The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 1:00 am


Trump unclear if he'll follow Ford guideline

News services

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. has told the White House that it requires everyone in its factories to wear face masks to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, but it's not clear whether President Donald Trump will wear one when he visits a Detroit-area plant Thursday.

Trump, who is scheduled to tour a factory repurposed to make medical breathing machines near Detroit, has habitually refused to wear a mask at the White House and in recent public appearances.

In a statement, Ford said its policy requires everyone in factories to wear personal protective equipment, including masks, and that policy had been shared with the White House. When asked if the company would require Trump to wear the equipment, spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said, “The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination.”

Trump didn't give a definite answer when questioned Tuesday at the White House, saying it would depend on how close he gets to others.

Sony to control financial unit

Sony Corp. plans to make its financial services unit a wholly owned subsidiary to ensure stability as it rides out the hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will be able to carry out more flexible management,” Kenichiro Yoshida, chief executive of the Japanese entertainment and electronics company, told reporters in a livestream news conference Tuesday.

Tokyo-based Sony is making a tender offer for the shares of Sony Financial Holdings Inc., of which it now owns about 65%.

Sony said the company name will become Sony Group Corp., upon shareholders' approval this year, effective April 1, 2021.

Its electronics segment will take on the Sony Corp. name, it said.

AT&T to exit Venezuela market

AT&T said Tuesday it will immediately ditch Venezuela's pay TV market as U.S. sanctions prohibit its DirecTV platform from broadcasting channels that it is required to carry by the socialist administration of Nicolás Maduro.

The Dallas-based company's closing of its Venezuela unit is effective immediately.

It follows a decision by the Trump administration not to renew a license it had granted AT&T to continue carrying Globovision, a private network, sanctioned by the U.S., owned by a businessman close to Maduro who is wanted on U.S. money laundering charges, three people familiar with the situation told the AP. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. government licensing activity.

AT&T joins a number of other U.S. companies – General Motors, Kellogg Co. and Kimberly-Clark – that have abandoned Venezuela due to shrinking sales, government threats and the risk of U.S. sanctions. Around 700 Venezuelans depended on the unit for employment.

Britain hits jobless-claims mark

Unemployment claims in Britain jumped by a record amount in April to their highest level since the 1990s, underscoring the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the economy despite government programs to keep workers on payrolls.

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak downplayed the chances of a swift recovery in a parliamentary hearing. He could not, in short, pledge to secure every job or business. An immediate bounce back is not a given.

“Obviously the impact will be severe,” he said. “We are likely to face a severe recession the likes of which we have never seen.”

Jobless claims surged by 856,000 in April, to 2.1 million, the highest since 1996 and an increase of 69% from the month before, the Office of National Statistics said Tuesday. The figures covered only the first weeks of the lockdown, said Jonathan Athow, a statistician at the ONS.

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