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Tuesday
Aug152017

Best ways to save on back-to-school supplies, clothing and tech essentials

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With students across the country heading back to school, the often dreaded list of back-to-school supplies can certainly weigh heavy on parents’ wallets.

But Lisa Lee Freeman, the editor-in-chief of ShopSmart magazine, has great secrets to scoring the best deals on school supplies, clothes and tech gadgets.

Where are the best deals?

“Try dollar stores,” she told ABC News. “In addition to walk-in dollar stores, check online dollar stores like Hollar.com.”

Freeman also suggested cherry-picking the best deals in fliers.

“Use apps to scan the weekly ads and snap up the 50-cent deals on pens, pencils and crayons at stores like Walmart and Staples,” she said.

How can parents buy now for the entire school year?


“Shop the warehouse stores,” said Freeman. “Costco and Sam’s Club are your best bet for heavily discounted bulk purchases of things you need to replenish often, such as computer paper (less than a penny a sheet) and plastic sandwich bags (2 cents a bag). Shop with another parent to split the cost of membership and bulk purchases.”

Clothes are always a big expense this time of year. How can parents save on them?

“Load up on T-shirts starting at just $5,” she said. “Stores like Five Below and Target have tons of super-cheap and super-cute graphic T-shirts, which are hot this year. [There are also] tanks for girls at only $3 and sneakers from Five Below are just $5.”

Freeman also said to “stock up on end-of-season bargains and hold off on fall wardrobes.”

“Wait for Columbus Day sales to load up on fall shoes and apparel as well as sporting goods,” she explained. “The next few weeks are best for closeouts on summer clothing, which your kids will be wearing for at least the first couple of months of school.”

What can parents hold off on buying now but save on later?

“Check for student discounts,” said Freeman. “Bring along those student IDs and take advantage of 10 to 15 percent student discounts at PacSun, Levi’s, H&M, Forever 21, J. Crew and many other stores.”

Tech is a big expense. What can parents do to bring those prices down?

“The No. 1 way to maximize your savings [is to] buy a refurb,” said Freeman. “A refurb can save you up to 60 percent or more. Just be sure to buy from reputable sellers, check return policies and read product descriptions. One of the biggest sellers of refurbs is Ebay.”

She also suggested checking for student discount programs.

“Go online to find out about the programs before you head into the stores,” she said. “Best Buy, Dell and Apple offer student deals that can save you hundreds of dollars. Also, you can get Microsoft Office Suite software for free with a student email address.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

US stocks close higher as North Korea fears ease

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investors were less fearful of threats from North Korea on Monday and U.S. stocks closed mostly in the green.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 135.39 (+0.62 percent) to finish at 21,993.71.

The Nasdaq climbed 83.68 (+1.34 percent) to close at 6,340.23, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,465.84, up 24.52 (+1.00 percent) from its open.

Crude oil sunk more than 2.5 percent with prices at $47.50 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. both finished 1.5 percent higher at the close.

JC Penney Company Inc continued its downward spiral, tumbling 4 percent.

Despite volatile trading earlier, Snap Inc.'s stock finished Monday 6.5 percent higher.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

Amazon issues refunds to customers who bought counterfeit solar eclipse glasses

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With millions purchasing protective eyewear ahead of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, Amazon is working to remove potentially counterfeit glasses from its marketplace and issue refunds to those who have already bought them online.

A company spokesperson told ABC News in a statement overnight that it asked third-party sellers offering solar eclipse glasses to provide documentation to verify that their "products were compliant with relevant safety standards."

"The offers from sellers who provided this safety documentation remain available to customers," the spokesperson said.

Sellers who did not provide documentation for their listings have been removed from the site. Amazon did not name any of those listings or specific brands in its statement.

Amazon confirmed that it issued refunds to some customers who purchased glasses that may not meet industry standards.

Last week, Fred Espenak, retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer, told ABC News that he has heard rumors of counterfeit glasses being sold online.

Espenak, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) suggest that consumers purchase off the AAS's approved list of companies that manufacture and/or sell eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers, which have been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

"They've been put through a testing procedure to demonstrate that they're dark enough to prevent visible as well as ultraviolet and infrared light from passing through it," Espenak said.

Some companies are placing an ISO label on their counterfeit glasses, which is why following the list of manufacturers is a surefire way to know you're being safe, according to the AAS.

Here is a growing list from the AAS of approved companies that manufacture and/or sell glasses through vendors and retailers.

  • American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com / 3dglassesonline.com
  • APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)
  • Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)
  • Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
  • Daylight Sky (plastic glasses only)
  • DayStar (Solar Glasses)
  • Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
  • Halo Solar Eclipse Spectacles
  • Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses)
  • Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
  • Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
  • Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
  • Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
  • TSE 17 (Solar Filter Foil)

The AAS says on its website that just because they do not list a supplier, that does not indicate that "their products are unsafe," but rather that the AAS does not yet have the knowledge of that particular seller or that they have not verified the brand is safe.

The consequence of wearing glasses that aren't specially made to deal with the visible light from a solar eclipse and invisible radiation could be "serious eye injury, perhaps even blindness," according to the AAS, which also noted that special-purpose solar filters are many thousands of times darker than ordinary sunglasses.

Read more on how to avoid buying counterfeit glasses ahead of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse here.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug142017

Merck CEO resigns from Trump's manufacturing council over the president's remarks on Charlottesville

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier announced Monday that he's resigning from the president's American Manufacturing Council amid the ongoing criticism over the president's remarks on the weekend protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Frazier said in statement that as a "matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."

"America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal," Frazier said.

The president responded on Twitter, slamming the pharmaceutical executive's decision.


On Saturday, Trump said the hatred, bigotry and violence in Charlottesville needs to end on "many sides."

He was summarily criticized for not directly condemning white supremacy and extremist groups.

A White House official said on Saturday the president was "condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides" when asked what Trump meant when he condemned the "many sides" involved in the Charlottesville rally.

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug132017

TIKI Brand condemns white nationalists' use of tiki torches

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After white nationalists were seen holding tiki torches while marching through the University of Virginia on Friday night, TIKI Brand Products came out with a statement denouncing the extremists.

"TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed," the tiki torch-maker said. "We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way. Our products are designed to enhance backyard gatherings and to help family and friends connect with each other at home in their yard."

The white supremacists chanted "white lives matter," "you will not replace us," and "blood and soil" -- a phrase associated with Nazis -- ahead of Saturday's far-right "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Violence erupted on Saturday when the rally-goers clashed with counter-protesters, and one 32-year-old woman died when a car crashed into a group of demonstrators protesting against the white nationalists. Two Virginia State Police officers were also killed when the helicopter they were in to monitor the protests crashed nearby.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug132017

HBO responds to hacker's latest release, accuses them of trying to 'generate media attention'

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- HBO is firing back after hackers reportedly released more episodes of the cable network's programming before they've aired, accusing them of trying to get press.

A rep for HBO told ABC News in a statement, "We are not in communication with the hacker and we're not going to comment every time a new piece of information is released."

"It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO," the statement continued. "The hacker may continue to drop bits and pieces of stolen information in an attempt to generate media attention. That's a game we're not going to participate in."

The cable network added in a statement that "obviously, no company wants their proprietary information stolen and released on the internet."

"Transparency with our employees, partners, and the creative talent that works with us has been our focus throughout this incident and will remain our focus as we move forward," the statement concluded. "This incident has not deterred us from ensuring HBO continues to do what we do best."

Last month, HBO CEO Richard Plepler revealed that the network was hacked, compromising shows such as "Game of Thrones," "Insecure" and "Westworld."

A separate statement, obtained by ABC News in July, also revealed that the network immediately began "working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms" once they became aware of the hack.
"Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold," the statement concluded.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug122017

Couple celebrates engagement with enchanting mermaid-themed photo shoot

Photo by Del Sol Photography(NEW YORK) -- One man made quite the splash with his epic proposal. Eric Martinez not only pulled off the initial surprise of popping the question in a beautiful sun-drenched dry cave, but then also arranged a whimsical mermaid-themed photo shoot by Del Sol Photography in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

“I wanted it to be so memorable and so special and obviously unforgettable,” Martinez, 40, told ABC News of the enchanting underwater engagement celebration to his now-fiancée, Cammy Rynae Cuoco. “I didn’t want to do a plain Jane proposal. Why do it if you’re just going to take someone to a restaurant? That’s the way I am.”

He said he tried to incorporate “everything she loves” into the special day: “The mermaid, the dolphin, her favorite photography company, I tried to bring it all into one big proposal.”

It’s safe to say Martinez certainly accomplished that and more. He contacted Del Sol Photography two months before he planned to propose as he knew Cuoco admired their work and wanted her to have the perfect photos for her to remember the occasion forever. Once he began brainstorming ideas with the photographers, they knew a mermaid theme was the perfect option for the Ariel-loving bride-to-be, and even made the sequined mermaid skirt for Cuoco to wear by hand.

“I’ve always loved princesses and Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’ was always my favorite,” Cuoco, 26, said. “She got to do whatever she wanted and swim with the animals and she got to swim with dolphins, which is my second favorite thing in the world.”

Martinez proposed to Cuoco with a gorgeous ring inside a crystal-studded dolphin box, which Cuoco said she wasn’t expecting.

“We drive about 10 minutes in this horrible taxi ride in the middle of jungle and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” she recalled. “We go into this beautiful dry cave and that’s where he actually proposed.”
But unbeknownst to Cuoco, that wasn’t the only surprise he had in store for her. When he then told her they would be partaking in a mermaid-themed photo shoot to celebrate the occasion, she “couldn’t stop smiling and freaking out,” said Cuoco.

The San Antonio, Texas, couple is now planning to wed in Mexico and can’t wait work with Del Sol Photography again.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug112017

US stocks close higher, post weekly decline

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks closed in the green on Friday, but the major indexes posted sharp losses for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 14.31 (+0.07 percent) to finish at 21,858.32.

The Nasdaq climbed 39.68 (+0.64 percent) to close at 6,256.56, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,441.32, up 3.11 (+0.13 percent) from its open.

Crude oil less than 0.5 percent higher with prices at $49 per barrel.

Winners and Losers: Among the tech leaders, Apple, Inc.'s shares jumped 1.39 percent and Microsoft Corporation climbed 1.53 percent.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. reported quarterly losses that were lower than investors' expectations, causing the stock to crater 16.56 percent.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug112017

Hospital employee returns $9K to patient: 'I'd want it done for me'

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- A hospital employee who returned thousands of dollars to a patient after discovering the cash in a laundry room is being commended by the hospital's staff.

Steven Ledo, 62, was working his shift at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, last month when he noticed money falling out of one of the dryers.

Ledo, who has been employed at the hospital for 19 years, said there were a large number of bills in multiple denominations totaling $9,100. The patient's passport was also found in the dryer.

Ledo turned the cash in to his supervisor.

"I've never handled that much money," Ledo told ABC News Friday, adding that he never thought to keep the cash for himself. "I was very shocked. My thing was to protect the money."

Arthur J. Sampson, president of The Miriam Hospital, told ABC News that the patient, whose name was not revealed for privacy reasons, was "delighted" to receive her money back.

"I am not surprised at Steven's response at all," Sampson said. "He is an honorable man. He's been a long-term employee and this is well within his character."

The hospital is holding a ceremony on Aug. 30 to honor Ledo for his good deed.

"I still believe most people would do the right thing," Ledo said of returning the money. "I'd want it done for me."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug112017

How to avoid buying counterfeit solar eclipse glasses

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Experts are urging Americans watching the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse to buy smart when purchasing the necessary protective eyewear.

With counterfeit eclipse glasses hitting the market, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) suggest that consumers purchase off their long list of verified products to ensure safe viewing.

Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak told ABC News that he has heard rumors of counterfeit glasses being sold online.

It is unclear if there are counterfeit glasses also being sold in stores or by street vendors.

"The only way you can be sure that they're not fake glasses is to buy them from a reliable source," Espenak said.

Espenak recommends that people stick to the AAS's approved list of 12 companies that manufacture and/or sell eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers, which have been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

"They've been put through a testing procedure to demonstrate that they're dark enough to prevent visible as well as ultraviolet and infrared light from passing through it," Espenak said. "They've gone through various laboratory testing in order to be certified for ISO testing. Filters have to be validated by the same standard."

Avoiding counterfeit

Unfortunately, some companies are placing an ISO label on their counterfeit glasses, which is why following the list of manufacturers is a surefire way to know you're being safe, according to the AAS.

American Paper Optics is one of the manufacturers listed among the AAS's 12 that meets the ISO standard.

Jason Mitchell is a partner at GSM Sales, which sells Soluna-brand glasses on Amazon. The glasses are manufactured by American Paper Optics.

Mitchell told ABC News that the Soluna brand faced issues in July with some Amazon sellers copying its design and claiming to have certified glasses produced by American Paper Optics. Mitchell explained that this is not possible considering the fact that Soluna glasses are exclusively manufactured for GSM Sales.

"Amazon has now done a great job eliminating all other sellers that claimed to be selling legitimate Soluna glasses, so there are no longer any issues with the validity of the Soluna glasses on Amazon," Mitchell said.

"We are only selling the glasses on Amazon, so we cannot guarantee the validity of Soluna glasses purchased through any other site," he added. "The only way that valid Soluna glasses could be sold through another site is if they were first purchased from GSM Sales on Amazon. To guarantee the authenticity of the Soluna glasses, they must be purchased from GSM Sales on Amazon."

Amazon released a statement to ABC News in regards to glasses being sold on their site, "We require sellers to comply with all our policies, including their responsibility to source and sell only safe, authentic products. Eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard.”

Buying safe

Besides American Paper Optics, who makes Soluna glasses, here is a current list of other approved companies that manufacturer and/or sell glasses through vendors and retailers, according to the AAS.

  • American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com / 3dglassesonline.com
  • APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
  • Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note]
  • Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
  • DayStar (Solar Glasses)
  • Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
  • Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
  • Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
  • Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
  • Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
  • Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
  • TSE 17 (Solar Filter Foil)*

The AAS says on its website that just because they do not list a supplier, that does not indicate that "their products are unsafe," but rather that the AAS does not yet have the knowledge of that particular seller or that they have not verified the brand is safe.

"You can't assume that they're not safe because they're not on the list ... this list is growing," Espenak said.

Espenak said that there isn't any way to tell for certain if a set of eclipse glasses are counterfeit, but one indictor is if you are able to see something in the glasses other than the sun, which is why for now, the AAS suggests sticking to the current list of manufacturers when buying glasses.

The consequence of wearing glasses that aren't specially made to deal with the visible light from a solar eclipse and invisible radiation could be "serious eye injury, perhaps even blindness," according to the AAS, which also noted that special-purpose solar filters are many thousands of times darker than ordinary sunglasses.

Over 6,800 libraries across the country are distributing safety-certified glasses for the Aug. 21 eclipse, with many collaborating with scientists to hold viewing events and activities before and during the event. For a list of participating libraries distributing glasses from AAS’s approved list, click here.

Quick tips for buying safety glasses, according to the AAS and Espenak:

  • Buy only from the AAS's approved list of ISO certified solar eclipse glasses.
  • When buying from online retailers, stick to buying from the manufacturer, brand or distributor with their name on the AAS list.
  • To test glasses for damages or scratches, Espenak suggests holding a pair up to your car headlights at nighttime to ensure no light comes through.
  • There could be a company selling what they claim to be genuine glasses off of the AAS list. The AAS says it's safer to buy directly from the company or brand's manufacturer whether buying online, or in person.
  • Remember, only the sun or the reflection of the sun in a mirror should be seen through a pair of safe solar eclipse glasses. If you're able to see something other than the sun, the glasses could be counterfeit, according to Espenak.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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