The Week in Business: Jeff Bezos’ Private Texts, and More ‘Fog’ in London

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Are you a Valentine’s Day person? If not, welcome to a growing club of detractors. Only 51 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the “holiday” in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation, marking a 12-year downward trend. But if you are an observer, how nice — for your loved ones. Retailers are expecting you to spend a record amount on presents this season (an average of $161.96, up 13 percent from 2018). At least you die-hard romantics are making up for the rest of us. Speaking of gifts, here’s mine to you: All you need to know about the latest business and tech news, gathered into one email that’ll set you up for the week ahead. Chocolates sold separately.


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Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the wealthiest man in the world, accused the owner of The National Enquirer on Thursday of attempting to extort and blackmail him by using racy photos that Mr. Bezos had texted with his girlfriend, the former television host Lauren Sanchez. In a candid blog post, Mr. Bezos pasted emails from the tabloid’s representatives who threatened to release the images if he did not stop investigating how they had obtained his texts. “Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks and corruption,” Mr. Bezos wrote.

If you’ve ever considered going into crippling debt, the government just made it easier to do so. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Wednesday that it planned to eliminate Obama-era rules that protect consumers from taking on bigger loans than they can handle. Under the proposal, lenders would be able to grant high-interest payday loans (short-term loans intended to tide people over until their next paycheck) without making sure consumers can actually pay them off. And those lenders would be allowed to do so repeatedly, contributing to a cycle where borrowers spin into ballooning debt. The agency said its policy would give people more access to credit. But critics say it will help predatory lenders take advantage of people who already can’t make ends meet.

It’s not just your imagination — the past five years have been the hottest on record in Earth’s history, according to data from NASA. The report set the stage for liberal Democrats to unveil their Green New Deal on Thursday, a proposal for sweeping changes that would make the United States carbon neutral by 2030 and create millions of “green jobs” in the process. The measure was drafted by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, and it won’t go anywhere for now — Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has no plans to bring it for a vote. Either way, it’s a bold rallying cry, and may gain steam going into the 2020 elections.

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