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Electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs has reached settlements covering more than 8,000 cases brought by about 10,000 plaintiffs related to its vaping products. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Juul said that it has secured an equity investment to fund it. The company has been buffeted by lawsuits and chances that it would seek bankruptcy protection, or a buyer, were elevated last month as Juul announced hundreds of layoffs and secured new financing to continue operations.

    President Joe Biden is announcing the infusion of nearly $36 billion to shore up a financially troubled union pension plan. The federal aid is intended to stop severe cuts to the retirement incomes of more than 350,000 Teamsters workers and retirees. The Biden administration says it's the largest-ever federal payment to a union pension fund. The money for the Central States Pension Fund is part of a broader $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that Biden signed into law in 2021. Retirement plans have been under financial pressure because of underfunding and other issues. Without the federal assistance, Teamster members could have seen their benefits reduced by roughly 60%.

      South Korea’s government has expanded its back-to-work orders against thousands of cargo truck drivers who are staging a nationwide walkout over freight fare issues. The government says a prolonged strike could inflict “deep scars” on the country’s economy. The orders were initially issued on some 2,500 cement truckers last week. But they were expanded Thursday to about 6,000 drivers transporting steel and 4,500 transporting fuel and chemicals. Police are also clamping down on unionists who threaten or disrupt colleagues who choose to work. The strike’s impact has so far been mostly limited to domestic industries like construction.

        One of the world's most ruthless pirates hid in plain sight in the American colonies, according to new evidence. A historian and metal detectorist in Rhode Island says that he’s unearthed 26 silver coins with Arabic inscriptions that notorious English pirate Henry Every once seized from an armed Indian ship. The 1695 heist made Every the target of the first worldwide manhunt. Detectorists say that before he fled to the Bahamas and then vanished, Every first hid out in New England.

          As of Thursday, it’s lawful for adults to possess and use marijuana in Missouri. That doesn’t mean you can legally buy it just yet, or use it everywhere. Medical marijuana has been legal in state since 2018, but voters went a step further this November by approving a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational use. Missouri is the 21st state allowing recreational use. The change comes with some confusion. For one thing, dispensaries can’t yet sell the drug for recreational use. People will eventually be able to grow their own, but applications to do so won’t be taken until next month. And places such as schools and businesses can still prohibit the drug.

          Shares are mostly lower in Asia after Wall Street sagged under weakness in tech stocks.  Japan revised upward its GDP data to show the economy contracted less than earlier reported in July-September. Shares rose in Hong Kong as investors studied the potential impact of a rollback of many pandemic restrictions on the Chinese mainland. U.S. futures edged lower while oil prices rebounded. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 ended 0.2% lower while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended just barely in the green. More data on inflation and consumer sentiment is due at the end of the week.

          False earthquake alerts have gone off on Android smartphones in Iran as the country continues to grapple with nationwide protests. The deputy chief of Iran’s cyber police told Iranian state television on Wednesday that only Android phones received the fake alert. He blamed testing at state-owned service provider Iran Mobile Communications Co. for the alert. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency meanwhile described the incident as a hack and said: “This message is fake; do not leave your homes.” The two conflicting accounts of the event could not be immediately reconciled.

          Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon will share in the Pentagon’s $9 billion contract to build its cloud computing network. The announcement comes a year after accusations of politicization over the previously announced contract and a protracted legal battle resulted in the military starting over in its award process. The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability is envisioned to provide access to unclassified, secret and top-secret data to military personnel all over the globe. It is anticipated to serve as a backbone for the Pentagon’s modern war operations, which will rely heavily on unmanned aircraft and space communications satellites, but will still need a way to quickly get the intelligence from those platforms to troops on the ground.

          The South Carolina county where Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper started building and then abandoned a new $800 million practice facility has reached a settlement over $21 million in sales tax money given to the NFL team. A statement Wednesday night from York County says the Panthers owner will pay back the money. The county says its dispute with Tepper and his company handling the failed project was totally resolved. The settlement came a week after the York County Sheriff’s Office and local prosecutor announced that Tepper and GT Real Estate were under criminal investigation if the public money was misused, emphasizing the probe didn't mean any wrongdoing happened. Te law enforcement officials had no additional comment after York County announced its settlement.

          Indiana’s attorney general on Wednesday sued Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, claiming the video-sharing platform misleads its users, particularly children, about the level of inappropriate content and security of consumer information. Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a complaint filed Wednesday that while the social video app says it is safe for users 13 years and older, the app contains “salacious and inappropriate content” available to young users “for unlimited periods of time, day and night." TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. The app has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access its user data like browsing history and location.

          A judge has sentenced former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to nearly 13 years in prison for his role in the company’s blood-testing hoax — a sentence slightly longer than that given to the CEO, who was his lover and accomplice in one of Silicon Valley’s biggest scandals. Balwani was convicted in July of fraud and conspiracy connected to the company’s bogus medical technology that duped investors and endangered patients. His sentencing came less than three weeks after Elizabeth Holmes, the company’s founder and CEO, received more than 11 years in prison. The scheme has been dissected in a book, HBO documentary and award-winning TV series.

          Apple has embarked on its latest privacy-enhancing move. The tech giant says it will now offer full end-to-encryption for nearly all the data its users store in its cloud system. That will make it more difficult for hackers, spies and law enforcement agencies to access sensitive user information. The world’s most valuable company has long placed customer security and privacy at a premium. Its iMessage and Facetime communications services are fully encrypted end-to-end and it has sometimes locked horns with law enforcement agencies including the FBI over its refusal to unlock devices.

          After more than half a century, the last Boeing 747 has rolled out of a Washington state factory. The jumbo jet has been used as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and as the Air Force One presidential aircraft. When it debuted in 1969, it was the largest commercial aircraft in the world and the first with two aisles. The final customer is Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 freighters early this year. The last is rolling out of Boeing's massive factory in Everett, Washington, on Tuesday night.


          Need gift ideas to help with the ladies in your life? This list will surely help you make the grade.

          Ludacris and Mercedes-Benz have surprised schoolchildren in Atlanta with more than 500 new pairs of shoes just in time for the holidays. “It’s all about giving kids moments that they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Ludacris said Wednesday at Miles Elementary School. The car company’s holiday giving program, Season to Shine, partnered with nonprofit Shoes That Fit to provide kids with new athletic shoes to attend school. Mercedes also partnered with its brand ambassador Ludacris and his foundation, The Ludacris Foundation, to deliver the shoes to the school. Since the '90s, Shoes That Fit has provided over 2 million pairs of brand-new shoes to kids across the U.S.

          Could trawler cams help save the world’s fish? Several companies are installing high-resolution cameras on U.S. fishing boats to replace scarce in-person observers and meet new federal mandates aimed at protecting dwindling fish stocks. But taking the technology beyond U.S. waters, where the vast majority of seafood consumed in the U.S. is caught, is a steep challenge. Only a few countries in the world can match strict U.S. regulatory mandates. Scientists fear the result could be that American initiatives to replenish fish stocks and reduce unintentional bycatch of threatened species could backfire by transferring more fishing into unregulated overseas waters.

          The Florida lawmaker who sponsored the controversial law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” has been indicted on charges of defrauding a federal coronavirus loan program for small businesses. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday said Harding illegally obtained or tried to obtain more than $150,000 from the Small Business Administration in pandemic aid loans. Harding is a Republican who became nationally known this year over his sponsorship of a Florida law that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade — as well as material that is not deemed age-appropriate. Harding did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.

          A federal judge ordered a Wisconsin company that cleans hundreds of slaughterhouses nationwide to ensure it is complying with child labor laws after investigators identified at least 50 minors scrubbing and sanitizing dangerous equipment at five different meatpacking plants in Nebraska, Minnesota and Arkansas. Packers Sanitation Services Inc. also entered into an agreement with the Labor Department that was announced Tuesday. As part of that, the company promised to hire an outside consultant to review its hiring policies and provide additional training for its managers. Investigators are still in the early stages of reviewing thousands of pages of records from other plants. The company employs some 17,000 people working at more than 700 locations nationwide.

          Many decisions by New Mexico’s most powerful regulatory panel have had direct economic and environmental consequences for one corner of the state, and yet not one candidate nominated to fill the Public Regulation Commission is from northwestern New Mexico. Critics are concerned about the lack of representation as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham prepares to pick a new commission as part of an overhaul that takes New Mexico voters out of the equation. Former two-term governor and U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson is among those taking notice. He called it “a glaring omission," saying residents in the area — particularly Navajos — need to have a voice in future regulatory decisions.

          A new 730 area code overlaying the current 618 area code will be introduced in southern Illinois next year. The Illinois Commerce Commission said Wednesday that the new area code addresses the depletion of prefixes available for assignment within the region and will be introduced after July 7. The commission says that starting on July 7, phone customers in the 618 area code may be assigned a number in the new 730 area code when they request new service or an additional line. The 618 area code covers all or parts of 37 counties and includes Belleville, Cairo, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Edwardsville and Marion.

          Stacker compiled a list of the U.S. metro areas with the least inventory of active listings, using Redfin's data and months of supply metric. Only metro areas where at least 300 homes sold in October 2022 were included. Metros include suburbs and other municipalities in the area.

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