Shared from the 8/10/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition


Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Transportation told airlines they could not bar certain dog breeds they deem too dangerous from flights.

Inflation in check amid price rise

WASHINGTON — U.S. wholesale prices ticked up just 0.2 percent in July, the latest sign that inflationary pressures are largely in check.

The Labor Department said Friday the producer price index — which measures price changes before they reach the consumer — increased 1.7 percent last month compared with a year ago, the same as June. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, wholesale prices fell 0.1 percent in July and rose 2.1 percent from ayear earlier.

Inflation is muted, even as the economy has entered its 11th year of expansion and the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.7 percent, near a five-decade low. Yet wages are rising only modestly, and many businesses are reluctant to raise prices in the face of online and global competition.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell cited low inflation last month as a key reason the Fed cut short-term interest rates.

In July, wholesale inflation was driven largely by higher energy costs, including a 5.2 percent increase in gas prices and an 8 percent rise in the cost of home heating oil.

Hotel room prices fell 4.3 percent last month, and physician care services dropped 0.5 percent. Food prices ticked up 0.2 percent, led by a 10.3 percent jump in the price of corn.


Airlines cannot bar certain dog breeds

A month after a flight attendant was bitten by an emotional support animal, the U.S. Department of Transportation told the airline industry Thursday carriers can’t bar certain dog breeds because airlines deem them dangerous, handing a victory to pit bull fans.

But the federal agency gave airlines the green light to require passengers to produce records on vaccinations and training to determine if a specific animal poses a threat on a plane. And bans on certain species — snakes, for instance — will be allowed to stand.

The effort by the Department of Transportation to clarify its policy on animals in planes is the latest chapter in the long-running saga over emotional support animals. An increasing number of airplane passengers have been bringing animals, some quite exotic, contending they were needed for emotional support during flights — airlines suspected the passengers were merely trying to save money.

To control the proliferation, Southwest, JetBlue and United, among others, last year began tightening restrictions on airborne animals, particularly the unusual species. Delta Air Lines’ ban last year of all “pit bull-type dogs” as service animals or emotional support animals proved especially controversial.

Delta’s pit bull ban came after a pit bull bit two Delta employees on a plane. Pit bull owners and their supporters collected tens of thousands of signatures on a petition asking the Atlanta-based carrier to reconsider the ban.

Such a restriction appears to violate the latest guidance by the Department of Transportation.

Still, the federal agency also said airlines can require passengers to produce documentation related to an animal’s vaccination, training and behavior to determine if a specific animal that is scheduled to fly is a “direct threat to the health or safety of others.”


Goldman executives charged in Malaysia

Malaysia filed criminal charges Friday against atop executive at Goldman Sachs, a former executive who now works for Alibaba of China and others, as it intensifies pressure on the Wall Street bank in a scandal involving the misuse of billions of dollars in government funds.

On Friday, Malaysia’s attorney general charged Richard John Gnodde, chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, and John Michael Evans, who left the bank in 2013 and later became president of Alibaba Group Holding, under a law that holds senior executives responsible for any offenses that might have been committed during their tenure.

Both had been directors of Goldman Sachs arms that did business in Malaysia. These cases bring the number of people charged in connection with the scandal to 17.

The charges escalate the legal challenges for Goldman, which has come under scrutiny for its role in a multibillion-dollar international fraud scandal that led to the ouster of Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak. Two former Goldman bankers face charges in the United States of bribery and money laundering related to its Malaysia business. Malaysia filed criminal charges against Goldman in December, and its finance minister has said the government would seek $7.5 billion in compensation from the bank.


Bayer offers $8B to settle Roundup suits

Bayer is proposing to pay as much as $8 billion to settle more than 18,000 U.S. lawsuits alleging its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

An agreement, which could take months to work out, would ease investor pressure over massive litigation exposure the German drug and chemical giant took on with its $63 billion purchase of the weed killer’s maker, Monsanto.

The fallout has weighed on the stock price, prompted an unprecedented shareholder vote of no confidence in the company’s management and fueled speculation about a breakup.

While Bayer proposed paying $6 billion to $8 billion to resolve current and future cases, plaintiffs’ lawyers want more than $10 billion to drop their claims, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.

Bayer shares surged more than 11 percent Friday in Frankfurt, the most in a decade on an intraday basis. They’ve still fallen about one-third in the 14 months since the Monsanto deal was completed.

From wire reports

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