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Bill Gates Tops “Forbes” Billionaires List

Bill Gates Tops “Forbes” Billionaires List

TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bill Gates topped Forbes' list of world billionaires for the second consecutive year, with his net worth nearing $80 billion.In 2014, Gates' net worth was placed by the magazine at $79.2 billion. For the second consecutive year, Forbes placed Gates one spot ahead of telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu. Helu, worth $77.1 billion, topped the list in 2013. Investor Warren Buffett came in third place.Forbes said that there were 1,826 billionaires on this year's list -- the most ever -- including 290 newcomers. Additionally, a record 46 billionaires on the list are under the age of 40.

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Costco to Enter into Credit Card Agreement with Visa Next Year

Costco to Enter into Credit Card Agreement with Visa Next Year

snyferok/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After an announcement last month that Costco would cease accepting American Express cards as payment at its stores at the end of a current agreement, the company announced Monday that it had entered into a credit card agreement with Visa.According to a press release, Costco will unveil a new co-brand credit card program with Citi, while agreeing to an incentive agreement with Visa. Those deals would make Citi the "exclusive issuer of Costco's co-brand credit cards" and allow Visa to "replace American Express as the credit card network for Costco in the United States and Puerto Rico beginning April 1, 2016."On Feb. 12, American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault said in a statement that the two sides had been unable to reach terms for a new agreement.

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Why Tinder Is Charging People Over 30 More for Tinder Plus

Why Tinder Is Charging People Over 30 More for Tinder Plus

Tinder(NEW YORK) -- Tinder is taking an extra-large swipe at the wallets of users 30 and over who sign up for Tinder Plus, a premium service the dating app rolled out Monday in the United States.For the unindoctrinated, Tinder allows users to swipe right on their smartphone if they're interested in a person and left if they are not. Many users swipe so fast that it's common to occasionally nix a person they would have otherwise been interested in meeting.For the privilege of undoing the damage of an itchy Tinder finger, a.k.a. a left swipe, users can sign up for Tinder Plus for the price of $9.99 a month -- that is, if they're under 30 years old.The 30-and-over crowd will have to pony up $19.99 per month for the service, which also allows subscribers to use a passport feature and swipe with potential matches around the world. (Or if you look at it another way, it's just another opportunity to be rejected by more people.)"Younger users are just as excited about Tinder Plus, but are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger," Rosette Pambakian, vice president of corporate communications at Tinder, told ABC News in an email.After testing Tinder Plus in several countries, Pambakian said the tiered subscription model was created "based on a combination of factors, including what we've learned through our testing, and we've found that these price points were adopted very well by certain age demographics."Tinder users who don't subscribe will also have to start carefully determining who is worthy of a right swipe. The app will begin placing limits on how many people a free user can right-swipe.Explaining why you just can't like everyone, a Tinder blog post said, "The validity of the swipe is core to the Tinder experience. Tinder works best when swipes are genuine reflections of a user's desire to connect."

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Stocks Climb to Record Highs Despite Slight Drop in Consumer Spending, Higher Gas Prices

Stocks Climb to Record Highs Despite Slight Drop in Consumer Spending, Higher Gas Prices

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks soared during Monday's session, with the Nasdaq reaching 5,000 for the first time in 15 years.The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 155.54 to a close of 18,288.24, a new all-time high.The Nasdaq slipped back from its daily zenith, but still posted gains of 44.57 to 5,008.10. The index has only closed about 5,000 twice before -- on back-to-back days in 2000, just before the tech bubble burst.

The S&P 500 ended the day at 2,117.35, up 12.85 from its open.The Commerce Department said on Monday Americans spent slightly less in January. The blame for that drop-off, though, was attributed mostly to low gas prices.

Gas prices jumped 14 cents from last week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average cost of a gallon of gas is now $2.47 nationally. The cheapest gas is available in the Rocky Mountain region, while the most expensive -- $3.13 per gallon -- is on the West Coast.

In California, gas prices climbed by 46 cents in the last week, hitting $3.42 per gallon on average.

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Google+ Breaks Out Photos and Streams

Google+ Breaks Out Photos and Streams

Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Google+ is breaking up into photos and streams -- but is it enough to entice people to actually use the social network?Bradley Horowitz, a longtime Google executive, announced in a Google+ post Sunday night that he would be taking over what he called Google’s Photos and Streams products."It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users," he wrote.Photos continue to be one of the most popular ways to use Google+ and so the element will be stripped out to create its own part, while a separate social stream will also exist."Google Plus was always two big things: one was building a stream and one was what you call a social layer...how sharing works across our products and services," Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of products, said Monday at the Mobile World Conference, according to Mashable.Launched in 2011 to plenty of fanfare, Google+ was designed to be a social feed that could rival the power of Facebook, allowing people to share updates with specific circles of friends. Despite many people signing up, usage eventually faded.Google did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on how soon the changes would be implemented and what else users could expect.

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Five Biggest Challenges Facing New McDonald’s CEO

Five Biggest Challenges Facing New McDonald’s CEO

McDonald's(NEW YORK) -- McDonald's has a new CEO on the job starting Monday, and he has his work cut out for him.Steve Easterbrook, formerly head of McDonald’s U.K. and Europe, takes the helm of the world's biggest burger chain amid sagging sales and intense competition from the growing category of fast-casual restaurants.Here are challenges Easterbrook, an accountant by training, will face:1. Carrying the burger bullhornWhat's been especially impressive about Easterbrook is that he wants to be an "activist for change in the organization," according to RJ Hottovy, senior analyst with Morningstar.Soon after Easterbrook's new appointment was announced on Jan. 28, the executive has told investors that he wants to look at McDonald's business and enact change, which Hottovy calls a "good starting point."2. Choices, choicesPart of Easterbrook's changes, Hottovy suggests, will be to simplify the McDonald's menu."Right out of the gate, he should take a look at the menu and reduce items on the menu. It's one of the first things he should look at," Hottovy said.A spokeswoman for McDonald’s declined to comment, because McDonald’s is in a “quiet period” ahead of its February sales release on March 9.3. Where's the meat?After consumers began asking questions about McDonald's meat sourcing over the last few years, McDonald's has said that it hopes to begin purchasing verified sustainable beef for its restaurants worldwide in 2016. Natural Resources Defense Council's food and agriculture program director Jonathan Kaplan said the company hasn't defined what that means, but he is hopeful about the potential changes.When asked what advice he would give to Easterbrook this week, Kaplan said he hopes the incoming executive can do his part against antibiotic-resistant bacteria."I’d say, 'Steve, you personally can save modern medicine as we know it. There are not a lot of people on the planet who are in that position,'" Kaplan told ABC News.Kaplan said the chain can become the global leader in promoting healthier, antibiotic-free meat production."It’s both McDonald’s challenge and opportunity. When you look around, you see that’s what the forward thinking businesses are claiming and McDonald’s can make a big turnaround by leading with antibiotic stewardship," Kaplan said.4. Super-sizing worker pay?Many restaurant and retail workers continue to demand higher pay, as much as $15 an hour, and companies like Walmart and TJX Companies, the parent of TJ Maxx, are responding. Both companies are raising starting wages to around $9 an hour across the country.The most recent nationwide fast-food strike on Dec. 4 took place in as many as 190 cities across the country.5. Franchisees not just small friesMcDonald's already has a strong relationship with franchisees, but Hottovy said there can be improvements, such as putting more locations in the hands of top franchise operators. He also thinks McDonald's executive compensation should be more closely tied to franchisee profitability, which he says is in "good health."

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Stocks ‘Party Like It’s 2000′ During Record Highs

Stocks ‘Party Like It’s 2000′ During Record Highs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are trading to new record highs, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ is "partying like it’s 2000." The NASDAQ broke through 5,000 Monday morning for the first time in 15 years, since the height of the tech bubble in March 2000.Many stocks hit new all-time-highs Monday morning including: Disney, Apple and Starbucks. The Walt Disney Company is the parent of ABC News.One stock not enjoying Monday’s run: Lumber Liquidators. After a damning 60 Minutes report Sunday night, the stock was down 25 percent before markets opened for the week and is now halted with news pending.Last Wednesday, the stock cratered 26 percent when CEO Robert Lynch mentioned in the Lumber Liquidators earnings conference call that the 60 Minutes report was coming, as well as the possibility of a criminal charges from the Department of Justice. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Your Mobile World Congress Cheat Sheet

Your Mobile World Congress Cheat Sheet

Smeyye Dalkln/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BARCELONA) -- The Mobile World Congress begins on Monday, but that didn't stop some of the biggest technology companies in the world from showing off their new devices in Barcelona over the weekend.With 1,900 exhibitors, most of the big-name companies are wrapping up their press events, clearing the way for the exhibition floor to take the spotlight the rest of the week.Here's a wrap-up of some of the biggest hits from the weekend:Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 EdgeSamsung stole the show with a futuristic presentation on Sunday showing off its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones -- both living up to the company's new rallying cry of "relentless innovation."Both devices have ditched the plastic backing of previous Galaxy phones, replacing it with durable Gorilla Glass for a sleeker appearance. Aside from the new look, the technological advancements in the phone are also noteworthy.Both phones are outfitted with wireless charging, making power cords obsolete. In just 10 minutes, Samsung says the devices can get enough charge for four hours of everyday use. Following the success of Apple Pay, Samsung also said its new devices would be equipped with Samsung Pay, a contact-less payment system.When the new Galaxy phones go on sale in April, users can also expect a sharper than ever camera that Samsung claims outperforms the iPhone 6, as well as the ability to launch the camera in less than a second.HTC One M9HTC showed off its latest flagship phone, the One M9, which looks strikingly similar to its predecessor.The sleek smartphone has an all-metal body and a 20 megappixel camera with a sapphire cover lens.While it may look like more of the same, HTC said users can expect "more customizable options" that will allow them to change the look and feel of their phone.HTC GripFollowing a recent partnership with sports retailer Under Armor, HTC unveiled the Grip, a fitness band that works with the clothing company's Record app for iOS and Android.The waterproof band is designed to move with athletes and can take workout metrics, including speed and distance, allowing the wearer to track their progress.It also lets the wearer take messages and easily skip through their music while on the go.Mozilla OS ExpandsWhen is the last time you heard news about a flip phone?Standing in stark contrast to the glamorous Galaxy S6 phones, Mozilla announced plans to bring its operating system to flip phones and slider phones, working with several big telecommunications partners.In doing so, Mozilla also hopes to entice more developers to create apps for its operating system.Ikea's Smart FurnitureIkea unveiled its "Home Smart" collection of wireless charging furniture, including bedside tables, lamps and desks. A + sign on the furniture indicates the area where users should place their devices that need power -- negating the need for cable clutter and looking for your phone charger.While the integration of wireless charging and furniture could make some lives easier, it is important to note that there are currently two dueling standards, PMA and Qi.Ikea has chosen to work with Wireless Power Consortium, integrating their Qi standard into the furniture, meaning it won't directly work with an iPhone.

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Goodbye, Cheap Gas: Prices Continuing to Rise

Goodbye, Cheap Gas: Prices Continuing to Rise

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The days of gas prices being lower than $2 are firmly in the U.S. drivers’ rear-view mirrors.The national average price for a gallon of gas is now $2.38 -- 10 cents more than a week ago. And GasBuddy expects those prices to keep climbing -- seven cents to 10 cents -- during the weekend.No state in the country on Monday has pump prices lower than $2. One state, however, is experiencing the biggest single-day jump in prices ever: California.In Los Angeles, prices were up 20 cents in just 24 hours, according to GasBuddy. Driving the spike is an ExxonMobil oil refinery fire on Feb. 18 in Torrance, California.California refineries also have been switching over to their spring gasoline blend, which is why the state’s drivers see prices start to increase during this time of year.The spring gasoline blend gets cars better mileage -- and reduces pollution -- but is more expensive.The good news: Even with the recent spike, prices are still more than $1 less than they were last year.

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“Walking Dead” Town Buildings on Sale on eBay for $680,000

“Walking Dead” Town Buildings on Sale on eBay for $680,000

Gene Page/AMC(GRANTVILLE, Ga.) -- If you've got $680,000 to spare, you could be the new owner of part of a town featured on The Walking Dead and other movies.Nine buildings in downtown Grantville, Georgia, 35 miles outside of Atlanta, are now collectively on auction on eBay.The historic area has been a set for several recent movies -- including Lawless with Shia LaBeouf and Jessica Chastain, The War with Kevin Costner and Elijah Wood, and Dumb and Dumber To with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels -- former Grantsville Mayor Jim Sells told ABC News on Monday.Sells bought the commercial properties when they were in foreclosure, he said."Scouts from the entertainment industry love the brick, 'old-town-square-type' buildings," he said. "Downtown Grantville has an historic appeal. A lot of the buildings were built in the 1880s, and we have a railroad runs right through the heart of town."Four new movies, including the The Ring 3 and 83 Days with big name stars Tom Cruise, Bryan Cranston and Danny Glover, just contacted him to shoot in the area, he added."I would love to see a movie studio or a commercial developer buy it and get everything rented out," Sells said. "It's dirt cheap at about $30 per square foot, and we've done all the dirty work by renovating everything."The town died down after the textile mills closed during the recession, Sells said.Now, most of downtown Grantville's revenue comes from tourists from all over the globe to tour the site that's been popular with the entertainment industry, he added."There is so much potential for revenue with buses of tourists coming in and our commuter residents who'd like to see more local business," Sells said.The nine buildings up for sale, which include about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of usable space in total, can be developed into retail areas, loft apartments, bars or pubs, restaurants, pharmacies or office spaces, Sells said. Property tours are held everyday at 2 p.m., he added.As of Monday morning, 194 eBay users had the listing on their watch list, though none have made an offer yet for the vacant commercial lot on auction for the starting price of $680,000."We've gotten several curious calls, but we're still hoping for a serious buyer," Sells said. "This is a huge opportunity for someone to own a piece of history and revitalize a town with great potential."

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Ikea Furniture Will Charge Your Smartphone Wirelessly

Ikea Furniture Will Charge Your Smartphone Wirelessly

IKEA(BARCELONA, Spain) -- Ikea wants to make sure you never leave home without a fully charged smartphone.The Swedish retailer unveiled its "Home Smart" collection of wireless charging furniture at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona over the weekend."Our belief is that mobile phones are vital parts to people's lives at home and their desire to stay connected," Bjorn Block, manager of lighting and wireless charging at Ikea said in a statement.The Home Smart range includes bedside tables, lamps and desks. Like everything else at Ikea, customers will have to put it together. A + sign on the furniture indicates the area where users should place their devices that need power -- negating the need for cable clutter and looking for your phone charger.While the integration of wireless charging and furniture could make some lives easier, it is important to note that there are currently two dueling standards, PMA and Qi.Ikea has chosen to work with Wireless Power Consortium, integrating their Qi standard into the furniture, meaning it won't directly work with an iPhone.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tax Tip: Are There Any Tax Apps?

Tax Tip: Are There Any Tax Apps?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Advancing technology has been a driving force behind how to file tax returns. According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than four in five taxpayers now file electronically."Taxpayers make fewer mistakes today than they have in the past and that's generally because of, you know, digital software, online software," TurboTax vice president Bob Meighan says.But which app is the best?A competitive duopoly has been brewing between preparers TurboTax and H&R Block. Both have apps that offer complete filing features for Android and iOS devices.With the apps, taxpayers can track their refunds, get answers to questions, and upload their documents with a simple camera click.Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block, explains: "Say for example you get your W2. You can take a picture of it on your phone, upload it to the My Block account, and then know that you've got it safe and sound. You don't need to worry about it."

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Most Americans Experience Unexpected Financial Crises

Most Americans Experience Unexpected Financial Crises

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Financial shocker! Most Americans had at least one money scare last year.In a survey of 7,000 households selected in three cities, Orlando, Boston, and Phoenix, more than eight out of 10 respondents said they went through an unexpected money crisis in 2014 that included loss of a spouse or partner, a drop in income or some kind of major repair.Furthermore, 55 percent of households who experienced an economic disturbance acknowledged finding it hard to make ends meet, often meaning they were living paycheck to paycheck.Another problem: saving money. Most households in the survey listed that as their top worry with not having enough money to cover expenses or enough funds to retire finishing second and third among their concernsYet, Pew's report, titled "Americans’ Financial Security: Perception and Reality," also found that at least Americans are feeling somewhat better than they did during the height of the Great Recession: 56 percent viewed their financial situation more positively in 2014. It was just 42 percent back in 2009.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Homes Either Too Small or Too Big for Majority of Owners

Homes Either Too Small or Too Big for Majority of Owners

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Dream includes home ownership but that doesn’t' stop people from dreaming once they own a house.In fact, a study by Trulia Real Estate of 2,000 respondents says that while four in ten are happy with the home they live in now, 43 percent would like to get bigger while 16 percent are looking for something smaller.People ages 18-to-34 are more apt than any other group to look for a larger home followed by respondents ages 35-to-54.In the meantime, people 55 and older are the most content with where they're living now. However, 26 percent of this group would still like to upgrade while 21 percent are ready for something smaller.Even though getting bigger seems to be the trend, the actual sales figures belie this desire. For example, last month 71 percent of new homes sold in the U.S. were under $400,000. Just four percent of sales exceeded $750,000.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Samsung Unveils Two New Galaxy Smartphones at Mobile World Congress

Samsung Unveils Two New Galaxy Smartphones at Mobile World Congress

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Samsung is making a play for the market share Apple gobbled up with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.The South Korean electronics company Sunday unveiled the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona."These products are the result of a simple philosophy," Samsung CEO J.K. Shin said. "It comes to two words: Relentless innovation."Samsung boasted that it would have the "fastest, brightest camera on the market" and showed how it was able to illuminate a night scene.Following the success of Apple Pay, Samsung also said its new devices would be equipped with Samsung Pay, a contact-less payment system.While Apple's mobile payments solution requires participating merchants to have Near Field Communication readers, Samsung said its payment solution can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted.Samsung has been working with Visa and MasterCard on the payments system and expects to release it to customers in the United States and South Korea this summer.Both phones are outfitted with wireless charging, making power cords obsolete. In ten minutes, Samsung says the devices can get enough charge for four hours of everyday use.Appealing to enterprise users, Samsung said the security of the phones is top of the line, making them ideal for business and government use.As for the revamped design, the plastic backing of previous Galaxy phones has been replaced with durable Gorilla Glass, a welcomed design improvement for many Galaxy users."The new Samsung Galaxy S6 phones are a big improvement in design," Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategies, told ABC News. "[But] Apple's consistency versus Samsung's inconsistency will win most consumers over."The biggest difference between the two phones is the curved edge in the aptly named Galaxy S6 Edge.The curved screen is designed with the purpose of helping users stay in touch with the people closest to them.The edge will light up with that person's corresponding color, meaning the user won't even have to lift their phone to find out who they got a message from.Both devices will be available on April 10 in 20 countries.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s Flight Suit Found at Toronto Vintage Store

Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s Flight Suit Found at Toronto Vintage Store

Photo by Victor Zelentsov/NASA via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- A flight suit belonging to Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space, was picked up in the most unlikely place: a vintage store in downtown Toronto.When physician and scientist Dr. Julielynn Y. Wong spotted the flight suit hanging on the store's wall, she "asked the salesgirl to bring it down so I could have a closer look," Wong, a former ABC News digital reporter, told ABC News Sunday.The flight suit was on sale for $40, marked down from an original $80."I'm surprised nobody had bought it earlier," Wong said.But it wasn't the price that shocked her. It was the name tag of former astronaut Chris Hadfield."When I saw his name, my jaw just dropped," she said.Wong, who called Hadfield "an inspiration to me," actually met the astronaut in 2012 while she was training in space medicine at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston."I was like wow, I know Chris, I trained with him, we actually had lunch. I should just reach out to Chris and ask if it belongs to him," Wong said.Over Facebook message, Wong sent Hadfield photos and descriptions of the flight suit.Hadfield concluded over Facebook message, "You have brought my actual flight suit!" Wong recalled.While the flight suit wasn't worn in space, Wong said, it appeared to be the same suit Hadfield wore on the back of his book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.Hadfield "has no idea" how the suit ended up in the store, Wong said."Hadfield is a former Air Force fighter pilot so he's had many flight suits over the years," Wong said. "It's possible that it inadvertently got placed in a donations bag when he moved back to Canada after living abroad for 20 years."Hadfield, who was assigned to NASA by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), had jobs ranging Chief Astronaut for the CSA to Chief of International Space Station Operations, according to the CSA.Hadfield's background also includes working with the Canadian Armed Forces, attending the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and serving as an exchange officer with the U. S. Navy, according to the CSA.Hadfield has retired from the Canadian Air Force and the CSA.Wong said Hadfield "told me he's glad I ended up with [the suit]."Wong, who is also director of 3D4MD, a platform of 3D printable medical supplies, says she hopes to use the suit as a prop during her talks about 3D printing medical supplies in space and on Earth."This way, the flight suit is much more inspiring for the next generation of space pioneers and innovators," she said.ABC News' request for comment from Chris Hadfield was not immediately returned.

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Hyundai Recalling Over 200,000 Vehicles for Electronic Steering Problem

Hyundai Recalling Over 200,000 Vehicles for Electronic Steering Problem

crwpitman/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hyundai is recalling thousands of vehicles due to a steering issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said earlier this week.According to NHTSA documents, Hyundai Elantra and Elantra Touring vehicles manufactured between June 1, 2008, and April 30, 2010 may suffer issues with the electronic control unit of the electronic power steering. The discrepancy that the ECU may detect could cause the disabling of steering power assist."If power steering is lost," NHTSA says, "greater driver effort would be required to steer the vehicle at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash."In total, NHTSA says the recall affects 204,768 vehicles. Hyundai plans to contact owners of affected vehicles and replace the ECU for free.

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Security Breach Could Impact Up to 50,000 Uber Drivers

Security Breach Could Impact Up to 50,000 Uber Drivers

QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Uber said on Friday evening that a security breach may have affected thousands of the company's drivers, potentially giving hackers access to their names and license numbers.The ride-sharing company says it discovered a possible breach in one of its databases in September 2014. Once the possibility of a breach was discovered, Uber said it changed access protocols for the database and opened an investigation.The company has since determined that a one-time breach led to the unauthorized access to information approximately 50,000 drivers."The files that were accessed contained only the name and driver's license number of some driver partners," the company said. "To date, we have not received any reports of actual misuse of any information as a result of this incident."Still, Uber planned to notify impacted drivers and recommend they monitor their credit cards for fraudulent charges. The company will also provide one year of membership in Experian's ProtectMyID Alert program for affected drivers."Uber takes seriously our responsibility to safeguard personal information," the statement said. "We are sorry for any inconvenience this incident may cause."

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Google Reveals Plan for Futuristic New Headquarters

Google Reveals Plan for Futuristic New Headquarters

Google(NEW YORK) -- Google revealed plans on Friday to trade in its nondescript Mountain View, California, headquarters for a proposed new office worthy of a big budget Hollywood science fiction film. The plan, which was created by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio in London, includes glass canopies to allow light and air into the buildings. The plans for developing the North Bayshore area were submitted today to the Mountain View city council for consideration and were posted online, alongside a nearly ten-minute video detailing the project. Only a futuristic multi-billion dollar company like Google would consider being able to physically move a building -- but it's one of the cornerstones of the project. Under the glass canopies, lightweight block-like structures that comprise rooms can be re-arranged like pieces of furniture, allowing Google to seamlessly adjust to its staffing needs. While the buildings will increase Google's office square footage, the plan is to also open the campus up to the community to create a lively neighborhood feel with retail, restaurants and bicycle paths. "We're really making sure that we make spaces very open and accessible so it's just not for Googlers, but it's for anyone who lives in the area to come by," David Radcliffe of Google said in the video. Mountain View City Councilman Lenny Siegel told ABC News he is concerned about the traffic flow in Mountain View and the housing supply -- two factors he will have to consider as he evaluates Google's plan. "Having wonderful new buildings with lots of well-paid employees sounds great, but it effects our housing supply and transportation," he said. It will likely take more than one year for the proposal to be evaluated and approved and it was unclear how long it would take to make Google's dream office space a reality. One thing is for certain, though: Google has come a long way since it started in a garage.

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Canadian City Sues US Guardrail Maker for $500 Million

Canadian City Sues US Guardrail Maker for $500 Million

ABC KSAT San Antonio(STRATFORD, Ontario) -- The multi-million dollar troubles for an embattled American guardrail maker have extended north of the border as a Canadian city filed a lawsuit this week over the company’s allegedly dangerous and “defective” guardrail design.The complaint, obtained by ABC News, seeks half a billion dollars in damages on behalf of the city of Stratford, located in Ontario, Canada and alleges Trinity Industries of Dallas, the manufacturer of the ET-Plus guardrail system, "mislead its customers" by not disclosing "secret” modifications it had made to its product."Trinity was aware of multiple serious failures of their secretly modified ET-Plus guardrail end terminals, but continued to manufacture and sell the modified version without disclosing the changes, resulting in tens of thousands of the units being installed across Canada," the complaint reads. "It is believed that there are tens of thousands of these defective, secretly modified, ET-Plus guardrail end terminals on the highways, as well as provincial and municipal roadways, across Canada."The ET-Plus guardrail system, which is used in states throughout the U.S., was the subject of an ABC News 20/20 investigation last year. ABC News obtained an internal Trinity email from 2005 in which a Trinity official estimated that making a modification to its widely-used guardrail system -- reducing a piece of metal in the end terminal from five inches to four -- would save the company $2 per end terminal, or $50,000 a year.Trinity made the modification that year without alerting U.S. federal or state officials and critics have since blamed the change for rendering the end terminal defective when hit, sometimes impaling vehicles and causing severe injury or death. The company has maintained that the modified ET-Plus is safe and continues to meet federal standards.News of the complaint from Stratford, which happens to be the hometown of pop star Justin Bieber, was first brought to light by Trinity itself in an annual shareholders report just filed by the publicly-held company in which it disclosed pending litigation."The Statement of Claim in this litigation generally alleges that Trinity Industries, Inc., Trinity Highway Products and Trinity Industries Canada, failed to warn of dangers associated with undisclosed modifications to the ET Plus guardrail end terminals, breached its implied warranty, breached its duty of care, and was negligent," the Trinity earnings report reads.Trinity spokesman Jeff Eller would not comment on the complaint and told ABC News the company has not yet officially been served.The Canadian complaint is the second of three class action lawsuits filed against Trinity surrounding the ET-Plus system. In November, a class action complaint was filed in Illinois on behalf of the counties in that state, alleging fraud on the part of Trinity for not disclosing the modifications. And earlier this week, a class action complaint was filed in Wisconsin, also alleging the company was fraudulent in selling the altered ET-Plus to transportation departments.While three Canadian provinces -- Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia -- have suspended the use of the ET-Plus on its roadways, the province in which the city of Stratford lies, Ontario, Canada's second largest province, has not removed the ET-Plus from its list of approved products. According to the complaint, officials there are “actively monitoring the developments in the United States.”In its latest annual report, Trinity Industries acknowledged that 42 U.S. states have now suspended use of its ET-Plus. The company halted sales late last year, pending results from U.S. government-mandated crash tests of the end terminal.Those tests, ordered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), were conducted in December and January, in order to determine the ET-Plus’ eligibility to remain on U.S. highways. The product passed the first series of four tests and results of the final four are awaiting release by the FHWA.Controversy has dogged the eighth and final test, which some say show a clear failure of the end terminal. Helicopter footage shot by a local ABC station shows the guardrail system caused substantial damage to the test vehicle upon impact. Trinity Industries has insisted no conclusions can be drawn from the video alone.And in a rare move by the normally circumspect company, a Trinity executive used a recent earnings conference call to publicly blast two of the most vocal critics of the crash tests and of the ET-Plus system, Josh Harman and Dean Sicking, as having financial motives for speaking out against its product."We expect Mr. Harman and Dr. Sicking will continue their campaign to discredit the ET-Plus and Trinity Highway, ignoring facts and data that confirm the ET-Plus system complies with applicable regulatory requirements," Theis Rice, Trinity's chief legal officer, told shareholders Feb. 19.Harman is a one-time competitor of Trinity Industries who battled the company first as the defendant in a patent lawsuit and later as a plaintiff and whistleblower in a federal case accusing the company of fraud. Harman first brought news of the undisclosed modifications to the government in 2012. A jury found Trinity liable in the federal case and the company was ordered to pay $175 million, which could triple by statutory mandate. The company plans to appeal the verdict.In the call to shareholders last week, Rice painted Harman as an opportunist who has used the media to make unsupported accusations."Should Mr. Harman ultimately prevail in his litigation, he stands to receive somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of the monetary amount awarded upon final judgement,” Rice said.Rice also called out Dean Sicking, a renowned highway safety engineer and guardrail expert who invented the predecessor to the ET-Plus and who has openly criticized the methodology used in the crash tests."Dr. Sicking has developed, licensed and is currently receiving royalties on end terminal products that compete directly with the ET-Plus. We believe Dr. Sicking stands to gain financially by discrediting the ET-Plus," said Rice.The embattled company has not been known to speak so bluntly of its critics and in responding to ABC News Wednesday, Harman said he believes it is a strategy as the results of the final tests - including the controversial eighth test - await release by the government."It's just another attempt by Trinity to divert attention from the [federal jury] verdict and the fact that one or more of the crash tests recently performed by Trinity at the FHWA's directive failed," Harman told ABC News.Sicking, who is currently conducting football helmet safety research at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, insisted that money is not his incentive for speaking out, noting that he has proposed reinstating an earlier version of the ET-Plus that would actually cut royalties he receives from competing products."It is easy to see that any greed present in this argument is on their side," Sicking told ABC News, adding that he has been the victim of "vicious attacks" in the "battle to do what's right."Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. 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