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Should McDonald's share the blame for obesity and bad heart health, or are individuals solely at fault?

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2010 7:18PM

When public health advocates want to take aim at unhealthy fast food, McDonald's has become the target of choice. McDonald's is to fast food what Wal-Mart is to a retail industry that pays rotten wages and offers negligible benefits.


It's far from being the only offender, but it's the one that's singled out as a purveyor of too many unhealthful, fattening foods and not enough nutritious choices.


The latest group to take on Mickey D's is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is airing TV ads showing a pudgy dead guy on a gurney -- the victim of a heart attack, no doubt -- gripping a partially eaten burger.


You can give to others even when you're broke. Here's how.

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2010 4:30PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


For some people, charity and philanthropy can seem like stretching an already-tight budget even further. "If I donated $100 to the soup kitchen, I'd have to start using the soup kitchen," the thinking goes.

Money can be a very tight resource, but it's far from the only resource you have. We all have many things we can share with others. It only takes a moment of thought or effort to make a real difference in someone else's life.


Here are 20 things you can donate to make the world a better place without blowing up your budget. Even better, many of these ideas will help you clean out your closets and de-clutter your home a bit.


Customers spend more on wine at restaurants offering computerized wine advice.

By Teresa Mears Sep 16, 2010 2:55PM

You sit down to dinner at a nice restaurant, and the server hands you your menu. Instead of a book-like wine list, you're instead handed an iPad -- with an interactive wine list.

The new iPad tablets are being used for wine lists at a handful of high-end restaurants, The New York Times reports, allowing customers to search for wines by type and read ratings by wine experts.


Much to the dismay of sommeliers who have spent their lives learning about wine, customers not only like the iPad wine lists, they find them more trustworthy. Though no one has done a scientific survey, restaurants using the iPad wine lists are seeing their customers spend more on wine.


How the Obama administration's new consumer protection adviser will help consumers.

By Money Staff Sep 16, 2010 2:53PM

This post comes from Kimberly Palmer at partner site US News.


Soon after word got out that the White House appointed Elizabeth Warren to serve as special adviser and help set up the new consumer protection bureau, Twitter and Facebook erupted with shouts of excitement from personal finance and consumer experts: "Yahoo!" exclaimed Beth Kobliner, author of "Get a Financial Life." "Elizabeth Warren's appointment is a huge victory for consumers!"

Warren, a Harvard law professor who has headed the Congressional Oversight Panel, is celebrated as a force of good in the consumer world. Before taking on public roles, she was best known for her book, "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke," which explains why so many middle-class Americans feel so squeezed. She's also not afraid to stand up for "the little people." Last year, her congressional oversight panel criticized the Treasury Department for not doing more to help struggling families and called for greater transparency in the use of the bailout funds.


Only 35% of U.S. adults have cell phones with apps, and only two-thirds actually use them.

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2010 12:16PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Yes, there's an app for that, but if you're like most cell phone users, you couldn't care less.


While there has been a proliferation of software applications, or "apps," for mobile phones that can access the Internet, adults using those phones apparently see little value in them, or haven't bothered to learn how to use them.


Cotton costs twice as much as it did a year ago, and supplies are at a 20-year low. Fortunately, you have a few months to stock up before clothing prices rise.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 16, 2010 10:32AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


If you're planning holiday gifts of clothes -- or need to update a drawer full of threadbare underwear -- you might want to buy sooner rather than later. 

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (.pdf file) is forecasting higher U.S. demand for cotton. While it's great for the economy when Americans are out buying clothes, the committee also reports that the world stock of cotton is the lowest it's been since 1990, mainly because of natural disasters in major producers like China and Pakistan. 


Seats are more expensive, but there are bargains on the secondary market.

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2010 8:33AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Finding good deals on professional football tickets this season requires a well-executed offensive play.

Of the 32 teams in the National Football League, 18 increased their individual ticket prices by as much as 7%. Those who miss out at the box office could see even higher prices: The average ticket on the secondary market is more expensive too, up 64% to $252, according to FanSnap, a ticket aggregator that shows all the available tickets on resale sites, including eBay and StubHub.


But the price hike doesn't mean fans have to pay more.


The default rate on federal student loans is higher than it's been in years. For former students, default is no picnic.

By Karen Datko Sep 15, 2010 7:39PM

Former students are defaulting on federal student loans at higher rates -- the highest in more than a decade, according to news reports. What consequences do these debtors face?

It's not pretty. The Washington Post explains:

Default on a student loan and face dire consequences, beyond a bad credit record -- which can tarnish hopes of getting a car, an apartment or even a job: Uncle Sam can claim your tax refunds and wages.


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