iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Google is working to develop its own drone delivery program, called Project Wing.
In a video posted to YouTube by the company, Google says it tested the system in Queensland, Australia, and "successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water" to Australian farmers. The project is still early on in development.
The company states that it anticipates the potential to transport goods "more quickly, safely and efficiently." It is also looking for "partners who can help [them] bring this technology to the world safely."
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Internal Revenue Service said on Thursday that taxpayers continue to receive scam phone calls from individuals purporting to be with the agency.
The scammers, the IRS says, may claim that their victims have a refund due, or use another method to attempt to acquire personal information. Callers use fake names and fake IRS identification numbers.
"These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He urged people not to fall prey to such calls, noting that the IRS has formal procedures for those individuals with tax issues. "The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business," Koskinen said.
The IRS also offered Americans five tips to help identify suspicious calls. The agency says that its agents will never call about your taxes prior to mailing you an official notice, demand payment without allowing you the chance to appeal, require a specific method of payment for taxes, ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or threaten to involve law enforcement groups.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As an investigation into a cyberattack continues, JPMorgan Chase said on Thursday that it had not seen any unusual fraud activity.
One official told ABC News that when a bank as large as JPMorgan is targeted, the investigation looks at the incident not just as a financial crime, but as a potential national security matter.
The bank reaffirmed on Thursday that it would work with the FBI and the Secret Service, who are investigating the cyberattack. JPMorgan is still working to determine who, if anyone, might have been impacted by the attack.
Still, if any JPMorgan customers believe that they have been the victim of fraud, they should contact the bank immediately.
The breach also apparently impacted at least one other financial institution.
The website "Is It Down Right Now" shows that Instagram's server is not responding.
The social media service's mobile app seemed to properly load older photos, but was unable to reload the service. The web client returned a "500 Internal Server Error" that prevented users from accessing the website.
On Twitter, the phrase "Why is instagram" was briefly trending worldwide, as users sought other means of sharing their selfies and Throwback Thursday photos.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a strong start to the week, Wall Street posted losses on Thursday, while a Labor Department report indicated slightly improved unemployment numbers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,079.57, down 42.44.
The Nasdaq finished at 4,557.70, a drop of 11.92 from Wednesday's close, while the S&P 500 slipped 3.38 to 1,996.74, finishing below 2,000 for the first time since it broke that mark earlier this week.
The Labor Department's weekly report indicated a slight decrease in jobless claims last week. The department also noted that there were no "special factors" that helped to decrease the figures.
Also on Thursday, the investigation into a cyberattack against JPMorgan Chase continued. Wednesday night, the FBI and Secret Service announced the investigation, though they were unable to definitively determine whether customer information was at risk due to the attack.
Anheuser-Busch(CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.) -- Bud Light wants to know whether a small mountain town in Colorado is "up for whatever." The answer this time from the divided townspeople: maybe, although $10 million might be just enough to swing more support toward the beer-inspired party.
Bud Light, one of Anheuser-Busch's beer brands, is planning to host a three-day event "of unexpected fun" that will transform part of Crested Butte, Colorado, known for its outdoor activities and music festivals, into a fictitious town of Whatever, USA.
As part of the deal, Anheuser-Busch will donate $250,000 to the town, as a sign of gratitude, but some of the 1,500 residents are not thrilled with the idea of Whatever from Sept. 5-7.
One resident, former Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth, called the $250,000 donation a "paltry and insulting sum."
"My own view is that this is truly an inappropriate function for a town that has built its reputation so carefully," Wirth told ABC News. "It should cost them a pretty penny and they won’t even notice it."
Bud Light's "UpForWhatever" ad campaign began during the Super Bowl, in which random people on the street, seemingly between the ages of 21 and 35, are whisked off to celebrity-laden adventures. In Bud Light commercials for the town of Whatever, USA, there's a fake, mustached mayor.
For this specific campaign in Colorado, the company will select 1,000 Bud Light fans across the United States who auditioned with a 10-second video explaining why they should be flown into Whatever, USA. Winners will be notified 48 hours before the trip.
The audition deadline is next Thursday and more than 150,000 people have applied so far.
The town will host a public hearing and council vote Friday about the proposed plans, which include street performers, a parade, music, dancing, closing off the local Big Mine Ice Arena and, of course, lots of Bud Light.
"There are a lot of different opinions in the town," town manager Ted Crossett said. “There are a lot of people who support it and a lot of people who do not for a variety of reasons.”
Crossett's staff report about the weekend describes some of the activities, including "stumble upon events, which are low impact activities such as games, low-key races and curiosities. Most would be open to the public."
"Some would be closed to contestants. Activities would take place on both the street and in private businesses," the Aug. 23 report states.
The town council has "allowed themselves to be put into this dreadful corner" that has divided the town, Wirth said.
Wirth and other residents decry the council's working behind the scenes with Bud Light to coordinate such a major event. But Wirth said he was proud of the “democracy in action” during Monday’s hearing at which residents spoke openly with town leaders.
"Crested Butte has every bit of leverage right now to say to Bud Light, 'We’ll approve your event if you send us a check for $10 million from a multibillion-dollar corporation,'" he said.
As for Anheuser-Busch, it is "optimistic" the town council will vote to approve the Whatever, USA activities, according to a company statement to ABC News.
"We’ve spent several months planning and preparing with the town and local vendors, and hope that Whatever USA’s temporary citizens will get a chance to experience everything Crested Butte has to offer," the statement reads. "We can’t imagine a better setting for a weekend of unexpected, unparalleled fun."
David Ochs, executive director at the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, told ABC News he believes the majority of the 300 active members in the organization support the event. He argues that the event will bring an unknown amount of extra cash to local businesses and the town coffers, as the high tourist summer season comes to an end.
"Keep locals working, keep paychecks coming and keep everything rolling," he said. "Bud Light has been very good in incorporating retail businesses into the event, but the real benefit might be in the long term: the exposure and marketing of it is what they will see and want to come back to Crested Butte and that’s our bread and butter."
Kevin McGruther, a town resident of 18 years, attended the most recent hearing about the proposed event Monday. He said he is not arguing for or against the event, but points to the local government's failure to adhere to its typical town-event application process.
"The issue is the transparency, the preemption of the process and disenfranchisement of the community," he told ABC News.
Wirth, the former U.S. senator, said if Anheuser-Busch can pay big money, possibly millions, for celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger to play table tennis in a Super Bowl ad, the company should cough up for using the resources of the town and its reputation.
"They paid him Schwarzenegger millions and they’re going to be here ripping up the town for a week for $250,000?" Wirth said. "That gets my indignant juices running."
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI is investigating a cyberattack earlier this month against JPMorgan Chase that may have been carried out by Russian hackers.
It is not clear whether customer data was compromised by the attack. The FBI released a statement on Wednesday saying that they were working with the U.S. Secret Service to determine the scope of the breach, noting that it may also have impacted other financial institutions.
JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Trish Wexler told ABC News that "companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day." JPMorgan, she said, has "multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels."
iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Do you have a sense of “deservingness?”
That’s the term Ohio State University researcher Rebecca Walker Reczek has for people who think that just because they’re a loyal customer of some retailer or business that they deserve special treatment.
Very often, customers do receive perks but as Reczek points out, deservingness even extends to promotional contests where winners are chosen at random and the rules specify that no purchase is necessary to enter.
She gives the example of someone who regularly uses the same hotel chain and the feeling that they’re more entitled to win a free gift basket “even though the drawing is open to all hotel guests, including those who are not regular customers.”
Although there’s really no logic to it, Reczek contends, “Devoted customers think they are luckier than others when it comes to these contests with random outcomes.”
This “lucky loyalty effect” is something that corporate managers should be aware of, according to Reczek, although those with a sense of entitlement should try and scale back their expectations when outcomes can’t be controlled.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday a settlement with DuPont Corp. for allegedly releasing hazardous substances into the Kanawha River in West Virginia over a four-year span.
An EPA press release alleges that the company released chemicals into the river on eight occasions between 2006 and 2010. As compensation, DuPont will pay $1.275 million and take corrective actions to prevent similar activity in the future.
The EPA notes that the releases posed significant risk, with one worker dying after exposure to a toxic gas that was released due to the company's failure to comply with industry accident prevention procedures.
DuPont estimated that it will spend over $2 million to complete the mandated improvements.
The settlement "will ensure that the proper practices are in place to protect communities and nearby water bodies," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
Hisham Ibrahim/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the International Property Rights Center in Washington D.C., director Lev Kubiak said selling counterfeit items was a “very, very lucrative business," and "most Americans have no idea" just how much of what they’re buying is actually fake.
The Federal Trade Commission says it’s been cracking down in recent weeks, sending cease-and-desist letters to companies that it says are making false or uncertified claims.
Kubiak showed ABC News a room containing fake items the center had seized from store shelves and Internet sites across the U.S., including the U.S.-made language-learning tool Rosetta Stone.
“This one came from China,” Kubiak said, pointing out some tell-tale signs: misspelled words such as “guaranted” and “Piece” Corps, rather than Peace. The counterfeiters even forged the Rosetta Stone website.
At the Rosetta Stone factory in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Rula Abu-Taleb, a product-control clerk, said counterfeiters took jobs away.
“It’s sad for us.…There’s someone out there that’s making their own money off of our hard work,” she said about the fake products.
Rosetta Stone said the secret to its success was its U.S. workers.
“I love the creativity that comes out of our company,” said Steve Swaad, president and CEO of Rosetta Stone. “I love the creativity that comes out of the U.S.…I look at counterfeiting as an obstacle that we’re going to overcome.”
Rosetta Stone is fighting back against counterfeiters, though, investing in smart technology to scour the Internet looking for crooks.
“I think if we took this process overseas, it would be one job among many, with people that didn’t care half as much as these folks care,” said director of operations David Litherland. “It just wouldn’t be the same quality of product shipped out to our customers.”
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After consecutive days of gains and milestones, Wall Street was a bit of a mixed bag on Wednesday, with two of the major indices posting small gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial finished at 17,122.01, up 15.31 from Tuesday's finish.
The Nasdaq dropped 1.02 to 4,569.62, while the S&P managed -- barely -- to close above 2,000 again, finishing the day at 2,000.10, up 0.08. That is the second consecutive day -- and the second close ever -- above 2,000 for the S&P 500.
Also on Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office indicated that a slow first quarter may indicate lower-than-expected growth for the economy in 2014. The updated GDP growth estimate is just 1.5 percent for the 2014 fiscal year. Still, the CBO expects 3.5-percent growth in 2015 and 2016.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy has grown just 1.5 percent in the 2014 fiscal year -- far slower than White House projections -- while more than $500 billion of deficit spending was added to the national debt, according to projections released Wednesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
Just last month the Obama administration forecast 2.6 percent GDP growth in 2014.
The CBO had some good economic news, predicting that the GDP will rebound and expand by 3.4 percent over the next two years due to increased demand for goods and services, businesses investments in new structures and equipment, improved consumer spending and improving on the housing front.
In its report released Wednesday, the CBO said growth was stymied partly by “bad weather” during the cold months of spring.
The report said that $506 billion was added to the national debt this year, but that was almost $170 billion less than last year. The CBO also estimated the annual deficit will shrink to $459 billion in 2015 if taxes and spending law remains the same. But the deficit would rapidly grow in years to follow, hitting a ceiling of $960 billion by 2024 unless Congress enacts changes to alter the trajectory.
In total, CBO says current law would create $7.2 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 10 years.
CBO’s latest data also predicts the national unemployment rate will average 5.6 percent from 2018 through 2024.
Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Burger King is facing a grilling from critics of U.S. companies that move overseas to cut their tax bills.
“I’ve eaten my last Whopper,” is among the many comments on Burger King’s Facebook page.
The company announced on Tuesday that it would buy the popular Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons for more than $11 billion. The corporate headquarters of the combined firm will be in Canada -- a move that stands to help lower Burger King’s corporate taxes.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is calling for U.S. consumers to boycott Burger King, while Democrats have been calling for legislation to limit these so-called tax inversions.
But the CEO of the merged company insists the deal is not about taxes. And there appear to be strong business reasons for the firm to move. While Burger King has many more franchises, Tim Hortons has much larger profits than the U.S. firm. The deal will create the world’s third largest fast-food chain.
Burger King’s move has re-ignited the debate over the U.S. corporate tax system. This is not merely about tax rates but also the global system of taxation.
“The U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters,” writes Megan McArdle of Bloomberg Businessweek. “Because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.”