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In what's believed to be the world's first transatlantic labor union, the United Steelworkers and Britain's Unite announced plans to join forces Wednesday. The new entity, to be called Workers Uniting, will have a combined membership of 3 million, the BBC reported. Leaders of both groups called it an inevitable response to the globalization of business and said it would allow for synchronized contract negotiations with multinational companies.

Starbucks Corp., the national coffee shop chain, said it will close 600 outlets over the next year because "we are in a tough economic environment, and we have to innovate." The move will result in the loss of 12,000 jobs. The company's stock closed Tuesday at its lowest point since late in 2003.

All remaining claims against ex-New York Stock Exchange president Richard Grasso were dismissed by a state appeals court, and the office of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said, "for all intents and purposes, the case ... is over." Grasso's $187.5 million compensation package was targeted as excessive in 2004 by Cuomo's predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, who filed four claims against it.

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Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) of San Francisco appeared to end speculation that he might run for California's governorship in 2010 by filing documents Tuesday to form an exploratory committee. Newsom, perhaps best-known as a champion of same-sex marriage, was reelected last year with 72 percent of the vote. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is barred from seeking a third term.

The baseball that former slugger Barry Bonds hit for his record-setting 756th home run last year was delivered to the sport's Hall of Fame Tuesday. Fashion designer Marc Ecko paid $752,467 for it at auction but then became embroiled in a dispute over whether it should be donated or loaned to the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine. Ultimately, Ecko chose to make it an "unconditional donation."

Twenty-six people were honored for their acts of courage Wednesday by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Among the recipients: a disabled Canadian construction worker who went to his knees in forcing a cougar to release a child it had attacked last August. Each recipient receives a medal and a $6,000 stipend.

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