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Facebook touts big business bets with 2020 in rearview

Facebook's earnings call Wednesday was a huge departure from its pitch to investors over the past year. Instead of reiterating its progress in trust and safety, the tech giant touted investments in innovation and new technology.

Why it matters: A slew of public relations crises over the past year had clouded Facebook's ability to position itself to stakeholders as a tech innovator.

Details: Speaking to Wall Street analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg briefly addressed the ongoing COVID crisis in India and Brazil before quickly pivoting the three main focus areas: Immersive technologies (AR/VR), commerce and creators.

  • Immersive technologies (AR/VR): Zuckerberg said its Oculus Quest 2 headset "is doing better than we expected." CFO Dave Wehner said Facebook Reality Labs has been one of the company's biggest investments.
  • Commerce: Zuckerberg unveiled new numbers for the company's efforts in commerce. More than 1 billion people visit Facebook's Marketplace tab each month. There are more than 1 million monthly active shops on the platform and over 250 million monthly active visitors to shops.
  • Creators: A new focus on helping creators make money will help the company drive engagement, and thus ad revenue, Zuckerberg said. Earlier this week, Facebook unveiled new monetization tools for creators to make money off of e-commerce.

The big picture: Facebook's business continues to boom. The company's stock spiked more than 6% in after-hours trading Wednesday after it reported strong Q1 revenue results.

  • The company attributed its success to growth in its advertising business. Facebook said it saw a 30% year-over-year increase in the average price per ad last quarter, as well as a 12% increase in the number of ads delivered.

The bottom line: Issues like COVID and election misinformation, hate speech boycotts, the permanent suspension of Donald Trump, and anti-trust, have been major distractions for the company over the past year.

  • Now that the election is over and the worst of COVID has passed in the U.S., the company can focus on addressing innovation over regulation.

Gas prices rise in several states as pipeline outage crimps supply

Gas stations in several statesare out of fuel and AAA reports the nationwide average price breached $3-per-gallon for the first time in six years amid the cyberattack-induced shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Driving the news: The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the nation's largest refined fuel pipeline that extends from Texas into the Northeast, is creating a scramble as the outage persists into its sixth day.

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Read: What Liz Cheney told the House GOP behind closed doors before her ouster

"If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told House Republicans before they voted to remove her as the party's conference chair on Wednesday.

Why it matters: In her address, Cheney promised that she "will be leading the fight to restore our party" and make it "worthy again of being the party of Lincoln," signaling that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon and will continue to be a voice of dissent in the party.

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House Republicans remove Liz Cheney from leadership over Trump opposition

House Republicans voted Wednesday to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair, capping months of growing backlash over her criticisms of former President Trump, according to two sources in the room.

Why it matters: The stunning removal of the No. 3 House Republican over her condemnation of Trump's election lies reflects the influence the former president still retains over the GOP. It's the most significant turning point in an internal party feud that is unlikely to subside any time soon.

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Biden names third slate of judicial nominees

President Biden on Wednesday announced a new slate of nominations for federal judges, with the president now having put forward 20 names to fill judicial vacancies.

Why it matters: The administration described the most recent picks as an embodiment of "the diversity of our nation," and said that Biden is continuing a trend of announcing judicial nominees at a record pace.

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Consumer prices jumped 4.2% in April compared to last year

The latest gauge on inflation released Wednesday morning showed that prices rose 4.2% over last year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Why it matters: The gains were highest since September 2008. Prices jumped significantly compared to the start of the pandemic last year, when lockdowns drove down demand.

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What China's population woes mean for the rest of the world

China released its censusreport on Tuesday, showing that the number of births in the country last year dropped 18% from 2019. And China isn't alone — populations have been stagnating globally for decades, including in the U.S.

Why it matters: China has long relied on its large population — the biggest in the world — as a core engine for economic growth. The way that it, and officials across the globe, deal with changing demographics will lead to shifts in the economy and geopolitics.

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Inside Liz Cheney's plans to continue fighting for soul of GOP after leadership ouster

As she faces a voteto be thrown out of House Republican leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney has told associates she doesn’t plan on going anywhere — and plans to run for re-election.

What to watch: In the meantime,as she sees it, she will aggressively pursue a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, after an expected vote to strip her of her post as GOP conference chair, the party's No. 3 House post.

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Biden plans to send envoy as Israel and Hamas escalate toward war

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is considering plans to dispatch a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts, five Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell me.

Driving the news: The fighting intensified overnight, with Hamas and other militants firing a second barrage of over 100 rockets toward Tel Aviv and other nearby cities, and Israel continuing its air campaign in the Gaza Strip by destroying high-rise buildings, Hamas facilities and rocket units.

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