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Thursday
Feb172011

Redbox to Offer Online Video Subscriptions by Year's End

Photo Courtesy - Redbox(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.) - Redbox has announced they will offer online video streaming subscriptions by the end of the year, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The company, which currently operates more than 30,000 Redbox kiosks, will now be competing with Netflix in the online movie arena. Rumors have circulated that Redbox will pair with another company to offer the service, with both Amazon.com and Hulu.com being mentioned as potential partners, although neither has been confirmed.

The new service will offer consumers access to movies on mutiple devices, in addition to in-store kiosk pickups, for a monthly fee.

The move may help Redbox make up for lower-than-expected revenue last quarter, with more and more consumers turning to Internet-based entertainment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Honda Recalls 97,000 Automobiles

Image Courtesy - PR NewsFoto/Honda(TORRANCE, Calif.) -- Honda is recalling more than 97,000 vehicles throughout the U.S. due to safety problems with its 2009 and 2010 Honda Fit hatchbacks, the automaker announced in a press release on Thursday.

The recall involves a problem with the "lost motions springs" part that could potentially cause the engine to stall. Honda blamed a lack of lubrication for the defective part.

There have been no accidents reported, according to Honda.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Delta Air Lines Assessed Largest Non-Safety Related Penalty

Photo Courtesy - Delta Air Lines(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has handed down the largest penalty ever assessed against an airline in a non-safety related case, it announced in a press release Thursday.

Delta Air Lines has been fined a $2 million civil penalty by the DOT for violating rules ensured to protect travelers with disabilities.

An investigation by the Department of Transportation's Aviation Enforcement Office cited three major violations in its complaint with Delta: Failure to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities in getting on and off the airplane; failure to respond to passengers' complaints over treatment within 30 days; and not filling passengers' complaints with the Department.

Under the guidelines of the penalty, Delta must pay $750,000 in fines while allotting up to $1,250,000 to improve its service to passengers with disabilities above and beyond what is required by law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Tax Tip: Bites in the Tax Bill for the 'Sandwich Generation'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The so-called "sandwich generation" continues to be a growing segment of the U.S. population as parents are stuck in the middle, balancing care for their loved ones amid the recent slumping economy.

"We're finding a lot of families where they're caring for their elderly parents as well as they may have kids that moved out, then came back home because they couldn't find work," explains Kathy Pickering with H&R Block.

But, as Pickering notes, there may be potential tax breaks for these "sandwiched" individuals.

"If you're providing more than half the support -- food, clothing, shelter, transportation -- you could claim them as an exemption and that might be worth a little bit more than $3,600," she says.

Likewise, if you have an adult child who has moved back home and you're paying for their support and they have no income, similar rules could apply.

Read Internal Revenue Service publication 503 to see if you qualify, and if you do, use IRS form 24-41 -- for child and dependent care expenses -- when preparing your taxes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Philadelphia Man Moves to Foreclose on Wells Fargo Over Mortgage

Photo Courtesy - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- When a Philadelphia man became fed up with his bank for failing to respond to his mortgage questions, he took them to court and won.  Now, he has moved to foreclose on Wells Fargo's local office.

The saga began in 2009, when Patrick Rodgers first wrote to Wells Fargo, requesting itemized information about the mortgage on his home in Philadelphia.  The bank was forcing him to take out a $1 million homeowners policy on his home, which he maintains is worth far less than that.

Over the next year he sent at least four letters to Wells Fargo from June to September and got exactly no replies.

The bank, he said, insisted on what's known as forced-place home insurance, which cost $2,400 a year.

But Rodgers said the market value of the home is not $1 million because his neighborhood is "not too far from the wrong side of the tracks" in West Philadelphia.  He bought his three-story Victorian home for $180,000 in 2002.

Rodgers did some research and learned that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA, passed in 1974, requires that a mortgage company acknowledge written requests within 20 business days, or face damages or penalties.

So he went to court, citing the law, and received a $1,173 judgment against Wells Fargo.  The bank did not respond to his action and he won a default judgment.  Then Rodgers placed a sheriff's levy against Wells Fargo's local mortgage office for the judgment, plus interest.

He said he was surprised that Wells Fargo had not responded despite media attention about his story, as first reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Wells Fargo finally responded with two checks -- $1,078 on Jan. 14 and $95 on Jan. 26 -- but he said he still had not received a response to his letters.  So he turned to the Philadelphia sheriff's office to initiate a sale of the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage office in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, the court placed a temporary stay on the sale, and ordered a hearing on Feb. 23 to determine the final status.

Rodgers said he is now awaiting $50 from Wells Fargo for the cost of initiating that sale.  He said the sheriff's sale can continue until then, barring an unfavorable judgment from the hearing, which he does not expect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Google Reveals One Pass System, 10-Percent Fee

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) - A day after Apple shared its new App Store subscription plan, Google unveiled its new online charging service.

The One Pass system will allow users to get online content for a 10-percent commission fee, compared to Apple's system, which takes a 30-percent cut from publishers.

Google has said the system will work over multiple devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

"Publishers can customise how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them," Lee Shirani, the company's director of business product management, wrote in a blog post.

The system will see a primary launch in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Jobless Need Not Apply?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - Federal officials have begun a probe into concerns that some employers may be unfairly preventing the unemployed from applying for job openings.

Although there is no specific laws that protect the jobless, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said they will look into whether it is indeed a violation of job discrimination laws.

Concerns were raised after reports surfaced that some companies and recruiting firms had discouraged the unemployed from applying in job advertisements.

Chairman of the EEOC, Jacqueline Berrien, said at a hearing Wednesday that the commission will see what they can do to address the issue.

"We'll take a close look at what we heard and consider if there's anything we might need to do to clarify standards," she said.

The Labor Department says it is unclear how widespread the practice is.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Issa Subpoenas Bank of America over 'Sweetheart' Mortgages

Photo Courtesy - Bank of America(WASHINGTON) - Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Wednesday issued his first subpoena as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to Bank of America in an effort to obtain all documents and records related to Countrywide’s VIP program.

The move is Issa’s latest effort to obtain names of current and former federal, state and local policymakers – including members of Congress – who potentially received sweetheart mortgage deals from the former Countrywide Financial Corp., which Bank of America obtained in 2008.

“Countrywide orchestrated a deliberate and calculated effort to use relationships with people in high places in order to manipulate public policy and further their bottom line to the detriment of the American taxpayers even at the expense of its own lending standards,” Issa said in a statement.  “This subpoena will allow us to obtain the information needed to answer the outstanding public interest questions regarding the full size and scope of the VIP program."

According to the committee, the subpoena compels Bank of America to produce certain documents by noon on March 7, 2011. Among those documents are all those related to covered borrowers serviced by Countrywide Financial through the Branch 850, VIP, or Friends of Angelo programs.

The term "covered borrowers" means that at the time of the loan, the borrower or their spouse were a current or former officer or employee of a federal agency, the U.S. Congress, a government-sponsored enterprise or of a state or local government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Obama to Meet with Mark Zuckerberg Thursday 

Photo Courtesy - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday, President Obama will travel to San Francisco, California, where he will meet with a number of business leaders, including the 26-year-old founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Zuckerberg will be among many business leaders in technology and innovation the president will sit down and talk to, as he continues to sell his State of the Union message.

“The President and the business leaders will discuss our shared goal of promoting American innovation, and discuss his commitment to new investments in research and development, education and clean energy,” a White House official said.

The president recently held Facebook up in his State of the Union address as an example of a successful American concept and business.

“We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook,” President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

But the president and first lady have both spoken about the perils of the social networking site in the past.

“I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook ‘cause in the YouTube age, whatever you do it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life,” Obama said in 2009 to a group of high school students in Arlington, Virginia. “And when you’re young, you make mistakes and you do some stupid stuff and I’ve been hearing a lot about young people, they’re posting stuff on Facebook and then suddenly they go apply for a job and someone’s got to search.”

Just last week, first lady Michelle Obama said she’s not a fan of having young kids on Facebook, so she has not allowed her daughters to have a Facebook profile, even though they don’t yet qualify for the age of joining.

“I’m not a big fan of young kids having Facebook,” Mrs. Obama said on the Today show last week. “So, you know, it's not something they need. It's not necessary right now.”

The White House plans to release the full list of business leaders joining Mr. Obama and Zuckerberg tomorrow. On Friday, the president will travel from California to Hillsboro, Oregon, where he will visit Intel as part of a two-day West Coast swing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Will New High-Tech Monopoly Game Pass Go?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Don't count on stealing from the banker in this version of Monopoly.

In its latest update to the classic board game, Hasbro has added a computerized twist that makes paper money, dice -- and even cheating -- a thing of the past.

Monopoly Live, introduced by the company this week at the annual Toy Fair in New York, features a computerized tower in the center of the board that essentially manages the game.

The so-called "Tower of Power" contains an infrared camera that follows players' movements on the board and a speaker to deliver instructions. It also keeps track of players' money and makes sure that they stick to the rules.

"Kids are always telling that they really love playing board games and … video games. For us it was a great opportunity to bring the two worlds together," said Jane Ritson-Parsons, the global brand leader for Monopoly.

The new game, which will cost $50 when it goes on sale this fall, isn't intended to replace the old version, but to help the company engage an audience that's quickly moving to new platforms.

Monopoly lovers still enjoy the classic game that's been around for about 75 years, she said, but they're also opting for the higher-tech versions. The game exists on the iPhone and the iPad, and today Hasbro unveiled a version for Facebook.

"We're always looking to bring new ways to play to our audience because it is so broad," she said. "As you can imagine, the Monopoly audience is from 5 to 105."

The core audience for Monopoly board games are 8- to 12-year-olds, she said, but Monopoly Live is for kids and teenagers to play with each other and their families.

The basic premise of the game remains unchanged, but Ritson-Parsons said the new version "takes away the referee" -- no more rule books, no more banker, no more Community Chest or Chance cards stacked in the center of the game.

Instead, the Tower "hosts" the game. It knows if players haven't moved to the right spot on the board and it introduces unexpected opportunities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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