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Around the business world

Daily Staff Report

Options back-dating another dirty corporate secret: NEW YORK – “Everyone else was doing it.” Given the growing number of companies involved, it’s starting to look like back-dating stock option grants to boost executive pay was another one of those dirty little secrets where no one thought to trust their common sense. Even if this practice wasn’t illegal, it’s plainly obvious that it should have produced different accounting under the rules that governed employee options until recently. Yet somewhere along the way, there was a leap of rationalization among top executives and the accountants, lawyers and consultants who advise them.Gunmakers tweaking products to attract women shooters: MILWAUKEE – Gun makers are now coming out with shorter, lighter shotguns, new grips on handguns and flashier designs, all of which attract women buyers. Manufacturers are tweaking their products and changing how they approach the burgeoning market, which is estimated to be worth at least $285 million this year in firearm sales alone to women.Car enthusiasts turning to condos to store their treasures: Some enthusiasts and collectors with money to burn are turning to car condos to create parking space in cities where it can be scare and expensive. Their vehicles are stored in individual, weatherproof, air-conditioned garages with 24-hour security and concierge services.Planned Parenthood seeks new customers with plush, quick-service clinic: WOODBURY, Minn. – Planned Parenthood wants to expand its services to more areas, and the group’s leaders hope a plush fast-service clinic coming to a well-heeled St. Paul suburb next month could be to reproductive health care what companies like MinuteClinic and RediClinic are to strep tests and ear infections. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit, but its leaders hope the new clinic will make enough money to help subsidize the rest of its operations.More Americans commuting on two wheels: SAN FRANCISCO – As gas prices climb to record highs, more Americans are abandoning their cars and riding their bicycles to work to save money at the pump. Bicycle shop owners say they’re seeing more customers who want to buy a new bike for commuting or bringing in old bikes for repairs. Around the country, advocates are using National Bike to Work Week to promote bicycling as a way to avoid rising gas costs, get in shape and help the environment. But many U.S. cities were built for cars and aren’t equipped to accommodate two-wheel commuters.Attorney General seeks $17 million in tobacco case: WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Cigarette maker Brown & Williamson owes Florida $17 million as part of the landmark 1997 tobacco settlement after it failed to report the sale of billions of cigarettes produced under another company’s name, Attorney General Charlie Crist said Wednesday.Under the multibillion-dollar settlement, Brown & Williamson along with other manufacturers were to pay a lump sum of $550 million to the state and annual payments thereafter based on the volume of cigarette sales, Crist said in a motion filed in state court in Palm Beach County.GE building plant to make new line of nuclear reactors: WILMINGTON, N.C. – GE Energy, which moved its corporate headquarters from California to Wilmington three years ago, has broken ground here on a plant here that will focus on developing a new line of nuclear reactors for the international market. The high price of oil is one trigger behind the rush to tap the fast-growing market overseas.Saturn unveils new Aura: KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Saturn showed off its sleek new mid-size Aura on Wednesday, with company officials saying they hope its European-inspired design will entice customers back to the brand for General Motors, which has been fighting slumping sales in the U.S.Vail, Colorado


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