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    Tyson Canned Chicken Products Recalled

    Mislabeling could lead to consumption of an undeclared allergen

    Tony Downs Foods Company of Madelia, MN, is recalling approximately 70,500 pounds of premium chunk chicken due to mislabeling and an undeclared allergen. 

    The products may actually contain ‘Beef with Gravy.’ The canned beef product contains wheat, an allergen not declared on the canned chicken label, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). 

    The product subject to recall is 12.5-oz. cans of “Tyson Premium Chunk Chicken.” 

    The incorrectly labeled products bear the code date of “8965 248A 12139” and “Best by May 18, 2015” ink-jetted on the bottom of each can. Each label bears the number P-65 inside the USDA mark of inspection. Correctly labeled cans are inkjetted with the code “1392TDM4600” and “P65” beneath a “Use By May 18 2015” date and are not subject to recall. 

    They were produced on May 18, 2012, and distributed to retail establishments nationwide. 

    The problem was discovered after the firm received customer complaints that the product was incorrectly labeled. FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider. 

    Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the company’s Tyson Consumer Hotline at 866-328-3156. 

    Tony Downs Foods Company of Madelia, MN, is recalling approximately 70,500 pounds of premium chunk chicken due to mislabeling and an undeclared allergen....
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    Speculation Builds for September iPhone 5 Release

    Photos purported to be the new device hit the Internet

    Apple isn't saying a word but speculation continues to build across the Internet that the new iPhone 5 -- the next version of the iconic smartphone -- will be revealed in September.

    The latest and perhaps strongest rumor comes from iMore.com, which predicts Apple will introduce the iPhone 5 on September 12 and start delivering them September 21. iMore said it learned from its sources about Apple's plans.

    It further reports that Apple will, at the same special event, introduce its iPad mini – a smaller version of the popular tablet that would sell in the range of its seven-inch tablet competitors. Also on the agenda at that September 12 event, iMore reports, will be a new iPod nano and a new iPod Touch.

    New schedule

    Apple changed up its product release cycle last year. Until then it introduced new iPhones at the end of June. In 2011, Apple introduced the iPhone 4S in October.

    Many Apple fans were expecting the iPhone 5 last year, with big advances in features and technology. Instead, the 4S was mostly an update of the previous model, the iPhone 4, but with Siri, a voice-activated personal assistant.

    As for the iPhone 5, purported photos of a prototype device have already leaked to the Internet. A Japanese website, iLab, has released photographs showing a thin, sleek device with a four-inch screen, 19-pin connector, relocated headphone jack and a centered FaceTime camera.

    What hasn't leaked is what advances an iPhone 5 will offer. Nick Bilton, a writer for TheNew York Times, hopes Apple improves Siri. Earlier this month Bilton wrote an article complaining that Siri didn't always operate properly and sometimes didn't respond at all. It's not clear whether this is a widespread problem.

    Sturdier phone

    Apple customers writing to ConsumerAffairs would apparently like to see a sturdier phone. Margaret, of Westbury, CT, reports her iPhone 4s “died” at the age of seven weeks.

    “I made two calls totaling almost three hours to Apple, got it working for less than 24 hrs,” Margaret wrote in a post. “I called back, tried to get a replacement per the one year manufacturer warranty. What a joke!”

    “My 17 year-old daughter has had trouble with her six-month old iPhone 4s in the functions of playing music and camera use recently,” Catharine, of Landenberg, PA, wrote at ConsumerAffairs. “When we went to the store, we were told the entire warranty was void due to a small crack in the front glass due to my daughter dropping the phone about 2 months ago. Though the small crack had nothing to do with the software issues, we were told our only option is to purchase another phone for $199. We just paid $199 in December. The front glass is an inferior product that should be able to withstand being dropped as people frequently drop their phones.”

    A common complaint about the iPhone, as well as most other smartphones, is battery life. The tech site Tapscape reports the iPhone 5 is expected to offer improved battery life thanks to advancements in its display technology.

    Apple isn't saying a word but speculation continues to build across the Internet that the new iPhone 5 – the next version of the iconic smartphone &n...
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    Research Finds Kids-Left–In-Car Warning Systems Unreliable

    Public education and information campaigns on child heatstroke in vehicles are essential

    Few things are more tragic than the death of a child inadvertently left in a vehicle on a sweltering summer day.

    And as aftermarket consumer products intended prevent this from happening are introduced, a new study finds they are limited in their effectiveness. The research, released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) also found them unreliable as a stand-alone preventative measure for addressing child heatstroke tragedies.

    "With summer temperatures hitting record highs around the country, child heatstroke is clearly an issue of national concern," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Public education is the best way to help parents and caregivers prevent tragic accidents and keep their children safe."

    Deadly heatstroke

    Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14. Data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences show 33 children died last year due to heatstroke -- medically termed "hyperthermia" -- while there were at least 49 deaths in 2010.

    As part of a comprehensive approach to this issue, NHTSA commissioned CHOP to evaluate a number of commercially available aftermarket products that connect to child restraints and are advertised to help parents and caregivers remember children who they may have unintentionally left behind in a parked vehicle.

    Product problems

    The results of the study indicate limitations in currently available technology and products designed to detect children left behind in vehicles. Among a range of technological limitations are inconsistencies in arming sensitivity; variations in warning signal distance; potential interference with the devices' notification signals from other electronic devices; susceptibility of the systems to misuse scenarios involving spilled liquid beverages; and disarming of the devices due to a slumping or otherwise out-of-position child.

    In addition, many of the products required extensive efforts by parents and caregivers to set up, monitor and operate, which could give parents and caregivers using the devices a false sense of security. The technologies would also not address the 20-40 percent of children who are killed when they gain access to the vehicle without an adult present or are not in child restraints, since the devices are child restraint based.

    "Everything we know about child heatstroke in motor vehicles is that this can happen to anyone from any walk of life -- and the majority of these cases are accidental tragedies that can strike even the most loving and conscientious parents," said NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland. "While many of these products are well intended, we cannot recommend parents and caregivers rely on technology to prevent these events from occurring."

    Safety precautions

    NHTSA strongly urges parents and caregivers to take the following safety precautions and ask themselves, "Where's baby? Look before you lock" as part of its national campaign to address this issue:

    • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
    • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
    • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
    • Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a cell phone, purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver's view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and,
    • Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child's reach.

    NHTSA also urges anyone who sees a child alone in a vehicle to call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. The child should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled with water if in distress.

    Few things are more tragic than the death of a child inadvertently left in a vehicle on a sweltering summer day....
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      ‘Over 55’ Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Settled

      Routine age verification steps were not taken

      The kids are coming! 

      That’s the bottom line in a settlement reached between the Justice Department (DOJ) and a California municipality and a homeowners’ association to resolve allegations of discrimination on the basis of family status.   

      The DOJ lawsuit claimed that the city of Santa Rosa, CA, and La Esplanada Unit 1 Owners’ Association unlawfully sought to restrict residency at a housing development to seniors aged 55 and older. 

      While the law allows an exemption for senior housing, the suit alleged that neither the city nor the homeowners’ association took the steps -- such as routine age-verification -- necessary to qualify for an exemption to the Fair Housing Act. 

      No enforcement 

      Under the terms of the consent order, the city of Santa Rosa will not take any enforcement action against the housing development to force it to exclude families with children, and will waive the estimated $12,500 in costs associated with any zoning changes that may be necessary to bring the city’s regulation of the property into compliance with federal law.   

      Further, when the city, through its zoning code, permits or requires a developer or property owner to operate senior housing, it will -- among other things -- designate the age restriction of the zoned property in its ordinances and zoning maps, and require that property owners for these developments submit biennial age verifications for the city’s review and certification.   The city will also designate an agency to review and certify the biennial certifications.  

      Exclusions forbidden 

      The homeowners’ association also is prohibited from excluding families with children from the development unless it affirmatively elects to become an age-restricted community for those 55 or older and conforms to the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.   

      The Fair Housing Act's requirements include ensuring that at least 80 percent of the occupied units are occupied by at least one person who is 55 years of age or older and that proper age verification procedures in place. 

       In addition, the homeowners’ association will provide compensatory damages to the aggrieved persons in an amount of $44,000 by providing a set-off to amounts it has claimed it is owed by the aggrieved persons.

      The consent order also requires the homeowners’ association’s officers, agents and employees, as well as city employees and agents with responsibilities related to zoning and land use to receive fair housing training, and requires the homeowners’ association and the city to pay $5,000 each to the United States as a civil penalty. 

       “It is critical that families with children have opportunities to find housing,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased to achieve a resolution in this case that balances the housing rights of families against the ability of a municipality and community to maintain senior housing.” 

      The lawsuit grew out of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the owner and representative of a portion of the condominium development that was the subject of the defendants’ enforcement actions.  

      After HUD investigated the complaint, it issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department.

      The kids are coming! That’s the bottom line in a settlement reached between the Justice Department (DOJ) and a California municipality and a homeowners’ a...
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      Direct Air Shutdown Draws Fine for World Atlantic Airlines

      Passengers were left high and dry when the shutdown resulted in flight cancellations

      World Atlantic Airlines will pay $180,000 in fines for violating rules protecting passengers when their public charter flights are suddenly canceled. 

      World Atlantic was one of several carriers operating flights for Direct Air, a charter operator also known as Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours, which ceased operating in March. Direct Air arranged charters from a number of cities in the Midwest and Northeast to Myrtle Beach, SC and cities in Florida. 

      “Our public charter rules are designed to protect consumers from sudden cancellations and being stranded away from home with no return flight,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to hold airlines and charter operators accountable when they fail to respect the rights of charter passengers.” 

      No service 

      World Atlantic stopped flying charters for Direct Air on March 13, following a week in which Direct Air failed to pay the carrier all the money it was owed for operating the flights. A number of payments prior to that were late. 

      Numerous passengers did not receive the service they paid Direct Air for when World Atlantic canceled the remaining flights it was scheduled to operate for Direct Air. 

      In issuing its fine against World Atlantic, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT)   Aviation Enforcement Office said the carrier violated rules requiring that it be paid prior to operating a public charter flight and prohibiting the cancellation of such flights less than 10 days before their scheduled departure. In addition, the carrier providing the transportation is required to ensure return flights for all U.S.-originating round-trip passengers who have flown the outbound leg of their trip. 

      Carriers also are required to make a reasonable effort to ensure that the charter operator for which they are providing flights is complying with the public charter rules. 

      The Enforcement Office noted that the late payments should have prompted World Atlantic to look into whether Direct Air was following the rules. DOT is continuing to investigate Direct Air’s shutdown.

      World Atlantic Airlines will pay $180,000 in fines for violating rules protecting passengers when their public charter flights are suddenly canceled....
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      Survey: Hotel Rates Will Probably Rise This Fall

      U.S. rooms will cost more but chances are, you can find a deal in Greece

      If a new survey is any indication, the cost of a hotel or motel room is going up -- both in the U.S. and around the world.

      Travel site TripAdvisor surveyed 25,000 hotel operators, including 5,000 in the U.S., and found that 47 percent expect to raise their room rates this fall. Only 16 percent said they expect comparatively low rates. Most of those are in Europe, where economic conditions are highly uncertain.

      When it comes to expectations of higher rates for hotel rooms, the U.S. leads the world with 47 percent of hotels planning to increase the cost of an overnight stay. Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey round out the top five countries where rate will likely rise.

      As you might expect, however, you will probably get a pretty good deal on a room in Greece. That country's hotels lead the world in expectations of declining hotel room rates. Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand round out the top five.

      A tale of two global economies

      The breakdown tells the story of the global economy. Where business conditions are stronger, it's more likely that travel costs will rise. Where conditions are poor, travelers are more likely to find bargains.

      For example, the U.S. ranks fourth in the world for hotels with the best business outlook, while Greece ranks last. Indonesian hotels offered the world's strongest business outlook in the survey, followed by Brazil and Russia.

      After Greece's most negative outlook, hotels in Italy, Spain, France and New Zealand all expressed the worry that business conditions for travel are worsening.

      Despite the U.S.' strong travel business outlook, hotels are less optimistic about adding jobs. At U.S. hotels, plans to hire have dropped from 27 percent last year to 15 percent in the latest survey.

      Outside of North America, hoteliers in India and Brazil are reportedly the most likely to increase the size of their staffs, while operators in France and the UK are least likely to add new employees.

      If a new survey is any indication, the cost of a hotel or motel room is going up, both in the U.S. and around the world.Travel site TripAdvisor surveyed...
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      Hyundai Recalls Santa Fe, Sonata Models to Fix Airbags

      Problems with front passenger bags in the Santa Fe, side airbags in the Sonata

      Hyundai is recalling more than 200,000 Santa Fe and Sonata models to fix a problem with the airbags.

      The recalled Santa Fes were built between April 19, 2006, and July 7, 2008 and the Sonata sedans were manufactured from January 24 to June 21 this year.

      Safety regulators said the front passenger airbags of the Santa Fe models appeared to have improper occupant classification system, putting small-bodied people at risk. 

      Sensors for the side airbags of the Sonatas need to be reprogrammed because they may inflate without receiving a signal, increasing injury risks.

      Dealers will make the repairs free of charge.


      Hyundai is recalling more than 200,000 Santa Fe and Sonata models to fix a problem with the airbags.The recalled Santa Fes were built between April ...
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      Eight Tips For Quitting Smoking

      These days you have both health and economic reasons to kick the habit

      There are many good reasons to give up cigarettes, both health and economic. Smoking is associated with cancer and heart disease and has become increasingly expensive as federal and state governments have tacked on more and more taxes.

      In Illinois, the cost recently went up as the state legislature increased the tax on cigarettes. So while there are many good reasons to quit, a lot of smokers find it's very difficult.

      “Nicotine really is that addictive," said Phillip McAndrew, MD, Loyola University Health System internal medicine physician and an occupational health expert. "It’s a hard battle, but every one that we win, including increasing the cost of cigarettes through taxes, brings individual smokers to the tipping point where the pain of smoking overcomes the joys of nicotine and they quit.”

      The tipping point could be a life-altering health experience, but often it’s the impact on the pocketbook that makes people really consider quitting. In Chicago it can easily cost a person $300 a month to smoke. This is more than twice as expensive as a monthly prescription of medications to help people stop smoking.

      McAndrew offers these eight tips to turn a tipping point into a successful effort to kick the habit:

      1. Build a team

      Nicotine is powerfully addictive, but so are the psychological aspects of smoking. It's all wrapped up into pleasure. Gather people around you who can provide support and encouragement. McAndrew says you will need people who are with you in all areas of your life, especially in places that make you think of smoking.

      2. Set a specific date

      It is important to be specific on a date you want to quit but also give yourself time to prepare. Some people just wake up one morning and go cold turkey. McAndrew thinks you'll have more success if you set a date two to four weeks away so you have time to prepare your environment and your mind to quit.

      3. Prepare for quit day

      Once you've set a date, plan for how you are going to stop. Think about medications and other tactics to aid you in the fight. Keep gum or hard candy in the car or an office drawer as a substitute when you feel the need to light up.

      4. Celebrate quit day

      “Once the decision is made to quit smoking, start thinking about the quit day and get excited. Don’t see it as an end to a favorite habit, but a celebration of the beginning of a new, healthier life,” said McAndrew.

      He suggests going out with friends or having a party to mark this special occasion. Just make sure there is no smoking allowed.

      5. New mechanisms for coping with stress

      Many people light up when they encounter stress, so think of ways to handle stress in your life without a cigarette. This is where a doctor, a support group and your team can really lend a hand. Devise healthier ways to deal with stress such as exercising or deep breathing.

      6. Watch out for boredom

      People sometimes light a cigarette when they're bored. Often this happens in the car, especially on a long drive. McAndrew suggests listening to audio books in the car to keep your mind engaged.

      7. Continue to do the things you enjoy

      Many people smoke because they find it pleasurable and associate quitting with a loss of pleasure. So make sure there is still plenty of pleasure that doesn't involve tobacco. If you are accustomed to taking a smoking break, go ahead and take the break -- just don't smoke. And don't hang out with others who are smoking on their break.

      8. Think about those you love

      This could be the biggest motivation. As McAndrew says, “quitting smoking is about so much more than ourselves." Studies have shown that second-hand smoke can be more devastating than first-hand smoke, especially for children. Children who live in homes where there is a smoker are more prone to allergies and have more colds, upper-respiratory infections and ear infections, McAndrew says.

      There are many good reasons to give up cigarettes, but health and economic. Smoking is associated with cancer and heart disease and has become increasingly...
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      Travelocity Fined for Violating Price Advertising Rule

      Information on fuel surcharges and other items was not included

      Online travel agent Travelocity has been fined $180,000 for violating the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rule on full-fare advertising by failing to include fuel surcharges and other fees in advertised airfares. The company was also ordered to cease and desist from further violations.

      “Many consumers choose their flights based on price, which is why we require all airfare ads to include the full price consumers will have to pay,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to make sure that airlines and travel agents comply with our price advertising rules and will take enforcement action when they do not.”

      International fares specified

      An investigation in September 2011 by the department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that Travelocity’s “flexible dates tool” did not always include fuel surcharges that were part of many international airfares. Consumers searching for flights were shown fares from lowest to highest, resulting in fares that omitted the surcharges being listed above those in which the surcharges were included.

      In addition, the consumer was informed only on the final page before purchasing the ticket that some itineraries required a paper ticket with a minimum additional delivery fee of $29.95. Consumers were shown the full price, including the fuel surcharges and ticket fees, only after selecting an itinerary. As a result, some consumers may have purchased airfares on dates and carriers that they might not have chosen if they had accurate fare information.

      These ads violated the DOT’s rules requiring all carrier-imposed surcharges and fees to be included in every advertised fare. Prior to new price advertising rules that took effect on Jan. 26, the only charges airlines could omit from the advertised fare were certain government-imposed taxes.

      Under the agency’s new price advertising rule, carriers and ticket agents must show the total price, including all government taxes and fees, in every advertised fare. The rules apply to travel agents as well as airlines.

      Online travel agent Travelocity has been fined $180,000 for violating the U.S. Department of Transpo...
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      Payday Lender Case Focuses More Attention on Tribal Immunity

      A tribe-associated payday lender faces contempt charges in West Virginia

      A standoff between Lakota Cash and two other Internet payday lenders and the state of West Virginia is heating up, with a state court telling the lenders to show cause why they shouldn't be held in contempt.

      At stake is the issue of who can claim tribal sovereign immunity by virtue of their association with a recognized American Indian tribe. West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw says the outcome has national implications.

      It started last October when the Circuit Court of Kanawha County found that Payday Financial, which did business as Lakota Cash, was not entitled to tribal sovereign immunity. As a result, the court required the business to comply with an investigative subpoena issued by McGraw’s office.

      Tribe-owned casinos

      Perhaps the best-known example of businesses operated under tribal sovereign immunity are casinos on Indian reservations. But those businesses are owned by the tribes themselves. McGraw argues the payday lenders are not.

      Lakota Cash, an Internet payday lender based in Timber Lake, South Dakota, is owned by Martin Webb, who is an enrolled tribal member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Webb claimed in court that West Virginia has no jurisdiction over his operations by virtue of his status as a tribal member, even though Lakota Cash itself is not a tribe.

      After Webb challenged the state court's ruling, the West Virginia Supreme Court refused to consider it. That leaves the court's order to Lakota Cash in effect, but McGraw said the company has not complied with his subpoena as ordered.

      McGraw has now filed a petition for contempt against Lakota Cash and two other Internet payday lenders that also failed to comply.

      Loophole

      West Virginia is among the handful of states that have outlawed payday lending and McGraw has been active in targeting Internet payday lenders that he says have circumvented the law. He says that because of the crackdown by his and other states, many Internet payday lenders began partnering with Indian tribes as a way to keep operating.

      Since Indian tribes are viewed as independent sovereign nations, they cannot be sued in state court or otherwise forced to comply with state laws. However, many states have alleged that the lenders are not really Indian tribes but instead have entered into arrangements to use Indian tribes, or individual tribe members, as “fronts” to evade state lending regulations.

      In March the Federal Trade Commission accused Payday Financial of abusing its tribal connections by requiring customers it sued for non-payment to appear in tribal court in South Dakota.

      This latest West Virginia court order requires Lakota Cash to appear on October 11, 2012, to show cause why it should not be held in contempt for violation of the court’s order. LoanPointe, LLC, and its owner, Joe E. Strom of Utah, and National Title Loans d/b/a National Cash 12 of Delaware, were also ordered to answer to McGraw’s contempt charges.

      A standoff between Lakota Cash and two other Internet payday lenders and the state of West Virginia is heating up, with a state court telling the lenders t...
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      Study Finds Top 50 Free Lance Jobs

      No. 1 is still writing iPhone apps, Android not so much

      Yesteryear

      The way people work nowadays has totally changed. Once, it was guaranteed a person would be in an office cubicle from morning to evening if they were employed.  And just as recently as 10 years ago, a person working from a remote location was quite rare.

      Now it seems that more and more people are freelancing to make a buck, and a lot of companies are hiring employees on a contractual basis in more specialized areas of work.

      In 2012, working from home or freelancing is rather normal, and with the constant growth of technology, more jobs are created as companies have increasing needs.

      A survey conducted by the job site Freelancer.com showed that companies and brands that utilize technology for expansion are hiring freelancers in the largest numbers.

      "The most lucrative [jobs] are those where specialist technical knowledge is required in high demand areas, at the cutting edge of technology and very few freelancers," said Freelance.com's Chief Executive Matt Barrie in an interview with ConsumerAffairs.

      "For example at the cutting edge of mobile phone apps, there's a premium. Where there is not a premium are areas like data entry etc. i.e. jobs anyone can do," he said.

      Fastest-growing jobs

      Matt Barrie

      The Freelancer.com survey released the 50 fastest growing online jobs for Q2 in 2012. It found that if you can build an iPhone app, you're on top of the heap, with 5,112 new jobs for app builders this year.

      Andoird trails markedly, with 3,444 employment opportunities. There are more Android phones but not as many apps being written.

      "We are not predicting a comeback for Android next quarter, on the contrary" said Barrie. "Previously (2 quarters ago), Android was growing at a faster pace than the iPhone for new applications. We expected that by the end of this year for Android to overtake for new apps."

      "However, in the last two quarters, Apple has slingshot itself back into the lead for grow with staggering increases. With the iPhone5 and mini-pad rumored to be coming out soon, we expect further acceleration of the Apple platforms over Android as new functionality comes on out the hardware platforms. We think that possibly Android might be running out of steam," he predicted.

      Internet marketing

      Not a typical free lancer

      The report also found that Internet marketing jobs, especially through Facebook, are dramatically down, as companies are no longer sure of the effectiveness of social media marketing. Marketing jobs involving Facebook for example, dropped 14 percent this quarter, to 6,150 jobs.

      "Internet marketing jobs across the board are down -- this is one of the biggest trends this quarter," Barrie explained. "The main reason for this is that Google and Facebook have created huge uncertainty in the space -- Google with their ever changing algorithm has completely changed the SEO industry and caused it to go into a spin while marketers figure out what they can really do to increase a site's rank."

      The survey also detailshow leery companies are of Facebook, and have chosen to lower their spending amounts until the social site can really prove it can increase brand awareness.

      "With Facebook, many people don't understand that the best way to use Facebook is for distribution -- reaching lots of people about your product or service quickly," said Barrie.

      He also noted if companies aren't using Facebook in the correct way to reach a certain demographic, jobs through social media sites will continue to decline, providing employment seekers in that area of specialty with fewer opportunities.

      "Facebook still remains an amazing platform for marketers if you know how to use it right, but all the negative press that came out during the IPO has caused confusion with [employers] who have pulled back their spend this quarter," said Barrie.

      Open standards

      The survey also reveals that open standards dominate the 50 fastest-growing job list. Results show that interactive web technology jobs are up by 17 percent and have added 2,247 in the second quarter.

      In addition, user interface jobs grew by 42 percent, as 1,756 freelance positions were offered. Microsoft.net jobs saw a dramatic decline in job opportunities, dropping 39 percent with only 2,919 freelance positions being available.

      In terms of what job seekers should do to stay in the know when it comes to online freelance jobs, Barrie says: "Stay ahead of upcoming open standards that will have a huge effect on the industry, the latest updates to the mobile phone and tablet hardware platforms, new tools and so on."

      The way people work nowadays has totally changed. Once, it was guaranteed a person would be in an office cubicle from morning to evening if they were emplo...
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      Too Much News on CNN? Its President Quits Amid Lagging Ratings

      Hypnotized by Rupert Murdoch, Americans increasingly prefer opinion to journalism

      It wasn't long ago that everyday Americans routinely complained about the "liberal news media" while those of the left-leaning persuasion griped that major journalism outlets were too conservative.

      Well, everybody should be happy now, as the amount of actual news -- you know, factual and impartial coverage of major events of public importance -- now takes a back seat to mindless pandering and caterwauling by apologists for the most simple-minded versions of liberalism and conservatism.

      As we know from reading the papers, newspapers are withering quickly away but less notice is given to the shrinking presence of actual news on TV and cable. The latest evidence: today's announcement by CNN President Jim Walton that he is stepping down amid slumping ratings.

      Saying that CNN needs "new thinking," Walton said he will exit the premises at the end of the year. Maybe he meant to say CNN needs "news thinking" or maybe he was misquoted but he went on to say that CNN needs "a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan."

      No news, good news?

      Reese Schonfeld

      Could be but maybe CNN is just an idea whose time has come and gone. Maybe Americans are no longer sufficiently open-minded to care about getting impartial news coverage and would prefer to watch bewigged midgets yell at each other and set fire to their hair.

      CNN, now a Time Warner property, was founded by Ted Turner's money and the know-how and moxie of one Maurice "Reese" Schonfeld back in 1980. 

      Turner had become annoyed when The Associated Press gave him a hard time about getting AP news service for his Atlanta-based superstation, WTBS. In best Turner fashion, he got mad and said he would start his own damned news service.

      "I'm fixin' to put you all out of business," Turner told me when we chanced to meet in Washington one fine spring day in 1979. (I was then an AP executive). "There ought to be more than one news service in this country."

      Turner recruited Schonfeld, then heading up Independent Network News, a New York-based news service for independent TV stations. Schonfeld -- a hard-nosed hard news guy -- had a long history of nipping at AP's heels and relished the opportunity to build something on a global scale.

      Schonfeld built CNN into a respected worldwide news operation that to this day is held in high esteem outside the U.S., where its global feed is much more straight-laced than its increasingly tepid domestic product.

      Dancing dogs

      But that was then and this is now. News, because it seems to be so plentiful, is no longer very highly regarded by a population that has drunk the Kool-Aid brought to these shores by Rupert Murdoch, who introduced British-style tabloid journalism to American television.

      Surprise. People like to read about and see pictures of dancing dogs, topless actresses and ridiculous buffoons masquerading as political commentators. CNN's efforts to dress itself up have been half-hearted and thus not terribly successful. It's the old fish-foul thing. You can't have it both ways.

      It's perhaps fitting that both CNN and Fox News disgraced themselves by getting it wrong when the Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act. Ted Turner may not be watching anymore but he might want to note that his old nemesis, the AP, got it right.

      Not to be trite, but the not-for-profit AP's informal motto for much of its long and somewhat shaky life has been, "Get it first, but first get it right."

      Yes, it's hard for straight news to compete with show biz just as it's hard for real doctors to compete with charlatans or real financial advisors to compete with pyramid scamsters, but it can be done, though perhaps not as profitably as one's corporate masters might like.

      So perhaps Walton is right that CNN needs new thinking. But we'd still like to think it needs news thinking.

      It wasn't long ago that everyday Americans routinely complained about the "liberal news media" while those of the left-leaning persuasion griped that major...
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      Ooops! Google Admits It Didn't Delete "Mistakenly" Gathered Private Data After All

      Revelation stirring up a tempest in Europe; U.S. reaction muted so far

      Remember all that data Google said its Street View cars had "mistakenly" gobbled up from open Wi-Fi networks a few years ago? Well, now it turns out that Google was -- you guessed it -- mistaken when it said had deleted all the data.

      Turns out it still has quite a bit of it, AllThingsD reported today. Google made the admission in an email to the U.K. Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which in turn released it to the public.

      None of this is doing much for Googe's street cred.

      "Everything Google has said about 'Street View' has been misleading, even the name! Because of course the cars did not simply capture images of streets, but also intercepted private wi-fi communications," said Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington.

      Perhaps even more surprising than the revelation that the data still exists, Google said that if local authorities want to look at the data before it's deleted (again), they're welcome to do so.

      Keep in mind the data in question is stuff that Google's Street View cars collected from uprotected networks in homes and offices between 2008 and 2010. It includes emails, documents, photos and whatever else businesses and individuals had on machines connected to their unprotected networks.

      Collecting all that private data was seen as extremely offensive by privacy adocates. One must wonder how those privacy advocates will feel when they learn that Google is now offering to hand the private data over to local governments.

      Cause for concern

      In London, the ICO -- calling the latest revelation "cause for concern" -- demanded to examine the data “immediately” to look for evidence that the privacy breach is  more extensive than Google had originally claimed. 

      Rotenberg said the ICO now has a chance to dig a bit deeper than it did the first time around.

      "We believe that the ICO failed to conduct an adequate investigation in the first instance, and also that it was a mistake to permit Google to delete the data it had wrongfully obtained," he told ConsumerAffairs.

      "Now, the Commission will have the opportunity to examine the data that was seized and pursue a more comprehensive investigation. This is a critical matter," Rotenberg said.

      In Ireland, a data protection officer said Google's retention of the data was  ‘‘clearly unacceptable.’’

      The latest blunder is so far mostly roiling waters in Europe but is expected to reach American shores shortly, where it will make for even rougher sailing for the Google crew.

      Google already faces an ongoing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) anti-trust probe that took on new life in May when it was disclosed that the government had hired a top private attorney to manage to case. 

      "Google's motto has always been 'Do no evil.' It should also be 'Do no eavesdropping,'" said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to the Los Angeles Times report in May. "Google needs to fully explain to Congress and the public what it knew about the collection of data through its Street View program."

      Remember all that data Google said it had "mistakenly" gobbled up from open Wi-Fi networks a few years ago? Well, now it turns out that Google was -- you g...
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      Capital One Resolves Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

      A $12 Million payment covers a range of allegations brought by the Justice Department

      Capital One will pay approximately $12 million to resolve a lawsuit by the Department of Justice alleging the companies violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

      The settlement covers a range of conduct that violated the protections guaranteed service members by the SCRA, including wrongful foreclosures, improper repossessions of motor vehicles, wrongful court judgments, improper denials of the 6 percent interest rate the SCRA guarantees to service members on some credit card and car loans and insufficient 6 percent benefits granted on credit cards, car loans and other types of accounts.

      The proposed consent order, which was filed simultaneously with the complaint, is one of the most comprehensive SCRA settlements ever obtained by a government agency or any private party under the SCRA.

      The action, said Attorney General Eric Holder, “makes clear that the Justice Department will fight for our service members, and use every available tool, resource and authority to hold accountable those who engage in discriminatory practices targeting those who serve.”

      Compensation

      The agreement requires Capital One to pay approximately $7 million in damages to service members for SCRA violations, including at least $125,000 in compensation plus compensation for any lost equity (with interest) to each servicemember whose home was unlawfully foreclosed upon, and at least $10,000 in compensation plus compensation for any lost equity (with interest) to each servicemember whose motor vehicle was unlawfully repossessed.

      In addition, the agreement requires Capital One to provide a $5 million fund to compensate service members who did not receive the appropriate amount of SCRA benefits on their credit card accounts, motor vehicle finance loans and consumer loans. Any portion of the $5 million that remains after payments to service members are made will be donated by Capital One to one or more charitable organizations that assist service members.

      Full cooperation

      Capital One cooperated fully with the Justice Department’s investigation into its SCRA practices and has also agreed to pay above and beyond the $12 million if independent audits required by the settlement turn up violations in accounts that it recently acquired from HSBC or ING Direct USA.

      Capital One has also, on its own initiative, recently adopted several policies that go beyond the requirements of the SCRA, such as extending a 4 percent interest rate to qualifying service members and giving an additional one-year grace period before de-enrolling service members from the reduced interest rate program.

      Service members will be identified and compensated, with no action required on their part, on accounts dating back to July 15, 2006. As a result of the decree, Capital One has agreed to treat a service member’s request for a 6 percent rate relief in one area of its lending, such as credit cards, as a request for a 6 percent rate relief for any loan the servicemember may have with Capital One or its affiliates.

      This is the first time the Justice Department has obtained this type of enterprise-wide rate reduction relief from a lender under the SCRA. The settlement also requires Capital One to adopt policies and practices to prevent violations of the SCRA in the future.

      OCC settlement

      In a separate action, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is taking enforcement actions against Capital One for violations and compliance deficiencies related to the SCRA.

      The enforcement actions require the banks to take prompt actions to correct deficiencies in their SCRA compliance programs.

      • First, the enforcement actions require the banks to improve their policies and procedures for determining whether servicemembers who request certain benefits provided by the SCRA are eligible for such benefits, ensuring that the SCRA benefits are calculated correctly, and verifying the military status of servicemembers prior to seeking or obtaining a default judgment.
      • Second, the enforcement actions require the banks to ensure the retention of accurate and complete records that document the basis for decisions regarding servicemembers' eligibility for SCRA benefits or protections, and to develop and implement a comprehensive SCRA training program for employees.
      • Third, the enforcement actions require the banks to establish robust oversight of and controls over their third-party vendors that provide marketing, sales, delivery, servicing, and fulfillment of services for the banks' financial products, such as credit card accounts, mortgage loans, motor vehicle finance loans, and consumer loans and lines of credit.
      Capital One will pay approximately $12 million to resolve a lawsuit by the Department of Justice alleging the companies violated the Servicemembers Civil R...
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      Why Your Tweens Shouldn't Text

      A researcher suggests 'techspeak' is corrupting grammar skills

      In his second term, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to “reform” U.S. spelling, to make it simpler and easier to write words. But what Roosevelt failed to do, the practice of “texting” may succeed in doing. And not everyone thinks that's a good thing.

      Drew Cingel, a doctoral student at Northwestern University, says the group of adolescents known as “tweens” are forming poor language skills and he blames texting. When people send texts, they tend to shorten words, use abbreviations and initials.

      These usages quickly spill over into everyday usage. Cingel says more tweens are performing poorly on grammar tests.

      Gr8!

      "They may use a homophone, such as gr8 for great, or an initial, like LOL for laugh out loud," said Cingel. "An example of an omission that tweens use when texting is spelling the word would, w-u-d."

      Cingel said the use of these shortcuts while texting, especially if they do a lot of texting, may hinder a tween's ability to switch between techspeak and the normal rules of grammar. The consequences can be severe, such as not getting a job because you wrote “i wud b a gr8 worker:)” on a job application.

      To prove his point Cingel gave middle school students in a central Pennsylvania school district a grammar assessment test. The researchers reviewed the test, which was based on a ninth-grade grammar review, to ensure that all the students in the study had been taught the concepts.

      The researchers then gathered information about each student's texting habits.

      Decline in grammar scores

      "Overall, there is evidence of a decline in grammar scores based on the number of adaptations in sent text messages, controlling for age and grade," Cingel said.

      Not only did frequent texting negatively predict the test results, but both sending and receiving text adaptations of words were associated with how poorly they performed on the test.

      The damage appears more pronounced for spelling than punctuation. Typical punctuation and sentence structure shortcuts that tweens use during texting, such as avoiding capital letters and not using periods at the end of sentences, did not seem to affect their ability to use correct capitalization and punctuation on the test.

      Ahead of his time

      Roosevelt's idea to change the spelling of words like “through” to “thru” was met with extreme hostility by Congress, the Supreme Court and the nation's newspapers. Alas, he appears to have been a full century ahead of his time.

      Young people are now changing the language to accommodate small screens and tiny keyboards. Cingel said he started the study after receiving texts from his young nieces.

      "I received text messages from my two younger nieces that, for me, were incomprehensible," Cingel said. "I had to call them and ask them, 'what are you trying to tell me.'"

      In his second term, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to “reform” U.S. spelling, to make it simpler and easier to write words. But what Roosev...
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      Delta To Shut Down Regional Carrier Comair

      Economic environment doesn't favor small jets

      Comair, a regional carrier operated by Delta Airlines, will soon taxi to the hanger for the last time. The 35-year old airline will cease operations Sept. 29, 2012.

      "While regional flying has and will remain a key component of Delta's network, customer expectations and the unit costs of regional flying have evolved,” said Don Bornhorst, Sr. Vice-President of Delta Connection. “In response, Delta recently announced its plans to reduce the total number of regional jets in its network while adding more mainline flying.”

      The plan includes reducing the number of 50-seat regional jets from nearly 350 aircraft to 125 or fewer in the upcoming years.

      “As a result of this reduction and changes to its customer-focused business strategy, Delta has made the difficult decision to cease Comair's operations," Bornhorst said.

      One percent

      Currently, Comair accounts for approximately one percent of Delta's network capacity, according to Comair President Ryan Gumm. Gumm said there will be no disruption to customers and no significant adjustments to Delta's flight schedule or locations served.

      “All customers who travel on the Delta network, whether on Delta Connection flights or mainline aircraft, can continue to make travel plans with Delta as they have in the past,” the airline said in a statement.

      Cincinnati and Detroit will be among the most affected cities since Comair operates hubs at both airports. In addition, it also maintains a hub at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Gumm said Cincinnati remains an important Delta market.

      Still profitable

      Delta said Cincinnati is now a profitable market for the airline and the city continues to enjoy over 120 peak daily flights, with non-stop service to 49 destinations. No reductions in the number of Delta flights is planned at Cincinnati as a result of this decision, Delta said.

      Delta's recent move away from 50-seat aircraft in essence signaled Comair's fate. Comair operates some of the oldest 50-seat aircraft in the Delta Connection fleet, which also have the highest unit cost per flight hour.

      With Delta's decision to remove the remaining 16 Comair 50-seaters from the Delta network, Comair was left with only 28 aircraft in scheduled service. The airline said the reduction in Comair's active fleet created higher unit costs, “which equates to a business model that is no longer sustainable in this competitive regional environment.”

      Comair, a regional carrier operated by Delta Airlines, will soon taxi to the hanger for the last time. The 35-year old airline will cease operations Sept. ...
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      House Votes to Trash Consumer Protection

      Consumer groups say they're "profoundly disappointed" by supposed job-creation bill

      Washington has truly become a place that Alice of Wonderland fame would recognize. Nothing is what it seems and most everything must be viewed through the looking glass.

      Legislation that, let's say, purports to guarantee clean water is more likely to protect industries that discharge toxic wastes into lakes and streams. A bill that claims to guarantee auto safety probably guarantees automakers' earnings.

      Seen in this light, it is perhaps not surprising that a bill entitled the “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act” (H.R. 4078) mostly trashes consumer and environmental protection.

      The GOP-backed measure, passed by a partisan 245-172 vote, includes seven bills that collectively make it impossible for consumer protections to be developed and implemented. It halts all protections until the unemployment rate falls to 6%,  which the Congressional Budget Office estimates may occur at the earliest in 2016.

      Profoundly disappointed

      "We are profoundly disappointed that the House of Representatives voted today to pass a bill that would entirely thwart the ability of federal agencies to protect consumers from unsafe food, predatory financial products, systemically risky financial practices, and dangerous consumer products," said Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety and Senior Counsel at the Consumer Federation of America. "This bill has extreme and negative consequences that will result in harm to American consumers and harm to the U.S. economy. At a time when consumers need more protections, not less, the House of Representatives has tied the hands of government."

      Of course, the bill has zero chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate, so it is what most would consider a waste of taxpayers' time and money. Not surprisingly, Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), the measure's sponsor, claims he doesn't see it that way.

      “Hardworking Americans deserve a regulatory system that doesn’t hamstring their ability to invest, hire and grow. Yet Arkansas job creators have repeatedly told me how excessive and overly burdensome regulations have prevented them from hiring more employees and growing the economy," Griffin said. "Even President Obama has admitted that ‘unnecessary or too costly’ regulations are ‘placing unreasonable burdens on business [and having] a chilling effect on growth and jobs.’"

      Griffin didn't say how curtailing food safety inspections would create more jobs, although his state is home to some pretty big chicken producers, who may have been clucking at him about those bothersome food and workplace safety regulations.

      "HR 4078 will halt important food safety regulations that are essential to protect consumers from contaminated food," said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at CFA. "The reality is that both consumer groups and the food industry have been urging the Obama Administration to issue new food safety regulations to better assure the safety of fresh produce and imported foods."

      “The SEC and CFTC, two agencies with central responsibility for reforming the financial system, already face tremendous burdens when it comes to enacting the tough, effective regulations needed to achieve that goal.  H.R. 4078 would make their jobs all but impossible, and leave the financial system vulnerable to Wall Street’s risky, unethical and rapacious practices,” said CFA Director of Investor Protection Barbara Roper.  “This is particularly ironic, since it was weak regulation of the financial system that led to the financial crisis that caused our current economic woes.”

      Gift to criminals?

      “HR 4078 is a gift to the corporate criminal and wrongdoer lobby, pure and simple,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “We need tighter controls over the big banks that are fixing markets, ripping us off and resuming risky practices that threaten economic stability. We need stronger rules to prevent the epidemic of needless death and injury from workplace hazards.

      "We need far-reaching rules to avert catastrophic climate change. We need rules to ensure the safety of our food supply. And we need the government to perform its everyday functions. H.R. 4078 would block all of those efforts, in the interest of protecting Wall Street and the polluters, reckless employers and corporations that put dangerous products on the market,” Weissman said.

      On Thursday, July 25, 2012, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4078, the so called “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act&rdqu...
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      Gasoline Prices May Be Approaching A Crossroads

      For the first time in weeks, today's price is lower than yesterday's

      Gasoline prices gained four cents in the last week, but in a hopeful sign for consumers, appear to have stopped rising -- at least for the moment.

      The national average price of self-serve regular today is $3.488 per gallon, compared with $3.447 last Friday, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Survey. But that's down slightly from Thursday's average of $3.49, marking the first drop in prices in more than two weeks.

      Diesel fuel is still rising, however. The average price today is $3.760 per gallon, versus $3.710 a week ago.

      Oil prices were up and down throughout the week, responding to conflicting data. The latest direction is higher, responding to renewed hopes Europe will be able to cope with its debt crisis. Demand for oil has dropped in Europe, however.

      In the U.S. the economy also appears to be dampening demand for gasoline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports an unexpectedly large increase in stockpiles for gasoline and diesel fuel in the previous week.

      There were big price fluctuations among the states in the last week. Among states with expensive fuel, Connecticut, California, Washington, New York and North Dakota all saw average price hikes of five cents a gallon or more. The price dropped before $4 a gallon in Alaska for the first time in months, however, leaving Hawaii as the only state with an average price north of that mark.

      Gas prices also rose in states where fuel is cheapest. South Carolina saw the price rise seven cents a gallon. Prices also moved higher in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

      The states with the highest gas prices this week are:

      • Hawaii ($4.150)
      • Alaska ($3.997)
      • Connecticut ($3.822)
      • California ($3.796)
      • New York ($3.771)
      • Washington State ($3.678)
      • North Dakota ($3.671)
      • Oregon ($3.643)
      • Illinois ($3.605)
      • Maine ($3.623)

      The states with the lowest gas prices this week are:

      • South Carolina ($3.186)
      • Mississippi ($3.230)
      • Alabama ($3.245)
      • Tennessee ($3.274)
      • Arkansas ($3.282)
      • Arizona ($3.285)
      • New Mexico ($3.305)
      • Louisiana ($3.318)
      • Virginia ($3.343)
      • Missouri ($3.348)
      Gasoline prices gained four cents in the last week, but in a hopeful sign for consumers, appear to have stopped rising – at least for the moment.Th...
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      The Best Concerts Left This Summer

      It's still not too late to make your plans for these late summer music festivals

      Lollapalooza

      Autumn is certainly a beautiful time of year. The tree tops host a spectacular array of rustic colors, and down on the ground people get excited for seasonal pleasures like cooler temperatures and fall football.

      But wait, not so fast. It's only the end of July, right? And there are still plenty of warm midnights and summer sunsets to bask in.

      It's also still the summer concert-going season, and it's not too late to take in your favorite artists or just wander around the grounds and soak up the music and scattered sunshine.

      In 2012, there are many ways one can have a great music festival experience. Of course the traditional way is heading to a wide open space and attending a marathon concert that has 70 bands and a 1960ish feeling of social freedom.

      Then there are the more laid-back, lawn-chair-friendly concerts, where a large blanket and an ice cooler will serve you better than a concert glowstick or finding a good place to mosh.

      And today's digital age wouldn't be quite so digital if there weren't some sort of Internet component to concert going. If one would rather watch Barry Manilow sing "Mandy" live within the comforts of their living room computer they can do that quite easily these days.

      So before all of this year's summer music festivals are gone, we'll highlight some of the best outdoor concerts, the quieter less-crowded music festivals, and some of the top concerts that are being streamed online.

      Lollapalooza

      A concert list wouldn't be a concert list without starting it with Lollapalooza. The Chicago festival has made itself sort of the granddaddy of the outside music gatherings.

      Starting in 1990, and spearheaded by Jane's Addiction's front man Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza has been considered the go-to concert for both diehard and casual music fans alike.

      Although tickets on the website have been sold out for the Aug. 3 through Aug. 5 concert, those still interested may have better luck at sites like StubHub, or Ticketsnow.com.

      I called Ticketnow, and was told those interested can still get general admission tickets for $125.00. You won't be able to purchase a seat for any of the days, but you'll still be able to walk around and listen to over 100 bands that will be playing at this year's concert.

      You'll be able to see everyone from recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Atlanta rapper B.O.B.

      KahBang Festival

      This music festival in Maine is the state's biggest, and has activities that include film, food, art and outdoor team sports like adult kickball. There's even a "Brew Fest" within the concert. 

      In the four-day festival starting Aug. 9 and ending Aug. 12, music lovers can see the Deftones, indie rockers Now, Now and electronic and dubstep artist Lorin Ashton.

      Tickets start at $35 for a one-day pass, up to $105 for a camping pass. Guests can spend the night on festival grounds if they rather not commute from their home or local hotel.

      Also, those looking for a break from the loud music can check out KahBang's Film Festival that's playing alongside the concert at the Film Tent at the Waterfront Festival grounds. Entertainment lovers will get plenty of bang for their buck at Kahbang this summer.

      Long Beach Jazz Festival

      Long Beach Jazz

      On the opposite side of the continent, Jazz lovers can see some of the day's top Jazz artists at the Long Beach Jazz Festival. Its organizers say the festival is the only Southern California jazz festival that's nestled within a grassy knoll in a lagoon type setting. Sounds awfully nice doesn't it?

      Being held in Long Beach’s Rainbow Lagoon park, which also hosts a series of crawfish festivals, guests can enjoy the tunes of Dianne Reeves, Poncho Sanchez, and the legendary Ronald Iseley & The Isley Brothers. Where do they find crawfish in California? Don't ask.

      The festival is from Aug. 10 to 12, and tickets range from general admission prices of $50, to $185 for VIP access which includes dinner and wine.

      Lake George Music Festival

      For those who love classical music this festival is supposed to be extremely top rate, as it's six days long and will showcase classical performers from all over the world, including performances from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Julliard School and the Yale School of music.

      From Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, the festival is the only live indoor concert being featured in this story, with each performance being at St. James Episcopal Church, in Lake George Village, N.Y. Both admission and parking are free.

      Austin City Limits (ACL)

      When it comes to streaming a concert, Austin City Limits is a darn good concert to stream, which is why both YouTube and Dell are showing the concert in almost real time.

      The way it works is by concert cameras capturing footage, then quickly transferring and uploading the images to multiple simultaneous YouTube channels.

      The Austin, Texas, concert boasts a line-up of Neil Young, The White Stripe's Jack White, and the Black Keys. Tickets to attend the concert have been sold out for quite some time, which might make streaming this particular festival your only option at this point, unless you do an aggressive search for last minute tickets.

      Those interested in streaming the festival should keep checking ACL's YouTube channel for updates. 

      Tomorrowland Festival

      Let’s just say you're not able to spontaneously purchase a plane ticket to Belgium within the next few days, you can view the TomorrowLand festival right at home.

      Since 2005 this dance music concert is considered one of the biggest DJ events in the world, and this year you can catch Fatboy Slim, International DJ's Bloody Beetroots, and disc jockey duo Rebecca & Fiona, by streaming the concert from your home computer or mobile device.

      The concert will play live on July 27 through July 29, and to stream Tomorrowland, viewers should simply go to Youtube.com/tomorrowland for more info.

      Autumn is certainly a beautiful time of year. The tree-tops host a spectacular array of rustic colors, and down on the ground people get excited for season...
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      Interest Rates Headed In Two Directions

      Credit card rates are rising but mortgage rates are still falling

      The cost of borrowing money is both rising and falling, depending on the type of loan you need. In the last week credit card interest rates rose while mortgage rates kept falling.

      In its weekly Credit Card Rate Report, CreditCards.com reports the rates on news credit card offers rose this week. The average is comprised of 100 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category. Introductory “teaser” rates are not included in the calculation.

      The national average annual percentage rate (APR) on new card offers climbed to 14.97 percent this week -- the highest it's been since March.

      The jump in rates can be linked to changes by Chase and Capital One. Chase raised the APR on two of its business cards, the Business Ink card and the Ink Cash card. Both cards previously featured a flat APR of 10.24 percent and now feature an APR of 13.24 percent.

      Record low rates

      Money is a lot cheaper if you can qualify for a home mortgage. Freddie Mac reports fixed rate mortgage rates continue to reach record lows.

      The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.49 percent, more than a full percentage point lower than a year ago when it averaged 4.55 percent. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, a popular choice for those looking to refinance, also set another record low at 2.80 percent.

      While recent signs have supported hope the housing market is recovering, the mortgage market is spending other signals.

      "Market concerns over the strength of the economic recovery brought long-term Treasury yields to new lows this week allowing fixed mortgage rates to reach record levels,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. “The Conference Board Leading Economic Index showed the largest monthly decline in June since September 2011. Existing home sales fell to 4.36 million homes in June and represented the slowest pace since October 2011. Similarly, new home sales fell in June to their lowest level since January of this year."

      Who's credit-worthy?

      With mortgage rates at record lows, you might expect that would spur a big increase in sales. Realtors say it would, except that many credit-worthy buyers can't qualify for a loan.

      Mortgage lenders, of course, have different ideas about who is credit-worthy. Generally, banks want to see a credit score of 720 or above and at least 20 percent as a down payment.

      The cost of borrowing money is both rising and falling, depending on the type of loan you need. In the last week credit card interest rates rose while mort...
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