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Business Highlights

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End of robust hiring streak raises doubts about job market

WASHINGTON (AP) — For months, the U.S. economy’s strength has been flagging.

Manufacturing slowed. Fewer homes were built. Cheaper gas failed to ignite consumer spending. Yet month after month, employers kept on hiring vigorously.

In March, the economy’s slump finally overtook the job market.

Employers added just 126,000 workers — the fewest since December 2013 — snapping a 12-month streak of gains above 200,000. At the same time, the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 per cent.

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Disaster expo shows innovations in thriving Japan industry

SENDAI, Japan (AP) — Mankind is powerless to prevent calamities such as typhoons and earthquakes, but in Japan where the devastating 2011 tsunami still looms large, there’s a flourishing industry in devising ways to cope with catastrophe.

Some of the products on display at an exhibition on the sidelines of a recent United Nations disaster conference in the northeastern city of Sendai featured high-tech innovations and new materials. But many were just inventive, practical solutions for challenges such as quickly getting people out of harm’s way.

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Venezuela looks to Hugo Chavez oil belt to fix sick economy

HUGO CHAVEZ OIL BELT, Venezuela (AP) — You can’t miss it, rising off the main highway, a mountain of toxic soot towering over the flat, sunbaked scrubland of eastern Venezuela.

The buildup of petroleum byproduct known as coke isn’t just an environmental hazard polluting the air of neighbouring communities. It’s a potent symbol of the waste and unfulfilled promise of an oil industry more vital than ever to Venezuela’s economic health.

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AP investigation prompts emergency rescue of 300 plus slaves

BENJINA, Indonesia (AP) — At first the men filtered in by twos and threes, hearing whispers of a possible rescue.

Then, as the news rippled around the island, hundreds of weathered former and current slaves with long, greasy hair and tattoos streamed from their trawlers, down the hills, even out of the jungle, running toward what they had only dreamed of for years: Freedom.

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Court won’t reconsider decision on Wall St. insider trading

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court refused Friday to reconsider a ruling that dealt a blow to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and the prosecution of insider trading on Wall Street.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a one-paragraph ruling turning down a petition from Bharara’s office. It said neither the three-judge panel that made the ruling in December nor the entire court would rehear the case.

The original ruling in December reversed two convictions and appeared to narrow the definition of insider trading. It said the defendants involved — portfolio managers Anthony Chiasson of New York and Todd Newman of Needham, Massachusetts — were too far removed from the source of inside information to be prosecuted.

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Cutting back on water use: Q&A on California’s drought

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The stubborn drought gripping California is dragging into a fourth year, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown this week to call for mandatory cutbacks in water use across the state. The drastic action marked the first time in California’s history that involuntary water restrictions have been ordered, underscoring the seriousness of the drought.

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Chicago businessmen follow promise of medical marijuana

CHICAGO (AP) — Late one Saturday night, Rob Sampson had a confrontation with his 15-year-old daughter about marijuana. But it was his daughter doing the confronting and it was Sampson defending the drug.

Sampson and his wife, after a long night of polishing his new company’s applications to grow medical cannabis, returned to their suburban Chicago home to find their daughter waiting up. They hadn’t yet told her their business plans.

That’s when they had The Talk: a conversation Sampson and his three partners in Chicago-based Cresco Labs have repeated with parents, in-laws and co-workers to explain why they are switching livelihoods and risking millions of dollars to follow the promise of medical marijuana.

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Reps for West Coast dockworkers urge union to OK contract

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tentative contract agreement that restored the flow of international trade through West Coast seaports earlier this year took a big step closer Friday to becoming official, as representatives of the dockworkers’ union overwhelmingly recommended that rank-and-file members vote to approve the deal.

Difficult contract negotiations nearly closed 29 seaports from San Diego to Seattle, causing major delays in the delivery of billions of dollars of imports and exports.

Negotiators for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union reached the tentative, five-year deal in February with companies that run the massive ships and sprawling marine terminals which are integral to trans-Pacific trade.

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Tesla 1Q new vehicle deliveries rise 55 per cent from year ago

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Tesla’s first-quarter new vehicle deliveries climbed 55 per cent from a year earlier to more than 10,000 cars.

The electric vehicle maker said Friday that it has decided to report the number of new car deliveries within three days of quarter’s end going forward because “inaccurate sources of information are sometimes used by others to project the number of vehicle deliveries.”

Tesla Motors Inc. said that the delivery figure is only one measure of its financial performance and shouldn’t be relied on as an indicator of its quarterly financial results.

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Some maple sap this season headed from tree tap to beer tap

CHATHAM, N.Y. (AP) — The maple sap bubbling away in Ron Davis’ upstate New York sugar house is destined for pancakes, waffles, sweets and — for years now — beer kegs.

The local syrup adds a touch of woodsy sweetness to the maple amber beer made by nearby Chatham Brewing, one of a cadre of craft brewers nationwide bridging the gap between tree tap and bar tap. The amount of syrup destined for pint glasses from this spring’s maple run is a relative trickle, but maple beers offer something for the growing numbers of local food lovers and craft beers aficionados.

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With runway under repair, skies above NYC could get crowded

NEW YORK (AP) — The closure of a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport could create a traffic jam in the skies above New York City this summer.

The main arrivals runway at Kennedy will be closed for repairs and resurfacing for about five months starting at the end of April, just as the summer travel season gets underway, and will likely remain closed through most of hurricane season. When the winds are calm and visibility is clear, the closure of one runway doesn’t cause major disruptions at JFK, which has four runways and rarely operates all four at the same time. But during inclement weather, the loss of that runway could cause a ripple effect of delays at all three of the major airports in the crowded skies above New York.

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Cord-nevers in luck as ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ hit Web

NEW YORK (AP) — Cord-nevers, you’re in luck. No more need to beg, borrow or steal your parents’ cable password to keep up with each episode of “Mad Men” or “Game of Thrones.” When the hit shows return in the next few days, they will be available for streaming online with no cable or satellite subscription.

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At Jordan site, drone offers glimpse of antiquities looting

FIFA, Jordan (AP) — At a sprawling Bronze Age cemetery in southern Jordan, archaeologists have developed a unique way of peering into the murky world of antiquities looting: With aerial photographs taken by a homemade drone, researchers are mapping exactly where — and roughly when — these ancient tombs were robbed.

Based on such images and conversations with some looters whose confidence they gained, archaeologists try to follow the trail of stolen pots and other artifacts to traders and buyers. They hope to get a better understanding of the black market and perhaps stop future plunder.

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France bans imports of Puglia veggies over bacteria fears

ROME (AP) — Italian farm associations accused France on Friday of starting a trade war by announcing a ban on imports of vegetables from the southern Puglia region because of a bacterial outbreak that has infected hundreds of thousands of olive trees.

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll announced the blockade Friday, saying he was taking action on a national level pending a decision by the full European Union on a proposed cull of some 10 per cent of the estimated 10 million trees in the hard-hit Lecce area of Puglia.

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By The Associated Press=

The stock market is closed in observance of Good Friday.