Unions vow to shut France’s economy down amid pension battle
PARIS (AP) — Unions are threatening to shut down France’s economy this week in what they hope is their toughest riposte yet to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age. The first actions are expected Monday as truckers are being urged to block major highway arteries and interchanges in go-slow actions dubbed “escargot” operations. Unions plan an open-ended strike on the national rail service starting Monday evening. The government is bracing for the biggest disruptions Tuesday when unions plan strikes across multiple sectors and protests. The retirement reform would raise the official pension age from 62 to 64. The bill is under debate in parliament.
Fox libel defense at odds with top GOP presidential foes
NEW YORK (AP) — A $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News for its coverage of false claims surrounding the 2020 presidential election isn’t the only thing putting pressure on the standard for U.S. libel law. Two politicians popular with Fox’s audience, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have advocated for the Supreme Court to revisit the libel standard that has protected media organizations for more than half a century. Current libel law requires plaintiffs to prove that a news organization acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Fox is using that standard to defend its actions that promoted false claims of voter fraud.
World stocks gain after Wall Street has best day in 6 weeks
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares are mostly higher in Europe and Asia after strong data on the U.S. economy sent Wall Street to its best close in six weeks. Shares rose in Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Tokyo but fell in London and Shanghai. U.S. futures edged higher while oil prices declined. On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 1.6% to cap its first winning week in the last four as relaxing yields in the bond market took some pressure off Wall Street. It’s found some stability following a swift rise and fall to start the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 387 points, while the Nasdaq composite jumped more than other indexes.
Kansas plan keeping low wages for disabled angers advocates
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are considering a proposal that many disability rights advocates say could help employers who pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage, bucking a national trend. A Kansas House bill would expand a state income tax credit for goods and services purchased from vendors employing disabled workers so the vendors could have some workers who don’t get the minimum wage. The debate over the Kansas measure comes as employers nationally have been moving toward paying at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. More than a dozen states have banned below-minimum-wage jobs for disabled workers and a bipartisan proposal to do so is before Congress.
Estonia’s pro-Ukraine prime minister Kallas wins reelection
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Estonia’s center-right Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has won reelection. Kallas is one of Europe’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine. Her Reform Party overwhelmingly won the Baltic country’s general election on Sunday. A far-right populist challenger lost seats in vote that focused on national security and the economy. Preliminary returns from a completed ballot count showed the Reform Party received 31.2% of the vote. That translates into 37 seats at Estonia’s 101-seat Parliament and an increase of three seats from the 2019 election.
China sets this year’s economic growth target at ‘around 5%’
BEIJING (AP) — China’s government has set this year’s economic growth target at “around 5%” as it tries to rebuild business activity following the end of anti-virus controls that kept millions of people at home. Premier Li Keqiang, the top economic official, announced the target on Sunday in a report on government plans to the ceremonial legislature, the National People’s Congress. Chinese leader Xi Jinping said earlier that this year’s official priority is an economic revival based on consumer spending after growth sank to 3% last year, its second-lowest level since at least the 1970s.
Exxon Mobil sued as 5 nooses displayed at Louisiana facility
The U.S. government says Exxon Mobil violated federal law for failing to take sufficient action as five hangman’s nooses were displayed at a facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The lawsuit was filed Thursday. Exxon Mobil Corp. said a statement Sunday that it disagrees with the allegations and that it investigated the complaints. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in its lawsuit that a Black employee found a hangman’s noose at his worksite at the chemical plant in January 2020. The government says Exxon knew of three other nooses found at the complex but failed to take action to prevent such harassment, and then a fifth noose appeared.
Chinese planners promise 12 million jobs, economic rebound
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese economic officials have expressed confidence they can meet this year’s growth target of “around 5%” by generating 12 million new jobs and encouraging consumer spending. The Cabinet planning officials announced no details of spending or other initiatives to revive growth that slumped to 3% last year, the second-lowest in decades. But they said they plan an array of measures to raise incomes and encourage innovation. Efforts to revive the Chinese economy have global implications after weak retail, auto and housing sales depressed demand for imports. The country is the biggest market for its Asian neighbors and an important revenue source for Western companies.
Global race to boost electric vehicle range in cold weather
TOK, Alaska (AP) — Many electric vehicle batteries lose power when it’s very cold. It’s something that’s long been known by engineers but thousands of people are confronting the issue now if they own an electric car and have to make a longer trip on a very cold day. Testing carried out by companies, agencies and governments show popular EV models can lose roughly 10% to 36% of their advertised range in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. For some owners it comes as an unpleasant surprise; others worry this could hurt the transition to electric vehicles that’s necessary to reduce fossil fuel emissions and address climate change. Engineers say solutions are coming in the next few years.
Bankman-Fried might use flip phone under stricter bail plan
Prosecutors and attorneys for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried are requesting the disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur be allowed a flip-phone or another device that’s not a smartphone while on bail. The proposal was submitted Friday to the judge overseeing the case. Prosecutors alleged last month that Bankman-Fried used electronic devices in ways that can’t be traced. Under the proposal, Bankman-Fried’s phone functions would be limited to SMS text messages and voice calls. He could also get a new laptop with limited use. The judge still has to decide whether to approve the proposal. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to cheating investors and looting customer deposits at FTX, his cryptocurrency platform.