‘Likes' ruled as protected
RICHMOND, Va. — Clicking “Like” on Facebook is constitutionally protected free speech and can be considered the 21st-century equivalent of a campaign yard sign, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reversed a lower court ruling that said merely “liking” a Facebook page was insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. Exactly what a “like” means played a part in a Virginia case involving six people who say Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts fired them for supporting an opponent in his 2009 re-election bid, which he won. The workers sued, saying their First Amendment rights were violated.
Walgreen alters coverage
Walgreen Co. is joining a growing push from big businesses to shift more responsibility for finding insurance onto their employees as health care costs continue to climb. The nation's largest drugstore chain said Wednesday that it will send its 180,000 workers and dependents to a private health insurance exchange where they will pick from as many as 25 plans instead of having the company give them two to four options. Proponents say it makes an employer's health care costs more predictable and forces employees to pay more attention to the cost of their coverage. But it also means workers used to having coverage chosen for them could wind up with inadequate coverage if they don't pick wisely.
Home building is on rise
WASHINGTON — U.S. builders started work in August on the most single-family homes in six months and requested permits to construct even more in future months. The figures suggest housing remains a driver of economic growth despite rising mortgage rates. Construction of single-family homes rose 7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That's the fastest rate since February. And builders sought 627,000 permits to construct future single-family homes, 3 percent more than July and the best pace since May 2008.
TY owner to pay $53M fine
CHICAGO — The creator of Beanie Babies stuffed animals has agreed to pay a $53 million penalty after being accused of federal tax evasion for failing to report income he earned in a secret offshore bank account. As prosecutors in Chicago announced the charge against H. Ty Warner, his defense lawyer issued a statement saying the 69-year-old billionaire intended to plead guilty and pay the massive penalty. Warner, who lives in suburban Chicago and is the sole owner of TY Inc., still faces the prospect of time behind bars. A conviction on a federal tax evasion charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
Alaskans' payout is on way
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — This year's payout to most Alaskans from the state's oil-wealth account isn't expected to be much, but it's still free money just for living in the state. The dividends are distributed annually to people who have lived in Alaska for at least one calendar year. The amount is based on a five-year rolling average of the $47 billion Alaska Permanent Fund's investment earnings. This year's average includes 2009, a recession year when the fund posted a $2.5 billion net loss in statutory net income. Last year's dividend was $878 per person, the lowest since 2005.
New BlackBerry unveiled
NEW YORK — Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry has unveiled its new Z30, touting it as the company's biggest, fastest and most advanced smartphone. The all-touch smartphone comes with a 5-inch display and BlackBerry's largest battery so far. BlackBerry says it's designed for people looking for a smartphone geared toward communications, messaging and productivity. The company's full Documents To Go suite comes preinstalled and the phone runs on the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The Z30 is set to initially launch next week in the U.K. and Middle East, along with the rest of the world before the holiday season. The launch comes as the Canadian smartphone maker continues to ponder a possible sale of the company amid tough competition from fellow smartphone makers like Apple Inc. and Samsung.
From Wire Reports