Month: August 2013

Glasgow 2014: Commonwealth Games tickets Q&A

August 31, 2013

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How can you pay for tickets?

Almost any form of payment, except cash, is accepted. The organisers said ease of payment was important, in contrast to the London Olympics, which only accepted one brand of credit card. Online payments for Commonwealth Games tickets can be made by Maestro, Mastercard, Visa Delta, Visa Electron, Visa and prepaid credit cards. People applying by post can also use cheques and postal orders.

How much do tickets cost?

Ticket prices start from £15 for adults with half-price concessions available for children and the over-60s. After the preliminary rounds these half-price concessions only apply to the cheapest band of tickets. Each event will usually have three or four ticket price bands. Organisers are keen to state that almost two-thirds of the one million tickets available are priced at £25 or less and all include use of public transport in the local area on the day of the event. However, some of the more popular events, such as the 100m sprint final on Monday 28 July, which could feature Jamaicas Usain Bolt, will cost up to £90.

Will tickets go on general sale at a later date?

Yes. Organisers said they wanted to keep the process simple, so there will be just two phases of sales. The first four-week window from 19 August to 16 September will end with tickets being allocated via a draw. Any tickets which are not sold in this first phase will go on general sale, probably in the middle of October. Organisers have not yet announced the date for the general sale phase. They said that this phase of sales would continue right up until the games, or until the tickets sold out.

Local authors: Rose Catherine Khan of Henrietta and Michael Masiello of …

August 31, 2013

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The Mathmagical Wish

Rose Catherine Khan (CreateSpace, $7.99)

Tweepy Tweep from Planet Zeep lives for playing Zeep Ball! He loves the sport even more than cupcakes and video games. Nothing can get between Tweepy and Zeep Ball ? except a teensy weensy problem with math. When Tweepy?s math grades begin to slip, he is forced to leave the Zeep Ball team. He needs to find a way to improve his math grades, or perhaps eliminate the pesky subject once and for all. Khan lives in Henrietta.

The Twenty-Something#39;s Guide to Money and More

Michael Masiello (Common Sense Financial, $19.99)

This common-sense approach to finances explains complex and sophisticated financial topics and concerns as simply as possible with an emphasis on understanding rather than fancy jargon. The lessons outlined in the book are easy for everyone to follow with a little hard work and discipline. Over time, these lessons work; the plan to reach financial freedom and independence is laid out in simple terms. The secret of this book is that there is no ?secret,? just hard work over time following basic financial guidelines. Masiello lives in Rochester.

OSCPA launches financial strategy video series

August 31, 2013

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The Ohio Society of CPAs has launched a new videos series to help young adults tackle timely financial challenges.

The series explores 10 especially relevant financial topics, from negotiating job offers to opening joint accounts with partners, by offering young viewers strategies and suggestions.

Featuring OSCPA Young CPA Columbus Regional Committee members Alex Swain and William Vasil, the videos are a response to FINRAs 2012 National Financial Capability Study, which found that Americans aged 18 to 34 are at a pronounced disadvantage in many financial categories.

Business Briefs

August 31, 2013

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Attorney moves practice to California
Stoel Rives partner Graham Noyes is transferring his practice to the firms Sacramento, Calif., office. He represents clients involved in conventional and advanced biofuels, as well as forestry, agricultural, and solid waste-to-energy projects, and biogas projects involving anaerobic digestion, thermochemical gasification, and other advanced technologies. Noyes has extensive experience with the federal renewable fuel standard and Californias low carbon fuel standard. He is also a well-known speaker and writer on renewable energy credits and renewable identification numbers.

BTEC releases developer tools
The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has announced the release of two new tools to help manufacturers, project developers, engineers and architects better understand biomass systems for the commercial building sector. A resource library hosts more than 100 documents on a variety of topics, from technical and financial topics, to information on policy, case studies and health and environment. The second is a stakeholder document that outlines the individuals and groups of people in a community that project developers should consider when deliberating the development of new projects. Development of the tools was supported by a grant from the Wood Education and Resource Center of the US Forest Service.

BioNitrogen announces board, executive changes
Biobased urea fertilizer producer BioNitrogen Corp. has made several changes to its board. Carlos Contreras, CEO of the company, was promoted to chairman of the board. Mario Beruvides, previous chairman of the board and a professor of industrial engineering at Texas Tech University, is continuing to serve on the board of directors. Juan Vazquez has stepped down from the board, but is continuing to act as an advisor to the company. Roger Imperial, who has served as a senior consultant at Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, also joined the companys board of directors. In addition, Ernie Iznaga, who previously served as operations manager of BioNitrogen, has been promoted to the position of vice president of operations.

Drax reveals biomass railcar
The Drax Group plc has unveiled the UKs first purpose-built biomass rail freight wagon at the National Railway Museum in York. The wagon was developed by designers at Lloyds Register Rail and manufactured by WH Davis. It will transport biomass from the Ports of Tyne, Hull and Immingham to the Drax Power Station, which is located near Selby. The wagon has a capacity of 116 cubic meters and can transport 71.6 metric tons of biomass. The volume of the newly designed wagon is nearly 30 percent larger than freight wagons currently in use in the UK

CPM appoints general manager
CPM, a supplier of process engineering, process equipment and aftermarket parts for the biofuels, oilseed, animal feed and food processing industries, has appointed Todd Fierro as Crown Companies general manager. Fierro fills a new executive management position responsible for global coordination of all sales, operations, engineering, strategy, and administrative functions. He will be based in Roseville, Minn., and will report to CPM CEO Ted Waitman. Most recently, Fierro served as president of Oshkosh Corp.s commercial segment, focusing on new product introduction and strategic development.

ACORE announces interim president, CEO
The American Council on Renewable Energys board of directors has announced Michael Brower, Mosaic Federal Affairs senior federal policy director and principle, will step in to lead the organization during its search for a new president and CEO. Brower is currently a member of the board of directors. He will begin the role in September and will immediately begin working in collaboration with Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, ACOREs outgoing president and CEO. McGinn was recently nominated by President Obama to serve as the next assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment.

Senate approves EPA administrator
The US Senate has voted to approve Gina McCarthys nomination to lead the US EPA by a vote of 59 to 40. Prior to her nomination, McCarthy served as assistant administrator for the EPAs Office of Air and Radiation. She replaces former Administrator Lisa Jackson, who resigned in December.

Emera completes sale of Canadian plant
The Nova Scotia government has announced the sale of the 30 MW biomass-fired Brooklyn Power Corp. plant is complete. Emera Energy Inc. purchased the facility for $25 million. The government first announced the sale in December 2012 following its decision to purchase Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. from Resolute Forest Products Inc. and change the name to ReNova Scotia Bioenergy Inc. The Brooklyn Energy facility was purchased as part of that deal.

Kephart named to advisory committee
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and US DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz have appointed Kevin Kephart as the new committee co-chair of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative Technical Advisory Committee. Kephart, vice president of research and development at South Dakota State University, will serve as co-chair beside former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. The committee is made up of 32 volunteers from industry, academia, nonprofit organizations and local government who discuss and work with technical issues involving energy and agriculture.

Canadian thermal system gains EPA qualification
Heat Smart Plus Inc., the factory representatives for Manitoba-based Piney Manufacturing, announced that the companys new biomass heating system has gained US EPA qualification for North American distribution. The news comes following two years of development and testing. The Portage and Main EnviroChip 500 biomass heating system is fueled with wood chips. A large fuel storage bin is coupled with a high-efficiency boiler to consistently generate 280,000 Btu per hour. A water and glycol mix is pumped from the boiler into a building by means of insulated underground pipe. Resulting heat is dissipated by a heat exchanger or in-floor hydronic heat loops.

Sundrop Fuels selects contractor
Sundrop Fuels Inc. has named international engineering and construction firm IHI Eamp;C International Corp., a US subsidiary of Toyko-based IHI Corp., as contractor of choice for its inaugural facility near Alexandria, La. The combined commercial and demonstration plant will annually produce approximately 60 million gallons of gasoline from natural gas while providing the platform for Sundrop Fuels to prove its proprietary gasification technology for making renewable gasoline from woody biomass.

DOE grant supports development of sugar analysis system
Carbo Analytics was awarded a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant for fiscal year 2013 from the US DOE to support the development of a biofuels sugar analysis system. The technology aims to provide a rapid determination of accessible C5 and C6 sugars in a biomass sample. The company has partnered with CEM Corp., a developer of microwave digestion systems, to prepare biomass samples. The combined solution is expected to allow biofuel operators to flag potential feedstock problems and facilitate suppliers in developing and supplying the highest value products.

NSF funds biobased isoprene research
Biofuels research underway by C5.6 Technologies of Middleton, Wis., and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is getting a boost from a $224,292 National Science Foundation grant. C5.6 Technologies and the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology at UW-Stevens Point will use the funding to support continued research on the development of bacteria that will ferment sugar into isoprene, a high-energy molecule that can be used to make jet fuel and other products. The funding was awarded through the NSFs Small Business Technology Transfer Program, which promotes innovation in the private sector by linking businesses with university researchers.

Mississippi pellet plant planned
The Mississippi Development Authority has announced Green Circle Bio Energy plans to locate a wood pellet plant at the George County Industrial Park near Lucedale, Miss. The 500,000 ton per year facility is expected to be operational by spring 2015. Pellets produced at the proposed facility will be exported from the Port of Pascagoula to European markets. The project represents a company investment of $115 million.

Iowa landfill gas project expands
Waste Management of Des Moines announced the expansion of its Des Moines Metro Methane Recovery Facility at the Metro Park East landfill in Polk County, Iowa. The plant is the results of a public-private partnership between Waste Management and Metro Waste Authority. The plant currently generates 6.5 MW of power. Once the expansion is complete, the production capacity will expand to 11.2 MW. The new plant will add three additional engines to convert landfill gas into energy, with room to add a fourth engine in the future.

Delta Banks on 19000 Windows Phones to Ramp Up Customer Service

August 30, 2013

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Delta Air Lines has outfitted its more than 19,000 flight attendants with Windows Phone 8 mobile devices that it expects will further customer service and facilitate on-board transactions.

Specifically, the flight attendants are now using Nokia Lumia 820 devices equipped with a Delta-specific application developed by Avanade on the Microsoft Dynamics for Retail mobile point-of sale platform. Connectivity is provided via WiFi and ATTs 4G LTE Network. Plans call for this application to be rolled out over the next three years on the newest Nokia devices.

By giving the flight attendants these devices, they can better meet our customers needs on board every flight, said Joanne Smith, Deltas senior vice president for In-Flight Service.

Starting on Monday, flight attendants on Delta Connection flights will begin using the device as well.

A Delta spokesperson was not immediately available to provide further details.

Keep the Change

The most immediate improvement customers will see from this investment is a streamlined on-board purchase experience. The devices can handle credit card processing for such transactions, including upgrades to Deltas Economy Comfort seating. On-board Economy Comfort upgrades is a new feature that Delta will begin offering first on transcontinental and international flights.

The application also supports eReceipts that can be emailed to customers as well as prepaid credit cards. In the near future, it will be able to read coupons displayed on a customers mobile device.

The devices will also give flight attendants more details about customers down the road, allowing them to offer more personal service, Delta said.

These device join other mobile customer service oriented devices and applications that Delta has rolled out. Last year it debuted the Fly Delta app for iPad, its website and revamped self-service kiosks. Other high-tech customer service products include Fly Delta app for iPhone, Windows Phone, Android and Blackberry smartphones, and in-flight WiFi on more than 800 aircraft.

The New Normal

Delta is joining what is quickly becoming a mainstream trend among service providers: applications and devices at the point of sale usually delivered via a mobile handheld or tablet.

Such applications are ubiquitous in high-end stores and restaurants and are spreading out into other service categories, David Johnson, principal of
Strategic Vision, told CRM Buyer. It is becoming the new normal for customer service.

Whether these initiatives are enough to salvage airlines poor reputation for customer service, however, is debatable, Johnson added.

Airlines are still viewed poorly by customers in terms of service, he concluded. These handhelds are a step forward — but a very small step.

Color of Money Live

August 29, 2013

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If you are in need of a mid-week money fix, join Washington Post nationally syndicated personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary for an online discussion on Thursday, August 15 at noon ET.

Michelle will answer your money questions and offer her two-cents on todays hottest financial topics.

Be sure to submit you questions early or read the archives later.

Michelles Mailbag: Doing all the right things and feeling frustrated

Buyers, not lenders, must decide how much mortgage is too much

Todays e-newsletter: Has marriage gotten too expensive?

Bloomberg’s way: Firm lobbies DC pols like Wall St. banks

August 29, 2013

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Since 2008, Bloomberg has been among the top 20 companies lobbying on financial topics based on the number of reports it has filed, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Lately, much of Bloombergs lobbying has been centered on establishing a swaps clearance platform, further ramping up the competition with some clients.

Bloomberg worked with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to establish its so-called swaps execution facility, which will launch after new derivative rules kick in later this year.

Bloombergs efforts come as some financial firms grow increasingly concerned that the company, which boasts some 315,000 proprietary terminals, is treading on their turf.

Those fears were heightened in May when Goldman accused Bloomberg reporters of using the terminals to track bank employees. Bloomberg is currently in the process of conducting an internal review into the spying scandal.

Big banks also worry that Bloomberg is leveraging its terminals to mine data from clients and use it to create competing products and services.

Industry players believe Bloombergs Washington lobbying efforts may present a conflict if not raise eyebrows.

If the news media want to be truly independent, they should ask no favors and owe no debts, said Christopher Daly, professor at Boston University.

Bloomberg News should be in a position to tell every member of Congress to buzz off, he added.

Bloomberg declined to comment.

Alleged ID theft ring ‘mastermind’ arrested at west Houston motel

August 29, 2013

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HOUSTON — The alleged mastermind behind an identity theft ring was arrested in a west Houston motel on Tuesday evening thanks to a vigilant guest, investigators said.

Deputy Constables from Precinct 5 took 34-year-old Rondale Montgomery into custody on Wednesday.

Investigators said Montgomery stole over a hundred identities, including those of people who have died.

We do think he was the mastermind of this ring, we think that because of all the documents from his place, said Assistant Chief JJ Lane from Harris County Constable Precinct 5.

His wife was in the room with him. Across the hall, their 10-year-old twin boys watched as their dad was handcuffed.

Inside of the rooms detectives found machines to make credit cards, laminating machines, ledgers with victims information, hundreds of prepaid credit cards, cell phones, a wig and $11,000 in cash.

He actually made his own credit cards, he had acetone and paint thinners to remove some of the markings on the prepaid cards, said Lane.

Investigators said Montgomery sold the phony IDs and credit cards on Craigslist to a couple of people deputies want to question.

Montgomery served jail time in 2004. He was already on parole for 40 years from his last offense. Now hes waiting to face a judge for several more charges.

Public Safety Digest

August 29, 2013

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The caller then requests payment be made in the form of prepaid credit cards. In similar requests, the resident is required to wire the money immediately or provide credit card information over the phone.

Government agencies do not work this way, police said. It is more likely a federal or IRS official would send a letter that includes all pertinent information and sets up a future appointment.

These calls should be treated as suspicious, King City police warn. Anyone who receives such a call should report it to the police and not send money until the police can determine f it?s legitimate.

Self-proclaimed animal rescuer charged with neglect

Ten of 17 neglected pets rescued in June from St. Francis All Creature Rescue and Sanctuary are available for adoption, according to a release from the SPCA for Monterey County.

Charges have been filed against Crystal Kisicki, rescue operator. Among those, she was charged with five counts of animal neglect and one count of driving on a suspended license. She has been cited to appear in court Sept. 25.

On June 15, the SPCA rescued 14 dogs and puppies, one kitten and two birds from Kisicki, who claimed to run a nonprofit rescue group adopting them out at PetSmart in Sand City.

New owners later found the pets were sick, thin and suffering from flea infestations and skin infections. The Central California SPCA later rescued an additional 61 animals from Kisicki?s property in rural Fresno County.

The available pets include a 1-year-old female cocker spaniel/poodle mix, a 3-year-old female Yorkie, a 5-month-old male Yorkie puppy, a 2-year-old female Pomeranian, a 4-year-old male Chihuahua mix, a 5-year-old female Chihuahua mix, a 3-month-old female Chihuahua puppy, a 5-month-old male terrier mix puppy, and two young cockatiels.

To adopt, please visit the SPCA at 1002 Monterey-Salinas Highway, across from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Adopters will need to agree to return to the SPCA at any time upon request if the pets need to be re-examined during the course of the cruelty case.

Police: Beware of phone scams

August 29, 2013

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COAL TOWNSHIP – Police remind residents that phone scams are common, and personal information should never be given to anyone over the telephone.

Police said several residents recently have received phone calls from people claiming the called person won a prize or money. The caller asked the winners to purchase prepaid credit cards and provide the callers with card numbers, claiming the prize money would be placed on the card. The balances on the cards were then taken and no prizes were given.

Other residents reported they received phone calls from people asking permission to remotely control the called persons home computers because of a problem with the Windows operating system. The caller then demanded money and threatened to lock the computer.