Talking Points


Federal regulators warn lead testing system could produce inaccurate results


Federal regulators warn lead testing system could produce inaccurate results

Federal regulators Thursday warned labs and health professionals that a lead testing system sold by Magellan Diagnostics of North Billerica could be delivering inaccurate results. In a statement, the Food and Drug Administration said it is reviewing evidence collected during an inspection at Magellan, a unit of Meridian Bioscience Inc., to see if a US law was violated. The company’s LeadCare test system was used to analyze blood drawn from about 15,000 children in New Jersey earlier this year, according to a report by NJTV News. Meridian, based in Cincinnati, issued a statement saying it was addressing the FDA’s concerns with “the highest sense of urgency” and was committed to making sure the Magellan testing system was in “full compliance” with federal requirements. — ROBERT WEISMAN


Lowell attorney barred from threatening debtors

A Lowell attorney has been barred after threatening consumers with arrest or imprisonment for nonpayment of small debts, a direct violation of the attorney general’s debt collection regulations, according to the office of Attorney General Maura Healey (right). Attorney Robert R. White and his law firm, Levy & White, have targeted low-income individuals, those dealing with significant medical issues living in and around Lowell. Healey’s office obtained a preliminary injunction in Middlesex Superior Court against White and his law firm, preventing them from threatening consumers with arrest or imprisonment. Healey’s office is also pursuing restitution for consumers, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees. — NATASHA MASCARENHAS


Company must pay restitution to workers

A health care company is paying $250,000 in restitution to hundreds of Massachusetts workers who weren’t paid properly. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says Pennsylvania-based Healthcare Services Group underpaid more than 1,900 workers from 2012 to 2015 because of clerical errors. The company provides housekeeping, laundry, and dining services to more than 250 health care facilities in Massachusetts. It did not immediately comment. Most of the workers who were underpaid made less than $11 per hour. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Airbnb host fined for refusing to rent to Asian woman


An Airbnb host who canceled a reservation and told the guest, ‘‘One word says it all. Asian,’’ has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine and attend a college course in Asian-American studies, officials with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said Thursday. The guest, Dyne Suh, had booked the home as part of a ski trip with her fiancé and friends in Big Bear in February. When she was close to the house, Suh messaged host Tami Barker through the Airbnb app, but the host canceled the reservation after a dispute over additional guests. Barker told Suh in a series of messages that she wouldn’t rent to her if she were the last person on Earth. ‘‘One word says it all. Asian,’’ one message said. When Suh told Barker that she would complain to Airbnb, Barker wrote, ‘‘It’s why we have Trump . . . I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Rates rise for second week

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Long-term mortgage rates rose this week for the second straight week. The benchmark 30-year rate surpassed the significant 4 percent level for the first time since May. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to an average 4.03 percent from 3.96 percent last week. It stood at 3.42 percent a year ago and averaged a record low 3.65 percent in 2016. The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate home loans, popular with homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, rose to 3.29 percent last week from 3.22 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Facebook to unveil cheaper virtual reality headset

Facebook Inc. is taking another stab at turning its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into a mass-market phenomenon. Later this year, the company plans to unveil a cheaper, wireless device that the company is betting will popularize VR the way Apple did the smartphone. Facebook’s will sell for as little as $200 and need not be tethered to a PC or phone, according to people familiar with its development. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Struggling Tiffany to get a new CEO

Tiffany is taking another shot at reviving its luster, and regaining its cool, naming a former executive at Diesel as its top executive. The company ran out of patience in February only two years after hiring Frederic Cumenal to do the same thing. Taking over for interim CEO Michael Kowalski is Alessandro Bogliolo, who had been lured to Diesel SpA to revitalize sales there. Bogliolo is expected to take over the CEO post at Tiffany by Oct. 2. He will also become a board member. The 52-year-old executive spent 16 years at Bulgari SpA before taking the job at Diesel. Tiffany & Co., based in New York, has wrestled with weak sales as millennials spend money elsewhere and competition intensifies from online players like Amazon and Blue Nile. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Fewer file for jobless benefits

Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, as the number of people seeking benefits has stayed near historic lows pointing to a robust job market. Weekly unemployment applications fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The less volatile four-week average rose by 2,250 to 245,750. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits has fallen 8.8 percent over the past 12 months to 1.9 million. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Investment group led by former alderman, labor unions buys Chicago Sun-Times


An investment group led by a former Chicago alderman and a coalition of labor unions are the new owners of the Chicago Sun-Times, officials announced Thursday. ST Acquisition Holdings LLC made the acquisition official in a statement detailing an afternoon news conference. Former alderman Edwin Eisendrath will serve as CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times. He left the City Council when President Bill Clinton appointed him to a Department of Housing and Urban Development post. Eisendrath submitted a bid last month after Sun-Times owner Wrapports LLC announced it would enter into discussions with Tronc Inc., which owns the rival Chicago Tribune, to acquire the paper. He said he was concerned that if Tronc took over the newspaper, the sale would lead to the demise of the Sun-Times, even though Tronc promised to run two separate newspapers. Tronc also owns the Los Angeles Times and other major newspapers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Walmart makes a big push with school supplies

Walmart is pushing convenience for the back-to-school shopping season as it tries to compete better with Amazon. The world’s largest retailer is making hundreds of school staples like notebooks and pens available through its online grocery shopping service that offers curbside pickup at the store. It’s also doubling the number of key back-to-school items available for same-day store pickup. And it’s borrowing a strategy it used for the holidays by having staffers near the registers to help customers with check-out. Walmart has also integrated TeacherLists into a section of its website so customers can check and shop from classroom school supplies lists. Nearly 500,000 lists are available now, with that expected to double by the end of August. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Uber to merge with Russian competitor

Uber is ceding control of the Russian market by agreeing to merge its ride-hailing business in the country with Yandex, the Russian search-engine leader that also runs a popular taxi-booking app. For Uber, the deal marks the exit from another big market after it sold its operations in China last year to local rival Didi Chuxing. Yandex said in a statement on Thursday that Uber and Yandex Taxi would combine into a new company in Russia as well as in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. — ASSOCIATED PRESS