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Friday
Sep222017

Uber loses license to operate in London

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- London is putting the brakes on Uber.

The ride-hailing company won't be issued a new license to operate in London, according to Transport for London (TfL).

TfL said Uber, whose current license would expire by Sept. 30, was not fit to hold a private-hire operator license due to "public safety and security implications." TfL cited Uber's approach to reporting criminal offenses and conducting background checks on drivers.

Uber has 21 days to appeal TfL's decision. More than 3 million customers use the Uber app in London, along with 400,000 drivers.

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Thursday
Sep212017

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg vows to combat election interference

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After months of stonewalling, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg agreed to turn over more than 3,000 Russian-linked political ads that ran during last year’s election campaign to Congress.

In his remarks, made in a Facebook Live post from his personal account, Zuckerberg said the company “recently uncovered this activity” and began cooperating with investigators looking at Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“We are actively working with the US government on its ongoing investigations into Russian interference,” Zuckerberg said. “We have been investigating this for many months, and for a while we had found no evidence of fake accounts linked to Russia running ads. When we recently uncovered this activity, we provided that information to the special counsel. We also briefed Congress, and this morning I directed our team to provide the ads we've found to Congress as well.”

ABC News has learned that Zuckerberg called Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, personally on Thursday to tell him of the company’s decision to offer more information to Congress.

The company conducted an inquiry into Russian election meddling in the spring but did not release its findings, raising concerns among leaders in the House and Senate that the social media giant was withholding information that could help them in the multiple ongoing investigations, according to the Washington Post.

In a recent interview with ABC News, Sen. Warner said Facebook initially denied to Congress that they had posted any ads paid by the Russians.

“When I raised these issues last winter, [they said] couldn’t happen and they privately said, you know, ‘Those are crazy ideas,’” Warner said. “Well, they weren’t crazy ideas.”

Warner was critical of Facebook’s efforts to account for Russian ads bought during the campaign, pointing out that the company’s initial report to Congress only covered ads purchased in Russian currency.

“There were lots of reports of [activity coming from] Albanian, Macedonia, Moldavia -- areas where there are some of these troll factories that were at least indirectly controlled by Russia,” Warner said. “I don't believe they looked at any of that.”

Russian companies spent more than $100,000 on the ads seen by millions of Americans, many of them praising Donald Trump attacked Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who mentioned the issue in an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday.

“I don’t think anybody can with a straight face say that the Russians did not set out to influence our election, and they did so,” Clinton said. “This latest revelation about the way they bought ads on Facebook and target them, we’re going to find out a lot more.”

Until Thursday, Facebook had refused to reveal who paid for political ads, but Zuckerberg said the company will now hold itself to "an even higher standard of transparency" than television and other media and "strengthen our ad review process for political ads.”

“Going forward -- and perhaps the most important step we're taking -- we're going to make political advertising more transparent,” Zuckerberg said. “We're going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they're currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company “won’t catch everyone immediately” but can only try to make it more difficult to use “bad content” to influence voters on its platform.

“I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy,” he said. “That’s not what we stand for.”


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Thursday
Sep212017

Couple quits jobs and travels the world, ending with book deal and marriage proposal

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A couple that wanted to follow their passions in life took a leap of faith.

Kyle James and Ashley Grigsby of North Carolina quit their jobs in 2015 and set off for New York City before heading on a worldwide adventure. They booked a one-way ticket to Paris as their first stop to travel the globe and enjoy as many life experiences together as possible.

"We got really wrapped up in those routines, and we needed a change," Grigsby told ABC News.

"We saved every dollar we could get our hands on -- knowing that we were going to be in Greece and all these places," James said.

After 114 days traveling, James and Grigsby had checked off 15 countries and 38 cities, packing in a lifetime of memories and experiences. James realized that he could use his background in writing and publishing to turn their journey into a book, which he titled, "Not Afraid of the Fall."

"Every single one of those cities, we took something from it. This book is built by every single one of those cities," James said.

The pair also found that the experience deepened their connection.

"It was one of those experiences where you go in and you sink or you float, and I think we came out better than ever," James said. "I think we've created something really special here."

Research has found that couples who try something new together experience increased relationship quality.

"One thing we all have to remember is that if you’re in a relationship, it’s either growing or it's dying," relationship expert Paul Carrick Brunson said on Good Morning America on Thursday. "There’s no in-between, so what we have to do is remember that we always want to experience new things. Learn a new dance, a new language, experience new things -- and that’s what Kyle and Ashley did."

Dr. Logan Levkoff, a relationship and sexuality educator, told ABC News that there are highs and lows from this kind of adventurous relationship.

"Traveling can be wonderful, but it can also be very stressful," Levkoff said. "You get to see someone through their best times and also their worst. ... All of these things are clues about not just your partnership, but about your partner."

After Grigsby and James were back in North Carolina and he received an advance copy of his book on their journey, the couple took a hike where he gave her a surprise.

Once they reached the same spot where they had shared their first kiss, James handed Grigsby the book and asked her to read the special dedication to her. James had penned a letter pouring his heart out about their journey around the globe and finished with a marriage proposal.

Grigsby accepted, and the couple has started planning for a wedding in Croatia on July 3, 2018.

"We're hoping to do some traveling before, some traveling after, hopefully some traveling long after that," the bride-to-be said.



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Wednesday
Sep202017

Record closes on Wall Street as Federal Reserve keeps interest rates unchanged for now

tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Little movement on Wall Street, but record-setting closes for two major indices on Wednesday, as the Federal Reserve announces no change in interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 41.79 to end the day at 22,412.59. That marked the 42nd record-high this year for the Dow.

The Nasdaq dropped to a close of 6,456.04, losing 5.28 on the day, while the S&P 500 edged up 1.58 to finish the session at 2,508.23. Wednesday was the 37th record close for the S&P 500 this year.

The Federal Reserve said it would leave interest rates unchanged today, but that a hike remains likely before the end of the year. Three additional hikes are possible for next year.

According to the Fed's minutes, economic activity has been rising moderately, job gains have remained solid and the unemployment rate has stayed low. Household spending and business investment growth have both increased.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that she expects that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will impact the American economy, but that those effects are unlikely to damage economic growth long-term.

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Wednesday
Sep202017

Theresa May calls for internet companies to act more quickly to remove terrorist content

Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May called for internet companies to take a harder stance against terrorist content on their platforms Wednesday, speaking at an event in New York with major tech companies.

May wants those companies to go "further and faster" to stop the spread of such material, according to a statement from the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations. After co-hosting a meeting on preventing terrorist use of the Internet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, May urged internet companies to remove terrorist content within one to two hours of its posting.

May is also calling for companies to work on technological solutions to prevent terrorist content from being uploaded in the first place.

Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were among the companies in attendance at the event Wednesday evening.

"Terrorist groups are aware that links to their propaganda are being removed more quickly, and are placing a greater emphasis on disseminating content at speed in order to stay ahead," May's prepared remarks read.

 



Google and YouTube have already announced increasing use of technology to identify potentially terrorist videos.

Twitter suspended nearly 300,000 accounts between January and June of this year, including a large number that were suspended before posting a single tweet.

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Wednesday
Sep202017

Woman wins $133M Powerball jackpot after playing the same numbers for 30 years

Sean Gladwell/Hemera/Thinkstock(GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.) -- One Colorado woman's persistence finally paid off after 30 years of playing the exact same lottery numbers -- she won a $133.2 million Powerball jackpot.

Judy Finchum, 67, purchased a winning Advance Play ticket on Saturday, her dog Tillie's birthday, and woke up stunned to see that she had all five out of the winning numbers, including the Powerball.

After seeing the numbers on her phone and checking her ticket, Finchum ran into the bedroom and woke up her husband Mack to tell him.

"We stumbled down the hallway together and I said, 'Now look at these numbers and look at the numbers on the ticket and are those the same?'" Finchum recalled. "My husband was Mr. calm and says, 'Yes they are.'"

At a press conference on Tuesday, when Finchum was presented with a large check for $133.2 million, she explained the history behind her winning numbers.

She said that her tried and true selections wer comprised of "birthday numbers." Number 17 for her late brother, her own birth date, 18, 24 for her sister Star, 25 for her ex-husband's and 31 for her daughter.

Finchum said she is still imagining how the money could change her life.

"It's hard to fathom," she said.

One thing she knows for sure is that she's officially retired, "as of about 6 o'clock on Sunday morning."

 



Mack told everyone that "his wife is the most generous person; she's my greatest gift."

When asked about their plans, they both agreed it will go to help more than just their own families, citing those suffering in Houston and Florida.

"It's going to bless the men and women and the people ravaged by the hurricanes," Mack said.

The ticket was sold in the town of Grand Junction at a store called Lucky Me on Patterson Road.

Finchum said she will take a cash lump sum payment rather than annual payments, which means she will receive $84,607,397 after taxes.

 

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Wednesday
Sep202017

UK store lets you pay by giving cashier the finger 

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A grocery store in the UK has become the first-ever to let customers pay by having them give the finger -- their pointer finger, that is, not its naughty neighbor.

Customers at the Costcutter store in London can present their fingertip for a scan, and the unique vein pattern inside each of our fingers can be used to identify each shopper and charge their accounts accordingly.

Incidentally, these are the same veins that are scanned with those fingertip devices your doctor might have clipped on your digit during your last checkup.

In that case, light is used to scan the veins for oxygen saturation; in this case, they're used as a fool-proof form of ID, a biometric link to your bank account.  

The firm that is backing the store's scanners, Sthaler, is looking to expand the service "across thousands of stores," according to The Telegraph. The company said it is in "serious talks" with other major UK supermarkets to adopt hi-tech finger scanners at pay points across thousands of stores.

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Wednesday
Sep202017

This Lyft's for you: Budweiser offers up to 150K free rides for drinkers  

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While Budweiser obviously wants people to have a good time, the beer company doesn't want people getting behind the wheel after doing so, so it's partnering with the ride share company Lyft.

Expanding a pilot program started last year, Budweiser will provide up to 150,000 free round-trip rides -- worth 10 bucks each way -- via Lyft codes for your Lyft account that Budweiser will share on its Facebook and Instagram, starting every Thursday at 2 p.m.

The free rides will be available from Thursday until Sunday of each week.

The program, which began last year in Colorado, Illinois, Florida and New York last year, will now also be available in Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Sep192017

Paleo-friendly baby food line debuts: Is it healthy?

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Texas couple who claim their health was improved by following the paleo diet -- eating the same foods as our ancestors -- have created a line of paleo-inspired baby foods.

Joe Carr, 36, and Serenity Heegel, 40, started their company, Serenity Kids, last year after they talked about having a child themselves and saw that most baby foods were made using fruit and were higher in sugar than they expected.

Heegel, who lives with Carr in Austin, quit her corporate job to become a health coach after she says the paleo diet greatly improved her health. Carr began following the diet as an adult because he believes it helps his high-functioning autism, with which he was diagnosed as a child.

The paleo diet follows the premise that we should eat today the same foods as our Paleolithic ancestors, primarily meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seafood. Foods that are nonorganic, high in sugar or processed are discouraged.

After being surprised that there were few to no baby foods on the market focused on those principles, Heegel and Carr partnered with local farmers from Missouri to California to make their meat-based baby foods using all-organic products.

"We kept asking ourselves the question, ‘Why is no one doing this?’” Heegel told ABC News. “We realized that babies do not really need to eat any different, that eating vegetables, meat and nuts is good for them too.

"Another response we thought of is, ‘Well, maybe babies won’t eat it,’" she continued. "But they do.”

Serenity Kids began presales of their baby food products online last month. The line currently includes three flavors: Free-range chicken with organic peas and carrots; uncured bacon with organic kale and butternut squash; and grass-fed beef with organic kale and sweet potato.

The 4-ounce pouches are sold online in a six-pack for $26.95. The individual pouches will sell for around $4.99 each when they hit store shelves later this year, according to Carr.

"Serenity and I are paleo-inspired and we came from that mindset but it’s much bigger than the paleo community,” he said. “There are lots of parents who want to give their kids meats and vegetables, but they’re limited to fruits.”

’Keith Ayoob, associate professor emeritus of pediatrics at New York City’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said parents do not need to spend $4.99 per pouch to give their children high-quality food and a balanced diet.

"I work with a lot of parents who will never be able to afford this food,” Ayoob told ABC News of the Serenity Kids line. “It is not an option for them and it doesn’t have to be.”

He continued, “It’s produced perhaps differently but I haven’t seen any evidence that it’s going to be any better for a baby.”

Ayoob, who has worked in pediatric nutrition for over 30 years, said developing children need to eat from all five food groups, including grains, dairy and fruits.

"Grains, fruit and dairy are a huge nutrient package, especially for the first few years of a child’s life,” he said. “There’s a reason that we have those food groups and excluding them could put your kid at a disadvantage nutritionally.”

Ayoob takes issue with Serenity Kids' assertion, as described on the company's website, that sugar from fruit in baby food products could cause inflammation and even a blood sugar crash in babies.

"In 30 years of working in pediatrics I don’t think I remember any case of a baby having a blood sugar crash from eating a jar of strained pears," Ayoob said. "I really find it a concern when they demonize intrinsic sugar, the sugar that is naturally present in fruit and dairy foods."

He continued, "And fruit is so loaded with antioxidants it is pretty anti-inflammatory."

Serenity Kids' baby food pouches are intended for babies six months and older. The USDA recommends that beginning at six months of age, babies eat 4 to 6 tablespoons of iron-fortified infant cereals, 3 to 4 tablespoons each of vegetables and fruits, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of protein-rich foods like meats and legumes per day.

Carr and Heegel plan to wed in November. They still plan on having a child together, after seeing through the growth of Serenity Kids, which they jokingly refer to as their first child.

"It’s not always easy and on those hard days, I just think about those babies we’re helping," Heegel said of creating Serenity Kids. "If they’ve got a busy parent who doesn’t have time to make baby food, they’re going to get whatever is put on the shelf."

Carr echoed that he and Heegel are not suggesting parents rely solely on their products to nourish their children, but just want to give parents another option on the market.

"It’s not our job to tell parents how to feed their kids," he said. "We understand that meats and vegetables are the most nutritious foods and we noticed that no one was making those available for babies and we wanted to do that."

Heegel, who tested the recipes with Austin-based babies and parents, said the response they hear the most often from parents about the line is, "Finally, thank goodness."

"Feeding babies usually isn’t a parent’s favorite chore," she said. "Every spoonful you manage to get in, we want it to be packed with maximum nutrient density."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Sep192017

Apple CEO Tim Cook 'encouraged' by President Trump's movement on 'Dreamers'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is “encouraged” by President Donald Trump’s discussions with Democrats to protect the status of “Dreamers,” the thousands of young unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to understand, these folks came to the country when they were very young,” Cook said on “Good Morning America.” “These kids, if you talk to them, they deeply love this country. They have great jobs. They pay taxes. These guys are our neighbors. They’re our coworkers.”

Cook spoke out in support of Dreamers, 250 of whom are Apple employees, earlier this month when the Trump administration announced its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

 

 


He said Tuesday that Apple will do "everything we can" to encourage Congress to make the bipartisan Dream Act -- legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children if they graduated high school or obtained a GED -- permanent.

"We feel it’s essential that we not only allow them to stay in our country, but we welcome them; that we desire that they be here," Cook said. "I hope everyone reaches out and meets some of the 'Dreamers' because it will really warm your heart in meeting them."

'Profound Day'

Apple will now allow iPhone users to update their devices to iOS 11, a development that will bring an augmented reality (AR) feature to hundreds of millions of Apple devices.

"This is huge because it’s the first time that hundreds of millions of customers will be able to use AR for the first time," Cook said. "We’re bringing it to mainstream."

The AR feature will allow users to overlay the virtual world on the physical world. For instance, according to Cook, someone in the market for a new car could go inside the car using AR from home rather than having to visit a car dealership showroom to see inside.

"It’s a fantastic way to shop. It’s a fantastic way to learn," he said. "We’re taking the complex and making it simple. We want everybody to be able to use AR."

Cook called the deployment Tuesday of AR to Apple users a "profound day."

"The thing that’s very different about Apple is that in one day we can make AR available to hundreds of millions of people," he said. "This is a day to remember."

Cook made history last week when, 10 years after the first iPhone was introduced, he announced the release of iPhone X. Cook called the phone at its launch a "new generation of the iPhone and a huge step forward."

Face ID will be used to unlock the iPhone X, which features an edge-to-edge screen and glass on both the front and back. Users will simply have to look at the phone to unlock it.

Cook reassured potential users that they do not need to be concerned about privacy with Face ID technology.

"Once you place your face in the phone, it’s in the phone. Apple doesn’t have it," he said. "We’ve encrypted it on your device. You make the decisions about who has it, not us."

"We believe that privacy is very important in this world that there are hackers everywhere trying to steal your information,” he continued. “We want it to be yours. It is not ours."

The iPhone X, which has a case made of stainless steel, is priced at $999. Cook called it a "value price" when compared to the amount of technology included in the phone.

"When you look at it, the iPhone in particular has become so essential in our daily lives, people want it do more and more and more," he said. "So, we’ve built more and more technologies into it to be able to do that."

The iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch was held at the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's campus in Cupertino, California.

Cook said he "could feel" Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, in the theater with him during the launch because Jobs' DNA is still the DNA of Apple.

"We don’t sit and think about, ‘What would Steve do?’ But, we think about the principles that Apple is based on," he said. "A values-based company that is making insanely great products that are simple to use, where the technology takes the back seat, not the front seat."

"The user experience is top for us,” he said. “We want users to be happy."

 

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