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TRANSPORTATION

Some Uber drivers can set their own rates

Uber Technologies Inc. is allowing some drivers in California to set their own rates, an effort to bolster the company’s argument that they’re independent workers and not employees. The feature is being tested on some airport routes “to preserve flexible work” for California drivers, a spokesman said. It’s the company’s latest tweak in response to a new California law that reclassifies gig-economy workers as employees, entitled to benefits like sick days, and not independent contractors. Earlier this month, Uber tweaked the driver app to end flat-surge pricing, remove penalties for rejecting trips, and display how much drivers can make on each trip. Drivers at the Santa Barbara, Sacramento, and Palm Springs airports will be able to increase their fares in 10 percent increments to as much as five times the normal rate, starting Tuesday. Uber will refine the feature in the coming weeks and, depending on the test results, could deploy it more broadly in the months ahead. California’s new labor law could upend the multibillion-dollar operations built by Uber and other companies by leveraging on-demand labor. Uber, Lyft Inc., DoorDash Inc., and Postmates Inc. are championing a California ballot initiative to repeal the law while guaranteeing a minimum pay of $21 an hour and granting some benefits to drivers. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Another blow for milk producers

The latest blow to the downtrodden dairy industry was delivered by none other than Starbucks Corp., with the coffee giant looking to condition customers to use milk alternatives in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. While Starbucks’ consumption accounts for less than 1 percent of the milk produced in the United States, the decision to formally declare an emphasis on nondairy options may encourage other food-service outlets to follow suit. That could add momentum to the shift toward oat, nut, soy and other alternative beverages for health and environmental reasons. American cow milk consumption has fallen about 2 percent each year since the 1970s, according to the Department of Agriculture. It’s a trend that has helped put plenty of American dairy farmers out of business and led to two big US processors, Dean Foods Co. and Borden Dairy Co., into bankruptcy. Dean is one of Starbucks’ key suppliers. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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TRADE

Trump administration to keep tariff decisions secret

The Department of Justice said the White House can use executive privilege to not release a Commerce Department report advising President Trump on proposed tariffs on imports of automobiles and car parts. Commerce handed the analysis to Trump’s office in February, and the findings have been kept private since. Congress sought to accelerate their disclosure by requiring the secretary of commerce to publish them by Jan. 19. “The report is a confidential presidential communication, the disclosure of which would risk impairing ongoing diplomatic efforts to address a national-security concern,” Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel said in a letter dated Jan. 17 and posted Tuesday. Commerce’s study focused on whether to impose tariffs on the auto imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which allows for duties without a vote by Congress if imports are deemed a national security threat. It was the same law the Trump administration used to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Those duties have been controversial and have drawn legal challenges in US courts. Many lawmakers also complained about the White House’s use of the statute. “By refusing to make public the statutorily required report on automobile tariffs, the Department of Commerce is willfully violating federal law,” said Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican. “This is unacceptable, and my staff and I are evaluating the potential for corrective action to compel the rightful release of this report.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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TRANSPORTATION

More delays seen for Boeing 737 Max

Boeing said Tuesday that it doesn’t expect federal regulators to approve its changes to the grounded 737 Max until this summer, several months longer than the company was saying just a few weeks ago. That timetable — the latest of several delays in the plane’s approval process — will create more headaches for airlines by pushing the Max’s return further into the peak summer travel season or possibly beyond it. The latest timetable is based on work remaining to be done before the Federal Aviation Administration will allow the Max back in the sky, including work on flight-control computers, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that Boeing did not provide. The FAA said it is conducting “a thorough, deliberate process” and reiterated it has no timetable for completing its review. The three US airlines that own Maxes — Southwest, American and United — have scrubbed the plane from their schedules until early June. It is possible, however, that they won’t use the planes until much later, possibly after the busy summer travel season is over. Shortly after the first Max crash, in October 2018 in Indonesia, Boeing began updating software that investigators say was triggered by a faulty sensor and pushed the plane’s nose down. Then in March 2019, another Max crashed in Ethiopia. In all, 346 people died. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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TECHNOLOGY

Hearing into extradition for Huawei executive

Lawyers for a senior executive of the Chinese tech giant Huawei argued Tuesday that allowing her extradition to the United States would result in Canada bowing to foreign law. The hearings deal with the question of whether the US charges against Meng Wanzhou are crimes in Canada, as well. Her lawyers argue the case is really about US sanctions against Iran, not a fraud case. Canada does not have similar sanctions on Iran. “Canada doesn’t enforce foreign criminal law,’’ said Meng’s lawyer, Eric Gottardi. ‘‘We simply cannot import that law and have it operate in Canada domestically. It’s contrary to our values.” Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, the daughter of the company’s founder, in late 2018 infuriated Beijing to the point it detained two Canadians in apparent retaliation. The United States accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. It says Meng, 47, committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran. Meng has been free on bail and living in one of the two Vancouver mansions she owns. She has denied the US allegations and her defense team says comments by President Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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TECHNOLOGY

More gains for Netflix

Netflix added 8.8 million worldwide subscribers during its fourth quarter, surpassing expectations at a time when it faces heated competition from new streaming challengers such as Disney. The company now boasts more than 167 million subscribers worldwide, bolstered by a list of well-received movies and shows released late last year, including Oscar nominees “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story.” The boost helps reaffirm Netflix’s strong standing in the increasingly crowded world of video streaming and comes as it marked its first head-to-head competition with Apple’s $5-per-month streaming service and Disney’s $7-a-month option. NBC, HBO, and startup Quibi are all planning to launch streaming services. Two big questions loom: How much are consumers willing to pay for each video streaming option, and how many will they pay for before reaching subscription fatigue? Netflix’s most popular plan costs $13 a month, far more than those from Disney, Apple, and Quibi, but comparable to Hulu’s and HBO Now’s. Nonetheless, Netflix anticipates adding fewer subscribers this quarter than Wall Street is expecting. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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ENERGY

Iowa wants assurances on oil pipeline

Iowa regulators want owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline to provide expert analysis to back up the company’s claim that doubling the line’s capacity won’t increase the likelihood of a spill, a requirement their counterparts in North Dakota haven’t imposed. Texas-based Energy Transfer wants to double the capacity of the pipeline to as much as 1.1 million barrels daily and is seeking permission for additional pump stations in the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois to do it. Commissioners in a South Dakota county last year approved a conditional use permit for a pumping station needed for the expansion. Permits in the other states are pending. The Iowa Utilities Board last week ordered the company to “provide expert explanation of whether the increased flow will increase the amount of oil that will be released if a spill occurs.” The panel also wants information on pipeline pressure levels currently and if the expansion occurs. The company also must provide “expert explanation” on the effect any additives to the oil would have on the longevity of the pipeline. The $3.8 billion pipeline has been moving oil from the Dakotas through Iowa to Illinois for more than two years. It was subject to prolonged protests and hundreds of arrests during its construction in North Dakota because it crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and fears pollution. Energy Transfer insists the pipeline and its expansion are safe. — ASSOCIATED PRESS