Amazon Testing New, Free Grocery Service

Photo Courtesy - – A new service being tested by Amazon could allow consumers to receive weekly grocery deliveries free of charge.

The program, called AmazonTote, has undergone internal testing by Amazon employees in Seattle for the past six months. Tote, which is linked to Amazon’s current grocery service, Fresh, would allow users to schedule weekly grocery deliveries right to their door without a delivery charge, according to the Financial Times.

Fresh currently operates in the Seattle area and allows users to order everything from fresh produce to beauty supplies.
The new service could put Amazon in further competition with big retailers such as Target and Walmart.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insurers Use Facebook to Monitor Fraud, Risky Behavior

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DES PLAINES, Ill.) – Insurance companies have become just the latest agency to monitor what you write and post on Facebook.

According to the Los Angeles Times, insurance companies are using Facebook and other social networking sites to guard against insurance fraud.

Investigators can use the sites to “look out for things that don't add up," said Frank Scapili, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, “like someone who claimed they hurt their back too badly to work and then bragged on Facebook about running a marathon."

Some insurance companies also use the sites to monitor “high-risk” behavior such as skydiving. They also look out for keys to a person's character, such as photos of a person drinking.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Google to Hire 6,000+ in 2011

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) – In what would be the biggest hiring year in the company’s history, Google plans to bring on more than 6,000 new workers in 2011.

In a blog post, Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research for Google, said the company and its products saw major growth in 2010, which led to the hiring of more than 4,500 workers. But 2011, said Eustace, will be the “biggest hiring year in company history.”

Since the company hired more than 6,000 in 2007, it is safe to assume that this year’s hiring figures will surpass that number.

Eustace reminisced of a more modest time in the company’s history.

“I joined Google more than eight years ago—when we had barely 500 employees and still used Outlook for e-mail and AIM for chat—and while there have been many changes, Google is still the same entrepreneurial company it was when I started, encouraging Googlers to take on big ideas and high-risk, high-reward opportunities,” he wrote.
Some of the “high-reward” ventures in recent Google history include Google Chrome, Android and Google Apps.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Average Home Prices Fall In Most Big Cities

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new report indicates the mess in the housing market is far from over. Data released on Tuesday showed average home prices continuing to fall in most big cities.

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller index tracked a 1 percent drop in November from October. Though markets vary from city to city, average prices in eight out of 20 cities hit their lowest point since the housing bust.

"Until consumers are convinced that home prices will move no lower, home sales will be lower than otherwise," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody’s.

"The unfinished slide by home prices may push more home mortgage holders underwater."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Restaurant Bows to Protest, Scraps Lion Tacos

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- An Arizona restaurant that serves exotic fare will forgo a plan to serve lion-meat tacos, citing safety concerns and following threats from angry protestors.

Bryan Mazon, owner of Boca Tacos y Tequila, a Tucson Tex-Mex joint that in the past has served alligator, python, and turtle tacos, announced via Facebook that the restaurant will pull the plug on a planned February promotion to sell tacos made from farm-raised African lions.

"Due to concern for safety of our families, customers, vendors, and friends we will not be selling African Lion Tacos on Feb. 16th, 2011. We will continue to bring unique and creative menu items, but not at the expense of safety," Mazon said.

Mazon planned to served meat from lions raised legally for consumption on a California farm.

He had planned to serve the lion tacos one night only in February for $8.75 a piece.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


IRS Launches Smart Phone App to Check Tax Refunds

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Internal Revenue Service introduced a new smart phone app Monday that allows taxpayers to check the status of their tax refunds.

Using the IRS2Go, taxpayers can track down their money by entering some personal information, including Social Security numbers, which the IRS insists will be encrypted for security purposes.

People who file their returns electronically have a distinct advantage because the refund function of the IRS2Go kicks in about 72 hours after the IRS confirms receipt of returns.  Those who file the old-fashioned way will need to wait up to a month for news about their refunds.

The app is available for iPhone and Android users free of charge.  Users will also have the option to receive tax tips and updates.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Taco Bell Faces Lawsuit for Scrimping on Beef

Photo Courtesy - Joe Raedle/Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- A California woman is telling Taco Bell restaurants, “Yo quiero real beef in my taco.”

She’s accusing the fast food chain of shortchanging customers by packing very little beef in products that are supposed to be stuffed with meat.  Taco Bell now faces a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the woman by the Montgomery, Alabama law firm Beasley Allen.

Attorney W. Daniel "Dee" Miles III charges that a mere 35 percent of the restaurant's taco filling was solid meat.  Therefore, she claims Taco Bell is guilty of false advertising by claiming its products contain "seasoned ground beef" or "seasoned beef."

The lawsuit alleges that in addition to meat, Taco Bell uses water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate in their "beef."

Miles alleges the stuff Taco Bell uses is “junk” and that he wouldn’t eat it.

In response, Taco Bell says its company “prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value.  We're happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree.  We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McDonald's Likely to Increase Prices of Some Menu Items

Photo Courtesy - Tim Boyle/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The next time you buy a burger at McDonald's it may cost you more.

The Illinois-based fast food chain announced Monday that it may increase the price of some menu items to offset the rising cost of ingredients, according to the Chicago Tribune.  The average price the company pays for beef, chicken, cheese and other of its most-used ingredients is projected to rise anywhere from 2 to 2.5 percent this year.

"As commodity and other cost pressures become more pronounced as we move throughout the year, we will likely increase prices to offset some, but not necessarily all, of these cost increases," McDonald's Chief Financial Officer Pete Bensen said.

McDonald's said that the price hikes would not affect their entire menu, only select items, and that it would be considerate of its consumers and affordability, especially since the country is still working its way out of a recession.

Also on Monday, the company reported its fourth-quarter profit, which rose two percent to $1.24 billion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Promotions for Women Able to Self-Monitor Masculinity, Feminity

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- Women who exhibit "masculine" traits at work can be hurt by what researchers for years have called "the backlash effect." Research has shown women who have stereotypically masculine characteristics, like dominance and self-confidence, are sometimes sanctioned for behaving in ways that are incongruent with the feminine stereotype of supportiveness and submissiveness.

But according to a recent study, women who self-monitor their so-called masculine behavior use it to their advantage and get more work promotions than both men and other women.

"Masculine women who are able to turn on and turn off these masculine traits were more likely able to succeed above female counterparts and male counterparts," said Olivia O'Neill, assistant professor of management at George Mason University. The British Psychological Society has just published research by O'Neill and her co-author, Charles O'Reilly, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.

The two professors followed 132 business school graduates, 43 percent of whom were women. The professors first assessed the participants from 1986-1987, the first year of their two-year business school program. Then they assessed the participants again seven to eight years after graduation.

O'Neill said "masculine" women who were good at self-monitoring, or able to accurately assess social situations and project appropriate responses, received more promotions than others.

In fact, the results showed that "masculine" women who were high self-monitors received three times as many promotions as women who were low self-monitors. And assertive women who were high at self monitoring also received one and a half times as many promotions as "feminine" women, irrespective of whether those women were high or low self-monitors.

O'Neill said she tried to see if other factors contributed to the higher number of promotions, but none was as significant.

"We know everything about these people, like birth order and attachment style to their mothers," said O'Neill. "There are a lot of possible explanations that do not seem to be leading to this."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Signs Point to Increased Hiring, Experts Say

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- "It feels like a light switch is about to go on," said one optimistic economist to ABC News.

Key indicators suggest the economy is moving in the right direction:

Jobless claims are at the lowest levels in two years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Consumer confidence is at a seven-year high, an ABC News poll shows.

Forty-two percent of companies expect to increase hiring in the next six months, according to a quarterly survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics.

Mark Zandi of Moodys Analytical believes that the positive tone is being written in black ink. "I think the most important reason for optimism is that businesses are very profitable."

Corporate profits are at pre-recession levels and companies are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash.

ABC News spoke to 35 leading economic experts. Most said they expected hiring to improve over the next six months, and a few suggested the government do more to turn this spark of economic momentum into a fire of economic growth.

"You need a lot of growth," said Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial. "We're starting to see more growth. That's the good news. The question is, is it really enough to be the job generator we need?"

For financial consulting giant, Deloitte, growth has come quickly. The company is ready to increase its payroll by 10,000.

"We are projecting return to our pre-recession hiring levels," said Deloitte CEO James Quigley. "So I'm delighted in the U.S. we are going to be increasing that hiring plan by 60 percent."

Despite the promising news, economists say that for a real turnaround America will need small and medium size business to pick up hiring as well, and that is just not being seen yet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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