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The Week in Business: Wayfair Employees Want No Part in Migrant Detention Centers


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Here’s all the business and tech news you need to know for this hot, slow holiday week. Happy 4th of July!


Recent reports described more appalling details about the detention centers on the southwestern border where the United States is holding thousands of migrant children (without clean clothes, regular adult supervision or, in some cases, access to basic hygiene). The resulting outcry prompted Congress to push through a $4.5 billion emergency aid package. It also mobilized employees at Wayfair, one of the country’s largest online retailers. Hundreds of workers walked out of the company’s Boston headquarters on Wednesday to protest Wayfair’s six-figure sale of bedroom furniture to a government contractor that operates several migrant facilities. The protesters said the transaction did “not represent an ethical business partnership.” Wayfair’s top brass defended the company’s “broad and diverse customer base.”

Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination — 20 of them at least — took part in their first official debate last week. The candidates agreed on many issues, including President Trump (bad), the cost of education (too high) and the economy (not working as well as it should for most Americans). But they differed on how to fix those things. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts came out swinging against tech giants, arguing that Google and Amazon should be broken up. Others disagreed about what would constitute a “fair” tax code (should there, for instance, be a “wealth tax”?) and whether “Medicare for all” is a viable solution for the country’s health care woes. Get ready for more rancor as the race narrows.

Google and the University of Chicago Medical Center were sued for sharing medical information about patients. Their alliance was intended to parse health data, detect disease patterns and improve predictive analysis in medicine — all good things, right? But the lawsuit claims their cozy arrangement violated patients’ privacy. People’s names were left off medical documents provided to Google, but many other identifying details weren’t — including doctor’s notes about symptoms and the dates of appointments. The suit raises the question: Where do we draw the line between privacy and the potential for medical breakthroughs (and who stands to profit)?


After a conciliatory meeting on Saturday between Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China, officials are gearing up (again) to haggle over a deal to end the multibillion dollar trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. Until late last week, Mr. Trump was threatening to increase tariffs on Chinese goods as early as Tuesday, but he has now promised to hold off while talks resume. It remains unclear, however, how the two countries will resolve the fundamental conflicts that caused negotiations to break down seven weeks ago.

The world’s biggest petroleum suppliers (minus the United States) will gather on Monday for a meeting of OPEC, where the energy ministers will set oil policy for the rest of the year. Despite the simmering drama with Iran and the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, don’t expect much change at your local gas station. OPEC leaders want to keep prices steady, so they are expected to stick to the deal they made at their last meeting in December: cut back on production. The slowing global economy means demand for oil is down, and they don’t want a glut to drive prices down.

Jony Ive, the design brain behind Apple’s most iconic i-things (the iPhone and the iMac, to name two), is leaving the company to start his own firm. He will keep Apple as one of his clients, so it isn’t quite the end of an era. Or is it? Apple’s revenue from tangible products (phones, laptops) has decreased sharply in the past year, partly because of languishing sales in China. Now, the company is pivoting toward new services like video streaming. Should you want to tap Mr. Ive’s genius for yourself, his new business, LoveFrom, will start taking clients later this year.


What’s going on with that Harriet Tubman $20 bill, anyway? The Treasury’s internal watchdog is looking into why a design featuring Tubman, who would be the first person of color to be depicted on United States currency, is taking so long. In Britain, the race for prime minister has come down to the Conservative Party’s leaders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Mr. Johnson has been the front-runner, but a recent report of an altercation between him and his girlfriend may throw a wrench into his campaign. And in other news, The RealReal, a high-end consignment marketplace, went public last week for $20 a share, raising $300 million.


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