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Business News

  • The White House says Ivanka Trump will take part in the nomination process for a new head of the World Bank. The senior adviser was asked to participate by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin because she has worked with World Bank leaders on a variety of projects. The White House said she is not a contender for the post. Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank, announced last week that he is resigning. With Kim's exit, President Donald Trump will have the opportunity to nominate his own choice to fill the position. The leaders at the 189-nation World Bank have all been Americans. But other countries have complained about this pattern. Kim's permanent successor will be decided by the World Bank's board of directors.
  • President Donald Trump's pick to become the next attorney general said Tuesday that he would 'not go after' marijuana companies in states where cannabis is legal, even though he personally believes the drug should be outlawed. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, William Barr said he would not use limited government resources to target cannabis businesses that are complying with state laws. Businesses in the marijuana industry relied on Obama-era guidance that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal, but those guidelines were rescinded by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year. Pointing to the growing marijuana industry and investments in cannabis companies, Barr said he didn't want to 'upset settled expectations.' 'To the extent that people are complying with the state laws, distribution and production and so forth, we're not going to go after that,' Barr said. Despite his affirmation that he would not target cannabis businesses, Barr said he would personally support a federal law that 'prohibits marijuana everywhere.' The largely hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement set forth during former President Barack Obama's administration allowed the marijuana industry to flourish into a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar market that helps fund some state government programs. Days after California's broad marijuana legalization went into effect, Sessions rescinded the Justice Department's guidance — known as the Cole Memo — and decried it as allowing a 'safe harbor' for marijuana by allowing states to flout federal law. Since the guidance was rescinded, there has been concern about the future of the growing cannabis industry. Despite medical and so-called recreational cannabis legalization in dozens of states, federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana. But Barr said the current system is 'untenable' and 'almost like a backdoor nullification of federal law.' He called for members of Congress to come up with a way to handle marijuana enforcement across the U.S. 'I think it's incumbent on the Congress to make a decision as to whether we are going to have a federal system,' he said. 'Because this is breeding disrespect for the federal law.' ___ Michael Balsamo is a member of AP's marijuana beat team. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 . Find complete AP marijuana coverage here: www.apnews.com/tag/LegalMarijuana
  • At first glance, this year's edition of the North American International Auto Show might look like any other from the past: Gleaming vehicles, bright lights and flashy displays trying to lure spectators to their offerings. But after traversing Cobo Center's massive exhibition space and ticking off the automakers, you'll notice what's not there: namely BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi or Mazda. Those brands had been mainstays of the Motor City's celebration of the auto industry, which opens to the public on Saturday. But they are pulling out not just from Detroit but shows worldwide because of a bad date for their vehicle launch cycle, a declining bang for their buck, or bigger buzz from solo events or digital campaigns that go straight to consumers. In response, auto shows are retooling to remain relevant: moving their events on the calendar or amping up the customer experience by offering test tracks and collecting data on visitors. Detroit auto show chairman Bill Golling is helming the city's last winter show before NAIAS prepares its move next year to the more weather-friendly month of June. Warmer temperatures will allow for test drives of new vehicles and autonomous and vehicle-to-vehicle technologies, as well as reduced time and costs for setup and teardown. 'We can now give additional time and give that experience to the consumers,' Golling said. 'Not only test drives of the product itself but the technology will be available to test drive it, the autonomy, the connected cars. They can't get that over the internet.' As companies have left, so have automotive reporters. The show had just under 4,600 journalists this year, but normally has more than 5,000, organizers said. As for public attendance, Detroit has drawn around 800,000 for the past several years. Representatives for the auto shows in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago say they don't release attendance figures. A spokesman for the New York show would only say that it has drawn more than a million attendees every year for the past 15 years, and Los Angeles says hundreds of thousands attend annually. Chicago Auto Show General Manager Dave Sloan says attendance is 'pretty consistent,' but BMW and Mercedes-Benz have pulled out of next month's show. He's quick to add that others, such as Jaguar Land Rover, are increasing their show floor space. 'We're concerned about it,' he conceded. 'We're doing everything we can to try and show them that performance.' Those efforts include installing indoor test tracks and outdoor test drives, he said, because 'butts in seats is a great way to show off your vehicles.' Still, the overall trend continues for companies to explore other promotional paths, and 'not just for auto shows but globally in all different industries,' said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant Research. 'Big companies are increasingly moving toward getting away from announcing new products, making major announcements ... where they're fighting for attention with 15-20 other companies and (instead) doing standalone events.' Many automakers reject an all-or-nothing proposition. Detroit-based General Motors got good exposure for the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox small SUV outside of any auto show. GM President Mark Reuss said 'it's hard to get the right exposure in the right medium' at an auto show, but he sees a balance. 'I don't think it goes away,' he said of the shows. 'It's important that we're here and doing big things in Detroit.' Luxury makes Volvo Cars and Jaguar Land Rover are skipping the Geneva auto show in March. Volvo said it's continuing to 'move away from traditional auto industry events to focus on bespoke activities to introduce its new cars, technologies and services to media and consumers.' Last year, Volvo unveiled the new model of its V60 wagon — not at an exhibition center, but in the driveway of a home in suburban Stockholm. Björn Annwall, Volvo's senior vice president of strategy, brand and retail, said last year that 'automatic attendance at traditional industry events is no longer viable — we must tailor our communications based on how the options complement our messaging, timing and the nature of the technology we are presenting.' 'We are not saying never to car shows. We expect industry events like the Geneva Motor Show to continue evolving and we may return in future.' Volkswagen officials say it was important to be in Detroit this year, even though its Audi and Porsche were not. 'For us, it's a must,' VW CEO Herbert Diess said. He acknowledged that 'shows are declining' globally, but affirmed the automaker's decision to stick with the Motor City. 'I just had a walkthrough the show — I had a good impression,' he added. 'There's a lot of new product being shown here, so why not?' ___ Associated Press writers David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, and Mike Householder in Detroit contributed to this story.
  • A wheeled robot named Marty is rolling into nearly 500 grocery stores to alert employees if it encounters spilled granola, squashed tomatoes or a broken jar of mayonnaise. But there could be a human watching from behind its cartoonish googly eyes. Badger Technologies CEO Tim Rowland says its camera-equipped robots stop after detecting a potential spill. But to make sure, humans working in a control center in the Philippines review the imagery before triggering a cleanup message over the loudspeaker. Rowland says 25 of the robots are now operating at certain Giant, Martin's and Stop & Shop stores, with 30 more arriving each week. Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based Giant says it has two robots now working at stores in the state, and plans to expand to all 172 Giant stores by the middle of this year. The chains are all part of Dutch parent company Ahold Delhaize. The robots move around using laser-based 'lidar' sensors and pause when shoppers and their carts veer into their path. The googly eyes are fake, but each robot has eight cameras — some directed down at the floor and others that can see shelves. Rowland said the robots can eventually be repurposed to help monitor a store's inventory. A robot observed Tuesday at a Stop & Shop store in Seekonk, Massachusetts, alerted store associates to a price tag that had fallen in one aisle, and a tiny sprig of herbs in another. After moving along for a few minutes, it returned to the scene of each spill and waited until an employee pushed a button to acknowledge that the debris was picked up. It's not the only robot that U.S. shoppers might spot this year. Walmart and Midwestern supermarket chain Schnucks have deployed robots that help monitor inventory. A union that represents Giant and Stop & Shop workers says it's keeping an eye on Marty. It remains to be seen what the groceries will ultimately use the technology for. UFCW President Marc Perrone said in an emailed statement that the 'aggressive expansion of automation in grocery and retail stores is a direct threat to the millions of American workers who power these industries and the customers they serve.
  • The Internal Revenue Service is recalling about 46,000 of its employees furloughed by the government shutdown — nearly 60 percent of its workforce — to handle tax returns and pay out refunds. The employees won't be paid. With the official start of the tax filing season coming Jan. 28, the Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, despite the disruption in government services caused by the partial shutdown now in its fourth week. There had been growing concern that the shutdown would delay refunds going out because the money wouldn't be available for them from Congress. Last week, the administration said customary shutdown policies will be reversed to make the money available and refund payments on time possible. An IRS document detailing its new shutdown plan shows that 46,052 agency employees will be called back to work, of the total workforce of 80,265. It says the plan will take effect as soon as the Treasury Department issues an official notice. About three-quarters of U.S. taxpayers receive annual refunds, giving them an incentive to file their returns early. Many lower-income people count on refunds as their biggest cash infusion of the year. The issue is politically sensitive. The massive tax law enacted by Republicans in Congress in late 2017, which is President Donald Trump's signature legislative achievement, gave generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans and more modest reductions to middle- and low-income households. The law is expected to bring lower taxes for 2018 for the great majority of Americans, and the refunds are a big tangible part of that. Trump told supporters on a conference call Tuesday that his administration has been working to minimize the painful impacts of the shutdown. 'People are actually amazed that, with this many people, that government is really working so well. So we're very proud of that,' he said. Angered over employees having to work without pay, the union representing IRS staff sued in federal court last week to challenge any such agency action on constitutional grounds. The Constitution doesn't allow the government to obligate funds that haven't been provided by Congress, and the executive branch 'can't continue to force more and more employees to show up in exchange only for an IOU,' the National Treasury Employees Union said in its lawsuit. On Tuesday, a federal judge rejected the union's challenge, declining to force the government to pay the recalled employees. Some experts question whether the administration has the legal authority to reverse earlier policies to allow the government to issue refunds during a shutdown. __ Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

News

  • A day after travelers waited nearly 90 minutes in snail-speed security lines at the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's mayor is concerned about the waits that could result when the city hosts the 2019 Super Bowl. The ongoing partial government shutdown is 'uncharted territory' amid planning for one of the world's biggest sporting events, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Tuesday. 'Obviously, we are in uncharted territory with the shutdown that's gone on this long, and we are preparing as best we can from our vantage point,' Bottoms said. The mayor and others at a Tuesday news conference said two years of planning have them well-prepared to protect the public. 'Our goal is for our officers to be visible, for the public to feel safe, be safe, and be able to position ourselves so that we can react immediately to whatever scenario we are confronted with,' Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said. 'I think that with anything you can go in with a spirit of confidence if you have prepared, and we have prepared well.' But the government shutdown is a wild card that arose relatively late in that planning process. 'Certainly there are factors that we don't control such as what's happening with our federal government shutdown and with the long TSA lines,' Bottoms said. 'We are continuing to encourage people to get to the airport very early.' The expected crush of travelers is significantly more than normal. On a typical day, 60,000 to 80,000 passengers are screened at Atlanta's airport before departing, airport statistics show. On Feb. 4, the day Bottoms calls 'Mass Exodus Monday,' about 110,000 passengers are expected to be departing from Atlanta's airport one day after the Super Bowl. The partial government shutdown has meant missed paychecks for Transportation Security Administration screeners at airports nationwide. TSA workers have been calling in sick at a rate that's been more than double what it normally is, the agency has said. That's led to a shortage of screeners at some airports across the country. No-shows among screeners jumped Sunday and again Monday. The TSA had a national absence rate of nearly 7 percent Monday, compared to 2.5 percent on a comparable day a year ago, the agency reported Tuesday after getting complete numbers on the absences. A chaotic scene unfolded at Atlanta's airport on Monday, the first business day after screeners did not receive a paycheck for the first time. Mondays are typically busy for the airport as Atlanta business travelers depart for the work week, and some security lanes went unstaffed as lines backed up. Atlanta passengers led the nation Monday in terms of longest screening delays: The 'maximum standard wait time' was 88 minutes, the TSA reported. Passengers who went through TSA PreCheck — an expedited screening program which is typically faster than regular lines — waited 55 minutes, statistics showed.
  • Washington state's lieutenant governor declined to preside at Gov. Jay Inslee's State of the State speech Tuesday, saying he was concerned people might bring concealed weapons to the joint session of the Legislature. Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, a Democrat, noted that the state House of Representatives, where the speech was given, does not have a policy banning concealed weapons, The Daily Herald newspaper of Everett reported . 'There is no specific threat to me. There is no specific threat we know of, period,' Habib said. 'It's about the policy.' The House and Senate ban openly carried weapons in their galleries, and in the Senate, where Habib is the presiding officer; he extended that ban to cover concealed weapons as well. Habib, who is blind, said he was concerned the House policy leaves elected officials vulnerable. Other statewide elected officials, from the nine Washington Supreme Court justices to the commissioner of public lands, attended. In an emailed response, the office of the chief House clerk, Bernard Dean, called Habib's decision regrettable. 'Washington state law is clear: Properly licensed concealed carry permit holders are allowed to carry concealed weapons on the state capitol campus, including the galleries,' the statement said. 'Absent any specific security issue, and in accordance with the law, the House kept the galleries open so that the public could see its government in action.' Democratic Rep. John Lovick, of Mill Creek, the speaker pro tem in the House, presided over the joint legislative session for Inslee's speech in Habib's absence. Inslee, who is mulling a possible 2020 Democratic presidential bid, highlighted climate as his top issue in his annual address to lawmakers, who started their 105-day legislative session this week. ___ Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com
  • The White House says Ivanka Trump will take part in the nomination process for a new head of the World Bank. The senior adviser was asked to participate by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin because she has worked with World Bank leaders on a variety of projects. The White House said she is not a contender for the post. Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank, announced last week that he is resigning. With Kim's exit, President Donald Trump will have the opportunity to nominate his own choice to fill the position. The leaders at the 189-nation World Bank have all been Americans. But other countries have complained about this pattern. Kim's permanent successor will be decided by the World Bank's board of directors.
  • President Donald Trump's pick to become the next attorney general said Tuesday that he would 'not go after' marijuana companies in states where cannabis is legal, even though he personally believes the drug should be outlawed. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, William Barr said he would not use limited government resources to target cannabis businesses that are complying with state laws. Businesses in the marijuana industry relied on Obama-era guidance that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal, but those guidelines were rescinded by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year. Pointing to the growing marijuana industry and investments in cannabis companies, Barr said he didn't want to 'upset settled expectations.' 'To the extent that people are complying with the state laws, distribution and production and so forth, we're not going to go after that,' Barr said. Despite his affirmation that he would not target cannabis businesses, Barr said he would personally support a federal law that 'prohibits marijuana everywhere.' The largely hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement set forth during former President Barack Obama's administration allowed the marijuana industry to flourish into a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar market that helps fund some state government programs. Days after California's broad marijuana legalization went into effect, Sessions rescinded the Justice Department's guidance — known as the Cole Memo — and decried it as allowing a 'safe harbor' for marijuana by allowing states to flout federal law. Since the guidance was rescinded, there has been concern about the future of the growing cannabis industry. Despite medical and so-called recreational cannabis legalization in dozens of states, federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana. But Barr said the current system is 'untenable' and 'almost like a backdoor nullification of federal law.' He called for members of Congress to come up with a way to handle marijuana enforcement across the U.S. 'I think it's incumbent on the Congress to make a decision as to whether we are going to have a federal system,' he said. 'Because this is breeding disrespect for the federal law.' ___ Michael Balsamo is a member of AP's marijuana beat team. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 . Find complete AP marijuana coverage here: www.apnews.com/tag/LegalMarijuana
  • The partial government shutdown continues and many federal workers haven't been paid in weeks, so a local church stepped in to help its members who have been impacted. [READ MORE: Government shutdown becomes longest in U.S. history] Church members at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church were able to raise enough money to give fellow members affected by the government shutdown nearly $300 each in cash. Pastor Jamal Bryant, who joined the church in December, said he felt he and his congregation had a responsibility to help those in need. He said 30 people went to the altar Sunday seeking aide. [READ MORE: Jamal Bryant named as new senior pastor of New Birth] “When the government shuts down is when the church needs to be wide open,” Bryant said. Channel 2's Tom Jones has the full interview with Pastor Bryant on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. TRENDING STORIES: Police: Officer attacked with own Taser after dangerous suspect resists arrest Former Kasim Reed aide collapses in court as judge sentences her to prison Passengers arrive hours early at Atlanta airport after massive security lines