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High demand for construction during the COVID-19 pandemic led many employers to increase wages to recruit and retain workers, but rising inflation in 2021 caused real wages to drop. A continuation of this trend could make it more difficult for the industry to find an adequate supply of labor…

Russian authorities have rejected a price cap on the country’s oil set by Ukraine’s Western supporters and are threatening to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it. Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to cap what they would pay for Russian oil at $60-per-barrel. The limit is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday that Russia needs to analyze the situation before deciding on a specific response but that it would not accept the price ceiling. Russia’s permanent representative in Vienna warned, "From this year, Europe will live without Russian oil.”

A senior Moldovan official says the country has struck a deal to renew severed electricity supplies from its breakaway, Moscow-backed region of Transnistria to lower the risk of more massive blackouts amid an acute winter energy crisis. Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said Saturday that Moldovan state power company Energocom has signed a deal for December with the gas-operated Kuciurgan electricity plant in Transnistria. In November, the plant stopped supplying electricity to other parts of Moldova after Russia reduced natural gas flows to the country. Spinu said the Moldovan gas company, Moldovagaz, will deliver 5.7 million cubic meters of gas to the Transnistria region. Transnistria broke away after a 1992 civil war. It's not recognized by most countries.

NATO member and Russia’s neighbor Estonia is boosting its defense capabilities by acquiring an advanced U.S. rocket artillery system. Estonian defense officials said Saturday that the deal with the U.S. worth more than $200 million is the Baltic country’s largest arms procurement project ever. The deal for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS, includes training, ammunition and rockets with a range pf 70-300 kilometers (43-186 miles), according to the Estonian Center for Defense Investment. Estonia’s Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania either have or are currently in the process of acquiring their own HIMARS. Washington has provided Ukraine with the rocket launchers during Russia’s invasion of the country.


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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is considering introducing express toll lanes on highways and tripling a fee for electric car owners as he looks for ways to pay for tens of billions of dollars in roadway projects. The Republican is just as adamant about what he won’t do. He doesn't want to raise gas taxes, add fully tolled roads, or issue debt to fund roads. With Tennessee’s rapid growth and truck traffic, state transportation officials say $26 billion in projects are needed to address worsening congestion. Lawmakers would need to sign off on letting private companies build the express toll lanes. They also would need to approve increasing the electric vehicle fee from $100 to $300.