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AM Business Notebook

>>Debt Ceiling Debate Rages (Washington, DC) -- The U.S. will reach its debt ceiling today. That's the limit of money the federal government is allowed to borrow to meet its financial obligations. The debt ceiling currently stands at over 31-trillion dollars, and Congress is considering raising that limit to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. Lawmakers still have a few months before the government defaults, and the issue has become a political football on Capitol Hill. Some Republicans want to use a possible default as a way to cut back on government spending. The White House said last week, however, that it would not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling.


>>Amazon To End Charity Program AmazonSmile (Seattle, WA) -- Amazon is ending its charity program, AmazonSmile. On Wednesday, the company sent a letter to AmazonSmile customers saying the program "has not grown to create the impact that [it] had originally hoped." Launched in 2013, AmazonSmile donated half-a-percent of the price from eligible items to a charity of the shopper's choice. Amazon says the program's ability to have an impact was spread too thin between too many charities. The letter announced Amazon plans to "wind down" AmazonSmile by the end of February this year. The company promised to keep investing in areas where it "can make meaningful change." >>Bird Statue At Twitter HQ Fetches $100K At Auction (San Francisco, CA) -- A statue of the Twitter bird from the company's San Francisco headquarters has been sold at auction. The four-foot blue statue of the iconic bird sold for 100-thousand dollars at a Twitter auction that ended on Wednesday. The statue was one of hundreds of items from Twitter headquarters sold by Global Heritage Partners after new owner Elon Musk decided to cut costs at the social media company. The online auction included office furniture, pizza ovens, espresso machines and a decorative planter shaped like the "at" symbol.


>>DOJ Announces Major Enforcement Action On Crypto Exchange Bitzlato (Washington, DC) -- The Department of Justice says it has disrupted a China-based cryptocurrency exchange notorious for darknet money laundering. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the founder of crypto exchange Bitzlato was arrested in Miami Tuesday night. Officials said the company operated a high-tech financial hub that catered to known crooks and failed to implement safeguards required by law. The company facilitated the transmission of hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit funds. This is the largest enforcement action by the DOJ's National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.


>>Holiday Sales Fall Short (Washington, DC) -- The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales fell short of expectations as shoppers felt constrained by rising interest rates and inflation. Sales between November and December did grow by five-point-three-percent year over year, but that was below the NRF's prediction of six to eight-percent. In other terms, spending was projected to fall between 942-point-six-billion and 960-point-four-billion. It topped out at 936-point-three-billion. The results of the season reflect the challenges ahead as Americans continue to pay more for necessities like groceries and housing.


>>Party City Files For Bankruptcy (Woodcliff Lake, NJ) -- Party City is filing for bankruptcy. The party supply retailer has faced heavy debt as sales have been impacted by inflation. Party City said it had over one-point-six-billion dollars in debt in September. It has secured a 150-million-dollar bankruptcy loan and is seeking approval to use half of it to immediately pay workers and vendors. The company will look to restructure to be able to compete with big box store competitors like Target and Walmart.

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