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Top News Links: Thursday, April 10

Judge ponders Mercedes union allegations

A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge will now decide whether Mercedes-Benz interfered in a union campaign at its Alabama plant, following three days of testimony in a hearing that ended Wednesday in Birmingham. – al.com

Are leveraged loans the next crisis?

A boom in leveraged loans issued by large and regional banks, or low-rated debt used to finance private-equity buyouts, is drawing alarm. According to one analyst, banks such as Regions Financial, Fifth Third Bancorp and Citigroup are most at risk of getting caught up in the market froth. – The Street

Birmingham gains 2,611 jobs in 2013

The Birmingham seven-county region gained 2,611 jobs in new and expanding industries in 2013 and capital investment totaled $319.5 million, according to the Birmingham Business Alliance. The BBA made the announcement Wednesday at the third annual Blueprint Birmingham Summit, held at the Harbert Center. – BBA

U.S. laws have crude oil piling up

Houston and the rest of the Gulf Coast have more crude oil than the region can handle. Storage tanks are filling as new pipelines carry light, sweet oil found in shale formations to the coast and U.S. law keeps companies from moving it out. – Bloomberg

Huntsville scientists eye germs in space

What if you could turn a virus or bacteria off by blocking its cellular reproduction? It's a big idea and not a new one, but Huntsville scientists will be trying a new way to do it with an experiment flying on the International Space Station for the next six months. – al.com

ExxonMobil, employees give to state schools

ExxonMobil and its employees are donating $675,200 to higher education institutions across Alabama as part of the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2013 Educational Matching Gift Program. – BusinessWire

Moody downgrades Energen note rating

Energen Corp.’s senior note rating has been downgraded by Moody's Investors Service to Ba1 from Baa3. Moody’s downgraded the company’s rating following the recent announcement of its sale of Alabama Gas Corporation to The Laclede Group. – Zacks.com

Government does poor job of catching fraud

You might assume someone who audits a local and state government’s finances is supposed to uncover waste, fraud and abuse, but you assume incorrectly, according to an auditor who works in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. – WatchDog.org

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