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Friday
Sep042015

Stocks Fall as Jobs Report Shows Drop in Unemployment

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The good news is, employers are hiring, but why did the week close with a drop in the market?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 272.38 to finish the session at 16102.38.

The Nasdaq fell 49.58, ending at 4683.92, while the S&P 500 lost 29.91 to close at 1921.22.

A report out from the Labor Department on Friday revealed 220,000 jobs were created last month, but it's not as much as economists had predicted. However, unemployment nationally has hit a seven-year low after falling to 5.1 percent.

Experts say the reason for the drop in the markets on Friday was because of worries over the potential interest rate hike. The Federal Reserve is still toying with the idea and we may have an answer after the Fed's mid-September meetings.

If the Fed decides on an interest rate hike, it would be the first interest rate increase in nearly a decade.

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Friday
Sep042015

Ebay Seller Who Sued Over Negative Feedback Ordered to Pay Customers' Legal Fees

Courtesy Amy Nicholls(MEDINA, Ohio) — An eBay seller who sued two customers over their negative feedback online has been ordered to pay $19,250 to cover their legal fees.

This week, a judge ordered Med Express Inc., a refurbished medical equipment seller who sued back in 2013, to pay for the two Ohio lawyers who defended the case pro bono.

Med Express filed a lawsuit for libel in Medina County's Court of Common Pleas in Ohio in 2013, claiming that their feedback on eBay hurt the company's reputation and a lower overall rating increased seller costs to eBay.

One of those customers was Amy Nicholls, an office administrator for a manufacturer in Greenville, South Carolina. She bought a microscope light for her employer in February 2013 from Med Express. After paying $175 plus $12 in shipping for the item, Med Express said in the court filing that it "took the equipment to the Valley City post office, where it was weighed and shipped to Nicholls."

Though Med Express claimed that it paid the full shipping cost, "for some reason unknown to Med Express, the equipment was received by Nicholls with $1.44 postage due," according to the court record. Med Express apologized immediately and offered to reimburse Nicholls for the postage due, but she went ahead and posted a "negative" comment about the charge on eBay's website: "Order arrived with postage due with no communication from seller beforehand," she wrote.

Med Express filed a nearly identical suit on the same day against another customer, Dennis Rogan. He left a "neutral" review.

After receiving negative publicity over their suit, Med Express apologized and said it was withdrawing the lawsuit.

"Please understand that our customer was never the target of this lawsuit. We had instructed our attorneys to ask for $1 in damages. Her feedback was also never an issue. We fully support her right and all of our customers' right to leave any feedback they desire -- true or otherwise!" Med Express President Richard Radey wrote in a statement back in 2013. "The issue involved Detailed Seller Ratings or DSRs. The low ratings caused us to lose our Top Rated Seller Plus standing."

But in April 2013, Nicholls, with the help of Jeffrey Nye and Thomas Haren, two lawyers in Ohio who offered to take the case for free, filed a counterclaim against Med Express and its attorney, claiming frivolous conduct and "malice or aggravated or egregious fraud." They cited seven different times Med Express sued out-of-state eBay customers who would have difficulty defending themselves in court. Nicholls' attorneys said they had seen Radey's comments and were aware he had dropped the lawsuit against Nicholls, but they continued with their countersuit all the same.

Med Express did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News about this week's ruling by the court, which heard the cases for Rogan and Nicholls together and issued the sanctions in favor of them jointly.

After the ruling, Nye and Haren said in a joint statement, "We were obviously happy to see that the Magistrate recognized the frivolous nature of the claims."

"Should the Magistrate’s Decision be adopted by the Court, and we certainly expect that it will, this long and frustrating battle will finally be concluded. Thankfully Amy and Dennis stood up for what they believed in, and in doing so they struck a blow in favor of the First Amendment rights of all online commenters," the attorneys said in the statement.

They said the case highlights the need for Ohio to join more than twenty other states in enacting an anti-SLAPP statute, which stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation, "so that Ohio citizens will be protected from bully tactics."

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Friday
Sep042015

San Francisco's Only Privately-Held Island Gets Massive Price Cut

Eric Raptosh Photography/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — The only privately-held island in San Francisco Bay is on sale with a massive price cut.

Red Rock Island hit the market in 2012 for $22 million before it was slashed to $9 million, but now it can be yours for $5 million. The 5.5-acre property is mostly rock and minerals, and its previous owners boasted of its potential gas reserves. But with a possible outcry from San Francisco residents over the prospect of drilling there, the real estate agent handling the property envisions other uses amid the skyrocketing real estate prices in the area.

In the first quarter of the 19th century, Russian hunters trapped otters on the island, SFGate.com reported. One of the previous owners, Mendel Glickman, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, thought it could be a vacation getaway, in addition to tapping gas reserves. Glickman purchased it for less than $50,000, according to SFGate.com.

When Glickman died, the property eventually went to his son, David, an attorney who now lives in Thailand, and his business associate Mack Durning.

"The Durning sons are the owners of record, and they do want to sell it," Steven Higbee, the real estate agent handling the property, told ABC News. "It's kind of in strange limbo at this point. It's been dormant for probably three years."

Higbee said the island is within the boundaries of three counties: Marin, Contra Costa and San Francisco.

David Glickman would travel to the island by helicopter, Higbee said, though there is no helipad.

"It's a big dome hump. It's solid rock with grass and trees at the top, but the grass is low and the helicopter can land without a problem," Higbee said.

"At this point, everybody goes back and forth by boat. The Boy Scouts used it for years for camping," Higbee said. "It's a short ride by boat predicated by where you're coming from. It's readily accessible from Sausalito, San Francisco or the Richmond shores."

The north side of the island faces the Richmond Bridge.

"The north side has a fairly nice beach for the Bay Area, though the other sides are pretty rocky. It's a gravely beach," Higbee said.


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Friday
Sep042015

Labor Day 2015 by the Numbers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For many people Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer. But what exactly does the holiday commemorate?

As the name suggests, the holiday celebrates those of us in the workforce.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, there are approximately 157 million men and women in the U.S. workforce. Of those workers, the average employed American works 7.8 hours a day.

Sept. 5, 1882, marked the first Labor Day parade, which was held in New York City. However, Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday five years later in 1887.

In 1894, President Grover Cleveland made the day a national holiday.

Today, Labor Day has become one of the busiest weekends for travel before the end of summer.

For those that stay home, it's likely many will fire up their grill. The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association found that along with the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, Labor Day is one of the top three holidays for grilling.

The holiday is also associated with the beginning of the school year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, some 55 million students will be boarding their buses in 2015 -- which means a whole lot of parents with a little more quiet time.


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Friday
Sep042015

Labor Day Weekend Gas Prices Lowest in 11 Years

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Labor Day gas prices are the lowest in over a decade, giving some relief to drivers who will be hitting the road this weekend for the holiday.

Average gas prices are nearly $1 lower than they were a year ago, and motorists in the south will spend the least this weekend, according to a forecast by GasBuddy. The average gas price is $2.51 cents for a gallon of regular, down nearly 13 cents from a week ago and 95 cents from a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Department's weekly report on Monday.

Still, the price of gas varies widely across the country. Drivers in California are still paying an average of $3.34 a gallon for regular, according to the Energy Department's weekly report, while Texans are paying an average of $2.21.

Low oil prices and relatively good weather have contributed to the lowest gas prices since 2004. Drivers may save $1.4 billion at the pump this long Labor Day weekend, GasBuddy estimates. Oil producers have been creating larger supply around the world, including in the U.S. The average barrel of crude oil is around $47, about half the price from the same period a year ago.

There are as as many as 19 states where at least one retail outlet is already selling gas below $2, according to GasBuddy. South Carolina is the only state to have an average gas price under that level, at $1.995 a gallon. This weekend, nearly 70 percent of gas stations may be priced at under $2.50 a gallon compared to none last year, according to Gas Buddy's predictions.

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Friday
Sep042015

Unemployment Rate Edges Lower as Economy Adds 173K Jobs in August

YinYang/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Unemployment creeps lower, but the number of jobs added seems to have missed the mark over the last month.

The U.S. unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent as employers added only 173,000 jobs in August, according to the latest data from the Labor Department. The number of jobs added was much lower than economists had anticipated.

[See the full report here.]

The major job gains for August occurred in health care, social assistance and in financial activities, while manufacturing and mining lost jobs.

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Friday
Sep042015

EBay Disclosed Sellers' Personal Information to Bidders, Will Change Practice

Schöning/ullstein bild via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — EBay is the online marketplace for 25 million sellers, but did you know that when you signed up you gave the company permission to disclose your personal information to your bidders?

GMA Investigates has found that any bidder on an item can request — and receive in a matter of seconds — a seller’s full name, city and state of residence and phone number.

So just how easy is it?

GMA placed bids of $1 each on a handful of auctions and then completed a simple request on eBay’s website in which we asked for seller contact information.

The request revealed the seller’s information.

One of the people whose information we received was an eBay seller named Anita. We are not revealing her last name.

Asked whether she knew the company could reveal her information, she replied: “No, I did not. I thought they protected your information.”

Under eBay’s “Terms and Conditions,” the company says it can share the information and that it’s meant to facilitate communication between sellers and buyers.

While eBay doesn’t release sellers' addresses, using Anita’s name, phone number and city, GMA was able to find her address online in under a minute.

“That doesn’t feel very good,” said Anita, who had listed a gold bracelet for sale. “I have children, I have a family here and I’m doing this to make extra money for my family.”

EBay notified Anita after giving out her information, at the same time also providing her with our information, but cybersecurity expert Adam Levin says scammers or thieves could use fake information in their profiles to try to get a seller’s information.

“A process like this is an enabler for bad guys even though it wasn’t designed to be,” said Levin, who is the author of the upcoming book Swiped.

EBay declined an on-camera interview with ABC News, but the company told GMA in a statement that, of “trillions of transactions,” it was unaware of any case where the information was used maliciously.

But it added that the policy would change, writing: “Due to the low usage of this functionality, as well as enhancements to other forms of communication, we’ll soon be removing that feature for bidders and sellers engaged in an active auction.”


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Friday
Sep042015

Children Using 'Secret' Mobile Apps to Keep Things Hidden From Parents 

ponsulak/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- So-called secret mobile apps, which can be used by children to hide texts, images and videos from prying eyes, are drawing warnings and concern from officials and parents.

Louisiana resident Kristin Pinsonat, who keeps a close eye on her son’s phone, says she was shocked to find that Anthony, 16, had installed an app to hide files from his parents.

“They can do anything they want, and it's all locked with a passcode,” she said.

The issue frustrated Pinsonat, and her son admits that it wasn’t a bright move.

“Basically, I was hiding from my parents,” Anthony said. “And it was stupid, yeah.”

The apps are becoming so popular, a county district attorney in Alabama, Pamela Casey, posted a video to Facebook warning parents about the apps.

“I encourage you to look at your child’s phone,” she said. “If one child knows about it, many children know about it.”

Dan Tynan, editor in chief of Yahoo Tech Magazine, said the apps can look like ordinary functions such as a calculator, but when users enter a secret password, they have access to hidden files.

Adults can keep their children from using such apps by turning off their ability to install apps without parental approval, Tynan said.

“The problem with these apps is they allow kids to hide their cyber-lives from their parents,” Tynan said, “and sometimes the things they are hiding can harm them.”

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Thursday
Sep032015

Small Gains for Wall Street as Investors Wait for Jobs Report

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Small gains Thursday as markets continue to relax following last week's chaos.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.38 to finish the session at 16374.76.

The Nasdaq fell 16.48, ending at 4733.50, while the S&P 500 gained 2.27 to close at 1951.13.

Crude oil also rose, with U.S. crude oil closing at $46.75 per barrel, a gain of 50 cents.

As we wait for the August jobs report to be released on Friday, more people filed for unemployment last week. The Labor Department says not to worry though, as the overall numbers for unemployment are still hitting historically low levels.

The report may also help the Federal Reserve determine whether or not they will raise interest rates. The Fed will meet mid-September on Sept. 16 for a two-day session.

A $415 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge after a lawsuit alleged companies like Apple, Google, Intel and two other Silicon Valley companies had deliberately prevented employees from finding other work. Over 64,000 tech workers will get paid about $5,800 each.

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Thursday
Sep032015

Elon Musk Has Good News for Tesla Fans

Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's a dream come true for Tesla admirers.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, revealed the electric car company will show off the look of its lower cost Model 3 in March and will begin taking pre-orders around that time.

The smaller sedan is expected to cost around $35,000 and will begin production in 2017.

"Demand would be much higher for a vehicle like that because of its price. It puts Tesla right in the meat of the market," Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told ABC News in May after Musk announced the project.

Next up for Tesla though will be executing the deliveries of its sporty Model X vehicle -- the company's third car. Musk said on Twitter deliveries will begin on September 29 from Tesla's Fremont, California factory.

With the same options as a Model S, the new car will cost $5,000 more because of its size and body complexity, Musk tweeted. The base Model S starts at $70,000, not including any incentives that could be used at the federal and state level for electric vehicles.

The signature series Model X will cost in the low six-figure range for customers seeking a fully loaded, top of the line experience.

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