NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street ended 2021 on a low note today, but still managed to end the year with big gains. The S&P 500 slipped 0.3%. It ended in an annual gain of 26.9%, almost as large as its gain two years ago, just before the start of the pandemic. The S&P hit its last record on Wednesday, its 70th of the year. Corporate earnings have been strong this year with the economy reopening, but the fast-spreading variant of the omicron and the looming end of the Federal Reserve’s easy money policies are overhangs for investors to the dawn of the new year.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The airline industry is trying to delay next week’s planned deployment of 5G wireless service near dozens of major US airports. A trade group called Airlines for America says the service could interfere with critical aircraft systems, and it wants the issue to be investigated further. Airlines say pilots won’t be able to use radio altimeters, which are devices that measure the height of planes above the ground, so they won’t be able to land at dozens of airports. The group says the new service will affect airports in the New York, Chicago, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco area.
NON DATE (AP) – More and more canceled flights frustrated air travelers on the last day of 2021 and seemed almost sure to inconvenience hundreds of thousands more over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Airlines blamed many of the cancellations on crew shortages linked to the spike in COVID-19 infections, as well as winter conditions in parts of the United States. As of early Friday afternoon on the East Coast, airlines had cleaned up more than 1,400 US flights – about 6% of all scheduled flights – and about 2,900 globally, according to the FlightAware tracking service. This pushed the total number of cancellations in the United States since Christmas Eve above 9,000, peaking at 1,520 on December 26.
RENO, Nevada (AP) – Environmentalists and tribal leaders are suing the U.S. government in an attempt to block construction of two geothermal power plants in the high desert of northern Nevada. They say the planned Ormat Technologies project in Dixie Meadows about 100 miles east of Reno will destroy sacred hot springs and could push a rare toad to the brink of extinction. A judge has scheduled a hearing next week in federal court in Reno to consider their request for a restraining order to temporarily block initial construction which is due to begin as early as January 6. Natural springs are home to the Dixie Valley Toad, which is found nowhere else in the world.
WITHOUT DATE (AP) – Power philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced in May they are divorcing, then donated $ 15 billion to their foundation in July. It is one of the largest multi-billion dollar contributions in over a decade to charitable causes. The money will bolster the foundation’s endowment and support the work of the granting agency in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and education in the United States going forward. The donation increased the donor’s endowment to approximately $ 65 billion.