AP Business SummaryBrief at 12:54 p.m. EDT

Dire US labor shortage provides opportunity for ex-prisoners

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The United States’ ongoing labor shortage is bad for employers but presents an opportunity for workers who often could not find jobs in rosier economic times: ex-prisoners. Special training programs in Mississippi and other states are now trying to fill some of the 11.3 million open jobs in the U.S. through “second-chance hiring” — the practice of employing people with a criminal record....

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Dire US labor shortage provides opportunity for ex-prisoners

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The United States’ ongoing labor shortage is bad for employers but presents an opportunity for workers who often could not find jobs in rosier economic times: ex-prisoners. Special training programs in Mississippi and other states are now trying to fill some of the 11.3 million open jobs in the U.S. through “second-chance hiring” — the practice of employing people with a criminal record. Studies have shown that stable jobs are a major factor in reducing recidivism. In a 2021 survey, 53% of human resource professionals said they would be willing to hire people with criminal records — up from just 37% in 2018.

Crypto plunge is cautionary tale for public pension funds

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The plunge in prices for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies provides a cautionary tale for the handful of public pension funds that have dipped their toes into the crypto pool. Most have done it indirectly through stocks or investment funds that serve as proxies for the larger crypto market, though a pension fund for Houston firefighters last year directly bought bitcoin and other digital currency. A lack of transparency makes it difficult to tell whether they’ve made or lost money. Not only are pension funds exposed to risks in the crypto world, so are taxpayers who potentially could have to bail them out.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ scores franchise best debut

“Thor: Love and Thunder” earned $143 million in its opening weekend in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday. It’s a franchise best for the God of Thunder and another success story of the summer 2022 box office season. The second Thor movie directed by Taika Waititi opened on 4,375 screens this weekend, starting with Thursday previews. It easily topped the box office, bumping “Minions: The Rise of Gru” into second place. Including international showings, where “Love and Thunder” opened in 47 territories starting in the middle of last week, its global total is already at $302 million.

Successors to Johnson seek to stand out in crowded UK field

LONDON (AP) — Potential successors to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are rushing to differentiate themselves from an increasingly crowded field. The governing Conservative Party was expected to set a tight timetable for the leadership election, with a new leader expected by the end of the summer. Candidates released slick campaign videos on social media and appeared on Sunday morning political talk shows to make their cases to the public. Several promised tax cuts, appealing to rank-and-file Conservatives for whom low taxes are a mantra. Under Britain’s parliamentary government, the next Conservative Party leader will automatically become prime minister without the need for a general election.

Chinese bank depositors face police in angry protest

BEIJING (AP) — A large crowd of angry Chinese bank depositors has faced off with police and some were roughed up in a case that has drawn attention because of earlier attempts to use a COVID-19 tracking app to prevent them from mobilizing. Hundreds of people held up banners and chanted slogans on Sunday outside a branch of China’s central bank in the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province southwest of Beijing. Video taken by a protester shows plainclothes security teams being pelted with water bottles and other objects as they charge the crowd. The protesters are among thousands of customers who opened accounts at six rural banks that offered higher interest rates. They later found they could not withdraw their funds.

Anger simmers for Dutch farmers who oppose pollution cuts

MAASLAND, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers are embroiled in a summer of discontent that shows no sign of abating. Their target? Government plans to rein in emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia that they say threaten to wreck their way of life. The Dutch government aims to slash nitrogen emissions by 50% by 2030 and has earmarked an extra 24.3 billion euros ($25.6 billion) to fund the necessary changes. Provincial governments have been given a year to draw up plans for achieving the targeted reductions. One professor thinks the government targets are unrealistic and farming lobby group LTO describes them as “simply unfeasible.” Dutch farms produced exports worth 94.5 billion euros in 2019.

Canada to release equipment for Russia-Germany gas pipeline

BERLIN (AP) — The Canadian government says it will allow the delivery to Germany of equipment from a key Russia-Europe natural gas pipeline that has undergone maintenance — equipment the absence of which Russia’s Gazprom cited last month as a reason for more than halving the flow of gas. The return of turbines from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline sent to Montreal for a scheduled overhaul has been complicated by sanctions imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine. Canada’s minister of natural resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, said in a statement late Saturday that “Canada will grant a time-limited and revocable permit for Siemens Canada to allow the return of repaired Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany.”

In Mideast, Biden struggling to shift policy after Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden took office looking to reshape U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. But so far, he’s struggled to separate his approach from Donald Trump’s. Biden is set to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia this coming week. As a candidate, Biden condemned the Trump administration’s policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. As president, Biden has been unable to pressure the Israelis to halt the building of Jewish settlements. Biden will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who U.S. intelligence officials say approved the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump largely overlooked the kingdom’s human rights record and stepped up military sales.

Musk abandons deal to buy Twitter; company says it will sue

Elon Musk announced Friday that he will abandon his tumultuous $44 billion offer to buy Twitter after the company failed to provide enough information about the number of fake accounts. Twitter immediately fired back, saying it would sue the Tesla CEO to uphold the deal. The likely unraveling of the acquisition was just the latest twist in a saga between the world’s richest man and one of the most influential social media platforms, and it may portend a titanic legal battle ahead. The chair of Twitter’s board, Bret Taylor, tweeted that the board is committed to closing the transaction.

Production resumes at troubled Abbott baby formula factory

Abbott Nutrition says baby formula production has resumed at the Michigan plant whose February shutdown over contamination contributed to a national shortage. Damage from severe thunderstorms had halted Sturgis plant operations in mid-June after just two weeks of renewed production. Abbott says EleCare, a specialty formula, is being made at Sturgis following a July 1 reboot and that Similac production will resume as soon as possible. Abbott is one of just four companies that produce 90% of U.S. formula. Its recall in February of several leading brands squeezed supplies already strained by supply chain disruptions and stockpiling during COVID-19 shutdowns.

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