Local & State
S.C. agency paying down debt
South Carolina’s unemployment agency announced Friday it has made a $75 million early payment toward its debt to the federal government, helping to reduce businesses’ insurance taxes. The state Department of Employment and Workforce said its third payment this year, which was a week ago, could save the state $1.7 million in interest costs. The agency paid $60 million in April and $126 million in September. That leaves a balance of $195 million on the state’s original debt of nearly $1 billion. South Carolina is still on track to pay off the debt next year. The agency expects it to be paid off months ahead of the Nov. 9 deadline for avoiding higher federal unemployment taxes.
Nation & World
Dow tumbles on oil prices
The Dow Jones industrial average is closing more than 300 points lower, its worst loss in two months. Traders were discouraged Friday by another slump in the price of oil and more signs of weakness in China. The Dow dropped 315 points, or 1.8 percent, to 17,280. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,002. The Nasdaq slid 54 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,653.
‘Eat more kale’ OK to say now
A Vermont folk artist who became a folk hero to some after taking on the fast-food giant Chik-fil-A in a legal fight can now legally protect the phrase “eat more kale.” Chik-fil-A had objected to the use of the phrase by Bo Muller-Moore of Montpelier because of its similarity to the company’s trademark phrase “eat mor chikin.” Muller-Moore says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted his application to trademark “Eat more kale” earlier this week.
Potato destroyers convicted
Two North Dakota brothers were convicted Thursday of intentionally destroying potatoes to collect crop insurance payments in a scheme that prosecutors said defrauded the federal government of about $2 million. Jurors found Aaron Johnson, 50, and Derek Johnson, 47, guilty of conspiring to receive illegal payments and giving false statements.
Settlement reached with Dickey’s
A Utah woman has reached a settlement with a barbecue chain restaurant where she unknowingly drank iced tea mixed with chemicals and nearly died. Dickey’s Barbecue and Jan Harding issued a joint statement this week announcing they came to terms on an agreement that will lead to extensive changes at the business to ensure such incidents never happen again. They declined to disclose how much money Harding received or any details of the deal.
Chrysler expands recall for air bags
Chrysler is bowing to demands from U.S. safety regulators and will add about 179,000 vehicles to a recall for air bags that could explode with too much force. The latest expansion covers the Ram pickup from the 2003 to 2005 model years, as well as the 2004 and 2005 Dodge Durango, 2005 Chrysler 300 and 2005 Dodge Magnum. It’s part of a growing problem worldwide with air bag inflators made by Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp.
Obesity specialist gets 3 years
A Kansas obesity specialist who co-authored the “Atkins Diabetes Revolution” has been sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison for tax evasion. The U.S. attorney’s office said Friday that 62-year-old Mary Vernon of Lawrence also was ordered Thursday to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution. Vernon was convicted earlier of five counts of tax evasion.