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Americans aren't going for coffins like they used to. Cremation is becoming more popular and many families opt to dispose of the ashes somewhere other than a cemetery.

That's not good news for the funeral and cemetery business. Arne Swanson, market director for Dignity Memorial Service Corporation International, recalls watching a family spreading the ashes of a loved one on the fairway of a golf course.

"I thought, 'There must be a better way,' " he says. "There just simply was not a product to meet the needs of this family."

People who visit their primary care doctors for routine care often find themselves poked, prodded and advised in all kinds of unnecessary and unhelpful ways.

Add it all up, and the cost of the dubious tests and medical interventions runs to about $6.8 billion a year. The annual checkup, an American medical tradition, is a prime offender.

Update at 4:20 p.m. ET. U.S. Markets Slide:

The Dow closed 2.48 percent lower at close and Nasdaq finished 2.89 percent down on news that Greece panned to issue a referendum on whether to accept the latest rescue plan.

Not only has MF Global had to file for bankruptcy protection, now there's this news about the securities firm run by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D):

The New York Times reports that:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain was consistent Monday in saying he has "never sexually harassed anyone." But some parts of his response to a Politico report about past allegations had shifted by day's end.

Part of a monthlong series

There's a lot to like about Solano County, Calif., a collection of bedroom communities between San Francisco and Sacramento: great climate, diversity and until recently, very stable neighborhoods.

But it also has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country. Its largest city, Vallejo, went bankrupt. And unemployment here is 11 percent, higher than the national average.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that sounds more like a John Grisham novel than a Supreme Court case.

The issue is whether police investigators have total immunity from being sued for giving false testimony before a grand jury. The case has all the elements of a spooky saga, involving power, influence and money — all used to silence the critics of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the largest hospital in Albany, Ga.

On a recent day in Rio de Janeiro, police radios crackle in Providencia, a warren of cinder-block homes and narrow walkways where drugs and violence were once common.

But these days, it's just routine chatter. All is safe in this favela, one of the hundreds of slums built chockablock on the city's steep hills. A Rio advertising company is leading a tour for its employees and representatives of other companies.

Among those who have come is Raoni Lotar, a 30-year-old Carioca — resident of Rio.

Starbucks Hopes To Kick-Start Job Creation

Nov 1, 2011

Starbucks is teaming up with a network of community-based financial institutions to help create jobs. Beginning Tuesday, anyone can make a tax-deductable contribution at a Starbucks store or online to the Create Jobs for USA Fund. The money will go to companies so they can hire or retain American workers.

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