Obama touts financial industry reforms
WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- A new consumer protection agency announced this week will "level the playing field" for ordinary Americans, U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday.
Obama, speaking during his weekly radio and Internet address, said his proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency will "level the playing field for consumers" who were victimized by shady practices and small print that characterized widespread abuses in the financial world leading up to the financial crisis.
"We are going to promote markets that work for those who play by the rules," Obama said. "We're going to stand up for a system in which fair dealing and honest competition are the only way to win. We're going to level the playing field for consumers. And we're going to have the kinds of rules that encourage innovations that make our economy stronger -- not those that allow insiders to exploit its weaknesses for their own gain."
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency would demand that mortgage lenders, credit card companies and banks eliminate "deceptive practices."
"The American people sent me to Washington to stand up for their interests," Obama said, "and while I'm not spoiling for a fight, I'm ready for one."
Report: Steve Jobs had liver transplant
NEW YORK, June 20 (UPI) -- Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs has undergone a successful liver transplant operation, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
Without naming its sources, the Journal said Jobs underwent the transplant in Tennessee about two months ago and is on the road to recovery, expected to return to work on this month after being on leave since January.
The newspaper said Jobs did not respond to an e-mail for comment. Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton said, "Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say."
Quoting "a person familiar with the thinking at Apple," the Journal said Apple chief operating officer Tom Cook may take "a more encompassing role" upon Jobs' return and may be appointed to Apple's board in the near future.
The newspaper said at least some Apple directors were aware of Jobs' surgery because of an agreement made with him and have been briefed weekly on the CEO's condition by his physician.
Jobs, 54, disclosed in 2004 that he had been treated for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in which the tumor was diagnosed in time and had been removed, the Journal said.
Poll: U.S. drivers say gas prices hardship
PRINCETON, N.J., June 20 (UPI) -- Most U.S. drivers do not expect gas prices to go as high this year as they did in 2008, when they reached more than $4 per gallon, a poll released Friday said.
The Gallup Poll said on average the predictions work out to $3.39 per gallon. That is about 70 cents above the current average of $2.69.
The Department of Energy reports on average regular gas costs 36 cents more per gallon than it did last month. More than 56 percent of those surveyed said the rising prices were a hardship but only 12 percent described it as severe hardship.
In May 2008, 71 percent of U.S. residents said gas prices, then averaging $3.60 per gallon, were a hardship.
Gallup polled 1,011 adults by telephone between June 14 and June 17. The margin of error is 3 percentage points either way.
Poll finds uptick in economic optimism
WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- A poll shows U.S. residents are slightly more optimistic about the economy and their personal finances but still reluctant to spend money.
The survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that 48 percent of those polled said they expect the economy to get better in the next year, up from 40 percent in February. On their own situation, 63 percent expect improvement, up from 54 percent in February.
But 76 percent said they have delayed a major purchase like a car, or cut back on eating out and on vacations. That was 79 percent in February and 77 percent in December.
Almost nine out of 10, 87 percent said they had adjusted investments or spending because of the economic situation.
The percentage of respondents who say the economy is "poor" has dropped significantly to 52 percent from 68 percent in March. The percentage describing it as "fair" has increased from 25 percent to 39 percent.
Pew interviewed 1,502 adults between June 10 and June 14. No margin of sampling error was reported.