Business briefs: Jobless benefits bill clears first Senate hurdle

March 28, 2014 

WASHINGTON -- Long-delayed legislation to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed has cleared an initial Senate hurdle.

The 65-34 Thursday vote came as the White House issued a statement of support. The measure would restore benefits for five months, back to when they expired Dec. 28.

The program generally helps workers who have been off the job longer than 26 weeks.

Senate Democrats have been trying to renew the program for months. They were forced by Republicans to accept changes before the bill had the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Among them was a demand to offset the cost of nearly $10 billion and avoid raising the deficit.

Senate approval of the measure is possible next week, but the bill faces a chilly reception in the Republican-controlled House.

Nobel Peace Prize auctioned for $1.16M in Maryland

BALTIMORE -- A 1936 Nobel Peace Prize discovered at a South American pawn shop has been sold at auction in Baltimore for $1.16 million.

Brian Kendrella, president of New York-based Stack's Bowers Galleries, says the auction drew half a dozen bidders from six countries. The winning bidder Thursday was an individual collector from Asia who asked to remain anonymous.

The prize sold for a winning bid of $950,000 at auction, and an additional buyer's commission brought the final sale price to $1.16 million.

This is only the second Nobel Peace Prize to come to auction. This award marked the first time someone from Latin America received the honor. The 1936 recipient was Argentina's foreign minister, Carlos Saavedra Lamas.

The prize sold for far more than the gallery's estimate of $50,000 to $100,000. The only other Nobel Peace Prize known to have sold at auction was a 1903 medal that brought nearly $17,000 in 1985.

Amazon expected to debut video device

SEATTLE -- Amazon.com Inc. invited journalists Thursday to a news conference in New York next week that is widely speculated to be the debut of a new set-top box from the online retail giant.

The company said the gathering, at Milk Studios in Manhattan on Wednesday, will be "an update on our video business." Peter Larsen, a vice president in Amazon's Kindle division, will host the event.

Rumors began circulating last year that Amazon was readying a streaming media device that would connect to televisions and compete with gadgets such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku. Most recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Amazon device would hit store shelves in early April.

The device would likely carry many of the same streaming media applica

tions as its rivals, including Netflix, Hulu and Pandora. But it will give Amazon, whose Amazon Prime Instant Video service is on many of those competing gadgets, the ability to control how its services are offered without having to rely entirely on key rivals.

What's more, Amazon is said to be developing a video gaming business, something that could couple well with a set-top box. The device would allow Amazon to generate revenue from game sales. And it could collect valuable information, to be used in Amazon's burgeoning advertising business, about the way its customers watch video, as well as give Amazon another tool to market to those consumers.

-- Herald staff and wire reports

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