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Quick Takes

June 24, 2012
From staff and wire reports , The Herald-Star

CONTEST: American Express OPEN and Facebook are hosting the second annual "Big Break for Small Business," a national contest designed to improve the way small businesses connect with and engage customers online.

Five small business owners will receive house calls from American Express OPEN and Facebook branding experts who will give the businesses "marketing makeovers," and the winners also will recieve $25,000 to implement those social strategies. Winning businesses may invite other business owners to meet a panel of social media and marketing experts to teach how to use social media for business.

Each small business that enters will get educational and brand-building tools, as well as $50 in free Facebook advertising credits. American Express cardmembers who enter will receive $100 in credits.

To enter, visit and answer a short questionnaire. A panel of judges will select 10 finalists. American Express OPEN Facebook page fans will vote for the top five from the finalists.

AGREEMENT: Facebook became the seventh company to agree to give people advance warning if its mobile applications pull personal information from mobile phones and tablet computers.

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said Friday that the agreement includes Facebook's own applications, as well as those made by third parties in its recently-launched App Center.

The agreement requires mobile apps seeking to collect personal information to display their privacy policies before their app is installed on a device.

Facebook says it incorporated the principles of the privacy agreement when it was designing its App Center.

The other six companies are Apple Inc., Google Inc., Inc., Microsoft Corp., Research in Motion Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

RECALL: Samsonite International SA is recalling 250,000 "Tokyo Chic" suitcases worldwide to replace handles on the bags after a Hong Kong consumer group found high levels of compounds linked to cancer.

The luggage maker said Tuesday that independent tests showed the suitcases posed no health hazard and it was carrying out the recall to allay consumer concerns.

Samsonite pulled the line from Hong Kong stores on Monday to replace the side handles after the city's Consumer Council reported that a sample it tested had levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that were higher than recommended in voluntary guidelines.

The compounds are commonly found in plastics, rubber and lubricating oil and it's possible that traces were left during manufacturing, the council said. They've been known to cause cancer and birth defects in animals.

The council's tests gave readings for the compounds that were off the charts at 17,960 milligrams per kilogram.

The Tokyo Chic suitcases are sold mainly in Asia under Samsonite's American Tourister Brand. The company expects to spend $500,000 on the recall, which involves 250,000 suitcases sold over the past three years.

STILL TALKING: American Airlines is offering to drop plans to furlough pilots as it seeks union approval for a long-term cost-cutting deal that would help American rebuild while under bankruptcy protection.

The airline also gave ground on other areas including pay, where it is now offering slight increases.

American disclosed the changes shortly after a federal judge granted a one-week delay in ruling on American's request to throw out existing labor contracts.

The judge's decision gives the pilots' union more time to consider American's final offer. It also could help American regain the upper hand in its attempt to emerge from bankruptcy as a stand-alone company.

From staff and wire reports

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