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Tuesday
Sep282010

European Union Up in Arms over U.S. Travel Tax

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BERLIN) -- Spiegel Online reports the United States is charging a new fee to overseas visitors entering the country.  Accordingly, members of the European Parliament and other officials of the European Union have grown angry, saying the charge does not coincide with U.S.-EU agreements.  One official even commented that it is "bizarre to introduce a tax to promote tourism."  The actual fee is being introduced under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  Also according to Spiegel Online, the $14 fee is broken down as follows: $4 for ESTA administrative costs and $10 for U.S. efforts to promote the U.S. as a tourism destination.  Essentially, foreign travelers to the U.S. would be forced to pay for the advertising meant to encourage them to travel to the U.S.  The U.S. officially announced the addition of the travel tax in early August, and plan for the fee to take effect in September.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio



Tuesday
Sep282010

Gender Pay Gap Report: Women Managers Still Lag Behind Men

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- According to a new government report, females in management positions and their corresponding pay still lag behind that of their male counterparts.  The U.S.Government Accountability Office report, "Women in Management: Analysis of Female Managers' Representation, Characteristics, and Pay," released Tuesday, found little has changed for women in the workforce when it comes to compensation.  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and chair of the Joint Economic Committee, commissioned the report and is holding a congressional hearing Tuesday to discuss its findings.  "What is most startling to me is how little progress we've made even though there's a bright spot in that more women are gaining education, we're closing the education gap but we're not closing the pay gap," Maloney said. Although there are more women represented across several industries, the number of women managers only increased by one percent -- from 39 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2007.  The report analyzed 13 industries from construction to health care and looked at the pay gap between female and male managers. The factors used in determining the salary levels included age, hours worked and education.  For the first time, the report also looked at working mothers in management.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Monday
Sep272010

President Signs Small Business Bill Into Law

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- In an East Room ceremony at the White House on Monday, President Obama signed into law a bill that will provide tax cuts and credit for small business owners.  As previously reported, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., lauded the president for his leadership and help in passing the legislation, which is expected to aid in job creation and economic growth.  The new law, which President Obama calls "a great victory for America's Entrepreneurs," will allow the 1,400 people on a waiting list for SBA loans to move forward in their business endeavors.  "These are people who are ready to hire and expand, who've been approved by their banks, but who've been waiting for this legislation to pass.  Well, when I sign this bill, their wait will be over," the president said at the bill signing ceremony.  The president added that he had fought for months as it was not easy getting the bill through Congress.  As reported previously by ABC News Radio, House and Senate Republicans denounced the lending fund as a “mini-TARP,” with lawmakers attempting to capitalize in the upcoming congressional midterm elections on public resentment over the unpopular $700 billion bailout financial system in 2008.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep272010

Report Shows Airline Fees Have Jumped By 50 Percent

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the holiday travel season approaches, Americans should prepare to face higher expenses than they have in the past.  Monday's USA Today reports that airline fees have jumped, some by more than 50 percent, since 2009.  According to the newspaper's analysis, fees for checked bags have increased by almost $10 since a year ago and booking a reservation over the telephone can now cost more than $30 on some airlines.  The fee increases comes as travelers are already absorbing news of higher holiday ticket prices. Though more people are flying as the economy recovers, airlines haven't added flights, leading to packed planes and higher prices.

The airlines made a record $2 billion in fees alone during the second quarter of this year, according to USA Today. Fees have been levied on everything from blankets to ticket changes to walking an unaccompanied child to the gate.  One of the biggest problems consumers face with fees is that they make it harder to compare the cost of tickets among airlines.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep272010

Continental Eliminates Complimentary Food Options

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Continental Airlines will no longer offer complimentary food options on the majority of domestic flights, the airline announced Monday.  Instead, the airline will provide a revamped menu of what it calls high-quality, healthy choices.

"The new food-for-purchase menu will replace the complimentary meals and snacks currently served in the economy cabin on the select routes," the company said in a statement. "Continental will continue to offer complimentary food in the economy cabin on all intercontinental and certain other international routes."

The airline said it will continue to offer free options to passengers traveling first-class and to all travelers of domestic flights longer than six-and-a-half hours. Non-alcoholic drinks will remain complimentary.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep272010

AirTran Announces Merger With Southwest Airlines

 

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- AirTran Holdings, Inc., the parent company of AirTran Airways, announced in a press release Monday that the company had entered a "definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Southwest Airlines."  The transaction is valued at more than $1.37 billion, while the aggregate transaction value is approximately $3.42 billion, including existing AirTran Holdings, Inc., indebtedness and capitalized aircraft operating leases.  A press release stated, "The acquisition of AirTran Airways by Southwest Airlines will bring together two great companies and create one even stronger low-cost carrier."  The release also points out that "the two airlines currently serve 106 communities from coast-to-coast, Mexico and the Caribbean, with 685 all-Boeing aircraft and nearly 43,000 dedicated, fun-loving Employees."  Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways' chairman, president and chief executive officer believes the merger will provide opportunities of growth that would be impossible without Southwest Airlines.  From the other side of the deal, Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines' chairman, president, and chief executive officer said, "We believe this deal can benefit all stakeholders through an expansion of low fares for customers, opportunities for employees of both companies and for suppliers and vendors, and favorable returns for shareholders."  The merger is expected to close by the first half of 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio
 

Friday
Sep242010

Bank Fires Collection Agency Over Obscene Collection Calls

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(DALLAS) -- Two days after being confronted by ABC News, Bank of America has fired a debt collection agency after several of its operators were caught using racist and obscene phone calls to collect debts from bank customers.

"What's up, you f---ing n---r?" said one of the collection agents in a message to 32-year old Allen Jones of Dallas, who owed $81 on his Bank of America credit card.

"This is your f---ing wake up call, man," the debt collector said in a message left at Jones' home at 6:30 a.m.

In a message left a few minutes later, the debt collection agent told Jones, "You little, lazy ass bitch, get your mother f---ing ass up and go pick some mother f---ing cotton fields, bitch."

Jones said the calls continued even after he told the debt collection company he had paid his credit card bill.

"The representative acted like, oh, we can call you as many times as we want," Jones said in an interview to be broadcast Friday on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline.

The calls came from the Harlingen, Texas office of Advanced Call Center Technologies. ACT is a Philadelphia-based company that provides collection services for a number of major corporations.

Jones saved the taped messages and hired lawyers to sue ACT. A jury in Texas found the both the debt collectors and the corporation responsible and awarded Jones more than $l.5 million. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep242010

To Stop a Stimulus: White House Forecasts Economic Doom If GOP Gets Their Way

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News.(WASHINGTON) -- In the GOP's "Pledge to America," Republican lawmakers said they want all $258 billion of unspent stimulus funds to remain unspent.  Now the White House is pushing back hard, arguing that such a pledge spells disaster for Americans.  A White House Recovery Office official told ABC News that millions of families could expect to immediately see their taxes go up, tens of thousands of businesses across the country would see their taxes rise by $27 billion and millions of college students would see their college tax credits in jeopardy.  Also according to the White House, Americans could expect more job loss and economic hardship.  White House Recovery Act spokesperson Liz Oxhorn told ABC News, “Only the party that got us into this mess would propose creating jobs and cutting taxes by killing jobs and raising taxes.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.

Thursday
Sep232010

Small Business Jobs Bill Awaits Obama's Signature

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- On Monday, President Obama is set to sign and put into law the small business jobs bill.  According to the president, the bill will help provide loans and cut taxes for millions of small business owners across the country, without adding onto the nation's budget deficit.  In a statement, Obama said, "After months of partisan obstruction and needless delay, I’m grateful that Democrats and a few Republicans came together to support this common-sense plan to put Americans back to work."  The bill was passed in Congress on Thursday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep232010

Witness Lost $60K Following Goldline's Suggestion

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A doctor from suburban New York told Congress Thursday that a salesman for the precious metals firm Goldline convinced him to convert his entire $140,000 IRA into gold coins, and that he lost almost $60,000 overnight by making the switch.

Dr. Julius Bazan's claim before a House committee echoed what a former salesman for Goldline told ABC News in an exclusive interview about the precious metal firm's alleged drive to convert retirement accounts into gold coins.

The hearing, which began Thursday afternoon, is meant to explore the reportedly controversial sales practices of Goldline, the precious metals dealer that pioneered the practice of weaving its sales pitches into broadcasts by popular conservative political personalities such as Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. Company salesmen have allegedly nudged callers away from buying gold bullion and into purchasing collectable coins, which are unregulated and subject to sizeable mark-ups.

Bazan, a Czech-born neurologist from Lynbrook, New York, said in a prepared statement that in the fall of 2009, having seen Goldline's advertising, he decided he should "look into the purchase of gold" with the funds from a $140,000 IRA account.  Bazan said that he had wanted to buy bullion, but when he talked to a Goldline sales representative, the man steered him toward coins.  Bazan said the sales rep told him gold would likely reach a value of $3,000 per ounce within the year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio