- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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Court hears dispute over pay for security checks

WASHINGTON (AP) - Workers who fill customer orders for Internet retailer Amazon might be out of luck in their quest to be paid for time they spend going through security checkpoints each day.

Several Supreme Court justices expressed doubts Wednesday during arguments over whether federal law entitles workers to compensation for security measures to prevent employee theft.

The case is being watched closely by business groups concerned that employers could be liable for billions of dollars in retroactive pay for security check procedures that have become routine in retail and other industries.

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Hacking a big danger for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) - It’s not just big businesses like JPMorgan Chase, Target and Home Depot that get hacked. Small companies suffer from intrusions into their computer systems, too.

The costs associated with computer and website attacks can run well into the thousands and even millions of dollars for a small company. Many small businesses have been attacked - 44 percent, according to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, an advocacy group. Those companies had costs averaging $8,700.

JPMorgan Chase said the attack on its computer servers this summer compromised customer information from about 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. Target Corp., Michaels Stores Inc. and Neiman Marcus have also reported breaches of their computer systems in the past year, as did Home Depot Inc., whose customers include small contracting companies.

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Service without a smile: why airlines aren’t nice

NEW YORK (AP) - Passengers cherish Virgin America for its mood lighting, live TV, fancy cocktails and friendly flight attendants. That nice-guy approach to air travel wins awards and attracts a cult following, but may not fly with Wall Street.

For all the accolades, Virgin America has lost $400 million since its founding in 2007.

As Virgin America weighs a public offering there are warning signs for potential investors. Its brand-new aircraft come with a hefty debt load and the airline has failed to attract big-spending business travelers. To increase revenue - and satisfy shareholders - the airline might eventually be forced to take actions, such as raising fees, which risk alienating passengers.

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Can you go solar? Leases, loans make it possible

NEW YORK (AP) - A new financing offering could make home solar cheaper and more attractive to homeowners, and keep the adoption of home solar growing.

The offer, announced by SolarCity this week, is a loan that allows homeowners to install their own solar system on their roof for little or no money down, and pay less for electricity. Previous plans, while popular, turned off some because the solar company owned the system.

SolarCity’s new loan deal and current similar deals that involve leases or power purchase agreements can pay off - if you have the right roof in the right state.

For the deals to work, your roof can’t be shrouded in shade and you have to be paying a relatively high price for power.

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More Ebola screening to begin at 5 US airports

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government will begin taking the temperatures of travelers from West Africa arriving at five U.S. airports as part of a stepped-up response to the Ebola epidemic.

President Barack Obama said the new efforts would provide yet another tier of protection at key U.S. points of entry.

However, the focus is still on stopping the epidemic in West Africa, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, said in Atlanta.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said the additional layer of screening would begin at New York’s JFK International and the international airports in Newark, Washington Dulles, Chicago and Atlanta. He said the new steps would include taking temperatures and would begin Saturday at JFK.

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Muslim hijabi hipsters fusing fashion with faith

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Fashion-conscious Muslim women from Kuala Lampur to Los Angeles who wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, have had to get creative.

By fusing both their sense of fashion with their faith, this growing group is reinterpreting traditional notions of what it means to dress conservatively. They’re spawning a new market for niche fashion brands and finding unexpected supporters among some mainstream brands, as well as from conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish women who also dress modestly.

Louella, a fashion brand catering to women who combine modest dressing with fashion, has sold nearly 4,000 pieces since its launch three months ago. Owner Ibtihaj Muhammad, a professional athlete and member of the United States fencing team, said she struggled trying to find long-sleeved, floor-length dresses to wear when she traveled on speaking tours on behalf of Team USA and the State Department.

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Fed officials link rate increase to economic data

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve officials, worried about weak growth overseas, agreed last month that they would begin raising interest rates only when measures of the economy’s health and inflation signaled the time was right.

Minutes of the Fed’s discussions at the Sept. 16-17 meeting released Wednesday showed that officials expressed rising worries about lackluster growth in Europe, as well as slowing growth in Japan and China.

The U.S. stock market surged after the release of the minutes, logging its biggest gain of the year. Investors appeared to take the revealed discussion as a sign that the Fed was in no hurry to raise interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 274 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,994.

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Geithner defends terms of AIG bailout

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former top regulator Timothy Geithner defended terms of the U.S. government’s bailout of American International Group Inc., saying Wednesday that the insurance giant’s exceptionally risky behavior had caused losses that called for strict treatment.

The terms included a huge government stake in the company and an interest rate called “crazily high” by a government official.

Geithner headed the New York Federal Reserve when it extended an $85 billion rescue loan to AIG in September 2008 as the company veered toward collapse.

In trial testimony, Geithner said he and his colleagues at the Fed and the Treasury Department believed that AIG’s dire financial condition was “substantially” the result of its management taking on excessive risk.

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Report: Federal budget deficit falls to $486B

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government’s budget deficit has fallen to $486 billion, the smallest pool of red ink of President Barack Obama’s six-year span in office, a new report said Wednesday.

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate shows better results than earlier projections by both CBO and the White House budget office.

It comes as Congress has mostly paused in its wrangling over the deficit in the run-up to the midterm elections next month.

Obama inherited a trillion-dollar-plus deficit after the 2008 financial crisis but that red-ink figure has improved in recent years as the economy has recovered. Last year’s deficit registered at $680 billion.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average jumped 274.83 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,994.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 33.79 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,968.89. The Nasdaq composite rose 83.39 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,468.59.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.54 to close at $87.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 73 cents to close at $91.38 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents to close at $2.318 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3.1 cents to close at $2.576 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10.2 cents to close at $3.855 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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