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Top News Links: Friday, May 8

Report: Listeria woes not new at Blue Bell

Blue Bell Creameries knew its plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was contaminated with Listeria as early as 2013, but did not improve its sanitation programs, according to evidence provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Houston Chronicle obtained government inspection reports from the FDA after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, and soon found that there were sanitation failures at other plants in Texas and Alabama. – News Max

Alabama man gets 18 years in mortgage scheme

The woods of Mobile were an unlikely backdrop for what New Jersey prosecutors call a $15 million mortgage scheme and attempted murder over oceanfront condos in the Wildwoods. Kinard J. Henson knew investigators were closing in on a straw-buyer he had recruited in the elaborate plot, the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey said. Henson wanted the potential witness dead. – Press of Atlantic City

Nation watching attempt to tax Web

Alabama is the latest example of a state trying to reconcile reality with its behind-the-times tax code. In March, its Department of Revenue announced it would start taxing streaming services like Netflix and Spotify the same way it taxes rental stores that deal in physical discs. The actual law, which hasn’t changed, says that the state will levy a 4 percent tax on rentals of “tangible personal property.” So in order to tax a Netflix subscription, Alabama’s tax collectors have been forced to argue that streaming movies are somehow exactly that — tangible. – Washington Post

Serial entrepreneur shares some tips

Serial entrepreneur Dean Parker knows a thing or two about professional disappointments and changing direction on a dime in response to an often unforgiving market, and it's that flexibility he credits with instilling in him the drive to always keep moving forward. "We all influence somebody – whether we realize it or not – and we never know who it is that's watching, who's really paying attention," Parker told a crowd of about 200 gathered Thursday for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Week Luncheon. – AL.com

Medical Properties Trust total revenues up

Medical Properties Trust reported today that its first quarter 2015 total revenues increased 31 percent to $96.0 million compared with $73.1 million for the first quarter of 2014. Net income for the first quarter of 2015 was $35.9 million (or $0.17 per diluted share) up from net income of $7.2 million (or $0.04 per diluted share) in the first quarter of 2014, which included a previously disclosed loan impairment charge. – BusinessWire

Councilman wants app-based transit under state

A Hoover city councilman is trying to recruit support from the business community for statewide legislation that would place app-based transit companies under state authority and prevent cities from regulating them. Hoover Councilman John Lyda spoke Thursday to the economic development committee of the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce, asking them to research the matter and let state legislators know how they feel. – AL.com

House OKs ‘Tim Tebow’ home-schooling bill

The Alabama House of Representatives voted Thursday to allow home-school students to play on public school sports teams and participate in school extracurricular activities. Representatives approved the bill on a 52-43 vote. The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate. – Montgomery Advertiser

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