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Posts tagged ‘Forbes’

Duck Dynasty Merchandise Flying Off Shelves.

Image: Duck Dynasty Merchandise Flying Off Shelves

By Melissa Clyne

While there has been a widespread media backlash over anti-gay remarks made by “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, it doesn’t look like demand for the hit A&E show’s merchandise is waning.

“Most people who are buying the brand, they are like-minded to Phil anyway,” Hans Wilz of Great Ideas LLC, told USA Today. Wilz’s company helped create Duck Dynasty-scented candles that are sold across the country. “That demographic is not offended by what he said.”

Cracker Barrel initially pulled the show’s products from shelves only to return them days later following a barrage of emails, tweets and phone calls from Duck Dynasty fans threatening to boycott the 625-store chain. Upon resuming sales, Cracker Barrel issuedthe following statement, Forbes reports.

“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.

“You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.

“We listened.

“Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.
And, we apologize for offending you.

“We respect all individuals right to express their beliefs. We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different.”

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has not commented on its future with the show, even as T-shirts bearing Robertson’s image, bobbleheads of the family and scads of other merchandise soar in sales.

Forbes reports that Duck Dynasty merchandise, which includes a Catnapper camouflage recliner for $899.95 and a 400-page book of devotional prose that goes for $16.99, will bring in some $400 million in 2013.

This despite Robertson’s inflammatory comments to GQ magazine that lumped homosexuality in as a sin tantamount to bestiality. The network suspended him but fans have voiced their support in droves, taking to Twitter to defend the show’s lead character.

“You can tell that they are Christians and they live it out. praise God,” tweeted one fan from Elverson, Pa.

Robertson, members of his West Monroe, La. family, and fans across the country are not backing down from his remarks.

“I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater. … I have been immoral, drunk, high,” Robertson said. “I ran with the wicked people for 28 years and I have run with the Jesus people since and the contrast is astounding.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


NSA Colleague: Snowden ‘in a Class of His Own,’ a ‘Genius’ Techie.

Image: NSA Colleague: Snowden 'in a Class of His Own,' a 'Genius' Techie

By Melissa Clyne

NSA secrets-leaker Edward Snowden was a giant among geeks, a former colleague tells Forbes, revered and respected by fellow techies working in the intelligence arena.

“NSA is full of smart people, but anybody who sat in a meeting with Ed will tell you he was in a class of his own … I’ve never seen anything like it,” the anonymous NSA staffertold the magazine.

Communicating with journalists using the codename Verax – Latin for truth-teller – Snowden, 30, leaked up to 200,000 classified documents detailing countless amounts of information gleaned from U.S. cyberspying operations that revealed wiretapping of phones and computers around the globe.

The information uncovered has mostly centered on the NSA’s electronic surveillance program. It showed the United States eavesdropped on the cellphone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and tracked the porn-watching habits of Muslim terrorist sympathizers, Time magazine reports.

The colleague recalled Snowden, a high-school dropout who grew up near NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., as “principled, ultra-competent and somewhat eccentric.”

He said Snowden was “a genius among geniuses.”

He frequently roamed the underground NSA halls in Hawaii called the “tunnel” carrying a Rubik’s cube and wearing a black hoodie sweatshirt parodying the National Security Agency logo, with an eagle clasping AT&T cables and eavesdropping headphones covering the bird’s ears, according to the Forbes article.

Snowden frequently reported security vulnerabilities in NSA software to his bosses and developed a backup system widely implemented by the NSA in its codebreaking operations, according to Forbes.

Despite his status as a contractor, Snowden earned “full administrator privileges” when his supervisors decided he was the best qualified person to build one of its projects, something the former colleague admits was “a big mistake in hindsight.”

“But if you had a guy who could do things nobody else could, and the only problem was that his badge was green instead of blue, what would you do?”

A neighbor in Hawaii, where Snowden was working before fleeing the country, recalled Snowden as “unremarkable but oddly standoffish.”

The former colleague disputed claims that Snowden cut corners and cheated on tests to get where he got. And the person insisted that while Snowden may have been duplicitous by leaking the information, he did not do anything dishonest to gain access to the information.

“I was shocked and betrayed when I first learned the news, but as more time passes I’m inclined to believe he really is trying to do the right thing and it’s not out of character for him. I don’t agree with his methods, but I understand why he did it,” the colleague says. “I won’t call him a hero, but he’s sure as hell no traitor,” Forbes reports.

Snowden is living in Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum. The U.S. government has charged him with theft and violating the Espionage Act.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Forbes: De Blasio’s New Tax Could Drive Wealthy From New York.

Image: Forbes: De Blasio's New Tax Could Drive Wealthy From New York

By Dan Weil

The tax increase proposed by incoming New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on people with income over $500,000 could drive those taxpayers out of New York, says Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media.De Blasio wants to impose the tax to fund pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.

“It sends a signal out that New York City takes prosperity such as it is for granted,” Forbes told Fox Business Network.

Editor’s Note: Opinion: Retirees to Be Hit With Social Security Cuts

“New York does have unique advantages. It won’t kill the city, but it sends a message out, we’re not interested in entrepreneurs. More importantly we don’t understand real wealth creation.”

The city should be doing the exact opposite, Forbes says.

And taxpayers do vote with their feet, moving to places with lower taxes, Forbes says. That’s especially true of people entering retirement. “They look at death taxes. They look at income taxes,” he said.

“The fact is a lot of people move to Florida, people move to Texas and some people even move to states like Wyoming, Nevada and the state of Washington.” None of those states has a personal income tax.

New York City and state taxes together already constitute “one of the highest tax burdens in the country,” Forbes said.

“It has devastated New York State. Look at upstate. To think New York City is impervious to this kind of demand, look what happened in the 1960s and ’70s. They literally drove the city to bankruptcy. Why start on that path again?

Forbes says it’s not surprising that the economy isn’t helping the poor under President Barack Obama.

“When you have an economy that is stagnating, those who want to get ahead have the least chance to do it,” he said.

“We should have learned that from the 1980s. You had more income disparity. People like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were coming along doing very well. The economy blossomed, and people had a chance to move up.”

The key issue is growth, Forbes says. “Instead of looking at a stagnant pie and figuring out how to cut more from it, how do you grow the pie?” he said.

“I wish people like Mr. de Blasio would realize that if you want prosperity, you get a lot more creating new businesses than by driving people away. [He doesn’t] understand how prosperity is created.”

Plenty of wealthy New Yorkers have expressed opposition to de Blasio’s plan. “It shows lack of sensitivity to the city’s biggest revenue providers and job creators,” Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a group of 200 CEOs told Bloomberg.

Editor’s Note: Opinion: Retirees to Be Hit With Social Security Cuts

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© 2013 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

Hospitals Facing ‘War on Talent’ as Obamacare Looms.

The nation’s hospitals are facing a “war for talent” at a time they expect scores of new patients, covered through Obamacare policies, to come seeking medical care.

The vacancy rate for hospital physicians is at around 18 percent this year, and the nurse vacancy rate is around 17 percent, according to a survey by health care provider staffing firm AMN Healthcare. Just four years ago, vacancies for nurses were at 5.5 percent, with doctors’ vacancies at 10.7 percent, reports Forbes.

Editor’s NoteVideo Exposes Dangers of Obamacare Law

“Cost is the healthcare workforce issue of most concern to hospital executives, though they also find physician/hospital alignment, the move to quality based provider compensation, high vacancy rates, and the influx of insurance patients through the Affordable Care Act to be of concern,” AMN Healthcare said in the report.

Sean Gregory, president of Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Fla., told Forbes that his hospital is actively hiring and building up cores of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to help meet healthcare needs, but noted that there is a “war for talent” in his hospital and others.

There is also a shortage in nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the AMN Healthcare survey said, with a vacancy rate of about 15 percent.

But while hospitals are facing shortages, Obamacare also encourages the use of clinics and doctors’ offices, rather than hospitals and emergency rooms, where healthcare costs are much more expensive.

In addition, many of the Affordable Care Act’s health plans link to accountable care organizations, which work to reward providers for cooperating on quality and cost control. But to make the ACOs work, hospitals will need to hire more new nurse practitioners.

“The doctor shortage is worse than most people think,” Steven Berk, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine at Texas Tech University, told the AARP, Berk said, because the population is getting older, there is more need for primary care physicians.

“At the same time, physicians are getting older, too, and they’re retiring earlier,” Berk says. According to a Physicians Foundation survey, almost half of the nation’s 830,000 doctors are over the age of 50, and are seeing fewer patients.

Fewer people are choosing to become primary care doctors because of the prospect of huge medical school costs that can saddle graduates with as much as a quarter-million dollars of student loan debt, AARP reports.

This means many people wanting to practice primary care are instead choosing lucrative specialties which can pay two to three times the $150,000 to $170,000 salary primary care physician earns.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Putin Makes Shortlist of Time’s ‘Man of the Year’.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a Time magazine readers’ poll shortlist for 2013 “person of the year” — along with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, Iran President Hassan Rouhani and President Obama, the Voice of Russia reported Thursday.

Leading the readers poll is twerking singer Miley Cyrus.

The Tsarnayev brothers, suspected the Boston Marathon bombings, also were shortlisted, the Time online poll showed.

Voting on the Time website will last until Dec. 4, with the readers’ winner announced Dec. 6.

Time editors will announce their selection for “Person of the Year 2013″ Dec. 11; Obama was the Time pick last year.

Putin headed the Forbes magazine list of the most powerful people in the world, besting Obama, in October.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Steve Forbes to Moneynews: Stabilize Dollar to Fight ‘Ongoing’ Global Financial Crisis.

We currently sit in a phase of constant financial crisis, says Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media.

“The crisis is just ongoing. It peaks from time to time — the sluggishness that we see in our country and around the world,” he told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

“Yes, we’re doing better than the rest of the world but that’s like a baseball player hitting .250, and everyone else is hitting .150, when we should be hitting over .300.”

Editor’s Note: Obama’s Budget Takes Aim at Retired Americans 

Speaking in terms the younger generation would understand, Forbes said, “it’s punk performance all around.”

So what’s the solution? “The key is going to be to get the dollar stabilized,” Forbes said. “It should be fixed to gold, and the sooner we do it the better. But you see it in the bond bubble. There’s a bond bubble out there.”

As for the Federal Reserve, it’s discovering how difficult it is to pull back from its massive easing program. Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s choice as the next Fed chairman, will be under immense pressure to pull back, Forbes says.

“Both she and [current Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke are astronomers who still believe that the sun revolves around the earth,” he said.

“She is in total sympathy with what Bernanke has done, but she’s going to be under a lot more pressure than Bernanke has been to find a way, how do you undo this thing?”

Forbes has a suggestion for what Republican senators should ask Yellen in her confirmation hearings.

“In terms of printing money, how is that different from counterfeiting?” he said.

“Counterfeiting’s illegal, but printing money is a way to stimulate the economy. Why not have everyone do it?”

As for inflation, it’s currently under control, because the money being printed by the Fed isn’t spilling out into the economy, Forbes says. The Fed is sending that money to banks, then it borrows that money back from the banks at very low rates to buy long-term bonds, he says.

“So, right now, the Fed has dammed most of that money up, but when it starts to leak out, then we’re going to have major problems, and that’s going to be a major challenge for Janet Yellen,” Forbes said.

“Who knows when the dam might break? But it’s very bad situation that we’re facing today.”

He says the United States is the best country for investors now.

“There is no real safe haven, because the commodity boom has tapered off. We have a bond bubble out there,” Forbes said. Countries like Australia, Brazil and Indonesia aren’t growing as fast as they used to be.

“So the best place to be, even though we’re going to have turbulent waters, is right here in the United States,” Forbes said. “You should have some diversification, obviously, around the world, but I would not want to be in a country like India . . . when things get tough.”

Editor’s Note: Obama’s Budget Takes Aim at Retired Americans 

© 2013 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

By Dan Weil and Kathleen Walter

Obamacare Out-of-Pocket Costs Much Higher Than Expected.

Image: Obamacare Out-of-Pocket Costs Much Higher Than Expected

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Even with the federal tax breaks and subsidies promised through Obamacare, many consumers will likely find their out-of-pocket costs will be much higher than expected,according to an analysis of the healthcare law’s problems.

Consumers can benefit from two different subsidies, writes Forbes contributor and physician Scott Gottlieb, who also serves as a Republican appointee on a federal health policy committee. Premium tax credits, based on family income, are designed to offset the overall costs of health insurance plans, while cost-sharing subsidies help pay for out-of-pocket expenses and to help lower costs when catastrophic limits kick in.

But so far, technical glitches on the website have caused miscalculations of cost estimates for uninsured individuals and families trying to sign up, leading to confusion and fears that the costs may end up not being as affordable as promised, Gottlieb noted.

Part of the problem, Gottlieb wrote, stems from the fact that the website cannot communicate correctly with other federal and state agencies to share the data needed to help calculate costs. Data sharing with other agencies has proven too much for the website to handle, leading to errors in cost calculations on enrollment applications that have gone through. In many cases, the system simply crashed on some applicants as they tried to calculate costs.

Gottlieb also notes that the subsidy to cover out-of-pocket costs are exempt from sequester cuts and could reduce the amount of money available to help offset co-pays or other medical costs not covered. For many, that could mean that a subsidy they were hoping to use to pay a medical bill may not be there when the time comes.

The Obama administration calculates that subsidies over the next 10 years could cost about $149 billion. But if the subsidies are cut, under the law insurance plans could be forced to absorb the shortfalls.

Not a good idea, said Gottlieb, given the fact that many insurance companies have already been burned by the bungled rollout of the federal healthcare program.

“Given the failed launch of Obamacare, many insurers will be looking at far lower enrollment numbers, and losses on their new exchange health plans,” said Gottlieb. “Want proof? Expect Wall Street analysts to cut their earnings projections on the major health plans in the coming weeks.”

If that happens, he added, many health plans will likely be pulled from the marketplace, and Obamacare could fail fast unless the administration lobbies Congress to stop sequester cuts from hitting cost-sharing subsidies.

“For all of these reasons, the Obama administration should approach its failed rollout with much more humility and candor,” Gottlieb said. “These website woes aren’t merely ‘glitches.'”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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