Favre Moves Toward Retirement, But He's Not Done Making Money

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Hyundai Motor America(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Brett Favre spent 20 seasons in the NFL splitting his time between the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings. On Monday, multiple reports said he had filed his retirement papers with the league and that there was no indication that he would return.

Although he won't be earning a paycheck on the field, that doesn't necessarily mean he won't be making any money. Fans of Favre likely know of his website, The future Hall of Famer allows fans to read his biography, send him fan mail, and write on a message board on his website. There is also merchandise, some of it for a premium cost, for sale on his digital domain.

While the average ticket to an NFL game in 2010 costs a fan $76.47, according to Team Marketing Report, Favre offers items that will leave a wallet much emptier. For example, one item in the Fan Store section of the site, the "Thanks for the Memories" autographed poster, costs $299.99. That's at a markdown from $399.99.

The non-autographed version sells for just $24.99.

One of the more expensive autographed items on his website is a "Brett Favre Limited Edition Football", autographed with a silver pen. The ball sells for $499.99. The site says that "a portion of the proceeds will go to the Favre 4 Hope Foundation."

Favre's NFL-record 297-game consecutive start streak was snapped on December 13, 2010. Fans can purchase several varieties of signed helmets celebrating Favre's streak, with some of them going for $699.99.

If the picky shopper can't find anything and is looking for a game-worn jersey, they'll just have to wait. The purple Vikings jersey worn by Favre on October 17th, 2010 against the Dallas Cowboys is out of stock. The jersey is listed at $12,000.

Favre sat out the final two games of the season after suffering a concussion earlier in the season against the Chicago Bears.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Economists Warn Job Creation Might Take Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Wall Street this week, experts are expecting more evidence that the banks are back with record profits in the forecast, but American workers are still looking for jobs even with these corporate windfalls. 

Banks may be optimistic, but Dawn Rayner is not. "I am two months behind on the mortgage. I have enough to pay the utilities for maybe this month and then I have absolutely not a penny left," Rayner says. Dawn is a 99er, one of 1.5 million Americans who've been unemployed for 99 weeks or more and have run out of unemployment benefits. The tax bill recently signed into law doesn't extend unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks.

In rallies and online, the 99ers are organizing. The websites are part support group, part petition to Congress to pass legislation to extend benefits for people like Dawn. Even with a master's degree, and thousands of  resume submissions...still, no job. She collected her last unemployment check nine months ago. "At this point the only jobs that I see available in my area are drivers from Pizza Hut, I've sent them resumes as well." 

People out of work for more than a year only have a nine percent chance of being rehired. "I think the job market is starting to rev up at just the right time to provide these folks with some opportunity when they desperately need it" according to Mark Zandi, Chief Economist with Moody's. For the first time in more than three years, the job market is expected to show stronger gains in 2011. 

In fact, in a recent survey, forty-five percent of CEOs said they plan to add jobs this year, but Zandi says not so fast. "It is going to be a tough slog. It's going to take a while to re-employ all these people." 

Many economists say we're not talking months, but years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apple CEO Steve Jobs to Take Medical Leave of Absence

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced Monday he will be taking a medical leave of absence.

A spokesman for the Apple co-founder confirmed to ABC News the company's board of directors granted it for an undisclosed reason.  Jobs sent out an email to all Apple employees saying he is taking the leave to "focus on his health."  He also said that he will remain as the company's CEO and will "be involved in major strategic decisions for the company."

Back in 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and later in 2009, he had a liver transplant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Toyota Halts Production at Several Plants Over Heavy Snow

Photo Courtesy - Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Toyota Motor Corp. announced it would temporarily suspend operations at nearly a dozen plants in central Japan Monday as heavy snow moves into the area, disrupting auto parts delivery.

The plants affected are all in Aichi Prefecture and include facilities that assemble the Prius -- Toyota's popular hybrid vehicle.  The automaker said it will add extra working hours to make up for the delay and plans to resume production on Tuesday.

Monday's suspension is the first time Toyota has halted production at this level since 2005.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Starbucks to Offer New Supersized Trenta Cup

Photo Courtesy - Starbucks Coffee Company(SEATTLE) -- Coffee addicts have a new reason to celebrate -- Starbucks announced Sunday it will begin offering a new menu item: the 31-ounce Trenta cup.

The new size is seven ounces larger than the current Venti and will be used exclusively for iced coffee, iced tea and lemonade beverages, the company said in a press release.

For a lucky few, Tuesday is the day to supersize your favorite coffee treat. That's when Arizona, Texas, Florida and 14 other states will roll out the new size, followed by California on Feb. 1. The rest of the country will have to wait until May 3, when all of the coffee shops in the U.S. will begin serving the Trenta.

The Trenta will be an average of 50 cents more than the Venti, the next largest size.

Starbucks Corp has unveiled a variety of changes over the past several months as they step up to fend off their latest competition, McDonald's McCafe. In 2009, the world's largest fast-food chain took a new approach to their menu and offered a variety of coffee-house-style beverages, including frappes, fruit smoothies, and lattes at much cheaper prices than Starbucks' equivalents.

But Starbucks continues to stay ahead of the curve. The company is going over plans to begin serving regional wine and beer and artisan cheeses, and redesign the locations for a cozier and greener vibe, according to a new prototype by Starbucks executives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wikipedia Marks 10 Years, Opens First Office in India

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- In 2001, Jimmy Wales wrote "hello world," in his first of many edits to an online encyclopedia site. And 10 years later, the world has said a big hello back. This weekend, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia marked its 10th birthday and on Monday the San Francisco-based site opened its first overseas office in India.

Wikipedia is the fifth most-visited website, claiming over 400 million unique visits per month. More than 13.5 million registered users have contributed a staggering 438,660,528 edits in the last decade. The site's 3.5 million articles are primarily maintained by 15,000 reliable editors who contribute at least 100 times per month.

Editors are unpaid volunteers; the site takes no advertising and is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia. The site operated on $8 million in 2010 and raised over $16 million in its most recent fundraising campaign.

Over the last decade, the site has not been without financial woes and Wales often writes personal letters for donations on the homepage to the Wikipedia community.

Currently, the free website is available in over 270 languages and the new Bangalore office hopes to add at least 20 additional Indian languages.

In an interview with The Press Trust of India, Sue Gardner, chief of Wikimedia, said India was chosen because its "fruitful environment [including] valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate."

Gardner added that Wikipedia plans to make a push in Brazil, then to the Middle East and Africa to reach editors from different backgrounds.

The average Wikipedia user in 2011 is an educated, 20-something male, but Gardner expects that profile will look much different in 2021.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Week Ahead Likely to Spotlight Housing as Drag on Recovery

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Experts are looking ahead to this week's economic reports, as likely to spotlight the housing slump as a continuing drag on economic recovery.  Emphasis shifted during the recession from housing to unemployment as the main culprit in slowing down recovery, but with housing still in the numerical dungeon, analysts are re-focusing there.

On Wednesday, the government will release the Housing Starts data for December.  Marketwatch reports that construction permit applications are at their lowest level since April 2009.  Joel Naroff, of Naroff Economic Advisors, told the website that construction is weak because the foreclosure crisis has hit hardest in regions where construction would naturally be strong. He said that keeps builders from starting new projects.

On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors will release the latest figures on existing home sales.  A slight rise in sales is expected, but at 3.2 percent it's just enough to bring the number to the depressed levels of 2007 and 2008.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US National Debt Passes $14 Trillion Mark

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The United States government’s debt surpassed the $14 trillion mark on Saturday, inching closer to the $14.3 trillion debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner earlier this month asked that Congress act quickly to raise the limit.

“Default would effectively impose a significant and long-lasting tax on all Americans and all American businesses and could lead to the loss of millions of American jobs," Geithner wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. “Even a very short-term or limited default would have catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades.”

Saying that Congress needs to tread carefully, Boehner issued a response to the Administration's request to raise the limit.

“The American people will not stand for such an increase unless it is accompanied by meaningful action by the President and Congress to cut spending and end the job-killing spending binge in Washington,” Boehner said. “While America cannot default on its debt, we also cannot continue to borrow recklessly, dig ourselves deeper into this hole, and mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Boehner urged bipartisan cooperation in addressing the budget process.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Teams with Russia-Based Rosneft Energy

Photo Courtesy - JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Oil giant BP has announced a long-term deal with Russia's state-run energy firm to explore and eventually drill in the Arctic.

The deal with Russia-based Rosneft was made to explore vast expanses of untapped land and water in the Arctic in search of oil and natural gas.

“Cross-investment between countries and companies is what brings together cooperation and changes the way everyone operates there,” BP CEO Bob Dudley said.

“This is an opportunity to work with Rosneft in the country that produces the most oil in the world,” said Dudley, “in an area that can bring our exploration expertise to play.”

Dudley said the deal is a great fit for both companies, and that it's impossible to compare this effort to the company’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It's a different climate.  This is not deep water,” said Dudley. “This is shallow water. It's very cold. It requires the kind of experience that we have from operating in Alaska.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Small Town Pair Launches Own Currency

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NORTH FORK, Calif.) -- It may not be legal tender anywhere else, but if you want your lawn mowed in North Fork, California, you can pay for it with scrip bearing hummingbirds or butterflies and negotiable around town for other services too, like car repairs or yoga class.

Josh Freeman, 45, decided to launch the currency, worth about $12 a share, to combat what he sees as the disintegration of the small town lifestyle and economy in North Fork, almost exactly in the center of the state.  Freeman created the currency with another town resident, 45-year-old Dan Rosenberg. 

In the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, they talk about how towns like theirs lose business to big retailers in the cities to which an increasing number of their fellow townsfolk commute every day.  That puts the locals out of business, reduces the tax base and services available and could eventually kill a town.

The two men decided to do something about what they see as an impending threat, so their butterfly and hummingbird scrip was born. 

It may not challenge big banks or major retailers but Freeman and Rosenberg hope it keeps their businesses open and their town viable. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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