ExxonMobil ‘Winding Down’ Drilling at Russian Well

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — ExxonMobil will suspend drilling at its oil well in the Russian Arctic, complying with U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The company said that it would wind down operation, with the permission of the U.S. Treasury Department. ExxonMobil cited “the need to protect the safety of the individuals as well as the risk to the environment” related to the “complexity” of it University-1 well.

The Treasury Department, ExxonMobil says, granted the company a license to slow their drilling instead of ceasing it entirely immediately.

The well was involved in exploratory drilling, meaning it will have little to no impact on oil output.

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What to Do After You Buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — The new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus is in your hands — the culmination of weeks of anticipation.

Perhaps you were one of the millions of people who woke up in the middle of the night last week to be one of the first to pre-order the new smartphones. Or maybe you spent hours, days or even weeks camped outside an Apple store for the chance to be one of the first people to upgrade.

Now that the prize is in your hands, here’s what you need to know to get acquainted with your new phone:

Getting Set Up

Assuming you’ve already backed up your data from your old iPhone to the iCloud or iTunes, you’re now ready to get started.

Once you turn on your new iPhone, swipe the screen when prompted to begin setting it up. Choose a language, connect to Wi-Fi and then sign into your iCloud account.

Important: Don’t upgrade to iCloud Drive just yet. The service, which makes sure you have the most up to date versions of your documents everywhere, only works on iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which has not yet been released to the public. This means you could potentially be unable to access your documents on another device.

Restore Your Backup

You should see the option “Restore From iCloud Backup.” If you’d rather sync from iTunes, make sure you’re connected via a lightning cable and select “Restore From iTunes Backup.”

Depending on how much data you have to transfer, this could take a while. The iPhone should restart when the restoration is complete.

If you’ve never used an iPhone before, choose “Set Up As New iPhone.”

Security

Make sure you activate Touch ID when you’re prompted during set-up. Your thumb print could make all the difference in keeping your private photos and messages secure.

New Features

The iPhones are also packed with new features, including “reachability.” With a double touch, the display can slide down so users can reach “anything” at the top of the phone, an ideal feature for multitasking.

You also now have a reason to take the stairs — the iPhone 6 will have a barometer for elevation.

Both devices also boast better cameras that have a faster and sharper focus.

Apple Pay, the company’s digital wallet that is slated to make its debut in October, will also be supported on the new iPhones.

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, both phones meet or exceed the iPhone 5 in all metrics — so you may notice at least a slight difference.

The iPhone 6 has up to 14 hours of talk time on a 3G network, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasts up to 24 hours, according to information posted on Apple’s website.

When it comes to surfing the Internet on Wi-Fi through the devices, the iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours while the iPhone 6 Plus can handle an additional hour.

The iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours of video playback, while the iPhone 6 Plus has up to 14 hours.

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Girls vs. Boys: How Hasbro’s New Nerf Toys Compare

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Hasbro(NEW YORK) — Toy maker Hasbro is targeting the girl market by making toy gun play a more social activity.

Hasbro brand Nerf Rebelle’s latest five toys, as part of the “Secrets and Spies” line, allow kids to write messages to friends on darts the company says will fly up to 85 feet away. The toys in the line include message decoders, “preparing kids for the ultimate spy mission,” according to the company’s product description.

The toy line’s marketing language says it’s built from “play insights” from over 1,200 girls and “delivers on features they asked for.”

Nerf Rebelle, which is separate from the Nerf brand, was introduced last year, coinciding with the popularity of action heroines, such as arrow-wielding Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games book series and films.

In its marketing language, Nerf Rebelle avoids calling any of the purple and orange products weapons or guns, instead describing the cross-bow-like and shooting toys as “blasters.”

The new toys are available now at major toy retailers and are intended for children ages 8 and older.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Surprises Fans Waiting in Line for iPhone 6

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) — Apple CEO Tim Cook surprised iPhone enthusiasts who were lined up outside an Apple store Friday in Palo Alto, California, waiting to buy the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Cook posed for selfies with Apple enthusiasts and cheered alongside them when it came time to open the doors at 8 a.m.

The phones, which were unveiled at a Sept. 9 media event in Cupertino, California, are already shaping up to be one of Apple’s biggest successes to date. Pre-orders for the smartphones have broken all previous benchmarks, according to the tech giant.

Cook has called the plus-sized devices the best phones Apple has ever produced.

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Historic Alibaba IPO Not for Everyone

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News’ John Kapetaneas reports:

Morning Money Memo

All eyes will be on Alibaba’s big opening day on the market this morning. The Chinese e-commerce giant is expected to raise $21.88 billion during its IPO, making it the largest public offering in history, valuing the company at $168 billion. Shares will begin trading this morning at $68 dollars a share, an increase from the expected high range of $66 per share. While tech markets and early-stage investors are clamoring over what will now be one of the 40 largest companies in the world, the company’s unorthodox corporate structure and high valuation remain a sticking point for some investors. “Presently, it will not be on our buy list, even after the IPO,” said value investor Dan Neiman, portfolio manager for the Neiman Large Cap Value Fund.  ”I think a prudent investor would wait and see what happens over the short term, and then possibly dip their toe into that investment.”

Let the 2014 smartphone frenzy begin.  Anxious consumers staked out Apple stores nationwide overnight in hopes of getting their hands on the new iPhone 6 and large-screen iPhone 6 Plus.  Not one to be outdone, Samsung announced the release of its next generation phablet, the Galaxy Note 4, which begins preorder today for October release. The two companies have long battled over market share and intellectual property.  Apple stock is up slightly in pre-market trading.

In an overwhelming turnout, Scotland voters chose overnight to remain part of the United Kingdom, in a close but decisive 55 percent to 45 percent margin. European markets are mixed this morning, while the British pound moved higher against the euro on the news. Markets in Japan and Hong Kong are seeing triple-digit gains despite the Asian Dow showing the region slightly lower. U.S. futures are up this morning. Gold is down $3.50 to $1,223 per ounce. Crude oil is down 0.5 percent to $92.61 per barrel.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison announced Thursday that he will step down as CEO. The tech guru, 70, and prominent public figure will turn over the reins to his to his two co-presidents, Safra Catz and former Hewlett-Packard executive Mark Hurd. Ellison founded the software company in 1977; it is valued at $185 billion. Ellison follows other influential founders to turn over the chief executive office, including Bill Gates in 2000 and Steve Jobs in 2011. Oracle shares are down slightly in after-hours trading.

This weekend’s box office is expecting to see its highest revenue in nearly three months, after a mostly lackluster summer season. Fox’s “The Maze Runner” is expected to bring in over $40 million in its opening weekend. Liam Neeson’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones” and comedy  “This Is Where I Leave You” are also expected to gross more than $15 million apiece. ​

Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Arrive in Stores

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — The big day is here.

Sept. 19 has been circled on the calendar of Apple enthusiasts who woke up in the middle of the night last week to pre-order the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Others have spent days camped outside Apple stores for a chance to be one of the first customers to purchase the new smartphones when the doors open at 8 a.m. local time all across the United States.

Apple said a limited supply of phones will be available in its stores for walk-in customers Friday — but they’ll likely go fast.

The devices, which boast larger screens, are so popular since their unveiling last week that they have broken all iPhone pre-order sales records. More than 4 million pre-orders for the phones were placed when they went on sale last Friday, according to Apple. The iPhones are also in high demand from mobile carriers, many of whom projected delivery dates stretching into October.

One of the things that makes the iPhone so hot, aside from being the latest Apple product, is the larger screen sizes. The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally, giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market, some competition.

The iPhones are also packed with new features, including “reachability.” With a double touch, the display can slide down so users can reach “anything” at the top of the phone, an ideal feature for multitasking.

Apple Pay, the company’s digital wallet that is slated to make its debut in October, will also be supported on the new iPhones.

The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16 GB configuration, $299 for 64 GB and $399 for a 128 GB configuration, with a two-year contract.

The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 (16 GB), $399 (64 GB) and $499 (128 GB). Both phones come in three colors: gold, silver and space gray.

If you’re not getting a new iPhone Friday, be sure to check out the next best thing. Earlier this week Apple unveiled iOS 8. While the operating system will come installed on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, users of certain earlier generation Apple products will also be able to download it on their devices.

The operating system makeover is being hailed as Apple’s biggest ever because it comes with a slew of new updates to popular apps, including messages, photos and the keyboard — making your old device feel new again.

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Texas-Based Insurance Company Investigating Possible Breach of Personal Information

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

scyther5/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An unknown number of insurance applications containing personal information held by a Texas-based life insurance holding company may have been compromised in an apparent breach.

Torchmark Corporation told ABC News on Thursday that it was working with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service on a criminal investigation. The company also intends to notify potentially affected customers.

The company declined to note when the breach began, whether it is contained and whether they have determined the source of the breach. A company spokesman said that the breach was “limited in scope,” but declined to provide figures of more detailed information.

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Texas Life Insurance Company Investigating Possible Breach of Personal Information

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

scyther5/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An unknown number of insurance applications containing personal information held by a Texas-based life insurance holding company may have been compromised in an apparent breach.

Torchmark Corporation told ABC News on Thursday that it was working with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service on a criminal investigation. The company also intends to notify potentially affected customers.

The company declined to note when the breach began, whether it is contained and whether they have determined the source of the breach. A company spokesman said that the breach was “limited in scope,” but declined to provide figures of more detailed information.

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Home Depot Says 56 Million Cards Affected in Data Breach

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Romanista/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than two weeks after Home Depot’s cyber-attack was first discovered, the retailer said Thursday that the payment data breach exposed 56 million credit and debit cards.

The company said the breach has been contained and the malware responsible has been eliminated. The malware was custom-built to evade detection and, contrary to earlier reports, had not been seen in other breaches, the company said.

The breach eclipsed that of Target last year, which affected about 40 million credit and debit cards.

Like Target, Home Depot is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who used a payment card at a Home Depot store beginning in April 2014.

Home Depot promised “significant new protection for customers” in a statement released Thursday, pledging $62 million. The company confirmed that the attack lasted from April to September.

The company has 2,266 retail stores globally, including the U.S., Guam, Canada and Mexico.

Home Depot claims there’s “no evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised” or that the breach affected customers who shopped online.

The investigation into the breach began on Sept. 2 after the company received reports from law enforcement and banks.

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More Gains on Wall Street After Positive Unemployment Numbers

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thursday marked a third consecutive day of gains for Wall Street, partially bolstered by a positive weekly unemployment report from the Department of Labor.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 109.14 to a record close of 17,265.99.

The Nasdaq jumped 31.24 to 4,593, while the S&P 500 climbed 9.79, ending the day at an all-time high close of 2,011.36.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 36,000 fewer Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week. The report also noted the lowest level for insured unemployment since May 2007.

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Three Key Differences Between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — Having trouble choosing between Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus?

Both devices will be available in stores on Friday. Apple CEO Tim Cook called them the best iPhones Apple has ever produced.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the features of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, including how they differ:

Screen Size

The most obvious physical difference between previous iPhones and the latest devices is the screen size. The iPhone 5S screen was 4 inches.

The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally — giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market, some competition.

Price

The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16 GB configuration, $299 for 64 GB and $399 for a whopping 128 GB configuration, with a two-year contract.

The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 (16 GB), $399 (64 GB) and $499 (128 GB). Both phones come in three colors: gold, silver and space gray.

Battery Life

While both phones meet or exceed the battery life of previous iPhones in all metrics, there is a clear winner.

The iPhone 6 has up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasts up to 24 hours, according to information posted on Apple’s website.

When it comes to surfing the Internet on Wi-Fi through the devices, the iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours while the iPhone 6 Plus can handle an additional hour.

The iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours of video playback, while the iPhone 6 Plus has up to 14 hours.

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How to Wipe Your Old iPhone Before You Give It Away

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The announcement of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus might have made you eager to part with your old iPhone — but there’s one important step you need to take before making the switch.

If you’re planning on giving away, selling or trading in your current iPhone, it’s recommended that you make sure your device is wiped clean. This will make sure your personal information and digital memories aren’t given to someone else.

First, it’s important to make sure your phone is backed up. There are two easy ways to do this.

iCloud

Chances are you’re already using the iCloud, but here’s how to make sure you’ve recently backed up everything.

Tap Settings, then go to iCloud, choose Storage & Backup.

Make sure the iCloud switch is toggled to “on” and then choose “Back Up Now.”

iTunes

Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes. Then, choose file, devices and then backup.

If you’re using a version of iTunes 10.7 or earlier, right click the device from the list and then choose “backup now.”

Double check that the backup worked by going to preferences and then clicking devices. The latest backup and the device should be listed on the screen.

Wiping the Phone

Once you’re satisfied everything is backed up to the iCloud or iTunes, you’re ready to restore the phone back to its factory settings. Go to settings, general, reset and then choose “Erase All Content and Settings.”

Now you’re ready to sell, trade-in or give away your iPhone.

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Production of Lincoln Logs Returning to US

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Lincoln Logs is returning to the U.S.

Production of the classic toy, which was created in 1916, had been outsourced in China. But soon, most of the toy’s manufacturing — 80 percent — will take place at Pride Manufacturing’s Burnham, Maine plant.

The company says its deal to build Lincoln Logs will add up to 10 jobs.

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Free Bread at Restaurants Hitting Endangered Status

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Olive Garden(NEW YORK) — It’s a familiar ritual: sit down at a restaurant, get bread, order and continue with your typical dining out experience. Except lately, restaurants are removing one part of that scenario: the free bread.

It has been a slow rise, starting with the occasional restaurant only offering bread upon request, leading up to this week when one of Olive Garden’s investors tried to nix the national Italian chain’s unlimited breadsticks.

“Endless salad and breadsticks are another contributor to food waste,” Starboard said in a report on how Olive Garden can improve.

The Italian mainstay fired back that is has no intention of heeding such advice, writing, “Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982. It conveys Italian generosity…”

The restaurant “will continue to serve breadsticks with each meal,” Olive Garden spokesman Justin Sikora also confirmed to ABC News.

So rest easy, your unlimited breadsticks are safe. But are your other bread baskets?

“It makes sense as more and more people are avoiding carbohydrates, because they’re on the Paleo diet or going gluten-free,” Bret Thorn, senior food editor at Nation’s Restaurant News, told ABC News. “So why should a restaurant spend money to give you something you’re not going to eat?”

Restaurants like Roberta’s in New York City, Barnyard in Los Angeles and Roost in Houston go one step further than not serving free bread; they charge for it.

“Some restaurants are really going out of their way to make really excellent bread or source really excellent bread,” Thorn said. “So you can get a really great basket of delicious bread, often not just with butter, but with lardo [pork] or some other awesome topping.”

Other restaurants, such as Fire & Oak in Montvale, New Jersey, only offer free bread to customers who request it.

“The menu that we designed has burgers and sandwiches on the dinner menu and the trend when we opened was in general a lot of people having burgers for dinner, so at the same time with wasting food and people going more green and all those things coming together, we decided to only make it available on request, and it’s stated on the menu,” owner Joshua Dorras told ABC News. “We didn’t know what the reaction would be when we first opened, but it’s always been fine.”

Dorras has owned several restaurants over the years, and estimates thousands of dollars wasted on untouched bread.

“It was always a shame even when we used to do it automatically. You just keep throwing bread away, and it always seemed sad to throw that food away,” he said. “I’m sure if you added it up over the year and counted every piece of bead that you threw away, it would be thousands of dollars. It’s kind of like garnishing a plate with something you’re going to throw away every time. What’s the point?”

The trend has gotten so large that New York Times food critic Pete Wells penned an entire opinion editorial on the topic.

“When restaurants withhold bread, they can make us feel like children who can’t be trusted or guests who have overstayed their welcome,” he wrote. “It’s one of those times when we can see the sharp teeth of profit hiding behind the smile of hospitality. Never mind that a slice or two of bread can smooth out the restless, angry edge of hunger; the restaurant industry has decided that giving us bread when we first sit down means a lower check total. We know that’s what they’re thinking, too, just as we know that when they charge for bread they’ve stopped seeing this simple civility as a way to make us happy and started seeing it as a line item.”

It’s a fine line that Thorn acknowledges can be tricky to toe.

“I think restaurants have to be careful when they’re doing it, because if customers feel they are being nickel and dimed, they’ll really resent that. They’ll take it out on the server when they decide how much to tip and they also aren’t going to come back to their restaurant,” he cautioned. “You need to do the math to see if the amount of money you make is worth alienating customers. And customers have to decide if they really want to eat the bread.”

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So Long Overage Fees? New Suitcase Weighs Itself as It’s Packed

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

TUL Thustrelie/Kickstarter(NEW YORK) — A Kickstarter campaign for a suitcase with a built-in scale is hoping to raise 95,000 Australian dollars over the next two weeks to make this luggage dream a reality.

No more overage fees at the airport. No more frantic unpacking and repacking as the people behind you on the check-in line glare and the clocks ticks closer to take off.

That’s the goal of the TUL, a suitcase prototype that’s raised almost $14,000 so far. The built-in scale means no need to lift the bag onto the bathroom scale.

“Simply close the lid of the designated suitcase, and without having to entirely enclose the zips, the press of a single button will let you know the weight of your luggage,” the Kickstarter page reads.

“By simply pressing an ‘ON’ button, the weight of your luggage will be displayed on the LCD screen. The scale will be automatically turned off after 1 minute to preserve battery life,” according to the Kickstarter campaign.

TUL also comes with an external suitcase protection jacket and a luggage lock that satisfies Transportation Security Administration requirements.

One design flaw that may deter U.S. travelers: in this prototype, kilograms can not be switched to pounds, though that feature may be added at a later date.

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Apple (AAPL) IOS 8 to Keep Data Private, Even From Police

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Morning Money Memo…

Apple is taking a tough new line on the security of its mobile devices, saying its new iOS 8 operating system will keep data private, even from police. The engineering of the new system, says Apple, makes it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police – even under a search warrant. Apple’s announcement is an attempt to answer claims by some privacy advocates that tech companies have participated in the government attempts to sweep up personal data. “Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company – or anyone but the device’s owner – from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers,” reports The Washington Post.

Apple’s new HealthKit app that will keep track of fitness data is being delayed because of a bug in iOS 8 software. Apple says it hopes to have HealthKit apps restored to its app store by the end of the month. Affected apps include Carrot Fit, WebMD and AskMD. Apple didn’t provide details on what went wrong. Apple’s new iPhones have sensors to monitor fitness activities, and its upcoming Apple Watch will have a heart-rate monitor.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is planning to build a rocket engine that would eventually replace the Russian mainstay used in many American unmanned launches. United Launch Alliance, a collaboration of two aerospace giants, says it’ll pay Bezos’ Blue Origin space firm to develop new rocket engines. In about four years, the launch alliance hopes to start using the new engines in Delta and Atlas rockets.

Alibaba’s stock offering is a wakeup call about an emerging wave of technology giants in China’s state-dominated economy. Until now, Chinese companies that made a splash in global stock markets were state-owned banks and oil companies. Private sector tech companies such as Lenovo and Baidu are highly successful and they weren’t created by government decree. Last year Lenovo overtook Hewlett-Packard to become the No. 1 global PC maker. Baidu ranked No. 31 on Forbes magazine’s latest list of the most innovative companies. Huawei Technology unseated Sweden’s Ericsson in 2012 as the biggest maker of network gear. Alibaba has become a huge player in e-commerce. Its shares are set to begin trading tomorrow in New York after an initial public offering that is set to be the biggest ever, possibly raising $25 billion.

Women and minorities are largely shut out of the ranks of TV series directors, according to a new study. The Directors Guild of America says employers have made no significant improvement in diversity among TV directors in the last four years. White males directed the vast majority of the more than 3,500 cable, broadcast and high-budget online episodes made for the 2013-14 season, according to the study. In a statement, Directors Guild President Paris Barclay said it can be “shockingly difficult” to persuade those who control industry hiring to make even small improvements. The Associated Press says major broadcast networks did not respond to requests for comment.

Lincoln Logs is coming home to the USA. The toy has been made in China but in the future about 80 percent of the production – including the wood parts – will be made by Pride Manufacturing at its plant in Burnham, Maine. The plant employs about 130 people. The company anticipates adding up to 10 jobs with the Lincoln Logs contract.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

Jobless Claims Plunge Lower to 280K

Posted on: September 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims took a dive last week, decreasing by 36,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Sept. 13, the number of people filing for benefits fell to 280,000. The previous week claims stood at 316,000.

The Labor Department said there were no “special factors” impacting that week’s figures.

The four-week moving average slumped as well, falling by 4,750 to 299,500.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Pens Open Letter Reassuring Users of Commitment to Privacy

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple CEO Tim Cook reaffirmed the company’s respect for customers’ privacy in an open letter on Wednesday, stating that the company does not sell customers’ data or provide a backdoor for government agencies to invade users’ privacy.

“Our business model is very straightforward,” Cook writes. “We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you,” the letter reads.

Simply put, Cook says, “our software and services are designed to make our devices better.”

Cook acknowledged that the only part of the Apple brand that serves advertisers is iAd, a network that functions with the iTunes Radio service to help support advertisers. However, Cook notes, iAd “doesn’t get data from health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail.” In fact, users can completely opt out of iAd if they choose.

“Finally,” Cook wrote, “I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

Apple, Cook says, is committed to protecting the privacy of its customers. This commitment is borne our of a “deep respect” for users.

“We know your trust doesn’t come easy,” Cook admitted, “that’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.”

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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Join Uber

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) — Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will join a fellow former member of the Obama administration in the coming months as he takes on a voluntary role at Uber.

According to a post to the Uber website, Gates will join the ride-sharing company as chairman of Uber Military, a new program aimed at hiring service members, veterans and family of military members. “Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging, but at Uber we understand that veterans are some of our nation’s most talented and skilled leaders,” the post says.

“Over the next 18 months,” the post reads, “we will on-board 50,000 members of the military community to the Uber platform.”

The post quotes Gates as saying he is, “proud to be a part of this unprecedented effort by a single company to ensure that tens of thousands of our nation’s military members, veterans and spouses have access to a unique entrepreneurial opportunity.”

Earlier this summer, former Obama Adviser David Plouffe announced that he would join Uber as senior vice president of policy and strategy.

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Federal Reserve: Interest Rates to Remain at Record Lows

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates near zero again — at least until the economy gathers more steam.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday the continued sluggish job market is the reason the nation’s central bank won’t raise interest rates this month.

“Still too many people who want jobs, but cannot find them. Too many who are working part-time, but would prefer full-time work,” she said.

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE ]

The Fed has kept lending rates to banks near zero since the Great Recession began.

It also plans to continue shrinking the number of assets it buys to prop up the economy, hoping the low rates alone help put more people back to work.

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Wall Street Gains on Positive Economic Reports

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A pair of positive economic reports boosted Wall Street to another day of gains on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 24.95 to a 17156.92 finish.

The Nasdaq jumped 9.43 to 4562.19, while the S&P 500 closed back above 2000, gaining 2.59 to a close of 2001.57.

The Federal Reserve announced in a statement on Wednesday that its stimulus program will end next month, as planned, and short term interest rates will increase sometime next year.

In a separate report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that consumer prices dropped by 0.2 percent in August, the first drop in 16 months.

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3 ‘Real Money’ Tips to Read Before You Buy a Car

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

The Smiths of Atlanta have a full house, four young children going in four different directions and just one car to get them where they need to go.

Maria Smith, a stay-at-home mother, said the family’s car – a 2006 Honda Odyssey – had 160,000 miles on the odometer.

“We drive everywhere,” she told ABC News. “We travel a lot.”

She and husband Cedric Smith, an IT specialist, said they were in the market for a safe, used car but did not want to be taken for a spin.

“Buying a car was one of the most stressful experiences ever,” she said. “I mean, honestly, I’ve been putting it off for a long time because I just, I hate the idea of it.”

Tricia Whitlock of the popular tech blog Hypepotamus said consumers could put the brakes on car-buying stress by following her simple tips.

1. Find out what others are paying for the exact same car, new or used, with apps like True Car, and use the information to negotiate at the dealership.

2. Know when to buy. Good times are the end of the month or the end of the year. And avoid Saturdays.

“You’re much better going in the middle of the month, picking a car that’s right for you and then going back at the end of the month when those sales guys are going to be hitting their quotas,” Whitlock said.

3. Buy online. If you want to avoid the middleman when buying a used car, and save thousands of dollars, consider purchasing a car at an online dealership like Carvana. Carvana does a 150-point inspection on its used cars so there are no surprises for the consumers.

Yelp, TinyCo Settle with FTC over Child Privacy Violation Accusations

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

evergreenpics/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A pair of companies settled charges filed by the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday after being accused of collecting personal data on children under the age of 13.

Online review company Yelp and mobile app developer TinyCo each settled separate charges that they collected children’s information in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. “As people — especially children — move more of their lives onto mobile devices, it’s important that they have the same consumer protections when they’re using an app that they have when they’re on a website,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. 

“Companies should take steps as they build and test their apps to make sure that children’s information won’t be collected without a parent’s consent,” Rich added.

Between 2009 and 2013, Yelp allegedly collected personal information including names, e-mail addresses and locations of its users, including those who registered with a date of birth that showed they were under 13 years old. Yelp, the FTC says, failed to utilize a functional age screen in its apps. The company settled on Wednesday, agreeing to a $450,000 civil penalty and a promise that they will delete all information collected from users who were under the age of 13 when they registered with Yelp.

TinyCo similarly collected e-mail addresses from users, including those under the age of 13, in some cases in exchange for in-game currency. TinyCo will pay a $300,000 civil penalty, delete all information from users under the age of 13, and submit a compliance report detailing its adherence to COPPA in one year.

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Storage Problems Plague Users on First Day of Apple iOS 8 Release

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — Apple’s new iOS 8 was released Wednesday, but users are already hitting a snag when it comes to freeing up storage space.

While the operating system refresh takes up around 1 GB of space, it requires at least a whopping 5 GB be free on your device in order to complete the download over the air — something many users simply don’t have.

The operating system makeover is being hailed as Apple’s biggest ever because it comes with a slew of new updates to popular apps, including messages, photos and the keyboard.

If you don’t want to delete your apps or get rid of your photos, there is another way to get the iOS update.

Connect your device to your computer and make sure you’re running the latest version of iTunes. (You can check this by going to the iTunes help menu and clicking “check for updates.”)

Once you’re connected, it’s time to update. If you’re not prompted on your device, go to settings, general and software update to begin the download.

As the new iOS downloads, go watch a movie or sit down for a lavish meal as it may take a while.

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Nike Boots Adrian Peterson as Vikings Admit ‘Mistake’

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Nike suspended its endorsement contract with Minnesota Viking’s star running back Adrian Peterson Wednesday as the Vikings’ leadership admitted they made a “mistake” when they said that Peterson could return to the team this week.

The team put Peterson on an exemption waiver Wednesday, making him ineligible to play, until child abuse charges against him for using a switch on his 4-year-old son are resolved. Peterson has said he is sorry for the “hurt” he inflicted on his son, but has insisted he is not a child abuser.

Nike’s decision to drop the 29-year-old star running back came a week after the popular sports brand said they were concerned and monitoring Peterson’s legal situation closely. The company officially suspended their working relationship Wednesday.

“Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL,” Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in a statement.

Vikings team owner Mark Wilf said Wednesday that Peterson will be on an exemption list until his legal proceedings have come to a close, though they will continue to pay his $11.75 million salary during that time.

Wilf would not go into why team executives benched Peterson for one game, then decided to let him play this coming Sunday, and then changed their minds and won approval to put Peterson on an exemption list.

“We made a mistake,” Wilf said at a news conference Wednesday when asked why Peterson was green lighted to play and then put on the exemption list. “The main thing is getting it right. That’s how we came to this decision.”

He said, however, that it was “absolutely not” done out of fear of fleeing sponsors. Several major sponsors have expressed their unhappiness with the flurry of domestic abuse accusations against NFL players including Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.

“I spent time with Adrian yesterday…we came up with what we thought was the best resolution for everybody,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said at the conference. “He felt it was best for him to be able to step away to take care of his personal and legal matters.”

Rice, a Baltimore Ravens star running back, is under investigation for allegedly punching his wife unconscious in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino. He has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Hardy, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, was seen walking out of the team’s stadium Wednesday as the team’s coach confirmed that he will not be practicing Wednesday. Coach Ron Rivera did not give any details about what decision was made, but it comes as Hardy is under investigation for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in June.

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Apple Guide Advises Android Users on How to Make the Switch to an iPhone

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — When the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are released on Friday, Apple is betting that some Android users will be enticed to make the switch.

Apple has released a thorough guide advising Android users on how to move everything from photos, music and documents, off of their Android devices and onto an iPhone.

In order to make the process seamless, the guide advises users on various data copying apps to use, such as Copy My Data and PhotoSync, to make sure everything from their Android device is easily moved to their new iPhone.

Apple’s App Store also includes many apps that may already be familiar to Android users. The guide advises users to search for app they’re already using, install them and simply sign in with their existing user name and password.

Check out the guide here.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the devices the “biggest advancement in the history of iPhones” and the “best iPhones” Apple has ever produced, and many technology reviewers have given the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus high marks.

One reason why this particular release is so hot is the larger screen size.

The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally, giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market and runs on Android, some competition.

While it’s unclear just how many Android users plan to make the switch, Apple reported that a record 4 million pre-orders were placed for the new phones on the first day. Many carriers are reporting demand so high that the devices are on back-order until October.

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Consumer Prices Drop 0.2% in August

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Consumer prices dipped 0.2 percent last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, marking the first drop since April 2013.

Gas, airline tickets and clothing were cheaper in August, and most other core prices remained unchanged. But the same can’t be said for some foods.

“We saw more than a 4 percent drop during the month of August in the prices at the pump. We needed those declines, because we did have increases at the grocery store,” Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk said.

Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs were up, she said, but “if you are a vegan you did ok, because fruit prices and non-alcoholic beverages fell.”

Over the last 12 months, the government says consumer prices have increased 1.7 percent. That inflation rate is slightly lower than what the Federal Reserve would like to see for a healthy economy.

“This is something that is more disturbing to the Fed. The Federal Reserve would like to see a little hotter economy with more job gains rather than an economy that’s cool to the touch,” Swonk said.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak later Wednesday as the Federal Reserve wraps up a two-day meeting.

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Amazon Faces Alibaba and Retail Threat

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Amazon is facing a growing challenge on several fronts.

E-commerce giant Alibaba, often called the Amazon of China, is not only going public but may expand into the U.S. and Europe using the cash raised by its IPO.

“We hope to become a truly global company,” says Alibaba CEO Jack Ma.

His company could raise more than $20 billion from its offering later this week, which would be the largest-ever IPO.

Last year, Alibaba reported almost $250 billion in sales — that’s more than what both Amazon and eBay made during the same time period.

The Chinese firm’s executives have been meeting this week with American, Asian and European investors. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange as BABA.

Amazon is also facing a fast delivery challenge from several big retailers. Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Foot Locker have announced plans to test same-day delivery for online orders. And more announcements could be coming soon.

“The inventory that they have is already sitting in stores which lie about 5 miles from 90 percent of the population,” says Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv, which picks up orders from local stores and delivers them within hours.

Retailers are using their stores to fight back against their biggest online competitor.

“Amazon clearly is a leader in e-commerce,” says Carmeli. “They’ve really set the bar for customer experience and in everything they do, that bar gets higher and higher.”

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New Social Network Netropolitan Launches, Costs $9K to Join

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Netropolitan bills itself as an “online country club for people with more money than time.” The new social network costs $9,000 to join and launched on Tuesday.

Online, people are calling it Facebook for the 1 percent.

Last month, founder James Touchi-Peters told ABC News he decided to create the social network when he was looking for people who shared his expensive interests.

“I had to come to the conclusion that my life is different from most other people,” he said. “Probably a lot of people, I think.”

No word on whether anyone has signed up yet.

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Renewed Spotlight on Why the NFL Is a Nonprofit Group

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Attention over the National Football League’s domestic abuse policy and the league’s leadership has drawn renewed scrutiny of a fact that may surprise many people: the NFL is a nonprofit group.

The National Basketball Association has always been a for-profit business, and Major League Baseball gave up its nonprofit status back in 2007. So the NFL should no longer be nonprofit, some sports fans fume. This week, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called for increasing funding for domestic violence prevention by $100 million over 10 years by taxing the dues professional sports leagues pay to support leagues’ front offices.

The NFL league office has been a tax-exempt 501(c)6 trade association since the 1940s. The Professional Golfers Association and National Hockey League are also nonprofit trade organizations, though neither comes close to the wealth of the NFL.

That doesn’t mean the individual NFL teams aren’t making money or paying taxes for their $10 billion in annual revenue. The NFL’s 32 clubs pay taxes on all revenues on tickets, television rights and jersey sales.

Though the potential taxes owed if these sports leagues were classified as a for-profit entity are estimated at a modest $10 million, the fact that the NFL league office is tax exempt at all is rubbing some people the wrong way anew because of the recent scandals, including the controversial player concussion issue.

The NFL contends that the league office is an administrative office that writes the rules of the game, hires referees, negotiates collective bargaining agreements and more.

A spokesman for the NFL offered to ABC News as comment an op-ed by Jeremy Spector, the NFL’s outside tax counsel and partner with Covington and Burling LLP.

“The league office acts as a trade association for the NFL clubs,” Spector wrote in November. “It establishes rules and standard practices for its members, develops programs to help them run their operations more efficiently and profitably, and promotes the business in the broader community. Trade associations are nonprofit organizations. They don’t engage in any business activity. As a result, they are exempt from being taxed under section 501(c)(6) of the federal tax code.”

Spector wrote an op-ed for the Nov. 29, 2013, issue of U.S. News and World Report in response to questions about the league’s nonprofit status. That’s when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., introduced the “PRO Sports Act” to repeal tax-exempt status for certain professional sports leagues after 2013. While Coburn has said he still wants to move this bill forward, the bill has not moved out of committee.

The league’s Form 990 filed with the IRS for 2012, the most recent document available, shows the NFL lost more than $304 million in 2012. But that doesn’t mean the NFL is underwater and it’s not making a ton of money in royalties and licensing. The NFL commissioner since 2006, Roger Goodell, earned $44.1 million in 2012, according to the Form 990. The highest paid player in 2012, according to Forbes, Drew Brees, earned $44.4 million on the field that year and $5 million off the field in endorsements and other deals.

Goodell made a total of $85 million from 2010-2012, the last three years for which information is available. Though the other major sports leagues don’t publish executive pay, Goodell is widely thought to be the highest-paid sports commissioner, according to industry experts.

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