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Jefferson wins majority Senate support as Fed Vice Chair

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Fed's Jefferson poised for Senate confirmation as Fed Vice Chair
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Fed Governor Philip Jefferson testifies before a Senate Banking Committee hearing on his nomination to be the Federal Reserve’s next vice chair, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Richard Cowan and Ann Saphir

(Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday is poised to confirm Federal Reserve Governor Philip Jefferson as vice chair of the U.S. central bank, after an overwhelming bipartisan majority of lawmakers voted on Tuesday to limit debate over his nomination.

Senators began the confirmation voting process on Jefferson shortly after 11:30 am ET.

They are expected later on Wednesday to also take up the nominations of Fed Governor Lisa Cook to a new 14-year term, and of World Bank economist Adriana Kugler to fill the last open seat at the seven-member Fed Board.

Confirmations would put the three in place ahead of the Fed’s next policy-setting meeting on Sept 19-20, at which policymakers are widely expected to leave the benchmark rate in its current range of 5.25%-5.00%, but to also leave the door open for one last rate hike before the end of the year.

Jefferson and Cook joined the Fed in May 2022 and have voted for all of the Fed’s rate hikes since then.

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New Jersey fines Walmart over in-store pricing practices

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Walmart (NYSE:), the world’s largest retailer, agreed to pay $1.64 million to settle regulatory charges that its 64 New Jersey stores employed illegal pricing practices that made it hard for consumers to comparison-shop.

Matthew Platkin, New Jersey’s attorney general, said on Tuesday that the settlement includes a $1.62 million civil fine, and is the largest obtained by the Office of Weights and Measures of the state Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Jersey is one of nine U.S. states that requires grocery retailers to display prices using standard, easy-to-understand measurements such as pounds and quarts.

Platkin said Walmart store inspections in the first quarter of 2023 found more than 2,000 incorrect measurements, sometimes in the same category: coffee, for example, could be priced by the pound, the can or the number of pods.

“As the price of grocery items continues to rise,” Platkin said, “this settlement sends a clear message that New Jersey will not allow retailers to engage in unlawful pricing practices that deny shoppers the ability to easily compare prices to figure out which product is a better buy.”

Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer did not admit wrongdoing, but in a consent order said it “takes seriously its obligations to provide accurate unit prices to enable customers to comparison shop.”

Walmart also agreed to improve employee training and randomly screen items to ensure it displays proper measurements.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: View of Walmart's newly remodeled Supercenter, in Teterboro, New Jersey, U.S., June 7, 2023. REUTERS/Siddharth Cavale/File Photo

In November, discount retailer Dollar General (NYSE:) agreed to pay $1.2 million, including a $1.18 million fine, to settle New Jersey charges that it scanned higher prices at checkout than it posted on merchandise displays thousands of times.

That settlement had been the largest obtained by the state’s weights and measures office.

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Meta must face Australian billionaire Forrest’s US lawsuit over scam Facebook crypto ads

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge rejected Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:)’ bid to dismiss a lawsuit by billionaire Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest over scam Facebook advertisements that show him promoting fake cryptocurrency and other fraudulent investments.

In a decision on Monday, U.S. District Judge Casey Pitts in San Jose, California said Australia’s second-richest person can try to prove that Meta’s negligence in allowing the ads breached its duty to operate in a commercially reasonable manner.

Forrest can also try to prove that his name and likeness was misappropriated by Meta, and not just by fraudsters behind the bogus ads.

“Dr. Forrest claims that Meta profited more from ads that included his likeness than it would have if the ads had not,” Pitts wrote. “This is enough to adequately plead that the alleged misappropriation was to Meta’s advantage.”

Lawyers for Meta declined to comment on Tuesday.

The Palo Alto, California-based company had argued that Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act immunized it from liability as a publisher of third-party content.

But the judge said Forrest’s claims “present a factual dispute regarding whether Meta’s ad systems were neutral tools that anyone could use (or misuse) or whether the tools themselves contributed to the content of the ads.”

Forrest said more than 1,000 of the ads appeared on Facebook in Australia between April and November 2023, leading to millions of dollars in losses for victims.

The 62-year-old is executive chairman of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group (OTC:), and with his family is worth US$16.5 billion (AUD$24.8 billion), according to Forbes magazine.

In a statement, Forrest said Pitts’ decision was the first where a social media company was unable to invoke Section 230 immunity in a U.S. civil case over its advertising business.

“This is a crucial strategic victory in the battle to hold Facebook accountable,” he said.

Forrest is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

In April, Australian prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges that he brought against Meta in that country over scam cryptocurrency ads.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Fortescue's founder and executive chairman Andrew Forrest speaks during an interview with Reuters, in Beijing, China March 23, 2024. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Forrest had sued under Australian laws that let individuals criminally prosecute foreign companies upon receiving prosecutors’ consent.

The case is Forrest v Facebook Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-03699.

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Justin Timberlake arrested for drunk driving in the Hamptons

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(Reuters) -Pop singer Justin Timberlake was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in a neighborhood in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, authorities said on Tuesday.

Timberlake was arrested in the town of Sag Harbor on Tuesday morning, according to a statement from the local district attorney’s office.

The 43-year-old was arraigned in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court and released, the statement said. His next court date will be a virtual appearance on July 26, the statement said.

Representatives for Timberlake did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Timberlake was taken into custody after he left a dinner at the American Hotel, People magazine reported.

© Reuters. Justin Timberlake performs during the iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 1, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Timberlake rose to fame as a member of 1990s boy band ‘N Sync before starting a solo career. His hits include “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” “Suit & Tie” and “SexyBack.”

He has two concerts scheduled in Chicago this weekend and two shows in New York City next week.

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