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Commercial airlines reroute flights amid US-Iran tensions

NEW DELHI (AP) — Commercial airlines are rerouting flights throughout the Middle East to avoid potential danger during heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. Jumbled schedules could affect as many as 15,000 passengers per day, lengthen flight times by an average of 30 to 90 minutes, and severely bruise the bottom line for airlines, industry analysts said. There is anxiety that the conflict between the longtime foes could intensify following Iranian ballistic missile strikes Wednesday on two Iraqi bases that house US troops. The attacks were retaliation for the US killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad last week.

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Hollywood-backed Quibi thinks you’ll pay for its video bites

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A startup heavily backed by Hollywood is wagering that you’re ready to set aside YouTube and TikTok to watch star-studded short videos on your phone — for a price. Quibi has enlisted everyone from Steven Spielberg to Chrissy Teigan to create shows for the service. But it remains to be seen if Quibi will fill an unmet need for high-quality short video you can watch on your phone — or fall flat as users stick to free services like YouTube. Quibi executives previewed the service at a keynote speech at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

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Underfunded IRS struggles to send refunds, answer calls

WASHINGTON (AP) Last year was a tough one for the IRS. Burdened with years of budget cuts and a recent increase in workload to implement new tax law, the agency is struggling to deliver on its mission, according to the annual report from the Office of Taxpayer Advocate released Wednesday. The report found that in the past fiscal year, the majority of taxpayer phone calls to the IRS went unanswered, the agency failed to collect billions in unpaid taxes and many legitimate refunds due to taxpayers were delayed.

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Fugitive tycoon Ghosn: Japan arrest was a plot

BEIRUT (AP) — Ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has described his arrest in Japan, from which he escaped last month, as a plot against him. He told a news conference on Wednesday that his detention conditions were a “travesty” against human rights. It was the first time Ghosn was speaking in person with journalists since his arrest in Japan in November 2018. Ghosn’s daring escape has perplexed and embarrassed Japanese authorities after he skipped bail and managed to flee the country despite surveillance. He said that the decision to flee was the most difficult of his life.

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Kitchens get smarter at CES tech show, not yet in many homes

LAS VEGAS (AP) — All the big companies that make your kitchen appliances are at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas to show off their latest cooking technology. They include robotic arms to chop veggies, artificially intelligent oven cameras and internet-connected meat thermometers. Then there are refrigerators that use your dietary preferences to concoct a recipe plan for the coming week, then tell you if you’ve run out of the right ingredients. Appliance-makers want to update their wares to reflect the tastes of younger buyers. But it’s not yet clear consumers are all that interested.

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EU chief warns UK must compromise to get Brexit trade deal

LONDON (AP) — With just over three weeks until Britain is due to leave the European Union the European Commission’s president has warned the U.K. that it won’t get the “highest quality access” to the EU’s market unless it makes major concessions. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said Wednesday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s end-of-2020 deadline to strike a new trade deal made it “basically impossible” to secure a comprehensive new trade agreement.

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World Bank sees modest global 2020 rebound but trade a risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Bank says the global economy should see a modest rebound in growth this year. But it also cautions that a number risks could upend its forecast, including the possibility of renewed trade hostilities between the United States and China. The 189-nation lending institution’s updated economic outlook released Wednesday forecasts that the global economy will grow 2.5% this year. That would be up slightly from 2.4% growth in 2019, which was the weakest performance since the 2008 financial crisis. For the United States, the World Bank sees growth slowing from 2.3% last year to 1.8% this year.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks neared records Wednesday on hopes that the United States and Iran are backing away from the edge of war. The rally capped a whirlwind day of reversals that swept through markets. Stocks initially reeled after Iran fired missiles at two bases in Iraq housing US troops, retaliation for a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general last week. But the selling abated as reports suggested no Americans died and after Iran’s foreign minister said his country had concluded “proportionate measures in self-defence.” Gains accelerated after President Donald Trump said Iran “appears to be standing down.”

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The S&P 500 rose 15.87 points, or 0.5%, to 3,253.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 161.41, or 0.6%, to 28,745.09. The Nasdaq composite set a record after rising 60.66, or 0.7%, to 9,129.24. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 5.29 points, or 0.3%, to 1,663.59.

The Associated Press