Category Archives: Business

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Adriana Lima and Other Victoria’s Secret Models Launch a New Fragrance

The babes of Victoria’s Secret were on hand at the NYC launch party for the company’s newest perfume, “Bombshell” over the weekend.

Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel, Lily Aldridge and Erin Heatherton embarked on on a four-city tour that included Los Angeles, as well as in Miami and Dallas and made a splash at the SoHo store in NYC on Saturday.
According to the company’s fragrance guru, Mark Knitowski, this new scent is truly a signature Victoria’s Secret perfume. “Together, the sparkling fruits are balanced by sultry warmth for a fresh sensuality that is confident, sexy, glamorous and ultra-feminine. We designed this fragrance to be instantly memorable, one of a kind. Just like a Victoria’s Secret Bombshell.”

Wearing a skin tight pink satin mini dress and peep-toe shoes, the Brazilian Lima, who last November welcomed a baby girl named Valentina to the world with professional basketball player hubby, Marko Jaric, looked stunning as usual.

“Bombshell” joins the always-expanding line of Victoria’s Secret signature scents that includes Victoria, Supermodel, Body by Victoria, Dream Angels Heavenly, Victoria’s Secret Pink, Very Sexy for Her, Very Sexy for Him, Sexy Little Things and Sexual Secret. Sense a theme here?

Will you try “Bombshell?” Do you have a favorite V.S. scent?

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She Was Too Sexy For Her Job

It’s not a crime to be beautiful or dress well, but if you ask 33-year-old Debrahlee Lorenzana they both can cost you your job.

“They pulled me aside and said I could not wear pencil skirts, turtlenecks, I cannot wear business suits that were fitted. Basically they said it drew too much attention,” says Lorenzana.

The single mom used to work for Citibank as a business banker at their branch inside the Chrysler building.
She says her outfits for work were deemed “too distracting” by her male managers.

They allegedly pointed to her rear and said her pants were too tight.

“Very uncomfortable,” is how Lorenzana describes those confrontations.

She says when she complained to human resources, her managers retaliated.

According to her lawsuit Citibank gave her targets she could not meet because she was not properly trained.

Citibank cited her work performance as a reason for termination.

Left without a job Lorenzana struggled to pay the bills.

“It was very hard,” says Lorenzana who fought back tears when describing a recent Christmas she celebrated with her son with no presents.

Her lawyer Jack Tuckner says at its base this case is about gender discrimination.

“It was about her being too good looking for us to bother to contain ourselves. So that’s shirt’s gotta go,” says Tuckner hypothesizing what Lorenzana’s managers thought about her clothes. “Why should we have to deal with what a babe you are? Fix it.”

In a prepared statement Citibank tells NBC News:

“We believe this lawsuit is without merit and we will defend against it vigorously. We do not condone or tolerate discrimination within our business for any reason.”

Citibank also points out that all workers who face employees are given dress guidelines.

When Lorenzana was hired she signed a contract which prevents her from directly suing Citibank, so an arbitration hearing will be held.

It could be months if not years before a decision is made.

She is seeking future earnings, back pay, and damages for mental and emotional distress.

Tuckner says if the roles were reversed it would be very difficult to see a man being asked to changed his wardrobe for dressing and looking well in his opinion.

“Maybe they were uncomfortable with her because they didn’t feel like they could not hit on her over long periods of time. So instead they wanted her to wear a tent or a Burka,” says Tuckner.

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Gender Divide Runs Through the Underwear Market

Underwear was thought to exist only in white half a century ago, but now it comes in all the colors of the rainbow in a market that has grown to W1.2 trillion over the period (US$1=W1,249).

And since underwear sales are highly sensitive to economic changes, they are used as an economic indicator. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, has said when sales of men’s underwear go up, it means the economy is recovering. This is called Greenspan’s manty index.
According to a recent survey carried out by online shopping mall Gmarket for the Chosun Ilbo, women tend to hold utilitarian views about underwear while men prefer women to wear sexy underwear. The survey polled 1,675 men and 1,690 women in their 20s to 40s between Aug. 28 and 31.

A poll of 109 staff at underwear brand Vivien rendered similar results, with 45.4 percent of women preferring underwear made of 100 percent cotton, 18.4 percent lace, 14.8 sexy black and 10.5 percent leopard-patterned.

But among men, 22.8 percent of men said they prefer sexy black underwear, followed by cotton with 21.9 percent, lace with 19.4 percent and the partner look with 14.5 percent.

While 54 percent of men said they liked g-strings because they look sexy, 72.2 percent of women disliked them because they are embarrassing as well as uncomfortable. Sixty percent of men were in favor of sexy underwear partially revealed outside, but 52 percent of women were against it.

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Woman guilty in mother-daughter prostitution case

PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia woman has been convicted of conspiracy and promoting prostitution in what authorities say was a mother-daughter operation.

Thirty-nine-year-old Traci Young could face up to two years in prison when she is sentenced on Oct. 30. She was found guilty Monday.

Her daughter, 23-year-old Tami Smith, pleaded no contest to the same charges in April. She was sentenced in June to probation
The women had advertised themselves on Craigslist as a sexy mother-daughter team.

Smith’s attorney, Dennis Turner, has said the two were trying to feed their drug habit by selling their bodies.

An undercover officer responded to one of the ads and the pair was arrested last October.

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Mel Gibson’s girlfriend sues photographer over sexy lingerie shots!

Mel Gibson’s Russian singer/baby mama, Oksana Grigorieva, is suing a man she claims sold sexy lingerie photos of her.

Seriously. So let any others get in line.

According to RadarOnline.com, the suit calls Oksana “an internationally renowned model, pianist and musical composer and performer.”

The suit says that Samuel Oriti met Oksana in 2004 and that he was trying to negotiate a deal for her with a prominent lingerie company.

So she posed in lingerie for photos. Oksana claims that she paid for the shoot and that Oriti vowed not to distribute the photos elsewhere.
But when she became famous overnight for being the preggers girlfriend of one of Hollywood’s most outspoken and controversial talents, the lingerie photos were bought and published on several websites, including RadarOnline.com.

What, so now that Oksana is in the A-List Hollywood Girlfriends Club, she doesn’t want anyone to see her in her skivvies? Hypocrite much?

According to RadarOnline, Oksana’s suit does not claim that there is any written agreement between Oriti and Oksana, nor does it provide proof for her claim that she paid for the photo session.

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Hedge funders’ suit claims money went to porn investment, swingers’ resort

A California moneyman with X-rated interests is being sued by several hedge funds who accuse him of shoveling their millions into porn and a planned Catskills swingers ranch.

Milton (Todd) Ault 3rd is charged with stiffing a dozen hedge funds on a $4.2 million investment with his firm Zealous Inc.

The Manhattan Supreme Court suit says the money was supposed to be steered to an “integrated global community of trading partners.”

“The financing was a scam,” the suit says. “He intended to, and did, use plaintiffs’ money to fund [his] lifestyle, which included the development of a ‘swingers ranch’ in the Catskills and other pornographic-related endeavors.”

Ault, whose online bio boasts that he has traded stocks since he was 11, has dabbled in adult entertainment, and his company co-produced a porn flick based on Sarah Palin.

He declared the suit “worthless” and said any talk of a swinger hideaway in New Lebanon, N.Y., was a “joke.”

“We were subdividing it into eight lots,” Ault said. “There was never going to be a swingers club.”

Ault, who worked at Dean Witter Reynolds and Prudential Securities before starting Zealous, said the money was always earmarked for the creation of a platform for the trading of securities.

“These hedge funds didn’t do their homework when they made their investment,” said Ault, adding that the funds have already recouped a chunk of the money

He said the 130-acre plot of land on Wadsworth Road was purchased long before the hedge funds invested in his company.

Last September, Ault merged Zealous into Adult Entertainment Capital Inc., a publicly traded firm that issued a press release about plans for a 140-acre East Coast project for the “fast-growing swingers lifestyle.”

Ault insisted yesterday a swingers ranch was never seriously planned for woodsy Columbia County.

“That was simply a joke,” he said.

A lawyer for the hedge funds did not return calls.

Cash-strapped Cuba says toilet paper running short

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, is running short of toilet paper and may not get sufficient supplies until the end of the year, officials with state-run companies said Friday.

Officials said they were lowering the prices of 24 basic goods to help Cubans get through the difficulties provoked in part by the global financial crisis and three destructive hurricanes that struck the island last year.
Cuba’s financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.

“The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,” an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

The shipment will enable the state-run company “to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,” he said.

Cuba both imports toilet paper and produces its own, but does not currently have enough raw materials to make it, he said.

One of the measures taken to address the cash crunch is a 20 percent cut in imports, which in recent days has become evident in the reduction of goods in state-run stores.

Cuba imports about 60 percent of its food.

Despite the shortages, prices will be cut between 5 percent and 27 percent for some food, drugs and personal hygiene products, officials said.
A visit to a store in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood on Friday found that prices had dropped for mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and canned squid.

One customer, who gave his name only as Pedro, complained that “it doesn’t look like prices have been lowered for the fundamental products” such as cooking oil.

Ana Maria Ortega, deputy director for military-run retail conglomerate TRD Caribe, said there will be no shortage of basic goods.

“The conditions are in place to maintain the supply of essential products,” she said on the same radio program.

Cubans receive a subsidized food ration from the government each month that they say meets their needs for about two weeks.

President Raul Castro told the National Assembly last week that the government had cut its spending budget for the second time this year and has been renegotiating its debt and payments with foreign providers.

Cuba has long blamed the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the island for many of its economic problems. It also said that last year’s hurricanes did $10 billion worth of damage that forced the government to spend heavily on imports of food and reconstruction products.

Castro, who replaced his ailing older brother Fidel Castro as president last year, also has complained that Cuba’s productivity is too low.

He has taken various steps to boost output, including putting more state-owned land in private hands and pushing for salaries to be based on productivity.

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A.I.G. Reports Profit, Saying Business Is Stabilizing

The American International Group reported a profit on Friday, its first since the third quarter of 2007, saying parts of its business had stabilized and also citing a favorable accounting change.

The company’s net income for the second quarter was $1.8 billion, compared with a $5.3 billion loss in the second quarter of 2008. The federal government’s share of the profit was $1.5 billion, since the government became the company’s biggest shareholder after bailing out A.I.G. last fall.
That leaves a profit of $311 million, or $2.30 a share, for A.I.G.’s common shareholders.

Shares in A.I.G. were up 14 percent, to $25.70, in morning trading Friday, and are up 90 percent from their close of $13.52 on Tuesday.

“Our results reflect stabilization in certain of our businesses,” said Edward M. Liddy, the chairman and chief executive installed by the government during A.I.G.’s rescue last fall. He said one of the primary drivers of the second-quarter profit was a slowdown in investment losses, part of which resulted from an accounting change and part from a general improvement in market conditions.

On an operating level, A.I.G. had a loss of about $1 billion, larger than its $745 million operating loss in the second quarter of 2008. The company said the operating loss increased mainly because of the interest it had to pay on its debt to the Fed, and restructuring costs. It said these costs were partly offset by interest income on loans between its subsidiaries.

In a statement Friday morning, Mr. Liddy said the company’s insurance businesses “remain challenged” because of “weak economic conditions and the lingering effect of negative A.I.G. events earlier in the year,” a reference to the public outrage that boiled over when the company paid bonuses shortly after reporting the biggest losses in corporate history.

Mr. Liddy said at the time that the A.I.G. name brand had been ruined. The company has been marketing its insurance products under different names since then.

He warned that there would be more earnings volatility in the coming months, as the company continued its process of restructuring and selling its businesses to pay off its debts to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The earnings report concluded Mr. Liddy’s 10-month tenure in a role he took on at a salary of $1 a year. He will be succeeded on Monday by Harvey Golub, a former head of American Express, as chairman, and by Robert H. Benmosche, a former chief of MetLife, as chief executive.

Southern states an epicenter for U.S. job losses

MIAMI (Reuters) – America’s worsening job woes come with a southern drawl. States in America’s South, such as Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, have flipped during the recession from putting up robust employment numbers envied by other regions to posting many of America’s most painful rates.

Seven southern states now have double-digit unemployment rates, an unusual concentration in a country with a national rate in June of 9.5 percent. The list includes Florida, which two years earlier had one of the lowest jobless rates, at 4 percent.

“This recession has walloped the Sun Belt in ways that previous recessions have not,” said economist James Diffley, managing director for regional services at IHS Global Insight in Philadelphia.
Georgia, where unemployment punched into double digits for the first time ever in June with a 10.1 percent rate, two years earlier had a jobless reading of 4.5 percent, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now with an 11 percent rate, North Carolina in June 2007 had a jobless rate of 4.7 percent. Neighboring South Carolina reported unemployment in June 2007 of 5.5 percent; last month it held the region’s highest unemployment level, 12.1 percent.

The pace of job losses in the region has been startling, with jumps in unemployment rates in southern states of 4 and even 5 percentage points in the year through June, even as the national unemployment rate rose 3.9 percentage points.

Even southern states short of the 10 percent level, such as Mississippi at 9 percent, West Virginia at 9.2 percent and Arkansas at 7.1, have endured big jumps in unemployment.

Alabama’s jobless rate doubled in the year through June to 10.1 percent.

Other states scattered throughout the country, such as Michigan, California, Nevada and Rhode Island, have also posted unemployment rates over 10 percent.

HOUSING BOOM AND BUST

Economists blame America’s housing crisis for much of the South’s severe jobs downturn, a trend that has sharply lowered tax collections just as cities, counties and states in the region wrestle with higher spending for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other services.

Legislators in fiscally conservative North Carolina, a state with a sparkling reputation among credit agencies, are weeks behind in passing a state budget as they scramble to fill a budget gap of more than $4 billion.

“It was the excessive building that precipitated this in Florida, Georgia and, to some extent, the Carolinas,” Diffley said. “The very rapid rise in unemployment is tied to this.”

Eye-popping declines in home construction also hurt building materials firms in southern states such as Florida and Georgia. Manufacturing cutbacks, including those at car plants in Kentucky and Alabama, also hit the region’s employment rolls.

“Traditionally in Alabama not much happens in a recession because not much happened in growth periods,” said economist John Robertson of the Federal Reserve of Atlanta. “In the last decade, there has been an industrial transformation as textiles went offshore and were replaced by auto manufacturing. You have stronger growth in expansions, but you are more cyclical.”

Florida, whose labor officials in the mid-2000s boasted that the fourth-most populous state added jobs at a faster rate than any other big state, is also bedeviled by weak tourism.

Florida’s Orange County, a tourist mecca with theme parks such as Walt Disney World and 112,000 hotel rooms, on Monday reported a 16 percent year-over-year drop in tourism development-tax revenue for fiscal 2009.

That drop is more severe than the falloff in Orange County tourism after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and contrasts with typical tourist-tax revenue increases of 11.1 percent a year.

“Vacationers are fewer, and they are spending less,” Robertson said.

Despite some misgivings about the region’s relatively low level of educated workers, economists generally forecast that the South will recover in line with the rest of the United States.

Florida is the exception, however.

“We are going to lag behind the nation as a whole,” said Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. “Just the challenge of absorbing all the excess (homes) inventory and the credit scarcity will do that.”

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Now Hiring: Green-Collar Workers

When Alden Zeitz started the Wind Energy Program at Iowa Lakes Community College five years ago, 15 students enrolled.

This year, 102 students enrolled in the two-year training program for wind turbine technicians, including some students who abandoned another career for the economic promise of green technology. The wind energy industry hasn’t been immune to the recession, but students are counting on the federal government’s injection of $80 billion in clean energy projects to change that.

Stimulus for Green Energy
The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a stimulus package that includes money for solar farms, wind turbines, electrical grid updates, mass transit, and the weatherizing and retrofitting of buildings. Besides its environmental benefits, the spending is expected to produce much needed jobs — about 1 million to 1.5 million of them, according to estimates by some environmental groups.

“We’ve had a slow year because of the global economy,” Zeitz says. “But our industry is poised to recover quickly.”

The clean energy economy accounted for about 770,000 jobs in 2007, according to a recent study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. But job boards might soon be populated with openings for environmental engineers, construction managers, hydrologists, architects, and interior designers with green building training, as well as for directors of environmentally focused nonprofit groups.

Best-Paying Green Jobs

Not all of these jobs will pay top salaries. Many of the new green-collar jobs will be taken by blue-collar construction workers. BusinessWeek teamed up with PayScale.com to determine the highest-paid green jobs. Wind turbine technicians, who earn a median pay of $53,600, ranked 12th on our list of 21 jobs. Environmental engineering managers, who typically earn $103,200, topped the list.

You won’t necessarily need a science degree to land a green job. Environmental companies will need secretaries, administrators, and public relations specialists. And construction companies will need workers to install energy-efficient boilers, windows, and insulation.

“We project that about a million jobs will come out of the stimulus investment,” says Phil Angelides, chairman of the San Francisco-based Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, business, and environmental groups that advocates for clean energy.

A Green Recovery?

“It’s inevitable, as the money really starts to flow into infrastructure programs, particularly green projects, there will be job growth here over the next year,” says John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement company based in Chicago.

The Obama Administration is looking to health care and green jobs to help drive the job recovery. According to the Pew study, green jobs grew by 9.1% from 1998 to 2007, nearly two and a half times faster than the overall job market. And the growth will likely accelerate because of growing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and government reforms, the report concluded.

In a July 15 column in The Seattle Times, Van Jones, special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, identified some green projects getting stimulus funding, starting with a $5 billion investment to make America’s homes more energy-efficient. Among the other projects: $44 million to extend light rail from Seattle’s downtown to the University of Washington, energy-efficient renovations to four public housing high-rises in Minneapolis, and hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in clean energy generation and conservation at veterans hospitals.

Incentives for Growth

William Bogart, economics professor and dean of academic affairs at York College of Pennsylvania, is skeptical of the plan. He doesn’t doubt that it will create jobs, but he’s concerned that it isn’t an efficient way to spend money and that government’s decisions on which companies get funding could be influenced by politics, especially since the definition of a “green job” is subjective.

“If what you’re concerned about is carbon emissions, then you should tax carbon,” Bogart says. “When the relative price of oil and coal compared to hydro, wind, and nuclear goes up, it makes noncarbon energy more appealing. Economically, it’s the same effect but you’re doing it in a way that preserves flexibility and individual opportunity.”

Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who is consulting with the Energy Dept. on the implementation of the green jobs plan, said much of the $80 billion is made up of loan guarantees and other incentives to encourage private investments, rather than direct government spending. The incentives are designed to attract private investment, which could add up to as much as $180 billion, Pollin estimates.

“If you look at the stimulus program, it’s the first time serious money has been put behind the idea that investing in the environment is good for jobs,” Pollin says. “Only a couple of years ago, the dominant idea was that protecting the environment was bad for jobs.”

Going Where the Wind Blows

Kristjon Luetgers, 24, a wind turbine technician who graduated from the Iowa Lakes Community College program two years ago, is optimistic about his future. He’s trying to convince friends to follow his lead.

Luetgers travels around North America fixing wind turbines for Vestas (VWS.CO), a Danish wind power systems company. Currently based in Alberta, Canada, he earns about $60,000 a year with overtime, and he loves working outside.

“I’ve been on the road for two years, and I love it,” Luetgers said. “It’s a very progressive industry. Not only the fact that you’re helping the environment, but we technologically advance each year. It is a very good industry to be in even in a slow economy.”