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Monday
Jul242017

Tech company workers agree to have microchips implanted into their hands

iStock/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- Some workers at a company in Wisconsin will soon be getting microchips in order to enter the office, log into computers and even buy a snack or two with just a swipe of the hand.

Todd Westby, the CEO of tech company Three Square Market, told ABC News Monday that of the 80 employees at the company's River Falls headquarters, more than 50 had agreed to get implants. Westby said, however, that participation was not required.

The microchip uses RFID -- radio frequency identification -- technology and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004. It is the size of a grain of rice and will be placed between the thumb and forefinger.

Westby said that when his team was initially approached with the idea, there was some reluctance mixed with excitement.

But, after more details were released and conversations were had, the majority of managers were on board and opted to partner with BioHax International to get the microchips.

Westby said the chip is not a GPS, does not allow for tracking workers and does not require passwords.

"There's really nothing to hack in it because it is encrypted just like credit cards are. ... The chances of hacking into it are almost nonexistent because it's not connected to the internet," he said. "The only way for somebody to get connectivity to it is to basically chop off your hand."

Three Square Market is footing the bill for the microchips, which cost $300 each, and licensed piercers will be handling the implantations on Aug. 1. Westby also said that if workers change their minds, the microchip can be removed as if taking out a splinter.

He said his wife, young adult children and others would also be getting the microchip next week.

Critics on Monday warned that there could be dangers in how the company planned to store, use and protect workers' information.

Adam Levin, chairman and founder of CyberScout, which provides identity protection and data risk services, said he would not put a microchip in his body.

"Many things start off with the best of intentions but sometimes intentions turn," Levin said. "We've survived thousands of years as a species without being microchipped, is there any particular need to do it now? ... Everyone has a decision to make; that is, how much privacy and security are they willing to trade for convenience?"

Jowan Osterlund of BioHax, which is partnering with Three Square Market, said implanting people was the next step for electronics.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jul242017

Oklahoma teacher panhandles to raise money for school supplies

Courtesy Teresa Danks(CLAREMORE, Okla.) -- An Oklahoma teacher frustrated by having to dig into her own pocket to pay for classroom supplies took to panhandling to get her point across.

Teresa Danks, 50, of Claremore, Oklahoma, has spent the summer shopping at garage sales and thrift stores to stock her third-grade classroom with supplies for next year. A conversation with her husband last week about the money she was spending on her classroom sparked a bigger idea.

“My husband and I were just talking that morning and he kind of jokingly said, ‘You could always make a sign and go on the corner like the panhandlers,’” Danks, a classroom teacher for the past 12 years, told ABC News. “I said, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to do that. That’s a great idea.’”

Danks, a teacher for Tulsa Public Schools, wrote on a poster board, “Teacher Needs School Supplies! Anything Helps.” She held the sign for about 10 minutes at a busy intersection and, despite her nerves, was shocked by the positive response.

“It just felt so scary,” she said of the moment. “But it was a wonderful feeling to hear people being so supportive of teachers.”

She added, “The one that choked me up the most was a girl in her 20s who said, ‘Teachers like you are the reason I’m alive today.’”

Danks -- who said she makes an annual salary of around $35,000 and spends nearly $2,000 of her own money each year on her classroom -- collected around $50 in cash. She posted a photo of herself on Facebook that went viral and drew the attention of a local news station.

When she went back out with her sign later that day with news cameras in tow, Danks, who described her elementary school students as mostly low-income, collected another $50.

“What started just for me to get supplies in my classroom and help my students has really grown much greater than myself,” said Danks, who has since started a GoFundMe page and a Facebook page titled “Begging for Education.”

Oklahoma has faced education budget cuts that even the Tulsa Public Schools superintendent, Deborah Gist, acknowledges. The cuts have forced some teachers to search for jobs elsewhere, she said.

“There are a lot of things we do to mitigate the costs [for teachers] but unfortunately it’s tough everywhere and it’s tough in Oklahoma especially,” Gist told ABC News. “I actually left the state about 30 years ago to teach in Texas for the same reason that many teachers leave Oklahoma to teach in other states now.”

She added, “What we’re trying to do is to make sure the awesome people who make the commitment to stay are having a wonderful experience. Of course we need to pay them more, but we also need to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to be successful.”

Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said teachers across the U.S. anecdotally spend around $450 of their personal money each year on school supplies. Teachers in Oklahoma, however, spend "on the higher side" of that average, she said.

"It should shock and sadden us all that it has come down to a teacher having to go out on a street corner and ask for money so that the students in the classroom get what they need to succeed, but more power to her," said Priest, whose organization is Oklahoma's "largest professional organization for education professionals," according to its website. "Teachers have always bought supplies that they wanted to decorate their rooms but in Oklahoma within the last five years, with the funding cuts that we’ve taken, its things like textbooks and library books and graphing calculators."

Danks said the school supplies she pays for on her own include classroom staples like disinfectant wipes but also the extra items that will allow for hands-on projects and “excellence” in her classroom.

“If I’m doing something on the solar system, I’m wanting to build rocket ships with paper towel tubes or make planets with Styrofoam balls,” Danks said. “When you multiply that by 20 to 30 kids it gets expensive.”

Last year, Tulsa residents contributed to a multi-million dollar campaign that resulted in $279 given to each teacher for supplies, according to Gist, who applauds Danks’ efforts.

“I think what our teacher has done here is to [speak out] in a way that not only helps her with extra money for her classroom but makes a point,” Gist said. “She is getting to a really serious need and I think that’s a pretty smart thing to do.”

Danks describes being a teacher as “literally walking on a stage and performing all day” and said that requires “a lot of supplies.”

While she wants her message of better funding to ultimately reach legislators across the country, Danks hopes people will stop and think locally about what they can do to help teachers.

“What I hope they take away is that the education of our children is important to our future so it needs to be important to everyone,” she said. “I would say go to your local schools and find out what they need.”

She continued, “It could be as simple as getting them a bean bag chair or a border for their bulletin boards, but we need the community to help us step up and educate our children because they are our future leaders.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jul242017

Couple ditches wedding cake for awesome cake piñata instead

Luke & Mallory Photography(LOS ANGELES) -- One Los Angeles couple decided to ditch the traditional wedding cake at their nuptials. Instead, they chose a customized wedding piñata cake.

Karen Chan and Clayton Lee tied the knot May 13 in front of approximately 180 guests at La Chureya, a luxury villa in Palm Springs, California. The couple, who got engaged on Christmas Day in 2014 after meeting on a study abroad trip to Shanghai, China, 10 years before, aren't "big on cake," they told ABC News.

"I'd rather have dessert than cake," Chan, 34, who is also a food blogger at Honestly Yum, said.

Lee, 35, added, "It was also an act of semi-rebellion against traditions. We just wanted to do our own thing."

So the two commissioned a local shop called Amazing Piñatas to create a customized wedding cake-shaped piñata.

"I gave them a photo of a cake I probably would've gotten made and they turned it into a piñata," Chan said.

The couple even had traditional cake toppers on their piñata, "but they customized it to look like us," the bride added.

Although it took a while for the piñata to pop -- Lee even had to "tackle it a couple times," he said -- the guests were glad when what was inside was finally revealed.

"We filled it with party toys and snacks, traditional Mexican treats, bubble blowers, party poppers, and of course, little bottles of booze-filled chocolates for the adults," Chan wrote on her food blog.

After their nuptials, the two trekked to the Maldives and Sri Lanka for their honeymoon. They're now looking forward to life as a married couple.

"We just want to continue to enjoy our time together," Lee said, "and plan our next trip and our next adventure."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jul242017

US stocks close mixed as Nasdaq reaches new record

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed on Monday with the Nasdaq Composite logging another record.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66.90 (-0.31 percent) to finish at 21,513.17.

The Nasdaq gained 23.05 (+0.36 percent) to close at 6,410.81, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,469.91, down 2.63 (-0.11 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was over 1 percent higher with prices at $46 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Hasbro, Inc. reported revenue in its quarterly report that was below investors' expectations, causing shares to tumble 9 percent.

Blue Apron Holdings Inc soared 13 percent after Goldman Sachs and RBC Capital initiated the company with buy rating and outperform.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jul242017

A $20 dress that's all the rage among female news anchors

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Girl code: When you find a fabulous dress at a great price, you share the news.

And that's exactly what happened among a group of female newscasters. More than 40 news anchors have been spotted on local broadcasts across the country wearing versions of the same $20 Amazon.com dress.

The trend was noticed by Frances Wang, an anchor at ABC's affiliate in Sacramento, KXTV. She's starting a blog, #WangsWorkWear, because so many women ask where she gets her on-air clothes.

To illustrate the dress' popularity among newscasters, Wang had her colleague Stephen Leonardi create a graphic of all the photos of women wearing it in news broadcasts across the country.

 "I found out about the dress on the female newscasters' Facebook group," she told ABC News. "Multiple girls had already purchased it and posted photos in it. I could see this was the newest major dress trend that so many women loved."

The dress gets a 4-out-of-5-stars rating on Amazon and is available in 6 colors. Wang likes the pale pink version best.

"It's affordable and looks good on air," she said of the dress. "This one in particular [the pink] I think is innocent and girly-looking in a way. It has the Disney princess vibe. And it [the dress] comes in yellow, something we don't find often."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jul232017

Bride's dad makes cardboard cutout of her dog so he can attend wedding

Lydia Ruth Photography(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- What’s the father of the bride to do when he knows his daughter’s beloved pet pooch won't be able to attend her destination wedding? Wayne Bontempo had the perfect solution: a cardboard cutout.

“It was so thoughtful. We loved it,” bride Hillary Bowles, 24, told ABC News.

The newlyweds live in New York City and are from Ohio, but they chose to hold their wedding in Charleston, South Carolina because it’s where they went on their first vacation together.

“We fell in love there, so we always said if we get married, we’d do it down there,” said Bowles.

But that location didn’t bode well for Leo the goldendoodle, who “doesn’t do well traveling.”

“We didn’t want to put him on a flight down to Charleston,” Bowles said. “My parents came and got him and took him back to Ohio and left him at home with their three dogs and took them to their little pet resort. We wanted him to be at the wedding really badly, but we knew for his sanity it would be better to leave him there.”

Bontempo is “a goofball,” his daughter said, so the idea to get the cardboard cutout didn't come as that much of a shock.

”We were dying laughing. That’s something my dad would do,” she added. “It was hilarious. All our guests loved it.”

Bontempo road-tripped down to the wedding with the cutout in tow, texting the bride along the way.

“I knew it was going to be a long trip down there and I was driving down by myself, so it was to keep me occupied while I was driving, and I also knew it would make her happy,” Bontempo said.

The two-dimensional version of Leo was there throughout the couple's big day, but especially loved hitting the dance floor with the guests.

But Bontempo even had one more surprise up his sleeve.

“My dad actually made a mini one to take with us on our honeymoon but we forgot it. We were so mad,” said Bowles.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jul232017

Rep. Eric Swalwell spends the day as a Southwest baggage handler, Starbucks barista

@RepSwalwell via ABCNews.com(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., isn't giving up his day job, but he did take a stab Saturday as a Southwest Airlines baggage handler and Starbucks barista as part of the #InYourShoes initiative.

Working with Transport Workers Union of America members at Oakland International Airport, Swalwell loaded baggage onto the airline's Boeing 737s.



The social media-savvy congressman tweeted several photos of his baggage handling stint.



Later in the day, Swalwell ditched the fluorescent safety vest and noise reduction earmuffs and headed to a Starbucks in Dublin, Calif., where he took part in "some barista basic training," according to a tweet.



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Saturday
Jul222017

Apollo 11 moon dust bag sells for $1.8 million at auction

Sotheby’s(NEW YORK) -- A bag used by Neil Armstrong to collect samples of moon dust during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969 was sold for $1.8 million at auction this week.

The 12-by-8.5-inch zippered bag, which still contains traces of the moon dust and has a "LUNAR SAMPLE RETURN" label, was offered in Sotheby's Space Exploration sale. It was originally expected to fetch between $2 million to $4 million.

Nearly all of the items used in the Apollo 11 mission are a part of the U.S. National Collections at the Smithsonian, which is why the bag is so rare. And its history as being a part of the mission to land a man on the moon wasn't known until recently.

Nancy Carlson bid on the lot in 2015 for $995 after a small auction house re-listed the bag several times without any bids. She contacted NASA to learn more about the item and scientific tests on the moon dust revealed its connection to Apollo 11.

There was a legal battle over the bag's ownership, with NASA arguing it belonged "to the American people," but a federal judge ruled Carlson was the rightful owner since he could not reverse the sale.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jul222017

Pokemon Go Fest refunds tickets after technical glitches

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- It was supposed to be an all-day festival welcoming thousands of the world's biggest Pokemon Go fans into Chicago, but technical glitches left attendees angry on Saturday, and without catching any rare Pokemon, leading organizers to offer refunds.

The trouble started when large crowds began to gather to get into Pokemon Go Fest in Grant Park's Butler Field, causing the popular mobile app's servers to crash. Frustrated, the fans chanted "fix the game" during game developer Niantic's opening presentation and Niantic CEO John Hanke was booed when he took the stage, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Some Pokemon Go fans traveled from other countries to attend the event. Tickets were sold for $20, but the festival sold out in less than 10 minutes.

Niantic said it will refund the $20 ticket price and players or Pokemon "trainers" would be given $100 in PokeCoins for their Pokémon GO account.

"Today at Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, technical issues created problems for a large number of players attending the event," Niantic said in a statement according to ABC station WLS-TV. "From everyone at Niantic, we apologize to all of the Trainers who came out to Pokémon GO Fest today. Although we were able to solve many of the technical issues, we were not able to offer every attendee a great experience."

Rob Schuyt of Minnesota told WLS-TV he spent hundreds of dollars for the event and thought Niantic "failed miserably."

"They should have known you can't have 20,000 people in a two-block area all trying to connect to LTE and their servers," he said to WLS-TV. "It's just nuts."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jul222017

US Navy's new $13B aircraft carrier is 'quantum leap into the 21st century'

David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images(NORFOLK, Va.) -- The U.S. Navy is unveiling a new aircraft carrier with a 21st-century design and a big price tag.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, which was unveiled in a commissioning ceremony on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia, cost nearly $13 billion to build, making it the Navy's most expensive aircraft carrier ever.

“This is the first new design of an aircraft carrier in more than 40 years, and it really is a state-of-the-art ship,” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dave Hecht told ABC News. The USS Ford will replace Nimitz-class carriers as the next generation of ships.

"The USS Gerald R. Ford is really a quantum leap into the 21st century," Hecht added.

ABC News and other media were invited on a tour of the carrier 12 days before its commissioning. Officers brought the press around for a quick look at the flight deck, crew quarters, navigation room and other spaces that represent advancements from earlier classes of carriers.

“Our voyage-management system is the only one of its kind. Our steering-gear control system -- only one of its kind,” Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Triana said. “You really can’t compare it to anything else.'

On the flight deck, planes will use a new electromagnetic system to launch as opposed to the traditional steam-driven catapult.

The redesign extends to the sleeping areas. Before, 100 sailors would be crammed together at night. Now, only 25 to 30 will sleep in each area.

The massive 1,100-foot warship won’t be sent into combat for at least four more years, as it still needs to undergo more testing. Around 2,600 sailors will work and call the ship home once it’s fully operational.

Despite the delays and big price tag, the U.S. Navy says the Ford class carriers will be $4 billion cheaper to construct compared to older ships.

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