Melting business: Warmer US winter hurts small companies

NEW YORK (AP) -- The big snowstorm in the U.S. Midwest and East last week was a respite for some small business owners, after a generally mild winter that has nipped into the revenue of many companies and forced them to rethink their cold-weather strategies. Retailers who sell winter clothing or snow shovels have had fewer customers this season.

Australia pair are first foreigners to own US radio stations

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- An Australian couple with roots in Alaska has bought more than two dozen radio stations in three states, marking the first time federal regulators have allowed full foreign ownership of U.S. radio stations. The Federal Communications Commission recently approved a request by Richard and Sharon Burns through their company Frontier Media to increase their interest in 29 radio stations in Alaska, Texas and Arkansas from 20 percent to 100 percent.

'Beauty and the Beast' debut weekend earnings revised up

NEW YORK (AP) -- Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" was an even bigger hit than first thought. The film's weekend box office earnings were revised up nearly $5 million from estimates Sunday. In final figures Monday, Disney said "Beauty and the Beast" made $174.8 million in North American theaters. The result set numerous records.

Hackers' delight: Businesses put selves at risk for invasion

NEW YORK (AP) -- Randell Heath isn't sure how hackers got into his company's website -- all he knows is a supplier called, saying the site had become an online store selling Viagra and Cialis. The problem might have been at the company that hosts the site. It might have been that Heath's passwords weren't strong enough.

City alleges drugmaker let OxyContin flood black market

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) -- As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle. Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people.

'Kong: Skull Island' is king of box office with $61 million

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It was Wolverine versus King Kong at the box office this weekend, and Kong came out on top. "Kong: Skull Island" opened with $61 million over the weekend, while "Logan," in its second week, pulled in $38.1 million, according to studio figures Monday. Jordan Peele's thriller "Get Out," made for $4.5 million, hung on in the top five, adding $20.7 million to its earnings and bringing its total to $110.

'Kong' outmuscles 'Logan' to become king of the box office

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It was a battle of the beasts at the box office this weekend, and King Kong emerged as the definitive victor over Wolverine. According to studio estimates Sunday, "Kong: Skull Island" amassed $61 million in its first weekend in theaters, surpassing expectations and easily beating out "Logan," which is now in its second weekend. Warner Bros. and Legendary's "Kong: Skull Island" stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson.

Las Vegas NFL stadium lease won't be ready by end of March

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The lease agreement for a proposed Las Vegas NFL stadium will not be ready before league owners meet later this month, when they could potentially vote on whether to approve the relocation of the Oakland Raiders. Members of the board that oversees the proposed stadium gathered Thursday in Las Vegas to discuss some of the terms they would like to see in the agreement.

Big thaw? Looks like small businesses ending hiring freeze

NEW YORK (AP) -- The hiring freeze at small businesses looks like it's finally thawing. Recruiting is picking up after being dormant at many companies even years after the recession. The factors behind companies' decisions to hire vary, with some anticipating a big revenue kick from the Trump administration's spending plans for defense and infrastructure. Other are responding to trends such as consumers' shift to online shopping, which means more jobs at internet retailers.

'Logan' slices box office with $85.3M, 'Moonlight' gets bump

NEW YORK (AP) -- The R-rated "X-Men" spinoff "Logan" slashed into the weekend box office, opening with a massive $85.3 million in North American theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday, while best-picture winner "Moonlight" got a significant, if far from superhero-sized, Oscar bump. The debut of 20th Century Fox's "Logan," starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, ranks among the biggest March openings ever and top R-rated debuts.

Washington produces record harvest of wine grapes in 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state's booming wine industry produced a record harvest of wine grapes in 2016 after cooler weather lengthened the growing season, officials said Wednesday. Last year's harvest in Washington, the second-largest producer of premium wines in the U.S., tallied 270,000 tons, beating the state's previous record of 227,000 tons in 2014, according to the Washington State Wine Commission, which represents licensed wineries and wine grape growers.

Shoot melons, kill bugs: How businesses make creative videos

NEW YORK (AP) -- Melons going splat in slow motion. Drawn-as-you-go animation about machines. A behind-the-scenes look at winery operations. Not the usual viral videos, but small business owners have realized offering something to watch and having a sense of humor about themselves can help grab customers' attention.

Alaska fishing town rejects inclusivity measure

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- A resolution aimed at promoting inclusivity in a small Alaska fishing community has been rejected after it proved too divisive. The Homer City Council on Monday night voted 5-1 against the measure, which was aimed at affirming Homer's commitment to inclusion amid national concerns about the treatment of immigrants, religious groups, the LGBTQ community and others.

US approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials announced. The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall.

Utah bill loosens who sees booze poured but keeps barriers

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- In heavily Mormon Utah, a lawmaker introduced a proposal Monday allowing restaurants to stop using walls or backrooms known as "Zion Curtains" that block customers from seeing alcoholic drinks being made. Supporters say the longtime requirement helps curb underage drinking by hiding the glamour of bartending.

China arrests 800 in crackdown on underground banking

BEIJING (AP) -- More than 800 people have been arrested in a crackdown on unlicensed banking operations as Beijing tries to stem outflows of money from the country, the police ministry says. More than 380 underground banks that handled transactions totaling more than 900 billion yuan ($130 billion) were broken up in the crackdown launched last year, according to the ministry.

Appealing to millennials, Las Vegas gets e-sports arena

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. But what distinguishes this new Las Vegas arena is its dozens of video game consoles. The 15,000-square-foot e-sports venue slated to open Friday will host competitive video game tournaments.

Celebrities launch pot brands as California legalizes drug

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Country singer Willie Nelson, the children of the late reggae icon Bob Marley and comedian Whoopi Goldberg are just a few of the growing number of celebrities publicly jumping into the marijuana industry and eyeing the California pot market, which is expected to explode after voters legalized the recreational use of weed.

Montana landowners say government botched arsenic cleanup

OPPORTUNITY, Mont. (AP) -- George Niland wonders whether he should wear a respirator when he mows his lawn. Serge Myers laments not being able to garden in his backyard. Rob Phillips puzzles over why his 22 acres have been marked as an unblemished island surrounded by a sea of contamination.