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Briefs

Treasury chief sees upturn soon

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Wednesday the economy is expected to grow at much stronger rates for the rest of this year as the country overcomes the effects of a harsh winter.

But Lew said millions of Americans continue to struggle as unemployment remains too high and economic growth is too slow.

“Evidence continues to mount that our economy is gaining traction,” Lew said. “Nevertheless, we cannot escape the fact that millions of Americans continue to struggle, and their pain reminds us that our work is not finished.

“For too many families, this hardly feels like a recovery.”

In his remarks, Lew called for action by the government and the private sector to boost hiring of the long-term unemployed and increase investment in productivity-enhancing equipment and critical infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and ports.

GM chief to testify again next week

General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be back in front of Congress next week to be questioned further about how GM allowed a deadly defect in an ignition switch to go undisclosed for more than a decade.

Barra will appear June 18 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight subcommittee, the panel announced Wednesday.

Also testifying will be former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas, who last week issued a report on GM’s delayed recall of 2.6 million small cars equipped with the switches.

Valukas’ report blamed the delay on a dysfunctional corporate structure and misconduct or poor decisions by some employees. The ignition switches have been linked to more than 50 crashes and at least 13 deaths.

GM has an Allen County truck plant and a foundry in Defiance, Ohio.

Vitaminwater fans irked by sweetener

Fans of Vitaminwater are demanding that parent company Coca-Cola drop a new formula that uses stevia, a low-calorie sweetener known for its metallic aftertaste.

Coca-Cola Co. changed the formula for its full-calorie Vitaminwater in May, and the new bottles have been hitting shelves nationwide since.

Previously, the drinks were sweetened with a mix of crystalline fructose and sugar. Now they are sweetened with a mix of sugar and stevia, a natural sweetener companies use to reduce the sugar content in drinks. The new Vitaminwater still has the same 120 calories per bottle, however.

The change has prompted fans of the drink to inundate Vitaminwater’s Facebook page with complaints about the taste and demands that the company bring back the old formula.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola, Danielle Dubois, said the company loves hearing from its consumers and has been listening to the feedback.

Apple, Starbucks, Fiat deals face EU scrutiny

The European Union’s antitrust regulator has launched an investigation into tax deals that Apple, Starbucks and Fiat struck with some European countries, the start of a wider push to keep multinationals from taking advantage of loopholes.

EU antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday that a preliminary probe by his office has found that the tax deals the companies have with Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg could amount to illegal state aid.

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