1. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Amazon, but Wal-Mart is using the day to celebrate in its own way — with a big sale. Amazon is marking the day with its “Prime Day” specials but the deals, which are supposed to be revealed every 10 minutes, is only for the company’s Prime members, who pay $100 per year for that privilege.
Wal-Mart, however, took aim at Amazon’s policy with this blog post from CEO Fernando Madeira: “We’ve heard some retailers are charging $100 to get access to a sale. But the idea of asking customers to pay extra in order to save money just doesn’t add up for us.” To escalate things, Wal-Mart lowered its free shipping to purchases of $35 or more. The battle of the retail giants will continue — no doubt.
2. Mark this as another “don’t believe everything you read online” story, because that’s exactly what happened to investors Tuesday.
A fake story Tuesday, that appeared to be offered by Bloomberg, said the financial and news service company was poised to take over social media giant Twitter in a $31 billion deal. The fake story, however, had a major impact on the markets, causing an almost immediate increase in Twitter’s value.
Bloomberg quickly squashed the story and Twitter’s value returned to about $36 per share. “The story was fake and appeared on a bogus website that was not affiliated with Bloomberg,” said Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet.
3. Florida doctor Robert Drapkin, 70, is expected to participate in a bodybuilding competition this week. By day, Drapkin is a physician specializing in internal medicine, oncology, and palliative care, but in his spare time, he works out and competes to set a good example for his patients.
Drapkin, who has won several local and regional bodybuilding championships, will participate in the Musclepharm 2015 NPC national championships, which starts Thursday at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh.
4. Planned Parenthood was trending worldwide, especially on Twitter, after a video was posted suggesting the organization’s medical director offered to sell tissue from aborted fetuses at a profit. The video, posted by a group called Center For Medical Progress, was apparently shot using a hidden camera, and went viral almost immediately.
Republican presidential candidates quickly attacked the group with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal leading the way.
“Today’s video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the systematic harvesting and trafficking of human body parts is shocking and gruesome,” Jindal said.
In the video, Planned Parenthood’s medical services director Deborah Nucatola is shown saying, “Every provider has had patients who want to donate their tissue and they absolutely want to accommodate them. They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, ‘This clinic is selling tissue, this clinic is making money off of this.’”
A Planned Parenthood spokesperson denied the allegations.
5. Flash is in the crosshairs of Facebook and now Mozilla, which makes the Firefox browser. On Monday, Mozilla announced it was blocking Adobe’s Flash on its browsers amid increasing concerns about security vulnerabilities.
Flash runs on millions of computers worldwide and is one of the primary ways users access video content via the web. This move comes right after Facebook’s chief security officer called for the program’s decline.
“It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” Facebook’s Alex Stamos wrote via Twitter.
Many websites have transitioned to HTML5 video players, including YouTube, but Flash remains the most-used video delivery software in the world.
6. Big trouble in China for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N), the owner of Pizza Hut and KFC, reported its fourth straight quarter of falling sales as it struggles to recover from a food scandal in China, a market where the company makes most of its profit.
Yum's shares fell about 1 percent to $91 in extended trading on Tuesday. The company's sales at established KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in China plunged after a television news story in July last year alleged that one of its suppliers was using meat that was past its expiration date.
Food safety is a highly emotive subject in the country, where scandals ranging from toxic baby milk formula to dirty food oil are common. That makes convincing Chinese customers to come back to a tainted brand tough, marketing experts say.
7. During the holiest night of Ramadan, millions were able to see into a world that only believers in Islam have the opportunity to see — a night in Mecca — through Snapchat. Utilizing the mobile application’s Live Story feature, Snapchat curators were able to stitch together a powerful real-time story about the holy night.
“I’m ecstatic that Snapchat showcased this special and momentous occasion, because for the vast majority of the world’s Muslims, this is what Islam is all about,” American-Muslim scholar Dr. Yasir Qadhi told the Huffington Post. “If only the world saw this as the ’real’ Islam – for it is the real Islam – I think the perception that people have of us would change dramatically.”
8. Quick: What financial product or activity would you think has prompted the most complaints at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?
Did you guess debt collection? Close, but no. It's leading on a monthly basis lately, but remains far below the No. 1 source of complaints in the agency's four-year history.
The correct answer is mortgage problems, which resulted in 138,086 consumer complaints between December 2011 and March 2015. The category has maintained its overall lead despite a small decline in mortgage volumes last year and an increase in other kinds of financial products.
What surprised us a bit was the reason for the complaints. According to data compiled by the CALPIRG Education Fund, the majority (55 percent) of mortgage complaints had to do with problems that occur when consumers are unable to pay.
Really? The government pays someone to listen to us complain when we can't make our house payment?
9. German news outlets are reporting that the head of “Nosferatu” director F.W. Murnau has been stolen from his family plot in a cemetery in Stahnsdorf, Germany. The filmmaker of the early silent vampire movie, recognized as one of the scariest horror movies of all time, died in 1931.
In a story reminiscent of one of his own movies, grave robbers opened a metal coffin to access the filmmaker's embalmed body, said the newspaper. Stahnsdorf is about 12 miles southwest of central Berlin. The nearby graves of his two brothers were not disturbed. Spiegel Online said some wax residue had been found near the grave, pointing to a possible occult connection.
Released in 1922, “Nosferatu” was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel “Dracula.” Murnau worked in Hollywood for several years, directing “Sunrise,” which won several Oscars at the first Academy Awards. He died in a car crash near Santa Barbara but was buried in his native Germany.
10. It wasn't even 10 years ago we were bombarded with advice on how to stretch our gasoline budget. Apparently we’ve forgotten, because the suggestions aren’t ringing a bell the second time around.
A list of best practices published by the Los Angeles Times repeated a few oldies, like keeping tire pressure at the recommended maximum. But it also offered a few that were new to us.
For instance, it may be a good idea to remove your non-aerodynamic roof rack (we didn’t know it was even removable). Also, use the eco-mode setting to keep from accelerating too quickly and wasting gas (is that what that thing does?).
The Times write-up also suggested using cruise control only on flat roads, quit gassing the engine hard off the line, and keeping the speedometer at or below 60 mph.
No wonder we spend so much time at the gas station.
Compiled by Louis Amestoy, Courtenay Edelhart, Jennifer Self and John Cox.