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    Self-driving car pioneer Waymo is teaming up with automakers Renault and Nissan to make its first journey outside the U.S. with a ride-hailing service that will dispatch a fleet of robotaxis in France and Japan. The partnership announced late Wednesday underscores Waymo's ambition to deploy its driverless technology throughout the world in an attempt to revolutionize the way people get around. The Mountain View, California, company can afford to try because it's backed by one of the world's richest companies, Google, which secretly began working on driverless technology a decade ago before spinning off that project into what is now known as Waymo. After launching its ride-hailing service in France and Japan, Waymo intends to explore other European and Asian markets with Renault and Nissan. 'This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage,' Waymo CEO John Krafcik said. Waymo, Renault and Nissan didn't set a timetable for when their ride-hailing service will launch. They left most other details vague. It seems likely it will still be several years before Waymo will be in a position to pose a serious challenge to Uber, the world's largest ride-hailing service. Although Waymo's self-driving technology is widely considered to be the world's most advanced, it still isn't adept enough to be trusted without a human poised to take control in case something goes awry with the robot. Waymo had hoped to launch a fully autonomous ride-hailing service last year in the Phoenix area, but instead is still keeping human safety drivers in those vehicles more than six months after it rolled out. That service, known as Waymo One, is still only offering rides to a few hundred passengers that previously participated in a test program. Krafcik told the German newspaper Handelsblatt last year that Waymo will likely use a different brand for its ride-hailing services outside the U.S. That could be one reason Waymo is working with France-based Renault and Japan-based Nissan, household names in their home countries. Waymo has previously struck deals with two automakers, Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar, but those involved ordering tens of thousands of vehicles to be equipped with self-driving technology for services in the U.S. So far, Waymo is only using Fiat Chrysler minivans for its Phoenix service. The partnership with Renault and Nissan also involves a long-time alliance they formed with Mitsubishi. But the fate of that alliance has been in limbo since Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of both Renault and Nissan, was arrested late last year on charges that included falsifying financial reports.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. officials said Wednesday its workers discovered more than 1,000 high-priority safety risks on its transmission lines and distribution poles over several months of inspections and almost all of them have been fixed. Some of the transmission line issues mirrored those on a line that state fire officials have blamed for starting the November wildfire that killed 85 people and nearly destroyed the town of Paradise, said Sumeet Singh, vice president of the utility's Community Wildfire Safety Program. 'The number of safety risks found through these inspections is unacceptable,' Singh said in a call with reporters. 'When it comes to safety our work is not done.' Of the roughly 100 high-risk problems found on transmission lines, about 15 to 20 percent were on the line blamed for sparking the November fire, Singh said. The utility has permanently retired the 56-mile line. About 1,000 of the high-risk problems were found on distribution poles, with 97 percent fixed. The utility identified another 100 high priority issues on its substations and said all have been fixed. PG&E has been inspecting its equipment in high-risk wildfire areas as part of a wildfire mitigation plan it was required to submit to state regulators. The utility has been blamed for sparking some of California's most destructive wildfires in recent years, and it filed for bankruptcy in January as it faced potentially tens of billions of dollars in liability. Wildfire victims, state regulators, lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom have blasted the utility for its poor safety record. In addition to its equipment sparking wildfires, PG&E was criminally prosecuted in 2010 for a gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people. 'PG&E has not been a good player,' Democratic Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes said Tuesday during a discussion on California wildfires. Singh said the utility has drastically stepped up its equipment inspections and made them more rigorous. During a four-month period this year, the utility inspected 700,000 distribution poles, more than triple what it previously inspected in the same time frame. PG&E's inspections also revealed significant problems with a transmission line running through Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Ten of the 11 towers on the transmission line need to be completely replaced, Singh said. In total, the utility plans to spend more than $2.3 billion on inspections, vegetation management and other wildfire mitigation efforts, he said. The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utilities, will ultimately decide if those costs can be passed on to PG&E's customers.
  • President Donald Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday to economist Arthur Laffer, whose disputed theories on tax cuts have guided Republican policy since the 1980s. Laffer, 78, advised Trump during his presidential campaign and co-wrote a flattering book, 'Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.' Laffer says lower tax rates change people's behavior and stimulate economic growth, creating more tax revenue for the government, not less. Allies credit Laffer with helping to spur income tax reductions around the world and boosting national economies as a result. Critics say the tax cuts he has espoused over the years have not produced the promised results and have instead contributed to growing income inequality and soaring budget deficits. Trump said that Laffer proved the best way to grow the economy and raise government revenue was not to increase tax rates but to adopt strong incentives 'that unleash the power of human freedom.' 'Few people in history have revolutionized economic thought and policy like Dr. Art Laffer,' Trump said during a ceremony in the Oval Office. Trump used the ceremony to highlight the state of the economy under his watch. The president credits his $1.5 trillion tax cut package for boosting the economy, which sported a 3.6 percent unemployment rate in May and has U.S. stock markets standing near record highs. But the federal deficit also soared. It's up nearly 40 percent through the first eight months of the budget year. He did not address that aspect of the tax cuts. Many Republicans justified their vote for the tax cuts by saying they would grow the economy to the extent that they would not increase the national debt. Jared Bernstein, who served as an economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said Laffer is probably the most influential economist living today. He said his biggest accomplishment is convincing politicians that tax cuts will pay for themselves. 'He had consistently espoused that tax cuts for the wealthy will generate significant growth, thereby helping pay for themselves and boosting the incomes of low and middle-income people. None of that has occurred,' said Bernstein, now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. Laffer was also an adviser to President Ronald Reagan. He is sometimes referred to as the 'father of supply-side economics' and his philosophy on taxes became known as 'The Laffer Curve.' He said he did not invent the Laffer Curve and quoted economist John Maynard Keynes in summarizing it. 'Given sufficient time to gather the fruit, a reduction of taxation will run a better chance than an increase of balancing the budget.' Trump recounted how The Laffer Curve came into being during a 1974 dinner with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Wall Street Journal reporter Jude Wanniski. 'Art drew on his napkin a series of lines and a curve that changed history,' Trump said. 'Art showed that if tax rates are too high, people stop spending and they stop investing. The result is less growth and lower tax revenue. On the other hand, at a certain point in the curve, lower tax rates spur investment, economic growth and raise government revenue.' Laffer also advised then-Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas on income tax cuts that state's conservative legislature approved in 2012 and 2013. But the economic boom envisioned did not pan out. Rather, persistent shortfalls prompted lawmakers to raise the state's sales tax, divert funds from highway projects, reduce contributions to public pensions and tighten spending on social services. Voters came to view the Republican governor's experiment as a failure, and bipartisan supermajorities repealed most of the tax cuts in 2017 over Brownback's veto. 'Trumponomcs,' whose co-author is Stephen Moore, describes Trump as a 'gifted orator,' ''shrewd,' and 'open-minded.' Writing in Foreign Affairs, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush described 'Trumponomics' as the voice of 'rah-rah partisans.' 'The book's over-the-top enthusiasm for U.S. President Donald Trump's sketchy economic agenda is not likely to convince anyone not already sporting a 'Make America Great Again' hat,' wrote N. Gregory Mankiw, now a professor of economics at Harvard University. Trump considered nominating Moore to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, but Moore withdrew from consideration last month after losing Republican support in the Senate, largely over his past inflammatory writings about women. Moore described Laffer as the most persuasive voice among Trump's advisers for cutting the corporate tax rate to 21 percent. 'Though the final verdict of how well this works remains unknown, the bump in growth and wages in our country, along with the record 7 million unfilled jobs, has provided vindication of the power of the Laffer model,' Moore wrote in The Hill. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, awarded for especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interest of the U.S., or for significant cultural endeavors.
  • Mexico's Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to ratify a new free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, making it the first of the three countries to gain legislative approval. Mexico's upper chamber voted 114 to four with three abstentions in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to withdraw the United States from if Washington did not get a better deal. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a recorded message that the vote was 'very good news.' 'It means foreign investment in Mexico, it means jobs in Mexico, it means guaranteeing trade of the merchandise that we produce in the United States,' he said. The treaty does not need to be approved by Mexico's lower house. It is still awaiting consideration by lawmakers in the United States and Canada, however. 'Congratulations to President Lopez Obrador — Mexico voted to ratify the USMCA today by a huge margin. Time for Congress to do the same here!' Trump tweeted. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a statement applauded Mexico's ratification as 'a crucial step forward.' Ratification of the deal still faces some opposition in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The United States is by far Mexico's biggest export market and its easy passage through the legislature had been expected. The approval came after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if López Obrador didn't reduce the flow of U.S.-bound illegal immigration from Central America, a threat that was later suspended. The USMCA was hammered out last year by delegations representing then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and then-President-elect López Obrador, of the left-leaning Morena, ensuring that both the outgoing and the incoming administrations were on board. López Obrador took office Dec. 1, a day after the agreement was signed. Mexican lawmakers had already executed a series of labor reforms that the U.S. had demanded. Mexico's economy ministry said that with Senate approval 'Mexico sends a clear message in favor of an open economy and of deepening its economic integration in the region.' Mexico's peso strengthened moderately against the dollar to 19.03 Wednesday, though the main factor was the U.S. Federal Reserve signaling that it was prepared to cut interest rates if needed to protect the U.S. economy, according to Gabriela Siller, economic analysis director at Banco BASE. The United States buys about 80% of Mexican exports, some $358 billion worth last year. In the first quarter of 2019 the two countries did $203 billion in two-way trade, making Mexico the United States' No. 1 commercial partner for the first time, ahead of Canada and China, according to the Mexican Economy Department. Sen. Ricardo Monreal, leader of the governing party in the Senate, said the vote was 'an important step to diminish the existing uncertainty for North American trade.
  • Trump administration bargainers offered a one-year budget freeze and said Democratic spending demands remained too high as talks with congressional leaders aimed at averting deep cuts in defense and domestic programs seemed no closer to resolution Wednesday. After White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney took shots at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats said White House involvement in the negotiations was hindering progress and rejected the proposed freeze. The exchange suggested the two sides were not near a handshake to avert automatic cuts and instead boost both defense and domestic programs, perhaps for two years. Without some agreement, overall spending would be slashed by $125 billion starting next year, a roughly 10% reduction in agency budgets that both parties consider too draconian. Emerging from a bargaining session in Pelosi's office that lasted over an hour, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that without an accord, the White House was prepared to prevent the automatic cut but would force agencies to live with a far less severe, one-year extension of this year's budget. Mnuchin said the administration would also agree to extend the federal debt limit for a year. The government is projected to deplete its legal ability to borrow money after summer, which would prompt an unprecedented failure by the government to repay its debt that could rattle the world's economy. 'The president has every intention of keeping the government open and keeping the soundness of the full faith and credit of the government,' Mnuchin told reporters. He said both sides agreed not to hold the debt limit 'hostage to spending.' In a joint statement after the meeting, Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., bristled at White House involvement in the negotiations. They said Democrats 'are committed' to working with congressional Republicans to avert automatic spending cuts, a budget freeze and a federal default. 'If the House and Senate could work their will without interference from the President, we could come to a good agreement much more quickly,' the two Democrats said. Schumer later told reporters that 'unfortunately' the White House has joined the talks. He said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell 'is just in obeisance to the White House, and so that's where we're stuck right now.' McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said, 'The leader has made clear that any deal has to be bipartisan and that includes the president's signature.' Schumer also said a one-year freeze 'is bad policy, it's bad politics and it's a fall back. We should be negotiating a bill.' Schumer and McConnell are also monitoring sidebar Senate talks between the chairman and top Democrat of the powerful Appropriations Committee, who have one of the few fully functional bipartisan working relationships in Washington. Those talks are more promising, congressional aides said. Those senators, Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have a dim view of the negotiating skills of Mulvaney, a former tea party lawmaker from South Carolina who doesn't disguise his disdain for the go along, get along style of the committee. Democrats have been pushing for increased spending for domestic programs, not a freeze, as a tradeoff for the big Pentagon increases Trump and congressional Republicans are demanding. Mulvaney, exiting the negotiating session, said Democrats had actually increased their demand for domestic spending since the last bargaining session in May to $647 billion, which he said is $8 billion above their previous offer. 'So you tell me if things are moving in the right direction. Last time I checked, that's not how you compromise,' Mulvaney said. Democrats said Mulvaney misunderstood Pelosi's numbers. But she doesn't appear to be in a hurry and made no new spending offer Wednesday, making it clear that the Democratic House wants to first pass its spending bills at its preferred higher figure. The first such bill passed Wednesday, a huge $1 trillion measure that amounts to an opening bid in the ongoing guns vs. butter fight with the administration. The House voted along party lines to pass the bill, which blends the military spending that's a priority for Republicans with Democratic-sought funding increases for health and education programs. The House-passed bill far exceeds Trump's budget request for domestic programs, attracting a White House veto threat, and denies him his full Pentagon budget increase. It also contains policy 'riders' related to abortion and other hot-button issues that drove away potential GOP supporters, though Democrats sidestepped a potentially divisive battle by preserving a longtime ban on taxpayer-financed abortion. The bill boosts the Pentagon budget by about $16 billion over current levels, about a 2% increase, while giving health, education and labor programs an almost 7% boost. Those numbers would have to balance out more to gain Trump's signature. Action on the measure comes as Democrats have been struggling to get their message out above the political din of Trump's Washington. The bill wraps four of the 12 annual spending measures into one, and Democrats are boasting of gains for Head Start, health research and fighting the opioid epidemic, among the myriad programs covered by the measure.
  • Two of the world's largest coal producers have announced they will combine mining operations in Wyoming and Colorado in an attempt to improve their competitiveness against natural gas and renewable energy sources. Arch Coal and Peabody Energy are based in St. Louis and announced the joint venture on Wednesday. It will be 66.5% owned by Peabody and 33.5% owned by Arch. The companies say the deal requiring approval from regulators could save about $120 million annually in mostly operational costs over 10 years. The plan involves the North Antelope Rochelle, Black Thunder, Caballo, Rawhide and Coal Creek mines in Wyoming and the West Elk and Twentymile mines in Colorado. The mines employed about 3,300 workers in 2018. The companies gave no guidance on future employment levels.
  • The top U.S. trade negotiator said he will meet with his Chinese counterpart to discuss a trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies before a summit next week in Japan between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China. Appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he plans to speak with the top Chinese negotiator by phone in the next day and a half. Then the two are expected to meet, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in Osaka ahead of the Trump-Xi summit at the Group of 20 meeting June 28-29. Lighthizer did not name his counterpart. But Vice Premier Liu He has led the Chinese delegation in past talks. Eleven rounds of talks have failed to resolve the differences between the world's two biggest economies. The U.S. accuses China of using predatory tactics in an aggressive push to supplant American technological dominance. These, the U.S. says, include stealing trade secrets, forcing foreign firms to hand over technology and unfairly subsidizing Chinese tech firms. China accuses the United States of trying to keep an emerging rival down. Beijing also is reluctant to scale back its aspirations to make Chinese companies world leaders in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and autonomous cars. Trump has pointed to the U.S. trade deficit with China — a record $381 billion last year — as a sign that China is pursuing abusive trade practices. 'We have a very unbalanced relationship with China, and we have one that risks literally the jobs of the future for America,' Lighthizer said Wednesday. 'So, it's very important that we get this relationship right.' The United States has slapped 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. The Chinese have counterpunched by targeting $110 billion in U.S. products. 'From the very beginning, China made it clear that we do not want a trade war,' Wang Hejun, a senior official at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said on the Fox Business Network's 'After the Bell' program on Wednesday. 'But China will give no ground on matters of principle.' Until last month, it appeared that the two countries were edging slowly but steadily toward a deal. But then the U.S. accused China of reneging on commitments it had made in earlier rounds of talks. Negotiations stopped, and the Trump administration rolled out plans to tax another $300 billion in Chinese imports, extending the tariffs to everything China ships to the United States. The threat of an escalation in the dispute has rocked financial markets and clouded prospects for the global economy. In seven days of hearings that began Monday, hundreds of businesses are urging Lighthizer's office to rethink the plan to expand the China tariffs. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he'd spoken on the phone with Xi and that the two leaders would meet in Osaka. But it's still unclear when the two countries' negotiating teams will resume detailed talks. 'When actual negotiations begin again, I can't say at this point,' Lighthizer said. 'We're talking. We're going to meet.' ___ Darlene Superville contributed to this story.
  • The Latest on an environmental rule covering coal-fired power plants (all times local): 6:10 p.m. The Trump administration has ordered a sweeping about-face on Obama-era efforts to fight climate change, easing restrictions on coal-fired power plants. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler signed a measure Wednesday that scraps one of President Barack Obama's key initiatives to rein in fossil fuel emissions. The replacement rule gives states more leeway in deciding whether to require plants to make limited efficiency upgrades. Wheeler says he expects more coal plants to open as a result. But one state, New York, says it will go to court to challenge the action, and more lawsuits are likely. The EPA move comes despite the agency's own analysis that it would result in the deaths of an extra 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030, owing to additional air pollution. __ 11:50 a.m. The Trump administration expects new coal-fired power plants to open as a result of a major new regulatory change. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler says he expects that increase in coal plants as a result of the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Wheeler spoke to reporters after signing the final version of the repeal. The Obama-era plan sought to fight climate change by prodding coal-fired power plants out of the nation's electrical grid. Wheeler says the administration's repeal will lead investors to put money into more coal plants. U.S. coal-plant closings have reached near record numbers in recent years owing to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. ___ 11:30 a.m. New York's attorney general says the state will sue to block the Trump administration's rollback of an Obama-era rule designed to wean the nation's electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution. Attorney General Letitia James announced the state's intentions on Twitter shortly after the Environmental Protection Agency replaced the rule with a less ambitious one. She makes reference to the administration's '#DirtyPower rule.' She tweets that it's 'another prime example of this administration's attempt to rollback critical regulations that will have devastating impacts on both the safety & health of our nation.' The Trump administration says the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority in approving the Clean Power Plan. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler says coal is essential to the nation's power grid. ___ 11:05 a.m. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Trump administration's rollback of a rule targeting coal-fired power plants is 'a stunning giveaway to big polluters.' Pelosi says in a statement that climate change is 'the existential threat of our time' and that the administration is ignoring scientific studies about climate change and yielding to special interests. Pelosi is reacting to Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler's scrapping of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce the country's reliance on coal and move to renewable energy sources. Wheeler replaced it with a less ambitious rule. The administration argues that Obama's EPA overstepped its legal authority in approving the Clean Power Plant rule. ___ 10:35 a.m. The Trump administration has rolled back a landmark Obama-era effort targeting coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution. It's replacing the Obama rule with a less ambitious one that gives states more discretion in regulating those power plants. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler says it's a sign that 'fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix' in the U.S. energy supply. President Donald Trump campaigned partly on a pledge to bring back the U.S. coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. The rule will go into effect shortly after publication in the Federal Register. Environmental groups pledge court challenges. ___ 12:25 a.m. The Trump administration is close to completing one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules. Lawmakers, environmentalists and others are readying for an announcement about a replacement for an Obama-era regulation that sought to limit coal-fired plants in the nation's electrical grid. The Clean Power Plan was one of President Barack Obama's signature efforts to curb climate-changing emissions. Critics of the Obama administration say it overstepped its legal authority in issuing the power plant rule. Those opposing the rollback say it will worsen climate change and increase deaths from coal-plant pollution.
  • Asian shares were higher on Thursday, with the Shanghai benchmark up 2.6%, after the Federal Reserve reaffirmed that it's prepared to cut interest rates if needed to shield the U.S. economy from trade conflicts or other threats. The Thursday tracked modest gains on Wall Street. The 10-year Treasury note slid to 1.98%, its lowest level since November 2016, as investors bet on at least one interest rate cut this year, possibly as early as July. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index added 0.7% to 21,478.93 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong surged 1% to 28,486.39. Shanghai was up 2.6% to 2,992.29 while Australia's S&P ASX 200 picked up 0.3% to 6,664.70. India's Sensex edged 0.1% higher to 39,139.47. Shares were flat in Taiwan and Jakarta and higher elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Confirmation that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will meet at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka next week has raised hopes for a political compromise on their tariffs war. U.S. Trade Representative told a congressional hearing that he plans to speak with China's top trade envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, soon and also to meet with him in Osaka. Prospects for a breakthrough in stalled negotiations remain uncertain, given the acrimony in recent weeks over who is to blame over the impasse. The widely expected decision by the U.S. central bank's policymakers to leave the Fed's benchmark interest rate unchanged in a range of 2.25%-2.5% and the signal of openness to lower rates later reassured investors who have been worried the trade war between Washington and Beijing could weigh on global economic growth, and by extension, corporate profits. The reaction to the Fed's midafternoon statement was more pronounced in the bond market, where the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.03%, its lowest level since November 2016. The move signals that bond traders see an increased likelihood that the Fed will lower rates. Investors are betting on at least one interest rate cut this year, possibly as early as July. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 2,926.46, within striking range of its all-time high, set on April 30. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1% to 26,504. The Nasdaq composite added 0.4% to 7,987.32, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 0.3% to 1,555.58. Major stock indexes in Europe finished mixed. U.S. stock indexes spent much of the day wavering between small gains and losses as investors waited for the Fed to deliver its update on interest rates following a two-day meeting of policymakers. The 10-year Treasury yield has been declining steadily since hitting a high of 3.23% last November. It fell to 1.98% Thursday, down from 2.06% late Tuesday. Benchmark crude oil added 75 cents to $54.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 14 cents to $53.97 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, picked up 83 cents to $62.65 a barrel. The dollar fell to 107.65 Japanese yen from 108.10 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1267 from $1.1226.
  • American Airlines is buying 50 new long-range planes from Airbus, giving a big boost to the just-launched A321XLR model and spurring Boeing to push ahead to develop a rival aircraft. Airbus and the American Airlines — the world's largest carrier — announced the deal Wednesday at the Paris Air Show, upgrading a previous order for A321neo jets to the A321XLR. No price tag was put on the contract but it is likely worth billions of dollars. Airbus launched the A321XLR program on Monday, a long-range version of its popular single-aisle A320 range, and has already signed several customers for the yet-to-be-built plane. American Airlines is looking to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 757 jets, and the order for the A321XLR heightens pressure on Boeing . Boeing is studying a new jet dubbed New Midsize Airplane, or NMA, that would be a similar size to the A321XLR. The American Airlines deal with Airbus could give Boeing more incentive to push ahead with the NMA. Boeing came into the air show under a cloud of uncertainty as its 737 Max has been grounded worldwide for three months after new flight software played a role in two deadly plane crashes. There is no clear date for when the Max might fly again. The company got a boost on Tuesday, however, when International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and other carriers, signed a letter of intent for 200 Boeing 737 aircraft. The deal is subject to final agreement, but is a vote of confidence in Boeing as it struggles to win back trust from airlines, pilots, regulators and the traveling public. Airbus has landed a string of orders at the show, including sales of the new A321XLR to Australia's Qantas, Saudi Arabian Airlines, the Philippines' Cebu Pacific and Arizona-based low-cost airline investor Indigo Partners. Boeing announced deals Wednesday with Qatar Airways, China Airlines and Turkmenistan Airlines. A slowing economy tempered the mood at the air show, one of the aviation industry's biggest events, but both Airbus and Boeing brought in more orders than expected. After several years of surging growth, passenger traffic in March grew at the weakest rate in nine years, although April was slightly better. The International Air Transport Association, a global airline trade group, blames a slowing global economy and damage from tariffs and trade fights. Plane makers are also under growing pressure from regulators and passengers to reduce carbon emissions. They are looking at hybrid, electric or hydrogen technology to eventually replace existing fuel.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Authorities arrested an 11th person Tuesday in connection with the ambush shooting last week of former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic. >> Read more trending news  In a press briefing Wednesday evening, the Dominican Republic’s lead prosecutor said that Ortiz was not the target of a shooting.  Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said the target was another man, dressed similarly to Ortiz, who was seated next to him the night of June 9. Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, who remains on the run. He did not immediately describe a motive. An unidentified official told The Associated Press that Franklin Junior Merán was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of renting one of the cars used in the June 9 shooting in Santo Domingo. Ten other suspects have already been ordered to spend a year in preventive detention as the investigation continues, including the accused shooter. Authorities say they are looking for at least three other suspects, including the man they believe paid the hit men. Ortiz continued recovering Wednesday in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said doctors upgraded Ortiz’s condition to good Tuesday. “We remain grateful to everyone who has helped David through this ordeal, both in the Dominican Republic and here in Boston,” Tiffany Ortiz said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “David’s journey to good health has been bolstered by the many expressions of love that have come to us from across the globe. Your support has lifted his spirits tremendously during this challenging time.” Authorities continue to investigate. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A man said his fiancee put eye drops into his soft drink Saturday at their Rowan County home. >> Read more trending news  The man told authorities he confronted his fiancee, Jaymee Cruz, after he said he watched her put the drops in his Coca-Cola. He then locked himself and their baby in the bathroom and called 911. Deputies said when they arrived at the scene, Cruz at first denied putting eye drops in the drink, but later said she did it to make the man sick. Cruz said she got the idea from the movie 'Wedding Crashers' and did it because she wanted to move out of the home with their daughter, authorities said. Consuming eye drops is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. The main ingredient reduces redness in the eyes, but when ingested it can rapidly reach the blood and central nervous systems. It's not the first time a person has been accused of using eye drops to poison their significant other. Last year, York County investigators charged Lana Clayton in her husband’s death after she said she put eye drops in his water, WSOC-TV reported. Stephen Clayton’s toxicology report showed he had poisonous levels of the key ingredient in eye drops.
  • The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office arrested a grandmother in DeLand after she was spotted buying heroin with her 2-year-old grandson in the car. (APP users click here to see tweet and video) On Tuesday, a deputy pulled over Amy Moreland, 43, after seeing her involved in what looked like a drug deal in the Spring Hill area of DeLand.  The 2 year-old boy was in the car during the traffic stop. “Grandma’s out here buying dope with you. That’s not good,” one of the deputies is heard in body camera footage released by the sheriff’s office. An incident report says heroin turned up during a search of Moreland’s car.  She was charged with possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and child neglect.  The boy was turned over to a family member. Towards the end of the video, the deputy explains to Moreland how the drugs had contained a lethal dose of Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. “So that bag just opens up and it blows through the air, and he breaths it in.  ‘A’ he’s gonna be high and ‘B’ it’s gonna kill him.  And that never crosses your mind,” the deputy said. The tweet from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office read, in part, “That's unthinkable to most of us, but addiction makes the unthinkable happen.” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood tweeted, “Another nice job by a deputy who found an innocent kid in a sad situation.” (Tweet)
  • Police arrested a 33-year-old man Monday on suspicion of intentionally driving into pedestrians in Jefferson City, injuring a 61-year-old man and killing a pregnant woman and her 2-year-old son, according to investigators. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said William David Phillips, of Jefferson City, swerved to intentionally hit Tillman Gunter, 61, while driving west on East Main Street on Monday afternoon. Police said Phillips traveled less than a mile before swerving again, striking Sierra Wilson Cahoon, 30, and her 2-year-old son, Nolan Cahoon. Cahoon, Nolan and Cahoon’s unborn child were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to investigators. Gunter was taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said. Authorities were called around 3:30 p.m. Monday after Phillips lodged the car he was driving into a building for Sustainable Aquatics, a fish hatchery, according to The Citizen Tribune and the Knoxville News Sentinel. Witness Bill Ray Jones told WBIR-TV he heard Phillips yelling that the “government told him to do it” as he tried to flee from the scene of the crash. 'He knew he had hit (Cahoon) and I'm sure he did because he was talking all crazy,' he told the news station. Sustainable Aquatics owner John Carberry told the News Sentinel he arrived at the scene of the crash within minutes Monday and found Cahoon and her son dead on the sidewalk. “There was a hole in the building and one of my employees ran out,” Carberry told the News Sentinel. “She had minor injuries. She ran up to the main building, and the perpetrator ran out of the hole and ran up and some local citizens grabbed him.” The crash ruptured several fish tanks and destroyed four fish systems, Carberry told The Citizen Tribune and the News Sentinel. He estimated about 2,000 wild-caught fish died after the crash caused more than 10,000 gallons of water to rush from the tanks. “I just want to let the police do their job and mourn the passing of this mother and child,” Carberry told The Citizen Tribune. “It’s very sad.” Phillips, of Jefferson City, was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. Authorities filed an additional murder charge against Phillips on Wednesday for the death of Cahoon's unborn child, WATE reported. In a news release, police said investigators believed 'this was an intentional act of violence toward randomly chosen pedestrians. “Investigators have determined that Phillips did not know the victims,” police said. In an arrest warrant obtained Wednesday by the News Sentinel, authorities said Phillips told investigators “a voice told him that he needed to go kill meth addicts.” After Phillips spotted Cahoon and her son, 'He said the voice told him that the baby stroller had meth in it so he intentionally drove into (the mother and child) ... killing them both,' the warrant said, according to the News Sentinel. Records from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department showed he remained jailed Wednesday. A spokesperson for Carson-Newman University, a Christian university in Jefferson City, told WBIR-TV that Cahoon and Nolan were the wife and son of Matt Cahoon, an assistant athletic trainer at the school. “Our hearts are breaking for one of our own,” Carson-Newman University interim President Paul Percy said Tuesday in a statement. “We take comfort in knowing that God also feels our pain and hears our prayers. Because of this, we ask for prayers for Matt and his family now and in the days ahead.” Officials at First Steps Preschool at the First United Methodist Church told WBIR-TV Nolan was a happy student who always gave out hugs and high-fives. 'He was a joy,' the preschool’s director, Jessica Lawson, told WBIR-TV. 'He would walk through the door smiling every morning.' Officials at Carson-Newman University started a fund to benefit the Cahoon family. Those wishing to contribute can donate online to The Randall and Kay O’Brien Benevolent Fund on the university’s website.
  • A man who stabbed a New York City man early Tuesday also partially severed his own finger during the attack, police said. >> Read more trending news  The 35-year-old victim, who was repeatedly stabbed, lived in the Bronx, WPIX reported. According to police, the attacker and victim were arguing outside a bar at 1:15 a.m. when the stabbing occurred. The victim was stabbed in the back, while the attacker partially cut a finger on his left hand, WPIX reported. The assailant then ran away, police said. Police said the attacker appeared to be in his mid- to late 20s, the television station reported. The man had a beard and tattoos on his right forearm and upper right arm, WPIX reported. Police said the man was last seen wearing a red baseball cap, white T-shirt and dark colored shorts, the television station reported.

Washington Insider

  • Even with no agreement as yet between the White House and Congress on budget levels for 2020, the House on Wednesday approved a package of four funding bills worth nearly $1 trillion for next year, and started work on five other spending measures for the operations of the federal government, with no clear idea of what President Donald Trump would accept for next year's budget. The first spending 'minibus' included $713 billion for the military, and nearly $270 billion in funding covering a range of health, education, labor, energy, and water programs, along with foreign aid, and money for the State Department. The 226-203 vote was mainly along party lines, as all Republicans were joined by seven Democrats in opposing the bill, even though it included funding for the military, a top GOP priority. Republicans though objected to provisions in the bill which would prevent the President from shifting money from the Pentagon to construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico. The House then moved on to a second funding package - this one combines five different spending bills for an array of government agencies, from the Department of Justice to NASA, agricultural programs, the EPA, National Park Service, military construction, the VA, transportation, housing, and more. 290 different amendments were made in order to the second 'minibus' plan, as House Democrats try to get as many of 12 funding bills passed this summer, in an effort to prevent a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins on October 1. But there's one problem with that effort - no agreement has been reached with the White House on exactly how much should be spent in 2020 - meaning all of this work could be for naught. 'This bill is going nowhere,' said Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. 'It is a waste of time,' Womack said on the House floor, as Republicans protested the lack of a budget agreement for next year. The action on next year's spending bills came as Capitol Hill talks involving top lawmakers and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin produced no agreement on how to deal with current budget 'caps' which limit how much can be spent in 2020. If there is no deal, automatic spending cuts known as the 'sequester' would kick in, slashing billions from the military and non-defense spending programs, a politically unpalatable choice for both parties. For example, total military spending in 2019 is $716 billion; President Trump wants $750 billion in 2020. But under the spending limits from a 2011 bipartisan budget deal, the cap on defense spending in 2020 would be $576 billion, down from the current spending levels of $647 billion, a reduction of $71 billion. The sequester would cut domestic spending less, because it has had a smaller rate of increase over the last two years when compared to the defense budget; non-defense spending would have to be reduced to $542 billion, a cut of $55 billion. 'While we did not reach an agreement, today’s conversation advanced our bipartisan discussions,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in a statement, as they urged the President to stay on the sidelines. 'If the House and Senate could work their will without interference from the President, we could come to a good agreement much more quickly,' the top Democrats added.