May 24, 2023
Debt ceiling talks stuck on classic problem: Republicans demand spending cuts and Democrats resist
WASHINGTON (AP) — Debt ceiling negotiations are locked on a classic problem that has vexed Washington before: Republicans led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy want to roll back federal government spending, while President Joe Biden and other Democrats do not. Time is short to strike a deal before a deadline as soon as June 1, when the Treasury says the government risks running out of cash to pay its bills. Negotiators are to reconvene Wednesday. McCarthy is rejecting a White House counter-offer to freeze spending instead of cutting it as the two sides try to strike a budget deal in exchange for a vote to raise the government’s borrowing limit.
Just in case: Anxious retirees, social service groups among those making default contingency plans
WASHINGTON (AP) — Politicians in Washington may be offering assurance that the government will figure out a way to avert default, but around the country, economic anxiety is rising and some people already are adjusting their routines. Government beneficiaries, social service groups that receive state and federal subsidies and millions more across the country are contemplating the possibility of massive and immediate cuts if the U.S. were to default on its financial obligations. Some are cutting back on necessities and others are finding ways to save money.
Stock market today: US futures follow global markets lower as US debt worries mount
U.S. markets followed global stock markets lower early Wednesday as the U.S. government crept closer to a potentially disruptive default on its debt. On Wall Street, futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow both declined more than 0.3%. The longstanding Washington debate over the size and scope of the federal government now has just days to be resolved, with the Treasury Department saying the government risks running out of cash to pay its bills next week. Negotiators are expected to convene Wednesday for another round of talks as frustration mounts. Shares in Europe fell at midday and Asian markets finished lower.
Pills flowed for years as DEA dragged feet on disciplining opioid distributor
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed one of the nation’s largest drug distributors to keep shipping addictive painkillers for nearly four years despite a judge’s recommendation to strip its license for turning a blind eye to thousands of suspicious opioid orders. The DEA did not respond to questions about its handling of Morris & Dickson Co. or the involvement of a key consultant the company had hired who is now the DEA’s second-in-command. But the delay has raised concerns about how the revolving door may be impacting the DEA’s mission to police drug companies blamed for thousands of overdose deaths.
Target pulls some LGBTQ+ merchandise from stores ahead of June Pride month after threats to workers
NEW YORK (AP) — Target is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers. Target declined to confirm which items it was removing but among the ones that garnered the most attention were “tuck friendly” adult women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company which designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, have also sparked a backlash.
Ready for a digital euro? At 25, European Central Bank preps for future of money
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Proposals for a digital European currency are taking shape. The European Central Bank is finalizing the design of a digital euro that people could use in stores. That would add another way to hold Europe’s currency, on top of cash and bank accounts. The idea is to ensure the euro keeps up with developing technology and new ways to pay for things. It also could be a stable alternative to volatile cryptocurrencies. ECB President Christine Lagarde says a digital currency from the central bank will help make Europe independent of outside payment services companies like Mastercard and Apple Pay. The question is: Will a digital euro offer any more convenience? A final decision would be years away.
Swiss gov’t favors compensation for journalistic ‘snippets’ posted by online services
GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland’s executive branch says it favors changes to copyright law to require large online service providers — including social media platforms and search engines — to pay media companies for use of journalistic content, even small excerpts. The Federal Council announced Wednesday that it’s opened a four-month examination of a proposed legal change to improve compensation for journalists and their media companies. Short previews of journalistic content, or “snippets,” are not currently protected under Swiss copyright law. The government said media companies and journalists don’t receive any remuneration from online service companies that use their work. Setting the rates of any such compensation would have to be worked out between industry players.
UK inflation falls to lowest level in over a year but food prices keep decline in check
LONDON (AP) — Official figures show that inflation in the U.K. has fallen to its lowest level since the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which caused energy and food costs to surge. The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that the consumer price index dropped to 8.7% in the year to April from 10.1% in March. Though welcome the fall was not as big as anticipated. The consensus in financial markets was that it would ease back further to 8.3%. One of the main reasons why inflation is consistently running higher than anticipated as anyone doing the weekly shopping at their supermarket can attest to.
German business confidence heads downhill after 6-month rise
BERLIN (AP) — A closely watched survey shows that German business confidence has dropped for the first time after a six-month rise as inflation recedes only slowly in Europe’s biggest economy and interest rates continue to increase. The Ifo institute said Wednesday that its monthly index dropped to 91.7 points in May from 93.4 last month. The index had risen every month since November. Managers’ outlook for the next six months declined significantly while their assessment of both their current situation was slightly worse than in April. There was a sharp decline of confidence in the manufacturing sector where expectations saw their largest increase since March 2022. That was the month after Russia launched its war in Ukraine.
Court annuls EU approval of $140 million of COVID-19 aid for Italian airlines
BRUSSELS (AP) — A top European Union court has ruled that the European Commission was wrong to approve millions of euros (dollars) in aid to help Italian airlines cope with the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. The EU general court said the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, failed to provide “a statement of reasons for its finding that the measure at issue was not contrary to EU law provisions other than those governing state aid.” Italian authorities informed the European Commission in October 2020 of their plans to provide 130 million euros to airlines holding an Italian license under certain conditions, and the commission did not raise objections. The case was brought by low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair, which also was struggling to survive at the time.