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Business Highlights

June 22, 2021 - 1:27 PM

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As passengers return to air travel, bad behavior skyrockets

As much as passengers are eager to return to the skies, they likely don’t miss all the frustrations that come with airplane travel. And now the pandemic has made the experience even more unpleasant with rules around masks and differing opinions on whether to comply. That has led to unruly behavior and more fights on flights. Airlines have reported about 3,000 cases of disruptive passengers since Jan. 1, according to a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. It has gotten so bad that the airlines, flight attendants and pilots sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department on Monday urging “that more be done to deter egregious behavior.”

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EU investigates Google’s conduct in digital ad tech sector

LONDON (AP) — European Union regulators have launched a fresh antitrust investigation of Google, this time over whether the company is stifling competition in digital advertising technology. The EU’s executive Commission said Tuesday that it has opened a formal investigation into whether Google violated the bloc’s competition rules by favoring its own online display advertising technology services at the expense of rival publishers, advertisers and advertising technology services. The commission said it’s looking in particular at whether Google is restricting access by third parties to user data for ad purposes on website and apps.

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Watchdog: Nursing home deaths up 32% in 2020 amid pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says that deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found two devastating spikes eight months apart in the most comprehensive look yet at COVID-19's toll among its most vulnerable victims. Investigators say there were more than 169,000 additional deaths last year among Medicare recipients in nursing homes. Also, cases and deaths among Asian patients tracked the more severe impacts seen among Blacks and Latinos. Indeed, Asian Medicare enrollees in nursing homes saw the highest increase in death rates, with 27% dying in 2020.

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Some used vehicles now cost more than original sticker price

DETROIT (AP) — High demand and low supply have driven up used vehicle prices so much that many are now selling for more than their original sticker price when they were new. The auto research firm Black Book found 73 models of 1- to-3-year-old vehicles with prices higher than the original sticker, even though they’re used. It’s all because of factory shutdowns last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and a worldwide shortage of computer chips that have forced auto production cuts. Black Book Senior Vice President of Data Science Alex Yurchenko says used vehicle prices are up 30% in the past year. He says the high prices will stay until the chip shortage ends, and that date is unknown.

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Help wanted: Labor crisis shocks California restaurants

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California restaurants that managed to survive the pandemic are facing a new crisis: finding workers. With the economy officially reopened, owners are eager to fill dining rooms to full capacity but can’t find enough cooks, servers or kitchen staffers to do the job. As a result, restaurants are being forced to cut operating hours or leave tables open. Jot Condie of the California Restaurant Association calls it a full-blown crisis. Restaurant owners and industry insiders blame several factors for the shortage. They include extended federal jobless benefits that have allowed workers to stay home. Other employees moved out of state during the pandemic.

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UK pushes Pacific trade talks amid broader new focus on Asia

BANGKOK (AP) — The U.K. has launched negotiations to join a trans-Pacific trade bloc as it looks to explore new opportunities following its departure from the European Union and strengthen its strategic interests in Asia. The British government said Tuesday that negotiating teams will be working over the coming months to join the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is home to around half a billion people. Britain is also looking to attain partner status with the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations as pursues a “tilt” toward the Indo-Pacific region in response to China’s growing influence.

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Construction starts on $899M station at Los Angeles airport

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A groundbreaking ceremony has marked the start of construction of an $898.6 million station that will directly connect Los Angeles International Airport to the region’s light rail and bus transportation systems. Officials say the station will solve a decades-old problem. The Airport Metro Connector will connect with an automated people mover train being built to carry people to and from the airport’s terminals. Officials described the start of construction as a pivotal milestone. The station will have platforms to access Metro light rail trains, a bus plaza, a drop-off zone for travelers, a bicycle hub and commercial space.

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US existing home sales fall again as prices continue to soar

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of previously-occupied homes fell for the fourth straight month in May, as soaring prices and a limited number of available properties discouraged many would-be buyers. Existing home sales dropped 0.9% last month from April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.8 million units, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. The string of sales declines comes after sharp gains last fall and through the winter, as many Americans sought more living space during the pandemic. Sales are up nearly 45% from last May, when purchases fell to their lowest point of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Florida beach town writes Amazon TV series to lure tourists

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Remember that longing you might have had after an episode of “Sex and The City” to shop at the characters’ favorite New York spots and drink cosmopolitans at those chic bars? That’s what travel marketers in St. Petersburg, Florida, were hoping to capitalize on when they commissioned an original, scripted TV series to lure tourists to their sugar sand beaches. The show, called “Life’s Rewards,” aired on Amazon Prime last month. The million-dollar series features picturesque backdrops like sunsets on the beach, the pier, Tarpon Springs and the posh pink Don CeSar hotel. Experts say this is a new genre for tourism marketing.

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Moderna’s president talks COVID-19 and vaccine technology

Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge says his company is working on developing COVID-19 vaccine booster shots while also trying to harness the genetic code technology it helped pioneer to fight other diseases. In an interview with The Associated Press, Hoge says COVID-19 boosters can be ready far faster than the original vaccines — which themselves were developed in record time. Moderna is working on vaccines for other viruses that are hard to protect against, such as flu and HIV, as well as medicines to treat cancer and heart disease, all using strings of messenger RNA that help the body fend off disease.

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The S&P 500 rose 21.65 points, or 0.5%, to 4,246.44. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 68.61 points, or 0.2%, to 33,945.58. The Nasdaq rose 111.79 points, or 0.8%, to 14,253.27. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 9.85 points, or 0.4%, to 2,295.95.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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