Financial
Nearly all major U.S. banks pass Fed 'stress tests' PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writers MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writers   
Friday, 21 March 2014 06:33

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than five years after the financial crisis struck, the biggest U.S. banks are better able to withstand a severe recession than at any time since the meltdown, the Federal Reserve has determined.

Results of the Fed's annual "stress tests" showed Thursday that all but one of 30 top banks passed muster with sufficient capital buffers to keep them lending through an economic crisis. Only Zions Bancorp fell short. The results showed continued improvement in banks' financial positions since the 2008 crisis, the Fed said. That built on positive results from last year's tests.

"The industry is stronger and more profitable than a year ago," said RBC Capital Markets banking analyst Gerard Cassidy.

The banks' stronger positions should enable them to pursue business plans, pay dividends to shareholders, raise capital from investors and expand services to customers, said Frank Keating, president of the American Bankers Association.

The 30 banks tested included Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo and Co.

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Microsoft says it snooped on Hotmail to track leak PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer   
Friday, 21 March 2014 06:11

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Microsoft Corp., which has skewered rival Google Inc. for going through customer emails to deliver ads, acknowledged Thursday it had searched emails in a blogger's Hotmail account to track down who was leaking company secrets.

John Frank, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, said in a statement Thursday that the software company "took extraordinary actions in this case." In the future, he said, Microsoft would consult an outside attorney who is a former judge to determine if a court order would have allowed such a search.

The case involves former employee Alex Kibkalo, a Russian native who worked for Microsoft as a software architect in Lebanon.

According to an FBI complaint alleging theft of trade secrets, Microsoft found Kibkalo in September 2012 after examining the Hotmail account of the blogger with whom Kibkalo allegedly shared proprietary Microsoft code. The complaint filed Monday in federal court in Seattle did not identify the blogger.

"After confirmation that the data was Microsoft's proprietary trade secret, on September 7, 2012, Microsoft's Office of Legal Compliance (OLC) approved content pulls of the blogger's Hotmail account," says the complaint by FBI agent Armando Ramirez.

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Oregon dismays medical pot shops with munchies ban PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHAD GARLAND, Associated Press   
Friday, 21 March 2014 06:14

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Hash brownies, space cakes and other pot-laced munchies won't be among the items allowed at Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries, state officials said, and that's drawn criticism from pot-shop advocates.

The Oregon Health Authority released draft rules late Wednesday for medical-pot dispensaries to follow when they open as early as next week under a new law. Although medical marijuana will be available at the dispensaries, the agency wants to ban sweets containing the drug because they could be attractive to young people.

But dispensary advocates said patients who take the drug orally need the sweetened pot products. They say a little sugar helps the bitter medicine go down.

"It just stinks," said Gary Stevenson of Portland.

Stevenson, who has cancer, said he prefers to take the marijuana in food because it's more potent and longer-lasting. As a member of the group Oreginfused Kitchen, he also makes and distributes the types of pot-infused foods that would be banned at dispensaries.

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With health law, workers ponder the I-Quit option PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CARLA K. JOHNSON, AP Medical Writer   
Friday, 21 March 2014 06:08

CHICAGO (AP) — For uninsured people, the nation's new health care law may offer an escape from worry about unexpected, astronomical medical bills. But for Stephanie Payne of St. Louis, who already had good insurance, the law could offer another kind of escape: the chance to quit her job.

At 62, Payne has worked for three decades as a nurse, most recently traveling house to house caring for 30 elderly and disabled patients. But she's ready to leave that behind, including the job-based health benefits, to move to Oregon and promote her self-published book. She envisions herself blogging, doing radio interviews and speaking to seniors groups.

"I want the freedom to fit that into my day without squeezing it into my day," she said.

One of the selling points of the new health care plan, which has a March 31 enrollment deadline, is that it breaks the link between affordable health insurance and having a job with benefits. Payne believes she'll be able to replace her current coverage with a $400- to $500-a-month plan on Oregon's version of the new insurance exchange system set up under the law.

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