Rank Your Co-Workers, See How They Rank You

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Chances are you've already sized up your co-workers in private, so why not have some fun with it online? At least that's what the new website Cubeduel wants you to do.

The new site, which launched this week, ranks your current and former co-workers by placing them in head-to-head match-ups and then letting you vote for your favorites. If you vote on enough duels, the site also reveals how others have rated you.

To access Cubeduel, you sign into the site with your LinkedIn information. The site then uses your work history to create the duels between current and former colleagues.

As you click on your favorites, the site combines your votes with those from other users to assign rankings to everyone on the site. Once you've voted on 20 pairs, Cubeduel reveals how many duels you've won and shows you the top scorers from each of the companies or organizations listed on your LinkedIn profile.

And if you're worried about getting in trouble with the boss, don't be. The founders say all voting is absolutely anonymous.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


States Across the Country Cut Programs to Balance Budgets

Photo Courtesy - Getty ImagesNEW YORK) -- A laundry list of government programs could be on the chopping block as states and municipalities across the country confront the hard realities of budget shortfalls. From hospice care to hearing aids, wildfire funding to the police force, state legislators and city leaders are considering all options in their efforts to stay in the black.

Most states are bound by their own laws to maintain balanced budgets, meaning many state governments are facing the tough choice: either cut spending or raise taxes.

In California, where Gov. Jerry Brown is confronting a $25 billion shortfall, that means canceling cell phone service for nearly 50,000 state workers. Brown himself is turning in his phone.

"It's not just cutting out programs. It's making government leaner and more effective," said Brown, a Democrat.

Cell phone service is just one area that may see cuts in California. Others include education spending and wildfire fighting.

Other states are taking unusual and drastic measures to dig their way out of debt. Forty-eight of them have slashed programs, including Medicaid.

In Arizona, that means nearly 100 people will be ineligible for state-funded, life-saving transplants.

South Carolina will stop payments to hospice, and Indiana could eliminate funding for hearing aids and dentures.

Municipalities also are faced with serious financial problems.

Detroit may have to close down half its public schools by 2013, the Detroit News reported this week. The move would increase typical class sizes from 35 to 62 people in public high schools.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Trader Arrested for Threatening SEC

Photo Courtesy - Alnbri Management, LLC(NEW YORK) -- A New York trader who put a price on the heads of officials from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on his website was arrested Thursday night at Newark Liberty Airport upon his return to the U.S. from Singapore, authorities said.

Court records say Vincent McCrudden threatened to kill 47 current and former financial regulators officials at the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, National Futures Association and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

“He’s a good guy,” McCrudden’s lawyer, Bruce Barket, told ABC News. “He’s certainly not going to hurt anybody. He’s short tempered and he’s ill mannered. His creative writing needs some work. His timing is particularly bad, but the idea that this is anything other than a guy spouting off is just silly.”

Barket said that McCrudden, who trades primarily for himself, has been upset with financial regulators since 2003 when he was acquitted of mail fraud.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Retail Sales Rise in December, Up 6.6% Overall in 2010

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales rose 0.6 percent in December -- slightly less than the 0.5 percent that economists had expected -- and 6.6 percent overall in 2010, a strong gain.

The December jump was the sixth consecutive monthly gain for retail sales.

"Today’s data underscore that retail sales -- a fundamental indicator of economic health -- grew at a strong pace throughout the second half of 2010, signaling momentum in consumer spending and the overall economy,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement Friday.

Priorities for the Commerce Department this year, Locke added, include “accelerated hiring” and economic growth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US in Midst of Largest Rollout of Electric Infrastructure in Its History

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The country is in the midst of the largest rollout ever of electric cars and the infrastructure needed to support them, as officials hope the country begins to ditch the pump and, instead, plug in.

The goal is to put more than 13,000 electric-drive vehicles and 20,000 chargers in more than 20 cities across the country in the next few years.

As part of the rollout, ECOtality North America was awarded a $99.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to embark on an the EV project to help electrify the country.

Officially launched on Oct. 1, 2009 and lasting approximately 36 months, the project will deploy nearly 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities in six states -- Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas -- and the District of Columbia.  Nissan North America and General Motors/Chevrolet are partners in the EV Project.

Smaller projects also are going up around the country.  Better Place, a company that builds battery-swapping stations to replace car batteries in less time than it takes to fill your tank up with gas, is in the planning stages to roll out infrastructure in the states of California and Hawaii.

President Obama has set a goal of having a million EVs on the road by 2015.  Right now, buyers can enjoy a $7,500 federal tax credit if they buy one.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McDonald's Begins Selling American-Themed Burgers in Japan

Photo Courtesy - Tim Boyle/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- McDonald's is at it again in Japan, serving up American-themed burgers at American-sized portions.

McDonald's Holdings Co. rolled out round two of the successful "Big America" campaign earlier this month, featuring the Texas 2, Idaho, Manhattan and Miami burgers.  The previous campaign helped the company post record sales last year, and included themed burgers from New York, Hawaii, California and Texas.

McDonald's restaurants in Japan began selling the first of its "Big America 2" burgers last week.

The Texas 2, a 645-calorie concoction, sandwiches a burger patty, chili, cheese, onion, bacon and a mustard-relish sauce between three hamburger buns.  It is only available for a limited time, and will be replaced later this month with the Idaho burger, featuring hash browns, bacon, onions and pepper-and-mustard sauce.

The Miami burger, slapped with taco meat and tortilla chips, will follow.  The Manhattan -- a burger patty stacked with pastrami and mozzarella cheese -- rounds out the lineup.

While the Japanese have long been known for their healthy diets, consumers have shown an affinity for Texas-sized burgers, especially when marketed as a limited-time product.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gallup: Unemployment Is Toughest Problem Facing Americans Now

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- Americans cite unemployment as the leading problem for the United States at the start of 2011, says a recent Gallup report. 

Twenty-nine percent named the jobs issue as the nation's top problem, while 26 percent said the general "economy" was the number-one problem.  The Gallup results note that the "economy" response has been trending downward since October, while focus on the federal deficit has increased.

Gallup also reported the top non-economic issue facing Americans.  Participants in the survey said healthcare was the most important non-economic problem.  Following close behind were dissatisfaction with government, immigration or war.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Illinois Set to Hike Taxes: Necessary or Bad for State's Economy?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- As states across the country face mounting budget deficits, Illinois is preparing to hike taxes to cover a $15-billion budget shortfall.

In a plan just passed by the legislature and set to be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois will more than double its state personal income tax rate and also levy increases on corporate income taxes to preserve some state services.

The personal income tax rate will jump from three to five percent, a 66-percent increase that some argue will hurt Illinois' economy and drive business to other states.

State Sen. Dan Duffy, a Republican, called the tax increase "the nuclear bomb of job bills," and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a Democrat, has said the hike will result in job losses.

But others say it's more important to keep the state government on track and programs in operation.

"I pity women trying to work and afford child care because these services were about to go away," Maria Whelan with Illinois Action for Children told ABC's Chicago affiliate, WLS.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Intel Earnings Report: 2010 Most Profitable Year in Company's History

Photo Courtesy - Intel Corporation(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Intel predicts that 2011 will be a good financial year after reporting a record-setting 2010.

"2010 was the best year in Intel's history.  We believe that 2011 will be even better," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement.

Intel Corporation netted $11.7 billion last year, up 167 percent from 2009.  But despite being the world's largest provider of PC processors, the company has yet to gain a competitive advantage in smartphones and tablets -- a trend growing increasingly popular with consumers who desire a more portable means for computing.

The technology company's outlook is optimistic though.  Intel expects to earn revenues of around $11.5 billion in the first quarter alone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bernanke: Expect Three- to Four-Percent Growth in U.S. Economy in 2011

Photo Courtesy - Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy will see a three- to four-percent growth in 2011, but it will not hasten the reduction in unemployment.

“We see the economy strengthening. It’s looked better in the past few months,” Bernanke said.  “We think a three- to four-percent growth number for 2011 seems reasonable.”

“That’s not going to reduce unemployment at the pace that we’d like it to, but certainly, it’d be good to see the economy growing and that means more sales, more business.”

Bernanke’s comments came at a small business forum where he discussed topics ranging from the availability of credit to small businesses to the need for prudent banking.

“We got in trouble in the first place by making too many bad loans, right. So you’ve got to make good loans.  We’ve got to have credit worthy borrowers.”

In regards to the housing market, Bernanke said it would be a slow and steady process to restore stability to the residential mortgage market.

“It’s not going to happen overnight.  The economy’s got to come back.  Confidence has to come back, but we can do that by putting in the effort.”

Bernanke was joined at the small business forum by Chairman of the FDIC Sheila Bair, Sen. Mark Warner and Tom Bell, chairman of the board of directors at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Warner argued that deficit reduction is on the forefront of legislators’ minds this session and touted the plan he and Sen. Saxby Chambliss are organizing, which would incorporate recommendations from the president’s deficit commission.

“I think we also have to longer term put in place a meaningful deficit reduction plan,” Warner said.  “It’s put up or shut up time, and I think we will have a broad base of senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, who say the single largest threat, long term threat to our national economy, is not simply the short term challenges we face right now, or the financial crisis, but getting our nation’s balance sheet in order.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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