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Wednesday
Dec082010

Disney, ABC Reach $200-Million Deal with Netflix

Photo Courtesy -- Netflix(LOS GATOS, Calif.) – ABC has reached a $200-million streaming deal with Netflix, reports the Los Angeles Times.

ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., has reached an agreement that allows Netflix to stream ABC and Disney content over the Internet around two weeks after their original network broadcast.

In the agreement, Netflix paid $50,000 to $150,000 per episode to stream the television shows, adding to their rivalry with competitor Hulu, which is partially owned by Disney.

Netflix charges customers a monthly fee, starting at $7.99, for unlimited access to movies and TV shows on the Web.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Holiday Travel Up, 43.6 Million Will Fly Domestically

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – The Air Transportation Authority has predicted a three-percent increase in air travel over the holiday season compared to last year.

The ATA expects 43.6 million passengers to travel on domestic carriers from December 16 to January 5.

According to the ATA, the busiest days for travel will fall on Dec. 21-23, Dec. 26-30 and Jan. 2-3, with 1.7 million to 2.3 million passengers flying per day.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Lowest Wage Earners Could Come Out ‘Behind’ In Tax Compromise

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(WASHINGTON) – The Director of the National Economic Council has acknowledged in an interview with ABC News that the new tax cut compromise, if passed, could leave some low wage earners ‘behind.”

Despite attempts by Director Larry Summers to dust over the issue, he told ABC’s Jake Tapper that if some low-income earners “don't benefit from the unemployment insurance, if they don't benefit from the economic growth, if they don't benefit from the EITC or the child care or the American Opportunity Credit -- might be $80 behind.”

As The New York Times first reported, low wage earners who currently receive tax credits through the Making Work Pay tax credit may get a sour deal in the new compromise which replaces that tax credit with a tax reduction of two percent. For some however, the Making Work Pay credit is larger than two percent of their income – which means that some low income earners would pay more in 2011 than in 2010.
 
Summers argued that the deal would be better for low wage earners than the House deal that failed in the Senate or than if everything expires and nothing passes.
 
After being asked by Tapper, however, about how those on the lowest end of the spectrum would fair, Summers acknowledged that those who would get $400 in tax credits this year would get only $320 under the new compromise.

Copyright 2010 ABC New Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Is Google Trying to Kill Caps Lock?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When Google on Tuesday unveiled its new netbook that runs on Google's Chrome operating system, it revealed that it had replaced the caps lock key with a search key.

Sure enough, images of the sleek, new netbook on the company's site show a simple search icon instead of the Internet troll's favorite weapon.

Business Insider quoted a Google employee as saying the caps lock key was omitted because it expects "this will improve the quality of comments across the Web."

But if you're one of those commenters prone to passionate discourse online, don't fear.

As the technology website SlashGear pointed out, Google hasn't taken away the caps lock function entirely. In a "getting started" guide for the new Chrome netbook, Google said the search key could be modified to serve as a caps lock.

"If you really need caps lock so you can post an INSIGHTFUL COMMENT ON YOUTUBE, click the wrench, click settings, and then go to the system section to change the modifier key from a search key to a caps lock key," the company says.

Google isn't alone in taking issue with all-caps comments. Netiquette experts say it's among the top online faux pas.

"All caps is the No. 1 worst offense. It's the e-mail equivalent of shouting," Anna Post, an author and etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute, told ABC News in an earlier interview. "It makes me cringe when I get an e-mail in all caps, no matter how nicely it's written."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

MasterCard's Website Hacked by WikiLeaks Supporters

Photo Courtesy - MasterCard(PURCHASE, N.Y.) -- Hackers launched a coordinated attack on MasterCard's website Wednesday in response to the company's decision to cut off money transfers to WikiLeaks.

The credit card company issued a statement saying its corporate website, MasterCard.com, was "experiencing heavy traffic" and that its "working to restore normal speed of service."

An activist group known as 4chan and an online hacking group called Anonymous are reportedly behind the attack that's being called "Operation: Payback.  They are believed to be targeting companies that have severed ties with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Following the attack, Anonymous posted on their twitter account Wednesday: "http://www.mastercard.com/ is DOWN! #ddos #wikileaks Operation:Payback (is a [expletive]!) #PAYBACK."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Extending Bush-Era Tax Breaks Comes at a Heavy Price

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Many Americans are breathing a sigh of relief with the proposed two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, but the short-term relief would come at a long-term price for the U.S. budget deficit that looms heavily in the background.

The extension would cost about $900 billion over the next two years.  The number is considerably less than the $4 trillion it would cost for a permanent extension, but comes at a time when the United States is dealing with a $1.3 trillion budget deficit and a $13.8 trillion national debt that it must tackle sooner or later.

Supporters of the extension say it is needed to stabilize the economy in the short term, an argument that President Obama has made consistently in defending the proposal.  It is designed to prevent a further decrease in personal spending at a time when Americans are already watching their pocketbooks closely.

Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody's, estimates that extending the federal unemployment insurance benefits for one year and tax cuts for the middle class would create 500,000 more jobs in 2011.

But other economists argue that lawmakers should have devised a plan concurrently with the proposed extension of tax cuts to reduce the debt.  The administration and lawmakers must think of a more sustainable strategy for the long term, these experts say.

Extending the tax cuts permanently without offsetting the cost would add significantly to federal debt in the long term.  By 2050, it would increase the debt by an amount roughly equal to the size of the economy, according to long term projections by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Drug Firms Pay $421 Million in Settlement with Justice Department

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department announced a $421 million settlement against three pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a scheme to drastically inflate the price of drugs --sometimes by a whopping 1,000% -- which was reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid and, ultimately, the U.S. taxpayer.

The settlements were reached in three False Claims Act cases filed against Abbott Laboratories, B. Braun Medical Inc. and Roxane Laboratories.  Both B. Braun and Roxane are U.S. subsidiaries of German pharmaceutical firms.

Under the settlement agreements, Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay $126.5 million in fines, B. Braun Medical agreed to pay $14.7 million, and Roxane will pay $280 million for making Medicare and Medicaid pay the allegedly inflated reimbursements.

The investigation into the companies' activities followed a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Ven-A-Care, a home infusion company based in southern Florida.  A civil complaint against Abbott filed by Ven-A-Care in 2007 noted that Abbott was charging huge mark-ups on the price of their drugs when they sought reimbursement from the government.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

Electronic Wallets Shrink With Your Spending

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Convinced that consumers aren't in touch with their financial realities, an MIT designer has created a series of wallets to help you control what you spend.

One wallet, aptly named the "Bumblebee," buzzes each time your bank processes a transaction. Another, called "Mother Bear," closely guards your money with a hinge that tightens as you approach your monthly spending limit. And the red-flecked "Peacock" actually shrinks and swells as you spend.

"I'm trying to balance my sense of humor with getting people's attention and making a point and doing something practical," said John Kestner, 34-year-old product designer who recently finished a graduate degree at MIT's Media Lab.

For a class project a couple of years ago, Kestner said he developed early prototypes of the wallets with a few other students. He said the newest leather versions, which he completed with the help of an MIT undergraduate last year, are a significant step up.

Using Bluetooth technology, each of the wallets can communicate with a person's cell phone, which then connects to his bank account over a data connection. The phones receive text messages each time bank information changes, sending signals to the wallets to provide the tactile feedback.

As of now, the wallets are just thought pieces, meant to convey a concept. But given the interest he's received since news of his smart wallets hit the blogosphere, Kestner said he might try to commercialize his products.

Kestner said he's interested in streamlining the technology that communicates with the cell phone and hopes to develop electronic wallets that wouldn't even need to be charged. Now, he said, the battery-powered wallets need to be charged every few days.

And assuming the wallets actually do come to market, how much does Kestner think his high-tech greenback guardians might cost?

Definitely less than $100, he said.

"You can't charge too much for something that's supposed to help you save money," he said. "It would be irony if I convinced you that you need to buy this thing at a very high cost."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

Three Brokers Disciplined for Mishandling Money of Former MLB Players

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEWARK, NJ) – The New Jersey Attorney General announced Tuesday that three brokers have been disciplined for bad financial deals with three former Major League Baseball players who had been clients.

“Clients trusted these industry professionals with their hard-earned savings, and that trust was broken,” said Attorney General Paula T. Dow. “Professional athletes, working toward a financially secure future upon retirement, became victims to those seeking to enrich themselves.”

Two of the brokers, Stephen Elliot Hill and Steven Kolinsky, co-owners of Kolinsky-Hill Financial Group, had their brokers licenses suspended. According to a press release, Hill misappropriated nearly $1.7 million of his clients’ money.

Florida broker Roy Glassberg was sanctioned for part in the deal. He failed to disclose that the funds that were misappropriated by Hill benefited his company.

The names of the former baseball players affected by the deals have not been released. However, Sports Illustrated reported that former New York Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd is among those who were stung financially.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

College Grads Suffer Worst Unemployment in Four Decades

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – The percentage of jobless college graduates is at its worst level in four decades, as 2.4 million higher-educated are unemployed, according to the USA Today.

The percentage of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree who are unemployed reached 5.1 percent, the highest figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the number in 1970.

Meanwhile, national unemployment rose to 9.8 percent from 9.6 percent last month. Those with advanced educations have a massive impact on the overall rate of unemployment as that group accounts for 30 percent of the labor force.

Unemployment levels for lower-educated individuals however, still remain much higher. Ten percent of high school graduates are unemployed and an even larger 15.7 percent without high schools diplomas are jobless.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio