Amazon continues children’s series push, orders 6th pilot, a math-focused mystery NEW YORK, N.Y. – Amazon.com Inc. is continuing its push into producing original children’s series, ordering its sixth pilot of shows aimed at kids.The online retailer announced Wednesday that it will make a test pilot for “Sara Solves It,” an animated math-focused mystery developed by WGBH and Out of the Blue Enterprises. The show is the sixth pilot geared for kids by Amazon Studios, the retailer’s original movie and series production arm.Launched in 2010, Amazon Studios is moving toward presenting its pilots on its Prime Instant Video service. Amazon says it will choose which series to greenlight for a full season based on viewer reaction. The pilots are expected to be posted this spring.Amazon also has comedy pilots and movies in development. by The Associated Press Posted Mar 6, 2013 1:18 pm MDT
Bernanke likely to face tough questions from lawmakers on Fed’s plan for bond purchases by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Jul 17, 2013 3:25 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – Ben Bernanke is expected to face tough questions Wednesday from U.S. lawmakers about when the Federal Reserve might start to scale back its low interest rate policies that have helped support economic growth.The Fed chairman will also be pressed on the state of the economy and his future at the Fed after his second four-year term as chairman ends in January. And he may even criticize Congress for federal spending cuts and tax increases that have weighed on the economy this year.But investors will focus on Bernanke’s comments about the Fed’s potential timetable for slowing its bond buying.Bernanke’s two days of testimony begin Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee. On Thursday he goes before the Senate Banking Committee.Since the financial crisis erupted in 2008, the Fed has kept its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero. And since late last year, it’s been buying $85 billion a month in mortgage and long-term Treasury bonds to try to reduce long-term rates and induce people and businesses to borrow and spend.Financial markets began to gyrate after then Fed’s June 18-19 meeting. That’s when Bernanke sketched a rough timetable for the Fed’s bond purchases. He said the Fed could start scaling back its bond buying later this year and end it around mid-2014 if the economy strengthens enough to be in line with the Fed’s more optimistic forecast.Stocks plunged, even though Bernanke’s comments were generally in line with what economists had been expecting. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 560 points in two days. Investors feared Bernanke’s comments meant the Fed was ready to let rates rise sooner and faster than they’d expected.Since then, the chairman and other Fed officials have sought to calm investors. They’ve stressed that the Fed won’t pull back on its stimulus unless the evidence was clear that the economy and the job market were improving as much as the Fed had forecast. If not, the Fed would keep its support intact. It might even increase its stimulus it felt the economy needed more support.The stock market gradually recovered. And when Bernanke reinforced his go-slow message at a conference last week near Boston, the stock market celebrated. The Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index reached all-time highs.The yield on the 10-year Treasury, a benchmark for mortgages and other long-term interest rates, also fell as investors bought bonds. It was at 2.54 per cent on Tuesday after surging as high as 2.74 per cent on July 5. That’s still well above the 1.63 per cent reached on May 3.At last week’s conference, Bernanke said unemployment was still too high and noted that inflation remains below the Fed’s 2 per cent target — both reasons to keep low rate policies in place. He said the economy was also being held back by higher federal taxes and budget cuts.“If you put all of that together,” Bernanke said, “you can only conclude that highly accommodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future is what is needed for the U.S. economy.”The chairman signalled that even after the Fed starts to slow its monthly bond purchases, its overall policies will keep rates low. It plans, for example, to keep its investment holdings constant to avoid causing long-term rates to rise too fast. It also plans to keep short-term rates at record lows at least until unemployment reaches 6.5 per cent. Unemployment is currently 7.6 per cent.And Bernanke has said 6.5 per cent unemployment is a threshold, not a trigger. The Fed might decide to keep its benchmark short-term rate near zero even after unemployment falls that low.Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at the Martin Smith School of Business at California State University, expects Bernanke won’t deviate from last week’s message.“I think Chairman Bernanke will try to calm the markets,” Sohn said. “I think he will say that the Fed’s exit strategy is totally dependent on future economic developments.”Hiring has improved since the Fed’s bond buying began. Employers have created an average of 202,000 jobs a month this year, up from 180,000 in the previous six months.Still, unemployment remains elevated, and economic growth has been modest the past three quarters.The economy grew at a subpar 1.8 per cent annual rate in the January-March quarter. Many economists think growth in the April-June quarter weakened to an annual rate of 1 per cent or less. They foresee a moderate rebound in the second half of this year.Bernanke may be delivering his last economic report to Congress. While he has not publicly announced his plans, it is widely thought that he does not want to remain for a third term as chairman.Vice Chair Janet Yellen is considered the front-runner to replace Bernanke, but President Barack Obama has not tipped his hand yet about possible replacements.Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who served Obama in the first term as chairman of the National Economic Council, is also considered a potential candidate.The expectation is that Obama will nominate a replacement in late summer or early fall so that the Senate will have time to hold confirmation hearings this year.
FILE – In this Oct. 23, 2013, file photo, a horse-drawn carriage heads along a road in New York’s Central Park. Regulators are investigating allegations that one of New York’s embattled carriage horse drivers tried to evade industry regulations by disguising an aging horse with a mild breathing ailment as another horse half its age. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to ban the carriages, calling them inhumane. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) New York City carriage horse driver accused of dodging regulations with horse switch by David B. Caruso, The Associated Press Posted Apr 29, 2014 12:31 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email NEW YORK, N.Y. – A carriage driver has been accused of altering a hoof brand to make a 22-year-old draft horse with a breathing ailment appear to be a healthier horse nearly half its age.Frank Luo branded the wrong hoof identification number on an aging horse named Ceasar, who was supposed to be resting on a Pennsylvania farm, so he could work under a license issued to a 12-year-old horse named Carsen, city health officials said in an administrative order last month.The details of the case, obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request, come as Mayor Bill de Blasio and animal-rights activists are pushing to ban the city’s carriage industry as inhumane to the horses. Drivers have responded by saying they care for the horses like their own children.In the written order, officials said a city vet noticed in late January that the horse had Carsen’s ID number on its hoof, but its “physical characteristics and medical condition was that of the older horse.” Ceasar had a mild, chronic condition called “heaves,” which is similar to asthma, city officials said.Luo told The Associated Press on Friday that the vet simply got it wrong.“I did not switch the horses. It’s just very confusing because they look alike,” he said.Initially, Luo submitted paperwork intended to prove that the horse really was Carsen, including a handwritten note from a Pennsylvania farmer who said Ceasar had been on his farm for months. The city asked for more proof, including a veterinarian’s evaluation.Five days later, Luo’s lawyer informed the department that he couldn’t afford to have the horse sitting idle and had shipped him to Pennsylvania and sold him.“It’s all settled now,” Luo said. He said he would continue to operate his business using other horses.The sale effectively ended the investigation by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which monitors the horses’ health. But the Department of Consumer Affairs, which regulates the drivers, is still investigating.Luo’s regulatory problems date to September, when he was cited for working at least two horses without active licenses. He also was accused of working Ceasar for nine days in July when the horse was supposedly in Pennsylvania. City regulations give the horses five weeks of pasture time each year.Also in September, the Department of Consumer Affairs cited Luo for false advertising, overcharging customers and operating a carriage for more hours than allowed. Luo’s company, the Manhattan Carriage Co., agreed in January to pay a fine and restitution.In an unrelated incident, a horse Luo was driving in September bolted on 8th Avenue and hit a car. It suffered minor injuries.Demos Demopoulos, secretary and treasurer of Teamsters Local 553, the union that represents Luo, said in a statement that the allegations were not representative of the industry.“If the accusations are proved true, he should be punished to the full extent of the law,” he said.A 2007 audit by the city comptroller noted that health certificates kept for carriage horses sometimes contained physical descriptions that changed from year to year, suggesting they weren’t the same animals. In 2008, a stable owner pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct to resolve allegations that he tried to bribe a city investigator. Carriage owners have denied any subterfuge and maintained that their animals are among the healthiest and most tightly regulated anywhere.
WASHINGTON – U.S. construction spending rose slightly in March, fueled by increases for apartments, single-family homes, factories, health care centres and office projects.The Commerce Department said Thursday that construction spending increased just 0.2 per cent in March after having fallen 0.2 per cent in February. The March gains put construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $942.5 billion, an 8.4 per cent increase year-over-year.Construction spending dipped in January with the harsh winter weather and continues to run below its December 2013 levels.Apartment construction spending increased 4.3 per cent in March, while single-family home spending inched up 0.2 per cent. Residential construction spending is at its strongest pace since May 2008, nearly five years ago.Spending on government projects fell 0.6 per cent, including a 2.3 per cent drop for schools and educational buildings.Despite the gains in residential construction, warmer weather has yet to produce much of a rebound for residential real estate.Builders started work on 946,000 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in March, up 2.8 per cent from 920,000 in February, the Commerce Department said last month.Applications for permits, a gauge of future activity, fell 2.4 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000.Sales of new homes declined 14.5 per cent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000. That was the second straight monthly decline and the lowest rate since July 2013. Sales have declined 13.3 per cent over the past 12 months.New-home buying plunged in the Midwest, South and West in March. But they picked up in the Northeast, where snowstorms in previous months curtailed purchases.The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index was 47 in April. Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good.Sales have also been modest because of affordability issues.Rising prices over the past year and higher mortgage rates have made it harder for many Americans to afford a home. Real estate data provider CoreLogic says home prices rose 12.2 per cent in the past year. Wage growth last year failed to keep pace with the higher buying costs.The average rate on a 30-year mortgage was 4.33 per cent last week. Rates surged about 1.25 percentage points from May through September, peaking at 4.6 per cent. Those increases began after the Federal Reserve signalled that it would begin to pull back from its bond-buying program.Those Fed bond purchases were designed to keep long-term interest rates low to spur more borrowing and boost economic growth. Since December, the Fed has reduced the size of its monthly purchases to $45 billion from $85 billion. In this Tuesday, April 29. 2014 photo, workers position iron girders at a building construction site, in Boston. The Commerce Department reports on U.S. construction spending in March on Thursday, May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) by Josh Boak, The Associated Press Posted May 1, 2014 8:06 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email US construction spending up just 0.2 per cent in March; residential spending best in 5 years
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Paul Elias, The Associated Press Posted Dec 19, 2014 4:06 pm MDT File – This Nov. 6, 2013 file photo shows anti-whaling activist Paul Watson, center, founder of the Oregon-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, as he listens during a contempt of court hearing in federal court in Seattle. Radical environmentalists have been found in contempt of court for failing to heed an order to halt their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014 ordered a lower court to determine how much Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society owe Japanese whalers. (AP Photo/Karen Ducey, Pool, file) Federal court finds protesters in contempt for ignoring order to halt anti-whaling campaign SAN FRANCISCO – Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he founded owe Japanese whalers for lawyer fees, damage to their ships and for violating the court order to stop their dangerous protests.The Japanese whalers are demanding $2 million in addition to their attorney fees and damage and cost to their ships for warding off the protests.The environmentalists’ exploits have been documented on the long-running Animal Planet reality TV series “Whale Wars.”Sea Shepherd said in a statement it is disappointed with the ruling and considering its legal options.“We are considering our legal options at this time, including the possibility of an appeal,” it said.In 2012, the court ordered Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 feet from Japanese whalers and to halt dangerous activities like attempting to ram the whalers and throwing smoke bombs and bottles of acid at their ships. The crews of Sea Shepherd ships also drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch flares with hooks, and point high-powered lasers at the whalers to annoy crew members.The Japanese whalers filed a lawsuit in Seattle in 2011 seeking a court order halting the Sea Shepherd’s campaign.The 9th Circuit in December 2012 ordered the Sea Shepherd’s to stop harassing the Japanese fleet and for the group’s four ships to stay at least 500 feet from the whalers.Watson then transferred all of Sea Shepherd’s U.S. assets to foreign entities controlled by the group. Sea Shepherd has organizations in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.Watson also stepped down from the board of directors of Sea Shepherd organizations in the U.S. and Australia. Sea Shepherd Australia took over management of “operation zero tolerance,” the group’s annual harassment campaign of the whalers in the Southern Ocean.Watson also resigned as captain of the Sea Shepherd’s flagship the “Steve Irwin,” but remained aboard as an “observer.”In February 2013, the 9th Circuit appointed a commissioner to investigate whether Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd should be held in contempt. The commissioner concluded on Jan. 31 that the Sea Shepherd wasn’t in violation of the court order because the harassment campaign was being managed outside the United States. The same month, the group’s “Steve Irwin” vessel with Watson aboard collided with a Japanese whaler.On Friday, a three-judge panel rejected the commissioner’s findings. The 9th Circuit ruled that the transfer of assets and control of the Sea Shepherd to Australia and other countries didn’t change its 2012 order to the group to cease its dangerous activities.Contrary to the commissioner’s conclusions, the 9th Circuit said Watson and the Sea Shepherd’s U.S. affiliate could be found liable for aiding and abetting the organization’s foreign offices to violate the court’s injunction.“Sea Shepherd U.S. is liable because it intentionally furnished cash payments, and a vessel and equipment worth millions of dollars, to individuals and entities it knew would likely violate the injunction,” Judge Milan Smith wrote for the unanimous panel. The court ordered the case sent back to the commissioner to determine how much the whalers are owed.