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    The European Parliament on Wednesday blocked a diluted proposal by the 28-nation bloc's executive arm on protecting bees from pesticides, arguing it didn't go far enough.  European lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to 'table new legislation based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge.' They said the Commission weakened its initial proposal due to the opposition of 16 member states which did not want provisions in the draft on how pesticides should be tested to protect bees from chronic exposure. European lawmakers said the Commission only kept provisions protecting bees from acute exposure. The Commission's draft, they said, 'remains silent on chronic toxicity to honeybees, as well as on toxicity to bumble bees and solitary bees.' In their resolution adopted by 533 votes to 67 with 100 abstentions, they noted that the Commission's text 'would not change the level of protection' already in place and asked the Commission to come up with new proposals. Over recent years, there's been an alarming drop in bee populations, which has stoked fears of an ensuing impact on crop production given the central role of bees. According to figures released by the European Parliament, about 84% of crop species and 78% of wild flowers across the EU depend to some extent on animal pollination, and almost 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) of the bloc's annual agricultural output 'is directly attributed to insect pollinators.' Last year, the EU banned three prevalent neonicotinoid pesticides on all crops grown outdoors after scientific evidence showed their risks. Greenpeace praised the vote against the Commission's proposal. 'The new Parliament has shown that it's serious about protecting Europe's threatened pollinators,' said Greenpeace EU food policy director, Franziska Achterberg. She said the incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and her team can, like the Parliament, pass 'their first green test' and 'protect bees from dangerous pesticides.' The Commission decided earlier this week not to renew its approval for a fourth neonicotinoid pesticide known as thiacloprid.
  • Joe Biden hammered President Donald Trump's treatment of the middle class as he campaigned Wednesday in his childhood hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, hours ahead of the president making a separate visit to the critical battleground state . A large American flag behind him and a friendly audience of old friends and extended family in front, Biden cast the putative billionaire president as a charlatan populist whose tax policies, economic stewardship and overall erratic leadership style has hurt U.S. workers. 'This administration has no idea what hard-working, decent, ordinary Americans are going through,' Biden said of middle-class struggle in a growing but uneven economy. The 45-minute address continues a well-worn approach for Biden, whose strongest moments in a rollercoaster campaign of verbal missteps and inconsistent debate performances have come when the 76-year-old candidate takes the podium for a formal takedown of Trump. Biden aides billed the latest endeavor as an economic policy address; and Biden certainly sought to tie together various policy proposals, from a repeal of Republican tax cuts and action on the climate crisis to stricter gun regulations and new spending on education, as a collective effort to 'rebuild the middle-class' that he calls the 'backbone of America.' Yet Biden's return to northeast Pennsylvania was as much about symbolism and values, in stark juxtaposition to the president. Biden recalled his father's 'long walk' up the stairs of their Scranton home to tell 10-year-old 'Joey' that the family had to move to Delaware because the elder Biden had lost his job. 'I think the longest walk his father ever made was to drop off $400 million in his trust account,' Biden said, referring to reports that Fred Trump steered hundreds of millions of dollars to his son as the future president built his real estate and promotions business. 'It's OK,' Biden said to laughter. 'I'd like to have had that problem.' Biden's native state also highlights the crux of the looming general election fight. Pennsylvania will again be the crux of Trump's path to an Electoral College majority as one of the three Great Lakes states that he flipped from the Democratic column in 2016. Trump won the state by about 44,00 votes, less than 1 percentage point but still wider than his margins in Michigan and Wisconsin. As he seeks the Democratic nomination, Biden has argued that he can reassemble President Barack Obama's winning coalition by winning back some working-class whites who sided with Trump while reversing Democrats' decline from 2012 among non-white voters in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee. Biden's effort Wednesday to demonstrate those potential strengths, though, comes alongside fresh reminders of the peril found in a campaign built around Trump contrasts. Biden joined Democrats on Tuesday in blistering Trump for comparing the ongoing House impeachment inquiry to a 'lynching,' only to have Trump's campaign circulate video of the vice president using the same metaphor in 1998 when discussing impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. Biden on Tuesday night tweeted an apology for his choice of words. ---- Barrow reported from Atlanta. ---- Follow the reporters on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and https://twitter.com/MichaelRubinkam .
  • The Vatican's financial watchdog agency on Wednesday strongly denied allegations of wrongdoing by Vatican prosecutors who ordered an unprecedented raid on its offices and seizure of confidential documents. The board of the Financial Information Authority, which works with national financial intelligence units around the world in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes, issued a statement Wednesday insisting the agency's activities were entirely proper. An internal AIF investigation concluded that neither the authority's suspended director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, nor anyone else at the agency 'improperly exercised his authority or engaged in any other wrongdoing.' The statement was issued by the Vatican press office in a sign of institutional backing. Acting on orders from Vatican prosecutors, Vatican gendarmes searched AIF headquarters Oct. 1 and seized files and records in connection with an investigation into the Holy See's investment in a London real estate venture that went sour. The raid sparked an institutional crisis and raised alarm internationally, given AIF's role as an independent watchdog authority over the Holy See's financial activities. Officials expressed alarm that other countries would be less willing to share sensitive information with the AIF in the future if that material could so easily end up in the hands of Vatican police. According to the search warrant, which was seen by The Associated Press, prosecutors only alleged that the AIF's actions in the real estate operation were 'not clear' and faulted Di Ruzza for being in contact with a London law firm. Prosecutors appeared to have misunderstood that AIF was working with Britain's financial intelligence unit to try to catch the businessmen who were fleecing the Holy See in the real estate deal. The Vatican had put 150 million euros into the luxury apartment building in London's tony Chelsea neighborhood, only to see tens of millions end up in the pockets of middlemen managing the venture. The Vatican's secretariat of state in 2018 decided to buy the building outright while working with British authorities to nab the middlemen. But internally, the Vatican bank and auditor general's office raised an alarm with Vatican prosecutors that the buyout looked suspicious, sparking the raids on AIF and the secretariat of state. In the statement, AIF's board said it was 'confident that potential misapprehensions will be clarified soon.' It added that it had full faith and trust in Di Ruzza 'and moreover commends him for the institutional work carried out in the handling of this particular case.' Di Ruzza's reputation, and that of four other Vatican employees suspended as part of the investigation, was tarnished further when a Vatican police flyer featuring their headshots, names and titles was leaked to an Italian newsmagazine. The Vatican police chief, who is Pope Francis' personal bodyguard, resigned as a result of the leak scandal. The investigation has come at a sensitive time for the Vatican, as it prepares early next year for a regular visit by the Council of Europe's Moneyval evaluators, who monitor the Holy See's adherence to international norms to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. Moneyval in the past has faulted Vatican prosecutors for the relatively few financial prosecutions carried out based on AIF reports of suspicious transactions.
  • Five Jamaican citizens who were recruited to work at a Montana ski resort for the ultra-rich just north of Yellowstone National Park say they and more than 100 other Jamaicans were discriminated against and paid less than other employees doing the same work. They sued the club and a hospitality staffing agency last year and are scheduled to enter mediated settlement talks in Missoula on Wednesday, court records said. The lawsuit alleges the Jamaicans did not receive tips or service charges that are included on restaurant and bar bills like other employees did while cooking for or serving wealthy club members, who include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The club's and the plaintiffs' attorneys declined to comment prior to the mediation session. While five people filed the lawsuit, they allege the discrimination was directed at 110 Jamaicans who received employment visas to work at the exclusive ski and golf club in the mountains near Big Sky during the winter of 2017-18. The complaint argues the lost tips and service charges could amount to around $500 a night for workers at the nicest restaurants. Jamaican cooks were paid $12 per hour while others were paid $15 to $18 an hour, the complaint alleges. The complaint also alleges non-Jamaican workers were given preference to work special events where they could be paid more money. Those who complained said they were told they would not receive tips and service charges because they 'were not from here,' while a server who complained was told he could always be 'taken back to Jamaica,' the lawsuit states. Georgia-based Hospitality Staffing Solutions violated Montana law by taking deductions from Jamaican workers' pay for purported damages to employer-provided housing and in one case, for an airplane ticket, the lawsuit alleges. The Yellowstone Club acknowledged some of the deductions, but blamed Hospitality Staffing Solutions and did nothing to correct the underpayment, the lawsuit states. An attorney for Hospitality Staffing Solutions did not respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday. 'Each defendant blamed the other,' with the club claiming Hospitality Staffing was responsible for payroll and Hospitality Staffing claiming the decisions were being made by Yellowstone Club Operations, the complaint said. The plaintiffs filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September 2018 and received notices of their right to sue in July, weeks after Yellowstone Club bars agreed to pay $370,000 to the state of Montana for selling liquor without a license and storing liquor away from licensed premises. Club executives also face allegations that they violated state law by storing and serving alcohol at a private terminal at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. The state seized bottles of liquor, wine and beer from the terminal just days after the club settled the previous liquor license complaint. ___ This version corrects that the allegations center on the winter of 2017-18, not last winter.
  • U.S. health officials want women getting breast implants to receive stronger warnings and more details about the possible risks and complications. The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that manufacturers should add a warning highlighted by a box — the most serious type — to the information given to women considering implants. The agency is also recommending patients complete a checklist to make sure they understand all the possible side effects of the implants, such as scarring, pain, rupture and even a rare form of cancer. 'We have heard from many women that they are not fully informed of the risks when considering breast implants,' the agency said in a statement detailing the recommendations. The agency also wants companies to explain that breast implants often require repeat surgeries and they should not be considered lifelong devices. About 1 in 5 women who get implants for cosmetic reasons need to have them removed within 8 to 10 years, according to the FDA. The agency will take public comment on the proposed guidelines before adopting them. The new proposal is the FDA's latest attempt to manage safety issues with the devices primarily used for breast augmentation, the most frequently performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the U.S. Roughly 400,000 women get implants each year; 100,000 after cancer surgery. In recent years, the FDA and regulators elsewhere have grappled with a link between a rare cancer and a type of textured implant. In July, the FDA called on manufacturer Allergan to pull its Biocell implant after it was tied to heightened risk of a form of lymphoma. The company issued a worldwide recall for the implants, which had already been restricted or removed from numerous countries. In a separate issue, the FDA has received thousands of reports from women who blame their implants for a host of health problems including rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and muscle pain. Earlier this year, the FDA held a meeting at which dozens of women urged the agency to place new warnings and restrictions on implants. The FDA has stood by its longstanding position that the implants are essentially safe so long as women understand they can have complications. But following the meeting, the agency said women should get more explicit, understandable information about implant risks. The devices have a silicone outer shell and are filled with either saline or silicone. ___ Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP_FDAwriter ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Tunisia's newly elected president has vowed to fight hard for women's rights during his first address to the nation after being sworn in at the country's parliament. In his speech Wednesday at the Assembly of People's Representatives, Kais Saied said his administration would fight corruption and shore up the freedoms gained over the past few years, since the Arab Spring began in Tunisia. 'We will support women to gain more rights, especially economic and social rights,' he said. 'The dignity of a nation comes from the dignity of its citizens, men and women equally.' With the Tunisian economy struggling, the 61-year-old said 'there will be no tolerance in wasting any cent of the money of our people' and promised to respond to the 'youth's aspirations for employment and dignity.' He pledged to tackle the roots of extremism, saying 'we must stand united against terrorism.' The country was hit in 2015 by a series of deadly attacks which hit the tourism sector hard. Saied, who presented himself as an independent outsider while winning the presidential election earlier this month, also pointed at the governing elite's failure since the 2011 revolution that unleashed the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings. 'The Tunisians need a trust relation to be established between those who are governing and those who are being governed, who have long suffered injustice and iniquity,' he said. He reaffirmed he would strongly advocate for 'the Palestinian cause.' Saied then headed toward the presidential palace of Carthage, north of the capital Tunis, to formally start his five-year term. He succeeds the late Beji Caid Essebsi, who died in office in July.
  • U.S. stock indexes ticked closer to their records following a mixed set of earnings reports Wednesday, where some big companies topped Wall Street's expectations and others warned that the slowing global economy and trade tensions are hitting their profits. The S&P 500 flipped between small gains and losses in early trading, much like it has been the past couple weeks. It's within about 1% of its record, set in July. Overseas stock markets were mixed as the United Kingdom's pending exit from the European Union appeared set for yet another delay. Treasury yields fell and continued their nearly yearlong decline. Health care stocks helped lead U.S. indexes higher, powered in part by Thermo Fisher Scientific, which reported stronger-than-expected profits and raised its forecast for full-year revenue and profit. Medical device company Boston Scientific also jumped to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting a bigger profit than expected. Boeing climbed 2.6% after it said its 737 Max airplane may return to service by the end of the year and that it will gradually increase 737 production by late 2020. That helped make up for its weaker-than-expected profit for the latest quarter. On the losing end was Texas Instruments, which said its customers have become far more cautious than they were even 90 days ago, with trade tensions a big factor. It reported stronger profits for the latest quarter than analysts expected, but its forecast for this quarter fell short of their estimates. It lost 6.5%. Caterpillar, another company whose fortunes are seen on Wall Street as closely tied to President Donald Trump's trade wars, dipped 0.5% after reporting weaker-than-expected profit for the latest quarter. Eli Lilly also dragged on the market despite reporting stronger profit than Wall Street expected. Analysts pointed to weakness in a couple key medications for the drugmaker, and its stock lost 3.5%. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 5 points, or 0.2%, at 3,001 as of 11:42 a.m. Earlier in the morning, it had been down 0.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 69 points, or 0.3%, to 26,857, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.2%. EARNINGS: Roughly a quarter of companies in the S&P 500 have reported how much profit they made from July through September, and analysts are still forecasting the index will end up showing a drop in earnings per share from a year earlier. If they're right, it would be the first time earnings have dropped for three straight quarters since 2015-16, according to FactSet. The weakest results are expected to come from companies that are reliant on the strength of the global economy, which has been slowing amid trade wars. Raw-material producers, technology companies and energy stocks are predicted to report drops of 10% or more, according to FactSet. But analysts are forecasting stronger growth for communications companies and businesses that sell to consumers, which have been the strongest part of the economy. OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.3% while France's CAC 40 was virtually flat. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.7% after British lawmakers approved a deal for the country to leave the European Union, but rejected fast-tracking it through parliament, raising the prospect of another delay to the Oct. 31 Brexit date. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said he would recommend the other 27 nations in the trade bloc grant Britain's request for an extension to the deadline. The date could be pushed back to the end of January but the country could also face a general election in that time, raising some new uncertainties around the whole process. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3%, the Kospi in South Korea fell 0.4% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8%. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 70 cents to $55.18 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, climbed 60 cents to $60.30 per barrel. YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 1.75% from 1.76% late Tuesday. ___ AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed.
  • Boeing signaled Wednesday that it is close to completing its fix to the 737 Max and still expects it to be approved to fly before the end of the year. The troubled plane has been a drag on the company each day it remains grounded after two fatal crashes. Boeing reported that third-quarter earnings fell 51% to $1.17 billion. It added another $900 million in costs for the Max, and deliveries of new planes tumbled from a year ago. Executives say the company has been giving regulators critical final documents that describe software changes and a program for training pilots to fly the plane, which has been grounded since March. U.S. airlines still don't expect to use their Max jets until early next year, however, and Boeing acknowledges that other countries might take longer than the U.S. to let the plane fly again. Chicago-based Boeing eased concern that it might even temporarily shut down the Max assembly line near Seattle if the plane remains grounded. The company said it will raise 737 production from 42 a month to 57 a month by late next year. The company's timetable for bringing back the Max after two crashes killed 346 people has repeatedly proved too optimistic. A few weeks ago, CEO Dennis Muilenburg was predicting that the plane would be flying by about October. Besides the crisis surrounding the 737 Max, which suffered its first crash a year ago this month, Boeing reported setbacks with two larger planes. Boeing cited uncertainty around global trade in saying it will cut monthly production of the larger 787 jet from 14 a month to 12 for about two years, starting later this year. Last month, Muilenburg warned that trade tension with China — the company's biggest foreign market — threatened sales of widebody planes like the 787. And Boeing said it now aims to begin delivering the newest version of its big 777 airliner in early 2021. Problems with engines made by General Electric have delayed test flights for the 777X. Boeing has completed work on software changes to a flight-control system called MCAS, which activated mistakenly and pushed down the noses of both planes that crashed in Indonesia last October and in Ethiopia in March. It is still working on a separate issue involving flight computers. On a call with analysts and reporters, Muilenburg said Boeing began submitting key elements of its fix to the Federal Aviation Administration in September. 'We are diving deep into the documents, we are answering all the questions, and the FAA is taking the time to make sure we get it right,' he said. The next major step is scheduling a certification flight with the FAA. Executives gave no estimate for when that might occur. Muilenburg is scheduled to appear next week before Senate and House committees that are investigating Boeing and the FAA's approval of the Max. 'I anticipate that there will be tough questions, challenging questions, a lot of scrutiny, and frankly we support the scrutiny on the work we're doing,' Muilenburg said. He added that he hopes to express his sympathies to families of the crash victims, some of whom plan to attend the hearings. Boeing's third-quarter net income fell to $1.17 billion from $2.63 billion a year earlier. Per-share earnings were $1.45 after excluding nonrecurring items, which was far short of the $2.04 Wall Street was looking for, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research. Revenue was $19.98 billion, which was better than analysts expected but 21% lower than the same quarter in 2018. Deliveries of commercial planes plunged from 190 a year ago, to 62 in the third quarter as the worldwide grounding of the Max reached seven months. Without cash coming in from deliveries of the 737, Boeing is hemorrhaging cash — free cash flow went from $4.1 billion a year ago to a negative $2.9 billion, and the company has taken on $5.5 billion in new debt. On Tuesday, Boeing announced it was replacing the executive in charge of the commercial airplanes business, Kevin McAllister. The company didn't give a reason for the move, but McAllister's division has been rocked by the ongoing grounding of the Max, unexpected structural cracks in dozens of older 737s, a failed safety test for the 777X that is in development, and tepid sales of the 787 Dreamliner. Canaccord Genuity analyst Ken Herbert said that while the Max gets all the attention, investors have grown increasingly worried about the other Boeing planes and other issues. McAllister is the first high-level job casualty of the Max crisis, although earlier this month the company board stripped Muilenburg of his other role as chairman. Shares of Boeing Co. rose $3.54, or 1%, to $340.54 in trading Wednesday afternoon after rising more than 4% earlier in the session.
  • A slowing global economy is taking a toll on Caterpillar, which cut its outlook for the year Wednesday after profits and revenue slid in the third quarter. Hinting at a pull-back in spending by builders, dealers slashed inventories by about $400 million. That's a $1.2 billion swing from last year's third quarter, when dealers increased inventories by $800 million. Caterpillar's revenue and sales declined about 6%. The heavy equipment maker was hit hardest in Asia, where lower demand in China fueled a nearly 30% decline in sales. Caterpillar is somewhat insulated by the impact of rising tariffs because they make many of their products where they sell them so goods don't have to cross borders before they are sold. However, China's economic growth sank to a new multi-decade low in the latest quarter, as a trade war with the U.S. has deepened a slump there. Growth slipped to 6% in the three months ending in September, the weakest level since China started reporting data by quarters in 1993. U.S. construction hasn't been immune and sales to that sector account for the largest slice of business for Caterpillar. Weak spending in August marked the fourth consecutive month of malaise in the U.S., dragged down by continued weakness in nonresidential building. Also, U.S. factory activity hit a decade low last month in the face of President Donald Trump's trade conflicts. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index shrank for a second straight month, to 47.8% in September, down from 49.1% in August. Any reading below 50 signals that the sector is contracting. Caterpillar, based in Deerfield, Illinois, is girding for that contraction by cutting its per-share profit expectations for the year from $12.06 to $13.06, to $10.90 to $11.40. Net income was $1.49 billion, or $2.66 per share, well short of the $2.90 that Wall Street was looking for, according to industry analysts surveyed by FactSet. It's also weaker than the $1.72 billion the company earned in the same period last year. The weakness in Asia was somewhat offset by a 3% sales growth in North America and a 12% increase in Latin America. Caterpillar shares dipped about 1% Wednesday.
  • The Latest on Brexit (all times local): 6:10 p.m. The European Parliament's chief Brexit official says that a three-month flexible extension of the deadline beyond Oct. 31 is the only option. Guy Verhofstadt, a member of European Parliament, said after a meeting of EU expert legislators that MEPs would need the necessary time to check the details of the EU-U.K. withdrawal agreement that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached with EU leaders last week. Verhofstadt tweeted: 'A flex tension, not going beyond 31st Jan, is the only way forward.' ___ 3:20 p.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting he doesn't want to delay Britain's exit from the European Union beyond Oct. 31, though he appears to accept that it is going to happen. The EU is considering whether to postpone the U.K.'s departure after British lawmakers blocked Johnson's attempt to fast-track his Brexit bill through Parliament. EU Council President Donald Tusk says he will recommend the 27 other EU leaders approve the request. Johnson asked for the delay after Parliament ordered him to. Johnson's office said the prime minister spoke to Tusk on Wednesday and said 'he continues to believe that there should be no extension and that it is in the interests of both (the EU) and the United Kingdom for us to leave on October 31.' But an email from Johnson to Conservative Party supporters acknowledged the deadline is beyond reach. It was headed 'Labour has just delayed Brexit again.' ___ 1:25 p.m. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman is making clear that Germany will approve a further delay to Britain's departure from the European Union, but isn't saying how long it should be. Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that 'an extension will not fail because of Germany.' Seibert wouldn't elaborate, citing planned consultations between European Council President Donald Tusk and leaders of the 27 remaining EU members. Tusk said Tuesday night that he would recommend that the EU grant Britain's request for an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. If approved, it would be the third delay to Brexit, which was originally scheduled for late March. ___ 11:55 a.m. European Parliament President David Sassoli says European leaders should accept a Brexit extension that the British government has requested. Britain is now scheduled to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has asked for a three-month extension to get his Brexit divorce deal approved by the British Parliament. In a statement Wednesday, Sassoli said an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline will 'allow the United Kingdom to clarify its position and the European Parliament to exercise its role.' European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will urge the other 27 EU nations to approve Britain's Brexit delay. ___ 9 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is weighing whether to push for an early election or try again to pass his stalled European Union divorce deal, after Parliament blocked a fast-track plan to approve his Brexit bill before the U.K.'s scheduled departure from the bloc on Oct. 31. Late Tuesday, lawmakers backed the substance of Johnson's divorce deal in principle, but rejected the government's plan to fast-track the legislation through Parliament in a matter of days, saying it didn't provide enough time for scrutiny. The government is now waiting for the EU's response to its request for a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline. European Council President Donald Tusk said in a tweet that because of the vote he would recommend that the other 27 EU nations grant Britain a delay in its departure to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit in just eight days. ___ Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit