Archive for December, 2008

Genes and Cells

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Stem cell efforts take steps
Resetting no longer requires DNA-altering viruses

After the landmark achievement in late 2007 of reverting human adult skin cells to an embryonic stem cell–like state — a technique that does not involve creating or destroying human embryos — stem cell researchers have a new focus. In 2008 they worked on improvements to this technique that could make the cells safe for medical therapies. (more…)

Credit Union Robbery Suspect Charged

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Law enforcement says it was teamwork that led to the quick arrest just five hours after Thursday’s Credit Union Robbery. 24-year-old Denver Tergesen was charged in Becker County with felony possession of a stolen vehicle. He is being held in the Becker County jail. Fargo police say the firearm Tergesen allegedly used in yesterday morning’s robbery of the First Community Credit Union in Fargo, was not real. They recovered the weapon late last night after arresting Tergeson with a stolen car in Detroit lakes. Investigators say it appears to be an “airsoft pistol.” (more…)

S&P downgrades 11 top global bank credit ratings

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

From | Reporting by Natalie Harrison and Dena Aubin

LONDON (Reuters) – Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of 11 top global banks Friday including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, citing increased industry risk and a deepening economic slowdown.

The agency cut its ratings on Citigroup (C.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) each by two notches.

It cut Bank of America (BAC.N), JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N) and Wells Fargo (WFC.N) by one notch.

In Europe, S&P shaved one notch off the ratings of Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS. It kept the rating of HSBC Bank, part of HSBC Holdings Plc, at “AA: but downgraded its outlook to negative from stable. (more…)

Credit card changes will give consumers a break

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

The rules from federal regulators represent a sweeping change. But the new limits on fees and rates don’t start until 2010.

From? Tiffany Hsu?December 19, 2008

Responding to rising consumer complaints, federal regulators Thursday adopted the most sweeping new rules for the credit card industry in three decades, including tougher restrictions on interest rate hikes and late fees.

The regulations, which take effect in July 2010, would block card companies from applying higher interest rates on existing balances. Late fees could not be charged without giving consumers at least 21 days to make a payment. (more…)

Card companies adjusting credit limits

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

For some, lowering based on where they shop

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kevin D. Johnson returned from a dreamy Jamaican honeymoon in October eager to check out wedding photos and help his new wife open stacks of beautifully wrapped wedding gifts.

Before getting distracted by the fun stuff, the 29-year-old entrepreneur opened the mail. Johnson’s mood soured when he got to a letter from American Express, saying it had slashed the credit limit on his account. (more…)

Windows takes beating, ‘7’ steps into view

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

By Ina Fried From CNET News

Probably the biggest deal of 2008 for Microsoft was the deal that didn’t happen–its multibillion-dollar offer for Yahoo. But, since there was so much drama there, we did a separate “year in review” story on that topic. (more…)

Credit-Card Issuers Get Stingy

Sunday, December 14th, 2008


For consumers drowning in high-rate credit-card debt, balance transfers — those “0% for 12 months!” offers — are often important, if temporary, lifelines. For anyone else with credit-card debt, they’re a useful way to keep interest-rate payments low.

But as credit-card issuers themselves flail in stormier economic seas, some are making such offers more restrictive and expensive. That means consumers must make sure that transferring their debt makes prudent financial sense.

Fees have changed. Before, a balance-transfer fee was typically 3% of the amount transferred — up to a maximum of about $50 or $75, depending on the offer. These days, the fee is still usually 3%, but the cap is gone. The more you transfer, the more you pay. For instance, transferring a $5,000 balance is likely to cost you $150 today, twice as much as in past years.

Another change: Though some credit-card issuers still offer 0% balance-transfer rates for 12 months or more, others are hiking the introductory interest rate and shortening the length of time it’s offered. “They used to be almost always 12 months. Now they can be as short as three months,” says Bill Hardekopf, chief executive of in Birmingham, Ala. (more…)

Credit Committee’s Actions Benefited Associates

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

By April Witt and David S. Fallis
Washington Post Staff Writers

The D.C. charter school credit enhancement committee has operated largely out of public view for most of its eight years of existence.

Yet it has awarded $47 million in taxpayer loans and guarantees to more than 30 schools or their developers. That generous funding has been a decisive factor in the District’s charter school system’s becoming one of the largest in the nation.

The committee’s generosity has also benefited banks and private companies that have business ties to committee members, including the current chairman, Barbara “Bobbie” Hart, public records show.

Committee members or their employers have had financial ties to about a third of the applicants or projects that the committee has voted to fund with public money. Since Hart joined the committee in 2006, the panel has voted repeatedly to award taxpayer funds to charter schools or developers with ties to Adams National Bank, where Hart is a vice president. Hart has recused herself from all but two votes involving applicants that had given her loan business or were about to, records show. She declined to comment. (more…)

Fed Could Remake Credit Card Regulations

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

New Rules Would Ban Retroactive Rate Hikes

By Nancy Trejos? Washington Post Staff Writer

The Federal Reserve on Thursday will vote on sweeping reform of the credit card industry that would ban practices such as retroactively increasing interest rates at will and charging late fees when consumers are not given a reasonable amount of time to make payments.

The Fed, which has been considering the proposed changes since May, declined this week to release details of the final draft regulations. But banking officials and consumer advocates said that they do not expect substantial changes before the vote, especially since members of Congress have pressured the Fed not to water down the rules. (more…)

AT&T Says Activate Your iPhone 3G At Home

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

In a move that makes the iPhone 3G more accessible, users can now buy it online activate it at home via iTunes.

From Dec 11, 2008 By Marin Perez

AT&T (NYSE: T) and Apple are bringing in-home activation for the iPhone 3G, making the popular handset easier to get without having to go to the store.

The first-generation iPhone could be purchased in a store or online and the user could active the phone at home through iTunes. The original version was sold unsubsidized, and many users would end up unlocking the touch-screen smartphone.

Additionally, AT&T and Apple had a monthly revenue-sharing deal for the original iPhone, which is an uncommon practice in the mobile industry. For the iPhone 3G, AT&T decided it would drop the revenue sharing, and resell the handset to customers at a subsidy. (more…)