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Wednesday
Oct272010

Disney Study: Moms Spend 24 Hours a Week Online

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Disney Online(NEW YORK) -- A new study shows that the typical mom spends 24 hours a week surfing the Web. Most of that time, according to Disney Online's Mom on a Mission research study, is spent connecting with family, searching for information and managing their lives.

"Our study results showed that technology and the Internet are helping to make moms' lives more manageable, so they can spend more quality time with their families,” said Paul Yanover, EVP of Disney Online.

The study, released Wednesday, included two phases: consumer immersion blogs and online quantitative study. In the first phase, nine moms interacted in a secure, online blog for one week, uploading video, images and text. The second phase was an online study of 3,300 females, ages 21-54, who were either pregnant or had one child 14 years old or younger.

The top subjects researched by moms online include deals and discounts and recipes. Other topics include family activities, entertainment and travel, personal health, arts/crafts projects, holiday planning and activities.
 
 Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct272010

New Threat to Banks: Mortgage Security "Put Backs"?

Photo Courtesy - PRNews Foto/Bank of America(NEW YORK) -- Could the whole U.S. banking system return to the brink if Bank of America is forced to buy back tens of billions in soured mortgage-backed securities?

At a public hearing Wednesday on loan modifications and foreclosures, a Treasury official dismissed that concern despite doubts raised by the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the group charged by Congress with overseeing and assessing the effectiveness of the federal bank bailout.

Bank of America is facing a demand by investors, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that the bank buy back $47 billion in mortgage-backed securities. The loans backing the securities, investors argue, didn't live up to pledges made about their quality.

At the hearing Wednesday morning, Phyllis Caldwell, the Treasury Department's chief of the Homeownership Preservation Office, said there was "no evidence of systemic risk" posed by such buy-back demands -- also known as "put backs." "It is still early. We are working very closely with 11 regulatory and federal agencies. We are watching this every day and that at this stage, there appears to be no evidence of a systemic risk," Caldwell said.

Her comments were met with skepticism by COP member and AFL-CIO policy director Damon Silvers, who noted that the Federal Reserve said the securities in question in the Bank of America demand have halved in value. "If the Fed's request to Bank of America is honored, Bank of America, assuming when they buy them back, they mark them to market, Bank of America will take a $23 billion loss," he said.

If the bank were to later face five such requests, it could amount to a loss that exceeds the bank's $115 billion market capitalization, he said.

Silvers urged Caldwell to retract her statement about systemic risk "because these things can be embarrassing later." Caldwell did later clarify, saying, "We didn't say there was no risk, we said there didn't appear to be evidence of a major systemic risk."

"I hope that if the Treasury comes back to us and is discussing if we need to deploy further public funds to rescue Bank of America, or such other institutions as might be affected by these events that we get a similar kind of indifference to their fate," Silvers responded.


Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct272010

College Only: The New Facebook?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images/CollegeOnly[dot]com(NEW YORK) -- He graduated from an Ivy League university, created an online social network and, perhaps most conspicuously, wears socks with sandals.

Nope, he’s not Mark Zuckerberg. And there hasn’t been a movie made about him, but if there was one, Michael Cera of Juno would play him, Josh Weinstein said with a laugh.  Weinstein, 23, is the CEO and founder of CollegeOnly.com, a social networking site available only to college students.

“I just didn’t think people should have to worry as much about parents and employers in what they do online,” said Weinstein, who launched the site in August 2010, just over a year after he graduated from Princeton.

According to CollegeOnly’s Facebook page, it’s the only site that is “free from parents, potential employers, and other folks that shouldn’t see what you are up to on a Saturday night or at any given point during the day.” Users must provide a verified university email address to register for an account.

While its tagline is “Connecting Student Bodies,” CollegeOnly is now available at only four universities: Princeton, Yale, Cornell and Penn. It will launch soon at New York University and Columbia, in New York City, where Weinstein and about 15 employees manage the website.

CollegeOnly has about 2,500 users and more than 20,000 students from unregistered schools on the waiting list, Weinstein said. Students at these schools can enter their email addresses on the homepage and click “Bring CollegeOnly to My School” to get on that list.

As for the future of the site, Weinstin said it’s impossible to predict student interest and didn’t know how many more schools he could add a year from now.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct272010

New York Water at Heart of Florida Lawsuits

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Want to know what makes New York bagels taste so good?

Local lore says the secret is in the city's drinking water. But to two Florida restaurants, the water-bagel connection is more than myth, it's the stuff that lawsuits are made of.

Convinced that New York City drinking water contributes to better baked goods, the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. of Delray Beach, Florida, and Mamma Mia's Trattoria & Brick Oven Pizzeria of Lake Worth, Florida., have locked horns in a legal battle over technology purported to "Brooklynize" water.

According to a document filed with the 15th Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida, Brooklyn Water claims that through the purchase of baking equipment Mamma Mia misappropriated the company's trade secrets and confidential information for its own benefit.

In a countersuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Mamma Mia's says Brooklyn Water falsely advertises that it has a patent on the replication process, thereby deceiving the public and deterring competition.

"You've heard of the Coca-Cola formula? You've heard of the [Kentucky Fried Chicken's] 11 herbs and spices that's locked away under lock and key? Now you're hearing of our trade secret," said Ira Marcus, senior vice president and general counsel for the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.

In 2007, Steven Fassberg, the company's president, CEO and founder, started investigating the composition of New York water, Marcus said.

"He knew that what was in the water made a difference as to making bread, bagels and pizza dough," Marcus said. "He thought that if he could understand how that all worked, we could use a process [so that] wherever we were locally, we could replicate an authentic New York bagel and, ultimately, pizza."

Marcus declined to elaborate on the water's composition, but said that certain elements in the typically soft New York water react especially positively with the yeast in the bread's recipe.

Once Fassberg and his team analyzed the water to identify those key elements, he said, they worked with a water treatment equipment manufacturer and, through trial and error, developed a process that consistently gives local water the same properties as New York water. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct272010

Toilet Paper Rolls Are Getting a Makeover

Photo Courtesy- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Toilet paper is about to go tubeless.  Household paper manufactuer Kimberly-Clarke will start selling the tube-free rolls on Monday at Walmart and Sam's Clubs stores throughout the Northeast, according to USA Today.

If the launch is successful, the company may introduce the line across the U.S. and worldwide, and consider applying the same technology towards its other paper products.

The paper manufacturer says the new rolls fit over regular toilet paper spindles and that every sheet, up to the last one, will be usuable without any glue being stuck on it.

Kimberly-Clarke says toilet paper tubes account for 160 millions pounds of trash in the U.S. annually.  Placed end to end, the rolls would stretch to the moon and back, twice.  Company brand manager Doug Daniels says most consumers throw out used tubes rather than recycling them.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct272010

Advertisers Taking Gamble on World Series

Photo Courtesy - Major League Baseball(NEW YORK) -- With the elimination of the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies in the league championship series last week, baseball fans and advertisers alike were surprised to see two underdog teams still standing.

Advertisers and Fox, which will carry the World Series, must hope the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers play captivating baseball, since their primary fan bases are only the sixth and fifth largest television viewing markets, with secondary markets in Sacramento, Calif., and Austin, Texas.

The top six markets are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth and the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the Nielsen Company.

"Despite not having two big-market teams on the calendar, people will watch this," said Brian Steinberg, television editor with Ad Age.  "Live sports are more attractive to advertisers these days than sitcoms and dramas."

The Nielsen Company does not forecast figures for viewer audiences, and television analysts will not be sure what the actual ratings will be until the series takes place.

Buying ad time ahead of a sporting event can be somewhat of a gamble.  Fox sold all its advertising spots for games one to five in early October, before the either league championship series had finished.  The average cost of a 30-second television spot for the World Series is around $450,000, more than Sunday Night Football's average estimate of $415,000, according to Steinberg.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $750 Million in Federal Health Care Fraud Settlement

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to plead guilty and pay a massive fine totaling $750 million to the federal government and the states to resolve allegations that the company caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for certain quantities of adulterated Kytril, Bactroban, Paxil CR and Avandamet. 

The federal government argues that "GSK sold certain batches, lots or portions of lots of drugs," that possessed a strength, purity or quality "which fell materially below" that which was specified in the drugs' FDA applications.  Consequently, the government says GSK "knowingly caused false and/or fraudulent claims to be submitted" to Medicaid and other federal health care programs.

"Adulterated drugs undermine the integrity of the FDA's approval process, can introduce substandard or ineffective drugs on to the market and, in the worst cases, can potentially put patients' health at risk," said Tony West, Civil Division Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice.

The Justice Department says this settlement is part of the government's ongoing effort to battle health care fraud under the False Claims Act.  The law has helped the government to recover $4.2 billion in cases related to federal health care fraud since January 2009.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

Barnes & Noble Announces Launch of NOOKcolor

Photo Courtesy - Barnes and Noble dot com(NEW YORK) -- Barnes & Noble introduced Tuesday the NOOKcolor, which the popular bookseller says is the "future of reading" and "the ultimate reading experience."

The NOOKcolor is the first color, touchscreen, wireless reader's tablet.  Consumers who purchase the device, built on Android technology, will have access to over two million digital titles searchable over Wi-Fi. 

The reader will be equipped with 8GB of space with expandable memory.  It will also feature Barnes & Noble's NOOKfriends technology, which will allow users to share data with friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.

"NOOKcolor enables Web browsing over Wi-Fi, music, games and much more, but reading anything and everything in brilliant color is the killer app and squarely the product's focus," said William Lynch, Barnes & Noble CEO. 

"At $249, NOOKcolor offers a tremendous value, particularly in comparison to the many of the other 7-inch tablets coming to market at twice the cost and often requiring expensive data plans.  Most importantly, NOOKcolor is designed for and differentiated by what Barnes & Noble knows best:  reading," he added.

Readers looking to buy a NOOKcolor can pre-order the tablet at online or at Barnes & Noble stores Wednesday with shipping to expected to begin Nov. 19. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

Consumer Research: Halloween Horror Show for Dems

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With five days until Halloween and seven days before the election, consumer confidence is looking like a horror show for the political party in power.

The ABC News Consumer Comfort Index stands at -47 on its scale from +100 to -100, seven points from its low in nearly 25 years of weekly polls. It’s been this bad just twice in the week before an election: in 2008 and 1992, both years the Republicans were turfed out of the White House.

Now it looks like the incumbent Democrats’ turn to suffer. As in the past, economic discontent is fueling broad dissatisfaction with the status quo, and it’s aimed particularly at the party calling the shots in Washington.

Negative economic sentiment is further intensified by the depth and breadth of the downturn.

The CCI is based on Americans’ views of the economy, their personal finances and the buying climate. A whopping 92 percent rate the economy negatively, but majorities also say their own finances are hurting (53 percent), and they call it a bad time to buy (75 percent) -- and have all year.

Leading up to the election, the lack of a partisan gap in consumer attitudes is notable. This week, the CCI is -39 among Democrats and -44 among Republicans. On average, by contrast, the index among Republicans has been 31 points more positive than among Democrats in available data since 1990.

The usual gap has steadily narrowed since the recession began, and for the past two weeks Democrats have shown greater confidence than Republicans, albeit not significantly so. This flip has happened only 19 times in more than 1,000 weeks of polling.

Yet negativity among Republicans isn’t Democratic candidates’ chief problem. That lies with crucial swing-voting independents, among whom the CCI’s a dismal -51, worse than it is even among Republicans – and a number that may be the scariest yet for the president and his party.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

BMW Issues Recall Following ABC News Investigation

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- BMW has issued a voluntary recall of some 130,000 vehicles equipped with twin-turbo engines just hours after ABC News aired a report on an investigation into potential problems concerning the fuel pumps in such vehicles.

The German car manufacturer said the recall involves approximately 130,000 vehicles from some 2007 models to 2010 models which "may experience a failure of the high-pressure fuel pump." Failure of the fuel pump could result in "reduced engine performance," the carmaker said.

BMW said about 40,000 of the vehicles are expected to require a new, high-pressure fuel pump.

Affected models include the 2007 to 2010 335i series, the 2008 to 2010 135i, 535i and X6 xDrive35i Sports Activity Coupes and the 2009 to 2010 Z4 Roadster sDrive35i.

In a separate action, BMW announced it is recalling more than 20,000 2008 X5 Sports Activity Vehicles that use low-pressure fuel pumps.

"In this case, should the fuel pump experience a failure, the engine will stop running and the driver will lose power assist for the steering and brakes although both the steering and the brakes remain operational," BMW said of the 2008 X5 in a statement.

A month-long investigation by ABC News found that BMW and federal safety regulators have received hundreds of complaints from owners of 2007 to 2009 BMWs with the powerful N54 twin-turbocharged engine, but little was done to alert drivers.

This problem has not caused any injuries or deaths, according to BMW.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

BMW has issued a voluntary recall of some 130,000 vehicles equipped with twin-turbo engines just hours after ABC News aired a report on an investigation into potential problems concerning the fuel pumps in such vehicles.

 

The German car manufacturer said the recall involves approximately 130,000 vehicles from some 2007 models to 2010 models which "may experience a failure of the high-pressure fuel pump." Failure of the fuel pump could result in "reduced engine performance," the carmaker said.

 

BMW said about 40,000 of the vehicles are expected to require a new, high-pressure fuel pump.

 

Affected models include the 2007 to 2010 335i series, the 2008 to 2010 135i, 535i and X6 xDrive35i Sports Activity Coupes and the 2009 to 2010 Z4 Roadster sDrive35i.

 

In a separate action, BMW announced that it is recalling more than 20,000 2008 X5 Sports Activity Vehicles that use low-pressure fuel pumps.

 

"In this case, should the fuel pump experience a failure, the engine will stop running and the driver will lose power assist for the steering and brakes although both the steering and the brakes remain operational," BMW said of the 2008 X5 in a statement.

 

A month-long investigation by ABC News found that BMW and federal safety regulators have received hundreds of complaints from owners of 2007 to 2009 BMWs with the powerful N54 twin-turbocharged engine, but little was done to alert drivers.

This problem has not caused any injuries or deaths, according to BMW.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio