Archive for January, 2012

Owner of Kirkwood bar to sue city over liquor license

The owner of a controversial Kirkwood sports bar said he plans to challenge the city of Atlanta’ss decision to deny his liquor license application.

Mayor Kasim Reed recently denied the alcohol permit for Kirkwood Bar & Grill when the issue landed on his desk for review after a December hearing by the city’s License Review Board, which voted to deny the permit.

David Johnson, owner of the bar at 1963 Hosea Williams Dr. SE, said he would appeal the decision and would sue the city based on a violation of his civil rights.

“There are a few remedies the law permits us to use,” Johnson said Tuesday. His attorney, Alan Begner, said he would file an appeal challenging the mayor’s decision that the mayor’s office said was based on neighborhood concerns. Kirkwood residents had complained that Johnson had violated city codes by staying open later than his permit allowed and that the restaurant was a magnet for crime.

“There is no ground to deny this application,” Begner said. He said the …

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Does it matter if your iPhone is made ‘ethically’?

There’s a petition floating around in cyberspace urging Apple to produce an iPhone 5 that has been manufactured “ethically.”

By ethically, the watchdog group SumOfUs means an iPhone that is put together by suppliers that don’t have employees working under deplorable conditions, according to a CNET report on the petition drive.

The petition obtained more than 35,000 signatures in its first 24 hours, SumOfUs said, and it hopes to apply pressure before the release of the next iPhone.

Apple, which reported a $13 billion quarterly profit last week, has adopted a code of conduct for its suppliers, but as The New York Times reported recently on conditions in China, alleged abuses abound at manufacturers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices:

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and …

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Saying no to Facebook cost him $400 million

Everyone has a story about the one that got away.

But no one has a better tale of woe on this front than Joe Green.

Back when he was a student at Harvard, his pal and roommate Mark Zuckerberg came to him in 2004 with an idea for a business that came to be known as Facebook. Zuckerberg suggested they drop out and turn their attentions to his plan.

The two had worked together while students on another website project called Facemash, so they had a strong bond.

Problem was that Facemash got them in trouble with university officials. So much so, in fact, that Green was threatened with expulsion if he didn’t tone things down.

So when buddy Zuckerberg came along with his latest rock-the-boat idea, Green backed off.

That decision, as pointed out in this piece from Good Morning America, roughly cost him a cool $400 million.

Zuckerberg’s now worth billions.

Green, it’s noted, has gone on to other good things and he’s far from regretful, he said.

He even owns a bundle of Facebook …

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Gas prices up 3.4 cents in the last week

Filling your tank will lighten your pockets a bit more this week as gas prices in metro Atlanta continue to climb.  Pump prices have risen 3.4 cents in the last week —  to an average of $3.48 a gallon on Sunday.

Analysts point to three main reasons for the uptick: a shutdown of multiple refineries across the U.S.; the continuing economic turmoil in Europe, and Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

“Although oil prices remain near $100 a barrel, retail gas prices continue to rise at a steady pace,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman. “Concerns of dwindling supplies from refinery shutdowns in the U.S., at a time when gas demand is starting to improve are driving pump prices higher.” She said consumers are likely to see gas prices increase again this week.

Prices Sunday were 51.5 cents per gallon higher than the same day a year ago and are 28.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago, according to GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. 

“We continue to …

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McD’s drops “pink slime” from its burgers

This oughta’ help that next fast food lunch go down better.

McDonald’s is no longer using an additive filler known as “pink slime” in its world-famous hamburgers.

What, you don’t know about the pink slime?

That’s spare beef trimmings treated with ammonium hydroxide to make them safe and possibly tastier.

Pink slime, for all its yumminess, has been the target of some serious criticism, ranging from newspaper reports to a campaign by TV chef Jamie Oliver to get rid of the stuff.

As gross and potentially dangerous as it sounds, the government has said pink slime is not a threat.

Ammoniated beef trimmings were  deemed good to go five years ago during a U.S. Department of Agriculture crackdown on ground beef, even though the meat  “comes from the parts of the cow most likely to harbor pathogens,”  according to Huffington Post. The ammonia supposedly kills any bacteria in the beef.

Eat up.

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Has Twitter gone to the dark side with new censorship?

Twitter is going into the censorship business, and followers don’t like it.

The hugely popular social network, which unwittingly has helped fuel pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and elsewhere by allowing pretty much unfettered access to tweets, has decided to take down tweets that may break the law in one country but allow that same tweet to be seen in other countries. Previously, when a tweet came down it vanished from screens throughout the world.

Twitter says it’ll post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is taken down and it’ll also post on the website chillingeffects.org censorship notices that it gets from governments, companies and individuals.

Twitter defends the move as “a good thing for freedom of expression, transparency and accountability,” according to an Associated Press report.

The freedom-of-the-press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, however, says Twitter will help suppress voices of dissent.

From the AP:

“By finally choosing to …

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Georgia 34th friendliest for business taxes

Lawmakers and others hoping to make Georgia more attractive to employers won’t be heartened by a new report that assesses the state’s business tax climate.

Georgia ranked 34th among states in its “business-friendliness,” according to the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan tax research group based in Washington. That puts it behind Southeast neighbors including Florida (No. 5), Tennessee (No. 14), Mississippi (No. 17) and Alabama (No. 20), as well as Far West states including the top three, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nevada, and even old-line manufacturing centers including Michigan (No. 18) and Pennsylvania (No. 19).

Tax Foundation economist Mark Robyn noted that, “Even in our global economy, a state’s stiffest competition often comes from other states. State lawmakers need to be aware of how their states’ business climates match up to their neighbors and to other states in their region.”

The State Business Tax Climate Index, in its eighth edition, incorporates dozens of tax …

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Would you take $14,460 payout in cruise ship disaster?

What’s the right amount of compensation for a ruined and traumatic cruise ship experience?

Let’s say you were asleep and suddenly you awoke to chaos, with everyone around you making a mad dash for life jackets and lifeboats. Even the captain had abandoned ship.

You made it to shore safely, but all of your baggage and other belongings were on the ship, which was nearly swallowed by the surrounding water. The only thing you were left with is the trauma of it all.

Carnival’s Costa Concordia thinks uninjured passengers on the cruise ship that went down Jan. 13 off Tuscany should get $14,460 (euro 11,000) apiece, according to an Associated Press report. The passengers also would be reimbursed for the full costs of the cruise and return travel expenses.

The deal does not apply to crew members or families who lost loved ones, according to the AP. The ship had 3,206 passengers from 61 countries on board when it went down. Authorities say16 bodies have been recovered; 16 were …

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Report calls Atlanta 2nd worst housing market

A company that studies the housing market for the banking business, Local Market Monitor, has compiled a three-year forecast for the top 100 cities.

The prognosis for housing in Atlanta: not good.

In fact, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metroplex comes in No. 2 in the bottom five markets in the nation. That is, it’s second worst, behind only Wilmington, Del.

The problems with our market cited in the forecast are well familiar. The number of jobs has fallen, income is below average, prices have been falling and we overbuilt.

Rounding out the bottom 5 are Tucson, Jacksonville and Sacramento, all of which have suffered big drop offs in home prices.

The top five housing markets are: McAllen, Tx, San Jose, Akron, Houston and Pittsburgh.

The winners gained from factors including jobs growth and, in some but not all of those markets, home price stability in good times and bad. No boom, no bust. There’s more in the report from MarketWatch.

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Critics taking a bite out of Olive Garden

Olive Garden likes to say, “When you’re here, you’re family.”

Lately, the family’s had a falling out.

That’s according to a dispatch from McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers remarking on the dwindling draw of the long-popular Italian dining destination.

Everyone from academics to (former) customers takes a shot at the chain.

One memorable line from a financial counselor who doesn’t go there anymore: “They pour subpar wine and play Dean Martin music and call it an Italian restaurant.”

Executives at the restaurant’s parent company wouldn’t dish for the article, but it’s noted that changes are in the works, including a remodeling and a menu re-do. There’ll be new ads, too.

Olive Garden, owned by the same folks who run Red Lobster, still had more than $3 billion in sales last year, and it’s more than a few plates in front of category runner-up, Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Still, while industry analysts say a fix is possible, they also say it won’t be …

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