Archive for September, 2012

Report: Coca-Cola spends big to kill effort to label genetically modified foods

Coca-Cola is one of several mega-corporations trying to kill off an effort in California to identify foods that have been genetically modified on their package labels, The New York Times is reporting.

Coke is joining bioengineering kingpins including Monsanto and DuPont in spending millions on the campaign to crush what’s known as Proposition 37.

The battle pits some smaller organic foods companies like Nature’s Path and consumer advocates, who want the labeling requirement, against some  industry giants, who do not.

In a twist, some of the best-known organic foods brands, including Kashi, Cascadian Farm and Horizon Organic, are owned by giant companies like Kellogg and Dean Foods, who oppose the labeling.

Coca-Cola, owner of the Odwalla and Honest Tea brands, has put in more than $1 million to kill the initiative, the Times said.

In the U.S., most processed foods including cereals and snacks have lab-altered ingredients, the Times noted. Certified organic products are …

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Intel: Passwords will become obsolete

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Imagine a life without passwords. Intel can and it hopes to do away them with new technology the chip maker is testing.

Intel researchers are developing a tablet that recognizes the unique patterns of veins in a person’s palm, removing the need to enter passwords, according to a Reuters report.

Sridhar Iyengar, director of security research at Intel Labs, said the key is biometrics, which involves using unique physiological characteristics to verify identities. The use of biometrics is considered more accurate than passwords, tokens or PINs, which could fall into the hands of anyone.

The tablet prototype Ivengar presented Thursday at a developer forum in San Francisco used new software and a biometric sensor to recognize his palm, Reuters reported.

Iyengar quickly waved his hand in front of the tablet without touching it. Once the tablet recognized his identity, Iyengar said, it could pass the information on securely to banks, social networks and …

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U.S. households not using banks on rise

More than one in four U.S. households are either underbanked or unbanked, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said.

Since 2009, when the FDIC did its initial survey on the subject, 821,000 more households have become unbanked, a 0.6 percent increase

More than one-half of those households that are unbanked said they don’t have a bank account because they think they don’t have enough money or they don’t want an account.

The study also shows that three in 10 households in the U.S. don’t have a savings account.

FDIC acting chairman Martin Gruenberg said, “Access to an account at a federally insured institution provides households with the opportunity to conduct basic financial transactions, build wealth, save for emergency and long-term security needs, and access credit on fair and affordable terms.”

The survey found that one-quarter of U.S. households have used at least one alternative financial service such as non-bank check cashing or payday loans in the last …

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Hooters looking for more women – as customers

(Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com)

(Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com)

It may come as no surprise that two-thirds of Hooters’ customers are men, no doubt drawn to the restaurant’s burgers and chicken wings.

And, possibly, the waitresses clad in tight shirts and orange shorts.

The Atlanta-based company with more than 450 locations, however, has embarked on a makeover to draw more women to its tables – as customers, according to a Bloomberg interview with company officials.

Chief Executive Officer Terry Marks recently told Bloomberg the company is including more items on the menu to attract women, like a better selection of fresh salad choices, and installing larger windows and more lights to brighten up the place and its dark-wood walls. More contemporary furnishings are also planned.

Chief Marketing Officer Dave Henninger told Bloomberg, “For those folks who are convinced there’s something to hide inside a Hooters, this new design should disabuse them of that notion.”

Marks, however, says the …

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New iPhone 5 unveiled; Apple starts shipping Sept. 21

(Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller highlights features of the new iPhone 5 Wednesday in San Francisco. (Associated Press)

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller highlights features of the new iPhone 5 Wednesday in San Francisco. (Associated Press)

(Updated 5:28 p.m.)

Apple Inc. unveiled its newest iPhone, called the iPhone 5, at a San Francisco product launch Wednesday kicked off by CEO Tim Cook.

AT&T said it will begin taking pre-orders for the new phone Friday. The prices are $199.99 for the 16GB model, $299.99 for the 32GB model and $399.99 for the 64GB model, along with one of a variety of shared and individual data plans.

Here are the highlights from Phil Schiller, head of Apple marketing,  based on updates from the product launch (click here for photos):

* 4G LTE capability: LTE has a single chip for voice and data, single radio chip, and can now switch antenna connections between different networks. The 4G LTE is available with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in the U.S.

* Dual-core A6 chip delivers up to two times more power and up to seven times …

Continue reading New iPhone 5 unveiled; Apple starts shipping Sept. 21 »

U.S. companies bullish on a contingent workforce

For employees, it can mean less security, but more freedom.

For employers, it means having more financial  flexibility, if and when conditions change.

Contingency staffing _ temporary or contract workers _ is growing, a new study has found. And with the economy stuck in neutral, at best, it may become an even bigger factor in the creation of a workforce.

Two out of three companies use contingent workers now, according to the Randstad Workforce360 Study, for which 225 human resource managers and 2,035 employed adults were interviewed.

And 71 percent of organizations cited the flexibility that contingent staffing gives them as a help during economic ups and downs.

That has them looking to do more contract hiring. One in five companies plans to increase its percentage of temporary or contract workers in the next year.

“The recession brought such significant operational and financial duress for U.S. companies that the business model of the future will rely heavily upon the …

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Ready to ditch your old iPhone for Apple’s newest model?

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Are you keeping your old iPhone?

Used iPhones are flooding eBay and Craigslist, according to a USA Today report, and retailers are also on the hunt for recent models as Apple Inc. gets ready to unveil what many believe will be its newest iPhone on Wednesday.

USA Today says there are more than 6,000 of the used iPhone 4 models on sale on eBay and around 4,000 of the used iPhone 4S.  A 64-gig, AT&T-issued 4S, for example, was reportedly selling for as much as $480 on eBay. The going price depends on the number of gigs and working condition. Original packaging also helps.

NetWorth, which buys back used phones and values their worth, says requests for quotes have increased 610 percent from Aug. 17 to Sept. 6, compared with the same period before the iPhone 4S was unveiled in 2011.

Many owners of the iPhone 4, which was introduced in 2011, didn’t upgrade to the 4S when it debuted because they didn’t feel there was much a difference between the …

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Atlanta employers see less hiring in 4th quarter

More metro Atlanta employers expect to reduce staff levels in the fourth quarter, and fewer expect to increase staffing, a new study shows.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey found that 9 percent of employers here anticipate trimming workers from October through December, up from 6 percent who expected to from July to September.

Only 13 percent said they expect to boost staffing through the end of the year, compared to 19 percent who had expected to do so in the third quarter.

The result is what Manpower calls a net employment outlook for the fourth quarter of 4 percent, a still-positive number that nonetheless represents a noteworthy drop from the 13 percent net gain that employers expected in in the third quarter.

Local employers were more optimistic a year ago, too. Then, 20 percent expected to increase staffing in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Manpower spokesperson Beth Herman said “… employment prospects are trending weaker …” She said while there is hiring, …

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Free haircuts for kids at J.C. Penney

After an overwhelming response in August to its offer of free haircuts for kids, J.C. Penney has decided to keep cutting kids’ hair for free every Sunday, beginning Nov. 4.

Penney said 1.6 million children got the free cuts in August.

The chain, which is grappling with two straight quarters of losses and severe sales drops,  is hoping the free hair cuts program will bring in new customers and regain old ones who were   turned off by a new pricing strategy the chain started in February. That’s when the chain  eliminated sales in favor of every day prices that are 40 percent lower than last year. The strategy didn’t seem to go over too well with customers. So in August, Penney decided to add more clearance events and to educate shoppers about the pricing strategy.

Penney also will be offering free haircuts to breast cancer survivors in October, which is breast cancer awareness month, the company said. Penney offers hair salon services in 949 of its 1,100 stores.

Are you a …

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Dodgers President Stan Kasten: ‘If you’re afraid of going too far, you’re never going to go far enough’

Stan Kasten could be a poster child for effective networking.

From a casual conversation with Ted Turner after a ball game 36 years ago, Kasten launched a successful career as a pro sports executive. You might remember him as the president of the Atlanta Braves when the team in 1995 won the city’s only championship in a major professional sport. Kasten, the quintessential Type A multitasker, ended up doing four jobs simultaneously — president of the Braves, Hawks and Thrashers, and chairman of Philips Arena — before leaving Turner’s sports operation in 2003.

Stan Kasten

Stan Kasten

Three years later, he became part-owner and president of the Washington Nationals. Then earlier this year, Kasten, 60, teamed with Magic Johnson, film executive Peter Guber and investment firm Guggenheim Partners to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record $2.15 billion. He became president of the team.

Kasten, who still has a home in an Atlanta, talks about what he learned from Turner and what the …

Continue reading Dodgers President Stan Kasten: ‘If you’re afraid of going too far, you’re never going to go far enough’ »