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Amazon Slashes Price on Its Fire Phone, Hoping to Lure Users


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Call it a "Fire sale."

Amazon is selling an unlocked version of its Fire phone at a slashed price in the hope Black Friday shoppers will give the widely panned device a chance.

With $250 knocked off list price, an unlocked Fire phone now retails for $199. The price is a sweet spot in the wireless industry, with competing smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 starting at around that amount for customers who also choose a two-year contract.

Three months after its debut, the Fire, which featured what Amazon called "breakthrough" technology, was being sold for 99 cents with a contract.

Amazon revealed in its quarterly earnings call last month that it took a charge of $170 million for "inventory evaluation and supplier commitment costs" for the Fire, which failed to create a spark in the smartphone market.

Critics have said the Fire is less a phone and more a "shopping machine" designed to capture more Amazon customers.

It's equipped with a feature that allows users to identify almost any product -- from a book to a game or a container of kosher salt. It then directs users to Amazon to make purchases. The phone also boasts a 3-D display ideal for gamers.

User reviews of the phone have been mixed, with customers writing on Amazon they were "extremely sad and dissatisfied" and "I wanted to love you" to "five stars."

Despite the Fire troubles, Amazon is enjoying tremendous success with its $39 Amazon Fire TV stick. The device, which allows users to stream media on their television and play games with a remote control, is on back order until January 15, according to Amazon's website.

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Whole Foods Recalls Vegan Pumpkin Pie Product


bhofack2/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Whole Foods stores in four states in the southwestern U.S. are recalling a vegan pumpkin pie products that the company says were mislabeled.

According to a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Vegan pumpking pie products sold in Whole Foods stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas contain "undeclared walnuts." Both full- and half-pies were sold in clear packaging and brown, Kraft paper boxes.

The products had "sell by" dates between Oct. 27 and November 30.

The FDA says that there have been no reported allergic reactions or illnesses linked to the sale of the product. Anyone who has purchases the pies from a Whole Foods store in the four affected states can bring a receipt into the store for a full refund.

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Uber Temporarily Suspends Operations in Nevada


Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images(RENO, Nev.) -- Citing a recent court decision, ridesharing company Uber said that it would temporarily suspend service in the state of Nevada.

On Tuesday, a Washoe County District Court judge issued an injunction against the company, preventing it from operating statewide. In a blog post on the company website, Uber blamed "confusion about ridesharing and how uberX is helping provide a completely new model to meet Nevadans' transportation needs.

"Beginning tonight," Uber said, "nearly 1,000 jobs disappeared in Nevada and those residents lost their ability to earn a living. Still, the company reassured Nevadans, "Uber is in this for the long-term and we are committed to the people of the Silver State.

The blog post also praised Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, calling him "a known champion for innovation and job creation," in describing their future operations in the state.

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Seven Travel Pro Tips to Help You Survive Thanksgiving Week


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the only thing standing between you and and a healthy heap of mashed potatoes may be a friendly travel agent and a cross-country flight.

But on some of the busiest travel days of the year, navigating the airport can be tricky.

Here are a seven tips to keep your journey (hopefully) headache-free:

  1. Print your boarding pass ahead of time.
  2. Download your airline’s mobile app.
  3. If you are carrying-on a gift, do yourself a favor: leave it unwrapped in case the Transportation Security Administration needs to check it out.
  4. If you are putting valuables through TSA carry-on screening, tape your business card to them in case you accidentally leave them behind.
  5. Sign up for TSA pre-check so you can fly through security lines -- with your shoes on.
  6. Make sure your carry-on bag fits by checking ahead of time. And if the agent asks you to gate check it, listen -- nothing delays a departure like having to take bags back off a full plane.
  7. If you want more legroom, think about paying for an economy plus seat, which often comes with a better boarding time.

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Thanksgiving Travel: 7 Boredom Busting Apps to Pass the Time


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 46 million Americans who are expected to travel more than 50 miles away from home in the coming days may have to contend with wintry weather throwing a wrench in their plans.

No one likes being stuck in an airport or traffic jam on Thanksgiving, however, there are some ways to make the best of an unfortunate travel situation.

Here are seven of the best boredom busting apps. Start playing them and before you know it, you'll be at your destination and ready for a Thanksgiving feast.

Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games

Sure the title is a bit morbid for such a joyous holiday, but this game is an incredibly fun way to pass the time.

Based on a viral public service announcement from Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, the goal is to save a cast of characters from dangerous situations while racking up points.

The latest version of the game includes new levels, such as electric fence hurdles, a dolphin rodeo and a javelin catch.

Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games is available for iOS devices, along with the first, equally addicting version of the game.

The first version of the game is also available for Android devices.

NinJump Dash

The best part of NinJump dash is that you'll compete against three other opponents in real time who can be your Facebook friends or random challengers from around the world.

Dress your character in a fun costume (chicken suit, anyone?) and get your game face on, as you race your fellow players, jumping over obstacles, shooting rockets and tossing throwing stars, among other weapons.

NinJump Dash is available for iOS and Android devices.

Draw Something

Channel your inner artist with Draw Something, a social drawing game that allows users to draw pictures and have their friends guess what they are.

With more than 3,000 words to draw from in the free version of the game, you'll have plenty of opportunities to create some masterpieces (which will almost certainly elicit a few laughs, too.)

Draw Something is available for iOS and Android devices.

Tetris Blitz

The old-school game has gotten a mobile makeover.

Go head to head with other opponents in Tetris Blitz as you race a clock to clear lines in the classic game.

Best of all: You'll always be able to find worthy opponents to battle with the game's skill-matching system.

Tetris Blitz is available for iOS and Android devices.

Kim Kardashian Hollywood

It's been quite a year for Kim Kardashian West. Lest we all forget, the celeb also has her own game.

If taking a Kim Kardashian-inspired adventure sounds more appealing this staring into space at the airport or listening to your siblings squabble on a road trip, then Kim Kardashian Hollywood may be up your alley.

Create your own celebrity and join Kim in Hollywood as you reap all of the benefits of being a celebrity.

Kim Kardashian Hollywood is available for iOS and Android devices.

Proust

What do the pope and an anti-Semitic Elmo have in common? They’re both in the crazy addictive game “Proust.”

Here’s how it works: You’re presented with five items you must rank from best to worst. Lock in your answers and then see how alike or different you are from your friends.

Proust is available for iOS devices.

Pokoto

Pokoto will test your memory and your reflexes. Poke out the evil eyes and beware of the bombs -- they’ll make you lose time. Hearts will buy you time.

Like any good time-wasting game, this one is never ending. Keep perfecting your pokes and see how you stack up to your friends.

Pokoto is available for iOS devices.

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Twitter Is Watching You: How to Opt Out of New Tracking Feature


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Twitter will soon start taking a peek at the other apps on your smartphone as a way to create a more personalized experience unless users take steps to opt out of the feature.

The social networking company, which depends largely on targeted advertising, said the new tracking feature would allow them show more relevant promoted tweets, along with improved "who to follow" suggestions and other content that may be of interest.

"We will notify you about this feature being turned on for your account by showing a prompt letting you know that to help tailor your experience, Twitter uses the apps on your device. Until you see this prompt, this setting is turned off and we are not collecting a list of your apps," a post in the Twitter Help Center read.

Twitter said it will only be looking surface level at other apps on a person's phone and will not be collecting any data from within the applications. Users who have previously limited ad tracking should have this feature automatically turned off.

For iOS and Android users who don't want Twitter to have a peek at their smartphones, there's a quick way to turn off the feature.

Go to settings, choose the account you'd like to make changes to. Android users will then click "other" while iOS users will choose "privacy." From there, you'll be able to adjust the setting to tailor Twitter based on apps.

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Stocks Close With Slight Gains


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks closed with slight gains on Wednesday, just enough to push the market further into record territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 12.81 points to 17,827.75. The Nasdaq climbed 29.07 points to 4,787.32, while the S&P 500 jumped 5.80 points to 2,072.83.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the first time in nearly three months.

The markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and then have a short session on Friday.

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San Francisco Passes Retail Workers ‘Bill of Rights’


iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Just in time for Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping, San Francisco Supervisors have unanimously approved a retail workers bill of rights.  

It's the country's first retail worker bill of rights, requiring employers to post workers schedules at least two weeks in advance.

The goal is to limit employer habits of scheduling workers to shifts with little notice.  

If there's a last minute schedule change, any on call hours, or if a worker is sent home before their assigned shift ends, they'll have to be compensated.  

Retail chains in San Francisco will also be required to offer part time workers hours before hiring new employees.

It’s a bill that some believe will grow beyond San Francisco and beyond retail chains.

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Thanksgiving, Black Friday Store Hours You Should Know


Michael Nagle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though most retailers are offering holiday weekend discounts online, millions of people still enjoy shopping outings with friends or family on Black Friday, and increasingly, Thanksgiving day. If so, this list is for you.

Before you camp out to snag a door-buster deal, be sure to check your local listings for store hours and purchasing restrictions. The biggest deals may be restricted to one per person.

Here are some store hours for national retailers that are open on Thanksgiving and or Black Friday:

Best Buy

Best Buy will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Nearly all of Best Buy's 1,000 stores in 47 states will remain open until 1 a.m. on Friday. Stores will reopen at 8 a.m. Friday and close at 10 p.m. that day.

BJ's

BJ's clubs, closed on Thanksgiving, will open at 7 a.m. on Friday and close at 10 p.m.

Burlington

Formerly Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington will be closed on Thanksgiving and open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday.

Costco

Costco warehouses will be closed on Thanksgiving, but they have the autonomy to open earlier (not later) than usual on Black Friday. Most locations will be open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. this Friday.

Dillard's

Dillard's will be closed on Thanksgiving and open on Friday at 8 a.m.

GameStop

GameStop will be closed on Thanksgiving but open at 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday.

JCPenney

Many JCPenney stores will be open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day until 10 p.m. on Friday.

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

Jo-Ann stores will open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, after being closed on Thanksgiving. For the first time, stores will open at 6 a.m. Wednesday, too.

Kmart

Kmart has opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day for the past four years. Stores will then be open for 42 hours.

Kohl's

Kohl's will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Macy's

Macy's will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Pier 1 Imports

Pier 1 is closed on Thanksgiving and its doors are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, though some locations will vary.

RadioShack

RadioShack will open at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

Sears

Sears will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Staples

Staples will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Target


Target will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Walmart

On Thursday, Walmart will open at 6 p.m.

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How to Keep Your Credit Card Information Safe from Cyber Criminals


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's the most wonderful time of the year -- until your credit card information is compromised.

An estimated 140 million American shoppers are expected to start their holiday shopping in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

While many of us are dreaming of deals, it's important to remember that cyber criminals are on the prowl, targeting unsuspecting shoppers and trying to steal their passwords and credit card information.

"If you're shopping at a site you haven't been to before, you kind of do so at your own peril," Tim Ryan, a former FBI investigator and managing director of the cyber investigations practice at Kroll, told ABC News.

While it doesn't necessarily mean avoiding those sites, it's important to make sure they're secure before entering any personal information.

Many browsers show this by displaying a padlock icon near the address bar or the upper right corner of a window. Another easy way to make sure you're on a secure site is to make sure the URL starts with "https://".

Ryan said he advises shoppers to "be hesitant" of reacting to any emails or phone messages they may receive from people claiming to be from a store or their bank.

"People are going to be sensitive to the timely nature of their purchases and criminals know this," he said.

One such example he's seen is a scam email claiming a user's credit card may be deactivated soon unless they click a link that essentially leads them into a criminal's trap.

"If your bank allows you to get email or text alerts about whenever your card is used, I think that's really an excellent way to monitor what is happening with your card," Ryan said.

One of Ryan's other tips for staying safe may surprise shoppers: It's OK to let a trusted website, such as Amazon, store your credit card information.

"Entering your card once is more secure than you continually having to enter your credit card time and time again," he said.

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HSBC to Pay $12.5 Million Settlement for Providing Unregistered Services


PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday charged the private banking arm of HSBC with violating the law by failing to register with the SEC before providing investment advisory and cross-border brokerage.

"HSBC's Swiss private banking unit illegally conducted advisory or brokerage business with U.S. customers," Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC's Division of Enhancement said in a press release. The bank's efforts to prevent registration violations "ultimately failed because their compliance initiatives were not effectively implemented or monitored."

HSBC began conducting the business in question over 10 years ago. On at least 40 occasions, the SEC says, HSBC personnel traveled to the U.S. to solicit clients, provide investment advice and induce securities transactions -- actions they were not registered to provide.

The SEC says that the bank has agreed to admit to its wrongdoing and that it will pay $12.5 million to settle the charges.

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Impulse Purchases Bring Regret, Survey Finds


Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most Americans have made impulse purchases and many of them regret it. That’s according to a new survey of shoppers.

“Three out of four Americans say they have made an impulse buy and about half of those…have said they regretted doing so,” says Matt Schultz of creditcards.com.

The website's survey shows both men and women make impulse purchases.

“However, men are three times as likely as women to have spent $1,000 or more on an impulse buy,” Schultz notes.

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Rain, Snow May Disrupt Thanksgiving Travel Plans


Nuno André/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What do you get when you mix rain and snow in the Northeast and 46 million people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving? A recipe for a travel disaster.

But those with plans to travel Wednesday -- one of the season's busiest days -- can get ahead of the winter weather by leaving on Tuesday.

Most airlines have issued flexible travel policies for those holding tickets to fly to, from or through many East Coast Airports.

Tuesday, though not as busy as Wednesday, is still a heavily traveled day for the airlines. Air travelers who find themselves shut out of flights already oversold on Tuesday should aim for Thursday morning flights. Thursday is traditionally a slow day for the airlines.

Though policies vary slightly among individual carriers, if your flight is canceled or significantly delayed, you are entitled to a refund. Carriers will also allow a one-time change on flights that are not canceled for no fee.

Here is a list of airlines with flexible travel policies and links to individual sites:

A significant Noreaster is set to hit the East Coast Wednesday, with rain expected along I-95 from Orlando, Florida to Raleigh, North Carolina and rain from Washington, D.C. to Boston in the early part of the day, changing to snow in the early afternoon. New York and Boston could get between 2 and 6 inches of snow.

Airlines for America, an industry trade organization, has projected that 24.6 million passengers will travel globally on U.S. airlines during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period.

This is a 1.5 percent increase from last year, or an additional 31,000 passengers per day. The busiest days are projected to be Sunday, Nov. 30; Monday, Dec. 1; and Wednesday, Nov. 26. The lightest travel days are Thursday, Nov. 27 and Friday, Nov. 28.

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Stock Market Report: Dow and S&P Fall Slightly


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks ended the day Tuesday similar to where they started, leaving indexes near record highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.96 points to 17,814.94, and the S&P 500 lost 2.38 points, ending the day at 2,067.03. The Nasdaq went up 3.36 points to 4,758.25.

The value of Apple has hit a new high. It is now worth over $700 billion, making it the most valuable company in the world.

The U.S. economy grew at 3.9% in the July-to-September period, giving the country its strongest back-to-back quarters of growth in more than a decade.

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Honda: Data Entry and Program Errors Caused Underreporting of Injury or Death Claims


Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Honda said on Monday that it had vastly underreported claims involving accidents that resulted in injuries or deaths between 2003 and 2014.

In a news release regarding a third-party audit of the company's early warning reports provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Honda said that it had alerted the NHTSA to the concern, prior to providing "responsive information" on Monday.

The audit found a total of 1,729 claims that Honda failed to report to NHTSA. The company blamed these failures on data entry errors, coding errors and narrow regulatory interpretation.

Vehicle manufacturers are required to report an array of information each quarter to ensure that the NHTSA is aware of any claims that could signal a potential safety defect. Included in that information is any claim involving an injury or death.

Honda says that it often did not enter a date into a field in its own database requesting "written claim received." By not including that date, the system failed to "distinguish reportable written claims and notices from non-reportable oral claims for relief. The company also said that the computer program it used to generate early warning reports was not properly set up and that it had used an "overly narrow interpretation of what constituted a 'written notice,'" resulting in a failure to report certain claims.

Honda says it will correct the setup of its computer program, ensure the inclusion of all claims involving injury or death in future early warning reports and improve training and oversight, in addition to other actions, in an effort to prevent such failures in the future.

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