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Tuesday
Oct192010

Another Product Recall for Johnson & Johnson

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FORT WASHINGTON, Pa.) -- Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare announced a voluntary nationwide recall Monday of one product lot of Tylenol 8 Hour caplets 50 count bottles at the retail level. 

McNeil decided the recall was necessary after receiving "a small number of complaints" about a "musty or moldy odor." 

The company said Monday that this odor is uncharacteristic of this product and thought to be produced by the presence of trace amounts of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole.

Johnson & Johnson has recalled other products over the past year for the same or similar reasons.



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Tuesday
Oct192010

Justice Department Sues Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in Anti-Trust Case

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), alleging that the group raises hospital rates and prevents other insurance companies from being able to enter the health care marketplace in the state.  The Justice Department says BCBSM's behavior is in violation of the Sherman Act.

"The department's lawsuit alleges that the intent and effect of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's MFNs is to raise hospital costs for competing health plans and reduce competition for the sale of health insurance," said Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Anti-Trust Division.  MFNs are most favored nation provisions that grant favorable terms to selected providers, making competition difficult.

The suit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan. 

The Department of Justice says that the court will determine a pretrial schedule for the case as soon as BCBSM files its response to the lawsuit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct192010

National Retail Federation Expects Holiday Gift Spending to Increase

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Retail Federation predicts overall holiday spending this year to increase by 2.3 percent compared to 2009 and reach $447 billion. Overall sales increased slightly last year and were down 3.9 percent in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.

“Consumers will still shop with the economy in the back of their minds, but we’re starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal,” says Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

Though the NRF believes the current state of the economy will weigh on most Americans' minds, there are ways by which retailers can entice consumers to spend.  Consumers tell the retail trade group that they’re looking to maximize their holiday spending by looking for discounts, using coupons and doing comparison shopping online and with their smartphones.

NRF says the most popular categories for gifts remain clothing and books, CDs and DVDs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct182010

Apple Announces Record Revenue in Fourth Quarter Earnings Report, But Shares Still Drop

Photo Courtesy - Apple Inc.(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple Inc. on Monday announced record revenue and net income totals for the fiscal fourth quarter.  According to its fourth quarter earnings report, the electronics company's net income increased 70 percent compared to the same time period last year, and its revenue improved by 67 percent.

"We are blown away to report over $20 billion in revenue and over $4 billion in after-tax earnings -- both all-time records for Apple," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  "iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1-million phone RIM sold in their most recent quarter," Jobs continued.  "We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year."

Despite Jobs' optimism, Apple shares dropped nearly six percent after the report was released Monday due to iPad sales falling short of expectations. The company sold 4.2 million iPads during the fourth quarter, falling short of the five million mark predicted by analysts.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that Apple Inc. expects revenue of "about $23 billion" in the first fiscal quarter of 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct182010

UC Berkeley Study: Passengers Pay Half of $32.9 Billion in Flight Delay Costs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BERKELEY) -- A study released Monday by the University of California, Berkeley found that domestic flight delays cost $32.9 billion, with $16.7 billion of that cost falling onto the lap of passengers through lost time and expenses.

"This is the most comprehensive study done to date analyzing the monetary cost of airline flight delays," said Mark Hansen, UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor and lead researcher on the study. 

The study, which was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration, analyzed data from 2007 that was intended to calculate the financial impact of flight delays on both airlines and passengers, the cost of lost demand, and the collective impact of these costs on the U.S. economy, according to UC Berkeley.

Study results ultimately showed that "decreased delays directly correlate with increased costs."  The $16.7 billion costs carried by airline passengers was calculated  "based on lost passenger time due to flight delays, cancellations and missed connections, plus expenses such as food and accommodations that are incurred from being away from home for additional time," said UC Berkeley researchers. "The FAA commissioned the research because previous studies had discrepant numbers in some key areas of concern."

"The significance of this study is its use of innovative techniques to quantify the total cost of congestion to the aviation industry, the economy and society," said David K. Chin, director of performance analysis and strategy at the FAA's Strategy and Performance Business Unit. "These innovations created new economic measures for airline schedule padding, passenger delay impact and lost productivity," said Chin.

According to the report, "not all delays can or should be eliminated, especially delays due to mechanical failures and severe weather that are necessary to protect passenger safety."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct182010

Bank of America to Resume Foreclosure Sales in 23 States

Photo Courtesy - Bank of America(NEW YORK) -- Bank of America plans to resubmit foreclosure affidavits in 23 states on Monday, Oct. 25.  The 50-state foreclosure freeze which began Oct. 8 will continue in 27 states until review of foreclosure files is completed on a state-by-state basis.

"We have reviewed our process for resubmission of foreclosure affidavits in the 23 judicial states with key stakeholders, including our largest investors.  Accordingly, Bank of America today began the process of preparing foreclosure affidavits for submission in 102,000 foreclosure actions in which judgment is pending,"  the financial institution said in a statement Monday.

Bank of America also anticipates that the first foreclosure affidavits will be resubmitted to the courts by Monday, Oct. 25.  Upon the courts' judgments, foreclosure dates will be set and Bank of America will resume sales of foreclosed homes in 23 states.

The mortgage lender also explained its reasoning for review of its foreclosure sales process by saying, "Our decision to review our process and later, to extend our review to all 50 states, has been an important step to give customers confidence they are being treated fairly."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct172010

Hilton Hotel Workers Walk Off the Job

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WLS-TV Chicago(CHICAGO) -- Hundreds of workers at Chicago’s Hilton hotel remained off the job Sunday broadening a growing labor action against one of America's best known hotel chanins.

Employees at Hilton hotels in Honolulu and San Francisco began striking last week.

The Chicago Hilton workers said they would strike through Monday to protest against a company they say wants to lock its employees into cheap contracts.

The union’s hotel contract expired a year ago and workers claim that the chain refuses to offer competitive wages and benefits.

Workers say the company erased some of its debt by accepting millions in federal bailout funds.

"They want us to do more work. They want to subcontract jobs that are union jobs, and they're doing this all when they received $180 million in taxpayer money," said Derek Hanson, a Hilton bellman.

The company released a statement calling the protests “unnecessary” adding that "under current difficult economic conditions and with 10% unemployment, the union also continues to insist on wage increases of up to 7% annually and several other very costly proposals."

Hilton added that its "employees currently are paid competitive wages and enjoy many generous benefits, including fully paid health insurance with virtually no employee contribution."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct162010

Blackout: Fox Pulls Programming from Cablevision

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 3 million New York-area households lost access to Fox programming overnight, when the network’s parent company pulled its channels from Cablevision as the result of an ongoing dispute over programming fees.

“Cablevision already pays News Corp. more than $70 million a year for its channels,” Cablevision said in a statement. “News Corp. is demanding more than $150 million a year for the same exact programming.”

The outages include FOX5 and MY9 in New York, and FOX29 in Philadelphia. FOX Business Network, NatGeo Wild and FOX Deportes were among the News Corp.-owned network’s to be blacked out.

"We deeply regret that Cablevision refuses to recognize the value of our programming,” said FOX5 and MY9 Vice President and General Manager Lew Leone.

Negotiations between the two sides continue.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

(NEW YORK) -- More than 3 million New York-area households lost access to Fox programming overnight, when the network’s parent company pulled its channels from Cablevision as the result of an ongoing dispute over programming fees.

Cablevision already pays News Corp. more than $70 million a year for its channels,” Cablevision said in a statement. “News Corp. is demanding more than $150 million a year for the same exact programming.”

The outages include FOX5 and MY9 in New York, and FOX29 in Philadelphia. FOX Business Network, NatGeo Wild and FOX Deportes were among the News Corp.-owned network’s to be blacked out.


"We deeply regret that Cablevision refuses to recognize the value of our programming,” said FOX5 and MY9 Vice President and General Manager Lew Leone.

Negotiations between the two sides continue.


Saturday
Oct162010

Former Countrywide CEO to Pay Record Fine

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo will pay a record $67.5 million to settle fraud charges with the federal government, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday.

Mozilo is accused of having deliberately misled shareholders by failing to disclose the high risk loans his company – once the country’s largest mortgage lender – was making at the height of the financial crisis.

The settlement is the largest-ever SEC penalty to be paid by a company’s senior executive.

“This record penalty is a fitting outcome for a corporate executive who deliberately disregarded his duty to investors by concealing what he saw from inside the executive suite at Countrywide,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

Two other former Countrywide executives – former chief operating officer David Sambol and former chief financial officer Eric Sieracki – will also pay fines.

By settling, the individuals neither confirm nor deny wrongdoing in the case.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct152010

Retail Sales Better than Expected in September

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Retail sales rose a higher-than-expected 0.6 percent in September, according to numbers released by the U.S. Commerce Department on Friday, the third such consecutive gain.

“This rising trend signals that consumer spending is expanding and that the recovery is broadening,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.

Consumers spent more on electronics and appliances, the report said. Car sales increased 1.6 percent.

“The outlook for sustained growth remains positive,” Locke said, “and this administration remains focused on continuing the economic turnaround that has now seen four straight quarters of GDP growth and nine straight months in which the private sector has added jobs.”

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