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Livin' on the dock of the bay

Business / Business News /

BERKELEY, Calif. -- John Dinwiddie and Diane Brown own a house with twin engines.

It began its life as a Delta barge, later became a floating hot dog and beer stand, and finally a marina fuel dock, before being converted to its current use as a house -- yes, an actual house, albeit one that's tethered to a slip on at the Berkeley Marina.

"Here...Read more

Mark Phelan: New book details US Highway 12, from its mastodon trail past to today

Business / Business News /

A fascinating new book traces U.S. Highway 12 -- Michigan Avenue, if you're a resident of metro Detroit or Chicago -- from its days as an Indian trail to when it became the second U.S. federal highway in 1825 and its current status as a scenic and leisurely alternative to the sameness of interstate highways.

The book is packed with facts and ...Read more

Visa cuts ties with Backpage.com, joining MasterCard

Business / Business News /

Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. severed ties with Backpage.com after law enforcement officials raised concerns that the classified advertising website "promotes prostitution and facilitates online sex trafficking."

According to a letter sent Monday to Visa and MasterCard by Cook County, Ill., Sheriff Thomas Dart, in just one month Backpage.com ...Read more

2015 US auto sales on track to hit a record

Business / Business News /

Through half of 2015, auto sales are on track to hit record levels not seen in 15 years -- which has many observers convinced the industry will see sales fall soon.

After climbing more than 4 percent through July, after several years of post-recession growth, annual sales could approach the previous annual record of 17.4 million.

The robust ...Read more

Are airlines colluding to keep ticket prices high? Feds are investigating

Business / Business News /

The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the possibility of improper collusion between several major U.S. airlines that could have resulted in higher airfare prices in recent years, a spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.

Emily Pierce, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an email that the agency is "investigating ...Read more

Kraft shareholders clear way for merger with Heinz

Business / Business News /

PITTSBURGH -- Shareholders of Kraft Foods Group Wednesday morning voted overwhelmingly to approve the merger of their Illinois company with Pittsburgh ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co., clearing the way for a pairing of the historic food industry names.

More than 98 percent of votes cast at the special meeting in Chicago favored the deal, according ...Read more

Spending on July 4 vacation expected to rise slightly

Business / Business News /

Americans continue to open their wallets wider for travel, with U.S. vacationers expected to spend $15.8 billion for the upcoming July 4 weekend, a 1.7 percent increase over last year's holiday, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

The trade group for the country's travel industry estimated that vacationers will spend an average of $378 ...Read more

Consumers spending big on new cars

Business / Business News /

DETROIT -- Consumers are not just buying new vehicles -- they are truly spending as evidenced by the increasing average transaction prices the industry witnessed in the month of June.

"Transaction prices continue to climb, increasing 2.5 percent in June from last year, bringing the average up to $33,340," said Kelley Blue Book analyst Mark ...Read more

Fiat Chrysler sales up 8 percent, Ford up 2 percent, GM down 3 percent in June

Business / Business News /

DETROIT -- Sales of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles cars and trucks rose 8 percent in June; Ford was up almost 2 percent, and General Motors fell 3 percent, but the industry remains on track for its best year since 2005.

Nissan's sales jumped 13 percent, led by a 54 percent sales surge for its small crossover, the Rogue. Toyota's sales increased 4 ...Read more

Snapchat deletes a distinctive feature and makes it easier to add friends

Business / Business News /

LOS ANGELES -- Snapchat is removing a cumbersome feature and making it easier to add friends on its app.

The Los Angeles startup announced Wednesday that users will no longer have to continuously hold a finger on the screen to watch videos that friends have posted on the popular chat and entertainment app. Now, they can tap once to watch a ...Read more

Shyp reclassifies contract couriers as employees

Business / Business News /

SAN FRANCISCO -- Shyp, the quickly growing startup that provides on-demand courier services, said Wednesday it would reclassify its contract workers as employees, becoming the latest high-profile tech company to change how it compensates its workforce.

Shyp's entire workforce, comprising hundreds of couriers, have been classified as employees ...Read more

With Kraft Heinz merged, now comes the cutting

Business / Business News /

CHICAGO -- Kraft Foods Group shareholders voted Wednesday to approve the company's sale to H.J. Heinz, a deal that brings together two storied packaged-food companies vying for attention as consumers look for healthier, fresher fare.

About two dozen shareholders attended a special 14-minute meeting Wednesday in Chicago, and an overwhelming ...Read more

Bond fund star Bill Gross gets co-manager as part of acquisition

Business / Business News /

LOS ANGELES -- Bill Gross, the star bond-fund manager, is getting a co-manager to help bolster his Janus Capital Group Inc. mutual fund.

While Gross, 71, remains primary portfolio manager of Janus' Global Unconstrained Bond fund, his former colleague Kumar Palghat will be co-portfolio manager, the firm said Wednesday.

The move is part of Janus...Read more

Deadhead paraphernalia sellers expect sky-high sales

Business / Business News /

CHICAGO -- When the Grateful Dead's long, strange trip comes to an end this weekend with a series of farewell concerts at Soldier Field in Chicago, it will give devoted fans one last chance to commune with the band in a sea of tie-dyed glory.

Some specialty retailers are already seeing sky-high sales as Deadheads converge on the city and gear ...Read more

General Mills shifting resources away from Green Giant

Business / Business News /

MINNEAPOLIS -- General Mills acknowledged the weakness in its Green Giant vegetable business Wednesday, taking a $260 million charge as it redirects money to more promising ventures.

With the Green Giant asset write-down and other charges, General Mills posted fiscal fourth quarter net earnings of $187 million, or 30 cents per share, down 53 ...Read more

Macy's cuts ties with Trump over Mexican immigration comments

Business / Business News /

Macy's is joining the line of companies cutting ties with Donald Trump over the real estate mogul's comments about Mexican immigrants.

In this case, it's neckties. The retailer has marketed a line of menswear with the Trump label since 2004. But in a statement issued Wednesday, Macy's said it was "disappointed and distressed" over Trump's June ...Read more

Tech Q&A: How to free an iPad that's been taken for ransom

Business / Business News /

Q: In a column you wrote last August, you said that there was a fix available for ransomware attacks, in which a hacker on the Internet locks your computer and won't release it unless you pay a ransom. My iPad suffered a ransomware attack, and I can't use my Safari Web browser. The hacker is demanding payment, but I won't do that. Any ...Read more

MillerCoors stands up for itself in local pitches

Business / Business News /

CHICAGO -- MillerCoors is putting the spotlight on itself, rather than its beers, as the conglomerate aims to remind residents in certain markets about their hometown suds and local impact.

The "We Stand for Beer" campaign, which includes print advertisements in newspapers and business journals, along with billboards, is set to launch July 6 in...Read more

Banjo's ability to track events in real time gives clients competitive edge

Business / Business News /

LAS VEGAS -- A dozen massive television screens hang inside Banjo's war room in a nondescript office park here beaming streams of social media data, 24-hour news networks and an animated, spinning globe highlighting hot spots of activity around the world.

From this nerve center, which evokes equal parts "Dr. Strangelove" and Dunder Mifflin from...Read more

Troy Wolverton: Virtual reality offers promise and problems

Business / Business News /

In recent months, I've seen a Tyrannosaurus rex stomp right toward me in a museum hallway and got to experience being Stanford's quarterback.

But I felt something like a cyborg. And I also got a slight case of nausea and a throbbing headache that lasted more than a day.

Such is the state of virtual reality. The long-promised and now massively ...Read more