FEDERAL AGENCIES
Trump names acting IRS commissioner

The White House named a Treasury official to serve as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, succeeding an IRS commissioner who has drawn the ire of congressional Republicans over his response to the screening of political groups.

The White House said David Kautter will serve as acting IRS commissioner effective Nov. 13, as IRS chief John Koskinen completes his term.

“David will provide important leadership while we wait to confirm a permanent commissioner,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

GOP lawmakers have slammed Koskinen for what they called a slow response to an Obama-era scandal involving the agency’s singling out of conservative tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, accusing him of destroying evidence when Congress was investigating IRS oversight of those groups.

— Associated Press

PHARMACEUTICALS
Opioid maker’s founder indicted

U.S. prosecutors brought a fraud and racketeering case Thursday against the founder of an opioid medication maker that has faced scrutiny across the country over allegations of pushing prescriptions of powerful painkillers.

The charges against Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor follow indictments against the company’s former chief executives and other executives and managers on allegations that they provided kickbacks to doctors to prescribe a potent opioid called Subsys.

In the new indictment, Kapoor, 74, and the others are accused of offering bribes to doctors to write large numbers of prescriptions for the fentanyl-based pain medication meant only for cancer patients. Most of those who got the prescriptions did not have cancer. It also alleges they conspired to mislead and defraud insurers reluctant to approve payment for the drug for patients without cancer.

— Associated Press

SPACE INDUSTRY
Saudi Arabia to invest in Branson companies

Saudia Arabia announced Thursday it plans to invest $1 billion in Richard Branson’s space companies.

In a statement, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the country intended to take a large stake in Branson’s ventures in an effort “to enhance the role of innovative technology within the Kingdom’s blueprint for a modern, diversified economy.”

The infusion of cash is a huge boon for Branson, who has said that Virgin Galactic intends to start flying tourists to the edge of space in the coming months. The investment would also go into Virgin Orbit, which is building a rocket capable of delivering small satellites to space. The deal gives the kingdom an option to invest $480 million more in future space services.

In addition to flying tourists and satellites, Branson hopes to one day fly passengers around the world at incredibly high speeds in what’s known as point-to-point travel.

— Christian Davenport

Also in Business

Google parent Alphabet reported a 24 percent jump in quarterly revenue on robust mobile advertising on Thursday. On a consolidated basis, the company’s revenue rose to $27.77 billion in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30. Ad revenue surged 21.4 percent, to $24.07 billion. Paid clicks, where an advertiser pays only if a user clicks on ads, rose 47 percent. Analysts on average had expected an increase of 46.1 percent, according to data and analytics firm FactSet.

Microsoft reported a 16 percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday as demand for its cloud computing services for companies rose and personal computer software business stabilized. The tech giant’s net income rose to $6.58 billion, or 84 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, from $5.67 billion, or 72 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 12 percent, to $24.54 billion.

The World Trade Organization issued a ruling Thursday favoring the United States in its trade dispute with Mexico over “dolphin-safe” labeling for tuna. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office hailed the ruling as a “complete and resounding victory.” But Mexico’s Economy Department said the country will appeal. Mexico says the U.S. rules unfairly discriminate against its tuna industry.

From news reports

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases third-quarter gross domestic product.

Earnings: Exxon, Merck.