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Thursday
Feb172011

NTIA Announces Unprecedented Seachable Broadband Database

File Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced a new unprecedented broadband database targeted at businesses and consumers who are seeking information on their high-speed Internet options, according to a press release on Thursday.

The National Broadband Map, described as "the first public, searchable nationwide map of broadband Internet availability", will also aim to increase broadband access and visibility in areas of the country deemed to be "at risk of being left behind in the 21st century economy."

According to the release, one of the objectives to the initiative is to increase online participation among people and communities that have yet to embrace the Internet by providing for more transparency, information and opportunities.

The database will include more than 25 million searchable records showing where broadband Internet service is available, as well as the technology behind the service. Users will have the opportunity to search geographical areas and compare the details of service providers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Claims for Unemployment Benefits Rise to 410,000

Photo Courtesy - Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After dropping for two consecutive weeks, claims for unemployment benefits went up for the week ending Feb. 12, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The number of people filing for jobless benefits jumped to 410,000, marking an increase of 25,000 claims from the previous week's total of 385,000.

The four-week average also rose slightly to 417,750, an increase of 1,750 from the previous average of 416,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Virgin America Enters O'Hare, Teams with Groupon 

Photo Courtesy - Virgin America(CHICAGO) - The airline Virgin America has finally made its way into Chicago's O'Hare Airport and plans to jumpstart service with discounted airfare and coupons from Chicago-based Groupon.

Virgin America will operate out of Terminal 3 in Concourse L of O'Hare starting on May 25, with daily nonstop flights from Chicago to L.A. and Chicago to San Francisco.

The airline has teamed with Groupon to offer a $77 discount on roundtrip tickets, a first-of-its-kind coupon for Groupon. Early on, Virgin America will also offer a low, $99 one-way fare to the West Coast.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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







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