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    French President Emmanuel Macron has annoyed Poland and irritated France's climate activists by urging them to move their protests from Paris to Poland, a European Union nation that is heavily dependent on coal. Poland, which relies on coal for some 80% of its energy, is treading cautiously on cutting coal. The country has a long tradition of coal mining, a major employer that offers tens of thousands of jobs in the southern Silesia region. The plan is to eliminate coal by 2050. Poland also needs to develop more renewable energy sources. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said Monday that Macron 'is aware' that his country was trying hard to reduce carbon emissions. He hoped that 'in this area as well as in other areas, he will refrain from this kind of lecturing which, in his case, has become tiring.' In comments on a flight to the United Nations on Sunday, Macron said Poland had blocked his efforts to make the EU commit to carbon neutrality in 2050, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia. 'Marching every Friday to say that the planet is burning, that's nice, but that is not the problem,' Macron told reporters, adding people should 'go protest in Poland! Help me move those I cannot push forward.' Macron also suggested that activists do 'big operations to clean rivers or Corsica beaches' instead of protesting. Poland's Minister for European Affairs Konrad Szymanski responded that his country was serious about climate issues, but wanted clear rules on burden sharing in the EU. Macron's comments also prompted some indignation at home. Far-left political leader Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted that 'the king of disdain has spoken.' Macron presents himself internationally as a champion of environment issues, but climate activists claim he has failed to take enough concrete measures at home to fight climate change. __ Scislowska reported from Warsaw, Poland.
  • Victims of a diabetes drug suspected in hundreds of deaths pleaded for justice as a massive trial involving more than 4,000 plaintiffs opened Monday for French pharmaceutical giant Servier Laboratoires and France's medicines watchdog. The company and the oversight body stand accused of involuntary manslaughter, fraud and other charges in their handling of the drug Mediator. 'My life is just not the same,' said Paquita Guardiola, who suffered severe health complications requiring a heart transplant after taking the drug. 'Now it's hard for me to even get dressed. My children dress me, my husband dresses me. He helps me in the shower, he does everything.' Although marketed as a diabetes drug, Mediator was also prescribed as a hunger suppressant and was taken by millions of people before sales were suspended in France in 2009. A 2010 study said Mediator was suspected in 1,000-2,000 deaths, with doctors linking it to heart and lung problems. The closely watched trial that opened in Paris is expected to last six months and is one of France's biggest in years. The trial dossier runs to nearly 700 pages — with around 300 pages taken up by plaintiffs' names. The trial was spread across five rooms, connected by video-link, at the Paris courthouse. Nearly 400 lawyers were working on the case. Guardiola, who has already received compensation from Servier, will testify as a witness. She said the drugmaker 'ruined my life.' Irène Frachon, a lung specialist who was among the first in France to sound the alarm about Mediator, said the scandal could not be simply brushed aside. 'You can't 'Put it behind you' when 2,000 people died,' she said. 'I'm really counting on this criminal case to put an end to this collective blindness to white collar crimes, especially with regards to what I call pharma-criminality.' She added: 'Whatever the financial stakes, there are red lines that need to be redrawn and that's why this trial is crucial.' Investigating magistrates concluded that Servier for decades covered up Mediator's harmful effects on patients. The national medicines agency is suspected of colluding in masking its dangers. François de Castro, a lawyer for Servier, said the pharmaceutical firm wasn't aware of risks associated with Mediator before 2009 — 33 years after it first went on sale. Speaking at the courthouse, the president of Servier, Olivier Laureau, expressed 'our deepest and sincerest regrets' to 'the patients who have suffered from Mediator' and 'to their families who have gone through a tragedy.' Servier is being tried on charges of manslaughter, unintentional harm, fraud and deceit about the chemical makeup of Mediator and the risks of taking it. France's medicines agency, meanwhile reformed and renamed, is also accused of manslaughter by negligence and causing unintentional harm. Also on trial are 12 representatives of the pharma giant and the medicines agency. 'This trial is a victory for the victims,' said Dominique-Michel Courtois, head of a Mediator victims group. He said they want answers on how Servier obtained a license to market the drug and how it 'hoodwinked the authorities.' Headquartered in a suburb of Paris, Servier employs 22,000 people worldwide and generated 4.1 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in turnover last year.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric is considering cutting power to try to head off wildfires sparked by electrical equipment, as fall brings back dangerous fire conditions that led to the deadliest and most destructive blazes in California history. The San Francisco-based utility is expected to make a decision Monday on whether controlled power outages are needed to reduce the risk of wildfires. Some of the devastating blazes in the past two years were started by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. power lines. If approved by the utility, outages could occur in nine northern counties later in the day. An estimated 124,000 people could be affected if power is shut off to the entire area. Strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures were forecast in the region through Wednesday, and authorities issued an extreme fire danger warning for some areas. Wind gusts could reach 50 mph (80 kmph) in the northern Sierra and foothills, and between 30 to 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) in the Sacramento Valley and near the Pacific coast, the National Weather Service said. The controlled outages could affect portions of Butte, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Yuba counties in the Sierra foothills and Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. The utility first cut off power preemptively to thousands of customers last October, affecting some 87,000 Northern California customers. The move prompted complaints and demands for reimbursement. In January, the company sought bankruptcy protection, saying it could not afford an estimated $30 billion in potential damages from lawsuits stemming from catastrophic wildfires. Earlier this month, PG&E agreed to pay $11 billion to insurance companies holding 85% of the claims from fires that include a November 2018 blaze that nearly destroyed the town of Paradise, killing 86 people. The settlement, confirmed Monday, is subject to bankruptcy court approval. It's important for PG&E to pull itself from bankruptcy protection because it will be a big part of a wildfire fund set up to help California's major utilities pay future claims as climate change makes wildfires more frequent and severe, Southern California Edison said Sunday it was considering widely scattered public safety power shutdowns that would affect 10,240 customers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties as forecasters predicted gusty Santa Ana winds.
  • The head of the European Central Bank says the economy in the 19-country eurozone is not showing signs of a rebound and urged governments to help by spending more on top of the central bank's latest package of stimulus measures. Mario Draghi said in remarks Monday before the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee Monday in Brussels that recent data 'do not show convincing signs of a rebound in growth in the near future' and that risks are 'tilted to the downside.' He urged governments that were in good financial shape to 'act in an effective and timely manner.' Draghi's pleas have met a cool response from governments. Germany, the largest euro member state, has rejected the idea of borrowing more to investing in infrastructure. The central bank, which sets interest rate policy for the countries that use the euro, announced on Sept. 12 an interest rate cut and a new program of bond purchases that aim to boost lagging growth and inflation. The eurozone economy grew only 0.2% in the second quarter from the previous quarter, while Germany shrank 0.1%. That puts the country on the edge of a recession, defined as two straight quarter of shrinking output. Nonetheless, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that a package of measures announced to combat climate would not involve new borrowing and that the government would stick to its balanced budget policy.
  • Nissan has agreed to pay $15 million and its former chairman Carlos Ghosn is paying $1 million to settle federal regulators' civil fraud charges of hiding from investors more than $140 million in compensation and retirement benefits for Ghosn. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Monday with the major Japanese automaker and its former chairman, who also agreed to be barred for 10 years from serving as an officer or director of a public company. Ghosn is awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct allegations in a criminal case. Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, was arrested by Japanese authorities in Tokyo and jailed four times since November. Ghosn has maintained he is innocent. He is currently out on bail but faces restrictions on his activities such as not being allowed to contact his wife, Carole Ghosn. She has appeared before a Japanese judge to answer questions in the case. The first hearing in the trial has been set for April. Ghosn and Nissan Motor Co. settled the charges without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, but agreed to refrain from future anti-fraud violations of the securities laws. In addition, a former Nissan director, Greg Kelly, agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty to settle the SEC charges, to be barred for five years from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and to be suspended for five years from practicing as an attorney before the SEC. In a statement, Ghosn's team of lawyers noted that he will be allowed to contest and deny the allegations in the criminal case in Japan, and they said he 'fully intends to do so.' 'Mr. Ghosn and his defense team are now able to focus their efforts on continuing to vigorously fight the criminal case in Japan and pursue his claims against Nissan around the world,' the statement said. 'They remain confident that, if given a fair trial, he will be acquitted of all charges and fully vindicated.' Attorneys representing Nissan declined to comment on the SEC settlement. An attorney for Kelly wasn't immediately available for comment. Starting in 2009, Ghosn with the help of Kelly and subordinates at Nissan conducted a scheme to conceal more than $90 million of his compensation from investors and public disclosure, while also acting to increase his retirement benefits by over $50 million, the SEC alleged. Each year, Ghosn fixed a total amount of compensation for himself, with a certain amount paid and disclosed, and an additional amount unpaid and undisclosed, according to the agency. The regulators said that Ghosn and his subordinates concocted various ways of structuring payment of the undisclosed compensation after his retirement, including entering into secret contracts, backdating letters to grant him interests in Nissan's long-term incentive plan, and changing the way his pension was calculated to generate over $50 million in additional benefits. 'Simply put, Nissan's disclosures about Ghosn's compensation were false,' Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC's enforcement division, said in a statement. 'Through these disclosures, Nissan advanced Ghosn and Kelly's deceptions and misled investors, including U.S. investors.
  • U.S. stocks turned slightly higher in midday trading Monday, led by technology companies and makers of household products. The market turned higher in late morning after wobbling lower earlier as investors digested some weak economic figures out of Germany. Chipmakers led the gains in tech stocks. Micron Technology rose 1.8% and Qualcomm gained 1.6%. Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo were among the makers of consumer goods that posted gains. Utilities also showed small gains. Investors typically shift to both those sectors and bonds when they are seeking safer places to put their money amid worries about economic growth. Bond prices rose and pushed down yields on 10-year Treasury notes to 1.69% from 1.75% late Friday, another sign investors were seeking to avoid some risk. Health care stocks were the biggest laggards. Medical supply company McKesson dropped 4% while CVS lost 1.4%. Investors are preparing for the start of the next round of corporate earnings and several key companies this week could provide a clearer picture of the U.S.-China trade war's ongoing impact. Nike, which could be a gauge of the trade war's effect on shoemakers and retailers, will report fiscal first quarter results on Tuesday. Technology company Micron will report its fiscal fourth quarter results on Thursday. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose just under 0.1% as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20 points, or 0.1%, to 26,959. The Nasdaq was flat. OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe fell broadly as Germany's economy contracted to its lowest level in nearly seven years, according to IHS Markit. Germany is Europe's largest economy and often acts as a gauge for the continent's economic health. The latest data adds to worries that Europe is facing a slowdown in economic growth. The European Central Bank is urging governments to spend more on stimulus as economic growth stalls. Asian stocks edged lower. MARKET WORRIES: Stocks are coming off of their first week of losses after three straight gains and investors are keeping a close watch on the United Nations General Assembly this week. Oil prices and the energy sector could experience more volatility as President Donald Trump seeks a coalition to confront Iran after the U.S. blamed it for last week's strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility. Prospects for a trade war resolution seem to have once again cooled following comments by Trump that he doesn't necessarily need to make a deal before the next U.S. elections in 2020. Chinese officials canceled a planned trip to farms in Montana and Nebraska, an action that raised concerns of yet another halt in trade negotiations. U.S. and Chinese officials are expected to meet in October to restart trade talks. THINLY STOCKED: E-commerce company Overstock.com fell 15.2% after the company cut its financial forecast partly because tariffs have increased the costs of goods from China. It also named Jonathan Johnson as its new CEO. He has been acting CEO since August when Patrick Byrne resigned. CRYPTO FUTURE: Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, entered the bitcoin futures game over the weekend. Bakkt Bitcoin Futures contracts are trading in ICE's federally regulated markets and are payable in digital currency. Bakkt is the firm behind the contracts. Competitor CME Group launched its digital currency futures in 2017 and those are payable in cash.
  • British tour operator Thomas Cook fell victim to multiple setbacks including shifting travel habits, the rise of online booking sites, the sinking pound and even unusually hot weather that encouraged fewer Northern Europeans to travel. Specific problems of its own, like a 1.6 billion-pound ($2 billion) debt pile, made it less able to react to change. It all added up to a perfect storm that led the 178-year-old company to cease operations early Monday, stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers. Analysts said Thomas Cook, which rode a package holiday boom that started in the mid-1980s, was too slow to react as consumers moved away from buying trips at bricks-and-mortar stores. It has been overtaken by online services like Airbnb and internet travel companies who may separate or combine hotel, rental car and flight offerings, which puts pressure on prices through comparison shopping. 'The company has struggled to adapt to a changing travel and retail environment,' said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK. The company did push into online business, with 48% of its bookings from the internet as of last year. But not fast enough. Online rivals, meanwhile, didn't have to bear the costs of owning 200 hotels, 500 travel agency shops and 105 airline jets, but acted as middlemen. Thomas Cook Group PLC isn't alone in facing such pressures. Competitor TUI Group AG, based in Hannover, Germany, has shifted its focus from tour operators to its own cruises and hotels. But other factors laid into the British travel company. Company officials have cited uncertainty over Brexit, both from consumers worried about its impact on their finances and from the timing, given that one unfulfilled deadline for Britain to leave the EU fell on March 31, just days before the heavy European Easter holiday travel season this year. Travel agents had to issue guidance on what would happen in case of a no-deal Brexit. Brexit has meanwhile sent the pound lower, given British travelers less purchasing power. After 2010, the Arab Spring revolts discouraged travel to previous U.K. favorites such as Egypt and Tunisia. Travel companies shifted their focus to the Western Mediterranean, such as Spain's Canary Islands, only to see demand for some of those locations then dwindle. The company's reputation suffered after the 2006 deaths of two customers in Corfu, Greece, from carbon monoxide poisoning. The case dragged out for years and Thomas Cook would end up being told by a coroner it 'breached its duty of care.' As the company struggled to reshape its business in the new environment and cut costs it was hit with an unusually warm summer in 2018, which it said led travelers from the U.K. and Scandinavia to put off plans to head for warmer destinations. When they did decide at the last minute, the sector of the market that focuses on late decision makers turned out to be fiercely competitive on price. 'The group, like its peers, has suffered from a perfect storm of turbulence, from political unrest and terrorism at some of its most popular destinations, to unusual weather patterns seeing travelers taking 'staycations' and the ever present Brexit uncertainty devaluing the pound and putting consumers off from booking holidays,' said Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre. Heavy debts gave the company less breathing room to maneuver. 'While other travel groups have suffered from these factors, Thomas Cook's pile of debt is the differentiating factor,' said Miah.
  • 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): 6 p.m. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says a 'huge effort' is underway to bring home British tourists and passengers stranded by the sudden financial collapse of travel company Thomas Cook. He adds Monday that steps needed to be taken so 'you don't end up with a situation where the taxpayer, where the state is having to step in and bring people home.' Johnson asks 'whether it's right that the directors and the board should pay themselves large sums when a company can go down the tubes like that.' He says tour companies must properly insure themselves against this kind of eventuality. Johnson spoke at the U.K. consul-general's residence in New York as he attended the U.N. General Assembly. __ 4 p.m. Gambian Tourism Minister Hamat Bah has told The Associated Press the country's government has convened an emergency meeting to deal with the collapse of travel company Thomas Cook. People in the tiny West African coastal nation say the shutdown could have a devastating impact on tourism, which contributes more than 30% of GDP. Gambian artist and craftsman Boubacarr Bah says the tourist season is set to begin in October and the company's collapse means that 'we are going to suffer the consequences.' He said Monday he hopes Britain will find a solution. ___ 6:45 p.m. A Swedish Thomas Cook customer stranded on Cyprus is making the best of a bad situation, saying he'll enjoy the sunshine until Friday when arrangements will hopefully be made for his return. Bengt Olsson from Gothenberg said Monday he's no information on arrangements being made for him and five other Swedes he travelled with to return home. But he isn't too worried yet because 'it's nice to stay here, it's warm.' Joanna Florentiadou, general manager at Sentido Sandy Beach Hotel, outside the southern coastal town of Larnaca, told the Associated Press a UK financial protection scheme will cover the costs for the stay and return flights of 30 British holidaymakers staying there. But it's still unclear what arrangements will be made for the 120 German and 80 Scandinavian guests, including Olsson, who will be permitted to remain in their rooms for the next few days. ___ 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.

News

  • Four men are accused of abducting a Maine man at gunpoint, forcing him to strip naked, and then shooting at him as the man attempted to escape by running down a road, police said Monday, >> Read more trending news  Ajoung M. Malual, 22, of Westbrook, Maine, Mahdi B. Ali, 23, of Boston, Noh Y. Okubazghi, 20, of Boston, and Samson S. Samsom, 22, of Minneapolis, were charged with drug trafficking and may face other charges, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Each man is being held in lieu of $150,000 bond apiece, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said they received reports of gunshots fired at a naked man about 1:30 a.m. Monday, WMTW reported. When deputies located the 39-year-old Naples resident, he told them he was taken at gunpoint from his home and put into a trunk, the Sheriff's Office said in its news release. He told deputies he was taken to an area and told to strip naked, and at that point began running through the woods while he was being shot at, deputies said. The victim gave deputies a description of the vehicle, which was located in Windham and stopped by authorities, the Sheriff's Office said. The four men in the vehicle were detained and subsequently arrested, deputies said. The victim, who was wounded, was taken to an area hospital and is in stable condition, deputies said.
  • What was an exciting celebration for one Texas couple became the subject of criticism on Twitter. The New York Post reported Jonathan Joseph and Bridgette Joseph were at Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek, Texas, where they enlisted the help of Tank the hippo for their gender reveal. >> Read more trending news  Video was posted to the zoo's Facebook page, but not before going viral on Twitter, where Ana Breton, a filmmaker, posted a screen recording of a TikTok post of the gender reveal. 'I did it. I found the worst gender reveal,' she tweeted Saturday. Time reported that the video showed Tank chomping on a watermelon, which revealed a blue color, meaning the couple is expecting a boy. Criticisms soon followed. 'The whole reveal concept is just completely stupid to begin with, but I guess you can make it even dumber,' one person tweeted. 'That person's baby is not remotely important enough to feed a hippo 10 pounds of food coloring,' another person replied. On Sunday, Breton said she got in contact with Bridgette Joseph, although it's not clear if Bridgette Joseph reached out to Breton to respond or not. 'While I’m not a fan of gender reveals, it was not my intention to bring darkness to their special day,' Breton tweeted, which included a response from Bridgette Joseph. 'This was one of the happiest days of our lives,' Bridgette Joseph said, according to Breton's tweet. 'With the help of the zoo and the amazing Tank the hippo, we learned that we are having a baby boy. After many years of raising our beautiful young lady, we decided to try for another baby. It took some time and some extra money in fertility treatments, but we finally got pregnant!' Bridgette Joseph said she and her husband would have been happy to have another girl, but for them, it would have meant they 'would have had to keep tying for a boy.' Michael Hicks, the director of the zoo, told The Post the Jello-O was not harmful to Tank, despite what some said on social media. 'This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It's totally harmless,' zoo director Michael Hicks told the tabloid. Hicks said the hippo wasn't forced into the gender reveal. 'You can't make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds,' Hicks said. 'He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did.
  • Officials in an Iowa city said the U.S. Department of Transportation has asked the city manager to remove multi-colored sidewalks, according to KCCI. >> Read more trending news  Ames officials said they received a letter from the USDOT's Federal Highway Administration, explaining the crosswalk at Fifth Street and Douglas Avenue did not meet codes and requested its removal 'as soon as it is feasible,' the television station reported. The crosswalks, installed earlier this month, feature a minority-inclusive rainbow on Douglas Avenue, KCCI reported. The crosswalks on Fifth Street feature gender non-binary colors on the east crosswalk and pride transgender colors on the west crosswalk, the television station reported. Ames officials said the FHWA's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prohibits the use of anything but white paint in crosswalks, adding that colored crosswalks and multi-colored crosswalks were not allowed. Ames officials are contesting the request. “I note that the FHWA’s letter included a “request” -- not a demand -- for the City to remove the colored crosswalk markings,' Ames City Attorney Mark O. Lambert told KCCI. 'This is not a lawful order or demand by a federal agency, it is merely a request.”
  • While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Chicago police have captured a man suspected of nearly killing an officer over the weekend, three days after he is accused of shooting a 28-year-old woman in the back as he rode a bicycle near downtown. Michael Blackman, 45, was in critical condition Sunday after he was shot during an armed confrontation with police, authorities said Sunday. As of Monday morning, he had been charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department. A news conference was slated for later Monday to provide more details, but a time had not been set.  Blackman was captured Saturday afternoon, several hours after he allegedly shot a 40-year-old police officer on Chicago’s South Side. Chicago Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan said Blackman was caught after investigators who were canvassing the Englewood community, where the officer’s shooting took place, obtained surveillance footage that showed Blackman fleeing through a vacant lot several blocks away. The footage did not show him leave the lot. Detectives and patrol officers descended upon the area, Deenihan said. “When they went to go search that lot, this defendant popped up,” Deenihan said. “This is when the gun battle ensued between the defendant and the officers.” Blackman ran over some railroad tracks, where he encountered more officers. Additional shots were fired, and Blackman was struck multiple times. “He has eight holes in him at this time and a broken femur,” Deenihan said. Watch Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan talk about the shooting and capture of Michael Blackman below.  Blackman was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the same hospital where the officer he is accused of shooting was rushed earlier that morning. No officers were injured in the second encounter with Blackman, Deenihan said. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a news conference Saturday that the 16-year veteran officer who was shot serves on the department’s fugitive apprehension team. The team, which was looking for Blackman in connection with Wednesday’s bicycle shooting, went shortly after 8:30 a.m. that morning to a home in the 1900 block of West 65th Street, where Blackman was believed to be hiding, Johnson said. >> Read more trending news  When members of the team knocked on the door, Blackman ran out the back of the house, where the injured officer and his partner were stationed, Johnson said. “At that time, a physical struggle ensued, followed by an armed confrontation,” Johnson said. The unnamed officer was shot in the groin and in the lower leg, doctors said. Fellow officers loaded him into a patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. “It is reported that the injured officer had the self-awareness to apply his own tourniquet, as his partner maintained pressure on the gunshot wound on the way to the hospital,” the superintendent said. Guglielmi tweeted that the officer lost nearly a third of his blood volume. “He came basically bleeding to death,” trauma surgeon Dr. Jane Kayle Lee said during Saturday’s news conference. “He had already lost a significant amount of blood and was taken emergently to the operating room for surgery.” Lee said the officer had a hole in one of the largest veins in his leg. She was able to repair the injury. The surgeon said the bullet to the officer’s groin remains in his body. The gunshot to his leg was a “through-and-through” wound, with both an entrance and exit wound. The officer suffered significant fractures to his leg when that bullet tore through his body, Lee said. His leg was splinted for the time being, but he will need additional surgery. “I do expect that he will have a good recovery,” Lee said. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who met with the man’s family at the hospital, said the shooting is a reminder of the sacrifice police officers make every day to protect the city’s residents. She also praised the work of the officer’s colleagues in the fugitive apprehension unit. “Their quick work saved this officer’s life,” Lightfoot said. She asked the public to pray for the officer’s full recovery. “I ask that all Chicagoans continue praying for the officer and his family throughout his recovery,” Lightfoot said at the news conference. “Also, keep all of our first responders in our thoughts and prayers because, as the superintendent said, and we see on a daily basis, they run to danger to protect us.” Like the officer, the woman Blackman is accused of shooting on Wednesday is expected to survive. According to The Chicago Tribune, the woman was headed to lunch with co-workers around noon in the city’s Fulton Market District when she was shot by a man on a bicycle. Watch police and city officials, along with medical personnel, speak below about the Saturday shooting of a Chicago police officer.  “Based on the information we have right now, the shooter passed by a group of individuals and went directly to her to extend his arm and fire one single gunshot,” Johnson said at the time, according to the Tribune. “Appears right now the victim may have been targeted by the offender.” As the gunman fled the scene, the woman was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, the newspaper said. Her condition was unknown Monday. Police officials released still images and video the day of the shooting that showed the alleged gunman riding his bicycle near the scene of the shooting. Guglielmi tweeted Friday that detectives had been given a tip to go to a bicycle shop, where they discovered security footage that showed a man fitting the description of the shooter getting his bike fixed about an hour before the woman was shot. The clearer images, which show a man later identified by police as Blackman, offer a full view of the man’s face as he stands at the counter. At one point, he takes off his black Nike baseball cap and wipes his head with paper towels. He is seen standing and chatting with the employee working on his bike and leaning on the counter, his wallet out, as he pays his bill. The man smiles several times as he talks to the worker. Blackman was identified as a suspect in Wednesday’s shooting based in part on the images from the bike shop, Johnson said. His motive in the woman's shooting was unknown as of Saturday. The superintendent declined to speculate on Blackman’s state of mind but pointed out that he was accused of shooting two people, including a police officer. “Obviously, this is not a person that should be walking the streets of Chicago,” Johnson said Saturday while Blackman was still at large. “He’s a dangerous individual. There’s no hiding that.” Blackman has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1991, Johnson said Saturday. His previous charges range from burglary and domestic battery to drug charges. He remained hospitalized in police custody Monday morning.
  • Some Michigan students were startled last week to see what looked like an alligator living in a pond behind the school. It took a day to catch the reptile after the pond was drained, school officials said. >> Read more trending news  The reptile was identified by animal experts as a 3-foot-long caiman, according to WDIV. Caimans are not native to Michigan, but they're often kept as pets, wildlife experts told the television station. They share many characteristics with alligators and crocodiles but are often smaller, officials said. That did not matter to students at Bedford Junior and Senior High School in Temperance, who believed a gator by any other name was just as scary. The body of water at Bedford Junior and Senior High School is called the Biology Pond and is used by both junior and senior high school classes for academic study, WXMI reported. A teacher spotted the reptile Thursday and reported it, the television station reported. Joe Garverick, the owner of the Indian Creek Zoo in nearby Lambertville, attempted to catch the alligator with his bare hands Thursday, but the reptile proved to be elusive, WTVG reported. “It got loose or somebody let it loose — one or the other,” Garverick told the television station. The reptile was finally caught and will join three alligators at Indian Creek Zoo, Garverick told WXMI.