– August 22, 2014


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Speck Media Inc.

What we do:  Design, print, branding, promotional items, campaign management (email and social media), technology business tools (website development and hosting), photography, signage, distribution & ad placement and fulfillment 

Education:  Bachelor of Arts in English and Economics from Bellarmine University, Kentucky 

Age:  44 

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How do you feel about the ice bucket challenge?


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 08/22/2014, 9:44 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno State's Gazarian Real Estate Center has announced dates for its fall speaker series. The first event in the series will take place Wednesday, Aug....
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:42 am by Ben Keller
Bakery and cafe chain Panera Bread will open its newest Central Valley location later this year in Porterville, sharing space in a new building along with Me-N-Ed's Pizza. The building is under construction in the Target-anchored shopping center at the southwest corner of Henderson Avenue and Prospect Street. When complete, Panera will occupy 4,200 square feet of the 7,350 square-foot space, including a drive-thru, while Me-N-Ed's Pizza will take up the remaining 3,150 square feet. Doug Cords, broker with Commercial Retail Associates, represented owner Grand Prospect Partners in leasing out the new building to Panera and Me-N-Ed's. The goal, he said, is for both tenants to be open by this year. Paden & Bletscher Construction of Fresno is the contractor on the project. Panera Bread also has two locations in Fresno and one each in Clovis, Hanford and Visalia. Me-N-Ed's has more than a dozen restaurants throughout the Central Valley.
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:26 am by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — The central bankers meeting this week at their annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, aren't exactly in sync. Many are taking steps that clash with the policies of others. The Federal Reserve is preparing to reduce its economic support. By contrast, the European Central Bank is considering more stimulus. So is the Bank of Japan. The Bank of England seems to be moving toward raising interest rates. It isn't just the biggest economies whose central banks are pulling in different directions. This year, central banks in Mexico, Sweden and South Korea, among others, have lowered rates. Others — in Russia and South Africa, for example — have raised them. It's a long way from the coordinated efforts that major central banks made after the 2008 financial crisis erupted and economies began to stall. As governments slashed taxes and spent stimulus money, central banks shrank rates to unclog credit and avert a 1930s-style depression. Today's diverging central bank strategies aren't without risk. Consider what happened in developing markets last year after Fed officials hinted that they might soon slow the pace of their monthly bond purchases. Those purchases have been intended to keep long-term U.S. loan rates low to encourage borrowing and spur growth. With the prospect of higher U.S. bond yields, some emerging markets went into a tailspin. Investors pulled their holdings from those countries for fear their value would plunge as capital fled for the United States. Some emerging economies responded by raising their own rates and bolstering their shaky currencies. The tumult proved temporary. But it showed what could happen once the Fed ends its bond purchases this fall and eventually raises short-term rates — something it says won't happen for a "considerable time" after its purchases end. Many economists say central banks have no choice but to pursue divergent interest-rate strategies now because of their economies' varying growth rates. "It just reflects different stages of the economic recovery in different parts of the world," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. "The U.S. recovery is well ahead of recoveries in Europe and Japan." Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands, noted that the United States acted faster than others to boost growth with aggressive low-rate policies. U.S. regulators have also been more forceful in requiring U.S. banks to raise capital and deal with bad loans. Those actions have contributed to stronger U.S. growth, he said. Healthier growth prospects and the likelihood of higher rates could make the United States increasingly attractive to investors. Sohn and Hoffman think the U.S. dollar will rise in value, particularly against Japan's yen and the common European currency, the euro, as investors seek rising U.S. yields. Here's a look at policies being pursued by key central banks: FEDERAL RESERVEThe Fed has reduced its monthly bond purchases at six straight meetings, from $85 billion a month to $25 billion a month. Chair Janet Yellen has said she expects the Fed to end the purchases altogether this fall. What no one knows is when the Fed will start raising short-term rates. Most economists think it will be in mid-2015. Though U.S. hiring has been strong and the unemployment rate has dropped steadily to 6.2 percent, other gauges of the job market, such as pay growth, remain weak. When Yellen gave the keynote speech in Jackson Hole on Friday morning, she suggested that the Great Recession complicated the Fed's ability to assess those gauges to determine when to adjust rates. EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANKMario Draghi, head of the ECB, is also scheduled to speak in Jackson Hole on Friday. Draghi has noted that the ECB and the Fed are operating on conflicting tracks: The Fed is looking to gradually raise rates while the ECB is sticking with a low-rate policy and is open to doing more if the eurozone economy — which failed to grow at all last quarter — should worsen. Draghi's comments have helped lower the euro's value against the dollar. A cheaper euro makes European exports more affordable and U.S. products more expensive in European markets. BANK OF JAPANHaruhiko Kuroda, head of Japan's central bank, is also scheduled to speak at the conference. Japan's economy shrank at an annual pace of 6.8 percent in the second quarter, in part because a new sales-tax increase depressed consumer spending. Japan's gross domestic product fell at a 1.7 percent rate compared with the same quarter a year ago. It was Japan's worst quarterly decline in GDP since the tsunami and earthquake that hit in 2011. The economic plunge dealt a setback to the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He has been trying to pull the world's third-largest economy out of two decades of stagnation with the help of aggressive action by the Bank of Japan. The economic weakness has heightened the pressure on Japan's central bank to expand its stimulative efforts. BANK OF ENGLANDBritain's central bank has kept its main rate at a record low of 0.5 percent since 2009 to help support the economy. But faster growth and declining unemployment have raised expectations that rates will start rising soon. This month, the Bank of England's consensus on maintaining ultra-low rates collapsed after more than three years. Two members of its monetary policy committee voted to raise the rate by 0.25 percentage point because growth has picked up, according to minutes of the most recent committee meeting. Still, the other members still felt there wasn't enough evidence of rising inflation or wages to justify an immediate rate increase. OTHER CENTRAL BANKSPrivate forecasters have sharply revised their economic growth forecasts for such countries as Russia, which is being hurt by sanctions imposed over its actions in Ukraine. Russia's central bank boosted rates to defend its currency and try to stem the outflow of foreign capital. Brazil, South America's largest economy, has been hurt by a steep fall in industrial production. That has resulted, in part, from high interest rates and an overvalued currency.___AP Business Writer David McHugh contributed to this report from Frankfurt, Germany.
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:19 am by ALICIA RANCILIO, Associated Press
(AP) — The ice bucket challenge's phenomenal success is making other charitable organizations rethink how they connect with a younger generation of potential donors. Since the ALS Association began tracking the campaign's progress on July 29, it has raised more than $53.3 million from 1.1 million new donors in what is one of the most viral philanthropic social media campaigns in history. Thousands of people, including celebrities like Taylor Swift and Oprah Winfrey, have posted videos of themselves getting buckets of ice water dumped over their heads and challenging others to do the same — or donate money to The ALS Association, which raises money for Lou Gehrig's disease research and assistance. The ice bucket challenge has shown it's OK to be silly for a good cause, says Brian Mittendorf, a professor at the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, who teaches courses in nonprofit finance. "Normally the model is to find people who are passionate about a cause and then ask for donations or to educate people and then seek out donations. (The ice bucket challenge is) something that's fun that people can do ... people are taking part in it and then taking the info and donating." The viral nature of the effort surprised even The ALS Association. "This level of unprecedented giving is (something) I don't think this country has seen before outside of a disaster or emergency," said ALS Association spokesperson Carrie Munk. "We had no idea it would get to this point." Who should get credit for making this a viral sensation depends on whom you ask. Some say it began earlier this month when friends of a 29-year-old Boston man with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, did a group challenge. It's also demonstrated that the average Joe or Jane can make waves. "One of the big take-aways is the power of individuals who are so tightly connected to a cause can really make a difference," Munk said. "I'm pretty sure that if any company or any nonprofit had all of the public relations dollars in the world to come up with a campaign, we never would've seen this kind of success." Lucretia Gilbert, executive director of The Pink Agenda, which raises money for breast cancer research and awareness, believes it will encourage other nonprofits to get creative on social media. "It's a very simple thing and that's kind of the beauty of it. Everyone can do this challenge," she said. Employing technology for fundraising campaigns, of course, isn't a new idea: Perhaps one of the most enduring began in 1966 when the Muscular Dystrophy Association had its first annual Labor Day weekend telethon. Last year, it raised $59.6 million in contributions. Fundraisers have also embraced donating by text message in recent years. But some fundraisers contend that one of their greatest challenges is asking the same people for money year after year — a challenge successful social media campaigns could solve. Mindy Bailey, corporate and community development specialist for JDRF, a foundation that raises money to fight Type 1 diabetes, said volunteers want to come up with a similar idea to fuel donations. "We have had a lot of people reach out to us and say, 'Hey, we're going to do the ice bucket challenge,'" Bailey said. "Recently we had a woman say, 'I'm thinking of doing a pie-in-your-face idea.' The wheels have been turning." However, not everyone is a fan of the public approach of the ice bucket challenge. #NoIceBucketChallenge is a hashtag on Twitter that's being used for a variety of reasons. "I just think it seems hokey and far too gimmicky and a hot trend and part of the whole 'me' culture of 'Oh look at me. Pay attention to me,'" said Cameron Mitchell of New York. "The charity part seems like an afterthought." Some even argue that it's wasteful to dump water, even for a cause, especially in places like California, where there's a drought. The California Water Board offered a measured response. "It doesn't violate any of our regulations. People should always use good judgment whenever they use water while we're in a drought. On the other hand, we understand that this is a charitable event," said George N. Kostyroko, director of the California State Water Resources Control Board's office of public affairs, in an email. Annoyed, impressed or otherwise, the ice bucket challenge has people talking — and ALS's Munk asserts that even if they don't donate, the campaign has raised public awareness, a major focus of the organization that last year spent 32 percent of its annual budget on public and professional education and 27 percent on research. Just a few years ago, she said, only about 50 percent of Americans knew what ALS is. "We're really looking forward to see how the needle moves," she said.
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:13 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Fitbit, a company that makes wearable devices that monitor fitness activity, says it's changing its practice of selling users' personal data to advertisers after concerns were raised about consumer privacy. The San Francisco-based company's move comes after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what he called a troubling policy. Many Americans wear fitness bracelets and monitors or using mobile apps to monitor their activity. Data from the devices can be sold to advertisers or other third parties without the users' consent. Fitbit says it will no longer sell data that can identify an individual unless the individual has given permission first. Schumer said Friday that the makers of other tracking devices should follow suit.
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:08 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — McDonald's named a new president for its struggling U.S. division on Friday, marking the second change in the high-profile spot in less than two years. The world's biggest hamburger chain says it's bringing back a longtime McDonald's executive, Mike Andres, to fill the role effective Oct. 15. Andres replaces Jeff Stratton, who is retiring, and inherits some major challenges. Stratton, 58, took over in late 2012 and replaced Jan Fields. That shakeup was made shortly after McDonald's Corp. reported its first monthly sales drop in nearly a decade. Sales in the U.S. have remained weak ever since, with the company facing intensifying competition and changing eating habits. In the April-to-June quarter, the company reported a 1.5 percent sales decline at established U.S. locations. Then for July, it reported a 3.2 percent drop. McDonald's, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois, has blamed its performance on a variety of factors, including its own missteps. For instance, the company has said it introduced too many items too quickly, which complicated kitchen operations. McDonald's CEO Don Thompson has said the chain is working on fixing basics, such as the speed of service and order accuracy. The company is also pushing to improve the image of its food, in part by introducing items positioned as more premium offerings, such as its new Bacon Clubhouse burger. It also plans to offer mandarin oranges as an option in Happy Meals this fall, and says it's exploring other fruits. Andres, 56, will report directly to Thompson. He was most recently CEO of Logan's Roadhouse Inc., but has a long history with McDonald's. The company said Andres started his McDonald's career as manager for his family-owned McDonald's in Northern California, then went on to a variety of roles in marketing, operations and development. He served as CEO of Boston Market from 2001 to 2007, when the chicken chain was still a subsidiary of McDonald's. He was president of the central division in the U.S. from 2010 to 2012. McDonald's has recently made other changes in its executive ranks. Earlier this week, for instance, it named Julia Vander Ploeg as its first U.S. vice president of digital, a move intended to boost the brand's presence online and on mobile platforms. McDonald's has more than 35,000 locations around the world, including more than 14,000 in the U.S.
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:05 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Fido can feast with you now when you go out to eat in California. Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday said he signed a bill permitting pet dogs at restaurants with outdoor spaces. It doesn't force restaurants to allow dogs, but rather implements guidelines for how they can accommodate pets. Some local public health departments have allowed dogs in outdoor dining areas for years, but the state has banned the practice. Local jurisdictions can still ban it if they choose. The bill requires a separate entrance for outdoor dining areas and says pets aren't allowed on chairs, seats or benches. They must be on a leash or in a pet carrier under control of the owner and owners have to clean up after them. The law takes effect next year.
Written on 08/22/2014, 8:55 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Agricultural equipment maker Deere is laying off about 460 employees indefinitely from an Iowa tractor factory as it continues to adjust to market demand. The Moline, Illinois, company said Friday that the latest round of layoffs will be effective October 20. Deere said last week that it would lay off more than 600 employees at four Midwest factories that make harvesting and other agricultural equipment due to slumping demand. The latest layoffs will happen at the company's Waterloo, Iowa, operations. Last week's announcement involved factories in East Moline and Moline, Illinois, as well as Ankeny, Iowa, and Coffeyville, Kansas. The company said also said last week that it was implementing seasonal and inventory adjustment shutdowns and temporary layoffs at those factories as well as one in Ottumwa, Iowa. Deere's third-quarter profit dropped 15 percent as sales weakened, and the company said earlier this month that it planned to reduce agricultural equipment production for the remainder of the year. The company had hired several hundred manufacturing employees in recent years to meet demand for products made in its Midwest factories. "We match the size of our manufacturing workforce with market demand," spokesman Ken Golden said on Friday. Deere & Co. is the world's biggest farm equipment supplier and employs about 67,000 people globally. Company shares fell 96 cents to $85.25 in Friday morning trading, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index also slipped.
Written on 08/22/2014, 8:50 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Keurig Green Mountain says it struck a deal to make Kraft's branded coffees, such as Maxwell House and Gevalia, for its single-serve brewing systems in the U.S. The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal. Keurig, based in Waterbury, Vermont, makes at-home brewing machines that let people make cups of coffee one serving at a time. The company is also working on a machine that would let people make cold, carbonated drinks at home, and has partnered with Coca-Cola to let people make various Coke drinks at home. Kraft had also announced a deal to distribute packaged McDonald's coffee to supermarkets and other retailers. That deal will mean people will also be able to make McCafe drinks with Keurig machines. Shares of Keurig rose 9 percent to $127.79.
Written on 08/22/2014, 8:48 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas. The county's governing board on Thursday also approved a draft of an economic agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California. County Judge Carlos Cascos tells The Brownsville Herald ( ) that details of the agreement are being withheld until SpaceX signs it. He expects that to happen next week. SpaceX announced earlier this month it had selected Cameron County for its launch site. It's an $85 million investment that's expected to bring 300 new jobs to the Brownsville area.___Information from: The Brownsville Herald,

Latest State News

Written on 08/22/2014, 9:05 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Fido can feast with you now when...
Written on 08/22/2014, 8:48 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Cameron County commissioners...
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Latest National News

Written on 08/22/2014, 9:26 am by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — The central bankers meeting this...
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:19 am by ALICIA RANCILIO, Associated Press
(AP) — The ice bucket challenge's...
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:13 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Fitbit, a company that makes...
Written on 08/22/2014, 9:08 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — McDonald's named a new president...