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Every year, some tiny and independent video game developer studios like hold their own with the big leagues by making hit games that achieve commercial success or at least critical acclaim. Ben Esposito's latest, Neon White, is a campy twist on the first-person shooter genre. It's nominated for “Best Indie” and “Best Action” game at Thursday’s Game Awards, an Oscars-like event for the video game industry. How long these “indie” studios can flourish is up for debate as the gaming industry undergoes increasing consolidation. That's symbolized by Xbox-maker Microsoft’s pending $69 billion takeover of giant game publisher Activision Blizzard.

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Wall Street futures edged lower Wednesday ahead of new employment and wholesale price data with the Federal Reserve gauging its next step in its fight to cool inflation. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials slipped 0.4% and the S&P 500 fell 0.7% just over an hour before the opening bell. Stronger-than-expected economic data this week has dragged U.S. markets lower on the expectation that the Federal Reserve will be forced to remain aggressive with interest rates during its last policy meeting of 2022. This week, the Dow has fallen 2.4%, the S&P 3.2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite nearly 4%.

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This image of a computer screen shows video footage being analyzed of a New England offshore fisherman measuring a fish, on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Portland, Maine, The video was made by a camera mounted on a fishing boat. Analysts review the footage in a lab to monitor compliance with regulations aimed at protecting dwindling fish stocks. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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A former co-owner of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy at the center of a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that resulted in more than 100 patient deaths has been sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to defraud the federal government. Federal prosecutors said Thursday that 57-year-old Gregory Conigliaro was the New England Compounding Center's point of contact with federal and state regulators, but that he and others evaded regulatory oversight through fraud and misrepresentation. Prosecutors say about 800 patients in 20 states were sickened with fungal meningitis or other infections and about 100 died in 2012 after receiving injections of medical steroids manufactured by the now-closed pharmacy.

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The spectacle of incandescent lava spewing from Hawaii's Mauna Loa has drawn thousands of visitors and is turning into a tourism boon for a Big Island town near the world’s largest volcano. Some hotels in and around Hilo are becoming fully booked in what is normally a slower time of the year for business. Helicopter tours of Mauna Loa, which began erupting Sunday after being quiet for 38 years, are also in high demand by tourists and journalists. Hawaii's travel industry normally falls off this time of year between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

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Even if your credit card already earns solid ongoing rewards, there are several ways to rev up those earnings, especially amid the heavy shopping that tends to happen during the holiday season. First, look for lucrative sign-up bonuses when you open a credit card and meet a spending threshold. Beyond that, other opportunities abound — from online shopping portals you can visit to one-time offers you can add to your card as well as shopping strategies like buying gift cards. And the good news is that these steps don’t require a lot of effort on your part.

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Thrifting is hot, and Goodwill finds are cool again. But while we’re thrilled to find the perfect throwback tee for our own closet, gifting used goods still carries a stigma for some. It shouldn’t. Secondhand gifts are better for your wallet, your community and the environment. Buying a thrifted sweatshirt, jacket or vase keeps it from landing in a heap at the dump. And even with rising prices, buying secondhand is almost always less expensive than buying new. Most vintage shops and thrift stores are small businesses or nonprofit organizations, too, so gifts purchased there contribute to local jobs, businesses and community causes.

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The company that assembles Apple Inc.’s iPhones has apologized for a pay dispute that set off employee protests at a factory where anti-virus controls have slowed production. Employees complained Foxconn Technology Group changed the terms of wages offered to attract them to the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou. Foxconn is trying to rebuild its workforce after employees walked out over complaints about unsafe conditions. Foxconn blamed a “technical error” while adding new employees and promised they would receive the wages they were promised. During the protests this week, police beat and kicked employees at the factory. The dispute comes as the ruling Communist Party tries to contain a surge in infections without shutting down factories.

AP
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Police beat workers protesting over a pay dispute at the biggest factory for Apple’s iPhone, whose new model is delayed by controls imposed as China tries to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. Foxconn is struggling to fill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of employees walked away from the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou last month following complaints about unsafe working conditions. China’s status as an export powerhouse is based on factories like Foxconn’s that produce the world’s consumer electronics, toys and other goods. The ruling Communist Party is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shutting down factories and the rest of its economy as it did in early 2020.

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In this photo provided Nov 23, 2022, security personnel in protective clothing were seen taking away a person during protest at the factory compound operated by Foxconn Technology Group who runs the world's biggest Apple iPhone factory in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan province. Employees at the world's biggest Apple iPhone factory were beaten and detained in protests over pay amid anti-virus controls, according to witnesses and videos on social media Wednesday, as tensions mount over Chinese efforts to combat a renewed rise in infections. (AP)