,900 giant pandas in their only wild habitats in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. China gifted friendly nations with its national mascot in what was known as “panda diplomacy” for decades. Countries now pay to be loaned pandas but they remain a potent symbol of Chinese soft power at a time when Beijing is seeking Southeast Asia cooperation for its ambitions plans to create a modern-day Silk Road that enhances its economic and political clout. Zoo spokesman Yulius Suprihardo said the living quarters for Cai Tao, the male, and Hu Chun, the female, resemble a three-tier temple. It’s on a hill surrounded by about 5,000 square meters of land and equipped with an elevator, sleeping area, medical facilities and indoor and outdoor play areas. He said after the quarantine period a “soft launch” for public viewing could be held by late October or early …

Equifax Apologizes as U.S. Watchdog Calls for More Oversight

Equifax Inc promised to make it easier for consumers to control access to their credit records in the wake of the company’s massive breach after the top U.S. consumer financial watchdog called on the industry to introduce such a system. Equifax’s interim chief executive officer, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., vowed to introduce a free service by Jan. 31 that will let consumers control access to their own credit records. Barros, who was named interim CEO on Tuesday as Richard Smith stepped down from the post amid mounting criticism over the handling of the cyber attack, also apologized for providing inadequate support to consumers seeking information after the breach was disclosed on Sept. 7. He promised to add call-center representatives and bolster a breach-response website. “I have heard the frustration and fear. I know we have to do a better job of helping you,” Barros said in a statement published in The Wall Street Journal. Equifax announced the free credit freeze service after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) director, Richard Cordray, told CNBC earlier in the day that the agency would beef up oversight of Equifax and its rivals. “The old days of just doing what they want and being subject to lawsuits now and then are over,” Cordray said. He also called for implementing a scheme of preventive credit monitoring. “They are going to have to accept that. They are going to have to welcome it. They are going to have to be very forthcoming,” Cordray said. The …