GM Confirms Several Government Investigations Into Recalls

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Mary-barraMary Barra, CEO of General Motors, speaks at the 2014 Automotive Forum, Tuesday, April 15, 2014 in New York. The forum is sponsored by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and J.D. Power.

Image: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

General Motors is now the subject of five different government investigations after a series of recent recalls, the car company confirmed on Thursday.

"We are also the subject of various inquiries, investigations, subpoenas and requests for information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Congress, NHTSA, the SEC, and a state attorney general in connection with our recent recalls," GM revealed in a filing. "Such investigations could in the future result in the imposition of damages, fines or civil and criminal penalties."

Earlier this month, GM's CEO Mary Barra was grilled by Congress about the recalls related to a defective ignition switch that resulted in more than a dozen deaths. More recently, the company began a broader restructuring effort.

News of government investigations Thursday came at the same time that it reported its first quarter results. GM managed to eke out a small profit of $0.1 billion for the quarter despite incurring a $1.3 billion pre-tax charge related to the recalls. Total revenue for the quarter was $37.4 billion, coming in below Wall Street estimates for revenue of $38.4 billion.

GM's stock ended the day down slightly by about 0.64%.

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Topics: Business, General Motors

Amazon First-Quarter Earnings Meet Expectations as Revenue Rises

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Bezos-1In this image distributed on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, Amazon.com Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the all-new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9'', right, and Kindle Fire HDX 7'' tablet in Seattle."

Image: Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

Amazon earnings met expectations, boosted by a 23% rise in sales to $19.7 billion in the first quarter of 2014.

The company logged a profit of $0.23 per share, in line with analyst estimates.

Amazon shares rose slightly in after-hours trading but are down 15.8% since the start of 2014.

The positive numbers help provide a financial backstop to a busy quarter for Amazon. The company launched its Fire TV streaming box, signed a deal with HBO for new content on its Prime streaming service and is reported to be moving in on the delivery service industry as well as the smartphone market.

Revenue growth is a positive sign for the ecommerce behemoth, but its margins remain extremely thin, meaning the company generates very little profit from every sale.

Amazon also scaled back expectations for its second quarter, causing some consternation among financial analysts and journalists.

More to come...

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Topics: amazon, Business, earnings

10 Types of Images to Boost Your Social Media Engagement

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Image: Mashable Will Fenstermaker


As a writer by trade, it's not easy for me to utter these words, but I'm not going to lie: On social media, a picture is worth a thousand words.

It's true. Content may be king, but visuals rule. All the latest studies and statistics suggest that images on social media command more attention than text alone.

If you want more likes, comments, shares, retweets, and clicks, you want to include pictures with your social media posts. You want to be more visual.

As Carla Gates says here on her 3 to 5 Marketing Blog...

"Images used in your social media (and by definition, your blog content) are far more attention-grabbing than text or plain old links, more likely to be shared, evoke emotional reactions in viewers (and emotion SELLS), and can portray a lot of information quickly and more efficiently than text."

Not to mention the fact that both Facebook and Twitter have redesigned their platforms recently to place much more emphasis on images. So you really have no excuse whatsoever not to be going picture crazy on social media right about now.

Chalk it up to the Pinterest effect.

In the process of optimizing your social media presence with visuals, of course, you need to be mindful of choosing the right sizes and dimensions. Other than those specifications, though, you actually have a lot of great options. For example...

1. The Product Shot. Every business and brand has a product to display. Whether you're selling ice cream or insurance, software or footwear, you have something tangible to exhibit in your social media stream. Don't just talk about what it is you have to offer your audience. Show it off in pictures. The more, the better.

Best Buy Image on Facebook

2. The Team Picture. Did you play organized sports growing up? How many team pictures do you have from back in the day? That's the idea here. Only, don't feel you have to wait for a special occasion. Take pictures of your colleagues on a regular basis and share them with your audience. People do business with people, so do everything you can to humanize your brand.

3. The Spotlight on Your Fans. Everybody likes attention, especially from someone they look up to and admire. Shine the spotlight on your followers and fans. Give their photos a much bigger stage by repurposing them on your own social channels. Retweet them. Tag them. Make it all about them, not you. Give them their 15 minutes of fame and they'll give you more loyalty in return.

4. The Peek Behind the Scenes. Provide your constituents with something they can't get anywhere else, whether it's exclusive photos, a big reveal, or something they wouldn't see otherwise. Take them backstage. Invite them into your inner sanctum. Show them how your products are built. Give them a look at what goes on behind closed doors. You get the picture.

Behind the Scenes of Downton Abbey on Pinterest

5. The Action Shot. While a team picture may be posed, your action shots are of you and your fellow team members actually doing what you do best. It's doesn't matter whether you're speaking at a podium, swinging a baseball bat, or sitting in front of a computer writing the great American novel, it's still a performance. Capture your people in the act of doing their jobs and share it with your audience.

6. The Graphic. Creating your own visuals from scratch is a great way to add variety to your stream and call more attention to your posts. Use PowerPoint, Photoshop, PicMonkey, and other such tools to add special effects and text to the images you share. You could even go so far as to create your own infographics. A combination of data, words, and pictures is one of the best ways to increase your engagement and reach on social media.

Nordstrom Image on Facebook

7. The Spontaneous Shot. One of the best benefits of using social media for marketing is the power it gives you to connect with your constituents in real time. In fact, it's expected of you. Capitalize on the extemporaneous nature of these channels by sharing impromptu, candid shots of you and your team in the moment. What's happening now is far more credible and commanding on social media than old news or posed pictures.

MTV's spontaneous shot on Facebook

8. The Moving Picture. No, I didn't forget about video. In fact, most businesses and brands consider it a must-have ingredient in their content marketing mix. YouTube, Vine, Instagram — each of these channels presents an abundance of opportunities for creating original footage which can eventually be cross-promoted across the social landscape. Don't worry about going viral. Worry about one watch at a time. If people like it, they will share it. And you'll have a hit on your hands.

9. The Collage. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a small handful of them is, well, perhaps priceless. Take advantage of Twitter's new mobile feature and upload up to four photos in a single tweet. Or you can use one of many good photo-editing tools available — such as the aforementioned PicMonkey — to cobble together the quintessential collage.

10. The Selfie. Last, but certainly not least, there's the type of visual made famous by Ellen DeGeneres at this year's Oscars ceremony and most recently Boston Red Sox superstar David Ortiz at the White House. There's the selfie. Thanks to these two celebrities, the ubiquity of the front-facing camera on smartphones, and people's seemingly insatiable desire for attention, the selfie is an incredibly hot trend you don't want to ignore.

This article originally published at ClickZ here

Topics: Facebook, How To, images, Marketing, Media, pinterest, selfies, Social Media, Twitter, Work & Play

ClickZ is a Mashable publishing partner that provides marketing news and expert advice. This article is reprinted with the publisher's permission.


I had an iPhone 4 but I got an HTC one. When people text me from an iPhone the texts turn to imesseges and go to my no longer in use iPhone. How do I disable this?

Microsoft Beats Earnings Estimates for Fiscal Q3

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Satya-nadella-.jpgMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella waves after delivering the keynote address to the Build Conference Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in San Francisco.

Image: Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Microsoft posted solid fiscal third-quarter 2014 earnings on Thursday with revenues of $20.04 billion, which was in line with analysts' estimates and GAAP of $0.68, which beat estimates by a nickel.

The company's stock was up slightly in after hours trading. “This quarter’s results demonstrate the strength of our business, as well as the opportunities we see in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We are making good progress in our consumer services like Bing and Office 365 Home, and our commercial customers continue to embrace our cloud solutions. Both position us well for long-term growth,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a press release. “We are focused on executing rapidly and delivering bold, innovative products that people love to use.”

This story is developing...

Topics: Business, Microsoft, Satya Nadella

Central U.S. May Be in Store for a 3-Day Tornado Outbreak

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4_24_14_andrew_indianatornadoHomeowners look over the damaged a tornado-damaged home Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, in Kokomo, Ind. after intense thunderstorms swept across the Midwest.

Image: Darron Cummings/Associated Press

America’s tornado drought looks like it may end as early as this weekend, as a potent weather system moves into the Plains states and slowly lumbers toward the Mississippi River Valley. The storm system is likely to set off a multi-day severe weather outbreak, with thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes forming on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

If it occurs, the potential tornado outbreak would boost 2014’s tornado tally, which is currently in record low territory, and could end the long stretch without a tornado-related fatality as well.

Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., told Mashable that the ingredients necessary for a large-scale severe weather outbreak are likely to start appearing on Saturday in the High Plains states. These ingredients include a strong low-pressure area in the upper atmosphere, which will trigger the development of a surface low in the Plains, as well as abundant low-level moisture and winds that vary in speed and direction with height.

Severe Outlook

Outlook for severe weather three days ahead (red) and four days (purple).

More specifically, the counter-clockwise circulation around the surface low will draw moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward, and strong winds at altitudes of about 10,000 to 20,000 feet above ground level will provide the wind shear needed for tornadoes to form. (Wind shear refers to winds that change speed or direction with height, or both.)

“This is a very strong upper system with very strong wind shear,” Bunting said.

Bunting said people from Omaha to New Orleans need to watch weather conditions closely this weekend and be prepared to seek shelter.

“We are on track for at least a 3-day round of severe weather,” he said. “It’s difficult to say at this time just how significant” of an event this will be, Bunting said.

Contorted Jet Stream

Computer model projection of jet stream winds on April 28, 2014. This shows the deep dip in the jet stream over the Plains, the huge High over Canada, and another dip or trough of low pressure off the East Coast.

Image: WeatherBell Analytics

The threat on Saturday likely will focus on the High Plains and Eastern Plains, affecting cities such as Omaha, Neb.; Lincoln, Neb.; Wichita, Kan.; Oklahoma City, Olka.; and Abilene, Texas. The storms’ target will shift east on Sunday, with cities from Omaha to Little Rock in the threat area.

On Monday, severe thunderstorms may threaten Columbia, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark.; Nashville, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and potentially as far south as New Orleans, Bunting said.

One of many tools that forecasters use to anticipate tornado outbreaks is analogs, which involve taking a look back at what happened in history when conditions were similar to what they are forecast to be.

In this case, the analogs for the upcoming weekend include some notorious severe weather outbreaks, including the May 3, 1999 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma. During that outbreak, an EF-5 tornado ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, costing $1 billion in damage and killing 36. (An EF-5 tornado struck Moore again in 2013.)

However, Bunting said history won’t necessarily repeat itself this weekend.

"Using analogs to say that because something happened years ago with a similar setup it will happen again,” Bunting said, ignores the importance of small-scale details that will determine where thunderstorms form and how strong they are.

Such small-scale details include where frontal boundaries form, and whether the strongest wind shear is located above the areas that have the greatest chance for thunderstorm development.

Bunting said forecasters are concerned that the quiet tornado season so far may have lulled people in "Tornado Alley" and elsewhere into complacency, which is why they’re trying to get the word out early about this threat. “Having been so long since there’s been a significant severe weather event, people may not be thinking about it as they would’ve if we had had a couple of events,” Bunting said.

The storms will not only pose a tornado threat, but also flash flooding, since they will be slow-movers.

In fact, the entire weather pattern across North America will be temporarily blocked, or stuck, into the first week of May. An unusually sprawling and strong area of high pressure across southern Canada will prevent the storminess in the Mississippi River Valley from moving east and exiting the East Coast, keeping much of the U.S. cooler and wetter than average for this time of year, and accentuating the flood and severe thunderstorm threat.

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Topics: Climate, severe weather, thunderstorm, tornadoes, U.S., US & World

Yankees Pine Tar Ejection: A Window Into Baseball's Sneaky Unwritten Rules

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PinedaHome plate umpire Gerry Davis ejects New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda after a foreign substance was discovered on his neck in the second inning of the Yankees' baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Image: Elise Amendola/Associated Press

New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from a Wednesday night game against the Boston Red Sox for having a swath of pine tar on his neck, then suspended for 10 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday. After Pineda's ejection, many casual followers of the sport had similar reactions: Pine tar? What's up with that? What is this, 1919?

The first step to understanding Pineda's pine-tar-gate is accepting that baseball, more than any other sport, relies on a set of codified standards that don't always jive with what you'll find in the rule book. To wit: Pine tar is illegal for use by pitchers seeking to improve their grip on the ball, but's it's widely acknowledged that pitchers use it on an extremely regular basis.

Which is what makes Pineda's case so interesting — it's a window into the mysterious and often inexplicable world of baseball decorum.

Like stolen bases, hit batters and more, pine tar comes with a whole set of decorum-related associations and assumptions that many outside the baseball world struggle to understand.

"A stolen base late in a blowout game doesn't have to be a message, but it can be — and if that's the intent, then that intent will be received," says Jason Turbow, author of The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime

Why is baseball so uniquely locked up in these notions and codified procedures? Turbow points to two reasons. For one, as the oldest and most nostalgic of American sports, baseball tradition is a big deal. Secondly, Turbow says, baseball's relatively slow pace means more time to "imbue meaning," real or perceived, on things that happen on the field.

Now back to Pineda's pine tar. Pine tar remains illegal for pitchers, under a rule banning them from using "any substance" for enhanced grip on the mound. Batters, however, are allowed to cover the handles of their bats in the stuff to gain a better hold.

Pineda's problem wasn't so much that he used pine tar, but how he used it — and how that violated baseball's unstated rules of behavior. Here is why.

  1. He was spotted with a glob of pine tar on his hand in a game, also against the Boston Red Sox, on April 10. That sparked some controversy after the fact, but he was not ejected and the Red Sox did not formally complain.

  2. Red Sox manager John Farrell, himself a former pitcher, even said before Wednesday's game that, “I would expect that if it’s used it’s more discreet than the last time.” Not exactly a searing indictment.

  3. He used pine tar against the very same opponent in two consecutive starts against them — "them" being the rival Boston Red Sox, no less.

  4. The glob of pine tar Pineda used on Wednesday was blatantly swathed onto his neck and obviously noticeable even to viewers at home on the couch.


Image: Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Either Pineda is just daft, or it's like he was asking to be ejected on Wednesday night. Which brings us to our next question: Should pine tar even be illegal in 2014?

"The reason it's accepted is because on a cold night or a wet night, it really does help pitchers maintain grip," Turbow says. And that's certainly better than wild pitches sailing into the stands or hitting batters — exactly what Pineda has said he was worried about on a chilly Wednesday night.

"It was cold, I couldn't feel the ball in the first inning, I didn't want to hit nobody,'' Pineda said after the game. "I apologize to my teammates, and to everybody. I'll learn from this mistake. It won't happen again.''

Pineda's ejection — and reasoning — have raised the expected chorus of critics saying it's time for MLB to abandon this antiquated baseball code and separate pine tar from the "any substance" ban on what pitchers can employ to aid themselves on the mound. Deadspin 's Drew Magary wrote a particularly impassioned column arguing just this on Thursday morning.

Others, including Turbow, disagree.

"In the plurality of uses, the way pitchers use it is fine and the opposition can respond to it as such," he says. "But you make it legal and guys will start overdoing it. It's kind of interesting to use the term 'slippery slope' with pine tar, but legalizing it would really have the potential to roll down hill."

So, here we are: Pineda will serve his 10-game ban and pitchers will continue to use pine tar in more discreet ways. Like it or not, baseball's unwritten rules continue to rule the day.

Topics: Entertainment, MLB, Sports