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SMALLBIZ-SMALL TALK

NEW YORK â¿¿ Two months after a severe flu season forced millions of workers to stay home, paid sick time is becoming an issue for small business owners. In March, the Portland and Philadelphia city councils approved sick leave laws, and two Democratic lawmakers reintroduced a bill in Congress that would make paid sick leave a federal requirement. There's a great divide over the issue â¿¿ on one side are owners who oppose it because of the financial and administrative burdens of having to pay workers when they stay home. But others believe it's a morale booster and it encourages workers to stay home instead of coming to work and infecting everyone around them. By Joyce M. Rosenberg.

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OF MUTUAL INTEREST-HIDDEN GEMS

BOSTON â¿¿ An annual scorecard of mutual fund performance is in, and it's generating more of the negative headlines that fund managers have become accustomed to in recent years. The key finding: Two-thirds of managed U.S. stock funds failed to beat the market in 2012, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. But there is a positive takeaway for investors: Funds specializing in stocks of small foreign companies have beaten their market benchmark year after year. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.

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â¿¿ HIDDEN GEMS-GLANCE

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-TABLET-PC HYBRIDS

LOS ANGELES â¿¿ Since Windows 8's debut in October, there have been a range of hot-looking devices that try to combine elements of tablets and traditional PCs. These hybrids seem as if they would be great both for relaxing with an e-book and for writing stories when I occasionally need to snap back into work mode. But trying out three tablet-PC hybrids running Windows 8 has convinced me that the good old laptop still reigns for creating documents quickly and accurately. By Ryan Nakashima.

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