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    The strike against General Motors by 49,000 United Auto Workers entered its second week Monday with progress reported in negotiations but no clear end in sight. Bargainers met all weekend and returned to talks Monday morning as the strike entered its eighth day. A person briefed on the negotiations says they're haggling about wages and profit sharing, new product for factories that GM wants to close, a faster route to full wages for new hires, and use of temporary workers. The person didn't want to be identified because details of the bargaining are confidential. Workers walked off their jobs early on Sept. 16, paralyzing production at about 30 manufacturing sites in nine states. Already the strike forced GM to shut down two Canadian factories that make engines, older-model pickup trucks and two car models. If the strike drags on much longer, GM likely will have to close more factories in Mexico and Canada because engines, transmissions and other components are built in the United States. Companies that supply parts to GM also will have to start cutting production. Consumers this week will start to see fewer trucks, SUVs and cars on dealer lots. Cox Automotive said that GM had stocked up before the strike with a 77-day supply of vehicles. But before the strike, the supply of larger SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe already was below the industry average 61 days' worth of vehicles. Workers also will feel pressure. They got their last GM paycheck last week and will have to start living on $250 per week in strike pay starting this week. The union wants a bigger share of GM's more than $30 billion in profits during the past five years. But the company sees a global auto sales decline ahead and wants to bring its labor costs in line with U.S. plants owned by foreign automakers. The top production worker wage is about $30 per hour, and GM's total labor costs including benefits are about $63 per hour compared with an average of $50 at factories run by foreign-based automakers mainly in the South. Issues that are snagging the talks include the formula for profit sharing, which the union wants to improve. Currently workers get $1,000 for every $1 billion the company makes before taxes in North America. This year workers got checks for $10,750 each, less than last year's $11,500. Wages also are an issue with the company seeking to shift compensation more to lump sums that depend on earnings and workers wanting hourly increases that will be there if the economy goes south. They're also bargaining over use of temporary workers and a path to make them full-time, as well as a faster track for getting newly hired workers to the top UAW wage. GM has offered products in two of four locations where it wants to close factories. It's proposed an electric pickup truck for the Detroit-Hamtramck plant and a battery factory in the Lordstown, Ohio, area, where it is closing a small-car assembly plant. The factory would be run by a joint venture, and although it would have UAW workers, GM is proposing they work for pay that's lower than the company pays at assembly plants. This is the first national strike by the UAW since 2007, when the union shut down General Motors for two days.
  • As coach travel gets more cramped, airlines have added 'premium economy' sections that promise more space and comfort — often at a substantially higher price. Air carriers have discovered many travelers are willing to pay two or even three times the prevailing economy fare to escape the crowded confines of coach. The extra money is mostly profit for the airlines, which is why so many now offer this class of service. But what you get can vary dramatically by airline. A little buyer-beware knowledge next time you plan a trip can help you avoid wasting your money on an upgrade that isn't worth it. MORE SPACE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY MORE COMFORT Premium economy's big selling point is more space. The seats are an inch or two wider on average than the typical coach seat, and the rows are farther apart, offering several more inches of legroom. Most premium economy seats recline, and many have footrests. How much space you actually get depends on the airline. According to airline seat review site SeatGuru, Japan Airlines offers about 10 inches more leg space than you typically find in coach, while most other carriers offer just 5 or 6 inches more. And not all the seats are equally comfortable. Many reviewers dislike the 'fixed shell' design used by Air France and Aeroflo t, where the seat slides forward rather than reclining. What premium economy doesn't offer: lie-flat beds, which are now the standard for long-haul business and first-class cabins. Then again, fares for those flights are typically thousands of dollars more than you'd pay for premium economy. WHAT ABOUT THE EXTRAS? The amenities and customer service you get in premium economy are all over the map. Some, including premium economy pioneer Virgin Atlantic, offer priority check-in counters, cushy seats, amenity kits, plenty of good-quality food and expedited baggage handling. Others, such as discount carrier Norwegian Air, skimp on the extras, offering less to its premium economy customers than other airlines provide in coach. For example: Free snacks and meals are pretty standard on international flights, even in economy. Norwegian, however, offers no free food other than small meals served in boxes to premium economy passengers. The carrier also reduced the weight limit for free checked bags from the industry standard of 23 kilos (50 pounds) to just 20 kilos (44 pounds), and puts a weight limit on carry-ons (10 kilos, or 22 pounds). Its check-in counters do a brisk business in charging extra fees to those who failed to read the fine print. SeatGuru can give you some idea of the space you can expect, and the airline's site usually details what's included with your fare. Don't rely too much on travel site reviews, since those may be out of date and the airline's policies could have changed. ARE YOU PAYING MORE FOR LESS? The airfare you pay doesn't necessarily reflect what you get. For an April trip from Los Angeles to London, for example, Kayak shows a $1,698 premium economy fare for Virgin Atlantic versus $1,747 charged by Norwegian. (Air New Zealand, winner of TripAdvisor's 2019 Travelers' Choice Awards for best premium economy, charges $1,612.) The lowest economy fares for the same route: $638 for Virgin Atlantic, $556 for Norwegian and $576 for Air New Zealand. Which means that the premium you would pay for premium economy — the amount above the airline's economy fare — is substantially more for Norwegian than the other two carriers. (For reference, business class fares on the same route start at $3,033 for Virgin Atlantic and $2,842 for Air New Zealand. Norwegian doesn't have a business class.) WHEN TO SPRING FOR PREMIUM ECONOMY The gap between economy and premium economy fares tends to narrow as the date of travel nears, airline experts say. If you book a ticket within three months of departure, for example, you may pay only a few hundred dollars more to get premium economy, which could be a good deal. Airlines may also give you the opportunity to upgrade — again, for a few hundred bucks, and sometimes less — when you check in, if all the premium economy seats haven't been sold. Paying the full price for premium economy can make sense in some circumstances. Enduring five or more hours in a cramped coach seat may be hard for older or taller travelers. A good premium economy cabin also can enhance special occasions, such as a honeymoon, or a business trip where you need to arrive in fairly good shape. You just need to do some research to make sure that what you get will be worth the additional money. ______________________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of 'Your Credit Score.' Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Travel deals http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-travel-deals
  • The Latest on the collapse of British tour company Thomas Cook (all times local): 1 p.m. Portugal is hoping it will see limited immediate fallout from the collapse of British tour company Thomas Cook but industry officials think the country will need more aggressive tourism marketing. Segundo Joao Fernandes, president of the Algarve Regional Tourism authority, says Thomas Cook had already reduced its operations in the popular southern region and that many holiday packages it offered in Portugal relied on flights with other airlines. Fernandes told the Expresso newspaper that only 20,000 passengers, about 0.2% of those going through the region's main airport in Faro, had bookings with Thomas Cook in 2019. Pedro Costa Ferreira, president of Portugal's Association of Travel Agencies, or APAVT, says in the long run hoteliers will need to find other travel companies and use more aggressive marketing to attract British vacationers. Portugal already fears fewer tourists due to Brexit, Britain's planned departure from the European Union. One media campaign tells British holidaymakers they are 'Brelcome' to visit and says 'Portugal will never leave you.' ___ 12:20 p.m. The German government says it is considering a request from the airline Condor, which is owned by Thomas Cook, for a bridging loan but won't say when it will decide. Economy Ministry spokesman Korbinian Wagner confirmed Monday that the government had received the application from Condor, which says it is still flying. He wouldn't specify how much money it is seeking. The news agency dpa, citing unidentified government sources, put the figure at about 200 million euros ($220 million). The British parent company Thomas Cook ceased trading earlier Monday and the future of its German subsidiaries is uncertain. The German government did provide a loan to prevent the immediate grounding of insolvent Air Berlin in 2017, but Wagner said every case is different. ___ 11:30 a.m. Tunisia's government is offering assurances that Thomas Cook clients won't be prevented from leaving the country, following British media reports that vacationers were blocked at a hotel because of a payment dispute. Tunisia's TAP news agency says the country's tourism minister, Rene Trabelsi, intervened to resolve an issue that arose with British tourists who'd been staying in a hotel in the resort city of Hammamet. The TAP report did not name the hotel, but a British vacationer told BBC radio on Sunday that the Les Orangers beach resort in Hammamet, near Tunis, demanded extra money from guests who were about to leave, for fear it wouldn't be paid what it is owed by Thomas Cook. Ryan Farmer said many tourists refused the demand, since they had already paid Thomas Cook, so security guards shut the hotel's gates and 'were not allowing anyone to leave.' Farmer said it was like 'being held hostage.' But Tunisia's Tourism Ministry, cited by TAP, denied Sunday that British tourists were sequestered at a Hammamet hotel. It said instead that 'checkout procedures were delayed for a while at the request of the hotel keeper.' It said the British group later checked out and flew home 'after being given apologies for the delay.' The ministry vowed that 'no such problem of blockage will be repeated' and said it is coordinating with hotel owners and travel agencies 'to ensure that all tourists leave Tunisia in the best conditions.' ___ 11:15 a.m. Julie Robsson and her seven friends are due to fly out of Palma de Mallorca on a chartered Titan Airways plane to Manchester following the cancellation of their Thomas Cook flight earlier in the day. The 58-year-old retiree from Yorkshire, who was ending a weeklong holiday on the island of Mallorca, was part of a group of around 300 tourists who waited on Monday for replacement flights at the main airport in Spain's Balearic Islands. Robsson said she was satisfied with the information received on the ground from the British Civil Aviation Authority and the British consulate in Palma, but that Thomas Cook's representative had not appeared in the group's hotel since the first rumors of the financial difficulties emerged last week. 'I'm quite sad because it's an old company. The prices were all reasonable. The planes were clean,' Robsson said, adding that after having used Thomas Cook's services for package holidays in Spain, Greece, Mexico and India, she was considering other alternatives now. 'I don't know which other companies I would go to,' she said. 'But one thing I know for sure is that I won't stop going on holiday because of this.' ___ 11:10 a.m. Turkey's tourism ministry says there are more than 21,000 Thomas Cook UK customers currently staying in Turkish hotels. The ministry posted on Twitter Monday that guest payments were guaranteed by the U.K.'s Air Travel Organiser's Licence, or ATOL. The statement warned there would be legal proceedings against hotels demanding payment from guests or forcing them to leave. Turkey's beaches along its western and southern coasts are popular tourist destinations. The ministry also said it would, along with Turkey's ministry of treasury and finance, launch a credit package to Turkish businesses that may be negatively affected by Thomas Cook's closure. ___ 10:55 a.m. Cyprus' deputy minister for tourism says arrangements are now underway to ferry back home the 15,000 Thomas Cook travelers now on the eastern Mediterranean island nation. Savvas Perdios said after emergency talks with tourism sector chiefs Monday that half of those clients are UK citizens, 40% hail from Scandinavian countries and the rest are from Germany. Perdios said the priority is to help people go back home. He said plans to take U.K. citizens back are already in motion but it will take some time to sort out the travel situations for others. Perdios said Thomas Cook's bankruptcy will strike a blow to the Cypriot tourism industry, as the company's clients represented 5-6% of Cyprus' annual tourist arrivals, or around 250,000 people. The company was scheduled to bring 45,000 more tourists to Cyprus until the end of the season. The deputy minister said there's a real risk that some hotels might not get paid for bookings from July, August and September. It's estimated hotel owners could lose as much as 50 million euros ($55.1 million) as a result. ___ 10:15 a.m. Spanish airport operator AENA says 46 flights have been affected by the collapse of the British tour company Thomas Cook, mostly in Spain's Balearic and Canary archipelagos. In the sun-bathed Canary Islands, a popular year-round destination in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, up to 30,000 tourists are believed to be stranded, the head of the Las Palmas province hoteliers' federation said Monday. FEHT President José María Mañaricúa told Cadena Ser radio that hoteliers fear the economic impact of the collapse of Thomas Cook because most bookings for the high-peak winter season, one of the busiest with British tourists, had already been confirmed. The company is the second-largest tour operator in the islands, Mañaricúa said. The U.K. embassy in Madrid couldn't confirm how many of the estimated 150,000 British tourists due to be flown back to Britain would do it from Spain, but said repatriations had begun Monday from 11 airports across the southern European country. ___ 9:40 a.m. Greece's Tourism Minister says about 50,000 Thomas Cook customers are currently in Greece, and about 22,000 of them are expected to be flown home over the next three days. Haris Theocharis said more than a dozen flights are due Monday at the western islands of Zakynthos, Cephallonia and Corfu, as well as other popular Greek destinations, to start the repatriation effort. Theocharis said the company's collapse would deliver a strong blow to Greece's key tourism industry, which accounts for about a fifth of the economy. On the island of Crete, where about 20,000 people who booked holidays with Thomas Cook are currently staying, tourism officials said the company's collapse hit the local tourism industry like an earthquake. Michalis Vlatakis, head of Crete's tourist agencies' association, added that island hoteliers are now bracing for 'the following tsunami' in the form of canceled bookings stretching for months ahead. Vlatakis said about 70 percent of Cretan hotel owners had worked with Thomas Cook. ___ 9:35 a.m. The Dutch subsidiary of Thomas Cook says it is not accepting any new bookings as it looks at options to restrict the impact of the collapse of the tour company for its customers and employees. The Dutch organization says in a statement Monday that customers who have booked a holiday are covered by a nonprofit organization that protects travelers when travel companies collapse. Some 400,000 Dutch customers go on a Thomas Cook holiday each year. The company employs 200 people in the Netherlands. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said early Monday that Thomas Cook has ceased trading. ___ 9:20 a.m. Germany's Condor airline says it can no longer carry travelers who booked with Thomas Cook companies. Condor, itself owned by Thomas Cook, said early Monday that it is still flying and is seeking a bridging loan from the German government. Thomas Cook's German branch, meanwhile, said it couldn't guarantee that tours departing Monday and Tuesday would take place and that it had stopped selling tours. It said that it is considering remaining options but, if they fail, several German Thomas Cook companies would have to apply for insolvency. News agency dpa reported that Condor then said that for legal reasons it can no longer transport passengers who booked with Thomas Cook companies. According to Thomas Cook, 140,000 people who booked with its German tour operators are currently on vacation and 21,000 were supposed to depart Monday or Tuesday. ___ 9 a.m. The Belgian branch of British tour company Thomas Cook says it continues its operations while trying to 'limit the impact' of the company's collapse. Thomas Cook Belgium employs 600 people. It says in a statement released Monday it is profitable, with some 700,000 vacationers using its services every year. Thomas Cook Belgium says it 'is currently exploring options to limit the impact of Thomas Cook Group Plc's bankruptcy on its customers and employees.' The company added that clients who booked their holidays via Thomas Cook Belgium or its local partner Neckermann are covered by a travel guarantee fund. The British tour company collapsed Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. ___ 8:50 a.m. Unions representing Thomas Cook workers have reacted with anger to the collapse of the travel company. The general secretary of the British Airline Pilots' Association said Monday the hopes that the tour company could survive have been dashed. 'The staff have been stabbed in the back without a second's thought,' said union head Brian Strutton. He said Monday the union will do everything possible to help workers find jobs at other airlines. Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said the collapse need not have happened. 'The government had been given ample opportunity to step in and help Thomas Cook but has instead chosen ideological dogma over saving thousands of jobs,' he said. ___ 7:40 a.m. Thomas Cook's German airline subsidiary, Condor, says it is still flying and is seeking a bridging loan from the German government. Condor said on its website Monday morning that its flights are going ahead as scheduled despite the parent company's insolvency. It said in a statement that 'to prevent liquidity shortages at Condor, a state-guaranteed bridging loan has been applied for.' It said that the German government is currently considering that application. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said early Monday that Thomas Cook has ceased trading. ___ 6 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the government was right not to bail out tour company Thomas Cook, arguing that travel firms should do more to ensure they don't collapse. The 178-year-old tour operator ceased trading Monday after failing to secure 200 million pounds ($250 million) in rescue funding. Johnson said the government would help repatriate 150,000 stranded British travelers. But he said bailing out the company would have established 'a moral hazard' because other firms might later expect the same treatment. Johnson said, 'We need to look at ways in which tour operators one way or another can protect themselves from such bankruptcies in future.' He added, 'One is driven to reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivized to sort such matters out.' ___ 2:35 a.m. British tour operator Thomas Cook has ceased trading and all its hundreds of thousands of bookings canceled after the firm failed to secure rescue funding. The Civil Aviation Authority announced the film's collapse early Monday. More than 600,000 vacationers had booked through the company. CAA said 150,000 are British customers now abroad who will have to be repatriated. The group's four airlines will be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will be left unemployed. The debt-laden company had said Friday it was seeking 200 million pounds ($250 million) to avoid going bust, was in talks with shareholders and creditors to stave off failure.
  • The effects of President Donald Trump's standoff with China could soon be coming to a post office near you — and higher shipping rates for some types of mail are the likely outcome. The Trump administration is threatening to pull the United States out of the 145-year-old Universal Postal Union, complaining that some postal carriers like China's aren't paying enough to have foreign shipments delivered to U.S. recipients. A showdown looms at a special UPU congress that is being held Tuesday to Thursday in Geneva. The complaint centers on the reimbursement that the U.S. Postal Service receives for providing final deliveries of bulky letters and small parcels sent from abroad — usually ones not weighing more than 2 kilograms (about 4½ pounds). Such mail can include high-value items like mobile phones, memory sticks or pharmaceuticals. For consumers, the issue has largely been overlooked. 'Whatever happens, prices to ship via the postal network ... It's going to cost more,' said Kate Muth, executive director of the International Mailers Advisory Group, which counts companies like eBay, DHL, Amazon, USPS or their affiliates as members. 'The rates are going to go up.' Companies might have to decide individually how to manage such increased rates, either by swallowing the costs or passing them on to customers. One of the few companies to chime in publicly has been eBay, whose grassroots network has warned of possible 'service disruptions and dramatically increased costs for shipping through the US Postal Service' if the United States pulls out. The administration complains that China and many other countries get to pay lower reimbursements because they're classified as developing countries, putting U.S. companies at a disadvantage. It wants postal services like USPS to set their own rates — and right away, not months from now. 'Today, manufacturers in countries as small as Cambodia and as large as China pay less to send small parcels from their countries to New York than U.S. manufacturers do to ship packages from Los Angeles to the Big Apple,' Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote in the Financial Times on Sept. 11. He said other countries like Canada, Norway and Brazil are also losing money from the UPU's 'distorted system.' Navarro said the U.S. opposes one of three options being considered that would maintain limits on the amount that postal systems like the USPS can charge overseas shippers. The meeting may also be a test for a growing battle of diplomatic clout: China has been ratcheting up its presence in multilateral institutions, while the Trump administration has been largely shunning them. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others have praised the Trump administration, which has led a multi-tiered challenge to China's rising economic might notably on trade issues, for finally stepping up to try to level an allegedly unfair playing field that has been bemoaned by several U.S. administrations. In a Sept. 16 letter to Navarro provided to The Associated Press, the chamber's chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, wrote that the Trump administration's walkout threat has put the UPU 'on the brink of accepting the most meaningful reform to inter-postal compensation arrangements in 50 years.' He wrote that the UPU reform debate 'would never have materialized' without the 'courage' of the Trump administration to contemplate withdrawal. The State Department last year formally indicated that the United States would quit the UPU, an organization it helped create, on Oct. 17 if reforms can't be agreed. The administration says the United States will start setting its own rates for reimbursement — so-called 'self-declared rates' — whether or not it stays in. Some have dubbed the withdrawal prospect 'Pexit,' short for 'Postal Exit' — a cheeky allusion to Brexit, Britain's impending departure from the European Union, which likewise carries great uncertainties. It's unclear what exactly would happen if the U.S. pulls out of the postal group. Some influencing factors include whether non-postal operators can fill the void or how soon bilateral deals between the United States and postal partners could be enacted. One thing many fear from the move: mail backlogs that start piling up. ___ Associated Press writer Tami Abdollah in Washington contributed to this report.
  • World shares were mostly lower Monday as investors kept a wary eye on tensions with Iran and on prospects for a resolution of the tariffs war between China and the U.S. Germany's DAX dropped 1% to 12,338 while the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.9% to 5,637. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.5% to 7,308. Wall Street looked ready for a steady start, with the future contracts for both the Dow Jones Industrial average and the S&P 500 unchanged. China's Fosun Tourism Group, owner of Club Med and the biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, fell 4.2% in Hong Kong after the 178-year-old British tour company went bust. Bookings for more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled Monday as a result. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook's four airlines would be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries will lose their jobs. Oil prices dropped on reports that Iran had agreed to free a U.K.-flagged tanker that it had held, potentially easing some regional tensions. There was no sign yet, however, that the tanker was moving. U.S. President Donald Trump, arriving in New York for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, said he intended to seek support for a coalition to confront Iran after the U.S. blamed it for last week's strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility. Iran's president on Sunday urged Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran. Hassan Rouhani promised to propose a regional peace plan at this week's UN meetings. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Aramco's largest oil processor, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have claimed the assault, which Saudi Arabia says was 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran.' Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an 'all-out war.' U.S. crude oil shed 29 cents to $57.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, dropped $1.26 to $63.02 per barrel. In Asian trading, the Shanghai Composite index skidded 1.0% to 2,977.08, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8% to 26,223.83 after yet another weekend of violent protests. In South Korea, the Kospi was flat at 2,091.70, while the S&P ASX 200 in Sydney advanced 0.3% to 6,749.70. Shares fell in Taiwan and in Southeast Asia. India's Sensex continued a rally that began Friday with an announcement of fresh tax incentives for businesses. It climbed 3.0% to 39,164.77 on Monday. Tokyo's markets were closed for a holiday. Wall Street ended last week with losses, snapping a 3-week winning streak for the S&P 500 following reports that Chinese officials canceled a planned trip to farms in Montana and Nebraska. That sparked concern that trade talks due to resume next month might be in trouble after U.S. and Chinese envoys met last week for preliminary discussions to lay the groundwork for later, more formal negotiations. However, the two sides described the talks in Washington as 'productive' and 'constructive,' indicating further negotiations will go ahead in coming weeks. In currency trading, the dollar weakened to 107.42 Japanese yen from 107.55 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.0984 from $1.1020.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he'll tell U.S. President Donald Trump that the U.K.'s state-funded health service will be off the table in any future trade negotiations, and that the U.S. will have to open its markets to British goods if it wants to make a deal. Johnson said he would draw his red lines for the protectionist president when the two leaders meet this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Johnson arrived at the global gathering on Monday with a balancing act to do. He's trying to persuade European Union leaders to strike an elusive divorce deal with Britain, while also laying the groundwork for a post-Brexit trade agreement with the United States — seen by the government as one of the main prizes of Brexit. The Conservative prime minister is keen to forge a strong relationship with the Republican president, who has called the British leader 'a really good man.' But Johnson told reporters flying with him to New York that he would tell Trump 'that when we do a free trade deal, we must take sure that the (National Health Service) is not on the table, that we do not in any way prejudice or jeopardize our standards on animal welfare and food hygiene in the course of that deal, and that we open up American markets.' Opponents of Brexit fear the NHS — an overstretched but much-loved institution founded in 1948 to provide free health care to all Britons — will be opened up to private U.S. firms as part of trade negotiations. They also have suggested Britain may have to accept chlorine-washed chicken, a U.S. poultry industry practice that is banned in the European Union. Johnson is likely to be dogged by Britain's divisive — and stalled — departure from the EU throughout his three-day trip to the U.N.'s annual gathering of world leaders. More than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, the departure date has been postponed twice, and the U.K. Parliament has repeatedly rejected the only divorce deal offered. The country is facing a chaotic exit on Oct. 31 unless Johnson's government can, against the odds, secure a new agreement — or arrange another delay, something Johnson vows he will not do. The British leader is seeking to persuade a skeptical European Union to give Britain a new divorce deal before the U.K. is due to leave the bloc on Oct. 31. He is scheduled to hold talks at the U.N. with EU leaders, including European Council President Donald Tusk, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Johnson said he didn't think there would be a 'New York breakthrough,' but he was encouraged by the progress talks had made since he took office less than two months ago. He replaced Theresa May, who resigned in failure after her EU withdrawal agreement was rejected three times by Parliament. 'If you think about when I first became prime minister, everybody was saying there's absolutely no chance whatever of changing the existing agreement,' he said. 'And I think nobody's saying that (now).' 'I think a large number of the important partners really do want a deal,' he said. But many leaders of the 28-nation bloc mistrust Johnson, a brash Brexit champion who played a big role in persuading British voters in 2016 to opt to leave the EU. And they say Britain has not come up with workable ways to maintain an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland — the key sticking point in the dispute. An open border underpins both the local economy and the peace process that ended years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. The U.K. says the border can be kept free of customs posts and other obstacles through a mix of as-yet unproven technology and an all-Ireland zone for animals and agricultural products. 'What we are working for is a solution that enables the U.K. and the EU to respect the principles of the (EU) single market ... to allow an open border in Northern Ireland; to respect the achievements of the Northern Irish peace process; but also to allow the whole of the U.K. to come out of the EU,' Johnson said. 'And there is a way to do that. I think colleagues around the table in Brussels can see how we might do that. All it will take is a political will to get there.' Johnson is also facing claims that during his tenure as mayor of London between 2008 and 2016, he gave public money and places on overseas U.K. trade trips to a close friend running a startup business. He refused to comment to reporters when asked repeatedly about the allegations, first reported in the Sunday Times newspaper. The British government is also bracing for a Supreme Court ruling on whether Johnson broke the law when he suspended Parliament for five weeks ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. Johnson says the suspension was a routine measure to prepare for a new session of Parliament. Opponents claim he acted illegally to stop lawmakers from interfering with his plan to leave the EU, with or without a Brexit deal. The 11 justices say they will rule early this week. A ruling that the suspension was illegal would be a huge blow to Johnson's authority and could see lawmakers recalled to Parliament immediately. ___ Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
  • In 2014, then-Vice President Joe Biden was at the forefront of American diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine's fragile democratic government as it sought to fend off Russian aggression and root out corruption. So it raised eyebrows when Biden's son Hunter was hired by a Ukrainian gas company. The Obama White House said at the time that there was no conflict because the younger Biden was a private citizen. And there's been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. Yet the matter is back in the spotlight following revelations that President Donald Trump prodded Ukraine's president to help him investigate any corruption related to Joe Biden, now one of the top Democrats seeking to defeat Trump in 2020. Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also publicly urged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens. Hunter Biden was named a paid board member of Burisma Holdings in April 2014. The company's founder was a political ally of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's Russia-friendly president, who was driven out in February 2014 by mass protests. Yanukovych's ouster prompted the Obama administration to move quickly to deepen ties with Ukraine's new government. Joe Biden played a leading role, traveling to Ukraine and speaking frequently with its new Western-friendly president. The younger Biden's business role raised concerns among anticorruption advocates that Burisma was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration. At the time, the company ran a natural gas extraction operation in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia after Yanukovych was pushed from power. Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to aid Burisma. He remained on the board through early 2019, often appearing at energy-related conferences abroad representing Burisma's interests. On Saturday, the former vice president said he never speaks to his son about his overseas business dealings. The matter, however, has continued to be questioned by Trump and his allies. They've pointed in particular to Biden's move in March 2016 to pressure the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who had previously led an investigation into Burisma's owner. Biden's was representing the official position of the U.S. government, a position that was also supported by other Western governments and many in Ukraine, who accused Shokin of being soft on corruption. Corruption has continued to fester in Ukraine. In May, the country's new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, came into office with no political experience but with bold promises to put an end to the corrupt practices. Around this time, Giuliani began reaching out to Zelenskiy and his aides to press for a government investigation into Burisma and Hunter Biden's role with the company. In a Fox News interview on May 19, Trump claimed the former Ukrainian prosecutor 'was after' Joe Biden's son and that was why the former vice president demanded he be fired. There is no evidence of this. Ukraine's current prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, was quoted by Bloomberg News in May as saying he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son. Bloomberg also reported that the investigation into Burisma was dormant at the time Biden pressed for Shokhin's ouster.
  • Stocks got a downbeat start to the week as investors kept a wary eye on tensions with Iran and on signals from China and the U.S. on prospects for a resolution of their tariffs war. The Shanghai Composite index skidded 1.3% to 2,967.01 in early trading Monday while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8% to 26,235.77 after yet another weekend of violent protests. Fosun Tourism Group, the biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, fell 3.8% in Hong Kong after the 178-year-old British tour company filed for bankruptcy. Bookings for more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled Monday as a result. Shanghai-based Fosun International dropped 1%. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook's four airlines would be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will lose their jobs. In South Korea, the Kospi edged 0.1% lower to 2,088.85, while the S&P ASX 200 in Sydney advanced 0.3% to 6,752.40. Shares fell in Taiwan and in Southeast Asia. India's Sensex continued a rally that began Friday with an announcement of fresh tax incentives for businesses. It climbed 2.5% to 38,967.32. Tokyo's markets were closed for a holiday. Wall Street ended last week with losses, snapping a 3-week winning streak for the S&P 500 after reports emerged that Chinese officials canceled a planned trip to farms in Montana and Nebraska. That sparked concern that trade talks due to resume next month might be in trouble after U.S. and Chinese envoys met last week for preliminary discussions to lay the groundwork for later, more formal negotiations. President Donald Trump's remarks to reporters Friday that he wants a complete deal with China and won't accept one that only addresses some differences between the two nations added to the unease. However, officials said the talks would go ahead next month, somewhat alleviating that concern. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% to 2,992.07 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6%, to 26,935.07. The Nasdaq lost 0.8% to 8,117.67, weighed down by declining technology sector stocks. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks slid 0.1% to 1,559.76. Oil prices rose after Trump, arriving in New York for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, said he intended to seek support for a coalition to confront Iran after the U.S. blamed it for last week's strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility. Iran's president on Sunday urged Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran. He criticized a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region's waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic's military arsenal. Hassan Rouhani also promised to propose a regional peace plan at this week's UN meetings. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Aramco's largest oil processor, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. While Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia says it was 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran.' For its part, Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an 'all-out war.' With all that percolating, U.S. crude oil added 61 cents to $58.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, it lost 10 cents to $58.09 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 65 cents to $63.85 per barrel. In currency trading, the dollar was at 107.71 Japanese yen, up from 107.55 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1024 from $1.1020.
  • As President Donald Trump visits the United Nations building in New York this week, he won't be focused only on the global challenges facing the world body — he's still reliving the real estate deal there that got away. More than a decade later, Trump vividly recalls the overtures he made to rebuild the 39-story tower in the early 2000s and posits that he could have done a better job with the $2.3 billion project, which took about three years longer than anticipated and came in more than $400 million over budget. In the leadup to this week's U.N. General Assembly meetings, the president reminisced with reporters on Air Force One this past week about his efforts to win the project. 'I offered to rebuild it at a tiny fraction of what they were going to build it for,' he said. In 2005, then-developer Trump went before a U.S. Senate committee to complain that the U.N. was bungling the project. 'They don't know what they want, they don't know what they have, they don't know what they're doing,' Trump said. He appealed to the panel to let him manage the project. He would even waive his fee, he said. In the end, he didn't get the project, but his words were music to senators concerned about costs. 'When can you start?' said one appreciative lawmaker, Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., who went on to serve as the state's governor for two terms. Trump is scheduled to speak to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He was asked if he'll think back to his real estate days when he returns to the U.N. compound. It sounded like he certainly would. 'I was a very good real estate developer,' he reminisced. He added that he had correctly predicted 'It will end up being much more' than expected. 'They didn't even know what New York steam was versus a boiler,' he said of the developers. 'They knew nothing.' Trump said an ambassador, he believed from Sweden, contacted him to ask how he could have built Trump World Tower, right across the street from the U.N. compound, for far less than what was envisioned for the smaller U.N. headquarters. 'I said, 'Because I know how the game is played,'' Trump recalled. Trump said he could have completed the project for about $500 million. He would have used marble instead of terrazzo, which is much more expensive, he recalled. The U.N. compound was largely built between 1949 and 1952. Over time, it no longer conformed to safety and fire codes, or to security needs. The U.S. provided about $488 million to help pay for the renovations, according to a 2015 Government Accountability Office report. Trump clearly got a kick out of rehashing the episode. It gave him one more chance to relive his developer days. 'It would have been a great job,' he declared.
  • Hundreds of thousands of travelers were stranded across the world Monday after British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed, immediately halting almost all its flights and hotel services and laying off all its employees. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority confirmed Thomas Cook, a 178-year-old company that helped create the package tour industry, had ceased trading. It said the firm's four airlines will be grounded, and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries — including 9,000 in the U.K. — will lose their jobs. The collapse of the firm will have sweeping effects across the entire European and North African tourism industry and elsewhere, as hotels worried about being paid and confirmed bookings for high-season winter resorts were suddenly in doubt. Overall, about 600,000 people were travelling with the company as of Sunday, though it was unclear how many of them would be left stranded, as some travel subsidiaries were in talks with local authorities to continue operating. The British government said it was taking charge of getting the firm's 150,000 U.K.-based customers back home from vacation spots across the globe, the largest repatriation effort in the country's peacetime history. The process began Monday and officials warned of delays. A stream of reports Monday morning gave some sense of the extent of the travel chaos: some 50,000 Thomas Cook travelers were stranded in Greece; up to 30,000 stuck in Spain's Canary Islands; 21,000 in Turkey and 15,000 in Cyprus alone. An estimated 1 million future Thomas Cook travelers also found their bookings for upcoming holidays canceled. Many are likely to receive refunds under travel insurance plans. The company, which began in 1841 with a one-day train excursion in England and now has business in 16 countries, has been struggling financially for years due to competition from budget airlines and the ease of booking low-cost accommodations through the internet. Thomas Cook also still owned almost 600 travel shops on major streets in Britain as well as 200 hotels, adding real estate costs to its crushing debt burden. 'The growing popularity of the pick-and-mix type of travel that allows consumers to book their holiday packages separately, as well as new kids on the block like Airbnb, has seen the travel industry change beyond all recognition in the past decade, as consumers book travel, accommodation, and car hire independently,' said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. Things got worse this year, with the company blaming a slowdown in bookings on the uncertainty over Brexit, Britain's impending departure from the European Union. A drop in the pound made it more expensive for British vacationers to travel abroad. Terror attacks in recent years in some markets like Egypt and Tunis also hurt its business, as did heat waves in Northern Europe. The company had said Friday it was seeking 200 million pounds ($250 million) to avoid going bust and held talks over the weekend with shareholders and creditors in an attempt to stave off collapse. CEO Peter Fankhauser said in a statement read outside the company's offices before dawn Monday that he deeply regrets the shutdown. 'Despite huge efforts over a number of months and further intense negotiations in recent days, we have not been able to secure a deal to save our business,' he said. 'I know that this outcome will be devastating to many people and will cause a lot of anxiety, stress and disruption.' Britain's aviation authority said it had arranged an aircraft fleet for the complex repatriation effort, which is expected to last two weeks. British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said dozens of charter planes, from as far as Malaysia, had been hired to fly customers home free of charge. He said hundreds of people were staffing call centers and airport operations centers. Julie Robsson, a 58-year-old retiree from Yorkshire, was among those waiting Monday on the Spanish island of Mallorca for a replacement flight to Manchester, England. She said while was satisfied with the information she received from British authorities, the Thomas Cook representative had not appeared at her group's hotel since the first rumors of financial difficulties emerged last week. 'I'm quite sad because it's an old company. The prices were all reasonable. The planes were clean,' Robsson said. Unions representing Thomas Cook workers reacted with anger. 'The staff have been stabbed in the back without a second's thought,' said Brian Strutton, head of the British Airline Pilots' Association. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, traveling to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, said the government was right not to bail out the company, arguing that travel firms should do more to ensure they don't collapse. He said bailing out Thomas Cook would have established 'a moral hazard' because other firms might later expect the same treatment. 'We need to look at ways in which tour operators one way or another can protect themselves from such bankruptcies in future,' Johnson said. Most of Thomas Cook's British customers are protected by the government-run travel insurance program, which makes sure vacationers can get home if a British-based tour operator fails while they are abroad. An earlier repatriation exercise following the 2017 collapse of Monarch Airlines cost the British government about 60 million pounds ($75 million). Thomas Cook's collapse is a huge blow to many companies in vacation resorts that have long relied on it for business. Spain's Canary Islands, for example, are a favored year-round destination for Northern Europeans that is likely to take a hit to its high-season winter bookings. The association of hotels said it fears the economic impact and the Spanish government was holding meetings with regional authorities to assess the likely damage to local economies. In Tunisia, the TAP news agency said the tourism minister intervened after reports emerged that some Thomas Cook tourists in Hammamet were locked into one hotel and 'being held hostage' as the hotel demanded they pay extra, for fear that Thomas Cook would not pay its debts. The government said Thomas Cook clients would not be prevented from leaving the country. ___ Jill Lawless in New York, Pan Pylas in London, Aritz Parra in Madrid and John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.

News

  • They take their football seriously in Philadelphia. Even scholarly types can go overboard when their beloved Eagles lose. >> Read more trending news  During the fourth quarter of Philadelphia's 27-24 televised loss to the Detroit Lions, the Fox network handling the broadcast showed an angry Eagles fan shouting as the telecast broke for a commercial. The angry fan was identified as Eric Furda, the University of Pennsylvania's dean of admissions since 2008, according to the The Philadelphia Inquirer. The clip quickly went viral, as it resonated with other angry Eagles fans. Furda admitted he was the culprit on Twitter, but only after he posted Sunday that he was 'not sure what the refs were looking at today.' Furda took a more apologetic tone Monday morning. 'After further review of the play I will take the 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct,' Furda tweeted. 'But I will not lose my passion for Philadelphia and Penn sports!' The Eagles, who have lost two straight games after beating Washington in their season opener, travel to Green Bay to face the Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
  • A Michigan toddler died last week after authorities said her head became stuck in a car's power window in Detroit. >> Read more trending news  According to WXYZ-TV, Kierre Allen, 2, was inside the parked 2005 Mazda 3 with her father, who had fallen asleep, last Monday when the window somehow closed on her head, authorities said. The 21-year-old man awoke to find the child caught in the window, he told police. Kierre's uncle took the pair to a nearby hospital as the father tried to revive the girl, WJBK-TV reported. Doctors said she was dead when she arrived. Police arrested the girl's father, who had outstanding traffic warrants, authorities said. He has not been charged in connection with Kierre's death, the Detroit News reported.
  • A Cobb County school nurse was arrested Thursday after administrators noticed students’ medications were missing. Lindsey Waggoner, 38, is accused of stealing more than $1,500 of medication from Barber Middle School in Acworth, according to an arrest warrant obtained Monday by AJC.com. Cobb County school police allegedly found her in possession of 209 pills, including Adderall, generic forms of Ritalin and Focalin, and Evekeo. The drugs are commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. Principal Tia Amlett sent a letter home to parents alerting them to the investigation and arrest of a staff member, although the employee was not named.  “We have made contact with families who were directly affected by this situation and will continue to pursue policies that ensure such behavior does not go unnoticed,” she said. It was not immediately clear if Waggoner was fired following her arrest. As of Monday morning, she was still listed on Barber’s website. Amlett said she was being dealt with “according to district policy and state laws.” Waggoner, who is from Kennesaw, is facing a single felony charge of theft by taking. She was booked into the county jail Thursday afternoon and released a few hours later on a $15,000 bond.  In other news: 
  • The 178-year-old tour company Thomas Cook has shut down, potentially stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers who booked their trips with the company stranded across the globe. Thomas Cook was known for the package tour industry, The Associated Press reported. It had four airlines and 21,000 employees in 16 countries. All of the employees have been laid off and will lose their jobs. The ripple effect of Thomas Cook's collapse is expected to be felt across all of Europe and North Africa, the AP reported.  Officials at hotels are now worried about confirmed bookings that had been made for winter. About 600,000 people had been scheduled to travel with Thomas Cook through Sunday. Some subsidiaries were trying to get local connections to get people home, the AP reported.  The British government has stepped in to get 150,000 U.K. customers back to their homes starting Monday. The government has hired charter planes to get people home free of charge, and officials expect the process to fly everyone back to the U.K. will take about two weeks, the AP reported. >> Read more trending news  There are 50,000 people stranded in Greece, up to 30,000 in Spain's Canary Islands, 21,000 in Turkey and 15,000 in Cyprus all trying to find a way home, the AP reported. Thomas Cook officials blame competition from budget airlines and travelers booking their trips themselves though the internet as to why the company struggled financially and eventually shut down, the AP reported. The uncertainty also was brought on by Brexit and the drop in the pound that made it more expensive for British travelers to afford trips abroad, the AP reported. Despite the fact they no longer are being paid for their work, some Thomas Cook employees are still reporting for their shifts to help make sure those who are stranded can return home, Metro reported. One now-former employee said on Twitter that she will be at her post to help stranded customers. Employees at a different Thomas Cook location also posted a sign on their location saying they would open Monday morning to help customers, Metro reported. 
  • A second-year Georgia Tech student was confirmed dead Sunday after a swimming accident in the Chattahoochee River. James Strock was last seen Saturday afternoon swimming in the area of the West Palisades Trail at Paces Mill Park, according to school officials. Teams searched through dusk before turning to recovery efforts Sunday morning, dean of students John M. Stein said in a letter to the Georgia Tech community. A Georgia Tech spokeswoman confirmed Strock’s death Sunday evening. It is unknown if his body was recovered from the river. Strock was pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer engineering and was interested in robotics and quantum computing, according to his LinkedIn page. He was set to graduate in 2022. According to Tech officials, Strock was from Uganda and moved to the United States at age 16. He was an active member of the campus community, attended a campus ministry and could often be found in the recreational center. Strock completed a co-op program with DataPath, a communications and computer software company, in Lawrenceville over the summer. “On behalf of Georgia Tech, we offer our deepest condolences to James’ family and friends during this difficult time,” Stein said in the letter to students, faculty and staff, which was shared on Reddit. “I have been in constant contact with his family and will continue to be there to support them.” Grief counseling is available on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the week at the campus Counseling Center and in the student services building. Students may also call 404-894-2575 for support after hours. — Please return to AJC.com for updates. In other news: 
  • A federal judge will hear the arguments Monday for the first time from opponents of Georgia’s new anti-abortion law as they ask him to stop the measure from going into effect. Gov. Brian Kemp in May signed one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, outlawing the procedure in most cases once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity. It is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has asked U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones to stop the law from going into effect while the case makes its way through the court system. The ACLU argued in a June complaint that the law violates a woman’s constitutional right of access to abortion until about 24 weeks of pregnancy, as established in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. The ACLU has argued that “politicians should not be second-guessing women’s health care decisions.” In its response, the state said Georgia’s new anti-abortion law is “constitutional and justified” and asked Jones to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the measure. “Defendants deny all allegations in the complaint that killing a living unborn child constitutes ‘medical care’ or ‘health care,’” attorneys wrote. The state hired Virginia-based attorney to represent Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, members of the Georgia Composite Medical Board and its executive director. ACLU is representing SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast and other abortion rights advocates and providers.