- Created on 03 October 2013
We are sending a big congratulations out to Geraldine Moriba, who was recently named the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for CNN Worldwide.
According to the network, "Moriba is an Emmy-award winning producer, who led CNN's "In America" documentary team in the creation of 11 documentaries in two years. These award-winning and groundbreaking specials focused on communities which had previously been underserved by the media."
Moriba said she's honored to serve in her new position. "Some of the smartest journalists in the business work at CNN and I know that the prevailing sentiment in our newsrooms is that it is crucial for our content and workforce to reflect the audience we serve," she said. "These are goals accomplished by working as a team. This isn't only about pursuing a noble purpose, it's about continuing to share news from across our increasingly diverse and interconnected world, in even more effective ways."
CNN President Jeff Zucker said, "Geraldine is the ideal candidate to take on this very important role within the organization at a critical time."
"I had the pleasure of working with her prior to my time at CNN, and always found her to have a terrific sensibility and understanding of some of the complex issues we face when it comes to diversity and inclusion," he said. "As we look to reimagine what CNN will be in the years to come, this role on my team will be invaluable in shaping the kind of organization we want and need to have."
Moriba has won numerous awards over the course of her career, including five Emmys awards, four New York Association of Black Journalists awards, four New York Film Festival Awards, two Newswomen's New York Front Page News Feature Awards and two National Headliner Awards among others.
- Created on 02 October 2013
On the first day Americans could shop for health coverage on Obamacare's new health insurance exchanges, 2.8 million people visited the federal government's HealthCare.gov -- as President Barack Obama's administration feverishly scrambled to fix glitches that prevented users from signing on.
But technical errors persisted, even as the administration touted high interest in the federal portal for more than 30 states, as well as intense activity on state-run exchanges. Though officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said they'd made strides correcting the federal exchanges' problems, The Huffington Post made dozens of attempts and still couldn't sign into the website late Tuesday afternoon.
The White House seeks to enroll 7 million people into the health insurance exchanges this year, so the high level of interest shown for HealthCare.gov and various state exchanges could be seen as good news for the administration. But technical problems could frustrate consumers and stifle enrollment if they're not resolved soon.
"We have had a few slowdowns, a few glitches, but it's sort of a great problem to have. It's based on the fact that the volume has been so high and the interest is so high," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on MSNBC Tuesday. "We're working quickly to fix that."
In addition to the web traffic, Obamacare's federal hotline received 81,000 calls and the online help system logged 61,000 chats, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
To criticize the health insurance exchanges' glitchy debut, or the small number of enrollments Tuesday, would be premature, according to Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who was an architect of the 2006 Massachusetts health care overhaul that served as a model for Obama's reform law and consulted on Obamacare.
"Hours or even days is not the relevant timeframe for evaluating exchanges," Gruber wrote in an email to the Huffington Post. "The question is simply whether there are ways that folks can sign up to get insurance by Jan. 1. That is a question for late November, not early October." Enrollment for 2014 health benefits runs until March 31 and coverage chosen by Dec. 15 takes effect on Jan. 1.
"If things are really buggy in six weeks, that could be more of an issue," Gruber said.
Some people were able to use HealthCare.gov to compare health insurance plans on price and benefits and to actually choose coverage for next year, despite the difficulties Tuesday, said Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency would not disclose how many people had enrolled, she said.
"We are making the improvements as we speak," Tavenner said. "We expect that we're going to be able to speed it up -- and we have sped it up already -- in the coming hours." Tavenner emphasized that the enrollment period is months long and that people will have time to sign up. The administration thinks most consumers will make decisions about Obamacare later in the year.
The apparent high interest in using the health insurance exchanges -- online marketplaces for the uninsured and people who don't get job-based health benefits -- wasn't limited to the 30-plus states serviced by HealthCare.gov. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia also at least partially launched their own health insurance exchanges on Tuesday. In New York, the State of Health exchange logged more than 10 million visits, the agency announced.
Kentucky's health insurance exchange, called Kynect, took in nearly 2,000 applications and completed 1,235 of them, and its website received 57,625 visitors, according to a news release. Connecticut's Access Health CT also reported completing some enrollments.
Visitors to state-run exchanges ran into technical problems, too. On New York State of Health, Maryland Health Connection, Kynect, Connect for Health Colorado, Rhode Island's Health Source RI and others, consumers faced obstacles to setting up accounts or comparing plans -- or even viewing the websites at various points in the day.
- Created on 30 September 2013
The Securities and Exchange Commission's civil suit charging entrepreneur Mark Cuban with insider trading is set to get started in Dallas on Monday, nearly five years after the agency first brought charges.
The controversial owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and a star of the reality television show "Shark Tank" is accused of dumping his whole stake in the company Mamma.com in 2004 before details of a pending stock offering were announced, avoiding a $750,000 loss on the holding.
Mamma.com, a search software company, has since changed its name to Copernic and been purchased by Constellation Software (CNSWF).
Cuban was the largest individual shareholder in Mamma.com at the time he was contacted by the company's CEO and told the company intended to sell more shares to raise funds.
According to court documents, Cuban became angry and said he opposed the sale because it would dilute his 6% stake. But he then said "Well, now I'm screwed. I can't sell." However, Cuban sold his entire stake of 600,000 shares of the company immediately after getting more details of the planned stock sale from the company's financial advisers.
Cuban argued in court that while he was prohibited from disclosing the plans for a stock sale by the company, he was not prohibited from trading his shares on the information. In July 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Fitzwater granted Cuban's motion to dismiss the case. But a court of appeals decision reinstated the case. Fitzwater will oversee the jury trial set to start Monday.
The case against Cuban is a civil case, not a criminal case. He can be forced to pay a fine, which he is used to doing. The NBA has fined him an estimated $1.8 million through a course of 19 infractions during his career, according to Bleacher Report, including a $100,000 fine once for telling CNNMoney of his interest in signing LeBron James a month before the superstar formally became a free agent.
Cuban made most of his fortune when he sold the Internet company he started, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999. Yahoo ended up shuttering the Internet broadcaster just a few years later.
The looming federal government shutdown won't immediately halt federal court cases, as the courts have enough funds to operate for at least 10 days. The SEC is one of the agencies that will be subject to the shutdown, although certain employees will be exempted and stay on the job.
- Created on 30 September 2013
In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013, photo, United Airlines passengers board a flight using the Premier Access line at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them.
Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight.
Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the beginning. Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office.
In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier.
"We've moved from takeaways to enhancements," says John F. Thomas of L.E.K. Consulting. "It's all about personalizing the travel experience."
Carriers have struggled to raise airfares enough to cover costs. Fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges like baggage and reservation change fees has tapered off. Revenue from bag fees in April, May and June fell 7 percent compared to the same period last year, according to figures released by the government Monday.
So now the airlines are selling new extras and copying marketing methods honed by retailers.
Technological upgrades allow airlines to sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding. Delta Air Lines recently gave its flight attendants wireless devices, allowing them to sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom.
And just like Amazon.com offers suggested readings based on each buyer's past purchases, airlines soon will be able to use past behavior to target fliers.
"We have massive amounts of data," says Delta CEO Richard Anderson. "We know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We can customize our offerings."
Other airlines are experimenting with tracking passengers throughout the airport. In the future, if somebody clears security hours before their flight, they might be offered a discounted day pass to the airline's lounge on their phone.
Airlines have yet to find the right balance between being helpful and being creepy. So, for now, most of the data is being used to win back passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost.
"We want to get back to a point where people feel like travel isn't something to endure, but something they can enjoy," says Bob Kupbens, a former Target executive and Delta's current vice president of marketing and digital commerce.
Most passengers select flights based on the lowest base fare. The online travel industry plays up that price sensitivity with sites named CheapOair.com, CheapTickets.com and InsanelyCheapFlights.com.
When airlines try to raise fares, they are met with resistance.
"Customers are very quick to either change travel plans, or use another carrier or not travel at all," says Jim Corridore, an airline analyst with Standard & Poor's Capital IQ.
In the past three years, airlines have tried to hike fares 48 times, according to FareCompare.com. During 29 of those attempts, bookings fell enough that airlines abandoned the increase.
Most fares today don't cover the cost of flying. While the average domestic roundtrip base fare has climbed 3 percent over the past decade to $361.95, when adjusted for inflation, the price of jet fuel has nearly tripled.
When oil prices spiked in 2008, airlines added checked baggage fees. Passengers still bought tickets on the base price and didn't think about the extra expense until the day of travel.
Now airlines are recasting fees as trip enhancements.
Travelers like Nadine Angress, of Mansfield, Mass., see the value. Her recent late-night US Airways flight home landed past six-year-old son's bedtime. She had to work early the next morning. So, for $30 she bypassed the baggage carousel and had the suitcase delivered.
"That was a very reasonable price to pay," Angress says. "It's making your life easier."
U.S. airlines collect more than $6 billion a year in baggage and reservation change fees. They also collect $9 billion more from selling extras like frequent flier miles, early boarding and seat upgrades. Together, the fees account for 10 percent U.S. airlines' revenue.
Fees provide airlines with another advantage: The Internal Revenue Service has said since they aren't directly related to transporting passengers, they aren't subject to the 7.5 percent excise tax travelers pay on base fares. Taxing fees would give the government an extra $1.1 billion a year to fund the Federal Aviation Administration, runway upgrades and air traffic control improvements.
Without the fees, experts say fares would be 15 percent higher.
"You're either going to go out of business or find a way to cover" your costs, says Robert E. Jordan, Southwest Airlines' executive vice president and chief commercial officer.
Southwest has held off charging for most checked bags. But it sells plenty of other add-ons.
Recently, it introduced a way for people at the back of the boarding line on some flights to cut to the front for $40. It's not a blockbuster seller — one person pays up every two flights — but with 3,600 daily flights, that nets $70,000 in extra daily revenue or $25 million a year.
That change in thinking has helped United increase fee revenue by 13 percent this year to more than $20 per one-way passenger.
Airlines are also starting to bundle items. Passengers purchase items they might not necessarily buy alone; it also simplifies the dizzying array of offers.
"I don't want you to have to do the math every time," says Rick Elieson, managing director of digital marketing at American Airlines.
American offers a package for $68 roundtrip that includes no change fees, one checked bag and early boarding. Delta is experimenting with a $199 subscription that includes a checked bag, early boarding, access to exit row seats and extra frequent flier miles on all flights a passenger takes between now and Jan. 5.
Airlines say the fees bring a sense of fairness to the system. Why should a passenger with a small carry-on subsidize a family of four, checking suitcases?
Jamie Baker, an airline analyst with JP Morgan Chase, likens it to a meal at a restaurant.
"The sides are not included in the price of a steak," he says. "Airline ticket prices should reflect the costs incurred by the individual passenger."