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Project to expand bank access revs up

More than a dozen meetings were held in Arkansas communities this week to promote a partnership between financial institutions and community organizations to connect low-income individuals to affordable financial services.

Bank On Arkansas+ is a partnership of financial institutions and community organizations to promote safer accounts that are free or low-cost and require no-to-low opening deposits and have no overdraft fees.

Six financial institutions in the state offer certified Bank On Arkansas+ accounts -- Bank of America, Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union, Iberiabank, Southern Bancorp, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. At least four others are in the process of having their accounts certified.

From Thursday to today, Bank On Arkansas+ events were planned in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Helena-West Helena, Malvern, Trumann, Blytheville, Hot Springs, Springdale and Conway to promote the accounts.

-- David Smith

TSA sets test of new high-tech screening

The Transportation Security Administration has given the go-ahead to test technology that is designed to screen multiple airport passengers at the same time from a distance of up to 25 feet.

The technology, described as "passive terahertz" screening, is one of several advances that the agency and airlines hope will help U.S. airports handle the growing demand for air travel.

The Transportation Security Administration has purchased several terahertz screening devices from Britain-based Thruvision to test in a facility near Arlington, Va. If the devices pass the initial tests, they may be used in trials at U.S. airports, said Kevin Gramer, vice president of Thruvision Americas.

The screening device, which is about the size of an old PC computer tower and weighs about 50 pounds, reads the outline of people to reveal firearms and explosives hidden under their clothes.

Unlike the Transportation Security Administration's current full-body devices that scan passengers to spot objects hidden under their clothes, Gramer said, the passive terahertz technology reads the energy emitted by a person, similar to thermal imaging used in night-vision goggles.

"It's 100 percent passive. There is no radiation coming out of our device," he said. "You don't have to stand directly in front of the device."

As a result, Thruvision says its technology can screen up to 2,000 people an hour and detect a concealed device at a distance of up to 25 feet. Initially, the system can be used in addition to the existing full-body scanners already deployed at airports, but Gramer said the device can eventually replace parts of the transportation agency's security screening system.

-- Los Angeles Times

Vietnam, France sign deals, bolster ties

HANOI, Vietnam -- The prime ministers of France and Vietnam on Friday witnessed the signing of two business deals worth over $10 billion and dozens of other cooperation agreements covering energy, education, health, technology and the environment.

The agreements overseen by Edouard Philippe and Nguyen Xuan Phuc came as the two countries seek ways to further boost trade and investment.

They include the purchase by Vietjet Air, Vietnam's leading private airline, of 50 Airbus A321neo planes worth $6.5 billion and CFM Leap engines worth $5.3 billion.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Phuc, Philippe urged closer trade ties.

"Vietnam needs a reliable partner and a stable economic environment, but we are in a time when only a few partners are reliable and some others abandon multilateralism as an organizer of our political and economic life," he said. "So we have a common interest in strengthening the reliability of our partnership and promoting economic stability for our countries."

Phuc said France, Vietnam's former colonial ruler, is now one of its top partners. Today, Philippe is to visit the battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, where the French army was defeated in 1954.

-- The Associated Press

Ex-GE chief 's exit package to top $10M

General Electric Co.'s former chief executive officer, John Flannery, will collect an exit package worth more than $10 million after his abrupt departure from the struggling manufacturer.

Flannery will get $4.25 million in severance, and vesting restrictions will be lifted on equity awards worth at least $3.75 million that he was previously given, the company said in a regulatory filing Friday. That comes on top of pension benefits worth at least $21.9 million that the former CEO can start collecting at age 60, plus about $2.16 million in deferred compensation.

GE announced Oct. 1 that Flannery would step down after a 14-month stint in which the company lost more than $100 billion in market value amid one of the deepest slumps in its 126-year history.

Flannery, 57, began his career at GE in 1987.

-- Bloomberg News

Toys R Us owners said to have store plan

The hedge funds that now own the Toys R Us brand are trying to relaunch the toy retailer as a stand-alone operation next year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Solus Alternative Asset Management and Angelo Gordon will look to raise capital to help revive the chain, which closed its last stores at the end of June, and are making plans that include brick-and-mortar locations, the people said.

Before opening their own establishments, the funds are partnering with Kroger Co., the largest grocery store operator in the U.S., to create pop-up sections named Geoffrey's Toy Box in about 600 stores. The areas inside the supermarkets will appear starting this month, selling a selection of toys from brands such as Imaginarium and Journey Girls, Kroger said in a statement Friday.

-- Bloomberg News

U.K. to feature scientist on new note

LONDON -- The Bank of England on Friday asked the public to submit nominations of prominent British scientists to appear on a new 50-pound note.

Mark Carney, the bank's governor, said the figure can come from any field of science -- but "I have ruled out economists."

The current 50-pound note (worth $65) features steam-engine pioneers Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

The U.K's highest-denomination note is the last to be redesigned and switched from paper to more secure and durable polymer.

There's no shortage of individuals to nominate, from physicist Stephen Hawking, who died in March, to Dorothy Hodgkin, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1964.

Suggestions can be made on the bank's website until Dec. 14. A committee will create a short list from the recommendations, and Carney will make the final choice next year.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 11/03/2018

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