McDONALD'S FINISHES SWITCH ON FRIES: McDonald's said Thursday its french fries are now trans-fat-free in all its restaurants in the United States and Canada, catching it up with its fast-food rivals in that category. CEO Jim Skinner made it official at the annual shareholders meeting at McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. McDonald's has lagged behind other restaurant operators in switching to a zero-trans-fat cooking oil out of worries it would compromise the taste of its trademark fries. It has been under increasing pressure from consumer advocates and some public officials to make the change, but it did so quietly. McDonald's is on schedule to convert to the new oil by year's end for its baked items, company officials said.
DISNEY RECALLS SLEEPING BAGS, WANDS: Thousands of sleeping bags and magic wands contaminated by excessive levels of lead paint are being recalled by The Walt Disney Co., federal inspectors said Thursday. The recall targets 4,100 Pirates of the Caribbean sleeping bags and 8,000 Tinker Bell wands sold at Disney Stores nationwide from April to October 2007, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. No injuries have been reported, the agency said. The sleeping bags have lead paint on the zipper, while the wand contains lead paint on pearl beads in flowers on the top of the toy, the agency said. Consumers were advised by federal officials to stop using the bags and wands. Consumers can return the items to stores for a full refund.
HUNDREDS HAVE LOST PROPERTY TO SCAMMERS: Hundreds of homeowners lost the deeds to their houses and small fortunes in a scam that masqueraded as a strategy to help them avoid foreclosure, authorities said Thursday. Troubled homeowners -- most of them Latino immigrants -- in San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties were lured to foreclosure rescue seminars and conned into signing over the title to their homes with the purpose of establishing their property as a federal land grant. The scam claimed to save the homeowners' properties from being repossessed but did not have any legal basis under U.S. law, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Thursday. Prosecutors have taken steps to freeze the defendants' assets and bank accounts, while Brown's office sought an injunction and penalties against the company through which the scam was operated.
HOUSING SLUMP MEANS BUSY YEAR FOR FRAUD: The housing market slump translated into brisk business last year for mortgage scammers and the federal agents who pursue them, with the FBI winning 206 convictions, recovering nearly $22 million and still chasing a growing number of securities and commodities fraud cases. According to an FBI report released Thursday, the 1,204 mortgage fraud cases pursued in fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30, resulted in 321 indictments and court orders for $595.9 million in restitution. Results of the year's financial crimes tally compare with 818 cases of mortgage fraud in fiscal year 2006, that yielded 263 indictments, 204 convictions, court orders for $388.9 million in restitution and $1.4 million recovered. Common types of mortgage fraud are misrepresentation of income or assets, forged documents, misrepresentation of a borrowers' intent to occupy a property and inflated appraisals. The depressed housing market is an ideal climate for perpetrators of fraud, experts say. Identity theft, especially targeting borrowers with good credit, is prone to spike.
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GAP BOOSTS ITS PROFIT DESPITE LOWER REVENUE: Gap says it boosted its first-quarter profit 40 percent by tightly managing costs and inventory, beating analyst estimates. The San Francisco-based apparel retailer said profit for the quarter ended May 3 rose to $249 million, or 34 cents per share, from $178 million, or 22 cents per share, in the same period last year. The company said revenue fell 5 percent to $3.38 billion while sales in stores open at least a year fell 11 percent.
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34: Percentage of U.S. executives who say they are at least somewhat concerned about their CEO's compensation, according to a survey conducted by Korn/Ferry International.
21: Percentage who said the same in 2007.
42: Percentage who said their CEO's compensation matched their organization's performance.
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