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Thursday
Dec302010

Former Shell Executive Predicts High Gas Prices in Coming Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A former Shell executive is predicting that gas prices could reach the $5 mark by the late 2012, just as Americans are seeing a preview of rising prices throughout the nation.

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell and now chief executive of a non-profit group called Citizens for Affordable Energy, said he expects the hike by November 2012 mostly because of higher demand for gasoline worldwide -- especially in Asia.

"There is more demand because the economy is recovering," he said. "There is much more demand in Asia because the economy is growing rapidly."

While demand is rising steadily, the world is struggling to increase production. Demand is approaching 90 million barrels per day, while only 85 million barrels are being produced.

Today, gas prices are averaging at $3.07 a gallon, while a year ago they were at $2.62 -- 45 cents cheaper. Drivers experienced the highest gas prices in October 2008, when many paid $4.11 for every gallon, according to AAA. While everyday commuters certainly will be suffering, it will be those who consistently travel across the country who will be paying the most at the pump. Americans drove 16 billion more miles this year than they did last year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Kodachrome Taken Away: Last Photo Lab Processing Landmark Film to Stop

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PARSONS, Kan.) -- They really are taking Kodachrome away, this time for good.

The film, given a famous shout out in Paul Simon's 1973 song and used by countless photographers to document the late 20th century, won't be accepted for processing after Thursday.

Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan., is the last company in the world developing Kodachrome film, and Thursday is the final day it's taking film. The last roll probably will be processed sometime next week, the company said.

Photographers had until noon Thursday to get their film into the lab, according to the company, and people from all over the world rushed in their final rolls. One woman flew in from England to drop off film in-person, and Dwayne's received 500 packages from FedEx and 18 bags from the Post Office, almost all containing Kodachrome.

"I'm very surprised and maybe a little bit in shock," said Grant Steinle, vice president of operations for Dwayne's Photo and son of owner Dwayne Steinle. "It was really an icon of photography."

The photo lab even had special Kodak-yellow t-shirts printed up to mark the occasion, declaring, "The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Cuomo Announces Agreement with Former Car Czar in NY State Pension Probe

Photo Courtesy --Getty Images(NEW YORK) – On the eve of his inauguration as New York governor, outgoing Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has announced an agreement with a former Obama Car Czar as part of a multi-year pension probe.

Steve Rattner will pay $10 million in the settlement and has been issued a five year ban on public pension fund work.

In a statement, Attorney General Cuomo said the agreement concludes the last major aspect of the investigation.

“The state pension fund is a valuable asset held in trust for retirees and supported by taxpayers,” Cuomo said. “Through the many cases, pleas and settlements in this investigation, I believe we have been able to help restore and protect the integrity of the state pension fund.”

Rattner also released a statement Thursday, saying he is happy he can put the issue behind him.

“I apologize if during the course of this process there is anything I did that may have made reaching this agreement more difficult,” Rattner said. “I respect the work of the Attorney General and his staff to ensure that the New York State Common Retirement Fund operates properly and in the best interests of New Yorkers.”

Rattner, the former founding principal of private equity firm Quadrangle, had been faced with two lawsuits by the Attorney General’s Office regarding the nature of $150 million in investments in Quadrangle from the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

Cuomo launched an investigation into corruption at the pension fund last year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Jobless Benefits Claims Drop to Lowest Point in Over Two Years

Photo Courtesy - Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The number of people filing for jobless benefits has fallen to the lowest number in over two years, according to the latest figures from the Labor Department.

Claims for unemployment benefits were down to 388,000 for the week ending Dec. 25, marking a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week.

Joel Naroff, the president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, says the new figure could be a good sign for the new year.

"This number tells me that the labor market is firming, and I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing stronger job growth and a declining unemployment rate as we move through the first half of next year," Naroff said.

The four-week average also dropped to 414,000, which is a decrease of 12,500 from the previous week's average of 426,500.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Honda Recalls 18,500 Snowblowers over Fire Hazard

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- American Honda Motor Co. Inc. issued a voluntarily recall Wednesday for nearly 18,500 snowblowers, citing a potential fire hazard.

The danger lies within the fuel tank joint and o-ring located on the bottom of a snowblower's fuel tank, which can seep or drip fuel, causing a fire to ignite.

No fires have been reported, but Honda has already received 90 reports of seeping or dripping fuel.

The recall affects snowblowers sold for $2,000 to $3,400 nationwide between April of 2005 and November of this year.  It includes the following machines:

-- Model number HS724 with frame serial number SZBE-1037913 through 1046577.
-- Model number HS928 with frame serial number SZAS-1151080 through 1169012.
-- Model number HS1132 with frame serial number SZBF-1018734 through 1025998.

The model number is located on the side of the front scoop and the serial number can be found on the back end of the snowblower below the engine.  Anyone with a recalled machine is advised to stop using it and can go to a Honda Power Equipment dealer to replace the fuel tank joint and o-ring, free of charge.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

New Year Is Best Time for Gym Membership Deals

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While it may seem as if the new year is only bringing more cold and snow in most areas of the country, Jan. 1 is the closest thing to Black Friday the gym industry has.  While about 60 percent of gym memberships go unused, according to some estimates, those ready to act on those fitness resolutions will find deals aplenty.

Now is the best time to find a gym deal, says Michele Foley, associate editor with FitSugar.com.  But before you sign on for a gym membership, Dave Reiseman, vice president of communications, Gold's Gym International, has some advice.

Reiseman says you should always ask if there is flexibility on the enrollment fee.  Almost every gym charges both an enrollment fee and regular monthly dues.  Many gyms may be willing to negotiate and give you a significant discount on the enrollment fee.

Also, says Reiseman, try before you buy.  All gyms should offer you a free trial pass, which allows you to make sure the amenities, classes and atmosphere are as advertised and right for you.

Try to pay for a full year upfront says Reiseman, as most gyms discount your membership if you pay all at once.

And don't forget the role your company can play in keeping you fit, says Reiseman.  Ask your human resources representative if your company offers any discounts on gym memberships.  If it doesn't, look into setting up a corporate account yourself through HR.  Most gyms have corporate wellness programs, which could mean big savings on your enrollment fee and your dues.

Also consider joining with a family member, says Reiseman, as most gyms have household add-on specials.  Or refer a friend, as most gyms will reward you with free membership time, or even cash, for referring a friend.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec292010

American Airlines Continues to See Increase in Ticket Sales Despite Dispute with Orbitz and Expedia

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | JetBlue Airways(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- American Airlines thanked its customers Wednesday for their continued loyalty in the midst of a commercial dispute with two online travel companies, Expedia and Orbitz. 

Notwithstanding the dispute's prevention of American Airlines fares from being promoted on both travel sites, the airline reported seeing a year-over-year increase in its overall ticket sales since Dec. 21, when its schedules and airfares were removed from Orbitz.com.  The increase continued after Dec. 23, when Expedia.com began listing American lower in the search display than other airlines.

American Airlines noted that more customers have now shifted to other channels such as Priceline.com and Kayak.com, and it has also seen increased volume on its own site, AA.com.

"Our results to date show that customer choice is alive and well and that our customers continue to have thousands of options to purchase American's competitive fares and convenient schedules," said Derek DeCross, vice president and general sales manager at American Airlines.

DeCross also highlighted the company's interest in working with a variety of different distribution channels from conventional travel agencies to online and global distribution outlets.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec292010

Houston the Top US Manufacturing City, Detroit Falls in Rank

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(EVANSTON, Ill.) – Manufacturers' News Inc. has released a list of the top U.S. cities based on the number of manufacturing jobs in each city at the end of 2010.

Houston made the top of the list with 228,226 jobs in manufacturing. Other cities in Texas – Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin – also made the top 50.

Rounding out the top three were New York with 139,127 jobs and Chicago with 108,692.

The overall number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., however, has declined 8.4 percent since 2008, according to MNI. One of the hardest-hit cities has been Detroit, which fell from 29th place in 2008 to 45th this year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec292010

Northeast Blizzard Could Cost Airlines $150 Million

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(NEW YORK) – The blizzard that shook the Northeast and put a halt to air travel in the region could cost the airline industry close to $150 million, reports USA Today.

Some industry experts, however, say it is too soon to assign a price tag. Analysts predict that cancellations and delays caused by Sunday’s storm could continue for several days as airlines try to rebook and regroup.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, more than 6,000 flights were cancelled as a result of the storm. Airports in and around New York City were the hardest hit. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec282010

Should Baby Boomers Be Encouraged to Work Past Retirement Age?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Seventy-one percent of Americans believe they should be encouraged to work past normal retirement age, says the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, after polling more than 1,000 U.S. adults.

Meanwhile, 69 percent -- including 71 percent of Gen-Xers and 61 percent of Millenials -- say it should be their responsibility to provide for those who retire before them.

"The New Reality of 2011: Baby Boomers at 65" survey was commissioned by Home Instead Senior Care.  Roger Baumgart, CEO of Home Instead, thinks "intergenerational collaboration" is critical to the success of aging Baby Boomers in America's workforce. "We are encouraged to see there is opportunity for intergenerational collaboration to ensure that seniors in America age successfully," he says.

According to the report, Baby Boomers -- born between Jan. 1, 1946 and Dec. 31, 1964 -- are most concerned with finances (48 percent) and health (34 percent) in their life after 65.

Though most Americans believe they should provide for retirees, some feel the economy could suffer because of Baby Boomers.  Sixty-one percent admit they are troubled that Baby Boomers might bankrupt Social Security and 59 percent feel Boomers could overload the healthcare system.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio