Running a food truck is way harder than it looks, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the warm weather, food trucks are springing up all over -- and not just the taco trucks of old.

A new generation of gourmet food trucks is bringing ethnic cuisines to young urban dwellers, revitalizing neighborhoods and changing the way America eats. It's the fastest-growing category in the food-service industry, according to an Intuit report, reaching a record $2.7 billion in forecasted revenue in 2017.

But it’s not as easy as it looks.

“We see these trucks selling fun food from all over the world and think, 'How hard could it be? It’s just two or three guys or gals in a truck,'" Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said. "But it's a lot harder than that. There are regulatory burdens and high costs for these entrepreneurs."

Cawley's organization released a new 12-month study called Food Truck Nation, which looks at the 20 cities across the country that have the highest concentration of food trucks, and ranks them according to how easy or hard it is to own a food truck in that city. The results were surprising.

“What we heard loud and clear from food truck owners in every city is they are encountering contradictory and often onerous regulations,” Cawley told ABC News. "The regulations that are impacting food trucks also end up hurting the consumer with less choices and higher costs."

Five most difficult cities to own a food truck

According to the study, the five most difficult cities in which to own a food truck are Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Minneapolis; and Seattle.

The five friendliest cities are Portland, Oregon, Denver, Orlando, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

“We found in Washington, D.C., that food truck owners need to make 23 separate trips to local agencies to get a permit,” Cawley said. “In Denver, it’s just an eight-step process, and in parts of Los Angeles, such as West Hollywood, food trucks are required to move to a different street every hour.”

In New York City, which ranked ninth in the study, Eden Gebre-Egziabher owns Makina Café, the first Ethiopian-Eritrean food truck in New York City. Gebre-Egziabher, who has an MBA in marketing, cooks up distinctive meals based on recipes passed down over generations -- from specialty chicken to beef sambusas to vegetarian dishes marinated in homemade spices -- but said regulations impede her day-to-day workflow.

"New York City rules and regulations are definitely not in favor of food trucks,” Gebre-Egziabher told ABC News. “By law, you are not allowed to vend where there’s metered parking. Automatically that eliminates most of the streets in New York City. Whenever food trucks park on the street, we get a ticket -- every day we get a ticket. They are anywhere from $65 and then it goes up. My record was four tickets in one day.”

Fifteen-year waitlist for a license

Another hurdle: obtaining a license.

“They have a 15-year waiting list to get a permit in New York City,” Gebre-Egziabher said. “The people who have licenses in the past lease them out to others who are coming in. It's such a big commodity right now that these permits are going from $25,000 to $30,000 -- not to own, but just to lease. The city could give them out for about $250 each, but they haven’t done that and they haven’t said why."

It's a very different story in Philadelphia, which ranked fourth friendliest city in the study. Robin Adema, who runs the popular Foolish Waffles food truck in Philadelphia, said licenses are affordable, ranging from $150 to $350. It's finding a place to park that’s hard.

“The biggest issue is where we are allowed to vend,” she told ABC News. “It’s pretty limited in the city center and most of the financial district. Also in areas like University City, where there are lots of students and there’s a waiting list to get into those spots."

Fried chicken waffles and 'wagels'

Adema, who left her corporate job as a legal administrator four years ago to follow her passion, has built a loyal following with sweet and savory traditional Brussels and Liege waffles. She creates dishes such as “wagels," similar to a bagel but with waffle dough; the pork belly banh-mi sandwich; the fried chicken waffle with bourbon pickled jalapenos; and the so-called ”sweet and salty” sugar waffle topped with black pepper bacon toffee, housemade salted caramel, whipped cream and smoked sea salt.

Another challenge: Festivals and other events take 35 percent of their profit off the top.

“If we go to a venue and they charge us, they end up taking a third of our profit. That’s a lot when we don’t make that much money,” Robin told ABC News. “When a venue is taking 35 percent of our profit, we have to inflate our costs, which makes the customers mad, so we don’t make the money we used to make at those places, which limits the number of areas we can go to. It’s a vicious cycle.”

“We are seeing a real slow-down in growth,” Cawley told ABC News. “Some of the owners said they might hang it up. It’s too hard."

"It would be a real shame if regulation and red tape ended up stalling this revolution in American cuisine," she said.

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Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges 'mistakes' made in privacy scandal

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the privacy concerns raised after it was revealed that data used by analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was accessed without consent.

Zuckerberg said in a statement he has "been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again."

"We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," he said.

Zuckerberg said the "most important actions to prevent this from happening again" took place "years ago," but that the company has "made mistakes."

A former Cambridge Analytica employee accused the company of mishandling the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users in an effort to help now-President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The employee, Christopher Wylie, told ABC News he helped found the firm and worked there until 2014.

"Cambridge Analytica will try to pick at whatever mental weakness or vulnerability that we think you have and try to warp your perception of what’s real around you," Wylie said. "If you are looking to create an information weapon, the battle space you operate in is social media. That is where the fight happens."

Facebook announced over the weekend that it suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform, saying the firm violated its policies governing how third-party developers can deploy user data they obtained from the company.

Cambridge Analytica denied any wronging, including allegations that it used or held onto Facebook data.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign told ABC news that it relied on voter information gathered by the Republican National Committee and that it never used data from Cambridge Analytica.

Lawmakers in the U.S. and United Kingdom are calling for the governments to investigate.

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Some of the companies that are working on driverless car technology

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many tech pioneers of Silicon Valley are dipping their toes into the world of driverless car technology.

Some of the 52 different companies that have been approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles on the road include Apple, Waymo, Tesla, Ford, Honda, BMW, Nissan, Intel and Uber.

"We're still in the very early stages of this technology" Richard Mudge, the president of Compass Transportation and Technology Inc., a transit tech consultation firm, told ABC News. "There's a very large market for this, and I suspect most companies may not succeed."

Since 2014, the California DMW's regulations have allowed autonomous vehicle testing with a driver behind the wheel, but starting on April 2, the California DMV can issue permits for driverless testing and deployment permits for autonomous vehicles, a spokesperson for the department told ABC News/

"Testing is important because this is a brand-new technology," Mudge said. "These companies can't just go out and just do it. They're most often using safety drivers while testing."

The tests that companies that have received permits undertake include simulations, millions of miles of driving with a safety driver, and use on test tracks.

"On the roads, drivers may see all sorts of strange things," Mudge explained as to why testing is often expansive.

Tech companies

Uber Advanced Technologies Group embarked on a quest to implement self-driving cars and had opened multiple testing cities. The company recently suspended tests after a pedestrian was hit and killed by one of its cars in Tempe, Arizona, the company said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident, the board confirmed to ABC News.

"We are aware of the Uber crash in Arizona and are in the process of getting more information," said the California DMV in a statement to ABC News. "The California DMV takes the safe operation of our autonomous vehicle permit holders very seriously. The California DMV has many requirements in place for testing permit holders and requires collision reports and annual disengagement reports."

The car involved in the incident was a Volvo in autonomous mode.

"With locations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Phoenix and Toronto, the Advanced Technologies Group is comprised of Uber’s self-driving engineering team dedicated to self-driving technologies, mapping and vehicle safety," the company wrote on its website.

The ride-sharing company signed a framework agreement with Volvo to sell "tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021" in November, according to a press release. These vehicles are manufactured by Volvo. The two companies have had a partnership since August 2016.

Uber has also recently announced that it was going to start testing tractor-trailers that drive themselves.

Of course, Uber is not the only tech company paving the way for driverless vehicles -- Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, named its autonomous car program Waymo in 2016, and the company has been in the driverless vehicle game since 2009, according to its website.

"I think Waymo is the farthest ahead," Mudge said. "But other companies are not far behind, like Uber and General Motors."

Waymo has used or is currently using the Toyota Prius, certain Lexus car models and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. It's using testing sites in multiple California and Arizona cities as well as Austin, Texas; Atlanta and Detroit.

The Google-owned company is one of the only that has fully autonomous vehicles testing, Mudge said.

"Our vehicles have sensors and software that are designed to detect pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, roadwork and more from up to three football fields away in all 360 degrees," the company explains on its website.

The company currently has a public trial of its ride-sharing, self-driving vehicles in Phoenix and has added the testing of driverless rigs to its growing driverless program.

"There will be many different markets and types of vehicles," Mudge said about self-driving technology.

Microsoft has also started working on developing internet-connected vehicles as well as conducting autonomous vehicle research, which includes algorithms for self-driving cars and simulation of the potential technology, in its project called AirSim, which was announced in Novemeber.

Apple also may be developing driverless technologies. Last April, the company received a permit from the California DMV to begin testing self-driving cars on public roads.

Other tech companies that have received permits to test autonomous vehicles in California include Lyft, Samsung and Bosch.


Some companies such as Uber and Waymo have looked to partnerships with existing car manufacturers to implement their autonomous technology in their vehicles.

Even with the start of 2018, some car manufacturers are talking about their plans for self-driving vehicles.

Toyota announced its concept for a potential delivery, ride-sharing or e-commerce vehicle called e-Palette this past January, and the company said it is partnering with Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber.

In January, German car manufacturer Volkswagen started collaborating with Aurora, a self-driving technology company, to "help bring self-driving cars to roads worldwide quickly, broadly and safely," according to a press release.

Before the start of the New Year, many companies had already gotten started on this technology, like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The automaker joined BMW Group, which is made up of the brands like BMW and Rolls-Royce; Intel, a chip manufacturer; and Mobileye, a self-driving technology company, in August to develop autonomous driving vehicles.

"The cooperation allows the companies to leverage each other’s individual strengths, capabilities and resources," the press release said about the partnership between the companies.

Audi, another German car manufacturer, also has two concepts for driverless cars that use artificial intelligence to operate, but it continues to look ahead at the future of these cars on the road.

Tesla is yet another car manufacturer that has honed in on autonomous driving -- its vehicles have an autopilot, a driver-assist program that uses cameras and radar to automatically change lanes, navigate traffic and brake to avoid collisions.

Other carmakers that are testing autonomous vehicles in California include Delphi Automotive, Subaru, General Motors and Honda.

Volkswagen Group of America was the first to receive a permit to test their vehicles in California.

But outside of the U.S. testing of autonomous vehicles, there's also a global competition.

"There is a competition between Chinese companies and U.S. companies to get there first," Mudge said about self-driving vehicles.


The technology that makes these cars driverless often starts with the chipmakers themselves, like Intel and Nvidia, both of which are companies involved in helping other tech companies and carmakers test autonomous vehicles.

These companies can provide the computing power needed to automate car designs.

Intel is working with BMW Group and Mobileye to create semi- and fully automated cars, and they are also working with Waymo to include its technologies for sensor processing, connectivity and artificial intelligence, according to its website.

Nvidia offers an artificial intelligence platform for automakers that combines deep learning and advanced sensor technology that can be "capable of understanding in real-time what's happening around the vehicle, precisely locating itself on an HD map, and planning a safe path forward," according to its website.

The chip company has partnered with Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Uber, Volvo and Volkswagen to help make their driverless vehicles a potential reality.

Other chip companies that have been granted a permit from the state of California to test their autonomous technology in cars also include Qualcomm.

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Up to 15 inches of heavy snow expected in NYC as spring nor'easter slams Northeast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 3,500 flights have been cancelled Wednesday as yet another nor'easter crushes the Northeast, bringing heavy winds, sleet and as much as 13 inches of snow to some areas.

With back-to-back-to-back-back nor’easters having caused more than 10,000 cancellations, this has been the worst month of March for travelers in several years, according to Flightaware.

The storm, the fourth in about three weeks, is forecast to be more prolonged than the three previous, according to the National Weather Service, which warned of possible blizzard conditions in some spots.

"Rain will initially be the primary precipitation near the coast, but as the day progresses, the rain/snow line is forecast to progress eastward toward the coast when cold air from the upper-level low arrives," the NWS said in a note early Wednesday. "As the cyclone is expected to intensify rapidly just off the coast, bursts of heavy wet snow could form on the back side the low across the northern Mid-Atlantic, spreading northward into southern New England by evening."

Pedestrians weather the latest storm to hit the U.S. east coast, March 21, 2018, in Washington, DC.

“Winds will strengthen throughout the day especially along the coast where coastal flooding will become possible,” NWS added.

The NWS issued winter storm warnings and advisories for 17 states from Tennessee to Maine, and warned of possible coastal flooding in some areas.

Areas between the Ohio Valley and central Pennsylvania had already received between 6 and 13 inches of snow as the storm system made its way into the Northeast.

Snowfall was reported in Cincinnati, Louisville and through most of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia by sunrise Wednesday. Philadelphia, Washington and New York received a bit of a wintery mix.

The snow should continue into Boston until after dark, which is when much of the accumulation is expected to take place.

Snow totals may reach: 2 to 4 inches in Washington, D.C.; 7 to 10 inches in Philadelphia; 5 to 8 inches in New York City; and 5 to 7 inches in Boston.

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US stocks rebound, Facebook continues to tumble

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks rebounded after Monday's tech sell-off, but Facebook continued to tumble amid a data scandal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 116.36 (+0.47 percent) to finish the session at 24,727.27.

The Nasdaq gained 20.06 (+0.27 percent) to close at 7,364.30, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,716.94, up 4.02 (+0.15 percent) for the day.

Crude oil prices jumped more than 2 percent to $63 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of Facebook fell 2.56 percent as the social media company battles accusations that Cambridge Analytica, a private data firm, obtained information on 50 million users without permission.

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into Facebook's use of personal data. climbed 2.69 percent, topping Google-parent Alphabet Inc. in market value, and becoming the second most valuable company in the U.S.

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Weinstein Company files for bankruptcy, cancels non-disclosure agreements

Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for Dimension Films(NEW YORK) -- The Weinstein Company announced that it has filed for bankruptcy and is ending all non-disclosure agreements that have prevented victims of alleged sexual misconduct by disgraced co-founder Harvey Weinstein from speaking out publicly.

On Monday, the company behind such Academy Award-winning films as "The Artist" and "The King's Speech," announced that it had entered into a "stalking horse" agreement with Lantern Capital Partners, a Dallas, Texas-based private equity firm, to purchase all the company's assets.

"The Board selected Lantern in part due to Lantern’s commitment to maintain the assets and employees as a going concern," a press release stated.

The company also announced that it was releasing Weinstein's alleged victims from the confidentiality provisions of their non-disclosure agreements.

"Since October, it has been reported that Harvey Weinstein used non-disclosure agreements as a secret weapon to silence his accusers. Effective immediately, those 'agreements' end," the release read.

"No one should be afraid to speak out or coerced to stay quiet," the statement continued. "The Company thanks the courageous individuals who have already come forward. Your voices have inspired a movement for change across the country and around the world."

The New York Attorney General's Office, which filed a lawsuit against the company last month, praised the cancelation of the agreements as a "watershed moment."

"The Weinstein Company’s agreement to release victims of and witnesses to sexual misconduct from non-disclosure agreements -- which my office has sought throughout this investigation and litigation -- will finally enable voices that have for too long been muzzled to be heard," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

He added that the lawsuit against The Weinstein Company and co-founders Harvey Weinstein and his brother, Bob Weinstein, is ongoing and that his office will ensure that "victims are compensated, employees are protected moving forward, and perpetrators and enablers of abuse are not unjustly enriched."

In its statement, the board of The Weinstein Company thanked Schneiderman for helping them reach the agreement with Lantern.

"While we had hoped to reach a sale out of court, the Board is pleased to have a plan for maximizing the value of its assets, preserving as many jobs as possible and pursuing justice for any victims," Bob Weinstein, who is also chairman of the board, said in the statement.

Lantern co-founders Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic said in the statement that they plan to reposition the company as a "preeminent content provider, while cultivating a positive presence in the industry."

They also stated that they are committed to promoting "a diverse and transparent [work] environment."

In its bankruptcy filings, the company listed its creditors between 200 and 1,000 and assets between $600 million and $1 billion. Among the top creditors listed is the law firm of Boies Schiller, which is owed millions for "professional services." The firm reportedly helped with some of the legal arrangements for Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims.

In its statement, the company said it "regrets that it cannot undo the damage Harvey Weinstein caused, but hopes that today’s events will mark a new beginning."

Though Harvey Weinstein has apologized for his behavior and sought professional help, his spokeswoman has said that "any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."

Following the claims and news reports, Weinstein was fired from the company that bears his name, banned from the Producer's Guild of America and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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'The Crown' producers apologize for pay gap between male and female leads 

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(LONDON) -- News broke last week that Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth in Netflix's "The Crown," was making a less-than-queenly salary when compared to her co-star Matt Smith, who plays Prince Philip.

The outrage led to a petition for Smith and the streaming giant to pony up the difference. Now, the disparity has also led to an apology from producers of the series, Left Bank Pictures.

The actors "have found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week through no fault of their own," the lengthy mea culpa sent to ABC News reads in part, adding, "We at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues."

The producers' statement also said they "understand and appreciate the conversation" about wage parity and are "absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias, and for a rebalancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes."

The statement concludes: "As company policy, we are engaged in conversations with [equality groups] ERA 50:50 and going forward are keen to talk to Time's Up U.K.; organizations which are working to ensure all women have a voice."

"The Crown" executive producer Suzanne Mackie had suggested last week that Smith was paid more because the former "Doctor Who" star had more acting experience, but then said that no longer will apply, adding, "It’s really important for the queen to be paid more."

Foy was nominated for an Emmy last year for her work on the show.

Tuesday's statement still does not directly say that the Foy-Smith wage disparity has been addressed.

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United Airlines suspends program for pets flying in cargo compartments

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A week after a string of incidents involving pets aboard its planes, United Airlines announced Tuesday that it will stop taking new reservations for pets required to fly in aircraft cargo compartments.

PetSafe, United’s program for flying pets in cargo compartments, will be suspended indefinitely as the airline reviews its procedures to “ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets,” according to the announcement.

Even as United was dealing with outrage after a dog died last Monday from being placed in an overhead bin, two others dogs in cargo compartments were placed on the wrong flights.

Last Tuesday, a Kansas-bound German Shepherd wound up in Japan before reuniting with its family two days later.

And last Thursday, a flight destined for St. Louis took a detour to drop off a pet flying in the cargo bay after the airline discovered it was supposed to arrive in Akron, Ohio. United said it compensated the passengers on that flight for the diversion, although it’s unclear how they were compensated.

 The review is expected to conclude May 1 but there's no firm word on when the program might resume.

The program’s suspension does not apply to travelers eligible to bring their pets into passenger cabins.

United said they will honor existing PetSafe reservations made up to March 20.

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Congress turns up heat on Facebook after allegations of data harvesting

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is ratcheting up political pressure on Facebook after reports that a political data analytics firm employed by President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign received personal data and information from up to 50 million profiles on the popular social networking site.

Lawmakers involved in congressional investigations into Russian election interference have renewed interest in the platform, calling for top company leaders to testify on Capitol Hill and more scrutiny of safeguards meant to protect user data.

“I think it’s time for the CEO, Mr. [Mark] Zuckerberg, and other top officials to come and testify and not tell part of the story, but tell the whole story of their involvement -- not only with the Trump campaign but their ability to have their platform misused by the Russians,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ABC News.

“These tech platforms .... need to be more forthcoming or Washington is going to start imposing rules and regulations that may not fit,” he warned.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Kennedy, R-La., members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to chairman Chuck Grassley requesting a hearing with social media company CEO’s, including Zuckerberg.

Facebook letter from Senate Judiciary Committee 3.19.2018 by ABC News Politics on Scribd

On Saturday, The New York Times and The Observer of London reported that the data firm, Cambridge Analytica, mined data from millions of Facebook users -- largely without permission -- through an app created by a Russian-American psychologist, with the goal of using the data to create voter profiles and craft political messages.

Facebook did not publicly acknowledge the possible data breach until the report surfaced over the weekend, and did not notify users that their information had been obtained by a third party.

Cambridge Analytica has denied improperly obtaining any data, said they destroyed the unauthorized data as soon as they learned of it and said none of the information was used in its work 2016 presidential campaign work.

On Monday, Facebook announced that it had hired a digital forensics firm, Stroz Friedberg, to audit Cambridge Analytica and sweep the firm’s servers and systems to confirm that the tranche of Facebook data had been destroyed after acknowledging reports that the data may still exist.

“We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. We remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook has turned over records to investigators with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the company has said it is cooperating.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has invited Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica contractor who first spoke with The Times and The Observer, to appear for an interview with his staff. He said Democrats have also invited the Russian-American researcher Alexandr Kogan, to appear for an interview.

Cambridge Analytica provided documents to the House Intelligence Committee about its work with the Trump campaign last year. The panel also interviewed CEO Alexander Nix over video conference from a Washington law office instead of in person at the Capitol, a move that frustrated committee Democrats. Nix was questioned about the firm’s work with the Trump campaign.

“We need to bring [Nix] back. I also think we need to bring in the other witnesses from Cambridge Analytica that we had asked the majority to previously [agree to],” Schiff said, referencing Democrats’ calls for interviews with other Cambridge Analytica executives and GOP donor Rebekah Mercer, whose father Robert helped create the political data firm.

Facebook has already faced scrutiny and calls for regulation in Washington amid investigations into Russian efforts to disrupt the election using fake news and political ads disseminated on the platform and other social media sites.

Lawmakers, including Warner and Klobuchar, have called for tighter regulations of online political ads and greater disclosure requirements, which Facebook and other tech companies have resisted.

The company has also worked to improve its image in Washington in recent months: Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg traveled to Washington last fall to meet with congressional leaders in October amid the House and Senate Intelligence Committee investigations into Russian election meddling.

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Trump bans Americans from investing in Venezuelan cryptocurrency

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order that prohibits Americans from dealing in any form of digital currency from Venezuela on Monday, a day before that country's launch of a state-owned cryptocurrency called the "petro."

The executive order prohibits "all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela on or after January 9, 2018."

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's administration introduced the oil-backed digital currency in February with his nation's economy in crisis and the bolivar experiencing hyperinflation.

In the order, Trump characterized the Maduro administration's actions as an "attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions by issuing a digital currency in a process that Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly has denounced as unlawful."

Monday's executive order builds upon a body of existing sanctions directed at Venezuela, including those stemming from another executive order Trump signed in August that put restrictions on dealing in Venezuelan bonds or new debt, and one signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 that cited Venezuela's "erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations" as justification.

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