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July 8, 2014

Among the stories Tuesday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

SODA TAX FIGHT

NEW YORK — If two of the most progressive U.S. cities don’t pass a tax on sugary drinks, will the idea finally fizzle out? Sugary drinks have been under fire for years, with many blaming them for fueling rising rates of obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes. Yet efforts to curb consumption by imposing taxes and other measures in recent years have failed, due part to the beverage industry’s campaigning. Now the question of whether a bottle of Dr Pepper with 64 grams of sugar should be treated like a pack of cigarettes is about to take the stage in the Bay Area, with San Francisco and Berkeley aiming to become the country’s first cities to pass special, per-ounce taxes on sugary drinks. If approved, beverage makers fear it could galvanize health advocates elsewhere. If defeated, the idea of a soda tax might be dead. By Candice Choi. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

EUROPE-GAS TROUBLE

VIENNA — A clutch of countries is breaking ranks with the EU’s efforts to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia over Ukraine and building a pipeline meant to carry huge amounts of Russian gas to their doorstep. But their defiance of a European Union stop work order is more significant than just another missed chance for Europe to call out the Kremlin. Russian natural gas already accounts for around a third of the EU’s needs. The South Stream pipeline could increase Russian supplies to Europe by another 25 percent, potentially boosting Moscow’s leverage long after the Ukraine crisis fades. By George Jahn. SENT: 870 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

WALL STREET

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are slipping in early morning trading as investors await a string of corporate earnings reports this week. By Bernard Condon. SENT: 300 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 3:30 p.m.

— OIL PRICES — The price of oil slips to near $103 a barrel as concerns about possible supply disruptions continued to fade. SENT: 230 words. UPCOMING: 350 words by 3:30 p.m.

INDUSTRY:

CHINA-FILM-TRANSFORMERS

BEIJING — A company that operates a scenic landscape area in southwest China which features in the latest “Transformers” movie says it will sue its producers for breach of contract. It is the second Chinese company to make public a dispute with Paramount Pictures over “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” By Louise Watt. SENT: 480 words.

— ABBVIE-SHIRE — U.S. drugmaker AbbVie is boosting its offer for Shire by 11 percent to about $51.3 billion, hoping it will be enough to pique the interest of its British counterpart. SENT: 380 words.

— BRITAIN-ROLLS-ROYCE — Sales of luxury Rolls-Royce cars, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, have soared worldwide. The Britain-based manufacturer says global sales in the first half of the year were up 33 percent compared with the same period in 2013. SENT: 120 words, photo.

— CRUMBS-CLOSURES — Crumbs says it is shuttering all its stores, a week after the struggling cupcake shop operator was delisted from the Nasdaq. SENT: 260 words, photo.

— CORINTHIAN COLLEGES — The dozen campuses that for-profit education company Corinthian Colleges Inc. is closing operate under the Everest name and are scattered in 11 different states, the company says. SENT: 280 words.

— COLLEGE-GRADS JOBS — It seems to matter less whether your alma mater is public or private than what you study — math and science in particular — when it comes to finding a high-paying job after college, according to a report by the Department of Education. SENT: 550 words, photo.

— VATICAN BANK — The Vatican Bank reports a big dip in profits as Pope Francis presses reforms to make the scandal-tainted institution more transparent. SENT: 340 words.

EARNINGS:

SKOREA-EARNS-SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS

SEOUL, South Korea — Samsung Electronics Co. says operating profit declined to a two-year low in the second quarter, hit by the strong local currency and slowing demand for smartphones in China. The result highlights how dependent the company has become on smartphones for its earnings. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 790 words, photos.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

SEEING-EYE RING

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. By Rodrique Ngowi. SENT: 710 words, photos, video.

INTERNATIONAL:

INDIA-RAILWAYS

MUMBAI, India — India’s new rail minister proposes allowing foreign investment to modernize the country’s cash-strapped state railways. Sadananda Gowda also outlined plans for a network of high-speed trains, with the first project slated to connect the financial capital, Mumbai, with the home state of new Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 490 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-CHINA

BEIJING — The United States and China will spend time during the next couple of days testing whether their annual “Strategic and Economic Dialogue” can produce tough compromises or just serve as a venue to talk about greater cooperation. By Bradley Klapper. SENT: 780 words, photos.

— EUROPE-ECONOMY — The European Union and Italy in particular must focus on making structural reforms to boost growth, not try to ease the rules limiting government debt, Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan says. SENT: 360 words, photos.

— GERMANY-ECONOMY — German exports fall more than expected in May while imports drop sharply, adding to data that point to a weak second quarter for Europe’s biggest economy and also pushing up the country’s trade surplus. SENT: 150 words.

— WTO-ENVIRONMENTAL TRADE — Diplomats from the United States, China and the European Union began talks with 11 other countries toward a deal that would cut tariffs on almost $1 trillion of environmental goods. SENT: 350 words.

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