BC-US--Business Features Digest, US

The business news enterprise package planned through May 8. Comments or questions should be directed to Joseph Pisani at 212-621-1975. Questions about photos should be directed to Chris Hatch at ext. 7626. For questions about graphics, call ext. 7636. Repeats of stories are available from http://apexchange.com or the Service Desk, 1-800-838-4616.

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BROKEN BUDGETS-PENSIONS

BATON ROUGE, La. â¿¿ For years, state governments lured workers with the promise of lucrative pensions that provide nearly the pay that employees earned on the job. But after years of budget crunches, nearly every state has revamped public retirement benefits in an effort to shrink the long-term obligations that are billions of dollars short of what is needed to cover benefits. The moves have triggered a legal and political battle over whether states are reneging on their promises to millions of public-sector workers. By Melinda Deslatte.

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AP photos.

FOOD AND FARM-DARK MEAT

MINNEAPOLIS â¿¿ Thighs and drumsticks are climbing the pecking order as Americans join consumers abroad in seeking flavor that isn't found in ubiquitous boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The poultry industry used to have trouble finding a market for dark meat, but changing domestic tastes and growing exports to countries that prefer leg quarters are pushing up prices and helping pull the poultry industry out of a deep slump. By Steve Karnowski.

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AP photos.

COLUMNS

SMALL TALK

Economists have been waiting for small businesses to take over leadership of the economic recovery ever since the recession ended nearly three years ago. But that doesn't seem to be happening. A series of numbers including the first reading on the gross domestic product this year are indicating that small business owners remain hesitant to borrow money and to hire more workers. By Joyce M. Rosenberg.

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ON THE MONEY-STUDENT LOANS

NEW YORK â¿¿ Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that interest rates on student loans shouldn't double in July. Especially if they're going to be blamed for it in an election year. The matter has become a political football in recent weeks, with both Democrats and Republicans maneuvering to cast responsibility on the other side in case Congress fails to pass legislation to prevent rates from doubling. Amid all the rhetoric, a look at what's really at stake. By Business Writer Candice Choi.

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DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-ONLINE STORAGE

NEW YORK â¿¿ Moving digital files between your work and home computers can be a pain. Add smartphones and tablet computers to the mix, and you've got yourself a giant headache. Google Inc. unveiled its solution to the problem last week, while two other companies, Dropbox Inc. and Microsoft Corp., improved their existing offerings. The services make using and sharing files from multiple locations easy, though they are no replacement yet for your regular storage drives. By Anick Jesdanun.

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OF MUTUAL INTEREST-DISOWNING APPLE

BOSTON â¿¿ Mutual fund managers are used to justifying why they invest in a particular stock. But the market impact of Apple Inc. is so great these days that some managers must explain why they don't own the powerhouse stock, or why they own relatively little of it. Shares of the world's most valuable company are up more than 40 percent this year, and the few large-growth funds that don't count Apple among their top holdings are underperforming. We'll interview two Apple-averse managers who explain why they're remaining holdouts. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.

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AP Photos.

With:

â¿¿ DISOWNING APPLE-GLANCE

RETIREMENT TODAY-COLLEGE AND RETIREMENT SAVINGS

CHICAGO â¿¿ Saving for retirement and your children's college at the same time is getting tougher. The cost of a college education continues to rise faster than inflation. But if you overcommit you may come up short in retirement, which can span three decades as life expectancy grows. A look at five considerations to keep in mind as you balance these two important objectives. By Personal Finance Writer Dave Carpenter.

The AP.

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