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McDonald’s will begin reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months. The burger giant closed its Ukrainian restaurants after Russia’s invasion nearly six months ago but has continued to pay its more than 10,000 employees in the country. McDonald’s said Thursday that it plans to gradually begin reopening some restaurants in the capital, Kyiv, and western Ukraine, where other companies are doing business farther from the fighting. McDonald’s has 109 restaurants in Ukraine but didn’t say how many would reopen, when that would happen or which locations would be first. McDonald's has sold its 850 restaurants in Russia.

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The Philippine president is threatening to fire top agricultural officials if an investigation shows they improperly made and announced a decision to import sugar amid a shortage without his approval. It’s the stiffest punitive step newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could take against officials over an apparent irregularity early in his six-year term. He took office on June 30 after a landslide election victory. Presidential Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles says a resolution authorizing the importation of 300,000 tons of sugar was posted without Marcos Jr.'s knowledge. She says the president earlier rejected a proposal to import sugar to avoid damaging the domestic industry.

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The Kremlin has refused to announce a full-blown mobilization as Russia suffers military losses in its invasion of Ukraine which is nearing its sixth month. Such a move could be very unpopular for President Vladimir Putin. Russia is engaged instead in a covert recruitment effort that includes using prisoners to make up for the manpower shortage. This also is happening amid reports that hundreds of soldiers are refusing to fight and are trying to quit the military. Authorities seem to be pulling out all the stops to bolster enlistment although the Defense Ministry denies any “mobilization activities” are happening. Billboards urge men to join up and authorities have set up mobile recruiting centers.

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Western nations make more pledges to send arms to Ukraine while the European Union’s full ban on Russian coal imports kicks in on Thursday amid claims sanctions against Moscow now even affected its defense exports. Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged that Germany “is shipping arms _ a great, great many, sweeping and very effective. And we will continue to do so in the coming time.” Britain and Denmark also made more commitments to shore up Ukraine’s defense to push back Russia’s invasion which has devastated the nation and reverberated across the world.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says his government won’t leave citizens freezing or unable to pay their energy bills but acknowledges his country faces considerable challenges in the coming months. Rising fuel costs sparked by Russia’s war against Ukraine have put severe financial strain on many in Germany and beyond, raising concerns about a possible winter of discontent. During his annual summer news conference in Berlin, Scholz cited numerous measures the government already adopted to ease financial hardship and to secure alternative energy supplies to replace Russian oil, coal and gas. Asked whether he feared that frustration could boil over into violent protests, Scholz replied, “I don’t believe that there will be unrest ... in this country.”

AP

Relying on your business to fund your retirement is a risky bet. A business failure, health issues or shifting market conditions can leave you unable to retire fully. Rather than gamble on everything going right, diversify your nest egg so it will last you well into your later years. Prioritize setting aside even a small amount of your gross earnings and enlist an investment advisor or financial planner to help figure out which self-employed retirement plan makes the most sense for you and your business. If selling is still part of your plan, build a detailed exit plan and work with a broker to maintain an accurate valuation of your business.

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More than 1,000 firefighters are struggling to contain a major wildfire that has burned a large area of pine forest in southwestern France in a region that was already ravaged by flames last month. Local authorities said more than 68 square kilometers (26 square miles) have burned since Tuesday in the Gironde region and the neighboring Landes as France like other European countries swelters through a hot and dry summer. Temperatures were expected to reach 40 C (104 F) on Thursday in the region. The blaze forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people and destroyed at least 16 houses.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Inflatable swimming pools are the new must-have item around Budapest as residents of Hungary’s sprawling capital struggle to stay cool amid one of the most oppressively hot summers in the country’s history.

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U.S. gas prices have dipped under $4 a gallon for the first time in more than five months. AAA says the national average is $3.99 for a gallon of regular. That's down 15 cents in just the last week, and 68 cents in the last month. Gasoline peaked at around $5.02 a gallon on June 14. Motorists in California and Hawaii are still paying above $5, and other states in the West are paying close to that. The cheapest gas is in Texas and several other states in the South and Midwest. The decline reflects falling prices for crude oil, which have dipped close to $90 a barrel from over $120 a barrel in June.

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Rwanda, the last stop on his three-nation tour of Africa, where he has articulated Washington’s new strategy for engaging with sub-Saharan African nations as “equal partners.” Blinken comes to Rwanda at a particularly difficult time for Africa’s Great Lakes region, with the small central African nation at odds with vast neighbor Congo over allegations that both governments support rebels opposed to each other. In a meeting on Thursday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Blinken is expected to discuss efforts to ease the tensions. Human rights is also on the agenda.

AP

New Zealand house prices have fallen year-on-year for the first time in more than a decade as rising interest rates finally halted a dizzying boom that had only gained momentum after the coronavirus pandemic first hit. The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand on Thursday reported median prices fell 1.8% in July when compared with the same month last year. The decline was more pronounced in the biggest city of Auckland, where prices fell 5.6%, and in the capital, Wellington, down by 5.9%. Sales also declined by more than one-third. Up until its peak last November, the New Zealand property market had been among the frothiest in the world.

AP

India’s phenomenal transformation from an impoverished nation in 1947 into an emerging global power whose $3 trillion economy is Asia’s third largest has made it a major exporter of things like software and vaccines. Millions have escaped poverty into a growing, aspirational middle class as its high-skilled sectors have thrived. But many millions of Indians are employed in informal day labor or farm work, struggling to survive. Raging unemployment is worsening insecurity and inequality between the rich and poor and is perhaps Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest challenge as the country marks 75 years of independence from British rule on Aug. 15.

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German officials say water levels on the Rhine River could reach a critically low point in the coming days, making the transport of goods along the river increasingly difficult. Weeks of dry weather have turned several of Europe’s major waterways into trickles, posing a headache for German factories and power plants that rely on deliveries by ship and making an economic slowdown ever more likely. Authorities predict water levels at the town of Kaub will dip below 16 inches early Friday and keep falling over the weekend. While this is higher than the record low seen in October 2018, many large ships could struggle to safely pass the river at that point.

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The cancellation of a major music festival in Atlanta has ignited a new fight over Georgia gun laws. Live Nation has refused to say why it abruptly called off September’s Music Midtown festival last week. But news outlets ascribed the decision to state gun laws that could have prevented organizers from enforcing a ban on firearms. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and other Democrats have blasted Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for the cancellation, though the gun law cited in news reports preceded his administration. Kemp has accused Democrats of pushing critical narratives of Georgia’s firearms landscape to distract from inflation.

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Shares have advanced in Asia after benchmarks closed at three-month highs on Wall Street as investors cheered a report showing inflation cooled more than expected in July. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul saw gains of more than 1% early Thursday. U.S. futures edged higher, while oil prices slipped. The S&P 500 jumped 2.1% Wednesday on expectations that slower inflation will mean the Federal Reserve won’t hike interest rates as much as feared. Technology stocks, cryptocurrencies and other investments among the year’s biggest losers due to the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes led the way. The government said consumer inflation jumped 8.5% in July from a year earlier. But that was down from June's four-decade high of 9.1%.

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Metallica, Mariah Carey and The Jonas Brothers will headline a free concert in New York’s Central Park to mark the 10th anniversary of the Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 24. There will also be a concert that day in Accra, Ghana, featuring Usher, SZA and H.E.R. But Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans says the event will be less a celebration and more of a call to action to immediately address numerous crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Together, the group estimates those issues could push 200 million more people into extreme poverty by the end of November.

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has reshuffled his Cabinet in a bid to distance his administration from the conservative Unification Church over its ties to the assassinated leader Shinzo Abe and senior ruling party members. The reshuffle was the second in just 10 months since Kishida took office. He says it's important to gain people’s trust and that the new Cabinet included only those who agreed to strictly review their ties to the church and help the victims of the allegedly fraudulent religious businesses. Abe’s assassination on July 8 and its impact on politics increased uncertainty as public support for Kishida’s Cabinet plunged. Seven ministers were removed including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s younger brother. The church leader criticized Kishida's purge.

AP

With abortion now or soon to be illegal in over a dozen states and severely restricted in many more, Big Tech companies that collect personal details of their users are facing new calls to limit that tracking and surveillance. One fear is that law enforcement or vigilantes could use data troves from Facebook, Google and other social platforms against people seeking ways to end unwanted pregnancies. History has repeatedly demonstrated that whenever people’s personal data is tracked and stored, there’s always a risk that it could be misused or abused.

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Disney said it is raising prices for streaming subscribers in the U.S. who want to watch Disney+ without ads as more viewers switch to what CEO Bob Chapek described Wednesday as the “best value in streaming.” The price increases are tied to a new tiered service Disney will launch in December for U.S. subscribers. The basic Disney+ service today costs $7.99 per month. Starting in December, that basic service will run ads, so a subscriber who wants no ads will have to upgrade to a premium service that starts at $10.99 per month, a 38% increase over current prices.

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A federal judge has ruled that Walgreens can be held responsible for contributing to San Francisco’s opioid crisis for over-dispensing opioids for years without proper oversight and failing to identify and report suspicious orders as required by law. San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu says the pharmacy chain failed to track opioid prescriptions, prevented pharmacists from properly vetting prescriptions and missed red flags about over-prescribing doctors. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled that for 15 years, Walgreens dispensed hundreds of thousands of pills, eventually contributing to the city's hospitals being overwhelmed with opioid patients. Walgreens said it would appeal the ruling, which it said was not supported by “the facts and the law.”

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Donald Trump says he invoked the Fifth Amendment and wouldn’t answer questions under oath in the long-running New York civil investigation into his business dealings. Trump arrived at New York Attorney General Letitia James’ offices Wednesday morning, but sent out a statement more than an hour later saying he declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.” Anything he said during the deposition could have been used against him in a criminal case, if one ensues. While James’ investigation is civil in nature, the Manhattan district attorney is running a parallel criminal probe.

AP

Air travelers are finally getting a break on fares. The government said Wednesday that the average airfare dropped nearly 8% in July compared with June, to $311. The bad news is, that's still almost 28% higher than last July. Airlines pushed fares up for most of this year because demand was high and there are fewer flights, meaning fewer seats to sell. The airlines also blame high jet fuel prices. Fares peaked in May, when sales for summer vacations were in full swing. Travel-data researcher Hopper expects domestic U.S. fares to average $286 in August and remain at or below $300 until October, when many people book Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

AP

U.S. officials won't approve a natural gas pipeline from Idaho to Wyoming until additional environmental studies are completed. A U.S. District Court on Wednesday approved an agreement between the U.S. Forest Service and two environmental groups that filed a lawsuit to stop the 50-mile Crow Creek Pipeline Project. The Forest Service agreed to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement before authorizing the project. Wyoming-based Lower Valley Energy wants to build the pipeline that would start near Montpelier, Idaho, and run to Afton, Wyoming. But the pipeline crosses Forest Service land, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection say it will harm protected grizzly bears.

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A Sesame Street-themed park has announced the implementation of diversity and inclusion training for its employees. The announcement Tuesday follows a $25 million class-action lawsuit alleging multiple incidents of discrimination after outcry sparked from a viral video of a costumed character snubbing two 6-year-old Black girls during a parade at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. The park, which is operated by SeaWorld Parks, says in the statement that all employees will be mandated to participate in training created to address bias, promote inclusion and prevent discrimination by the end of September. An attorney says the family of one of the 6-year-olds is expected to meet with the SeaWorld CEO on Thursday.

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Hundreds of Bulgarians have taken to the streets of the capital Sofia, voicing fears that the country’s caretaker government could break with the policies of its pro-Western predecessor and revert to close energy ties with Russia. The second in a planned series of protests under the slogan #GAZwithme took place Wednesday in front of the presidential building in Sofia and organizers said they want greater accountability from the caretaker cabinet. The first public statements by the current caretaker government indicate that Bulgaria could restart talks with Russian energy giant Gazprom to avoid natural gas shortages later in the year. “We refuse to be dependent on Gazprom and finance Putin’s outrageous war!” read a banner at the protest.

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The European Commission says it's winding up years of surveillance of Greek government spending. The move, on Aug. 20, will mark a formal end to a major crisis that threatened to see Greece ejected from the euro single currency group. It also imposed severe hardship imposed on Greek citizens and created a deep rift between them and the EU's institutions. But the commission said Wednesday that “Greece has delivered on the bulk of the policy commitments” made to its partners in the 19-country euro area. Greece was granted billions of euros in three bailout funds after 2010 when Athens lost access to international bond markets after admitting it had misreported key financial data.

agate AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Winter Wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade Wed:

AP
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A cybersecurity firm informed a major Indian online insurance brokerage last month that critical vulnerabilities in its network could expose sensitive personal and financial data from at least 11 million customers. CyberX9 followed the standard ethical-hacker playbook, giving the brokerage time to patch the flaws and inform authorities. A week later, the insurance brokerage, Policybazaar, said it had been illegally breached but “no significant customer data was exposed.” It said little more. CyberX9 wants Indians to know the broker had multiple critical vulnerabilities that left itself open to intrusion. The incident highlights the gray area in which many security researchers operate when computer crime laws such as India's make no adjustment for good-faith work.

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Slovakia's economy minister says oil shipments from Russia through a critical pipeline to several European countries have resumed after a problem over payments for transit was resolved. Russian state pipeline operator Transneft said Tuesday it halted shipments through the southern branch of the Druzhba oil pipeline, which flows through Ukraine to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Transneft cited complications due to European Union sanctions for its action on Aug. 4, saying its payment to the company’s Ukrainian counterpart was refused. Slovakia's Economy Minister Richard Sulik said Wednesday the shipments resumed once the payments was made by Slovak refiner Slovnaft after both the Russian and Ukrainian sides agreed.

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China’s 11 million university graduates are struggling in a bleak job market as repeated shutdowns under China’s “zero-COVID policy” force companies to retrench and drive many restaurants and other small employers out of business. When Liu Qian entered the job market, she said she felt as if her future had been smashed and didn’t know if she could piece it together. The 26-year-old graduate sent out more than 100 job applications and saw two openings she interviewed for eliminated before landing a job. Countless others are still looking. China’s job drought echoes the difficulties of young people worldwide in finding work in depressed economies.

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As concerns about social media’s harmful effects on teens continue to rise, platforms from Snapchat to TikTok to Instagram are bolting on new features designed to make their services safer and more age appropriate. But the changes rarely address the elephant in the the room — the algorithms pushing endless content that can drag anyone, not just teens, into harmful rabbit holes. Snapchat, for instance, just added new controls that let parents see who their teens are messaging, though not what they're saying. Even if it works — and kids  opt in — it's still one more constantly evolving feature for parents to master.

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