Cuba Turning to Capitalism, Southwest Does Away With Peanut Tradition
Cuba Unfreezing Growth of Private Tourism Businesses
The Cuban government will allow new restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and transportation businesses by the end of the year, reopening the most vibrant sectors of the private economy after freezing growth for more than a year.
The government is unveiling a set of new regulations Tuesday meant to control the growth of tourism-related private businesses and collect more tax revenue from them. Private restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts boomed after U.S.-Cuba normalization in 2014 prompted rapid growth in tourism to Cuba.
Tax evasion and purchase of stolen state materials also boomed in the mostly cash-based private hospitality sector. Among other measures, the new regulations announced Tuesday require private businesses to move all their revenue through state-run bank accounts. Cuba froze new licenses for restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and other key business in August 2017.
Ending a Long Tradition, Southwest Will Stop Serving Peanuts
Southwest Airlines will stop giving away peanuts on flights next month, ending a tradition that goes back decades.
The airline said Tuesday it was pulling peanuts from all flights because of concern for passengers with peanut allergies. They will be replaced by pretzels and, on some longer flights, other free snacks.
Southwest says the decision follows months of deliberation and isn’t tied to any particular incident involving passengers with allergies.
No snack is more closely identified with a U.S. airline. Over the years, Southwest used the humble legume in marketing campaigns. A blog on its website is called Nuts About Southwest.
Some of Southwest’s other early quirks, like dressing flight attendants in hot pants, went out decades ago, but the peanuts survived. Until now.
US Job Openings Slip in May, as Quits Reach 17-year High
Businesses advertised fewer jobs in May than the previous month, but the tally of open positions outnumbered the ranks of the unemployed for only the second time in the past two decades.
The Labor Department also says the proportion of workers quitting their jobs reached the highest level since April 2001. Quits are seen as a positive sign that workers are confident they can find another job. Most people who quit do so for higher-paying positions.
The figures reflect a strong job market driven by optimistic employers seeking to expand their workforces. Last week’s jobs report showed that businesses hired workers at a healthy pace and the unemployment rate remained very low, at 4 percent.
There were 6.64 million available jobs in May, but just 6 million unemployed people.
Trump Replacement for Obama Climate Plan Moves Forward
The Trump administration is advancing its plan to replace the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s efforts against global warming with a new rule expected to be friendlier to the coal industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it sent the new rule to the White House for review on Monday. The document itself was not released.
The move coincided with former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler’s first day at the helm of the EPA following last week’s resignation of Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Obama sought to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, largely by reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Under Trump, the EPA declared the old rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.
American Airlines Says it’s Getting Rid of Plastic Straws
American Airlines says it will stop using plastic straws and drink stirs and replace them with biodegradable alternatives.
American said Tuesday that starting this month in its airport lounges it will serve drinks with straw and wood stir sticks and begin moving to what it called eco-friendly flatware.
American, the world’s biggest airline, said that in November on board planes it will replace plastic stir sticks with ones made from bamboo. The airline said the moves will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds of plastic a year.
Alaska Airlines, the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, said in May that it would phase out plastic straws and citrus picks starting this summer and replace them with “sustainable, marine-friendly alternatives.” Larger U.S. airlines — Delta, United and Southwest — still use plastic straws, according to representatives of those carriers.
Some cities have banned plastic straws because they are often not recycled and wind up as trash in landfills and oceans.
Starbucks and other food companies have recently announced they will phase out plastic straws and polystyrene foam cups from its stores by 2020.
National Trucking Industry Files Lawsuit Over Tolls
A national trucking industry group is fighting Rhode Island over new tolls arguing that large commercial tractors are being unfairly targeted.
The lawsuit was filed in Providence federal court Tuesday by Virginia-based American Trucking Associations and claims Rhode Island Department of Transportation tolls violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The co-plaintiffs Cumberland Farms, New England Motor Freight and M&M Transport Services are asking for an injunction to stop the tolls and repayment of legal fees.
The state’s first two electronic truck tolls started June 11 as part of a $5-billion infrastructure plan to repair bridges and roads across the state, and will eventually expand to 14 sites.
A spokeswoman for the state’s transportation department, Lisbeth Pettengill, said the lawsuit was expected, and the program will “benefit the users of Rhode Island’s bridges.”
Lawmakers authorized the system to help pay for crumbling roads and bridges. The entire system is expected to bring in $450 million over 10 years. Current law only allows for tolling trucks, not cars.
The plaintiffs say that imposes discriminatory and disproportionate burdens on out-of-state operators and on truckers who are operating in interstate commerce, and that other vehicles damage roads.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has said trucks were targeted because they cause the most damage.
Kentucky Limestone to be Used for New Oyster Reef Off Texas
Crews are putting millions of pounds of Kentucky limestone on the floor of a Texas bay for a 21-acre oyster reef on a private lease.
San Leon-based Prestige Oysters held a blessing ceremony Monday for the Galveston Bay oyster cultch, the Galveston County Daily News reported. The mass of stones, broken shells and grit will form an oyster bed off San Leon, 40 miles southeast of Houston.
Hurricane Ike in 2008 battered the area’s oyster reefs and devastated the local oyster industry.
Workers used a crane this week to load boats with nearly 5,000 tons of limestone, which will be spread on the bay floor, said Raz Halili, vice president of Prestige Oysters. The company has also used oyster shells and limestone to create thriving habitats for oysters, she said.
“The first option is always shell, but it’s just not a plentiful resource,” she said. “But oysters thrive on domestic limestone.”
The project is the first new reef on a private lease in the area in about 40 years, Halili said.
The company will likely have to wait two or three years for the site to have mature oysters to harvest for consumers. But the mollusk also has ecological benefits for the body of water, according to Clifford Hillman, owner of Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Co.
Adult oysters filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, he said.
“Oysters are the best barometer of bay health,” Hillman said. “They filter the impurities in the water.”
Halili said reefs also create natural barriers for hurricanes and coastal erosion.
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