World and Nation

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Beatles songs expected to go on sale online in iTunes store

For the next generation of Beatles fans, the wait could soon be over.

Apple is expected Tuesday to announce that it has finally struck a deal with the Beatles, the best-selling music group of all time, and the band’s record company, EMI, to sell the band’s music on iTunes, according to a person with knowledge of the private deal who requested anonymity because the agreement was still confidential.

Depending on the terms of the deal, customers for the first time will be able to buy “Please Please Me,” “Hey Jude” or “A Day in the Life” online rather than on a CD and perhaps even as individual tracks. While the move to digital does not quite rival the band’s first trip across the Atlantic to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964, it is an acknowledgment that online purchases dominate the music industry’s sales strategy.

Apple and EMI declined to comment, and representatives of the Beatles and Apple Corps, the band’s company (not to be confused with the technology company), could not be reached.

One of the last major holdouts against selling its music digitally, the Beatles are the ultimate prize for any music company, a group that has held on to blockbuster sales four decades after breaking up — it has sold more than 177 million albums in the United States alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America — and held on to untouchable cultural prestige.

Since opening its iTunes music store seven years ago, Apple has reshaped the music industry and become the largest U.S. music retailer. But the Beatles catalog had always eluded the company and Steve Jobs, its tenacious chief executive.

Still, while getting access to the Beatles catalog has plenty of symbolic significance, it is unlikely to bolster the company’s bottom line.

“The music itself is a vehicle to allow them to sell more iPods and iPhones, which is where they make real money,” Bajarin said.

Even reusable grocery bags can carry environmental risk

They dangle from the arms of many New Yorkers, a nearly ubiquitous emblem of empathy with the environment: synthetic, reusable grocery bags, another must-have accessory for the socially conscious.

But the bags, hot items at upscale markets may be on the verge of a glacier-size public relations problem: similar bags outside the city have been found to contain lead.

“They say plastic bags are bad; now they say these are bad. What’s worse?” asked Jen Bluestein, who was walking out of Trader Joe’s on the Upper West Side with a reusable bag under her arm Sunday.

“Green is a trend and people go with trends,” Bluestein said. “People get them as fashion statements and they have, like, 50 of them. I don’t think people know the real facts.”

There is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public, and none of the bags sold by New York City’s best-known grocery stores have been implicated. But reports from around the country have trickled in recently about reusable bags, mostly made in China, that contained potentially unsafe levels of lead. The offending bags were identified at several stores, including some CVS pharmacies; the Rochester-based Wegman’s grocery chain recalled thousands of its bags, made of recycled plastic, in September.

Concerns have proliferated so much that Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., sent a letter on Sunday to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to investigate the issue.

But many shoppers said they would continue relying on the bags until more information came out.

—Michael M. Grynbaum, The New York Times