Carlson\'s Drive In Michigan City
Carlson\'s Drive In Michigan City

Lego wins copyright case against two Chinese companies

Posted on: December 10th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Lego has won its first copyright case in China, according to the company.

The Danish toymaker said the case was against two Chinese companies that manufactured products imitating Legos. This is the first time the Lego Group has filed and won an “anti-unfair competition case” in China.

The company said the China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court decided that the two Chinese companies “must stop copying the packaging and logos of LEGO products in the future, as this constitutes copyright infringement.”

“We are pleased with the ruling by Shantou Intermediate People’s Court, which we see as a strong indication of the continued focus on proper intellectual property protection and enforcement by the Chinese courts and responsible authorities. We think this is very important for the continued development of a favorable business environment for all companies operating in the Chinese market,” said Peter Thorslund Kjær, vice president of legal affairs for the Lego Group.

“We will continue our efforts to ensure that parents and children are able to make informed choices when they are buying toy products, and that they are not misled by attempts by irresponsible companies to make toy products appear as something that they are not.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Snow day cancels Six Flags’ ‘World Record’ breaking snow fight

Posted on: December 9th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSON, N.J.) — A Saturday showdown in New Jersey touted as the world’s largest snowball fight was abandoned after a Nor’easter dumped around 6-inches of snow.

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey teaming up with the Hallmark Channel set up the late morning cost-free rumble on Dec. 9 as an “attempt to break the record for the world’s largest snowball fight” and expected thousands to participate in the “family-friendly event executed with kid-friendly plush snowballs while supplies last,” according to a release from the theme park’s website.

According to the same release, Six Flags, which broke the Guinness World Records title in 2016 for attracting 400 people as the “most couples kissing under the mistletow” and boldly stated that Canada rein as snow fight world record holders with an 8,200 count in 2016 was bound to be broken on Saturday as Six Flags “aims to break the record with 9,000 participants,” the statement read.

But before would-be participants got a chance to toss their orbs at each other, a warning was added in boldface type informing the public that the icy war was off “due to inclement weather.”

No specific makeup date was released.

Attempts by ABC News’ to reach Six Flags representatives were not immediately returned.

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Spotify, Tencent to buy minority stakes in each other

Posted on: December 9th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The world’s largest music streaming service and one of the most popular social platforms in China are investing in each other.

Spotify and China’s Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) are expected to buy minority stakes in one another in cash, though the value of the deal and the shareholding sizes have not been disclosed.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said, “Spotify and Tencent Music Entertainment see significant opportunities in the global music streaming market for all our users, artists, music and business partners. This transaction will allow both companies to benefit from the global growth of music streaming.”

Spotify operates in more than 60 countries, but it has yet to break into the Chinese market.

On the other end, Tencent Music Entertainment CEO Cussion Pang said, “We are excited to embark on this partnership with the largest music streaming platform in the world. TME and Spotify will work together to explore collaboration opportunities, with a common objective to foster a vibrant music ecosystem that benefits users, artists and content owners.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Financial tips for upgrading a family vehicle as more families drive this holiday season

Posted on: December 9th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A recent study found that Americans spend more time in their vehicles once school starts for their children and will continue to do so in the midst of the holiday season.

A 2017 Back to Driving Survey shows nearly 75 percent of parents resume driving during the course of the school year compared to the summer. A significant amount of that driving time includes school pick-ups and drop-offs, going to daycare, and commuting to other after school activities like sports and clubs.

“When you’ve got kids playing sports, in different after school programs… we’re almost living in our car,” says Certified Financial Planner Jeff Rose. Rose recently spoke with ABC News about the survey.

The findings in the survey back up Rose’s claim. Thirty five percent of drivers participating in the study think of their vehicle as a second home, especially when they consider how often their families eat and nap in their cars.

Although close to three quarters (71.4 percent) of drivers are generally satisfied with their family vehicle according to the survey, Americans are still in search of an upgrade. Fuel efficiency and overall space are two luxuries people desire when searching for an upgrade.

Putting money towards an upgrade could be a convenient move for families, but Rose warns there are a couple precautions people should take before buying a new car.

“Just make sure you’re not buying more car than you can afford,” he tells ABC News, adding, “You have to look at your budget and make sure it makes sense.”

Rose uses his own family as an example.

“We just went from a family of five to six just last year, and that totally changed the dynamic of our car needs. We went from being able to handle a smaller size SUV, and when we got our daughter, we couldn’t fit groceries in there.”

He says families considering buying a new vehicle should ensure they are not putting their families in debt for the sake of adding one or two luxuries.

Rose adds that each family has different goals and should consider those goals before making a purchase also, recommending, “If you have a growing family or you’re expecting to have more children take that into consideration as well.”

The Back to Driving Survey examined 789 drivers licensed in the U.S. who have at least one child 15-years-old or younger living in their home. It is commissioned by the GM BuyPower Card.

Jeff Rose is the CEO and Founder of Alliance Wealth Management, LLC, an investment advisory firm. He is also the founder of
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facial recognition to become more accurate, companies will leverage machine learning to improve their products according to one expert

Posted on: December 8th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Companies are improving facial recognition technology and using machine learning to increase efficiency and make their products more user-friendly for consumers, according to CapTech Mobile Fellow Jack Cox.

Cox recently spoke with ABC News about how people are familiarizing themselves with facial recognition following the release of the Apple’s iPhone X.

Apple’s latest smartphone allows users to unlock their phone with technology that recognizes their faces, rather than having users type in a password or log in with their fingerprint.

CapTech conducted a study on the accuracy of other companies that implement facial recognition and “were not extremely impressed with the accuracy.” Cox contends, however, that “the new technology Apple released is much more accurate… [and] coming into the future, you’ll see it’s becoming more and more accurate and being used in more and more places.”

Like the iPhone X, Cox expects facial recognition to become more prominent and that it will assist in areas of security and surveillance.

Cox says it is not just facial recognition that companies are exploring, but also machine learning.

He says machine learning is being used across different industries to help companies make decisions and makes it easier for customers to use their products.

“We see companies wanting to leverage machine learning,” says Cox. In banking, for instance, companies use machine learning to “employ better decision making, identify credit risks and opportunities,” among other issues that banks are trying to attack with more efficiency.

Another example Cox points to is the gaming industry. He says companies “use machine learning to identify trouble spots in the game where players were having difficulty and identify that spot to make the game more engaging for users.”

With companies eager to implement both facial recognition and machine learning to improve their operations, Cox expects these devices and technologies to become more apparent in people’s everyday lives.

“We’re going to see more augmented reality,” Cox says, adding it will represent “real world objects through the phone, such as seeing a chair in the room.”
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Famed Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine calls sex abuse allegations ‘unfounded’

Posted on: December 8th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine responded Thursday for the first time since it was announced Sunday the New York City institution had suspended Levine as it investigates what it says are “multiple allegations of sexual misconduct” from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the opera noted that the period of when the allegations were made included “the earlier part of his career at the Met.”

Levine will not be conducting or taking part in any other activities at the Met, the statement said.

“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now,” said Peter Gelb, Met General Manager. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

Levine responded to the allegations for the first time on Thursday night in a statement to The New York Times.

“As understandably troubling as the accusations noted in recent press accounts are, they are unfounded,” he said in the statement. “As anyone who truly knows me will attest, I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor.”

The suspension comes a day after the opera said it was launching an investigation of the conductor based on a 2016 police report filed in Illinois by a man who alleges he was molested as a teenager by Levine 30 years ago.

The New York Post first reported details of the police report.

According to the police report, the alleged abuse occurred when Levine, now 74, was a conductor at the Ravinia Music Festival in Illinois. Levine is now director emeritus at The Met Opera.

The alleged victim, whose name was not published by The New York Post, filed a report with the Lake Forest Police Department in October 2016.

“I began seeing a 41-year-old man when I was 15, without really understanding I was really ‘seeing’ him,” the alleged victim, now 48, said in a written statement to police. “It nearly destroyed my family and almost led me to suicide. I felt alone and afraid. He was trying to seduce me. I couldn’t see this. Now I can.”

Multiple attempts by ABC News to reach Levine’s representative were not immediately returned Sunday.

The Met Opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said in a statement that the organization was aware of the accusations.

“This first came to the Met’s attention when the Illinois police investigation was opened in October of 2016,” Gelb said. “At the time Jim said that the charges were completely false, and we didn’t hear anything further from the police. We need to determine if these charges are true and, if they are, take appropriate action. We will now be conducting our own investigation with outside resources.”

And a statement posted Saturday on The Met Opera’s Facebook page read, “The Met would like to let our supporters know that we are deeply disturbed by the news articles that are being published online today about James Levine. We are working on an investigation with outside resources to determine whether charges of sexual misconduct in the 1980s are true, so that we can take appropriate action.”
Neither Levine nor a spokesperson for him has publicly commented.
Levine rose to prominence as The Met Opera’s music director. The lauded maestro has been with the Met for 40 years and led “more than 2,500 performances of 85 different operas since his company debut in 1971 leading Puccini’s Tosca.”

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Starbucks unveils ‘Christmas Tree Frappuccino’

Posted on: December 7th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Starbucks(NEW YORK) — For a limited time, Starbucks is offering a holiday-themed Christmas Tree Frappuccino.

The coffee chain describes the drink as being “mocha and peppermint…blended with milk and ice, topped with a festive tree made of matcha infused whipped cream, a caramel drizzle an candied cranberries finished off with a strawberry tree ‘topper.'”

According to Starbucks’ Twitter account, the novelty drink will be available in the United States and Canada through December 11.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wall Street rebounds with positive day

Posted on: December 7th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After a few days of losses, Wall Street bounced back on Thursday as all three major indices finished in positive territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 70.57, closing at 23,211.48.

The Nasdaq climbed half a percent, ending the session at 6,812.84, while the S&P 500 climbed to 2,636.98, a gain of 7.71 from its open.

The price of crude oil climbed again on Thursday. A barrel selling for $56.62 at the close, about 1.2 percent higher than when the market opened.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that U.S. net worth climbed $1.7 trillion from July to September. The value of stock portfolios rose by $1.1 trillion in that time, while real estate values jumped $400 billion.

Freddie Mac says mortgage rates rose this week, another sign that the Federal Reserve could opt to raise interest rates next week.

And credit card use was a major reason for more consumer borrowing in October. That figure rose by $20.5 billion in October, the largest increase in nearly  a year.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Writers for Hallmark share inspirations behind some of their Christmas cards

Posted on: December 7th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(LEAVENWORTH, Kansas) — Christmas is just a few weeks away, but for two tiny towns in Kansas, workers have been preparing for the holiday like busy Santa elves all year.

At the two Hallmark plants in Leavenworth and Lawrence, 1,100 workers are responsible for dreaming up — and then packing up — millions of Christmas cards that get signed, sealed and delivered across the world.

“As a Hallmark writer, you kinda get into the spirit a lot earlier than most people do,” said Andrew Blackburn, who has worked at the company for eight years.

Blackburn said his parents, Tim and Brenda Blackburn, had inspired him.

The Hallmark company has been celebrating the holiday since 1910. That year, co-founder JC Hall, then 18, traveled from Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri, and stepped off the train with shoeboxes of postcards.

With help from his brother Rollie Hall, around 1915, JC Hall began making and selling a new kind of card — a greeting card — and sending them inside envelopes.

“That was the start,” said Lisamarie Soper, Hallmark Gold Crown’s district manager.

Hallmark was born.

“From the writing I do to the lettering, the illustration, the design. It all happens right here,” said Amy Trowbridge Yates, who’s been at the company for more than 12 years.

Kiely Chase, a Hallmark writer for 17 years, drew from her memories with her brothers to help write some cards. She also shared her recipe for writing holiday cards early in the year.

“I’m watching movies, you know, that everybody loves to watch at Christmas time,” she said. “I’m listening to favorite Christmas songs, you know, that we all love.”

And, with those cards, Hallmark also offers gift-wrapping paper. Every year, 700 million feet are printed and it’s all made in America.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mixed day on Wall Street despite encouraging news ahead of November jobs report

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stocks lost steam following a mid-session rally as Wall Street got encouraging news ahead of the government jobs report this Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell again, dropping 39.73 to a close of 23,140.91.

The Nasdaq climbed 14.17, finishing the day at 6,776.38, while the S&P 500 dipped to 2,629.27 at the close.

Payroll company ADP released its latest hiring survey Wednesday, finding that many people seeking jobs are getting them. Private employers, the survey says, created 190,000 jobs in November. The government’s figures are due out on Friday.

The trade group Airlines for America says 41 million people will travel by plane for the holidays. That figure would be more than three percent higher than last year.

And oil fell more than four percent Wednesday, a barrel selling for $55.95.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to change legal name to Walmart to reflect growth of online shopping

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Walmart(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) — As part of a change designed to reflect its growing status as an multi-channel retailer, Walmart announced plans to change the company’s legal name from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to Walmart Inc. as of February 2018.

“Our customers know us as Walmart and today they shop with us not only in our stores, but online and with our app as well,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “While our legal name is used in a limited number of places, we felt it was best to have a name that was consistent with the idea that you can shop us however you like as a customer.”

Walmart has more than 11,000 stores and clubs in 28 countries and launched its online shop in 2000. The company will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as WMT.

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Survey says some employees still ‘Scrooge-y’ when it comes to holiday vacation

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Looking forward to taking some time off for the holidays?  

Yeah, neither are a lot of people.  

A new survey from the staffing firm Robert Half reports that American workers aren’t taking it too easy, even as the holidays approach.

The poll of more than a thousand workers report just 18 percent said they’re taking off the week of Dec. 25.

Sixty-seven percent of those polled said they’ll take part of that week off. However, of those, 64 percent confessed they’ll check in with the old grind while away.

A separate survey from the firm, polling some 2,700 people in 27 major cities, revealed that 35 percent of them will leave unused vacation days on the table.

Here were the reasons they gave:

– Saving the time for something later — 43 percent
– Too much work to do — 21 percent
– No money to go on vacation — 15 percent
– Feel guilty taking the time off — 9 percent
– Other — 9 percent
– Boss discourages me from taking time off — 3 percent

Here are the highlights of the survey of 27 cities:

– New York City ranks No. 1 for planning to use all vacation days, with some 80 percent of those polled saying they’re burning their days.
– Seattle employees top the lot — at 61 percent — for workers saving their vacation for a later date.
– Thirty-two percent of workers in Chicago said they’re too busy to take time off.
– Workers in Phoenix were most likely, at 12 percent, to say their bosses don’t want them taking vacation.
– Cincinnati workers said they feel the most guilty, at 19 percent, about taking vacation time.
– At 28 percent, employees in Miami top the list of those who said they don’t have enough money for vacation.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pizza Hut testing beer, wine delivery with your pie

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – Pizza and beer go together like, well, pizza and beer.

Pizza Hut clearly realized that: The delivery giant is testing a service that will deliver beer with your pie.

Customers in Phoenix, Arizona, will be able to purchase six-packs of Budweiser, Bud Light, Shock Top and a local craft beer — as well as wine, starting in January — with their delivery.

A special cooler will keep the drinks at the perfect temperature. The convenience comes at a $10.99 service charge.

Drivers delivering the alcohol will have to be age 21, as will the person who pays for the suds at the door.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Homeless man who helped stranded woman buys home after nearly $400K raised

Posted on: December 5th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) — A homeless man who received more than $397,000 through crowdfunding after giving a stranded woman his last $20 to pay for gas now has a place to call home.

Marine Corps veteran Johnny Bobbitt, 34, wrote on the GoFundMe campaign created by the woman he helped, Kate McClure, that he had bought a home over the weekend.

“The feeling is indescribable and it all thanks to the support and generosity that each and every one of you has shown,” Bobbitt wrote of purchasing his new home. “I’ll continue to thank you every single day for the rest of my life.”

McClure started the GoFundMe page on Nov. 10 with a humble $10,000 goal after Bobbitt helped her when she ran out of gas on Interstate 95 on her way to Philadelphia, giving her the last of the money he collected while panhandling, she wrote.

“Johnny sits on the side of the road every day, holding a sign. He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong,” McClure wrote. “He told me to get back in the car and lock the doors. A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can.”

After the chance encounter, McClure and her boyfriend visited Bobbitt several times to deliver gift cards, cash, snacks and toiletries, she told ABC News last month. The couple decided to create the GoFundMe page so he wouldn’t have to spend the holidays sleeping on the street.

The plan worked.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Bobbitt’s GoFundMe page had raised $397,769. McClure wrote that in addition to the home, Bobbitt will purchase the “dream truck he’s always wanted,” a 1999 Ford Ranger. Two trusts will be set up in his name as well, one that will provide him will a small “salary” each year and a retirement trust, “which will be wisely invested by a financial planner.”

A bank account was also set up for Bobbitt with funds for everyday needs “that will get him through until he finds a job,” McClure wrote. He will also be donating to organizations and people who “have helped him get through this rough patch in his life” over the last couple of years, McClure said.

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US stocks close lower after earlier tech rally

Posted on: December 5th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Despite an earlier tech rally, U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk 109.41 (-0.45 percent) to finish at 24,180.64.

The Nasdaq dipped 13.15 (-0.19 percent) to close at 6,762.21, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,629.57, down 9.87 (-0.37 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were about 1 percent lower and under $58 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Intel Corporation was among the technology stocks that gave up ground with shares tumbling 2.36 percent.

Shares of Snapchat parent Snap Inc. climbed 10.10 percent after Barclays predicted the stock could outperform in 2018.

British movie theater operator Cineworld announced it will buy Regal Entertainment for $3.6 billion. Regal’s stock soared 9.41 percent.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Most-wanted holiday toys being resold at major markups because of cyberscalping Grinch bots

Posted on: December 5th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some of this holiday season’s hottest toys are out of stock but being resold online for thousands of dollars above list price because of so-called Grinch bots.

The same cyberscalping technique that can make it hard for consumers to find tickets to concerts and sporting events is now being deployed to buy popular holiday toys. Sophisticated computer programs — or bots — are used to make mass purchases online.

In one of the more extreme cases of cyberscalping, a Nintendo Super NES Classic Edition Mini Console that normally sells for nearly $80 is being resold online for $13,000.

In another example, a Barbie Hello DreamHouse that sells for $299 on Mattel’s website is being sold on eBay with an asking price of more than $1,700.

Other cyberscalping listings are for lesser amounts that consumers might pay if they are not aware of the retail price of the item, or if they want to purchase the item regardless of cost.

A Fingerlings monkey that sells for as little as $14.99 at retailers like Best Buy has a price tag of $34.99 on eBay.

eBay shows on its website that 10 users have purchased a Fingerlings toy from one seller for more than $30 each since Sunday.

ABC News reached out to the resellers on eBay when possible.

“It takes away from the true spirit of Christmas,” a woman shopping for holiday presents in the Los Angeles area this week told ABC News.

The Grinch bots have caught the attention of one of the country’s top lawmakers.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York wants to make the technique illegal and is calling on retailers to help crack down on cyberscalpers.

“Cyberbots — we call them Grinch bots — are expanding their reach and unfairly scooping up the hottest toys before parents can even hit buy,” Schumer told reporters Sunday in New York. “The stores and the people who make the products can block the bots.”

Schumer indicated in his statement that he has taken up the issue of cyberscalping of consumer products because the practice puts “middle class folks” at a disadvantage.

“Middle class folks save up—a little here, a little there—working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids but ever-changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult,” Schumer said in a statement also posted on his website. “It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots. When it comes to purchasing products online, major retailers should put forth policies that will help prevent future Grinch bots from stealing the season’s hottest toys.”

Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act last year, but the legislation only applies to tickets, not toys. Schumer would like to expand the legislation to include consumer products but that will not happen before Christmas, he said.

The National Retail Federation told ABC News in a statement it would like to work with Schumer to “strengthen enforcement against bad actors.”

“NRF and the retail industry share Senator Schumer’s concerns, and we look forward to working with him and all interested parties to strengthen enforcement against bad actors and take away the tools being used against innocent consumers, particularly during the holiday season,” David French, the federation’s senior vice president for government relations, said.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association told ABC News in a statement its members are “committed to taking precautions to mitigate fraud.”

“Retailers and our suppliers are working around the clock to make sure American families have access to the season’s hottest items,” spokeswoman Christin Fernandez said. “Many retailers already have policies in place to monitor and cap the amount of purchases made on high-demand products both in store and online.”

Fernandez added, “Retailers want to ensure that items purchased from their stores and online are purchased legitimately. The industry is committed to taking precautions to mitigate fraud and illegal transactions to ensure American consumers have a safe and secure holiday shopping experience.”

As for eBay, “supply and demand” are responsible for pricing on the online trading site, it said in a statement.

“As an open marketplace, eBay is a global indicator of trends in which supply and demand dictate the pricing of items,” the statement read. “As long as the item is legal to sell and complies with our policies, it can be sold on eBay.”

Experts say consumers should know a toy’s retail price to prevent being ripped off by a scalper. They also advise shoppers to buy early to stay away from the last-minute rush for the season’s biggest toys, and to have patience before making their purchases.

“Maybe you’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks or a couple of months to get the toy that you want,” Consumers Union programs director Chuck Bell told reporters Sunday, speaking alongside Schumer.

“But that’s a better solution than rewarding these people that are fleecing customers.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

World’s largest Starbucks opening in Shanghai

Posted on: December 5th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Joshua Trujillo / Starbucks Newsroom(SHANGHAI) — China, a traditionally tea-drinking nation, is embracing coffee in the metropolis of Shanghai, as the country stands to become the largest market for Starbucks.

The 30,000 square-foot flagship Starbucks Reserve shop opens Wednesday in the heart of West Nanjing Road, a famous upscale shopping street in Shanghai. The store has more than 400 employees and can serve up to 550 people at a time, according to the Seattle-based company.

On Tuesday, crowds sampled fresh brews and watched beans being roasted on-site at the grand opening event for the brand’s first international Starbucks Reserve Roastery, focused on serving higher-end gourmet coffee. Five other sites for the specialty Starbucks brand are planned around the world, including two more U.S. locations, one in Japan one in Italy, according to the company. The first Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in the company’s home city of Seattle.

The U.S.-based coffee chain has seen China as a key market, where sales grew seven percent versus a three percent growth in the rest of the world in the past year, according to a company statement. Starbucks currently runs 3,000 stores in China, where it claims to be opening “a store every 15 hours.” The company said it plans to open 5,000 stores in the country by 2021.

“China represents the most important and exciting opportunity ahead of us. As our first international Roastery, we will take even bolder steps to make this Shanghai location our most stunning store,” Howard Schultz, executive chairman of the Seattle-based company, said in a company statement.

Despite a long, proud history of tea drinking and the fact that a tall latte costs as much as $4.69 in China, people have taken to coffee and culture of Starbucks with its specialty drinks and free Wi-Fi and bathrooms. They even take Starbucks selfies.

Jack Ma, founder of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, with which Starbucks is partnering for mobile payment services and other items, said that though Starbucks came to China, which is primarily a tea-drinking country, the Seattle-based company is making “so many people love coffee.”

Ma said, for himself, “I don’t like coffee, but I like Starbucks.”

The Shanghai flagship store will offer a range of Chinese teas at a “tea experience bar,” as well.

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Expert tips for navigating the office holiday party with grace

Posted on: December 5th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Of all the things that can go wrong during the holidays — travel, gifts not arriving on time, annoying in-laws practically moving in — there’s one event filled with landmines that people seem to forget about year after year.

The office holiday party.

Sharon Schweitzer, the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, shared with ABC News her top tips for navigating this potential pitfall and coming out unscathed.


Be sure to respond to an invitation with 48 hours, regardless of whether it comes via Evite, email, telephone or traditional methods, Schweitzer said.

“As much as you may not wish to attend the office holiday party, you must. Attendance is practically mandatory – failing to go to the annual holiday party sends a negative message. Executives and upper management will take note,” she said.

Don’t Automatically Assume You Can Bring an Extra Guest

Be sure to read the invitation carefully. Know the company policy on guests, or whether the event is Employees Only or has a Plus One. Schweitzer said to “discreetly check ahead of time to determine whether spouses or dates are welcome.”

Dress to Impress

The holiday party is “one of your few chances to see colleagues outside of the office,” Schweitzer said. She suggests dressing up but “do so the right way.” The holiday event, she said, should be considered an extension of the work day, so it’s “all business. Choose modest attire that maintains the professional reputation you’ve built. Avoid short skirts, tight clothes, or inappropriate ugly Christmas sweaters.”

Don’t Binge at the Buffet

Eat a small amount of protein before the party to curb your appetite, Schweitzer suggests.

“Be considerate of others and remember your etiquette basics. Keep hands clean and avoid a mouth full of hors d’oeuvres. Avoid walking around with a full plate, do not double dip or eat over the chafing dish, and properly discard toothpicks, napkins and plates,” she said.

Network, Network, Network

“This is your chance to converse with senior leaders of the organization with whom you may not typically get much face time,” Schweitzer said. “Avoid clinging to your cubby buddy. Instead, meet customers and new faces from other departments. If you work for a large organization and don’t often see the CEO, introduce yourself, state the department you work in, and shake their hand. Keep your beverage in your left hand so your right is dry, and free to shake.”

And be sure to “thank the hosts, party planners and your superiors when departing,” she added. “Avoid gossip or talking shop, skip controversial conversation topics and keep the mood positive and light. Travel, pets, movies, and books are conversation starters. At all costs, avoid appearing bored and ready to dash for the door.”

Don’t be Monday’s Gossip

“This is probably the most common mistake that executives make during the holiday party,” she said. “Alcohol and a loose tongue may add up to a regretful Monday morning equation. Consider tea, club soda or water. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly.”

Don’t Clap for Yourself

“The CEO may offer a toast during the evening. When the toast is for a colleague, raise your glass at the conclusion of the toast, when the host raises their glass. Do not touch your glass with everyone else’s, it is unnecessary and distracting. Pause afterwards and watch. The recipient will most likely reciprocate with a toast,” Schweitzer said.

She continued, “If you have been a star performer, you may be honored with a toast. Stand and accept it gracefully. Refrain from drinking to a toast offered in your honor as this is akin to clapping for yourself. Be sure to stand and make a toast to the person who toasted you, thanking them for the recognition.”

Watch the Clock

“Be sure to arrive and leave at appropriate times,” she said. “Arriving too late shows a lack of appreciation, and overstaying is inconsiderate to the hosts. Arrive within 15-20 minutes of the start time, and leave 30 minutes before the end time.”

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US stocks close mixed after Senate tax vote

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stocks closed mixed on Monday despite gains earlier in the day after Republicans cleared a major hurdle in their tax overhaul efforts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average up 58.46 (+0.24 percent) to finish at 24,290.05.

The Nasdaq sunk 72.22 (-1.05 percent) to close at 6,775.37, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,639.44, down 2.78 (-0.11 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were about 1.5 percent lower at $57 per barrel.

Taxes:  Senate Republicans passed their own tax bill 51-49 on Friday, but before President Trump can sign legislation, a conference committee will need to meld the House and the Senate’s bills. Both have a lot in common, but Republican leaders will need to negotiate some of the differences like the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, mortgage interest deduction, and more.

Winners and Losers:  Bank stocks jumped on the Senate-approved Republican tax bill, including Bank of America (+3.49 percent), Wells Fargo (+2.10 percent), and JPMorgan Chase (+2.06 percent).

CVS Health and Aetna announced a merger deal worth about $69 billion. The pharmacy giant’s acquisition has the potential to shake up the health care industry as Americans face higher medical and prescription costs. Shares of CVS tumbled 4.54 percent and Aetna was down 1.40 percent.

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22-year-old man travels 1,000 miles to meet 81-year-old he befriended in online word game

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Pastor Amy Butler(NEW YORK) — A 22-year-old man from Maryland and New York City began playing a popular online word game as a hobby, never imagining it would lead to his traveling over 1,000 miles and across differences in race, class and age to meet an 81-year-old woman he befriended through the game.

The young man, Spencer Sleyon, and his friend, Rosalind Guttman of Palm Beach, Florida, met online through the popular Words With Friends game this past summer, and during more than 300 games they developed a friendship.

“We started chatting through the app and she became a good friend, someone I could confide in,” Sleyon told ABC News.

He began playing while living in Silver Springs, Maryland. When he moved to New York City a few months ago, he deactivated the app and couldn’t communicate with Guttman anymore. But a chance interaction brought her back into his life.

Sleyon was friends with the daughter of Pastor Amy Butler of Riverside Church in New York, who one day heard about his friendship with Guttman and immediately wanted to find a way for them to meet in person.

“This was a phenomenal story, especially in this very scary time where we are being manipulated by fear and divided, that two people would forge a friendship like this,” Butler said. She contacted Guttman and flew out with Spencer to Palm Beach, Florida, to meet her.

From the moment Sleyon and Guttman met on Friday, Dec. 1, it was nothing but smiles, laughter and lots of hugs.

“It was really cool meeting her,” he said. “She is lovely and has a great personality.”

Guttman treated him to lunch at a waterfront restaurant in Palm Beach.

“It was natural to talk to her, we talked about the game, our families, and politics,” Sleyon said.

Words With Friends is a product of Zynga, and according to a company spokeswoman, many friendships are forged through the game.

“We hear hundreds of stories every year from our players of connections they’ve formed in our games, from meeting their spouse to reconnecting with family members. Spencer and Roz are a great example of the game’s evolution,” said Zynga spokeswoman Erin Smith.

Sleyon posted on Twitter about his meeting his online friend and has since received than a million likes and thousands of responses, including from people sharing similar stories.

“I’m glad it could bring a good emotion to many. I’m thankful to be spreading positivity,” he said.

Pastor Butler said she has used Sleyon and Guttman’s friendship in a sermon and hopes others will see it as a powerful example of reaching across race and class lines to people who are different.

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Demolition of Detroit’s Silverdome a bust, but company vows to try again next week

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments — For the city that discovered Motown, the demolition of the Pontiac Silverdome on Sunday morning went off like a sad trombone.

The stage was set for the former Detroit Lions’ home field to get razed.

But despite the crushing sounds and smoke plumes, the 42-year-old stadium was still standing.

“Something happened with the cord that would have put off the shape charges which never went,” said Rick Cuppetilli, executive vice president with the Michigan-based demolition company Adamo.

The loud explosion heard by hundreds was what Cuppetilli called the “kicker charge.” The eight “shape charges,” he explained, are meant to “cut the steel” but a mysterious issue caused the unexpected result.

Cuppetilli said the limited amount of prep time and possible vandalism may have caused the ceremonial blast to become a dud.

“There were people trespassing on Friday and taking pictures of the stadium and our security and police noticed them and saw their flashlights and chased them out,” he said.

No arrests were made, he said, but the intruders may have caused one of the cords to become defective.

“Could they have stepped on a cord and smashed it internally and it didn’t show up? We’re not sure,” Cuppetilli said, noting that the ring of the stadium was the only part of the structure that would be left standing.

The company’s previous demolition was successful. In November, Adamo demolished the Georgia Dome in Atlanta without a hitch.

But the company had more time to prepare and more ammunition, Cuppetilli explained.

“The Georgia Dome was a complete implosion hat went off with 4,800 pounds of dynamite,” Cuppetilli said. “We had months to plan that. The Silverdome was a ceremonial blast and we used only 300 pounds of dynamite and had only three days to prep it.”

Moving forward, Cuppetilli said it’s going to require six months of pulverizers and breakers to bring down the rest of the foundation.

But workers, he said, will try to raze the Silverdome again in a week.

“If we find the defective area of the cord outside the structure we’ll just rewire it and take a shot at it again,” he said.

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Father of the bride can’t hold back tears seeing his daughter on wedding day for first time

Posted on: December 3rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Courtesy of Rosa Moran(DALLAS) — When one father saw his oldest daughter in her wedding gown for the first time, he tried to hold back his tears but he just couldn’t help it.

Gladys Salinas’ father, who asked ABC News not to use his name, broke down in tears while the two hugged, a moment caught in an emotional video that went viral on Twitter after Salinas’ younger sister Rosa Moran tweeted it.

The Dallas father of two said he was overcome by “so much happiness.”

“Just seeing my first girl leave the nest, it really just got me super emotional,” he added. “It was such a special moment and such a blessing to be able to see her get married.”

Salinas, 26, credits her parents and new parents-in-law with her union to Miguel Salinas. The two became engaged after four years of long distance dating.

“My parents and his parents have been so supportive of this relationship,” the bride said. “That’s what made it possible for us to get to this point.”

The two wed on Saturday inside a local Spanish Catholic church, before taking their reception to Dallas’ Bella Luna Hall.

Still, Gladys Salinas said it was that initial moment of seeing her dad break down into tears that was a memorable part of the day.

“He always starts laughing before he gets super emotional. So he just came in laughing,” the Spring Hope, North Carolina, newlywed recalled. “[And I thought,] ‘Oh my gosh, here come the water works.’ I had just got my make up done and I was trying not to cry, but it was a such a sweet feeling watching him get so emotional.”

Salinas said since she was a little girl, she and her dad have been “super, super close.” She added, “He just tries to always keep a smile on his face and make you remember that whatever happens, happens.”

Now that she’s a married woman, Salinas hopes to one day take that same outlook on life and “instill that in our children as well,” she said.

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Three ways flexible flyers always score the best airfare prices

Posted on: December 3rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some people will only fly first or business class — and good for them. But the rest of us should strive to be flexible flyers, according to FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney.

There are three tried-and-true methods of cutting costs through flexibility, and they work year-round.

1. Never fly when everyone wants to

There’s a reason why Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and summer are expensive: It’s when people want to fly. Cut costs by taking trips in off-peak periods such as early November, early December, or January and February. If you really want to take a summer vacation, travel before mid-June or starting about the third week in August — still summer, but significantly cheaper.

Or fly cheaper days. On domestic flights, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are usually a lot less expensive; Fridays and Sundays are typically the priciest. Example: Los Angeles to Kansas City flight in mid-January, round-trip fares found on FareCompare late last week:

– Wed. to Sat., $99

– Fri. to Sun., $196

Similar products may be found on other sites. You won’t always see savings like this, but obviously the difference can be impressive.

2. Never fly only the most convenient route

Another way of putting this is that non-stops are great, but they can made airfares jump 60 percent or more. So always check prices for connecting flights, too. This example shows flights between Atlanta and Seattle on the same dates in mid-January:

– Non-stop: $342
– One-stop: $228

In this case, a family of four opting for connecting flights saves more than $450.

3. Never assume your airline is the cheapest

Many of us have a favorite airline that we swear by, often because it’s so cheap. Favorites include Spirit and Southwest, but these airlines aren’t always the cheapest. No airline is. That means anyone who only visits a single airline site to shop for tickets may pay too much — and, sometimes, way too much.  More examples:

Early flights from San Francisco to Dallas, each with a stop:

– Frontier, $192
– Southwest, $295

Another combo, from New York to Phoenix:

– Spirit, $416
– American, $289

One more thing: The more expensive Spirit fare is for a connecting flight, American’s cheaper fare is non-stop.

This is not to say that you won’t find plenty of good deals on Spirit and other discounters. You will — but not all the time, not for every flight. You have to compare airfares, or you could pay too much. And why would anyone want to do that?

Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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Matt Lauer won’t get paid rest of $20 million contract after NBC fired him

Posted on: December 2nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Matt Lauer will not receive a payout for the rest of his million-dollar contract, an NBC News spokesperson confirmed to ABC News on Saturday.

The disgraced former “Today” show anchor was fired after a colleague accused him of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” the network said Wednesday in a memo obtained by ABC News.

In a statement released one day later, Lauer, 59, said some of the allegations are “untrue or mischaracterized,” but “there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”

Lauer, who had just signed a contract last year that would put him in the anchor chair through 2018, had a contract worth a reported $20 million, according to Variety.

He had been at the “Today” since 1994 and became an official co-anchor three years later.

After firing Lauer, NBC News’ human resources department said they’re now sifting through Lauer’s emails in an effort to bring more justice to any colleagues who may have suffered in silence.

NBC News president Noah Oppenheim promised swift action against anyone who may have known about sexually inappropriate behavior and didn’t report it.

This comes after NBC News executives learned that Oppenheim and NBC News Chairman Andy Lack had previously questioned Lauer about allegations weeks before the accuser came forward, NBC News reported. When asked about any sexual misconduct, the former anchor reportedly said that he was “racking his brain and couldn’t think of anything at all.”

The network added that they couldn’t find any evidence of previous complaints or any settlements reached at the time.

A rep for Lauer had no additional comment when reached by ABC News on Saturday.

NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk, citing a network representative, reported on the show Wednesday that a “spokesperson for the company says the accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior throughout 2014. And because of the seriousness of the accusations, together with information that it may not be an isolated incident, NBC decided to terminate Lauer’s contract.”

Washington, D.C. attorney Ari Wilkenfeld, who represents the unnamed accuser, referred ABC News to the following statement he gave to The New York Times and declined to comment further:

“My client and I met with representatives from NBC’s human resources and legal departments at 6 p.m. on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.”

Since his firing, NBC News confirmed that two additional women have come forward with accusations against Lauer.

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Macy’s to hire more seasonal workers after Black Friday rush

Posted on: December 2nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Macy’s(NEW YORK) — After a strong start to the holiday season, Macy’s plans to hire an additional 7,000 seasonal workers.

Most of the positions will be part-time. The store associates are expected to help customers on the selling floor and work in store operations positions, including fulfilling online and pick-up-in-store orders, according to a company statement.

In September, Macy’s said it would hire 80,000 temporary workers for the holidays — down from last year’s 83,000.

“Due to the strong traffic in our stores, we are adding associates in our stores across the country to ensure that customers continue to receive the high level of service they have come to expect from us,” John Harper, Macy’s chief stores officer, said in a statement.

“We are excited to be further expanding our seasonal workforce. Seasonal workers play an important role in the Macy’s holiday shopping experience and, in addition to a competitive hourly income, they will experience a flexible working environment and benefit from a merchandise discount.”

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Flynn’s guilty plea, tax reform prospects send Wall Street swinging

Posted on: December 1st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A roller coaster day on Wall Street as stocks fell sharply amid news of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to lying for the FBI today, but rebounding as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP had enough votes to pass a tax reform bill.

Early in the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 300 points. It finished the day at 24,231.59 — down 40.76 for the day.

The Dow had hit a record close on Thursday.

The Nasdaq slid 26.38 to 6,847.59, while the S&P 500 closed the day at 2,642.22, 5.36 lower than it opened.

Crude oil jumped more than one percent, a barrel selling for $58.34 at market’s close.

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Waffle House customer cooks up his own meal at empty restaurant

Posted on: December 1st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Many stories involving alcohol have a tragic ending, but for Alex Bowen of West Columbia, South Carolina, a drunken escapade that went viral ended with some hilarious selfies as he cooked his own meal at Waffle House.

On his way home after a few drinks with friends early Thursday morning, Bowen, 36, stopped by his local Waffle House.

“It was around 3 a.m. I was pretty inebriated,” admitted Bowen.

He stood at the register for 10 minutes, waiting for someone to take his order. Bowen even went outside to look for an employee, and then went back in.

“That’s when I got hot on the grill with a Texas bacon cheesesteak melt,” said Bowen.

He cooked his go-to meal and even cleaned up when he was done. While he was cooking, he saw the one employee who was fast asleep.

“[The employee] didn’t wake up the entire time. And no one came inside the restaurant,” said Bowen.

Although he didn’t initially pay for the sandwich, Bowen came back and paid for it later that day.

When the story went viral, a Waffle House district manager reached out to Bowen and asked him to become a Waffle House secret shopper. He even thanked him for pointing out a flaw in their business.

Waffle House did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Bowen hopes that the next time he goes to Waffle House, the service will be awake to cook his order. Said Bowen, “But if not, I’d know what to do.”

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5 things to know about bitcoin

Posted on: December 1st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Chesnot/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Bitcoin has been on a volatile roller coaster this past week. The cryptocurrency hit an all-time high of $11,395 on Nov. 29 before losing over one-fifth of its value, dropping as low as $9,000 at one point on Nov. 30.

Despite the drop, bitcoin is still up over 900 percent year-to-date, meaning the value of one bitcoin is now more than 900 times its purchase amount. So what exactly is bitcoin and how is it being used?

Here are five things to know about bitcoin:

1. Bitcoin is a form of currency. Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency, which is a digital currency that uses encryption techniques to control its creation and secure transactions, independent from a central bank. These encryption techniques make it very difficult to create any kind of counterfeit form. According to, “Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet.” People can purchase bitcoins or fractions of a bitcoin through online exchanges or from an individual and store them in a virtual wallet. There are hundreds of thousands of retailers that accept bitcoin and millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoins are exchanged daily throughout the world.

2. The creator is somewhat of a mystery. In 2009, a proof of concept was published in a cryptography mailing list under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. In this paper bitcoin was called “a peer-to-peer electronic cash system.” The first 50 bitcoins were mined, the process by which bitcoins are created, on Jan. 3, 2009 — considered to be Bitcoin’s birthday — by Nakamoto, who is said to have left the project in 2010. The community grew and other developers took over. But ever since the inception of bitcoin, there has been an ongoing debate over the identity of Nakamoto. No one has been able to identify who or what Nakamoto is, but some have tried.

In 2014, Newsweek claimed that a California man named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was the creator, but he firmly denied it, claiming he hadn’t even heard of bitcoin. There was then speculation around Nakamoto’s neighbor Hal Finney, a computer scientist who was the first recipient of a bitcoin transaction. Finney described his initial involvement via a forum post on, saying, “Satoshi’s true identity has become a mystery.” In the post Finney reveals that he was diagnosed with ALS in 2009 and that at the time of his post in 2013 he was “essentially paralyzed.”

Others believe the creators could be the men behind bitcoin’s precursors, Nick Szabo and Wei Dai, who created Bit Gold and B-Money, respectively. In 2016, an Australian man named Craig Wright claimed to be Nakamoto, but could not provide proof. And then a week ago, a former Space X intern blogged “Elon Musk probably invented bitcoin,” but Musk flatly denied it.

Still, whomever or whatever Nakamoto is, they are believed to own about 1 million bitcoins, which would be worth around $10 billion.

3. There is a finite amount. There are only 21 million bitcoins that can ever be created and because of this fixed supply, if the demand goes up, so will the price. Not all of the 21 million have been mined yet, but once they are, that’s it. However, each bitcoin can be divided up to eight decimal places and, according to, “potentially even smaller units if that is ever required in the future.” Additionally, bitcoin transactions can be done in smaller units called “bits” and there are 1 million bits in one bitcoin. Currently, the total value of all existing bitcoins is more than $20 billion.

4. Bitcoin has some high-profile critics and investors. Billionaire Warren Buffett has been an outspoken critic of bitcoin. He dismissed the cryptocurrency in a 2014 CNBC interview when he urged people to “stay away from it.” He went on to say, “It’s a mirage basically.” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is also a critic, who once called bitcoin “a fraud.”

5. Bitcoin futures will be trading on three exchanges. On Dec. 1 the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that it will allow bitcoin futures trading on three exchanges: the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (CME), the CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) and the Cantor Exchange (Cantor). This means investors will be able to bet on bitcoin without actually buying the cryptocurrency.

“Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the commission has dealt with in the past,” CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said in a statement.

The CFTC, however, reminded investors to “be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts.”

“Market participants should take note that the relatively nascent underlying cash markets and exchanges for bitcoin remain largely unregulated markets over which the CFTC has limited statutory authority,” Giancarlo said. “We expect that the futures exchanges, through information sharing agreements, will be monitoring the trading activity.”

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