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Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Child labor in palm oil industry tied to Girl Scout cookies

An Associated Press investigation has found an army of children toiling beneath a canopy of towering palm oil trees in Indonesia and Malaysia, the main suppliers of the world’s most consumed vegetable oil. They are kept out of school and forced to work for free or for little pay, and routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals. Others are smuggled across borders and left vulnerable to trafficking or sexual abuse. The AP traced the fruits of their labor to the supply chains of popular cereals, candies and ice creams sold by Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo and many other leading food companies. It also was linked to that most American of treats — Girl Scout cookies.

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Trump’s hesitation on relief bill will delay aid payments

WASHINGTON (AP) — The $900 billion economic relief package that President Donald Trump signed over the weekend will deliver vital aid to millions of struggling households and businesses. Yet his nearly one-week delay in signing the bill means that it will take that much longer for the financial support to arrive. The package that Trump signed at his private club in Florida on Sunday will extend two unemployment benefit programs, which are providing aid to 14 million people and which expired last week, as well as provide small business loans and up to $600 in cash payments to most individuals. It will also extend a moratorium on evictions for one month. The measure does not include aid for states and localities that are being forced to turn to layoffs and service cuts as their tax revenue dries up.

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UK hospitals struggle; tougher rules eyed to fight variant

LONDON (AP) — British officials are considering tougher coronavirus restrictions as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients surpasses the first peak of the outbreak in the spring. Authorities are blaming a new, more transmissible variant of the virus for soaring infection rates. England had 20,426 coronavirus patients in hospitals as of Monday, above the previous high of 18,974 on April 12. Almost half of the people in England are under strict restrictions on movement and everyday life in an attempt to curb the spread. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is scheduled to update Parliament on Wednesday on whether more areas will be put into the top tier of lockdown measures.

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Boeing Max returns to US skies with first passenger flight

American Airlines flew a commercial flight using a Boeing 737 Max on Tuesday, the first one in U.S. skies since Max planes were grounded after two deadly crashes. American flight 718 left Miami International Airport with about 100 passengers, according to an airline spokeswoman, and landed Tuesday afternoon at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration approved changes that Boeing made to an automated flight-control system implicated in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people in all. In both crashes, the system pushed the nose down repeatedly based on faulty sensor readings, and pilots were unable to regain control.

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French designer Pierre Cardin, licensing pioneer, dies at 98

PARIS (AP) — France’s Academy of Fine Arts says fashion designer Pierre Cardin has died at age 98. Known for his Space Age styles, Cardin revolutionized fashion starting in the early 1950s and designed the bubble dress and other iconic looks of 20th century. He also was a licensing maverick who lent his name to thousands of products from wristwatches and stockings to belts and bedsheets. During the brand’s heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, his products were sold at some 100,000 outlets worldwide. Cardin used his fabulous wealth to snap up top-notch properties in Paris, including the restaurant Maxim’s. The Fine Arts Academy said Cardin died on Tuesday.

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Belarus, Argentina start vaccinations with Russian shots

MOSCOW (AP) — Belarus and Argentina have launched mass coronavirus vaccinations with the Russian-developed Sputnik V shot, becoming the first countries outside Russia to roll out the vaccine, which has faced criticism for the speed with which it was approved. The first batch of Sputnik V arrived in the former Soviet republic of Belarus on Tuesday and soon found its way into arms. Officials say the shots are free and voluntary, with medical staff, teachers, and those who come into contact a lot of people due to their jobs first in line. Hours later, a similar campaign kicked off in Argentina for medical workers.

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EXPLAINER: Brexit ends Britons’ right to live and work in EU

LONDON (AP) — So far, the realities of Brexit have not been felt by the large majority of the British people because the country has abided by the rules of the European Union since it left the bloc earlier this year. That’s all set to change on Jan. 1. That’s when Britain embarks on its new more-distant relationship with the EU after nearly five decades of closer economic, cultural and social integration. There are very practical things that will dramatically change for individuals from both sides of the English Channel. Most prominently, the freedom of movement, which allowed anyone in Britain to go live and work anywhere in the EU — and vice versa — will end.

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US home prices rise at fastest pace in more than 6 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices jumped in October by the most in more than six years as a pandemic-fueled buying rush drives the number of available properties for sale to record lows. That combination of strong demand and limited supply pushed home prices up 7.9% in October compared with 12 months ago, according to Tuesday’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. That’s the largest annual increase since June 2014. The coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of Americans to work from home and it’s curtailed other activities like eating out, going to movies or visiting gyms. That’s leading more people to seek out homes with more room for a home office, a bigger kitchen, or space to work out.

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Major rail safety technology installed before deadline

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal regulators say the railroad industry has installed an automatic braking system on nearly 58,000 miles of track where it is required ahead of a yearend deadline. Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory said Tuesday that railroads worked together over the past 12 years to develop and install the long-awaited technology known as positive train control. The roughly $15 billion braking system is aimed at reducing human error by automatically stopping trains in certain situations like when it’s in danger of colliding, derailing because of excessive speed, entering track under maintenance or traveling the wrong direction because of switching mistakes.

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From Zoom to Quibi, the tech winners and losers of 2020

We streamed, we Zoomed, we ordered groceries and houseplants online, we created virtual villages while navigating laptop shortages to work and learn from home. In so many ways, 2020′s pandemic-induced isolation just threw our dependence on technology into overdrive. But for all the winners — like Zoom, e-commerce and video games — there were plenty of losers, too. Virtual reality sounded like a good escape, but it never took off. Quibi fizzled and Uber and Lyft saw their ridership plummet. As for Big Tech? Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google did well financially. But regulators are breathing down their neck.

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The S&P 500 fell 8.32 points, or 0.2%, to 3,727.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.30 points, or 0.2%, to 30,335.67. The Nasdaq composite lost 49.2 points, or 0.4%, to 12,850.22. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 36.89 points, or 1.9%, to 1,959.36.


Updated : 2021-04-18 09:06 GMT+08:00