January 9, 2014 |
AT&T has come up with a new way to make money off Netflix, Google and other companies that stream content onto mobile devices: Have them pay for subscribers' wireless access. Think of it as a toll-free 800 number for streaming audio and video. The telecom giant's so-called Sponsored Data program is intended to make wireless users less squeamish about accessing data-heavy services that can quickly chew up their minutes under many plans. Here's the thing: If other wireless providers follow suit - and they probably will - it will give an advantage to big content companies that can subsidize people's listening and viewing.
January 7, 2014 |
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones criticized Blue Shield of California for an "unreasonable" rate hike affecting about 81,000 individual policyholders. Tuesday, Jones said the nonprofit health insurer's 10% average increase effective Jan. 1 was excessive. But he and other state officials don't have the authority to reject changes in premiums. Jones said the latest rate hike amounted to an average increase of 32% over a two-year period. "We have heard from Californians time and time again about how painful it is to pay these rate increases," Jones said.
January 7, 2014 |
Blue Shield of California said it has agreed to acquire GemCare Health Plan, expanding its presence in Kern County and the Central Coast area. Blue Shield, one of the state's largest health insurers, said Tuesday that GemCare customers should see minimal changes at first. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. GemCare, based in Bakersfield, is owned by hospital chain Dignity Health and the physicians of GemCare IPA. Blue Shield said the deal would enable it to grow its overall membership and provider networks as well as add Medicare patients in Kern, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties for the first time.
January 7, 2014 |
Alaska Airlines passengers were scratching their heads when they found that a promotional deal offered by the airline via email Tuesday was already expired when they tried to book it. Another glitch was also reported on the airline website Monday, but Alaska Airlines officials said all the problems is being fixed. The website problems represent the second time in a few weeks that a major airline has been beset by computer glitches and programing errors. In late December, Delta Air Lines was forced to honor super-cheap ticket prices offered on the airline's website because of a computer problem.
January 6, 2014 |
It's good news that General Mills has decided not to include genetically engineered ingredients in Cheerios. Not because crops whose DNA has been tinkered with in a laboratory are dangerous to human health. There's still a dearth of evidence that they are. But plenty of consumers don't like them and outright fear them. (By the way, a New York Times article published Sunday does an excellent job of examining the claims and facts about bioengineered food, in a thorough and balanced way, by following a Hawaii councilman's journey to learn as much of the truth as he can about such food before voting on the topic.)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 2, 2014 |
As few as two customers remain without power in El Segundo after a suspected drunk driver crashed into two power poles early Wednesday and knocked out electricity for a large swath of the city. The driver, who was not immediately identified, crashed near the intersection of El Segundo Boulevard and Sheldon Street at 2:39 a.m., according to the El Segundo Police Department. The outage affected customers from El Segundo Boulevard to Imperial Avenue, police said. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
December 28, 2013 |
Flo Baerren of Lansing, Mich., was planning on giving her granddaughter a hand-knit quilt for Christmas when she went to Chicago to see family for the holidays. Instead, the 68-year-old found herself renting a room at a Hampton Inn in Jackson, 38 miles away, and eating Christmas dinner at Denny's. Baerren is among tens of thousands of people who were left in the dark, some for up to a week, in areas of Michigan and New England after ice storms felled power lines. “I understand it was a major storm.
December 27, 2013 |
Utilities in several states and Canada on Friday continued to work on repairs, hoping to bring tens of thousands of customers back on line after an ice storm last weekend shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people. Michigan and Maine, the states hit the hardest, reported progress but utilities acknowledged that some outages, caused by power lines downed by crusted ice, continued. In Michigan where nearly 600,000 homes and businesses lost power, about 64,000 customers remained in the dark, according to the Associated Press.
December 27, 2013 |
Target Corp. said cybercrooks gained access to "strongly encrypted" personal identification numbers when they hacked their way into its systems and collected data on about 40 million customer credit and debit card accounts during the holiday season. The retailer said Friday that it remained "confident" that PINs were "safe and secure. " PINs are encrypted as customers enter them at keypads at checkout through a protection program known as Triple DES encryption, according to Target.
December 26, 2013 |
Utility companies worked to restore electricity after fierce ice storms felled power lines in Michigan, parts of upstate New York, New England and Canada during Christmas week, leaving tens of thousands in the dark. Parts of the nation enjoyed a white Christmas, according to the National Weather Service. But with the snow came frigid temperatures that slowed repair efforts and allowed the ice that has weighed down and snapped power lines to persist. “A quarter of an inch of ice is the equivalent of 500 pounds of weight on a span of power line,” Michigan utility company DTE said in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon.