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Total eclipse of the donut: Businesses gear up for astrological rarity with special edition snacks, beer, jewelry




Eclipse-themed beer. Jewelry and ornaments. And doughnuts that capture the sun’s disappearing act with the help of buttercream frosting.

With April 8’s total solar eclipse right around the corner, businesses are ready for the celestial event that will dim skies along a generous path across North America.

There are oodles of special eclipse safety glasses for sale, along with T-shirts emblazoned with clever slogans and other souvenirs — just like the last time the U.S. got a big piece of the total solar eclipse action in 2017.

Hotels and resorts along the prime path are luring in visitors with special packages and Southwest and Delta are selling seats on eclipse-viewing flights. Cities, museums and parks are staging watch parties to draw in tourists as well as residents.

“This is a special event and … the travel industry certainly is in a very good spot,” said Jie Zhang, a marketing professor at the University of Maryland’s business school. She also noted the eclipse craze arrives at a time when consumers are continuing to ramp up spending on new experiences.

Closer to eclipse day, there are likely to be more special products and promotions from national brands springing up, like Moon Pie’s “eclipse survival kit,” made up of four mini versions of the chocolate snack and two pairs of eclipse glasses.

Small businesses within the eclipse’s 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) path of totality appear to be leading the charge so far. Online shops and local vendors have put together a full array of creative, limited-edition merchandise: earrings, baby onesies, ornaments, games, banners and more.

Some towns and business owners have been anticipating the celestial event and huge crowds for years.

After the 2017 eclipse, “I marked my calendar,” said Sam McNulty, co-founder of Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, which is in the eclipse path this time and will see nearly four minutes of dimmed skies.

Last year, McNulty’s team brewed a hazy IPA called “The Totality” to help drum up interest in the eclipse. The on tap debut was a success, and the brewery was soon approached by local grocer Heinen’s to partner for a canned collaboration.

In the coming weeks, “thousands and thousands” of cans are set to hit store shelves, McNulty said — adding they decided to go big because of how rare the event is. Cleveland won’t be in the path of totality again for a long time — not until 2444.

“I don’t want to have to wait 420 years to brew the next batch of cans,” he joked. “So we made a very large one this time.”

The eclipse-themed beverages don’t stop at beer. Big Cuppa, a coffee shop in Morrilton, Arkansas, also has a full eclipse menu with a handful of specialty drinks. Its “Moon Pie Frappa” is a blended Moon Pie drink flavored with dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow.

Big Cuppa co-owner Joseph Adam Krutz said that he’s excited to greet customers and the many new faces set to travel through town next month. Krutz said his shop has been gearing up for a while along with other businesses in downtown Morrilton. He drives by a countdown clock each day.

“We’re prepared. Bring it on,” Krutz said.

And don’t forget the snacks. In Ohio’s Butler County, a shop called The Donut Dude will have an “Eclipse Donut Special” that shows the eclipse’s stages as the sun disappears behind the moon.

The special goes on sale later this month and consists of seven filled-doughnuts with rolled buttercream, two galaxy-themed cake doughnuts and safety glasses so customers can watch the event while snacking away.

“We’re anticipating a lot of fun,” co-owner Glen Huey said.

Since the doughnut shop is closed on Mondays, Huey is looking forward to watching the spectacle as it passes over his town between Cincinnati and Dayton.

In the U.S., Texas has the best odds for clear skies and the state expects to be swarmed with tourists. With a prime location, eateries in the town of Grapevine have a multitude of offerings: a “Blackout Dinner” at Hotel Vin and a “Solar Eclipse Shake” at Son of a Butcher.

Many businesses along the path of totality are offering special events leading up to the eclipse, too.

New York’s Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is promoting “Sips to the Eclipse” for the weekend ahead of April 8. Guests will be able to visit 10 wineries for tastings — some of which are offering additional attractions like an eclipse eve tarot card reading, special slushies and half-moon cookies.

Katherine Chase, executive director of the wine trail, said the promotion was planned in anticipation of all the people coming to the Finger Lakes region for the eclipse.

“The wineries can go as big or as little as they’d like to entice folks to come,” she said.

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United Airlines (UAL) 1Q 2024 earnings




A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

United Airlines on Tuesday cut its aircraft-delivery expectations for the year as it grapples with delays from Boeing, the latest airline to face growth challenges because of the plane-maker’s safety crisis.

United expects to receive just 61 new narrow-body planes this year, down from 101 it said it had expected at the beginning of the year and contracts for as many as 183 planes in 2024.

“We’ve adjusted our fleet plan to better reflect the reality of what the manufacturers are able to deliver,” CEO Scott Kirby said in an earnings release. “And, we’ll use those planes to capitalize on an opportunity that only United has: profitably grow our mid-continent hubs and expand our highly profitable international network from our best in the industry coastal hubs.”

United said it plans to lease 35 Airbus A321neos in 2026 and 2027, turning to Boeing’s rival for new planes as the U.S. manufacturer faces caps on its production and increased federal scrutiny. In January, United said it was taking Boeing’s not-yet-certified Max 10 out of its fleet plan. The airline said it has converted some Max 10 planes for Max 9s.

It lowered its annual capital expenditure estimate to $6.5 billion from about $9 billion.

United is also facing a Federal Aviation Administration safety review, which has prevented some of its planned growth. A spokeswoman told CNBC earlier this month that the carrier will have to postpone its planned service from Newark, New Jersey, to Faro, Portugal, and service between Tokyo and Cebu, Philippines.

United earlier this month postponed its investor day, which was scheduled for May, “because our entire team is focused on cooperating with the FAA to review our safety protocols and it would simply send the wrong message to our team to have an exciting investor day focused primarily on financial results.”

The airline said it would have reported a profit for the quarter if not for a $200 million hit from the temporary grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 9 in January.

The FAA temporarily grounded those jets after a door plug blew out minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight, sparking a new safety crisis for Boeing and slowing deliveries of its planes to customers including United, Southwest and others.

The airline posted a net loss of $124 million, or a loss of 38 cents a share, in the first quarter compared with a $194 million loss, or 59 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose nearly 10% in the first quarter compared with the year-earlier period to $12.54 billion, with capacity up more than 9% on the year.

Here’s what United reported in the first quarter compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by LSEG:

  • Loss per share: 15 cents adjusted vs. a loss of 57 cents expected
  • Revenue: $12.54 billion vs. $12.45 billion expected

The airline expects to post earnings of between $3.75 and $4.25 in the second quarter, ahead of analysts’ estimates of about $3.76 a share. Airlines make the bulk of their profits in the second and third quarters, during peak travel season.

The carrier also reiterated its full-year earnings forecast of between $9 and $11 a share.

United’s shares were up more than 4% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

United executives will hold a call with analysts at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

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Ex-Post Office boss regrets ‘missed opportunity’ to halt Horizon scandal




“On reflection, and I have reflected on this very hard, when I finished being the Horizon programme director [in early 2000] it would have been very beneficial if I had notified both the lawyers and the [investigations team] that Horizon was a new system coming in, and that they should be very cautious about evidence coming out of that system,” he said.


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Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and debt restructuring efforts By Reuters





COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government rejected a proposal from its international bondholders on Tuesday on restructuring the more than $12 billion the country owes to them.

It means a near two-year spell in default will drag on for Sri Lanka and that the country’s next tranche of vital IMF support money could potentially get delayed.

Below is a timeline of the key events in the crisis and the efforts to resolve it:

2021-2022: Sri Lanka’s economy crumbles after years of overspending leaves its foreign exchange reserves critically low and the government unable to pay for essentials, such as fuel and medicine.

The country’s bonds suffer from multiple downgrades by credit rating agencies warning of the increasing risk of default. At the start of 2022 it manages to make a $500 million bond payment but it leaves its foreign exchange reserves precariously low.

MAY, 2022 – Sri Lanka is declared in default after it fails to make a smaller $78 million bond coupon payment.

JULY, 2022 – Public anger drives protesters to storm then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office and residence. Rajapaksa flees to the Maldives, before moving on to Singapore.

Current President Ranil Wickremesinghe is voted into power by Sri Lankan lawmakers.

MARCH, 2023 – The International Monetary Fund approves a near $3 billion bailout for Sri Lanka after talks with Wickremesinghe’s government and assurances about its plans to repair the country’s finances.


Sri Lanka announces an agreement with China’s EXIM (export/import) Bank to delay payments on about $4.2 billion worth of loans the Chinese lender it has extended to the country.


Other creditor nations including India, Japan and France agree to restructure about $5.9 billion in debt.

MARCH, 2024

A group of Sri Lankan officials arrives in London to meet with a number of investment funds that hold its more than $12 billion worth of government bonds. Talks advance to the key “restricted” phase where proposals are discussed privately and those involved agree not to buy or sell any of the debt on the open market.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of the main business district as rain clouds gather above in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

APRIL, 2024

The government rejects a proposal tabled by the bondholders. The main stumbling blocks are that some the “baseline” assumptions used differ to those of the IMF and that the plan did not include a contingency option for the government in case the economy fails to recover as expected.


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