• Exxon gets $1 million penalty in Yellowstone River spill

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a pipeline rupture in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana's Yellowstone River. The Department of Transportation order issued Friday reduces the penalty as originally proposed by about $700,000. That comes after the Texas-based oil company challenged some claims that it didn't do enough to prevent the accident. The pipeline break during summer flooding near Laurel left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a monthslong cleanup. Safety regulators said in part that Exxon had failed to adequately heed warnings that its

  • Union: American Airlines pressuring mechanics on safety

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    DALLAS (AP) — A union group is suing American Airlines, claiming supervisors are pressuring mechanics to release planes before they are safe to fly. Local 591 of the Transport Workers Union says that union officials who raised objections were threatened with termination or even arrest. American Airlines denies the allegations, saying that it complies with federal safety rules. A spokesman said Friday that regulators have not contacted the airline about any critical issues. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment because the matter is under investigation. The local and four union officials filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Chicago.

  • Starbucks CEO gets 24 percent compensation increase

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz received a 24 percent increase in his compensation package for 2014. A regulatory filing Friday shows that Schultz's base salary stayed steady at $1.5 million for the company's fiscal year that ended in September. But the value of his stock awards increased 5 percent to nearly $6.3 million and a cash payment based on performance increased 30 percent to $2.9 million. There was also a bump in pay for perks to $502,076. The Associated Press calculates an executive's total compensation by counting salary, bonuses, perks, stock and options awarded during the year.

  • Fewer kindergarteners skip vaccinations under California law

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fewer California parents opted out of vaccinations for their children entering kindergarten last year following the adoption of a law that makes it harder to go without the shots, state figures show. The issue has taken new prominence as California deals with an outbreak of measles that originated at Disneyland last month, sickening 78 people. Most of the infections are in California and most of those who got sick were unvaccinated. Measles has also been confirmed in six other states — Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Nebraska and Arizona — and Mexico. The rate of personal-belief exemptions for kindergartners fell from 3.1 percent in 2013 to 2.5 percent last year, according to data collected by the

  • Viacom CEO's 2014 pay rises 19 percent to $44.3 million

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman's pay climbed 19 percent to $44.3 million last year while the TV-and-film company's stock slumped and its earnings remained flat. The compensation package disclosed in a Friday regulatory filing included a $20 million bonus and stock awards valued at $19.9 million at the time they were granted. Those stock incentives ultimately could be worth more or less, depending on how Viacom Inc.'s stock fares in the next few years. The rest of Dauman's pay for the fiscal year ending last September consisted of a nearly $3.9 million salary and various perks worth a total of $500,313. The Associated Press calculates an executive's total compensation by counting salary, bonuses, perks, sto

  • McDonald's earnings fall; changes afoot to woo customers

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's isn't lovin' it, and it's going to do something about it. The world's largest hamburger chain reported falling earnings and sales for its fourth quarter on Friday and says it is going to take action this year to save money and bring customers back. This includes slowing down new restaurant openings in some markets. It's also making changes to its menu and looking to offer customers more options to customize their burgers. But the fast-food giant said its problems won't be fixed overnight: It expects sales to remain weak through the first half of this year while it deals with the fallout from a food-safety scandal in China, global economic uncertainty and shifting tastes among diners.

  • Man pleads guilty in slaying of Boston Scientific attorney

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A man charged with gunning down his ex-boyfriend and business partner at a Minnesota gas station last summer pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree intentional murder. Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, 44, entered his plea in Ramsey County District Court. He admitted to a judge that he shot 48-year-old Kelly Phillips on Aug. 11 after a "heated argument" and a struggle. "It was so fast," Hoffman said in court. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors will seek a sentence of 25 1/2 years in prison when Hoffman is sentenced on March 17. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi released a statement after Friday's hearing, saying the plea spares everyone who loved Phillips the burden of a trial.

  • Privacy concerns over health care website prompt reversal

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to privacy concerns, the Obama administration reversed itself Friday, scaling back the release of consumers' personal information from the government's health insurance website to private companies with a commercial interest in the data. The administration made the changes to HealthCare.gov after The Associated Press reported earlier this week that the website was quietly sending consumers' personal data to companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing. The personal details included age, income, ZIP code, tobacco use and whether a woman is pregnant. That prompted lawmakers to demand an explanation, while privacy advocates called on the admin

  • US regulators close small Chicago bank

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators have closed a small lender in Chicago, making it the second U.S. bank failure of 2015 following 18 closures last year. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it has taken over Highland Community Bank, which operated two branches. The bank had $54.7 million in assets and $53.5 million in deposits as of Dec. 31. United Fidelity Bank, based in Evansville, Indiana, agreed to assume all of Highland Community Bank's deposits and to buy essentially of the failed bank's assets. The failure of Highland Community Bank is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $5.8 million. U.S. bank failures have been declining since peaking at 157 in 2010 following the financi

  • Anheuser-Busch buying craft beer maker Elysian Brewing

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    Anheuser-Busch is buying Seattle's Elysian Brewing Co., further expanding its collection of craft brewers as it tries to offset sagging sales of its flagship beers. The financial terms of the deal announced Friday were not disclosed. Anheuser-Busch is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, a Belgian company that is the world's largest brewer. The company, which makes Budweiser and Bud Lite, has been combatting soft sales by buying up increasingly popular craft brewers. While nationwide beer sales declined 1.9 percent in 2013, craft beer sales rose 17 percent, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers. Anheuser-Busch announced in November that it was buying 10 Barrel Brewing of Oregon,

  • Settlements reached in so-called 'hot fuel' litigation

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Twenty-eight oil companies and retailers have agreed to settle litigation claiming customers were knowingly overcharged when gas station fuel temperatures rose, plaintiffs announced Friday. Federal officials earlier consolidated about 50 lawsuits filed since 2006 from consumers across the country in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. The plaintiffs' attorneys said in a news release that a judge has given preliminary approval to the settlement agreements in the so-called "hot fuel" cases. Online court records show final approval hearings are scheduled for June 9. The plaintiffs say customers were shortchanged when buying gasoline that is over 60 degrees.

  • Caesars bankruptcy venue decision near

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Delaware or Chicago: Troubled casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. should find out early next week where a subsidiary's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case will be decided. Caesars prefers Chicago, where its Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. filed for bankruptcy protection filed Jan. 15. Three creditors prefer Delaware, where they are attempting to push the debt-heavy unit into involuntary bankruptcy and prevent it from proceeding with its own plan. A Delaware judge is set to decide the venue by Tuesday. "Clearly, venue matters," said Anthony Casey, an assistant law professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in bankruptcy law.

  • W.Va. university, community college team up on degree

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (AP) — Alderson Broaddus University and Pierpont Community & Technical College are teaming up on a major in petroleum management. The joint venture was announced Friday in Bridgeport at the offices of FESCO Ltd., a petroleum engineering services company. The degree program will be launched in the fall. Alderson Broaddus will provide a path to a bachelor degree for students who earn an associate of applied science degree in petroleum technology at Pierpont Community & Technical. The degree program is intended to prepare a graduate for a career in the management and regulatory practices of the oil and gas industry.

  • Opponents of proposed gas pipeline rally at Virginia Capitol

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Environmentalists and western Virginia property owners rallied Friday at the state Capitol in opposition to a proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline. Richmond-based Dominion Resources is partnering with other utilities to build the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would cross the Blue Ridge Mountains to deliver gas from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Friday's rally was organized by the Sierra Club and Friends of Nelson, a group of property owners in Nelson County who live along the proposed pipeline route. Environmentalists say the project would contribute to global warming because of the extraction method, known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," used to get the gas out of th

  • Moody's drops Atlantic City credit rating, fears default

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Wall Street is looking at Atlantic City's financial future and doesn't like what it sees. Moody's Investors Service on Friday lowered Atlantic City's bond rating by six steps, from Ba1 to Caa1, which is deep into junk territory. The move came a day after Gov. Chris Christie appointed corporate turnaround specialist Kevin Lavin as the city's emergency manager, and Kevyn Orr, who helped Detroit through its bankruptcy filing, as his assistant. Christie's executive order appointing the pair indicates a bankruptcy filing is possible to help reduce the city's debt, which Moody's calculated at $397 million. The agency cited an increased risk of default and a new mindset among state officials.

  • Ex-drilling boss who stole to play $100 slots gets 8 years

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — The former chief operating officer of a western Pennsylvania drilling company was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for embezzling $9 million to feed his casino gambling habit, which included playing $100 slot machines. Larry Dean Winckler, 54, was ordered to pay $9 million in restitution to Falcon Drilling LLC, of Indiana County, which he co-founded with the company's former owner. He must also pay the Internal Revenue Service $1.2 million in past-due income tax on the money he stole, plus interest and penalties. U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry refused the defense attorney's request to let Winckler report to prison in a few weeks.

  • FDA approves 2nd vaccine against meningitis strain

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health regulators have approved a second vaccine to prevent a strain of bacteria that can cause deadly cases of meningitis. The Food and Drug Administration said it cleared Novartis' Bexsero vaccine against a subtype of meningococcal bacteria in people ages 10 to 25. The agency cleared a similar vaccine from Pfizer last October. Prior to that, vaccines available in the U.S. only covered four of the five main subtypes of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. In meningococcal disease, bacteria can infect the bloodstream, causing sepsis, or the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord — meningitis. Meningitis symptoms include fever, headache and stiff neck, sometimes followed by nause

  • US stocks slide; UPS, Kimberly-Clark slump on earnings

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — A batch of mixed earnings reports Friday helped push the stock market to its first day of losses this week. Shares of tissue and diaper maker Kimberly-Clark dropped after the company's earnings fell short of expectations and it gave a disappointing outlook. Package-delivery service UPS plunged after it cut its earnings forecast. Strong growth in company earnings have underpinned a bull run in stocks that has stretched for nearly six years. Earnings are still expected to keep rising, but the pace of growth is slowing, and investors are looking for signs that sales are up.

  • Colorado lawmakers gear up for battle over fracking

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    DENVER (AP) — A legislative battle over fracking is looming in Colorado, with Republicans taking the stance that mineral owners should be compensated when a local government bans or restricts energy development. The GOP's approach has bothered Democrats who argue lawmakers should wait for recommendations from a task force that's studying how to resolve land use disputes among homeowners, local governments, and energy companies. Further complicating matters, sometimes homeowners own the surface land where a house stands, while someone else may have rights to the minerals underneath. This week, Democratic House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst made clear that the Republican proposals to compensate mineral owners would go

  • Online storage provider Box soars in Wall Street debut

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Box's shares soared 66 percent in their stock market debut Friday despite the online storage provider's decade-long history of losses, a showing that may encourage more unprofitable technology startups to go public this year. The start on the New York Stock Exchange came after Box Inc. sold 12.5 million shares for $14 apiece in a delayed IPO that raised $175 million. That represented about a 10 percent stake in the company. Box's stock gained $9.23 to close at $23.23, giving the company a market value of $2.7 billion. Although Box focuses on selling online storage services companies and government agencies, the company also offers free, bare-bones accounts to consumers. All told, 32 million people




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