McDonald’s Announces Election of Next CEO After Poor Fourth-Quarter Results

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Following the announcement of falling revenue for the fourth quarter of the 2014 fiscal year, McDonald’s Corporation elected its next CEO.

Current McDonald’s President and CEO Don Thompson is retiring after nearly 25 years with the company, and effective March 1, Steve Easterbrook will replace him in both roles, the company said. Easterbrook, currently the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer, has led efforts to elevate marketing, innovate the restaurant chain’s menus and create infrastructure for digital initiatives.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Don and congratulate him on his remarkable career at McDonald’s,” Easterbrook said in a statement.

In additional corporate structuring, Pete Bensen, McDonald’s current senior executive vice president and CFO, will take on the role of Chief Administrative Officer, while Kevin Ozan, currently a senior vice president and corporate counselor, will take on Bensen’s responsibilities.

For the fourth quarter, McDonald’s announced a on- percent drop in sales and a two-percent decrease in revenues.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FTC Announces $40 Million Settlement with TracFone Over ‘Unlimited’ Data Deception

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

triloks/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it had agreed to a $40 million settlement with TracFone over alleged deception involving “unlimited” data plans.

TracFone is the largest prepaid mobile provider in the U.S., according to the FTC. The agency claims that TracFone advertised unlimited data plans, but instead, when users surpassed a fixed amount of data in a one-month period, TracFone would throttle or slow down their data speed.

According to a complaint, “customers often experienced slow-downs of at least 60% and sometimes even 90%, significantly impairing their ability to engage in online activities.” The FTC said that one TracFone employee who tested the effects of throttling said that “customer experience is affected because it is very slow…’regular’ users like me may get upset.”

The FTC claims that there was no technical reason for the company to limit data; instead, the decision to do so was made to “reduce the high costs associated” with the unlimited data.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Fed Says It Will Keep Interest Rates Low For Now

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Cameron Whitman/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that they would be “patient” and keep interest rates where they are for now.

In the statement, the Fed said that “labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate.”

The Fed also said that underutilization of labor resources is diminishing, household spending is up and business investment is advancing. On the flip side, the recovery in the housing sector remains slow. The Federal Open Market Committee said that based on its assessment it can “be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy.”

Some experts anticipate the interest rate hikes could begin in September, though the Fed did not say for how much longer they would keep rates low.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

3 Red Flags to Remember When Picking Tax Preparer

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

abc taxes lb 150128 16x9 608 3 Red Flags to Remember When Picking Tax Preparer

ABC News

When Oscar Lomeli asked his friends for a recommendation on a tax preparer, he didn’t think he’d end up getting stuck paying back his bogus refund.

Need more help with your tax returns? See more information below.

“They [friends] told me she was good,” said the engineer from Costa Mesa, California. ”She [the preparer] totally lied and now it’s my fault that she wrote the wrong information and now I have to pay the consequences for that.”

With nearly 60 percent of Americans using tax professionals to prepare their returns, the Internal Revenue Service is issuing a warning today to be on the lookout for con artists making the rounds.

Early warnings about IRS scams this tax season

Beware IRS impersonators’ intimidation scams

Watch: Phone scam caught on tape

Lomeli said during tax time, the tax preparer came to his house and then left with all of his papers. Two weeks, later, he learned he’d receive a $3,000 refund. Lomeli said the woman came to his house to pay him.

“She paid me my refund in $20 bills,” he said.

Lomeli said he later learned that the tax preparer had made up thousands of dollars in deductions. His refund totaled $4,500. Lomeli said she kept $1,500.

“It [the filing] stated that I had a business, which I do not, and it said I lost money in my business, therefore my refund was bigger,” he said.

The IRS said Lomeli’s situation was an all too common problem.

“Legitimate preparers should be charging you a fee tied to the amount of work it’s going to take to prepare your return and file it,” said John Koskinen, an IRS commissioner. “That fee should be independent to any refund to which you’re entitled.”

Koskinen shared these Top 3 tax preparer red flags:

1. A preparer who bases fees on the size of the refund.

2. A preparer who asks you to sign blank or incomplete tax returns.

3. A preparer who can’t provide a PTIN (preparer tax identification number)

There’s also these additional tips:

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

Make less than $60,000? You can file your federal tax returns for free through IRS Free FileTurboTax is also letting those taxpayers file state returns for free and H&R Block is charging $9.99 through Feb. 15.

 

Fed to Keep Interest Rates Low for Now, Wall Street Posts Losses Again

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A second straight day of losses on Wall Street, despite word from the Federal Reserve that it would not increase interest rates for the time being.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17191.76, down 195.45 from its open.

The Nasdaq dropped 43.51 to a finish of 4637.99, while the S&P 500 dipped 27.33 to 2002.22.

The Fed wrote in a statement that “labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate.” While acknowledging that the recovery in the housing sector is still slow and some economic markers could be stronger, the Fed continues to believe it can be “patient” in waiting to increase interest rates.

Also on Wednesday, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche recalled more than 27,000 vehicles in the U.S. over a fuel leak issue. The recall includes a number of makes from the model years 2011 to 2013.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook Unveils New Super Bowl Hub for Fans

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Facebook(NEW YORK) — The Super Bowl and social media have become a favorite annual pairing, joining the ranks of chips and salsa, and chicken wings and beer.

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled a new real-time hub for fans to use while watching the big game.

Whether it’s Marshawn Lynch’s potential antics, a halftime surprise from Katy Perry or a simple touchdown celebration, it’s now even easier to see what your friends and others are saying.

Facebook’s Super Bowl experience also gives users the best commentary from celebrities, a play-by-play of the game and videos of some of the most highly anticipated commercials.

It’s likely Super Bowl XLIX, which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots, could be one of the most buzzed about events on Facebook this year.

Last year, the social network said more than 50 million people had an astounding 185 million interactions about the Super Bowl on game day.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Bulletproof’ Battery Could Prevent Fires, Researchers Say

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — The same bulletproof material that has saved countless lives may now have another practical use in everything from smartphones to airplanes.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have used Kevlar as a barrier to create slimmer lithium-ion batteries. The result is a battery that lasts longer, is more flexible and is explosion-proof, according to Nicholos Kotov.

The University of Michigan professor, who is co-inventor of the technology, told ABC News that Kevlar was chosen as an insulator for its “high strength” and “heat resistance.”

Standard lithium-ion batteries work by sending charges between electrodes via a circuit path. When battery membrane holes become a certain size, lithium atoms can accumulate and create structures called dendrites, which poke through the membrane.

Dendrites become a problem if they reach the other electrode, which will short out the circuit. This is how some battery fires are believed to have started.

“It turns out that this strength [of Kevlar] is very important for the prevention of the growth of dendrites in the batteries,” Kotov said.

The University of Michigan team founded a company, called Elegus Technologies, with the hope of bringing the research to market.

Kotov said 30 companies have so far requested samples of the material and that they hope to begin production toward the end of 2016.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Super Bowl: Watch Budweiser’s Puppy-Horse Ad

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Budweiser is bringing back its winning combination for its Super Bowl XLIX ad this year. It’s one-minute spot “Lost Dog” features an adorable puppy and its cross-species friendship theme once again.

The role of the Budweiser Clydesdale trainer is reprised for a third time by actor Don Jeanes.

Like its popular “Puppy Love” ad last year, this one, shot at a ranch outside Santa Barbara, California, in early December, features another puppy that escapes from its owner.

Will the ad motivate viewers to drink beer? Probably not, but Budweiser is at least hoping you’ll use the hashtag #BestBuds and feel warm and cuddly about it.

Paired with the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” performed by Sleeping At Last, the puppy-horse combination may elicit a tear or two.

Though the ad looks like it uses one irresistible puppy, it used eight: seven females and one male, who were all 11 to 12.5 weeks old at filming.

And seven Budweiser Clydesdales underwent training for three months to fine-tune their skills for the ad, Budweiser said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Snapchat Eliminates ‘Best Friends’ Feature

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The feature that allows you to be in someone’s “best friends” Snapchat list has been eliminated in the latest update of the app.

For people unfamiliar with the ephemeral messaging service, the public feature allows users to see who the three friends a person sends snaps to most frequently.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said the best friends feature was eliminated because “a few higher-profile friends wanted to keep their usernames private,” however he promised it would eventually be back in a new form.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche Recall 27K Vehicles over Fuel Leaks

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche are recalling more than 27,000 vehicles in the U.S. over a fuel leak issue.

In documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the three automakers — all owned by Volkswagen Group — say the fuel injection system in affected vehicles may leak, increasing the risk of a fire. So far, no injuries or fires have been reported.

The recall includes Audi Q7, S4 and S5 vehicles from model years 2011 to 2013; Audi A7 vehicles from 2012 to 2013; Audi A6 vehicles and Volkswagen Touareg Hybrids from 2012; and Porsche Cayenne S Hybrids and Panamera S Hybrids from 2011 to 2012.

The automakers say they will notify affected owners, who will be able to replace the fuel rails and seals at a local dealer free of charge.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Physician Assistant Tops 2015 List of Best Jobs

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A young person still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives might be wise to consult the employment website Glassdoor’s “25 Best Jobs in America for 2015.”

Topping the list is physician assistant with an average base salary of more than $111,000 and close to 45,500 openings for the position this year. Software engineer is second, paying a salary over $98,000 on average with almost 105,000 openings.

Glassdoor ranked each profession on earning potential based on average annual base salary, career opportunities rating and number of job openings.

Naturally, things can change year-to-year but at least for 2015, these are the 25 most attractive jobs for those venturing out on a career path or looking to change their vocation:

1. Physician Assistant – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.8

Number of Job Openings: 45,484
Average Base Salary: $111,376
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

2. Software Engineer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 104,828
Average Base Salary: $98,074
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

3. Business Development Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 11,616
Average Base Salary: $94,907
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

4. Human Resources Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

 Number of Job Openings: 8,073
Average Base Salary: $96,443
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.6

5. Finance Manager- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 9,728
Average Base Salary: $122,865
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

6. Marketing Manager- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.6

Number of Job Openings: 14,647
Average Base Salary: $100,130
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

7. Database Administrator- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.5

Number of Job Openings: 9,790
Average Base Salary: $97,835
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

8. Product Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.5

Number of Job Openings: 10,294
Average Base Salary: $113,363
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

9. Data Scientist – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 3,449
Average Base Salary: $104,476
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.8

10. Sales Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 26,193
Average Base Salary: $76,556
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

11. Solutions Architect – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 3,982
Average Base Salary: $121,657
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

12.  Mechanical Engineer- Glassdoor Job Score: 4.4

Number of Job Openings: 16,065
Average Base Salary: $73,015
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

13. QA Engineer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 26,383
Average Base Salary: $77,499
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

14. Business Analyst – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 21,337
Average Base Salary: $74,638
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

15. Electrical Engineer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 10,435
Average Base Salary: $76,803
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

16. Network Engineer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 14,092
Average Base Salary: $87,518
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

17. Civil Engineer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 6,120
Average Base Salary: $73,383
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

18. Audit Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 4,585
Average Base Salary: $69,271
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.9

19. Physical Therapist – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 27,579
Average Base Salary: $64,806
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

20. IT Project Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.3

Number of Job Openings: 5,700
Average Base Salary: $103,710
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

21. Client Services Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 2,377
Average Base Salary: $103,736
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.7

22. Supply Chain Manager – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2
Number of Job Openings: 3,754
Average Base Salary: $83,795
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

23. Mobile Developer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 4,651
Average Base Salary: $79,810
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

24. Nurse Practitioner – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 15,341
Average Base Salary: $95,171
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.1

25. Sales Engineer – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.2

Number of Job Openings: 6,007
Average Base Salary: $91,318
Career Opportunities Rating: 3.2

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DIY Save or Splurge: "Million Dollar Contractor" Shares Tips for Home Improvements

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — DIY home improvement can get messy and costly. Enter Stephen Fanuka, who appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Wednesday to share his tips for how you can get a million-dollar look on your DIY home improvements without breaking the bank.

Fanuka, who stars in the DIY Network’s Million Dollar Contractor, told viewers where they could save money and when they should splurge on improvements to the kitchen, home lighting, and the bathroom versus the basement.

Here are his tips:


The Kitchen

It’s the most expensive room in the house to renovate. Fanuka said people can cut costs by painting existing cabinets and changing the hardware rather than replacing cabinets entirely, however he said people should consider spending more on stainless steel appliances and a tile backsplash.

Lighting

Lighting has a huge impact on the home. Fanuka suggested changing bulbs and adding a dimmer switch to change the look of any room. Adding new light fixtures in public areas of the home, such as the entry way, kitchen and hallway, can add drama in an instant, he said.

Bathroom vs. Basement
Which should you save money on? Fanuka said there are small changes people can make in their bathrooms to update the room inexpensively. He also said it was important to refinish areas such as the basement or garage.

Rather than changing tile — which can be costly — Fanuka suggested changing bathroom fixtures such as the toilet, sink, towel bars and shower trim. He also suggested painting the bathroom ceiling a highlight color, adding a new vanity cabinet and maybe adding crown molding. All of these changes can have a major impact on the room’s appearance, he said.

People should finish their basements in order to add square footage to their homes, Fanuka said, adding that homeowners should install flooring that’s durable and low-maintenance.

Extra Tips from Stephen Fanuka:

  • Glam up your kitchen by adding glass inserts to plain old cabinet doors.
  • Don’t forget the fifth wall — paint the ceiling of a room a fun color or in a high gloss accent color.
  • Spruce up a plain door. Get an expensive panel door look without breaking the bank by adding a square of thin molding and paint.
  • Ditch the shower curtain! Install partial glass doors on your shower.
  • And for a touch of luxury, stay in bed by installing a remote controlled motorized curtain bar.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Millennials Jumping Off the Traditional Banking Bandwagon

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Millennials are marching to the beat of a different drummer when it comes to their personal banking.

In a survey conducted for software company FICO of 900 adults, many people ages 18-34 are eschewing traditional banking services long used by older generations.

For instance, 32 percent of millennials said they’d probably use mobile wallet services such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet during the next year. That’s compared to 16 percent of Americans 35 and older.

When the field of millennials is narrowed down to those between the ages of 18 and 24, 56 percent acknowledged that they were already using or plan to use Venmo and PayPal to make payments.

Among the entire group of respondents, five percent say they now use a mobile wallet with 18 percent plan on doing so over the next 12 months.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Valentine’s Day Expected to Generate $18.9 Billion in Sales

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Once the Super Bowl comes and goes, what is there to look forward to in February? Oh yeah, Valentine’s Day, which is great in theory as long as you’ve got someone to celebrate it with.

Millions seem pretty gung-ho about V-Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day spending survey, which finds that total spending in 2015 should reach a record high of $18.9 billion.

The average amount spent per American for Valentine’s Day 2015 will be $142.31, eight bucks more than a year ago.

As usual, sweets for the sweet is the most popular gift with 53 percent saying they’ll give candy as opposed to 38 percent who’ll buy flowers and 35 percent planning a special night out.

About 21 percent of Valentine’s Day shoppers will give jewelry, totaling $4.8 billion in sales, the most the NRF has recorded in five years of running the survey.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

GoDaddy Yanks Super Bowl Ad After Animal Rights Complaints

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Tom Pennington / Contributor/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — That was fast. Internet giant GoDaddy released its Super Bowl ad online Tuesday, then said it won’t be using it, after howls of discontent from dog advocates over the spot, which featured NASCAR’s Danica Patrick and a golden retriever.

In the 30-second ad, a golden retriever puppy falls out of a truck but finds its way home. Unfortunately for the pooch, its owner went on GoDaddy.com to make a website to sell the dog.

Animal lovers didn’t get the joke, though. They pointed out that dogs sold often come from puppy mills, and set up the hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy to rally critics.

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving went on Twitter to say “we will not air” the ad.

 

Loud and clear, we heard you. @Blakei on changing course with this year’s Super Bowl Ad: https://t.co/gzduFypdEi

— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) January 27, 2015

But don’t worry about the dog.

While shooting the Super Bowl commercial with Patrick, GoDaddy employees fell in love with the pup, later named Buddy by GoDaddy followers on social media, and the company adopted it.

“As our Chief Companion Officer, Buddy will be interacting with customers, mostly small business owners who are looking for relaxation and a reprieve from their hectic workday,” GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman said in a news release. “We’re already booking time with customers … and our own employees are lining up to meet the little guy. All you have to do is look at him and ‘bam,’ your stress level goes down and your mood goes up.”

 

 

That’s a wrap with sweet little Buddy for the @godaddy Super Bowl spot! He’s a keeper! pic.twitter.com/GqOQl1i3SH

— Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) December 13, 2014

 

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Demand for Apple Products at ‘All-Time High,’ CEO Tim Cook Says

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple Inc. announced Tuesday that it beat Wall St. expectations by a huge margin, selling a record 74.5 million iPhones in the three months ending December 27. Apple stock rallied more than 5 percent in the aftermarket, after news of the company’s “highest-ever” revenue and earnings.

“We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “Our revenue grew 30 percent over last year to $74.6 billion, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal.”

At the close of trading in New York Tuesday, Apple stock had fallen 3.5 percent to $109.14 a share.

The company, based in Cupertino, California, reported net profit of $18 billion in its first quarter, compared with $13.1 billion in the same period last year. It reported revenue of $74.6 billion compared with $57.6 billion in the same period a year ago. International sales accounted for 65 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

In the last quarter, Apple sold:

- 74,468,000 iPhones

- 21,419,000 iPads

- 5,519,000 Macs

Now Apple’s iPhone business is bigger than Google and Microsoft’s phone businesses combined.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that the first week of January set a new record for billings from its App Store with customers spending nearly half a billion dollars on apps and in-app purchases.

New Year’s Day 2015 was the single biggest day in App Store sales history, the company said. App Store developers have earned $25 billion from the sale of apps and games, the company said on Jan. 8.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Google Fiber: Here’s What the Hype Is All About

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Google(NEW YORK) — When Google announced Tuesday plans to bring its high-speed Internet service to a handful of cities in the southeastern United States, residents of the areas went into full-on celebration mode.

Google’s gigabit Internet service is coming to the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham metro areas, covering a total of 18 cities.

 

Google Fiber is coming to the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham metro areas: http://t.co/l0spJrIiSk pic.twitter.com/NFgOSwC7OJ

— Google Fiber (@googlefiber) January 27, 2015

While Google did not immediately say when the service would be ready for customers in the newly announced areas, it didn’t stop people from salivating over the idea of Internet service that Google claims is up to 100 times faster than basic broadband.

Movies can be downloaded in as fast as two minutes, while Google said the high-speed service could help make advances in science and business.

With competitive prices, Google Fiber has also been able to entice some users to switch. The company charges $70 per month for Internet service and $120 for a television and Internet bundle in the Kansas City market.

“New research from the Fiber to the Home Council shows gigabit networks are contributing billions of dollars in economic growth,” Dennis Kish, vice president of Google Fiber, said in a blog post Tuesday, referring to the nonprofit group dedicated to bringing fiber-optic Internet to more customers.

“Communities across America are demanding more speed for their own homes and businesses, and we’re going to keep doing our part to help,” Kish added.

Google said it expects to have updates later this year on the possibility of bringing Fiber to more cities. Those in the running include Phoenix; Salt Lake City; San Jose, California; Portland, Oregon; and San Antonio.

 

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mixed Economic Reports Lead to Down Day on Wall Street

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street posted losses on Tuesday, one day after a massive winter storm struck the Northeast, shutting down transportation and knocking out power to thousands, and amidst mixed economic reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 291.49, finishing the session at 17,387.21.

The Nasdaq dropped 90.26 to a close of 4,681.50, while the S&P 500 dipped to 2,029.55, 27.54 off its open.

Durable goods orders decreased by $8.1 billion in December, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce — down 3.4 percent from the previous month, the fourth month out of five that durable goods orders have dropped.

On the flip side, new home sales were up 11.6 percent in December, a sign that home buying may improve in 2015.

Also on Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released state unemployment data for December, showing that the unemployment rate in 46 states decreased from December 2013, while just two states saw higher unemployment rates than the year before.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SpaceX Shares Animation of Rocket That Could Send Humans to Mars

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Spacex(NEW YORK) — Elon Musk’s private space company showed off a sexy new animation Tuesday demonstrating how its Falcon Heavy rocket could one day send humans on long-haul missions to Mars.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is so powerful it can blast off carrying a load as heavy as a commercial jetliner packed with hundreds of passengers, luggage and fuel.

A new animation from SpaceX shows how the Falcon Heavy, called the “most powerful rocket in the world,” would operate from liftoff to booster recovery.

The first stage of the rocket has three Falcon 9 engine cores, providing an incredible 27 engines’ worth of power at liftoff.

Musk has long been a proponent of recycling rocket parts — something he said he believes will make space travel cheaper and usher in a new era for exploration.

During a launch of its Dragon vessel to the International Space Station earlier this month, SpaceX attempted a historic maneuver by trying to land part of a rocket on a floating barge.

The rockets came close to the barge but ultimately crashed at a 45-degree angle, smashing its legs and engine section, and rendering it unable to be reused, Musk said after the attempt.

Last week, Google and Fidelity announced a $1 billion investment in SpaceX, which will help the company push ahead with its plan to create a space-based global Internet service.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Why Stranded Airline Passengers Don’t Get to Go Home First

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you’re one of the more than 400,000 travelers who were displaced by the snowstorm that hit the Northeast this week, you might think you’ll have first priority when planes start flying again.

But you would be wrong.

Flight operations, according to flight tracking site FlightAware, are likely to resume Wednesday. Only 465 U.S. flights have been cancelled so far for Wednesday, while more than 10 times that number — 4,699 — have been cancelled for Tuesday.

But the people who are most likely to fly first are the ones who are actually ticketed for Wednesday. All the stranded passengers will have to fill whatever empty seats are available.

So why not bump the people who are ticketed for the coming days in an effort to help those who have been displaced get home faster? The answer is pretty straightforward.

“Doing so would inconvenience both the people who were stranded and the people with flights that aren’t cancelled,” said George Hobica, CEO of Airfarewatchdog.com. “Why piss off two passengers when you can only do one?”

There are quite a few angry people taking to Twitter to vent their airline sagas.

JetBlue said that it “automatically rebook[s] customers on the next available flight” when there’s a cancellation. The airline, as well as other domestic carriers, do allow passengers to change their itinerary online if the original re-booking isn’t satisfactory.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Google Translate Gets Rid of Gay Slurs

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — When Andre Banks typed the word “gay” into Google’s translation tool he said he was dismayed to see several anti-gay slurs were suggested as synonyms.

Banks, the executive director of All Out, an advocacy organization, spearheaded a petition that gained 51,000 signatures in less than a day and quickly caught Google’s attention.

“People use Google translate every day to make sense of the world, learning languages, trying to communicate,” Banks told ABC News. “What we wanted to say is the common words aren’t the same as the terrible words being used to describe us across time.”

A Google spokesperson told ABC News that the company quickly worked to scrub the software of the derogatory language.

“We apologize for any offense this has caused people,” the spokesperson said. “Our systems produce translations automatically based on existing translations on the web, so we appreciate when users point out issues such as this.”

Banks said he was heartened by Google’s response and always “expected Google to do the right thing.”

“It’s important Google is able to provide an accurate translation of these words that describe so many people,” he said. “We were really glad to see this change happen in hours, not weeks and months.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook and Instagram Experience Brief, Widespread Outage

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Facebook and its Instagram service experienced a widespread outage for about 40 minutes early Tuesday.

The social media company said the outage affected customers in the U.S., Asia and Australia.

In a statement to ABC News, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Earlier this evening many people had trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems. We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100% for everyone.”

Facebook has approximately 1.25 billion users and Instagram has about 300 million.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

UPS Says No Pickup, Delivery Service Tuesday in Some Northeastern States

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — UPS announced on Monday night that it would not pick up or deliver packages in six full states and parts of two others on Tuesday due to severe winter weather.

The company said it would “work to ensure the safety of our employees while minimizing effects on service.” It noted that “contingency plans are in place to ensure that shipments arrive at their final destinations as quickly as possible as conditions permit.”

The UPS service disruption will impact Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as portions of New Jersey and New York.

Travel bans were put in place on Monday for roads in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as numerous other counties in New York and other Northeastern states that prevent non-emergency personnel from driving.

UPS notes that its service guarantee doesn’t apply when “transportation networks are disrupted due to events of this nature.”

 

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Standard and Poor’s Downgrades Russia Credit Rating to Junk

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Standard and Poor’s has lowered the rating of the Russian ruble to BB+/B amidst negative economic outlook.

The agency notes a “significant change in our perception of Russia’s monetary flexibility over the 2015-2018 forecast horizon and the effect we expect Russia’s weakening economy to have on its financial system.” The downgraded credit rating comes as the ruble has been hurt by the continuing decrease in oil prices and the ongoing tension with Ukraine.

The ratings agency also said it views Russia’s institutional and governance as a rating weakness. “Political power is highly centralized with few checks and balances,” Standard and Poor’s says, “we do not currently expect that the government will be able to effectively tackle the long-standing structural obstacles…to stronger economic growth.”

As part of the rating, Standard and Poor’s gave Russia poor marks on institutional and economic assessments and neutral marks for external assessment, fiscal performance and monetary assessment. The only strong grade Russia received in the latest rating was for its “modest” debt burden.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Gas Prices Continue to Drop, Down Two Cents from Last Week

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

FeelPic/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Gas prices across the U.S. are down two cents from last week, the U.S. Energy Department says.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost of a gallon of gas is just $2.04 this week. That figure is $1.25 lower than this date one year ago.

Gas remains most expensive on the West Coast, where the average gallon costs $2.32 — much higher than the Gulf Coast region, where the average price is $1.85, cheaper than any other region of the country.

California held onto its title as the most expensive state in which to buy gas, according to the EIA. The average gallon in the Golden State is $2.44. Of the states measured by the EIA, Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio and Texas all have gas selling for under $2 per gallon on average.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook Releases New ‘Lite’ App That Uses Less Data

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Facebook’s data-hungry mobile app is now available in a slimmed-down size and is being targeted to Android users in emerging markets.

Taking up just 252 KB, the Facebook Lite app is designed to work efficiently on a 2G network and areas with limited service, providing users with a stripped-down Facebook experience.

Facebook told ABC News in a statement that the company is testing the app.

Users of the app, which is available for download in the Google Play store, can expect to see fast-loading news feed stories, photos and notifications from friends, making it ideal for people with limited data plans.

“Keeping up with friends is faster than ever. Facebook is free and always will be,” a description of the app reads in the Google Play store.

Connecting the world has been a major goal for CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team behind the Internet.org initiative. The group has been rolling out free, limited mobile Internet access to people in developing countries, which includes the Facebook app.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wall Street Closes with Small Gains, CBO Says Budget Deficit to Decrease in 2015

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street stayed mostly level on Monday, finishing the day slightly up, amidst reports detailing a shrinking budget deficit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 6.1 to 17678.70.

The Nasdaq climbed 13.88 to 4771.76, while the S&P 500 closed the session at 2057.09, up 5.27 from its open.

The Congressional Budget Office said on Monday that the budget deficit is projected to decrease in 2015, to the lowest point since President Obama took office. Overall, the deficit is expected to hold steady relative to the size of the economy through 2018. Beyond 2018, however, the CBO warns that rising deficits could gradually boost the deficit again.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FTC: Tax-Related Identity Theft, IRS Impostor Scams Jump in 2014

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Bet_Noire/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Trade Commission reported on Monday that tax-related identity theft was the most common form of identity theft reported in 2014.

The agency said in a release that the number of complaints regarding criminals impersonating officials from the Internal Revenue Service was nearly 24 times what the agency received in 2013 — up tp 54,690 complaints from 2,545 the year before.

“We’ve seen an explosion of complaints about callers who claim to be IRS agents — but are not,” Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said. “IRS employees won’t call out of the blue and threaten to have you arrested or demand specific methods of payment.”

In total, the FTC reported 332,646 complaints of identity theft in 2014 — including 109,063 tax-related identity theft complaints, nearly 33 percent of all identity theft complaints. Based on that data, 2014 was the fifth consecutive year in which tax-related complaints were the largest category of identity theft complaints.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Uber Chooses Its Surge Price Cap in Emergencies

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Car service app Uber is capping its prices in New York City due to the major nor’easter snow storm.

In New York City, it’s illegal to “price gouge” in a natural disaster, so Uber says its prices will not exceed 2.8 times the normal fare, due to the state of emergency declared in the Big Apple. In Boston, Uber prices are capped at 2.9 times the normal fare, the company said.

How did Uber choose that price cap? The company explains that as its national policy, when a state of emergency or disaster is declared, its “dynamic pricing” will be capped at a price that excludes the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding two months.

“This reflects Uber’s national policy developed with New York Attorney General [Eric] Schneiderman that balances the goal of reliable transportation options with affordability during disasters: Anytime a disaster or state of emergency strikes, dynamic pricing is capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts,” Uber said in an email to New York City customers.

Similar emails notifying customers about surge pricing caps are sent to each city or state where a state of emergency is declared, a spokeswoman for Uber told ABC News.

Meanwhile, competitor Lyft said its “Prime Time” pricing will be capped at 200 percent as usual.

“We’ve also communicated to drivers that they should only drive if they feel safe to do so,” the Lyft spokeswoman said.

Both companies say they allow pricing fares to increase to incentivize more drivers to meet high demand.

Uber is warning customers that demand for rides may be higher and wait times may be longer than usual.

However, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s instituting an 11 p.m. curfew on non-emergency vehicles on New York City roads, it’s not clear how many Uber or Lyft cars will be on the road.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Greece’s Latest Money Problems Will Hit American Pocketbooks

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) — While the Greek elections on Sunday were an ocean away, Americans may feel the ripple effects of the anti-austerity Syriza party’s leadership when it comes to their bank accounts and homes.

By voting for the far-left Syriza leader to be their premier, Greeks essentially voted against the measures imposed by European Union leaders. Though their single euro currency, put in place in 1999, likely won’t go away, many Greeks are fed up with 26 percent unemployment and budget cuts that they face.

Kasi Turpin, founder and director of boutique travel company Greece A La Carte, based in Athens, said she is not bothered as a business owner and resident about the election results.

“I think he’s going to negotiate with Europe,” Turpin said of newly-elected premier Alexis Tsipras. “A lot of what he promised was rhetoric so he could get elected, though a lot of people are expecting him to raise minimum wage today and alleviate taxes.”

Peter Morici, professor at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, said shifting European politics may have a depressing effect on U.S. interest rates. That’s because uncertainty about the euro will cause Europeans to send money to the U.S., and that could push up stock prices and push down interest rates, he said.

“As the Federal Reserve raises rates this summer, the impact on mortgage rates will be more limited because of the uncertainty over the euro,” he said.

Many economists expect the U.S. central bank to raise interest rates, “unless the economy falls apart,” said Morici, who travels to Europe each summer. He added that he doesn’t expect many effects on tourists, except for snagging some discounts.

“Right now, because the euro is weak, it’s a good value,” he said.

Booking in advance can supersede any discounts that you may get from the plunging value of the euro against the dollar.

Turpin, who is of Greek descent and was born in Canada, said demand for Greek tourism has thawed since attracting bad press a few years ago — with images of protesters in Athens against austerity measures.

And now, hotel and tourism service inventory may be harder to get due to the pent-up demand and travelers who want to take advantage of the falling euro.

Turpin advises travelers to look beyond the popular destinations of Santorini and Mykonos, such as Crete and Pylos.

“Greece is a country that is mostly surrounded by water. Even if you’re on the mainland of Greece, you’re not even 20 minutes from the water,” she said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.