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Insurers can no longer reject customers with expensive medical conditions thanks to the health care overhaul. But consumer advocates warn there is still too much wiggle room that insurers are using to discourage the sickest — and costliest— patients from enrolling in their plans. Insurers are excluding well-known cancer centers from some of their coverage networks; requiring patients to make large, initial payments for HIV medications; and delaying participation in states' health exchanges. Advocates say these practices dissuade the neediest from signing up and make it likelier that the patients these insurers do serve will be healthier — and less expensive. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 1,300 words, photo.
TWITCH-VIDEO GAMES AS SPECTATOR SPORT
NEW YORK — For decades, kids have gathered in living rooms to marvel at how others master video games like "Street Fighter II" and "Super Mario Bros." But today there's Twitch, the online network that attracts millions of visitors each month, mostly to watch others play video games. The young, mostly male viewers have made Twitch.tv a top source of global Internet traffic. Amazon is paying nearly $1 billion for Twitch because it sees opportunity in the service through its loyal fan base and revenue streams from ads and channel subscriptions. Here's a look at the gaming culture that gave rise to Twitch. By Barbara Ortutay and Ken Sweet. SENT: 830 words, photos.
CORPORATE INVERSIONS-10 THINGS TO KNOW
WASHINGTON — Burger King is drawing a lot of flak over plans to shift its legal address to a foreign country by merging with Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain. The transaction is called a corporate inversion, a maneuver that is becoming popular among companies looking to lower their tax bills. Ten things to know about corporate inversions. By Stephen Ohlemacher. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.
— MEDTRONIC-EUROPE — U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a better tax deal. SENT: 440 words.
LOS ANGELES — Negotiators seeking to avoid labor unrest at West Coast ports made significant progress with their announcement of a tentative deal on health care benefits, a knotty issue that had tied up contract talks for months. In reaching the agreement, union leaders representing dockworkers were satisfied benefits would be maintained while their employers concluded that costs could be contained, partly by reducing fraud they said the health plan's high-end benefits attracted. The 29 ports are the nation's trade link with Asia, and handle hundreds of billions of dollars of products each year. Next, talks turn to job security and other lingering issues. By Justin Pritchard. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 4 p.m.
NEW YORK — Women still have a hard time getting small business loans and Sen. Maria Cantwell is determined to close the gap. The chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, introduced legislation in July that would make it easier for women-owned companies to get loans and government contracts. The Washington state Democrat sees lending to small businesses as key to job creation because loans give companies the means to expand. SENT: 770 words, photos.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators say financial firms that sell securities backed by loans, like the kind that fueled the 2008 financial crisis, will have to give investors details on borrowers' credit record and income. Home mortgages bundled into securities and sold on Wall Street soured after the housing bubble burst in 2007, losing billions in value. The vast sales of risky securities ignited the crisis that plunged the economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression and brought a taxpayer bailout of banks. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 770 words.
WASHINGTON — The Congressional Budget Office says the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5 percent this year — hurt by a poor first-quarter performance. This new assessment is considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration's. Last month, the administration predicted that the economy would grow 2.6 percent this year. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 690 words.
NEW YORK — Stocks are mostly flat in midday trading after wavering between small gains and losses through much of the morning. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 440 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.
— CHINA-EARNS-CHINA TELECOM — China Telecom Ltd., one of the country's three main state-owned carriers, says its profit rose 11.8 percent in the first half of the year as its Internet and mobile data businesses grew. SENT: 210 words.
— CHINA-EARNS-AIR CHINA — Air China says its six-month profit fell by more than half as the weakening yuan raised financing costs and other expenses. SENT: 240 words.
SPRING HILL, Tenn. — General Motors is moving production of the next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover SUV from Mexico to a factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The company also says it will add production of some small gasoline engines to the Spring Hill complex. The additions will bring more jobs to Spring Hill, but a spokesman wouldn't give specifics on how many would be added to the sprawling former Saturn facility about 40 miles south of Nashville. SENT: 550 words.
— TIME WARNER CABLE-OUTAGES — Time Warner Cable says service was largely restored after a problem that occurred during routine maintenance caused a nationwide outage of its Internet service for hours. SENT: 340 words, photo.
— SUZUKI-RECALL-SPIDERS — Spiders have forced Suzuki to recall more than 19,000 midsize cars. The automaker says spider webs can clog a fuel vapor vent hose in some 2010 to 2013 Kizashi cars, cutting off air flow. If that happens, it can cause the gas tank to deform, causing cracks, fuel leaks and possible fires. SENT: 190 words.
— BEHIND-THE-WHEEL-HYUNDAI SANTA FE — The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe mid-size sport utility vehicle stands out from the crowd for its attractive styling, comfortable ride, value pricing, surprising standard features and warranty. SENT: 950 words, photo, box.
— NEW ZEALAND-CHINA-INFANT FORMULA — New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra is forming a partnership with China's Beingmate to help meet growing demand for infant formula in the world's most populous nation. Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, said it plans to take a stake of up to 20 percent in Beingmate, an infant food company based in Hangzhou, as part of a $500 million production venture. SENT: 330 words.
DUBLIN — European budget carrier Ryanair is offering business-class tickets in an attempt to woo companies and governments during penny-pinching times. Marketed under the slogan "Your boss will approve," the new ticket reverses some of the airline's more reviled policies for fee-dazzled travelers. The Dublin-based company, long Europe's fastest-growing airline with a sell-it-cheap, stack-'em-high philosophy, says it hopes to capture three-fourths of all business travel between Britain and Ireland, its two biggest markets. By Shawn Pogatchnik. SENT: 580 words, photos.
HONG KONG — Malaysia is preparing to unveil the latest overhaul of its beleaguered state-owned airline, which is reeling from twin disasters months apart that killed hundreds of passengers. Analysts expect Khazanah to slash jobs, drop money losing routes to Europe and China, and replace top management. A substantial revamp has long been on the cards for Malaysia Airlines, which was struggling with chronic financial problems even before it was hit by the double disasters this year. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 510 words, photo.
— FRANCE-EBOLA — France's government is asking Air France to suspend flights to the largest city in Sierra Leone in response to the Ebola epidemic in the region that has killed more than 1,400 people. SENT: 130 words.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
DIGITAL LIFE-REVIEW-TELEVISION BINGEING
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how technology has changed our television-viewing habits. Americans are increasingly engaging in a practice known as television binge-watching — going through several episodes in a single stretch, rather than one a week, as was common before the advent of digital video recorders and Internet streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. I know what I'll be doing this Labor Day weekend. So why aren't I happy about this new way to watch TV? By Anick Jesdanun. UPCOMING: 900 words by 2 p.m., photos.
MESA, Ariz. — Inside a nondescript garage-like workshop nestled between restaurants, a flower shop and jewelry stores along Main Street, ideas are taking shape. At HeatSync Labs, the tables are littered with computer chips, pens, pads and tools while the room is abuzz with the chatter of would-be inventors hoping to change the world — or just make cool things. They are part of a growing global movement of so-called hackerspaces. By Emaun Kashfi. SENT: 670 words, photos, video.
TOKYO — At a humble Tokyo laboratory, Godzilla, including the 1954 black-and-white original, is stomping back with a digital makeover that delivers four times the image quality of high definition. The effort with "4K" technology is carefully removing scratches and discoloration from the films and also unearthing hidden information on the reel-to-reel. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 600 words, photos.
— GERMANY-ECONOMY — A closely-watched survey shows economic expectations among German consumers have "completely collapsed" over concerns about the conflicts in Iraq, Israel and Ukraine. SENT: 150 words.
— BRITAIN-SCOTLAND — A group of 130 business leaders in Scotland have signed an open letter arguing that the case for independence from Britain has not been made. SENT: 120 words, photo.
— JAPAN-STEM CELL RESEARCH — The Japanese laboratory that retracted a paper reporting a potentially major breakthrough in stem cell research says its researchers have not managed to replicate the results. Riken also announced plans for an organizational overhaul to prevent any further problems, changing its director and reducing the number of researchers by half. SENT: 300 words, photo.
— FRANCE-LAGARDE-CORRUPTION — Christine Lagarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, is placed under official investigation for negligence in a French corruption probe that dates back to her days as France's finance minister. SENT: 530 words.
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Hospital finances are getting healthier. It's still early, but under the health care overhaul. Several of the largest hospital operators reported increased revenue and net income in the second quarter — and fewer uninsured patients. That's led most to raise their full-year profit forecasts. The shares of the major hospital chains have surged an average 26 percent in the last three months, compared with the nearly 6 percent rise of the broader market. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
Shares of Express soar after the clothing retailer raised its full-year earnings guidance. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.