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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Apple's e-book trial starts, a Chinese poultry plant is struck by tragedy, and more
 
Victims' relatives stand outside the scene of a deadly fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in China on June 3.
Victims' relatives stand outside the scene of a deadly fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in China on June 3. Imaginechina/Corbis

1. APPLE E-BOOK TRIAL IS UNDERWAY
Today, Apple will defend itself in a U.S. federal court against the Justice Department's charges that along with five publishing companies it tried to drive up prices of e-books for the release of the iPad in 2010. "Stripped of the glitz surrounding e-books and Apple, this is an unremarkable and obvious price-fixing case," Justice Department lawyers said in a filing. Though the publishers settled out of court, Apple boss Tim Cook said, "We were asked to sign something that says we did do something, and we're not going to sign something that says we did something we didn't do. And so we're going to fight." [WSJ]

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2. AT LEAST 119 DIE IN FIRE AT CHINESE POULTRY PLANT
At least 119 workers died when a fire tore through the Baoyuanfeng Poultry Plant in the Jilin province of China on Monday. The exact cause of the fire remains unclear, but Chinese news reports say many died because the factory's exits were blocked or inadequate. The disaster follows a string of fires at garment factories in Bangladesh, and reinforces international worries about factory conditions throughout Asia. Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry has 1,200 employees and produces 67,000 tons of chicken products a year. [The New York Times]

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3. MERCK SHARES RISE AFTER MICHAEL DOUGLAS IGNITES CALLS FOR HPV VACCINES
Shares of Merck & Co, the pharmaceutical company with the HPV vaccine Gerdasil, are up about 5 percent today, after Michael Douglas announced that performing oral sex on women caused him to get throat cancer. HPV is known to cause cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, and anal cancer, and may cause more cases of throat cancer than smoking. Women are commonly vaccinated for the virus, but "by only vaccinating women, we're implying that it's not a problem for men," a clinical consultant and lecturer from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine told Bloomberg. "It's a sexually transmitted virus, both men and women are involved, and we should be vaccinating both." [Bloomberg]

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4. U.S. AUTO SALES ARE BACK ON TRACK
Following a slight dip in April, U.S. auto sales shot back up in May, as General Motors posted its strongest sales month since September 2008 and Nissan reported its highest May sales ever after cutting prices on seven models. As consumer confidence grows, buyers are replacing old vehicles, and as housing booms, construction businesses are buying pickup trucks for home building. Volkswagen alone reported a drop in sales compared to last May. [The Washington Post]

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5. AIRLINES AIM FOR AFRICA
This week at the International Air Transport Association's yearly meeting, aviation officials will discuss the rise of air travel in sub-Saharan Africa. Historically populated by European and Middle Eastern airlines, Africa is drawing more flights from U.S. and African carriers. Passenger traffic rose 7.3 percent for the year ending on April 30, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts Africa's overall economy will grow 4.8 percent this year. "Next to the BRIC countries, it is a main growth market, with fast-growing economies, wealth and foreign investments from China and other countries," Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan told The Wall Street Journal. [The Wall Street Journal]

 
Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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