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October 13, 2014

McDonald’s invites food questions, including why its burgers don’t rot

Filed under: finance, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 10:07 pm

NEW YORK • McDonald’s wants to explain why its burgers may not rot and that there are no worms in its beef.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain is confronting unappetizing questions as part of a U.S. campaign to beat back perceptions that it serves Frankenfood. The company has run similar campaigns in Canada and Australia and said Monday it’s bringing the effort to its flagship market.

The push comes as McDonald’s fights to boost its performance in the U.S., where sales slid 1.5 percent at established locations in the most recent quarter, following a 0.2 percent dip for last year. In addition to increased competition, McDonald’s is trying to keep up with changing tastes, with places such as Chipotle marketing their food as more wholesome alternatives.

To improve the image of its food, McDonald’s recently rolled out chicken wraps with sliced cucumbers and the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches. It also plans to eventually let people swap out the french fries in value meals with options like salad or vegetables.

For its latest campaign, among the first issues McDonald’s addresses are widely circulated online images and videos that show its burgers staying in tact after several weeks or even years. On its webpage, McDonald’s says that’s likely because the food has dehydrated, and that food needs moisture to form mold.

The company’s responses to other questions such as “Does McDonald’s beef contain worms?” are more direct: “No. Gross! End of story.”

A video posted on the company’s home page also showed Grant Imahara, a former host of the TV show “Mythbusters,” touring a Cargill beef plant where McDonald’s patties are made.

“Are there lips and eyeballs in there, Jimmy?” Imhara asks a plant supervisor, who explains that the patties only have beef trimmings. Another guide says the patties do not contain lean finely textured beef, an ingredient widely referred to as “pink slime” that became the subject of controversy a few years ago. McDonald’s stopped using the ingredient about three years ago.

Ben Stringfellow, vice president of communications for McDonald’s USA, said in a phone interview that the campaign is a new way of engaging with customers more directly. He noted people are demanding for more information about products across the board, not just from McDonald’s.

“In many ways, it’s the way the world is going,” he said.

National TV ads will begin airing Monday letting people know about the push. McDonald’s says people can submit questions via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The company plans to respond to the most common questions with videos or other posts, as well as responding one-on-one to questions, Stringfellow said.

Laura Ries, a marketing consultant based in Atlanta, noted McDonald’s risks bringing up unappetizing thoughts some people may never have heard about.

“I didn’t know people thought there were worms in its beef, or that they didn’t use real chicken,” Ries said.

Still, she agreed that companies have to be more responsive to questions from customers, especially at a time when people can amplify their concerns and criticisms to bigger audiences on social media.

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September 29, 2014

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Filed under: finance, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:07 am

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August 24, 2014

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Filed under: finance, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:35 pm

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August 11, 2014

Mayors’ report tracks growing wage gap, but sees St. Louis as ‘balanced’

Filed under: finance, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:43 pm

The income gap between the rich Americans and middle and low-income households continues to widen, according to a new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, released this morning.

From 1975 to 2012, the highest-earning 20 percent of households saw their share of income rise from 43.6 percent to 51 percent, the report finds. Most of this gains was seen among those in the highest 5 percent of income.

In 2012, low-income households saw their share drop to 3.2 percent while the high earners saw their share jump to 51 percent. 

The findings, which echo those by other groups, point to a need for public policy action, the report says.

The report looks at the distribution of income in metropolitan areas. St. Louis emerged as one of the most-balanced of large metros — with a nearly equal number of households earning less than $35,000 a year as households earning more than $75,000.

Median income in the St. Louis area was about $53,000 a year in 2013 — 96th in the nation. It’s projected to grow to $60,000 in 2017, an annual rate of 3.1 percent.

Other large metros with “a very equal distribution,” according to the report: Phoenix, Riverside, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Providence.

The Washington, D.C. area had the highest percentage of households earnings more than $75,000 (57.5 percent) and the lowest percentage of those making less than $35,000 (17 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas had the highest percentage of low-income households (55.1 percent) and the second-lowest percentage of those making more than $75,000 (16.5 percent)

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July 21, 2014

World stocks weak as pressure on Russia grows

Filed under: finance, loans — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 2:08 pm

BEIJING (AP) — World stock markets remained on the back foot Monday as tensions grew between Russia and the West over the downing of an airliner in eastern Ukraine.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was off 0.7 percent at 9,654.54 and France’s CAC-40 shed 0.4 percent to 4,315.92. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.3 percent to 6,732.16.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow futures were down 0.1 percent at 17,009 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.1 percent to 1,969.

The shooting down last week of the Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people aboard has rattled markets, which worried about how Western governments, already alarmed by Russia’s support for rebels in Ukraine’s east, would react.

The disaster, in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists, has sparked international condemnation and increased pressure on Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine. Russian officials have blamed Ukraine’s government for creating the situation and atmosphere in which the plane was downed.

“The more pressure that builds on Russia the more volatile European indices will be,” said strategist Evan Lucas at IG Markets in a report. “With the strong trade links between the continent and Russia, any disruptions to this through sanctions will cause profit taking on European indices payday loan.”

China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.2 percent to 2,054.48 points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent at 23,387.14. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 5,539.90.

Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 2,018.50 ahead of this week’s release of quarterly economic growth data. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. Jakarta rose 0.8 percent despite tensions over presidential election results due out Tuesday, with both candidates claiming victory.

Investors were looking ahead to U.S. earnings reports amid hopes American economic growth is recovering. Results from Apple, Microsoft and Coca Cola were due out Tuesday and Caterpillar on Thursday.

In energy markets, U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery was down 1 cent to $103.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 6 cents on Friday to close at $103.13.

The euro rose to $1.3537 from $1.3525 late Friday. The dollar fell to 101.31 yen from 101.36 yen.

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April 14, 2014

U.S. businesses increased stockpiles 0.4 percent

Filed under: finance, technology — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:36 pm

WASHINGTON • U.S. businesses boosted their stockpiles in February as sales rebounded by the largest amount in nine months.

Stockpiles increased 0.4 percent in February following a similar 0.4 percent increase in January, the Commerce Department reported Monday. Sales rose 0.8 percent in February, bouncing back after a 1.1 percent sales decline in January that was blamed on the harsh weather that month. It was the biggest one-month sales gain since last May.

A separate report showed a surge in sales at the retail level in March, providing support to the view that stronger consumer spending in coming months will encourage businesses to restock their shelves and provide a boost to the economy.

While the economy slowed in the January-March quarter, many economists are looking for a strong rebound in the current quarter.

The report on business inventories covers all kinds of stockpiles, including manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing.

Inventories held by manufacturers rose the most in February, a gain of 0.7 percent, while inventories at the wholesale level were up 0.5 percent. Stockpiles held by retailers were unchanged in February.

Many analysts believe that the economy, which grew at a 2.6 percent rate in the October-December quarter, slowed in the January-March period, to somewhere between 1 percent and 2 percent growth.

That forecast is based on a view that the harsh winter weather cut into various types of economic activity, from shopping at the mall to factory production. Some believe that adverse weather cut growth by about 1 percentage point in the first quarter, but will add 1 percentage point to activity in the April-June quarter as the economy is spurred by pent-up demand in such areas as auto sales.

Another factor that affected first-quarter growth is a slowdown in the pace of restocking following a huge surge last summer.

Inventory building contributed 1.6 percentage points to economic growth in the third quarter when the economy had grown at a 4.1 percent rate. By the fourth quarter, that contribution had dwindled to just 0.03 percentage points. Analysts are not looking for inventories to add much to first quarter growth.

But for the rest of the year, there is optimism that growth will rebound to a solid rate of around 3 percent. That could make 2014 the country’s strongest year of growth since 2005.

Labor markets are improving. Employers added a solid 192,000 jobs in March, just below a revised 197,000 increase in February. Those gains suggest that the economy has recovered from the hiring slowdown caused by severe winter storms in December and January.

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April 11, 2014

Sweetie Pie’s restaurant to open location on Beale Street in Memphis

Filed under: finance, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 1:16 pm

ST. LOUIS • Sweetie Pie’s, the soul food restaurant with two locations in St. Louis, will be opening a restaurant on Beale Street in Memphis.

Sweetie Pie’s signed a lease on March 28 for a location at 349 Beale, in the eastern border of the city’s entertainment district, according to a Tweet from Paul Morris, the president of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

“I recommend the soul food and the hug from Ikette and TV Star Miss Robbie,” he Tweeted, referring to the owner, Robbie Montgomery, who is featured with her family in the reality show “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network poor credit personal loans.

Officials with the restaurant itself and the network would not confirm the news. OWN released this statement from Tim Norman, co-manager of Sweetie Pie’s: “We’re excited to be here in Memphis and are exploring options for a new restaurant and will have news to share soon.”

The restaurant is at 4270 Manchester Road in The Grove and 3643 Delmar Boulevard in Grand Center in St. Louis.

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February 28, 2014

Court of Appeal denies Melissa Todorovic new trial for Stefanie Rengel murder

Filed under: finance, online — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 9:16 am

The Ontario Court of Appeal has denied Melissa Todorovic a new trial for the murder of 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel and upheld her adult sentence of life in prison.

Todorovic was 15 when she taunted and sexually blackmailed her 17-year-old boyfriend into stabbing Rengel to death on New Year’s Day 2008, a jury found in convicting her of first-degree murder.

Though she was tried as a young offender, trial judge Ian Nordheimer sentenced her as an adult to life in prison, with no parole for seven years, and allowed authorities to monitor her for life.

Her boyfriend, David Bagshaw, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was also sentenced as an adult to life in prison.

The ruling is disappointing, Todorovic’s lawyer, Brian Snell, said Thursday afternoon, adding that Todorovic should not have been convicted.

“Primarily we are disappointed because Melissa never intended David Bagshaw to commit this terrible murder.”

Snell had argued that two video statements made to police by the 15-year-old, in which she admitted a role in the murder, were inadmissible at trial under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because the police did not properly explain her rights.

In the interviews, Todorovic told police she knew Bagshaw was going to Rengel’s house that night to kill her and that she called him 15 minutes after the murder asking, “Is she dead?”

She then said she called Bagshaw back, asking where he’d stabbed Rengel.

The panel of three Court of Appeal judges agreed with the trial judge that the two video statements at issue were admissible.

Todorovic and her mother freely went to the police station when asked and were not detained, they found.

And after Todorovic began incriminating herself, the Court of Appeal found she was properly advised of her right to speak to a lawyer and have one present.

As the trial judge said in his reasons, Todorovic “clearly understood her rights to have a lawyer present and willingly chose to waive those rights and participate in the second interview,” wrote Justice Marc Rosenberg on behalf of the panel.

Snell also argued that Todorovic should have been sentenced as a young offender, not as an adult.

The appeal judges rejected Snell’s argument that the trial judge erred by speculating that the “appellant would represent a risk to reoffend in a violent way.”

The trial judge found the psychiatric evidence unhelpful in assessing the future risk, but he also had the evidence of the murder, wrote Rosenberg.

“(The murder) was conceived out of the appellant’s distorted view of her relationship with Bagshaw and of his relationship with the victim. She also continued to show no empathy for the victim and harboured ongoing thoughts of hurting other persons. Those circumstances strongly suggested that the appellant was at risk to reoffend,” wrote Rosenberg.

“The psychological testing showed that a disordered personality was well-established despite the appellant’s young age and the appellant would be difficult to successfully treat.”

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February 18, 2014

Work Boots to Fruit Squeezed as Australian Manufacturing Wanes - Bloomberg

Filed under: finance, legal — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:32 pm

From tinned fruit to work boots, high labor costs and an elevated currency are squeezing Australian manufacturing, threatening to increase a jobless rate already at the highest level in more than 10 years.

Alcoa Inc. (AA) announced the closure of an aluminum smelter and two mills with the loss of 980 jobs, while Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. (CCL), the nation

July 29, 2013

Father-to-be killed in Brampton motorcycle-car collision

Filed under: finance, management — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:36 am

Anthon Burrows was ecstatic when he and his wife, Christine, learned from their fertility clinic on July 3 that she was finally pregnant after many failed attempts.

When they returned on July 19 for the first ultrasound and learned they were having twins, Burrows, a native of the Bahamas, broke the news to everyone, singing “We are having twins” all day long.

“I sat there in shock. I didn’t know how we were going to make it. Anthon touched my shoulders and laughed, with a twinkle in his eyes, and assured me that there are two babies and there are two of us,” said Christine Burrows, 34, a teacher at Brampton’s Westervelts Corners Public School.

Now, Christine will have to raise their two children by herself.

Just before 10 p.m. Monday, Burrows, 27, was on his way home on his motorbike from visiting a friend and sharing his excitement about becoming a father when he was struck by a Toyota Camry on McLaughlin Rd., near Bovaird Dr. He suffered fatal injuries and was later pronounced dead at Brampton Civic Hospital.

“Now all my questions he had answers for are up in the air again. How am I going to go back to sleep, keep our house and raise our kids by myself?” asked Christine, choking back tears.

The couple met in the Bahamas in 2006, while Christine was on vacation with her sister, Jane Angove. Burrows, a marine biologist, happened to be the boat captain for the week-long snorkelling tour.

“Anthon was very loving and had a wonderful personality. He shared with us his marine-biology knowledge about fish and sharks,” recalled Christine, who is seven weeks into her pregnancy. “We stayed in touch and emailed each other millions of times.”

After two years of back-and-forth visits between Canada and the Caribbean, Anthon moved here in 2008. The two tied the knot the following year, and had been trying to become parents ever since.

As soon as they learned the good news, Christine said, Anthon started talking about naming the twins, teaching them to play drums as he did, taking them to Disneyland and doing things other doting parents would do.

“Anthon was a fantastic man and had a joyful life. He always had a smile on his face,” said Nicole Martucci, Christine’s best friend and co-worker. “You could count on him for anything. His laugh was contagious.”

Derek Woodgate, Christine’s brother-in-law, said Burrows was ambitious and recently started a basement waterproofing business. “His life goal was to do what he was told he couldn’t do,” Woodgate said.

Bidding farewell to her husband in the hospital, Christine cut a piece of Anthon’s dreadlocks that she has braided into a ring.

“I’m a single mother, a widow. My lover, partner, is gone. I’m dealing with losing him, but I have to keep the memory of him alive for his children,” she said, touching the ring on her wedding finger.

A visitation will be held Tuesday evening at the Andrews Community Funeral Centre in Brampton, followed by a funeral Wednesday morning. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested at supportburrowstwins.com to help support the couple’s twins.

Christine said she will put a set of the babies’ ultrasound images into her husband’s coffin. The Association of Bahamians in Canada band, in which Anthon played drums, will perform at the funeral. Family and friends also plan to wear a T-shirt bearing an image of Anthon at this year’s Caribana parade to remember him.

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