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Top News Links: Thursday, Feb. 13

Two venerable Birmingham law firms toppling

Two of Birmingham's oldest law firms may be fading from the city's landscape by the end of this month, citing the economy, changes in the city's banking industry, and outside competition. Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC, plans to move out of its office space at 2001 Park Place in downtown Birmingham by the end of this month as most of its lawyers have left. Big changes also are on the way for Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose LLP, located at Brookwood Village, as its cadre of attorneys continues to dwindle. – al.com

State exports for 2013 just short of record

Powered by rising overseas shipments of vehicles and parts, Alabama exports held steady in 2013 with a total of $19.3 billion, just shy of the state’s all-time record, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. – Made in Alabama

Sessions challenges Donohue on gas tax hike

Raising the U.S. gasoline tax above 18.4 cents a gallon is the “simplest and most straightforward” way to fund a long-term highway bill, Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Congress Wednesday. Donohue drew fire from Senator Jeff Sessions, who said spending cuts are more appropriate than a gas-tax increase. – Bloomberg

Storms usher in new round of carmaker discounts

Frigid temperatures and winter storms in the past six weeks have slowed retail sales and showroom traffic for U.S. car dealers, inflating inventories of unsold vehicles and triggering a new round of steep discounts by carmakers and their dealers. – Reuters

Outokumpu debt worries analysts

Finnish stainless steel firm Outokumpu, which has operations in Calvert, Ala.,  reported a higher debt ratio on Thursday, raising concerns over its cost of capital, even though it managed to trim underlying operating losses more than expected in the fourth quarter. – Reuters

Crude oil trains will be slowing down

U.S. railway Genesee & Wyoming has cut speeds of trains moving crude oil and increased inspections in the aftermath of a fiery derailment involving one of its trains in rural Alabama last year, Chief Operating Officer David Brown told analysts on Tuesday. – MSN

Alabama firm challenges permit in Mississippi

Globe Metallurgical, Inc., which employs about 100 people at its silicon metal plant in Selma, has filed a petition for a formal hearing before the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board, challenging a permit issued by MDEQ to Mississippi Silicon LLC for the proposed construction of a greenfield silicon metal manufacturing facility in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. – Bizbuzz.djournal.com

Storm-related business losses being weighed

Snowy, icy weather conditions this week in north Alabama forced the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville to close the state-funded space museum, despite worries about the loss in revenue. – al.com

Payday bill looks dead, title loans bill on bed rest

A bill capping interest rates that payday lenders can charge was sent to a House subcommittee Wednesday, severely weakening its chances of passage. But a companion bill to regulate title loans may still have a heartbeat. – South Union Street blog

Delicious Dietitian makes Oprah list

Lifestyle guru Oprah Winfrey celebrates the piquant flavors of The Delicious Dietitian Complete Spice Package in her Wellness Edition of the O List in February’s O, the Oprah Magazine. The Mobile-based company features all natural flavors in a complete set that offers salt-free, sugar-free, gluten-free spice blends perfect for a variety of cuisines. – Delicious Dietitian news release

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