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CBO warns of falling off 'fiscal cliff' Jan. 1

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new government study released Tuesday says that allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire and a scheduled round of automatic spending cuts to take effect would probably throw the economy into a recession.

The Congressional Budget Office report says that the economy would shrink by 1.3 percent in the first half of next year if the government is allowed to fall off this so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1 -- and that the higher tax rates and more than $100 billion in automatic cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies are kept in place.

There's common agreement that lawmakers will act either late this year or early next year to head off the dramatic shift in the government's financial situation. But if they were left in place, the CBO says it would wring hundreds of billions of dollars from the budget deficit that would "represent an additional drag on the weak economic expansion."


Fund targets Walmart slate

NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the nation's largest pension funds says it will vote its 5.3 million shares against all of Walmart's board nominees -- including the company's current and former CEOs -- at the retailer's annual meeting next week.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System, known as CalSTERS, said Tuesday that it has lost faith in the board's independence amid allegations of bribery in Walmart's operations in Mexico.

Including CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott, Walmart has nominated 15 incumbents to the board plus one new candidate, Marissa Mayer, who is vice president for local, maps and location services at Google Inc.


Chains to aid disabled

ALBANY (AP) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says three retail chains have agreed to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the merchandise, services and amenities in all their stores statewide.

Under the agreements, J.C. Penney, Century 21 and Petland Discounts say they will comply with accessibility and design standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and pay $120,000 altogether to the state.

The Attorney General's Office used undercover investigators and did architectural surveys of the stores, concluding there were impediments and barriers for people with disabilities.

The chains say they will retain an independent compliance consultant, survey their stores to identify and make needed changes and train employees on protocols for helping the disabled shop.


Tactus awarded grant

A Getzville technology company has been awarded $149,160 grant to develop an interactive, 3D dissection software, Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul announced Tuesday.

Tactus Technologies received a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Health. Tactus, a UB technology spinoff company, specializes in virtual reality training solutions for education and medicine.

The grant will go toward the exploration and development of Mobile Cadaver Lab, the company's software for cadaver dissection designed for the mobile tablet market. The first phase will explore the feasibility using the tablet platform to improve students' understanding of anatomy by allowing them to dissect using realistic 3-D curriculum. In the future, the software may also be used for medical diagnosis and surgery planning.


Disney helps returning vets

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co. is kicking off a series of career expos to help returning veterans make the transition to civilian life.

Even before Tuesday's launch, Disney says it has hired more than 200 of the 1,000 veterans it aims to hire over the next three years.

The events run through Thursday at Disney's headquarters in Burbank, Calif., as well as in New York and Orlando, Fla. About 1,000 veterans are expected to attend.

Disney aims to hire some veterans and help others make contacts and brush up on interviewing and resume-writing skills.