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The CEO of Bank of America said the recent debate over whether the U.S. economy is technically in a recession or not is missing the point. What matters is that current economic conditions are negatively impacting those who are most vulnerable. Brian Moynihan told The Associated Press that higher gas prices and rising rents are of particular concern when he looks at the health of the U.S. consumer. While gas prices have come down a bit recently, rents are still going up. But overall, the BofA CEO said he believes the American consumer is in good shape and able to withstand the economic turbulence.

    A spate of explosions and fires has turned Russian-occupied Crimea from a secure rear base into a new battleground in the war, demonstrating both the Russians’ vulnerability and the Ukrainians’ capacity to strike deep behind enemy lines. Nine Russian warplanes were reported destroyed at an air base in Crimea last week, and an ammunition depot on the peninsula blew up Tuesday. Ukrainian authorities have stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines after the latest blasts, which Russia blamed on “sabotage.” Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has used it to stage attack on the country in the war that began Feb. 24.

      The rush to build wind farms to combat climate change is colliding with preservation of one of the U.S. West’s most spectacular predators, the golden eagle. Scientists say the species is teetering on the edge of decline and worry that proliferating wind turbines could push them over the brink. Golden eagle wingspans can reach 7 feet — ideal for floating on thermal drafts as they search for their prey. But it also puts them in competition for the wind resources energy companies want. U.S. wildlife officials are encouraging companies to enroll in a program that allows them to kill some eagles in exchange for reducing eagle deaths elsewhere.

        Stocks closed lower on Wall Street, led by drops in big technology companies and erasing the S&P 500′s gains for the week. The S&P 500 fell 0.7% Wednesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also fell. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. Wall Street was absorbing a mix of retail updates that showed inflation pressure continues to affect businesses and consumers, but also shows that spending remains strong. Target fell after reporting a plunge in profits. The government reported that retail sales were flat in July.

          A former Indiana state senator has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for his role in a scheme that illegally funneled about $40,000 from a casino company to his unsuccessful 2016 congressional campaign. The federal investigation into contributions to Republican Brent Waltz’s campaign tied to a former casino executive led the Indiana Gaming Commission to force the company out of its lucrative ownership of casino projects in Gary and Terre Haute. Waltz said during Wednesday’s court hearing that his “greatest regret” was that his actions tarnished his reputation as a public servant. Former Indiana casino company executive John Keeler was sentenced Wednesday to two months in prison.

            A federal judge in Cleveland has awarded $650 million in damages to two Ohio counties that sued pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart saying their opioid distribution policies created a public nuisance. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster released the award amounts in a ruling issued Wednesday.  A jury returned in November ruled in favor of Lake and Trumbull counties outside Cleveland after a six-week trial. Polster then conducted a hearing to determine how much the counties should receive. The damage awards are meant to help the counties abate a continuing opioid crisis. Their counties' attorneys said it would take $3 billion total for the counties to abate the crisis.

              The chairman and CEO of a New Orleans-based utility is retiring and his successor as CEO has been chosen. Entergy Corp. is one of two Louisiana companies in the Fortune 500. It announced Wednesday that 62-year-old Leo Denault has announced plans to retire, and the board of directors has elected Chief Financial Officer Andrew Marsh to become CEO on Nov. 1. Denault has been with the company for 23 years and has been CEO since 2013. He will remain executive chairman of the board until his retirement in the first half of 2023. Kimberly Fontan will succeed Marsh as executive vice president and chief financial officer. She has been senior vice president and chief accounting officer since 2019.

              Federal officials are suing SkyWest Airlines on behalf of a former employee who says she was subjected to sexual harassment by co-workers, included asking her for sex and making explicit comments about rape in her presence. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against SkyWest on Wednesday in federal court. Utah-based SkyWest did not immediately respond for comment. The EEOC says the harassment started after the woman transferred to SkyWest's parts and maintenance operation at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 2019. She wound up being put on administrative leave and then quitting in 2020 when the company failed to tell her what it was doing about her complaints.

              Federal Reserve officials saw signs that the U.S. economy was weakening at their last meeting but still called inflation “unacceptably high’’ before raising their benchmark interest rate by a sizable three-quarters of a point in their drive to slow spiking prices. In minutes from their July 26-27 meeting, released Wednesday, the policymakers said they expected the U.S. economy to expand in the second half of 2022. But many of them suggested that growth would weaken as higher rates take hold. The officials noted that the housing market, consumer spending, business investment and factory production had already decelerated after having expanded robustly in 2021.

              Sweden’s government says it wants to pass legislation forcing the country’s public power transmission network operator to help reduce household and business electricity bills this winter. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, whose Social Democratic minority government faces parliamentary elections next month, said Wednesday the proposal would cost Svenska kraftnat at least 30 billion kronor ($2.9 billion). She said the public utility would get the funds from the 60 billion kronor it received in market charges for balancing electricity transmission and costs. “Both homeowners and business owners feel sick when they think about the electricity bill for the winter,” Andersson said.

              Two former Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks have been ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of people they victimized in one of the worst judicial scandals in U.S. history. A federal judge awarded $106 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages to plaintiffs in a long-running civil suit against the judges. In what came to be known as the kids-for-cash scandal, Mark Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, shut down a county-run juvenile detention center and accepted $2.8 million in illegal payments from the builder and co-owner of two for-profit lockups.

              A defense attorney raised questions Wednesday about the mental health of his client, a 33-year-old California man accused of causing panic early Sunday during his second arrest in two days at busy Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. A judge granted the attorney's request Wednesday for a competency evaluation and set another court date Sept. 9. Hutchison is from Oakland. Defense attorney Michael Troiano says his client had no intent to commit a crime. Police say loud banging sounds that prompted panic early Sunday were caused by metal line-dividing posts falling to the floor. Airline flights were canceled and delayed and passengers were re-screened before boarding flights. Police say two airline employees were hurt, but not seriously.

              The trend of rising U.S. traffic deaths that began two years ago is continuing into 2022. Roadway deaths rose 7% during the first three months of the year to an estimated 9,560 people. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that's the highest number for a first quarter in two decades. Traffic deaths have risen ever since pandemic lockdowns eased in 2020 as people returned to work and started taking more road trips. The agency says people drove about 40 billion more miles in the first quarter than a year earlier, a 5.6% increase. The rate of traffic deaths per 100 million miles traveled also increased during the quarter from 1.25 deaths to 1.27, according to the agency. Before 2020, the number of fatalities had fallen for three straight years.

              Egypt’s central bank governor has resigned as the country has struggled to address its economic woes. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi's office said Wednesday that he's accepted the resignation of Tarek Amer and named him a presidential adviser. The brief statement offered no reason for Amer’s resignation, and no replacement was immediately named. The Middle East’s most populous nation has struggled to curb inflation triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, high oil prices and a drop in tourism. He has been criticized for his handling of Egypt’s financial challenges, including the Egyptian pound sliding in value against the U.S. dollar after a central bank decision.

              The rush to build wind farms to combat climate change is colliding with preservation of one of the U.S. West’s most spectacular predators, the golden eagle. Scientists say the species is teetering on the edge of decline and worry that proliferating wind turbines could push them over the brink. Golden eagle wingspans can reach seven feet — ideal for floating on thermal drafts as they search for their prey. But it also puts them in competition for the wind resources energy companies want. U.S. wildlife officials are encouraging companies to enroll in a program that allows them to kill some eagles in exchange for reducing eagle deaths elsewhere.


              Wartime rivals Serbia and Kosovo will hold high-level crisis talks which the European Union mediators hope will de-escalate growing tensions in the Balkans. Russia has been trying to further increase its influence in the region amid the war in Ukraine. Hopes that the rare face-to-face meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti could produce a major breakthrough are slim. But Western officials overseeing the decades-old deadlock between the two neighbors hope that at least it could eliminate increasing warmongering rhetoric by both sides. The meeting is being held in Brussels on Thursday.

              The nation's leading abortion rights advocacy organization, Planned Parenthood, plans to spend a record $50 million ahead of November’s midterm elections. It's pouring money into contests where access to abortion will be on the ballot. The effort comes about two months after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which created a constitutional right to have an abortion. The campaign will be waged by Planned Parenthood's political and advocacy arms and will focus on governor’s offices, U.S. Senate seats and legislative races in nine states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood's previous spending record was $45 million in 2020.

              Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has directed the IRS to develop a plan within six months outlining how the tax agency will modernize its technology, customer service and hiring. With Democrats' big climate, tax and health care bill now law, the tax agency is set to receive nearly $80 billion over 10 years. Yellen's memo outlines the importance of modernizing IRS computer systems and making sure the agency has an adequate workforce. She says the IRS must “end the two-tiered tax system, where most Americans pay what they owe, but those at the top of the distribution often do not.” Her memo Tuesday to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig was obtained by The Associated Press.

              Social media companies are sharing their plans for safeguarding the U.S. midterm elections, although they have offered scant details. Tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter are generally staying the course they were on in the 2020 voting season — which was marred by conspiracies and culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Meta Platforms Inc., which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, said its approach to this election cycle is “largely consistent with the policies and safeguards” it had in place in 2020. TikTok announced an election center that will help people find voting locations and candidate information.

              Car rental costs are up nearly 50% since 2019, compared to just a 7% increase in hotel prices and a 16% increase in flight prices over the same period. High demand, a global semiconductor shortage and labor industry shortages contributed to the low supply of rental cars. Prices have actually dropped slightly since the high in July 2021, but they’re still far above pre-pandemic pricing. To save on your next rental car, consider renting from a location outside the airport and don’t prepay. Last-minute bookings are usually cheaper, and you can always rebook if the price drops after you reserve a car.

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