In cities across Europe, officials are wrestling with a choice this Christmas. They could dim festive lighting to send a message of energy conservation and solidarity with citizens squeezed by higher energy costs and inflation. Or they could let the lights blaze in a message of defiance after two years of pandemic-suppressed Christmas seasons, creating a mood that retailers hope loosen holiday purse strings. Fewer lights will sparkle from the centerpiece tree at France's famed Strasbourg Christmas market, and lights on Paris' Champs-Elysees and London's Oxford Street are reducing hours. But the holiday will shine brightly in Germany, and the Spanish port city of Vigo is keeping up its tradition of staging the country’s most extravagant Christmas light display.
Macao has tentatively renewed the casino licenses of MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and three Chinese rivals after they promised to help diversify the economy by investing in non-gambling attractions. The announcement is positive news for owners who have invested billions of dollars to build the Chinese administrative zone near Hong Kong into the biggest global gambling center. But it adds to financial pressure at a time when revenue has plunged under anti-virus restrictions. The government said regulators will negotiate final terms before licenses take effect Jan. 1. The former Portuguese colony is under pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government to diversify with retailing, entertainment and other industries.
Shoppers eager to start holiday shopping but weighed down by inflation are hunting for the best deals at stores and online this Black Friday. Retailers that had offered mostly lackluster discounts earlier in the season responded this week with new bargains. Elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other household costs have taken a toll on shoppers. As a result, many are reluctant to spend unless there is a big sale and are being more selective with what they will buy — in many cases, trading down to cheaper stuff and less expensive stores. Shoppers are also dipping more into their savings, turning increasingly to “buy now, pay later” services that allow users to pay for items in installments. They are also running up their credit cards.
An appeals court has revived a wrongful death claim against Walmart by the family of a Black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer inside an Ohio store after picking up a pellet rifle from a shelf. John Crawford III was shot at the Beavercreek store in 2014 after someone called 911. A judge dismissed his family’s wrongful death claim, but a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that this week. The family's attorney says they can proceed toward trial on that and their other claims against the retailer. Walmart has denied that its actions caused Crawford’s death.
Netflix’s trailblazing DVD-by-mail rental service has been relegated as a relic in the age of video streaming, but there is still a steady — albeit shrinking — audience of diehards who are happily paying to receive those discs in the iconic red-and-white envelopes. The service that has shipping more than 5 billion discs across the U.S. since its inception nearly a quarter century ago may not be around much longer. Its customer base has dwindled to an estimated 1.5 million subscribers from more than 11 million in 2011 when Netflix spun it off from its video streaming business. Co-CEO Reed Hastings has previously suggested it could close in 2023.
Authorities investigating the fatal shootings of six people at a Walmart said that the shooter bought the gun just hours before and left a note on his phone listing grievances against coworkers. Police in Chesapeake, Virginia, issued a news release Friday that says they conducted a forensic analysis of Walmart supervisor Andre Bing’s phone. Police say he was the shooter and was found dead at the scene of the shooting late Tuesday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. In the note released by police, he said coworkers harassed him and mocked him. Police said in their release that he used a 9mm handgun legally purchased on Tuesday morning, hours before the shooting. The release said he had no criminal history.
Mexico’s domestic airline industry is in shambles, plagued by safety problems, a downgrade of Mexico’s safety rating, and vandalism. This week alone, passengers missed connections because thieves had cut the fiber optic cables leading into the Mexico City airport, forcing immigration authorities to return to paper forms. The internet outage came almost one month after aviation and transportation authorities were forced to suspend routine medical, physical and licensing exams because the government’s computer systems were hacked. And on May 7, there was a near-miss between two planes at the airport.
Germany and France have pledged to provide each other mutual support in preventing a possible energy crisis after supplies from Russia dried up amid the war in Ukraine. As part of a joint agreement signed by the countries' leaders Friday, Germany will provide France with electricity while getting much-needed natural gas in return. Before Russia invaded Ukraine nine months ago, Germany was heavily reliant on Russian gas supplies. Since then, Germany has scrambled to find other sources. France is struggling to meet its electricity needs due to repairs at nuclear power plants. There are concerns that a sharp rise in electricity demand from France this winter, coupled with lower production in Germany, could strain the continent’s grid.
Stocks wobbled to a mixed close on Wall Street, but every major index notched weekly gains in a holiday-shortened week. The S&P 500 edged lower Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose and the Nasdaq fell. Technology stocks were the biggest drags on the broader market. Markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and closed at 1 p.m. Eastern Friday. Long-term bond yields were relatively stable and crude oil prices fell. Global shares were mixed amid worries about China’s lockdowns and restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he will host meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mexico City early next year. López Obrador said Friday that the Jan. 9-10 North American summit would also include bilateral meetings with both countries. The Mexican president said in October that Biden had already agreed to make the trip. Neither U.S. nor Canadian officials have officially confirmed their attendance. The three leaders met last year in Washington. Such talks usually focus on immigration, security and the economy. But this year, both the United States and Canada have asked for consultations over López Obrador's policy of favoring Mexico's state-owned power company.
The European Union and the United States are treading precariously close to a major trans-Atlantic trade dispute at a time when the two Western giants want to show unity in the face of challenges from Russia and China. EU trade ministers are insisting they would be forced to respond if Washington stuck to all the terms of its Inflation Reduction Act, which is favorable to local companies through subsidies. The EU says it will unfairly discriminate against its firms that want to compete for contracts.
Elon Musk says that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored check marks to accounts next week. Friday's announcement is the latest change to the social media platform that the billionaire Tesla CEO bought last month for $44 billion, coming a day after Musk said he would grant “amnesty” for suspended accounts. Twitter previously suspended the premium service, which which under Musk granted blue-check labels to anyone paying $8 a month, because of a wave of imposter accounts. In the latest version, Musk said companies will get a gold check, governments will get a gray check, and individuals, whether or not they’re celebrities, will get a blue check.
This week’s new entertainment releases include an live posthumous album from Tom Petty, the criminal profile spinoff series “Criminal Minds: Evolution,” a documentary about the plucky Mars Rover Opportunity and a TV series that focuses on the backstage melodrama at the Chippendale’s male strip clubs. There's also the new documentary “Love, Lizzo,” an intimate portrait of the superstar musician, and if you need a way to shake off the stuffing after that Thanksgiving feast, why not throw an international dance party with friends from around the world with Ubisoft’s video game “Just Dance 2023”?
Yes, they’ve nicknamed the baby “Nugget,” after a woman delivered a girl at an Atlanta McDonald’s. Alandria Worthy gave birth to her daughter on Wednesday after her fiancé pulled over so she could use the bathroom on the way to the hospital. Three employees and fiancé Deandre Phillips helped Worthy deliver. The girl's name is Nandi Ariyah Moremi Phillips, but restaurant manager Tunisia Woodward says she immediately nicknamed the child “McDonald's Little Nugget.” The parents credit Woodward and the two other employees, all mothers, with coaching them through the birth. The franchise owner gave each of the three employees $250 gift cards. Woodward says she’ll spend all the money on the baby.
This week’s new entertainment releases include a solo album from BTS's RM, the return of the holiday display TV contest “The Great Christmas Light Fight” and Tilda Swinton starring in the ghost story “The Eternal Daughter.” Family secrets, betrayal and power struggles are abundant in the new Amazon Prime Video series “Riches” about an affluent Black family in London that runs a multimillion beauty company, and the video game “Marvel’s Midnight Suns” adds a dash of strategy to the usual superhero slugfest. And Robert Downey Jr. affectionately pays tribute to this late father, Robert Downey Sr. in “Sr.,” an intimate documentary the younger Downey spent three years filming with his dad before his death.
Adidas says it's investigating allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct by the rapper formerly known as Kanye West that ex-employees made in an anonymous letter. The letter also accuses the German sportswear brand of looking the other way. Adidas, which made his Yeezy line, cut ties with Ye last month over his offensive and antisemitic remarks. Rolling Stone has reported that it obtained an anonymous letter from several former Yeezy employees to Adidas alleging that Ye created a toxic work environment by showing sexual photos and videos in meetings, making vulgar comments and bullying staffers. An Adidas spokesperson said Friday that while it's not clear whether the accusations are true, the company takes them “very seriously" and is launching an independent investigation.
The holiday season is full of sneaky costs, expensive travel and the pressure to spend. It’s a time that leaves many Americans in debt long after the decorations come down. But with some planning and the patience to hunt for deals, you can still enjoy a meaningful season without spending hundreds of dollars in interest payments. If you do end up in debt, make paying it down as quickly as possible your New Year’s resolution, and start thinking ahead so you can begin saving for next year’s festivities.
Residents of some parts of China's capital are overwhelming delivery apps as the city government orders faster construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals. Uncertainty and unconfirmed reports of lockdowns in at least some Beijing districts have fueled unusual demand for supplies. Buyers cleared shelves of food items in supermarkets in the northern suburbs, but it wasn't clear how widespread the phenomena was. Daily cases of COVID-19 are hitting records across the country, with 32,695 reported Friday. Of those, 1,860 were in Beijing, the majority of them asymptomatic. Improvised quarantine centers and field hospitals thrown up in large indoor spaces have become notorious for overcrowding, poor sanitation, scarce food supplies and lights that stay on 24 hours.
Hong Kong’s airport has officially launched a new third runway which is expected to boost the city’s status as an aviation hub. The Airport Authority Hong Kong said about 140 flights a day are already using the new runway, which has been in operation since early July. However, the airport is still using only two runways because its center runway has been closed for reconfiguration. The airport is also expanding its Terminal 2 and is building a new concourse and baggage handling system. Work is expected to be completed by 2024, after which the airport will use all three runways, giving it more flight capacity.
Germany’s economy saw stronger growth in the third quarter than expected as consumer spending picked up following the lifting of pandemic restrictions. Officials figures released Friday show gross domestic product in Europe’s biggest economy grew by 0.4% from July to September, 0.1 percentage points higher than previously forecast. GDP is a widely used measure of the production of goods and services in a country, but critics say it provides only a one-sided account of how an economy is going. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has acknowledged that GDP “falls short of providing a suitable measure of people’s material well-being for which alternative indicators may be more appropriate.”
Japanese prosecutors have raided the headquarters of major advertising company Dentsu as the investigation into corruption related to the Tokyo Olympics widens. Dentsu dominates event organizing, marketing and public relations in Japan. The company helped land the 2020 Games for Tokyo and then lined up record domestic sponsorships. Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at Dentsu, has been arrested four times in recent months on charges of receiving bribes from various companies that became sponsors for the Games. Japanese media reports say the latest investigation centers around bid-rigging for companies to be picked for test events.
Asian shares are mixed as worries about the regional economy deepen and government data showed higher-than-expected inflation in Japan. Benchmarks fell in Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong, while gaining in Sydney and Shanghai. Oil prices rose. Investors have their eyes on China’s lockdowns and restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, as the direction China takes will have a great impact on the rest of Asia. Data on inflation in Tokyo for November beat analysts’ expectations, with the core consumer price index up 3.6%, the worst in more than four decades. U.S. markets were closed for Thanksgiving and will have a shortened session on Friday. European stocks finished higher on Thursday.
A witness says that the Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six coworkers in Virginia seemed to target people and shot some victims after they were already hit and appeared to be dead. Jessica Wilczewski said that workers were gathered in a Walmart break room to begin their overnight shift late Tuesday when team leader Andre Bing entered and began shooting with a handgun. While another witness has described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said that she observed him target certain people. She said he looked at people's faces and picked out who he was going to shoot.
The deadline is looming for Western allies to agree on a price cap on Russia oil. The cap proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen aims to reduce Russia's oil earnings that support its military and the invasion of Ukraine. But there are questions about how effective the cap will be. The Dec. 5 start date also coincides with the European Union's embargo on most Russian oil shipments. There's uncertainty about how all this will affect oil markets, which are swinging between fears of lost Russian supply and weakening demand from the lagging global economy. The biggest disruption may not come until Feb. 5, when Europe halts imports of Russian oil products including diesel fuel.
Travel at this World Cup was supposed to be easy in the tiny host nation of Qatar after fans had to take long flights between cities at the last three tournaments. The eight stadiums in Qatar are in or near the capital. So fans don’t have to go too far to get to matches. The country billed its World Cup as environmentally sustainable in part because of how compact it is. But the reality is quite different. Tens of thousands of foreign fans are turning to shuttle flights between Doha and neighboring Dubai because of high hotel prices, a scarcity of accommodation and alcohol limits.
The mass shooting Wednesday at a Walmart in Virginia is only the latest example of a workplace shooting perpetrated by an employee. Many companies have active shooter training. But experts say there is much less focus on how to prevent workplace violence. Workers too often don’t know how to recognize warning signs and co-workers. More crucially, they often don’t know how to report suspicious behavior or feel empowered to do so, according to workplace safety and human resources experts. One expert said too often attention is focused on the “red flags” and workers should instead be looking for the “yellow flags” — subtle changes in behavior, like increased anger or not showing up for work.
European Union data shows that Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less of it in 2022 compared with the previous year. The figures were published Thursday as part of an annual evaluation of online platforms’ compliance with the bloc’s code of conduct on disinformation. Twitter wasn’t alone — most other tech companies signed up to the voluntary code also scored worse. But the figures could foreshadow trouble for Twitter in complying with the EU’s tough new online rules after owner Elon Musk fired many of the platform’s 7,500 full-time workers and an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation and other crucial tasks.
Most schools in Scotland were closed Thursday as thousands of teachers walked off the job, joining scores of postal workers and university lecturers in industrial action to demand better pay and working conditions to cope with the country’s cost-of-living crisis. The teachers’ strike in Scotland, which shuttered every school on the Scottish mainland, was the first such one in the region in 40 years. Elsewhere across the U.K., picket lines were set up outside postal offices and universities in one of the biggest co-ordinated walkouts this year. In universities, some 70,000 academic staff were striking Thursday and again on Nov. 30. Britons have faced travel misery and overflowing garbage bins in recent months as workers in multiple industries launched successive strikes.
European Union Council president Charles Michel will travel to China for talks to address the economic imbalance between the two trading giants and the Asian nation’s relations with Russia and neigboring Taiwan. The one-day visit Dec. 1 will seek to find a balance between the EU’s wish for more exports to China and the need to be firm with Beijing in the defense of democracy and fundamental freedoms. Over the past years as China increased its global clout, the EU has increasingly come to see the nation as a strategic rival.
The head of the International Energy Agency says Europe should be able to cope with the natural gas supply crunch in the coming months thanks to considerable reserves but warned that the continent could face a bigger energy crisis next winter. Fatih Birol cited the fact that Russian gas supplies to Europe may end completely next year, while China’s demand for liquefied natural gas looks set to rebound as its economy recovers from the pandemic. Additionally, the IEA projects new gas capacity coming online in 2023 to be the lowest in two decades. Birol said Thursday that solidarity among European nations was key. The IEA chief said Russia will lose about $1 trillion in revenue by 2030 because of its war in Ukraine.
European Union nations have again failed to bridge bitter disagreements over a natural gas price cap as they struggle to effectively shield 450 million citizens from massive increases in their utility bills as cold weather sets in. An emergency meeting of energy ministers Thursday only showed how the energy crisis tied to Russia’s war in Ukraine has divided the 27-nation bloc in almost irreconcilable blocs. Ministers couldn't agree on when and how a price cap on gas purchases should kick in. Nations including Greece, Spain, Belgium and France are demanding cheaper gas to ease household bills. Germany, the Netherlands and others insist supplies are at risk if a cap stops EU countries from buying gas above a certain price.