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Event center planned for shopping center

An event center is under development in National Hills shopping center next to the Fresh Market on Washington Road.

The Legends Club, covering about 8,000 square feet, is a “ballroom convention center without the hotel,” events specialist Janie Toole said.

It will be available as either one large space or three smaller ballrooms. There will be two outdoor terraces adjacent to the building.

Construction is scheduled for completion in mid-February, and the center is already booking weddings, receptions and other events.

The Legends Club also offers catering, concierge and transportation services.

Court OKs immunity for telecom companies

A U.S. appeals panel on Thursday upheld the constitutionality of a federal law that grants immunity to telecommunications companies that assist the U.S. government in conducting surveillance of American citizens.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also revived a separate lawsuit against the government over its surveillance activities, however.

Several lawsuits filed in the wake of revelations about warrantless wiretapping alleged that telecom companies provided authorities with direct access to nearly all communications passing through their domestic facilities.

Defendants included the government, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Communications Inc.

In 2008, Congress granted telecoms immunity for cooperating with the government’s intelligence-gathering activities. A district judge in San Francisco upheld the law as constitutional, and dismissed the claims against the companies.

In a ruling Thursday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit agreed.

Verizon to charge $2 for bill paid by card

LOS ANGELES — Verizon Wireless is about to make paying your monthly cellphone bill a little more expensive.

Starting Jan. 15, the nation’s leading mobile carrier will charge customers $2 each time they pay their bills with a credit or debit card. The fee applies to so-called single payments, when a customer is paying for an individual month, but will not apply for users who set up automated monthly billing.

The carrier, which has more than 90 million retail cellular subscribers, said it was adding the fee to help cover the costs of the many credit card transactions its processes.

But Verizon offered several ways to avoid the charge, including setting up an automatic payment system that bills your credit card each month, paying by electronic check and paying electronically from your bank’s Web site.

In other news

FIXED MORTGAGE RATES rose slightly this week off their record lows. The year ends much like it began, with few people able to take advantage of the best rates in history. Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average on the 30-year home loan increased to 3.95 percent from 3.91 percent. Last week’s rate was the lowest average on records dating to the 1950s.

ONLINE RETAILER AMAZON says 2011 was the best holiday ever for its Kindle-brand e-readers and tablet computers. On Thursday, Amazon.com Inc. said that people bought more than 1 million Kindles each week in December. The company has never released specific sales figures for the Kindle.

– From staff and wire reports


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