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Master pastry chef Jacques Torres is betting Americans can’t kick their chocolate habit even after the price of cocoa surged to the highest in three years: He spent more than $3 million on a Brooklyn plant in 2013 and doubled his eponymous shops in New York to eight from four. Torres is shown making chocolates in February in Brooklyn. Illustrates CHOCOLATE (category f) by Marvin G. Perez and Luzi Ann Javier © 2014, Bloomberg News. Moved Thursday, October 23, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg News photo by Ron Antonelli).

Cost of Cocoa No Concern in U.S.

Friday, October 24, 2014

New York — Jacques Torres is betting Americans simply can’t kick their chocolate habit, even after the price of cocoa surged to the highest in three years. Torres, a former pastry chef at New York’s swanky Le Cirque restaurant who dubbed himself Mr. Chocolate, spent more than $3 million on a Brooklyn confection-making plant last year and doubled his eponymous shops in New York to eight from four. He said 2014 sales will top last year’s record of $10 million. “People love chocolate,” Torres said from his Hudson Street store, where a 12-piece box of popular treats sells for $19.20 and three monthly deliveries of …

Small Increase for Social Security

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Washington — Come January, nearly 60 million Social Security recipients will get benefit increases averaging $20 a month, the third straight year of historically small pay hikes. The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will also boost government benefits for millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees and people drawing disability payments for the poor. Year after year of tiny increases are weighing on …

Commuter Race

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vital Communities held a bike vs. bus vs. car race from Dan and Whit’s in Norwich to the Hopkins Center in Hanover to compare commute times on different modes of transport during morning rush hour on Tuesday. Bikers Hilde Ojibway, of White River Junction, left, Sharon Racusin, of Norwich, middle, and Scot Drysdale, …

Social Security Q&A: What Can I Do at Government’s Social Security Website?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Question: What can I do at www.socialsecurity.gov ? Answer: There are myriad things you can do at Social Security’s website. You can conduct most of your Social Security business with a suite of online services at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. There, you can get an estimate of future benefits, find out …

Social Security Statements Are Back in the Mail

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It took an act of Congress, but Social Security statements are back in the mail. The annual personal earnings record and benefit statements were largely canned in 2011 in a cost-cutting move, but complaints soared and legislation ensued. Beginning this month, the Social Security Administration said, it will …

Wheels: The Right-Sized Pickups

Sunday, October 12, 2014

San Diego — I’ve never understood why U.S. car and truck manufacturers abandoned mid-size pickup trucks. I’ve heard the excuses: Americans want big trucks; it costs as much to make smaller pickups as it does to make larger …

Nuts & Bolts: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bottom line: The General Motors contenders are going to force Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan to rethink mid-size pickups. Ride, acceleration and handling: Both have exceptionally quiet and comfortable rides. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engines available for both models provide enough power to get …

At the Hospitals: Oct. 12, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Valley Regional Appoints Chief Operating Officer Claremont — Tim Clark, of Bethel, was recently appointed to the post of chief operating officer for Valley Regional Healthcare. “Having a seasoned leader like Tim, who has a clinical background as …

Vanpool Meeting, Pizza Party Scheduled for Bradford, Vt.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bradford, Vt. — People who live in the Bradford area are invited to a free “vanpool” pizza party on Wednesday, at 7 p.m., at Bradford Public Library. Representatives from the Vermont Agency of Transportation will discuss a state program that offers a $700 monthly subsidy for vanpools, and …

U.S. Investigators Expand Predator-Catching App

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Boston — An iPhone app designed to enlist the public’s help to catch fugitive and unknown suspected child predators led law enforcement officials to a suspect less than 36 hours after it became available. A year later, they are hoping to greatly expand their reach by making the …

Maid Tip Program Sparks Controversy

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Los Angeles — Sonia Rosales pushes a cart laden with hundreds of pounds of soiled linen, shampoos and cleaning supplies through the JW Marriott hotel at L.A. Live, wrangling 20-pound inserts out of duvet covers, cleaning bathrooms and …

Don’t Talk to the Car

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Washington — Just because you can talk to your car doesn’t mean you should. Two new studies have found that voice-activated smartphones and dashboard infotainment systems may be making the distracted-driving problem worse instead of better. The systems …

Consumer Confidential: Verizon Takes the Lead in Move to a La Carte Pay-TV Pricing

Sunday, October 12, 2014

As more people abandon pricey cable and satellite services, the pay-TV industry may be finally waking up to the reality that if it wants to survive, it’s going to have to give consumers what they desire. And that’s a la carte programming — paying only for the channels …