Consumer

Ford to drop slow-selling sedans from lineup by 2020

Ford announced on Wednesday that it will stop selling sedans in North America, saying the Mustang and a new crossover will be the only survivors in a reduced lineup of passenger cars. The Dearborn-based automaker, which reported better first-quarter earnings and revenue than expected, said it will transition to a truck- and SUV-focused lineup over the next few years as a result of declining consumer demand for small cars. The segment also generates weaker profit margins for manufacturers. The revamped Ford car portfolio in North America, the company’s largest market, will be comprised of the Mustang sports coupe and Focus Active, a crossover scheduled to launch next year. Ford’s current lineup of passenger cars includes the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus sedans. The company didn’t share any new details about the model lineup at its luxury brand, Lincoln. “The key to success is focusing on where your customers are and where your strengths lie, and for Ford doubling down on trucks and SUVs could be just what the brand needs,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds. “But this move isn’t without risk: Ford is willingly alienating its car owners and conceding market share in segments that, while declining, are still relevant to some buyers.” Ford earned net income of $1.74 billion during the first quarter, up from $1.59 billion in the same period a year earlier. Per-share earnings rose three pennies to 43 cents, beating Wall Street’s estimate of 41 cents. Revenue climbed 7% to $41.96 billion, which also beat forecasts for $37.2 billion. Ford’s bottom line benefited from a lower income tax rate. In an interview on FOX Business’ “After the Bell,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said Ford held its costs in check, despite an increase in commodity prices. Ford plans to achieve $25.5 billion in cost cuts and efficiencies by 2022, an increase of $11.5 billion over its prior estimate. It also expects to boost profit margins to 8% by 2020, two years sooner than it previously expected. CEO Jim Hackett, who took the reins of the automaker last year, has led an effort to improve its financial “fitness” by cutting costs and shifting resources to profitable trucks and SUVs. Ford recently said it would reallocate $7 billion in cash from cars to SUVs Opens a New Window. , which are projected to account for half of the U.S. market by 2020. Ford shares were up 2.6% at $11.40 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

Wow..  If you want your Fusion or Taurus, better get it while ya can!

Hackers are going after your online bank account, report says

Banking and finance sites have the greatest risk for getting hacked, a new report says. The worst vulnerabilities were found in banking and finance web applications tested by Positive Technologies, a firm that provides Internet security products for businesses. “Greater complexity results in more opportunities” for hackers, according to the Positive Technologies report, which said banking applications are some of the most complex. The hackers primary target is the average user. “The number-one threat is attacks that target web application users,” the report said. A whopping 87 percent of banking web applications tested by Positive Technologies were susceptible to these attacks. Government app users are also big targets because they tend to be less security-savvy, making them easy victims, the report said. “We gained access to personal data of 20 percent of the applications that process user information, including bank and government websites,” the report added. The most common vulnerability was Cross-Site Scripting, which allows attackers to perform phishing attacks, which can result in malware infection. In a phishing attack, the hacker sends, for instance, an email pretending to be a trusted entity like a bank or major shopping site, hoping to dupe you into clicking on the malicious link. Denial of service (DOS) attacks – which block access to a web site or service – are common. In 75 percent of e-commerce web applications, there are vulnerabilities enabling DoS attacks, Positive Technologies said. “Denial of service is especially threatening…High-profile e-commerce web applications receive large amounts of daily visits, increasing the motivation for attackers to find vulnerabilities to turn against users,” the report said. In separate report released earlier this month, Positive Technologies said employees are often the gateway for attacks. An alarmingly high percentage of employees download malicious files, click phishing links, and even correspond with hackers, the report said. Positive Technologies testers pretended to be hackers by sending emails to employees with links to websites or forms that required password entry, the report said. Of the 3,332 messages sent, 17 percent of these messages would have led to a compromise of the employee’s computer, and possibly, the entire company. The most effective method was to send an email with a phishing link. In that case, 27 percent of recipients clicked on the link. “Users often glance over or ignore the address, leaving them unaware that they are visiting a fake website,” the report said.

Taco Bell releases its own Mexican-style beer

Those who love Taco Bell and beer no longer have to choose between a chalupa and a brewski. The Cal-Mexican fast food chain has announced in a press release the roll out of its very own beer – the Beach Bell. The brew will be a Mexican-style amber lager that was created in conjunction with Four Sons Brewing, a craft brewer located in Huntington Beach, CA. The beer will be hitting the tap at Taco Bell’s Cantina store – the millennial-friendly minimalist set-up that slings booze and burritos underneath cool Edison lightbulbs. However, Taco Bell enthusiasts living outside of Southern California can hold their excitement. The company revealed the Beach Bell will only be served at the Taco Bell Cantina in Newport Beach, with no word on a larger release. Die-hard fans still have the ability to drown their sorrows, though — Taco Bell Cantinas nationwide sell a collection of domestic beer, wine and boozy “Twisted Freezes.”

American Dream is back: 82% have ‘achieved’ or are ‘on way to achieving’

America’s long national nightmare over failing to achieve the American Dream is over. Three years after six in 10 Americans said their dream of a great life was unachievable, now 82 percent believe their either achieved the dream or are on their way. “Despite persistently low levels of public satisfaction with the state of the nation, most Americans say they have achieved the ‘American dream or are on their way to achieving it. Only about one-in-five (17 percent) say the American dream is ‘out of reach’ for their family,” according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The results join several others pointing to a recovered economy and wealth of jobs in America. The switch cited by Pew would appear to put an end to years of depressing polls and surveys showing that the vague American Dream was dimming. In 2014, for example, CNN’s American Dream project said that 60 percent believed it was unattainable and even more said that their children would not live a better life than them. And just last year, the Ripon Society said that a remarkable 70 percent of middle class voters do not believe that the next generation will do as good as they have, moving the American Dream out of reach for millions. No more. Pew found that 36 percent believe they’ve achieved the American Dream and 46 percent believe that they are “on their way to achieving” it. And it crosses racial lines, said Pew. “Whites (41 percent) are more likely than blacks (17 percent) or Hispanics (32 percent) to say they have achieved the American dream. But more blacks (62 percent) and Hispanics (51 percent) than whites (42 percent) say they are on their way to achieving it. Notably, there are no significant racial or ethnic differences in the shares who say the American dream is out of reach for their families.

More great news in this Trump economy!!

Your Orange Juice is definitely going to cost more

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will release its first citrus production forecast for Florida’s 2017-2018 Thursday after Hurricane Irma swept the Sunshine State more than a month ago, wiping away a majority of its treasured crop. Initial reports indicated that 50-70% of citrus crops have been washed away due to the storm. Florida’s Department of Citrus told FOX Business that farmers across the state are reporting anywhere from 30-70% crop loss over the last few weeks. Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said that the Florida Citrus industry as a whole has taken a “heavy hit” this hurricane season. “Before the hurricane, we were expecting more than 75 million boxes of oranges on the trees this season. Sadly, that’s no longer the case. This may, temporarily, mean less Florida Orange Juice on grocery store shelves and a corresponding price increase,” she said, without elaborating on how much the price hike will be. Yet, Florida’s Department of Citrus says despite the massive setback and soon-to-be price jumps, it is confident that no shortages will happen.

Amazon causes stink with Trump-tweet toilet paper

Amazon on Friday was offering rolls of toilet paper printed with tweets from President Trump. A page on the Internet retail giant site showed individual rolls of Trump-themed toilet paper for $11.99 for Amazon Prime customers. The site said the item was being sold by a company called Toilet Tweets, and that delivery was being “fulfilled by Amazon.” By mid-Friday morning, Amazon appeared to put some distance between itself and the product. A new search for “Donald Trump Classic Tweets Toilet Paper” only led to a page that said the product was available through third parties. The classic tweets include Trump’s messages on Twitter from before he became president.

To read the rest of the article, and see the TP in question, click on the text above.     🙂

Apple HomePod sets sights on Amazon Echo, Google Home

Look out Alexa and Echo, here comes the HomePod. Apple is stuffing its beloved Siri into an Internet-connected speaker in what is the digital giant’s first new product in more than two years. The HomePod speaker was unveiled at a conference for software programmers on Monday, and will go head-to-head-to-head with Amazon and Google’s popular digital home assistants. But of course Apple says its siri-based system tops them all because it’s giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts. Not surprisingly, there’s integration with the Apple Music online subscription. Besides playing music, HomePod will help people to manage their lives and homes. Siri will be the voice assistant responding to requests for information and other help around the house. It’s Apple’s first new device since the company released the Apple Watch in April 2015. But it all comes for a fairly hefty price. The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180 and Google sells its Home speaker for $130. So that speaker better sound pretty nice. The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released last year, have helped plant the seeds for a promising market. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the U.S. are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year.