Advertisements

Archive for March, 2012


A woman went from fast food to life in the fast lane — and she says its all McDonald’s fault.

Shelley Lynn is claiming that the fast food giant should have protected her against her ex-husband and former boss Keith Handley, who hired her to work the counter twenty years ago, according to Courtroom News.

Lynn, who is suing Handley, his restaurant company Ivernia and McDonald’s in California Central District Court, said that she was at the mercy of a company that provided no protections for female employees against predatory bosses.

The trouble began in 1982 when Handley hired her to work at the counter in Arroyo Grande, California. The two began dating in 1985, but things got rocky when she lost her job.

Lynn says that Handley, who still runs the franchise, forced her termination to make her more vulnerable to his demands.

“McDonald’s had no policy in place whereby Lynn could have filed a grievance against Handley, Ivernia, and McDonald’s,” she said in the filed court documents.

Lynn, who was down on her luck, said Handley lied when he said help her fulfill her dreams of working as a Las Vegas dancer.

He bought her a home in Vegas to live in, but then told her she’d have to get a job as a prostitute in one of the legal brothels to pay for it.

“Handley then began pressuring Lynn on an almost daily basis, arguing . . . it was no big deal to engage in sex to make money, that she would lose her home and everything she had, which was true,” according to the complaint.

Lynn said she took a job at the Chicken Ranch in Nevada, where she became a “top booker,” required to sleep with up to 12 men in a single night.

Lynn and Handley wed in 1988, but soon divorced.

She says Handley should never have been allowed to open his franchise and that McDonald’s “failed to conduct a due diligence into the moral character of Handley when it sold franchises to him.”

She also says McDonald’s “failed to properly supervise and train Handley,” who she accuses of running his pimping operations out of the McDonald’s franchises he owned, according to the complaint.

Lynn seeks lost wages, special damages, compensatory damages and punitive damages for sex trafficking, negligent retention and supervision of franchisees, and racketeering.

 

Advertisements

A word of a warning to parents of adolescents, from the nation’s poison centers: Yes, you’ve secured your medicine chest and your liquor cabinet; but a new thrill-seeking activity among teens might make you consider locking away the cinnamon shaker as well.

In the first three months of 2012, the nation’s poison centers have had 139 calls – close to three times as many as were received in all of 2011 – seeking help and information about the intentional misuse of cinnamon. At least 122 of those calls arose from something called the “cinnamon challenge” – a game growing in popularity among teens in which a child is dared to swallow a spoonful of ground or powdered cinnamon without drinking any water.

As cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon ensues, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties and risk of pneumonia, says Dr. Alvin C. Bronstein, medical and managing director of Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. For teens who suffer from asthma, the “cinnamon challenge” can be particularly risky, because they can develop shortness of breath.

Of the 139 calls received so far this year by poison control centers, 30 required medical evaluation.

What started kids abusing the contents of the kitchen’s little bear shaker? Look no further than the Internet: Videos posted there are helping spread word of the cinnamon challenge.

“We urge parents and caregivers to talk to their teens about the cinnamon challenge, explaining to their teens that what may seem like a silly game can have serious health consequences,” said Bronstein.

The latest warning comes out of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, which collects data on some 2 million calls made to poison control lines across the country each year, providing early warning of dangerous trends.

Best Buy Co. BBY -7.47% is beginning to acknowledge that its big-box business model, which dominated electronics retailing for much of the past two decades, is no longer working.

The U.S.-based electronics chain said it would close 50 big-box stores this year, test new store formats in San Antonio and Minneapolis, and lay off 400 corporate and support workers as part of a plan to trim $800 million in costs and restructure its ailing business.

“I am not satisfied with the pace or degree of change we have made up to this point,” Chief Executive Brian Dunn said in a conference call with analysts, adding, “We are evolving our retail-store strategy. We are increasing our points of presence while decreasing our overall square footage.”

Best Buy shares were off 7.7% at $24.56 on Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

Also Thursday, Best Buy reported a $1.7 billion loss for its fourth quarter ended March 3.

The Richfield, Minn., company is struggling to adapt to a changed landscape in retailing that has left many big specialty stores looking like dinosaurs.

Consumers armed with mobile phones are increasingly using stores as showrooms to check out merchandise they later purchase for less online, a trend greatly benefiting Internet retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +1.69% that aren’t encumbered by the costs of running physical locations and in many cases don’t have to collect sales tax. Meanwhile Apple Inc.’s AAPL -1.27% phones and tablets, showcased in its own namesake stores, have eroded the status of specialty chains as the one-stop shop for the latest in gadgetry.

In response, Best Buy said it will launch large-scale tests of what it calls new “connected store” formats in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., as well as San Antonio. The stores, which will emphasize services such as technology support and wireless connections, will feature large new hubs at their center to assist shoppers, as well as reconfigured checkout lanes and new areas to accelerate the pickup of items purchased earlier online.

Best Buy said it will increase worker training by 40% and offer sales staff financial incentives, a move that boosted mobile-phone sales when it incorporated it into that part of its business.

The company said it expected to reduce square footage in San Antonio and the Twin Cities by 20% as part of the changes, by shutting down some big-box stores and replacing them with smaller locations, as part of what it called a “customer transfer” strategy that could spread to other markets if it is successful. Overall, the closure of 50 big-box stores would reduce its 1,100 U.S. locations by about 4.5%.

Analysts, who have criticized an earlier Best Buy pledge to shrink its square footage by 10% as insufficient, said the move to rethink the purpose of Best Buy stores was long overdue. “This is what needs to be happening,” said David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott, who said he believes Best Buy remains positioned to prosper in the long term with a smaller-store presence. “We’ll see what happens with these tests in Minneapolis and San Antonio, because that could transform the model further.”

Meanwhile, Best Buy plans to shift its growth focus by opening 100 Best Buy Mobile locations, smaller stand-alone stores that largely sell smart phones and tablet computers.

Best Buy’s loss of $1.7 billion, or $4.89 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $651 million, or $1.62 a share. It included $2.6 billion in restructuring costs and other charges the company previously announced as it exited its big-box store business in the U.K. Stripping out those one-time costs, Best Buy’s per-share profit of $2.47 exceeded the $2.16 expected by analysts.

Yet while revenue rose 3.4% to $16.63 billion, sales at stores, websites and call centers at stores open at least 14 months fell 2.4% compared with a year earlier. The declines, largely due to drops in sales of television sets and laptop computers, came despite a 21% increase in online sales.

Best Buy estimated it actually gained market share despite the middling numbers in what was a declining electronics market overall.

For the full year, Best Buy said revenue rose 2% to $50.7 billion. That included a comparable-store decline of 1.7% over the year before, despite 18% domestic online growth and a 13% increase in mobile-device sales in the U.S.

Looking ahead, it projected earnings of between $3.50 to $3.80 a share for its new fiscal year, and generally flat revenue of $50 billion to $51 billion.

The company is also changing its fiscal year to end the Saturday nearest the end of January, effective in the current quarter.

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot stands at a record $500 million, and some people on Twitter are declaring what they’d do with the money if they won Friday’s drawing.

Using the hashtag #IfIWonTheMegaMillions, many—as you might expect—said they’d never work again; some said they’d buy lavish cars and houses, take their friends to concerts as VIPs, or pay their student loans; others would donate their winnings to charity.

Many, though, have some odd plans.

“I’d hire Morgan Freeman to read me bedtime stories every-night,” Shaka Yeeloy wrote.

“I would wisely invest it,” another tweeter promised. “I’d also buy a bunch of midgets and paint them orange.”

Hey, you never know.

“My daughter will have a limo driving her to daycare,” Angelus Mortis, sounding a bit like a Vogue columnist, wrote.

Kyle Lopez would buy an Apple Store “so I don’t have to wait in line anymore.” (With $476 million, Lopez could hire Morgan Freeman to wait in line for him.)

“INSTANTLY hire security!!!” Jon Castillo tweeted.

DeWayne offered to finance a sequel to “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.” Akbar Leroy Gonzalez wants to recreate “House Party,” though I’m not sure he meant the movie.

Thinking like a Motor City Donald Trump, Billy Ray Valentine “would buy the eastside of Detroit CASH and make it a resort!”

The chances of winning Friday’s jackpot are one in 176 million, according to the Associated Press.

“Be Eazy” promised to “buy Necker Island from Sir Richard Branson!”

Echoing the sentiments of more than a few others, D.T. would “vanish.”

Just don’t say that to a future employer. According to MSNBC.com, “Would you quit your job if you won the lottery?” has become a popular question for hiring managers in interviews with applicants.

“Recruiters report that high numbers of job seekers blab negative information without realizing they’re making a farewell address to a job opportunity,” Joyce Lain Kennedy, author of “Job Interviews for Dummies,” told the site.

Instead, Kennedy said, you should say this: “While [I’d] be thrilled to win the lottery, [I’d] still seek out fulfilling work.”

Stand up if you want to live longer, researchers have warned.

A major study from Australia found sitting down too long increases your risk of dying within three years, even if you are already physically active.

The study of 222,000 people suggests too much sitting – as opposed to insufficient activity – may be a new risk factor for premature death.

It found adults who sat 11 or more hours per day had a 40 per cent increased risk of dying in the next three years compared with those who sat for fewer than four hours a day.

This risk remained after taking into account their physical activity, weight and general health.

People sitting for between eight and 11 hours a day had a 15 per cent increase in the risk of dying compared with those seated for fewer than four hours a day.

The findings were published in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine (must credit).

Lead author Dr Hidde van der Ploeg, a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, said ‘These results have important public health implications.

‘That morning walk or trip to the gym is still necessary, but it’s also important to avoid prolonged sitting. Our results suggest the time people spend sitting at home, work and in traffic should be reduced by standing or walking more.’ The results are the first landmark findings to be published from the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study, the largest ongoing study of healthy ageing in the Southern Hemisphere.

Predominant position: Many people can spend the majority of the day sitting down (Posed by model)

They showed physical activity is still beneficial: inactive people who sat the most had double the risk of dying within three years than the active people who sat least.

Among the physically inactive group, those who sat the most had nearly one-third higher chance of dying than those who sat least.

Altogether there were 5,400 deaths in the three year period of follow-up, with seven per cent of the deaths attributed to sitting.

There has been growing interest in the downsides of prolonged sitting, which is a marker for a sedentary lifestyle.

Previous research found people who watch six hours of TV a day cut short their lifespan by five years compared with someone who watches no TV.

People who sit for longer have bigger waist sizes, and higher levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

 The average adult spends 90 per cent of their leisure time sitting down and less than half of adults meet World Health Organization physical activity recommendations.

In the UK, adults are urged to do 150 minutes of activity a week to promote health.

In an accompanying editorial, co-author David Dunstan of the physical activity laboratory, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, said individuals are exhorted to do 30 minutes of brisk walking a day to stave off chronic disease.

But ‘this still leaves 15 and a half hours of non-exercise awake time each day during which, for many adults, sitting is the predominant stance.

‘To put this in perspective, 30 minutes of physical activity is as protective an exposure as 10 hours of sitting is a harmful one’.

He said the evidence was strong enough to support doctors prescribing ‘reduced daily sitting time’ to their patients.

The research was commissioned by the Cardiovascular Research Network and supported by the NSW Division of the National Heart Foundation Australia.

Heart Foundation NSW CEO Tony Thirlwell said being inactive was a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

He said ‘Watching TV, using computers and electronic games can involve sitting for long periods and have become a big part of leisure time.

‘But we know that people who spend less time on these things have better health than those who spend too much time on them.’ A major five-year follow-up of 45 and Up study participants has just begun and will ask 265,000 men and women more about their health, lifestyle, and the medications and health services they use.

With prices averaging at $4.67 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Chicago, the Windy City’s are once again the highest in the country.

The $4.67 average marks a new record for the city, too, according to Fox Chicago. AAA blames the spike on instability in the Middle East, growing demand in Asia and the high cost of switching to more expensive, summer fuel blends.

“Think of it sort like a clearance sale. We have an old product—winter gasoline that’s being clearanced out,” Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst for gasbuddy.com, told WBEZ. “And as that clearance occurs, new merchandise–more expensive merchandise–summer gasoline is hitting the shelves or in this case hitting the pumps.”

The previous record, set in May of 2011, was at $4.65 per gallon, WBEZ reports.

Just west of the North Avenue Beach, two gas stations, one Shell, one BP, boast the highest per-gallon prices at $4.88, CBS Chicago reports.

The national average is only $3.89, according to CBS.

Fox reports that gas is cheaper in the suburbs, averaging around $4.51 per gallon, and flagged the cheapest downtown gas station at 11th and Racine, where the price is $4.39 a gallon.

In light of this sobering news, Chicago driving blog The Expired Meterrounded up some tips to help cash-strapped drivers maximize their MPGs, including avoiding rush hour, sticking to the speed limit and using high-quality motor oil.

Chicago earned the same title this time last year, with the highest gas prices in the U.S. at $4.27 per gallon.

At that time, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk called for a mix of permanent tax credits and continued offshore drilling to help bring down the market price of gasoline.

 

Run for your life!

The addictive mega-hit Temple Run is now out for Android! All your friends are playing it – can you beat their high scores?!

You’ve stolen the cursed idol from the temple, and now you have to run for your life to escape the Evil Demon Monkeys nipping at your heels. Test your reflexes as you race down ancient temple walls and along sheer cliffs. Swipe to turn, jump and slide to avoid obstacles, collect coins and buy power ups, unlock new characters, and see how far you can run!

“In every treasure hunting adventure movie there’s one scene in which the plucky hero finally gets his hands on the treasure but then has to navigate a maze of booby traps in order to get out alive. Temple Run is this scene and nothing else. And it’s amazing.” – SlideToPlay.com

Download Here

Instagram for Android is almost here!

While the popular photo-sharing service has been vague about how soon it will release an app for the Android platform, the company has opened a registration page where Android users can submit an email address ahead of the new app’s official launch.

The pre-registration page, first pointed out by The Next Web can be found here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give any hints about how long you’ll have to wait to be notified that the app is ready for download.

Take a look at a screenshot of the page:

Business Insider points out that Instagram designer Tim Van Damme has also posted an image of what appears to be screenshots of the new user interface overlaid with the rainbow wallpaper from the registration page.

Here’s Van Damme’s teaser image:

Earlier this month, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced at SXSW in Austin, Texas, that the app has 27 million registered users. He went on to say that an Android app would drop “very soon” and claimed that it will be “one of the best Android apps you’ll ever see.”

 

Forbes’ comprehensive list of the world’s billionaires (there are 1226) came out recently, and we were curious — are there women on the list?

Turns out, there are. Yes, men far outnumber the ladies. But starting at number 11, women help fill out the ranks of the fabulously wealthy.

Where do these fortunes come from? Uniformly, these top six women have shrewdly managed the companies and fortunes handed to them by husbands and fathers. But most of these women have put in their own hard work into these companies to grow them, especially the woman who is now president of Fidelity Investments.

Of course, it took a few generations for these fortunes to build up, and many of the male billionaires on Fortunes’ list are, well, advanced in age, having worked hard for their wealth over a lifetime. We’re looking forward to a few years down the road when the list is populated by many more women and their own companies, instead of those founded by the the men in their lives.

Learn more about some of the richest women in the world:

6. Laurene Powell Jobs
Estimated net worth: $9 billion
Rank: 100th richest person in the world, 36th richest person in the U.S.
Age: 48
Why she’s rich: She’s the widow of Steve Jobs.
Lives in: Palo Alto, California

5. Abigail Johnson
Estimated net worth: $10.3 billion
Rank: 85th richest person in the world, 33rd richest in the U.S.
Age: 50
Why she’s rich: She owns and runs Fidelity Investments with her father, Edward Johnson III.
Lives in: Milton, Massachusetts

4. Anne Cox Chambers
Estimated net worth: $12.5 billion
Rank: 61st richest person in the world, 25th richest in the U.S.
Why she’s rich: She is the primary owner of the media empire Cox Enterprises, which was founded by her father James M. Cox.
Lives in: Atlanta, Georgia

3. Jacqueline Mars
Estimated net worth: $13.8 billion
Rank: 52nd richest person in the world, 22nd richest person in the U.S.
Age: 72
Why she’s rich: She’s the granddaughter of Frank C. Mars, the founder of the candy company Mars, Inc.
Lives in: The Plains, Virginia

2. Alice Walton
Estimated net worth: $23.3 billion
Rank: 17th richest person in the world, 9th richest in the U.S.
Age: 62
Why she’s rich: She’s the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
Lives in: Fort Worth, Texas

1. Christy Walton
Estimated net worth: $25.3 billion
Rank: 11th richest person in the world, 4th richest in the U.S.
Age: 57
Why she’s rich: She’s the widow of John T. Walton, the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
Lives in: Jackson, Wyoming

 

Tim Tebow laughed a few times, smiled steadily and stayed polite and composed.

If being surrounded by dozens of cameras and scores of media people made him nervous, the New York Jets’ new backup quarterback didn’t show it.

He was cool and calm – exactly how he looked during those hair-raising comebacks last season with the Denver Broncos.

His message: I’m here to help, not to create another Jets controversy.

“It’s an honor for all of you to show up to hear me say a few words,” a grinning Tebow told a pack of more than 200 reporters.

Asked what he thought about the media crush, he said: “I really don’t think it will be much of a distraction because, honestly, I will try not to pay too much attention to it.”

Good thing, because it will surely be around 24/7. Monday was only the beginning. Even though both he and Mark Sanchez, the starting quarterback, don’t want more drama.

Tebow spoke for more than 30 minutes at a news conference held in the team’s field house because the media turnout was so massive it couldn’t be accommodated in the normal press room. It was hardly a run-of-the-mill meet-and-greet, with the star of the show hardly a part-time player.

Cameras flashed, capturing every Tebow step, as he strolled onto the field and made his way to the podium for his big New York close-up. He appeared polished and unfazed handling a barrage of 31 questions, most of his answers measured and upbeat as he deftly handled the local media.