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TALKING POINTS

State Senate approves bill that allows craft brewers to leave distributors more easily

ALCOHOL

State Senate approves bill that allows craft brewers to leave distributors more easily

The state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a compromise bill that would allow craft brewers to more easily leave their distributor. Both sides, represented by the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts, have been far apart for years. The brewers say the current law gives wholesalers too much power over their future, and makes it almost impossible to leave a distributor after the first six months. The compromise, finalized last week, would allow any brewery that makes less than 250,000 barrels of beer a year (or about 3.4 million cases) to end a partnership with a distributor with 30 days’ notice and compensation to the wholesaler for the fair market value of the distribution rights. Only one brewery in the state, Boston Beer Co., is above that threshold. Senator Paul Feeney, who helped shepherd the negotiations, said he expects the House will approve the bill and it will be sent to Governor Charlie Baker in a matter of days. — JON CHESTO

INTERNATIONAL

Polish prosecutors sue Ikea over worker fired for homophobic comments

Polish prosecutors have sued Ikea after its local unit fired a man over his actions during a gay-pride corporate event, saying the furniture retailer infringed on the employee’s religious rights. A year ago, Ikea said that it terminated the contract of an employee who’d “used quotes from the Old Testament about death and blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexuals.” Prosecutors charged Ikea’s human resource director with restricting a worker’s rights because of his religious beliefs, a crime which carries a maximum two-year jail term. Poland’s ruling nationalist party ramped anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the final stretch of the campaign before a presidential election on July 12. President Andrzej Duda, who won re-election after a close race, cast gays as the enemies of families. Poland ranks last in the European Union for gay rights, according to advocacy group ILGA. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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RAILROADS

Union Pacific’s profit falls 28 percent on lower revenue

Union Pacific’s second-quarter profit fell 28 percent from a year ago as carload revenue tumbled 20 percent because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the railroad company expects improvement in the second half with full-year carload volumes to be down around 10 percent compared with 2019. In the second quarter big freight users such as automakers were forced to close their factories for weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Union Pacific operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 Western states.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

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AUTOMOTIVE

Nearly half of AutoNation’s customers bought their cars online

AutoNation said the thousands of staff it dismissed in the midst of the pandemic may not be called back because consumers are making a permanent shift to buying vehicles online. The largest US new-car retailer now has about 21,000 employees, down from roughly 25,000 at the end of last year, chief executive Mike Jackson said in an interview. Forty-five percent of AutoNation’s customers bought their cars online in the three months that ended in June. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter sees user growth during pandemic

Twitter reported a second straight quarter of record user growth as people joined the service for news and entertainment during the global coronavirus outbreak, but its advertising business was hammered amid a global marketing retraction as businesses pulled back on spending. Twitter reported 186 million daily users for the period ended June 30, a 34 percent jump over the quarter a year earlier, and its largest year-over-year increase since first reporting the metric in 2016. But second-quarter sales declined 19 percent to $683.4 million compared with a year earlier, the San Francisco-based social-media company said Thursday in a statement. The company said it’s exploring additional business lines, including a possible subscription offering, as a way to supplement advertising, which makes up more than 82 percent of total revenue. Twitter also acknowledged a high-profile hack of its service earlier this month, calling the incident ‘‘disappointing’’ and saying it’s ‘‘working with law enforcement as they conduct their investigations.’’ Hackers used phishing techniques against company employees to gain access to at least 130 accounts, including for some famous users such as Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, and sent tweets asking for Bitcoin.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS

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SOCIAL MEDIA

ADL accuses Zuckerberg of giving bigots and anti-Semites a platform

The Anti-Defamation League blasted Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg over the proliferation of hate speech in a new social media campaign. The League posted a video on Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Twitter Thursday that says the social media giant is giving White supremacist and anti-Semitic groups a platform on which to organize their activities and spread ‘‘destructive’’ viewpoints on the internet. The video juxtaposes footage of Zuckerberg telling lawmakers in a congressional hearing that he is ‘‘responsible for what happens’’ on Facebook with shots of news articles chronicling hate groups’ use of the site. The spot, which will run for the next two weeks, is also being shared by NowThis, a liberal social media-focused outlet. The Anti-Defamation League is one of several groups that have led a campaign to persuade advertisers including Starbucks and PepsiCo to halt spending on Facebook in July to draw attention to the platform’s policies on hate speech and other issues. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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MORTGAGES

Rates inch up after hitting record lows

Average rates on long-term mortgages rose this week for the first time since June 25, after weeks of marking new record lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the key 30-year home loan increased to 3.01 percent from 2.98 percent last week — the first time in 50 years that it slipped below 3 percent. The rate averaged 3.75 percent a year ago. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.54 percent from to 2.48 percentlast week. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

HEALTH CARE

Humana sending at-home screening kits to members who fear office visits

Health insurer Humana is sending at-home screening tests for cancer and other conditions to more than a million of its members who may have postponed medical care because of COVID-19. The kits will allow members to collect samples of blood, urine, or stool without having to go to a clinic. The program is focused on managing diabetes and screening for colorectal cancer. The materials will be sent to members who Humana’s data indicates are due for screenings. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

HIGHER EDUCATION

Colleges use OpenTable to manage dining halls during pandemic

OpenTable is partnering with colleges to help them manage dining areas as students return to campus during the coronavirus pandemic. The San Francisco-based restaurant reservation service said it’s offering its technology to universities for free. Students can make on-campus reservations through the OpenTable app and see descriptions of menus or safety measures. Students can also be notified by text when a table is available. The University of Wisconsin-Madison started using OpenTable on June 22 for the Memorial Union Terrace, an outdoor dining space. Spokeswoman Shauna Breneman said the reservation system ensures that the restaurant stays at 25 percent capacity with six feet between tables. Cornell and Bowie State University will let students reserve seats through OpenTable for the dining halls in their student centers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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