Gas Prices Down Nine Cents, Two States See Average Price Fall Under $3 Per Gallon

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

bizoo_n/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Gas prices dropped by about nine cents in the last week, with the average cost of a gallon of gas costing just $3.12, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

In the Gulf Coast region, the average cost of gas fell below three dollars, hitting $2.91. Gas remained most expensive on the West Coast, where motorists spent $3.42 per gallon on average.

A gallon in California cost $3.49, keeping its position as the most expensive state to buy gas. Minnesota and Texas each saw their average cost of a gallon of gas fall below three dollars.

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Whole Foods to Launch National Ad Campaign Focused on ‘Values’

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Whole Foods Market®(NEW YORK) — Whole Foods Market will launch its first national ad campaign on Monday, highlighting, “groundbreaking quality standards, healthy offerings and key milestones as a pioneer in the natural and organic food industry.”

The company’s ads will air during primetime television, including shows like Modern Family, Scandal, and The Voice, during late night shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live and Saturday Night Live, and during the World Series and National Football League games. Whole Foods says it will spend over $15 million to launch the campaign, which will also include print ads.

With rival businesses beginning to offer organic product lines, Whole Foods, whose core customer base has long been concerned with healthy eating, hopes to maintain that base by sharing its, “deeper purpose and its history of celebrating food and the people who produce it.”

“Whole Foods Market has been subtly telling our story for decades,” the company’s Global Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Jeannine D’Addario, said. “We are excited to share our stories and to have deeper conversations with our customers so they can make meaningful choices about what they decide to buy and support.”

The campaign, titled “Values Matter,” will air its first ad Monday night during Dancing With the Stars.

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10 Lucky Customers Can Win ‘Starbucks for Life’

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Starbucks(NEW YORK) –  Listen up, Starbucks addicts: the global coffee chain announced they’ll be randomly giving out 10 passes to what they call “Starbucks for Life.”

“This holiday season Starbucks is launching a unique opportunity for a select number of customers to win ‘Starbucks for Life’ by simply swiping their Starbucks card or paying with their mobile device,” the company said in a statement on their innovations for the coming year.

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to ABC News that Starbucks will be giving out a total of 10 passes within the United States. And, despite the program being called “for life,” the winners will actually only receive a drink a day for 30 years.

“What could be bigger this holiday than winning ‘Starbucks for Life?’ This is the first time we have ever offered customers something of this magnitude and what better way than to anchor it with our renowned Starbucks Card program,” Starbucks executive vice president and global chief marketing officer Sharon Rothstein said in the statement. “This giveaway is poised to bring great excitement and fun to our customers during this special time of the year.”

The giveaway will launch Dec. 2 and runs through the first week of January.

In addition to the opportunity to win “Starbucks for Life,” there will be other items that customers can win. Starbucks was tight-lipped on what those items will be.

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NHTSA Urges Immediate Action for Owners of 4.7 Million Vehicles with Air Bag Issue

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging the owners of over four million recalled vehicles to take immediate action to ensure driver safety.

According to the NHTSA, the recall affects 4,744,309 Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors vehicles. Owners of those vehicles, especially those in hot and humid climates, including Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, should have their air bags replaced.

A mechanism that inflates the air bags in a crash could potentially burst, the NHTSA says, causing metal shrapnel to hit the driver. The agency says the issue may be linked to hot and moist climates.

A full list of recalled vehicles can be found at the NHTSA’s website.

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NHTSA Urges ‘Immediate Action’ for Owners of 4.7 Million Vehicles with Air Bag Issue

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The government is urging nearly five million drivers to take “immediate action” to protect themselves against “defective” airbags – airbags that a safety expert says can explode in the vehicle and harm passengers.

“This message comes with urgency,” reads a post on the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it urges owners of “certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” The message is especially urgent for drivers in warm climates like Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NHTSA said.

The NHTSA lists more than 4.7 million vehicles with model years from 2000 to 2006 – in addition to the 2011 Honda Element — that have been subject to related recalls over the past two years and urge owners to take them to their dealers.

Auto safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News the problem with the Takata airbags is its internal inflator.

“[It’s] the canister which sits in the center of the airbag, it’s like a metal can,” Kane said. “When that’s ignited, it’s overpressurizing the canister and the canister is exploding, much like an IED [improvised explosive device], and sending shrapnel into the occupants of the vehicle.”

Kane said that the explosions have caused “severe lacerations” and a reported four deaths.

Earlier this month Florida woman Hien Tran was killed in a mysterious auto accident in which she was found with stab-like wounds to her neck, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Last week, detectives determined the injuries were “consistent with… exploding airbags bags.”

A week after Tran’s death, Tran’s family reportedly received a recall notice from Honda urging them to replace the 2001 Accord’s airbag.

In a post on its website Monday, Toyota issued its own “supplemental” safety recall for more than a quarter million vehicles with airbags supplied by Takata, saying the “influence of high absolute humidity” in the malfunctions is under investigation. Toyota noted that it has not received any reports of injuries or deaths linked to the issue.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the airbags in June and in response, Takata said it has been “consistently cooperating with NHSTA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation… but we also stand by the quality of our products.”

“Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its air bag inflators and we strive to avoid any malfunction,” the company said in June. ABC News was unable to reach Takata representatives at their U.S. headquarters for an updated comment.

Kane told ABC News he’s “troubled” by how long it has taken to address the problem and urged car owners to see if their vehicle is effected by going to NHTSA’s Safercar.gov website.

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Wall Street Posts Gains, Despite Survey Indicating Slowed Wage Increases

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street built on Friday’s gain by posting another positive day on Monday, with all three major indices finishing the day higher than they began.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 19.26 to 16,399.67.

The Nasdaq gained 57.63, closing the day at 4,316.07, and the S&P 500 jumped 17.25, finishing at 1,904.01 — the first close above 1,900 in over a week.

A survey released by the National Association for Business Economics found that just 24 percent of responding firms increased wages and salaries in the third quarter of the fiscal year. That figure, lower than the preceding months, “signals a slowdown in the trend toward wage and salary increases that began with the January 14 survey.”

Still, the NABE notes, 32 percent of firms saw larger employment figures, with just seven percent reporting declining employment.

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Guardrail Company Defrauded Government, to Pay $175M

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(MARSHALL, Texas) — A jury found Monday that a leading guardrail company made false statements to the government relating to a nearly decade-old modification that critics say made the guardrails more dangerous for motorists across the country, and ordered the company to pay $175 million in damages.

The jury in Marshall, Texas, found in favor of Josh Harman, a competitor of guardrail company Trinity Industries who sued the company over what he called fraudulent behavior.

At the center of the trial, which began Monday, were modifications made by Trinity Industries in 2005 to the design of guardrail end terminals used alongside many roads from coast to coast, and the company’s failure at the time not to disclose the changes to the federal government or any state transportation departments.

The modified guardrail, called the ET-Plus, was the subject of an ABC News 20/20 investigation in September that looked into allegations from crash victims that the modified guardrail malfunctioned when struck from the front by their vehicles. Rather than ribboning out and absorbing the impact as designed, the guardrails “locked up” and speared straight through the cars, severing the motorists’ limbs in some cases.

In an internal email obtained by ABC News, a company official said that one particular design change – the shrinking of a metal piece in the end guardrail terminal from five inches to four — would save the company $2 per guardrail, or $50,000 a year. The company also admitted that it had “inadvertently omitted” documentation that was required to be turned over to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) about the change.

Harman alleged the guardrail maker sold states a product that was different from the one they believed they were getting.

Attorneys for Harman used the $2 email as evidence against Trinity as well as crash test videos produced by Trinity of a different configuration for the guardrail system – which weren’t disclosed to the government – that Harman’s team said showed the end piece failing. Trinity maintained those crash test videos were for an experimental system that was never produced for the real world and didn’t need to be turned over for review.

In their own fiery closing arguments Monday, attorneys for Trinity said the company had been the target of a “grand conspiracy” constructed out of “baseless allegations.” An attorney for the company, Ethan Shaw, noted that even after the FHWA learned of the modification in 2012, it was repeatedly approved for use on the nation’s highways.

Trinity told ABC News for its original report that the aftermath pictures of the fatal and serious accidents don’t prove anything – that each accident has its own unique circumstances and that their product has a proven record of safety. Trinity has a “high degree of confidence in the performance and integrity” of the ET-Plus system, the company said.

After the verdict, the company said it “respects the jury’s decision.”

“However, Trinity believes the decision cannot and will not withstand legal scrutiny. The Company strongly believes the courts will affirm its position,” Trinity said.

In recent months, four states have suspended use of the modified guardrail system as they investigate further. Florida, for instance, has given Trinity until the end of the week to prove to them through new crash tests and crash test data that the system is safe.

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Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln Commercials Generate Lots of Buzz

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

The Lincoln Motor Company(NEW YORK) — Matthew McConaughey may be an Oscar winner but it is his commercials for a car company that are generating all the buzz.

McConaughey, 44, who starred in 2011′s The Lincoln Lawyer, is now the pitchman for another Lincoln, the car company Lincoln Motors.

“I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one,” the Texas-born father-of-three says in one commercial.

In another, McConaughey stares down a bull and says, “1,800 pounds and do whatever the heck I want. I can respect that.”

The mood-filled ads have become viral hits — drawing over 1.5 million hits and counting on YouTube.

The ads featuring McConaughey, who won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, have also drawn the attention of comedians like Ellen DeGeneres who spoofed the ads on her TV talk show.

“Maybe we should ask him to mooooove along. Mooooove it along,” DeGeneres says in the spoof, during which she’s superimposed behind McConaughey in a car.

Luckily for Lincoln, the online buzz is translating into big business for the brand. The company reports sales are up 13% year-to-date so far.

“The Lincoln brand has sort of been out of sight for so many years,”Benjamin Zhang, transportation reporter for Business Insider, told ABC News. “People are talking about Lincoln again.”

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Woman Buys a Year’s Supply of Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Feed Addiction

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sherry Lynn Gustafson(MOLINE, Ill.) — If you’re in Moline, Illinois, you might have some trouble finding a pumpkin spice latte.

“My husband went to three of the stores Saturday night, and they were all three already empty,” Sherry Lynn Gustafson told ABC News. “I was smart to get mine.”

Gustafson, 58, started stockpiling Keurig boxes of her favorite coffee drink after the gas station she got them at would sometimes run out or it would be weak.

So far she’s bought 52 boxes.

“I started wanting it all the time. I thought, ‘I’m tired of waiting,’  so I started getting five or six boxes at a time here or there,” she told ABC News.

She now has three or four cups of the beverage a day.

“Somebody had mentioned something about shelf life, but they’re good until August 2016 so I’m good until next fall when I need my other fix,” she said.

Gustafson’s favorite part of the drink is that it tastes like her favorite fall treat, but with only 35 calories.

“It tastes like pumpkin pie with cream on it. It’s really sweet and pumpkin, and I put my creamer in it myself so it tastes just like pie,” she said. “I can make it a cup at a time and it’s really fresh and smells good.”

This habit has set Gustafson back nearly $260, but she said it’s well worth it.

“We get 5 cents per box off a gallon of gas, so we only paid 76 cents a gallon for gas here after I got my monthly stash,” she explained. “I’m just a normal mom and grandma, but if I like something, at my age I try to make sure that I get it now. I juts figure why not.”

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Apple Pay and Everything Else to Expect from iOS 8.1 Update

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Apple(NEW YORK) — The first major update to Apple’s iOS 8 is set to make its debut Monday. It’s packed with features that will enable Apple Pay for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users, while allowing others to enjoy increased continuity between their devices.

Apple hasn’t released a time when the update will become available Monday, however if history is any indicator, it’s likely the update will be offered to users beginning around 1 p.m. ET.

The iOS 8.1 update is also expected to address a number of lingering bug fixes from previous iterations of the operating system, which was released last month.

Here’s what you can expect from iOS 8.1.

Apple Pay

Apple’s mobile payment product, which works on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for online as well as brick and mortar store purchases, is perhaps the most anticipated update to come from iOS 8.1.

Checkout counters in more than 220,000 stores, including Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Chevron, are equipped with contactless readers where Apple Pay users can begin using Touch ID to start paying for their purchases.

Continuity Features

It’s now even easier for your Apple devices to be “friends” with each other.

The new iOS 8.1 comes with more continuity features that allow users to seamlessly transition between OS X Yosemite and iOS, including the ability to send and receive text messages from iPads and Macs. The feature even works for contacts who don’t have an iPhone, making it even easier to stay in touch on any device.

Forget about paying for Wi-Fi, too. An iOS 8.1 update allows Mac users who have certain carriers to connect to the Internet on their computers — using their iPhone as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Other features, like call answering, became available with the release of OS X Yosemite last week. (Remember when Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software, called Stephen Colbert?)

Photos

Good news — the camera roll that was stripped from iOS 8 is back. Also expect to see an iCloud photo library that lets you store photos and videos to your iCloud and makes them even easier to find.

The library will come with the ability to search by date, location or album name.

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Apple Pay (AAPL) Aims to Shut Your Wallet, for Good

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Morning Money Memo:

Starting today, Apple Pay will enable millions of consumers to use their smartphones instead of credit cards to pay for stuff. Apple Pay will work at some retailers only with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Visa, Mastercard, American Express and hundreds of banks are working with Apple. More than 220,000 stores will accept the new payment system. But Walmart and most major retailers have yet to sign on. Apple Pay says the system is more secure than paying with credit and debit cards and it’s more convenient than having to pull a plastic card out of your wallet. “Apple Pay is the technology industry’s most ambitious effort to position smartphones as a safer and easier alternative to cash, checks and plastic credit cards,” says The Wall Street Journal.

A new business survey finds hiring is healthy but pay raises, not so much. The quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics finds that only 24 percent of companies increased wages and salaries in the July-September quarter. That’s down from 43% in the April-June quarter and the first drop after three straight increases. Many economists say that flat living standards for much of the middle class hold back growth. Yet firms still added jobs at a healthy pace, which usually pushes wages higher as employers compete for workers. The figures suggest that the number of people out of work remains high enough that companies aren’t under any pressure to raise pay.

Stock futures are up today after a surge in Japan overnight – the Nikkei index rose more than 3 percent. Asian markets have been down recently with concerns about slowing growth in China. The sharp drop last week in oil prices is relieving pressure on some Asian economies that rely on imported fuel by making it easier to withdraw budget draining subsidies.

Boy toys helped Hasbro boost profits. The large toymaker announced an increase of 43 percent for 3rd quarter earnings compared with last year. The company’s boys division includes Marvel toys, Nerf and Transformers. Last week rival toy firm Mattel announced a sharp drop in profits, partially because of declining sales of Barbie Dolls.

IBM shares dropped nearly 8 percent this morning in pre-market trading because of a disappointing earnings report. IBM also said it is paying $1.5 billion to Globalfoundries as it sheds its costly chip division. IBM will make payments to the chipmaker over three years, but it’s taking a $4.7 billion charge in the third quarter. Globalfoundries will get IBM’s global commercial semiconductor technology business, including intellectual property and technologies related to IBM Microelectronics.

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

More than 48 Million Fall Below US Poverty Line

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than 48 million Americans were living below the poverty line in 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau reports in its supplemental poverty measure.

The official poverty line was $23,283 last year for a family of four.

The supplemental poverty measure, as opposed to the national poverty rate, takes into account various benefits, expenses and resources faced by and available to families.

It also varies in cities and rural regions. For instance, the poverty line in major metro areas is $30,000 or above for a family of four because they have to pay more for housing, transportation and food.

The government says that certain entitlement programs, such as food stamps and Social Security, have helped to prevent another 13 million people from falling below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, last year’s poverty rate — 15.5 percent — was actually down from 0.5 percent from 2012.

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Most Colleges Don’t Mandate Teaching of Government, History and Economics

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Should college students be well-informed about the government, history and economics prior to moving on with the rest of their lives?

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni believes so but in its sixth annual analysis of core curricula at nearly 1,100 four-year colleges and universities, the group found that it just wasn’t the case.

In fact, Michael Poliakoff, director of the survey, says that the vast majority of colleges in the country don’t mandate the teaching of U.S. government, history or economics.

As a result, the survey found that most college graduates are unaware that a congressional term is two years long, that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves and that George Washington led the American troops at Yorktown.

According to Poliakoff, “It’s much easier for campus administrators to let faculty make decisions rather than to decide with them what are really important and what really matters.”

He says that failing to become skilled in critical thinking is hampering college grads and keeping many from getting better jobs.

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How Six-Year-Old Boy’s Wish to Attend the World Series Came True

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A man has been raising money to send his 6-year-old neighbor, a huge Royals fan who suffers from a cancerous tumor in his spine, to see his favorite team play at the World Series — and all the hard work and effort has worked.

In just one day, Ryan Zimmerman, of Olathe, raised more than $8,000 and counting through online crowdfunding — plenty of cash to send young Noah Wilson and his family to the game.

At the same time, Zimmerman said Friday that StubHub has decided to donate six tickets so that the entire family can go to a game. The money raised, Zimmerman said, will go towards Noah’s hospital bills.

But the offers didn’t end there.

Moments after the StubHub offer was made, former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, who now works for Major League Baseball, invited Noah to the World Series.

Torre tweeted, “On behalf of @MLB we would like #NoahWilson to be our guest @ the 2014 #WorldSeries. Save the money for school! @RyanZOnline DM @DanScavino”

Noah will be at the hospital when the World Series starts Tuesday, so Zimmerman had been trying to get tickets for Wednesday’s game.

“When you look online, the cheapest tickets are $750, and that’s standing room only,” Zimmerman said before StubHub made its generous offer.

Noah is about halfway through cancer treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, with 14 more weeks of chemotherapy left.

“So far he’s been responding well to it,” Wilson said. “The tumor hasn’t spread. It’s gotten smaller so we’re moving forward with high hopes.”

Noah made headlines last month when he developed a program for the hospital to replace the boring brown bandages with bright colors and superhero patterns.

“It’s a lot of fun. We just got a letter in the mail from a family that received some of the Band-Aids,” Wilson said. “And he just smiles real big. It melts our hearts.”

Zimmerman, who coaches soccer for one of Noah’s sisters, said he’s impressed by the boy’s selflessness even while battling cancer.

“That’s just another part of what makes this kid so special — that he’s dealing with things that I couldn’t even fathom and he’s still thinking about other kids in the hospital with him,” Zimmerman said.

Noah couldn’t be happier, his dad told ABC News.

“We’re overwhelmed with appreciation,” Scott Wilson said on Friday from the hospital, where Noah was getting his last radiation treatment. “I keep telling people I don’t have enough words to say thank you.”

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Apple Pay: What to Expect at the Checkout Counter

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With the roll out of Apple Pay next Monday, the checkout experience is expected to evolve at some of the biggest retailers and restaurants in the United States.

Apple’s mobile payment product, which works on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for online and brick and mortar store purchase, could very well be a credit card killer, according to industry observers.

There’s no need to reach for a wallet, swipe a credit card or wait for a cashier to make change. Even if you’re not set up on a device equipped with Apple Pay, but others queuing in front of you are, it’s possible the simplicity of the transaction could make waiting in line faster for everyone.

What to Expect When You Step Up to the Checkout Counter

Checkout counters in more than 220,000 stores, including Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Chevron, will be equipped with contactless readers.

All users have to do is position their iPhone near one of the readers at a store, hold their finger on their Touch ID and they’re good to go. The simple, swift checkout motion is made easy due to the the Near Field Communication antenna in the iPhone 6, which connects with the payment point to complete the transaction.

A vibration and a beep will let users know that checkout was successful. There’s no need to do anything else.

Behind the Scenes

With Apple Pay, neither Apple nor merchants see or store any of your private information.

Instead, users take a photo of their credit card and add it to their phone’s Passbook, where it is assigned an unique device account number, encrypted and stored in the phone’s Secure Element Chip.

When it’s time to check out, the device account number and a dynamic security code are used to complete the transaction. Apple will never know what you purchased, the company said, and you’ll still get rewards points on the credit cards you use.

Online Purchases

The two new iPads unveiled on Thursday — the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 — also come equipped for making online Apple Pay purchases.

Users can add their debit or credit card information from their iTunes account or snap a photo with the tablet’s camera. Select Apple Pay when it’s time to check out, lightly touch the home button with your finger and the transaction is complete. Entering shipping or billing information — perhaps the most tedious part of online shopping — is no longer necessary.

Apple Pay works in a slew of popular apps, including Target, Uber and OpenTable.

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Microsoft CEO Says Company Needs to Recruit More Diverse Talent

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

David Becker/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The head of Microsoft has a new message for his employees following a gaffe last week regarding women asking for raises.

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was asked at a technology conference last week how women should ask for a raise, he said they shouldn’t ask, and they should just trust the system to pay them what they’re worth.

He later said that was wrong.

Now, in a memo to employees, Nadella says Microsoft shouldn’t only focus on equal pay for equal work, but also on the opportunity to do equal work. He also says, going forward, Microsoft needs to recruit more diverse talent and foster a more inclusive culture.

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Snapchat to Add In-App Advertisements This Weekend

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

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Snapchat announced on Friday that it would begin placing advertisements for American users this weekend, the first time the app will feature ads in its “recent updates” space.

According to a post on the Snapchat blog, the ads won’t involve collecting user data to find ads that interest individual users. Instead, “an advertisement will appear in your Recent Updates from time to time, and you can choose if you want to watch it.” The ads will even disappear from the “Recent Updates” feed within 24 hours.

The company promised in its post that ads wouldn’t appear in users’ personal communications — their normal snaps or chat conversations, as “that would be totally rude.”

Snapchat says it hopes to “deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted.”

The decision was made, the post acknowledges, to make money, but the company believes it can do so in a way that will avoid detracting from its product.

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Mark Cuban Tweets He’s Buying Netflix Stock

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

ABC/Bob D’Amico(NEW YORK) — Billionaire and star of Shark Tank posted to his Twitter account Friday saying that he intended to buy stock in Netflix, just one day after the company reported disappointing earnings.

On Thursday, Netflix reported worse-than-expected subscriber growth, which led to a big drop for the company’s stock in after-hours trading. Nonetheless, Cuban believes the company has tremendous value.

“I’m buying NFLX stock,” Cuban’s tweet read. He went on to note Netflix’s size compared to other Internet and media companies.

 

I’m buying NFLX stock. At half of YHOO, 10B<Twitter and small pct of major media companies, Someone will try to buy them. #GetLongGetLoud

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) October 17, 2014

In a reply tweet to a follower, Cuban stated his belief that Netflix’s value far surpasses its current price.

 

 

.@ChartProphet imho the value of nflx is so much more than its price that even if a buyer wrote a 8b check to pay it off its a bargain

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) October 17, 2014

 

Cuban, the 223rd wealthiest person in America, according to Forbes magazine’s latest ranking, is worth an estimated $2.7 billion.

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Wall Street Closes the Week Strong Following Positive Report on Residential Construction

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street closed the week on a positive note with all three major indices posting significant gains on Friday, after a Commerce Department report indicated increases in construction on both single-family homes and apartments.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 16380.41, up 263.17 from where it started the day.

The Nasdaq gained 41.05 to a close of 4258.44, while the S&P 500 rose 24 to 1886.76.

A Commerce Department report released Friday showed that residential construction is up over the last year. However, slow economic growth and stagnant wages led to a 30 percent increase in apartment construction, compared to just 11 percent on single-family homes.

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Craft Beers Land on More In-Flight Beverage Carts

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Craft beer continues to be one of the fastest-growing brew segments in the country, posting annual growth of 17.2 percent by volume in 2013, according to the Brewer’s Association. And with demand steadily climbing higher, smaller-batch suds have found their way to the skies as well.

In the last year, an increasing number of airlines have added regional craft brews to their in-flight offerings, giving passengers a tasty new reason to flag down that beverage cart.

Leading the way is Southwest Airlines, which added New Belgium’s Fat Tire to beverage carts in 2013. While the carrier declined to comment on whether the upgraded brew translated to a bump in in-flight sales, a representative did say that it’s been a hit with passengers.

“Introducing Fat Tire to our on-board beverages was a great addition,” Michelle Agnew, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson, told ABC News. “The response has been great and we love having a Colorado-based beer on board for our customers to enjoy.”

Over the summer, Chicago-based United Airlines began offering Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat Ale craft beer on flights worldwide and in U.S United Clubs as part of a larger revamp of the carrier’s food and beverage program.

“312 Urban Wheat Ale has proven to be a popular choice among our customers since we added it to our in-flight beverage menu, and its on-board sales continue to grow,” said Lynda Coffman, United’s vice president of food services. “We’re pleased that we were able to work with another company with strong Chicago roots to meet our customers’ demand for craft beer.”

Named for one of the Windy City’s largest area codes, the brew is described as having “a spicy aroma of cascade hops, followed by a crisp, fruity ale flavor delivered in a smooth, creamy body that is immensely refreshing.”

Minneapolis’ own Sun Country Airlines offers three brews produced by local favorite Surly Brewing Co. Passengers have a choice of the Furious IPA, an Oatmeal-based brown lager named Bender, and Hell, an unfiltered German-style lager — just the type of refreshment one might require after a frustrating pass through airport security checkpoints.

But Midwest carriers aren’t the only ones getting in on the craft trend. Hawaiian Airlines recently announced it will be serving up Maui Brewing Company’s Bikini Blonde Lager on flights en route to and from the islands, with a plan to expand the range of craft options soon.

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Twitter to Show You Tweets from People You Don’t Follow

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

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Twitter says it’s trying to improve users’ timelines by showing them tweets from people they don’t follow.

Until now, users of the social network have only seen posts from people they follow, with the exception of a few sponsored tweets. But Twitter fears users might be missing out on interesting posts.

“[T]here are times when you might miss out on Tweets we think you’d enjoy,” the company said in a blog post Friday. “To help you keep up with what’s happening, we’ve been testing ways to include these Tweets in your timeline — ones we think you’ll find interesting or entertaining.”

As with some timeline experiments, Twitter says not all users may end up seeing out-of-the-ordinary tweets pop up on their feeds.

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New Starbucks Barista Dress Code Allows Tattoos, Nose Piercings

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

Starbucks(SEATTLE) — Your next morning latte may be served up with a little more personality — and maybe even some attitude.

Starbucks is relaxing its dress code to allow baristas to bare tattoos and even sport modest nose piercings.

In its updated dress code policy, effective Oct. 20, the coffee chain says tattoos will be allowed so long as they are not on a barista’s face or throat.

“Treat tattoos as you treat speech — you can’t swear, make hateful comments or lewd jokes in the workplace, neither can your tattoos,” the policy notes.

As for piercings, “Yes to ear gauges, ideally no bigger than 10mm and a small nose stud is allowed (no septum or rings),” the policy says. Baristas are also allowed to wear up to two small or moderately-sized earrings per ear. All other visible piercings are prohibited.

Starbucks is making the move after months of internal discussions and a Facebook backlash from critics who called the company’s old dress code too archaic.

Other changes to its updated policy include allowing baristas to wear black jeans, colored ties and neck scarves.

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Census: More than 48 Million Americans Live in Poverty

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

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than 48 million Americans were living below the poverty line in 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in its supplemental poverty measure Thursday.

But in a bit of good news, last year’s poverty rate — 15.5 percent — was actually down from 0.5 percent from 2012.

The supplemental poverty measure, as opposed to the national poverty rate, takes into account various benefits, expenses and resources faced by and available to families.

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Market Seems High on Apple’s (AAPL) Newest Offerings

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

Morning Money Memo

ABC News’ John Kapetaneas reports:

Just one month after the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple is once again turning heads with its new product and software development. Apple announced Thursday it will officially launch Apple Pay,” the company’s new mobile payment system, beginning Monday, in the latest push by tech giants to corner the burgeoning mobile and digital payment technology space. Apple Pay will not only be available with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but also with the new iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3, which also made their debut Thursday and feature Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint technology. The company also debuted a new 27-inch iMac. Apple’s stock is up 1 percent in pre-market trading.

Could stocks see a turnaround today on Wall Street? After six consecutive losing days for the Dow, futures are up more than 1 percent this morning. Thursday’s end to the trading session brought a relative calm to worldwide markets, as the Dow recovered from yet another triple-digit drop to finish the day down just $24.50, while the S&P and NASDAQ saw slight gains for the day. Asian markets are mixed this morning; European markets are largely in the green after Thursday’s recovery in the United States and European auto manufacturers reporting increased demand. Crude oil is up 1 percent to $83.75 per barrel. Gold is down $4.00 to $1,236 an ounce. Thirty-year mortgage rates in the United States have fallen for the fourth consecutive week, with the average rate now under 4 percent.

Google posted disappointing earnings Thursday, down 5 percent from the previous year. Company stock fell as much as 5 percent after-hours trading, but has since recovered. General Electric beat earnings estimates this morning, posting a 6 percent increase from same quarter 2013. Morgan Stanley and Honeywell also beat analysts’ estimates. Netflix stock is looking up slightly, up 1 percent in pre-market trading after dropping over 20 percent in this week’s trading.

Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in its Supplemental Poverty Measure Thursday. The 2013 number for individuals living below the poverty line actually reported a year-over-year decrease, down to 15.5 percent  of Americans from 16 percent in 2012. The supplemental poverty measure, as opposed to the national poverty rate, takes into account various benefits, expenses and resources faced by and available to families.

“Gone Girl” looks to extend its box office supremacy this weekend, after two consecutive weekends at the top grossing $87 million domestically. But three may not be a charm for the Ben Affleck thriller; the Brad Pitt World War II epic “Fury” is expected to take the top spot in its opening run in theaters, with an expected gross of $25 to $30 million. After  “Gone Girl,” Guillermo Del Toro’s “Book of Life” is expected to round out the top three, with each film expected to bring in $15 to 18 million this weekend.

Most Parents Who Work Say It’s About More than Just the Money

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Juggling a career and a family is now an American way of life but is it really something most parents want to do if they really had the choice?

A FlexJobs survey of 1,500 people ages 20-to-69 found that nearly nine in ten have to work because they need the income. Yet, almost two-thirds of parents admit they actually want to work because it enhances overall life satisfaction.

In terms of managing kids and a career simultaneously, 92 percent claimed they could be great at both jobs while only two percent didn’t believe it could be accomplished.

Despite their optimism, parents with jobs admit they could use help. That’s why close to three quarters of respondents with kids in school say flexibility is important to them.

If they did have a choice, 79 percent would prefer to work from home full-time while 45 percent said they’d like the option of working part-time from home.

Job flexibility also provides another advantage, according to parents. A majority said if they could find the time, they’d volunteer at their youngsters’ schools or outside activities.

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Seniors Often Fall Victim to Financial Abuse

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The elderly are vulnerable to what’s being termed as “financial abuse,” that is, having their well-earned nest eggs pilfered by unscrupulous con men or even worse, relatives.

A new survey by the insurance firm Allianz Life says that although five percent of Americans 65 and up claim to have been victims of this crime, close to 20 percent of people between the ages 40 and 64 say they have a family member or know somebody whose savings have been ripped off.

In any event, of those who say they were victims of financial abuse in the survey, just over half allege they were taken by a relative, friend or caregiver and 20 percent blame a stranger for their monetary loss, which on average is about $30,000.

As huge a loss as that is, 12 percent of elderly financial abuse victims says they’ve had more than $100,000 stolen from them.

The two biggest thefts are funds missing from accounts or unauthorized purchase of goods or services.

Walter White, president and CEO of Allianz Life, says financial abuse is usually under-reported because of the shame older people feel about it happening to them.

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Firm Charged with High-Frequency Trading Settles with SEC for $1 Million

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

zhudifeng/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York-based trading firm Athena Capital Research agreed to pay a $1 million penalty after being charged with fraudulent trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to an SEC press release, the company allegedly placed “a large number of aggressive, rapid-fire trades in the final two seconds of almost every trading day during a six-month period.” This action, the agency said, allowed the company to “manipulate the closing prices of thousands of NASDAQ-listed stocks.”

Athena allegedly used an algorithm to engage in the fraudulent trading, and the SEC says that the company was aware of the price impact its actions had.

“When high frequency traders cross the line and engage in fraud,” SEC Chair Mary Jo White said, “we will pursue them as we do with anyone who manipulates the markets.”

Athena’s fraudulent activity took place between June 2009 and December 2009, and made up over 70 percent of the total NASDAQ trading volume in the final seconds before market closing.

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NY Attorney General Issues Report Saying Most Airbnb Reservations Illegal

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a report on Thursday finding that the majority of Airbnb reservations made in New York City in the last several years have been in violation of New York law.

Of more than 35,000 private, short-term listings on Airbnb, the Attorney General’s Office suggested that over 25,000 violated either New York State’s Multiple Dwelling Law and/or New York City’s Administrative Code. Illegal listings are believed to have generated about $304 million in revenue for hosts and $40 million for Airbnb.

Schneiderman’s office also said that more than 100 users were each controlling more than 10 different apartments regularly rented on Airbnb.

The report also says that “numerous units appear to serve as illegal hostels,” as “multiple, unrelated guests shared the same unit on the same night.”

The report “raises serious concerns about the proliferation of illegal hotels and the impact of Airbnb and sites like it on the City of New York,” Schneiderman said. “We must ensure that, as online marketplaces revolutionize the way we live, laws designed to promote safety and quality-of-life are not foresaken under the pretext of innovation.”

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Peter Pan Peanut Butter Source of Georgia Pride for Farmers

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sixth-generation peanut farmer John Harrell has been harvesting peanuts for almost 45 years in southwest Georgia.

Harrell, 59, is one of 4,500 peanut farmers from whom Peter Pan peanut butter sources its product.

From Harrell’s 100-acre Whigham, Georgia, farm, the peanuts are sold to a sheller and then travel 52 miles north to a plant in Sylvester, Georgia, where every single jar of Peter Pan peanut butter is made.

“All of the Peter Pan peanut butter in the world is made right in Sylvester,” said Joe Malinowski, Peter Pan’s process lead, formulations and packaging. “We’re a big supporter of the local economy.”

David Means, the plant’s peanut operations manager, said 100 percent of the peanuts used are from Georgia and t98 percent of the nuts came from farms within a 100-mile radius of the plant.

Every minute, 110 workers make 232 jars. Three million jars are filled a day. The Peter Pan company has contributed $4 billion to the U.S. economy this year.

“Peanut butter here is the best because of the people and the quality of the product that we make here,” Means said.

And abroad, Malinowski said Singapore and the Philippines were two of the biggest Peter Pan markets. The company projected a 14 percent jump in international sales this year.

“They’re looking to buy something that’s made in America,” he said.

Peanut farmer Harrell said seeing the Peter Pan brand in the supermarket gives him a lot of personal pride.

“I love to go to the aisle and just see the peanut butter,” he said. “To have something made in Georgia, by Georgia peanuts, really gives farmers in Georgia a lot of pride. … It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Markets Rally from Early Losses Following Positive Unemployment Numbers

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street climbed back from early losses to finish the day right around where it began.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 24.5 to a close of 16,117.24.

The Nasdaq climbed to a finish of 4,217.39, up 2.07 from Wednesday’s close, while the S&P ended the day up 0.27 to 1,862.76.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that unemployment filings last week hit a 14-year low. The number of seasonally-adjusted unemployment benefit claims was 264,000, down from 287,000 the previous week. The last time unemployment filings were this low was in June 2000.

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