US Company Pulls Jobs from China

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) – A Milwaukee-based company has announced they will bring some three dozen jobs back to the United States from China, where labor unrest has driven wages higher.

Master Lock said the move will bring the total number of workers at their U.S. factory to 379, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The company also cited the increased cost of shipping and a weakened U.S. dollar.
Still, the company’s U.S. workforce is far below what it used to be. Before outsourcing to China and Mexico, 1,300 employees were employed at the Milwaukee facility in the 1990s. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Delta Air Lines Announces $1.4-Billion Annual Profit

Photo Courtesy - Delta Airlines(ATLANTA) – Delta Air Lines has announced a 2010 net income of $1.4 billion and has ended the year $15 billion in debt, a decrease of $2 billion from the year before.

Delta also noted a high end to the year with a net income of $158 million in the December quarter.

"These results are a direct reflection of the success of our merger, cost discipline and debt reduction strategy and give us momentum to deal with the rising fuel prices we face in 2011,” said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive officer.  "Our 2010 results are among the best in Delta's history.” 

Delta’s net income was bolstered by a 15-percent increase in passenger revenue, up $889 million, with a seven-percent higher passenger capacity than the year before.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FCC Approves Comcast Acquisition of NBC Universal 

Photo Courtesy - NBC (WASHINGTON) -- The FCC has approved a deal to allow Comcast Corp., one of the country's largest cable TV providers, to acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Company.

The joint venture, approved by the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday on a vote of four to one, will transfer control of broadcast, satellite, and other radio licenses to Comcast. The Commission said in a statement that granting the request was "in the public interest, despite concerns that the deal would be an unfair advantage over competitors and leave consumers paying higher prices."

To assuage such concerns, the FCC has said those involved must fulfill certain conditions and commitments.

"As part of the merger, Comcast-NBCU will be required to take affirmative steps to foster competition in the video marketplace," the FCC said. They will also be required to provide discounted broadband services to low-income Americans, provide more space for independently-owned channels, air more children's programming, keep NBC programming on free TV channels, and guarantee NBC news operations' independence.

The sole dissenter Tuesday, Commissioner Michael Copps, said the vote will have a drastic effect on news coverage. "Make no mistake: what is at stake here is the infrastructure for our national conversation—the very lifeblood of American democracy," Copps said. "We should be moving in precisely the opposite direction of what this Commission approves today.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Foreclosed Homes: One in Five Vandalized Before Lenders Can Sell

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.) -- At a time of record foreclosures, vandalized lender-owned homes are causing big headaches for banks and agents across the country.

Vandals have caused over $250,000 in damage to a foreclosed home in Huntington Beach, Calif. The two-story home was previously valued at over $1.7 million, but is currently undergoing extensive renovation before the bank that owns the home tries to sell it again.

Vandals poured cement and chemicals down drains and left water running in the bathtub to flood the property. All the drainage pipes had been clogged, which led to the pool to turn green. Mold and decay had spread around the home.

The home was at a foreclosure auction in August, listed for $1,782,214 in cash, but it returned to the bank when no one had bid on it. The police had no witnesses when the property vandalism was discovered in September, so they have not pressed charges.

Repairs to return the house to its original value are estimated at over $250,000. Work should be complete by the end of January.

Huntington Beach, Calif. is not the only city dealing with vandalism in distressed properties.

About 13.9 percent of all real estate properties owned by a bank or agency were so badly damaged that they did not qualify for standard mortgage financing, according to data collected from real estate agents across the country for November 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Signs Executive Order to Regulate Business

Photo Courtesy - White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed an executive order and two presidential memoranda to direct agencies to design regulations that are “cost-effective, evidence-based, and that are compatible with three important goals: competitiveness, job creation and economic growth,” a senior administration official described Tuesday.

The executive order says the operating principle of the U.S. government is to strike the right balance with regulations, neither "placing unreasonable burdens on business -- burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs" nor failing to  "protect the public interest." The president first made the announcement in an op-ed in the conservative opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, in yet another sign his move may be based in part in moving towards the political center.

Peter S. Goodman of The Huffington Post argues the president’s announcement is an “unhelpful new explanation for his failure to restore jobs,” by “pandering to businesses in possession of campaign cash,” and adopting “long-established Republican talking point.

“Having failed to marshal an economic program sufficiently muscular to restore vigor to a still-lean economy, the president will not even talk straight about how we got here, instead adding confusion to the narrative that will surely embolden industries hoping to write rules in their favor,” Goodman writes, “It wasn't too many regulations that trashed the economy. It was not enough rules -- a deficit that owes in large part to the efforts of many of the people Obama has leaned on in putting together his economic policies.

On Tuesday, senior administration officials downplayed this is a move to the center for the president.

“The notion that it's left or right or center, frankly, is less relevant than, are we doing what's right for the American people, and are we getting to the point where we're maximizing growth while maximizing health and safety,” the senior administration official said, “And I would hope that that's something that people left and right ultimately agree on.”

The White House says that said that the process to go ahead with this has been “ongoing for some time,” for months, if not for over a year, and did not characterize the extent that the new White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, played in these decisions. The executive order says agencies always need to consider costs and ways to reduce burdens for businesses when they develop rules “that they need to expand opportunities for public participation and public comment, and they need to ensure that regulations are driven by real science,” a senior administration official said today.

The executive order is directed to both existing regulations and new regulations. In addition to seeing how to deal with new rules, it also looks back and says that agencies should take a “hard look” at what existing rules are on the books and. if they are no longer practical, either changed or withdrawn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boeing Pushes Back Delivery of 787 Dreamliner to Third Quarter

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/ Continental Airlines(EVERETT, Wash.) -- Boeing announced Tuesday it will once again be pushing back the delivery of its 787 Dreamliner to the third quarter of this year.

The delivery, which was previously scheduled for sometime in February, was delayed again after an electrical fire onboard a plane in November put a hold on flight testing.  Boeing said the rescheduled date also reflects "the time required to produce, install and test updated software and new electrical power distribution panels in the flight test and production airplanes."

"This revised timeline for first delivery accommodates the work we believe remains to be done to complete testing and certification of the 787," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program.  "We've also restored some margin in the schedule to allow for any additional time that may be needed to complete certification activities," Fancher added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deutsche Bank Gambles on Vegas' Newest Hotel and Casino

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- The hottest party in Las Vegas this New Year's Eve was not at any of the monster casinos people know so well. In fact, it had nothing to do with magicians or show girls.

Instead, Jay-Z and Coldplay headlined a concert that included performances by Beyonce, John Mayer, and Kanye West at a hotel start-up on Vegas' Strip. The property had no history and no customer base, and many thought it had no chance of ever opening. But against all odds, The Cosmopolitan is the talk of Sin City these days, for reasons that go far beyond its curious ad campaign, which includes a bellboy with no pants.

"My mom called me and she said, 'I saw that commercial and I don't know what it meant, but I kind of liked it,'" said John Unwin, the CEO of The Cosmopolitan. "We've had good's got a pants-less bellboy and it's got puppies."

Unwin is the leading man in a story that symbolizes America's boom-and-bust era like few others.

Six years ago a developer named Ian Bruce Eichner had plans for a $3.9 billion monstrosity with 28-foot-robots playing guitars and a tower of expensive condos. But when he defaulted on his loans, Deutsche Bank became the sudden owners of the unfinished hotel-casino, and the first bank to own a hotel on the Vegas Strip.

After finding no buyers, the German bank bought out The Cosmopolitan itself for $4 billion. It lured Unwin away from Caesar's Palace, where he was working as the general manager, and finished the place with an entirely new concept.

Vegas is still limping back from a horrible slump, with too many rooms and not enough guests. If The Cosmopolitan somehow manages to draw more gamblers than its bigger neighbor, the Bellagio, it would take 15 years for Deutsche Bank to break even.

Architect David Rockwell had to take a relatively small nine-acre space and build upwards to design the lavish Cosmopolitan. His best known work includes the home of the Academy Awards, the ultra-hip Nobu restaurants and even experimental playgrounds. But he had never designed a casino until now. Now the hotel is one of the most posh places in Vegas, with a lobby that seems to be more like a post-modern art gallery than just a place to check in. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apple's Number Two Man: Who Is Tim Cook?

Photo Courtesy - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Filling in for larger-than-life Apple CEO Steve Jobs is no easy task, but COO Tim Cook must be doing something right.  For the second time in two years, Jobs is handing over the reins to his multi-billion dollar tech company to Cook, his second in command.

In announcing his medical leave of absence via a company-wide e-mail on Monday, Jobs wrote, "I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations.  I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011."

So who is the man who will be Apple's leader for the indefinite future, and what could Apple become if left under his control for good?

Before Jobs recruited Cook to Apple in 1998, the now 50-year-old COO held positions at IBM, Intelligent Electronics and Compaq.  He graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and later earned an M.B.A. from Duke University.

Over the course of his career, analysts say he's earned a reputation as a strong performance manager, though not one with the personality or charisma of his boss.

"He's kind of like what Steve Ballmer was to Bill Gates," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.  "A guy that would be a very strong number two, but not by any stretch of the imagination a replacement for Steve Jobs."

Soon after Jobs' own return to Apple in 1997, he recruited Cook from his post as vice president of corporate materials at Compaq, likely impressed with the boost he gave the growing company.

At Apple, Cook continued to grow and has become a major driving force behind the company's strong and predictable financial performance, Enderle said.

But though an Apple under Cook's control may be perform well from an operations standpoint, it likely wouldn't pulse with Jobs' contagious energy.

"He's not the showman that Steve Jobs is. He doesn't have that skill set," Enderle said. "He's a good performance manager [but] he doesn't have the magic."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Comcast Close to Acquiring Control of NBC Universal from GE

Photo Courtesy - NBC Universal(WASHINGTON) -- Comcast Corp., one of the country's largest cable TV providers, could acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. as early as Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The deal is pending approval from Federal Communications Commission officials, who are expected to vote four to one in its favor, people close to the review told the newspaper.  The Justice Department has already finished reviewing the proposal and is ready to approve the deal with some conditions once the FCC gives it the green light.

The Journal reports that, as part of the deal, Comcast will provide more space for independently-owned channels, air more children's programming, keep NBC programming on free TV channels, and guarantee NBC news operations' independence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Poll: Most Americans Feel Now Is a 'Good Time' to Buy a Home

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- Results from a recent Gallup poll show that 67 percent of Americans feel that now is a "good time" to buy a home.  These results are similar to previous polls: 72 percent in April 2010 and 71 percent in 2009. 

Gallup says that historically low interest rates and home prices, along with the huge supply of unsold homes and record high number of foreclosures, suggest bargains could continue to get better as the year unfolds, giving Americans "good reason" to think now is a good time to buy a house.

But Gallup also notes that today's housing market conditions may not be in favor of all home buyers.  The pollster says the housing finance system currently works in favor of cash buyers and buyers with perfect credit.  Due to the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the market is limited to potential buyers who can meet their more restrictive loan requirements or those who can buy without a loan.

"As a result," the Gallup report states, "although many feel this is a good time to buy, relatively few can take advantage of the situation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio