The House today approved legislation to protect credit card holders from hidden fees and sudden rate hikes, Reuters reports. Legislators voted overwhelmingly for the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, a measure banks complain will tighten the amount of credit available and make holding a card more expensive. The Senate is expected to pass its own version next, and President Obama hopes to sign the bill in May.
Among other things, the bill would outlaw retroactive rate hikes and the issue of a credit card to anyone under 18, the AP notes. Much of the legislation would not go into effect for a year, except for one provision that requires companies to give customers 45 days' notice before rates go up. That would take effect 90 days after Obama signs the measure.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
As Americans struggle with high unemployment, many are searching for new opportunities while others continue to seek meaningful jobs that "make a difference" to their careers, families and country.
In response to these challenging times, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is launching a new initiative focused on civilian career opportunities available worldwide with DoD. The public awareness campaign, dubbed "Making a Difference", spotlights civilian employees in several career positions available now: Medical Professionals, Language Specialists, and Engineering & Science. These are 21st century careers that provide meaningful work supporting our military and the country.
The DoD initiative highlights job opportunities at all levels of the labor market, from entry level to top executives. The campaign is designed to provide a hopeful, realistic avenue to career success for any American willing to work hard, learn new skills and become part of the DoD civilian career team.
To see four PSA’s produced for this campaign, please visit inr.mediaseed.tv/DoD_36320
You can also find additional information and downloadable content about the "Making a Difference" campaign at
For more information about this campaign, you may also visit the web portal for DoD civilian job seekers at
For Captioned Versions of the PSAs, please click here
Produced for: U.S. Department of Defense
Zombies are a growing scourge on college campuses, but fear not: They can be stopped with Nerf guns, pool noodles, or rolled-up socks. The game Humans vs. Zombies—“tag” for the 21st century—began at a college near Baltimore and has spread to some 50 campuses. “It really caught on to a degree that no one expected,” an organizer tells the Boston Globe.
But the game has sparked concern among those not in the know, disturbed by the sight of groups of kids in bandannas carrying giant fake guns. “In a post-Virginia Tech world, people very rightly take that kind of stuff seriously,” said a campus policeman. The game has even been banned at some schools. But, says a gleeful student, “basically, we get to act like kids again.”
Will Gordon Gecko have a change of heart? The fictional Wall Streeter who famously declared that "greed is good" in 1987 is returning to the big screen, Access Hollywood and Variety report. Michael Douglas and director Oliver Stone have signed on for the Wall Street sequel, which will catch up with Gecko upon his release from prison. Shia LaBeouf is expected to play a young trader.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
After losing their jobs and homes, some middle-aged adults are losing something else—independence from their parents, the Washington Post reports. The recession is forcing so-called “boomerang kids” back into their childhood homes, raising questions about how easily parents can accommodate refilled nests amid tough economic times. "It's much more everyone pulling their weight, because the parents are hurting as well," a consultant says.
About 20 million 18- to-34-year-olds live with their parents, and a Monster.com survey indicates that about half of recent college graduates plan on returning home. "In some ways, we're coming back and living together the way we did during the Depression," one expert says, when families lived under one roof for financial reasons. But parents may be “stealing from the future to help pay for the present,” another expert warns.
Watching those Susan Boyle and laughing baby clips on YouTube may soon come with a price: slower, shaky Internet connections, the Telegraph reports. Experts warn of a “brownout,” caused by outdated web systems unable to keep pace with surging online use of video sites, that will paralyze computers, threaten the economy, and leave the Internet an “unreliable toy.”
YouTube’s monthly bandwidth now equals the amount consumed across the entire Internet for all of 2000. “Today people know how home computers slow down when the kids get back from school and start playing games, but by 2012 that traffic jam could last all day long,” said one expert. Still, a plan to charge websites for faster service remains controversial.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Bill Gates stopped being a kid right about age 11, his father tells Wall Street Journal. And then he turned into a royal pain, at least for a while. In the most famous bit of family lore, Bill Gates Sr. says he had to chuck a glass of cold water over the head of his 12-year-old son during an outbreak of "utter, total sarcastic, smart-ass kid rudeness" at the dinner table. Soon after, the family enrolled him in a private school where he had more freedom—and discovered computers.
Bill Sr.—who helped guide his son through tough decisions like taking Microsoft public—is now co-chairman of the $30 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The 83-year-old says he enjoys working with his son but never forgets that Bill Jr. needs his space. "He has very fixed ideas of some things," Gates Sr. says. "The dynamic of the family is that you don't cross him on those things, because it's a waste of time."
Hint to employees: If you say you're sick, don’t use Facebook. A Swiss woman was fired for doing just that, the BBC reports. She claimed her migraine prevented her from working on her computer and asked to lie in a darkened room—where she accessed Facebook through her iPhone. She asserted her innocence, and accused the company of creating a fake Facebook account to spy on her.
Friday, April 24, 2009
News Corp. has hired former Facebook executive Owen Van Natta to run MySpace, the Wall Street Journal reports. The expected move may be announced as early as today. The hiring comes fast for MySpace, which announced Wednesday that current CEO Chris DeWolfe was stepping down, along with fellow co-founder Tom Anderson as president.
Van Natta joined Facebook in 2005, when it was still open only to college students. He was instrumental in opening it to the public and securing an investment from Microsoft. He left the company in 2008 to become CEO of the Project Playlist music streaming site. Though MySpace still has more US visitors than Facebook, that gap is closing, and Facebook has more users globally.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
It’s a bad time to buy a computer, writes Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. And that makes it an equally awkward time for his annual computer buying guide. Both Microsoft and Apple will release new operating systems in the fall, and it’ll be easier to buy a computer with the new software preinstalled. But if you can’t wait, here are some issues to consider when buying an upgrade-ready PC.
Cost: Prices are way down. A low-end Windows laptop can be had for $500.
Mac or PC: Apple costs more, but “if speed, ease of use, and stability matter more, buy a Mac.” Still, based on the beta, Windows 7 will be a huge upgrade.
Memory: You’ll want 2GB, even on cheap machines.
Graphics: Discrete graphics processors will be more important than ever on the new OSes.
Jobless Mr. Moms are becoming more prevalent at school pickup time and PTA meetings in Pelham Manor, a posh New York suburb where hedge-fund managers and execs raise families. Their blunt decisiveness is a remnant of once-successful careers, and while PTA moms welcome their help, they worry for them, too. “That goes to their identity,” one tells the New York Times of losing breadwinner status.
“Men’s self-esteem is much more related to professional success,” says a psychologist who recently visited the town of 5,500. For former insurance exec Andrew Emery, however, joblessness has been a chance to spend time he never got with his children. Now Emery plans to find a flexible job, like teaching, that allows him more family time.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Recessions typically are the worst of times, but they can be the best of times if you know what to buy at discounted rates. Time unveils its list of top recession buys:
Stores have a glut of fancy duds like cashmere sweaters and formalwear (discounted about 75%), meaning now you, too, can look like a million bucks without spending it.
Instead of splurging on a new computer, try boosting your computer’s memory, which costs about $70 less than 2 years ago.
A lobster dinner just isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing, considering prices have dropped about 50%.
Your job may be in peril, but at least you can ride around town looking for a better one in a new car, because desperate manufacturers and dealers are offering one-time-only incentives like 0% financing.
If you’ve been pining for a country-club membership, some clubs are waiving or delaying initiation fees—which can get up to $50,000 or more.
The recession has led to some antipathy toward moneyed Americans, but the haves are not casting a blind eye to the have-nots' troubles, ABC News reports. Colleges across the country are seeing millions in anonymous donations designed to save endowments, and at least one hospital has spared hundreds of jobs through benefactors' gifts. Call them “recession angels.”
At the community level, nonprofits are financing birthday parties for kids from hard-hit families. “You can really see how God works for people,” said a mother of a child feted with the program’s help. Even small businesses are feeling generous. One small-town pharmacy owner gathered his employees, who feared layoffs, and gave them bonuses instead. “When you have it in your hand, it makes you think of the smaller stores,” one said.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
As their country struggles with its worst recession since World War II, many Japanese city slickers stymied by the job market are trying out the farming life, the Wall Street Journal reports. Aiming to rejuvenate an industry in which two-thirds of full-time workers are 65 and older, the government has initiated a $10 million program to train 900 people in farming, forestry, and fishing.
“If they can't find young workers over the next several years, Japan's agriculture will disappear,” says a government economist. But “it’s a hard life,” notes one man who embarked on a training program after losing his factory job. One 9-person training group shared a single bathroom in an abandoned inn in freezing weather. And one established farmer complains trainees aren’t interested in the work: "These new applicants are coming because they have no other choice."
Americans trying to cut back on both flab and expenditures are finding ways to go without costly gym memberships and exercise equipment, reports the Wall Street Journal. Sales of exercise DVDs and simple exercise equipment like yoga mats are booming. Experts say fitness is more important than ever in a recession as stress levels rise. And getting or staying in shape doesn't have to cost a fortune.
"I think this side of fitness, where people leave the gyms and workout at home, will continue to grow," says a personal trainer who acknowledges her clients are cutting back. Some are even finding ways to get exercise classes on the cheap. A group in Los Angeles calling itself "The Guys on the Corner" hires a personal trainer every Sunday to put them through a workout in a liquor store parking lot.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Futurist Douglas Rushkoff is trying to talk Craig Newmark into creating “craigbucks,” a specialized currency for trading goods on Craigslist. Rushkoff, who notably predicted the rise of social media, thinks do-it-yourself “complimentary currency” is the future of money, Portfolio reports. Complimentary currencies typically spring up and thrive in nations with unstable or untrustworthy governments, but Rushkoff thinks they’ll soon catch on here, too.
Already several such currencies are being traded around the world. China’s government recently cracked down on the trade of “QQ coins,” a currency that began on the social-networking site QQ and used for nearly $1 billion in transactions last year. In Kenya, trading cell-phone minutes has become a major cash system, to the tune of $3.6 billion a year, or 10% of Kenyan GDP.
A trio of billionaire brothers in Hong Kong is offering shelter from the financial storm in the form of a life-size Noah’s ark replica, built using the Bible as a manual, the Wall Street Journal reports. The ark is one of many replicas worldwide, but the only one that conforms to the Bible’s 450-foot long, 75-foot wide, 45-foot high standards.
Today’s financial woes didn’t inspire it, however: The ark, with 67 pairs of fiberglass animals and a hotel, has been 17 years in the making; the project was driven by the evangelical middle brother. Other arks include a Dutch vessel that, unlike the Kwoks’, really floats; and a Greenpeace ark built as a climate warning on the Turkish mountain where Noah’s is thought to have come to rest.
Monday, April 13, 2009
At Harvard and labs across the country, researchers are turning to dogs for clues on how their brains—and ours—work, the Boston Globe reports. “Psychologists have been ignoring animals that were sleeping quietly at their feet,” one professor said, but no longer. Dogs understand pointing better than even our closest primate relatives, and scientists wonder if their intelligence could be tied to domestication.
Harvard’s new Canine Cognition Lab is running subjects through simple tests of symbol recognition and abstract concepts like sameness. “To what extent is an animal that’s really been bred to be with humans capable of some of the same psychological mechanisms?” wonders the lab’s leader. Other research has delved into dogs’ sense of guilt, and all of it is a far cry from Pavlov.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The dream of pulling in big bucks just out of college at a prestigious Wall Street job is fading in the face of the recession, and early signs point to public service, government, science, and education as today's emerging hot industries, reports the New York Times. The economy, combined with the emphasis the new administration places on service, has created "a benevolent perfect storm" likely to shift recent grads' attention to public problems, says a Harvard dean.
In recent years, 40% of Harvard grads opted for finance and consulting jobs—but the downturn, combined with the "Obama effect," has shifted their outlook and will likely change those numbers, says a professor. Applications are up at graduate schools of government, as students begin to view government as part of the solution. “It’s been liberating, and lucky for me," said an economics major who now hopes to teach, “But your situation does dictate your preferences.”
Saturday, April 11, 2009
The onetime small-talk staple “So, how's the job going?” is liable to get you into trouble these days, reports Newsweek. Rising unemployment is straining friendships as the haves learn to interact with the have-nots. Among 30- and 40-somethings, discussing luxurious vacation plans is not a good idea, and for the 50-plus set, retirement talk is strictly off-limits.
But not talking about work can be dangerous, according to some doctors. “Right now, it feels really bad to complain about work, so more of my patients are turning to a few extra cocktails alone, or prescription-drug abuse at work,” said the clinical director of the New York Center for Motivation and Change. His advice? Turn to co-workers—at least until they (or you) get laid off.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The recession is coming to reality TV, in the form of a show that puts employees' fates in the hands of their co-workers. The new Fox effort Someone’s Gotta Go, expected to make its debut within months, will focus on small businesses facing layoffs, Variety reports. “It’s Survivor meets The Office,” said a Fox exec.
“When someone is arbitrarily let go the first reaction usually is ‘How come that person was fired when another idiot is still here?’" he continued. "This finally gives employees a chance to make that decision.” Employees will be given access to co-workers’ human resources files to help make the decision. A production company exec hailed the concept: “As a boss myself, I don’t want to have to make those decisions.
More bad news for 1.5 million college seniors graduating this year into a tough job market: Less money. The average salary offer to a new recipient of a bachelor's degree is $48,515, down 2.2% from last year's $49,624, says a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Just six months ago, the survey projected an increase of 7.6%, reports BusinessWeek.
Still, some degrees are doing better than others. Average starting salaries are up in engineering (2.3% to $58,000), accounting (2% to $48,000), and business management (3.6% to $46,000). Most liberal arts degrees stayed flat at $37,000, while computer science grads fared worst—their offers are down 11% to $59,000. On the upside, internships are paying about 5% more as employers try to retain a talented hiring pool.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Move over Monday. Researchers have found that mid-Tuesday morning is the most stressful part of the work week, the Daily Telegraph reports. In a poll of 3,000 British adults, nearly half picked 11:45am Tuesday as their most hectic time. “Traditionally, people associate Monday as the worst day of the week,” said one researcher, “but this doesn’t seem to be the case.”
It seems most workers coast through Monday, leaving a pile of work for themselves when reality settles in on Tuesday. Workers were most likely to work through lunch on Tuesday, as they realized how much they had to do for the week. More than half said they regularly feel stressed at work in general, and almost a quarter said they felt stressed every day.
How much is your digital self worth to you? At least one new website is betting it’s enough that you might want to pass on that value after you die, Mashable reports. Legacy Locker, which launches today, allows you to designate caretakers to take control of your YouTube videos, Flickr photos, email and other stuff stored on social-networking and other sites once you're gone. Think of it as virtual estate planning.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
This may be the age of YouTube, but good, old-fashioned TV still has the edge in one field: job hunting, the AP reports. Unemployed professionals are turning to the original tube to reach employers through television commercials—proving that “TV, in spite of all the technology, is still the dominant medium,” said one professor, comparing the trend to speed dating.
Massachusetts, Michigan, and California feature such TV programs. Unlike on YouTube, employers don’t have to search for the spots, but there’s also no guarantee that they’ll see them, since many air on cable access channels. “Any exposure I can get is a great thing,” figured one hopeful. Added another, “I’ve never done something like this before. We'll see what happens.”
Friday, April 3, 2009
My name is Will Parker and I am Host/Executive Producer of "The Chatteaux." After visiting a chatteaux in Paris, France I came back and decided to create "The Chatteaux," because I am very passionate about helping people. On this show I will be OBJECTIVE and HONEST in sharing with everyone my experiences and advice. We will start the show with topics concentrating on helping people with dating and relationships. I will fuse music and other forms of media to motivate and educate you so that hopefully you will have a STRONGER sense of SELF. Once we get the momentum going forward we will then expand into other topics TOGETHER. I am also open for new ideas and suggestions. Oops, I forgot to mention, pardon my manners but I am a GREAT LISTENER as well. If you ever have any questions don't be afraid or hesitate to ask. I hope you enjoy and I make a difference in your life. Chat with you soon.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Libraries that once worried about staying relevant are finding themselves on the front line of the recession, the New York Times reports. Attendance has surged as the newly unemployed—some of whom can't read or write or navigate the Internet—use facilities to write resumés and search for jobs, often with the assistance of staff. But theft and violence are up as well, and many librarians are feeling overwhelmed by the job's new demands.
"I guess I’m not really used to people with tears in their eyes,” a librarian in a well-off Chicago suburb said. “It has been unexpectedly stressful. We feel so anxious to help these people." Her library—which beefed up security after one homeless man stabbed another on its front steps—is doing its best to cope with the new pressures. A job-search desk has been created and employees are being given advice on how to deal with distraught patrons.
If your boss catches you reading this article, don’t sweat it. A little recreational internet use on the job makes for more productive employees, according to a new Australian study. The study surveyed 300 people, 70% of whom engaged in a little WILB—“workplace Internet leisure browsing.” Those valiant slackers were actually 9% more productive than the 30% who heroically refrained from checking Facebook, Reuters reports.
“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” said the study’s author. “Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself.” But he cautioned that the results only hold true for those who spend less than 20% of their time browsing. True Internet addicts tend to have lower productivity.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
No one knows quite how today's holiday got its start, but it may have its roots in the resistance of French "fools" to the Gregorian calendar, which shifted New Year's from April 1 to Jan. 1. Of course, that explanation could be a hoax, notes the Huffington Post, which runs down the best April Fools' pranks:
After the BBC reported on the anticipated Swiss spaghetti crop in 1957, viewers phoned in for instructions on how to grow their own pasta trees.
Six major newspapers ran a 1996 ad announcing that Taco Bell was doing its part to ease the country's debt by purchasing the Liberty Bell, to be renamed the Taco Liberty Bell.
In 1993, the AP, CNN, and Rush Limbaugh reported on "Arm the Homeless", a group dedicated to providing firearms to the underprivileged of Columbus, Ohio.
NPR's 1992 report that Richard Nixon was running for a second presidential term with the slogan "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again" prompted plenty of listeners to call in.
The Madison Capital-Times in 1933 broke news of the collapse of Wisconsin's Capitol due to "large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers."
RIM's latest effort to quench their Blackberry users' iPhone envy is an application store, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company expects about 1,000 applications to be posted at the new App World this week—still a trickle compared to Apple's 15,000. Those now available include apps for social networking, such as Facebook, and the music service Shazam. The announcement comes a day before the Canadian company releases its quarterly earnings, which are expected to fall at the low end of forecasts.