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Wednesday
Jan102018

Apple says it has 'always looked out for kids' after criticism

ABC News(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple has responded to two Apple investors, JANA Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), who wrote a open letter to the tech giant, urging it to offer parents more tools to fight against the negative effects of heavy cellphone usage.

"We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids," Apple said in a statement. "Apple has always looked out for kids."

In the letter, the groups ask Apple to establish an expert committee made up of childhood development specialists, hire an executive to monitor the situation, share information with researchers and provide resources for parents to protect children from the negative effects of digital technology.

JANA Partners is an investment firm based out of New York City, and CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. Together they say they own approximately $2 billion worth of Apple shares.

"We have reviewed the evidence and we believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner,” the letter said.

Erin McNeill, president of Media Literacy Now, said the letter "contains good suggestions" but parents need to address the negative effects of media use by children.

"This is an all-hands-on-deck issue," McNeill added. "This affects all of us. ... Communications and tech companies do need to step up and take responsibility."

Apple said parental controls are already built into its operating system. "Effectively anything a child could download or access online can be easily blocked or restricted by a parent," the company said.

It also claimed it has a long history of curating and labeling content for parents and children.

The investor letter cited studies that found an increased risk of depression and suicide, sleep deprivation and a lack of ability to focus in the classroom because of electronic devices.

If Apple chooses to step up and "take part in the solution to the very big questions," said McNeill, it could be a turning point.

According to David Monahan, a campaign manager with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a nonprofit that advocates for children's protection from marketing, "These are vital issues in children's welfare that should be thought of now and not be an afterthought. If a parent decides they want the child to have a smartphone, but they don’t want the breadth of the internet for their child, we agree that Apple should take these steps [requested in the letter]."

If Apple added the requested measures, it could be good for its bottom line, the letter noted.

"Money talks," said Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. "This is the first time shareholders are speaking up about smartphone addiction."

And Apple isn't alone.

"Software manufacturers and social media platforms are even more squarely in the media crosshairs," said Steyer. "The tech industry needs to respond."
 

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan092018

Classified satellite fell into ocean after SpaceX launch, official confirms

SpaceX(NEW YORK) -- A highly classified satellite launched by SpaceX this weekend ended up plummeting into the Indian Ocean, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

Following its launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral Sunday night, the satellite, codenamed Zuma, failed to remain in orbit, the official said.

Northrop Grumman, the defense contractor that manufactured the payload -- reportedly a billion-dollar spy satellite -- told ABC News its mission is classified and declined to comment on the loss of the satellite.

But SpaceX suggested that it was not at fault, telling ABC News its rocket, named Falcon 9, "did everything correctly."

"The data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational, or other changes are needed," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.

The mishap comes on the heels of a particularly productive year for the private space company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, who plans to launch Falcon Heavy, designed to carry humans into space, later this year.

The Zuma indent won't impact the schedule of SpaceX's upcoming launches, including the maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, the company said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan092018

US stocks close higher and S&P 500 keeps climbing

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday as the S&P 500 hit its sixth straight day of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 102.80 (+0.41 percent), finishing the session at 25,385.80.

The Nasdaq climbed 6.19 (+0.09 percent) to close at 7,163.58, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,751.29, up 3.58 (+0.13 percent) for the day.

Crude oil prices were 2 percent higher at about $63 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Boeing (+2.67 percent) and Johnson & Johnson (+1.69 percent) led the Dow with gains on Tuesday.

Target had a strong holiday season with same-store sales jumping 3.4 percent in November and December. Shares climbed 2.90 percent after the retail chain boosted its fourth quarter sales to 3.4 percent.

Urban Outfitters sunk 4.06 percent after reporting holiday sales that fell below expectations, despite a 3.6 percent increase in net sales.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan092018

Nissan wants to redefine the future of driving with its Brain-to-Vehicle technology 

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It’s the latest in auto technology that is revolutionizing how people interact with their cars.

Japanese automaker Nissan unveiled new research Monday that will allow vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain, promising to speed up reaction times for drivers.

“We care about the experience of the driver in the car,” Lucian Gheorghe, senior innovation researcher at the Nissan Research Center in Japan, told ABC News. “You’re still controlling, but you’re a much better controller of the car because of this system.”

“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines,” Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci said in a statement. “Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, we are moving people to a better world by delivering more autonomy, more electrification and more connectivity.”

The company’s Brain-to-Vehicle, or B2V technology, is the first of its kind, promising to predict a driver’s actions and detect discomfort. The driver wears a device that measures brain wave activity, which is then analyzed by the autonomous systems to help improve the driving experience.

Nissan said it hopes that the data from one’s brain will allow the system to anticipate intended movements such as turning the steering wheel or slowing the car at a rate of .2 -.5 seconds faster than the driver. By doing so, Nissan said, artificial intelligence like this can change the driving style when in autonomous mode, and help make the roads, not to mention making driving a more exciting experience overall.

Nissan said it's on track to deliver its autonomous vehicles by 2020, and is looking at technology like B2V that “will hopefully be a part of that.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan092018

Japanese budgeting hack to get your finances on track

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A few years ago, Marie Kondo’s organizational revolution centered on a simple Japanese tidying plan that took the world by storm, and now a similar Japanese method for organizing your finances is gaining steam.

Kakeibo -- pronounced Kah-kay-boh -- means household financial ledger in Japanese, and is a way to make big-picture saving goals while monitoring your spending on a daily basis. It’s based on a century-old financial concept that originated in Japan but has been resurrected by a newly published book titled Kakeibo: The Japanese Art of Saving Money.

The book is currently only available in English in the U.K., but the publisher told ABC News it’s releasing the book in the U.S. this fall.

Once the big-picture goals have been recorded, you go on to calculate your budget. It’s based on a concept financial planners dub the envelope system: You determine your monthly income and then either literally (with cash) or figuratively (in a written ledger) divide the income into envelopes.

These envelopes represent different categories of spending: the Kakeibo book suggests survival, optional, culture, extra, and saving. The "survival" envelope is for rent or mortgage, groceries, medical, utilities, and transportation. The next envelope, “optional” covers restaurants, take-out, and shopping for clothes. The third envelope, “culture,” is for music, cable subscriptions, movies, and books. Finally, “extra” is the envelope for any emergencies that come up plus things like gifts and repairs.

A final envelope, "saving," represents the money you specifically allocate to your cash-stashing goals.

Each month starts with a new allocation of money into the envelopes and then as you spend, money is withdrawn from each respective envelope until it’s all gone. Then, you wait for the next month to reallocate new income to your budget.

The book has daily entry lines like a diary for all your spending and income items so that thinking about your finances becomes a daily habit. Nudges in those day-to-day pages remind you of your big picture goals.

Stacey Tisdale, a behavioral finance expert and the author of The True Cost of Happiness: The Real Story Behind Managing Your Money, told ABC News that she likes the book's concept.

“We've learned that when we set goals, that really gives us the motivation to do things like stick to a spending plan,” Tisdale said.

She added that the power of journaling brings those goals back into our peripheral vision.

“We spend for lots of different reasons," Tisdale said. "What’s great about journaling is that you can start to really look at what’s really driving your financial behavior.”

For those seeking a more modern way of implementing this system, one option is an app called GoodBudget, which is based on a version of the envelope concept. With the GoodBudget app you can create as many of these envelope categories as you like and give them customized names that resonate with your lifestyle. Then you tie the app to your bank and credit card accounts and it populates your spending, income, and balances in real time.

The popular finance app Mint from Intuit also has its own budgeting tool that gives you many different category options and also pulls from your accounts in real time. Mint is more of a Swiss army knife of financial apps so the budget aspect isn’t front and center, like GoodBudget, but it does give you features like notifications and alerts to high spending that keep your budgeting goals top of mind.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan092018

Treasure hunt: Ginger Zee searches for rare, expensive Italian white truffles

ABC News(ALBA, Italy) -- More than a hundred thousand dollars for a fungus? It’s true. Some of the rarest mushrooms in the world -- white truffles -- have seen eager bidders raising their offers well beyond six figures.

But why would someone would spend so much money on a kind of mushroom? Fans say the pungent aromas and unique flavors are worth the price.

The white truffle is so expensive because it is so rare and more reliant on weather than many other truffles. Unlike the black truffle, another renowned culinary fungus that can be commercially farmed, the white truffle can only be found in the wild -- in specific regions, at limited time of the year.

Alba, Italy, is one of the places white truffles are known to grow. At night, truffle hunters and their dogs comb both public and private lands in the area to find them.

Once they are picked, white truffles' journey from tree roots to sellers happens fast.

The shelf life of a freshly-harvested truffle is a week at the most, truffle experts say, and the largest market for the industry is the U.S. Many truffle get express airfare, so they usually arrive on American soil within 24 hours.

Urbani Tartufi is the world’s largest truffle distributor. The company says it controls 70 percent of the world’s truffle trade –- including approximately 700 different products like oils and sauces.

Owner Giammarco Urbani says 90 percent of white truffles are sold to the fresh market and only 10 percent are used in preserved products.

Truffle buyers are looking for the best quality, which means truffles that are large, fresh and pungent.

Urbani estimated that there are around 200,000 hunters looking for truffles in Italy. ABC News' trip to Alba in 2016 found that the weather conditions for truffle hunting have been far from perfect. Truffles need cool, wet weather to thrive.

“We have an extension of the summertime," truffle hunter Carlo Marenda said about the 2016 season. "We started to find the truffles just one month ago at the end of October. So we [lost] one month of the season."

Fourth-generation truffle hunter Gianni Monchiero said that the lack of mud in the wooded areas was not a good sign for a hearty Alba white truffle season; they need rainfall in the months before to flourish.

That shortened season translates to higher prices. According to Urbani Tartufi, the prices of truffles from 2016 to 2017 more than doubled. The value of white truffles surged, after the dry, hot summer, up to $3,000 per pound.

Another change to the environment that has also been challenging to truffle hunters: ivy. An invasive species of ivy in the forests has grown uncontrolled and made truffle hunting that much more difficult.

Together with Edmondo Bonelli, Marenda co-founded "Save The Truffle," which launched a crowdfunding campaign focused on educating people about the importance of keeping the forest clean.

“Because we agreed,” Bonelli said. “We can’t change the climate. We can change something about the environment so that the trees that produce truffles are not lost.”

“Save the Truffle” is working with business owners like Andrea Farinetti of Borgogno Winery to raise funds to help preserve and clean the forest, hoping to ensure the future of the white truffle.

"The idea is to maintain the biodiversity," Farinetti said. "In the white truffle exists many kind of truffles -- different in the bouquet, different in the taste, different in everything. This is major. This is the fortune of the truffle of Alba.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan092018

Apple exec Angela Ahrendts recalls telling Tim Cook, 'I'm not a techie,' in first meeting

ABC(CHICAGO) -- When Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts first met Tim Cook she wanted to make it clear she wasn’t coming from a technology background.

 "He was kind of talking to me about what the role was, and I said, 'I just want to be really honest with you, I’m not a techie.'"

Ahrendts came to Apple from her role as CEO of the global fashion house Burberry. On an episode of ABC Radio’s "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis," Ahrendts opened up about the power of taking on unexpected opportunities.

"It's incredible when things fall into place," Ahrendts said. "I think there's just lessons all along the way that you learn, and they make you stronger and better. And you have no idea that it was part of preparing you for what was next."

 Long before Apple came calling, Ahrendts had her eye on the fashion industry. She began college with the hopes of one day becoming a fashion designer until a professor advised her otherwise.

"I had a professor my first year in say that I actually wasn't very talented from a design standpoint, but I had a pretty strong opinion, so she called me a merchant," Ahrendts said. "So that’s how I kind of ended up in merchandising and marketing."

Ahrendts moved to New York the day after graduation and promptly began to learn the ropes at a menswear company. At 27, she became vice president of Donna Karan International, then became the executive vice president of Liz Claiborne Inc. In 2006, she became the CEO of Burberry and moved to London.

"You have to start somewhere. You know, I don't care if you're a great chef or a great musician, you don’t fill a stadium overnight. You have to work your way up," she said.

Ahrendts added, "The more you work, you know I believe in the power of intention, I believe in dreaming and putting it out there, and then working so hard towards it."

 When Apple came calling, Ahrendts had several years in the fashion industry under her belt. But technology, not so much. What drew her to the tech giant was the opportunity to step into a new industry, but also Apple’s strong emphasis on company values.

She recalled reading about Steve Jobs’ early approach to opening the first retail stores saying, "When he was hiring teams for the very first retail store 16 years ago, he told them their job was to enrich lives and that has so stuck in retail all these years.

"It's business, but it's also business for purpose," she adds.

Hear more of Angela Ahrendts' interview on "No Limits With Rebecca Jarvis," available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and the ABC News app.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan082018

Hundreds of men show up for Dallas school's 'Breakfast with Dads' event

Courtesy Stephanie Drenka(DALLAS) -- One Dallas community truly rallied around a school in need of volunteers.

More than 600 men showed up for Billy Earl Dade Middle School's "Breakfast with Dads" event, where students are encouraged to bring their fathers, or father figures in their lives, for breakfast.

"It's a way to engage the students' family during the school day and it's especially important for middle school students," Kristina Dove, one of the event's organizers, told ABC News.

When the school became concerned that some of the 150 students, aged 11 to 13, may not have a "dad" to join them for breakfast, Dove got an idea. She put up a notice on Facebook seeking volunteers. Her initial goal was 50.

Overnight, however, she got hundreds of responses. In four days, she nearly reached 400 mentors interested in participating. Ultimately 600 men showed up to Billy Earl Dade Middle School.

Along with serving breakfast, the event featured a variety of icebreaker activities, event photographer Stephanie Drenka told ABC News.

When Jamil Tucker, one of the volunteers, gave each man a tie in an effort to teach the students, it brought tears to Drenka's eyes.

"I started crying behind my camera," she recalled of the heartwarming moment. "The back of my camera was fogging up."

"You’ll never forget as a young man the first time you tie a tie," she continued. "So many of our young men they never experience that rite of passage."

Dove hopes the mentors who showed up for "Breakfast with Dads" last month will continue to work with her, especially since her day job is working as a children's advocate at Big Thought, a non-profit educational organization.

"Our next step is to bring the guys together again and have them participate in various opportunities for mentorship," Dove added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan082018

US stocks mostly higher on New Year rally

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The New Year rally continued with U.S. stocks mostly higher on Monday, despite the Dow closing in the red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 12.87 (-0.05 percent), finishing the session at 25,283.00.

The Nasdaq climbed 20.83 (+0.29 percent) to close at 7,157.39, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,747.71, up 4.56 (+0.17 percent) for the day.

Crude oil prices were 0.73 percent lower at about $61.50 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of Seagate Technology soared 7.13 percent on reports the tech firm may have a stake in a cryptocurrency called Ripple.

Losses in UnitedHealth (-1.74 percent) and Goldman Sachs (-1.40 percent) weighed on the Dow.

Kohl's rose above other retail stocks this holiday season reporting a 6.9 percent rise in same-store sales the last two months. Shares of the retail chain soared 4.67

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jan072018

Water main break at JFK Airport floods terminal, forces evacuations

Scott Du Barry/Twitter(NEW YORK) -- A water main break at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City set off an evacuation of a major terminal Sunday and caused delays and cancellation of flights, according to the Port Authority of of New York and New Jersey.

A feeder pipe to the sprinkler system broke -- apparently because of the recent cold snap -- and gushed three inches of water into Terminal 4, a Port Authority official said.

“Our current information is that the feeder pipe had frozen, so it appears to have been weather related,” Rick Cotton, the executive director of Port Authority, said. “But it is not clear why the pipe was not weather protected, and what the immediate cause was of that freezing.”

The Port Authority also said electricity was shut down in the terminal as a safety precaution.

At least eleven flights were diverted, according to the Port Authority. It was not immediately clear how many flights were cancelled.

The pipe, which broke about 2 p.m., sparked confusion in the terminal.

“I was sitting at the Central Diner in Terminal 4 when a rush of people came in asking for the managers,” Jonathon Williams, who was travelling from New York to Denver, said. “The diner had to be evacuated because a river of water was flowing towards us.”

The ruptured pipe comes in the wake of a so-called "bomb cyclone" snowstorm and days of frigid temperatures that disrupted travel at the airport.

Cotton said a full investigation will be launched to determine why the pipe wasn't protected, who is responsible, and to see if there are other defects in the system.

He added that incident was "totally unacceptable."

"The bottom line is the overall performance in getting passengers to gates and getting them unloaded in a timely fashion was completely unacceptable," he added.

Terminal 4 reopened in the evening, but workers were still monitoring baggage handling and computer issues.

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