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Monday
Feb072011

Verizon Invests Millions in Ohio to Boost 3G, 4G Networks

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Pierce Promotions(DUBLIN, Ohio) - Verizon Wireless has announced millions in new investments in Ohio to help upgrade and enhance its network in the state.

The company said it invested $291 million in 2010 to install 27 new cell sites and upgrade that state's 966 existing sites.

"Our company is focused on building a reliable 4G network both here in Ohio and nationwide, but we also remain committed to improving our 3G network which millions of customers rely on daily," said Beth Drohan, Midwest Area vice president–network for Verizon Wireless. "Customers may use their wireless devices in different ways, but they all have one need in common -- a reliable network."

With the most recent investment, Verizon has put $1.9 billion into the state since 2000 to improve service.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

Delta to Upgrade Economy Seats, On-Board Entertainment

Photo Courtesy - Delta Airlines(ATLANTA) - International flights on Delta Air Lines are about to get a bit more comfortable. Delta announced plans Monday to install a premium economy section called "Economy Comfort" to all international flights.

The additions, which would be introduced this summer, include more comfortable seats and enhanced entertainment for an additional charge of $80-$160 per one-way flight.

"Just as Delta is investing in BusinessElite, which is among the industry's most competitive premium products, it makes sense to offer enhancements to our Economy Class service that provide additional comfort," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president of Network Planning, Revenue Management and Marketing. "Economy Comfort is one of many elements Delta is committed to delivering to our customers as part of a more than $2 billion investment we are making in the air and on the ground to improve the customer experience and position Delta as a leader in customer service."

The new seats, which provide more leg room and a bigger recline, will be installed in the economy cabins of more than 160 Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A330 aircrafts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

JCPenney Offers High-Tech Shopping Experience

Photo Courtesy - PRNewswire/ JCPenney (PLANO, Texas) -- JCPenney has equipped 120 stores nationwide with high-tech fixtures to improve their in-store shopping experience.

The company installed what it has called "findmore" smart fixtures in select stores to help customers access information available at jcp.com so they can more easily find what they are looking for. The company also plans to install the same concept using iPads in 50 fine jewelry departments nationwide.

“We’ve always seen the value of integrating the online and in-store shopping experience offering customers the opportunity to have access to a greater merchandise selection by offering access to online purchases in the stores,” said Tom Nealon, group executive vice president of JCPenney. “Offering an in-store digital experience that drives additional sales is a true differentiator for JCPenney, and continues to build on our leadership in the digital space as we merge our online and in-store shopping experiences.”

The "findmore" fixtures are 42-inch touch screens that gives users an interactive look at the store's merchandise availability and details.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

Ford to Boost U.S. Production, Cut Luxury Dealers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Ford Motor Co. has announced it will expand U.S. production by 13 percent this quarter amid increasing demand from car dealers.

The carmaker made the announcement Sunday before a group of more than 500 Ford dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.

The expansion, which comes on the heels of Ford's largest increase in January retail sales in a decade, could also lead to additional shifts at several plants to keep up with the boost.

At a promising time for some Ford dealers, however, others could see their doors closed as the company looks to cut back on its luxury brands by closing an additional 100 Lincoln dealers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

AOL Buys Huffington Post in Effort to Expand News Gathering

Co-founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the company's largest acquisition since it split from Time Warner in 2009, AOL Sunday inked a deal with The Huffington Post to buy the online media giant for $315 million.

The merger will make cable talk show pundit and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington the president and editor-in-chief of the new Huffington Post Media Group. The move is part of AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong's vision to expand news gathering and content creation.

“The reason AOL is acquiring The Huffington Post is because we are absolutely passionate, big believers in the future of the Internet, big believers in the future of content,” Armstrong said in an interview.

Together, the content created by the merger is expected to reach around 100 million visitors every month

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

FDIC to Vote on Holding Back Wall Street Bonuses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an effort to reign in excessive risk-taking and big bonuses that regulators say contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. could pass a measure Monday that would tie executive pay incentives at top financial firms to long-term performance, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Under the measure, companies such as Bank Of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase would be required to hold back portions of such bonuses for at least three years.

Despite concerns that the exessive bunuses contributed to the meltdown, benefits and compensation on Wall Street has hit an all-tome high. Last year, publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms paid out a record $135 billion compared to $128 billion in 2009.

Some banks believe that the measure, which came as a result of a provision in the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, will cause some of their best employees to leave for financial institutions overseas.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb062011

Brain Activity Measures Response to Ads, Commercials

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the 1950s, advertisers thought they could get inside people's heads with subliminal ads, which briefly flashed words like "Drink Coke" during a movie. Today, they're trying to get into your head by actually getting inside of it.

Inside a lab at a company called Neurofocus, test subjects are having their eye movements and brainwaves measured as they watch commercials to see what they respond to at a subconscious level. Many people's likes and dislikes are governed by something deeply subconscious. It's the area of the brain where 99 percent of all thinking and decision-making processes are performed.

Dr. A.K. Pradeep is a pioneer in "neuro-marketing," research based on measuring three key types of brainwaves: attention, emotion and memory. He does this by placing three sensors on the test subjects' face - one just above the eyebrow, one above the eye and another one above the nose - and two on the hands, one on the index finger and one on the middle finger. As the screen begins showing a moving picture, a map of the subject's brainwaves appears on a monitor.

"That's what her brain is doing and that's what she's actually seeing," said Dr. Steve Miller, the Global Director for Neurolabs at Neurofocus, describing a test subjects' brain images on the monitor. "So when we look at the brain activity, each one of these points is covering a different part of the brain."

Whether you know it or not, he says, brainwaves show that you prefer certain images. For example, people would rather look at items with rounded edges than those with sharp corners. Mannequins and photos with missing heads turn consumers off. And while men typically respond to a product's features, women are more interested in getting a deal.

This sort of research led to the changes in the iconic Campbell Soup can which led to the disappearance of the spoon and made the bowl bigger and steamier, an image scientists have learned ignites happy memories of hot soup.

Critics call the process mind reading and worry consumers will be taken advantage of, but Pradeep says the research will result in more meaningful human connections and less guesswork about what people really want.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb062011

Bank of America To Pay $410 Million in Overdraft Suit Settlement

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- In a settlement unsealed Friday, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America agreed to pay $410 million to complainants who allege the bank used deceptive and manipulative methods in order to extract more money from clients who over drafted their debit accounts.

The settlement, dated January 27, results from a class action lawsuit against several banks including Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Co. Several cases from across the country were consolidated into one in 2009 and handled in Miami federal court.

Ralph Torres, the man who filed suit against Bank of America in 2000, said in court documents that the bank would re-order his transactions so that the largest amounts would be debited from his account first. Torres also said the bank would delay processing smaller transactions, making it appear as if he had more money in his account than he actually did, thus allowing him to feel comfortable to continue spending.

Lawyers for the bank responded in court documents claiming that larger transactions were processed first because they usually are higher priority payments like bills and loan payments.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, overdraft fees cost customers $10 billion in 2004, $17.5 billion in 2006, and $23.7 billion in 2008

Bank of America said it has since revised its policies to decline debit purchases if a customer does not have sufficient funds, and has introduced new accounts that will prevent excessive overdrafts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb052011

Under the Ice: Jobs Market Starts to Thaw

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Many economists were disappointed Friday when a government report showed that employers hired just 36,000 new workers in the first month of 2011 – far less than the 150,000 new jobs economists were expecting.

“Several factors distorted the data, not the least of which was harsh winter weather,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. “Some 886,000 workers could not show up for work because of inclement weather during the week the payroll survey was taken.”

The headline number is computed by asking employers how many people they paid during the second week of the month. In January, the second week saw historic snow and ice storms coating most of the nation’s South and Northeast.

While the number of jobs added may have been influenced by the weather, the nation’s unemployment rate – the result of a survey of households, not employers – dropped to 9 percent, a 0.4 percent drop.

The nation hasn’t seen an unemployment rate below 9 percent since April 2009.

“When the average person looks at the numbers it just may be the sharp drop in the unemployment rate that resonates,” economist Joel Naroff said. “While it is still way too high, it has come down dramatically over the past two months and that could help consumer confidence.”

The nation has lost 7.7 million jobs since the first month of the recession.

The next jobs report is scheduled to be released on March 4th.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb052011

Hackers Penetrate Nasdaq Computer Network

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The computer network of the company that runs the Nasdaq Stock Market has reportedly been attacked by hackers numerous times over the past year.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal officials say that while they haven’t been able to determine specific areas that have been hacked, they are certain that the part of the network that executes trades was not penetrated. The hack attacks raise concern about the possibility of confidential information being exposed, and investigators are working to figure out just exactly who the hackers are. Officials say the hackers appear to have just been looking around, and there hasn’t been any indication of tampering with information, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

Government officials are concerned because Nasdaq is viewed on par with power companies and air traffic control operations, in terms of national importance. Now that unauthorized eyes have peered at the exchange, there is the threat that high-security government information could possibly be accessed.

Possible motives behind the hack attacks are financial gain and theft of trade secrets, among other things, but since the intruders have only been browsing, one can only speculate about motive.

While authorities are yet to identify the perpetrators, some say there is evidence that the hackers may be from Russia.

Information technology experts are trying to stay ahead of the hackers, by attempting to secure possible weak spots in the company’s network, but there is no guarantee that the network is hack-proof since hackers tend to be innovative in their attempts to penetrate networks. Both the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are conducting investigations into the matter, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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