Global Glance: GM producing cars without steering wheels; US Senate in Russian hackers’ crosshairs

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

GM says it’s mass-producing cars without steering wheels

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors says it is making the first mass-production autonomous car without a steering wheel or pedals. The company says it has filed a petition with the federal government seeking permission to put the vehicles on the road sometime next year with no human backup drivers. GM’s Cruise Automation unit has announced plans to carry passengers in self-driving cars that won’t have a backup driver in 2019. The location of the service has not been revealed. Read more

Cybersecurity firm: US Senate in Russian hackers’ crosshairs

PARIS (AP) — The same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate, a cybersecurity firm said Friday. The revelation suggests the group often nicknamed Fancy Bear, whose hacking campaign scrambled the 2016 U.S. electoral contest, is still busy trying to gather the emails of America’s political elite. Read more

Holiday gift for retailers; sales up a solid 0.4 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers shopped at stores and online outlets at a solid pace in December, closing out a healthy holiday season for retailers. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month, after a 0.9 percent surge in November. Retail sales rose 4.2 percent in 2017, the most in three years. Strong holiday shopping should lift economic growth in the final three months of last year. Americans have been more confident about the economy and are more willing to spend. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. Read more

Tech gathering showcases gadgets we don’t need – until we do

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Today’s vision of a smart home has more to do with what’s technologically possible than what people really need. Thus the endless parade of internet-connected wine openers, water bottles, meat thermometers and refrigerators, and a dearth of automation that would clean and fold our laundry, pick up things around the house or assist aging people as their physical strength wanes. The annual CES gadget show, taking place this week in Las Vegas, is a showcase of the latest innovations from big corporations and tiny startups. Some of these inventions could soon be useful to consumers. Others look outlandishly impractical — or maybe it’s too soon to tell. Read more

Facebook edits feeds to bring less news, more sharing

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is changing what its users will see to highlight posts they are most likely to engage with and make time spent on social media more “meaningful.” By cutting back on items that Facebook users tend to passively consume, the change could hurt news organizations and other businesses that rely on Facebook to share their content. The idea is to help users to connect with people they care about, not make them feel depressed and isolated. Read more

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