DOJ to Slash Spending In Attempt to Avoid Furloughs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memo to Justice Department employees last week saying he has ordered a hiring freeze and is asking the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service to curb non-personnel spending.

In his memo, Holder notes that the government is currently being funded until March 4 under a continuing resolution that keeps funding under last year's levels. Holder says the measures being implemented will help the department avoid the possibility of "more severe measures such as staff furloughs."

The Justice Department's budget request for the current fiscal year included a 5.4-percent funding increase, with over 2,800 employees being added to the department's workforce.

According to Justice Department officials, the measures include canceling non-essential travel and attending conferences. The Department's missions for counterterrorism and anti-drug operations are not expected to be affected.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jobs Galore: Top Employers Have Thousands of Openings

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As part of Fortune's annual "100 Best Companies to Work For" list, the magazine profiles 25 companies that have openings for 700 or more new hires each -- a total of 137,000 jobs. All told, the top 100 firms on the magazine's list have 150,000 openings.

These include high-paying jobs, jobs with great perks and others just plain wacky.

Though many of the openings are high-tech, traditional industries are hiring, too. Wegmans Food Markets, for example, has current openings for 2,000. The company ranks No. 3 on Fortune's list overall. The chain plans to open three new stores in 2011, with jobs in customer service, manufacturing and distribution. They're also hiring chefs. Kevin Stickles, Wegman's vice president of human services, says, "We look for people who smile, are enthusiastic, eager to learn and in turn want to teach others."

Data storage company NetApp, No. 5 on Fortune's list, has openings for 2,500. All kinds of jobs are open, but the company especially needs engineers and sales people. Software engineer is the job title with the most openings (350). NetApp's director of global staffing tells Fortune she is looking for people who have shown an ability to go above and beyond what's expected and who will feel comfortable working in a collaborative culture. She urges anyone thinking of applying to do their homework by acquiring an understanding of NetApp's product lines, culture and history.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Grocery Shopping Isn't Just for Supermarkets Anymore

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The next time you need groceries, you might not need to shop at a grocery store. CVS and Walgreens are both getting into the grocery game in a big way, in order to cater to customers' needs, as well as their wants.

Studies show people shop for drugstore items only about once a month, but they shop for food two or more times per week. Drugstores are hoping that when you come in for milk and eggs, you'll also pick up some greeting cards or DVDs.

"We wanted to develop a daily healthy and living solutions store," Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management for Walgreens, told ABC News.

It's working. Drug stores that have added more food are attracting more customers and making more money.

"It's been very successful when you look at it from a financial aspect, but it's been even more successful when you look at it from a community aspect," Wagner added.

So it's good for the stores, but it is good for the customers?

"Some of my best grocery store deals have come from drugstores," said Chrissy Pate, co-founder of, a forum for the best grocery deals around the country.

"The drugstores offer lots of store incentives and that's what makes them different than the grocery stores and big box chains -- you're going to find lots of store coupons, lots of rebate programs and lots of store credit," she said. "And that's how you can really get some rock-bottom prices."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bankrupt States Could Trim Pensions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(VALLEJO, Calif.) -- Under existing law, a state cannot go bankrupt.  That's not because the action is forbidden.  Not the U.S. Constitution nor any other piece of paper says a state cannot.  The bankruptcy code simply does not address the possibility.

Now lawyers, politicians and other ingenious folks are looking for a way around that problem -- a fact that should come as no surprise, given the perilous financial health of California, Illinois and other states encumbered with crushing debts.  The 50 states have spent collectively, in the past two years, half a trillion more dollars than they took in as taxes.  Their pension funds, by some estimates, are underfunded by another trillion.

Arizona has sold off its state capitol.  The investment group that now owns the Supreme Court building and the chambers of the house and senate is graciously leasing those buildings back to the people.

California, facing a $19 billion shortfall, must now spend more on pensions for its public employees than it spends on the University of California system.  U.C., to avoid having to make deeper cuts than it has already made, hiked tuitions 32 percent in November 2008, igniting student protests.  The Golden State's credit rating has sunk almost to junk status.

What a tonic, then, if these states could toss off their obligations, as one might a heavy coat.  By declaring bankruptcy, states could start life anew and go skipping down the street.  Orange County, California, did it.  Vallejo, California, did it.  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is said to be thinking about doing it.  They used Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, which applies to municipalities.

Law professor David Skeel of the University of Pennsylvania said he sees no reason why Chapter 9 could not be tweaked to apply to states.  Doing so would be easy, he said: "You'd just have to change Chapter 9's definition of permitted entrants.  Basically, you'd change the entrance requirements."

That change, of course, would require legislative action -- a process "always uncertain."  An alternative would be to use Chapter 8, "which isn't currently taken," and use it to create something entirely fresh and new, exclusively for states, he said.

If and when states do grope their way to bankruptcy, the consequences would be most dramatic for state pensioners and for holders of state bonds.

Once a state has entered bankruptcy, Skeel said there could be sales of assets -- something akin to a corporate liquidation sale.  Creditors, including bond holders and unions, would be compelled to make concessions.  With court approval, a state could rewrite its union contracts.  Vallejo, California, has done just that.

It's possible, too, though legally less clear, that a state might re-negotiate its existing pension benefits -- a prospect that pensioners, understandably, find abhorrent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Recovers $4 Billion Stemming from Health Care Fraud

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to announce Monday that the U.S. government has recovered $4 billion in connection with health care fraud.

According to USA Today, the government recovered $2.5 billion stemming from health care fraud judgements and an additional $1.5 billion in administrative findings -- as opposed to taking action in court -- in the budget year that culminated in September of 2010.

The record-breaking total is credited to whistle-blowers, who got roughly $300 million -- 15 to 25 percent of the total recovered -- in 2010 after reporting fraud they witnessed in the workplace.  The rest of the money came from individuals and pharmaceutical companies, like Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. who agreed to pay $420 million for illegally marketing a drug.

Sebelius is also expected to discuss ways the health care law will help combat fraud in 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Postal Service to Close Thousands of Post Offices

Photo Courtesy - Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Your local post office might not be around much longer.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S Postal Service, facing an ocean of red ink, plans to shut down up to 2,000 offices across the U.S. this year beginning in March.  That’s in addition to the nearly 500 offices that the agency closed for good towards the end of 2010.

According to the USPS, it will also ask Congress to change a law so that the least profitable of 16,000 offices currently running at a deficit can also be shuttered.  At present, the law says offices can be closed only for reasons that don’t have to do with profitability.

Last year, the USPS said it lost a record $8.5 billion.  In taking drastic action, the agency is considering the viability of 32,000 brick and mortar offices in an age when people commonly use text messages and e-mails to communicate, and are more often paying their bills online.

Critics of the USPS doomsday plan say that it will most greatly affect post offices in rural areas, where they serve as the closest link to large cities and are most often used by elderly people not up to speed with the modern electronic world.

For years, the agency has searched for ways to cut corners besides shrinking its workforce, including raising rates and limiting services.  So far, the USPS has been unsuccessful in its goal to end Saturday deliveries, a plan it claims would be an enormous money-saver.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


TD Bank to End Regis Philbin's Endorsement Deal?

Photo Courtesy - FilmMagic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Will retiring talk show host Regis Philbin continue to represent TD Bank after he hangs it up?

The Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based company tells that the bank has not decided whether it will continue its endorsement deal with the 79-year-old TV personality post-retirement.

A spokeswoman told the site that Philbin and his Live! co-host Kelly Ripa have been “great ambassadors” for the brand, and in a statement said the company wishes Regis “all the best in the next journey of his life and career.”

The veteran broadcaster announced his retirement Tuesday after nearly 25 years on Live!

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apple Announces 10-Billionth App Store Download

Photo Courtesy - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple's App Store has surpassed 10 billion downloads.

The milestone, announced by the company Saturday, comes just less than three years after the App Store was introduced to consumers.

Gail Davis of the U.K., who downloaded the landmark app -- which was, incidentally, the "Paper Glider" game -- will receive a $10,000 App Store gift card.

The App Store was inaugurated in July 2008 and reached 1 billion downloads after just nine months.

The news comes just days after Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from the company to focus on his health.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Citigroup CEO Gets $1.75 Million Salary Raise

Photo Courtesy - Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Citigroup Inc. CEO Vikram Pandit will get an enormous salary increase after the company reported a $10.6 billion profit in 2010.

Pandit announced in Feb. 2009 that he would only receive $1 a year until the firm's profit margin was once again favorable. Citigroup shares jumped 43 percent in 2010, following tremendous losses during the worst of the recession in 2008 and 2009. The 54-year-old's base salary is now $1.75 million.

Pandit's pay raise follows similar increases for chief executives at Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Qwiki Interactive Search Engine to Take on Google

Photo Courtesy - Qwiki [dot] com(NEW YORK) -- A new internet search platform is looking to be a game-changer in the lucrative search engine market, and it just might give Google a run for its money.

Qwiki, whose goal is to improve the way people experience information, intends to "deliver information in a format that's quintessentially human -- via storytelling instead of search," according to the company's website.

Rather than delivering simple links and bits of information, as is the norm with Google's search, Qwiki created an interactive experience that combines the text of a typical search engine with the video element of YouTube and the encyclopedic data of Wikipedia to create a personalized search experience that talks back to you.

Founded by Doug Imbruce and web pioneer Dr. Louis Monier, who founded the early search platform AltaVista, Qwiki is partially funded by Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook who was recently portrayed in the award-winning film The Social Network. Saverin is one of several venture capitalists, including Jawed Karim, a co-founder of YouTube and Pradeep Sindhu, a co-founder of Juniper networks, who recently pumped $8 million into Qwiki.

Currently demos of what Qwiki will offer users are available on its website, and the site is asking users to join its Alpha, which will launch soon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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