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Sunday
Aug282016

German Vice-Chancellor Says 'Brexit' Could Send EU Down the Drain

Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The so-called "Brexit" could have a devastating impact on the entire European Union, Germany's vice-chancellor said Sunday at a news conference.

The BBC reports that Sigmar Gabriel said the EU could go "down the drain" if other countries followed the United Kingdom's lead. Britain, he added, would not get to maintain the "nice things" about being a part of the European bloc without taking responsibility.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May summoned ministers for a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the British withdrawal from the EU.

"Brexit is bad but it won't hurt us as much economically as some fear," Gabriel said, according to the BBC. "It's more of a psychological problem and it's a huge problem politically. If we organize Brexit in the wrong way, then we'll be in deep trouble, so now we need to make sure that we don't allow Britain to keep the nice things, so to speak, related to Europe while taking no responsibility."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with a number of European leaders in recent weeks in order to prepare for a September summit focused on the EU's future without Britain.

Gabriel also said Sunday that trade talks between the EU and the U.S. had "de facto failed."

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was aimed at removing or reducing various barriers to EU-US trade. The plan has faced heavy criticism in countries including Germany and the U.K., however, with detractors saying it would be bad for jobs, consumers and the environment.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug282016

United Airlines Pilots Arrested Before Takeoff in Scotland

United Airlines(GLASGOW) -- Two United Airlines pilots were arrested in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday morning before they were set to fly to Newark International Airport, according to police.

"Police Scotland can confirm that two men, aged 35 and 45 years, have been arrested and are presently detained in police custody in connection with alleged offences under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (Section 93)," said a statement from Glasgow police.

There were 141 passengers on board the 9 a.m. flight who were rebooked to a 7:15 p.m. flight with a new crew later in the evening.

United Airlines said the pilots had been removed from service and their flying duties. United also said it is cooperating with Scottish investigators and would conduct an independent investigation.

Police said the two men were expected to appear in court outside Glasgow on Monday.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug272016

Couple Leaves It All Behind for Dream Job at Remote Lighthouse 

Janet Weinstein / ABC News(GEORGETOWN, Maine) -- Every morning for the past 15 years, it’s been the same routine for Mitchell Thorp and Patty Sullivan: Wake up at dawn, brew a pot of coffee, eat breakfast, and make a list of things to do for the rest of the day.

Recently, their mornings have been different.

Long gone are the sounds of neighborhood kids squealing as they ride their bikes to school or the ringing of phones in their home office. Now, only the music of chattering seagulls and the soft, pulsing harmony of waves seeps through to their small dining room table.

“We’re not lacking anything here but it’s just a much slower pace,” said Thorp.

“It’s nice to pull back into the cove and …” Sullivan said, exhaling. “Peace.”

Thorp and Sullivan are this summer’s caretakers for Seguin Island: a small, 64-acre dot off the coast of Maine where the state’s tallest and second oldest lighthouse resides.

The massive tower is still operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, but local nonprofit, Friends of Seguin Island Light Station, is in charge of maintaining everything else. For six months, the organization supports volunteers living on the island as they look after the land, give up modern conveniences and learn to embrace seclusion.

Thorp and Sullivan have been together for 15 years and used to own an accounting software consultant business in North Carolina. After selling their company in 2012, they chose to spend their retirement as professional caretakers. “Sitting at a desk looking at a computer all day was not hard to walk away from,” said Thorp with a laugh. “At all.”

They say they jumped at the opportunity to come to Seguin Island when they spotted an ad for the caretaker position in a small-town Maine newspaper. “We’ve been doing some caretaking for private residents, small resorts, guest houses … but we’ve never taken care of a lighthouse before,” said Sullivan.

Seguin Island is a 30-minute boat ride from Popham Beach, Maine, with one local man primarily making the daily journey back and forth for seasonal tourists.

Every Wednesday morning, Thorp and Sullivan make a quick trip back to land to throw away trash, pick up weekly essentials from the grocery store and do laundry at the laundromat. “The first Wednesday we went in, we bought two weeks worth of freezer stuff so that way if we do get stuck here, we have food,” said Sullivan. “One prior caretaker told me about eating peanut butter for four days because the only thing they had was peanut butter left and they had encountered some bad weather.”

Thorp says other than a fully stocked fridge, a healthy relationship with your partner and a strong sense of independence make surviving island life easy.

“You have to know you’re not going to kill each other…. You are alone most of the time and you can’t call somebody to come and help you, or deliver you pizza,” said Thorp. “You have to be self-sufficient and you have to like that.”

The house’s toilets are all composting, so they have to clean it almost daily. There’s no Wi-Fi aside from an unreliable and temperamental hotspot. The water isn’t drinkable, so they have to fill up huge jugs of mainland tap water each week, store it in a shed at the bottom of the island’s hill, and bring it up the hill to the house using smaller gallon jugs every day. “It is something you definitely have to adapt to,” said Thorp.

Then there’s the rumors of a paranormal presence on the island. Legend has it that former caretakers have heard ghostly piano music or the giggling of a little girl running around late at night. Sullivan shakes her head when asked about this and smiles.

“There’s stories that it’s haunted, but we’ve seen no evidence of that,” she said.

“There’s only good vibes here,” added Thorp.

Even with all of these little quirks, Thorp and Sullivan say their experience has been pleasant. Thorp says the daily stream of tourists has kept the loneliness largely at bay, and island mentality has definitely taught him a thing or two about life.

“You have to push the Type-A away because in the business world, you need to be that way, but in the real world, outside of business, it’s not healthy to be that way all the time,” he said.

“But, there’s definitely an element of our friends and family who think we’re crazy,” he added with a smile.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug272016

Southwest Flight Forced to Make Emergency Landing

Twitter/Stephanie(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- A Southwest Airlines flight from New Orleans to Orlando, Florida, was forced to make an emergency landing Saturday in Pensacola, Florida, due to a "mechanical issue."

A spokesperson from the airline confirmed to ABC News that the plane, SW Flight 3472, suffered a "mechanical issue with the number one engine."

The pilot radioed to air traffic control that the plane had experienced an engine failure, and the flight was diverted, according to the airline, which noted that none of the 99 passengers or five crew members on board were injured.

According to a statement from Southwest, an "operational event" of this nature can sometimes trigger an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to establish what went wrong.

Photographs of the plane from social media show one of the engines partially destroyed.

The aircraft is out of service, the airline noted, and the passengers will be taken to Orlando as soon as possible.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug272016

GM Recalling Thousands of Vehicles Due To Faulty Wipers

Montypeter/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – General Motors is issuing a recall for thousands of vehicles to fix a potential problem with the windshield wipers.

2013 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain models are effected. In all, nearly 368,000 vehicles are being recalled. The company says the cars may have been made with ball joints that can corrode and leave the windshield wipers inoperable.

Regulators say the problem was noticed by a GM managed in Canada last September, and an investigation was launched.

Chevrolet Equinox owners can call 1-800-222-1020 and GMC Terrain drivers can call 1-800-462-8782 for more information.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug272016

How an Attempt to Hack a Top Human Rights Activist Exposed Unprecedented iPhone Vulnerabilities

lzf/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When noted human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor recently began receiving mysterious text messages promising to detail abuses inside prisons in the United Arab Emirates, it wasn't a topic completely out of the ordinary, considering his line of work.

However, his suspicions were raised by the text messages, he told ABC News in a Skype interview from the UAE, because he had been the victim of several other hacking attacks in recent years. Mansoor, who last year was the Martin Ennals Award Laureate, a top recognition in the field of human rights campaigning, was arrested in 2011 and spent eight months in prison in what he said was a politically motivated effort to discredit him.

Little did he know, however, that the text messages that first arrived on Aug. 10 and then through Aug. 11 would lead to the discovery of what experts called unprecedented vulnerabilities in Apple's iOS operating system.

He took screenshots of the message and sent them to his friend on the other side of the world, Bill Marczak, a senior research fellow with Citizen Lab, which conducts cybersecurity research.

The 28-year-old Berkeley, California, resident had been working on the computer late into the evening, and decided to take a quick look at his phone before hitting the sack at about 1:30 a.m.

“Immediately, when I saw those messages [from Mansoor] it clicked in my brain and I thought, 'I’ve seen those websites before!'" Marczak told ABC News.

Marczak said that he and his colleagues have been compiling a list of websites that are associated with clients of the Israeli software firm NSO Group, which Citizen Lab and cybersecurity firm Lookout say have developed a spyware package called Pegasus.

An NSO Group official told ABC News that the firm developed software “that helps them combat terror and crime,” and that it sells the software "only to authorized governmental agencies.”

The spokesman, Zamir Dahbash, said that NSO Group “has no knowledge of and cannot confirm” the security firms’ allegations. However, he noted in an email that “the company does NOT operate any of its systems.”

Marczak said believes he has a list of around 200 sites that are deployments of NSO Group’s clients. The sites, he explained, were used to dupe hacking victims into downloading malicious software onto their phones, allowing hackers to take control.

While Marczak said he had long suspected the sites hosted the malware, he did not, until receiving Mansoor’s messages, have a specific link to prove it.

Working through the night, Marczak recalled, he and his colleague John Scott-Railton downloaded the spyware onto a dummy iPhone, from which they monitored all the data that was sent and received.

“We basically set up a test phone. We connected it to the internet through another computer that was logging everything sent and received by the phone,” he said.

Transcribing from Mansoor’s screenshot, they typed the link into the dummy iPhone's Safari browser.

“For about 10 seconds, Safari was just blank, and then after 10 seconds the Safari app closed -- it just exited. We saw nothing further on the phone screen, but meanwhile the phone, according to our logging, was sending and receiving a lot of information. It appeared to be downloading and installing software from the internet,” Marczak recalled.

The malware was about 2.5 megabytes in size when pulled down from the internet, and about 5 megabytes when uncompressed, he said.

“To see it in action was really, really incredible and fascinating, and just seeing the fact that once we clicked on this link once in this text message, that was enough,” he said.

In fact, what he found was unprecedented and has never been seen before.

“This was the most serious vulnerability for iPhone that we’ve seen in the wild,” Marczak said. “What made this vulnerability especially serious was the fact that it was triggered by a single click -- or a single tap -- on a link that could infect your phone. That’s not something we’ve seen before for iPhones.”

Other experts agreed.

“This is the only public disclosure of a one-click remote jailbreak of a modern Apple device. And it's the first time we've ever seen this type of exploit used against real targets to steal actual information,” Lookout’s Vice President for Security Research Mike Murray told ABC News in an email. “Pegasus is amazingly complex and sophisticated ... everything you have on your phone is compromised once this spyware takes hold.”

The researchers notified Apple of the vulnerabilities on Aug. 15, and the tech giant released a software update to address the issues on Thursday.

Marczak said that the researchers aren’t sure who was attempting to compromise Mansoor’s phone.

“In this case we weren’t able to trace it back to the operator. Whoever was operating it, they were using servers in the cloud. These were servers that they had rented in the United States,” Marczak said. “Presumably these servers were just proxying data back to whoever was trying to spy on Mansoor.”

He later told ABC News that the rented U.S. servers belonged to Amazon, which sells server use for legitimate individual, business and research use around the world.

In a statement, an Amazon Web Services spokesperson said: "AWS’s terms are very clear about the misuse of our services, and we employ a variety of measures to detect and address misuse. When we find misuse, we take action quickly and shut it down. The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Fed Chair Says Case for Interest Rate Hike Has Improved in Recent Months

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinted today that the U.S. economy might be strong enough for an interest rate hike.

Speaking to a conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellen cited employment gains and increased consumer spending in saying that the Federal Open Market Committee expects moderate growth in the national GDP, additional strengthening in the labor market, and inflation reaching two percent in the coming years.

As such, Yellen said she believes "the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months." She did not, however, specify when the rate hike might come.

A rate hike would mean higher costs for new mortgages, car loans and credit cards. However, rates are currently at historically low levels, and the Federal Reserve has repeatedly signalled that it would allow rates to rise gradually instead of offering agressive hikes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

US Stocks Close Mixed After Fed Chair Janet Yellen Talks Rate Hike

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed mixed Friday as investors weighed comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on a possible interest rate hike.

The Dow slid 53.01 (-0.29 percent) to finish at 18,395.40.

The Nasdaq gained 6.71 (+0.13 percent) to close at 5,218.92, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,169.04, down 3.43 (-0.16 percent) from its open.

Crude oil remained flat with prices hitting above $47 a barrel.

Federal Reserve: In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellen told a conference of central bankers that the U.S. economy might be strong enough for an interest rate hike. Though she did not cite when a rate hike might come, she believes "the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months."

In an interview later Friday with CNBC, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said two rate increases before the end of the year were possible and suggested one could happen as soon as September.

Winners and Losers: ITT Educational Services, Inc. tumbled 61 percent amid a for-profit college crackdown where new ITT students will no longer be allowed to enroll with federal aid.

A report from the Wall Street Journal that said billionaire investor Carl Icahn was exploring selling his Herbalife Lt. stake, sent shares in the nutritional products company down 2 percent.

Stock in software company Autodesk, Inc. soared 8 percent Friday after beating investors' expectations in its quarter two earnings and Autodesk raised its outlook.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

'Dirtiest Man in TV' Mike Rowe Offers to Buy Submerged Utility Worker a Beer

WFAA-TV(DALLAS) -- The Texas utility worker who went viral thanks to a photograph showing him submerged in muddy water while fixing a broken pipe is now getting attention from the TV star who earned the nickname “the dirtiest man on TV.”

Somebody’s Gotta Do It host Mike Rowe, who became famous for traveling the country exploring different, dirty jobs, has offered to buy the utility worker, Jimmie Cox, a beer or two.

"I'm serious about the offer for a beer or two,” Rowe said in a taped message that aired Friday on Good Morning America. “Please tell me that was a water line … because if it was a sewer line, I'd have to get you a whole case.”

Cox fortunately was repairing just a water line when he went beyond the call of duty and submerged the upper half of his body in the murky water. The Hood County, Texas, homeowner whose burst, one-inch pipe Cox was trying to fix, took a photo of Cox that has since gone viral.

Cox, 23, told local ABC station WFAA-TV the hole he submerged himself in was about five-and-a-half feet deep. He said he saw water spewing everywhere when he arrived at the home so just dove in to try to plug the leak.

"In this line of work, people do it a lot," he said. "I wasn't even able to get the clampers, so we had to cut it and put a valve on there when it was underwater.”

Rowe first tweeted about the photo on Thursday.

Wrangler Jeans, which Cox was wearing in the photo, also tweeted that the company will be providing Cox with new jeans.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

This Magical DMV Serves Cupcakes and Is Winning at Customer Service

katsgraphics808/iStock/Thinkstock(HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C.) -- Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a horrendous DMV experience. Well, the customers at the Holly Springs DMV in North Carolina certainly can’t relate.

When they walk in to their local DMV, rather than being told to take a number and forced to wait for hours in a dimly lit depressing lobby only to find out you don’t have the proper paperwork needed, they’re instead greeted with freshly baked cupcakes, made-to-order fruit smoothies, a self check-in iPad, adorable cottage-style furniture, a kids' play area, smiling employees and rays of sunshine opening up from the heavens.

“We’ve actually had customers who’ve walked in and walked back out to read the sign again because they’re not sure they’re in the right place,” Arely Lopez, the branch manager at the Holly Springs DMV, told ABC News.

The DMV is privately owned, which allows it more freedom to be personalized, and the customers can’t get enough. They’re living in the lap of luxury as they await their new car title or personalized license plate.

“Everyone dreads going to the DMV but we worked really closely with the mayor and governor and county commissioners and we want to do it different,” Lopez said. “We have customers that will just come in to read a book and buy a cupcake.”

You read that correctly. Cupcakes, lots of them, in all sorts of delicious flavors, hand-delivered each morning from a local bakery named CupCakeBite located right up the road.

“In the evenings they’ll text me their list of flavors for the next day. I’ll either deliver to them or they’ll come pick them up,” Gina Pettaris, the bakery’s owner, explained.

The magical location is more like a quaint internet café rather than the dark pits of hell that is normally associated with a DMV. The only stipulation is that since they are privately owned, “we cannot do anything with driver’s licenses or issue state IDs,” Lopez said.

Anything else vehicle-related is on the table, though.

“The branch we fall under is Driver and Vehicle Services,” she explained. “Titling, registering, renewing, coming in from out of state to register your car for the first time, handicap placards that are issued, notary services, anything else, we do.”

The business principal for the chic and cozy DMV is the brainchild of owner Chad Price.

“I got the contract from the state and I put the whole thing together because I want to prove you can have good service,” he said. “It’s a mindset. I built it and designed it to completely break the mold."

“Typical DMVs have cinderblock walls so I put it in a nice little shopping center,” he added. “DMVs have nasty little carpets and I went with stained concrete floors. I looked at everything they were doing and went the opposite.”

Price added a playful kids' corner so parents can get their errands done while not having to worry about their children. He added top-of-the-line technology where customers can text the DMV to get a number and only show up once it’s time for their appointment. He went out of his way to petition to be able to add the state flag to DMV signage, just so it’s more appealing to the eye.

“The key thing we wanted to prove to everyone is that even though we’re a contractor for the state, you can truly provide phenomenal customer service,” Price said. “It’s not hard. You have to be committed. The government has to realize they’re there to serve the people. If you remember that, you will always go above and beyond.”

It’s safe to say he’s accomplished that and more. Did we mention they have cupcakes and fresh fruit smoothies?

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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