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Larry Ellison and other Oracle bosses see smaller stock-option grants

Under fire from investors over how much it pays its top brass, technology giant Oracle appears to have slashed by more than half the annual stock options it awards CEO Larry Ellison and some of its other executives.
 
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More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.  
 
 
REVIEWS & TIPS
(Ted S. Warren/AP file)
Wolverton: Amazon's Fire phone good for a first effort

Amazon’s new smartphone offers the basics, plus unique feature, but needs some polish — and more apps. 
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Blackhawk Network's Talbott Roche helped push gift cards into the mainstream

A relentless focus, a strong work ethic and a drive to innovate have bolstered Roche as she helped transform Blackhawk into a worldwide network for prepaid cards with $1.24 billion in yearly revenue.  
SPOTLIGHT
Use of illicit drugs becomes part of Silicon Valley's work culture

With a tech boom lubricated by VC cash, a startup culture cranked up by fiercely competitive VPs and adrenaline-driven coders, and a corporate model that encourages stressed-out managers to look the other way, illicit drugs and black-market painkillers have become part of the landscape here in the world's fountain of tech. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The market isn't taking the U.S. Federal Reserve's rumination on stock prices too seriously. Twitter and Amgen extended rallies in social media and biotechnology stocks since the U.S. central bank said two weeks ago that industry valuations are stretched. The microblogging service rose 20 percent as second-quarter revenue topped analyst estimates. Amgen, the biggest biotechnology company by sales, advanced more than 5 percent after it announced job cuts and beat profit forecasts.  
 
Work crews shortly around 6 a.m. Wednesday began picking pinot noir grapes along Napa Valley's Silverado Trail, starting the harvest season for the North Coast wine industry.  
 
 
 
This barren, desert prison is where O.J. Simpson lives

Some here call it the 'O.J. House,' the only gated community in a vast stretch of desert rich in gold and silver, pioneer trails and proud, isolated towns north of Reno. 
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Aperitif hour

Move over, Fernet. Refreshing, house-made seasonal aperitifs are finding their way into low-alcohol cocktail programs from San Mateo to Berkeley and San Francisco. With the launch of Sonoma Aperitifs in Penngrove and the rerelease of a classic 1997 book about these fortified libations, we'd say the trend is about to overflow from its tiny cordial glass.