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Amazon Wants to Be Your Doctor, Too

Twitter’s shares fell after the social media platform, which is locked in a legal battle with Elon Musk over its future ownership, reported that it lost $270 million in the second quarter. Alphabet, Apple, Meta and Microsoft will report their earnings next week, with many forecasters expecting more disappointing results.

Now delivering diagnoses.
Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty s

Yesterday, Amazon announced its first major acquisition during Andy Jassy’s tenure as C.E.O., with the $3.9 billion purchase of One Medical, a national chain of primary care clinics that is backed by the private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

Amazon’s ambitions in health care go back more than two decades, writes The Times’s Karen Weise. But none of its forays into the sector have had notable success, or have been as big as the One Medical acquisition. Its previous bets in health care include:

  • Investing in Drugstore.com in 1999. (Jeff Bezos served on the company’s board.)

  • Teaming up with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway in 2018 to start Haven, in an amorphous effort to explore new ways to deliver health care to their work forces. The venture formally ended last year.

  • Buying the start-up PillPack, an online pharmacy that focuses on recurring monthly medications, in 2018 for $753 million. It later began Amazon Pharmacy, which, like PillPack, delivers medications, and it integrated discounts for customers with Prime memberships.

  • Running its own primary and urgent care service, called Amazon Care, beginning in 2019, to treat its employees. Amazon Care has tried to get other employers to offer its service, with limited success.

The One Medical deal gives Amazon access to more data. One Medical built its own electronic medical records system, and it has 15 years’ worth of medical and health-system data that Amazon could tap. Although individual patient records are generally protected under federal health privacy laws, the big data expertise that has fueled Amazon’s success can be powerful in health care — for predicting costs, targeting interventions and developing products and treatments.

It could also test the new antitrust regime. Last night, Senator Amy Klobuchar said she was calling on the F.T.C. to “thoroughly investigate” the deal, citing Amazon’s previous investments in health care and its access to data. And while Amazon hardly dominates heath care, the Justice Department and the F.T.C. have sought to rewrite the rules for reviewing big mergers to broaden the scope for intervention. Lina Khan, who leads the F.T.C., has long contended that there is an antitrust argument against Amazon. She has not so far filed a suit against the company in her time as chair. Her agency reviewed and approved Amazon’s acquisition of the movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, though that was before Democrats held a majority on the commission.

When asked by The Washington Post last month about Amazon’s push into health care, Khan said, “Our current approach to thinking about mergers still has more work to do to fully understand what it means for these businesses to enter into all these other markets and industries.”

Turkey promises a deal to get grain out of Ukraine’s blocked ports. The Turkish presidency says that a signing ceremony will be held today for a deal between Ukraine and Russia aiming to allow millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to be exported, alleviating a global food shortage.

President Biden has “very mild” Covid symptoms. Biden, 79, tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said he would “continue to carry out all of his duties fully” while isolating.

Snap shares plunge after a disappointing quarterly report. The company, which runs the social media platform Snapchat, said it would “substantially reduce” hiring and that revenue growth in its current uncompleted quarter was approximately zero. Jessica Lessin, the editor of the tech-focused news site The Information, said, Snap’s results “raise questions about digital advertising in the current macroeconomic climate.”

The U.S. government files its first criminal case about crypto insider trading. A former Coinbase employee and two other men were charged with buying and selling digital assets based on confidential information from the cryptocurrency exchange. The three men, one of whom has fled to India, are said to have made $1.5 million on 14 trades over a 10-month period.

China will faces severe heat waves over the next 10 days. Regions could be hit by temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, forecasts suggest, and some cities in Zhejiang Province, which has many factories, issued red alerts today.

As a mob of his supporters assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump refused to stop them, according to former Trump administration officials, who testified yesterday to the House committee investigating the attack. Over 187 minutes, Trump sat in his dining room off the Oval Office, watching the violence on television, not just ignoring calls to respond, but repeatedly signaling that he did not want anything done.

It was one of the most dramatic hearings of the inquiry, write The Times’s Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman. Still, the assertion that Mr. Trump was derelict in duty raised ethical, moral and legal questions, but it might not be the basis for a criminal charge, according to Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia, who led much of last night’s proceedings. The media critic Brian Stelter, of CNN, called yesterday evening’s hearing “the most Fox-centric hearing yet — and none of it was shown live by Fox,” underscoring how divided the U.S. media landscape is.

Here were the takeaways:

  • Trump ignored a torrent of pleas from inside and outside the White House to call off his supporters. Members of Congress, aides and his own daughter, Ivanka, pleaded with Mr. Trump to call off the violence as it unfolded in front of him on television, The Times’s Michael S. Schmidt notes. Representative Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who helped lead the hearing, said that the president, after learning of the Capitol breach, resisted putting out a tweet saying, “Stay peaceful.”

  • Even the next day, Trump was not fully willing to concede the race. Outtakes from a taped address of the president’s speech on Jan. 7 showed the president saying he didn’t want to say “the election is over.”

  • Members of Pence’s Secret Service security detail feared for their lives as protesters drew nearer. “I don’t like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth,” one official, whom the committee declined to name, said.

  • Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, told the panel: “You’re the commander in chief. You’ve got an assault going on on the Capitol of the United States of America, and there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”

More hearings are planned for September.

YouTube said on Twitter yesterday that it would be removing videos over the next few weeks that provided instructions for “unsafe abortion methods.” Citing its medical misinformation policies, it also said that it would be removing content that promoted “false claims about abortion safety” and that it would start including information from health authorities alongside abortion content.

YouTube’s announcement was a step in the right direction, but it should have happened a long time ago, said Imran Ahmed, the C.E.O. and founder of the nonprofit organization the Center for Countering Digital Hate. “Even though we welcome any change in their rule, why on earth were home remedies for abortion ever permitted on their site?” he told DealBook, citing the medical risks associated with using dangerous methods. He recommended that YouTube provided a hotline to groups that offer accurate information on reproductive health care.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, abortion has been banned in at least eight states, and videos offering home remedies to induce abortions have spread on YouTube, TikTok and social media platforms. Experts have urged caution, saying these methods may be dangerous and there is no data on whether they work. A 2020 survey published in the journal JAMA Network Open estimated that 7 percent of American women would attempt a self-managed abortion at some point in their lives.

For YouTube, the challenge will be enforcement, said Katharine Trendacosta, an associate director of policy and activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group. Trendacosta told DealBook that she questioned whether YouTube had the staffing and processes in place to pull this off. “I have trouble with these announcements because it doesn’t tell me if they’re going to hire enough people to implement it,” she said.

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