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Editorial Results (free)

1. Olive Garden Defends Breadstick Policy -

NEW YORK (AP) – Olive Garden is defending its practice of giving customers as many breadsticks as they want, saying the policy conveys "Italian generosity."

The remark is part of a response by the chain's parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., to a nearly 300-page criticism released by hedge fund Starboard Value last week. Starboard took Olive Garden and its management to task for a litany of issues, including its liberal distribution of breadsticks, its failure to salt the water used to boil its pasta and even the length of the asparagus it serves.

2. Olive Garden Investor: Back Off on the Breadsticks -

NEW YORK (AP) – Maybe there is such a thing as too many breadsticks.

In a nearly 300-page treatise on what's wrong with Olive Garden and its management, investor Starboard Value suggests the Italian restaurant chain is being reckless with its unlimited breadsticks. The hedge fund notes the chain's official policy is to bring out one breadstick per customer at a time, plus an extra for the table.

3. Fast-Food Protesters Cuffed at Higher-Pay Rallies -

NEW YORK (AP) – Police handcuffed dozens of protesters in cities around the country on Thursday as they blocked traffic in the latest attempt to escalate their efforts to get McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food companies to pay their employees at least $15 an hour.

4. Behind Big Macs, a Drama Over Corporate Control -

NEW YORK (AP) – Behind those Big Macs and Whoppers is a hidden drama over corporate control.

The fast-food industry is underpinned by an often tense relationship between companies like McDonald's and Burger King and the franchisees who run their restaurants. Few customers think about this when scarfing down burgers.

5. McDonald's Sales Hit by China Scandal, US Weakness -

NEW YORK (AP) – McDonald's says a global sales figure fell 2.5 percent in July, dragged down by persistent weakness in the U.S. and a food safety scare in China.

The world's biggest hamburger chain said Friday that the decline included a 3.2 percent drop in the U.S. and a 7.3 percent drop in the unit encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

6. Olive Garden, Red Lobster Sales Continue to Slide -

NEW YORK (AP) – Darden said Friday that sales continued to slide at Olive Garden and Red Lobster, with other costs dragging down its profit by 35 percent in the latest quarter.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations, and shares were down 2.5 percent in midday trading.

7. Starbucks Contribution to Scholarship Overstated -

NEW YORK (AP) – It turns out Starbucks isn't contributing any upfront scholarship money to an online college degree program it introduced this week.

The Seattle-based company unveiled a program Monday that included a scholarship it described as "an investment" between Starbucks and Arizona State University. The program is designed to allow Starbucks workers to earn an online degree at the school at a steeply discounted rate.

8. Starbucks Clears College Degree Path for Workers -

NEW YORK (AP) – Starbucks is giving its baristas a shot at an online college degree, an unusual benefit in an industry where higher education is often out of reach for workers.

The coffee chain is partnering with Arizona State University to make an undergraduate degree available at a steep discount to 135,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

9. Darden to Sell Red Lobster, Hold Onto Olive Garden -

NEW YORK (AP) – Darden is setting Red Lobster adrift, but betting that it can still turn around Olive Garden's fortunes.

The company, which is based in Orlando, Florida, said Friday that it would sell its seafood chain and the accompanying real estate to investment firm Golden Gate Capital in a $2.1 billion cash deal. The announcement came despite objections from some shareholders to the plan to separate Red Lobster, which was announced late last year.

10. Starbucks to Roll Out Beer, Wine to More Cafes -

NEW YORK (AP) – Starbucks plans to turn more of its cafes into a destination for beer and wine in the evenings.

The coffee company says it is looking to expand alcohol sales to "thousands of select stores" over the next several years, although it didn't provide details on an exact timeline.

11. McDonald's Hit by Lawsuits Over Worker Pay -

NEW YORK (AP) – McDonald's workers in three states filed lawsuits against the fast-food chain this week, saying the company engages in a variety of illegal practices to avoid paying them what they're owed.

12. Kroger: Storm Response Helped Boost Sales -

NEW YORK (AP) – Kroger said its ability to keep its supermarkets open and well-stocked as customers rushed to hoard groceries ahead of winter storms helped boost its results in the fourth quarter.

13. Drink Makers Giving People Ways to Ditch the Can -

NEW YORK (AP) – It keeps getting easier to ditch the soda can.

When Coca-Cola said this week that it would let people make its drinks at home using a beverage machine, it became the latest company to take advantage of a growing trend: People turning to flavored drops or at-home carbonation machines that do away with the need to haul home bulky cans and bottles from the supermarket.

14. Starbucks Hit by Migration to Online Shopping -

NEW YORK (AP) – For marathon shoppers, stopping in at Starbucks is often a quick way to refuel. So where does that leave the cafes as more people decide to shop online from their couches?

15. Holiday Shopping Season: A Disappointment So Far -

NEW YORK (AP) – Sparse crowds at malls and "50 percent off" signs at The Gap, AnnTaylor and other stores give a clue as to how the holiday season is going.

This is shaping up to be the most discount-driven holiday season since the country was in a deep recession. It's also one of the most disappointing for stores.

16. Fast-Food Protests Return Amid Push for Wage Hikes -

NEW YORK (AP) – Fast-food workers and labor organizers are marching, waving signs and chanting in cities across the country Thursday amid a push for higher wages.

Organizers say employees planned to forgo work in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But it's not clear what the actual turnout has been or how many of the participants are workers. By afternoon, disruptions seemed minimal or temporary at the targeted restaurants.

17. Kellogg to Cut Jobs as Cereal Sales Slide -

NEW YORK (AP) – Kellogg is planning to cut its global workforce by 7 percent as the maker of Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K struggles to convince Americans to eat more cereal.

18. Burger King Feels Heat as Rivals Focus on Value -

NEW YORK (AP) – A revamped menu helped boost Burger King's profit in the fourth quarter but now the world's second biggest hamburger chain says it needs to play up value more aggressively to compete with rivals.

19. Coca-Cola to Address Obesity for First Time in Ads -

NEW YORK (AP) – Coca-Cola became one of the world's most powerful brands by equating its soft drinks with happiness. Now it's taking to the airwaves for the first time to address a growing cloud over the industry: obesity.

20. Hostess Expects to Split Up Snack Cakes in Sale -

NEW YORK (AP) – Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Devil Dogs are likely to return to shelves in coming months, but probably not under the same owners.

Hostess Brands Inc. said in bankruptcy court last week that it's narrowing down the bids it received for its brands and expects to sell off its snack cakes and bread to separate buyers. The testimony came from an investment banker for Hostess, which is in the process of liquidating.

21. Olive Garden Owner Shifts Course to Focus on Deals -

NEW YORK (AP) – After new ad campaigns touting the quality of its food failed to spark sales, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster is retooling its strategy to attract diners with more promotional deals.

22. Holiday Shoppers May See Big Discounts Soon -

NEW YORK (AP) – If shoppers don't show up in stores soon, more 70 percent off sale signs will.

After a promising start to the holiday shopping season over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, sales have slowed as worries about weak U.S. job growth and other concerns have caused Americans to spend less.

23. Starbucks to Open 1,500 More Cafes in the US -

NEW YORK (AP) – Another Starbucks may soon pop up around the corner, with the world's biggest coffee company planning to add at least 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years.

The plan, which would boost the number of Starbucks cafes in the country by about 13 percent, was announced at the company's investor day in New York Wednesday. Taking into account Canada and South America, the company plans to add a total of 3,000 new cafes in its broader Americas region.

24. Dollar Stores Get Spruced Up; Deals Less Clear Cut -

NEW YORK (AP) – Ducking into a dollar store to pick up some a soda and bag of cookies might save you time and effort, but will you save any money?

Since the start of the downturn, major chains such as Dollar General Corp. and Family Dollar Stores Inc. have accelerated their growth by transforming stores with wider aisles, better lighting and more name brands. The result is that they're shedding their image as depots for misfit merchandise and pulling in a wider range of shoppers.

25. Twinkies Maker Hostess has Plenty of Suitors -

NEW YORK (AP) – The future of Twinkies is virtually assured.

Hostess Brands Inc. said Thursday that it's in talks with 110 potential buyers for its iconic brands, which also include CupCakes, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. The suitors now include at least five national retailers such as supermarkets, a financial adviser for the company said in bankruptcy court. The process has been "so fast and furious" Hostess hasn't been able to make the calls seeking buyers it previously intended, said Joshua Scherer of Perella Weinberg Partners.

26. ConAgra Gobbles Up Store Brands With Ralcorp Deal -

NEW YORK (AP) – ConAgra Foods is set to become the nation's biggest maker of store brand foods, with its $5 billion purchase of Ralcorp expanding its stake in the fast-growing market for cereals, crackers and other packaged foods sold under private labels.

27. Twinkies Maker Hostess Lives at Least Another Day -

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) – Twinkies will live to see another day.

Hostess Brands Inc. and its second largest union agreed on Monday to try to resolve their differences after a bankruptcy court judge noted that the parties hadn't gone through the critical step of private mediation. That means the maker of the spongy cake with the mysterious cream filling won't go out of business yet.

28. Storm's Cost May Hit $50 Billion; Rebuilding to Ease Blow -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Superstorm Sandy will end up causing about $20 billion in property damages and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

29. Soda Industry: Vending Machines Will Show Calories -

NEW YORK (AP) – As criticism of sugary sodas intensifies, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are rolling out new vending machines that will put calorie counts right at your fingertips.

The move comes ahead of a regulation that would require restaurant chains and vending machines to post the information as early as next year, although the specifics for complying with the requirement are still being worked out.

30. Schools Turn Their Noses Up at 'Pink Slime' -

NEW YORK (AP) – The nation's school districts are turning up their noses at "pink slime," the beef product that caused a public uproar earlier this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the vast majority of states participating in its National School Lunch Program have opted to order ground beef that doesn't contain the product known as lean finely textured beef.

31. US Employers Still Waiting for Sales to Pick Up -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy suddenly looks a lot weaker.

Only 69,000 jobs were added in May, the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

32. Sugar Fight Takes Another Bitter Turn -

NEW YORK (AP) – What defines sugar? It's getting to be a stickier question.

The Sugar Association is accusing the makers of high fructose corn syrup of trying to candy-coat their image by calling their product a "sugar." The Corn Refiners Association is firing back by calling the accusations another attempt to censor its efforts to explain to the public that high fructose corn syrup is, well, a form of sugar.

33. Simpler Credit Card Agreement Gets a Tryout -

WASHINGTON (AP) – A simpler credit card agreement is getting a tryout.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday released a prototype of a credit card agreement that's written in plain English. The idea is to sweep away the legalese and make it easier for consumers to understand a card's costs and terms.

34. Fed-Up Consumers Planning for 'Bank Transfer Day' -

NEW YORK (AP) – It's moving day for bank customers.

A grassroots movement that sprang to life last month is urging bank customers to close their accounts in favor of credit unions by Saturday.

35. Fed's Low Rates are No Fix for Economy or Retirees -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve's plan to keep interest rates super-low for at least two more years is great news for mortgage refinancers and other borrowers.

For retirees and others who need interest income, it's a threat.

36. American Express Rolling out First Prepaid Card -

NEW YORK (AP) – American Express is rolling out its first prepaid card aimed at the general market on Tuesday as it moves to stake a claim in the growing industry.

The announcement marks a notable departure for the company, which is known for catering to a more affluent clientele with its signature green charge cards.

37. Fading of Inflation Helps Buyers and Borrowers -

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's a good time to buy a car or refinance a mortgage, thanks to super-low inflation and interest rates.

Invest in a savings account? Forget it.

Consumer inflation has all but disappeared, the government reported Wednesday. The Federal Reserve may now be emboldened to keep interest rates at record lows well into next year – and possibly into 2012.

38. Charge Cards: How the 'Other' Plastic Works -

NEW YORK (AP) - It's not a credit card or a debit card. If you've never had a charge card, you may wonder how it compares to the plastic you already carry.

Charge cards – primarily issued by American Express – require cardholders to pay off balances in full each month. There are no interest rates or hard-and-fast spending limits.

39. Your Credit Score: How to Improve It Now and Later -

NEW YORK (AP) - Your past is never really behind you. Or so it seems when it comes to credit reports.

As you prepare to shape up your finances in 2010, you'll find that improving your credit score is among the more complicated tasks.

40. BofA to Face SEC Trial, Exits Loss-Sharing Deal -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bank of America Corp. now faces a trial with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over billions in bonuses paid at Merrill Lynch, after a judge threw out the bank's $33 million settlement and rebuked the agency for not pursuing charges against executives.

41. AIG Says Emergency Aid Used to Pay Other Banks -

NEW YORK (AP) - American International Group Inc. used more than $90 billion in federal aid to pay out foreign and domestic banks, some of whom had received their own multibillion-dollar U.S. government bailouts.

42. Swaggers Turn to Shudders a Year After Market High -

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Just a year ago, investors were swaggering as the stock market surged to an all-time high. Now, almost everyone on Wall Street and Main Street seems to be shuddering amid a frightening reversal of fortune that has erased $8.3 trillion in shareholder wealth in the past year.

43. Treasury: Swift Support Needed for Mortgage Giants -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Congress needs to quickly approve a support package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make sure the two mortgage giants maintain their critically important role in housing finance.