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08/10/2014 12:00 AM

08/10/2014 12:29 AM

Retail

Federal agent creates her own firearm fashions

Faith Kohler wears skinny jeans, ankle boots, chunky bracelets and cropped jackets. She wasn’t about to settle for a handbag that didn’t fit her style. And that was the problem: She couldn’t find a purse that would fit her wardrobe and also her handgun.

After years of wearing her firearm on her hip as a federal agent, Kohler, 44, was looking for an option that would give her more versatility: a concealed carry handbag. So she’s created her own handbag company, Been & Badge, with Milwaukee-native handbag designer Jodi Been, who lives and works in Los Angeles.

Each handbag has a concealed pocket inside that snaps closed and is lined with Velcro. The pockets are made to hold the holsters, which were developed by Wilde Built Tactical, a San Diego-area company run by law enforcement officers; the holsters can be inserted and adjusted by users for comfort and efficiency, in case they need to quickly access their handgun.

Been & Badge handbags are made from textured brown, black and purple leathers, and range in price from $259 to $354. The holsters start at $20.

Publishing

‘There Goes the Gayborhood?’

The number of gay enclaves in Chicago and other large cities is on the increase but a deconcentrated population, while good from a societal standpoint, could lead to a more fragmented lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, a suburban Chicago native and sociologist says in his new book.

That’s among the concerns raised by Amin Ghaziani, an associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia who spent six years researching the changes underway in LGBT enclaves in major cities, Chicago in particular. The result is “There Goes the Gayborhood?” to be published this month by Princeton University Press.

“Through his research, Ghaziani said, he heard repeatedly during interviews with 125 straight and gay Chicagoans and neighborhood business owners that changing public opinion has meant LGBT residents in Chicago, for instance, no longer feel confined to “ghettos” of like-minded individuals. He also found that gays have become more welcoming of straight residents into the neighborhood.

“Things are very different today than when these neighborhoods formed,” he said. “As gay people feel safe in more parts of the city, they no longer feel limited. I call this an expansion of the residential imagination.”

Wealth

Income inequality more apparent among companies

Income inequality has company – make that companies. A new wealth gap is opening among U.S. corporations, where cash holdings are growing more concentrated as the rich get richer.

Eighteen American businesses held 36 percent of corporate wealth in 2013, up from 27 percent in 2009, according to a report from Standard & Poor’s, a credit rating firm in New York. The bottom 80 percent have lost ground, with just 11 percent.

The top 1 percent is a Who’s Who of multinationals, including Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, Apple and Ford, that reap a big share of profits from non-U.S. sales. Because tax law discourages moving that money back to the United States, cash is piling up abroad and companies are taking novel steps to adapt, including borrowing against those assets to finance operations at home.

“Unlike individuals, corporations don’t want to be in that top 1 percent,” said analyst Andrew Chang, lead author of the S&P report. “This rising cash balance among the richest is tax- policy driven.”

American multinationals are taxed by the country where profits are earned and by the U.S. when – or if – the money is brought back. The corporate tax rate in the U.S., running up to 35 percent, is the highest in the industrialized world.

Charitable giving

Online challenges spring up for good causes

Getting soaked with ice cold water for charity is in vogue.

The idea’s easy: Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, record it and post it on social media. Then call out – or challenge – your friends, strangers, even celebrities to do the same within 24 hours or pay up for charity.

The movement has taken off in Boston over the past 10 days, since friends and family of former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates started it to raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s disease. Frates was diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disease, also known as ALS, in 2012.

The challenges, along with other goofy notions like a “makeup-free selfie challenge,” are raising tens of thousands of dollars for charities.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press contributed.

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