March 20, 2019
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Get ready to pay higher credit card fees

Matt Rourke | AP
Matt Rourke | AP
This Nov. 29, 2018, file photo shows credit card logos posted on a store's door in Philadelphia.

Consumers will need to watch their credit card bills even more closely starting in April, when Visa, Mastercard and others will increase fees.

Interchange fees, which are the transaction fees merchants pay to the bank issuing the credit card, are set to rise in April, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Also rising are the fees credit card networks charge financial institutions for processing credit card payments for merchants.

These fees often are passed on to consumers.

Merchants pay tens of billions of dollars in credit card fees each year, the newspaper said, but the effect per transaction is small and may go unnoticed by consumers.

Up to 2.5 percent of the price for food and services is for credit card fees, the newspaper said.

121-year-old yarn factory to close

Jagger Brothers Inc. of Springvale will close its manufacturing division in March.

The company has produced yarn in Springvale for 121 years. It will keep open a separate division, Jagger Spun, which makes yarn for small production facilities and yarn shops from Maine to Africa, according to the Journal Tribune.

Owner David Jagger told the newspaper that the company’s 40 employees were told of the closure Feb. 5.

“We’ve been struggling with low volume of business for a few years, and trying to make it work in terms of the numbers,” Jagger told the newspaper.

He said his largest customer told him they planned to import yarn from offshore. And the second-largest customer, while planning to keep buying from Jagger, is losing business to imports, Jagger told the newspaper.

He said the factory was faced with an untenable situation and he chose to cease operations.

Majority of Mainers flunk U.S. history test

Fewer than half of Mainers earned a passing grade on history questions from the U.S. citizenship test, a national foundation found.

Only 2 percent of Mainers earned an “A,” while 56 percent earned an “F.” That’s according to a survey by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, an educational group.

That result still ranked Maine 11th best overall in the country in terms of American history knowledge.

But Mainers were not alone in their lack of basic knowledge about the United States.

Only one in three Americans, some 36 percent, passed the multiple choice test consisting of items taken from the U.S. citizenship test. And only 27 percent of people younger than 45 were able to demonstrate a basic understanding of American history.

The foundation said the results show that traditional methods of teaching American history, including memorization of dates, names and events, have not been effective.

“American history education is not working,” said Arthur Levine, president of the foundation. “This is not an issue of whether high school history teachers are adequately prepared or whether kids study American history in school. The answer to both questions is yes. This is an issue of how we teach American history.”

Levine advocated for a fundamental change in how American history is taught and learned to make it relevant to students’ lives, captivating and inclusive to all Americans.

Vermont was the top state in the number of survey respondents who passed the test, at 53 percent. However, 47 percent of Vermonters still received an “F,” as did citizens of 26 other states, including Maine.

However, Mainers beat New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the percentage of questions they answered correctly.

Among the 20 questions on the test:

— Who was president during World War I?

— How many justices are there on the U.S. Supreme Court?

— Why did the colonists fight the British?

While this reporter took the test and flunked, she beat the average knowledge for Mainers.

You can take the test here.

NASA backs commercial lunar services

NASA wants commercial landers to start carrying its payloads to the moon’s surface this year, according to Space.com.

The agency last November designated nine American companies as eligible to bid on NASA’s program to deliver robotic space program payloads to the moon.

This Thursday NASA said its first service contract for a delivery will likely be announced in about a month, and it expects a flight to follow soon thereafter.

“For us, if we had any wish, I would like to fly this calendar year,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

The nine companies will compete to carry a variety of payloads in the coming months and years, NASA officials said.

Some launches will carry scientific instruments to study the moon, while others will deliver prospecting gear and other technology designed to pave the way for human settlement, according to Space.com.

Separately, NASA on Wednesday declared its longest-running space rover, Opportunity, dead. The agency had not heard from the rover, which explored Mars, in eight months following a dust storm on that planet.

 



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