GET A CARD, MAIL IT FOR FREE: Eager to encourage letter writing, the post office is trying a new tack, offering to let people mail a card to a friend for free. Until March 31, people can get a free card, postage included, which they can use to send a message to a friend. The cost of the project was not available, officials said Thursday. Covering the cost is Home Box Office. The cable network is promoting its miniseries on John Adams, much of which is based on the letters of the second American president and his wife, Abigail. The free cards are available at http://www.poweroftheletter.com by clicking on "Free John Adams Greeting Card." The offer is good for one to a customer, the Web site notes. Long the largest proportion of mail, first-class letters have fallen behind advertising mail in volume as people turn to telephone and the Internet for messaging. So the post office is hoping to get people to pick up a pen to write a message that can be saved for years.
EX-MAID SAYS CHICKEN BONES GOT HER FIRED, SUES FOR $120,000: A former maid who says she was fired by a wealthy Atherton couple for leaving chicken bones in an empty trash can is suing for more than $120,000 in wages, damages and penalties.
Vilma Serralta, 69, says the Atherton couple, Roomy and Sakhawat Khancan, forced her to work 14-hour days up to seven days a week. She says the couple required her to clean their 9,000-square-foot house, cook and serve meals and provide child-care for their child at a fixed monthly wage that dropped from $1,300 to $1,000, regardless of how much she worked. On Thursday, Serralta and about 75 other domestic workers and their legal supporters marched through the toniest streets of Atherton chanting "Pay What You Owe," and held a press conference in front of her former employers' mansion. The mansion is on the market for $17.9 million.
BOSTON BANS TRANS FAT: Boston has joined others cities in banning artery-clogging trans fats from food served in restaurants and grocery stores. Businesses, as well as schools and hospitals, will have to stop using oils and spreads that contain trans fats. Packaged foods such as a bag of chips or cookies won't be included. The city Public Health Commission approved the ban Thursday. Fines would be up to $1,000 per violation. New York and Philadelphia have similar bans. Many Boston restaurants already have stopped using trans fats. Also known as partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats extend food's shelf life and enhance flavor.
AOL TO PAY $850 MILLION FOR BEBO: AOL stepped up its bid to boost traffic and advertising opportunities worldwide as the struggling Internet company agreed Thursday to pay $850 million for the online hangout Bebo and a foothold in the growing arena of social media. Although Bebo remains in the shadow of MySpace and Facebook, it is strong in some foreign markets, including Britain. According to comScore Inc., its audience outside the United States is engaged, spending more time on average there compared with the leading rivals. AOL executives say they are planning to tap that engagement to drive traffic to AOL's other free, ad-supported Web site.
NOW WHERE DID THAT GUINNESS GET TO?: Police in suburban Detroit are looking for a 6-foot-tall glass of Guinness. Don't worry, it's work-related. A green, pint-glass-shaped Guinness costume has been reported stolen from an Eastpointe resident's garage. It's valued at $3,000 and had been flown to Michigan from Ireland to be used as advertising. Eastpointe Police Lt. Leo Borowsky says it is believed to be one of two such costumes in the United States. Authorities say a Detroit beer distribution company loaned the costume for Halloween. The owner of the home where the costume had been stored found out it had been stolen after the company asked for it back.
BEE NEWS SERVICES
33: Percentage of senior executives who ranked "improving energy efficiency across global operations" as a major priority addressed primarily or solely through real estate strategies, according to a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and co-sponsored by global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle
19: Percentage who ranked it as the leading priority
80: Percentage who expect minimal benefit to profitability, but believe sustainable practices can reduce costs (particularly energy expenditure), open up new markets and improve their company's reputation
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