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Saturday
Aug192017

Mastercard working to shut down use of cards on websites that incite violence 

Joan Cros Garcia/Corbis via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mastercard has decided to shut down the use of their credit cards on websites that incite hate and violence.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the company spoke of the recent violence that occurred in Charlottesville and the "dangers of extremism." They are now  working with acquirers to shut down the use of their cards on sites that make specific threats or incite violence because this activity can be unlawful.

Part of the company's business principles is that they  do not and will not permit merchants to engage in unlawful activity on their network.

After careful review of a number of websites, Mastercard began shutting down service on sites that could have been considered as "hate groups".

The company stated, "We believe that offensive speech will be seen for what it is and that it will lose its force in the free marketplace of ideas. For that reason, our cards may still be accepted at some sites that people find offensive. Our standard is whether a merchant’s activity is lawful, even when we disagree with what they say or do. That supports the ideals of free expression."

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Saturday
Aug192017

Wrestling to boost Chinese interest

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(SINGAPORE) -- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is making its video streaming service available to the Chinese market in an attempt to tap into a new customer base.

WWE's service will be available through its Chinese  partners PPTV.

Subscribers will be required to downlaod an app to access the conent.

Past events have "received a great response from WWE fans in China," according to Godfrey Zeng, executive vice president of Suning Sports Media, parent company of PPTV.

Over the years, China has held a number of WWE events and there is a local WWE-style wrestling organisation but this is the first time there will be an entire channel devoted to the WWE will be made available.

All of WWE's major live events and orginial series will be on the network, as well as reality shows and classic matches.

One of the organization marquee events, SummerSlam will be available live in Mandarin on Monday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug192017

Heineken-Punch Taverns pub deal cleared by CMA

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Heineken has been given the green light by the Competition and Markets Authority(CMA) to takeover part of Punch Taverns.

Heineken will buy 1,895 Punch pubs and the Private equity firm Patron Capital will buy the remaining 1,329 pubs in the Punch estate.

The CMA released a statement saying that, "Heineken has offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas to preserve competition and ensure customers in these locations do not lose out."

"Before reaching a final decision, the CMA carefully assessed and consulted publicly on these proposed undertakings. The CMA is satisfied that its concerns have been addressed and has therefore decided that the merger will not be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation," it added.

Heineken already owns 1,100 pubs.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug192017

Five important questions to ask yourself before boarding a cruise

James D. Morgan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- So you’ve done your research to choose a cruise line that suits your personality and selected a specific ship and itinerary that looks perfect.

Before your dream vacation commences, however, there are still several final details that require your consideration. These are some of the most crucial questions to ask yourself prior to stepping aboard.


1. Do I have the proper documentation?

Aside from a few rare exceptions, most cruise ships are foreign-registered and thus, by law, must sail to at least one international destination. This is true even of cruises, say, to Alaska roundtrip from Seattle; they have to make a stop in Canada.

That means passengers need to have proper documentation for travel between countries. It’s always best to consult with the cruise line to know exactly what is needed for a particular cruise, but requirements could include passports and/or additional visas.

2. Is everything included that I think is part of the package?

Hopefully, this one came up during your research of the cruise line itself, but in case it didn’t, be sure you fully understand exactly what is included in your fare. Cruises are generally a rather inclusive form of travel, but the degree to which they are varies, with luxury ships often including more than the more mainstream cruise lines.

Accommodations and most food and entertainment are usually included in the fare cost, but drinks outside of nonalcoholic basics are typically not. The more you pay upfront, the more will be included. Some luxury lines do cover alcoholic beverages as part of the upfront price.

3. Have I budgeted for gratuities?

Speaking of what is included, gratuities or service charges are either among the extras or bundled in. For those cruise lines that tack it onto the bill -- while these technically remain discretionary, they may be automatically added to guests’ accounts per day.

It’s wise to know what the daily service charge may be to avoid surprises at the end of the cruise. Alternatively, the option is usually available to prepay the total so as not to have to worry about costs once onboard.

4. Did I pack the right clothes?

Cruise lines are becoming more and more casual, but formal nights are still sometimes held. Check the dress code for your cruise and be certain you have enough for elegant and relaxed affairs.

Of course, with airline weight limits on luggage to consider, you must also be efficient about packing. Check to see what self- and full-service laundry is available onboard. It might be better to pack lighter and send some clothes out to be cleaned on the ship.

5. Should I purchase shore excursions ahead of time?

As much as cruise ships are becoming destinations themselves, they still seek to take us to actual places, and shore excursions are the best means of discovery. But there’s nothing worse than getting there and finding out that a tour has been sold out already.

It’s always a good idea to pre-plan as much as possible and book shore excursions before a cruise to avoid upset. In some cases, you may be able to save some money by buying them independently. Just be mindful: If there's ever a delay in returning onboard, the ship will only wait for tours reserved through the line.


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

US stocks close mostly lower, Foot Locker plummets

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street marked a second week of losses as U.S. stocks finished lower on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 76.22 (-0.35 percent) to finish at 21,674.51.

The Nasdaq slid 5.39 (-0.09 percent) to close at 6,216.53, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,425.55, down 4.46 (-0.18 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was 3 percent higher with prices under $49 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of Foot Locker, Inc. tumbled 27.92 percent after the athletic retailer's quarterly earnings report fell below investors' expectations.

Snap Inc. climbed 4.94 percent after Axios reported Snapchat's joint news show with NBC, "Stay Tuned," has had more than 29 million unique visitors since its launch a month ago.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

High school custodian earns degree to become teacher

Fayette County Public Schools(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- After spending seven years working as a custodian at a Kentucky high school, Lowell Outland walked back into the same school as a full-time teacher on Wednesday.

Outland, 59, is now teaching many of the same students who saw him cleaning the campus and helping them on field trips at Tates Creek High School in Lexington.

“It gives you a whole different feeling,” Outland told ABC News. “The kids would come up and say, ‘Hey, weren’t you a custodian last year?’”

Outland said his career change prompted one of the school’s approximately 1,800 students to tell him, “Man, I think that’s cool.”

Outland wasn't able to finish high school himself in the 1970s, but he earned his GED while in the military. He went on to earn an associate's degree.

Outland said when he started at Tates Creek after being laid off from a local electronics company that was downsizing, he had no interest in working in the classroom.

He dropped out of high school in the 1970s and earned his GED while in the military. He later went on to earn an associate’s degree.

Then, while working at Tate’s Creek at night, he took college classes in the morning and earned his bachelor’s degree from a nearby university.

He said being around the high school students led him to change his career path and go into education.

“I got to know the kids and there are some of them that are absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed being around them,” he said. “I felt like it was time for me to start contributing a little bit.”

Lowell said he studied before the start of his 1 p.m. custodian shift. When Lowell left his custodial job in July, it marked the end of his 12-year educational journey from associate's degree to teaching certificate.

"I think my past experience will give [students] something to think about,” said Lowell, who is teaching digital photography and graphic communications. “I’m showing them what they can do with their lives.”

The school’s principal, Marty Mills, said he had no hesitation in hiring Lowell, whom he said has a natural rapport with students.

“I’m just happy that we’re able to keep him here,” Mills said. “I just believe it’s a great story for our kids and for everybody -- that when it gets hard, you don’t just give up.”

Lowell, 59, said he “can’t comprehend” his age and so is undaunted about starting a new career at a time when many of his peers are considering retirement.

When asked whether being around high school students gives him energy, Lowell replied honestly: “Sometimes it does and sometimes it just wears me out.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

Businesses offer stellar specials for total solar eclipse

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Even though parts of the U.S. will be in partial darkness thanks to the total solar eclipse on Monday, consumers across the country will be able to score some shining deals both inside and outside of the eclipse's path of totality.

Check out the list of businesses rolling out specials and savings.

Denny's

The diner chain is offering $4 all-you-can-eat "moon cakes" on Monday, an eclipse-worthy take on their classic pancakes.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

The doughnut shop announced on their site that they will "eclipse" their original glazed doughnuts by covering the traditional treat in "a mouth-watering chocolate glaze." Customers can try the limited-time doughnut from Aug. 19-21.

Dairy Queen

The fast-food chain will feature a buy-one, get-one-free Blizzard deal, so two of the desserts will cost customers a cool 99 cents until Sunday, Sept. 3.

"We love any excuse to celebrate with our fans," Maria Hokanson, American Dairy Queen Corporation's executive vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "What better way to watch the eclipse or enjoy the last lazy days of summer than with a Blizzard BOGO?"

MoonPie

The brand has a celestial body in its name, so the company is giving customers 15 percent off all online orders through Aug. 21.



Southwest Airlines

The airline is running five "celestial chaser" flights, which will pass through the path of totality. Passengers will receive commemorative swag, cosmic cocktails and special viewing glasses to safely view the celestial event in-flight.



Sprinkles cupcakes


Dark skies equal deep, dark chocolate confections for Sprinkles. The company will be selling special "black velvet" cupcakes made with Dutch black cocoa and topped with whipped chocolate ganache from Aug. 19-21 in honor of the solar eclipse. Some locations, including Chicago, will be giving the first 50 cupcakes away for free, but the company told ABC News they will announce information about other specials on their social media channels. The limited-time flavor will be sold while supplies last and are available for order online.



Nature Sweet Tomatoes

Who says veggies aren't out of this world? Produce purveyor Nature Sweet, which sells dark-colored "eclipses tomatoes," is doing a telescope giveaway in honor of the solar eclipse. Friday is the final day to enter, and a winner will be announced at the end of the day.

Salt and Straw

The West Coast creamery is offering an eclipse ice cream cone that boasts "otherworldly" flavors for foodies. It's a black charcoal waffle cone with edible gold and filled with marshmallow fluff and yellow ginger-spiced tumeric soft-serve ice cream. The entire thing is topped with a Pop Rocks and black sesame magic shell and is available to customers at their flagship shop in Portland, Oregon, until Monday.

Zazzle

The online retailer is offering 20 percent off all eclipse-themed merchandise.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

Expectant mom has fun maternity shoot at her favorite store

Inspired By A True Story Photography(NEW YORK) -- One Target-loving mom decided to return to the store to celebrate her third child.

Page Miller, a professional photographer, told ABC News she lives approximately four minutes away from her local target in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Really, to get anywhere in my town, you have to pass it," she added. "It's where we go for everything."

So when her friend and fellow photographer, Heather Pippin of Inspired By A True Story Photography, came up with the idea to turn a routine trip to her favorite box store into her maternity shoot, the mother of three couldn't resist.

It was especially important for Miller, 24, to celebrate the upcoming birth of her third child, who will become a little brother or sister to her 2-year-old daughter, Avery.

Miller's last child with longtime partner Brad Fincher passed away last year from sudden infant death syndrome.

So the two photographers trekked to Target late last month, running through the aisles and posing with not only food, but clothing found in the store.

Pippin, who's been doing professional photography since 2011, said they two got a few "funny looks [from] few people, like, 'OMG, are they really doing that?' But [mostly] everyone thought it was funny and entertaining."

Miller's favorite part of the one-hour photo shoot was sitting on the floor, eating a canister of cheese puffs. "Avery is obsessed with them," the mother added of her eldest child.

The expectant mother also held up two onesies -- one seemingly for a boy and another for a girl -- to signify that the family doesn't plan to find out the sex of their child until their baby is born later this month. They're expecting his or her arrival on Aug. 25.

"We'll be happy either way," Miller said. "Either one is fine."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

Google awards Uruguay high school student $10K for finding security bug

Leon Neal/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A 17-year-old high school student from Uruguay who taught himself computer programming was awarded $10,000 from Google for discovering a security bug.

Ezequiel Pereira, of Montevido, Uruguay discovered the bug last month during a break from school.

I was really bored at home, during my winter vacation," Pereira, who blogged about his discovery, told ABC News by email. "And luckily that day I had the idea to do the trial and error that led to the discovery.”

The security bug Pereira discovered was in Google's App Engine server. He was able to find a point of access for internal Google websites -- the dashboard for the company’s technology support team, for example, without being authenticated.

We had seen something similar before and we fixed it but he found a part that hadn’t fixed it correctly,” Eduardo Vela, Google's Vulnerability Rewards Program Technical Lead, told ABC News. “He was looking in the right place at the right time.”

Pereira opened the email notifying him that he won the $10,000 award this month while riding the bus home from school.

Google has distributed monetary prizes to non-employees who self-submit their findings since 2010 through its Vulnerability Rewards Program. The amount of money awarded ranges from $100 to $31,357, according to Nava.

Pereira hopes to attend college in the U.S. and plans to save the $10,000.

He received his first computer at the age of 10 through a government program that gave computers to public school students.

The thing I love of computers is that they are capable of doing everything if you give them enough resources and you know how to tell them to do anything,” he said. “Homework is boring. Looking for bugs is fun.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

Total solar eclipse 2017: How to save money on travel and avoid scams

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Monday is predicted to be one of the busiest travel days of 2017 as millions of people flock to the 14 states across the United States in the path of the total solar eclipse.

In South Carolina, the last state on the eclipse's path, hotel occupancy along the path could be doubled compared to what South Carolina normally sees in the third week in August, according to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

The University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, pushed its student “move-in day” back one day from Aug. 21 due to traffic and lodging concerns associated with the eclipse.

The Hilton and Marriott hotels along the eclipse’s prime viewing area, known as the path of totality, are nearly full, the companies told ABC News.

The total eclipse, the brief phase of the celestial event when the moon completely blocks out the sun, will be best seen in certain cities, including Salem, Oregon, Jackson, Wyoming, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Hotel rooms still available in the prime viewing areas may be pricey but there are still opportunities to save money, experts say.

“There are still deals to be found, even in the path of totality,” Mark Ellwood, contributing editor for Conde Nast Traveler, told ABC News. “You just have to be a little clever how you look for them.”

Hipcamp, an online travel service for camping experiences, lists more than 1,000 eclipse-friendly campsites.

Bivouac Campground in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park still has room for eclipse viewers to pitch a tent for as little as $5 per person.

Airbnb, the online lodging marketplace, reports it still has more than 29,000 rentals available across the eclipse’s path.

“It's Airbnb's magic moment,” Conde Nast’s Ellwood said. “There are plenty of families who live within the path of totality who have realized that the spare room can make them a little bit of money, so check Airbnb's site and look for the key word eclipse.”

He added, “You'll be surprised what you might find.”

For flights, Ellwood suggests flying into Denver, a major transportation hub that may be cheaper than flying into cities like Casper, Wyoming, that are directly on the eclipse’s path.

“It’s not in the path of totality but its close enough you can drive from there,” Ellwood said of Denver International Airport, which plans to hand out moon pies and eclipse glasses Monday.

As with any major commercial event, experts also say, watch out for scams.

“Perhaps some unscrupulous hotels will cancel early reservations and turn around and charge more for those rooms,” said Emma Fletcher, director of scam and fraud initiatives for the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. “And, of course, there are risks no matter what but you want to minimize those risks.”

The trade group that represents hotel owners, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, encourages consumers to book directly with hotels to get the best deal.

“We encourage guests to book directly with the hotel to help ensure they get what they want and need from their reservation while often offering the better value,” the association said in a statement.

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