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BC-US--Business Features Digest, US

FADING IDOL

LOS ANGELES â¿¿ In the heyday of "American Idol," the notion that it could fall ratings victim to a zombie slugfest or standard crime drama would have been laughable. That was then. Fox's singing contest, now in its 12th season, has shed about 20 percent of its audience so far to hit new lows, and has been leapfrogged repeatedly in total viewers by procedurals such as "Person of Interest" and "NCIS." Nevertheless, "American Idol" has retained its status as TV's advertising leader among series and the loyalty of its biggest backers, including Ford and Coca-Cola. By Lynn Elber.

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AP photos.

NOLAN BUSHNELL-FINDING THE NEXT STEVE JOBS

SAN FRANCISCO â¿¿ Nolan Bushnell never appeared in Apple's "think different" ads, even though the company was riffing on an iconoclastic philosophy that he embraced while running video game pioneer Atari in the early 1970s. Atari's refusal to be corralled by the status quo was one reason Jobs started working for Bushnell in 1974 as an unkempt, contemptuous 19-year-old. In a new book, Bushnell writes about the unorthodox thinking that fosters the breakthroughs that became Jobs' hallmark as the co-founder and CEO of Apple. By Technology Writer Michael Liedtke.

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AP photos.

LEGALIZING MARIJUANA-BARS

TACOMA, Wash. â¿¿ John Connelly leans forward on his barstool, set his lips against a clear glass pipe and inhales a white cloud of marijuana vapor. A handful of people mill around him while three young women stand behind the bar, ready to assist with the preparation of the bongs, as the strains of a blues band playing downstairs sounded faintly off the exposed brick walls. Welcome to the Stonegate. It's one of a tiny number of bars, cafes and private clubs catering to the stoner class in Washington and Colorado since voters last fall made them the first states to legalize marijuana for adults over 21. By Gene Johnson.

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