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Feds say health mergers would increase costs, threaten care 

Federal regulators are suing to stop two major health insurance mergers because they say the deals will increase health care costs for Americans and lower the quality of care they get. The Department of Justice said Thursday that the combinations of Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna would hurt competition that restrains the price of coverage and lead to reduced benefits, among other drawbacks.

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Malaysia’s prime minister to ‘fully cooperate’ with U.S. investigation

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia’s prime minister said Thursday he is serious about good governance and vowed to “fully cooperate” with a U.S. investigation into a $3.5 billion scandal involving a state fund he headed. The comments by Prime Minister Najib Razak were his first since the U.S. Department of Justice revealed in Los Angeles on Wednesday that it has initiated action to seize about $1.3 billion of the missing $3.5 billion allegedly used to buy assets in the U.S. by people close to Najib.

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U.S. unemployment applications dip to 253,000 last week

WASHINGTON – The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, falling to the lowest point in 13 weeks. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly benefit applications dipped by 1,000 to 253,000, the lowest level since it ...

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Jake Linton, of Kettle Falls, Wash., came looking to trade movies and buy music,  July 21, 2016, at the Hastings on Wellesley Avenue in Spokane.  Linton, a customer for the past 20 years, found for purchase a pair of CDs each by Sarah McLachlan and Roy Orbison, in addition to a John Anderson CD. Hastings Entertainment, a 123-store music and book store chain, will close all its locations this fall. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Hastings to close all its locations this fall 13 

Hastings Entertainment, a 123-store music and book store chain, will close all its locations this fall. The company filed for bankruptcy in June. A sale to two corporations that plan to liquidate Hastings was approved Wednesday, according to The Amarillo Globe-News.

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French workers get fewer protections under new labor law

PARIS – French workers lost some of their famed labor protections Wednesday, as the government tries to keep up with the global economy by weakening union powers and giving employers more freedom to fire people and lengthen their hours. It was a bitter victory for President Francois Hollande. The bill unleashed months of violent protests and tore apart his Socialist Party, and the government had to force it through Parliament without a vote. And conservative critics say it doesn’t go far enough and won’t make a difference.

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Washington unemployment rate hovers at 5.8 percent

OLYMPIA – Washington state lost 500 jobs from May to June, but its unemployment rate is hovering at 5.8 percent for the seventh straight month. Numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department show that while private sector employment increased by roughly 1,000 jobs during that timeframe, government employment dropped by 1,500, for a net loss of 500 jobs.

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AB InBev says it has U.S. approval for SABMiller merger

NEW YORK – Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer maker, announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with the Justice Department clearing the way for U.S. approval of its acquisition of SABMiller. AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser and ...

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Panera sues former executive, Papa John’s over trade secrets

ST. LOUIS – The restaurant chain Panera alleges in a lawsuit that a former executive who left to go to work for pizza chain Papa John’s took trade secrets with him. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis names both former Panera executive Michael Nettles and Louisville, Kentucky-based Papa John’s International.

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Listeria fear prompts hot dog, corn dog recall

WASHINGTON – More than 372,000 pounds of hot dogs and corn dogs made earlier this month are being recalled over concerns of listeria contamination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Altus, Oklahoma-based Bar-S Foods is recalling five chicken and pork products that could potentially be contaminated with listeria. The USDA said Bar-S hasn’t received test results, but is recalling the items due to recurring listeria issues at the company.

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KFC, Apple in China hit by South China Sea spat

BEIJING – To the challenges facing KFC and Apple in China, add a surprise backlash from Beijing’s spat with the Philippines over the South China Sea. Nationalists are protesting at KFC outlets and calling for a boycott, spurred by government accusations that Washington encouraged Manila to oppose Beijing’s claims to vast tracts of ocean.

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The Dirt

Here's the dirt

See the latest new construction, business openings and closures and progress on ongoing projects here.


Complete interview with Gabe Marks

Our most recent story about prolific Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks tells the story of a particularly insightful interview we had last spring. That story, "Gabe Marks is a ...

Weekend Wild Card — 7.23-24. 16

I'm facing another weekend of fence-building with my neighbor. Once we get the back fence built, I have one last honey-do item on the agenda and then it's kick back ...

You have 50 choices

S-R intern Tyson Bird brought cookies to work on his last day with us. It has been a pleasure to have him here. I first printed a column submission from ...

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Saving for the future

sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.



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