Business Highlights: Wall Street slumps, inflation spikes | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack


Manchin upends Biden’s agenda, won’t back $2 trillion bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin has all but delivered a death blow to President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion domestic initiative. Saying he can’t support the package, the West Virginia Democrat has single-handedly thrown his party’s agenda into jeopardy. Furious colleagues are desperate to salvage what’s left of a top priority. Next steps are uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday the Senate would vote on it early in the new year. Congress has recessed for the holidays. Some Democrats started working on changes to win Manchin’s support.


Biden boosts fuel-economy standards to fight climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administration is raising vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases. A final rule being issued Monday would raise mileage standards starting in the 2023 model year, reaching a projected industry-wide target of 40 miles per gallon by 2026. The mileage rules are the most ambitious tailpipe pollution standards ever set for passenger cars and light trucks. Mileage goals set by the Trump administration would achieve only 32 miles-per-gallon in 2026. The move comes a day after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin delivered a potentially fatal blow to Biden’s $2 trillion social and environmental policy bill, jeopardizing Democrats’ agenda and infuriating the White House.


Inflation squeezes holiday budgets for low-income shoppers

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers expect record-breaking sales for the holiday shopping season, but low-income customers are struggling as they bear the brunt of the highest inflation in 39 years. The government’s report last week that consumer prices jumped 6.8% over the past year showed that some of the largest cost spikes have been for such necessities as food, energy, housing, autos and clothing. Rising prices are changing shopping habits for many Americans. But for low-income households with little or no cash cushions, they’re making harder choices such as whether they can put food on the table or if they’ll have to drastically scale back on holiday presents for their children — or forgo them completely.


AP Exclusive: NSO spyware hacked Polish opposition duo

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Security researchers say they’ve found spyware from the notorious hacker-for-hire company NSO Group on the cellphones of two leading Polish opposition figures. One is a high-profile lawyer hacked in the final weeks of pivotal 2019 parliamentary elections. The other is a prosecutor challenging the populist right-wing government’s attempts to purge the judiciary and punish uncooperative prosecutors. The Citizen Lab researchers did not determine who ordered the hack but both victims believe it was Poland’s increasingly illiberal government. A Polish state security spokesman would neither confirm nor deny whether the government ordered the hacks or is an NSO Group customer. He denied that the security services have engaged in politically motivated surveillance.


Wall Street joins global slump for stocks; S&P 500 down 1.1%

Wall Street joined a worldwide slump for financial markets on Monday amid worries about how badly the omicron variant, inflation and other forces will hit the economy. The S&P 500 fell 1.1%, following up on similar drops across Europe and Asia. Stocks of oil producers fell sharply after the price of U.S. crude fell 3.7%. Markets are also absorbing the potential death blow to a proposed $2 billion spending plan by the U.S. government, as well as the Federal Reserve’s momentous move last week to accelerate its exit from the tremendous support it’s providing the economy.


PepsiCo Foundation to expand U.S. food aid program globally

At the start of the pandemic, the need for the food Jaron Barganier’s nonprofit, Be a Champion, provides to kids throughout Texas exploded. Barganier, looking at demand that more than tripled to about 100,000 meals a day, turned to The PepsiCo Foundation’s Food for Good for help. The PepsiCo Foundation says it focused on dealing with individual communities’ needs as it built out its Food For Good program across America with programs like Be a Champion. And it plans to continue that focus as it expands Food For Good around the world, hoping to feed 50 million people by 2030.


Turkey’s Erdogan announces moves to encourage lira savings

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a series of measures to encourage lira-denominated savings, easing pressure on the beleaguered Turkish currency. The announcement came Monday after the lira tumbled to an all-time low of 18.36 against the dollar after Erdogan over the weekend stood firm on his policy to lower interest rates despite rising consumer prices. In a televised speech following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan said Monday the government would offer a new financial vehicle that would “alleviate” concerns of citizens who have been buying foreign currency, fearing that returns on their lira savings are being eroded. The lira has lost 55% of its value, making making everyday goods more expensive.


Authorities say ex-leader of Ukraine is suspected of treason

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities have notified the country’s former president that he is being suspected of high treason and “aiding terrorist organizations” in Ukraine’s pro-Russia separatist territories. A statement by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) of Ukraine said former President Petro Poroshenko is suspected of facilitating the activities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics — the two separatist governments in the eastern rebel area — by having his government buy coal from them in 2014-2015. Poroshenko became the fourth suspect in the coal scandal. His political party calls the claims politically motivated by the current government. Poroshenko is now out of the country visiting Turkey. His lawyer says he has been summoned to an interrogation on Dec. 23.


FAA license boosts Georgia spaceport, but more reviews ahead

KINGSLAND, Ga. (AP) — A federal agency on Monday granted a license for a launchpad that would fly commercial rockets from coastal Georgia. The Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of a launch site operator license for Spaceport Camden marks a milestone for the Georgia space project, though more reviews are needed. A local county leader said Monday the project represents a “once in a generation opportunity” and boosts Georgia into the space race. Even with the license, the FAA says that a more comprehensive review would be needed before any rockets can be launched. Opponents have gone to court to try to block the county from purchasing land for the spaceport.


Virus-hit EPL will play on; 16% of players unvaccinated

LONDON (AP) — Premier League clubs have decided against pausing the season despite 10 fixtures being postponed in the previous week due to widespread coronavirus outbreaks across squads. While more than 90% of players in the Italian and Spanish leagues have been fully vaccinated, the Premier League disclosed that only 77% of its players had received two doses. In its first update on vaccine take-up in two months, the league also said 16% of players had not received even a single dose. Coronavirus cases across Premier League players and staff hit another high in the last week, more than doubling from 42 to 90. Due to the fast-spreading omicron variant, Britain is seeing a spike of daily infections, which are up 60% in the last week.


The S&P 500 fell 52.62 points, or 1.1%, to 4,568.02. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 433.28 points, or 1.2%, to 34,932.16. The Nasdaq fell 188.74 points, or 1.2%, to 14,980.94. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 34.06 points, or 1.6%, to 2,139.87.

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