Business Briefs – December 22, 2015

Extreme Weather Poses Increasing Threat to U.S. Power Grid

WASHINGTON (AP) – An Associated Press analysis found that severe weather is the leading cause of major power outages. The number of weather-related power outages climbed over the last decade, with the greatest spikes in 2008 and 2011, according to AP analysis and independent studies.

U.S. Existing Home Sales Tank in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales of existing homes collapsed 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million. It was the weakest pace in 19 months. The setback follows solid gains in real estate for much of 2015. Sales of existing homes are on track to rise roughly 5 percent for the entire year.

U.S. Economy Grew at 2 Pct. Rate Over Summer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy grew at a slightly slower pace over the summer than previously estimated. Most economists foresee a slight acceleration in the current quarter and stronger growth in the first half of 2016.

FAA Fines Boeing $12M For Fuel Tank, Other Violations

WASHINGTON (AP) – Boeing has agreed to pay $12 million for failing to meet a deadline to submit service instructions that would enable airlines to reduce the risk of fuel tank explosions on hundreds of planes, among other violations, the FAA said Tuesday.

Boeing must also take a series of actions to improve the safety certification of its planes and its aircraft production quality control, the FAA said in a statement. The settlement is the second largest for regulatory violations in FAA history.

Ford Recalls Older Large Cars To Fix Headlight Problem

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) – Ford is recalling about 313,000 older large cars in North America because the headlights can go dark and cause a crash.

The recall covers some Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis from 2003 to 2005. It came after U.S. safety regulators opened an investigation into the problem that found 15 crashes and one injury.

Hillshire Brands to Pay $4M To Settle Discrimination Claims

DALLAS (AP) – Hillshire Brands will pay $4 million to settle federal claims that black employees were exposed to dangerous work conditions and subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment.

The EEOC found that black workers at the Sara Lee plant in Paris, Texas were exposed to asbestos and other toxins, and were targets of racial slurs and graffiti.

Rights Group Offers Guidelines For Builders in Gulf States

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Human Rights Watch released a set of guidelines Tuesday that it says construction companies in the oil-rich Gulf Arab states should follow to ensure basic rights for migrant workers.

The recommendations shift the focus toward employers and are aimed at tackling some of the biggest abuses facing millions of low-paid laborers in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

U.S. Expands Sanctions Over Russia’s Activity in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration on Tuesday imposed financial restrictions on 34 additional people and entities for helping Russian and Ukrainian companies evade U.S. penalties, prompting threats of retaliation from the Kremlin.