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iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A jury is now deliberating the fate of a former Seattle IRS agent who was captured by the FBI on a hidden camera allegedly accepting thousands in bribe money from a marijuana business in exchange for leniency during an audit.

The trial started Monday for Paul G. Hurley, who is accused of soliciting and receiving a bribe by a public official.

According to court documents obtained by ABC News, Hurley performed an audit for a medical marijuana dispensary called Have a Heart, meeting with owner Ryan Kunkel several times between July and September 2015. Hurley was then working out of the IRS' Seattle, Washington, office.

On Sept. 11, 2015, after conducting the audit, Hurley allegedly told Kunkel that he owed $290,000 on his 2013 and 2014 taxes, adding that he'd saved the business more than $1 million. He then allegedly asked for $20,000 in cash in return for his leniency, according to the FBI. Kunkel contacted his lawyer about the alleged request for money, and the lawyer reached out to law enforcement, who set up the sting operation.

On Sept. 16, 2015, FBI special agents were present at a coffee shop when Hurley allegedly accepted a partial payment of $5,000 from Kunkel. The agents used a video recording device to capture the exchange and also had Kunkel wear an audio recording device.

"Taxpayer A advised he told (Hurley) he was worried about getting into trouble for making the payment. (Hurley) said, in sum and substance, 'You're not in trouble. ... We're fine. It's good," according to court documents.

On Sept. 21, 2015, according to court documents, agents watched Hurley meet with Kunkel - this time in Kunkel's car - to receive the remainder of the payment. When he exited the car, Hurley was arrested. Hurley later quit his job with the IRS.

Hurley has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In a trial brief, Hurley's attorneys John Henry Browne and Michael T. Lee said that he'd been offered "a job to perform accounting services" and that the $20,000 "played no role whatsoever in his official duties."

"Mr. Hurley denies soliciting any bribe from Mr. Kunkel," they said.

If Hurley is convicted of bribery, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Like so many great startups, Soylent, a beverage classified as a food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can replace any meal, got its start in Silicon Valley when four friends -- all engineers -- set out to solve a problem. Back in 2013, co-founders, Rob Rhinehart, Matt Cauble, John Coogan and David Renteln were working on companies and simultaneously running out of funds.

In an effort to save money, the group decided to downsize, and moved from a five bedroom house to a two bedroom apartment. Despite their best efforts to cut costs, they were still spending excessive amounts on food. "A couple of us were living in this hacker house in Silicon Valley and we were spending a lot of money on food… but we couldn’t keep the fridge stocked." David Renteln, Soylent CMO and co-founder told ABC’s Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

Rhinehart began researching a more efficient way to eat in order to optimize nutrition while minimizing cost, effort and time. After identifying the essential nutrients for the human body to thrive, Rhinehart started concocting a mixture of supplements and ingredients. Soylent was born. With the help of a beta program of about 100 people and sheer persistence, the group landed on a recipe that checked off all the right boxes.

"What we’ve really tried to do is create a neutral flavor, so the idea is … you can have it every day and not get too exhausted" Renteln said, "Of course the nutrients are the most important, …so it’s important to find sort of an ideal combination that people find usable."

That same year Soylent raised more than $3 million on Tilt making it the largest crowdfunded food project in history. Two years later in January of 2015 the company received $20 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with the help of Lerer Ventures, Index Ventures and individual investors.

Thanks to this funding, Soylent was able to accelerate its growth and focus on product development. "Our mission is to bring affordable nutrition to everybody and one way we can do that is spreading the use of this product as well as launching new products. I think there is room in the big food companies for a new one... I think we could be a healthier Nestle."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks moved lower on Thursday as shares for banks and other financial companies fell. Worries about instability in China and other country's economies didn't help matters.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 254.56 points to close at 15,660.18. It hit low points during the day where it was down about 400 points.

The S&P 500 closed at 1,829.08, down 22.78 and the Nasdaq lost 16.76 points to end the session at 4,266.84.

Morgan Stanley's stock slid almost 5 percent after word that it's being held accountable for packaging and selling toxic, subprime mortgages, which helped lead to the financial collapse of 2008. The Justice Department's fining the company $2.6 billion.

Another drop in oil and natural gas prices sent shares in several energy companies lower. Southwestern Energy lost 59 cents while Marathon Oil fell 47 cents.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $3.2 billion to federal and state authorities to settle charges over financial instruments that contributed to the housing crisis last decade. 

“We are pleased to have finalized these settlements involving residential MBS matters. The firm has previously reserved for all amounts related to these settlements,” the firm said in a statement Thursday.

The settlement came after Morgan Stanley acknowledged it misrepresented to investors just how risky certain investment products tied to sub-prime mortgages were. Authorities said the firm knew the underlying mortgage loans it was selling had material defects.

Last year, Morgan Stanley had announced a preliminary settlement of $2.6 billion. On Thursday, the firm finalized with the states of New York and Illinois, bringing the number up.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The ride Pat Mahan took in one of Google's self-driving cars is one he will never forget.

Mahan, who is blind, had the chance to sit in the driver's seat when he and a licensed driver took a ride in one of the vehicles nearly four years ago, but his dream of being able to have more mobility is one step closer to becoming a reality after a federal ruling re-defined what can be classified as a driver.

U.S. officials will now allow the artificial intelligence system responsible for piloting self-driving cars to be considered the driver, according to a letter dated from last week from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Feb. 4 response from NHTSA gives Google and all other manufacturers approval to design and operate under the interpretation that their artificial intelligence systems qualify as the driver under federal law.

It's something that could radically change everyday life for Mahan, who lives two miles from the nearest bus stop and relies on the VTA Paratransit Service when his family members are at work.

"It's like riding with a fabulous driver," Mahan told ABC News owned station KGO-TV about his ride. "Anybody who spends five minutes out in that traffic will realize that the danger [is] the humans. Personally I can't wait for the robots to start driving."

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The dream of owning a Tesla just got even more real for people eager to get behind the wheel of one of Elon Musk's electric vehicles.

Tesla's Model 3 is expected to cost around $35,000, excluding any potential electric vehicle tax credits, putting it at a sweet spot in the luxury electric vehicle market.

"Demand would be much higher for a vehicle like that because of its price. It puts Tesla right in the meat of the market," Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told ABC News last year after Musk announced the project.

By comparison, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt, GM's battery-powered electric car, has a sticker price of $37,500, excluding any tax credits.

Here's what we know about the Model 3 so far:

The Unveiling

For all of the hype, the world still doesn't know what the Model 3 looks like. In a fourth-quarter shareholder's letter released Wednesday afternoon, Tesla revealed it plans to hold an unveiling for the vehicle on March 31. Musk followed up on Twitter by saying he'd have more details in the coming weeks about how Tesla plans to introduce the Model 3 to the world.

The sedan is expected to be smaller than its older sibling, the Model S. Musk has previously said the Model 3 will be able to travel at least 200 miles in normal driving conditions.

How to Buy


Musk announced on Twitter that reservations for the company's mass market Model 3 vehicle will begin in Tesla stores on March 31 and online on April 1. While previous Tesla vehicles have required a $5,000 deposit, Tesla is requiring a $1,000 deposit for interested buyers to secure their spot in line for the Model 3.

Tesla's most affordable car yet is about half the cost of the company's Model S, which begins at around $70,000 with customizable options that can add to the price of the vehicle.

When You Can Drive It


The first Model 3 vehicles are expected to be delivered in late 2017, according to Tesla's letter to shareholders.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Labor Department says 16,000 fewer Americans submitted initial filings for unemployment benefits last week.

According to the latest data released Thursday, the number of initial unemployment claims for the week ending Feb. 6 was 269,000, compared to the previous week’s unrevised level of 285,000. The more stable four-week moving average decreased by 3,500 to 281,250.

The Labor Department did not note any "special factors" related to the number of filings.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Typing in the cold can be a pain in more ways than one.

Regular gloves don’t work with touchscreen devices — such as smartphones phones and tablets — because the fabric blocks the charge from your finger, which activates your phone.

Nick Guy from Wirecutter.com, a website that advises on best gadgets, evaluated 12 pairs of touchscreen gloves to find out how well they work.

“They don’t have the tips we’re used to seeing,” ABC News Correspondent Gio Benitez said to Guy.

“They actually sew in silver and copper thread or infuse the gloves with nano particles of silver and copper that conduct electricity,” Guy replied. He says this is what allows people to use their touchscreen devices as if they weren’t wearing gloves.

To test for touchscreen capability, Guy camped out in a temperature controlled brewery cooler — keeping the temperature just above freezing, while he texted, used apps, and played games.

Out of the 12 touchscreen gloves Guy tested this year, he says he highly recommends four pairs, five are an okay buy, and three pairs didn’t stack up. Check out the below video to see which touchscreen gloves Wirecutter.com highly recommends.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You may view your home as a money pit that's always in need of fixing but when it comes to filing your taxes, you can rejoice.

New York tax accountant Janice Hayman says there's a lot to write off.

"We still have, thankfully, our mortgage interest deduction and that's a tremendous saving as well as the deduction for real estate taxes," she says.

You can also save by making your home more energy efficient. The Internal Revenue Service allows big deductions of up to 30 percent off expenditures on things like solar panels and wind energy. There are deductions for insulation, as well.

When it comes to foreclosure, tax law sees debt forgiveness as a financial benefit. But Hayman says there's a silver lining for those who have been forced by the bank to give up their home.

"If you had to have a foreclosure on your primary residence, the amount of that debt won't have to be considered income to you as long as that was a foreclosure on your main home," she notes.   

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal vehicle safety agencies have routinely worked with private companies to pave the road for autonomous vehicles.

So U.S. officials will now allow the artificial intelligence system responsible for piloting self-driving cars to be considered the driver, according to a letter dated from last week from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One obstacle autonomous vehicle manufactures have faced is what federal law calls the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs). These standards outline the safety requirements applied to all vehicles on U.S. roadways.

Since 1967, when the first of these safety standards became effective under federal law, a driver has been considered a human piloting the vehicle from the front seat.

With manufacturers trying to break this mold, they needed U.S. Department of Transportation approval for their artificial intelligence systems to qualify as a driver.

A November request from Google’s Self-Driving Car Project asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to interpret a number of provisions within federal vehicle safety law, including for their Self-Driving System to qualify as or replace the driver.

The Feb. 4 response from NHTSA gives Google and all other manufacturers approval to design and operate under the interpretation that their artificial intelligence systems qualify as the driver under federal law.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said today his department is committed to embracing innovations that improve safety and efficiency on U.S. roadways.

“Our interpretation that the self-driving computer system of a car could, in fact, be a driver is significant,” Foxx said.

“But the burden remains on self-driving car manufacturers to prove that their vehicles meet rigorous federal safety standards.”

Foxx revealed last month that part of the president’s budget proposal would include a 10-year, nearly $4 billion investment to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A mixed day on Wall Street with the Dow breaking its record for the longest stretch of losses on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 99.64 to close at 15,914.74. This marks the index’s longest period of declines since Aug. 18 to Aug. 25.

The S&P 500 closed at 1,852.86, basically unchanged from its open. Health care and technology were the two sectors of the S&P to end the day slightly higher.

Gains in the tech sector helped the Nasdaq gain 14.83 points to end the session at 4,283.59.

Crude oil took another hit, as prices fell to $27.44 per barrel.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Burger King may get a new nickname in the coming weeks: Hot Dog King.

The fast-food chain will make the taste of a summer barbecue available year-round by adding two hot dogs to its permanent menu, it said in a press release Wednesday. The all-beef franks will be available nationwide starting Feb. 23.

Burger King plans to use the same flame-grilling technique it uses for its burgers for its hot dogs, as opposed to the more traditional method of boiling them.

“The introduction of Grilled Dogs just made sense to our guests and for our brand,” said Alex Macedo, president of Burger King North America.

The chain will offer two varieties of hot dogs: the classic grilled, which will be topped with ketchup, mustard, chopped onions and relish and served on a "fluffy baked bun," and the chili-cheese, topped with chili and shredded cheddar cheese.

Americans eat more 20 billion hot dogs per year, Burger King estimates. Once it makes the new items available in its 7,100 U.S. stores, Burger King will become the largest restaurant chain in the country to offer hot dogs. Smaller chains that feature hot dogs on their menus include Sonic Drive-In and Dairy Queen.

The classic hot dog will cost $1.99 and the chili-cheese dog will cost $2.29. Burger King will also be offering combo deals with fries and a fountain drink for $4.49 and $4.79, respectively.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey struck a hopeful tone for the year ahead in a call Wednesday with investors as the social media company revealed its user base remained stagnant in the last quarter.

Growing its number of monthly active users has been a challenge for Twitter. Dorsey reported Wednesday the site has 320 million monthly active users -- the same number the company reported in the third fiscal quarter. Daily users also remained flat for the fourth fiscal quarter.

"We saw a decline in monthly active usage in Q4, but we've already seen January monthly actives bounce back to Q3 levels. We're confident that, with disciplined execution, this growth trend will continue over time," the company wrote in a letter to shareholders.

Twitter reported fourth quarter revenue of $710 million, with advertising revenue for the quarter up 48 percent from the same time one year ago.

Dorsey, 39, one of the founders of the site, took over for the second time as chief executive last year. While the site has tremendous reach, it has lagged in attracting and retaining new users, who in turn entice businesses to advertise on Twitter and drive revenue.

The company reported having 130,000 active advertisers in the fourth quarter -- up 90 percent from the same time one year ago, as well as a 153 percent increase in user engagements with advertisements.

What investors have been wanting to hear from Dorsey is a clear vision for the path ahead, and he delivered it at the start of the call by emphasizing a commitment and focus to live events, which Dorsey said is where Twitter excels.

“We’re focused now on what Twitter does best -- live. Twitter is live -- live commentary, live conversations and live connections,” Dorsey said. “Twitter has always been considered a second screen for what is happening in the world and we believe we can become the first screen” for everything happening in real-time.

The social media company has had several victories in the past year, including the launch of video streaming app Periscope and the announcement it has suspended more than 125,000 terror-related accounts, but it's also faced its share of challenges.

Twitter laid off 8 percent of its workforce -- 336 people -- in October, lost four key executives last month, has experienced slumping stock prices and even a revolt from some users who protested a controversial change to the site's timeline feature with the #RIPTwitter hashtag.

Early Wednesday, Twitter announced it would show users an algorithm-generated timeline of tweets, with the usual, real-time reverse chronological stream being shown toward the bottom the page.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Whether authorities should be given a so-called backdoor to access encrypted smartphones has been an ongoing tug-of-war between many Silicon Valley power players and government officials, but a pair of lawmakers are hoping their new bill will have the final word when it comes to protecting smartphone security.

The ENCRYPT Act of 2016 -- short for the "Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act" -- is a proposed federal law that has the stated purpose of overriding "data security vulnerability mandates and decryption requirements" at the state level.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican who is one of the sponsors of the bill, said on Twitter he was spurred to act following proposals at the state level in New York and California that he said would create "hackable" backdoors to smartphones.

The Argument for Loosening Encryption


At issue is whether the government should be pushing technology companies to implement so-called back doors to their operating systems, allowing law enforcement a way to bypass encryption and get information to track down terrorists and other criminals.

Supporters of loosening encryption say it can be a matter of national security.

Case in point: FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that two months after the San Bernardino massacre, the FBI and the intelligence community cannot open one of the smartphones used by the couple who perpetrated the attack. Not having access to the encrypted messages in the phone would prevent authorities from knowing who they were talking to, texting or what they might have been viewing on that particular device.

The Argument for No 'Backdoors'


Those supporting encryption -- the ENCRYPT Act of 2016 -- say creating a so-called backdoor for law enforcement would leave devices open to hackers.

In a letter to President Obama last year, Google, Apple, Facebook and dozens of cyber-security experts and trade groups said giving the government the master key to decode encrypted data could leave billions of people vulnerable to cyber criminals and deal a detrimental blow to information security.

Apple turns on encryption by default, meaning law enforcement would have to have a person's passcode to access any data on an iPhone. Google also offers users encryption options with the recent Lollipop and Marshmallow versions of the Android operating system.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Warner Music Group and others arguing they held the copyright on the popular song "Happy Birthday to You" have agreed to drop their claim, according to the terms of a proposed settlement deal obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The lawsuit was filed in 2013 by a group of filmmakers who believed the song should be in the public domain. The proposed deal, released on Monday, reportedly offers up to $14 million for those who paid licensing fees to use the song.

If U.S. District Judge George H. King signs off on the agreement, Warner/Chappell Music would no longer collect fees to use the song, which brought the company somewhere as much as $2 million per year in royalties.

The tentative settlement allows those who paid for use of the song as far back as 1949 to recoup some or all of their money, according to court papers.

Patty Smith Hill and her sister Mildred J. Hill wrote the tune, originally titled "Good Morning to All," in 1893 and included it in a children's music book. The "Happy Birthday" lyrics were added sometime later. The sisters left the copyright with their publisher.

In 1988, Warner began collecting royalties for "Happy Birthday" after it purchased the company that held the copyright.

However, King ruled in September that Warner/Chappell and other prior companies never had the right to charge for use of the song.

Two other groups related to the Hill family also joined the settlement: the Association for Childhood Education International, a designated charity of the Hill family that receives a third of the song's licensing profits, and the Hill Foundation.

A hearing on the preliminary approval of the settlement is scheduled for March 14 in Los Angeles.

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