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—Adds: IBM-LAYOFF, HAPPY BIRTHDAY-LAWSUIT
—Updates: WALL STREET, NICARAGUA-CANAL
FOOD AND FARM-POTATO LAWSUIT
BOISE, Idaho — U.S. grocery stores say the nation's potato growers have run an illegal, price-fixing cartel for nearly a decade to bolster their profits on the backs of consumers, an effort that's included spying on farmers with satellites and flyovers to enforce strict limits on how many spuds they can grow. Growers say they're not breaking any laws, and paint a bleak picture of spud farming prior to 2004: A haphazard industry where farmers inevitably grew too many tubers, pushing prices into the cellar. By John Miller.
SUPREME COURT-PATENTING GENES
WASHINGTON — A unanimous Supreme Court throws out attempts to patent human genes, pleasing advocates who say people should be able to control their genetic information but sending ripples of worry through the multibillion-dollar biomedical industry and U.S. researchers looking to fight diseases like breast and ovarian cancer. By Jesse Holland.
— PATENTING GENES-Q&A — A primer on the case.
— MYRIAD GENETICS-STOCK — Shares of Myriad Genetics Inc. jump after the Supreme Court issued a mixed ruling in a case involving the company's patents on genes at the center of its tests for increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
WASHINGTON — Wondering what the U.S. government might know about your phone calls and online life? And whether all of this really helps find terrorists? Good luck finding solid answers. Americans trying to understand two giant surveillance programs are confronted with a mishmash of leaks, changing claims and secrecy. Congress members complain their constituents are baffled — and many lawmakers admit they are, too. Those defending the programs — from President Barack Obama to the nation's spy chief to lawmakers — have sometimes mangled the facts, adding to the suspicion and confusion. By Connie Cass.
CHICAGO — There is a notion that young people — the ones who put the social in networking — don't care about privacy. But that's not always true, as a new poll about the government surveillance scandal shows. The poll, done over the weekend by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press, found that young adults were much more divided than older generations when asked if the government should tread on their privacy to thwart terrorism. By National Writer Martha Irvine.
— INTERNET-REPORT: There's little wonder why George Orwell's novel "1984" is seeing a resurgence in sales. More than half of Americans polled in a survey said they are concerned about the government checking their online activities.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-AFFORDABILITY GLITCH
WASHINGTON — It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big restaurant, retail and hotel chains. A wrinkle in the law means companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.
LOS ANGELES — News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from Wendi Deng Murdoch, his wife since 1999, citing a breakdown in the relationship. The matter doesn't alter the succession plan for the media company, which the 82-year-old founder controls through a family trust. By Business Writer Ryan Nakashima.
THEME PARK-VIP TOURS
America's biggest theme parks will pack in over 120 million people this year. That's a lot of standing in line for roller coasters, juggling show schedules and figuring out when and where to eat. But there's a way to eliminate the stress of making the annual trek to Disney, Universal, Six Flags and other popular parks. Many now have VIP tours with perks usually reserved for celebrities — private tour guides, no waits for the biggest attractions, reserved seating at shows and parades along with behind-the-scenes peaks at places normally off limits. All of this, of course, comes at a steep price. By John Seewer.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
WASHINGTON — Americans stepped up purchases at retail businesses in May, spending more on cars, home improvements and sporting goods. The gain shows consumers remain resilient despite higher taxes and could drive faster growth later this year. The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales increased 0.6 percent in May from April. That's up from a 0.1 percent gain the previous month and the fastest pace since February. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 334,000 last week, a hopeful sign that steady job gains will continue. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, decreased 7,250 to 345,250, the Labor Department says. Both figures are only about 7,000 above their levels of a month ago, which were the lowest in five years. By Christopher S. Rugaber.
— BUSINESS INVENTORIES — U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles in April but their sales fell for a second straight month, held back by a decline in orders to American factories.
— MORTGAGE RATES — Fixed U.S. mortgage rates rose for the sixth straight week, putting the average rate on the 30-year loan just shy of 4 percent.
— FORECLOSURE RATES — Lenders stepped up U.S. home repossessions in May; more new homes entered the foreclosure path.
NEW YORK — Good news about hiring and retail sales helps send the U.S. stock market sharply higher. For investors, the pair of government reports offers more encouragement that the U.S. economic recovery will continue, even as Europe and Japan struggle. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gains 23.84 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,636.36. By Business Writer Matthew Craft.
— OIL PRICES — The price of oil rises above $96 a barrel on signs of steady hiring and resilient consumer spending in the U.S.
WASHINGTON — Unpaid internships have long been a path of opportunity for students and recent grads looking to get a foot in the door in the entertainment, publishing and other prominent industries, even if it takes a generous subsidy from Mom and Dad. But those days of working for free could be numbered after a federal judge in New York ruled this week that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage and overtime laws by not paying interns who worked on production of the 2010 movie "Black Swan." By Sam Hananel.
WASHINGTON — One of the big goals of President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Europe may be in jeopardy, with French objections threatening to hold up the launch of negotiations on a sweeping U.S.-European Union free trade pact. By Marjorie Olster.
— SEC-REVLON FINED — Cosmetics company Revlon Inc. has agreed to pay a $850,000 fine to settle federal charges that it withheld key information from shareholders about a "going-private" transaction.
GEISMAR, La. — A ground-rattling explosion at a chemical plant in Louisiana ignites a blaze that kills at least one person and leaves dozens more hurt. By Stacey Plaisance.
— AIRLINES DELAYS — Airlines are struggling to keep flights on time. The Transportation Department says that nearly one in four flights arrived late in April, a far worse record than April 2012 and the average of the last 18 years.
— DUPONT-OUTLOOK — Chemicals maker DuPont says it will reach only the low end of its net income forecast in 2013 because of the cool, wet spring weather, which is expected to reduce farmers' harvests.
— MARATHON OIL-CEO — Marathon Oil CEO Clarence Cazalot retiring; to be replaced by ExxonMobil exec Lee Tillman.
— COUNTERFEIT GOODS-NYC — New York considers crackdown on counterfeit luxury goods sold to buyers from around the world.
— BOY SCOUTS-CATERPILLAR — Caterpillar Inc. says it will no longer give money to the Boy Scouts of America because the organization doesn't allow homosexuals to serve as adult leaders.
— CHINA-GLAXOSMITHKLINE-INVESTIGATION — Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline says it has investigated an accusation that its salespeople in China bribed doctors and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
— UNITED TECHNOLOGIES-OUTLOOK — Revenue growth at United Technologies Corp. this year will likely be crimped due partly to Europe's weak economy, the company's chief financial officer says..
— JAPAN-MINICARS — Nissan, Mitsubishi co-develop minicar to grab bigger share in promising niche Japanese market. AP Photos.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
MOBILE ADVERTISING FORECAST
SAN FRANCISCO — Google will sell more mobile advertising than the rest of its rivals combined for the second straight year, according to a new forecast that highlights the expansion of the Internet search leader's moneymaking prowess from personal computers to smartphones and tablets. By Technology Writer Michael Liedtke.
— BRITAIN-GOOGLE — An influential committee of British lawmakers accuses search giant Google of dodging its taxes.
NEW YORK — ESPN's announcement Wednesday that it will shut down its 3-D channel by the end of the year is the latest sign the format won't revolutionize entertainment as the industry once hoped. By Technology Writers Peter Svensson and Ryan Nakashima.
— GANNETT-BELO — Newspaper publisher Gannett is buying TV station owner Belo for about $1.5 billion, making it one of the country's largest owners of major network affiliates.
— IBM-LAYOFFS — IBM jettisons jobs as management intensifies focus on some of tech's hottest markets.
LOS ANGELES — From companion apps with the power to affect gameplay to racing games where players persistently speed across virtual roads, there's several innovations on display at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week that show off what designers are interested in when it comes to the next-generation of gaming with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. By Derrik J. Lang.
— GAMES-Q&A-E3-SOUTH PARK — Q&A: Trey Parker, Matt Stone talk 'South Park: The Stick of Truth' video game at E3. AP photos.
— SMARTPHONE THEFT — The top prosecutors in San Francisco and New York announce the formation of a nationwide initiative to thwart smartphone thefts.
— BEST BUY-MICROSOFT — Best Buy is partnering with Microsoft to feature a store-within-a-store for its Windows products, the latest major consumer electronics retailer to acknowledge advantages of the brick-and-mortar format.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY-LAWSUIT — Lawsuit filed over copyright to 'Happy Birthday to You,' world's most famous English song.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi garment factories are routinely built without consulting engineers. Many are located in commercial or residential buildings not designed to withstand the stress of heavy manufacturing equipment. Some add unapproved extra floors and have support columns too small to hold up the structure, according to an engineering survey of scores of factories that was obtained by The Associated Press. By Ravi Nessman.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican put a new coin on sale last week to commemorate its historic papal transition, but overseas collectors won't be able to buy it for months. The Vatican still hasn't resolved an embarrassing shutdown in credit card services, costing the Holy See lost sales at a time when Pope Francis' surprise election led to a bonanza in Vatican-minted memorabilia. By Nicole Winfield.
IBSHAWAI, Egypt — President Mohammed Morsi has proclaimed this year's wheat harvest would be 30 percent bigger than the year before, putting Egypt on track to go from being the world's biggest importer of wheat to being entirely self-sufficient in four years. But experts and farmers have cast doubt on the claims, warning that the government is exaggerating the crop even as it cuts down on wheat imports to save dwindling foreign currency reserves. As a result, bread has become mired in Egypt's politics as Morsi nears the end of the first year in office. By Maggie Michael.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — A multi-billion dollar Chinese plan to plow a massive rival to the Panama Canal across the middle of Nicaragua was approved by the leftist-controlled National Assembly, capping a lightning-fast approval process that has provoked deep skepticism among shipping experts and concern among environmentalists.
— NICARAGUA-CANAL-HISTORY — A glance at the history of plans to build a canal across Nicaragua.
— EU-NUCLEAR SAFETY — EU presents tougher nuclear safety rules amid concerns about aging plants, future of energy.
— GREECE-STATE BROADCASTER — Journalists from axed Greek state broadcaster ERT return to the airwaves amid an escalating crisis that saw the country rocked by a general strike, a sharp rebuke from Europe's top human rights official and widening divisions in the fragile coalition government.
— FRANCE-TRANSPORT-STRIKE — After two days of air traffic controller strikes, French rail workers walk off the job to protest a reorganization of the national rail and train companies.
OF MUTUAL INTEREST-SECTOR ROTATION
Signs of a recovering economy are all around, from modest job creation to a strengthening housing market and rising consumer confidence. To average folks, these indicators are good news on a gut level and a pocketbook level. But to devotees of what's known as sector rotation, they are signposts on the path to profits. Average investors, however, should think twice about trying their hand at this investing approach. By Steve Garmhausen.
SMART SPENDING-BEACH READING
NEW YORK — Summer is around the corner, and it's time to stock up on all your summer beach reads. But with the expense that it takes to pay for the vacation itself, no one wants to spend a lot on beachy entertainment. Here's how to save some pennies that can go to other summer splurges. By Retail Writer Mae Anderson.
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Lost wealth: Many still wait
U.S. household wealth rose to $70 trillion in the first quarter of this year. After 5½ years, Americans finally regained the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession. A Federal Reserve report shows that total wealth topped its previous peak of $68 trillion, reached in 2007 just before the recession began. But that's for the nation as a whole. The typical household still hasn't recovered.
Gannett to buy Belo
Gannett, one of the largest newspaper publishers in the U.S., has agreed to by TV station owner Belo for $1.5 billion.