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Friday
Feb182011

'Amish Madoff' Victims Want Bankruptcy Case Dismissed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SUGARCREEK, Ohio) -- Daniel Miller, a victim of the Amish "Madoff" scheme in Sugarcreek, Ohio, and dozens of other Amish creditors say they prefer the bankruptcy proceedings related to their $33 million in investments be dismissed.

Miller was one of 2,600 creditors in 29 states, mostly from the Amish community, who invested money with Monroe Beachy, a 77-year old Amish man accused of running a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"I think the Amish can do a lot better job for the creditors than what the government can do," Miller said.  "Instead of the bankruptcy attorneys handling everything and dragging into the court system, they will take it and distribute it to the creditors involved.  It makes more sense to me."

Miller, 55, does not believe Beachy intentionally tried to defraud his Amish neighbors but actually hoped to recoup unanticipated losses, such as from crashes in the stock market, for his investors.

Beachy, doing business as A&M Investments, raised at least $33 million, according to the S.E.C. complaint filed this week.  He sold investment contracts from as early as 1986 through June 2010, telling investors their money would be used to purchase risk-free U.S. government securities, but instead he made speculative investments, according to the filing.

Media headlines are comparing Beachy to Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor who choreographed a $50 billion Ponzi scheme since the early '90s, because of the long period in which they both falsified positive returns to investors.

As part of the investigation, Beachy filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June with a court in the Northern District of Ohio.  Court documents indicate he has less than $18 million of investors' money left.

In an unusual twist, according to a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings filed by members of the Amish community, about 2,550, or 94 percent, of creditors are in favor of dismissal.  The bankruptcy court received 67 filings each containing multiple form letters from Miller and other members of the Amish community in Sugarcreek. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Is Consumer Product Safety Testing Stifling Job Growth?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans Thursday took aim at recently enacted consumer product safety regulations, saying they caused unintended consequences -- creating a burden on small businesses and stifling job creation. The target of their complaint is The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008.

"For thousands of businesses, who strive to be responsible, let's do what's best for consumers. CPSIA has consumed an inordinate amount of their time trying to understand how each new regulation and standard will affect them," Chairman Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif, said. "Unfortunately, many have gone out of business, attributing their demise to some of the burdens of compliance with the many provisions of the new law."

Representatives from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and various small businesses and manufacturers testified before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

CPSC commissioner Anne Northup, a Republican appointed to the commission by President Obama, argued that third-party testing requirements mandated by the CPSIA for leading in products had a negative impact on small businesses and job growth.

"It has been shocking to me the number of businesses that we have entirely caused to go out of business, the number of businesses that have left children's product arena completely because of this bill, the number of choices that parents no longer have," Northup said.

According to Northup, businesses have told the CPSC that testing requirements "stifle innovation and product variety by erecting significant cost barriers to adding to toys new accessories, new colors, or other variations."

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum defended the CPSC's implementation of the CPSIA thus far to ensure safety standards are maintained for consumer products. Democrats joined the praise for the law, calling it a vast improvement from the consumer product safety bills in years past.

"The bottom line issue of protecting consumers and particularly children -- that is the proper role of government," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. "That is our proper role that we will exert today. We're going to protect our consumers and our children."

In March, the CPSC is set to unveil a publicly searchable database, mandated by the 2008 law, which will allow consumers to check the safety of products on the market and submit independent claims about products.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Lower Interchange Fees Could Mean Higher Checking Fees

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - A top Federal Reserve official Thursday acknowledged that banks may turn to higher checking and other fees to make up for a proposed cut to debit interchange fees for retailers that resulted in huge stock cuts for Visa and Mastercard.

Representation for retailers testified Thursday before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit to rally for the proposed cuts, which could cut interchange fees by an average of 73 percent. They called the fees, which are the charge retailers pay for accepting debit and credit cards, a huge cost with no price competition.

“The inability of merchants to go to a competitor bank to get a better deal on swipe fees is simply devastating,” said Doug Kantor, an attorney representing the Merchants Payments Coalition.

Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin said banks may make up for the higher-than-expected fee decrease by increasing fees in other areas.

“Card issuers may choose to make up their lost interchange fee revenue by imposing higher fees, or reducing rewards programs, for debit card use or for deposit accounts in general. On the other hand, consumers will benefit to the extent merchants pass on their interchange fee savings in the form of lower prices,” Raskin said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Obama Dinner Lists Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg Among Attendees

Photos Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- President Barack Obama will travel to San Francisco Thursday night for a meeting with some of the top business and technology leaders in the nation. Earlier in the week, the only known attendee was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, but the full list of those who will dine with the president has been released.

Maybe the most surprising of the 12 leaders listed by the White House is Apple Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs. The man responsible for many of Apple's recent innovations was granted a medical leave of absence by the company on January 17 to focus on his health. Speculation over his well-being has been rampant since he told Apple employees he had pancreatic cancer in 2004.

The CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, is also on the guest list, along with the chairmen of Yahoo!, Google, and Cisco Systems, among others.

A White House official says the “meeting is a part of our ongoing dialogue with the business community on how we can work together to win the future, strengthen our economy, support entrepreneurship, increasing our exports, and get the American people back to work.  The president and the business leaders will discuss our shared goal of promoting American innovation, and discuss his commitment to new investments in research and development, education and clean energy.”

The dinner is scheduled to take place at a private residence along the Pacific Coast.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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







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