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Transportation And Shipping

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Federal regulators who want to enforce new vessel speed rules to help protect rare whales can expect some pushback from ship operators. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the new proposed rules last month. They are designed to protect the last remaining North Atlantic right whales. The rules would expand seasonal slow zones off the East Coast, and require more vessels to comply. The agency is holding a series of informational meetings on the new rules, including one scheduled for Aug. 16. Some shipping and maritime groups said they are concerned that the rules could make their jobs more difficult or less safe.

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Shipping companies are preparing to halt the transport of goods on the Rhine as water levels in Germany’s biggest river near a critically low point. An ongoing drought affecting much of Europe has lowered the Rhine and prevented large ships with heavy loads from passing key waypoints. At one bottleneck on the Middle Rhine, an official gauge measured the water level at 37 centimeters (14.6 inches) on Saturday afternoon. While the depth of the shipping lane in Kaub was still about 150 centimeters (59 inches), experts say a reading below below 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) at the gauge mark is considered unpassable even for light or specially adapted cargo ships.

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Thousands of U.K. train drivers have walked off the job in a 24-hour strike over jobs, pay and conditions, scuppering services across much of the country. The walkout is the latest in a spreading series of strikes by British workers seeking substantial raises to offset soaring prices for food and fuel. Weekend workers, soccer fans heading for games and families heading for the seaside are among those having to change their plans on Saturday. Railway staff held a series of one-day strikes in June and July and plan more walkouts next week. Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom staff, dock workers and garbage collectors have all announced walkouts for later this month.

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A Maine shipyard is preparing for a painstaking stem-to-stern restoration of a floating piece of presidential history. French & Webb was tapped for the restoration by the current owner of the Sequoia, a 1925 motor yacht that served eight presidents before being sold by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Todd French tells the Bangor Daily News that preparation has been going on behind the scenes. Physical work is expected to begin in the spring. The Sequoia went through a couple of owners before going up for sale following the stock market crash of 1929. President Herbert Hoover encouraged the Navy to buy the vessel, and began using it as a presidential yacht.

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Latvia and Estonia say they have left a Chinese-backed forum aimed at boosting relations with Eastern European countries. The move follows China's boosting of its relations with Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine is seen as a possible first step in a series of moves against countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. It also comes after Beijing launched economic and diplomatic retaliation against another Baltic state, Lithuania, after it expanded ties with the self-governing island democracy of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and threatens to annex by force. China's increasingly assertive diplomacy and recent threatening military exercises near Taiwan have brought a sharp backlash from the U.S., the EU, Japan, Australia and others.

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Greek authorities say a search and rescue operation is ongoing for a second day for dozens of migrants missing after the boat they were on sank in rough seas off a southeastern Greek island. A Greek navy vessel and three nearby merchant ships are still searching Thursday for between around 30 to 50 people believed missing after the boat went down early Wednesday. The Greek coast guard said that no further survivors have been located since 29 men from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq were rescued shortly after the boat sank. The survivors said there had been between 60 and 80 people on board. Separately three men believed to be migrants died after being hit by a train in northern Greece. The three had reportedly been sleeping on the train tracks.

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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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Drivers entering the heart of New York City would pay $9 to $23 under a plan aimed at reducing gridlock in the country's most congested city. Details of the plan, known as congestion pricing, are contained in an environmental assessment released Wednesday. The plan likely won't be put into effect until the end of 2023, and would be the first of its kind in the U.S. Wednesday's report acknowledges that taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers will be adversely affected, but says that's outweighed by the benefits of reduced congestion and pollution. Revenue from the tolls will be used to upgrade the city's mass transit systems.

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Consumers struggling with skyrocketing prices for food, gas, autos and rent got a tantalizing hint of relief last month, when prices didn’t budge at all from June after 25 straight months of increases. With gas prices continuing to fall, inflation is probably slowing further this month. So has the worst bout of inflation in four decades possibly peaked? Economists say it’s way too soon to know for sure. Even if some prices should keep declining, others — housing costs, for example — are almost sure to remain painfully high. And that means there’s likely still a long way to go before inflation will get anywhere close to the 2% annual pace that Americans were long accustomed to.

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Falling prices for gas, airline tickets and clothes gave Americans a little bit of relief last month, though overall inflation is still running at close to its highest level in four decades. Government data released Wednesday showed that consumer prices jumped 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier. That's down from a 9.1% year-over-year increase in June. On a monthly basis, prices were unchanged from June to July, the first time that has happened after 25 months of increases. The reprieve offered no certainty that prices would stay on the decline. Inflation has sometimes slowed only to re-accelerate later.

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Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways says losses in the first half of the year narrowed as a relaxation in quarantine rules boosted passenger numbers. But it cautioned that quarantine restrictions on its crew were limiting the airline’s ability to increase flight capacity. The company reported losses of about $637 million in the first six months, down from $964.5 million in the same period last year. Hong Kong relaxed strict quarantine rules from 14 to seven days in mandatory hotel quarantine earlier this year, and to just three days from Friday. It still remains one of the few places in the world, together with mainland China, to require mandatory quarantine for inbound travelers. The city’s airline is lagging behind competitors like Singapore Airlines.

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Postmaster General Louis DeJoy says inflation is going to necessitate another rate increase in January. But he said Tuesday that despite inflation and staffing difficulties the Postal Service is well prepared for the November election. He noted that postal carriers already delivered about 40 million ballots to and from voters. He also cautioned against reading too much into quarterly results that for the first time reflected a sweeping overhaul signed into law in April. That resulted in a one-time, non-cash benefit of nearly $60 billion.

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A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture in her back during a hard landing last month in California. Federal safety investigators say the jolt was so strong that the flight attendant thought the plane had crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board completed its investigation without saying what caused the hard landing. The safety board says none of the other 141 people on board were injured in the incident, which happened July 1 at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California. The airport has a relatively short runway. The safety board has not made its documents from the investigation public.

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As CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Isaiah Oliver is well known throughout the city. Now as families recover from the water crisis and the pandemic, the foundation and Oliver are building on their reserve of trust and their proximity to the community. As the foundation’s first Flint native and first Black leader since it was founded in 1988, Oliver works to build bridges between marginalized people and wealthy donors.  Even more than the erosion of the city’s water pipes, “the erosion of trust was the biggest issue that came out of the water crisis,” Oliver said in an interview in his office. Rebuilding trust in institutions is a continuing process.

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David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose lovingly crafted narratives on subjects ranging from the Brooklyn Bridge to Presidents John Adams and Harry Truman made him among the most popular and influential historians of his time, has died. He was 89. His fascination with architecture and construction inspired his early works on the Panama Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge, while his admiration for leaders whom he believed were good men drew him to Adams and Truman. A non-academic, McCullough was not loved by all reviewers, who accused him of avoiding the harder truths about his subjects and of placing storytelling above analysis.

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U.S. intelligence agencies are shifting more money and resources to China. They're moving hundreds of officers to China-focused positions, including some who were previously working on terrorism. One year after ending the war in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden and top national security officials speak less about counterterrorism and more about the political, economic and military threats posed by China as well as Russia. In a recent closed-door meeting with leaders of the CIA's counterterrorism center, the CIA’s No. 2 official made clear that fighting al-Qaida and other extremist groups will remain a priority but that there's an increasing focus on China.

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Hungary has accused Ryanair of consumer protection violations after it raised ticket prices to cope with a tax on what the government calls “extra profits.” Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote Monday on Facebook that an investigation found “unfair trade practices,” leading to a $777,058 fine. It's the first tied to the new tax, which led Ryanair and others to increase prices. Hungary said costs shouldn't be passed along to customers and that the tax on industries from banking to insurance to airlines will aid the country's economic recovery. Ryanair says it will “immediately appeal any baseless fine” but that it hasn’t received notice of one.

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For Boston subway riders, it seems every week brings a new tale of transit woe. There have been runaway trains, subway cars belching smoke and fire, fatal accidents, rush hour trains running on weekend schedules and brand-new subway cars pulled from service. The situation has stretched the nerves of riders, prompted a probe by the Federal Transit Administration and worried political leaders. One of the more maddening failures came in June when the MBTA temporarily sidelined all its new Orange and Red Line cars. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says despite the troubles, the vast majority of trips end without drama.

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Officials are pledging to reinforce security on Chicago Transit Authority trains after the shooting death of a passenger. Twenty-nine-year-old Diuntel Moon was shot multiple times on a CTA Red Line train early Saturday and pronounced dead at a hospital. The killing punctuates an uptick in violent crime on trains in the city. More violent incidents have occurred on trains this year than at any time in the past decade. Police Superintendent David Brown says an unspecified number of additional police officers will be assigned to CTA trains starting Sunday. CTA president Dorval Carter says canine units will return to the trains as part of the system's unarmed security force.

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Thunderstorms on the East Coast are causing travel headaches for tens of thousands of airline passengers. Airlines canceled more than 1,100 flights in the U.S. by midafternoon Friday. The highest numbers of canceled flights were at the three major airports in the New York City area — JFK, LaGuardia and Newark — and at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C. American Airlines is canceling more than 200 flights — 6% of its schedule. That's according to tracking service FlightAware. The Federal Aviation Administration says there were also long delays at many airports — more than 90 minutes at LaGuardia and Newark.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is stressing his country’s efforts to strengthen ties with Southeast Asian countries at a meeting with their foreign ministers, which comes as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in the region. Wang’s talks with top diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Thursday were held amid high tensions in the region, following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which has infuriated Beijing. In his opening remarks, Wang did not mention the situation but instead emphasized how China and Southeast Asian countries have strengthened cooperation in recent years.

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Billions of dollars in climate and environment investments from the Inflation Reduction Act could flow to communities in the United States that have been plagued by pollution and climate threats for decades. The bill, announced by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin last month, could also jumpstart a transition to clean energy in regions still dominated by fossil fuels. But there are also provisions in the bill that are supportive of fossil fuel expansion. And some who live and work where climate and environmental injustices are the norm worry that those parts of the bill force their communities to accept further harm from pollution in order to protect their health from climate change.

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Some evacuation orders have been lifted for towns near a Northern California wildfire that has claimed at least four lives. Authorities on Wednesday said residents forced to flee the Siskyou County seat of Yreka and the town of Hawkinsville can return home but warned the fire remains a threat. The out-of-control blaze that began last Friday turned much of the hamlet of Klamath River to ash. Some residents are now picking through the burned out shells of their modest houses. Thunderstorms in recent days dumped much-needed rain but it also led to threats of mudslides in the fire-denuded areas. Wednesday's weather was drier but scorching temperatures remained.

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British Airways says it’s suspending sales of short-haul flights from London’s Heathrow Airport for about a week. The move announced Tuesday is in response to the airport’s request to limit bookings to help ease travel disruptions caused by booming demand and staff shortages. The suspension applies to new bookings to domestic U.K. and European services departing from Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, until Monday. Passengers can still book short-haul flights to the airport. The airline says it's taking action after Heathrow capped daily departing passenger numbers at 100,000 until Sept. 11. British Airways says it decided to “take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services."

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A hard-right Kansas lawmaker who’s clashed with Republican leaders is poised to win a spot on the November ballot as an independent candidate for governor with help from allies of Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly. State Sen. Dennis Pyle, of Hiawatha, submitted petitions with nearly 8,900 signatures to the Kansas secretary of state’s office Monday for verification that the signers are registered voters, as required. State law requires 5,000 valid signatures. Pyle was a Republican until June, and his bid would complicate presumed GOP nominee and state Attorney General Derek Schmidt's efforts to unseat Kelly. Some Democrats are hoping Pyle and Schmidt split the conservative GOP vote, boosting Kelly's chances.

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