U.S. seeks to block Newark airport slot swap

The federal government wants to block a deal that would further strengthen United Airlines' control over Newark Liberty International Airport, saying that it would drive up fares that are already high. The Justice Department sued to block a deal that would let United acquire 24 takeoff and landing slots at Newark from Delta Air Lines. Federal officials said United already controls 73 percent of the slots at the airport, which serves 35 million passengers a year. In June, United sold its remaining slots at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Delta while getting slots from Delta at Newark, which is closer to Lower Manhattan.

Google Maps app to allow offline access

A map app is only as good as your access to the Internet. Now drivers who have ever been frustrated by losing navigation can use Google Maps offline and still have access to directions. The latest version of Google's map app allows users to download city maps so that streets and businesses will be stored on their mobile devices. The app automatically goes into offline mode when it detects there is little to no signal. The offline version still provides information like a business' hours of operations, contact information and ratings. But it can't offer real-time traffic patterns to help determine driving routes.

Fast-food workers renew push for $15 wage

Workers from McDonald's, Taco Bell and other chain restaurants protested in cities around the country to push fast food companies to pay them at least $15 an hour. The protesters also had a message for presidential candidates: Support the cause or lose their vote next year. The fast food protests were planned by organizers at more than 270 cities nationwide, part of an ongoing campaign called "Fight for $15." Janitors, nursing home workers and package delivery workers also joined some protests, organizers said. The campaign began about three years ago and is funded by the Service Employees International Union, which represents low-wage workers. Several protests have been scheduled in front of fast food restaurants, garnering national attention.

USDA expects record soybean crop this year

With most of this year's corn and soybeans harvested, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is boosting its expectations for the size of the crops. An update said farmers are expected to produce a record soybean crop totaling 3.98 billion bushels, up 1 percent from last year. That's based on 95 percent of the crop harvested. Illinois looks to remain the nation's leading soybean producer with 550.5 million bushels, followed closely by Iowa. The corn crop will be the third-largest in USDA records at 13.7 billion bushels, based on 93 percent harvested.

Fidelity says Snapchat's value has declined

Snapchat Inc. is the latest start-up to fall victim to fears that investors have become overzealous in valuing privately held technology companies. Fidelity Investments, which invested in Snapchat's $538 million funding round closed in May, has lowered its estimate of how much its stake is worth by more than 25 percent since then. Documents posted online by Fidelity show that $35.2 million worth of Snapchat shares it held across three mutual funds since at least March were marked down over the summer to $26.3 billion. That's a 25.4 percent drop, to $22.91 per share from $30.72 per share.

McDonald's will hang on to its real estate

McDonald's Corp. said it will not pursue spinning off its real estate assets. The world's largest hamburger chain, which is in the midst of a turnaround plan, had been considering forming a real estate investment trust partly because of the potential tax advantages it could provide. But Chief Administrative Officer Pete Bensen said during McDonald's investor meeting hat any possible value that could have been created with the REIT was outweighed by "significant financial and operational risks" to the business.

NEWS SERVICES