Southwest Airlines flight cancellations continue to snowball
DALLAS (AP) — Families hoping to catch a Southwest Airlines flight after days of cancellations, missing luggage and missed family connections are suffering through another wave of scrubbed flights. Another 2,500 flights are being pulled from arrival and departure boards Wednesday and more are expected throughout the day. Exhausted travelers are seeking alternative routes with other airlines, on the ground by rental car or train, or they’ve simply given up. According to the FlightAware tracking service, more than 91% of all canceled flights in the U.S. early Wednesday were from Southwest, which has been unable to recover from ferocious winter storms that raked large swaths of the country over the weekend.
Spain scraps value-added tax on staple foods in aid package
MADRID (AP) — Spain has announced a new series of measures including scrapping Value Added Tax on staple food and has extended rent and eviction controls to help ease the economic crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. It is the third aid package since the start of the war in February and was said to be worth 10 billion euros ($11billion). Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the measures in an end-of-year speech. The government said it would cut VAT on cooking oil and pasta from 10% to 5%. The government will maintain a cut in the tax on electricity and issue a new cheque of 200 euros for 4.2 million homes.
Lavrov: Ukraine must demilitarize or Russia will do it
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that Ukraine must meet Moscow’s demand for “demilitarization” and the removal of the military threat to Russia. Lavrov said Tuesday that otherwise “the Russian army (will) solve the issue.” Lavrov also falsely accused the West of fueling the war in Ukraine to weaken Russia and said that it depends on Kyiv and Washington how long the conflict will last. Ukraine’s presidential adviser responded that “Russia needs to face the reality.” Moscow insists its military gains and the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula can’t be ignored. Ukraine has said that it won’t negotiate with Russia before the full withdrawal of its troops.
House committee expected to release Trump’s taxes Friday
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s tax returns are expected to be released by the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday. That’s according to a congressional aide, who was not authorized to discuss the timing of the release publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Friday is the next time the House is scheduled to meet for a routine pro forma session. The Democratic-controlled committee voted last week to release Trump’s returns, with some redactions of sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and contact information. The new Congress, with Republicans in control of the House, begins Jan. 3.
Stocks edge higher on Wall Street; Southwest losses mount
Stocks edged higher on Wall Street as investors count down to the end of the worst year for the S&P 500 since 2008. Tesla is rebounding from steep losses it suffered after reports Tuesday that it temporarily suspended production at a factory in Shanghai. Southwest Airlines shares dropped as the carrier’s dramatic trouble with flight cancellations continued. Health care and real estate companies are leading the S&P 500 gainers. The benchmark index is up 0.1% in morning trading on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the technology heavy Nasdaq composite gained ground. Treasury yields slipped.
Nord Stream 2 pipeline firm gets 6-month stay of bankruptcy
BERLIN (AP) — A Swiss court has granted a six-month “stay of bankruptcy” to the operating company for the never-opened Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline was built to bring Russian gas to Germany but put on ice shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February. A regional court in the Swiss canton (state) of Zug extended the stay from Jan. 10 through July 10 by, according to a notice published Wednesday in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. The company, Nord Stream 2 AG, is a subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom but based in Zug. Its court-appointed administrator had sought the extension. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government halted the certification process for the pipeline on Feb. 22.
Bangladesh opens first metro service to ease Dhaka traffic
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh’s prime minister has inaugurated the country’s first metro rail service aimed at easing notorious traffic jams in capital Dhaka. Sheikh Hasina held a ceremony for a limited version of the service with the Japanese ambassador and the chief representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency. Japan funded the project with a $2.8 billion price tag. Dhaka is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with over 20 million people who struggle to commute on clogged roads. According to a research by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, the economy in Dhaka loses about $3 billion each year in lost work time due to traffic jams. The metro is expected to grow to over 100 stations and six lines crisscrossing the city by 2030.
Western NY death toll rises to 28 from cold, storm chaos
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The death toll from a pre-Christmas blizzard that paralyzed the Buffalo area and much of the country has risen to 28 in western New York, authorities said Monday as the region dug out from one of the worst weather-related disasters in its history. The dead have been found in their cars, homes and in snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow. The storm that walloped much of the country is now blamed for at least 49 deaths, with rescue and recovery efforts continuing Monday. The blizzard roared through the region Friday and Saturday, stranding motorists, knocking out power and preventing emergency crews from reaching residents in frigid homes and stuck cars.
Zach Bryan drops ‘All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster’ album
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The chorus against Ticketmaster’s contentious concert pricing practices is growing, including Zach Bryan and friends. The country music artist dropped a live album titled “All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster” on Sunday. Bryan also issued a statement on social media in which he decried “a massive issue with fair ticket prices to live shows lately.” The statement doesn’t mention Ticketmaster by name except in the new album title, though he tagged the company in a separate Instagram post displaying the track listing. A message seeking comment from Ticketmaster was not immediately returned.
The AP Interview: Ukraine FM aims for February peace summit
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that his nation wants a summit to end the war but he doesn’t anticipate Russia taking part, a statement making it hard to foresee the devastating invasion ending soon. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press that his government wants a peace summit within two months at the United Nations with Secretary-General António Guterres as mediator. Kuleba told The Associated Press that Russia must face a war-crimes tribunal before his country talks with Moscow but that other nations should talk feel free to negotiate, as happened with a grain agreement between Turkey and Russia.