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Associated Press

Posted on October 8, 2012 at 5:02 PM

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American Airlines CEO acknowledges rough few weeks

NEW YORK (AP) — American Airlines' CEO acknowledges that passengers have had a rough few weeks on the airline but says the carrier is working through its issues.

"The operational performance is improving," CEO Tom Horton said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. "We'll get past this just like other airlines before us have."

The airline, which has been in bankruptcy protection since November, saw its on-time performance drop to 59 percent in September, according to Flightstats.com. In that same period Delta, Southwest and U.S. Airways were all above 85 percent. The drop has been attributed to pilots writing up extra maintenance requests as part of an unsanctioned job action.

The airline has cut flights, and added reserve crews and extra planes to cover last-minute delays.

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US panel: China tech giants pose security threat

WASHINGTON (AP) — American companies should avoid sourcing network equipment from China's two leading technology firms because they pose a national security threat to the U.S., the House Intelligence Committee warned Monday.

The panel said in a report that U.S. regulators should block mergers and acquisitions in this country by Huawei Technologies Ltd. and ZTE Corp, among the world's leading suppliers of telecommunications gear and mobile phones.

Reflecting U.S. concern over cyber-attacks traced to China, the report also recommends that U.S. government computer systems not include any components from the two firms because that could pose an espionage risk.

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GM hiring 1,500 for computer center near Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors plans to hire up to 1,500 workers to staff a new computer technology center outside Detroit.

It is part of a move to bring 90 percent of information technology in-house, which GM believes will make the company more nimble and efficient. The carmaker plans to hire 10,000 people at four new technology centers in the next three to five years. The centers will help get breakthrough ideas into the company's cars and trucks, GM says.

Last month the company announced it would hire 500 people for a center in Austin, Texas. The remaining two sites haven't been announced.

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Soda industry: Vending machines will show calories

NEW YORK (AP) — As criticism of sugary sodas intensifies, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are rolling out new vending machines that will put calorie counts right at your fingertips.

The move comes ahead of a regulation that would require restaurant chains and vending machines to post the information as early as next year, although the specifics for complying with the requirement are still being worked out.

The American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., said the calorie counts will be on the buttons people press to select a drink. Vending machines will also feature small decals, such as "Calories Count: Check Then Choose."

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Freeze, drought take bite out of fall tourism

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Devastating spring freezes and a historic drought have stripped some charm from rustic fall destinations, leaving some corn too short to create mazes, orchards virtually devoid of apples and fall colors muted.

Extreme weather has forced agritourism ventures in the heart of the country to scramble to hold onto their share of an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Pat Schaefers, who runs Schaefers Corn Maze near Lollie, Ark., hopes visitors to the farm's two mazes won't mind that the corn is just six to eight feet tall this fall — up to four feet shorter than the wall of corn that families and school groups normally pay to get lost and turned around in.

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YouTube takes original programming venture abroad

LONDON (AP) — YouTube is extending its original programming initiative to Europe, with at least 60 new video channels from media companies including Britain's BBC, London-based FreemantleMedia and the Netherlands' Endemol.

The Google Inc.-owned video site said Monday that the new channels, with content from Britain, Germany, France, and the U.S., will be in addition to the 100 channels launched in the U.S. last year. Like pre-existing American offerings, the European channels will have a mix of celebrity oriented, niche, and established programs.

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World Bank cuts Asia growth outlook for this year

BEIJING (AP) — The World Bank cut its growth forecast for Asia on Monday in a new sign of weakening global demand and warned China's cooling economy faces the risk of a "more pronounced slowdown."

The bank cut this year's growth outlook for developing Asia-Pacific economies to 7.2 percent, down from its May forecast of 7.6 percent. The bank cut its forecast for China, the region's biggest economy, to 7.7 percent from May's 8.2 percent.

The bank cited weak global demand due to the lackluster U.S. recovery and Europe's recession. It said Europe's debt crisis still is a "major risk," followed by the U.S. "fiscal cliff" — a mix of tax and spending cuts due to take effect at year's end that might chill growth.

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Alzheimer drug shows some promise in mild cases of the disease

BOSTON (AP) — Combined results from two studies of an experimental Alzheimer's drug suggest it might modestly slow mental decline, especially in patients with mild versions of the disease.

Taken separately the studies missed their main goals to significantly slow the mind-robbing disease. But pooled results found 34 percent less decline in patients with moderate Alzheimer's compared to those on a dummy treatment for 18 months.

Doctors say the results do not seem strong enough to win approval of the drug now. But they show researchers are on the right track by trying to clear the sticky deposits that clog patients' brains.

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UnitedHealth plans overseas growth with $4.9 billion deal

UnitedHealth Group Inc. will spend about $4.9 billion to buy a majority stake in Brazilian health benefits and care provider Amil Participacoes SA, as the largest U.S. health insurer leaps into an international market it says is primed for growth.

UnitedHealth, based in Minnetonka, Minn., said Monday that the deal gives it better access to a country of 200 million people where only 25 percent of the population is covered by private health insurance. In contrast, about 78 percent of the U.S. market has private health benefits, as opposed to government coverage like Medicaid or Medicare.

Amil Participacoes is the largest health insurer in Brazil, with a network of providers that includes 3,300 hospitals and 44,000 doctors. In addition, it also owns 22 hospitals and about 50 clinics, with most of its business concentrated in the country's two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The company reported $4.45 billion in revenue last year.

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Wal-Mart, American Express team on prepaid card

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express are rolling out a prepaid card that they say offers unique services designed to help shoppers manage and control their everyday finances.

The two companies said Monday that Bluebird, begun during a pilot program late last year, acts like a checking account but without the fees that have increasingly frustrated shoppers. It will have no minimum balance and no monthly, annual or overdraft fees. They say the only fees that will be associated with the card will be transparent and within the user's control, such as out-of-network ATM withdrawals by consumers who don't use direct deposit.

Bluebird will have a number of features, including the ability to deposit a check to a Bluebird account by taking a picture of it with a smartphone. It will also offer the same fraud protections as other credit and debit cards if a card is stolen or lost.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 26.50 points to close at 13,583.65 points Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.05 points to 1,455.88 and the Nasdaq composite lost 23.84 points to 3,112.35.

Benchmark crude fell 55 cents to finish at $89.33 in New York. In London, Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell 20 cents to end at $111.82.

Natural gas gained less than a penny to finish at $3.40 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil lost a penny to end at $3.14 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline fell 6 cents to finish at $2.89 per gallon.

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