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House bills would revisit regulation of cryptocurrencies

Business / Business News /

House bills with bipartisan support would direct regulators to examine new ways to oversee digital assets and protect them from manipulation, as some lawmakers strive to make financial technologies more mainstream.

One bill would direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, consulting with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other ...Read more

Are Whole Foods prices on the way up again?

Business / Business News /

In less than two weeks, Amazon's ownership of Whole Foods Market will officially be one and a half years old.

Since the sale closed on Aug. 28, 2017, the American-Statesman has tracked prices at the Austin-based grocer to see how Amazon's promised cost reduction has proceeded. Prices of a 23-item basket have decreased over time. But ahead of ...Read more

Airlines make you say you're male or female. Coming soon: a nonbinary gender option

Business / Business News /

When people buy plane tickets, they have to select a "gender" option: male or female. But those two categories don't cover everyone, so some major airlines are planning to offer more choices.

Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association, two trade groups that represent major air carriers, recently approved a measure that...Read more

You already can grab lunch without talking to a cashier. Will a higher minimum wage in Illinois prompt more automation?

Business / Business News /

CHICAGO -- If you're the anti-social type, automation has made life a bit easier.

You can grab lunch, groceries or movie tickets without interacting with cashiers. Check into your hotel room without stopping at the front desk. Retrieve the goods you ordered via touch-screen kiosk or mobile app from a locker and avoid having to thank a soul.

...Read more

This Philly hustler, once called a 'drug kingpin' and spent 30 years in prison, now owns a CBD cafe

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PHILADELPHIA -- George Martorano was supposed to die in federal prison.

Sentenced to life without parole in 1984, Martorano spent more than three decades in a series of "supermax" facilities after pleading guilty to running what prosecutors said was a $75 million-a-year narcotics ring.

"I was told the only way I'd get out was in a body bag," ...Read more

Gillibrand knocks Bezos 'helipad' in flopped Amazon project

Business / Business News /

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Amazon.com Inc. "never intended to invest in New York" and declined to distance herself from progressives who have expressed satisfaction that the company canceled plans to build a massive corporate campus there.

"All they were looking for were massive tax ...Read more

Medtronic says deaths omitted from analysis of paclitaxel-coated device

Business / Business News /

Medtronic PLC has acknowledged that an undisclosed number of patient deaths were left out of a recent analysis of its popular paclitaxel-coated ballon for blocked leg arteries, but the company says the omission didn't affect long-term safety rates in new analyses.

Companies put paclitaxel on medical devices to make them more effective. But ...Read more

Sorry Netflix, rural Pennsylvania still likes this brick-and-mortar rental chain

Business / Business News /

WARREN, Pa. -- On the edge of a vast national forest, in one of Pennsylvania's most rural counties, Joe Carlton was browsing for laughs on a Friday night. The smell of buttered popcorn and candy lingered in the aisles while he scanned through movie titles.

Carlton, 35, picked up "Spaceballs," "Animal House," "Step Brothers" and the cult classic...Read more

Tariff uncertainty could hurt auto industry more than plant closures in 2019

Business / Business News /

An auto industry that many experts think already is overdue for a slowdown just got a major dose of uncertainty that could reduce investment in new technologies and vehicles.

The Trump administration dealt automakers a wild card by reportedly deciding not to reveal the Commerce Department's recommendations on whether to apply new tariffs on ...Read more

Dairy farmers press harder against labeling of nut 'milk'

Business / Business News /

Al Overland is not saying you should refer to almond milk as nut juice. He's also not saying you shouldn't.

"I've heard it called that," said Overland, a dairy farmer near Sturgeon Lake, Minn. "They can call it juice or beverage, or whatever they wish, but we just don't want them to call it milk."

Dairy farmers, who are struggling with ...Read more

Trade war heats up as EU vows to retaliate on US auto tariffs

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BRUSSELS -- The European Union vowed prompt retaliation if the U.S. follows through on a threat to impose tariffs on imported vehicles, as trans-Atlantic trade tensions showed no signs of easing.

If European exports are hit by U.S. actions, the EU will "react in a swift and adequate manner," Margaritis Schinas, a spokesman for the European ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Smaller tax refunds darken an already grim consumer debt picture

Business / Business News /

The U.S. economy may be strong. But we continue to see signs of financial stress that indicate that just having a job may not be enough to pay the bills.

Many consumers, of course, play catch up when they receive their tax refund checks. This year, refunds could be much smaller than expected, though, so there's even more concern about ...Read more

A loan program was set up to boost energy efficiency. Instead, it's being used to build 'granny flats'

Business / Business News /

As stories piled up of homeowners being smooth-talked into taking home improvement loans they couldn't afford, defenders of the PACE program cited its safety features.

The loans could be used only for environmentally friendly and safety projects, they noted. And money couldn't be issued until projects were finished.

But some contractors ...Read more

Optimism returns to Illinois city as electric truck startup Rivian gains traction

Business / Business News /

NORMAL, Ill. -- When the Mitsubishi plant closed in July 2015 after years of dwindling production, the mood in downstate Normal was decidedly somber. The sprawling factory, once the city's largest employer, went dark, leaving 1,100 people out of work and many fearing it would end up as a massive hole in the ground.

More than a year passed ...Read more

Box office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' leads underwhelming Presidents Day weekend

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LOS ANGELES -- This year's Presidents Day weekend box office pales in comparison with 2018's record-setting result, which was buoyed by the runaway success of "Black Panther." In contrast, this year's box office is down 57.7 percent week-to-week from last year and down 19.7 percent year-to-date.

In first place, Fox's "Alita: Battle Angel," ...Read more

Gates says taxing capital gains is the best way to tap big fortunes

Business / Business News /

WASHINGTON –– Bill Gates is concerned about the high budget deficits being run by the U.S., and said if taxes are ultimately increased to make up the shortfall, then it's appropriate for wealthy people to pay much higher taxes.

"We only collect about 20 percent of (gross domestic product) and we spend like 24 percent of GDP. So you can't ...Read more

NYC mayor slams Amazon's 'abuse of corporate power'

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Amazon.com's decision not to build a second headquarters in the city as "an example of an abuse of corporate power" that hurts working people.

"Amazon just took their ball and went home," de Blasio said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "What they did was confirm people's worst fears about corporate America...Read more

H-1B premium processing resumed for more applicants

Business / Business News /

Some companies left out after federal authorities last month resumed the "premium processing" option for certain H-1B applications will now receive the service.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration in April suspended premium processing, which costs $1,410 for processing within 15 days, citing a backlog and a surge in applications in recent years. ...Read more

Airlines move toward nonbinary option for ticket-buyers

Business / Business News /

When people buy plane tickets, they have to select a "gender" option: male or female. But those two categories don't cover everyone, so some major airlines are planning to offer more choices.

Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association, two trade groups that represent major air carriers, recently approved a measure that...Read more

Glimpsing the future at gargantuan health technology showcase

Business / Business News /

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Imagine going to the doctor and finding out before you leave the exam room how much your prescribed drug will cost, avoiding sticker shock at the pharmacy.

Or what if you could wear a tiny device at the top of your back that would gently nudge you to sit up straight whenever you slump.

How about not having to sign by hand a ...Read more