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Business Highlights: More flights cancelled, omicron surges

December 29, 2021 GMT

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China urges US to protect its space station from satellites

BEIJING (AP) — China is urging the United States to protect a Chinese space station and its three-member crew after Beijing complained that satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX nearly struck the station. The foreign ministry accused Washington of ignoring its treaty obligations to protect the Tiangong’s crew following the incidents in July and October. The Chinese government said in a complaint to the United Nations that the Tiangong performed “evasive maneuvers” on July 1 and Oct. 21 to “prevent a potential collision” with Starlink satellites launched by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. The foreign ministry said the United States should “take immediate measures to prevent such incidents from happening again.”

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Holmes jury resumes deliberations after closed-door meeting

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The jury weighing fraud charges against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes will resume their lengthy deliberations amid some intrigue raised by a closed-door meeting among her attorneys, federal prosecutors and the judge presiding the case. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila held the “in camera” hearing Tuesday morning with two of Holmes’ lawyers, Kevin Downey and Lance Wade, along with a two of the prosecutors, Jeffrey Schenk and Robert Leach, according to a court filing late Tuesday night. Holmes was not present at the 23-minute hearing. The hearing transcript has been sealed, leaving the topics that were discussed a mystery.

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Widespread flight cancellations continue as omicron spreads

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of flights are being cancelled as the omicron variant creates havoc both for travelers and for airlines who are having to cobble together flight crews as infections rise among pilots and flight attendants. According to data from the flight-tracking website FlightAware, 832 flights were cancelled by midday Wednesday and that number has ticked higher throughout the day. There were nearly 1,300 cancellations for flights entering, leaving or inside the U.S. on Tuesday, and about 1,500 Monday. Cancellations began to spike the day before Christmas during what is typically an already buzzing pace for airlines.

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WHO chief worried about ‘tsunami’ of omicron, delta cases

BERLIN (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization says he’s worried about the omicron and delta variants of COVID-19 producing a “tsunami” of cases between them. Top officials with the U.N. health agency cautioned Wednesday that it’s still too early to be reassured by initial data suggesting that the omicron variant leads to milder disease. WHO’s director-general urged everyone to make a “new year’s resolution” to get behind a campaign to vaccinate 70% of countries’ populations by the beginning of July. Ninety-two of WHO’s 194 member countries missed a target to vaccinate 40% of their populations by the end of this year,

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Putin: New Germany-bound pipeline may help reduce prices

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says that a new pipeline to Germany has been fully filled with natural gas. Putin noted that it could help quickly reduce soaring European energy prices. The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline is currently awaiting approval from Germany and the European Union. Officials warned that a decision won’t come in the first half of 2022. The first of its two links was filled with gas in October. Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom natural gas company reported Wednesday that it had completed filling the second one to make it fully ready for operation. Putin pointed at surging energy prices in Europe. He added that Nord Stream 2 could help quickly stabilize the continent’s nervous energy markets.

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Indonesia to let Boeing 737 Max fly again after 2018 crash

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia is lifting its ban on Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, three years after one crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board. The Transportation Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the aircraft will be permitted to fly in Indonesia, but only after airlines carry out airworthiness directives. The ministry also will conduct inspections before letting them operate in the country. Some relatives of victims of the 2018 crash said the decision to lift the ban on the 737 Max was regrettable. Families of some crash victims have complained a $2.5 billion settlement between Boeing and the U.S. Department of Justice excluded them from involvement in negotiating their compensation.

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Belgium reverses COVID cultural rules: The show must go on!

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian authorities have allowed for the reopening of cinemas, theaters and concert halls. The decision Wednesday handed victory to the culture sector which said it was being unfairly targeted by the rules. The government and regional authorities had come under increasing pressure to undo last week’s decision on closures. That was not even backed by scientific experts. It highlighted the widening fault line between authorities trying to keep the pandemic at bay with on-the-spot decisions and a public increasingly frustrated by limits on their personal freedoms.

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