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Top News Links: Friday, April 22

Alabama Shakes pays tribute to Prince

As Alabama Shakes took the stage last night in Nashville, the lights all turned to purple, and Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" blared through the speakers. It was a touching gesture, and one that electrified the packed house, but Brittany Howard and company really paid tribute to Prince with what followed: they played their own music. – The Tennessean

Cleber Tractor put on Engage Cuba council

Engage Cuba, a coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, has announced Cleber LLC, an Alabama-based tractor company, will join the Engage Cuba Business Council. Cleber was the first American company to receive a contract to build a factory in Cuba. – News release

Sears closing four stores in state

Sears Holdings will close four Alabama Kmart stores as part of a national cost-cutting initiative. The Illinois company announced Thursday they would be closing 68 Kmarts and 10 stores nationwide. The four stores are: 5980 Chalkville Mountain, Birmingham; 1101 Beltline Road, Decatur; 230 Green Springs Highway, Homewood; and 450 Z Schillingers Road, Mobile. – AL.com

Trouble seen in latest housing numbers

The Census Bureau put out some pretty bad numbers on housing Wednesday. March starts were down 8.8 percent from the February level and permits were down by 7.7 percent. The drop in starts was across categories and regions. There was no obvious weather-related factors to explain this drop. Residential construction is one of the few bright spots in an economy seeing weak consumption growth, stagnating equipment investment, and a rising trade deficit. – Beat the Press

Bill advancing to shore up roads, bridges

Alabama state lawmakers have approved a bill to ensure that money from any state fuel tax rate increases would be routed to roads and bridges. The state’s House voted 90-3 to advance a bill to Gov. Robert Bentley, which would establish the Alabama Transportation Safety Fund. The fund would specify how the available money would be spent. – Land Line

State continues effort to tax the internet

Under Alabama’s new regulation, which took effect January 1, 2016, an out-of-state seller that has a “substantial economic presence” in Alabama has a duty to collect sales tax on sales to customers in that state. An out-of-state seller has substantial economic presence if (1) its sales into Alabama exceed $250,000 per year, and (2) the seller conducts one or more nexus-creating activities described in ALA. CODE § 40-23-68. – J.D. Supra

Alabama-made Mercedes SUV adjusts to new name

For 2016, Mercedes-Benz refreshed the venerable ML350 SUV and changed its name to the GLE350, thus abandoning 17 years of strong model name recognition. The Alabama-built midsize sport-ute joins all other Benz SUVs in having a name that starts with the letter “G.” The GLE/ML will no longer be the best-selling Benz SUV this year, as the hot, new GLC and its gorgeous, over-the-top interior will take that crown. The more efficient GLC is the future of Mercedes SUVs, but there is still a lot of life left in the old, grey ghost GLE. – The Truth About Cars

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