Broken Pipeline Pushes Oil Prices Higher

(NEW YORK) -- The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which carries 650,000 barrels per day, has shut down oil shipments from the North Slope to the Valdez Marine Terminal due to an apparent oil leak on Saturday.

The leak was discovered this weekend in the first of the pipeline's pumping stations. Since the discovery, the leak has reportedly been contained to a basement in the pumping station, and about 10 barrels from the leak have been recovered.

According to the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the pipeline is working at only five percent of total capacity because of the shutdown. As a result, oil traders are pushing oil prices 1.5 percent higher on Monday (near $90 a barrel).

Much of the West Coast of the U.S. relies on the 12 percent of U.S. oil production pushed through the pipeline.

Engineers are developing a plan to attempt to bypass the affected pipe and analysts believe the shutdown should be short-lived.

Copyright 2011 ABC Radio News


Unemployment Numbers Rise for Young Veterans

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Despite promising economic news in the first week of January that unemployment had fallen to a 19-month low, unemployment among veterans who have served since 2001 has risen, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor.

The numbers say that unemployment jumped to 11.7 percent in December from 10 percent in November for veterans who have served in the Armed Forces since September 2001.

"Primarily, employers resist hiring people – such as veterans – who have been out of the domestic workforce for an extended period of time. Besides that, some potential employers have difficulty understanding how specialized skills and expertise gained in the service translate into their own needs,” said Jimmie Foster, national commander of The American Legion.

Most Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are men 25 to 34 years old, and 46 percent have some college education or an associate’s degree, compared with just 28 percent of non-veterans in the same age group.

The American Legion helps to hold job workshops across the country in order to find employment for veterans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Mac App Store Tops 1 Million Downloads, Apple Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple is having instant success with the online Mac App Store. The company said the store had more than one million downloads on its first day, this past Thursday.

“We’re amazed at the incredible response the Mac App Store is getting,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Users with Apple's Snow Leopard operating system can download the Mac App Store through a basic software update.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Volt Named Car of the Year

Chevrolet[dot]com(DETROIT) -- Automotive journalists selected the Chevrolet Volt as the North American car of the year for 2011 on Monday. 

It will be next year before the Volt goes on sale nationwide. "We are very bullish on the Volt so we are continuously monitoring and watching and when the time presents itself when the country is ready for more we are absolutely prepared and interested in giving them more Volts", says Chevrolet's Pamela Fletcher, who expects to sell about 45,000 of them. 

The cars run on electricity for 40 miles before a backup gas engine takes over. The Volt costs about $41,000 before a $7,500 tax credit drops the price. 

Nissan is ramping up production of the Leaf and Ford just introduced the electric Focus. "It's important that we get these vehicles out there, get them launched and then get the customers and country frankly to realize these are important vehicles and this is the way we ought to go in the country", says Ford Chairman Bill Ford. With gas prices rising he expects demand for electric cars to grow, though it'll be next year before most Americans have the opportunity to drive them. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DOT Forces More Disclosure by Regional Airlines

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government is cracking down on airlines and third-party ticketing sites that make it difficult for travelers to decipher who is really flying their plane.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Enforcement Office announced Monday it is giving airlines and online ticket agents 60 days to modify websites to make it easier for travelers to learn if their flight is being flown by a large airline like Continental or Delta or a smaller regional airline operating under the mainline carrier's banner.

Under code-sharing, an airline sells tickets on flights that use the airline's code, but are actually operated by a different carrier. Longstanding DOT rules require airlines to disclose code-sharing arrangements to consumers before they book a flight, but legislation adopted in August 2010 has also clarified the requirements for Internet websites that sell airline tickets.

"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have the right to know which airline will be operating their flight," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "For years we've required airlines to inform consumers about code-sharing arrangements, and we'll be monitoring the industry closely to make sure they comply with the provisions of the new legislation."

Federal law requires airlines and independent booking sites to disclose upfront when a flight is operated by somebody else, like a regional airline. But many sites never disclose the name of the actual airline or require several clicks to learn the identity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ford to Add 7,000 U.S. Workers in Next Two Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Ford Motor Company announced Monday it will add 7,000 new hourly and salaried jobs between this year and next in the United States. 
This year alone, Ford is adding nearly 4,000 hourly jobs at several of its U.S. plants, including 1,800 at Louisville Assembly Plant, which is preparing to launch the next-generation Ford Escape late in the year. Ford also will add 750 salaried engineering jobs in product development and manufacturing. Next year, Ford expects to add at least 2,500 more new manufacturing positions.
“Ford is committed to American manufacturing, and we are on a path to add more than 7,000 American workers over the next two years as we continue to grow our product lineup,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. “Working with our partners, including the UAW, Ford is finding competitive ways to engineer and build even more high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles with technologies American consumers really want.”
Ford is recruiting salaried engineers specializing in batteries, system controls, software and energy storage to work on electric vehicles in Detroit and eight other cities including Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee; Raleigh and Durham, N.C.; and San Jose, Calif. This recruitment launches at the 2011 North American International Auto Show during industry preview days on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pipeline Leak Cuts North Slope Production

Photo Courtesy - JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- The company that operates the Trans Alaska Pipeline has reduced flow by 95 percent after a leak was discovered on Saturday.

In a statement, Alyeska Pipeline Service said the leak was discovered when oil was found in a booster pump room at its Pump Station 1.  The Operations Control Center in Anchorage automatically cut flow at that point.  The company says no one was hurt.  Federal, state and company officials are on the site working to contain and assess any damage.

The Wall Street Journal says the reduction in flow is a big blow to BP, the largest oil producer that uses the pipeline.  The north slope produces about 630,000 barrels of oil per day or 9 percent of total U.S. production.  The Journal says BP accounts for about two-thirds of that.

Industry experts tell the Journal the shutdown should have no real impact on crude supplies because of surplus stored at the Port of Valdez.

Alyeska is owned by BP, Conoco, Exxon Mobil, Unocal and Koch Industries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


2011 Racks Up Its First Bank Failures

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The state with the most bank failures in 2010 begins the new year with the first bank failure of 2011 in the United States.  Orlando-based First Commercial Bank of Florida is the first with Scottsdale, Arizona's Legacy Bank the second of the year.

Boca Raton's First Southern Bank has taken over ownership of First Commercial and says that all deposits are immediately available.  Legacy has been taken over by Enterprise Bank and Trust out of St. Louis and said it will immediately reopen all former Legacy branches, under the Enterprise name, when the business week resumes.

There were 157 bank failures across the United States in 2010 and officials are hoping that trend does not continue.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Company last week announced it is going after bank executives associated with failed banks, seeking $2.5 billion dollars from 109 individuals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Verizon Coming to the iPhone?

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Pierce Promotions(NEW YORK) -- The technology world is currently crowded into the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but the most hotly anticipated announcement in the gadget universe is not expected to come until after the massive trade show wraps.

Verizon sent out crimson envelopes to announce an event to be held in New York next Tuesday, launching a thousand blog posts at week's end. The speculation? That the largest U.S. wireless carrier will finally be available for the iPhone.

The non-transferrable invitations ("Join us as we share the latest news from Verizon Wireless") went out to technology bloggers and beat reporters, many with extensive Apple coverage under their belts, on Friday afternoon. Verizon isn't commenting, but by Friday evening the Wall Street Journal was reporting that it had obtained confirmation from "a person familiar with the matter."

If indeed true, the news means that for the first time consumers will be able to choose from one of two carriers for their iPhones, which have only run on AT&T's network (to the chagrin of many customers and would-be iPhone buyers).

The move would also signal Apple possibly feeling pressure from Google. The search giant's Android-based phones passed the iPhone in sales for the first time in the second quarter, according to the IT research firm Gartner.

Earlier this week at CES, Verizon announced its first tablet and phone for its new '4G' high-speed wireless data network. Verizon's may be the fastest wireless network in the country at the moment, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But for now, you can't use your iPhone on it.

Apple is famous for its glitzy events, but the envelope that went out Friday is very clearly an invitation to a Verizon reveal. Its "Rule the Air" shindig will be held (on 1/11/11 at 11 a.m.) at New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center. Could they finally be making beautiful music with Apple?

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Ford Debuts Electric Focus to Compete Against Chevy Volt, Other Plug-In Cars

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(DEARBORN, Mich.) -- Ford Motor Company made its modern electric debut Friday, unveiling an electric Ford Focus.

Ford introduced the new Focus not at an auto show, but at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a symbolic break in tradition for a car company eager to supercharge a field crowded with plug-in competition.

For Ford, it's a back-to-the-future story. Henry Ford's wife drove an electric car back in 1914, and now their great-grandson Bill Ford will drive an electric vehicle they couldn't have imagined.

Bill Ford, the executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, told ABC News in an exclusive interview that electric cars are now critical for the auto giant.

"To me, these are very much about signaling where this company is headed and, frankly, where this country ought to be headed," Ford said.

ABC News was given a chance to test-drive the new model at Ford's Dearborn, Mich. headquarters. Nearly identical to Ford's gasoline Focus hatchback, the new electric car accelerates quickly and quietly, going from zero to sixty in less than 10 seconds.

Unlike GM's Chevy Volt, Ford's electric car has no gasoline engine for backup. It can drive from 80 to 100 miles on a full charge. The car even communicates with smart phones, so a driver can call his car remotely and order it to charge immediately, or wait for utility rates to drop at nighttime.

Ford joins GM, Nissan and Toyota in mass-producing plug-in cars.

In San Diego, Tom Hamilton just bought a Nissan Leaf, with big help from the government. He was granted a $7,500 federal tax break, and another $5,000 break from California for buying electric.

"I paid $35,000-ish, and I got $12,500 back," Hamilton said.

Electrics and hybrids are still a tiny sliver of the car market, making up just 2.39 percent of the market in 2010, according to J.D. Power & Associates. But electrics could account for over 8 percent by 2015 and 10 percent by 2020, the firm says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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