Monday, August 17, 2009

'Luxury' at $19 a night

Some luxury hotels have found a way to cope in the economic downturn by offering rooms with no luxuries. In fact, no bed, toilet paper, soap or air conditioning.

San Diego's Rancho Bernardo Inn is offering what it calls the "Survivor Package."

The most basic version: a room for $19 with no bed, toilet paper, towels, air-conditioning or "honor bar," and only a single light bulb in the bathroom for safety. The next level up adds in a bed -- sans sheets -- for $39 a night. For a bed plus toiletries and toilet paper, the rate is $59.

Maureen Carew, assistant general manager of the four-star inn, called the promotion "clever marketing in a downtime."

The usual rate for the room is $219 per night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

GM: Chevy Volt Will Get 230 MPG

GM's new Chevrolet Volt will notch a whopping 230 miles per gallon, the company claims.

WARREN, Mich. — General Motors said Tuesday that its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle, scheduled for release in 2011, would achieve a fuel rating of 230 miles a gallon in city driving.

The rating number, based on methodology drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency, is somewhat abstract, one auto specialist said, given that much of the city driving of electric vehicles will rely solely on the battery charge.

We'll just wait and see.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Loner Loser Kills 3 Women, Self; Wounds 9 Others

A Pennsylvania man walked into an aerobics class filled with women in Bridgeville, PA, pulled out two weapons, turned out the lights and sprayed the room with bullets killing three women, wounding nine others, then killed himself.

From the AP:

Neighbors described 48-year-old George Sodini as anti-social, and the Web page in his name showcased a resume setting forth his credentials as an unhappy loner. It listed his date of death — Aug. 4, 2009 — and his status of "Never married."

He complained of not having a girlfriend since 1984, not having a date since May 2008 and not having sex for 19 years.

"Women just don't like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one," he wrote. The page ended with the words "Death Lives!
His web page has been taken down.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ohio Cops Facing Felony Charges

Two Ohio police chiefs are facing felony charges in a case involving the surrogate mother for Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.

From the Associated Press:

Special prosecutor T. Shawn Hervey said the men conspired to take items from the woman's eastern Ohio home to sell to celebrity photographers.

At an arraignment Friday, Martins Ferry Police Chief Barry Carpenter was charged with two counts of burglary, one count of receiving stolen property, one count of theft in office, one count of unauthorized use of property or services and one count of tampering with evidence.

Bridgeport Police Chief Chad Dojack, 30, was charged with two counts of complicity to burglary and one count of complicity to receiving stolen property.

Both men pleaded not guilty and are free on their own recognizance. Neither of the men could be reached for comment. There are no residential telephone listings for them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Housing Market Bouncing Back

With new home sales increasing 11 percent in June, economists are saying the housing market is bouncing back.

"The worst of the housing recession ... is now behind us," said David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities. "We're turning the corner toward increased activity in housing."

New home sales rose 11 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000, from an upwardly revised May rate of 346,000, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

Shares of big homebuilders soared on the news, with Beazer Homes USA up by more than 13 percent and Hovnanian Enterprises rising 8 percent in afternoon trading. But with home prices still falling, these companies won't be making much money anytime soon.

The median sales price of $206,200 was down 12 percent from $234,300 a year earlier and off nearly 6 percent from $219,000 in May.

In addition to lower prices, buyers are rushing to tax advantage of a federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of the home price or up to $8,000 for first-time buyers. Home sales need to be completed by the end of November for buyers to take advantage.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Switzerland Now in Recession

Although their economy has contracted less than 2 percent since late last year, Switzerland is now officially in a recession.

. . . official figures showed that the country's economy shrank by 0.8% in the first three months of 2009.

The decline came after a contraction of 0.3% in the last quarter of 2008.

Switzerland's economic woes have been led by its major banks which, like lenders around the world, have reported significant losses linked to bad debts.

A country is generally considered to be in recession following two successive quarters of economic decline.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Who Killed the Newspaper?

Traditional newspapers are dropping like flies -- the Rocky Mountain News, the Tucson Citizen -- and many more are laying off staffers and cutting costs wherever they can. Who killed the newspaper?

According to the late John Waller, once executive editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a founding editor of USA Today, the blame rests squarely on three people: A.J. Liebling, a layout editor at The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal named Arnold (first or last name is not clear in Waller's essay), and Al Neuharth.

Read Waller's essay published at Poynter Online for the details.