AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT | iNFOnews





Republished July 27, 2022 – 8:05 PM



Original Publication Date July 26, 2022 – 9:16 PM




How the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes affect your finances

WASHINGTON (AP) — Higher mortgage rates have sent home sales tumbling. Credit card rates have grown more burdensome, and so have auto loans. Savers are finally receiving yields that are actually visible, while crypto assets are reeling.

The Federal Reserve’s move Wednesday to further tighten credit raised its benchmark interest rate by a sizable 0.75 percentage point for a second straight time. The Fed’s latest hike, its fourth since March, will further magnify borrowing costs for homes, cars and credit cards, though many borrowers may not feel the impact immediately.

The central bank is aggressively raising borrowing costs to try to slow spending, cool the economy and defeat the worst outbreak of inflation in two generations.

The Fed’s actions have ended, for now, an era of ultra-low rates that arose from the 2008-2009 Great Recession to help rescue the economy — and then re-emerged during the brutal pandemic recession, when the Fed slashed its benchmark rate back to near zero.

Chair Jerome Powell hopes that by making borrowing more expensive, the Fed will succeed in slowing demand for homes, cars and other goods and services. Reduced spending could then help bring inflation, most recently measured at a four-decade high of 9.1%, back to the Fed’s 2% target.

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Fed unleashes another big rate hike in bid to curb inflation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty three-quarters of a point for a second straight time in its most aggressive drive in more than three decades to tame high inflation.

The Fed’s move will raise its key rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, its highest level since 2018.

Speaking at a news conference after the Fed’s latest policy meeting, Chair Jerome Powell offered mixed signals about the central bank’s likely next moves. He stressed that the Fed remains committed to defeating chronically high inflation, while holding out the possibility that it may soon downshift to smaller rate hikes.

And even as worries grow that the Fed’s efforts could eventually cause a recession, Powell passed up several opportunities to say the central bank would slow its hikes if a recession occurred while inflation was still high.

Roberto Perli, an economist at Piper Sandler, an investment bank, said the Fed chair emphasized that “even if it caused a recession, bringing down inflation is important.”

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Manchin, Schumer in surprise deal on health, energy, taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a startling turnabout, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin announced an expansive agreement Wednesday that had eluded them for months addressing health care and climate, raising taxes on high earners and large corporations and reducing federal debt.

The two Democrats said the Senate would vote on the wide-ranging measure next week, setting up President Joe Biden and Democrats for an unexpected victory in the runup to November elections in which their congressional control is in peril. A House vote would follow, perhaps later in August, with unanimous Republican opposition in both chambers seemingly certain.

Just hours earlier, Schumer, D-N.Y., and Manchin, D-W.Va., seemed at loggerheads and headed toward a far narrower package limited — at Manchin’s insistence — to curbing pharmaceutical prices and extending federal health care subsidies. Earlier Wednesday, numerous Democrats said they were all but resigned to the more modest legislation.

The reversal was stunning, and there was no immediate explanation for Manchin’s abrupt willingness to back a bolder, broader measure. Since last year, he has used his pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate to force Biden and Democrats to abandon far more ambitious, expensive versions. He dragged them through months of negotiations in which leaders’ concessions to shrink the legislation proved fruitless, antagonizing the White House and most congressional Democrats.

“This is the action the American people have been waiting for. This addresses the problems of today — high health care costs and overall inflation — as well as investments in our energy security for the future,” Biden said in a statement. He urged lawmakers to approve the legislation quickly.

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Courts block abortion bans in Wyoming, North Dakota

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Abortion bans set to take effect this week in Wyoming and North Dakota were temporarily blocked Wednesday by judges in those states amid lawsuits arguing that the bans violate their state constitutions.

A judge in Wyoming sided with a firebombed women’s health clinic and others who argued the ban would harm health care workers and their patients, while a North Dakota judge sided with the state’s only abortion clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.

The Wyoming law was set to take effect Wednesday. The North Dakota law was set to take effect Thursday.

Meanwhile, West Virginia lawmakers moved ahead with a ban amid protests and dozens speaking against the measure.

During hours of debate leading up to the 69-23 vote in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates in West Virginia, the sound of screams and chants from protesters standing outside the chamber rang through the room.

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In rare contact, US offers Russia deal for Griner, Whelan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has offered a deal to Russia aimed at bringing home WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

In a sharp reversal of previous policy, Blinken also said he expects to speak with his Kremlin counterpart for the first time since before Russia invaded Ukraine to discuss the deal and other matters.

Blinken’s comments marked the first time the U.S. government has publicly revealed any concrete action it has taken to secure the release of Griner, who was arrested on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport in February and testified Wednesday at her trial. He did not offer details on the proposed deal outlined to the Russians, though a person familiar with the matter said the U.S. government has offered to trade convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Whelan and Griner.

The person insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Though it is unclear if the proposal will be enough for Russia to release the Americans, the public acknowledgment of the offer at a time when the U.S. has otherwise shunned Russia reflects the mounting pressure on the administration over Griner and Whelan and its determination to get them home.

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Pelosi to Taiwan would be career capstone, despite warnings

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched her political career being tough on China — a new congresswoman who dared to unfurl a pro-democracy banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during a 1991 visit with other U.S. lawmakers shortly after the student massacre.

More than 30 years later, her interest in traveling to Taiwan presents a powerful diplomatic capstone. It has also contributed to tensions at the highest levels in Washington and Beijing among officials who worry a trip could prove provocative.

As the U.S. balances its high-stakes relations with China, whether Pelosi will lead a delegation trip to Taiwan remains unknown. But what is certain is that Pelosi’s decision will be a defining foreign policy and human rights moment for the U.S. and its highest-ranking lawmaker with a long tenure leading the House.

“This is part of who the speaker is,” said Samuel Chu, president of The Campaign for Hong Kong, a Washington-based advocacy organization.

“This is not a one-time, one-off publicity stunt,” said Chu, whose father was among those who met with Pelosi and the U.S. lawmakers three decades ago in Hong Kong. “Thirty years later, she’s still connected.”

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US rocket system enables Ukraine to pummel key supply bridge

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian troops used American-supplied precision rocket launchers to knock out a strategic bridge used by Russia to supply its forces in southern Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region, officials said Wednesday.

Ukraine also claimed to have destroyed an enemy ammunition depot, artillery pieces and other military equipment in the region, killing 51 members of the Russian army. There was no immediate confirmation from the Russian side.

The Antonivskyi Bridge over the Dnieper River was attacked late Tuesday, according to Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-appointed administration for the Kherson region. The bridge was left standing, but holes in its deck prevented vehicles from crossing the 1.4-kilometer (0.9-mile) span, he said.

After previous Ukrainian attacks damaged the bridge last week, it was closed to trucks, but it had remained open for passenger vehicles until the latest strike.

Russian forces in recent days have intensified their shelling of cities and villages in eastern Ukraine while also stepping up airstrikes in the south. At the same time, the Kremlin’s troops are facing mounting counterattacks from the Ukrainians in the Kherson region, which was captured by Moscow early in the war.

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Hawaii couple charged with stealing IDs of dead Texas kids

HONOLULU (AP) — A U.S. defense contractor and his wife who lived for decades under the identities of two dead Texas children have been charged with identity theft and conspiring against the government, according to federal court records unsealed in Honolulu.

Walter Glenn Primrose and Gwynn Darle Morrison, both in their 60s, who allegedly lived for decades under the names Bobby Edward Fort and Julie Lyn Montague, respectively, were arrested Friday in Kapolei on the island of Oahu.

Prosecutors are seeking to have the couple held without bail, which could indicate the case is about more than fraudulently obtaining drivers’ licenses, passports and Defense Department credentials.

Those documents helped Primrose get secret security clearance with the U.S. Coast Guard and as a defense contractor and old photos show the couple wearing uniforms of the KGB, the former Russian spy agency, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Muehleck said in court papers. Faded Polaroids of each in uniform were included in the motion to have them held.

A “close associate” said Morrison lived in Romania while it was a Soviet bloc country, Muehleck said.

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Forecast: Scorching heat wave extended in US Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The scorching heat spell in the Pacific Northwest is now expected to last longer than forecasters had initially predicted, setting parts of the normally temperate region on course to break heat wave duration records.

“We warmed up the forecast for the latter part of this week,” said David Bishop, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon. His office is now forecasting up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius) for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Portland already hit 102 F (38.9 C) on Tuesday, a new record daily high, prompting the National Weather Service to extend the excessive heat warning for the city from Thursday through Saturday evening.

Seattle on Tuesday also reported a new record daily high of 94 F (34.4 C).

The duration of the heat wave puts Oregon’s biggest city on course to tie its longest streak of six consecutive days of 95 F (35 C) or higher.

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Popp powers Germany past France, into Euro 2022 final

MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) — Alexandra Popp scored twice to power Germany to a 2-1 win over France on Wednesday and into the final of the European Championship against England.

With the game level at 1-1 and both teams missing chances to score, Germany captain Popp leaped above the French defense in the 76th minute to send a bouncing header into the French goal.

Popp scored the opening goal for Germany in the 40th but the lead lasted less than five minutes before France equalized. Popp has scored in all five of Germany’s games so far — a new record — after missing the last two European Championships in 2013 and 2017 because of injuries.

Germany plays host nation England in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium. Popp and England’s Beth Mead are the joint top scorers with six goals each.

“I can’t find any words. We played a crazy game, we threw in everything we had,” Popp told German broadcaster ZDF. “We’re now in the final against England in front of 90,000 at Wembley. To be honest, there’s nothing better.”


News from © The Associated Press, 2022