iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- SeaWorld San Diego has gotten approval to build larger tanks for killer whales.
On Thursday, the California Coastal Commission voted to allow the major expansion for SeaWorld San Diego that will replace its existing 1.7 million-gallon tank with a 450,000-gallon pool and a 5.2-million gallon tank that would hold 11 killer whales, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The commission said it would not allow captive breeding.
The Los Angeles Times reports the vote had been delayed since August because commission staff wanted enough time to "ensure that all viewpoints and relevant information are addressed in any final recommendation."
The new "Blue World" expansion is set to open in 2018 and will cost $100 million.
SeaWorld has been under fire for poor treatment of killer whales since the release of the documentary Blackfish which said the park had been abusing killer whales, leading to a decline in visitor attendance.
iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Chicago's iconic Tribune Tower may soon go up for sale.
On Thursday, Tribune Media Co. announced that the company is considering selling the 36-story tower which houses operations for the Chicago Tribune.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has hired a real estate firm to explore "all transaction options with a goal of maximizing proceeds to the company while creating a compelling mixed-use destination for the city."
The building currently resides on Chicago's Michigan Avenue within three acres.
It was built in 1925 after two New York designers won a contest held by the Chicago Tribune to design the new headquarters.
The Tribune Tower was also named a Chicago landmark in 1989.
ABC News(FONTANA, Calif.) -- About $600,000 in cash stolen during a million-dollar armored car heist in Los Angeles last year was recently found buried in the backyard of a home in Fontana, Calif., according to the FBI.
Several FBI agents and Los Angeles Police Department detectives showed up at the home with a search warrant Wednesday morning after receiving a tip from an informant, FBI Spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told ABC News.
Law enforcement officials immediately began digging in the backyard and found the $600,000 in the form of $100 and $20 bills inside a blue Tupperware bin, Eimiller said. The current residents of the home were cooperative, and no arrests were made, she added.
The home where the $600,000 was found belongs to one of the men accused of stealing over $1 million in June of 2014, Eimiller said. She added that the FBI was not publicly sharing which of the three defendants in the case lived at the home.
The million-dollar heist happened on June 27, 2014, when Cesar Yanez, 37, and his partner Aldo Esquivel Vega, 28, were supposed to be transporting a multi-million dollar shipment of cash for Bank of America in an armored car, according to a news release from the Central District of California U.S. Attorney's office. Yanez and Vega were employed for armored car service Loomis at the time.
Yanez and Vega stopped in a parking lot, where Vega opened the rear doors of the car and allowed Yanez to access the cash storage area, the U.S. Attorney's office said. It was alleged that Yanez removed $1,086,000 in cash and placed it into a trash can that was later picked up by his wife, Leticia Yanez. A woman named Jovita Medina Guzman later delivered some of the stolen money to Vega, prosecutors added.
Cesar Yanez, Leticia Yanez and Aldo Vega were charged with conspiracy to commit bank larceny and bank larceny last November, and Cesar Yanez and Jovita Guzman were charged with possession of bank larceny proceeds, the U.S. Attorney's office announced last November, according to federal court records. Guzman was also charged as an accessory for attempting to hinder and prevent her co-defendants’ apprehension, trial, and punishment.
During a trial last year, Cesar Yanez pleaded guilty, and he is currently serving a nearly five-year sentence in federal prison, court records show.
Vega, Guzman and Leticia Yanez are still awaiting trial and have entered not guilty pleas, according to Justin Rhoades, the lawyer prosecuting the case in federal court.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gains for Wall Street on Thursday despite the Fed's confirmation of planned interest rate raises.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 138.46 on Thursday, finishing the session at 17050.75. This is the first time since August that the Dow has closed above 17000.
The Nasdaq ended at 4810.79, up 19.64 from its open, while the S&P 500 gained 17.60 to close at 2013.43.
The Federal Reserve released their meeting minutes from September on Thursday. The report confirms that the Fed plans to raise interest rates by the end of the year, but held off from raising rates in September because of China's economic slowdown.
EBay and Etsy's stock are down after Amazon released its own craft site called Handmade at Amazon, a new site touted by the e-commece giant as a place for "artisans to sell their unique, handcrafted goods." Ebay's stocks were down more than 7 percent.
Netflix's stock also moved up after the streaming sevice announced it will raise the price of its standard subscription. New customers will now have to pay $9.99, up a dollar from the previous price.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While policymakers including President Obama have emphasized the importance of affordable child care, for many families, finding quality care can be more expensive than their rent.
The cost of child care for two children exceeded rent in 500 out of 618 family budget areas, according to a new paper by the Economic Policy Institute, a worker advocacy group. EPI determined that child care costs for families with two children range from about half as much as rent in San Francisco to nearly three times rent in Binghamton, N.Y.
"As policymakers look for ways to improve living standards for the vast majority of Americans who have endured decades of stagnant wages, increasing child care affordability is an excellent place to start," the report states.
The study's family budget areas cover all the regions of the U.S. The metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., for example, was divided into three family budget areas: D.C. proper (or within the limits of the U.S. capital), Maryland suburbs and the Virginia suburban area.
Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said the study overall shows that affordable, quality childcare is out of reach for many families who earn a minimum wage.
"One of the things we're trying to point out is that the scale of the problem is enormous, and if I wanted policy makers to be thinking about how to address the child care process, they should be coming up with solutions at the scale of the problem," Gould said.
In San Francisco the average monthly rent is $1,956 for two adults and two children, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The average monthly cost of child care for two children in the city is $901. In Binghamton, N.Y., average monthly rent for the same size family is $692 while the average child care cost is $2,011 a month.
"Quality [child care] should cost more money, but there is the issue of wages," Gould said.
The burden of child care costs can be particularly challenging for single-income households, or when there is pressure for a parent to drop out of the workforce.
Center-based child care for single-parent families with children (ages 4 and 8) as a percentage of family budgets range from 11.7 percent in New Orleans to 33.7 percent in Buffalo, N.Y.
Nearly 11 million children younger than five are in some type of child care arrangement each week, according to the study. These children spend an average of 36 hours a week in child care, which can cost $500 a month for an infant.
"Obviously if you have an infant, child care costs will be different for that of a five year old, which is mostly after-school care," Gould said. "When you have an infant earlier in your career, it can be even harder. That's why you can see women dropping out of the labor force."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the cost of both child care and nursery school have risen 168 percent over the past quarter century.
President Obama spoke about the high costs of child care at the State of the Union address in January.
"In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than eve," he said. "It’s not a nice-to-have -- it’s a must-have. So it’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or as a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us."
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted a universal pre-K program for families as a way "to fight inequality and give every family opportunity."
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Michael Horn, Volkswagen Group of America CEO and president, was in the hot seat on Capitol Hill Thursday, answering questions about the company's 11 million diesel cars that may have cheated emissions standards around the world.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., relaying questions from his constituents, asked Horn at the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing how he can consider himself a member of the human race, or how he sleeps at night, and compared Horn to convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff.
“My answer to myself is that I do everything -- and I don’t sleep at night -- to help our dealers, to help our customers and to be there for my company and our employees to get us through this crisis here in the U.S.,” Horn said.
In prepared remarks, Horn said he was first informed about "possible emissions non-compliance" in the spring of 2014, but he was told that the issue would be "remedied." It was only last month, however, when the company told regulators a number of its diesel car models had been installed with "defeat device" software that causes 482,000 cars to cheat on U.S. emissions standards tests. Regulators say Volkswagen's diesel cars emit nitrogen oxides, or NOx, at 10 to 40 times the federal limit. Several lawsuits have been filed against Volkswagen and former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned from the company last month.
Horn also said that the defeat device was intentionally installed to cheat emissions testing. He said Volkswagen has withdrawn its application for certification by U.S. regulators to sell 2016 model-year diesel-powered vehicles though the company is working with the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies to continue the certification process. Because the EPA has said the cars are legal and safe to drive, Horn said the company would most likely not provide loaner cars to customers who choose not to drive the affected cars. Horn said the company has not determined potential financial compensation to customers who bought the affected cars.
Horn noted that the oldest generation of the affected vehicles, with 430,000 of these cars in the U.S., would most likely need both a hardware and software fix. Horn said it could take more than one year to complete the repairs in all of these cars in question. Repairs could last five to 10 hours per car, he said.
The affected second-generation Passat diesel models will “most probably” only require a software solution, which Horn said may begin in the middle of next year because of its “technical complexity.”
Volkswagen could begin repairs on the newest, or third generation models, in January, according to Horn.
Horn explained that Volkswagen has provided financial relief to its dealers who are fielding angry calls from customers, including paying maximum bonuses to dealers for each car sold, which is more than $1,500 per car.
Some lawmakers questioned whether Volkswagen's proposed fixes were enough to solve the emissions problem.
“Mr. Horn your statements don’t give me much confidence that these cars are going to be fixed,” Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., told Horn.
Earlier this week, Matthias Mueller, Winterkorn's replacement, told a German newspaper the company will launch a recall of affected cars in January with a goal to fix all the vehicles by the end of 2016.
Volkswagen told dealers to halt sales of both new vehicles and certified pre-owned cars equipped with the 4-cylinder 2.0 TDI engine. Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, also implemented a stop-sale for its model with that same engine, the A3 2.0 TDI.
On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee began investigating whether the company received tax subsidies for fuel-efficient vehicles under false pretenses. The committee said some of the hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen vehicles sold in the U.S. that included defeat devices could have been purchased using the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit, which was created for qualifying fuel-efficient vehicles. Four Volkswagen models were deemed eligible for the credit, which amounted to $1,300 per vehicle purchase. Lawmakers are asking the IRS, EPA and Justice Department to consider whether they should levy fines or enforcement actions against Volkswagen to recoup the value of the tax credits that were provided to taxpayers who bought the affected cars.
A spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew about the matter this week, said that Volkswagen car buyers shouldn’t suffer financially for the company’s “misdeeds.”
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook's solution to the frequently requested "dislike" button is here.
The company revealed on Thursday it is testing "Reactions," a set of six emoji that can be chosen when liking a post simply doesn't feel right.
"As you can see, it's not a 'dislike' button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly. We studied which comments and reactions are most commonly and universally expressed across Facebook, then worked to design an experience around them that was elegant and fun," Chris Cox, chief product officer at Facebook, said on his page.
The pilot test, which will begin Thursday in Ireland and Spain, leads users who hover or long-press the like button to a set of six emoji letting them say "yay" and "wow," express love and laughter or sadness and anger.
"We’ll use the feedback from this to improve the feature and hope to roll it out to everyone soon," Cox said.
Mark Zuckerberg sparked excitement at a town hall last month when he said Facebook had something in the works to address the problem of wanting to show support for a post but not necessarily liking it.
"What they really want is the ability to express empathy," Zuckerberg said. "Not every moment is a good moment."
Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images for AWXII(NEW YORK) — Alphabet, the parent company is Google, is making sure it has everything from A to Z covered online. Literally.
The newly formed company, which made it official last week when Google's stock transferred from "Google Inc." to "Alphabet" now owns abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com.
"We realized we missed a few letters in abc.xyz, so we’re just being thorough," an Alphabet spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. There is currently nothing on the website and it is unclear how Alphabet plans to use it.
Creating a new company called Alphabet in 2015 of course comes with its challenges when claiming a piece of online real estate.
The domain name Alphabet.com is already owned by the BMW Group, while ABC owns ABC.com. The 26-letter domain name Alphabet just scooped up was created in 1999, according to DomainInvesting.com. It was unclear how much Alphabet paid for the url.
Announced in August, the surprise decision to slim down Google and make it a subsidiary of the newly created Alphabet is intended to allow each company to focus on what it does best.
Google has always been a search engine and advertising business at its core but over the years it's grown into a company with diverse interests ranging from self-driving cars to home automation systems. The idea of Alphabet is to spin off some of those businesses from Google.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Amazon's quest to dominate the online shopping experience expanded into Etsy's territory Thursday with the launch of Handmade at Amazon, an online bazaar where artisans can sell their homemade goods.
A decade after Etsy opened for business, the marketplace has shown there is a hunger for one-of-a-kind goods. When the company filed for its initial public offering last year, it reported nearly $2 billion in yearly sales.
Now, Amazon is hoping to tap into that demand.
"Knowing an item has a unique story behind it creates a personal experience that customers have told us makes owning handmade items special," Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace, said in a statement.
While both sites are positioned as competitors, there are some key differences between Handmade at Amazon and Etsy, including their seller bases, fee structure and manufacturing policies.
For now, Handmade is open to sellers who apply and are accepted into the bazaar, while Etsy allows anyone to set up a shop.
Handmade currently includes 5,000 sellers from 60 countries offering 80,000 items. By comparison, Etsy reported 1.5 million active sellers and 21.7 million active buyers in nearly every country in the world as of June 30.
While Amazon's initial seller base is significantly smaller, the company does have the benefit of having a 285 million-strong customer base.
The cuts both sites take from their sellers are also different. Handmade at Amazon will take a 12 percent referral fee in exchange for listing the products and payment processing. Etsy charges its artisans 20 cents per listing, a 3.5 percent fee when a transaction is made and another 3 percent fee plus 25 cents for processing a payment, according to the company's website.
Sellers on Handmade at Amazon will have to certify their items are "factory free" while Etsy has allowed some merchants to apply to use manufacturers that meet certain Etsy criteria.
"Etsy supports sellers who want to scale their businesses with responsible manufacturing partnerships," the company's website says. "For example, you can work with a cut-and-sew shop to make clothes you've designed, a casting house that casts your wax models, or a digital printer that turns your photographs into tangible items."
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Lumber Liquidators on Wednesday announced a $10 million settlement with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice over accusations that some of its foreign suppliers had harvested more timber than their permits allowed.
According to a release from the company, Lumber Liquidators cooperated with federal authorities and will pay the full penalty, including a $7.8 million fine, more than $1 million in community service contributions to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, and a nearly $1 million forfeiture payment. In doing so, the company will plead guilty to four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which governs protection of plants, fish and wildlife.
Lumber Liquidator will also plead guilty to a felony charge of entry of goods by means of false statements.
The company had previously ceased sales of $4.1 million of engineered hardwood flooring over compliance concerns. In the settlement, Lumber Liquidators will pay $3.2 million to the DOJ, but will be allowed to sell the products and retain any proceeds.
Lumber Liquidators Chief Compliance and Legal Officer Jill Witter said that the company would also work with the DOJ to develop "one of the strongest and most comprehensive" environmental compliance plans in the industry.
JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday's session on Wall Street saw stocks close up despite concerns over oil prices and China's slowing economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 122.1 on Wednesday, finishing the session at 16912.29. The index has posted gains in four consecutive sessions.
The Nasdaq jumped 42.79 to a close of 4791.15, while the S&P 500 ended the day at 1995.83, 15.91 higher than its open.
Consumer credit increased by $16 billion in August, the Federal Reserve said, though that figure was less than anticipated. Americans, experts said, are taking out more automobile and student loans. That trend is expected to continue in the coming months.
Also on Wednesday, Hewlett Packard unveiled new products, including an eight-inch Windows tablet called the Envy Note 8, which will be available to ship in early November.
Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel speaks onstage at 'Fantasy Sports: Changing The Fan Experience Daily' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film Interactive Festival at Four Seasons Hotel on March 15, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)(NEW YORK) -- Amid scandal involving the use of insider information to win money, both FanDuel and DraftKings have permanently banned their employees from playing in any public daily fantasy sports games for money.
Last week, a DraftKings employee admitted to accidentally releasing data on a daily fantasy competition involving the NFL prior to the third week of NFL games. That same week, the employee won $350,000 at rival site FanDuel. Many accused the employee of insider trading.
On Wednesday, both companies announced that their employees would no longer be allowed to participate in competitions on any of daily fantasy website.
"Trust with our players is core to our business and has always been our primary concern," said a statement from FanDuel. "We take any potential game integrity issue very seriously."
While FanDuel says there is no evidence that the integrity of its contests were compromised in any way, the company would take a number of immediate steps to bolster the level of trust among its users.
FanDuel will permanently ban its employees from playing "any daily fantasy games for money, on any site." All users will also have to confirm that they are not employed by any other third party fantasy site.
Furthermore, FanDuel says, it has asked a former federal judge and attorney general Michael Mukasey to conduct a review of the company's practices and provide recommendations to improve its practices.
DraftKings also said it would permanently bar its employees from for-cash daily fantasy competitions as well, adding "we are glad to see that others in the industry have followed suit and believe that this is an important next step in retaining the trust of our players."
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A potential strike by the United Automobile Workers union against Fiat Chrysler could have a lasting impact on car buyers.
A midnight deadline looms over Fiat Chrysler after the United Auto Workers notified the Italian-American carmaker on Tuesday that the union is ending its labor contract at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday night.
Last week, 65 percent of the union's members rejected a tentative agreement with Fiat Chrysler. Among the demands of the union are cost-of-living pay increases, abolishing a two-tier pay structure and ending shifts that are 10 hours per day, four days a week.
Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are waiting for a deal to be reached between the union and Fiat Chrysler before starting their negotiations.
Richard Hilgert, automotives senior equity analyst at Morningstar, said there is a "solid probability" that a short-lived strike may occur, though company management and the union are resuming negotiations ahead of the deadline. The union informed members Wednesday that they may be disqualified from unemployment insurance in many states due to participation in a strike, but all dues-paying members are eligible for strike assistance.
Fiat Chrysler has 23 plants in the U.S. and employs 80,000 workers around the world, half of which are UAW workers, according to a company spokesperson, who declined to comment about the potential strike. Though the strike may not affect all of the company's factories, union members posted notices inside a key plant in Kokomo, Indiana, informing workers of the strike deadline. A strike could impact production on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Ram 1500.
UAW President Dennis Williams addressed members in a letter Monday, writing, “We have real challenges. We all know that without investment and product there is no true job security. For someone to suggest we endorse products going to Mexico is just nonsense. We have been fighting NAFTA and other trade agreements every day and are still fighting.”
The UAW did not respond to a request for comment.
In the short term, if a strike were to occur, there could be availability issues depending on the duration of the shutdown, Hilgert said.
"Longer term, the price consumers pay at the dealership is directly impacted by the total compensation paid to labor," Hilgert said. "If total labor compensation at one carmaker gets too high relative to the rest of the industry, that company would have to charge higher prices and consumers are likely to take their business elsewhere."
There's another issue at stake for Fiat Chrysler, the world's seventh-largest automaker.
"The union rank-and-file has to recognize that their competition comes from everywhere around the world," Hilgert said. "While it’s absolutely important that labor is fairly compensated, the level of compensation has to enable Fiat Chrysler to compete on a global basis."
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MILAN) -- Domino's may be in 80 international markets, but its boldest move yet may be opening its first restaurant in Italy.
The American pizza chain's first Italian location opened in the city of Milan on Monday, and the company said it plans to open three in that city by the end of the year. A franchisee called ePizza S.p.A., doing business as Domino's Pizza Italia, has the rights to operate the Domino's brand in Italy, the home of pizza.
The man who is the franchisee, Alessandro Lazzaroni, was previously a commercial retail director of an Italian bakery company, Galbuser, Domino's said.
"Domino's is a global brand, with American roots, and we're proud to be able to introduce it to the Italian people – with a twist," Lazzaroni said in a statement. "We will be using a recipe created by us, using locally-sourced wheat. Everything else is purely Italian. We are purchasing all of our products from Italian producers. We've created our own recipe, starting for the original pizza recipe, with Italian products, like 100 percent tomato sauce and mozzarella, and products like Prosciutto di Parma, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano and Mozzarella di bufala Campana."
According to Domino's, Italians eat pizza an average of seven times a month and the traditional Margherita pizza, among the varieties Domino's will offer, is favored by 70 percent of Italian consumers.
Richard Allison, president of Domino's International, said that he understands the risk of entering Italy, which even coffee giant Starbucks has shied away from due to particular Italian tastes.
"Italy can be a major milestone for the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, as no major American pizza brand has successfully entered the market," Allison said in a statement. "We're going where no major pizza brand has gone before."