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Business Highlights: Abortion coverage, Russian gas supplies

August 19, 2022 GMT

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Walmart expands abortion coverage for employees

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, is expanding its abortion coverage for employees after staying largely mum on the issue following the Supreme Court ruling that scrapped a nationwide right to abortion. In a memo sent to employees on Friday, the company said its health care plans will now cover abortion for employees “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability.” In Arkansas, where Walmart is based, abortion is banned under all circumstances unless the procedure is needed to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

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Russia’s Gazprom to shut gas pipeline to Europe for 3 days

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom says a key pipeline conveying natural gas to Europe will shut down for three days at the end of this month to undergo “routine maintenance.” In a statement Friday, Gazprom said the only operational turbine at a key compressor station along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which links western Russia and Germany, will shut down from Aug. 31 to Sept 2. Gazprom said once work is completed, the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 will resume at its prior level, which is just 20% of the pipeline’s capacity. Germany has called previous gas reductions a political move by the Kremlin to sow uncertainty and push up prices amid the conflict in Ukraine.

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Florida utility gets $500K fine, probation for fatal blast

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida utility has been fined $500,000 and placed on three years’ probation for a 2017 deadly explosion at a coal-fired power plant that killed five workers. The U.S. Justice Department said in a news release Friday that Tampa Electric Co. also must adhere to a new safety compliance plan. The fine is the maximum allowed for such violations. The explosion at TECO’s Big Bend plant near Tampa happened when an effort was made using high-pressure water to clear a slag byproduct that accumulates in tanks under the coal-fired furnaces. The workers died and several more were injured when they were sprayed with molten slag.

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Apple warns of security flaw for iPhones, iPads and Macs

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple has disclosed serious security vulnerabilities for iPhones, iPads and Macs. The software flaws could potentially allow attackers to take complete control of these devices, Apple said Wednesday. The company said in a security statement that it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.” Security experts have advised users to update affected devices — the iPhone6S and later models, newer iPads and Mac computers running MacOS Monterey. It also affects some iPod models. Commercial spyware companies are known for using such flaws in products designed to introduce malware and siphon data from targeted phones and other devices.

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Buttigieg warns airlines to help travelers or face new rules

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is telling airlines to do a better job of helping stranded travelers or they will face new regulations. Buttigieg wants airlines to provide lodging for passengers stranded overnight. He also says they should give out meal vouchers when flights are delayed three hours or longer. That’s if the disruption is caused by something in the airline’s control. Buttigieg wrote to the CEOs of most leading U.S. airlines in letters that the Transportation Department released Friday. Airline trade groups did not comment immediately. Buttigieg has been sparring with the airlines since late spring over high numbers of canceled and delayed flights. The airlines and federal agencies have blamed each other for the flight disruptions.

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Wayfair cutting about 870 jobs, or 5% of global workforce

Wayfair is cutting about 870 employees, or 5% of its global workforce, as part of a plan previously announced by the home goods company to manage operating costs and realign its investment priorities. Wayfair Inc. said in a regulatory filing that it anticipates approximately $30 million and $40 million of costs, related mostly to employee severance and benefit costs, being incurred in the third quarter.

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US protections for Idaho salmon, steelhead are here to stay

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A five-year review by U.S. officials has determined that Endangered Species Act protections for ocean-going salmon and steelhead that reproduce in the Snake River and its Idaho tributaries must stay in effect. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division review released Thursday found that steelhead, spring and summer chinook, sockeye and fall chinook that return to Idaho on rivers from the Pacific Ocean should retain current government protections. The agency says threats from climate change increase the urgency improving fish passage at hydropower dams and restoring fish habitats. The protections limit fishing and how dams are operated on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

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Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after influential investor exits

NEW YORK (AP) — The newest meme stock on Wall Street, Bed Bath & Beyond, has tumbled even further in after-hours trading after a high-profile activist investor confirmed that he’s bailed out of the stock. Ryan Cohen, the co-founder of Chewy who helped ignite a couple meme stocks, confirmed in a filing with U.S. regulators that he no longer owns any shares or options related to the stock. The move disappointed hordes of smaller-pocketed investors, who piled into the stock amid hopes it could soar like GameStop shares did last year. Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock dropped 42% in after-hours trading Thursday, after a nearly 20% dive during the regular session

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The S&P 500 fell 55.26 points, or 1.3%, to 4,228.48. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 292.30 points, or 0.9%, to 33,706.74. The Nasdaq fell 260.13 points, or 2%, to 12,705.22. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 43.38 points, or 2.2%, to 1,957.35.