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Deaths Linked to GM's Faulty Ignition Switches Rises to 50


General Motors(NEW YORK) -- At least 50 deaths have been linked to General Motors' faulty ignition switches.

Ken Feinberg, the attorney GM hired to pour through death claims from families whose loved ones died in accidents they believe were caused by the problem, updated the total on Monday.

GM intially estimated that at least 13 deaths resulted from its defective ignition switches.

So far, Feinberg has received 3,068 claims -- 338 for deaths and 2,730 for injuries.

The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 31.

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What to Do with Hotel Room You Can't Use When Flights Are Cancelled


ZLuketina/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With flight cancellations for Monday and Tuesday approaching 4,000, there are plenty of travelers who won't get to their vacation destinations. So what happens to all those hotel reservations?

Hotel chains in recent years have gotten far more stringent in their cancellation policies. Gone, in many cases, are the days of same-day cancellations with no penalty. Marriott, one of the largest hotel chains, instituted a policy that requires hotel rooms to be cancelled by 11:59 p.m. the day prior to arrival.

The penalty for not doing so is the cost of a one-night stay. Previously the policy allowed for cancellations as late as 6 p.m. the day of arrival. (Note that individual franchise owners can opt to use the more flexible policy so it's worth inquiring).

And when weather is the cause of a flight cancellation, the airline will not cover the cost of a hotel for you to stay in to wait it out -- nor will they cover any cost of an unused hotel room as a result of the flight cancellation.

So what's a traveler to do?

"The single-most important thing to do is contact the hotel directly and ask to speak to the front desk or concierge to make sure they give you either a refund or have them adjust your arrival date based on when your new arrival date," said CheapOair’s senior vice president of Supplier Relations, Tom Spagnola.

Other tips for getting a refund on a non-refundable hotel reservation:

  • If you booked your hotel with an online travel agency like Expedia or Priceline, contact the customer care line to see if any waivers have already been put in place.
  • If no waivers exist, contact the hotel directly and explain the situation: in this case, severe weather. If the hotel is in one of the affected areas, they may be grateful for the cancellation to free up rooms for guests who are stranded at their hotel, unable to return home. "There is more flexibility and consideration given speaking to the hotel directly than being transferred to a central reservations call center that may have to follow more strict cancellation/no-show restrictions," said Spagnola.
  • Ask the hotel if instead of cancelling the room you can change your reservation for a later date.

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Elon Musk Explains Why Lisa Simpson Is Wrong


Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Elon Musk is fired up following a jab from fellow brainiac Lisa Simpson.

The founder of Tesla and SpaceX got the cartoon treatment on Sunday when he appeared on an episode of The Simpsons, arriving in Springfield true to form in a rocket ship.

Lisa Simpson's jab that for a guy who "likes electric cars he sure burns a lot of rocket fuel," prompted the real-life Musk to give a lesson in rocket science on Twitter.

Reason is Newton's Third Law. In vacuum, there is nothing to "push" against. You must react against ejected mass.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 26, 2015

Musk didn't stop there.

He went on to explain why other potentially eco-friendly ideas for getting to space simply wouldn't work.

An elevator to space would be completely unrealistic "until someone at least builds a carbon nanotube structure longer than a footbridge," Musk explained.

Final one: anything launched by a railgun (if you could ever reach ~ Mach 27) would explode upon exiting the barrel in our dense atmosphere

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 26, 2015

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Your Learning Goal Orientation Is Key to Career Advancement


iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — It’s the end of January and you still haven’t started looking for a new job like you promised yourself.  Maybe you need to improve your LGO.

It’s short for “learning goal orientation.”

Daniel Turban and Serge da Motta Veiga from the University of Michigan and Leigh University, respectively, say LGO can mean the difference between moving on in your career or staying stuck where you are.

Job seekers with a high LGO basically learn from their experience at looking for work, not to mention everyday situations. They’re also able to bounce back from failures more quickly than people with low LGO.

What’s more, when someone has a high LGO, they tend to intensify their efforts when things are actually going well and are better able to deal with the stress that job searching sometime produces.

That’s not to say that people who have a low learning goal orientation are out of luck. Turban and da Motta Veiga say they can learn techniques and behaviors to make their job search easier and less stressful.

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Kia to Recall Nearly 87,000 Vehicles in Wake of Fire Risk


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kia Motors is recalling over 80,000 vehicles after a defect in the cooling fan resistor was found, creating the risk of potential fires.

According to documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall affects as many as 86,880 Kia Fortes from the 2014 model year. Vehicle owners are expected to be notified next month.

Dealers will replace the cooling fan resistor and the multifuse unit in all recalled cars. Owners of vehicles with a 1.8 liter engine will also have software updated.

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Behold a Material So Water Repellent That Liquid Just Bounces Off


BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Behold, a material so water-repellent that liquid drops just bounce off the surface.

Two scientists at the University of Rochester, Chunlei Guo and Anatoliy Vorobyev, have created a metal surface that is so hydrophobic that it makes Teflon look like superglue by comparison.

The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of Applied Physics and the related YouTube video has logged more than 965,000 views as of Sunday.

"Super-hydrophobic materials are desirable for a number of applications such as rust prevention, anti-icing, or even in sanitation uses," the researchers said in their description of the video.

Check out the astonishing video below.

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Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Sales Soar on Samsung's Home Turf


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Apple has gained significant market share in Samsung's home country of South Korea due to the company's successful bet on making bigger iPhones.

Following the release of its 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, new data shows that Apple has taken a big bite out of the market shares of its closest smartphone competitors in South Korea -- Samsung and LG.

Apple was responsible for 33 percent of smartphone sales in the country in November, according to data released by Counterpoint Research.

"No foreign brand has gone beyond the 20 percent market share mark in the history of Korea's smartphone industry," said Tom Kang, Counterpoint's research director in South Korea. "But iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have made a difference here, denting the competition's phablet sales."

Apple also gained a bigger slice of the market in Japan, according to Counterpoint, soaring to 51 percent of the market share in November.

Shares of Apple stock opened at $112.32 on Friday, up more than 40 percent in the past year. The company will report earnings for its first fiscal quarter on Jan. 27.

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How to Make the Most of Falling Mortgage Rates


Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is close to 3.6 percent, a near rock-bottom low that’s more than a full percentage point lower than this time last year.

And for many, refinancing could mean huge savings.

In the words of Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran: ”Money’s on sale.”

If a home buyer has a typical $200,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.6 percent and they refinance at 3.6 percent, they stand to save $118 a month — more than $40,000 over the life of that loan.

Too many homeowners across the U.S., however, are paying more than they need to — 20 percent are still paying rates of more than 8 percent, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

“Anyone who has equity in their home — and a rate higher than today’s current rate — should take a look,” said Erin Lantz, a mortgage expert at real estate website Zillow.

Lantz said it was about all about shopping around — something that 47 percent of home buyers never do, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

First-time home buyers Scott and Maya Kohn of Brooklyn, New York, said they had no idea where to start so Lantz shared the following tips to help them save as they look for their new home:

1. Don’t jump at the first offer.

“I always encourage people to look at at least three lenders and talk to them and let them know that you’re talking to other lenders,” Lantz said.

2. Negotiate until you get the best possible deal.

“So the difference between a 3.5 percent rate and a 4.5 percent rate on your purchase price could be savings of $500 a month,” Lantz said.

Experts do caution homeowners though to look at the fees and if they plan to move in two years or less, refinancing likely does not make sense because the costs would outweigh the savings.


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SkyMall Bankruptcy: The Top Ten Products We Never Needed


SkyMall(NEW YORK) -- After a long career entertaining those who forgot to bring their own amusement for their flight, the company that owns SkyMall magazine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday.

For those of who have spent countless hours scanning its product line -- from the mundane to the infamously ridiculous -- this is a sad day, indeed.

To honor the in-flight magazine’s impact on our lives, we've taken to Twitter where Americans are mourning the magazine’s passing using the hashtag #RIPSkyMall. Here’s a look at some of the products we would miss the most:

1. SkyRest Travel Pillow ($29.95)

 

Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. #RIPSkyMall pic.twitter.com/Msh9VhQgrr

— Matt Kirsch (@heymattkirsch) January 23, 2015



So that you can fall asleep instead of reading SkyMall.

2. Wine Enthusiast: Wine Glass holder Necklace ($29.95)

 

 

ugh how can i buy this now #RIPskymall pic.twitter.com/YNUCYrisGk

— Melissa Cronin (@melissa_cronin) January 23, 2015



The perfect product for when you want to keep your glass on hand, hands-free!

3. Seabreacher Customized Boat (a very reasonable $85,000)

 

 

SkyMall is filing for bankruptcy, so get your $50,000 shark submarine/jet ski while you can. pic.twitter.com/h1jj2KD62n

— Jordan Cwierz (@JayOrDan23) January 23, 2015



A bargain at any price.

4. TowlHub with 4 USB Ports ($49.99-$89.99)

 

 

SkyMall is bankrupt? Where will I buy my USB charger/paper towel holder or lifesize #Stormtrooper suit? #RIPskymall pic.twitter.com/SHek8szIzq

— kerryloring (@kerryloring) January 23, 2015



Just what you need, another electronic appliance in the kitchen.

5. Litter Robots ($339.99-$359.99)

 

 

What!? #SkyMall files for bankruptcy. Now where will I get a litter robot for only $359.99? http://t.co/dYU35ZYLcM pic.twitter.com/1OeXZIkRoY

— Shannan Siemens (@ShannanSiemens) January 23, 2015



For the high-tech feline in your life.

 

6. Adult Plush Hopper Ball ($79.99)

 

"I'm a model. Well, you may have seen me recently dressed as a cowboy in Skymall." pic.twitter.com/lH5A4U7Orv

— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) October 22, 2014

 

For the kid in all of us...

7. High Waist Control Boxer Brief ($37.00)

 

@seenigel products like this are what make me love @SkyMall pic.twitter.com/1DA1SXMNuR

— Mathew Katz (@MathewKatz) January 23, 2015



Because men deserve a smooth waistline too!

8. Zombie of Montclaire Moors ($99.95)

 

 

So much for my Spring garden decor plans! #RIPSkymall pic.twitter.com/v1w5wrkjH3

— Peter Kohan (@peterkohan) January 23, 2015



A great icebreaker for your neighbors.

9. Boris the Brontosaurus ($1,950.00)

 

 

SkyMall filed for bankruptcy? You mean to tell me nobody wanted Boris the Brontosaurus?! #RIPSkyMall pic.twitter.com/V3OLPMdRKZ

— Tieks Girl (@tieks) January 23, 2015



Who wouldn't want a 7-foot tall prehistoric garden accessory?

10. Nightglow Toilet Seat ($49.99)

 

 

How could SkyMall be going bankrupt? pic.twitter.com/J9hBDDGgoB

— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) January 23, 2015



Never again will I fall into the toilet at night.

 

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Dow, S&P 500 Reverse Course Following Days of Gains


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After four days of gains, poor earnings reports sent stocks sliding to close the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session on Friday at 17,672.60, down 141.38 from its open.

The Nasdaq however rose 7.48 to 4757.88. The S&P 500 was down 11.33 to close at 2051.82.

Fast-food giant McDonalds reported earnings and sales fell in the fourth quarter, but the company says it will take action to bring customers back.

Mastercard said on Friday it will lift the ban on U.S. credit card transactions in Cuba starting on March, due to new guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Sales of existing homes jumped 2.4 percent in December, but total sales for 2014 slipped more than three percent.

Many first-time buyers were also priced out, as home values increased six percent last year to a median price of just under $210,000.

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The Story Behind the Eight New Messages On Your Candy Hearts This Year


Necco(NEW YORK) -- With Valentine’s Day only a few weeks away, Sweethearts is entering its busy season again. The popular heart-shaped sugar candy regularly adds and removes sayings each year to prep for the new season, but 2015 marks a historic moment for the 149-year-old brand: fan-sourced phrases.

Last year, Sweethearts launched “Color Your Own” black-and-white boxes that had an empty space for young fans to color their phrase suggestions and submit their entries for consideration.

“We saw it as another way to expand the Sweethearts brand and really interact with our younger fan base,” Necco social media specialist Mary Lane told ABC News “It’s a great and fun unique product, so it’s an exciting new innovation for us.”

A panel of five judges chose from over 150 entries that came from 32 states.

“We were excited to see that high of a participation rate, especially our first year,” Lane said. “It took us a while to go through every one to give them all an equal chance, but the winners that we did end up picking really stood out. They put so much effort and creativity into each of those designs.”

The winners were Makendra Mowad from Bristol, Conn., in the 5 to 7 age group, Grace Forgea from Santa Barbara, Calif., in the 8 to 10 age group, and Teagan Clark from Ransomville, New York, in the 11 to 12 age group. Each winner also got $1,000.

Mowad chose “Girl Power,” Forgea went with “Pugs & Kittens” and Clark decided on “Luv 2 Dance.”

“After we contacted them letting them know they had won, their excitement matched our own,” Lane said. “They were so happy to participate to begin with, and the fact that they were winners you could tell for each contestant it really mattered to them and they were proud. One of our contestants told us she included it as a speech in her school.”

In addition to the fan phrases, Sweethearts also added “BFF,” two emojis (a smiley face and a moustache) and “I Love You” in Spanish and French.

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India's Female-Friendly Pink Cabs Come Equipped with Panic Button


Meru Cab/Facebook(DELHI, India) -- In response to an alleged rape by an Uber driver last month, one of India's largest taxi companies is rolling out a new service focused around female safety.

MeruEve, which was officially launched by Meru Cabs in Delhi, is the name given to a new fleet of pink and white hatchbacks outfitted with pepper spray, panic buttons and pink-vested female drivers trained in self defense. The cars are only available to female passengers.

"Today safety has assumed the utmost importance amongst commuters when using local transport," said Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO of Meru Cabs. "At Meru, passenger safety has always been pivotal resulting in various technological innovations to overcome security issues impacting the cab industry. MeruEve is an extension of our efforts and we are proud to launch our new service in support with Delhi Police.”

Liveries designed to appeal to women's safety concerns have existed in India for years, such as ForShe Taxis and Sakha Consulting Wings, both offering female chauffers.

But MeruEve has taken the commitment a step further, working in tandem with Delhi police departments to equip its cars with 3G enabled mobile phones with video recording capability, a panic buzzer, pepper spray, women helpline numbers, and a speed dial for the local distress call number.

In addition, its female drivers are trained by local police how to respond in emergency situations, according to the company announcement.

MeruEve cabs will be available to passengers at a standard radio taxi fare of 23 rupees per kilometer, the announcement stated. The service will be available through a call center, the company's existing mobile app, and via curbside pickup.

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PayPal, Google Join Crimea Tech Exodus


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's a tough time to be a tech savvy person in Crimea.

PayPal and Google are among the companies that are blocking certain services to the beleaguered peninsula, according to reports.

The move comes one month after the United States levied sanctions in retaliation for Russia's annexation of Crimea, as part of an ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

A PayPal spokesperson told ABC News the company strives to offer "uninterrupted service" in all of its 203 markets, however "we regret we cannot provide this high level of support to our customers in Crimea at this time."

"We regret any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to returning to the region once there are conditions for us to offer customers in Crimea uninterrupted service," the spokesperson said.

Several of Google's paid platforms, including AdSense and AdWords, have been cut off in parts of the region, according to reports from Russian media.

If reports are true that Google will shut down its Google Play store in Crimea effective Feb. 1, it would be a blow for a region where Android is the most prevalent mobile operating system.

Google did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment, however a spokesperson told TechCrunch that "Sanctions have recently been imposed on Crimea by the U.S. and the E.U. We are complying with them."

It was also reported earlier this week that developers in Crimea received a message from Apple letting them know their developer agreement was terminated "effectively immediately." Apple did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Some Apple Execs Made More Money than CEO Tim Cook in 2014


Apple(NEW YORK) -- One of the most powerful women in technology has out-earned her boss, Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online stores, earned a hefty $73 million pay package in 2014, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

By comparison, following the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last year, Cook earned $9.2 million -- more than double of what he made in 2013.

Several other Apple executives also earned more money than Cook in 2014 due to stock awards.

Luca Maestri, Apple's chief financial officer, for example, earned $14 million, the SEC filing shows.

But Ahrendts, who joined the company in May 2014 after stepping down as the CEO of British clothing brand Burberry, was by far the top earner at the world's most valuable company. Her compensation package included stock awards worth more than $70 million.

While Ahrendts had a sizable windfall, it's likely that her payday, and Maestri's, will be more in line with their peers for 2015.

Apple's SEC filing notes that "limited exceptions" are made for awards for new hires or in connection with promotions. Ahrendts and Maestri both joined the company last year.

"Because the Company's executive officers operate as a team, the Compensation Committee considers internal pay equity to be an important factor in its decisions on executive compensation," the filing said. "In subsequent years, Ms. Ahrendts and Mr. Maestri are expected to receive the same annual compensation package as other executive officers."

Shares of Apple stock opened at $112.32 on Friday, up more than 40 percent in the past year. The company will report earnings for its first fiscal quarter on Jan. 27.

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Why Google's Eric Schmidt Believes the Internet Will Disappear


Miguel Villagran/Getty Images(DAVOS, Switzerland) -- Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has a jarring prediction for the future of the Internet.

"The Internet will disappear," Schmidt said during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, where the world's brain trust has gathered to discuss everything from technology to the economy.

The comment made plenty of heads spin.

Schmidt expanded on his comments, saying that the Internet will become so seamlessly integrated into our daily lives that it will simply fade into the background.

As wearables gain traction and our homes become smarter and more connected, Schmidt sees a future where the Internet is all around us.

"It will be part of your presence all the time," Schmidt said, according to CNET. "Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room."

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