US appeals court rejects big tech's right regulate online speech:
On Friday, the US 5th Circuit appeals court upheld a Texas law prohibiting large social media companies from banning or censoring users based on their point of view. In addition to this it has a provision allowing either users or the Texas attorney general to sue to enforce the law. Technology industry groups call this a setback, saying all it will do is turn platforms into bastions of dangerous content. The largely 2-1 ruling makes it possible that the US Supreme Court will rule on the law, which conservatives say is necessary to protect their views from "Big Tech" censorship. A Supreme Court ruling is made more likely as this contradicts a ruling by the 11th Circuit in May which found that most of a similar Florida law cannot be enforced as it violates companies' free speech rights. The companies affected by such laws have sought to preserve their ability to regulate user content when they believe it may lead to violence, citing concerns that unregulated platforms will enable extremists and terrorist groups. The association on Friday said it disagreed with forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints. "'God Bless America' and 'Death to America' are both viewpoints, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the state of Texas to compel a private business to treat those the same," it said in a statement.
Mortgage rates surpass 6 percent for the first time since 2008:
The 30-year fixed-rate average hit 6.02 percent this week, reaching its highest level in 14 years. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
This month, interest rate averages for US homes have risen a full percentage point. This follows them settling down from 5.8% in June to 5.13% as fears of inflation took effect. The sudden spike has decreased sales of homes as they become less affordable. Though prices have begun to moderate, demand for mortgages has fallen as swiftly as rates have risen. According to Bob Broeksmit, MBA’s president and chief executive, “With all eyes on the Federal Reserve’s next steps to tame high inflation, borrowers can expect continued volatility in mortgage rates.” Despite more homes being on the market, higher prices and stagnant wages are keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. August’s inflation reading surprised investors, who are wondering whether the Federal Reserve will consider lifting its benchmark rate by one percentage point, rather than .75 percent as it did in July. When investors are worried about inflation, their appetite for buying bonds diminishes because the return on their investment is less when inflation is high. This decreases the value of houses as mortgage rates tend to follow the same trend as Treasury yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury popped back up to 3.42 percent on Tuesday before slipping to 3.41 percent on Wednesday, its highest level since mid-June. This allows the Federal Reserve to move forward with their plan raising interest rates, which will indirectly increase the prices of homes even further.
Tropical storm now Hurricane Fiona as it begins to blow through Puerto Rico:
Tropical Storm Fiona is now Hurricane Fiona due to the storm’s winds increasing to reach Category 1 status, according to the National Hurricane Center. Fiona now brings 80 mph maximum sustained winds with higher gusts, the NHC said, as it moves west northwest at 8 mph. This comes as Fiona hits Puerto Rico and as the territory is still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. The storm is currently about 50 miles South of Puerto Rico, but tropical storm force winds can extend up to 140 miles from the center. Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency Saturday, requiring only essential public services workers and first responders to report for work. Then Sunday morning, President Joe Biden declared a federal state of emergency for Puerto Rico, which will free up FEMA funds to be used to address the coming disaster. According to an 11:00 AM advisory by the NHCC, “A northwestward motion is expected to begin later (Sunday) and continue through Monday, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday.”