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Top News Links: Monday, July 21

Next two weeks a test for economy

A long hoped for improvement in the economy appears to be manifesting itself in second-quarter U.S. earnings, but the next two weeks could be the real test. Companies such as General Electric and Intel have reported solid results. In addition, GE is ready to spin off its private label credit card division in the hopes growing consumer demand will make it more attractive. – CNBC

Scottsboro store a crowd pleaser

Filled with fun trinkets and quirky traditions, the Unclaimed Baggage Center has over 40,000 square feet with enough departments to satisfy any shopper. There's even a museum to house the Center's most unique finds, situated right between "women's tank tops” and “women's dresses.” – Huffington Post

Feds to pay All Kids health insurance

Alabama's All Kids health insurance program, which covers about 84,000 lower-income children, would be paid for entirely by the federal government under a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act. – Montgomery Advertiser

SEC Network inks Comcast deal

The SEC Network has inked a deal with Comcast Cable, the nation's largest cable provider. According to a release, Comcast will roll out the new network to its Xfinity TV customers in August. The Charlotte-based network launches Aug. 14. – BBJ

Hunting uranium with shrimp shells

The U.S. Department of Energy selected a University of Alabama start-up company for an approximate $1.5 million award to refine an alternative material to potentially extract uranium from the ocean. 525 Solutions is developing an adsorbent, biodegradable material made from the compound chitin, which is found in shrimp shells and in other crustaceans and insects. – Phys.org

Steyr Arms goes retail in Bessemer

Steyr Arms is using its new showroom at its new Bessemer facility to hold its first factory-direct sale on firearms and, judging by the first day, the public is hungry for gun deals. The sale is possible because of the 3,000-square-foot showroom Steyr now has to go along with its 30,000-square-foot distribution center. – AL.com

Luxury market up, especially overseas

Luxury vehicle sales have been growing around the world due to rising proportion of affluent customers and their increasing disposable incomes, especially in emerging economies. China is poised to overtake the U.S. in terms of luxury vehicle sales in the next couple of years. Daimler AG‘s Mercedes-Benz is also expanding production in the U.S., its single largest market. – Trefis.com 

Cue the Lynyrd Skynyrd music

State tourism and transportation officials say the "Alabama The Beautiful" signs that have stood at the state line since 2003 will be replaced by the new "Sweet Home Alabama" signs over the next few months. Smaller versions of the signs will be on the grounds of the eight state welcome centers to serve as backdrops for travelers' photos. – Montgomery Advertiser

Birmingham’s 10 most British things

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama, established in 1871, and named after the English city by the same name. A recent article talks about Birmingham, AL being the envy of Birmingham, England (sort of). While the headline might be a bit of an exaggeration, the two cities do have a kinship. – BBC America

DOJ program went too far, critics say

A Justice Department fraud prevention program came under fire late last week for allegedly morphing into actively pressuring banks to deny financial services to businesses for political reasons. The project was meant to choke off fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services, to protect consumers. – Daily Caller

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