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Business News

  • Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada are asking a judge to force the U.S. government to turn over emails and other documents related to President Donald Trump's approval of the project. Environmentalists who sued to stop the 1,179-mile (1,800-kilometer) pipeline said the documents could bolster their case that Trump's decision was arbitrary and should be overturned by the courts. But U.S. Justice Department attorneys argued in court filings that the disputed documents include internal deliberations that don't have to be made public. They said the request amounts to a 'fishing expedition' and should be rejected. Formal arguments were scheduled for Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls. If the environmentalists prevail, the U.S. State Department would have to review an estimated 5 million pages of documents at a cost of more than $6 million, according to a declaration filed by Jerry Drake, an agency division chief who oversees its information technology team. That's on top of more than 4.5 million documents that were turned over in the case in December, according to the Justice Department. President Barack Obama's administration rejected the pipeline in 2015 after it had become a flashpoint in the debate over climate change and fossil fuel use. It was revived in March 2017 under Trump, who insisted it would lead to greater energy independence. The pipeline is sponsored by Alberta-based company TransCanada Corp., which is siding with the U.S. government in the document dispute. An attorney for the Northern Plains Resource Council, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the goal of the conservation group's sweeping document request was to uncover the basis of Trump's decision and see if it aligns with years of analysis on the project during the Obama years. 'You can't make one decision based upon the record, then change your mind based upon the same record,' council attorney Timothy Bechtold said. 'That is the definition of arbitrary and capricious.' The judge has sided with the plaintiffs once, rejecting a bid by the Trump administration in November to dismiss the lawsuits over Keystone. The administration unsuccessfully argued the courts have no authority in the matter because it concerns foreign affairs and national security. TransCanada announced last month that it hopes to begin construction in 2019 after securing enough commitments from oil companies to ship approximately 500,000 barrels per day through the line. If completed, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pump station in Steele City, Nebraska. From there, it would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewbrownap .
  • Democratic lawmakers on a House investigative panel are asking Equifax Inc. to provide its free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for at least three years. Equifax has offered up to one year of complementary protections after the massive data breach last year that compromised personal information for about 145 million Americans. But the Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee argue that identity thieves often wait much longer to act on stolen information. The lawmakers say the company's chief information security officer told committee staff in a briefing last October that data thieves would likely wait a year or more before attempting to sell the data on the black market. The lawmakers are making their request in a letter to Equifax's interim chief executive.
  • Chicken is still as scarce as hen's teeth at KFC's British outlets. KFC says about 470 of the fried chicken chain's 900 U.K. restaurants remained closed Tuesday because of a chicken shortage. The company says the disruption started last week, when it changed its delivery provider to DHL. Open branches are operating on shortened hours or with limited menus. The fried chicken chain first apologized for the problems on Saturday. It said it expects problems to continue throughout the week. The company declined to offer details about what it is doing to address the inadequate chicken supplies. KFC said: 'We anticipate the number of closures will reduce today and over the coming days as our teams work flat-out all hours to clear the backlog.
  • The first treatment to help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way. A company said Tuesday that its daily capsules of peanut powder helped children build tolerance in a major study. Millions of children are allergic to peanuts, and some may have life-threatening reactions if accidentally exposed to them. Doctors have been testing daily doses of peanut, contained in a capsule and sprinkled over food, as a way to prevent that by gradually getting them used to very small amounts. California-based Aimmune Therapeutics said 67 percent of kids who had its experimental treatment were able to tolerate the equivalent of roughly two peanuts at the end of the study, compared to only 4 percent of others given a dummy powder. But a big warning: Don't try this at home. 'It's potentially dangerous,' said Dr. Stacie Jones, a University of Arkansas allergy specialist. 'This is investigational. It has to be done in a very safe setting' to make sure kids can be treated fast for any bad reactions that occur, she said. Jones helped lead the study, consults for the company, and will give the results at an allergy conference next month. The results have not yet been reviewed by independent experts. The study involved nearly 500 kids ages 4 to 17 with allergies so severe that they had reactions to as little as a tenth of a peanut. They were given either capsules of peanut or a dummy powder in gradually increasing amounts for six months, then continued on that final level for another six months. Neither the participants nor their doctors knew who was getting what until the study ended. About 20 percent of kids getting the peanut powder dropped out of the study, 12 percent due to reactions or other problems. The product showed 'overall good safety,' Jones said. Dr. Andrew Bird, an allergy specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, also consults for the company and had patients in the study. The treatment doesn't allow kids to eat peanuts as if they had no allergy, but research suggests that being able to tolerate at least one peanut should protect 95 percent of them from having a reaction if they are exposed to peanuts, he said. That would be a relief to Cathy Heald, a Dallas mom whose 10-year-old son, Charlie, was in the study. 'We had to teach him that he has to ask about everything he eats from a very early age,' she said. 'He's described it as living in a cage, watching other people get to eat what they want.' Charlie was assigned to the group given fake peanut powder but has been able to get the real thing since the study ended, she said. Aimmune plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment later this year and in Europe early next year. The company's chief executive has said he expects the first six months of treatment to cost $5,000 to $10,000, and $300 to $400 a month after that. The thinking about peanut allergies has changed in recent years, and experts now think early exposure helps prevent them from forming. Last year, the National Institutes of Health issued new advice, saying most babies should get peanut-containing foods starting around 6 months, in age-appropriate forms like watered-down peanut butter or peanut puffs — not whole peanuts because those are a choking hazard. ___ Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP
  • A steep drop in Walmart's stock and losses in other sectors pulled U.S. indexes mostly lower Tuesday, outweighing gains by technology companies. Slides in grocery store operators and other consumer-focused companies accounted for much of the drag on the market, which was coming off a six-day winning streak. Investors were sizing up the latest quarterly earnings and deal news following a long holiday weekend. KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,728 as of 2:07 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 147 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,071. The Nasdaq gained 45 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,284. BIG-BOX BUMMER: Walmart shares were on track for their worst loss since October 2015 after the retailer reported fourth-quarter results that missed Wall Street's expectations as its e-commerce sales in the U.S. slowed. The stock was the biggest decliner in the Dow and S&P 500, shedding $9.79, or 9.3 percent, to $94.99. Several big retailers also declined, including Target, which slid $1.75, or 2.3 percent, to $73.33. FASHIONABLE EXIT: Gap gave up 4.9 percent after the clothing chain said the CEO of the Gap brand will leave the company. Jeff Kirwan, who has been with the company since 2004 and has led the namesake brand since the end of 2014. The Gap noted that Kirwan failed to achieve 'the operational excellence and accelerated profit growth' that the company expected for the Gap brand. The stock slid $1.62 to $31.65. HOUSING BOOST: Home Depot rose percent after its latest quarterly results beat analyst estimates. The home-improvement giant benefited from strong demand for its wares amid a robust housing market and ongoing hurricane recovery work in the Southeast and Puerto Rico. Its shares added $1.12 to $188.09. CHIPPER DEAL: NXP Semiconductor jumped 6 percent after Qualcomm raised its offer for the company to $127.50 a share, or $43.22 billion, from $110 a share. The move comes as Broadcom is trying to buy Qualcomm. Shares in NXP added $7.14 to $125.64. Qualcomm lost $1, or 1.5 percent, to $63.85. Other chipmakers were trading higher as part of a pickup in technology stocks. Nvidia rose $7.26, or 3 percent, to $251.10, while Applied Materials gained $2.06, or 3.8 percent, to $56.99. DRUGSTORE BUY: Rite Aid gained 1.8 percent after grocery store operator Albertsons agreed to buy more than 2,500 of its stores. Rite Aid agreed to sell almost 2,000 locations to Walgreens last year after a larger deal fell apart. Albertsons owns brands including Safeway. The deal will double the amount of drugstores it owns. Rite Aid's stock, which has shed more than half its value over the past year, rose 4 cents to $2.17. BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.91 percent from 2.88 percent late Friday. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 15 cents to $61.83 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 19 cents at $65.48 a barrel. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.29 yen from 106.30 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.2340 from $1.2413. METALS: Gold fell $25, or 1.8 percent, to $1,331.20 an ounce. Silver dropped 27 cents to $16.44 an ounce. Copper slid 6 cents to $3.19 a pound. MARKETS OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat. Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched lower. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent. Stocks were mixed in Southeast Asia, while markets in mainland China were still closed for lunar new year holidays.

News

  • The woman accused of screaming at a mother and her baby on a Delta flight last week has now been punished at work. >> Watch the video here According to Fox News, Susan Peirez, who claimed to work for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the incident, has been suspended from her job with the New York state government. >> DOT reveals which airlines ranked highest for complaints in 2017 “State employees are and must be held to the highest standard both professionally and personally,” said Ronni Reich, a spokesperson for the New York State Council of the Arts, where Peirez works. “We were notified of this situation and have commenced an investigation. This employee has been removed from the office and placed on leave until further notice and until the inquiry is resolved.” >> On Rare.us: Woman kicked off Delta flight for complaining about baby Mother Marissa Rundell captured the incident on camera, and the video quickly made its rounds on the internet. The footage shows an annoyed Peirez complaining about having to sit next to a “crying baby” on the plane even though it doesn’t appear the child was crying at the time. When a flight attendant informed her that she couldn’t change seats, she threatened to have the employee fired and was soon removed from the flight.  >> WATCH: United Airlines plane loses engine cover on way to Honolulu, makes emergency landing Delta responded in a statement, saying Peirez’s actions and behavior failed to meet the airline’s standards for passengers: >> Read more trending news  'We ask that customers embrace civility and respect one another when flying Delta,' the statement said. 'This customer’s behavior toward a fellow customer on a flight from New York to Syracuse was not in keeping with those standards. We appreciate our Endeavor Air flight attendant’s commitment to Delta’s core values and apologize to the other customers on board Flight 4017 who experienced the disturbance.
  • Latest updates, results, photo galleries and stories from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
  • A Minnesota man listening to emergency dispatch audio learned that his wife, a 911 dispatcher, was killed in a crash with a wrong-way driver as she headed for work, the Star Tribune reported. >> Read more trending news Jenna L. Bixby, 30, died Saturday night in the head-on crash in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, authorities said. Her husband, Daniel Bixby, was listening to the audio that first reported the crash, according to Andrew Williams, who heads two Twin Cities scanner monitoring groups online, the Star Tribune reported. The crash was reported at 8 p.m. Two hours later, State Patrol troopers contacted Daniel Bixby and confirmed that his wife had died. “A few of us were listening at the same time last night and messaging back and forth,” Williams told the Star Tribune. “Maybe two hours later, Dan sent a message on the board that troopers came and told him it was his wife. Yeah, it’s tough.” The wrong-way driver was identified as retired minister Richard J. Shaka, 72, of Blaine. He was in critical condition, authorities said. Troopers said alcohol consumption by Shaka appears to have been a factor in the collision. Jenna Bixby worked the past 3½ years as a 911 dispatcher for the city of Minneapolis, according to city records. “Minneapolis’ Emergency Communications staff work day and night to keep people safe,” Mayor Jacob Frey said Sunday. “As a 911 dispatcher, that’s what Jenna Bixby did for years -- and what she was on her way to do at City Hall when her life was tragically taken late last night.” Shaka taught at North Central University in Minneapolis in the Bible and Theology Department from 1996 until he retired in 2011. Shaka also founded a Twin Cities nonprofit organization that builds orphanages and youth centers in his native Sierra Leone, the Star Tribune reported.
  • A substitute teacher at Western Guilford Middle School, in Guilford County, North Carolina, was fired after a video surfaced of him body-slamming a student. The student, Jose Escudero, told WGHP that the altercation started because of a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. >> Read more trending news  Jose said the teacher took the box, throwing it into a sink, WGHP reported. The 12-year-old said he waited until end of class to ask for the chocolate to be returned. Jose said he put them in his bag and the substitute teacher tried to grab the candy, WGHP reported.  Jose said the teacher then grabbed him and held him against the wall before throwing him over his shoulder to the ground. The student said he had bruises on his elbow, shoulder and back. Jose’s mother shared the video of Jose falling to the floor on Facebook saying she wants justice. Guilford County Schools spokeswoman Tina Firesheets told WGHP that the teacher is no longer a district employee. The Escuderos told WGHP that they’re looking into legal action against both the school and teacher, whose name has not been released. WSOCTV.COM contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the deadly Florida high school shooting (all times local): 1:50 p.m. A group of students who survived the Florida school shooting have started their 400-mile trip to the state capital to pressure lawmakers to act on a sweeping package of gun control laws. The students left Coral Springs on Tuesday afternoon and expect to arrive in Tallahassee in the evening. They plan to hold a rally Wednesday at the Capitol in hopes that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled Legislature. The fate of the new restrictions is unclear. Lawmakers have rebuffed gun restrictions since Republicans took control of the governor's office and the Legislature in 1999. But some in the GOP say they will consider the bills. Wednesday will mark one week since authorities say a former student killed 17 students and faculty at Stoneman Douglas High School. ___ 1:15 p.m. Three buses are preparing to take about 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to Tallahassee so that they can pressure state lawmakers to pass more restrictive gun laws. Dozens of reporters and cameras swarmed the students as they prepared to leave. Many of the students wore burgundy T-shirts of the school's colors. They carried sleeping bags, pillows and luggage and hugged their parents as they loaded the bus for the 400-mile journey. Alfonso Calderon is a 16-year-old junior. He says he hopes that the trip will start a conversation between the Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott and the students over commonsense laws on guns. ___ (Corrects to three buses instead of two) 12:20 p.m. Students from several Florida high schools have taken to the streets in a show of solidarity with students from a nearby school where 17 students were gunned down in their classrooms on Valentine's Day. Video footage taken from television news helicopter crews showed several dozen students who walked out of West Boca Raton High School on Tuesday morning, apparently bound for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland. Many of the students were wearing their backpacks. The distance between the schools is about 11 miles (17 kilometers). Several dozen more students gathered outside Fort Lauderdale High School, holding signs with messages that included 'our blood is on your hands.' On Monday, students at American Heritage High School held a similar protest. Former Stoneman student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. ___ Midnight A hundred Stoneman Douglas High School students are busing hundreds of miles across Florida to its capital to urge lawmakers to act to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last week. After arriving late Tuesday, they plan to hold a rally Wednesday in hopes that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled Legislature to consider a sweeping package of gun-control laws. Shortly after the shooting, several legislative leaders were taken on a tour of the school to see the damage firsthand and appeared shaken afterward. Chris Grady is a 19-year-old senior on the trip. He said he hopes the trip will lead to some 'commonsense laws like rigorous background checks.
  • When an accused teenage gunman opened fire on his former classmates last week, he wore a maroon polo shirt emblazoned with the logo of the school from which he’d been expelled -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The name Stoneman Douglas has become synonymous with the tragedy that ended with 17 people dead and the accused killer, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, charged with murdering them. But who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas? Douglas, who died in 1998 at the age of 108, was a journalist and advocate of the women’s suffrage movement. She may be most well-known, however, for her efforts to save the Florida Everglades, which are not far from the school bearing her name. >> Read more trending news Below are some of the details from Douglas’ remarkable life. Marjory Stoneman, who was born in 1890 in Minneapolis, showed a tendency for excellence early on. According to the National Park Service, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Wellesley College, where she was elected “class orator.” Following a brief marriage to a man named Kenneth Douglas, she moved to Florida in 1915 to reunite with her father, Frank Stoneman, who she had not seen since she was a child. The first publisher of the Miami Herald, Stoneman hired his daughter as a society columnist.  Moving through various duties at the Herald, Douglas established herself as a noteworthy writer, the National Park Service said. It was as a journalist that she embraced activism, fighting for feminism, racial justice and conservation of nature.  It was around 1917 that Douglas took on a passionate role in advocating for the preservation of the Everglades. NPR reported that most people at the time considered the Everglades “a worthless swamp,” but Douglas disagreed.  “We have all these natural beauties and resources,” Douglas said in a 1981 NPR interview, when she was 91 years old. “Among all the states, there isn’t another state like it. And our great problem is to keep them as they are in spite of the tremendous increase of population of people who don’t necessarily understand the nature of Florida.” Douglas in 1947 published her book, “The Everglades: River of Grass,” described by the National Park Service as the “definitive description of the natural treasure she fought so hard to protect.” Later that year, she was an honored guest when President Harry Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park, according to the National Wildlife Federation.   In the 1950s, Douglas railed against a major project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a system of canals, levees, dams and pumping stations designed to protect marshland -- now used for agriculture and real estate -- from flooding. The National Park Service credits Douglas with fighting the destruction of the wetlands long before scientists realized the effects it would have on Florida’s ecosystem. In 1969, she founded the nonprofit Friends of the Everglades, which continues to fight for the wetlands today.  Co-author John Rothchild, in the introduction to Douglas’ autobiography, described watching her speak at a 1973 public meeting regarding a Corps of Engineers permit: “When she spoke, everybody stopped slapping (mosquitoes) and more or less came to order. She reminded us all of our responsibility to nature and I don’t remember what else. Her voice had the sobering effect of a one-room schoolmarm’s. The tone itself seemed to tame the rowdiest of the local stone crabbers, plus the developers and the lawyers on both sides. I wonder if it didn’t also intimidate the mosquitoes. The request for a Corps of Engineers permit was eventually turned down. This was no surprise to those of us who’d heard her speak.” Douglas was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the National Women’s Hall of Fame a year later.  When discussing the issue of mankind and humans’ attitude toward nature, Douglas pulled no punches. “I’ll tell you, the whole thing is an enormous battle between man’s intelligence and his stupidity,” she told NPR. “And I’m not at all sure that stupidity isn’t going to win out in the long run.” She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She later donated the medal to Wellesley College.  On the same day she received the medal from President Clinton, Douglas was invited to witness the signing of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly called the Brady Bill, according to the Daily Beast. The bill, named for Jim Brady, the press secretary critically injured during the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, established a federal background check for those wanting to purchase a firearm. Cruz passed a background check in February 2017 when he legally bought the assault rifle used in last week’s massacre at Stoneman Douglas.