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Briefs: Investor to Olive Garden — Drop bread!; Sponsors eye NFL investigation

Patrons enter an Olive Garden Restaurant in Short

Patrons enter an Olive Garden Restaurant in Short Pump, Va., on May 22, 2014. Olive Garden is hurting itself by piling on too many breadsticks, according to an investor who is disputing how the restaurant chain is run. Credit: AP / Steve Helber

Here's what's happening in the world of business on Sept. 12, 2014.

Big stories

— There's a breadstick battle brewing at Olive Garden. A key investor has blasted owner Darden Restaurants for being too lax with giving breadsticks away at the tables, which is causing waste and lost revenue.

— Yahoo was reportedly threatened with a $250,000-a-day fine by the U.S. government if it did not hand over user data requested by the National Security Agency, documents released by the tech company show. Yahoo hopes releasing the documents will prove it tried to fight the government's surveillance practices that have come to light since the revelations of leaker Edward Snowden.

— Advertisers are watching the investigation into the NFL closely to determine whether the benefits of sponsoring one of the biggest sports in the country will alienate customers who are unhappy with just how much the league may have known leading up to the suspension of Ray Rice for domestic violence.

Company news

— Southwest Airlines wants to fly to Costa Rica, and has petitioned the U.S. government to grant it permission to run flights between Baltimore and San Jose.

— Darden Restaurants reported a $19.3 million loss in the first quarter, the owner of Olive Garden said amid lagging sales for the chain Italian restaurant.

— Hewlett-Packard's Russian subsidiary pleaded guilty to bribing Russian government officials and must pay a $58.7 million fine, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday.

It's the economy

— U.S. retail sales climbed in August on a spike in auto sales, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

— Stockpiles in U.S. businesses rose by 0.4 percent in July, the Commerce Department said, as growing confidence in the economy is leading more firms to increase inventory.

Tech bites

— If you want an iPhone 6 Plus, be prepared to wait. There's now a 3- to 4-week shipping backlog for the new larger smartphone.

— The Justice Department is pushing a new law that would make it easier to prosecute data thieves who flee to foreign countries to avoid being tried for their crimes.

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