Business News You Need Today: Aug. 10, 2010
New Program Rewards Snitches: Critics warn that a new federal program to reward whistle-blowers for tip-offs about potential misdeeds at U.S. corporations and banks is rife for abuse. The provision is contained within the massive Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which President Obama signed into law last month. As DailyFinance's Bruce Kennedy reports, snitches who provide information leading to successful prosecution are entitled to up to 30% of penalties of more than $1 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission's Stephen Cohen says his agency expects "a tremendous response" from Wall Street insiders.
Flight Attendant Makes Hasty Exit: A fed-up JetBlue Airways (JBLU) flight attendant made a turbulent exit from the aircraft he was assigned to Monday after a dispute with a passenger fetching luggage on a packed plane. The frustrated employee, Steve Slater, 38, deployed the plane's emergency-evacuation shoot and slid down to the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport, but not before grabbing a beer from the beverage cart. Slater, a career flight attendant, was later arrested at his home in Queens and charged with felony counts of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.
Ellison Blasts HP Board: Billionaire businessman and Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison is among those heaping criticism on the board of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) for its high-profile dismissal of Chief Executive Mark Hurd last Friday. In a scolding letter to the board, Ellison said the decision will haunt HP for years to come and equated the firing to that of Steve Jobs from Apple (AAPL) decades ago. "That decision nearly destroyed Apple -- and would have, if Steve hadn't come back and saved them," Ellison wrote in his letter.
New Deal On Net Neutrality: Verizon Communications (VZ) and Google (GOOG) unveiled a proposal Monday that tweaks the definition of net neutrality. The companies asked Congress to bar phone and cable TV companies from slowing down, blocking or charging to prioritize Internet traffic flowing over their regular broadband lines. But the companies left room for broadband providers to charge extra to route traffic from premium services. As DailyFinance's Dawn Kawamoto explains, the pact has net-neutrality advocates calling foul much as they did last week when news of the deal first surfaced.
U.S. Needs Boost From Exports: Ahead of today's meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, many investors are wondering what more the Federal Reserve can do to stimulate the docile economy and reduce stubbornly high unemployment. One way to push the U.S. out of its economic malaise is to boost exports, explains DailyFinance reporter Vishesh Kumar. A plan already in place in Germany to do just that has pushed unemployment levels down to their lowest levels since the financial crisis of 2008.
Saudi Arabia OKs BlackBerrys: The U.S. Department of State is reporting that Saudi Arabia won't ban BlackBerry devices, after the Canadian maker of the device, Research in Motion (RIMM), appears to have met security requirements demanded by the Saudi government. What those mandates are, however, remains unclear. Saudi officials had sought to ban the popular device beginning in October due to security concerns.
Merck Investigated For Antitrust Breaches: Merck (MRK) is the subject of investigations by federal agencies into possible violations of antitrust laws in several foreign countries. The drugmaker has received inquiry letters from both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said in a regulatory filing. The letters "seek information about activities in a number of countries and reference the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," according to Merck.
Honda Recalling More Cars: Honda Motor (HMC) is recalling about 385,000 Accord, Civic and Element models from the 2003-04 model years in the U.S. to fix ignition interlock devices that may allow drivers to remove the key without first putting the vehicles' transmissions into park, allowing them to roll away. It isn't the first time Honda has recalled vehicles to fix the problem. Factoring in Monday's fresh recall, the Japanese automaker has recalled more than 1.4 million vehicles related to the ignition interlock since 2003. Honda says sources for the problem vary.
Pricey iPad Case Debuting: For consumers looking to wrap a newly acquired iPad in something decadent, Italian luxury-goods maker Tod's offers the world's most expensive case for the popular electronic device. As Luxist's Jared Paul Stern explains, the $4,900 genuine-alligator cozy costs nearly 10 times that of Apple's (AAPL) bare-bones 16GB iPad model. But if it proves as popular as the iPad itself, expect the pricey handmade accessory to begin flying off shelves when it hits stores in November.