If you win the Mega Millions $1.6 billion jackpot in some states, you can remain anonymous

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As the Mega Millions jackpot heads toward a record $1.6 billion drawing Tuesday, some ticket-holding hopefuls may wonder if they would be able hide their identities if they won.

The lottery prize is now the biggest ever in the U.S.

Some financial experts advise winners of big lottery prizes to try to remain anonymous.

But only a handful of states allow winners to decide whether they want to stay anonymous. Some states have a law explicitly requiring that lottery winners be publicly identified.

Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina all allow lottery winners to remain anonymous if that’s what the winners prefer, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming.

Arizona lottery winners of $600 or more can remain anonymous for 90 days after winning their prizes, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming. After 90 days, the winners’ identities become part of the public record meaning the information about the winne ‘s identity and the amount of the winning prize is subject to a public records request. Those in the interest of the information could find out by filing a request with the lottery that sold the ticket.

Most states have laws allowing the lottery that sold the ticket to make such information public.

In Michigan, Mega Millions and Powerball winners must step forward publicly, but winners of other state lottery games can remain anonymous should they choose, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming.

Some states allow winners to claim their prize through a trust to avoid publicity.

In Maryland, however, a lottery winner can choose to remain anonymous only if they don’t claim the prize through a trust, Maryland Lottery and Gaming said.

New Hampshire requires winners to go public. However, a judge in Concord, New Hampshire, in March allowed the winner of a $560 Powerball jackpot to keep her identity private despite her having signed her ticket with her actual name.

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Powerball jackpot rises to $620M, third-largest in game’s history

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The day after nobody won a $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot, the numbers were drawn for a relatively paltry Powerball prize of $470 million. But, like Mega Millions, no one took home the Powerball, and the pot continues to rise.

The winning numbers for Saturday’s drawing were 16, 54, 57, 62, 69 with a Powerball of 23.

With no one claiming the big prize, the Powerball drawing on Wednesday — one day after a $1.6 billion Mega Millions drawing — will be $620 million. The cash payout is approximately $354.3 million. The Powerball is the third-largest in the game’s history and sixth-largest in U.S. lotto history.

There were a number of runner-up prizes. There were $2 million winners in Florida and Tennessee, and $1 million winners in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Washington.

The first five balls were drawn from a pool of 69 and the Powerball from a pool of 26, making the odds of getting all six numbers correct 292,201,338 to 1, according to the Powerball website.

A single winning ticket on Saturday would have been eligible for a cash payout of $268.6 million.

Combined with a new Mega Millions jackpot of $1.6 billion, there is more than $2 billion in top-prize money between the two lottery games — and millions more available for subordinate prizes.

The Mega Millions top prize of $1.6 billion has a cash payout option of $904 million, but both can grow depending upon the volume of ticket sales.

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No winner means Mega Millions rises to record $1.6B jackpot

Posted on: October 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — If you’re checking your numbers Saturday morning for the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot, you’re not a grand-prize winner. But neither was anyone else.

The next Mega Millions jackpot will be an estimated $1.6 billion — the highest total in U.S. lottery history. The cash payout is $904 million.

“We’re in unchartered territory,” Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and the director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming, told Good Morning America on Saturday.

The drawing will be Tuesday at 11 p.m.

And the record jackpot can increase between now and then.

“Hold on to your hats,” Medenica said. “It could go up even further.”

When asked if the grand prize could hit a shocking $2 billion, Medenica said, “Anything’s possible.”

“I don’t want to jinx it,” he added.

The numbers drawn Friday night for the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history were 15-23-53-65-70 and a Mega Ball of 7. A single winner taking the cash lump sum would have received about $565.6 million.

There were a number of smaller winners in Friday’s drawing, including 15 people who won at least $1 million for matching each white ball. New York had the highest number of second-prize winners — with four. One ticket in Texas was worth $2 million for matching all five white balls and doubling the total with the Megaplier.

The Mega Millions jackpot has skyrocketed since the July 24 drawing when a group of 11 co-workers in Santa Clara County, California, shared a $543 million jackpot, the game’s fourth-largest.

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Marijuana company heads to New York Stock Exchange

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

rgbspace/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York Stock Exchange is about to get greener. Canada-based Aurora Cannabis plans to start trading on the NYSE on Oct. 23, the company announced Thursday.

The move comes in spite of the fact U.S. financial institutions are still barred from doing business with marijuana companies, be it financing the businesses or accepting deposits or allowing employees to open personal bank accounts.

Aurora Cannabis is allowed to be listed in the U.S. because it’s not an American firm. A weed company in, say, Colorado wouldn’t be permitted to list shares because of federal law.

“The Exchange has broad discretion regarding the listing of a company,” Lisette Kwong, a spokeswoman for the NYSE, wrote in an email to ABC News.

Canopy, based in Ontario, became the first weed producer listed on the NYSE earlier this year under the ticker CGC. It also trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange as WEED.

Canada legalized recreational marijuana use for adults this week. It remains illegal in the U.S. under federal law, although many states have decriminalized it in some form.

Because the U.S. federal government still classifies pot as an illegal controlled substance, U.S. banks cannot technically accept deposits from marijuana businesses and are subject to money-laundering rules. However, a growing number of state-chartered banks and credit unions are experimenting with cannabis businesses.

Experts have said Canada’s legalization may spur more investment into the cannabis industry as a whole.

“U.S. institutional investors who have not understood the industry, or had concerns about the regulations, now that we’re ready to go, you might see more institutional investors, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, start to allocate money or capital into the sector,” said Jesse Pytlak, an analyst with Cormack Securities.

As a result of U.S. federal law, most marijuana is purchased with cash, not credit cards, causing a problem for dispensaries that end up hoarding greenbacks until massive deposits can be made.

“Previously, these businesses have literally laundered their money, whether it’s using a product like Febreze or some other scent-covering agent to try to deposit these large sums of cash,” Amanda Avret, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bankers Association, said. “Tellers have stopped those deposits by literally smelling the money.”

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Mega Millions prizes keep skyrocketing as ‘people want to see bigger jackpots’

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The record $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot is the latest prize to balloon to astronomical figures — and officials say they’re giving people with dreams of winning exactly what they want.

“People wanted to see bigger jackpots,” Carole Gentry, a spokeswoman for the Mega Million Group and managing director of communications at Maryland Lottery and Gaming told ABC News.

The drawing for the Mega Millions prize will be Friday night.

The prizes for lotteries have jumped recently, officials said. Gentry said starting jackpots also increased to $40 million from $15 million last year to “allow for bigger, faster-growing jackpots.”

Lottery players used to pick five numbers from 1 to 75 and one Mega Ball number from 1 to 15, with nine different prize levels ranging from $1 to the jackpot available for the players to catch.

The odds of winning the jackpot prize were 1 in 258 million, and the overall odds of winning a prize at any of the nine prize levels was 1 in 14.71 million.

As recently as last year, the price for the ticket was $1.

But that all changed last year.

The odds of winning the second-tier prize of $1 million were improved by the matrix changes, Gentry said.

Before October 2017, the odds of a $1 million prize were 1 in 18.49 million. Since October 2017, the odds of a $1 million prize are 1 in 12.6 million.

And the ticket price is now $2.

Players now pick five numbers from 1 to 70 and one Mega Ball number from 1 to 25 with nine different prize levels, now ranging from $2 to the jackpot.

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302 million, and the overall odds of winning a prize at any of the nine prize levels is 1 in 24 million.

“Longer odds for the jackpot and better odds for all of the other prize levels,” Gentry said. “It increases the chance of winning the second tier million dollar prize and the lower prizes. And it allows the jackpots to increase at a faster larger rate.”

The modification also was made to attract players from all walk of life.

“We also know that when the jackpots are larger, we start seeing many groups of co-workers, friends or relatives buying tickets together. It becomes something that people share with others around them,” she said.

Before the drawing Tuesday, the previous Mega Millions record jackpots was $656 million, which was shared by winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in March 2012.

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Mega Millions jackpot soars to a record $1 billion

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The Mega Millions jackpot on Friday jumped to a record $1 billion.

The drawing for the prize will be on Friday night. A single winner taking the cash lump sum would receive about $565.6 million.

“This is truly uncharted territory, and it’s exciting to see people across the country buying their tickets and joining in the fun,” said Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions Lead Director and the Director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming in a statement Friday. ” Hitting the $1 billion mark for the first time is historic, and we can’t wait to meet the winner s who will share in that history.”

Meanwhile, the jackpot for Powerball skyrocketed to almost half a billion after no one won Wednesday.

The winning numbers for Powerball, a comparatively meager sum of just $345 million, were 3-57-64-68-69 and a Powerball of 15. One person in Florida won $2 million, while tickets in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Kentucky each were worth $1 million.

The pot rises to $430 million for Saturday’s drawing. The cash payout is $248 million.

The next drawing for Powerball is Saturday.

But the record numbers are being left to the Mega Millions jackpot, set to be drawn on Friday. The projected prize would be the second-largest payout in U.S. lottery history.

The only lottery payout in history that was larger than Friday’s $1 billion total was a Powerball drawing for $1.59 billion in January 2016. Three winners split that total.

The Mega Millions numbers drawn on Tuesday were 3, 45, 49, 61, 69, and a Mega Ball of 9. Nine people matched all five white balls. Eight won $1 million each, and another also got the Megaplier to win $5 million.

Before the drawing Tuesday, the previous Mega Millions record jackpot was $656 million, which was shared by winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in March 2012.

“It’s always a thrill to have both jackpots rolling, but there’s an extra spark now with Mega Millions reaching a new record,” Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and Maryland’s lottery and gaming director said in a statement on Tuesday. “Everyone is talking about the jackpot and running out to buy tickets for tonight’s drawing.”

The Mega Millions jackpot has skyrocketed since the July 24 drawing when a group of 11 coworkers in Santa Clara County, California, shared a $543 million jackpot, the game’s fourth-largest.

More than $1.4 billion in combined potential prize money remains up for grabs, with Saturday night Powerball prize estimated at $430 million — or a one-time cash prize of nearly $248 million and Friday’s Mega Millions prize at $1 billion.

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A tech investor brought cell phone voting to West Virginia, igniting debate about access and security

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — A few hundred West Virginians are poised to cast a federal election vote on their cell phones this November. And depending on the outcome, they’ll have Bradley Tusk to thank — or to blame.

Tusk, a 45-year-old former political operative and early Uber investor who once specialized in helping the rideshare giant beat taxi regulations, is bankrolling an effort to allow West Virginians serving in the military or living overseas to cast absentee ballots through an app on their smartphones.

Modernizing voting to make it easier, Tusk says, is the answer to the low voter turnout plaguing our “dysfunctional, polarized democracy,” and he hopes to see the program expand to other constituencies and other states in the near future.

“It’s a system that was built for an agrarian society 250 years ago,” Tusk told ABC News. “People do it if you make it easy enough, but if you don’t make it easy enough, they’re not going to.”

It’s believed to be the first time U.S. voters in a federal election will make their mark via smartphone app, but what might otherwise be celebrated as a pioneering milestone is instead saddled with suspicion.

Tusk’s project comes at a time of heightened concerns over vote hacking following Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, when many election-security watchdogs –- both inside and outside of government -– are calling on states to move back to paper ballots.

Lawrence Norden, a prominent election security expert at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, didn’t hesitate to deliver a harsh verdict on the project.

“I think it’s a horrific idea,” he said, suggesting states should focus on spending money to enhance cybersecurity rather than rolling out new voting methods.

West Virginia’s voting app has ignited a debate over what’s more important –- using new technologies to expand voting access to those who may have a hard time casting ballots or protecting the integrity of the vote itself from the hacking of those new and potentially vulnerable technologies.

Tusk, the developers of the app, and election officials in West Virginia all say the tradeoff is worth it. Election-security experts are, to say the least, not so sure.

Here’s how it works. According to a state-issued video tutorial, voters will download an app, called Voatz, and use it to take pictures of their government-issued ID cards (West Virginia implemented a voter-ID requirement this year) and verify their identities by taking selfies and letting the app match them to the faces on their IDs.

“With the option of mobile voting for uniformed and overseas citizens,” the video’s narrator said, “West Virginia is leading the nation in serving those who serve us.”

The app uses blockchain technology, which will store a record of a vote several different computers or servers at different locations, each of them checking the record against each other. It won’t say who owns those computers, but it has hinted that some will be its own and some will belong to the state government.

The scope will be extremely limited. Following a two-county trial run in the state’s May primary in which 16 votes from six different countries were cast, the state hopes that between 200 and 400 votes will be cast via Voatz in November.

Tusk led the effort to connect a reliable app with a willing state, and when he found Voatz and West Virginia, he put up the money to make it happen. Through his philanthropy, Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, Tusk has already spent $250,000 to subsidize the project in West Virginia, and he says he’s prepared to spend “eight figures” —- at least $1 million —- to advance it elsewhere.

He says he is negotiating with other jurisdictions to adopt cellphone voting in some municipal and state elections next year.

Tusk insists he’s not in it for the money — he has no plans, he says, to invest in Voatz or any other voting-app startups –- but he has nevertheless set an ambitious goal.

“I want everyone to be able to vote on their phones because I want everyone to be able to vote,” Tusk said.

West Virginia, for its part, does not share Tusk’s expansionist attitude. The state only plans to use cellphone voting for military and overseas absentee voters.

The state’s top election official, Secretary of State Mac Warner, served in Afghanistan and entered office with a priority of making it easier for service members to vote while serving overseas. His son, an active service member, was the first to cast a cellphone vote in the state’s primary, Warner’s spokesman said.

Any risk in using the new technology is worth the reward of making it easier for service members to vote, Warner said.

“When you get sent into harm’s way, you want to have a voice in who sent you into harm’s way. You want to vote for the person who’s gonna get you out of harm’s way,” Warner told a gathering of election officials at an Election Assistance Commission summit on election readiness in Washington, D.C., this month. “That’s what we’re facing.”

Election watchdogs, meanwhile, are less than thrilled.

“They’ve done nothing to demonstrate in a public way why it’s been secure,” Jeremy Epstein, vice chair of the Association for Computing Machinery Technology Policy Committee, said of Voatz.

Tusk, the company and the state point to an audit following its May trial run that revealed no problems.

National election watchdogs aren’t satisfied. They want to see the results of audits Voatz has conducted to assess security before a live election is effectively used as a test run for a new technology.

“They’re not thinking a lot of this stuff through very much, because I think they’re too hell-bent on the outcome,” said Susan Greenhalgh, policy director at the National Election Defense Coalition.

Experts have been urging states to move back to paper and use the $380 million Congress appropriated this spring for election upgrades to do away with paperless electronic voting machines and sure up cybersecurity practices —- not to move further into electronic voting territory.

Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit Sawhnney argued that the risk is worth the reward.

“Nothing’s 100 percent safe. We know that. Even the paper ballot system we currently use is not 100 percent safe,” Sawhnney told ABC News. “But there are safeguards built in, and you accept risks and rewards and you move ahead.”

As for the state, Warner has made his case.

“It’s much more secure than taking a paper ballot, sending it overseas, letting it sit in a dusty mail room,” Warner said.

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Nebraska’s pitch to tourists: ‘Honestly, it’s not for everyone’

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Nebraska Tourism Commission(Nebraska) — Nebraska knows the state is “not for everyone” and it’s proud of that in a new ad campaign.

“We’re just simply not on people’s shopping list for a vacation,” said John Ricks, executive director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission, on ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast.

New Nebraska Tourism advertisements boast of the state’s “flat, boring landscape” and “dusty” Great Plains as part of a self-deprecating marketing campaign to tackle its “brand apathy” problem.

Nebraska Tourism Commission“You can’t change perceptions just by providing information, so we had to be disruptive in some way,” Ricks said of the sarcastic ads.

One print ad points out “there’s nothing to do here” as a group floats down a river in a livestock tank, or what Nebraskans refer to as “tanking.”

Nebraska Tourism CommissionNebraska is trying to lure tourists who are interested in an “unpretentious and uncomplicated” vacation, and as the campaign’s tagline notes: “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

“We’re not looking for everybody,” Ricks said on “Start Here.” “This place isn’t for everybody, as any state isn’t for anybody.”

The #HonestlyNE campaign will launch in out-of-state markets beginning in spring 2019.

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Mega Millions jackpot soars to record $970 million with no winner since July

Posted on: October 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The Mega Millions jackpot on Thursday jumped to $970 million.

The drawing for the prize will be on Friday night.

No one won the big prize in Powerball on Wednesday.

The jackpot for Powerball has skyrocketed to almost half a billion after no one won.

The winning numbers for Powerball, a comparatively meager sum of just $345 million, were 3-57-64-68-69 and a Powerball of 15. One person in Florida won $2 million, while tickets in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Kentucky each were worth $1 million.

The pot rises to $430 million for Saturday’s drawing. The cash payout is $248 million. the next drawing is Sat Oct 20.

But the record numbers are being left to the Mega Millions jackpot, set to be drawn on Friday. The projected prize would be the second-largest payout in U.S. lottery history.

A single winner taking the cash lump sum would receive about $513 million.

The only lottery payout in history that was larger than Friday’s $900 million total was a Powerball drawing for $1.59 billion in January 2016. Three winners split that total.

The Mega Millions numbers drawn on Tuesday were 3, 45, 49, 61, 69, and a Mega Ball of 9. Nine people matched all five white balls. Eight won $1 million each, and another also got the Megaplier to win $5 million.

Before the drawing Tuesday, the previous Mega Millions record jackpot was $656 million, which was shared by winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in March 2012.

“It’s always a thrill to have both jackpots rolling, but there’s an extra spark now with Mega Millions reaching a new record,” Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and Maryland’s lottery and gaming director said in a statement on Tuesday. “Everyone is talking about the jackpot and running out to buy tickets for tonight’s drawing.”

The Mega Millions jackpot has skyrocketed since the July 24 drawing when a group of 11 coworkers in Santa Clara County, California, shared a $543 million jackpot, the game’s fourth-largest.

More than $1 billion in combined potential prize money remains up for grabs, with tonight’s Powerball prize estimated at $430 million — or a one-time cash prize of nearly $248 million.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

MoviePass under investigation by state of New York for misleading investors

Posted on: October 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York attorney general’s office has launched an investigation into whether the parent company of MoviePass, Helios and Matheson, misled investors about their finances, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed to ABC News.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood opened the investigation under her authority to protect investors in companies that are publicly traded on the exchanges located in New York.

CNBC, which first reported the investigation, reported that the probe falls under New York’s Martin Act, an anti-fraud law.

Helios and Matheson, which purchased a majority stake in MoviePass in August 2017, announced it would be lowering its price to $10 per month. Subscribers were allowed to see one standard 2D movie per calendar day at any participating theater, including major chains such as AMC and Regal.

“We are aware of the New York Attorney General’s inquiry and are fully cooperating,” the company said in a statement provided to CNBC. “We believe our public disclosures have been complete, timely and truthful and we have not misled investors. We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate that to the New York Attorney General.”

The company’s stock price has collapsed in 2018. Helios and Matheson finished the day Wednesday trading at just 20 cents per share after reaching a year-to-date high of $2,442.50 on Jan. 23. The stock had dropped to half its high by mid-February and under $100 by June 5.

MoviePass began implementing various restrictions on its service earlier this year. In April, the company no longer allowed subscribers to view the same film more than once. MoviePass installed peak pricing, a surcharge for any movie deemed to be in high demand, in July.

Peak pricing was suspended the following month when the company changed its monthly subscription plan to allow for just three movies per month.

“MoviePass reserves the right to change or modify the Service or subscriptions at any time and in its sole discretion,” the company stated in its most recent terms of use, “including but not limited to applicable prices, at any time, without prior notice.”

Theater chain AMC launched its own subscription service, titled A-List, in July. Under this service, users are able to see up to three movies per week, including those in 3D and IMAX. Unlike MoviePass, A-List subscribers are able to reserve seats on the mobile app ahead of its listed showtime.

The New York attorney general’s office declined to comment.

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Powerball draws numbers as Mega Millions jackpot soars to $900 million

Posted on: October 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — Powerball pulled its numbers on Wednesday as the prize for Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot has crept past $900 million earlier in the day.

The winning numbers for Powerball, a comparatively meager sum of just $345 million, were 3-57-64-68-69 and a Powerball of 15. The cash option will pay out $199 million.

But the record numbers are being left to the Mega Millions jackpot, set to be drawn on Friday. The projected prize would be the second-largest payout in U.S. lottery history. A lone winner taking the cash lump sum would receive about $513 million.

Mega Millions announced that Tuesday’s jackpot of $667 million would have been a new record for that game. The only larger lottery payout was a Powerball drawing for $1.59 billion in January 2016. Three winners split that.

The Mega Millions numbers drawn on Tuesday were 3, 45, 49, 61, 69, and a Mega Ball of 9. Nine people matched all five white balls. Eight won $1 million each, and another also got the Megaplier to win $5 million.

Before the drawing Tuesday, the previous Mega Millions record jackpot was $656 million, which was shared by winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in March 2012.

“It’s always a thrill to have both jackpots rolling, but there’s an extra spark now with Mega Millions reaching a new record,” Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and Maryland’s lottery and gaming director said in a statement on Tuesday. “Everyone is talking about the jackpot and running out to buy tickets for tonight’s drawing.”

The Mega Millions jackpot has skyrocketed since the July 24 drawing when a group of 11 coworkers in Santa Clara County, California, shared a $543 million jackpot, the game’s fourth-largest.

More than $1 billion in combined potential prize money remains up for grabs, with tonight’s Powerball prize estimated at $345 million — or a one-time cash prize of nearly $200 million.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Twitter releases ‘motherlode’ of data on alleged Russian, Iranian influence operations

Posted on: October 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Twitter(NEW YORK) — Twitter has released data on more than 10 million tweets from nearly 4,000 accounts it said were linked to Russia and Iran, which paint a more nuanced portrait of the nations’ purported online influence operations.

The social media giant previously disclosed the operations and lawmakers released hundreds of suspected account names that Twitter said were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” that worked day and night to spread propaganda and stoke division online ahead of the 2016 election. But this is the first time the public and independent researchers have been given access to what data analyst Ben Nimmo described as the full “motherlode” of information.

Nimmo, an information defense fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab whose team was given a preview of the data in order to post their analysis with Twitter’s announcement, said that for all the attention given to Russia’s online influence in the U.S. ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he was surprised that the data showed that the “first targets and the first victims” were, in fact, Russian users.

“Particularly in the Russian dataset a lot more of the content was in Russian than in English,” said Nimmo. “It’s a really important reminder that the Russian troll farm started out as a tool of domestic repression. It then became a weapon abroad… They adapted it to the U.S. audience.”

Nimmo pointed to the blast of social media activity after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, which international investigators blamed on Russia. On the day before the incident, accounts linked to Russia’s troll factory posted a total of 19,000 times. On the day after, the number jumped to 57,000, most of them using hashtags that blamed Ukraine.

“You can see that somebody hit the big red button that said, ‘Trolls, go troll,’” Nimmo told ABC News.

Only later did the Russians turn their attention to the U.S. election, where their goals evolved along with developments in the political race. While a full analysis of the ideological breakdown of the entire trove of tweets has yet to be undertaken, the DFRLab determined that the Russian trolls appear to have been surprisingly “non-partisan,” at least when it came to divisive issues.

“They tried to inflame everybody, regardless of race, creed, politics or sexual orientation,” the analysis said. “On many occasions, they pushed both sides of divisive issues.”

For example, DFRLab identified two Russia-linked accounts that straddled the gun control debate: “Mass shooting occurs even in #GunFreeZones so people is the problem not guns #Prays4California,” one said the day after the San Bernardino shooting. “mass shooting wont stop until there are #GunFreeZones #Prayers4California” another said.

Darren Linvill, a Clemson University professor who with his colleague Patrick Warren previously analyzed some 3 million tweets linked to Russia, told ABC News that influencing the elections might not have been their only – or even their primary – goal.

“The primary goal was be divisive and get Americans to question each other and question institutions,” he said.

As for the Iranian operation, Nimmo said it was less widespread and “much, much clumsier” than the Russians’. It consisted of about a million tweets from 770 accounts that mainly attempted to get Twitter users to go to websites that hosted pro-Iran, anti-Israel or anti-U.S. content.

“It used fewer personalities, which is much less effective,” Nimmo said.

In releasing the dataset, Twitter said the move was “in line with our principles of transparency and to improve public understanding of alleged foreign influence campaigns.” Twitter and Facebook have come under increasing pressure to counter the spread of inauthentic accounts on their platforms, including those linked to foreign state-sponsored actors.

Linvill called Twitter’s disclosure a “great first step,” and said the data could prove of great analytic value when it comes to understanding online influence operations but he still expressed some concern about what he called “a look back at history.”

“The way in which the IRA changes its behavior almost completely year-to-year, this won’t be particularly helpful to understand what they’re doing now,” he said. “The way they operated in 2016, 2017, looks nothing like they’re doing now.”

Nimmo said he hopes that the release of the information will help not only researchers but also average Twitter users to understand the need to be cautious online and “extend that idea into the political sphere.”

“Part of this is basic street wisdom online,” he said.

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Uber driver who allegedly groped customer charged with kidnapping, wire fraud

Posted on: October 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An Uber driver has been charged in federal court after allegedly kidnapping a woman, groping her after she fell asleep and then charging more than $1,000 for the ride after abandoning her on the side of a highway.

Harbir Parmar, 24, of Howard Beach, New York, was charged in White Plains Federal Court with kidnapping and wire fraud, officials with the Southern District of New York said on Tuesday.

On Feb. 21, a woman from White Plains requested an Uber in Manhattan to take her home, according to a complaint filed with the FBI. Parmar picked up the woman around 11:30 p.m., and she fell asleep in the back seat.

Parmar stands accused of changing the destination in the app to Boston, according to the FBI complaint. When the woman woke up, the vehicle was parked on the side of the road and Parmar had joined the woman in the backseat, placing his hand under the front of her shirt. As she reached for her phone to call for help, Parmar grabbed her phone and refused to give it back to her.

Parmar returned to the driver’s seat and continued driving, according to the complaint. The woman asked she be taken home or to a police station, but Parmar refused, dropping her off along a highway in Connecticut around 1:45 a.m.

The woman said she memorized the car’s license plate and went to a nearby convenience story seeking help. The next morning she saw that she’d been charged $1,047.55 for the ride.

“As alleged, Harbir Parmar was hired to transport a woman from Manhattan to her home in White Plains. Instead, Parmar kidnapped, terrorized and assaulted the woman before dumping her on the side of an interstate,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “No one — man or woman — should fear such an attack when they simply hire a car service.”

If convicted, Parmar could face life in prison for the kidnapping charge and 20 years for the fraud charge.

From December 2016 to February 2018, Parmar allegedly sent false information about customers’ destinations and overcharged them on more than 10 occasions. He’s also been accused of submitting false information related to cleaning fees. The improper charges totaled more than $3,600.

Uber said that the company blocked Parma from using its app in February and that he hadn’t taken a trip since the incident. Uber also provided information to investigators.

“What’s been reported is horrible and something no person should go through. As soon as we became aware, we immediately removed this individual’s access to the platform,” an Uber spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. “We have fully cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to support their investigation.”

The woman’s fare was refunded within days, Uber added.

Susanne Brody, a lawyer for Parmar, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday Mega Millions jackpot soars above $900 million

Posted on: October 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The prize for Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot has climbed to more than $900 million after no one won it Tuesday.

The projected prize would be the second-largest payout in U.S. lottery history. A lone winner taking the cash lump sum would receive about $513 million.

Mega Millions announced that Tuesday’s jackpot of $667 million would have been a new record for that game. The only larger lottery payout was a Powerball drawing for $1.59 billion in January 2016. Three winners split that.

The Mega Millions numbers drawn on Tuesday were 3, 45, 49, 61, 69, and a Mega Ball of 9. Nine people matched all five white balls. Eight won $1 million each, and another also got the Megaplier to win $5 million.

Before the drawing Tuesday, the previous Mega Millions record jackpot was $656 million, which was shared by winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in March 2012.

“It’s always a thrill to have both jackpots rolling, but there’s an extra spark now with Mega Millions reaching a new record,” Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and Maryland’s lottery and gaming director said in a statement on Tuesday. “Everyone is talking about the jackpot and running out to buy tickets for tonight’s drawing.”

The Mega Millions jackpot has skyrocketed since the July 24 drawing when a group of 11 coworkers in Santa Clara County, California, shared a $543 million jackpot, the game’s fourth-largest.

More than $1 billion in combined potential prize money remains up for grabs, with tonight’s Powerball prize estimated at $345 million — or a one-time cash prize of nearly $200 million.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Anheuser-Busch sending 300,000 cans of drinking water to areas ravaged by Hurricane Michael

Posted on: October 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Anheuser-Busch(MEXICO BEACH, Fla.) — As communities in Florida and Georgia began to rebuild after Hurricane Michael, Anheuser-Busch said it would be shutting down some of its beer lines to get more than 300,000 cans of drinking water to people in need.

It’s an effort the company has been involved with for three decades with the American Red Cross.

“This program is among the best that we do at Anheuser-Busch,” said vice president of community affairs Bill Bradley. “Anheuser-Busch has always thought that it’s important to help out those in need, particularly here in the United States, particularly in the areas where we live and work.”

On Saturday, the beverage company said that as part of its emergency drinking water donation program, two truckloads of water had been sent its wholesaler partners Tri-Eagle Sales and the Lewis Bear Co., both in Florida, to help with disaster-relief efforts.

The company said four additional truckloads would be delivered to communities in Georgia and Florida.

Anheuser-Busch first joined up with the American Red Cross in 1988 to provide water after disasters. The company said that along with its partners they’ve provided almost 80 million cans of water to U.S. communities.

Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, nearly a week ago with winds topping out around 155 mph.

In September, the company sent more than 300,000 cans of waters to communities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence. And in November 2012, about 44,000 cases of water were sent to the New York and New Jersey area after Superstorm Sandy.

“It’s really part of the fabric of our company, part of our DNA,” Bradley said. “We’re a 165-year-old company and this type of effort, these types of values, go back to that time.”

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Mega Millions and Powerball have combined jackpot of more than $1 billion

Posted on: October 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — More than $1 billion in combined potential prize money is up for grabs between the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries.

The jackpot for the Mega Millions has reached a new record of $667 million, with an estimated cash value of $380 million after no one claimed the jackpot this Tuesday.

“The estimated annuity value of the jackpot in tonight’s Mega Millions drawing was raised today to $667 million, making it the largest in the game’s history and third-largest in U.S. lottery jackpot history,” read the statement.

The new prize surpasses the previous Mega Millions record of $656 million that was shared by winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in March 2012.

“It’s always a thrill to have both jackpots rolling, but there’s an extra spark now with Mega Millions reaching a new record,” Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions lead director and Maryland’s lottery and gaming director said in a statement on Tuesday. “Everyone is talking about the jackpot and running out to buy tickets for tonight’s drawing.”

If no one claims tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot, the estimated prize for the next drawing on Oct. 19 is about $868 million, with an estimated cash value of $495 million.

The Mega Millions jackpot has skyrocketed since the July 24 drawing when a group of 11 coworkers in Santa Clara County, California, shared a $543 million prize, the fourth-largest prize in the game’s history.

The jackpot for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing is about $345 million.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

An iPhone app that breaks down jump shots like you’re LeBron

Posted on: October 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Homecourt(NEW YORK) — An iPhone app that uses artificial intelligence to give any basketball player a professional-level breakdown by tracking the speed, height and angles of, say, a jump shot, launched Tuesday.

HomeCourt is a shot-tracking app that was featured at Apple’s annual event in September. It was introduced by former NBA MVP Steve Nash, an investor and adviser to the company that created it, NEX. Although the app debuted in July, it’s this new version that features “shot science” — analyses using six metrics — that pairs with the powerful new cameras in the new iPhone models.

“HomeCourt is giving players immediate feedback to help them understand if they are practicing with the right form,” Nash said on the Apple stage. “Release time is also a great indicator of whether the player is shooting at game speed while staying low. These meaningful insights and feedback just weren’t possible before.”

In addition to the release time of the shot, the player’s approaching speed, the angle at which the ball is released, the angle of the bend in the player’s legs and the height of the legs off the ground are diagnosed to improve shots in real time. This level of critique, NEX CEO Dave Lee said, can’t be seen by the naked eye.

“This type of technology has only been available to the elite pro athlete — the NBA player — until recently. We’re making it available to everybody,” NEX co-founder Alex Wu told ABC News. “What happens when some 13-year-old kid in Hong Kong or the rural U.S. has this technology at the palm of their hand?”

Currently a few NBA teams, including the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, and college teams such as Duke, Stanford and the University of Florida use the app, Wu said. They pay the same price as any other user.

“There’s a team subscription — some buy 15 or 25 accounts and bundle them together — but everyone is paying the same price, and we did it that way on purpose,” Wu said.

In addition to Nash, investors in the $4 million seed round that closed in July include Marc Cuban, Sam Hinkie and Jeremy Lin.

At least one tech analyst remained cautious about heralding a completely new world boosted by augmented reality.

“On the one hand it’s compelling, showing people who are watching what can be done on ‘just a phone,’ which is really cool, doing all of this on the device, said Gartner Group’s Tuong Nguyen. “It’s inspirational.”

“On the other hand, is this going to usher in augmented reality in the millions? The answer is, ‘No,'” Nguyen said.

Dean Oliver, a basketball statistician who has consulted with NBA teams, pointed out that app itself isn’t guaranteed to make someone a star player.

“The concept that consumers can do large-scale data collection is one that is important in the AI/computer vision world,” Oliver said. “Doing this beyond [a] basic fitness app is something whose time has come.

“But note that it is just ‘data’ collection, not analysis, not instruction. It uses complex analysis to collect data for users, but will it really make players better? That’s to be determined. But getting consumers the data is a big step towards those applications.”

The initial version of HomeCourt that debuted in July only featured shot tracking and location. It has been downloaded in 120 countries and five million shots have been recorded in the last few months.

The app is currently only available on IOS devices, from the iPhone 6 to newer models, but the “shot science” is only available for the newest generation of iPhones. Wu said the company is planning to expand to Android devices in the future.

Wu said he hoped HomeCourt could “revolutionize the game” to allow more people to access and excel at the sport.

“It’s for any aspiring player or somebody who loves basketball — NBA teams to 13-year-old kids,” he said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Beer shortage due to climate change? Yes, it could happen

Posted on: October 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock (IRVINE, Calif.) — This is not a drill: As climate change worsens, there could be a beer shortage.

A study published Monday that looked at beer’s growing popularity and a potential decline in barley harvests linked to climate change showed prices for beer could double, or even triple, in countries including the U.S.

The research was compiled by Nathan Mueller and Steven Davis, assistant professors of Earth system science at UC Irvine, Dabo Guan of the department of Earth system science at Tsinghua University and Jie Pan from the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture in China.

Extreme heat and drought could ravage harvests of barley, a key ingredient in beer. “Average yield losses range from 3 to 17 [percent] depending on the severity of the conditions,” according to the study.

In the U.S., this could mean a reduction of hundreds of millions of gallons of beer.

The game-changing study was published in the U.K. journal “Nature Plants.”

The study also said that extreme-heat events linked to a reduction in barley production are years away, as the scientists’ models looked well into the current century.

“Although the effects on beer may seem inconsequential in comparison to many of the other — some, life-threatening — impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer,” the study said. “For perhaps many millennia, and still at present for many people, beer has been an important component of social gatherings and human celebration.”

It continued: “Although it may be argued that consuming less beer is not disastrous—and may even have health benefits—there is little doubt that for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer consumption will add insult to injury.”

On Monday, Mueller tweeted: “Our new paper reveals a frightening impact of climate change extremes: decreasing beer supplies and large price increases. Yet another reason to decrease [green house gas] emissions!”

Guan also took to social media to joke around a bit — and send a few warnings.

“Not to encourage you to drink more today! But you know what you need to do,” he wrote, adding, “Beer is the key for social stability.”

You could say that again.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dead at 65

Posted on: October 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, died on Monday afternoon in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a statement from his family said. He was 65.

“Paul Allen’s contributions to our company, our industry and to our community are indispensable,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persisten way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries now have $1 billion combined jackpot

Posted on: October 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — Almost $1 billion in combined grand prize money could await lottery players with tickets for the Mega Millions and Powerball lottery games this week.

The jackpot for Mega Millions has reached $654 million, with a cash option of $372.6 million, since no one claimed the jackpot last Friday night.

The potential jackpot is the second highest in game history. The largest, just $2 million more, was drawn in March 2012.

Ashley Eggen of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, won $1 million playing Mega Millions on Oct 9. Eggen’s ticket matched the five white ball numbers, but missed the Mega Ball to win the game’s second prize from the October 5th drawing.

The winning numbers for the Oct drawing were 27-28-32-41-69 and Mega Ball 12.

Last Friday’s winning numbers were 4-24-46-61-70 and a Mega Ball of 7. No one has won since July and the next drawing is Tuesday, Oct. 16, and the grand prize is $654 million.

While the jackpot stands at the fourth largest potential jackpot in U.S history, jackpot for the next Powerball will be $345 million for the drawing this Wednesday. The two games make the combined possible winnings $999 million dollars.

The Powerball numbers drawn Saturday were 11-14-32-43-65 and the Powerball was 15. The Power Play was 3.

The next drawing will be Oct. 17 with the prize of $345 million.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Melinda Gates shares the worst advice she never took

Posted on: October 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood(NEW YORK) — When Melinda Gates was in high school she received a gift from her father that would change her life: an Apple III computer. The Dallas native spent hours learning to code on her Apple III as a teen and it further solidified her love of math and science opening up the vast possibilities of technology.

Gates would go on to be a high achiever in high school, graduating as valedictorian, voted best student and most likely to succeed before heading off to Duke University where her love of the computer would manifest itself in her studies.

It appeared that the sky was the limit for a young Melinda Gates, then Melinda French, but it wasn’t always that way. In her first year of high school Gates says that her grades “weren’t as good as they should be” if she was planning on attending a top university for college, something she says was always a dream of hers. That’s when she received the worst, albeit eye-opening, advice that she never took.

“A college guidance counselor in high school … said to me that I should look at schools closer to home for university instead of going away,” Gates tells ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

To Gates, that advice was limiting as she always wanted the option to go anywhere.

“I think she was trying to give me what she thought was realistic advice, you know, she looked at my grades first quarter freshman year and second quarter and they weren’t as good as they should be if I was really aspiring to go to one of those great universities.”

Gates says that advice was the wakeup call that she needed to work harder.

“I took that advice and it fueled me to say I need to get better grades, I need to show that I can do this work because I really want to go to any university … but that’s not ever good advice to give a kid. You should always give someone the advice to shoot for their dreams and to help them see the path that could get them there.”

Today she has made it her mission to help people around the world see their own potential as the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the Foundation she and her husband work to fix critical problems around the world with a main focus on education in the United States.

“In the U.S. we think the thing that gives people equality is a great education and so we’ve been very dedicated to trying to fix the U.S. public education system.”

Hear more from Melinda Gates on episode #106 of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Melinda Gates shares the worst advice she never took

Posted on: October 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood(NEW YORK) — When Melinda Gates was in high school she received a gift from her father that would change her life: an Apple III computer. The Dallas native spent hours learning to code on her Apple III as a teen and it further solidified her love of math and science opening up the vast possibilities of technology.

Gates would go on to be a high achiever in high school, graduating as valedictorian, voted best student and most likely to succeed before heading off to Duke University where her love of the computer would manifest itself in her studies.

It appeared that the sky was the limit for a young Melinda Gates, then Melinda French, but it wasn’t always that way. In her first year of high school Gates says that her grades “weren’t as good as they should be” if she was planning on attending a top university for college, something she says was always a dream of hers. That’s when she received the worst, albeit eye-opening, advice that she never took.

“A college guidance counselor in high school … said to me that I should look at schools closer to home for university instead of going away,” Gates tells ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

To Gates, that advice was limiting as she always wanted the option to go anywhere.

“I think she was trying to give me what she thought was realistic advice, you know, she looked at my grades first quarter freshman year and second quarter and they weren’t as good as they should be if I was really aspiring to go to one of those great universities.”

Gates says that advice was the wakeup call that she needed to work harder.

“I took that advice and it fueled me to say I need to get better grades, I need to show that I can do this work because I really want to go to any university … but that’s not ever good advice to give a kid. You should always give someone the advice to shoot for their dreams and to help them see the path that could get them there.”

Today she has made it her mission to help people around the world see their own potential as the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the Foundation she and her husband work to fix critical problems around the world with a main focus on education in the United States.

“In the U.S. we think the thing that gives people equality is a great education and so we’ve been very dedicated to trying to fix the U.S. public education system.”

Hear more from Melinda Gates on episode #106 of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook hackers accessed more private information than previously revealed

Posted on: October 13th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Hackers accessed much more private information in a recent Facebook breach than the social media giant previously revealed.

 Two weeks ago, Facebook announced that 50 million users were affected, with the possibility of an additional 40 million, so the company reset the “access tokens” or digital keys of the 90 million accounts.

The breach forced users to log back into their accounts.

On Friday, the company said there were actually fewer users — 30 million — who were affected by the breach.

But the hackers went deeper into users’ profiles than initially thought, the company also said Friday.

Nearly half of those impacted — approximately 14 million users — had their “username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches,” the company’s vice president of product management Guy Rosen, wrote in a blog post.

These details were exposed sometime between Sept. 14 and Sept. 25 this year, when the company first discovered the security breach due to a sudden uptick in activity. But the software bugs made user information vulnerable from July 2017 to September 2018.

Previously, the company said only profile information exposed in the “View As” feature was accessed, which is basically a user’s name, gender and hometown.

From 400,000 to 30 million

The hackers didn’t access all of the affected accounts immediately. The hack started with 400,000 profiles, then used the “Friends” and “Friends of Friends” features to get the “digital keys” for 30 million people, Rosen wrote.

Then, “for 15 million people, attackers accessed two sets of information – name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had on their profiles). For 14 million people, the attackers accessed the same two sets of information,” Rosen wrote.

For some users, the last four digits of their credit card could have been accessed, Rosen said in a follow-up call with reporters.

The information the hackers accessed include timeline posts, lists of friends, Facebook groups, and “names of recent Messenger conversations.” The company said the actual content of the messages was not revealed unless “a person in this group was a Page admin whose Page had received a message from someone on Facebook, the content of that message was available to the attackers.”

Rosen said Facebook is cooperating with the ongoing FBI investigation into the breach, but would not give any details on who the hackers were or where they were based.

“We have not ruled out the possibility of smaller-scale attacks, which we’re continuing to investigate,” he added.

“For 1 million people, the attackers did not access any information,” Rosen said.

To find out if your account has been affected, Facebook has provided this link. Scroll to the bottom.

This attack did not include Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Pages, payments, third-party apps, or advertising or developer accounts, Rosen wrote.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dow plunges another 500 points, massive sell-off extends into 2nd day

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — U.S. stock futures plunged 500 points Thursday, extending its two-day loss by more than 1300 points.

Dow Industrial Average Futures closed 546 points or 2.1 percent lower at 25,052.83, totaling more than 5 percent in losses since Tuesday’s close.

The tech-centric NASDAQ ended 1.3 percent lower at 7,329.06. S&P 500 futures closed at 2,728.36, down 2 percent. Previously high-flying tech stocks extended losses on Thursday.

The two biggest U.S. companies continued losing value, with Amazon shares ending 2.0 percent lower and Apple shares closing down 0.9 percent.

The recent rise in interest rates, while not sudden, is adding to investors anxiety about the markets, Mike Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors, told ABC News.

“Quantitative easing was great — the Fed was buying U.S. bonds. Now that they’re tapering off and not buying as much, but the government still has to issue bonds to fund the government. And nobody wants to buy bonds because rates are higher, and it costs more and you’re going to lose money because the Fed keeps raising rates. Why would I buy something that will cost me something in the future when I know it ahead of time?” Matousek said.

Growing trade tensions with China — the largest holder of U.S. foreign debt by far — is also adding to market insecurity.

As a result of the trade war, “China is selling our treasuries and bonds. If you borrow a lot of money from the bank, they own you. China is the bank,” Matousek said.

President Trump defended his policies and continued his long-running feud with the Federal Reserve on Thursday, attacking its current policy of continuing to raise interest rates.

“It’s a correction that I think is caused by the Federal Reserve, with interest rates,” Trump said.

The central bank has raised rates three times this year and another rate hike is expected in December.

“We have interest rates going up at a clip that’s much faster than certainly a lot of people, including myself, would have anticipated. I think the Fed is out of control. I think what they’re doing is wrong,” Trump added. “Under the Obama administration, you had a lot of help, because they had very little interest. You know, when you talk about economies, our economy is far better than that, but we have actually — we’re paying interest, and they weren’t. They were using funny money.”

“But I think the Fed is far too stringent, and they’re making a mistake, and it’s not right. And it’s — despite that, we’re doing very well, but it’s not necessary, in my opinion. And I think I know about it better than they do, believe me,” Trump said.

He added that he would not fire Chairman Jerome Powell.

Wednesday ‘Tech Wreck’

The benchmark Dow index fell 831 points to close at 25,598.74 on Wednesday, wiping out 3.2 percent of its value in the sharpest drop since February.

Paul Sankey, a managing director at Mizuho Securities, mentioned Wednesday’s dramatic market slide in his morning note to investors.

“Obviously the backdrop was the 800 point drop in the Dow yesterday, which had the traders shouting ‘tech wreck!’ as I crossed the floor in the afternoon when the market slide turned into a rout,” Sankey wrote.

The decline came amid a widespread sell-off on Wall Street, which spilled over into global markets overnight as investors reacted to the “sheer magnitude of the move,” OANDA analyst Stephen Innes wrote in a note to investors.

“Equity markets were pulverized today as investors remain in full out retreat and even the most pessimistic of equity bears are still in shock by the sheer magnitude of the move,” he added. “This meltdown isn’t just a mild case of the sniffles suggesting the latest sneeze from the U.S. equity market could morph into a global markets pandemic.”

Innes, the Singapore-based head of Head of Trading for Asia Pacific with OANDA, attributed the slide to a combination of factors, including the possibility further interest rate hikes and the battle over tariffs between the U.S. and China.

“President Trump’s scathing and ramped-up attack on the Fed has the dollar bulls retreating as even the hint of political interference on monetary policy is unsettling,” Innes said.

Asia stock indexes added to the global market’s pain on Thursday, with benchmarks in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tokyo all skidding between 4 and 5 percent.

Japan’s benchmark index tumbled about 3.9 percent, while China’s key index fell 4.3 percent. Market indexes in Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asia also moved lower.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Elon Musk commits to SEC settlement despite mocking tweets

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Elon Musk’s tweets may have mocked the Securities and Exchange Commission, but his court filings are serious about settling the fraud charges that the SEC had lodged against him.

As recently as Oct. 4, Musk issued a sarcastic tweet, describing the agency as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission,” despite having agreed to settlement terms a week earlier that his company, Tesla, would monitor his tweets and other communications.

However, on Thursday Musk and the SEC urged a federal judge to approve the terms of the proposed consent judgment that requires Musk to resign as Tesla’s chairman and personally pay a $20 million fine to the SEC. Tesla has to pay a separate $20 million fine, which the SEC said will be returned to investors.

The deal does not require Musk to admit that he misled investors when he tweeted about taking Tesla private in August at $420 a share. Musk later said the price was a reference to cannabis culture, which the entrepreneur thought would amuse his then-girlfriend, the musician Grimes.

“Tesla and Mr. Musk believe that a prompt resolution of these actions through settlement is in the best interest of investors and should be approved,” Tesla said in a statement within the joint filing Thursday.

The settlement also requires Musk to resign as Tesla’s chairman for at least three years and for the company to appoint two independent board members. Musk will remain as CEO.

Terms of the settlement also require “implementation of mandatory procedures to oversee and preapprove Mr. Musk’s Tesla-related written communications that reasonably could contain information material to the company or its shareholders,” and goes on to demand an “experienced securities lawyer” who will enforce and approve Musk’s communications – including tweets.

Tesla made an SEC filing in 2013 that said Musk’s tweets qualified as company disclosures. In the years since the filing, Musk has used Twitter to go on rants against short sellers, the media, and celebrities.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Global markets tumble in tandem with US stocks as Dow futures signal lower open

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Stock futures pointed to an early decline on Wall Street Thursday as global indexes tumbled, with popular tech companies getting hit the hardest.

Dow Industrial Average Futures were down by about 300 points, or 1.2 percent, in pre-market trading, implying a sharply lower opening on Thursday after falling more than 3 percent on Wednesday.

S&P 500 futures and the tech-centric NASDAQ 100 were also down by about 1 percent in before-market trading Thursday morning. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered a fear gauge for the market, rose to 24.1 points on Thursday morning, a fresh six-month high.

The benchmark Dow index fell 831 points to close at 25,598.74 on Wednesday, wiping out 3.2 percent of its value in the sharpest drop since February. Shares of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Netflix and Google, the so-called FAANG stocks, were among the hardest hit, shedding billions in market capitalization.

The decline came amid a widespread selloff on Wall Street, which spilled over into global markets overnight as investors reacted to the “sheer magnitude of the move,” OANDA analyst Stephen Innes wrote in a note to investors.

“Equity markets were pulverized today as investors remain in full out retreat and even the most pessimistic of equity bears are still in shock by the sheer magnitude of the move,” he added. “This meltdown isn’t just a mild case of the sniffles suggesting the latest sneeze from the U.S. equity market could morph into a global markets pandemic.”

Innes, the Singapore-based head of Head of Trading for Asia Pacific with OANDA, attributed the slide to a combination of factors, including the possibility further interest rate hikes and the battle over tariffs between the U.S. and China.

“President Trump’s scathing and ramped-up attack on the Fed has the dollar bulls retreating as even the hint of political interference on monetary policy is unsettling,” Innes said.

Asia stock indexes added to the global market’s pain on Thursday, with benchmarks in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tokyo all skidding between 4 and 5 percent.

Japan’s benchmark index tumbled about 3.9 percent, while China’s key index fell 4.3 percent. Market indexes in Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asia also moved lower.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US stocks on rollercoaster and global markets tumble a day after Dow plunges

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — U.S. stock futures plunged further and global indexes tumbled Thursday morning as high-flying tech companies continued getting hit.

Dow Industrial Average Futures were down by about 320.62 points, or 1.3 percent, at 25,278.12 in early trading after opening undramatically in line with yesterday’s close. Later in the morning, the index took a nose dive, adding to losses of more than 3 percent on Wednesday.

The tech-centric NASDAQ was down by 1.7 percent Thursday morning. S&P 500 futures were trading slightly lower at 2,761.88, down less than 1 percent.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered a fear gauge for the market, rose to 24.1 points on Thursday morning, a fresh six-month high.

Shares of fintech company Square plunged 15 percent Thursday on news its CFO Sarah Friar was leaving to become CEO of Nextdoor.

Snapchat also held losses close to 60 percent off from its IPO price, after hitting an all-time low earlier this week.

That followed a research note by media analyst Michael Nathanson, saying the company was “quickly running out of money.”

Shares of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Netflix and Google, the so-called FAANG stocks, were among the hardest hit Wednesday, shedding billions in market capitalization. Shares were trading close to Wednesday’s close late Thursday morning, although Amazon was down 2.6 percent.

The benchmark Dow index fell 831 points to close at 25,598.74 on Wednesday, wiping out 3.2 percent of its value in the sharpest drop since February.

The decline came amid a widespread selloff on Wall Street, which spilled over into global markets overnight as investors reacted to the “sheer magnitude of the move,” OANDA analyst Stephen Innes wrote in a note to investors.

“Equity markets were pulverized today as investors remain in full out retreat and even the most pessimistic of equity bears are still in shock by the sheer magnitude of the move,” he added. “This meltdown isn’t just a mild case of the sniffles suggesting the latest sneeze from the U.S. equity market could morph into a global markets pandemic.”

Innes, the Singapore-based head of Head of Trading for Asia Pacific with OANDA, attributed the slide to a combination of factors, including the possibility further interest rate hikes and the battle over tariffs between the U.S. and China.

“President Trump’s scathing and ramped-up attack on the Fed has the dollar bulls retreating as even the hint of political interference on monetary policy is unsettling,” Innes said.

Asia stock indexes added to the global market’s pain on Thursday, with benchmarks in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tokyo all skidding between 4 and 5 percent.

Japan’s benchmark index tumbled about 3.9 percent, while China’s key index fell 4.3 percent. Market indexes in Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asia also moved lower.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

British automaker Aston Martin has survived 7 bankruptcies. Now it wants you to invest in it.

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(LONDON) — For a storied automaker like Aston Martin, it’s hard to imagine that at one time the company was making just five cars a week at its original location in Newport Pagnell, England.

Best known as the getaway car of James Bond, Aston Martin has a complicated history includes a long line of owners — and seven bankruptcies.

Andy Palmer, CEO since 2014, has steered the 105-year-old automaker through a hairpin turn by taking it public — the first listing of a U.K. carmaker on the London Stock Exchange in three decades.

“The [initial] feedback from investors was better than expected,” Evercore ISI auto analyst Arndt Ellinghorst told ABC News.

Aston Martin did a good job “selling the dream” to investors, he added, noting that Ferrari did the same in 2015 when it pitched itself as a luxury goods maker to Wall Street.

But the company will need to reassure investors that its aggressive growth strategy will not face any serious roadblocks, Ellinghorst said.

“Aston Martin has never really made money,” he said. “It’s really now about the execution of the plan. Aston Martin has to deliver.”

Under Palmer’s Second Century Plan, Aston Martin will debut a new model every year for the next seven years.

So far, three models have launched — the DB11, DBS Superleggera and Vantage. The next model will be Aston Martin’s first-ever SUV in 2019, followed by a mid-engine supercar and the all-electric, hyper-exclusive Rapide E sedan — of which only 155 will be made.

The company’s turnaround efforts were initially a culture shock to its 2,500 employees, according to Mike Duffy, Europe Editor of Car and Driver magazine.

“Aston Martin was traditionally a small-minded company,” he told ABC News. “Its customers were ‘old money.’ It produced tiny volumes of cars.”

Part of that small-minded culture stemmed from a lack of investment.

“There was a sense that design and engineering worked in slightly different universes,” Duffy said. “New models came infrequently. Andy brought big company thinking to a small company … and a cadre of senior engineers and marketing types from elsewhere.”

Some of those hires were the biggest names in the industry: Matt Becker, Lotus’ head of vehicle dynamics, left to join Aston Martin as its chief engineer. Chris Goodwin, McLaren’s legendary chief test driver, now does the same for Aston. Palmer’s right-hand man, Simon Sproule, reportedly gave up Tesla stock options to become Aston’s vice president and chief marketing officer.

“There’s a strong element of ‘What makes my enemies weaker makes me stronger’ in the hiring,” Duffy said.

At Aston’s state-of-the-art facility in Gaydon, England, factory workers hand-build 25 sports cars a day — a number that will be significantly ramped up to meet the lofty sales figures the company has promised investors.

Aston Martin said it expects to deliver between 6,200 and 6,400 vehicles this year, up from 5,117 in 2017 and 3,229 in 2016.

Those numbers jump to 7,100 to 7,300 by Dec. 31, 2019, and 9,600 to 9,800 by 2020. Thirty percent of sales are in the U.K., while the U.S. composes 25 percent.

Aston Martin spokesman Matt Clarke dismissed the production concerns raised by analysts, saying the company has been furiously hiring workers to keep up with demand. An additional 1,200 employees have been added to the payroll since the launch of the Second Century Plan, and the company’s global headcount will reach 5,000 by 2022.

“We stand by what’s in the prospectus,” he told ABC News.

Some of these new employees will be stationed at Aston Martin’s new manufacturing site in Wales. The DBX SUV will be manufactured there as well as Aston Martin’s Lagonda vehicles. Aston Martin executives are revamping Lagonda, which was acquired in 1947, as the world’s first luxury zero-emissions marque.

John Muirhead, Aston’s former brand communications manager, said the company struggled for years to survive.

“We had bigger issues with older management [but] the product right now is as good as it can be,” he told ABC News as he led a tour of the bustling Gaydon factory. “Our new custodians have invested millions in us.”

Muirhead, who spent 19 years with Aston Martin, said the company could do more to publicize its name.

“We realize not everyone knows who we are,” he said. “Aston is about craftsmanship, performance, luxury and exclusivity.”

Laura Schwab, president of Aston Martin of the Americas, said the positive response to the company’s latest products have reenergized the brand.

“Each new car has its own personality and appeals to different people,” she told ABC News. “We continue to let people know about our lineup.”

Aston, beloved by cinephiles for its decades-long association with the James Bond franchise, has a dedicated fan base, Duffy said, though it’s “a little less fanatical” than Porsche and Ferrari.

“I certainly can’t think what the Aston equivalent of ‘tifosi’ would be,” Duffy said. “Older Astons attract collectors like no comparable brand except Ferrari.”

Dominik Dybala, general sales manager at Glenview Luxury Imports outside Chicago, said Aston’s Vantage sports car has already caught the eye of die-hard Porsche fans.

“Porsche customers are always hard to convert to any brand, and with the Vantage it has been a cake walk,” he told ABC News. “The Vantage is a true sports car. That alone will attract a younger crowd of people.”

Newer models are just one part of Aston’s comeback. The company has announced plans for a mid-engine sports car to compete with Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini. And its “continuation” cars — the DB4 GT and DB5 — have attracted attention from deep-pocketed auto enthusiasts who can drop $2.5 million on a limited-edition vehicle.

“Aston spreading itself into new markets means there’s serious appetite for growth,” Duffy said. “The company was sitting on the sideline, suffering from lack of investment. I am very optimistic about its plan.”

Schwab said she welcomed the comparisons to Ferrari that some in the media have made since Aston Martin went public.

“Ferrari is a great brand, and it’s great to be compared to them,” she said. “But we have something unique.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Super-smart teen girls from India invented an app to deal with all of our iPhone waste

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Solving global problems isn’t on the to-do list for most teenagers.

But this group of five teen girls from Delhi, India, is far from average. The team took on the challenge of inventing a way to dispose of electronic waste in an eco-friendly way.

“E-waste is usually disposed of as regular trash, which causes all types of environment pollution and great health hazards,” the team told GMA during a group presentation.

Discarded tech equipment — phones, computers, TVs — contains substances that cause environmental damage and health risks, especially if treated inadequately, according to the 2017 Global E-waste Monitor, a report produced in part by United Nations University.

Calling themselves Team Cantavits, the girls worked together to create a mobile app called Eedo that allows for full communication between e-waste producers and authorized recyclers. This summer they won the senior division at the 2018 Technovation World Pitch Summit in San Jose, California.

They were one of 12 team finalists at the competition that were collectively awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships to continue pursuing tech entrepreneurship, and to bring their apps to market. Iridescent, a nonprofit working to empower underrepresented youth around the world, founded the Technovation challenge in 2010.

A spokesperson for Iridescent said Team Cantavits is already meeting with e-waste experts in India to get licensed recyclers to join the app.

Kritika Sharma, 17

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: Definitely, because our app not only reaches out to people who are like local scrap dealers or authorized recyclers, our app reaches out to almost all sectors of society.

Q: How is what you’re doing more than developing an app?

A: We are not just coding for only creating a market, we are coding for solving a problem that is a real one and giving a solution for that is a big deal.

Aditi Jain, 14

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: I think our app has a lot of potential to reach the global market because everyone is associated with electronic equipment.

Q: What was it like to win the competition?

A: I was very proud of myself and I wore the Indian flag on stage, it gave me a lot of pride to me and my parents as well.

Shraddha Chugh, 16

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: Everybody uses electronic equipment, and there’s no life without it. We use it directly or indirectly anyways.

Q: How did you feel being at the competition?

A: I was speechless at that moment when I heard our name called out by the teacher who announced the results. It was definitely a very exciting moment.

Shriya Shukla, 14

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: If you are an authorized recycler then you can actually acquire more customers for you and you can actually acquire more e-waste and dispose it in an eco-friendly manner.

Q: How is what you’re doing more than developing an app?

A: We actually want to solve a community issue and we want to save the environment.

Sneha Agarwal, 14

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: The problem of e-waste is a rising issue because the advance in technology, so this problem will increase.

Q: What was it like to win the competition?

A: I can’t put it in words how happy I was when our team’s name was called. At first I was not able to believe that yeah, we won. … It was the best experience of my life.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Super-smart teen girls from India invented an app to deal with all of our iPhone waste

Posted on: October 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Solving global problems isn’t on the to-do list for most teenagers.

But this group of five teen girls from Delhi, India, is far from average. The team took on the challenge of inventing a way to dispose of electronic waste in an eco-friendly way.

“E-waste is usually disposed of as regular trash, which causes all types of environment pollution and great health hazards,” the team told GMA during a group presentation.

Discarded tech equipment — phones, computers, TVs — contains substances that cause environmental damage and health risks, especially if treated inadequately, according to the 2017 Global E-waste Monitor, a report produced in part by United Nations University.

Calling themselves Team Cantavits, the girls worked together to create a mobile app called Eedo that allows for full communication between e-waste producers and authorized recyclers. This summer they won the senior division at the 2018 Technovation World Pitch Summit in San Jose, California.

They were one of 12 team finalists at the competition that were collectively awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships to continue pursuing tech entrepreneurship, and to bring their apps to market. Iridescent, a nonprofit working to empower underrepresented youth around the world, founded the Technovation challenge in 2010.

A spokesperson for Iridescent said Team Cantavits is already meeting with e-waste experts in India to get licensed recyclers to join the app.

Kritika Sharma, 17

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: Definitely, because our app not only reaches out to people who are like local scrap dealers or authorized recyclers, our app reaches out to almost all sectors of society.

Q: How is what you’re doing more than developing an app?

A: We are not just coding for only creating a market, we are coding for solving a problem that is a real one and giving a solution for that is a big deal.

Aditi Jain, 14

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: I think our app has a lot of potential to reach the global market because everyone is associated with electronic equipment.

Q: What was it like to win the competition?

A: I was very proud of myself and I wore the Indian flag on stage, it gave me a lot of pride to me and my parents as well.

Shraddha Chugh, 16

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: Everybody uses electronic equipment, and there’s no life without it. We use it directly or indirectly anyways.

Q: How did you feel being at the competition?

A: I was speechless at that moment when I heard our name called out by the teacher who announced the results. It was definitely a very exciting moment.

Shriya Shukla, 14

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: If you are an authorized recycler then you can actually acquire more customers for you and you can actually acquire more e-waste and dispose it in an eco-friendly manner.

Q: How is what you’re doing more than developing an app?

A: We actually want to solve a community issue and we want to save the environment.

Sneha Agarwal, 14

Q: Do you think your app has the potential to reach a global market?

A: The problem of e-waste is a rising issue because the advance in technology, so this problem will increase.

Q: What was it like to win the competition?

A: I can’t put it in words how happy I was when our team’s name was called. At first I was not able to believe that yeah, we won. … It was the best experience of my life.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.