Maine Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud's announcement Monday that he's gay is expected to have little effect on his run for governor — except, perhaps, when it comes to the money race.
There's a curious twist in the contentious debate over feeding antibiotics to animals in order to make them grow faster. Evidence suggests using antibiotics for growth promotion, at least among pigs, doesn't even make economic sense. But some pork producers don't believe it.
Kellogg announced big staff cuts today -- 7 percent of its work force. That’s about 2,200 people. It’s cutting costs and trying to boost profits, because cereal just isn’t selling the way it used to.
Cereal got its start as a health food -- a super convenient health food (You don’t have to cook your breakfast anymore! Just pour it!).
But today, cereal is a drag; people want to be free of the tyranny of spoons!
"Today, you’ve got the splurge of breakfast bars, those breakfast sandwiches that you throw in your microwave and they heat up in a minute, and then you're in your car eating it,” says Brian Yarbrough, analyst from Edward Jones. We want to multi-task our breakfast. “That saves you 15 minutes in the morning,” says Yarbrough.
Our inability to sit to eat is one of Kellogg’s problems, leading to a 2 percent decline in sales of breakfast foods. Another issue, say analysts, is that Kellogg needs to innovate to keep up.
Show us a little sparkle in the cereal aisle.
“There has been further innovation in other breakfast categories,” says Erin Lash, an analyst at Morningstar. "Yogurt is a category where there has been a lot of innovation.”
Those yogurt guys are always so ahead of the curve.
Kellogg’s innovation is probably not going to be tropical marshmallow flavored Special K. Sorry. No such luck.
Instead, says IBISWorld cereal analyst Jeffery Cohen, expect more “cereals enhanced with fiber, cereals that our full of grains.” Cereals that adults want-to want to eat.
And, Kellogg knows that for some people, a bowl of cereal just isn’t going to happen. So it's introduced other products, like Kellogg’s To Go, a spoon-free breakfast shake.
A bill to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has more Senate support than ever before. But its prospects are grim in the GOP-controlled House.
Residents reported their houses shook for one or two seconds. The waves registered by the USGS, however, were consistent with a blast, not an earthquake.
These final notes on the way out can be seen as key data points on the state of the American economy.
The first comes to us from the Wall Street Journal, which happened upon some research showing the percentage of Americans over the age of 16 who say they don't want a job.
The top-line number? 34.3 percent of people over the age of 16 say they just don't want to work at all.
The way things have been going for BlackBerry, it’s almost a surprise that the company’s still around. There was a plan to sell BlackBerry and take it private. Today we found out that the deal is off. Instead, BlackBerry is getting an investment of a Billion dollars and a new CEO.
But is that really enough to keep the company in business?
Uncertainty about the company’s future has scared away customers. For about seven years, Joanna Cazden was a loyal BlackBerry user. A few months ago, that changed.
“My last BlackBerry sort of died. It wasn’t holding its charge. It was clearly time to let go of it. And rather than get another one knowing that the company was in trouble, I got an Android,” says Cazden.
She didn’t want to invest in a company that could go bust.
Other consumers prefer all the apps available on other smart phones. But despite all the bells and whistles that came with her new phone, Cazden didn’t want to give up her old BlackBerry.
“I resisted because I like the touch-feel of the keyboard on BlackBerry. And I still miss that,” says Cazden.
BlackBerry has tried to go head-to-head with the touch-screen phones. But it’s BlackBerry’s physical keyboard that keeps consumers hooked.
It also has an advantage in terms of its power supply.
“A lot of phones struggle to make it through the day. BlackBerries have no trouble doing that. So that’s another key focus for business users,” says Jim Moorman, an equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ.
Another thing business users care about -- security. Moorman says BlackBerry beats the competition when it comes to protecting against viruses.
If BlackBerry builds on its strengths, he says it could maintain a solid base of customers.
“They have a chance to be a niche provider, but they have a lot of work to do,” says Moorman.
Investors aren’t waiting to see if the company turns itself around. They’ve been selling off the stock in a hurry. Today, shares of BlackBerry fell more than 16 percent.
Sorry may be the hardest word, but 'insider trading' might just take the cake for the most expensive couplet. Hedge fund SAC Capital pled guilty today to insider trading violations. It paid a whopping $1.8 billion and became the first Wall Street firm in years to own up to criminal conduct.
Insider information is knowledge of an event that’s going to affect a company’s stock price, things like bankruptcies; a merger with another company; and a drug getting approved or not.
"If some people have access to information that other investors don’t have, they know whether to buy a stock or sell a stock," says Lance Jon Kimmel, securities attorney with SEC lawfirm. "If we allowed that, we would have a massive collapse of confidence in our market."
SAC Capital admitted to getting earnings information from a mole at Dell Computers. The hedge fund used that information to decide whether or not to buy Dell stock, which helped it make more than a million dollars.
But drawing lines in insider trading cases isn't always easy. "If what they know is not material, simply interesting, maybe the kind of thing, where if you patch it together with various other facts, that's perfectly fine," says Donald Langevoort, a law professor at Georgetown University.
For instance, if Dell had retail stores, it wouldn’t be illegal for a worker to tell a hedge fund those stores had seen more foot traffic. It would be illegal to reveal the increase in foot traffic meant a higher quarterly profit.
Heavy fines, like today's, as well as harsh jail sentences, have deterred insider trading to some extent, says John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University, but it's not going to go away.
"Definitely that will discourage, it will never stop it," says Coffee. "There are always risk takers and sometimes you’re getting a once in a lifetime opportunity to profit."
In fact, Hollywood's most famous insider trader, Gordon Gekko, is released from serving a jail sentence for insider trading in the movie Wall Street 2... and he goes right back to a life of (very lucrative) crime.
Russian sports fans have been involved in several violent or racist episodes recently as the country prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.
For this chart, we built a simple data set based on statistics from the Internal Revenue Service, dividing different incomes into specific income brackets. The brackets themselves are not standardized.
A previous version of Income Upshot featured income information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Because of a lack of information at the higher income levels, we decided to swap out the data in favor of the current set from the IRS.
Hover over the blue bars to see how many households fall into each income range.
Forty years after she died, rock-and-roll legend Janis Joplin today will get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which runs the walk of fame, is expecting a big crowd for the dedication, though throngs of visitors can be found exploring the sidewalk any day of the week.
"Hollywood is magic for all people in my generation," tourist Daniel Aruajo said while standing on Matt Damon’s star. "I grew up seeing movies from Hollywood in Brazil, and that's my childhood, my adolescence."
But when Aruajo found out that getting a star on the Walk of Fame entails paying the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce $30,000, he didn't find it so magical.
"You're breaking all my dreams," he said.
There's more to the Walk of Fame than a sidewalk and a person’s name. Movie studios, fan clubs or anyone can raise the funds for a star. That $30,000 goes to the Hollywood Chamber, which uses the fee for installation and upkeep. But it’s not just money behind the scenes. Seeing an idol’s name in brass and pink terrazzo is all about timing too.
"A lot of times, the average person might not connect that you're seeing a picture of Julianne Moore getting a walk of fame star, and that her movie Carrie is coming out in a couple of weeks," said Amy Kaufman, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. "But the studios put a lot of effort into timing these things just right so it seems like a publicity blitz.
The buzz surrounding a star dedication could likely be worth millions of dollars in marketing exposure. But the Hollywood Chamber doesn’t hide that this is a marketing tactic.
"It's hype. Hollywood is all about hype. We help promote our community and this is the way we do it. And it brings a big tourist group," said Ana Martinez, who has run walk of fame operations for two decades.
Every year the chamber gets 200 to 300 submissions, and picks around 20 stars out of that. Janis Joplin’s family nominated her.
The star dedication is timed to coincide with a Broadway musical about the singer’s life, “A Night with Janis.”
Back on the boulevard, Joplin’s famous tune “Me and Bobby McGee” blares out the front door of a packed Irish-themed bar during happy hour. Love this scene or hate it, the Hollywood Hype machine works. Over 10 million people visit the Walk of Fame every year.
A company subsidiary pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the promotion of antipsychotic Risperdal for the treatment of dementia in elderly patients. The Food and Drug Administration never approved the drug for that use.
Early last month, the Army announced that by 2015, it'll cut 13 ROTC programs across the country. The majority of those on the chopping block are in the South. That's no coincidence. The Army cited 'shifting demographics' as the impetus behind the closures. It came as a shock to many schools.
At the University of North Alabama, for example, the entire ROTC building was renovated just this summer.
"They came in and repainted, redid the floors, and put in new windows, as well as new software and computers here," says Jose Atencio, who teaches military science here at the university.
Atencio says the news sent shock waves through the cadets in the ROTC program.
"The university's been very supportive of ROTC, and this came completely out of the blue," North Alabama president William Cale says. "We had no inkling, no warning, no opportunity to respond to whatever concerns the Army had about the program."
The concerns? That the program isn't graduating enough commissioned officers. The ROTC program started here in 1948. But the small university, with a total enrollment of about 7,000, struggled to produce more than a handful of lieutenants each year. The Army's not happy with those numbers.
"The university put its own scholarship money into the program, we renovated the facility, built a $50,000 rappelling tower, and did everything we could do to make the ROTC program viable," says Cale.
An Army spokesman says the new plan is to focus on "underrepresented parts of the country," places like New York City, Chicago, Texas and New Mexico.
Doug Lederman, editor at Inside Higher Ed, says for the schools losing their ROTC programs, the ripple effect can be huge.
"It's likely to have real impact on student choice, on where students feel like they can go to school and get some of their education paid for," Lederman says.
Cadets in their junior and senior year will be allowed to finish out the program. But freshmen and sophomore cadets, like the ones in Jose Atencio's class at the University of North Alabama, are scrambling to come up with a backup plan.
Sophomore Alyssa Primeau says her dad and his six brothers all served in the military. She chose this program because it was close to her family, and she got a scholarship.
"I had cancer when I was younger, and so I had to get a medical waiver to be here," she says.
She decided to switch schools to stay in an ROTC program. But all sorts of questions flooded her mind:
Would she have to reapply for another medical waiver? Could she keep her scholarship?
"I was worried that, you know, would I have to go through more paperwork? Would I have to do more stuff for that?" she asks.
The Army says it'll honor scholarships at other schools. Next year, Primeau will transfer to the University of Alabama, about two-and-a-half hours away.
Jose Atencio says there will be a huge hole in this little town where military service is passed on from generation to generation. He quotes a colleague of his.
"You can love the Army all you want, but it's not necessarily going to love you back," he says. "It is a business and I understand that. But there's more to closing an ROTC when you talk about community."
The community hopes to fight back by urging lawmakers to reverse the Army's decision.
For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try two pumpkin spice flavors. We sample the new Eggo Pumpkin Spice Waffle, and cleanse our palates with the classic Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.
The author of Forgotten Country went from crunching numbers to writing, though she says words were always her first love. Her novel explores the tenuous lines between freedom and selfishness.
Investigative reports from the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News concluded that the program "helped coal companies thwart efforts by ailing mine workers to receive disability benefits."
Attorneys are back in a Detroit bankruptcy court this week, arguing over whether the city qualifies for what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. But despite the bankruptcy proceedings, Detroit still faces the drag of maintaining an infrastructure built for 2 million people in a city populated by about 700,000. Let's take a quick look at just a few of the issues:
(As Rodney Dangerfield might say:) Take the buses. Please.
Detroit’s buses are notorious for being late, and breaking down. Just last month, the whole system shut down for a day over a threat of a sick-out by its drivers, who say working conditions are flat-out dangerous.
The drivers’ union president said attacks on drivers by angry passengers put four drivers in the hospital in the space of a week. Two were stabbed.
"You always have to be on your guard," said Nikia Walker, who rides the Grand River bus. "I’m scared to pull my phone out, anything. I’m scared to pull my wallet out sometimes."
We talked to Walker on bus completely filled up with passengers. At one stop, a woman in a wheelchair had to be left on the curb because there was no room for her. Passengers say this kind of thing happens all the time.
"I’ve lost three jobs because of the bus," said Takara Reaves. "There would be a bus that don’t show up, or they would be late, or I’d be on a bus that broke down. And your employer only want to hear ‘the bus broke down, or the bus was late, or the bus didn’t come’ so many times, before they think you just don’t want to come to work. And it’s not like that."
On a daily basis, one-third of the city’s workforce is out sick
Gary Brown, Detroit’s new chief operating officer, says there are two basic functions of city government that are broken in Detroit.
The first thing: On any given day, Brown says 30 to 35 percent of the city’s workforce has called in sick.
"Secondly," said Brown, "we don’t fix vehicles well. No kind of vehicle. Right now I have 400 buses. Only 200 of them work. I need 300 in order to operate."
Brown says the city is hiring a company that will investigate whether workers are actually sick.
And vehicle maintenance -- for buses, ambulances, police cars, everything -- is going to get outsourced.
Another city service that’s getting an overhaul is street lighting. It’s estimated that close to half the city’s lights don’t work. Bulbs are broken, poles are falling down and copper wire’s been stolen.
"You’ve got a system that hasn’t been properly maintained or invested in more than 50 years," said Odis Jones, executive director of the newly-created Public Lighting Authority of Detroit. "My second day on the job, the city went and filed bankruptcy."
The authority is supposed to fix those problems over the next three years. And Jones says the challenge is not an engineering one.
"The task at hand is, how do you finance improvements to our lighting system in an environment where you have the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy?" asked Jones.
Jones says despite the bankruptcy, he’s confident the bond markets will lend the authority the money it needs to fix the lights. The authority has asked the judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy case to give his blessing to a deal that would allow it to borrow $60 million to get started. Crews have just completed work in two pilot areas that will be the first to see the lights turned back on.
"It’s just not safe," said Shameka Smith. She says kids in her neighborhood have to walk to school in the dark. "We’re paying taxes … and we don’t have working street lights. I’m not understanding what the problem is with the city."
‘I’m not sure we’re asking strategic questions’
The problem, of course, is that the city is broke. It’s got to figure out a way to cope with decades of disinvestment, and support an infrastructure built for twice as many people as live there now, with a tax base less than half what it was in the 1950s.
"The courts aren’t going to figure out how to fix that for us," said Eric Scorsone, a municipal finance expert at Michigan State University. "They’re basically going to say you owe 'x' amount, you can only pay 'y', that’s what we’re going to figure out. The city’s operations and everything else are not going to be part of the bankruptcy ultimately. They’re going to have to be figured out outside bankruptcy."
Scorsone says bankruptcy will help reduce the legacy costs that are making Detroit’s systems unsustainable. But Scorsone says while bankruptcy is all-consuming right now, it’s not clear city officials are asking a critical question: for the city today, what is the infrastructure it really needs?
“Because what we have,” he said, “is a city with an infrastructure of 80 or 100 years ago. And I guess the question today is, is that even the relevant infrastructure anymore?”
For 2012, Oregon was found to be the least affordable state for center-based care for a married couple with a 4-year-old, ahead of New York, Minnesota and Vermont. Overall, the costs of child care grew up to eight times faster than family income, according to a new study.
China is now leading what some see as a space competition among Asian countries. It has worked on a lunar rover, a space station and an unmanned mission to Mars. India, meanwhile, is about to launch its own Mars mission.
In the age of Android and iPhone dominance, not too many people are interested in buying a BlackBerry anymore. The same could be said for the Canadian company that manufactures the device. On Monday, the smart phone maker announced it would abandon a bid to be taken over by a private group of investors, and that CEO Thorsten Heins will step down. Fairfax Financial Holdings, BlackBerry's largest shareholder, and a group of private investors will give the company a $1 billion cash influx to reorganize. Marketplace Reporter Sabri Ben-Achour has the latest on the news.