Man Beats One in 9.7 Trillion Odds to Win Same Lottery Twice

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Hemera/Thinkstock(NORWOOD, Mass.) — A man accidentally won the same lottery twice for a payout of $546,000.

Kenneth J. Stokes, of Norwood, Mass., is a lottery season ticket holder, which automatically enters him into every drawing of a certain lottery with specific, pre-set numbers of his choosing.

Forgetting that his family had gifted him a season pass to the Massachusetts State Lottery Lucky for Life drawing with their lucky numbers, Stokes bought a second ticket with the exact same numbers on Monday.

Then, he got a fateful call from the lotto officials on Tuesday morning.

“The representative called the individual who was the owner of the season ticket and informed him of that and then he was obviously elated to find out that he had won on that ticket,” Massachusetts State Lottery director of communications Christian Teja told ABC News. “They hung up and he realized that he had purchased the same ticket on his own for that same drawing. During the phone call when they had spoken, the representative had mentioned there was another winner form Norwood. He called back and it all came together when he was like, ‘I’m that guy in Norwood.’”

Stokes brought in his winning tickets on Thursday morning to collect his prize. He had won $25,000 a year for up to 20 years, which equals a $500,000 maximum. Stokes opted for a one-time cash option payment, which brought the prize down to $390,000 pre-tax, or $273,000 after tax. For Stokes, however, his winnings were doubled to $546,000.

The odds of Stokes winning twice in one drawing are one in 9.7 trillion. He plans to use the winnings to pay for his son’s college tuition and his daughter’s remaining car payments, as well as take his family on a vacation.

“I saw him yesterday. He was certainly in a good mood with a big smile on his face, as you can imagine,” Teja said. “He’s still somewhat in disbelief but very appreciate of his good fortune.”

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Stocks End Week on a High Note

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Strong earnings pushed stocks higher, allowing the markets to end the week in positive territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 127.51 points ending the day at 16,805.41. The Nasdaq climbed 30.93 points to 4,483.72, and the S&P 500 went up 13.76 points to 1,964.58.

We’re taking less vacation now than at any point in the last four decades. The U.S. Travel Association says workers took an average of 16 days last year, compared to 20 in 2000.

Looking for a holiday job? UPS is predicting an 11% jump in December shipments and will hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers to handle the volume.

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New Home Sales Up 0.2% in September

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The housing market continues to bounce back.

The Commerce Department reported on Friday that sales of new homes rose 0.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 467,000.

David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said the numbers are actually better than they appear at first glance.

“August was really high when it was reported in August and that’s since been adjusted down, so now we have for the September number, we have the highest number since July 2008,” he told ABC News Radio.

Crowe said the market is getting healthier — albeit at a slow pace.

“We’re still at a very good number. It still indicates that we’re moving forward in new home sales, although admittedly in a relatively slow pace,” he noted.

He said several factors are keeping some potential buyers away.

“It’s a whole variety of things. Certainly, mortgage qualification is a big part of it. It’s particularly true for younger, first time home buyers who maybe have a ding on their credit, don’t have as much down payment,” Crowe explained.

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Fire Sale: Why Amazon’s Much-Hyped Phone Flopped

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Amazon(NEW YORK) — Amazon’s much-hyped Fire phone didn’t even create a spark in the smartphone market. Four months after its debut, the device, which featured what Amazon called “breakthrough” technology, is now selling on Amazon for 99 cents with a contract — placing it at about the same price point as a fast food hamburger.

Where Amazon went wrong was creating a device geared toward drawing in new Amazon shoppers, according to Patrick Moorhead, principal technology analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. He said the smart phone and Amazon were a classic case of a “brand mismatch.”

“I think that Amazon was more interested in monetizing its buyers than actually delivering a compelling experience,” Moorhead told ABC News.

The Fire phone is equipped with a feature that allows users to identify almost any product — from a book to a game or a container of kosher salt. It then directs users to Amazon to make purchases.

The 3-D display, ideal for game play, was touted by Amazon as another breakthrough feature of the phone. From Moorhead’s perspective, it’s one place the company had a chance to shine but executed the technology entirely the wrong way.

“I could imagine on a 10-inch tablet playing some really cool 3-D games, but their display was too small,” he said. “It was the wrong platform.”

Reviews of the Fire phone, which averages about 2-stars on Amazon, range from “extremely sad and dissatisfied” and “I wanted to love you” to “five stars.”

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Turns Out Sunday’s the Best Day to Buy Airfare

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Your employer can rest easy knowing that if you’re spending work hours shopping for airfare, at least you won’t likely get a deal while doing it. At least not compared to if you had taken some time out of your weekend to search.

A study released this week from the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) found that Sunday — not Tuesday, as is the commonly-held belief — is the least expensive day to purchase airfare. Saturday is also preferable to Tuesday when it comes to cheaper prices.

And it’s not chump change: The average fare paid on a Sunday, the least expensive day, is $71 cheaper than that paid on a Monday, the most expensive day. The average price paid for a domestic flight on a Sunday is $432 compared to $503 on a Monday.

The study examined all airline tickets sold by U.S.-based travel agents and settled by ARC between January 2013 and July 2014 — nearly 130 million in all. ARC is a technology company providing transaction settlement and data information services. The analysis is based on full ticket price (including fares, taxes and fees) to reflect the amount travelers actually pay for air travel and does not include baggage fees, seat charges or other fees collected by the airlines separate from the original ticket purchase.

Tuesday shoppers can take comfort in the knowledge that that day is still the cheapest of the weekdays to buy airfare.

“Tuesday was considered hot because airlines used to announce their new fare schedules and promotions on a Monday,” said Gabriel Shaoolian, digital trends expert and CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a company that services the websites of some of the airline industry’s major players. “On Tuesday, there was some competitive price-matching as the market adjusted to the latest incentives, so that was seen as the time to jump in.”

But Shaoolian points out business travelers, a big chunk of the travel market, aren’t generally shopping for airfare on Sundays.

“Seats that haven’t sold earlier in the week to business travel agents are generally put on sale to attract leisure travelers, those who have time on the weekends to go online to all of the travel websites and research fares, stimulated by Sunday newspaper travel sections and, facing another work week, the desire to make a recreation getaway happen. Airlines are wise to this and provide the attractive fare accordingly — before announcing new fare schemes for the next set of business buyers on Monday,” Shoolian said.

Sundays are likely to offer the cheapest tickets for both domestic and international travel. The lowest ticket prices for domestic travel were seen at 57 days prior to departure and 171 days for international trips.

A Texas A&M study released earlier this year also found weekends were the time travelers were most likely to find deals. That study showed ticket prices were 5 percent lower on the weekends than on weekdays.

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How to Find People on Facebook’s Pseudo-Anonymous App ‘Rooms’

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Facebook(NEW YORK) — Catering to the obscure, Facebook’s new pseudo-anonymous app, “Rooms,” lets users geek out on niche topics without ever having to reveal their real identities.

Less than 24 hours after the app launched, a slew of new rooms have been created, covering a spectrum of topics that span from “Mormon Living” to “Men’s Speedo Lovers.”

The chat room and message board hybrid allows like-minded people to create rooms to discuss any topic of interest. A QR code is generated, which the room’s creator can distribute to others as an invitation to join the conversation.

While Rooms doesn’t have a discovery feature, Josh Miller, product manager for the app, advised users to search Instagram using the hashtag #Rooms to find public invitations for topics that may interest them.

To use the invitation, users must take a screen shot of the QR code by simultaneously pressing the home and power buttons on their iPhones.

Then, they must open the rooms app, choose “use invite,” and find the shot on their camera roll to gain access to the room they wish to join.

Once inside, users are treated to a feed of videos, photos and text on the given topic of interest.

While Facebook has a real name policy, Rooms lets users choose any username they want, and their handles can differ for each room they’re a member of.

Miller said Rooms allows people to revel in the sides of themselves that they may not get to show their friends.

“One of the things our team loves most about the internet is its potential to let us be whoever we want to be,” he said in a blog post on Thursday. “This can be liberating, but only if we have places that let us break away from the constraints of our everyday selves. We want the rooms you create to be freeing in this way.”

Rooms is available in the Apple app store for users in the United States and United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries, Facebook said.

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WOW Air Offers Flights from US to Europe for $99

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

WOW Air(NEW YORK) — Could your overseas flight soon cost less than your baggage fees?

Icelandic airline WOW Air announced this week its plan to offer flights from the U.S. to Europe for only $99.

The carrier is taking advantage of the growing sector of budget travelers, catered to by low cost airlines, which generally skimp on traditional amenities in order to pass savings on to customers.

The one-way flights are limited to a few cities at the onset: Boston and Washington, D.C., with transatlantic flights to Iceland, London and Copenhagen, Denmark.

WOW said the deep budget flights could become available as soon as March 2015. Still, many fliers have already secured reservations to fly next year.

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Amazon on the Defensive After Hefty Quarterly Loss

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Amazon(NEW YORK) — Amazon will be on the defensive Friday, as the web giant takes a hit from investors after posting its largest quarterly loss in 14 years.

In pre-market trading, Amazon stock was already down more than 10 percent.

On Thursday, the online retail giant released its third quarter earnings report, which showed a far greater than expected net loss and revenue that did not meet expectations, as well as weak guidance for next quarter’s earnings.

The company has been criticized for many of its expansionist policies, including new products like the Amazon Fire phone, which has generally been seen as an unsuccessful product.

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Amazon on Defensive After Hefty Quarterly Loss

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Morning Money Memo…

ap amazon logo jc 141024 16x9 608 Amazon on Defensive After Hefty Quarterly Loss

Amazon.com posted its largest quarterly loss in 14 years. AP

Amazon will be on the defensive this morning, as the web giant takes a hit from investors after posting its largest quarterly loss in 14 years. Amazon stock is down more than 10 percent in pre-market trading, after a third quarter earnings report which showed a far greater than expected net loss and revenue that did not meet expectations, as well as weak guidance for next quarter’s earnings. The company has been criticized for many of its expansionist policies, including new products like the Amazon Fire phone, which has generally been seen as a an unsuccessful product.

Several companies reported earnings results above analysts’ expectations this morning, despite some lackluster overall numbers. Ford beat estimates despite significantly shrinking profits from same quarter 2013. Bristol Myers Squib, Moody’s and the NASDAQ OMX also posted higher than expected earnings results. Procter & Gamble narrowly missed estimates this morning. P&G stock is down more than 1 percent in pre-market trading.

U.S. markets could be facing a lower opening this market, despite Thursday’s 216 point rally in the Dow. Futures are down slightly this morning, while worldwide markets are leaning negative for the day.  Crude oil continued its record decline, down 1 percent to $81.25 per barrel. Gold is up $4 to $1,233 an ounce.

Fear looks to rule this weekend’s box office, with Halloween drawing down to just one week away. Small budget horror “Ouija” is expected to take the top spot amidst of slew of competition, bringing in up to $25 million during its first run in theatres. Action flick “John Wick,” starring Keanu Reeves, will make a strong run at the number 2 spot this weekend, expected to gross upwards of $10 million. It will compete with returning earnings stalwarts “Fury” and “Gone Girl,” which could both bring in roughly $10 million apiece.

Could your overseas flight soon cost less than your baggage fees? Icelandic airline WOW Air announced its plan to offer flights from the U.S. to Europe for, get this, only $99. The discount airline is taking advantage of the growing sector of budget travelers, catered to by low cost airlines which generally skimp on traditional amenities in order to pass savings on to customers. The proposed flights would be one-way, and be limited to few cities at the onset; Boston and Washington DC with transatlantic flights to Iceland, London and Copenhagen. The deep budget flights could become available as soon as March 2015.

 

 

Airlines Profits Soaring

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The nation’s airlines are flying high — maybe higher than they ever have before.

Several carriers, including American, Alaska, Southwest, and JetBlue Airlines posted record third-quarter profits Thursday. Even United Continental, which hasn’t been keeping up with the pack, said they enjoyed an excellent third quarter.

All the airlines expect the good times to continue during the upcoming holiday season, barring setbacks that might include anxiety over Ebola.

As for what accounts for the huge earnings, industry analysts say it has to do with more people flying, higher ticket prices and of course, those extra fees for checked bags and other things that used to be free.

There’s one other factor that’s putting the airlines in the cockpit seat: lower prices of crude oil, which means cheaper fuel.

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Feds Probe Maker of Faulty Airbag Parts

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Takata Industries, the maker of the defective airbag parts being recalled. affecting nearly 8 million cars, is now the subject of a preliminary criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York.

The problem with the airbags — made at plants in Washington state and Mexico — is that the defective inflator can explode with too much force, shattering the metal into shards that, car safety advocates say, are believed to have killed four people.

Investigators are looking into whether Takata provided misleading information to federal safety regulators.

Related: Feds say millions more airbags could be dangerous.
Related: US urges car owners to “take immediate action” on airbags.
Related: Senators seek national airbag recall.

Already, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that there are not enough replacement inflators for the nearly 8 million cars recalled.

It said it has been in contact with Takata to try to expand production of replacement units and has asked the company to look at outside sources to help boost production.

Takata has said it is “cooperating” with the recall.

BMW and Honda, two of the 10 companies recalling bags, have said that customers will have to wait for a replacement.

Toyota said that it would disable passenger airbags if it couldn’t get replacement airbags, which is not in violation of any law, according to the NHTSA. Consumers have been left confused as to what to do next.

On the NHTSA website, consumers can find a list of makes and models and search by vehicle identification number to see whether their car is one of those under recall.

The federal agency also said vehicle owners could check their manufacturer’s website to search by the VIN.

Three Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Get Out of Debt

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thomas and Megan Sneed’s daughter, Nora, is growing fast, but so are their bills.

“We’re like a lot of people. We graduated with college debt, we put our honeymoon on our credit card and then a year after being married, we had a baby,” Thomas said. “We found ourselves in debt, just like that.”

With the holidays around the corner, they had one unique wish: to be free of debt by Christmas.

With $14,000 in debt left to go, the Sneeds said they knew it would take discipline. To cut the biggest bill — housing — Thomas, an IT specialist, and Megan, a nurse, moved back in with their parents.

To help them address the rest of the debt, the “Real Money” team connected the Greenville, South Carolina, couple with Will Parker, another Greenville resident who climbed out of his own $20,000 debt in just nine months.

“I’m just a guy with a smartphone,” he said. “Anybody can do it!”

Parker shared the following tips with the Sneeds to help them on their way to a debt-free Christmas:

  1. Reach for your phone rather than your wallet. Track what you’re spending on groceries, gifts and entertainment. Parker suggested using apps like Simple, WalletUp or Mint to see exactly where your money is going.
  2. Eliminate late fees and higher interest rates. Average overdraft fees are at a record high of $32.74, so set notifications on your phone to warn you when you’re getting close to your limits and deadlines. If you’re late on a payment just once, some banks can hike their interest rates from the average 15 percent to 30 percent. If you make only the minimum payments, it would cost you an extra $18,586 in interest to pay off a $5,000 debt, according to Bankrate.
  3. Be careful about where you get cash. ATM fees have risen 23 percent in the last five years to an average of $4.35 for out-of-network transactions, no matter how little cash you take out. Use locators on your phone to find the nearest “no-fee” ATMs in your area.

Parker said it was all about setting a budget and sticking to it.

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3 Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Get Out of Debt

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC family money debt mar 141023 16x9 608 3 Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Get Out of Debt

ABC News

Thomas and Megan Sneed’s daughter, Nora, is growing fast but so are their bills.

“We’re like a lot of people. We graduated with college debt, we put our honeymoon on our credit card and then a year after being married, we had a baby,” Thomas said. “We found ourselves in debt, just like that.”

With the holidays around the corner, they had one unique wish: to be free of debt by Christmas.

4 Tips to Help Get You Out of Debt

How to Avoid Paying High Bank and Credit Card Fees

7 Ways Debt Is Bad for Your Health

With $14,000 in debt left to go, the Sneeds said they knew it would take discipline. To cut the biggest bill — housing — Thomas, an IT specialist, and Megan, a nurse, moved back in with their parents.

To help them address the rest of the debt, the “Real Money” team connected the Greenville, South Carolina, couple with Will Parker, another Greenville resident who climbed out of his own $20,000 debt in just nine months.

“I’m just a guy with a smartphone,” he said. “Anybody can do it!”

Parker shared the following tips with the Sneeds to help them on their way to a debt-free Christmas.

  1. Reach for your phone rather than your wallet. Track what you’re spending on groceries, gifts and entertainment. Parker suggested using apps like Simple, WalletUp or Mint to see exactly where your money is going.
  2. Eliminate late fees and higher interest rates. Average overdraft fees are at a record high of $32.74 so set notifications on your phone to warn you when you’re getting close to your limits and deadlines. If you’re late on a payment just once, some banks can hike their interest rates from the average 15 percent to 30 percent. If you make only the minimum payments, it would cost you an extra $18,586 in interest to pay off a $5,000 debt, according to Bankrate.
  3. Be careful about where you get cash. ATM fees have risen 23 percent in the last five years to an average of $4.35 for out-of-network transactions, no matter how little cash you take out. Use locators on your phone to find the nearest “no-fee” ATMs in your area.

Parker said it was all about setting a budget and sticking to it.

 

Air New Zealand Releases ‘Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As the “official airline of Middle-earth,” Air New Zealand would naturally want to capitalize on the final movie in The Hobbit trilogy, scheduled to be released in December.

The theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a few months away, but Hobbit lovers can get a fix by watching “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made,” featuring cast members from all three films in the trilogy — Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Dean O’Gorman (Fili the Dwarf) and Sylvester McCoy (Radagast).

The video, directed by Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi, also features cameos from The Hobbit trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson, Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor and Waititi himself, who appears as a wizard.

Not one moment of the safety video actually takes place in an airplane.

More ABC news videos | ABC Health News

It’s not the first time the airline has made an airline safety video in connection with The Hobbit films. In 2012, director Peter Jackson and The Hobbit characters appeared in a Middle-earth-themed safety video. “An Unexpected Briefing” has been viewed more than 12 million times online.

“We’re confident our final Hobbit-inspired on board safety video will delight fans as much as the first one and inspire even more people to consider a visit to Middle-earth,” said Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development.

Since its release Wednesday, the video has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.

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Nasdaq and S&P Have Best Day Since January 2013

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Strong earnings helped the markets soar on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 216.58 points, closing at 16,677.90.

Thursday was the best day for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 since January 2013. The Nasdaq gained 69.94 points, closing at 4,452.79, and the S&P climbed 23.71 points to 1,950.82.

After falling to a 14-year low, more people filed for unemployment last week. The Labor Department says despite the increase of 17,000, applications are still at historically low levels, which suggests hiring is strong.

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Facebook Launches Pseudo-Anonymous App ‘Rooms’

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — What happens when a bunch of people gather under the cloak of pseudo-anonymity in a virtual chat room? With the launch of Facebook’s new “Rooms” app, the world is about to find out.

The chat room and message board hybrid allows like-minded people to create rooms to discuss niche topics of interest. That could mean everything from nerd culture to that delicious bagel you ate this morning.

While Facebook has a real name policy, Rooms lets users choose any username they want, and their handles can differ for each room they’re a member of.

Josh Miller, one of the co-founders of discussion site Branch, which Facebook acquired last year, said Rooms allows people to revel in the sides of themselves that they may not get to show their friends.

“One of the things our team loves most about the internet is its potential to let us be whoever we want to be,” he said in a blog post. “This can be liberating, but only if we have places that let us break away from the constraints of our everyday selves. We want the rooms you create to be freeing in this way.”

Rooms is available Thursday in the Apple app store for users in the United States and United Kingdom and other English speaking countries, Facebook said.

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How Google’s New ‘Inbox’ Could Change Email Forever

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Google(NEW YORK) — Google is rethinking email with “Inbox,” a product that promises to keep users from drowning in an overflowing inbox.

Working as a complement to Gmail, the product is geared toward a mobile audience and is designed to bring peace and order back to cluttered inboxes everywhere.

However, it’s not available to everyone just yet. Google sent out its first round of invitations on Wednesday to users who will have the privilege of inviting their friends to download Inbox.

No hookup? No problem. Users can also email inbox@google.com to join the wait list for when more invites become available.

Once you’ve scored a coveted invite, here’s what to expect from Inbox.

Important Information at a Glance: Inbox is so smart that it will even add real-time information from the Internet to your emails, such as letting you know if your flight is delayed.

Easy Organization: Similar emails, such as receipts or bank statements are grouped together, making it easier to find the information you need.

It’s Easier to Step Away from Email: Need an email detox? Inbox can take care of that. The app lets users hit snooze for away emails and reminders, allowing you to designate a time or specific location when you’d like them to come back.

Reminders: Never forget a birthday or date ever again. Inbox also makes it incredibly easy by providing relevant phone numbers, maps and addresses, just like a good personal assistant.

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What’s Different About the New iPad Mini

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — The new iPad Mini has arrived.

The device comes equipped with Apple’s Touch ID, allowing users to take advantage of the new Apple Pay feature. It also comes with a gold finish option and the brand new iOS 8.1.

Other than that, there’s not much different between the $399 device and the older iPad Mini 2, which retails for $100 less.

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Mark Zuckerberg Puts the Rest of Us to Shame by Speaking Fluent Chinese

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BEIJING) — How do you say “wow” in Chinese?

If you ever need shaming into keeping up with a New Years’ resolution, look no further than the example set by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

While many spend hours each day scrolling through Facebook, the 30-year-old billionaire has been busy running his company and learning Mandarin, something he chose as his “personal challenge” in 2010.

Zuckerberg impressed the crowd at Tsinghua University in Beijing on Wednesday when he participated in a 30-minute question-and-answer session entirely in Chinese.

He later posted his Chinese-speaking debut to his Facebook page, drawing raves from some of his 30 million Facebook followers.

“Wow, just wow,” one commenter wrote. “Speaking Chinese for an entire Q&A is already beyond mind-blowing. But then cracking jokes in Chinese and getting the whole room to erupt in laughter?? That’s seriously taking it to a whole new level!”

While this may be the most public showing of the payoff of his famous personal challenges, Zuckerberg has previously tasked himself with other ambitious goals.

In 2009, he gave his trademark hoodie a break and vowed to wear a tie every day to work.

In 2011, he announced on his Facebook page that “I just killed a pig and a goat,” keeping with his goal to only eat meat from animals he personally slaughtered. Zuckerberg said at the time he would appreciate his food more if he learned the process of killing the animal and cooking it.

In 2012, Zuckerberg set a goal to return to coding — something he hadn’t had a chance to have much involvement in as he grew the business of Facebook.

The next year, Zuckerberg made it a point to meet someone new outside Facebook every day — something he said in interviews turned out to be easier than he expected.

This year, the tech titan has been busy practicing gratitude. He told Business Week his goal for 2014 has been to write one thank you note every day.

Not too shabby for a guy who runs a multi-billion dollar company with more than 1.3 billion daily users.

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Jobless Claims Climb to 283K

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims were higher last week, increasing by 17,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Oct. 18, the number of people filing for benefits jumped to 283,000. The previous week claims stood at 266,000, revised up from 264,000.

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

The four-week moving average decreased, however, falling by 3,000 to 281,000.

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The Very Very High Price of Traffic in the US

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You think traffic has gotten worse than it used to be? You’re absolutely right, according to a survey by the traffic data company INRIX.

But it’s not just time Americans are wasting sitting stuck on the roads, it’s money — a lot of money.

INRIX estimates that the annual and cumulative costs of congestion in the U.S. were a whopping $124 billion in 2013. That’s $1,700 per household in wasted time, gas and the higher price of goods because delivery trucks can’t arrive at their destinations when they’re supposed to.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles alone accounts for 20 percent of lost revenue because of gridlock.

INRIX also predicts things aren’t going to get better: the losses for 2030 due to traffic are projected at $186 billion.

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Are Overweight Women Disadvantaged in the Workplace?

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Creatas/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Overweight women may have a compelling case about being mistreated and discriminated against in the workplace based on a disturbing study out of Vanderbilt Law School.

Study author Jennifer Shinall, assistant professor of law, says that women employees who are viewed as overweight are not as likely to wind up in jobs involving personal interaction with customers.

Another one of Shinall’s findings is that the heavier the woman, especially those who are morbidly obese, the greater the likelihood that they’ll be relegated to jobs that are the most physically demanding.  These types of employment include nursing and childcare.

Furthermore, overweight and obese women will generally earn less than all men or women who care considered normal weight.

In terms of what legal recourse these alleged victims can take, Shinall says rather than the Americans with Disabilities Act, a potential lawsuit could fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

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Why Kids Keep Getting Stuck in Claw Toy Machines

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Like a moth attracted to the flame, kids just can’t seem to keep their tiny bodies out of toy claw machines. The latest incident started when 18-month-old Colin Lambert climbed into the game in Maryville, Tennessee, while his grandmother wasn’t looking.

The fire department quickly retrieved the toddler from the toy machine at Browns Creek Coin Laundry.

States including Wisconsin have regulated claw machine games as they do gambling activities — limiting the value of prizes — but not as safety hazards.

Claw machines are designed to be tantalizing, said Barbara Eldredge, design researcher and writer for creative agency Real Art, which made the world’s biggest claw machine, according to Guinness World Records. It is being re-installed and opens this week at Proto BuildBar in Dayton, Ohio. The claw game is 17-by-8-by-12 feet and costs $5 to play.

“The prizes are so close but they are also just out of reach. The appeal of going inside is like entering a magic land. It’s kid-sized and if the kid can fit, why not?” she said.

Only about a foot away, Colin had been playing with the machine’s door, which made a loud sound when it was pushed open, then closed.

“He likes things that go ‘bang’ and climbing. He’s just at that age,” Colin Lambert’s grandmother Diane O’Neill said. “I was listening to the ‘bang bang.’ I personally think he was hitting it with his head then he realized he could get through.”

O’Neill said in the seconds that she looked at a message on her phone, the toddler had climbed through the game’s door, which she estimates at about 8-by-10 inches. The only thing she saw was his feet through the door, but when she grabbed his feet, he kicked her grasp away.

The laundromat worker didn’t have the key to open the machine, so O’Neill called 911. The fire department swiftly removed the boy.

“They literally popped the glass part where the toys were, took him out and gave him a toy,” O’Neill said.

Other incidents include the teary 2-year-old in Kentucky rescued from a claw machine, also in a laundromat, in 2012.

In April, a toddler in Nebraska wandered out of his home to a nearby bowling alley and climbed into its claw machine. Both the mother and the bowling alley had called 911. 

Last year, another boy was rescued from a bowling alley claw game, because the machine’s key was handy.

In 2010, a Pennsylvania toddler with a pacifier climbed into the toy machine in a mall, to the horror of her mother.

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How Police Say Two Women Almost Got Away With Stealing at Least 6 Houses

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY, Md.) — When Laverne Green and her husband divorced, she moved out of their Prince Georges County, Maryland, townhouse, but she still stopped by weekly.

In May 2013, Green was shocked to discover that someone had stolen her house and moved strangers in.

When Green arrived at the home, she found that her key didn’t work in the door. Green told ABC News‘ 20/20 that a woman answered the door. “She said that she was renting the property. I’m like, ‘How can you rent this property– this is my house?’”

The renters said they procured the house through broker Shannon Lee. According to Green, Lee said, “‘Well, I bought this property through a tax sale.’”

“I asked her, ‘[Do you] have the deeds and everything to the house?’ She said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got everything.’”

Police say Lee had actually taken control of her house with forged documents and then rented it out.

“Nobody suspected that someone would actually advertise a property they didn’t own and collect rent on it,” prosecutor Angela Alsobrooks told 20/20.

Alsobrooks said this type of scam only works if the real homeowner isn’t around to notice. Luckily, Green not only visited her house often, but she also was a secretary for the Prince Georges County Police. Instead of calling 911, Green asked co-worker Lt. Charles Duelley for help.

Duelley got a search warrant for Lee’s home and discovered a stack of deeds he said were forged for other homes. He also found evidence that 15 to 20 other properties had been targeted.

Police say Lee, along with her alleged partner, Qiana Johnson, gained control of at least six houses and planned to steal 15 to 20 more.

Duelley believes Lee scouted the area for houses that appeared vacant and were pending foreclosure. He said she compiled meticulous house-by-house reports of potential targets, even breaking in to take photos.

Lee then used blank deeds, according to Duelley, adding her name as the new owner, a fake notary seal and a bogus lawyer signature. She then simply walked into the county records department to officially enter that counterfeit into the public record.

Charrise and Michael Stewart answered an advertisement Lee posted when she was looking to rent one house she had taken over. The Stewarts said Lee represented herself as a respected broker, gave them a tour and got them to sign a lease. It seemed legitimate to them, despite some suspicious red flags, they said.

“From the outside you can see the damage done to the locks of the door, as if someone busted in the door, changed the locks on the door,” Charles Stewart said. Lee claimed that the scratches were from when she had trouble changing the locks.

The couple also wondered why they were not receiving electric bills from the local utility, Pepco. The Stewarts called the utility, but were told they couldn’t find them in the system as the owners.

Meanwhile, authorities said, Lee and Johnson were collecting rent from the house and other properties they’d stolen. They allegedly even sold one for a pile of cash.

“She had had herself convinced that the paperwork was of good enough quality on the forgeries that she…thought she was in the clear,” Duelley said.

Police said that Lee and Johnson kept the bigger properties to live in themselves, including a sprawling five-bedroom colonial house that Donnie and David Small lived in in Cheltenham, Maryland.

The Smalls had been forced to leave their beloved home when Donnie Small’s job was transferred to California. Struggling to carry two homes, they fell behind on the payments. Police said that was when Johnson used a faked deed to move her whole family in.

Donnie Small’s former neighbors said Johnson claimed to be family members of the Smalls. But some neighbors became suspicious and called Donnie Small’s husband.

“[They said], ‘Did you sell the house?’” Donnie Small said. “And he’s like, ‘No.’”

The Smalls called police, who evicted Johnson’s family. But Johnson moved back in hours later, and in an outrageous twist, Johnson sued the Smalls for false eviction.

Lee and Johnson were eventually arrested. Lee pleaded guilty to burglary and forgery. She is facing multiple counts of theft, forgery and burglary. Johnson was charged with multiple counts of theft, burglary and forgery, among other charges.

Donnie Small and Laverne Green had to file expensive eviction proceedings to get their houses back, and the Stewarts spent thousands of dollars when they had to quickly move out and find a new home.

When confronted by 20/20, Lee said, “The truth will come out…I didn’t steal any houses.” Johnson has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Lee later missed another court hearing, claiming she’d been in the hospital. She gave the judge hospital admissions records to prove it, but even the records were proved to be forged. She was sentenced to six months and may face additional charges as well.

Johnson is currently awaiting trial.

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After Two Days of Gains, Dow Falls Over 100 Points

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After two days of gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 100 points on Wednesday.

The Dow lost 153.49 points, closing at 16,461.32.

The Nasdaq went down 36.63 points to 4,382.85, while the S&P 500 dropped 14.17 points, ending the day at 1,927.11.

After reporting one of its worst quarters in years, McDonald’s is outlining a plan for what it calls fundamental changes to its business. A big part will include simplifying the menu and removing low-selling products.

Boeing is reporting strong earnings, with profits up 18% for the quarter.

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Feds: Our Bad, Millions More Air Bags Could Be Dangerous

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Federal officials say a previous count of the number of vehicles that could be loaded with defective air bags came up short by more than three million, and the government website drivers could use to see if their individual car is on the list is currently down due to “intermittent network issues.”

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published an urgent plea on its website for more than 4.7 million owners of vehicles with Takata air bags to immediately get the air bags replaced, as the owners had been directed in previous recall notices over the past two years.

Auto safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News that the renewed warning is related to the potential for the air bag’s inflator to explode when deployed, sending “shrapnel” into the face of the car’s occupant — a phenomenon allegedly linked to gruesome injuries and a small number of deaths.

“This is literally like having an IED [improvised explosive device] in your car,” Kane said.

Late Tuesday, the government revised the number, however, saying actually 7.8 million vehicles have been subject to the air bag recall since 2013.

“The list below corrects the list that accompanied our October 20 advisory, which incorrectly included certain vehicles,” the NHTSA website says, noting that the numbers could change again.

Beyond the list of make and models on the NHTSA website, the federal agency says concerned vehicle owners can contact their manufacturer’s website to search by the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if the vehicle they drive is one of those under recall. NHTSA has its own VIN lookup website, but as of this report, that function was unavailable due to “intermittent network issues,” according to a posting on the site.

The recall reminder is “especially” urgent for vehicle owners in warm climates like the southern U.S., Hawaii and American island territories. Toyota, a maker of some of the recalled vehicles, said on its website Monday said the “influence of high absolute humidity” in the air bag malfunctions is under investigation.

Earlier this month, Florida woman Hien Tran was killed in a mysterious auto accident that police initially treated like a homicide due to the apparent stab wounds on her neck. Later, however, investigators determined her fatal wounds were “consistent with…exploding airbags,” according to The Orlando Sentinel. If confirmed, auto safety experts say Tran’s death would be the fourth linked to the dangerous defect.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the issue back in June, at which time air bag supplier Takata published a statement on its website saying the company “is committed to the highest standards of safety for our customers — and their customers.”

“For the past several months, we have been consistently cooperating with NHTSA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation that the agency recently opened, but we also stand by the quality of our products,” says the note, which was reposted on Takata’s website earlier this week. “Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its airbag inflators, and we strive to avoid any malfunction.”

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What You Need to Know About Health Care Open Enrollment

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Steve Hamblin/Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The stakes are higher for picking your health care insurance this year, whether choosing employer-sponsored plans or health exchange coverage.

An individual must have some kind of coverage or pay the individual mandate penalty. For 2015, this will be $325 per adult in a family and half that much for each child under 18, up to $975 per household.

“Everyone should get some kind of coverage,” said Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Here are things you should know about open enrollment:

1. Deadlines

Know your employer’s open enrollment period.

Open enrollment for all health care exchanges is shorter for 2015: Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. Individuals may qualify for special enrollment periods beyond this time frame if, for example, they get married, have a baby or move.

2. Employer-sponsored vs. exchange coverage?

Some employees can decline employer-sponsored insurance and instead pursue tax credits on public exchanges. Employer-sponsored insurance must be affordable and offer adequate coverage, said Andrea Riggs, director of communications for GetInsured. If the employee’s contribution toward a plan is less than 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income, then it is deemed affordable.

An employee with low enough wages may also be eligible for Medicaid, Jost said.

3. Research a plan’s total cost

Don’t just focus on the premiums, Riggs said. A few employers, for example, do not cover hospitalization, Jost said. What’s the out-of-pocket limit? Does your employer offer a Health Savings Account (HSA), which can roll over and is yours to keep?

4. Vocabulary and mechanics

Healthy people who need less care should be more comfortable paying lower premiums (the amount paid for your health plan by you and/or your employer) with less coverage, Riggs said. This means higher co-pays (fixed amount paid for a service) and higher deductibles (the amount paid out of pocket before an insurer will pay up). People who need more care should opt for richer benefits (lower co-pays, lower deductibles) with higher premiums.

5. Don’t forget about providers and drugs

Make sure any doctors and specialists key to you are in a plan’s network, that there are enough providers near your home or work and that your prescribed drugs are covered.

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Apple Issues Security Warning over Attacks on iCloud Users

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple said it is aware of “intermittent” attacks on iCloud users and is urging users to take precautions to make sure their private information stays safe.

The new security bulletin comes as reports have emerged that some iCloud users in China have been taken to unauthorized websites after trying to log into their accounts.

A post on Apple’s support website does not explicitly refer to China. The iPhone maker also noted that its servers have not been compromised.

“We’re aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously,” the bulletin said.

The hacking attempts don’t impact users who sign in to their iCloud accounts on iOS devices. Macs running the new OS X Yosemite using Safari are also not impacted, Apple said.

The company recommends users protect their data by making sure they have a secure connection to iCloud.com before entering any personal information.

“If users get an invalid certificate warning in their browser while visiting www.icloud.com, they should pay attention to the warning and not proceed,” Apple said in the post.

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Feds: Our Bad, Millions More Airbags Could Be Dangerous

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Federal officials say a previous count of the number of vehicles that could be loaded with defective airbags came up short by more than three million, and the government website drivers could use to see if their individual car is on the list is currently down due to “intermittent network issues.”

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published an urgent plea on its website for more than 4.7 million owners of vehicles with Takata airbags to immediately get the airbags replaced, as the owners had been directed in previous recall notices over the past two years.

Auto safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News that the renewed warning is related to the potential for the airbag’s inflator to explode when deployed, sending “shrapnel” into the face of the car’s occupant — a phenomenon allegedly linked to gruesome injuries and a small number of deaths.

“This is literally like having an IED [improvised explosive device] in your car,” Kane said.

Late Tuesday, the government revised the number, however, saying actually 7.8 million vehicles have been subject to the airbag recall since 2013.

“The list below corrects the list that accompanied our October 20 advisory, which incorrectly included certain vehicles,” the NHTSA website says, noting that the numbers could change again.

Beyond the list of make and models on the NHTSA website, the federal agency says concerned vehicle owners can contact their manufacturer’s website to search by the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if the vehicle they drive is one of those under recall. NHTSA has its own VIN lookup website, but as of this report, that function was unavailable due to “intermittent network issues,” according to a posting on the site.

The recall reminder is “especially” urgent for vehicle owners in warm climates like the southern U.S., Hawaii and American island territories. Toyota, a maker of some of the recalled vehicles, said on its website Monday said the “influence of high absolute humidity” in the airbag malfunctions is under investigation.

Earlier this month, Florida woman Hien Tran was killed in a mysterious auto accident that police initially treated like a homicide due to the apparent stab wounds on her neck. Later, however, investigators determined her fatal wounds were “consistent with…exploding airbags,” according to The Orlando Sentinel. If confirmed, auto safety experts say Tran’s death would be the fourth linked to the dangerous defect.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the issue back in June, at which time airbag supplier Takata published a statement on its website saying the company “is committed to the highest standards of safety for our customers — and their customers.”

“For the past several months, we have been consistently cooperating with NHTSA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation that the agency recently opened, but we also stand by the quality of our products,” says the note, which was reposted on Takata’s website earlier this week. “Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its airbag inflators, and we strive to avoid any malfunction.”

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"Back to the Future" Today? Inventor Raises Funds for Hoverboard

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Hoverboard prototype – Courtesy of Hendo(NEW YORK) — Admit it. Didn’t you always want Marty McFly’s gravity-defying hoverboard from Back to the Future Part II? Well, today, the future may just be here.

Just in time for the 25th anniversary of the time travel classic film, Greg Henderson, a California inventor has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Hendo Hoverboard from film to the real world.

“Thanks to Marty McFly, this is the perfect example of the stepping stone. …We can’t go over hedges or mobile sidewalks yet, but we’ll get there,” Henderson said of his creation that will carry a $10,000 price tag.

Ever since Marty McFly — played by Michael J. Fox — dropped in on Oct. 21, 2015, the film’s fans have been searching for a way to get their hands on the real deal, likely thanks in no small part to the movie’s director, Robert Zemeckis, pulling off a hoax video featuring stuntmen testing the boards in a behind-the-scenes special.

The video falsely claimed that hoverboards had been around for years, and that parent groups would not allow toy manufacturers to make them. It added that the film’s creators got their hands on them and put them into the movie.

There have been attempts at the real thing over the years, such as a water-powered board. Another sold by Mattel in 2012 bore the heartbreaking disclaimer: “Hoverboard will not actually hover.”

Kickstarter’s investors are ready to believe in McFly’s hoverboard being made today. As of Wednesday morning, Hendo Hover pulled in more than $200,000 of its $250,000 goal.

“We knew there was going to be a lot of interest, just Google hoverboards,” Henderson said, adding: “being able to make some dreams come true is really great.”

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