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Strawberry farms fined over age of some pickers

PORTLAND – The U.S. Labor Department has fined three Washington state strawberry farms a total of $73,000 for employing children as young as 6 years old as pickers.

The department’s Portland office said Thursday the violations include failing to maintain proof-of-age records and pay minimum wage. A total of nine underage workers were found during a child labor investigation in June at farms in Woodland, Wash., and Ridgefield, Wash.

The department said all three employers removed the underage workers and agreed to attend wage and hour training for the next three years.

Associated Press

‘Spam King’ faces charges for Facebook phishing

SAN FRANCISCO – A Las Vegas man accused of sending more than 27 million spam messages to Facebook users faces federal fraud and computer tampering charges that could send him to prison for more than 40 years, according to a grand jury indictment.

Sanford Wallace, the self-proclaimed “Spam King,” pleaded not guilty during an initial court appearance Thursday after being indicted July 6 on six counts of electronic mail fraud, three counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of criminal contempt.

The indictment filed in San Jose federal court said Wallace compromised about 500,000 Facebook accounts between November 2008 and March 2009 by sending massive amounts of spam through the company’s servers on three occasions.

Wallace would collect Facebook user account information by sending “phishing” messages that tricked users of the social networking site into providing their passwords, the indictment said.

Associated Press

Murdoch daughter puts off joining News Corp. board

LOS ANGELES – Elisabeth Murdoch, the 42-year-old daughter of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, has delayed taking her appointed seat on the News Corp. board.

The decision comes as the media giant is under increased scrutiny and faces several shareholder lawsuits following revelations of phone-hacking and allegations of police bribery at its British newspaper unit.

Independent director Viet Dinh said that Elisabeth Murdoch and the board hope the decision reaffirms that News Corp. aspires to the “highest standards of corporate governance.”

Elisabeth Murdoch was to join the board after her British production company, Shine Group, was bought by News Corp. in April.

The $679 million deal was cited as an example of nepotism. The Murdochs control nearly 40 percent of the company’s voting shares through a family trust.

Associated Press

Movie rental revenue tops purchases for a change

LOS ANGELES – Americans spent more money renting home movies than buying them in the second quarter, marking only the second time that’s happened in the DVD era. The big switch in consumer behavior shows the rising popularity of cheap alternatives like Netflix and Redbox and suggests people are pinching pennies in this economy.

Rental revenue rose 11 percent from a year ago to $2.06 billion, while sales of discs and digital purchases fell 15 percent to $1.93 billion in the three months through June, according to a report released Friday by The Digital Entertainment Group, an industry consortium of studios and electronics makers.

The resurgence of rentals is noticeable mainly because the DEG started including subscription plans such as Netflix in the rental category this year, said executive director Amy Jo Smith. Still, she said, consumer behavior is changing.

The last time rental revenues beat purchases was in 2000, before people slowed their rentals of VHS tapes from rental video shops like Blockbuster and began buying more DVDs.

Associated Press



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