Retailers set online sale prices for ‘Green Monday’

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

artisteer/iStock(NEW YORK) — With Christmas fast approaching, retailers are offering some last minute deals for online shoppers on Monday.

Known as Green Monday, the day is similar to Cyber Monday and usually falls on the second Monday of December.

Some of the biggest discounts you can find online this Green Monday include a 14-inch Chromebook at Best Buy for $210, Apple’s newest iPad for $250 at Target and the popular Instant Pot is nearly half off on Amazon.

If you haven’t already completed your holiday shopping, time is ticking. There are just 10 business days left before Christmas.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

BaubleBar founder says worst advice she ever heard was ‘fake it until you make it’

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Daniella Yacobovsky and Amy Jain are the best friend duo behind BaubleBar, the fashion, jewelry and accessories brand founded in 2011 that has attracted the likes of Meghan Markle, Olivia Palermo, Bella Hadid and countless other A-listers.

In its seven-year history, the company has grown exponentially, becoming a multichannel brand leveraging real-time data to make design decisions. Through partnerships with companies like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, the brand can now be found in more than 200 major retailers across 17 countries.

It’s not bad for two former investment bankers with zero experience in the fashion industry. Yacobovsky and Jain met after college at their first jobs in banking. They both went onto Harvard Business School and together came up with the idea for BaubleBar.

“Both of us had no intention of starting a business. We had jobs after business school. This was a class project in school that we had actually just started doing because we wanted to figure out how to have fewer school hours and more time away from campus,” Jain told ABC News’ chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Yacobovsky added, “We had the idea between our first and second year of business school, and we decided to basically spend our second year at business school doing nothing but pursuing what is today Baublebar.”

After graduating, the two launched a beta site, and that’s when something unexpected happened.

“Obviously the first order was Amy’s mom and the second order was my mom, which was expected, but then we started to see these orders come in. We were like, ‘I don’t know who that is. I don’t know who that is.’ And it started to feel like it actually was going to be something. And that’s when we realized that we had something really exciting on our hands. And we were like, ‘Hey, wait a minute, we could really do this for real,’” Yacobovsky said.

They both made the difficult decision to turn down job offers and pursue Baublebar. Today, the company has secured a spot as one of the leaders in the costume jewelry market, which is poised to reach almost $50 million by 2023, according to Qurate Business Intelligence.

When Yacobovsky reflected on the worst advice she’d ever received, she thought back to the beginning of the company.

“One piece of advice that we got from a lot of different people — but told in different ways — was to, you know, fake it until you make it, or use smoke and mirrors to make the business seem much much bigger than it actually was,” she said.

Both Yacobovsky and Jain immediately knew that wasn’t how they were going to build their company.

“Amy and I heard that advice and it just felt so counter to who we are as people, and we knew that was not advice we would ever follow,” Yacobovsky said.

You can hear more from Yacobovsky and Jain on episode 84 of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

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Breakaway pilots’ union threatening to strike against Virgin Atlantic right before Christmas

Posted on: December 8th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

GiorgioMorara/iStock(NEW YORK) — A splinter pilots’ union is threatening to strike against Virgin Atlantic right before Christmas, demanding the airline recognize it at the negotiating table.

The Professional Pilots Union is threatening to walk out days before the holiday rush if the United Kingdom airline doesn’t negotiate with the group and include it in a staff benefits review, a spokesman for the union told ABC News Saturday.

After 72 percent of its 400 members voted in favor of striking against the company, the union said it could strike as early as Dec. 22, it said in a statement. The strike could last into early January, the statement continued.

“All our members … will be expected to abide by the vote and take strike action,” a spokesman of PPU told ABC News.

More than 300 of the pilots are active and currently flying planes, the spokesman said.

“It’s the last straw; Virgin Atlantic [has] consistently refused to [recognize] the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members,” Steve Johnson, a spokesman for the union and a former Virgin and Red Arrows pilot, said in a statement. “Despite the rhetoric that consultations are inclusive of all staff and unions, in practice, this doesn’t happen.”

The union formed in 2011 after hundreds of pilots were unsatisfied with how a larger union, the British Airline Pilots Association, represented them, the PPU said. Those members broke from the larger group and started representing themselves.

As for the threatened strike, Johnson added that the union hopes “Virgin acknowledge the mandate our members have given us, and help avoid strike action by [recognizing] the PPU and halt the benefits review that is so damaging to our [members’] long-term security.”

But Virgin Atlantic said its flight schedule during Christmastime won’t be affected.

The airline said the number of pilots who voted in favor of striking amounts to 16 percent of its more than 900 pilots.

“A small group of pilots … have voted to strike,” a spokeswoman, Louise Gallagher, said in a statement. “However, all of our customers will be able to complete their journeys this Christmas as planned. This is our absolute priority.”

Virgin Atlantic added that PPU isn’t recognized by the Trade Union Congress, a federation of trade unions in England and Wales.

Meanwhile, PPU said it welcomes negotiations and solutions to so that it won’t have to strike.

“Our door is — and has always been — open to Virgin to take the necessary steps to prevent any disruption for Christmas travelers,” Johnson said in the statement.

The British Airline Pilots Association told ABC News that it is aware of the threatened strike, but it has nothing to do with it.

“We know that the breakaway PPU is seeking recognition but that is their dispute, not ours,” Balpa said in a statement.

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Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou will remain in jail as Canadian court outlines case against her

Posted on: December 8th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

VCG/VCG via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and heir apparent to Chinese tech giant Huawei, will at least be spending the weekend in a Vancouver jail after a bail hearing on Friday.

Court was adjourned at about 4 p.m. local time with no decision made on bail, so the daughter of Huawei’s founder will remain in custody. The hearing will resume at 1 p.m. on Monday.

The Crown prosecutor, who made the case that Meng be denied bail, argued that she is a “flight risk” with significant resources and no ties to Vancouver, per CTV.

Meng’s lawyer argued the opposite, saying she actually owns two homes in Vancouver — though she spends only a few weeks in the city each year — and that if she did flee it would bring dishonor to the company and her father.

“You can trust her,” he argued.

The Crown said Meng’s arrest stems from a warrant issued in New York on Aug. 22 for alleged fraud offenses dealing with Skycom Tech and Huawei regarding dealings with Iran. She was arrested while traveling from Hong Kong to Mexico via Canada on Saturday. She faces extradition to the United States.

It was alleged in court documents that between 2009 and 2014 Huawei used an unofficial subsidiary, called Skycom, to transact business in Iran, in violation of U.S. and EU sanctions. During part of that time, Meng was on Skycom’s board and other Huawei executives were as well. Furthermore, as CFO, Meng misrepresented that Skycom and Hawei were the same company, and “deceived” U.S. banks into doing business that would violate U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to court documents filed Nov. 30.

The filing came one day before Meng’s arrest in Vancouver.

The affidavit justifying the request said charges against Meng in the U.S. are “on serious charges of fraud involving millions of dollars. If convicted, she would likely face a sentence of substantial jail time.”

In court, the Crown also referenced a 2013 Reuters report, which cites corporate records as showing Skycom attempted to sell embargoed HP computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator, and that the company had closer ties to Huawei than previously known. The Crown says in 2013 Meng misrepresented Huawei’s connection to Skycom to banking institutions.

Immediately following the report, Meng and others delivered a PowerPoint presentation which stated that “Huawei operates in Iran in strict compliance with applicable laws, regulations and sanctions.” The court documents allege that was a lie.

Meng served on Skycom’s board between February 2008 and April 2009 and despite claims Skycom was “sold” in 2009, it was actually controlled by Huawei until at least 2014, according to the affidavit.

The court filing also alleges Meng was likely aware of the U.S.’s criminal investigation and didn’t travel to the country intentionally to avoid arrest.

“US authorities believe that after in or about April 2017, Huawei became aware of a US criminal investigation into Huawei when Huawei US subsidiaries were served with a grand jury subpoena commanding production of, among other materials, all of Huawei’s Iran-based business,” the filing stated.

The filing continues, “As a result, Huawei executives began altering their travel patterns, to avoid any travel to or through the United States.”

Meng herself had not visited the U.S. since March 2017, the month before they allegedly became aware of the investigation.

Stock markets plunged on Friday partly due to the arrest of Meng. The Dow Jones dropped 558.72 points on Friday, while Nasdaq, which is filled with tech companies, dropped 3 percent for the week. The Shanghai SE Composite Index was down almost 2 percent on Thursday, after news of Meng’s arrest broke, but rallied slightly to close the week.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou will remain in jail as Canadian court outlines case against her

Posted on: December 8th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

VCG/VCG via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and heir apparent to Chinese tech giant Huawei, will at least be spending the weekend in a Vancouver jail after a bail hearing on Friday.

Court was adjourned at about 4 p.m. local time with no decision made on bail, so the daughter of Huawei’s founder will remain in custody. The hearing will resume at 1 p.m. on Monday.

The Crown prosecutor, who made the case that Meng be denied bail, argued that she is a “flight risk” with significant resources and no ties to Vancouver, per CTV.

Meng’s lawyer argued the opposite, saying she actually owns two homes in Vancouver — though she spends only a few weeks in the city each year — and that if she did flee it would bring dishonor to the company and her father.

“You can trust her,” he argued.

The Crown said Meng’s arrest stems from a warrant issued in New York on Aug. 22 for alleged fraud offenses dealing with Skycom Tech and Huawei regarding dealings with Iran. She was arrested while traveling from Hong Kong to Mexico via Canada on Saturday. She faces extradition to the United States.

It was alleged in court documents that between 2009 and 2014 Huawei used an unofficial subsidiary, called Skycom, to transact business in Iran, in violation of U.S. and EU sanctions. During part of that time, Meng was on Skycom’s board and other Huawei executives were as well. Furthermore, as CFO, Meng misrepresented that Skycom and Hawei were the same company, and “deceived” U.S. banks into doing business that would violate U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to court documents filed Nov. 30.

The filing came one day before Meng’s arrest in Vancouver.

The affidavit justifying the request said charges against Meng in the U.S. are “on serious charges of fraud involving millions of dollars. If convicted, she would likely face a sentence of substantial jail time.”

In court, the Crown also referenced a 2013 Reuters report, which cites corporate records as showing Skycom attempted to sell embargoed HP computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator, and that the company had closer ties to Huawei than previously known. The Crown says in 2013 Meng misrepresented Huawei’s connection to Skycom to banking institutions.

Immediately following the report, Meng and others delivered a PowerPoint presentation which stated that “Huawei operates in Iran in strict compliance with applicable laws, regulations and sanctions.” The court documents allege that was a lie.

Meng served on Skycom’s board between February 2008 and April 2009 and despite claims Skycom was “sold” in 2009, it was actually controlled by Huawei until at least 2014, according to the affidavit.

The court filing also alleges Meng was likely aware of the U.S.’s criminal investigation and didn’t travel to the country intentionally to avoid arrest.

“US authorities believe that after in or about April 2017, Huawei became aware of a US criminal investigation into Huawei when Huawei US subsidiaries were served with a grand jury subpoena commanding production of, among other materials, all of Huawei’s Iran-based business,” the filing stated.

The filing continues, “As a result, Huawei executives began altering their travel patterns, to avoid any travel to or through the United States.”

Meng herself had not visited the U.S. since March 2017, the month before they allegedly became aware of the investigation.

Stock markets plunged on Friday partly due to the arrest of Meng. The Dow Jones dropped 558.72 points on Friday, while Nasdaq, which is filled with tech companies, dropped 3 percent for the week. The Shanghai SE Composite Index was down almost 2 percent on Thursday, after news of Meng’s arrest broke, but rallied slightly to close the week.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Marlboro owner Altria to invest nearly $2 billion in cannabis company Cronos

Posted on: December 7th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Yarygin/iStock(NEW YORK) — Altria Group, Inc., the owner of tobacco brand Marlboro, announced a $1.8 billion investment in cannabis company Cronos.

The deal would give Altria a 45 percent stake in Cronos, with the ability to increase ownership to 55 percent in the next four years. Altria will also have the right to nominate four members to Cronos Group’s Board of Directors. That board will increase from five members to seven.

“Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria,” Chairman and CEO Howard Willard said in a press release.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

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Unemployment rate remains at 3.7% as 155K jobs added in November

Posted on: December 7th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Kameleon007/iStock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs to their payrolls in November, the Labor Department reported Friday morning, falling short of economists’ expectations.

Economists had anticipated seeing around 200,000 jobs added last month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said most of the job gains were in health care (32,000), manufacturing (27,000), and transportation and warehousing (25,000).

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained unchanged for the third straight month, holding steady at 3.7 percent — a 49-year low.

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Kathleen Kraninger confirmed to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Posted on: December 7th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Kathleen Kraninger was narrowly confirmed by the Senate to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday, putting an end to an ongoing debate about the leadership of the agency.

Kraninger, who served as the director for general government programs at the Office of Management and Budget, was confirmed by a 50-49 vote down party lines. Her critics fear her confirmation will lead to further unraveling of the bureau’s power that began under current acting director Mick Mulvaney.

“Unfortunately Kathy Kraninger has no consumer protection or financial regulation experience so we are expecting her to simply follow Mick Mulvaney’s playbook,” said Mike Litt, the consumer campaign director of US PIRG, a consumer financial watchdog group. “He has tried to defang and defund the bureau so future directors can’t carry out its mission.”

Mulvaney was serving simultaneously as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and as the director of Office of Management and Budget since he was tapped for the position in a controversial move by President Donald Trump last year. Mulvaney had previously been a vocal opponent of the bureau’s work.

While at the bureau’s helm, Mulvaney has rolled back much of the bureau’s power. He has dismissed a 25-person advisory board designed to monitor the agency, dropped several ongoing cases that were being brought by the enforcement arm under the former director and has suggested changes to the leadership and funding structures of the agency.

Litt said his group expects Kraninger will only continue to further deregulate the agency.

Trump tapped Kraninger to lead the bureau in June. The administration and Republicans who backed the nomination have said she is qualified for the job, pointing to her management experience at Management and Budget, where she was helping to oversee the Homeland Security and Justice departments’ budgets.

“Given her depth and diversity of public service experience, I have the utmost confidence that she is well prepared to lead the bureau in enforcing the federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace,” said Sen. Mike Crapo, who chairs the Senate Banking committee where Kraninger testified in July.

But at that hearing, Democrats criticized her for her management experience there, alleging she had been a part of helping to execute a policy by Trump that had separated children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kraninger said repeatedly that she had no role in setting the zero-tolerance policy. But when questioned further, she said she could not speak about what advice she had given to agencies on implementing the policy.

“I asked over and over under oath and all I got was dodgeball,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who helped to create the bureau — told reporters after the July hearing. “For every Republican who spoke out against the policy of separating mothers and their babies at the border, they should be willing to vote ‘no’ to give a giant promotion to the woman who oversaw that policy.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by Congress in 2011 as the consumer watchdog arm of the Dodd-Frank Act in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New tax code may help your side hustle

Posted on: December 7th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

LPETTET/iStock(NEW YORK) — With the end of the year fast approaching, you have a few weeks left to make moves to help boost next year’s tax refund or at least minimize how much you’re going to have to pay to Uncle Sam.

ABC News’ Good Morning America spoke to Nathan Rigney from the Tax Institute at H&R Block to guide us through all the major changes, help explain it in an easy way and see how your side hustle will be affected with all the tax law changes that were enacted last year.

“For many of us, we are going to have a considerably different tax outcome than we had last year,” he said.

The Side Hustle

Taxes will change dramatically for Uber drivers, tutors, photographers, freelance journalists or anyone freelancing on the side.

Rigney said there is a new benefit called the “qualified business income deduction.”

“If you freelance, you can deduct up to 20 percent of that profit,” he said. “So if you make $60,000 in income from a side business, you could get up to $12,000 deduction. And that’s after all your business expenses are deducted.”

Those expenses can include travel, depreciation of your car if you use it for your business, products you use for work and more.

Full-time Employees Might Suffer

Major changes went down for people employed full-time. So much so that Rigney warned that people looking to move from full-time to freelance work to take part in tax breaks better watch out, because the IRS is watching closely to make sure everything is above board.

Here’s what full-time employees have to worry about:

The standard deduction for a single person almost doubled from $6,350 to $12,000 ($24,000 for a married couple), so if all your itemized deductions (that haven’t been cut) plus state and federal taxes withheld don’t add up to $12,000, you’re better off going the standard route.

Charitable contributions like donating clothes and out of pocket medical expenses are still fair game to deduct, but full-time employees lost out-of-pocket business expenses, which is big.

Meals and flights you used your own money for and thought about deducting instead of charging to your corporate card are no longer an option. So, check with your company and see if you can still be reimbursed somehow.

You can still also deduct things like state and local income tax and property taxes but the limit is $10,000. This is also a change, as in the past, there was no limit.

Last Second Changes

With a few weeks left, there are still some things you can do to reduce your tax bill. And if not, these are good to know for next year:

  • Notice a nice little bump in your weekly pay? Well, that’s because withholdings changed. This means a lower refund at the end of the year or more you have to pay, so check with your company and start withholding more if you’d like to.
  • Elect to contribute more to your 401(k) through your company. You can increase the pre-tax money you contribute to your retirement account, and this will lower your paycheck, but also lowers the amount on which the government can tax you.
  • If you have investments like bitcoin or stocks that are worth less then when you bought them, you can sell at a loss, and that will lower your tax for the year. Don’t go giving your investments away, but it’s an option.

Of course, for detailed ways to prepare or help your taxes out, consult your personal accountant or other places you get your taxes done.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dow ends flat, paring early losses after Chinese tech exec’s arrest

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Caroline Purser/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended flat Thursday, paring intraday losses of nearly 800 points that were stoked by fears of a sidelined trade deal after a Chinese telecom executive was arrested in Canada on behalf of the U.S., adding to concern about trade tensions with China.

The Dow recovered on hopes that the Federal Reserve would slow rate hikes, traders said.

The index closed 0.3 percent lower at 24,948 points.

“Investors initially took the arrest of Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s chief financial officer as a negative signal on U.S.-China trade relations only to erase most of those losses by the close on hopes the Fed will slow its interest rate hikes to boost the economy,” Alec Young, managing director of Global Markets Research, FTSE Russell told ABC News.

The tech heavy Nasdaq ended half a percent lower at 7,188 points, and the S&P 500 also closed the day basically flat, down 0.2 percent at 2,696.

The market is still down for the week on nagging concerns that a trade deal with China would not be reached. Fears of an upcoming recession also persisted.

Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the U.S. over the weekend. Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunication equipment company and second largest smartphone maker behind Samsung. Wanzhou is the founder’s daughter and heir apparent.

Huawei is also an example of what the Trump administration is targeting in its trade dispute with China. It receives preferential treatment and is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government while purchasing technology from U.S. companies like Qualcomm.

The move by the U.S. is related to concerns that Beijing could be using Huawei’s technology to spy on Americans. The Justice Department also believes Huawei is violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The political moved rattled investors.

“Traders are reducing the odds of a trade deal with China since the arrest of Huawei’s CFO,” Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors, told ABC News. “Also, talk about the probability of recession has been gaining traction due to the yield curve getting close to inverting.”

The spread on the yield curve is the difference in the yields between the two-year government note minus the 10-year government bond.

“When interest rates for shorter-term securities is greater than the longer-term securities, borrowing becomes more expensive, so consumers tend to slow purchases and businesses have less expansion. In time, this causes a slowdown in the economy and possibly a recession. Investors seem to be worried that the possibility of a recession might be looming,” Matousek added.

President Trump had tweeted over the weekend that a deal had been reached. But his administration could not provide any details, stoking market concerns about the overall economy.

Doubts over a trade deal with China contributed to the Dow’s drop of 800 points on Tuesday.

Markets were closed Wednesday for a federal holiday in honor of the late President George H.W. Bush.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tyler Perry pays off layaway items at 2 Georgia Walmart stores

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Milkos/iStock(ATLANTA) — Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry just shared some good news for some lucky shoppers in Georgia.

The 49-year-old actor and filmmaker paid for layaway items at two Walmarts in the state — the store’s East Point and Douglasville locations.

In a video posted to Twitter, Perry told his 5.6 million Twitter followers that if you had an outstanding layaway item at either location before 9:30 Thursday morning, it is now paid.

“I was trying to do this anonymously, but due to some circumstances — y’all know nothing stays secret these days,” he said in the video.

Walmart confirmed to ABC News that Tyler Perry wrote checks totaling approximately $430,000 between the two stores.

In order for the shoppers to receive the items Perry paid for, they must pay one penny.

“You gotta go into the Walmart, get your layaway and pay a penny, one penny, and you get your layaway,” Perry said in the video post. “I know it’s hard times. A lot of people are struggling and I’m just really, really grateful to be able to be in a position to do this.”

“So, God bless you, go get your stuff and Merry Christmas,” Perry added.

The company was quick to express its gratitude for his act of kindness.

“Talk about a Merry Christmas! Tyler Perry just reminded everyone of the true meaning of the season. THANK YOU! #SparkKindness,” a representative for Walmart tweeted.

Perry was inspired to join in the spirit of giving this holiday season after seeing “Good Morning America’s” story on New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson.

Benson, 71, recently paid for nearly $100,000 worth of layaway items at a Walmart in New Orleans.

Benson is the sole owner of the Saints. Her husband and the team’s former owner, Tom Benson, passed away in March.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dow plunges on trade fears after Chinese tech exec’s arrest, economic downturn

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Caroline Purser/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 400 points Thursday morning, or 1.5 percent, extending the week’s losses after a Chinese telecom executive was arrested in Canada on behalf of the U.S., stoking growing fears about trade tensions with China.

Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were also trading lower.

Markets were closed Wednesday for a federal holiday in honor of the late President George H.W. Bush.

Canadian authorities on Wednesday arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou over the weekend. Huawei is the largest telecommunication equipment company and the world’s second largest smartphone maker behind Samsung. Wanzhou is the founder’s daughter and heir apparent.

Huawei is one example of what the Trump Administration is targeting in its trade dispute with China. It receives preferential treatment and is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government while purchasing technology from U.S. companies like Qualcomm.

The move by the U.S. is related to concerns that Beijing could be using Huawei’s technology to spy on Americans. The Justice Department also believes Huawei is violating U.S. sanctions against Iran because of the American components inside its products.

Doubts over a trade deal with China contributed to the Dow’s drop of 800 points on Tuesday.

President Trump had tweeted over the weekend that a deal had been reached. But his administration could not provide any details, stoking market concerns about the overall economy.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Huawei CFO arrested in Canada on behalf of US authorities

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

RomanBabakin/iStock(NEW YORK) — The chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of the Chinese tech firm Huawei has been detained in Canada at the request of the U.S. government, the company said Wednesday.

Huawei said its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was “provisionally detained” in Vancouver and is sought for extradition by the U.S. government, the telecommunications giant said in a statement.

It said it was not aware of any wrongdoing by Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s 74-year-old founder, Ren Zhengfei. Huawei also noted that it hadn’t violated any U.S. sanction laws.

“The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,” the statement said. “Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the U.N., U.S. and E.U.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. authorities arrested Meng as part of an investigation into whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.

“U.S. and Canada have not given any reason or clarification for the detention of this individual,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at its daily briefing Thursday.

Wanzhou was arrested while transferring flights in Canada, according to the company.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada said Wanzhou has not violated U.S. or Canadian law and urged for her to be immediately released.

“At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law,” the embassy said. “The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.”

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” it added.

Huawei became the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world in 2017 — knocking Ericcson out of the top spot, according to a congressional report issued in November called the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review.

The same report discusses security risks posed by Huawei, including a 2012 investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that concluded “the risks associated with Huawei’s and ZTE’s provision of equipment to U.S. critical infrastructure could undermine core U.S. national-security interests.”

Because of alleged security risks to the U.S., Verizon and AT&T stopped selling Huawei smartphones in January, while Best Buy stopped selling Huawei laptops, cellphones and smartwatches in March.

The Chinese company has always denied any claims of using its technology for spying.

The U.S. defense bill, signed by President Donald Trump in August, prohibits the federal government from procuring or obtaining, as well as entering into, extending or renewing a contract with an entity that uses telecommunications equipment or services produced by Huawei.

Trump has also been locked in an escalating tariff war with China in recent months, though the U.S. put a pause on a Jan. 1 tariff increase as they try to work out a new trade deal.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Smile: The terminal of the future has landed

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

John Paul Van Wert/Delta(ATLANTA) — Next time you’re catching a flight, think about how many times you’re asked to prove you are who you say you are. At the ticket counter, at security and again at the gate — sifting through your wallet, phone or bag for those verifying documents.

It’s a time consuming process for any passenger, especially those flying internationally, but necessary for security on the ground and in the air.

But for some passengers at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest, there’s a few less steps. Just look up and smile for the camera.

Delta Air Lines says their international passengers in Terminal F are the first in the country to have access to biometric technology “from curb to gate,” designed to streamline a faster, safer journey onto their flight.

“As a flyer you’ll save nine minutes of boarding time a flight flying internationally. So that’s nine less minutes you’ve got to wait in line to get on the aircraft,” Delta’s Chief Operating Officer Gil West told ABC News. “Rather than having somebody in front of you fumble for their passport and wait for them to do it, wait for somebody to read it.”

So how does it work?

First, book an international flight on Delta out of Atlanta (there’s plans to expand the program to their smaller hub in Detroit soon). Make sure you enter your passport information during on-line check in. If you don’t, no big deal, you can just do it at the airport.

After arriving at the airport, find one of the kiosks in the lobby. You will have more traditional check-in options or you can select “Look.”

The camera will perform a facial scan and, if you are who you say you are, match that scan against your passport or visa photo on file with Customs and Border Protection.

If you need to check a bag, the camera will scan your face again at the counter, functioning as your ID and your boarding pass.

You will repeat this process at security and at the gate when you board. A grand total of four times you’d normally scan multiple documents, but instead just look up. Smiling is not required if you are not in the mood.

But please, don’t forget to bring the passport. You’ll need it when you arrive at your destination.

Delta says they do not store the images of passengers. And, if customers do not want to participate, they just proceed normally, as they’ve always done, through the airport.

“Nearly all 25,000 customers who travel through ATL Terminal F each week are choosing this optional process, with less than 2 percent opting out,” Delta said in a press release.

The airline will make Detroit the next home of the “biometric terminal,” available to internationally traveling Delta passengers in 2019.

The technology isn’t just good news for passengers, but checking images on file with the Department of Homeland Security against the image of the passenger who showed up, provides a clearer picture of who is on each flight, according to CBP’s Executive Assistant Commissioner John Wagner.

“We run a series of national security checks, law enforcement checks against that information with the biometrics,” Wagner told ABC News. “It allows us to make sure that it belongs to the person.”

CBP has been using biometric technology at ports of entry into the country for months and has caught at least 36 people lying about their identity using it.

“Through our inspection, we determined they were not U.S. citizens,” the agency said.

In the future, the technology is expected to grow to other airlines. But for now is only in use in Atlanta’s international terminal.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

24 Amazon workers sent to hospital after robot accidentally unleashes bear spray

Posted on: December 5th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

GRANT HINDSLEY/AFP/Getty Images(ROBBINSVILLE, N.J.) — Twenty-four Amazon workers in New Jersey have been hospitalized after a robot accidentally tore a can of bear repellent spray in a warehouse, officials said.

The two dozen workers were treated at five local hospitals, Robbinsville Township communications and public information officer John Nalbone told ABC News. One remains in critical condition and 30 additional workers were treated at the scene.

The official investigation revealed “an automated machine accidentally punctured a 9-ounce bear repellent can, releasing concentrated Capsaican,” Nalbone said. Capsaican is the major ingredient in pepper spray.

The fulfillment center was given the all clear by Wednesday evening.

“Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility. The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite. As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment,” an Amazon spokeswoman told ABC News in a statement.

“Robbinsville Fire Dept on scene at Amazon Warehouse on New Canton Way investigating ‘fumes’ that have several employees complaining of illness. Fire Dept is attempting to isolate the source. EMTs are triaging multiple patients. 7 ambulances and a medic currently assigned,” the Robbinsville Fire Department tweeted at 6:05 a.m. on Wednesday.

There is no threat to residents in the area and the fumes were confined to the fulfillment center’s third floor south wing, Nalbone said earlier. The warehouse is approximately 1.3 million-square-feet and was ventilated.

Amazon employees are not unionized, but the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union issued a statement about the danger that robots pose to human workers.

“Amazon’s automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80 plus workers are unknown,” union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk. Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices.”

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Newly renovated London movie theater will charge up to $51 a ticket for luxury seating

Posted on: December 5th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

SrdjanPav/iStock(LONDON) — A movie theater in London will now charge up to $51 for a single movie ticket after undergoing an 11-month, multimillion-dollar renovation.

The Odeon Luxe Leicester Square, which is in the heart of London, is reopening on Dec. 20. It will have the United Kingdom’s first Dolby Cinema room, with 800 seats.

For moviegoers, it is a “truly immersive and unforgettable cinematic experience, no matter where they are in the 800-seat auditorium,” a spokesperson for ODEON said in a statement to ABC News.

The cheapest option available at the theater is the Luxe Classic, with prices ranging from $13 to $29 for a reclinable seat.

The most expensive option — in the Royal Box — can cost anywhere from $26 to $51.

“In the heart of the auditorium, our best ever seats offer a full recline, masses of legroom and extra width and personal tables,” the statement said.

Prices vary depending on the time of day, the location of the seat in the auditorium and date of the movie showing.

After the announcement, people took to Twitter to express both their support and outrage at the prices in the new movie theater.

A Twitter user saying that there are plenty of other options in London, adding that “the ODEON must think we are all stupid or can’t do arithmetic.”

Others said they would be willing to pay for the experience, calling it “cutting edge.”

The theater will also have a selection of food and drinks for sale at its Oscar’s Bar and Cafe, including afternoon tea and champagne, but it has not yet released the price list for its menu.

The Odeon Luxe Leicester Square will reopen later on this month, with showings for Mary Poppins Returns in the Dolby Cinema theater. As it prepares to reopen, the company emphasized that prices will vary in the future.

“The first week of the biggest film of the year during the festive season is obviously peak,” the statement said. “Guests can expect prices will flex throughout the year.”

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24 Amazon workers sent to hospital after bear repellent was accidentally sprayed

Posted on: December 5th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

GRANT HINDSLEY/AFP/Getty Images(ROBBINSVILLE, N.J.) — Twenty-four Amazon workers in New Jersey have been hospitalized after bear repellent spray was released accidentally at the fulfillment center, officials said.

The two dozen workers were treated at five local hospitals, Robbinsville Township communications and public information officer John Nalbone told ABC News. One remains in critical condition and 30 additional workers were treated at the scene.

“Robbinsville Fire Dept on scene at Amazon Warehouse on New Canton Way investigating ‘fumes’ that have several employees complaining of illness. Fire Dept is attempting to isolate the source. EMTs are triaging multiple patients. Seven ambulances and a medic currently assigned,” the Robbinsville Fire Department tweeted at 6:05 a.m. on Wednesday.

“The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to a safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite,” an Amazon spokeswoman said. “As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.”

There is no threat to residents in the area and the fumes were confined to the fulfillment center’s third floor south wing, Nalbone said. The warehouse is approximately 1.3 million-square-feet and is being ventilated.

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Trump downplays China tensions day after stock market plummets over trade fears

Posted on: December 5th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Ahead of his attendance at former President George H.W. Bush’s state funeral Wednesday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express optimism about the state of trade negotiations with China following Tuesday’s stock market plunge.

“Very strong signals being sent by China once they returned home from their long trip, including stops, from Argentina,” Trump said, speaking of China’s attendance at the G-20 summit last weekend. “Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said at our long and hopefully historic meeting. ALL subjects discussed!”

The president’s optimism comes just after a day since he publicly declared himself a “Tariff Man,” and stood by his protectionist trade policies even after stocks fell nearly 800 points amid confusion over the result of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

While at the conclusion of Saturday’s working dinner, both the U.S. and Chinese delegations said that what amounted to a trade war “truce” between the leaders had been reached, the messaging from the White House that followed seemed to only muddy the waters.

The White House on Monday had to correct a statement by economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who incorrectly told reporters in a conference call that the 90-day negotiating period between the U.S. and China would begin on Jan. 1 instead of Dec. 1.

But the president clarified the next morning in a tweet that the 90-day period began from the time of his sit-down with Xi.

Furthermore, Kudlow seemed to downplay Trump’s assertion following the meeting that China agreed to reduce or eliminate its tariffs on American automobiles, telling reporters that there was no “specific” agreement reached.

But Trump again sought to paint the talks in a more positive light, highlighting a report from Bloomberg that “Chinese officials have begun preparing to restart imports of U.S. Soybeans & Liquified Natural Gas” that were put on hold as a result of the president’s initial tariffs.

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Trump administration recommends postal rate increases

Posted on: December 5th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Jorge Villalba/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A new Trump administration report on the financial challenges facing the U.S. Postal Service could lead to cost increases for online retail giants like Amazon.

Released during the holiday shopping season, the Treasury Department suggested that the Postal Service needs more flexibility in setting rates and that, “packages have not been priced with profitability in mind.”

This formal review comes after President Donald Trump himself has called for rate increases, specifically targeting Amazon. Trump issued an executive order in April that created the Treasury Department Task Force to conduct the review.

Amazon announced that customers bought more products during this year’s “Cyber Monday” than any other single day in Amazon’s history. Customers of the “Amazon Prime” subscription service ordered more than two billion products with one day or faster delivery times in the past year, the company said Monday.

The 74-page report suggests a singular fix with Amazon alone will not solve the postal services profitability struggles as competitors like UPS and FedEx continue to dominate the shipping market.

“The benefits of the USPS monopolies continue to diminish,” according to the report. “The USPS must pursue price increases, reduce service costs, or exit the business line for any class of mail that falls outside of the determined essential services and that does not cover attributable costs.”

The recommendations also include expanding the definition of those “essential services” to include person-to-person shipping, so small businesses run from residential homes might not see the same increases as online retail giants.

“The USPS should have the authority to charge market-based prices for both mail and package items that are not deemed ‘essential services,’” according to the review.

Both Amazon and Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

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Wells Fargo customer explains how computer glitch cost him his home

Posted on: December 5th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Paul Blake/ABC(NEW YORK) — Financially strapped, Jose Aguilar said it felt as though he’d let his family down in 2015 when Wells Fargo foreclosed on his mortgage. But his disappointment redoubled earlier this year when the bank sent him a letter that said a system glitch caused him to lose his home of four years, he says.

Aguilar is one of an estimated 545 customers who lost their homes when the bank incorrectly denied 870 loan modification requests due to calculation errors.

Wells Fargo, one of the country’s largest lenders, revealed the error in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last month.

“Twelve, 13, 15 months time passed, and there was no way of catching up at that point,” Aguilar said. “That’s when the whole foreclosure proceedings started.”

Aguilar, who owned a home in upstate New York, said his wife was so exasperated at one point she was “just like, ‘I can’t do this anymore,'” and she took their kids and moved back to Florida.

With the foreclosure weighing on his credit score, Aguilar, who works at a manufacturing plant near Syracuse, found it hard to rent a new place and ended up moving into a friend’s basement.

“I actually felt like, ‘What the hell happened?’ Like, I had I thought about suicide many times,” he added. “I lost that and everything — all the money that I put into that house, all the monthly payments that I had to work six, seven days a week just to stay on top of the mortgage.”

Aguilar said the bank sent him a check for $25,000 earlier this year in an effort to rectify the mistake, but it was far too late — he’d already lost his home and his family had been torn apart.

“My kids are going through hell and back,” Aguilar said. “My kids still look at me like it was my fault. Now, I’m the one that let them down. Everything is my fault.”

Wells Fargo said it’s offered the affected families continuing mediation at no cost to them, and has successfully given loan modifications to nearly one million consumers since the glitch occurred.

But Aguilar’s lawyer, Mark Dann, said the bank has a lot more explaining to do.

“Wells Fargo has not been transparent at all about how this happened,” Dann said. “Wells Fargo told us well we’re not servicing these loans anymore because these people have been foreclosed on. I mean, there’s all kinds of things that we need to know so that we can form a lawsuit against them or try to negotiate some sort of a reasonable resolution with them.”

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The NYPD, the nation’s largest police department, puts its eyes in the skies with new drone program

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

DJI Technology Inc.(NEW YORK) —  The nation’s largest police force said Tuesday it is adding drones to its crime-fighting arsenal.

More than a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be used for search and rescue, to investigate hazardous materials, and to access crime scenes in tall buildings.

The move is particularly significant benchmark for U.S. law enforcement agencies because smaller police departments often follow the lead of larger, big city forces like the New York Police Department (NYPD).

“The NYPD has a trailblazing effect when it comes to new technology and almost all aspects of policing,” said Christopher Dickey, author of “Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force,” which chronicled groundbreaking technology innovations within the NYPD under former police commissioner Ray Kelly, following the 9/11 terror attacks.

The New York City Fire Department has used drones to monitor fires but, until now, the New York Police Department (NYPD) had relied on drones that belong to law enforcement partners.

“As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always-improving technology,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

“Our new Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program is part of this evolution -– it enables our highly-trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve, and to carry out the NYPD’s critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone,” O’Neill said.

The drones will be unarmed and not equipped with facial recognition technology, according to a department spokeswoman who added they would not be used for warrantless surveillance.

Specially-trained officers from the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) will operate the drones, the department said.

Still, the use of drones by New York police continue to raise concerns among civil liberties and privacy advocates, some of whom were consulted by the NYPD prior to the unveiling of the new drone program, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).

“While we appreciate the NYPD’s willingness to meet with us before it announced this program, we believe the new policy falls far short of what is needed to balance the department’s legitimate law-enforcement needs against the privacy interests of New Yorkers,” NYCLU associate legal director Christopher Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn said the group is concerned about the lack of restrictions on police deployment of drones in the city.

Law enforcement officials with extensive experience flying drones as part of their work said that two of the most common and valuable uses of the devices are for 3-dimensional digital crime scene and accident reconstruction.

Using drones for accident reconstruction can dramatically shortened the time it takes to measure, evaluate and clear a highway crash, freeing up miles of backed up traffic in a few minutes rather than a few hours.

“That scenario, where [accident investigators] can do their measurements in just a few minutes – that’s got major implications in the next five or ten years,” said Ben Miller, director of research and development at Colorado’s Department of Public Safety.

Drone usage is also on the rise in crime scene investigations and reconstructions.

“You’d never ask for a million dollar satellite for a homicide investigation, but if you can put a drone up in the air for $25 or $30 bucks, it’s more than worth it,” said Miller, a law enforcement drone pioneer who flew the devices for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, which was one of the nation’s first law enforcement agencies to incorporate drones into their department’s work.

“Like a lot of law enforcement agencies, our first thoughts were, ‘Cool! Let’s use it for tactical missions — for chasing bad guys across the county,’” Miller told Reuters in 2013.

“But the reality is you’ll have a mission like that once or twice a year,” he said. “The real utility of unmanned aerial systems is not the sexy stuff. It’s the crime scene and accident reconstruction.”

More than 900 public safety agencies are currently operating drones, according to a recent study by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone. The center estimates that the number of public safety agencies using drones has spiked 82 percent in the past year.

Normally, the nation’s largest police departments, including the NYPD and the Los Angeles Police Department are leaders in policing innovations but drones are a unique type of law enforcement tool — and experts say there is good reason for a department like the NYPD to proceed with caution in creating their own drone program.

 “Some of the big [police] departments have taken a wait-and-see approach, especially if you’ve got areas that service large, dense populations it can be beneficial for the department [to wait], because there can be a lot more pushback” from the public, said Dan Schwarzbach, executive director of the Airborne Public Safety Association, a non-profit that supports and promotes the use of drones among public safety agencies.

The Seattle Police Department scuttled it’s nascent drone program in 2013 after an outcry from Seattle residents concerned about unlawful surveillance and other privacy issues. Those fears of intrusive surveillance have subsided, to some degree, in recent years, experts said.

“Seattle was one of the first to go out and put the time and the effort and the personnel capital into training and certification back when it was still pretty new, and they got pushback from citizens, had to end the program, and ended up donating the drones they bought to the [Los Angeles Police Department], where I believe they ended up in a closet somewhere.”

Still, Schwarzbach said, the rate of law enforcement adoption of drones is rapidly increasing due to innovation, falling price points and a gradually more accepting attitude towards responsible drone use among much of the public.

“I’ve got [airborne rescue] success stories coming in all the time, and for every one helicopter or airplane public safety success story, I get ten UAS success stories,” he said, using industry terminology for drones.

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Dow dives nearly 800 points on fears of economic slowdown

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

lucky-photographer/iStock(NEW YORK) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged on Tuesday amid fears of an economic downturn, led by disappointing bank earnings and unresolved trade issues between the U.S. and China.

The Dow closed 799 points or 3.1 percent lower at 25,027. Shares of major U.S. banks also took a dive with Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Capital One bottoming out at 52-week lows. Toll Brothers also gave weaker-than-expected guidance for 2019, citing a slowing housing market.

“A few moving parts, people think there is not ‘substance’ behind Trumps tweets about tariffs so the markets are giving back the gains from before the G20 meeting,” Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors told ABC News.

On Tuesday, President Trump has declared himself a “Tariff Man” in tweeting about the state of progress with China, doubling down the threat to raise tariffs on Chinese goods if a deal isn’t solidified.

Over the weekend, Trump had boasted that he and China’s President Xi Jinping had reached a trade deal, although details remained unclear into late Tuesday. Senior administration officials also had trouble articulating any specifics about the deal in press briefings.

The president tweeted optimistically about the chances for a deal with China, writing “President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will.” But if a deal doesn’t happen, he reminds his followers, “I am a Tariff Man.”

“MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN,” Trump tweeted.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police chased the ‘unresponsive’ driver of a Tesla S that was on Autopilot for 7 miles in California. How can that happen?

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Tesla(NEW YORK) — In the early morning hours, California Highway Patrol chased a grey Tesla Model S for an unfathomable seven miles down Highway 101 as the driver slept, police said.

Redwood City Area CHP officers said they observed Alexander Joseph Samek, a local Los Altos politician, driving at around 3:30 a.m. PST on Nov. 30. Police followed Samek with lights and siren on, but he remained “unresponsive,” and “appeared to be asleep at the wheel,” according to the arrest report.

Assuming that the car was on Autopilot, police drove in front of Samek and “began slowing directly in front of the Tesla in hopes that the ‘driver assist’ feature had been activated and the Tesla would slow to a stop as the patrol vehicle came to a stop,” the arrest report said. Samek was charged on suspicion of driving under the influence.

But what is befuddling transportation analysts and Tesla watchers is that the chase could even go on for that long. Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature requires a driver to touch the steering wheel every minute, or the system alerts the driver and gradually brings the car to a stop. It seems that in this case, Autopilot may not have worked, or the driver somehow subverted the process, experts say.

Tesla declined to comment on the accident or confirm the car was in Autopilot mode. But on Sunday night, Musk tweeted: “Default Autopilot behavior, if there’s no driver input, is to slow gradually to a stop & turn on hazard lights. Tesla service then contacts the owner. Looking into what happened here.”

In a follow-up tweet, Musk said that Autopilot could not distinguish between different types of emergency vehicles, but that it would be able to in the near future. “We’re adding police car, fire truck & ambulance to the Tesla neural net in coming months,” he wrote.

Redwood City CHP is familiar with the Tesla Autopilot feature in part because of a fatal crash the agency investigated in March. A 38-year old engineer at Apple died after he did not place his hands on the wheel in time when the car was in Autopilot mode, Tesla said.

The March crash is being investigated by the National Transportation and Safety Board.

Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds, an automotive research firm, has been reviewing partially automated vehicles, and called Tesla’s Autopilot a misleading term for an “overhyped automated cruise control system.” He said it was difficult to come up with an explanation for such a long car chase, and it underscored shortcomings with Tesla’s safety features.

“Certainly somebody could defeat the one minute timeout that allows you to put your hands on the wheel and the car could go longer,” Edmunds told ABC News. “Cadillac’s Super Cruise system would not have allowed you to behave this way because Super Cruise does something that Tesla doesn’t do and should do. It has sensors look at your head to see which way it’s pointed to make sure your chin’s up and not down against your shirt, and also looks at your eyeballs to see where they’re looking. So even if you’re head’s up, and you look off to the side, it will warn you and eventually disengage.”

“The fact that it doesn’t monitor the driver’s head position and line of sight is really a major shortcoming,” Edmunds said. “Just because somebody has their hands on the wheel, maybe the guy’s leaning on it, passed out, with just enough force to make it think that he’s got his hands on the wheel. The car isn’t really sure what the driver’s looking at. It doesn’t matter if you have your hands on the wheel or not, it matters if you’re looking out the windshield at the cars ahead.”

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Woman sues Hilton for $100 million, alleging employee filmed her in the shower

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A woman says she was secretly recorded by a hotel employee while showering at a Hampton Inn & Suites three years ago. Now, she has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Hilton, the hotel’s parent company.

The woman, who has not been named, says the employee, whom she does not know, filmed her in order to blackmail and extort her. The incident happened at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Albany, New York in 2015.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the woman says she fears for her safety.

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Trump claims ‘BIG leap forward’ in China trade talks, but details unclear

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Hogogo/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted optimistically that relations between the United States and China “have taken a BIG leap forward!” and predicted that “very good things will happen” after he reached a temporary truce with China’s President Xi Jinping in the ongoing trade war over the course of a three-hour-long dinner on the sidelines of the G-20 summit this weekend.

My meeting in Argentina with President Xi of China was an extraordinary one. Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward! Very good things will happen. We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed. Level the field!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018

President Xi and I have a very strong and personal relationship. He and I are the only two people that can bring about massive and very positive change, on trade and far beyond, between our two great Nations. A solution for North Korea is a great thing for China and ALL!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018

The president tweeted directly to U.S. farmers, some of whom have suffered as a result of Chinese counter-tariffs, to say “Farmers, I LOVE YOU!”

Farmers will be a a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately. We make the finest and cleanest product in the World, and that is what China wants. Farmers, I LOVE YOU!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018

The president’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, told reporters Monday that there will be “specific changes right away” to help the agricultural industry, even as the majority of the tentative agreement remains to be worked out over a 90-day-period agreed upon between the U.S. and China.

The president also declared in a tweet late Sunday night that China has “agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars,” though he didn’t offer any further details.

China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018

Despite the president’s detailed claim, the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Monday that there is no “specific” agreement on what level Chinese auto tariffs will drop to, while Mnuchin said the two leaders had “specific discussions on where auto tariffs will come down to” but said he wasn’t in a position to publicly reveal what the numbers in the tentative agreement are, nor did he clarify whether tariffs will be completely removed or reduced.

Mnuchin cast the weekend dinner as a breakthrough in the trade standoff with China and said there were “very, very specific” items that the two leaders agreed to have incorporated into a broader agreement that has yet to be finalized.

“There’s a specific understanding that we’re going to now turn the agreement the presidents have into a real agreement over the 90 days,” Mnuchin told reporters during a gaggle outside the West Wing, while the president was busy tweeting on the topic and said he has a “very strong and personal relationship” with President Xi.

The negotiations for a final agreement have already begun, Kudlow said.

“Stuff is happening today,” Kudlow said. “We want to move … much of the credibility of this discussion will hinge on rapid movement and implementation of the Chinese commitments and they know that and this is something we specifically talked about.”

While Mnuchin said the president reserves the right to escalate tariffs should negotiations not pan out as planned, he cast the weekend’s talks as a breakthrough in the administration’s efforts to check China and said the discussion included everything from purchasing more U.S. goods to intellectual property, to currency manipulation.

“This is the first time there was a commitment for an agreement from China that the agreement will contain specific dates, specific action items,” Mnuchin told reporters. “This is not going to be just kicking the can down the road.”

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Waitress carries son on her back during shift

Posted on: December 3rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Kelly Gentry(GREENBACK, Tenn.) — It’s a situation every working mom faces at one time or another: you need to get to work, but you have no one to watch your child. What can you do?

If you’re Kori Dotson, the answer is simple. You strap your toddler to your back and you go work your shift.

Kelly Gentry happened to be dining at the Greenback Drugstore and Diner in Greenback, Tennessee, last month when she spotted Dotson. She snapped a photo of the waitress and shared it on Facebook.

“I came in and she was waiting my table and I was in shock. But it was amazing. She was working with her 2-year-old son on her back because she had no sitter that morning,” Gentry told Good Morning America.

Eventually, the woman in the photo was identified as Kori Dotson. She told GMA that she works primarily as a respiratory therapist and also picks up shifts at the diner.

“It was Election Day and a strong storm had come through the night before and wiped out power til about 10 a.m. that day,” Dotson said. “Tammy [the owner of the Greenback Drugstore and Diner] had called me and asked me to come in because we had gotten a huge rush once power had been restored.”

“I told her I could be there in about 15 minutes but my babysitter wasn’t home and I would have to bring my son, Rhody. He had come once before and she knew that he would behave himself. So I got him up from his nap and off we went,” Dotson continued. “He was still groggy when we got to the Greenback Diner, so I did what I have done his whole life, I threw him on my back and did what I needed to. I just stepped in where they needed me refilling drinks, taking orders, and washing dishes. Just a normal day at the diner for me.”

Gentry said she was not only impressed by Dotson’s work ethic, but also how she was instilling it into her son.

“She let him help roll silverware and everything. She was one of the best waitresses I’ve ever had even with a baby strapped to her,” said Gentry. “Kudos to her for doing what it takes to make ends meet.”

Dotson said that when she brings Rhody into the diner, he pretends to take orders and “scribbles diligently on his note pad.”

“He’ll go get the broom and sweep the floors and hand out menus to customers who just sat down,” said Dotson. “The diner has become one of his favorite places and I enjoy watching him find joy in working.”

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Feds accuse Fugees founder and former DOJ official of ties to Malaysian financial conspiracy

Posted on: November 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  A founding member of the Fugees music group and a former Justice Department official took part in a conspiracy to funnel tens of millions of dollars into the United States to help a Malaysian fugitive try to influence a series of Justice Department investigations and anti-crime efforts, prosecutors allege in court documents filed in federal district court in Washington D.C. Friday.

The conspiracy, allegedly with help from musician Prakazrel “Pras” Michel and then-Justice Department official George Higginbotham, also allegedly sought help from an unidentified candidate running for federal office, according to prosecutors and others.

Last week, federal authorities charged Higginbotham with one felony count of “conspiracy to make false statements” to a bank. In court on Friday, he pleaded guilty to the charge.

No charges have been publicly filed against Michel.

Asked why Michel has not been publicly charged, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “It’s an ongoing investigation.”

A message sent direct to Michel by ABC News on Twitter seeking comment was not immediately returned. Other efforts to reach representatives for Michel were not successful.

The alleged conspiracy is tied to a major international scandal that has been unfolding for several years, the documents indicate.

At the heart of the scandal is an investment company created by the Malaysian government “to promote long-term economic development for the benefit of the Malaysian people,” as then-attorney general Jeff Sessions put it last year.

A web of corrupt Malaysian officials and overseas businessmen then misused more than $4.5 billion from the company – 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or “1MDB” – and laundered it through shell companies with bank accounts in the United States and elsewhere, according to Justice Department officials. By last year, the U.S. government had $3.5 billion of those funds frozen, Sessions said.

The Justice Department has sought to seize the allegedly misused funds. And four weeks ago, the Justice Department charged Malaysian financier Jho Low for allegedly taking part in the scheme, including efforts to bribe officials overseas to help make it happen. Authorities say he is still at-large.

In court papers filed Friday, prosecutors say Low found a “longtime political fundraiser” to lobby the U.S. government on his behalf, seeking to have the Justice Department pull away from its efforts in the 1MDB affair. According to court documents and prosecutors, Michel then allegedly recruited Higginbotham, a longtime associate of his, to help hide the lobbying campaign’s connections to Low.

But when the U.S. government failed to turn away from the 1MDB matter, Low — with help from Michel and Higginbotham — then asked the politically-connected fundraiser to start pushing for the U.S. government to deport a foreign national who had been critical of his home government, according to the court filings and officials. And to accomplish that, prosecutors said, the fundraiser agreed to approach a specific candidate running at that time for federal office, but prosecutors wouldn’t identify the candidate, only saying the candidate was not elected.

At one point, Higginbotham even went to the embassy representing the foreign national to tell officials there that the U.S. government was working on removing the dissident, prosecutors allege.

While looking to help Michel get paid by Low for his services, prosecutors say Higginbotham helped funnel tens of millions of dollars through shell companies, and he even helped generate fake documents to make certain fraudulent transactions appear legitimate.

Last November, allegedly at Michel’s behest, Higginbotham sent an email to a major bank insisting that certain funds were being transferred from a legitimate company overseas for the purpose of an entertainment venture. However, Higginbotham knew that was false, as the funds were intended to support Low’s lobbying efforts, Higginbotham admitted in court on Friday.

In fact, Higginbotham admitted to all of the prosecutors’ allegations against him.

Before it was taken down, Higginbotham’s LinkedIn page said he began working as a “Senior Congressional Liaison/Oversight Counsel” in July 2016, and he left the Justice Department just three months ago. A Justice Department website indicates he worked for the department’s Office of Justice Programs, which provides grants and training to law enforcement across the country.

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Marriott’s data breach is large, but it’s not the largest

Posted on: November 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Marriott International data breach on Friday affected up to 500 million customers — larger than the entire U.S. population — but it’s not the latest large-scale hack to hit a corporation.

That distinction goes to Yahoo — now owned by Verizon — which experienced the largest data breach in history in 2013.

“[Marriott] is not the largest breach in terms of number of records and was not the worst in terms of identity theft potential, but it is easily in the top five for worst hacks that directly impact the general public,” Jim McCoy, creator of the Vektor home cybersecurity device and former tech lead of security tools and operations at Facebook, told ABC News.

The top five largest corporate hacks

1. Yahoo: 3 billion accounts in 2013

Yahoo, which is now owned by Verizon, admitted in 2017 that the previously reported data breach in 2013 actually affected all three billion accounts on its server, exposing the names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords of users whose accounts were encrypted with what was ultimately weak security.

On Dec. 14, 2016, “Yahoo disclosed that more than one billion of the approximately three billion accounts existing in 2013 had likely been affected,” the company said in a 2017 press release. “The company recently obtained new intelligence and now believes, following an investigation with the assistance of outside forensic experts, that all Yahoo user accounts were affected by the August 2013 theft.”

The hackers also obtained the security questions and backup email addresses used to reset lost passwords, which are key to hacking into government computers.

2. Yahoo: 500 million accounts in 2014

It’s a tie between this separate Yahoo breach and Marriott. Yahoo suffered a previous attack in December 2014 affecting at least 500 million users whose data included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, encrypted passwords and, in some cases, security questions. The U.S. charged four Russians, including two Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers with the crime, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

News of this breach was not revealed for two years, until, again, the company was in the process of a sale to Verizon. In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined Yahoo for its failure to disclose the news, according to an SEC press release.

3. Marriott/Starwood: 500 million guests in 2018

Marriott said in a statement Friday that an investigation recently revealed “unauthorized access” since 2014 to information relating to reservations at Marriott’s Starwood properties, and that a hacker had “copied and encrypted information.”

The compromised data includes names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program account information, arrival and departure times, and reservation dates.

4. Friend Finder Networks: 412 million accounts in 2016

The adult dating and entertainment company Friend Finder Network had a data breach of more than 412 million accounts, according to ZDNet.

Data was hacked from 339 million of the accounts from AdultFriendFinder.com, which the company boasted as the “world’s largest sex and swinger community.” The information gathered included usernames, e-mails, and passwords, according to ZDNet.

That breach also affected over 15 million “deleted” accounts that had not been purged from the databases. LeakedSource obtained the data, and said it included 20 years of information from the company’s sites. An additional 62 million accounts from Cams.com and seven million from Penthouse.com (the company was owned by Penthouse at the time) were stolen.

5. Equifax: 146 million accounts in 2017

Equifax revealed in a press release that a hack on its networks exposed names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and some driver’s license numbers.

The company added that 209,000 U.S. credit card numbers were exposed. Earlier this year, Equifax found an additional 2.4 million U.S. consumers whose names and partial driver’s license information were stolen.

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Marriott says data breach may affect up to 500M Starwood hotel guests

Posted on: November 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain, said personal information for as many as 500 million guests may have been compromised in a security breach of its Starwood reservation database.

The Maryland-based hospitality company said in a statement Friday that an investigation recently revealed there had been “unauthorized access” since 2014 to the database, which contains guest information relating to reservations at Marriott’s Starwood properties, and that a hacker had “copied and encrypted information.”

“The company has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but believes it contains information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property,” Marriott said in its statement.

The information includes names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date as well as communication preferences.

The company said it is working with law enforcement as well as leading security experts to investigate and address the breach.

“We deeply regret this incident happened,” Marriott’s president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, said in a statement. “We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves. We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward.”

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What’s in Trump’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada?

Posted on: November 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(BUENO AIRES, Argentina) — When President Donald Trump signs the revised North American trade agreement Friday at the G-20 summit in Argentina, he will get a step closer to delivering on a campaign promise — to replace NAFTA or terminate it — after a week fraught with negative economic headlines.

Just Tuesday, General Motors announced that, in light of the new deal, it was laying off 15 percent of its workers and shuttering five plants in the U.S. and Canada.

The president had boasted that the renegotiated and renamed USMCA deal — the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement — would have just the opposite effect.

“He believes — as, frankly, the prime minister of Canada, Trudeau, believes — that the USMCA deal was a great help to the automobile industry and to autoworkers,” Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said, reacting to GM’s decision.

Once the deal that Trump announced Oct. 1 with great fanfare is signed, it still needs to be approved by the legislatures in all three countries. Because it is unclear — even unlikely — that Congress will vote on it before the current session ends in December, the deal could face new challenges in 2019. If approved, it would likely take effect around Jan. 1, 2020.

Nafta 2.0?

Renegotiating NAFTA was a centerpiece of Trump’s presidential campaign. Campaigning in New Hampshire in 2016 he called it “the worst trade deal ever made in the history of the world” vowing to “totally renegotiate NAFTA.”

After 14 months of tense negotiations and repeated threats, the president in October said: “We have kept that promise.” Touting the USMCA at a Rose Garden ceremony, he vowed it would be the “most modern, up-to-date and balanced trade agreement in the history of our country.”

“This is a much different deal than NAFTA,” Trump said.

But Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and a self-described free trader, said the biggest difference between this deal and NAFTA is the name. In terms of substance, he said about 90 percent of the original NAFTA agreement stays in place under the USMCA.

“If you really believe that NAFTA was the worst trade deal in American history, you can’t reconcile yourself to say that this new USMCA is a very good deal or represents a breakthrough,” Hufbauer said. “It wades deep into the land of fiction.”

Trump has talked about the new name repeatedly. As the deal was being negotiated, he called the new name “elegant” at an Oval Office event in August — at the time, the deal only included Mexico. “I think NAFTA has a lot of bad connotations,” he said. At his October Rose Garden event he said calling it USMCA “sort of just works … has a good ring to it.”

Industry impact

Hufbauer said the substantive changes that do exist are consistent.

“This is a tip-toe back into the realm of protectionism,” Hufbauer said. “There’s a big sigh of relief, not just from industry in the country, but also Canada and Mexico that it didn’t go further in terms of protectionism.”

The Trump administration’s signature changes are concentrated on the auto industry. The USMCA requires that cars and trucks have 75 percent of their parts made in North America, tightening NAFTA’s “rules of origin.” Under NAFTA, 62.5 percent of the parts were required to be sourced from North America.

A potentially more controversial change demands that a minimum amount — 40-45 percent — of a car must be produced by high-wage labor, workers making the equivalent of $16 per hour. The AFL-CIO reports that the average auto worker in Mexico makes $2-$2.50 an hour. The move is meant to incentivize production in the U.S. and Canada.

Some analysts have warned this could lead to higher costs.

“What it spells out for consumers is that they’ll be paying more. It’s the opposite of what NAFTA stood for,” Edmunds analyst Ivan Drury told ABC News in October.

While the imposition of new tariffs falls outside the text of the deal, it’s another piece of the administration’s protectionist agenda putting pressure on the industry. General Motors has said tariffs on imported steel cost the company $1 billion.

Under the deal, Canada agrees to open its dairy market, an issue Trump has stressed repeatedly, calling it a potential “deal breaker.” Similar provisions were offered in the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump exited.

Canadian farmers have protested the increase in quotas on U.S. products including milk, yogurt, milk powder and formula. The deal also gives U.S. exporters of chicken, eggs, turkeys and American wheat more access to the Canadian market.

Going forward, the deal limits the countries from making any deal with China, and it allows any country to withdraw from the USMCA without cause by providing at least six months written notice.

Finally, the entire deal “sunsets” in 16 years unless extended after a formal review. There was no such provision in the NAFTA deal. Mexico, Canada, business interests, and Republicans in Congress have opposed the concept, contending it may create uncertainty for businesses.

What’s next?

When Congress eventually gets to vote, the measure will be eligible for what’s known as “fast track” passage. “Fast track” expedites a final up or down vote by prohibiting amendments and filibusters.

But some Republicans are worried that, even with that, the process might not move quickly enough for the deal to pass before a new Congress convenes in January.

“We are concerned that if the Administration waits until next year to send to Congress a draft implementing the bill, passage of the USMCA as negotiated will become significantly more difficult,” a dozen Republican senators wrote in a letter to Trump.

The letter is signed by GOP Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Steve Daines of Montana, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jon Kyl of Arizona, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Lee of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Ted Cruz of Texas.

But Toomey would like Trump to make some last-minute changes. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed the same day, the self-described free trader called it a “mixed bag of trade-enhancing and trade-restricting changes to the current North American Free Trade Agreement. He requested “pro-trade modifications,” including revisiting the sunset provision and changing the wage requirements on auto and auto parts production.

But Democrats and unions, including the United Auto Workers, have expressed cautious optimism about the parts of the deal aimed at protecting worker wages. In a statement, UAW President Gary Jones called them a “step in the right direction.” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said at the time the deal was announced that “the president deserves praise” for his efforts.

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