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Secondary BS 052716 Booked on 25th 03 -8

New bookshop coming to 25th street among indie bookseller resurgence

Literature-lovers, rejoice. The shop will sell new/used books and hold book readings, poetry readings, short story readings, book clubs and book signings.

China Alibaba Anti-Counterfeit Group-4

Alibaba won and lost a friend in Washington; how it happened

SHANGHAI (AP) — In 2011, a respected anti-counterfeiting coalition in Washington escalated its fight against the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, saying its websites served as a 24-hour market “for counterfeiters and pirates” and should be blacklisted. Fast forward to 2016. The same lobbying group, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, reversed its position. Alibaba had become “one of our strongest partners.” The group welcomed Alibaba as a member and invited its celebrated founder, Jack Ma, to be the keynote speaker at its spring conference in Orlando, Florida. This is the tale of how one of China’s corporate giants won — and ultimately lost — a friend in Washington, using legal methods long deployed by corporate America: money and influence. But those time-honored tools weren’t enough to defuse the deep loathing that has greeted one of communist China’s greatest capitalist success stories. Alibaba is at the forefront of China’s rise on the global stage. The anxiety and suspicion that have greeted the company abroad are, to some extent, anxiety and suspicion about China itself. A month after it became the first e-commerce company to join the anti-counterfeiting coalition, Alibaba got kicked out. An Associated Press analysis of public filings shows that the coalition’s public comments shifted from criticism to praise as the personal and financial ties between Alibaba and the group deepened, even as other industry associations — and the U.S. and Chinese governments — continued to take a harder line. A probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into Alibaba’s accounting practices and sales data, disclosed this week, has raised further questions about how the company does business. How Alibaba fares in Washington could help shape the global fight against counterfeiting and impact the expansion of one of China’s most prominent companies. Those who believe Alibaba intentionally profits from the sale of fakes fear the company could lobby its way out of having to make meaningful changes in the way it polices its platforms. That, critics say, would be a boon for the multibillion-dollar counterfeiting industry, which costs U.S. companies money, can imperil consumers’ safety, and feeds an underground money-laundering industry for criminal syndicates. Alibaba was one of the first Chinese companies to play politics seriously inside the beltway, and may not have realized how even the smallest misstep can backfire, said Sean Miner, China program manager for the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Chinese firms are going to have a bigger spotlight on them,” he said. Miner said that as Alibaba tries to expand its global reach, “their reputation has preceded them. ... Some Americans might think, ‘Why don’t you go home and fix the problems first?‘” ALIBABA’S RICHES Alibaba began 17 years ago in the modest living room of a gutsy man with a history of failure. Jack Ma struggled in school, and even Kentucky Fried Chicken refused to hire him. Today, Alibaba is a $15.7 billion e-commerce ecosystem that supports the livelihoods of tens of millions of merchants. Some 423 million shoppers last fiscal year picked through the billion listings that Alibaba’s platforms host on any given day. Alibaba doesn’t sell any merchandise. It merely facilitates transactions, deriving much of its revenue from advertising. Alibaba’s core is Taobao, a Chinese consumer-to-consumer platform much like eBay, only bigger. The company also operates Tmall, which offers merchants, including Nike and Macy’s, official storefronts to consumers in China. Two export platforms, Alibaba and AliExpress, connect businesses in China with buyers around the world. Critics, among them some top brands and intellectual property lawyers, say Alibaba’s ecosystem has proven remarkably conducive to counterfeiting. They feared Alibaba’s inclusion in the anti-counterfeiting coalition would lend it undeserved credibility. In U.S. court filings, Gucci America and other brands belonging to France’s Kering Group have accused Alibaba of knowingly profiting from the sale of fakes — a charge Alibaba has dismissed as “wasteful litigation.” Alibaba and its advocates argue that the only way to fight counterfeiting is to fight together. The company says it works diligently to improve its systems, and that it proactively took down 120 million listings of suspicious products on Taobao last year. Still, it remains relatively easy to find knock-offs. Chat with a vendor on Taobao and the price of a Louis Vuitton Rivoli handbag listed at 15,200 yuan ($2,318) may magically drop to 980 yuan ($150). And despite the company’s repeated admonitions that it stands with brands in the global fight against fakes, skepticism reigns. MR. MA GOES TO WASHINGTON After Robert Barchiesi, a gruff-talking former New York cop, took over the anti-counterfeiting coalition in 2008, the group took a hard line, singling out Alibaba and Taobao for facilitating the large-scale sale of fakes. The U.S. Trade Representative listened, and placed Taobao on a blacklist of markets notorious for sales of fakes in 2008. Alibaba ramped up its game in Washington. In 2012, Alibaba’s spending on lobbying shot up from $100,000 a year to $461,000, and has remained fairly steady ever since, according to Opensecrets.org. Among its lobbyists was James Mendenhall, former general counsel for the U.S. Trade Representative. Mendenhall was part of a string of high-profile hires Alibaba would make, including a former chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury and a former White House staffer who went on to GE Capital. In April, Alibaba announced a further expansion of its government affairs office in Washington, with three new hires with experience in the White House, the Commerce Department, Congress and several blue-chip U.S. companies. “Alibaba has engaged in a thoughtful, customer-focused dialogue with policy makers,” said Eric Pelletier, head of international government affairs for Alibaba Group. “Enabling U.S. businesses greater access to global markets, including China, will create more American jobs, which is good for everybody.” The anti-counterfeiting coalition told the trade representative in 2012 that Taobao topped its list of concerns. “Advertisements for fakes of IACC member brands are often in the thousands and even millions,” the coalition wrote. By the end of 2012, Alibaba was off the notorious markets list anyway. The U.S. Trade Representative commended Taobao for its “notable efforts” to work with rights-holders. Alibaba says the positive developments in Washington reflected its measures to address counterfeiting. “Alibaba has created extensive anti-counterfeiting efforts, including working with many industry groups and government agencies,” Alibaba spokesman Bob Christie said in an email. He cited a program the company developed with the IACC. In 2013, the coalition signed an agreement with Taobao to expedite the removal of counterfeit goods through a pilot program it called MarketSafe. The coalition charged its members $12,500 last year to participate, on top of annual dues as high as $8,400. The coalition had found a way to monetize brands’ frustration with Alibaba’s take-down procedures. It was also starting to look like a family business. Barchiesi’s daughter-in-law, Kathryn Barchiesi, provided “investigative support” for MarketSafe. The coalition says the program is not profitable, but those fees helped the IACC more than double revenues, to $2.6 million, under Robert Barchiesi’s leadership. In 2011, a fresh-faced man named Matthew Bassiur hired Barchiesi’s son, Robert Barchiesi II, to work as an investigator at Apple. Two years later, Bassiur was on the board of a foundation that awarded a private company run by Barchiesi’s other son, James Barchiesi, a contract for “fiscal and operational management.” The coalition paid companies belonging to James Barchiesi nearly $150,000 from 2012 to 2014 for accounting, advertising and rent. The coalition says those contracts were market-rate or better. Five weeks before Alibaba’s 2014 public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, Barchiesi went on CNBC and deflected attention from Alibaba, saying counterfeiting on Alibaba’s sites was a “microcosm of a bigger problem.” He praised the company for working “in good faith” with the coalition. What Barchiesi didn’t say is that he too would buy shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. He bought shares on that first wild day of trading, at $91 each, according to the coalition, which also says his holdings represent a “small percentage” of his portfolio. Alibaba’s new shares shot up 38 percent in one day. It was the largest IPO in history, catapulting Ma to near-mythic status. MEMBER REVOLT By 2015, the coalition had stopped complaining about Alibaba to U.S. officials, focusing instead on the “true cooperation and partnership” they enjoyed with Alibaba through the MarketSafe program. But neither the U.S. nor the Chinese governments were convinced the company had turned a corner. In January 2015, Chinese regulators published a report stating that just 37 percent of the goods purchased on Taobao were genuine. Alibaba disputed the accuracy of the report, which disappeared from the Chinese internet. Meanwhile, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, which represents over 1,000 brands, urged U.S. authorities to put Taobao back on the counterfeiting blacklist. It asked the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Trade Representative for help with “rampant proliferation” of counterfeit goods on Taobao, which it said had been getting worse. “The slow pace has convinced us that Alibaba is either not capable of or interested in addressing the problem,” the group concluded. Brands were quietly dropping off the membership roster of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition. LVMH holding, Tory Burch, Hunter Boots, Columbia Sportswear, Cath Kidston, Sony Corp. and Lucasfilm all vanished between October and March. Those companies either did not respond or declined requests for comment on their reasons for leaving. In December, the U.S. Trade Representative reported that Alibaba’s platforms had been “widely criticized” for selling large quantities of counterfeit goods. It urged Alibaba to “enhance cooperation.” The next month, Robert Barchiesi’s friend, Bassiur, started work as Alibaba’s chief of global intellectual property enforcement. The coalition continued to praise Alibaba to U.S. officials and in April welcomed it as the first e-commerce member, under a special new category that precluded voting and leadership rights. U.S. luxury brand Michael Kors was the first to quit in protest. Its general counsel, Lee Sporn, told the coalition’s board in an April 21 letter that it had “chosen to provide cover to our most dangerous and damaging adversary.” Then Gucci America defected. The coalition and Alibaba jumped into action, announcing that MarketSafe would be free for all companies, whether or not they were members. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The storm soon intensified. The morning of May 11, an anonymous email went out to board members threatening a mass walk-out unless Alibaba was kicked out. The email contained a list of concerns, including personal ties between Bassiur and Barchiesi. The coalition, the email said, “has become a revenue generating business rather than the nonprofit organization we all so desperately need.” Alibaba’s membership, it added, “damages and weakens the enforcement and legal remedies we have with Alibaba group.” Tiffany resigned its seat on the board that same evening, citing governance concerns. On May 13, the AP reported Barchiesi’s ownership of Alibaba stock. The AP investigation also mapped the personal and business ties between Barchiesi’s family and Bassiur, and documented Barchiesi’s use of family members to help run the coalition, including hiring his son’s firm as the coalition’s “independent” accountant. The board convened a call at noon that day. Barchiesi spoke first, defending his achievements. He did not offer to step down. At 2 p.m., less than 12 hours after the AP’s report, the board informed members that the coalition was suspending Alibaba’s membership category, pending “further discussion.” The board said Barchiesi’s “performance and accomplishments as President have been exemplary, and he has the Board’s full confidence and support.” The coalition’s policy states that board members must be informed of conflicts of interest. But not all board members knew the head of their coalition owned stock in a company some of their membership regarded as an enemy. The board issued a statement saying that omission of “certain aspects of the disclosed conflict” was not Barchiesi’s fault, but arose from weak governance. They vowed to commission an independent review. Dissenting coalition members were dismayed Barchiesi didn’t step down and contemplated a coordinated walkout. There was talk of boycotting Ma’s keynote at the coalition’s conference in Orlando. Before that could happen, Alibaba announced Ma was pulling out, two days before his scheduled keynote. Alibaba president Michael Evans appeared in Ma’s place. “We cannot and will not allow a tyranny of the minority to thwart progress,” Evans said at the conference last week. “If we are not invited to join you in this fight, then we invite you to join us. We have no competitors in this battle. Only a common enemy: the counterfeiters.” Barchiesi remains at the helm of the coalition. The results of the governance audit are not expected for months. Ma came to America anyway. What was meant to be a victory lap for the wiry former English teacher, now China’s second-richest man, had become a public relations debacle. Even so, he left no doubt that Alibaba has succeeded in making inroads with Washington. On Tuesday, Ma had a quiet lunch with President Barack Obama. Reporters spotted him leaving the White House amid a crush of black umbrellas. He smiled beneath a gray sky and pronounced his meeting with the president “very good.” Then he ducked into a waiting car and was gone. Associated Press reporters Stephen Braun and Josh Lederman in Washington and researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report. Follow Kinetz on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ekinetz and Butler at http://twitter.com/desmondbutler

China Alibaba Anti-Counterfeit Group-9

How Alibaba won _ and lost _ a friend in Washington

SHANGHAI (AP) — In 2011, a respected anti-counterfeiting coalition in Washington escalated its fight against the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, saying that its websites served as a 24-hour market “for counterfeiters and pirates” and should be blacklisted. Fast forward to 2016. That lobbying group, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, called Alibaba “one of our strongest partners,” welcomed it as a member and invited its founder, Jack Ma, to speak at its spring conference. Alibaba won — and ultimately lost— a friend in Washington using legal methods long deployed by corporate America: money and influence. A month after it became the first e-commerce company to join the IACC, Alibaba got kicked out. An Associated Press analysis of public filings shows that as personal and financial ties between Alibaba and the coalition deepened, the group’s public comments shifted from criticism to praise, even as others — including the U.S. and Chinese governments — took a harder line. Those who believe Alibaba intentionally profits from the sale of fakes fear the company could lobby its way out of having to make meaningful changes. That, critics say, would benefit the multibillion-dollar counterfeiting industry, which costs U.S. companies money, can imperil consumers’ safety and feeds an underground money-laundering industry. Alibaba is at the forefront of China’s rise on the global stage, and the anxiety and suspicion that have greeted the company abroad are, to some extent, anxiety and suspicion about China itself. Alibaba was among the first Chinese companies to play politics seriously inside the beltway, and may not have realized how even the smallest misstep can backfire, said Sean Miner, China program manager for the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Their reputation has preceded them,” he said. “Some Americans might think, ‘Why don’t you go home and fix the problems first?‘” When Robert Barchiesi, a gruff-talking former New York cop, took over the IACC, the coalition singled out Alibaba and its Taobao platform for facilitating the large-scale sale of fakes. The U.S. Trade Representative placed Taobao on a blacklist in 2008. Alibaba ramped up its game in Washington. In 2012, Alibaba’s lobbying expenditures shot up from $100,000 a year to $461,000, and has remained fairly steady since, according to Opensecrets.org. It has hired several well-connected people, including a former general counsel for the U.S. Trade Representative and a former White House senior director for intellectual property enforcement coordination. “Alibaba has engaged in a thoughtful, customer-focused dialogue with policy makers,” said Eric Pelletier, head of international government affairs for Alibaba Group. By the end of 2012, Alibaba was off the notorious markets list. The U.S. Trade Representative commended Taobao for its “notable efforts” to work with rights-holders. Alibaba says the positive developments in Washington reflected its measures to address counterfeiting. “Alibaba has created extensive anti-counterfeiting efforts including working with many industry groups and government agencies,” Alibaba spokesman Bob Christie said in an email. He cited a program the company developed with the IACC. In 2013, the coalition signed an agreement with Alibaba to expedite removal of counterfeit goods through a program called MarketSafe. The coalition charged its members $12,500 last year to participate. The coalition had found a way to monetize brands’ frustration with Alibaba’s take-down procedures. Barchiesi’s daughter-in-law, Kathryn Barchiesi, provided “investigative support” for MarketSafe. The coalition says the program is not profitable, but those fees helped the IACC more than double revenues, to $2.6 million, during Robert Barchiesi’s tenure. Five weeks before Alibaba’s 2014 public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, Barchiesi went on CNBC and deflected attention from Alibaba, saying counterfeiting on Alibaba’s sites was a “microcosm of a bigger problem.” He praised the company for working “in good faith” with the coalition. What Barchiesi didn’t say is that he too would buy shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. He bought shares on that first wild day of trading, at $91 each, according to the coalition, which says his holdings represent a “small percentage” of his portfolio. Alibaba’s shares shot up 38 percent in one day. It was the largest IPO in history, catapulting Ma to near-mythic status. By 2015, the coalition had stopped complaining about Alibaba to U.S. officials, focusing instead on the “true cooperation and partnership” they enjoyed through MarketSafe. But neither the U.S. nor China was convinced the company had turned a corner. In January 2015, Chinese regulators published a report stating that just 37 percent of the goods purchased on Taobao were genuine. Alibaba disputed the accuracy of the report, which disappeared from the Chinese internet. Meanwhile, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, which represents over 1,000 brands, urged U.S. authorities to put Taobao back on the counterfeiting blacklist. “The slow pace has convinced us that Alibaba is either not capable of or interested in addressing the problem,” the group told U.S. authorities. In December, the U.S. Trade Representative reported that Alibaba’s platforms had been “widely criticized” for selling large quantities of counterfeit goods. It urged Alibaba to “enhance cooperation.” The next month, Matthew Bassiur, a longtime friend of Barchiesi’s with deep ties to the coalition, started work as Alibaba’s chief of global intellectual property enforcement. The coalition continued to praise Alibaba to U.S. officials and in April welcomed the company as its first e-commerce member. Members revolted. Michael Kors and Gucci America quit in noisy protest. Tiffany left soon after, citing governance issues. The coalition suspended Alibaba’s membership category the same day the AP published an investigation revealing Barchiesi’s Alibaba stock ownership. The coalition’s board vowed to commission an independent review. Ma’s keynote speech at the coalition’s conference was called off; Alibaba’s president spoke instead. But Ma came to America anyway, and left no doubt that despite its public relations debacle, Alibaba has succeeded in making inroads with Washington. Reporters spotted him leaving the White House in a crush of black umbrellas last week after a quiet lunch with President Barack Obama. He pronounced the meeting “very good,” ducked in a waiting car and was gone. Associated Press reporters Stephen Braun and Josh Lederman in Washington and researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report. Follow Kinetz on Twitter http://twitter.com/ekinetz and Butler at http://twitter.com/desmondbutler

Ben Fowler, Legislator

Community remembers Roy's Burger Bar founder Ben Fowler

Ben Fowler, the founder of the iconic Burger Bar in Roy, died of natural causes Monday. He was 96. Readers remembered the original “Big Ben” Friday. Here are some of the things the community shared about Fowler’s passing.

National Business

Verizon Contract Talks

Verizon, unions reach deal in principle for 4-year contract

NEW YORK (AP) — Striking Verizon employees may be back to work next week after the company and its unions reached an agreement in principle for a four-year contract. About 39,000 landline and cable employees in nine Eastern states and Washington, D.C., have been on strike since mid-April, one of the largest strikes in the U.S. in recent years. Verizon had trained other workers to step in but there were still delays in installations for Fios customers. Verizon said that it had high health care costs for its unionized workers, which have shrunk as it sold off large chunks of its wireline unit and focused on its mobile business, which was not unionized. It also wanted the union workers, just over one-fifth of its U.S. workforce, to agree to move around to different regions when needed, which the union opposed. The union and Verizon are not giving details of the contract, so it’s not clear yet what the agreement entails for workers. As the number of organized workers shrinks, union fights in recent years have tended to be defensive, aimed at holding the line for their members rather than winning new benefits, said Jake Rosenfeld, sociology professor at Washington University, in an interview before the agreement was announced. The president of the Communications Workers of America union, Chris Shelton, did say in a statement that the agreement is a “victory for working families” and that there will be new union jobs at Verizon. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Verizon released a statement saying it’s pleased with the agreement, which has “meaningful changes and enhancements” that will make its wireline business more competitive. The deal does include a first contract for Verizon wireless employees, says the CWA. It applies to about 165 workers in six wireless stores in Brooklyn, New York, and one store in Massachusetts. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Friday that the agreement is being written and will be submitted for approval by union members, and he expects workers back on the job next week. The workers had been working without a contract since last August. New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and the unions have been negotiating at the Department of Labor for the past 13 days, Perez said. Verizon Communications Inc. shares rose 46 cents to $50.62. They are up 2 percent over the past year. This story has been corrected to show that just over one-fifth of Verizon’s U.S. workforce is unionized, instead of about 30 percent. Follow Tali Arbel at http://twitter.com/tarbel and read more articles at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tali-arbel

Greece Russia Putin-8

Putin blasts West on first trip to EU country this year

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — On his first trip to a European Union country this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sharply criticized western policy toward Moscow, describing a newly expanded U.S. missile defense system as a threat to his country’s security — and vowing to retaliate. Putin arrived in Athens on a two-day visit and emerged from talks with the Greek government to lash the United States and NATO allies, also accusing them of stifling trade and energy cooperation with Russia. Earlier this month, the U.S. program was declared operational at a site in Romania, drawing an angry reaction from Russia. NATO says the system is purely defensive and a response to a growing capability of ballistic missiles globally. “We keep hearing that it’s not a threat against Russia, that it’s not aimed at Russia,” Putin said late Friday. “Of course it’s a threat to us. It can easily be modified to have an aggressive capability,” he said. “And if yesterday some parts of Romania did not know what it means to be targets, we will now be forced to take certain actions which will guarantee our security,” he said, but did not elaborate. Putin has made only a handful of visits to EU countries since sanctions were imposed on Moscow two years ago in response to the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea following an internationally disputed referendum. “The issue of Crimea is over forever, based on the will of the people who live there. Russia will never negotiate on this issue,” Putin said. Athens is keen to maintain its traditionally close ties with post-Soviet Russia, despite its participation in EU sanctions against Moscow, and a gas pipeline project designed to limit Russia’s regional energy dominance. Russia is one of Greece’s main trading partners, but business has been hit by the sanctions and a drop in commodity prices. Greece is also keen to reverse a slump in tourist arrivals from Russia last year, and attract interest from Russian companies in the planned privatization of rail and other transport services. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, noted that Putin’s visit comes just days after Athens reached a deal with eurozone bailout creditors to continue rescue loans, under a deal that expands power of a state privatization committee. “Improving relations with Russia on multiple levels is a strategic choice,” Tsipras said. “Of course ... when the disagreements exceed our powers, we can act a positive influence within the EU and NATO.” Putin traveled to Greece with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and top executives from state oil and gas companies. Amid heavy security at Athens Airport, air force F-16s buzzed overhead as part of a welcoming ceremony. “This will be the first time Putin has visited an EU country in the past six months and Russia-EU relations will be definitely on the agenda,” said Alexander Kokcharov of the U.S.-based IHS Country Risk group. “Putin is likely to offer investment projects in Greece, most likely in energy and transport sectors. However, we do not expect that Greece would go against the EU consensus.” On Saturday, Putin will visit the autonomous Orthodox Christian monastic community of Mount Athos, joined by the head of Russia’s Othodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Some 2,500 police were providing security for Putin’s visit in Athens, and much of the city center was blocked to motorists and public transport. Outside Parliament, a small group of demonstrators from a Greek gay and lesbian rights association gathered in protest against Putin’s visit, chanting “Greece, Russia, Homophobia.” Protester Savvas Kleanthous said violence against gays in Russia goes largely unpunished “We’re here to support the Russian gay community,” he said. “We haven’t forgotten them.” Associated Press writers Nicholas Paphitis in Athens, Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow, Alina Heineke in New York, and Costas Kantouris in Mount Athos contributed to this report. Follow Gatopoulos at http://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos Vasilyeva at http://twitter.com/NatVasilyevaAP and Kantouris at http://twitter.com/CostasKantouris Online: European Union fact sheet on sanctions against Russia: http://ow.ly/XsNX300E9Mi

APTOPIX Airport Security

Holiday air travelers get a break from long security lines

ATLANTA (AP) — Travelers who were dreading long airport security lines ahead of the Memorial Day weekend instead reported moving quickly through checkpoints Friday after authorities opened extra screening lanes and used bomb-sniffing dogs to give some passengers a break from removing their shoes. “Wow. I mean, wow,” said Mike Saresky, who flew into Chicago from Philadelphia, where he breezed through airport security in 12 minutes and got to leave his shoes on. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse.” The extra dogs were concentrated at the nation’s largest airports, but they were not used for all screenings, meaning that many travelers still had to observe the usual procedures. But as the busy summer travel season kicked off, the federal Transportation Security Administration tried to offer travelers some relief after weeks of slow-moving lines blamed on an increase in the number of air travelers and a shortage of TSA security officers. A TSA spokesman said the extra dogs would remain well beyond the holiday. At Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, known as the world’s busiest, all 16 security lanes at the main checkpoint were open Friday morning as a bomb-sniffing dog and its handler walked among waiting passengers. Wait times were slashed to less than 15 minutes, compared with backups of nearly an hour in recent weeks. “All the natives were telling me, ‘Brace yourself,‘” said Carl Pluim, who arrived in Atlanta to fly home to Denver. “I left myself two hours before my flight, so I think I’ll be OK.” When she flew barely two weeks ago, LaGretta Watkin recalled security lines that were “so chaotic” that travelers “could barely move.” “But today it’s smooth sailing and refreshing,” Watkin said as she started a trip from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Florida. “And I’m loving it.” The TSA began deploying extra canine teams to the busiest airports months ago. While the goal was to shorten waits at larger airports, the reshuffling could also result in longer lines at airports that lost dog teams. The dogs “have the ability to screen large groups of passengers for explosives, making the removal of shoes and laptops and such unnecessary,” TSA spokesman Mike England said. The agency has 900 dog teams nationwide, England said. He declined to say which airports they were sent to for the holiday weekend or how long they might stay. “This is not just for Memorial Day weekend,” England said. “I wouldn’t expect that it would go away any time soon.” At O’Hare Airport in Chicago, which had some of the worst screening meltdowns in recent weeks, lines moved briskly Friday, though still swelled at times. Typical security procedures appeared to be in place, with passengers removing belts and shoes and taking computers from bags and items out of pockets. Bomb-sniffing dogs were making rounds in pre-security areas. Terri Hale, arriving in Chicago from Cleveland, said security there seemed, if anything, tighter than usual. Passing through the millimeter-wave scanner, she was stopped and asked to empty her pocket for what turned out to be a tiny piece of foil from a gum wrapper. “When she found that I was like, OK,‘” Hale recalled with a laugh, as a security dog sniffed around her in the O’Hare baggage claim area. Security lines were fairly short at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Arlene Dobren, who was flying to Atlanta, said she and her husband arrived early to find “the lines are like no lines.” Harrison Pavlasek, departing for Texas, said he had been prepared to make the best of the situation if lines were long. “It is just one of those things we are going to have to live with,” Pavlasek said. “Whether it is the airlines’ fault or TSA’s fault or our own fault, it is unfortunately the consequences we have to live with at this point in time.” Travelers at the San Diego airport said security lines were moving faster Friday than in recent weeks. Adam Hutson noticed improvements as he returned from a two-week trip to Hawaii. “When we left two weeks ago, it was very slow here,” said Hutson, a San Diego business manager who waited over an hour in lines on his way to Hawaii. He said his wait leaving Maui was 30 minutes. “I think the scrutiny over the last week has really paid off in a big way,” said Gary McGoffin of Lafayette, Louisiana, who was traveling through San Diego on vacation with his wife. Nationwide, AAA estimated that 2.6 million Americans would fly during the long weekend. That’s out of an anticipated 38 million domestic travelers, most of whom will probably drive to their destinations. AAA predicted 2016 would have the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005. Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Associated Press writers Jason Keyser in Chicago, Julie Watson in San Diego, Joe Frederick in New York and Johnny Clark in Atlanta and contributed to this report.

Financial Markets Wall Street

Stocks rise to wrap up a strong week as banks move higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose Friday to wrap up their strongest week in almost three months. Banks gained ground after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank intends to keep raising interest rates provided the economy continues to improve. Stocks turned higher over the last few hours of trading to finish at their highest levels of the day. Banks made the largest gains, as they stand to make bigger profits on lending if interest rates rise further. Phone companies traded higher after Verizon reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract with striking employees. Alphabet led technology stocks higher. Yellen said it will be “appropriate” to raise interest rates in the next few months if the economy continues to improve, and emphasized that the Fed will move slowly and carefully. There were signs of that improvement throughout the week, including increased home sales, leading to big gains for stocks. On Friday the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew a bit more in the first quarter than it previously estimated. In recent months stocks have slumped when investors thought the Fed might be about to raise interest rates. That may have changed this week. “Both inflation and growth are on an upward trend,” said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist for BMO Global Asset Management. He said investors may be worrying a bit less about the Fed’s plans because the economy could be getting onto more solid footing, but the central bank must remain careful in dealing with investor expectations. “The Fed’s kind of walking a tight rope here,” he said. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,783.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 8.96 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,099.06. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 31.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,933.50. The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy was a bit stronger in the first quarter than it initially believed. The agency said the gross domestic product grew 0.8 percent in the first three months of the year, above its original estimate of 0.5 percent. That’s still sluggish, but experts think the economy will grow about 2 percent in the current quarter. Bank stocks were led higher by Bank of America, which rose 18 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $14.88, and Citigroup, which picked up 47 cents, or 1 percent, to $46.58. Bank stocks have struggled this year because the Fed has pushed back plans to raise rates. Bond prices dipped and yields rose, another sign investors expect interest rates to increase. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.85 percent from 1.83 percent. The yield on the Treasury note is closely tied to interest rates. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Verizon and its unions agreed in principle to a new four-year contract. About 39,000 landline and cable employees in the Eastern U.S. went on strike in April. They had been working without a contract since August. Verizon gained 46 cents to $50.62. Google’s parent company Alphabet rose after a federal jury said the company did not need permission to use tools made by Oracle when it built its Android software. Oracle said Google stole its intellectual property and sought $9 billion in damages, and it plans to appeal the ruling. Alphabet stock added $10.67, or 1.4 percent, to $747.60. Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 15 cents to $49.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gave up 27 cents to $49.32 a barrel in London. Machinery maker Terex dropped after Chinese heavy equipment maker Zoomlion abandoned its effort to buy the company. Zoomlion offered to buy Terex at the start of the year, after Terex accepted an offer from Finland’s Konecranes. Terex backed out of that deal and will instead sell its crane business to Konecranes. Terex stock sank $3.44, or 14.1 percent, to $20.89. Scientific equipment maker Thermo Fisher said it will buy electron microscope maker FEI for $107.50 per share in cash, or about $4.2 billion. The deal comes about two months after Thermo Fisher paid $1.3 billion to buy Affymetrix, a company that makes equipment to analyze genetic codes. FEI stock climbed $13.55, or 14.3 percent, to $108.13 and Thermo Fisher added 93 cents to $152.13. The price of gold fell $6.60 to $1,213.80. Gold has slipped about 5 percent over the last two weeks. Silver fell 7 cents to $16.27 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.11 a pound. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.17 per 1,000 cubic feet. Germany’s DAX and the FTSE 100 in Britain both rose 0.1 percent, and France’s CAC 40 gained a bit less than that. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.9 percent. The dollar rose to 110.38 yen from 109.72 yen. The euro dipped to $1.1114 from $1.1191. AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay