bizoo_n/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is stepping up its investigation of the faulty airbags that resulted in the recall of more than seven million vehicles.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said Thursday that the agency is, "compelling [airbag manufacturer] Takata to produce documents and answer questions under oath relevant to our ongoing investigation into defective airbags they have produced."
The Detroit News reports that Takata must provide those documents by Dec. 1 or face fines of up to $7,000 per day.
The airbags are blamed for at least three deaths and over 100 injuries; in some cases, the canisters holding the bags reportedly shattered as the airbags inflated, sending metal fragments hurtling towards victims. Friedman said he expects the company's "full cooperation."
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A very happy birthday, indeed!
When Deisi Ocampo woke up on her birthday on Oct. 6, she had no idea the gift her father had given her would soon make her a multi-millionaire.
“I rarely play the lottery,” Ocampo, 19, of Chicago, wrote to ABC News. “My dad buys tickets once in a while and thought it would fun to get me two tickets for my birthday.”
The following day, she didn’t think much of it when she scratched off the first set of numbers. But when she finished scratching the second ticket, “I began to shake and sweat out of nervousness,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it was real.”
The birthday girl had won $4 million dollars.
She called her father, who needless to say, was equally stunned.
“He couldn’t believe it,” Ocampo explained of her dad’s reaction. “He thought I was teasing him. When I told him I had won, he asked if it was $500, and I said, ‘No $4 million!’”
But the newfound millionaire isn’t letting the money go to her head. She plans to continue working at a clothing store because her family "is humble and believes in a strong work ethic."
As for how Ocampo plans to spend the new earnings, she's being reasonable about that, as well.
“I will share with my dad so he can buy a new home for my mom, dad and sister,” she said. “I plan to use a portion to pay for college since I want to become a nurse and take care of babies.”
When asked if this was the best birthday she’s ever had, Ocampo simply replied, “Definitely!”
vichie81/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets rallied from a down day Wednesday on the back of positive earnings reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 221.11 point, climbing to 17,195.42.
The Nasdaq jumped to 4,566.14, gaining 16.91 on the day, while the S&P 500 climbed closer to the 2,000 mark, gaining 12.35 to close at 1,994.65.
The Department of Commerce announced on Thursday that the national gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter -- exceeding private-sector forecasters' expectations.
"Today's advance estimate of real GDP shows that America's economy is coming back," Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said. "Recent data show that the U.S. economy has rebounded more strongly than most others around the world, leading the global recovery."
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a settlement just reached, the Federal Trading Commission is fining more than 12 online dating sites about $600,000, saying those sites created fake profiles to lure users into upgrading to paid memberships.
According to the FTC, the sites, all run by parent company JDI Dating, created fake profiles to send messages to users, enticing them to upgrade to paid memberships in order to continue the conversation.
The FTC also said the sites did not disclose that the subscriptions would be renewed automatically, often without the users’ consent.
JDI’s dating sites boast more than 12 million users.
"The websites committed wrongdoing by failing to disclose the automatic renewal terms and they baited and switched by claiming these are the people who like you but they were really fake profiles," legal analyst Mark Eiglarsh told ABC News.
While browsing a site’s members may sometimes be free of cost, paying to send messages to members is standard and legal in the online dating industry.
For example, Match.com requires that people subscribe before they can send messages to people, but, according to the FTC, other sites, such as FlirtCrowd.com, which is run by JDI Dating, almost always used fake, computer-generated profiles that were designed to trick users into believing they had attracted the attention of an actual person.
In its press release, the FTC says, “The fake profiles and messages caused many users to upgrade to paid subscriptions.”
This is the first time that the FTC has taken legal action for alleged dating deception.
Couples therapist Dr. Mike Dow told ABC News there are two things dating site users should look out for.
"Make sure you're not looking at a picture that is too good to be true," Dow said. "If a site is trying to up-sell you at every turn, that may be another red flag."
JDI Dating did not reply to ABC News' request for comment.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tim Cook is “proud to be gay.” The Apple CEO makes this declaration in an essay titled “Tim Cook Speaks Up” for Bloomberg Businessweek.
While Cook has never been secretive about his sexuality, he admits in the written piece, “this wasn’t an easy choice,” and that he has not publicly acknowledged the subject either -- until now.
“So let me be clear,” he writes, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook says privacy remains important to him and does not consider himself to be an activist, but “I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others.”
“So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade off with my own privacy,” he continues.
Earlier this week, Cook encouraged lawmakers in his home state of Alabama to move toward equality for all people, insisting the state had moved too slow on LGBT and racial issues.
Centre for Process Innovation(NEW YORK) -- Imagine flying on an airplane and being able to see the clouds all around you. That’s what one company plans on achieving in the next 10 years -- an airplane without windows.
The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a U.K.-based cutting edge technology association, envisioned the next generation aircraft in an effort to conserve fuel, while drastically transforming the customer experience.
“Removing the windows will significantly reduce the weight of the aircraft, saving fuel and therefore reducing operational costs,” says Matthew Herbert, marketing manager for CPI. “The windows will be replaced by high quality flexible OLED displays that are connected to digital cameras integrated into the exterior of the plane.”
Lower operational costs, the company claims, will in turn result in reduced airfares.
In addition to the windowless element, passengers can surf the web, enjoy in-flight entertainment, or change the views from different angles of the plane.
A few months ago, Spike Aerospace, Inc. introduced the concept behind the "world's first supersonic jet," called the Spike S-512, which also has a windowless feature.
Courtesy Bill Lewis(NEW YORK) -- With the last drink clocking in at a measly 60 espresso shots, this 101-shot drink is definitely now the biggest free Starbucks drink on record.
Bill Lewis, a credit repair and identity theft expert in Florida, has over 10,000 Facebook followers and wanted to make the drink for them.
“Everybody always makes fun of my coffee selections on my Facebook page,” Lewis told ABC News.
Lewis typically orders an extra-hot 6-shot venti latte with vanilla and mocha syrups and heavy cream instead of milk. People often comment that it’s an expensive daily drink (nearly $10), so he wanted to have some fun with it.
He went to a dozen Starbucks before he found one in Fort Lauderdale that would make him such a large drink.
Starbucks has spoken out against these record-setting drinks in the past, telling ABC News that drinks like these are “excessive and something that we do not encourage. We want to ensure our customers receive the highest quality and most delicious tasting food and beverage products from us and, we don’t believe that [these] particular beverage choice[s are] reflective of that.” The company discourages stores from offering these beverages, which is why Lewis had difficulty finding one to participate.
“I went in yesterday morning at 6 a.m. and ordered the grande which has 2 shots in it,” Lewis said.
But that was only the beginning of filling his 160-ounce novelty mug. Lewis then added 99 shots of espresso, 17 shots of vanilla, 6 shots of mocha, and some matcha powder to add an extra 60 cents to the check.
“It tasted good,” he said of the final result. “It was a little strong.”
His total rang up at a whopping $0, because of the “My Starbucks Rewards” loyalty program, which allows customers to receive a free beverage or food item on their birthday as well as a free item after earning 12 Stars (earned through purchase). Customers can then customize the beverage however they wish. Without the rewards, the drink would have been $83.75.
Lewis shared his drink with friends and a homeless man who was outside the store.
M.L. Gray/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Toy giant Hasbro has stepped forward to help the creator of one of it’s most popular board games, Operation, pay for an operation of his own.
John Spinello, who created what would become Operation, the classic board game that allows players to test their fine motor skills using a tweezer, is in need of a reported $25,000 in oral surgery.
When Spinello -- who sold his game for $500 in the 1960s to a toy company that would then license it to game giant Milton Bradley -- was unable to pay his medical costs, his friends, toy designers Tim Walsh and Peggy Brown, started a fund on CrowdRise.com to raise the money.
After the fundraising drive went viral, Hasbro stepped forward Wednesday to announce they will purchase the original Operation game prototype that Spinello had planned to put up for auction.
Hasbro took ownership of Operation in the 1980s when it purchased Milton Bradley.
“Today we informed Mr. Spinello that Hasbro plans to purchase the prototype with the hope that the funds will help to defray his medical costs,” the company said in a statement to ABC News. "We plan to proudly display it at Hasbro’s global headquarters in Pawtucket, RI to honor his contribution to Hasbro’s gaming history.”
In Operation, players carefully guide a tweezer through the body of a “patient” to remove his illnesses. If their tweezer motions aren’t precise and they go out of bounds they could set off the dreaded buzzer.
Spinello and his wife, Madeline, said in a statement to ABC News that they feel “really good” that Hasbro has purchased the prototype.
“It will have a happy home in their museum. That’s where it belongs,” the pair wrote. “As for medical costs -- everything that is contributing to the success of the campaign is going to make life easier for John [Spinello] and what he needs medically. We feel positive about Hasbro purchasing the prototype -- we’re very happy about it.”
The CrowdRise page created by Brown and Walsh has now received over $26,000 in donations, exceeding its $25,000 goal.
“What can we say? We woke up this morning to $25,200!,” Walsh posted on the website Thursday morning. "We can’t thank you all enough.”
“We’re working on a special video thank you coming soon,” he wrote.
MariuszBlach/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Internal Revenue Service issued tax guidelines regarding charitable and other relief related to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The IRS press release notes two tax designations designed to promote donations and aid for West Africa. Employees, the agency says, "may donate their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments made to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief" to Ebola victims in West Africa. In doing so, an employee would forego leave in exchange for employer cash payments made before Jan. 1, 2016. That donated leave will not be included in income or wages of the employee, and employers can deduct the amount of the cash payment.
The second guideline allows American employees in West Africa to receive reimbursement from an employer-sponsored charitable organization for medical expenses incurred as a result of the outbreak, without the reimbursement being included in the individual's income for federal tax purposes.
The announcement follows similar steps taken following other international disasters, including the Japan earthquake and tsunami and the Haiti earthquake.
Cameron Whitman/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it would end its recession-era bond purchasing program, noting improvement in the labor market and the financial landscape.
According to a press release, the Federal Open Market Committee found at their September meeting that with the economy growing at a moderate pace and improved labor market conditions, the bond-buying program can be ended this month. "Moreover, the [Fed] continues to see sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing progress toward maximum employment in a context of price stability," the release read.
The Fed did, however, reaffirm its belief that interest rates should remain where they are for the time being.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets fell on Wednesday, following a strong start to the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 31.44 to 16,974.31, falling back below 17,000 just one day after it jumped back over the milestone.
The Nasdaq slumped 15.06, closing at 4,549.23, while the S&P 500 slid 2.75 to a finish of 1,982.30.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced that it would end its bond-buying program later this month. That decision was made after the Federal Open Market Committee determined that "there has been a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market" since the program was implemented.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- UPS reps were “horrified” recently when they watched a store’s surveillance video showing one of their drivers treating a package with little care, a store associate said.
“[The UPS driver] just basically threw the thing out the door,” Ray Martel of East Hills Instruments in Westbury, New York, told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.
On Monday, Martel said the UPS driver -- who was not the store’s “regular” guy -- delivered a box to East Hills Instruments.
When the driver was told that the box needed to be returned to the sender because East Hills did not accept cash-on-delivery items, he became disgruntled, Martel said Wednesday.
“He wasn’t happy to have to bring it back,” he said.
As the driver left the store with the box, containing a sensitive $12,000 pressure gauge, Martel said he went to take a phone call. Later, though, he said the store’s receptionist suggested that he watch the tape.
In the video, the worker flips the box out of the store, not using a cart or a dolly. Martel said the driver didn’t ask for one even though the store has a hand truck.
“It was disappointing to see that happen,” Martel said. “[It was] not the right thing to do. ...If he needed help, he could’ve just asked.”
On Tuesday, a UPS representative came to the store to view the tape.
In a statement, the company said: “UPS drivers are trained to handle every package with care. … UPS does not condone this specific driver’s behavior.”
The company apologized to the customer, saying that the problem would be investigated and that corrective action would be taken against the driver.
Martel said tracking late Wednesday showed that the box was still en route to Pittsburgh.
He said he was concerned about the box and that he and UPS were waiting to hear back from the client on the gauge’s condition.
CurrentC(NEW YORK) -- CurrentC, the mobile payments solution being tested by Walmart and other retailers, confirmed on Wednesday it has been hacked.
"Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of our CurrentC pilot program participants and individuals who had expressed interest in the app," Linda Walsh, a spokeswoman for Merchant Customer Exchange, told ABC News in a statement.
"Many of these email addresses are dummy accounts used for testing purposes only. The CurrentC app itself was not affected," Walsh said.
She added that the breach was communicated to the app's test users and to the group's merchant partners -- among them Walmart, Target and 7-Eleven.
The mobile payments solution was quietly announced in September, but was thrust into the spotlight earlier this week when it was reported that some retailers involved in the development of CurrentC had taken measures to disable or alter their NFC readers so Apple Pay, a competitor, cannot be used.
A consortium of retailers, including Best Buy, 7-Eleven and Target, are members of the Merchant Customer Exchange, which announced last month that it is working on the mobile wallet, which is expected to be a direct competitor to Apple Pay.
Before the hack was confirmed, Dekkers Davidson, CEO of the Merchant Customer Exchange, posted a blog Wednesday offering new details on CurrentC, user security and why the mobile wallet and Apple Pay will never compete in the same store.
Blocking Apple Pay
Davidson's message is clear: Retailers are either in or they're out.
"When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively and we’re proud of the long list of merchants who have partnered with us," Davidson wrote. "Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines."
While Apple Pay promises to keep your data private, CurrentC is all about letting merchants have more information about what their customers are doing.
Davidson said customers and merchants will be able "to make informed decisions regarding how information can be shared" via a privacy dashboard. MCX may see "limited information" on prescription purchases, such as location and transaction amount, but will "adhere to strict rules regarding the privacy of consumers’ information."
CurrentC will store financial information in a cloud vault, according to a release detailing the service. A "token placeholder" will be used to make transaction, ensuring a user's sensitive financial data isn't exposed.
MCX said the mobile wallet will offer "merchant loyalty programs and instant coupon savings, all stored on the phone and available right at the point-of-sale."