General Mills gets pet-friendly, buying Blue Buffalo for $8B

Posted on: February 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

General Mills gets pet-friendly with $8 billion acquisition of Blue Buffalo

Glitches or not, Nissan starts testing semi-autonomous rides

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Nissan Motor Co. is starting tests next month on regular roads of its "Easy Ride," what it calls a "robo-vehicle mobility service."

Snapchat stock falls after Kylie Jenner’s tweet

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

studioEAST/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — With a tweet, Kylie Jenner may have helped cause Snapchat’s stock to sink by about 6 percent on Thursday.

The reality TV star, who has a formidable social following across social media platforms, tweeted about the app’s unpopular redesign Wednesday, saying that she rarely uses it anymore.

“Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me … ugh this is so sad,” she wrote.

Later, she added, “Still love you tho snap,” but it seems the damage may have already been done.

“Our goal with the recent redesign is to make Snapchat more personal for everyone,” a Snapchat spokesperson told ABC News. “This new foundation is just the beginning and we will always be grateful for any feedback from our community as we roll out new products.

At 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Snapchat’s stock was at $19.02, and after Jenner’s tweet later in the day, it plummeted for most of Thursday. According to Bloomberg, the tweet could have cost Snapchat $1.3 billion in market value.

Jenner, 20, is not the only person to take issue with Snapchat’s redesign, however. More than 1.2 million people have signed a petition on Change.org begging for it to be removed, prompting Snapchat to respond, “We completely understand the new Snapchat has felt uncomfortable for many.”

“This new foundation is just the beginning, and we will always listen closely to find new ways to make the service better for everyone,” read the company’s statement, in part. “We are grateful for your enthusiasm and creativity. We are very excited for what’s ahead.”

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Toyota, Genesis among Consumer Reports’ top auto picks

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Toyota and Genesis brands are among Consumer Reports’ annual list of top auto picks

Young entrepreneur sews up happiness for kids in hospitals

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) —  There’s something SEW sweet about 9-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist Charlotte Gould.

Charlotte is the brains and creative power behind a company called Stitches by Charlotte. She creates dolls specifically designed for children undergoing medical procedures and surgeries.

As a young child, Charlotte underwent four surgeries herself due to being born with a cleft lip and palette. That’s why she feels compelled to offer comfort to kids who are facing scary surgeries and medical procedures.

Charlotte’s empathy, creativity, and compassion haven’t gone unnoticed. Online donors have generated almost $50,000 dollars to help her company grow.

For Charlotte, the donations are more than just a number. They mean that her dolls can make even more pint-sized patients flash a million-dollar smile when they need one most.

“In my head, I can picture kids holding my dolls in hospital rooms.  The kids are a little less scared because the doll did its job and that means I did my job,” Charlotte said.

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Car features to reduce rear crashes rated by insurance institute

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) —  Light poles, parked cars, shopping carts and running children are just a few examples of the many dangers on the minds of drivers when they throw their vehicles in reverse.

As automakers roll out technology to help minimize those risks, a recent study has analyzed how effective the features are in practice.

“Let’s face it. Some days we all could use help backing up, whether that’s in a garage with pillars that obscure your view, in a crowded mall parking lot or on a busy downtown street,” said David Zuby, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s executive vice president and chief research officer.

“The systems we rate in our first batch of tests will help reduce the chances of a backing fender-bender,” he added.

The IIHS tested six models of cars with rear autobrake and how they performed in a series of car-to-car and car-to-pole tests, with different approach angles, at low speeds. The tests do not evaluate whether the features can mitigate injuries in crashes.

The Cadillac XT5 and Subaru Outback earned “Superior” ratings when equipped with optional rear autobrake, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert.

The BMW 5 series sedan, Infinity QX60, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Prius all scored “Advanced” ratings from the study.

New models from various automakers commonly offer rear cameras, sensors and alerts that can assist drivers in reverse.

But emergency auto braking, which was key to a high score in the study, is a rare feature. Only five percent of 2018 passenger vehicles include it as an option and only one percent offer it as a standard feature.

When compared to vehicles with no back-up features, cross-traffic alert cut down backing crashes by 22 percent in the study.

When researchers added rear-view cameras and sensors on top of that, the crashes were reduced by 42 percent; and when researchers looked at models that also had rear automatic emergency braking, they saw a 78 percent reduction of backing crashes.

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Tinder usage soars 348 percent at the Olympic Villages during the Olympic Winter Games

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Ian MacNicol/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — When the athletes at the Winter Olympics are not competing on the ice, on the slopes or the halfpipe, they are likely swiping left or right on Tinder — a lot.

Tinder tells ABC News that since the Olympics, its app usage in Pyeongchang has increased 348 percent with an uptick in right swipes by 565 percent. Swiping right on Tinder means there’s an interest in that person by the user. And those right swipes seemed to result in quite a few matches, too, as Tinder reports there’s been an increase in matches by 644 percent.

But which sports are the most right-swiped?

For the men, it’s the bobsledders followed by hockey players, snowboarders, alpine skiers and, finally, the skeleton racers. For the female athletes, the snowboarders are at the top of the list followed by the alpine skiers, bobsledders, lugers, and freestyle skiers, Tinder says.

Tinder is giving athletes an opportunity to also find love by “granting users in the Olympic Villages in South Korea free access to their members-only service, Tinder Gold, during the games,” Tinder wrote in a statement.

The features of this service include unlimited likes, rewind, likes you, and passport. When a user has the passport feature enabled, they can match with people all over the globe, Tinder says. The United States and Sweden took the top two spots for people using the passport feature to match with athletes in the Olympic Village in South Korea, the dating app tells ABC.

However, the dramatic increase in dating app usage in the Olympic Village also comes with concerns about sexual safety.

But precautions have been put in place with 110,000 condoms distributed to the athletes by South Korean condom manufacturer Convenience and the Korean Association for AIDS Prevention, according to AFP, which is “10,000 more than at Vancouver in 2010 or Sochi in 2014.”

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Long-term mortgage rates climb to 4.40 percent

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Average 30-year mortgage rate is near a 4-year peak

In the wake of the Florida shooting, schools using apps to prevent gun violence

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of the deadly shooting rampage at a South Florida high school last week, some campuses are now turning to anonymous tip apps as a way of preventing school shootings, urging students to speak up before a tragedy occurs.

“I absolutely know that this app can save lives,” Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was murdered in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago, said of the “Say Something” reporting app.

Hockley, who co-founded the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization that uses educational programs to help prevent gun violence, told ABC News that the group’s “Say Something” reporting system is “a 24/7 app, website and telephone line that enables any student, or teacher, or parent to submit any tip or threat that they have heard.”

The “Say Something” program also teaches students and educators how to look for warning signs, especially on social media, of what may indicate someone could potentially be a threat to themselves or others.

Before Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week, opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle at his alma mater, the teen purportedly said in a comment on a YouTube video that he wanted to “be a professional school shooter.”

“Say Something” is currently being used in seven school districts across the country and is in the process of on-boarding at another 23 cities and districts, according to Sandy Hook Promise.

Hockley emphasized that the anonymity aspect of the app is especially crucial because it allows students to report tips without “fear.”

The original campaign urged students to tell a trusted adult if they had concerns, according to Hockley.

“But we know that in some communities telling an adult is not a solution,” Hockley said. “And people feel in danger, or they feel that they’re going to get their friend in trouble or that they’re a snitch.”

“This is about getting people help, so that anonymous gateway — keeping these tips absolutely anonymous — means that someone can get that information out there without fear of any form of retribution,” she added.

As the app and campaign launches at more school districts across the country, Hockley said she knows the tips are going to start rolling in “for school violence and threats of shooting,” but added that “we know that we’re going to be able to prevent them.”

“You won’t necessarily hear the numbers of what we’ve been able to stop,” she added. “But we absolutely know that we’re going to be saving lives.”

Another anonymous reporting app, “Safe 2 Tell,” which is currently used in Colorado schools, said it received 154 tips of planned school attacks since the school shooting last week in Parkland, Florida. It is not clear how many of the tips reported via the app were confirmed by authorities.

“The security protocols we have in place have caught a lot of threats since the Florida incident,” Diana Wilson, the chief communications officer of Colorado’s Jefferson County Public Schools, told ABC Denver affiliate KMGH.

More than sixty students used the “Safe 2 Tell” app to report a single social media post that appeared to threaten violence, according to KMGH. While the threat ended up being a prank, school officials say that this might not always be the case.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Worries about US rate hikes return to stalk markets

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

World stock indexes are tracking Wall Street’s decline as Fed report rekindled fears of inflation, rising bond yields

Ford ousts top exec over ‘inappropriate behavior’

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Ford has ousted one of its top executives over allegations of inappropriate behavior

Frustrated couple bombarded by Amazon packages they didn’t order

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

California couple said that they have been receiving multiple Amazon packages they didn’t order.

Frustrated couple bombarded by Amazon packages they didn’t order

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

California couple said that they have been receiving multiple Amazon packages they didn’t order.

Investors are winners as companies lay out tax-saving plans

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The tax overhaul was sold by its backers as a way to help American workers, but a flurry of recent corporate announcements suggest the lion’s share of tax savings will go to investors.

Walmart’s bruising battle with Amazon saps its 4Q results

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Walmart is getting bruised in its battle with online leader Amazon

Walmart’s bruising battle with Amazon saps its 4Q results

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Walmart is getting bruised in its battle with online leader Amazon

How long can cryptocurrencies like bitcoin shine?

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

One of Silicon Valley’s latest stars isn’t on television or a music mogul.

How long can cryptocurrencies like bitcoin shine?

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

One of Silicon Valley’s latest stars isn’t on television or a music mogul.

WATCH: Woman bombarded by Amazon packages she never ordered

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Michelle Carroll says the deliveries to her home started with “an annoying little hamster.”

Home Depot 4Q profit rides strong home improvement market

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Home Depot 4Q profit rises on upbeat housing market, recovery efforts

Walmart 4Q profit misses, e-commerce cools

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Walmart misses 4Q profit expectations, tops revenue forecasts

HSBC annual profit rises as Asian growth drives earnings

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

HSBC annual profit grows on strong earnings from Asia, in payoff from restructuring

Asian shares mostly lower after US holiday, await Fed notes

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Asian shares are mostly lower after a U.S. holiday and attention turns to disclosures from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting

Asian shares mostly lower after US holiday, await Fed notes

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Asian shares are mostly lower after a U.S. holiday and attention turns to disclosures from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting

KFC closings across Britain ruffle feathers

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — U.K. and Ireland KFC restaurant-goers have been disappointed in recent days, as 900 outlets in the countries were closed due to a shortage of chicken. The company first apologized on Saturday, citing growing pains with its new delivery partner, DHL.

Many upset customers took to Twitter to voice their complaints about the chain closing its doors.

“We know that this might have inconvenienced some of you over the last few days, and disappointed you when you wanted your fried chicken fix — we’re really sorry about that,” the company said in a statement.

On Monday, KFC said almost 300 stores were listed as open with a limited menu and shortened hours, and did not say when they rest might join them.

DHL took over as KFC’s delivery partner in October from Bidvest Logisitcs.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

KFC closings across Britain ruffle feathers

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — U.K. and Ireland KFC restaurant-goers have been disappointed in recent days, as 900 outlets in the countries were closed due to a shortage of chicken. The company first apologized on Saturday, citing growing pains with its new delivery partner, DHL.

Many upset customers took to Twitter to voice their complaints about the chain closing its doors.

“We know that this might have inconvenienced some of you over the last few days, and disappointed you when you wanted your fried chicken fix — we’re really sorry about that,” the company said in a statement.

On Monday, KFC said almost 300 stores were listed as open with a limited menu and shortened hours, and did not say when they rest might join them.

DHL took over as KFC’s delivery partner in October from Bidvest Logisitcs.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WATCH: Must-have items from the 2018 Toy Fair

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht shows off the must-have items that kids and adults will want from this year’s Toy Fair.

WATCH: Must-have items from the 2018 Toy Fair

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht shows off the must-have items that kids and adults will want from this year’s Toy Fair.

Global shares advance as investors’ jitters ease

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

World share markets advance as gains on Wall Street reassure jittery investors

Teenagers bake, deliver ‘special’ birthday cakes for children who wouldn’t otherwise get them

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Montgomery County chapter of Birthday Cakes 4 Free(MONTGOMERY, Md.) — Allison Wachen and her team of bakers crowd around the kitchen counter, juggling broken egg shells, flour bags and cans of cooking spray. They’re baking two, two-layer vanilla birthday cakes in her aunt’s kitchen.

No one is celebrating a birthday, though — at least not in her family.

Wachen is baking them for “Birthday Cakes 4 Free,” a non-profit organization that bakes birthday cakes for people — including children and seniors in different communities — who wouldn’t otherwise have them.

Wachen, 17, an avid baker who said she’s always taken an active role in community service projects, was looking for a way to combine her passions when she read about the national charity organization while flipping through a magazine.

“I couldn’t even believe that people do not receive a birthday cake,” said Wachen, co-founder and president of the Montgomery County, Maryland, chapter of Birthday Cakes 4 Free.

It was a thought that didn’t sit right with Wachen, so she founded a local chapter with her brother. Within two and a half years her chapter’s membership skyrocketed from two members to more than 400 members.

“I think people at first, since you’re a youth and you’re starting an organization, maybe assume you’re not as organized,” she said.

Her 15-year-old brother, Robert, who will email with adult volunteers for months, added that grownups are always surprised when they finally meet him.

“I say, “Hi, my name is Robert. I’m the vice president.’ [And] they’ll go, ‘Wait, you’re a kid?'” Robert, the chapter’s vice president of technology, said with a laugh.

“So I think that’s a very humbling experience for me because they are taking me so seriously that they’re not even considering my age; they’re just looking at the organization and saying ‘Wow, this is a legitimate organization and I want to help out,'” he added.

The teenagers faced some difficulties early on like finding members to help bake and deliver the cakes and finding charities that were willing to accept them. Another challenge was that some of the volunteers were too young to drive and had no income to buy supplies.

The group donates more than 100 cakes per month — and each cake container costs $1.50. That’s more than $1,800 a year for the containers alone.

In the past, the volunteers have asked for grants and held fundraisers like bake sales to cover the costs of the frosting, sprinkles and cake containers. Wachen said she believes her charity gains more credibility and legitimacy as more people personally see the impact and the sheer number of donated cakes.

“It’s just such a basic thing but I think on your birthday, the whole idea of having a birthday cake and having the celebration with your friends and family…reaffirms that you really have a community supporting you, but it’s also something just very special,” said Wachen before heading out to decorate this month’s cakes with her friends and other volunteers at the Potomac Community Center in Potomac, Maryland.

Once a month, a dozen or so middle school and high school students get together to decorate the cakes at a local community center or at the home of one of their volunteers. Wachen said she always tries to make every cake as special as possible.

It is for someone’s birthday after all.

“I always tell our volunteers: ‘Make this cake as if you were giving it to someone in your family,'” said Wachen.

For those volunteers who can’t make the cake decorating social, they have the option of baking and decorating the cake from their own home and dropping it off at Wachen’s house. Wachen then collects the cakes and delivers them, with the aide of her mother’s silver minivan, to 17 charities around the area.

Those charities include homeless shelters and Boys and Girls clubs in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region.

“A birthday cake, I mean, yes, it’s delicious, but it’s also so much more of a symbol that the community really cares about them,” said Wachen.

The charity regularly receives thank you notes from the recipients; one included a note from a child who wrote, “Wow! A cake with my name on it! I’ve never seen one with my name before.”

Two girls at a recent birthday cake delivery party shared a similar message.

“It’s nice, that they do it for other kids,” one girl said in between cake bites.

“And they don’t even know us,” the other girl responded.

Tarayra Staton, the program director at the Jelleff Club of the Greater Washington Boys & Girls Club, suggests the idea is so popular because the charity isn’t only for kids… it’s by the kids, too.

“Every month they refer to this as ‘Cake Day,'” Staton explained over the sounds of young children screaming and playing in a nearby games room. “It’s kids that actually make them, so when we have other kids making the cakes and giving it to our members, [our kids] really really think that’s cool.”

All but one of the 64 Birthday Cakes 4 Free chapters are run by adults. The Montgomery chapter is the only one run by teenagers.

“What you realize is these kids are just like you. They have the same passions, they have the same goals,” added Wachen, before explaining she is acutely aware that she could be one of the less fortunate kids in the homeless shelters, a fact that makes the delivery of the cakes all the more significant.

Robert Wachen realizes how fortunate he is, too.

“When I bake birthday cakes every month, I think about the recipients and I think about the connection, and it goes way beyond the birthday cake for me,” he said.

“It’s not whether you’re ‘Cake Boss’ and you can create an amazing three-layer cake. It’s that you took the time out of your day…to make a lasting impression on someone you don’t even know,” he added.

For their 17-year-old cousin, Sawyer Steinmiller, vice president of finance for the chapter, it’s about connecting with someone on their own level.

“I would rather learn from a kid. I would rather hang out with a kid than an adult,” said Sawyer.

“And I think because we are kids and we are teens, that they feel [like it’s] more personable and enjoyable.”

In the fall, Wachen will be leaving for college, which means two new teenagers will be taking over the organization: Robert and their cousin Sawyer. Passing the torch will be bittersweet, Wachen admitted, but she was prepared for this inevitability since the beginning.

Two years ago, she created an executive board made up of middle and high school students from across the county, all from different races, religions and backgrounds.

“Once I leave, there are networks of people that can get their friends involved from different schools and have connections with different religious and community organizations.”

In April, the group is set to deliver its 2,000th cake. The teenagers plan to celebrate it by reaching out to more schools and volunteers, and honoring the seniors who will be leaving them in the fall for college.

For Wachen, who will be trading in her baking apron for college textbooks come August, the journey from start to finish has been incredibly personal.

“The idea that you’re making a cake for other people that otherwise wouldn’t get one shows that people value you and would take their own personal time for someone that they don’t personally know but still think they are important,” Wachen said.

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