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US Economy Growing Slower than White House Predicted


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.

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Burger King’s Move Draws Controversy


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.”

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Thanksgiving Flights: Buy Before Labor Day, Experts Say


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It's not yet Labor Day, but the time to buy Thanksgiving weekend flights is right now.

Travel web site Hipmunk has the data to back up the claim that waiting past this week to book for Thanksgiving will mean paying more. Those who buy before Labor Day will save $140 on average as compared to those who wait until the last minute.

Average flight price for Thanksgiving travel booked this week is $424. Those who wait a few weeks and book the last week in September will pay 5 percent more. Won't be sure of your plans until late October? Prepare to pay a 17 percent markup.

If you wait until the last minute hoping to score a deal, you'll pay big: $561 on average, or a 32 percent increase over what you would pay for the same flight booked this week.

Skyscanner, a global travel search engine, concurs. Its data suggests that flight prices for Thanksgiving have dropped 8.3 percent this week and are at the lowest right now.

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Time Warner Cable Service Problems Reported Across the Country


Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Time Warner Cable subscribers across the country experienced service problems Wednesday morning.

The problems started at 4:30 a.m. ET, said Bobby Amirshahi, Vice President of Public Relations for Time Warner Cable.

"During our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services," Amirshahi said in a statement.

Service was largely restored by 6 a.m., Amirshahi said, with updates ongoing to restore service to all customers.

Frustrated subscribes wrote about the situation online, making Time Warner a trending topic on Twitter.

“Nothing says good morning like a nationwide Time Warner Cable internet outage,” one person wrote on Twitter.

More than 11 million residents and companies across the United States subscribe to Time Warner Cable.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he's directed the state's Department of Public Service to investigate the outage "as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner."

"Today's widespread internet outage that has apparently impacted more than 11 million customers at Time Warner -- which is based in New York -- is a stark reminder that our economy is increasingly dependent on a reliable broadband network.  That is one of the reasons I pushed for a stronger standard of review for cable company mergers earlier this year," Gov. Cuomo said in a statement.

He later added, "Dependable internet service is a vital link in our daily lives and telecommunications companies have a responsibility to deliver reliable service to their customers."

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Zara to 'Destroy' T-Shirts Resembling Concentration Camp Uniforms


iStock/Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A popular clothing brand has removed what some are calling a "concentration camp" shirt for kids from its shelves and website after coming under fire on social media.

Zara, a Spanish brand with outposts all over the world including the U.S., was selling in its kids' clothing line a white-and-blue striped shirt with a gold star. Some felt the stripes in combination with a gold star reminiscent of the Star of David looked far too similar to uniforms worn in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Hey @ZARA ! What the ell is wrong with you?! pic.twitter.com/5Xm4TfDvIH

— Carolina Farraj?? (@Carolinafarraj) August 27, 2014

The brand said the shirt was inspired by "classic American Westerns."

But on Twitter Wednesday, Zara apologized in several languages to its 520,000 followers.

@MiguelEL We honestly apologize, it was inspired by the sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films and is no longer in our stores

— ZARA (@ZARA) August 27, 2014

In a statement emailed to ABC News, Inditex, the company that owns Zara, said the t-shirts will be "reliably destroyed."

"The garment was available only for just a few hours and sales of the t-shirt have been marginal," the company said. "Inditex would like to reiterate its utmost respect for all cultures and religions. The Group is a Company where people from 180 nationalities work together representing all the cultures, races and religions of the modern world. Inditex is proud of its cultural diversity. In addition, respect and dignity feature among the principles which guide and define its corporate values. The Group condemns and rejects any form of discrimination."

This isn't the brands first misstep in regards to Nazi-inspired clothing. In 2007, the brand removed from stores a line of handbags with a symbol on them that resembled a swastika.

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Phone Case Helps Users Take the Perfect Selfie


Allan Shoemake/Glow Enterprises LLC(BOONTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.) -- Finding the right lighting, putting on makeup or even having cosmetic work: There’s no limit to what people will do to take the perfect selfie.

But now, thanks to LuMee, an illuminated smartphone case for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, the perfect selfie is finally within reach.

“We’re solving a problem that lots of people didn’t even know they had,” Allan Shoemake, 57, one of the creators of the LuMee case, told ABC News. “It’s great when you’re trying to take a selfie with a background that’s light or inside a cab or restaurant -- mostly low-light situations or at night.”

The Boonton Township, New Jersey, father initially came up with the idea for the LuMee case when he was using Skype to video chat with his daughter, who was studying abroad in Italy.

“I said, ‘I can hardly see you. Why don’t you go by the window?’” Shoemake recalled. “I said to my wife, ‘Why don’t they have a light out there to help light up cellphones or computers?’”

Using foam board, Shoemake plugged in Christmas lights around his computer to light up his screen.

“So the next time we used Skype with my daughter, she was like, ‘Why do you guys look so good?’” said Shoemake.

After working with an electrical engineer to perfect his idea, Shoemake was able to develop his patented LuMee smartphone case, which is available in black or white on Amazon and the LuMee website for $39.95. Samsung Galaxy S6 owners also hoping to take the perfect selfie can buy a LuMee case this October.

While most smartphones come with a flash for the camera, the LuMee case has built-in lights at the front of the case that stay on while you take a selfie, put on makeup or even when you’re taking a photo of your food.

“I’ve been a photographer for 30 years, so I was really picky about the lights and the color temperatures,” Shoemake said. “The beauty of not having a flash is what you see is what you get.”

The case is powered by its own battery that takes 30 to 45 minutes to charge. It can last as long as 2.5 hours on its highest setting and 36 hours at its lowest setting. To adjust the brightness, users can press and hold the dimmer at the back of the case.

“Now they don’t have to search around the room for the best light," Shoemake said. "They could just turn the case on and look beautiful.”

Shoemake is also developing a similar case for the iPad and other tablets.

“There’s nothing like it out there for the perfect selfie, the perfect food shot. It's multifunctional,” Shoemake said. “We’re not going to appeal to every case out there, but everyone needs good lighting.”

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Labor Day Gas Prices Are the Best in Years


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans hitting the road for the Labor Day weekend may get some welcome relief at the pump. That's because gasoline prices this holiday weekend are expected to be at their lowest level in four years.

Currently, the national average price for a gallon of regular is $3.43. That's 16 cents cheaper than Labor Day 2013.

ABC News Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis explains, "Oil is dropping, because we saw prices earlier in the summer above $100 a barrel. There were fears that the instability in Iraq would hit oil supply. They didn't in any major way."

What's also responsible for the decline is that U.S. production of oil is at a 42-year high.

According to AAA, 29.7 million Americans are projected to go on a road trip between this Thursday and next Monday.

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NJ Car Dealer, Subject of ABC News Probe, Ordered to Repay Customers Sold Sandy-Damaged Cars


Design Pics/Thinkstock(OLD BRIDGE, N.J.) -- A New Jersey car dealership operator will have to pay back customers who unknowingly bought Superstorm Sandy-damaged cars from his lot, thanks in part to a five-month ABC's The Lookout investigation into flooded cars being sold on used car lots.

Jonathan Olin, 42, the operator of used car dealership D&D Auto Sales in Old Bridge, N.J., was accused of using false vehicle titles to sell the cars to unsuspecting customers from February 2013 through July 2013, according to prosecutors.

Olin pleaded guilty this week to second-degree theft by deception, and faces three years in state prison. He was also ordered to pay full restitution to the victims.

The ABC's The Lookout team went undercover last summer at D&D Auto Sales, where they discovered a 2006 Ford F-350 truck seriously damaged by Sandy being sold on the lot for $19,999. The truck's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and auction records indicated it was damaged by a flood.

A D&D salesman sold the car to an ABC's The Lookout producer for its asking price and referred to a flood alert on the vehicle's CarFax report as "a glitch."

But when The Lookout team brought the truck to Allan Picker, owner and certified mechanic at All-Time AutoBody in Point Pleasant, N.J., he discovered the car had serious damage, including a corroded transmission and potentially hazardous airbags that could have randomly deployed while driving.

When The Lookout report aired in July 2013, D&D Auto Sales responded to the team's findings, stating, "D&D Auto Sales sincerely regrets the unfortunate misrepresentation of the product by the salesperson. We do not condone such business practices and have terminated the salesman as a result of his independent action. This is in no way reflective of typical business practices at D&D."

But prosecutors said that wasn't an isolated incident and that the dealership knowingly sold other storm-damaged cars.

When prosecutors filed the charges last year, they said the dealership acquired eight vehicles at auction that sustained flood damage during Sandy and were auctioned by an insurance company "for parts only," but the defendants allegedly had fraudulent "clean" titles issued for the vehicles and sold seven of them to customers who were unaware of the flood damage.

Jack Douek, the D&D Auto Sales salesman who sold the car to the undercover ABC's The Lookout producer, now faces three pending charges, including conspiracy to commit theft by deception. ABC News' requests for comment from Douek were not returned.

The New Jersey attorney general revealed an employee of the Freehold Motor Vehicle Agency, Jessie Dinome, was using a state computer to create false clean titles for the flood cars. She pleaded guilty and faces up to a year in county jail.

New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman said in a news release last year that the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission referred the case to the state's Division of Criminal Justice after ABC News aired its investigative report on flood vehicles ending up on used car lots. The vehicle commission also received information from the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program.

An estimated 250,000 cars were submerged for days in corrosive saltwater after Sandy pummeled the Northeast in October 2012, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

CarFax estimates that more than 100,000 Sandy-damaged vehicles ended up back on the road.

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American Airlines Taking Fares Off Orbitz


American Airlines Newsroom(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines says it is pulling fares from consumer travel site Orbitz.com.

The air carrier has announced it will withdraw the fares for American Airlines and U.S. Airways, effective September 1.

A statement from American Airlines says it had tried reach a deal with Orbitz but the economics would not allow it to compete with the low-cost carriers.

The airline says the move will not impact flights that have already been booked and will not affect corporate clients that use Orbitz for business.

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More Gains on Wall Street, Burger King and Tim Hortons Announce Partnership


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street posted another day of gains on Tuesday, following up Monday's milestone for the S&P 500 with another, amidst news that Burger King and Tim Hortons will combine efforts to create a fast-food powerhouse.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 17,106.70, up 29.83 from Monday.

The Nasdaq rose 13.29 to a 4,570.64 close, while the S&P gained 2.1, finished at 2,000.02, the first time the index has ever closed above 2,000.

Reports emerged on Monday that Burger King was looking to buy Tim Hortons. According to a press release from Tim Hortons on Tuesday, the two companies represent a combined $23 billion in sales and 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries. Each chain will continue to operate as independent brands, but will share common ownership.

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Woman Pleads to Stop Alimony Paid to Ex-Husband Accused of Killing New Husband


iStock/Thinkstock(LINDON, Utah) -- Paying alimony to an ex-spouse can be one of those grin-and-bear-it obligations for some, but it's an especially galling burden for a Utah woman whose ex-husband stands accused of killing her new husband.

Joy Sidwell, from Lindon, Utah, asked a judge on Monday to allow her to halt the $500 a month alimony payments to her ex, Fred Lee, who allegedly killed her new husband in July.

Lee, 59, is in the Utah County Jail and set to face aggravated murder charges, among others, authorities said.

On July 3, he told police that he was searching for Sidwell "to kill her," according to court documents. Lee entered a home in search of his ex-wife, but shot and killed her current husband, police said.

Sidwell filed for protective orders and stalking complaints against Lee in 2005 and 2007, but said this alimony issue is another obstacle in the legal system.

"It's going to take a long time to see justice in the court for the trial of the murder, but this would at least be justice for right now," Sidwell told KSL News on Monday.

"I shouldn't need an attorney to have it stopped," Sidwell, who does not have an attorney, told KSL News. "It should be a simple cut-and-dried thing."

Sidwell said she plans to return to court Sept. 15 to once again request a stop to alimony payments, and Lee will have the legal right to contest her petition.

Though the Utah government website does not address an unusual situation like this case, it does reference the role of material changes in modifying alimony payments.

According to Utah state law, "if there are substantial material changes in circumstances not foreseeable at the time of divorce, either party may petition the court for an order modifying alimony. However, the court may not modify alimony to address needs of the recipient that did not exist at the time the decree was entered, unless there are special reasons for doing so."

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A Look Back at the Owners of Burger King


Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Tuesday Burger King announced the acquisition of Tim Hortons, becoming the world's third largest fast-food restaurant company. 

The company has had several owners and holding companies since 1954, including the Pillsbury dough boy and a booze magnate.

In honor of the deal, here is a look back at who has held the Burger King crown over the years:

1954: David Edgerton opened the first Burger King in Miami in 1954, when hamburgers and milkshakes were 18 cents. Three months later, James McLamore joins as a partner and the co-founders form Burger King of Miami Inc.

1960s: In 1961, the two men acquired national and international franchising rights for the Burger King brand, according to the Burger King corporate website. In 1963, South Florida Restaurants Inc. changed its name to Burger King Corp. as it opened its first international restaurants: two locations in Puerto Rico. In 1967, the Pillsbury Co. acquired Burger King for $18 million. At the time, Burger King had 274 restaurants and 8,000 employees across the world, the company states on its website.

1988: In 1988, Grand Metropolitan PLC acquired the Pillsbury Co., including Burger King, for $5.79 billion.

1997: In 1997, Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness to create Diageo PLC.

2000: In 2000, Diageo announces that it planned to spin off Burger King, choosing to instead focus on spirits and liquor.

2002: In 2002, Burger King sold to private equity firms Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners for $1.5 billion.

2006: In 2006, Burger King Holdings went public and listed its stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

2010: On October 19, 2010, 3G Capital acquired Burger King Holdings, turning the restaurant chain into a privately held company again.

2012: In April 2012, Burger King Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Justice Holdings Limited, a publicly listed British investment company, listed Burger King on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading began June 20, 2012, under the ticker NYSE:BKW. 3G Capital maintains about 70% of company ownership, according to the Burger King corporate website.

2014: On Aug. 26, 2014, the home of the Whopper buys Tim Hortons and becomes the world's third largest fast-food restaurant company with $23 billion in sales.

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HP Recalls 5 Million Laptop Power Cords


Courtesy U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (NEW YORK) -- Hewlett-Packard is recalling the power cords for more than 5 million laptops because they can overheat and potentially catch fire.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the HP and Compaq notebook computers impacted by the recall were sold from 2010 to 2012. The power cords are black and have an LS-15 marking on the AC adapter end.

There have been a few reports of the cords melting or charring, and two claims of minor burns.

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Airline Ticket Mix-Up Sends Maryland Man to Grenada, Not Granada, Spain


British Airways Media Centre(NORTH BETHESDA, Maryland) -- A mix-up with airline tickets booked through British Airways landed a Maryland man in a completely different country from his intended destination.

"I had a conference in Lisbon, Portugal, and I saw that as my opportunity to finally get to Spain," Dr. Edward Gamson, of North Bethesda, Maryland, told ABC News. "I had always wanted to see the Alhambra in Granada, Spain."

But a major issue held up Gamson and his partner from their dream vacation: spelling.

Granada, Spain, is spelled similarly to Grenada, a small Caribbean island country located nearly 4,000 miles away near the coast of Brazil, which is where Gamson, who works as an endodontist, and his partner found themselves in September.

Gamson and his partner had flown from Washington, D.C., to London. The two thought they were flying to Spain, but instead boarded a flight to St. Lucia, which was then headed to Grenada.

"Within 20 minutes of departing … we look at this little monitor in front of us, and the plane's heading west, so I go up to the flight attendant and said, 'Why west? Why not south? We're going to Spain,'" Gamson recalled. "He said, 'Spain, what are you talking about? We're going to Grenada. We're in the West Indies,' and my heart just dropped."

While Grenada was spelled correctly on their tickets, Gamson said he didn’t notice because he was in vacation mode.

"We had just flown across the Atlantic first class and really enjoyed it. I think just my mindset was like, 'Just lay back, and don't think about it,'" Gamson said.

So the two flew to St. Lucia, then caught a flight to Miami. From Miami, they flew back to London and finally to Lisbon.

The grueling three-day travel schedule of seven different flights cost a total $2,776.

"When I booked [the trip], with British Air, not only was I specific on city and country, but I even gave airport codes," he said. "And I certainly had no way of anticipating that there could be a booking agent who didn't know the difference between the West Indies and Spain."

Gamson tried to move forward with a $34,000 lawsuit against British Airways for the mix-up, a number he said was based on the cost of his first class flights and lost wages for time he would have been working. The case was dismissed last week. In a statement to ABC News, British Airways officials said they had tried to work with Gamson to compensate him for the error.

"British Airways is focused on providing exceptional service to all its customers," the statement said. "As a goodwill gesture we offered Mr. Gamson and his companion new flights to Granada, Spain, which they declined. Instead they accepted free-of-charge flights to an alternate destination and enough Avios frequent flyer points for them to book another trip in the future. The customers also continued to pursue a legal case against British Airways, which was dismissed by the court in Washington D.C. last week."

Gamson is still deciding whether or not he will appeal the dismissal. He claims that these offers were never extended.

He and his partner did eventually make it to Granada in May, but say they paid for the trip themselves.

"Now I've waited a long time, but this trip really was worth it," Gamson said. "It was that beautiful."

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Drivers May Get a Break at the Pump this Labor Day Weekend


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans hitting the road this weekend for Labor Day may get some relief at the pump.

Gas prices this holiday weekend are expected to be at their lowest level in four years. Currently, the national average price for a gallon of gas is $3.43 -- 16 cents cheaper than Labor Day 2013.

"Oil is dropping, because we saw prices earlier in the summer above $100 a barrel. There were fears that the instability in Iraq would hit oil supply. They didn't in any major way. Plus, here in the United States, we're producing the most oil since 1972. That is driving oil prices down, and as a result, prices at the pump are dropping, too," ABC News Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis explains.

According to AAA, 29.7 million Americans are projected to go on a road trip between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1.

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