— Bulletin wire reports

Apple buys self-driving startup

Apple has bought California startup Drive.ai in a move that renews questions about the tech giant’s secretive self-driving car project. The acquisition, confirmed by an Apple spokeswoman Wednesday, comes after the autonomous vehicle startup laid off 90 employees in a permanent closure. The layoff notices were received last week and effective June 28, according to a filing with the state Employment Development Department. Apple would not provide other details, including purchase price. Drive.ai, which according to Crunchbase had raised $77 million since its founding in 2015, was reportedly worth $200 million at one time. Drive.ai, founded by former members of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, had been testing a free ride-hailing service in two Texas cities. Axios reported that Apple — which earlier this year reportedly cut 190 employees in its self-driving division known as Project Titan — has hired “dozens” of Drive.ai engineers.

Sears retirees in fight for benefits

The judge overseeing Sears Holdings’ bankruptcy is giving 29,000 retired employees a chance to fight for the life insurance benefits they lost when the retailer canceled their coverage earlier this year. This week, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain directed the U.S. Trustee overseeing the case to appoint a committee representing retirees. Sears ended the retirees’ life insurance benefits in March, shortly after selling most of its remaining assets to Transform Holdco, an entity controlled by Sears former CEO and largest shareholder, Edward Lampert, and his hedge fund. As of March 15, about 29,000 retirees had coverage with death benefits worth between $5,000 and $14,500 that cost Sears $1.3 million in monthly premiums, Sears said.

Trump plans cuts to housing rules

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday creating a commission that will recommend ways to cut regulations that stymie new housing construction, embracing an idea shared by affordable housing advocates on the left, and even by Barack Obama. The specific regulations in the president’s sights, however, include many that will make liberals unhappy. Over the next year, the new White House council, led by Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, will study local, state and federal rules that drive up the cost of housing, delay its construction or block it entirely. The potential list: restrictive zoning and rent control; parking requirements and energy efficiency mandates; density limits and environmental rules; lengthy permitting procedures and labor laws.

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