❝ Savory bacon, sweet Donut Sticks and a $5 value meal contributed to better-than-expected U.S. results for McDonald’s Corp. despite negative guest counts in the first quarter…
Going forward this year, McDonald’s said it is pivoting its focus to overall restaurant operations, especially at the drive-thru. McDonald’s said it has deployed menu boards with automated suggestive selling at 700 restaurants through Dynamic Yield. In late March, the Chicago-based chain purchased the decision logic technology company, which uses artificial intelligence to automate the upselling of menu items based on time of day, trending items and weather…
❝ When asked by an analyst where McDonald’s stands on adding a plant-based dish, CEO Steve Easterbrook said his culinary teams are “paying close attention to it.”
“The key for us is to identify the sustaining consumer trends,” he said.
I zeroed in on the plant-based consideration because of the dynamic IPO this past week for BEYOND MEAT. Their CEO emphasized that the simplest advantage they will offer consumers – beside a healthier planet and healthier consumers – is lower prices than meat. I haven’t any confidence in McDonald’s using lower wholesale commodity prices to reduce the tab for consumers. But, I look forward to taking advantage of the difference in the cut-throat world of supermarkets.
And – I wonder at the intelligence of fast food retailers who utilize the tastebud brain-switch of salty or sweet to bump their profits and don’t consider saving money for consumers to be equally compelling.
Just the beginning, folks
❝ An appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules…requiring internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.
The three-judge panel’s 2-1 decision is another victory for consumer advocates, the regulator and the Obama administration who have campaigned for years to protect an open internet.
❝ While it is a major setback for the cable companies and other internet service providers that lined up to oppose the rule-making, it is unlikely to be the last time the rules are challenged; both sides expect the case to eventually land before the supreme court.
What? Did anyone expect these greedy bastards to accept any ruling that limits the number of zeros they already lie about on their tax returns.
❝ The rules, which change the FCC’s classification of internet service providers by treating them like a public utility, attempt to prevent companies that provide internet connections from privileging traffic from one source over another.
An army of internet activists fought for the net neutrality rules passed by the FCC in 2015…
The FCC recorded over 4 million comments from ordinary human beings. Consumers. Folks who pay the bill.
❝ The FCC argued that the rules are crucial for allowing customers to go anywhere on the internet without a provider favoring its own service over that of other competitors.
The FCC’s move to reclassify broadband came after Barack Obama publicly urged the commission to protect consumers by regulating internet service as it does other public utilities.
For all the claptrap from politicians and corporate pimps about capitalist competition a great many Americans have little or no choice when it comes to accessing the Web. I have two. I get a decent speed from my cable provider – for way too much money. One friend in San Francisco gets four times my download speed for less than my monthly charge.
Like most rural Americans [and Canadians] there are friends of this blog still dealing with not much more than dial-up speeds even though copper is capable of a lot more.
The United States isn’t in the Top Ten for average internet speeds.
A carbon tax is just what it sounds like: The BC government levies a fee, currently 30 Canadian dollars, for every metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions resulting from the burning of various fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and, of course, coal. That amount is then included in the price you pay at the pump—for gasoline, it’s 6.67 cents per liter (about 25 cents per gallon)—or on your home heating bill, or wherever else the tax applies. (Canadian dollars are currently worth about 89 American cents).
If the goal was to reduce global warming pollution, then the BC carbon tax totally works. Since its passage, gasoline use in British Columbia has plummeted, declining seven times as much as might be expected from an equivalent rise in the market price of gas, according to a recent study by two researchers at the University of Ottawa. That’s apparently because the tax hasn’t just had an economic effect: It has also helped change the culture of energy use in BC. “I think it really increased the awareness about climate change and the need for carbon reduction, just because it was a daily, weekly thing that you saw,” says Merran Smith, the head of Clean Energy Canada. “It made climate action real to people.”
It also saved many of them a lot of money. Sure, the tax may cost you if you drive your car a great deal, or if you have high home gas heating costs. But it also gives you the opportunity to save a lot of money if you change your habits, for instance by driving less or buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle. That’s because the tax is designed to be “revenue neutral“—the money it raises goes right back to citizens in the form of tax breaks. Overall, the tax has brought in some $5 billion in revenue so far, and more than $3 billion has then been returned in the form of business tax cuts, along with over $1 billion in personal tax breaks, and nearly $1 billion in low-income tax credits (to protect those for whom rising fuel costs could mean the greatest economic hardship). According to the BC Ministry of Finance, for individuals who earn up to $122,000, income tax rates in the province are now Canada’s lowest.
RTFA. Long, detailed, convincing. Half of anyone quoting the details in the American press will only quote the part about the outbound costs. You already know who.
But, the intricacies aren’t especially difficult, didn’t require an excess of negotiation excepting with the most overtly bought-and-paid-for politicians in Western Canada. Might be worth the effort in some of the leading edge cities and counties in the GOUSA.
Dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries that turn up in hospitals, up from 7 percent a decade ago, according to an analysis by a national network of liver specialists. The research included only the most severe cases of liver damage referred to a representative group of hospitals around the country, and the investigators said they were undercounting the actual number of cases.
While many patients recover once they stop taking the supplements and receive treatment, a few require liver transplants or die because of liver failure. Naïve teenagers are not the only consumers at risk, the researchers said. Many are middle-aged women who turn to dietary supplements that promise to burn fat or speed up weight loss.
“It’s really the Wild West,” said Dr. Herbert L. Bonkovsky, the director of the liver, digestive and metabolic disorders laboratory at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. “When people buy these dietary supplements, it’s anybody’s guess as to what they’re getting…”
Americans spend an estimated $32 billion on dietary supplements every year, attracted by unproven claims that various pills and powders will help them lose weight, build muscle and fight off everything from colds to chronic illnesses. About half of Americans use dietary supplements, and most of them take more than one product at a time.
Dr. Victor Navarro, the chairman of the hepatology division at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, said that while liver injuries linked to supplements were alarming, he believed that a majority of supplements were generally safe. Most of the liver injuries tracked by a network of medical officials are caused by prescription drugs used to treat things like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, he said.
…A federal law enacted in 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, prevents the Food and Drug Administration from approving or evaluating most supplements before they are sold. Usually the agency must wait until consumers are harmed before officials can remove products from stores. Because the supplement industry operates on the honor system, studies show, the market has been flooded with products that are adulterated, mislabeled or packaged in dosages that have not been studied for safety.
The new research found that many of the products implicated in liver injuries were bodybuilding supplements spiked with unlisted steroids, and herbal pills and powders promising to increase energy and help consumers lose weight…
The F.D.A. estimates that 70 percent of dietary supplement companies are not following basic quality control standards that would help prevent adulteration of their products. Of about 55,000 supplements that are sold in the United States, only 170 — about 0.3 percent — have been studied closely enough to determine their common side effects, said Dr. Paul A. Offit, the chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an expert on dietary supplements.
RTFA for more and more details. One of the important points needing to be repeated is that just because a substance is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s doing a damned thing for you. Unless there is peer-reviewed science with positive results you probably shouldn’t be consuming it.
Cripes, I still wouldn’t touch half the crap that has managed FDA approval – with a dozen advisories about side-effects.
Angela Yartz with debt collection notices from a district attorney.
She bounced a $47.95 check to Walmart
The letters are sent by the thousands to people across the country who have written bad checks, threatening them with jail if they do not pay up.
They bear the seal and signature of the local district attorney’s office. But there is a catch: the letters are from debt-collection companies, which the prosecutors allow to use their letterhead. In return, the companies try to collect not only the unpaid check, but also high fees from debtors for a class on budgeting and financial responsibility, some of which goes back to the district attorneys’ offices…A kickback for services rendered.
Consumer lawyers have challenged the debt collectors in courts across the United States, claiming that they lack the authority to threaten prosecution or to ask for fees for classes when no district attorney has reviewed the facts of the cases. The district attorneys are essentially renting out their stationery, the lawyers say, allowing the companies to give the impression that failure to respond could lead to charges, when it rarely does…
The partnerships have proliferated from Los Angeles to Baltimore to Detroit, according to the National District Attorneys Association, as the stagnant economy leaves city and state officials grappling with budget shortfalls. Lawyers for the check writers estimate that more than 1 million of them are targeted a year. The two main debt collectors — California-based CorrectiveSolutions and BounceBack of Missouri — return millions of dollars each year to retailers including Safeway, Target and Walmart…
Because the cases are not fully investigated, there is no way of knowing whether the bad checks were the result of innocent mistakes or intentional fraud. The so-called bad check diversion programs start from the position that a crime has been committed.
Where’s Charles Dickens when you need him?
You can RTFA for all the details. I imagine most folks who wander through this site already have a perception of political life in these United States that doesn’t lead you to gasp in surprise over collusion between government and private collection agencies. You could write out in advance the rationales used by district attorneys – who are marking time in office before their next run at higher office.
There is a class of rip-off common in the United States that started with storefront mortgage companies encouraging people to lie about income and expenses – to achieve the dream of home ownership when it wasn’t really affordable. Hustlers like “kindly” moneylenders offering payday loans at terms that were against the law back when credit cards were invented – legal loan sharks kept in business by politicians with the ethical standards of a weasel. Scumbags are allowed into emergency rooms by hospitals administered by beancounters who find nothing wrong with confronting someone in dire need with a lecture on your responsibilities to people who make a living from your ills and injury.
It stinks on ice. The direct result of ideology and politics that say means-testing and your ability to pay take precedence over anything else in our society. No matter that most other industrial nations have learned that running the service levels of government on the basis of need and common good not only results in higher average standards – but, that it costs less than devoting bureaucratic time to policing the lives of ordinary citizens. A more sound return on investment.
Too bad that doesn’t satisfy today’s corrupt derivatives of the Puritan ethic.
MyFord Touch replaces many of the traditional knobs and buttons in a vehicle with touch screens, steering wheel-mounted controls and spoken commands…
Now Ford has issued a major upgrade that redesigns much of what customers see on the screen and tries to resolve complaints about the system crashing or rebooting while the vehicle is being driven. Ford said on Monday that the upgrade made the touch screens respond to commands more quickly, improved voice recognition capabilities and simplified a design that some say had the potential to create more distractions for drivers who tried to use it on the road. Fonts and buttons on the screen have been enlarged, and the layouts of more than 1,000 screens have been revamped.
“We expect that these improvements will put us back on track in the quality ratings,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development. “It’s more than just an update. This is a substantial upgrade.”
Ford is taking the unusual step of sending the upgrade directly to customers, who can install the new software in about an hour by plugging in a USB flash drive.
Dealers, which can perform the procedure if customers prefer, received the upgrade kits Monday, and the more than 300,000 customers with MyFord Touch in their vehicles can expect their USB drive in the mail later this week, Ford said.
Irritation with MyFord Touch was cited last week by Consumer Reports as a big reason that Ford fell to 10th place on this year’s Automaker Report Card, from fifth in 2011.
Lots of details in the article. Read ’em and make believe you’re surprised that version 1.0 of software from Microsoft sucks big time!
Make a face like that little kid in the eTrade commercial.
The capital of Wisconsin is buying 600 iPads this spring and plans to buy another 800 this fall, all paid for using funds from the state’s settlement with Microsoft related to consumer lawsuits claiming the company overcharged customers for its software…
Smojver added that the new iPads will enable students to wirelessly share their work and enable schools to replace textbooks with digital apps or ebooks, referring to Apple’s recent announcement related to iBooks 2, iBooks Author and digital textbooks as a “significant development.”
District deputy superintendent Sue Abplanalp noted that Madison administrators had been impressed by the results of an iPad trial by Chicago Public Schools, which found the tablets were successful in keeping students more engaged in the classroom.
Wisconsin’s iPads are being paid for through $3.4 million of the nearly $80 million settlement Microsoft agreed to pay the state to settle claims that it has systematically cheated consumers into paying too much for its software…
Har! Something somewhere in there about karma.
After enjoying a few drinks, some people go dancing. Others order food. And for some, it’s time to shop online.
“I have my account linked to my phone, so it’s really easy,” said Tiffany Whitten, of Dayton, Ohio, whose most recent tipsy purchase made on her smartphone — a phone cover — arrived from Amazon much to her surprise. “I was drunk and I bought it, and I forgot about it, and it showed up in the mail, and I was really excited.”
Shopping under the influence has long benefited high-end specialty retailers — witness the wine-and-cheese parties that are a staple of galleries and boutiques. Now the popularity of Internet sales has opened alcohol-induced purchases to the masses, including people like Ms. Whitten, who works in shipping and receiving and spent just $5 on the cat-shaped phone cover…
Online retailers, of course, can never be sure whether customers are inebriated when they tap the “checkout” icon. One comparison-shopping site, Kelkoo, said almost half the people it surveyed in Britain, where it is based, had shopped online after drinking.
But while reliable data is hard to come by, retailers say they have their suspicions based on anecdotal evidence and traffic patterns on their Web sites — and some are adjusting their promotions accordingly.