iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street rallied Tuesday after investors appeared to settle on rumors of a possible rate hike this summer.
The Dow soared 213.12 ( 1.22 percent) to close at 17,706.05 for its biggest one-day gain in weeks.
The Nasdaq jumped 95.27 ( 2.00 percent) to finish at 4,861.06, while the S&P gained 28.02 ( 1.37 percent) to close at 2,076.06.
Crude oil jumped nearly 2 percent, with prices hitting about $49 a barrel.
Federal Reserve: More rumblings from Fed officials about an interest rate hike this summer. Late Monday, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker echoed previous comments about the Federal Reserve raising rates more than once in 2016, saying he could "easily" see it happen. John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, also said Monday that "the economy could withstand a rate hike."
Home Sales: Good news for home sales as they climbed about 17 percent last month, the fastest gain in more than eight years. According to the Commerce Department, the median price for a new home also rose to a record $321,100 in April, up nearly 10 percent from 2015. The higher prices could mean more trouble for first-time buyers, since according to a new report from the Pew Institute, nearly one-third of all millenials (ages 18-34) still live with their parents.
Winners and Losers: Under Armour's stock was up nearly 3 percent after the athletic-wear company announced an endorsement deal with the University of California, Los Angeles. The $280 million agreement will have UCLA's athletes wearing Under Armour for 15 years.
DSW Inc. tumbled nearly 12 percent after the discount shoe retailer missed Wall Street expectations for profit and revenue in its first-quarter financial results, and cut its full year guidance.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sports Authority is set to begin its liquidation sale, after the sporting goods retailer detailed in court documents its plan to shutter all 463 of its stores after a failed attempt last month to find a bidder.
The 29-year-old sports retailer, which is headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, had hoped to reorganize under bankruptcy protection and close about 140 of its stores. Instead, the company will work with liquidators who will oversee the company's going-out-of-business sales.
"The sporting goods industry is a hypercompetitive industry, and we're never happy when someone goes out of business," said Katie Nemec, the director of marketing and communications for the National Sporting Goods Association.
If you're a Sports Authority shopper — or just looking for a good deal — here's a quick rundown of what you need to know.
Sports Authority will kick off its going-out-of-business sales "on or about" this Wednesday, according to court documents. The sales are expected to end around Aug. 31, 2016. As part of the agreement, Sports Authority's liquidation consultants will be able to post signs with phrases such as "store closing," "sale on everything" and "everything must go."
"You have to think 'buyer beware' because a lot of times when companies have a going-out-of-business sale, they will do it over a set period of time, so the initial markdowns aren’t always the best deals," Howard Schaffer, the general manager at Offers.com, told ABC News.
He recommended that shoppers look for products that have been marked down several times to ensure they're getting a deal. He also recommended purchasing items such as sports equipment instead of technology, since after an item is purchased, it's often a final sale.
Tuesday is the last day for purchasing gift cards, according to Sports Authority's website. The company said gift cards will be honored online and in stores through June 28.
"Double-check that top drawer of the kitchen where you keep coupons and gift cards and make sure you use those up as soon as possible," Schaffer said.
Exchanges and Returns
Sports Authority will continue to allow exchanges and returns in stores through June 25, 2016, according to its website.
Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Billboard(NEW YORK) -- The ever-expanding dating app Tinder has filed a lawsuit against a startup called 3nder over alleged trademark infringement, arguing that the names are similar enough to cause confusion in the market.
Tinder, owned by Match Group (which also holds OKCupid, Match, and other dating businesses), traditionally is used for an individual looking for another individual, while the much smaller 3nder is mostly aimed at people and couples searching for threesomes.
In a December letter to 3nder, Tinder's law firm, RGC Jenkins & Co., threatened to sue the startup in U.K.'s High Court unless it stops using the name 3nder. A Tinder spokesperson confirmed to ABC News Tuesday that the company has filed a lawsuit, but declined further comment on the case.
But the startup isn't bowing out quietly.
"Our mission and our values could not be more distinct from those of Tinder. We have and always will put ethics and aesthetics first," 3nder founder Dimo Trifonov said in a statement Monday. "Our members seek something else entirely when they come to us -- to explore their sexual curiosity and date in an open-minded space. With so many sexualities and relationship structures left out of Tinder and the Match Group offerings, there is room for all of us. No one should have a monopoly on love."
Tinder lawyers argue that the name 3nder can lead consumers to the mistaken belief that the app is associated with or sponsored by Tinder, and gives 3nder an unfair advantage, according to legal letters 3nder founder Dimo Trifonov said he received from Tinder.
“It's an unfair fight, first of all. The big guy bullying the little, so classic, just because they can," Trifonov told ABC News Tuesday. "At stake is the freedom of passionate people like me."
In response to the legal move, 3nder has launched the social media campaign “Tinder S--- My Socks,” asking supporters to tweet pictures of their socks at the dating app giant.
“As a busy start-up, it is a common occurrence for the 3nder team to forget to do their laundry," Trifonov wrote in a statement as a social media call-to-arms, calling on its members "and anyone with an open-mind" to use social media "to send Tinder their dirty socks.”
Trifonov said the idea to fight Tinder with smelly socks came to him very naturally.
“It was about 2 a.m. when I realized we had no clean socks because of this nonsense lawsuit. So, we decided to use the hashtag as a weapon hoping that people will be compassionate about our human problems," Trifonov told ABC News.
"Startups are a cure to a chronic issues in our world, where conglomerates are after pure profit and control." Trifonov added, "If we win, all the 270 independent dating apps are going to win with us.”
Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Domino's Pizza, the nation's largest pizza delivery chain, is being accused of exploiting an outdated computer system to commit "rampant wage violations" in a $565,000 lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General.
The move expands upon the New York State government's aggressive efforts recently to reclaim wages for allegedly unpaid or underpaid workers, which was highlighted by an order to pay nail salon workers $2 million in unpaid wages earlier this month.
This is also the second time that Domino’s Pizza has been targeted by New York State for allegedly violating labor laws. In April of 2015, four franchise owners agreed to pay out $970,000 to settle claims they broke multiple labor laws, including allegedly breaking the minimum wage and failing to pay overtime, according to the New York Daily News.
A multi-year investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office alleges that Domino’s had urged franchisees to use payroll reports from the company’s computer system, known as PULSE, even though the corporation knew for years that it under-calculated gross wages, according to the lawsuit.
“At some point, a company has to take responsibility for its actions and for its workers’ well-being. We’ve found rampant wage violations at Domino’s franchise stores. And, as our suit alleges, we’ve discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of these violations,” Schneiderman said during a news conference Tuesday.
The company typically made multiple updates to the PULSE system each year, according to Schneiderman’s office. But the lawsuit, filed Monday in state Supreme Court, alleges that the company deliberately made no effort fix the flaws, including testimony by a Domino's vice president that he was told by Domino's that it was a "low priority."
The lawsuit also claims that Domino’s is a "joint employer" because the company inserted itself directly into employee affairs at its franchises. When two businesses hire and control the same employee, they are considered joint employers. In this case, the joint employer would be the corporation Domino’s Pizza as well as the individual franchises. The lawsuit alleges that the company monitored workers, played a role in their hiring, firing and discipline, and promoted an "anti-union" agenda.
Domino's pushed back on the claims Tuesday, insisting that franchisees are solely responsible for employment and pay decisions, and noting that company had been working with the Attorney General's office for "more than three years" to rectify potential issues of wage discrepancy.
"It’s unfortunate that these steps were not enough, and that the Attorney General now wants the company to take steps that would not only deprive our independent business owners of the opportunity to make their own employment decisions, but could impact the viability of the franchise model," company representative Jenny Fouracre-Petko told ABC News in an email.
But the Attorney General places the responsibility on Domino's, and accuses the corporation of using the franchise model to take advantage of low-level workers.
“Under these circumstances, New York law -- as well as basic human decency -- holds Domino’s responsible for the alleged mistreatment of the workers who make and deliver the company’s pizzas," Schneiderman said. "Domino’s can, and must, fix this problem.”
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A popular parenting Facebook page is populated these days primarily with posts about the Zika virus and travel safety.
One woman by the name of Dana writes that she originally planned a family trip to Aruba in August, but is now looking for alternate destinations to "avoid any Zika areas." She wondered if South Carolina would be a good August destination.
Dana is not alone. A Travelzoo survey conducted in February 2016 -- prime time for summer vacation planning -- found that for 30 percent of respondents said Zika impacted their decision to travel to warm weather destinations where the disease could be found. Of those, 30 percent said they changed their vacation plans to other destinations that have not been impacted.
With many popular vacation destinations -- including Mexico and some Caribbean islands -- being on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Travel Health Notices list, some travelers are reconsidering their summer vacation plans. These destinations primarily fall into the "yellow / alert level 2" category, which advises enhanced precautions. A "red / warning level 3" advises to avoid all non-essential travel.
But while the Zika virus -- or at least, a fear of the Zika virus -- is a problem for tourism for some destinations, other places will benefit from those fears. Travelzoo's search data found Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Arizona searches are up 40 percent or more and Miami has seen a 35 percent increase, according to Travelzoo.
Also poised to benefit is Canada, where interest from U.S. travelers is up double digits. Deals, Travelzoo senior editor Gabe Saglie said, are ripe in popular places like Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. A favorable exchange rate for Americans makes Canada a particularly attractive destination this summer.
Some airlines offered reimbursements to fliers who purchased tickets to Zika-affected areas.
American Airlines' policy covers pregnant women and companions who are traveling to a destination in Latin America or the Caribbean affected by the Zika virus, as long as the tickets were purchased before March 31, 2016. A doctor's note confirming your pregnancy when you request a refund is required.
JetBlue's policy for customers traveling to/from destinations reported by the CDC to be affected by the Zika virus may qualify for a refund or the option to make changes to their current travel plans to alternate destinations or travel dates. Original travel must have been booked on or before May 1, 2016.
United and Delta have similar policies with a purchase date of Feb. 29 and March 1, respectively.
Dr. Mia Taormina, an osteopathic infectious disease and travel medicine specialist, and the chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases at DuPage Medical Group, told ABC News that pregnant women and their partners should consider destinations that are not prone to Zika this year.
In her travel medicine practice, she partners with patients to help them evaluate their personal risk. She advised traveling to mountain areas where the Aedes mosquito can't thrive (the CDC recommends an altitude of at least 6,500 feet) and scheduling deep-water activities during peak bite times (daytime hours), as the mosquito is a poor flier, according to Taormina.
Travel insurance may be helpful.
"Customers who become pregnant after they purchase their policy may be covered for trip cancellation and interruption if they are traveling to an area impacted by Zika," Dan Durazo, director of communications for Allianz Travel Insurance, told ABC News. The company also suggested customers contact their travel provider prior to canceling their travel arrangements.
"Some airlines and other travel suppliers are allowing customers to cancel their trip and receive a refund or change their dates of travel without change fees when traveling to countries affected by Zika," Durazo said. "If the customer’s travel supplier allows them to change the dates of their trip, they may also change the dates on their travel insurance policy."
In all cases, the most comprehensive -- and expensive -- travel insurance is a policy that allows for cancellations anytime for any reason.
moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- They may be fast, but how safe are muscle cars in a crash?
For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put iconic muscle cars through their paces to see if they're as safe as more traditional cars. The IIHS tested the 2016 Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang.
While none of the vehicles earned "Top Safety Pick" status, the Mustang was singled out for its collision avoidance technology.
"It has an available forward collision warning system to help keep you out of crashes in the first place," IIHS president Adrian Lund said in a video provided by the institute.
The Camaro came in second place, scoring lower on its roof strength, followed by the Challenger.
"The Challenger needs the most improvement and isn't offering buyers state of the art safety," Lund said.
Google(PARIS) — French authorities Tuesday raided the Paris offices of Google as part of a tax fraud investigation.
Accused of owing the French state some $1.8 billion in unpaid taxes, Google’s offices were searched Monday by dozens of tax officials accompanied by 25 computer experts, a statement from the prosecutor confirmed to ABC News.
According to officials, the searches were conducted in the context of a preliminary investigation opened on June 16, 2015, regarding suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering, following a complaint from French tax authorities. This investigation seeks to verify whether Google Ireland LTD has stable operations in France, and whether it has failed in its fiscal obligations in France.
The tax arrangements of international companies have come under close scrutiny recently. Europe’s competition authorities have been examining whether some deals stuck by big companies with national tax authorities amount to illegal state aid.
Last month, Paris officials unveiled plans to force large companies to disclose more about their tax affairs.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Twitter's 140-character limit, which has long been the foundation of the site, is being relaxed in a move the social network hopes will make it easier for users to tweet more media-rich content without worrying about running out of characters.
The new changes, which have long been rumored, were announced Tuesday morning in a blog post and are expected to be rolled out to users in the coming months. Twitter plans to "simplify" tweets by no longer counting usernames in replies and media attachments, including polls, photos, videos and GIFs, as part of a user's 140-character expenditure.
The retweet button will also be enabled for users to click on their own tweets, allowing them to retweet themselves or share an additional note alongside a previous tweet.
Another change sure to shake up the service for long-time Twitter users is the death of the .@ convention, which is used when someone wants to reply to another user but wants to make sure all of their followers see the tweet.
Previously, beginning a tweet with just a person's username would mean the message would only surface in the streams of mutual followers a user has with the person they're replying to. When the new changes are implemented, users will be able to broadcast a reply more widely with the retweet button.
Todd Sherman, a senior product manager at Twitter, said in a blog post that the social network was announcing the changes today to ensure developer partners have time to make updates to products built on Twitter's application program interface.
"We're notifying you and our developers, so that everything works as it should when we roll these changes out," he wrote. "The updates have a significant impact on Tweets."
It's been a year of metamorphosis for Twitter. Among the changes were a new "home timeline" feature debuted in February, shaking up the traditional reverse chronological timeline by first showing the top tweets a user is most likely to care about since they were last on the site.
Twitter dropped its longtime star icon that signified a favorite tweet last November and replaced it with a heart, which is meant to signify a like.
Acura(NEW YORK) — Jon Akeda is the man at Acura most responsible for making the latest incarnation of the NSX "supercar" a reality, and the fact that he likes the word "fun" should be a big tip-off about how this iconic sports car handles.
Akeda, Acura’s vice president and general manager, and I are eating dinner together at Bagatelle, a trendy French bistro in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Akeda, a veteran designer with Honda, Acura’s parent company, used the word "fun" at least a dozen times during that dinner conversation to describe his pet project.
“Did you have fun? We want you to have fun," he asked enthusiastically as he debriefed me on my test drive.
Acura handpicked a small group of journalists to get behind the wheel of the Japanese automaker’s latest generation of the NSX -- a sports car that became a benchmark for the brand and developed a rabid fan base when it was released in 1991. Its popularity and stamp of approval by auto editors quickly propelled it to the higher echelons of the automotive world, earning it a spot next to the European exotics that oozed power, luxury and exclusivity. Acura has certainly amped up its efforts to make sure the 2017 all-wheel drive, nine-speed automatic hybrid NSX rejoins the supercar conversation and attracts the attention of those was can actually afford the $156,000 sports car (with options the car tops out at $206,000).
A racing neophyte, I wanted to prepare myself mentally for the test-driving experience by speaking to someone who is one of the most passionate and widely known car collectors in the world. I called up Jay Leno (yes, that Jay Leno) at his office in California. Leno took the NSX for a spin earlier this year on his show “Jay Leno’s Garage.”
Leno told me that the NSX was not an “aggressive” drive yet he was quite “pleased” with it. He prefers a real-wheel drive to an all-wheel drive and missed the manual gear option. He reminded me that when the NSX was first introduced to American drivers a quarter of a century ago, it was a reasonable success, though widely considered “a very expensive Honda.” It was a beautifully engineered piece of machinery, he noted, but would a car enthusiast be willing to pay Ferrari’s price tag for a Honda? That said, Leno credits Acura for designing a “good-looking car” in the latest iteration of the NSX and deems it a “value for the money” when sized next to the competition.
“I liked what I saw,” Leno affirmed. “The NSX is a fascinating story.”
I wholeheartedly agree that the NSX is fun to drive. I may have been the slowest and most conservative driver at the historic Lime Rock Park racetrack in Connecticut compared to the other journalists zooming past my vehicle (the smell of burnt tires was overpowering at times), yet it became immediately obvious the NSX was designed for performance. Its 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque will impress those who are accustomed to driving an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Turbo -- maybe even a Ferrari 458.
When I stomped on the gas, the NSX proved its racing car specs, thrusting me back into the seat at an intense acceleration.
What I liked most about the NSX was its proficiency and dexterity off the track. For over an hour, the NSX and I traversed the bucolic Connecticut countryside, whipping past horses, sheep, cows and locals in their pickup trucks. I even caught one fellow driver braking to get a better look at my red NSX (his tongue hanging out of his mouth like a thirsty dog) as my driving partner, Roman Mica, and I pulled over to review the assigned driving route. Did I mention that Acura neglected, for some reason, to install GPS navigation as part of the base model?
Roman and I were able to navigate northwest Connecticut’s hilly and curvy roads with little trouble, searching for checkpoints based on miles driven, but how could such an expensive sports car not come equipped with such a basic amenity?
“More and more consumers are using their phones for navigation,” Akeda told me later when I brought up my GPS concern, and the technology in the NSX can be found in supercars double the price, he assured me. “It’s all relative,” he said.
True, an NSX driver can plug in his (or her) iPhone as part of the Apple CarPlay function, allowing access to the driver’s iPhone screen and apps, but I was still caught off guard by the response. (For $2,800 a driver can purchase GPS as part of the ELS Studio Audio Tech Package, the upgrade from the standard premium audio system).
GPS was not the only workaday amenity that was notably missing from the vehicle: Acura omitted a vanity mirror on both the driver and passenger visor (you can’t always depend on your smartphone as a mirror). For the 99 percent of drivers who are accustomed to changing gears by physically moving a gearshift, that task has been simplified to pressing a button (how quotidian).
Moreover, what I craved most in the NSX was greater visibility and natural light. I could see the rolling hills and church steeples clearly when staring forward on the road but I found operating in daily traffic challenging. I either had to swivel my neck a good 90 degrees to see oncoming cars at an intersection or depend on my driving partner to give me the green light to make a turn (visibility and perception are vital roles in keeping a driver safe on the race track, too). For this reason I would think twice before heading out to my nearby Whole Foods or maneuvering past speeding cars on the New Jersey Parkway in the NSX without a second pair of eyes to guide me. The NSX may be built for speed and power but Acura also wants it to be a part of one’s everyday routine, as its predecessor was.
“There’s nothing about this car that’s intimidating,” Akeda declared. “It’s flexible. It’s more than just for show. It adapts to what your needs are.”
The NSX may not necessarily meet my day-to-day driving demands but then again, I am not the target audience. With a price tag that exceeds an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and a Maserati Quattroporte, only a sliver of the driving population will be able to own this car.
And that’s completely true for the foreseeable future: Acura plans to produce just 800 NSX cars per year in North America. The automaker began taking deposits at the end of February and the company has received enough orders to keep its staff in Marysville, Ohio, busy for the next two years, an Acura spokesman told me. Deliveries start this week and spotting one on the road may be a rarity.
“It is an expensive purchase, but it’s unique. It will stick out among the Ferraris,” Akeda told me. “It’s for a different type of person.”
He hopes to ramp up production of the NSX soon -- once the company figures out how many it can make per day.
“We want to do more and 800 is conservative,” Akeda acknowledged. “The goal is to produce eight to 10 a day.”
The NSX will be entirely assembled by hand at its Ohio manufacturing facility and Acura has proudly crowed that it’s “the only supercar designed, developed and manufactured in the U.S.”
Akeda said Acura’s commitment to the success of this vehicle was unequivocal; the automaker built its Performance Manufacturing Center and engine plant especially for the NSX because “there was no factory in Japan or North America that could do this.” (Acura declined to reveal how much it cost to build the plant).
“We want to raise the bar with this car," he explained. "NSX was known for its innovation and it’s still innovative."
Interested buyers will have to depend on reviews and word-of-mouth to get a better handle on the car’s capabilities. There are no plans to keep an NSX in Acura dealerships. As of now, potential customers are directed to customize their NSX on the Acura website.
An Acura spokesman, however, told me he believes some of the orders the company received for the sports car may actually be from dealers who want a model on their showroom floor. Acura understands that its customer base cannot afford an NSX so the carmaker is also depending on the NSX to be a “halo” -- a driver comes into a dealership to learn more about it and end ups signing paperwork for an Acura MDX crossover or RLX sedan.
The NSX will surely draw stares and second looks at the racetrack and around town. It's stunning, sexy and confident -- the same qualities an NSX driver will feel when driving the supercar.
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After backlash over a report that said its Trending Topics section was biased, Facebook has made some new changes.
In a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R., S.D.), Facebook said it found no evidence of systematic bias, but it could not rule out isolated incidents.
“Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature… as you would expect with an inquiry of this nature, our investigation could not exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” the letter said.
Facebook said it would be instituting several reforms, including discontinuing the use of external websites and a “top ten” list of outlets to help pick trending topics. The letter also said the social media site would institute “additional controls and oversight” around the human review team, without going into detail.
A report from Gizmodo earlier this month said that Facebook "news curators" were instructed to artificially "inject" selected stories into Facebook's "Trending Topics" list and exclude some conservative news sites. That list appears in the top right corner of each user's Facebook homepage.
In the letter, Facebook said it would be discontinuing the process of using 10 media outlets to help "boost" stories. The review team had "historically" referred to a list of ten outlets to "boost" topics to better reflect the prominence of widely-reported topics. The list included BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and BuzzFeed News.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed slightly lower on Monday as investors waited for more indications from the Federal Reserve about a possible June rate hike.
The Dow dropped 8.01 (-0.05 percent) to close at 17,492.93.
The Nasdaq fell 3.78 (-0.08 percent) to finish at 4,765.78, while the S&P lost 4.28 (-0.21 percent) to close at 2,048.04.
Crude oil notched down about 1 percent, with prices still hovering around $48 a barrel.
Federal Reserve: Wall Street was volatile last week after comments from Fed officials about possibly raising interest rates in June, when analysts had previously predicted that the U.S. central bank would hold off for a few more months. On Monday, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard reiterated points of his colleagues and said more factors favored a gradual rate increase, according to the Wall Street Journal. John Williams, president of the Fed bank in San Francisco, also said Monday that rates could be increased more than once in 2016.
Investors will now wait for a speech from Fed chair Janet Yellen on Friday that could give a trajectory for interest rate hikes.
Monsanto: Monsanto Company's stock soared over 4 percent Monday after Bayer offered to buy the agrochemical company for $62 billion. The proposal would create a giant in the businesses of crop seeds and pesticides and Monsanto, known for its genetically modified agricultural seed products, said its board of directors was reviewing the deal.
Tribune Publishing: After rejecting Gannett's latest takeover offer, Tribune Publishing's stock tanked nearly 15 percent. Instead of the deal, Tribune has added its second-biggest shareholder, Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Nant Capital, who bought in at $15 share-- the same price Gannett had recently offered to the publishing company.
OLIVER LANG/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- LEGO, the popular Danish maker of children's construction toys, has steadily included more weapons and violent imagery in their products over the past 30 years, according to a new study.
But the inclusion of violent symbols in LEGO toys have become more commonplace since then, with weapons now included in 30 percent of LEGO kits, according to an analysis of LEGO catalogs from 1973 to 2015.
Roughly 40 percent of all catalog pages included some type of violence, such as shooting or threatening behavior, the study found.
The changes in LEGO toys likely points to a broader trend in children's entertainment, researchers noted, where children's entertainment corporations escalate violent imagery to keep pace with the demands of the marketplace.
"Creators and producers of games and movies strive to push the limits of what violent media is allowed to be released to prevent their audience from getting bored of similar content," the study states. "This creates content that is increasingly creative and violent."
A representative from LEGO's U.S. operations noted that there's a difference between conflict vs. violence in children's entertainment, and disputed any link to violence in LEGO's toys.
"Conflict play is a natural part of how children play, and it helps them learn how to deal with conflicts in their own lives," the representative told ABC News in response to the study. "We see a clear distinction between conflict and violence."
A quick perusal of the current homepage of the LEGO's U.S. website depicts four advertisements with weapons, including a picture of a LEGO-ized Han Solo who is armed, and a knight with a sword from the franchise Minecraft. A page for parents hosted on the company's site echoes the spokesperson's message about "conflict play." (Editor’s note: Han Solo is a character from “Star Wars.” Disney, the parent company of ABC News, produced the most recent film in the series.)
"When members of the baby boomer generation became parents, some had understandably strong feelings about their children’s exposure to violence. During the Vietnam War, the prevalence of the relatively new medium of television brought the dread of armed aggression into people’s homes," the post begins.
The post attempts to explain the relationship between "good and evil" in children's play, and why children like to act out stories where opposing ends of the moral spectrum clash.
"By age 10 or 11, children will make fairly complex judgments about characters’ motivations and they regularly distinguish between justified and unjustified violence," the post notes.
LEGO has transformed into an economic powerhouse in recent years, expanding into games, television programs and films. "The Lego Movie," rich with political satire and adult-oriented jokes, was a critical and commercial success, pulling in over $469 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film was rated PG, but featured weapons, violent conflict, and notably a scene in which the character Bad Cop was forced by the antagonist, Lord Business, to crazy glue his parents into a frozen state.
Dr. Leon Hoffman, director of Pacella Parent Child Center in New York, a group that focuses on promoting emotional growth and development in children, generally agreed with LEGO's statement about "conflict play."
"If you give a boy a stick, he often turns it into a gun," Hoffman said. "Kids are always playing good and evil."
The new concern is when violent imagery is combined with what Hoffman referred to as a "culture-wide problem with over-stimulation," where, because of advances in technology, stimulation becomes too intense too quickly for many children to handle, creating an effect that can be likened to post-traumatic stress disorder.
"What happens to kids is that they get exposed to so much excitement at one time that their mind can't completely handle it," Hoffman said. "And then they fall in danger of losing cognitive control."
Chelsea Herline(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- For one California woman, a trip to Walt Disney World last month proved that dreams really do come true.
On April 23, Chelsea Herline, 27, of San Francisco, decided to try her luck with a 22-year-old, unused day pass at the gates to Disney's Magic Kingdom.
The park employees were so astounded by the 1994 ticket that they allowed her to redeem it, she said.
"[The employee] was so nice about it," Herline recalled. "She said, 'Wow, this is a really old ticket.' She had to call her manager to help convert it to an electronic ticket, and from a child ticket to an adult ticket."
Herline added: "I just went around to all of the big rides -- Splash Mountain, It's a Small World. We have a family joke that when I was little, I fell asleep on the ride. So this time, I took a picture of myself, sent it to my parents, said I had two cups of coffee and was ready to go."
Herline was 4 years old when her parents brought her and her two older sisters to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Each family member received a "4-Day Park Hopper" pass, but on the last day, Herline got sick and never used the last day on her pass.
Then, this year, Chelsea said her father stumbled upon her pass.
"My dad had it in our safe in our basement, for some reasons, after all these years," Herline said. "We happened to have a trip planned and he surprised me with the ticket. He didn't think that I would actually try and use it. It was kind of a joke."
While vacationing in Orlando with her family, Herline successfully redeemed the pass and toured the Magic Kingdom as she did over two decades ago.
"I think a lot of people can relate...everybody loves Disney World and it makes everyone feel nostalgic," Chelsea said. "It's kind of a happy story."
The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News.
US Patent Office (NEW YORK) -- Airbus has filed a patent for what could be a super speedy helicopter that employs a unique design that includes some elements found of fixed-wing airplanes.
"The invention relates to a compound helicopter comprising a fuselage, at least one engine and a main rotor driven by at least one engine," the French company said in a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The design calls for at least one pair of fixed wings. Each fixed wing has a lower main wing and upper secondary wing that are connected, with propellers located where the wings connect on each side. Locating the propellers behind the wings improves lift and reduces noise and vibrations, according to the patent filing.
The idea is for the aircraft to fly like a helicopter but also have the ability to transform into an airplane during flight yet still descend vertically like a helicopter when it comes time to land.
"Said fixed wing structure provides additional lift during horizontal cruise flight," the patent filing says.
It's unclear when or if the design in the patent will ever one day take to the skies. However, Airbus has a history of innovating when it comes to helicopters. The Eurocopter X3 hybrid hit 293 mph during a test flight in 2013.