Government probe obtains AP phone records
The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press in what the news organization is calling a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather news. The government will not say why it sought the records. It is unknown whether a judge or grand jury signed off on the subpoenas. Subpoenas against the press are generally narrowly drawn and must be personally approved by the attorney general.
Retail sales up due to cars and clothing
The Associated Press is reporting that lower priced gasoline allowed Americans to buy more clothes, cars, electronics and appliances in April. Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent n April, according to the Commerce Department. That’s an improvement from a 0.5 percent decline in March. The April gain was stronger when taking out the effect of lower gas prices. When excluding gas sales, retail spending rose 0.7 percent. Sales of autos rose 1 percent in April. The economy grew 2.5 percent from January to March, up from a 0.4 percent rate in October-December.
Global retailers join together to increase safety in Bangladesh
According to the New York Times, several of the world’s largest apparel makers agreed on Monday to a plan to help pay for fire safety and building improvements after the collapse last month of the Rana Plaza factory, which killed more than 1100 people. The government worked with the brands to create the plan which will increase wages for garment workers and allow them to form unions. The Swedish giant H&M, along with the maker of Zara clothing, Dutch retailer C&A and British companies Primark and Tesco all have joined the plan. The plan will include an independent rigorous safety inspection component. Wal-Mart has yet to join the group.
Cell phone carriers unite in anti-texting ads
The big four cell phone carriers, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, will be joined by 200 other organizations backing a multi-million dollar campaign ad, according to the Associated Press. The message of the campaign will be against texting while driving. The government has a website named Distraction.gov that singles out texting and cell phones as the greatest source of driver distraction. The “It Can Wait” campaign will last until September.
France to tax smart phones
France is preparing to tax smart phones, tablets, and all other internet-linked devices to help fund production of French art, films and music. According to CNBC, the proposal was made in a government commissioned report endorsed by the President. The tax will be up to 4 percent of the sale of all devices, including gaming consoles and e-readers, which allow access via the internet to “cultural content”. The report said the government must intervene to correct excessive imbalances in the digital economy. The tax could be effective as early as next year.
Mini-bar amenities get creative
In an effort to distinguish them as unique and creative, many hotels are offering amenities in their mini-bars that are quite different. USA Today reports that the Graham hotel in Georgetown has electronic cigarettes. The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago has “Nursing Mothers” amenities. Kimpton’s Sky Hotel in Aspen offers oxygen tanks while its hotel in San Francisco offers rubber ducks. Morgan’s Hotel Group properties offer funky underwear. Smaller boutique hotels are more likely to offer the unusual amenities as a way to differentiate them.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.