• Nestlé admits slavery in Thailand while fighting child labour lawsuit in Ivory Coast

    Published: Mon, Feb 1, 2016

    It’s hard to think of an issue that you would less like your company to be associated with than modern slavery. Yet last November Nestlé, the world’s largest foodmaker and one of the most recognisable household brands, went public with the news it had found forced labour in its supply chains in Thailand and that its customers were buying products tainted with the blood and sweat of poor, unpaid and abused migrant workers. By independently disclosing that Nestlé customers had unwittingly bought products contaminated by the very worst labour abuses, the company said it was moving into a new era of self-policing of its own supply chains. A year-long investigation by the company confirmed media reports that the seafood industry in Thailand is riddled with forced labour and human trafficking and that slave labour was involved in the production of its Fancy Feast catfood brand. Nestlé also made sure to make it clear that no other company sourcing seafood from Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, could have avoided being exposed to the same risks.

  • US to stop approving oil fracking off California coast until review is complete

    Published: Mon, Feb 1, 2016

    The federal government has agreed to stop approving oil fracking off the California coast until it studies whether the practice is safe for the environment, according to legal settlements filed Friday. Separate deals reached with a pair of environmental organizations require the Department of the Interior to review whether well techniques such as using acid or hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to stimulate offshore well production threatens water quality and marine life.

  • Comcast Wants to Limit Your Netflix Binges

    Published: Fri, Jan 29, 2016

    Comcast Corp. customers used to be able to binge on all the Netflix and YouTube videos they wanted without repercussions. Now many are being put on a diet. In a growing number of cities, the nation’s largest cable company has begun imposing extra fees on Internet customers who use what it considers excessive amounts of data. The move could bring in new revenue to offset losses from cord-cutters dropping pay-TV service to stream videos online. The strategy poses risks. In 2008, Time Warner Cable Inc. tried to limit customers’ Internet use then dropped the plan the next year after a public backlash. Comcast has also faced questions from regulators about why its own streaming service doesn’t count toward subscriber data limits, as well as complaints from customers and online video providers.

  • Helmerich & Payne announces 'better than expected' first quarter results

    BY CASEY SMITH, Tulsa World | Published: Thu, Jan 28, 2016

    Tulsa-based Helmerich & Payne reported Thursday net income of $16 million from operating revenues of $488 million for the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year that ended Dec. 31. Those earnings represent a significant — 92 percent — drop compared to the same quarter a year ago, which ended in December 2014, when net earnings were $203.6 million and operating revenue was $1.06 billion. Helmerich & Payne's first quarter earnings were 15 cents per diluted share, compared to earnings of $1.87 per diluted share in the first quarter of the company's fiscal year 2015.

  • Get Ready For Facebook's Big 'Like' Button Change

    Published: Thu, Jan 28, 2016

    Facebook's "Like" button won't be the only way to respond to what you see in your newsfeed for much longer, The Huffington Post reports.  The tech giant's chief product officer Chris Cox confirmed in a Bloomberg report that it's only a matter of weeks before Facebook users everywhere can hit the Reactions" icon. 

  • Small towns devastated after Wal-Mart Stores Inc decimates mom-and-pop shops, then packs up and leaves: ‘They ruined our lives'

    Published: Wed, Jan 27, 2016

    The Town’n Country grocery in Oriental, North Carolina, a local fixture for 44 years, closed its doors in October after a Wal-Mart store opened for business. Now, three months later — and less than two years after Wal-Mart arrived — the retail giant is pulling up stakes, leaving the community with no grocery store and no pharmacy. Though mom-and-pop stores have steadily disappeared across the American landscape over the past three decades as the mega chain methodically expanded, there was at least always a Wal-Mart left behind to replace them. Now the Wal-Marts are disappearing, too. “I was devastated when I found out. We had a pharmacy and a perfectly satisfactory grocery store. Maybe Wal-Mart sold apples for a nickel less,” said Barb Venturi, mayor pro tem for Oriental, with a population of about 900. “If you take into account what no longer having a grocery store does to property values here, it is a significant impact for us.”

  • Ex-Disney IT workers sue after being asked to train their own H-1B replacements

    Published: Wed, Jan 27, 2016

    Two former IT workers at Disney have sued, saying that Disney broke the law when it hired cheaper foreign replacements, then fired its current IT department. Disney IT employees were told they would be kept on for 90 days in order to train their replacements, who were H-1B visa holders, according to the complaints. The workers were told "if they did not stay and train they would not get a bonus and severance, which most employees reluctantly accepted." Both lawsuits are proposed class-actions, filed in federal court in Florida. The suit filed by Dena Moore (PDF) names Disney and labor contractor Cognizant Technology Solutions, while a complaint filed by Leo Perrero (PDF) names Disney and HCL, another labor contractor.

  • Restaurant bans children under 5 for being 'uncontrollable terrors'

    Published: Wed, Jan 27, 2016

    Who hasn't fantasized about an age limit at a restaurant or in a movie when a baby starts wailing for 10 minutes straight? Most people stop short at just dreaming. Not so for an Italian restaurant owner. He banned children under 5 years old because they are "little uncontrollable terrors," according to the Telegraph.

  • The former CEO of Mozilla is launching a web browser that blocks all ads by default

    Published: Fri, Jan 22, 2016

    Brendan Eich is making a comeback. He's the creator of JavaScript and one of the founders of Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox browser, so he knows a thing or two about the web. But in 2014, after being appointed CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, he found himself at the middle of a firestorm. Eich had donated to Proposition 8, a failed Californian ballot initiative that aimed to define marriage as between one man and one woman. When news of the donation became public, he was highly criticised, and ultimately resigned from the role.

  • For defying no-call lists, Dish faces potential fines totaling $24 billion

    Published: Thu, Jan 21, 2016

    Dish’s telemarketers allegedly failed to heed no-call lists, and the satellite-TV provider may be fined up to $24 billion, a sum larger than the company’s current market value. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking $900 million in civil penalties, according to a report by Ars Technica. Four states — Ohio, Illinois, California, and North Carolina — want fines that would total more than $23 billion. A judge has already ruled that Dish and its contractors made 55 million calls that violated federal law by using recorded messages, Ars reported. They also are accused of phoning people who added their phone numbers to lists that are supposed to prevent telemarketers from calling. A trial will decide whether Dish is liable for the conduct of its contractors and whether Dish managers knew they was breaking the law. Dish spokespeople responded to the requested fines by saying the company was shocked by the amounts. They noted the fines were far larger than those requested in similar cases. Dish’s market capitalization is $22 billion.

  • Tulsa now has the lowest average fuel price in the nation

    BY ROBERT EVATT, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Jan 20, 2016

    Even with an overnight increase in fuel prices, Tulsa now has the lowest average gasoline cost among the nation's major metro areas, according to a AAA report Wednesday morning. Tulsa's average gasoline price now stands at $1.435. Oklahoma as a whole was slightly higher at $1.576, although it's also the lowest average among the 50 states. Missouri is now the second-lowest at $1.60.

  • ATM and overdraft fees top $6 billion at the big 3 banks

    Published: Wed, Jan 20, 2016

    Nobody likes those fees. Except banks. America's three biggest banks -- JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC) -- earned more than $6 billion just from ATM and overdraft fees last year, according to an analysis by SNL Financial and CNNMoney. That equates to $25 for every adult in the United States.

  • Laredo Petroleum's president and COO resigns

    BY CASEY SMITH, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Jan 19, 2016

    Jay P. Still has resigned as president, COO and member of the board of directors with Laredo Petroleum to pursue other interests, company officials announced Tuesday. Still joined the company in July 2013.

  • WhatsApp Ditches $1 Annual Fee, Tests Business Accounts But No Ads, Says CEO

    Published: Mon, Jan 18, 2016

    Today at the DLD conference in Munich, Germany, the CEO of Facebook-owned WhatsApp made a couple of big announcements about how the messaging app plans to evolve to its next phase as it approaches 1 billion users: the company plans to drop its $0.99 annual subscription fee, and it will start to test out more commercial services — specifically a B2C business for companies to communicate with their customers, TechCrunch.com reports.

  • Netflix cracks down on proxy streaming

    Published: Fri, Jan 15, 2016

    Due to licensing agreements, Netflix content varies between countries - many users have a virtual private network (VPN) or other proxy to get round this. The firm said it would increase efforts in the next few weeks to block the use of such proxies. Netflix expanded streaming services to more than 130 countries last week.

  • Mark Zuckerberg may be a great dad, but he's a lousy neighbor

    Published: Thu, Jan 14, 2016

    Mark Zuckerberg's adorable baby girl and impressive pledge to commit his vast $45 billion Facebook fortune to philanthropy have won the affection and admiration of much of the world. Except the people who live right next door to him. Some of the Facebook CEO's neighbors, often critical of the commotion surrounding the famous founder's house, are now reportedly urging residents to formally complain to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency about Zuckerberg's security detail "illegally" taking up two perfectly good parking spots with their SUVs, Mashable reports.

  • GoPro badly needs the next killer wave — a VR camera

    Published: Thu, Jan 14, 2016

    Just last week, Nick Woodmanwas all smiles and full of optimism as he stood on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show to tout the next big thing for GoPro—360 degree virtual reality video. Days later, with a poor fourth-quarter report looming, Woodman cut 7% of his work force and said revenue would be 14% lower than analyst estimates, USA TODAY reports.

  • Amazon Is Sold Out of Every David Bowie Album (And Accused of Price-Jacking)

    Published: Thu, Jan 14, 2016

    We know the Carnegie Hall Tribute to David Bowie sold out immediately, but how are the albums doing? They're doing well. Exceptionally. Magnificently. In the few days following the 69-year-old's death, Amazon.com has become "temporarily out of stock" (sold out) of CD and vinyl editions of the brand new Blackstar LP, which is likely to become Bowie's first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, 49 years after his self-titled debut dropped. As of this publishing, Amazon is also completely out of stock of every single other David Bowie studio album. The 2013 10-years-in-the-making comeback record The Next Day says it will be available Jan. 19. Most or all of the CDs and vinyl editions are available from independent/third-party sellers that do business on Amazon.

  • Yahoo settles e-mail privacy class-action: $4M for lawyers, $0 for users

    Published: Wed, Jan 13, 2016

    In late 2013, Yahoo was hit with six lawsuits over its practice of using automated scans of e-mail to produce targeted ads. The cases, which were consolidated in federal court, all argued that the privacy rights of non-Yahoo users, who "did not consent to Yahoo's interception and scanning of their emails," were being violated by a multi-billion dollar company. Now, lawyers representing the plaintiffs are singing a different tune. Last week, they asked US District Judge Lucy Koh to accept a proposed settlement (PDF). Under the proposal, the massive class of non-Yahoo users won't get any payment, but the class lawyers at Girard Gibbs and Kaplan Fox intend to ask for up to $4 million in fees. (The ultimate amount of fees will be up to the judge, but Yahoo has agreed not to oppose any fee request up to $4 million.) While users won't get any payment, Yahoo will change how it handles user e-mails—but it isn't the change that the plaintiffs attorneys were originally asking for. Yahoo won't stop scanning e-mails. Instead, the company has agreed to make a technical change to when it scans e-mails. In the settlement (PDF), Yahoo has agreed that e-mail content will be "only sent to servers for analysis for advertising purposes after a Yahoo Mail user can access the email in his or her inbox."

  • GM Ignition Nightmare Won't Go Away, for Victims or Company

    Published: Fri, Jan 8, 2016

    Zachary Stevens was a teenager headed to bible study when his Saturn Sky shot across a Texas highway into a pickup and killed the driver. Ruben Vazquez, 20, died after a drunk slammed into his stalled Chevy Cobalt on a California freeway. James Yingling III couldn’t brake or steer his Saturn Ion away from a culvert in Pennsylvania. He lingered for 17 days before dying at 35. These are among the claims facing General Motors Co. this year, the first of hundreds demanding that GM pay for the deaths of loved ones or injuries ranging from broken bones to paralysis. The raft of trials, scattered across the country, begins Monday in federal court in Manhattan. Engineers at America’s biggest automaker, which got a $50 billion government bailout in the financial crisis, knew of a flawed ignition switch but rejected a fix that would have cost 90 cents apiece, according to evidence provided to lawmakers. The switch could be jarred into the “accessory” position, shutting off the engine, disabling power steering and brakes and preventing air bags from deploying. The faulty switches are linked to the deaths of at least 124 people, many of them in entry-level cars marketed to young drivers -- a graduation gift from proud parents, a starter car for college -- least prepared to react to a sudden loss of power on the road.