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Marriott to Pay $600,000 Fine for Jamming Guests’ Wi-Fi, Charging for Internet Access

Marriott to Pay $600,000 Fine for Jamming Guests’ Wi-Fi, Charging for Internet Access

tupungato/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Marriott International will pay a $600,000 fine, the Federal Communications Commission announced Friday, after improperly blocking mobile hotspots to force hotel guests to use their pair Wi-Fi network.According to a release from the FCC, the agency had been investigating whether Marriott "intentionally interfered with and disabled Wi-Fi networks established by consumers in the conference facilities of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Hotel staff, the FCC says, used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system to prevent guests from connecting to their personal Wi-Fi networks. At the same time, the hotel staff allegedly charged customers as much as $1,000 per device to access the hotel's network."Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be locked by their hotel or conference center," Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc of the FCC said. He called Marriott's actions "unacceptable" and noted that the practice "puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service of forgoing Internet access altogether."The FCC investigation was prompted by a March 2013 complaint from an individual who had attended an event at the Nashville hotel. In addition to the fine, Marriott will cease the use of Wi-Fi blocking technology and "take significant steps to improve how it monitors and uses its Wi-Fi technology at the Gaylor Opryland."

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Wall Street Posts Big Gains After Positive Unemployment Figures

Wall Street Posts Big Gains After Positive Unemployment Figures

RobertCrum/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street rebounded from a rough week with a day of gains on Friday, following positive jobs numbers.The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 208.64 to close back over 17000. The index finished the day at 17009.69.The Nasdaq climbed 45.42 to 4475.62, while the S&P surged 21.73 to 1967.90.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the national unemployment rate fell below six percent, the lowest figure since July 2008.

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GM Announces Recall of More than Half a Million More Vehicles, Halts Some Deliveries

GM Announces Recall of More than Half a Million More Vehicles, Halts Some Deliveries

General Motors(DETROIT, Mich.) -- General Motors announced another recall, this time of more than 370,000 cars and trucks in the U.S. -- and more than 500,000 in North America -- related to torque and corrosion problems.The new recalls included 290,107 Cadillac SRX vehicles from the model years 2010-2015 and Saab 9-4X SUVs from the 2011 and 2012 model years. Those vehicles require torque inspection of the rear toe link adjuster lock nuts, which if improperly installed could result in warn threads and the potential separation of the toe adjuster -- placing the vehicle at risk of swaying or wandering at highway speeds among other potential problems. Unsold vehicles are being checked for proper torqueing before being sold. GM says three crashes and two injuries have been linked to this problem.The company is also recalling 89,294 Chevrolet Spark vehicles from the model years 2013-2015 due to the risk of corrosion causing the secondary hood latch striker to get stuck in the open position. This could cause the hood to open unexpectedly. The company says it is unaware of any crashes or injuries linked to the hood latch striker.Additionally, GM said on Friday that it would tell its dealers to halt delivery on model year 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks. These vehicles contain incorrectly wired connections in the driver-side airbag. As currently installed, GM says the issue would cause driver airbags "to not function as designed." Most of these vehicles are being held at assembly plants or dealerships until the condition can be corrected. Only a small number of these vehicles have been sold, and GM says it has not linked any crashes or injuries to this problem. In total, GM has announced 73 recalls in 2014, covering nearly 30 million vehicles.

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US Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level Since 2008

US Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level Since 2008

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The latest employment figures far exceeded last month's expectations, pushing the unemployment rate to its lowest level since July 2008. U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.The unemployment rate declined 0.2 percent to 5.9 percent, with the number of unemployed Americans decreasing by 329,000 to 9.3 million. Employment growth in professional and business services, retail trade and health care led the increases last month.

The number of long-term unemployed -- that is, people without work for 27 weeks or more -- was largely unchanged, at three million in September. This group accounted for 31.9 percent of those unemployed.

“At this pace of job growth, the unemployed and underemployed are quickly being fully employed,” economist Mark Zandi told ABC News. “Also encouraging is the breadth of the job gains across industries and across all pay scales.  The increase in hours worked per week is a positive leading indicator for continued strong gains.”

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How the JP Morgan Chase Security Breach Affects You

How the JP Morgan Chase Security Breach Affects You

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Your money is safe, JPMorgan Chase told customers after a major security breach -- but at least one expert says that doesn't mean you're in the clear.The theft of personal information, a security expert said, may have more troubling consequences than if credit card numbers had gotten stolen.That's something to consider after JPMorgan Chase, the country's biggest bank when measured by assets, announced Thursday that names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of customers in 76 million households and seven million businesses were compromised.Here's what you need to know:

1. Who's affected?You were impacted if you use these Web or mobile services: Chase.com, JPMorganOnline, Chase Mobile or JPMorgan Mobile.

2. What's the danger?JPMorgan Chase hasn't seen unusual fraud activity related to the attack, but phishing is "the biggest risk," the bank said.Stolen information can lead to the "trifecta of 'ishings," said Adam Levin, founder of Identity Theft 911, an identity management company. In addition to phishing, which is through email, there's also "vishing." That's when you receive a phone call or voice message that tries to solicit your information. The third scheme is "smishing," which uses text messages. JPMorgan Chase said it never asks for personal information via email or text.

3. Identity theft is a major worry."There is no evidence that your account numbers, passwords, user IDs, date of birth or Social Security number were compromised during this attack," JPMorgan Chase said, but that doesn't mean this is no big deal.This could be more serious than a credit card breach, Levin told ABC News. It can take anywhere from hours to months to undo the consequences of identity theft, or even longer for medical identity theft."It’s difficult because you first have to realize you’re a victim," he said.

4. Do you need to change your password or get a new credit or debit card?You don't need to change your password or get a new card issued, JPMorgan said.

5. Credit monitoring may be a good idea.Credit/identity theft monitoring isn't necessary, JPMorgan said. But it won't hurt, especially if you already have access to free services, Levin said. Your insurance or credit card company may already offer this service."The problem is your money is safe but your identity may not be," Levin said. "And if your identity is compromised, your life is not safe."

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“Super Smash Bros.” for Nintendo Launches

“Super Smash Bros.” for Nintendo Launches

File photo. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- Gamers are buzzing about Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, which launched in stores Thursday night at midnight.The game has all of the favorite Nintendo characters, including Mario, Fox, Kirby, Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu. Fans are already familiar with the game, which originally launched for Nintendo 64 and was later released on GameCube and Wii.The Wii U version of the game will launch later this year, Gamespot reported.

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How Fear of Ebola Could Impact the US Economy

How Fear of Ebola Could Impact the US Economy

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While Ebola may have infected only one person in the United States, economists say fear of the disease can spread like contagion."People become afraid by talking to someone else who is fearful or seeing someone else get the disease," said Ross Hammond, economist and director of the Center on Social Dynamics and Policy at The Brookings Institution.Hammond, who studied the economic effects of closing American schools in 2009 in response to the H1N1 virus, said there are documented instances of fear spreading very rapidly. Those fears could have consequences that affect consumer behavior and businesses."When people become afraid of catching a disease, and they change their behavior or keep their kids home from school, or stay home from work or cancel a trip, that of course has economic effects," he said.Here are some potential consequences:ProductivityIn Texas, where the first person in the U.S. was diagnosed with Ebola earlier this week, some parents have already chosen to withhold their children from school in fear of contagion. That means people will have to say home with their children, possibly affecting the level of workplace productivity.In his 2009 study, Hammond had estimated that closing all U.S. schools in response to the H1N1 for four weeks would cost $10 billion to $47 billion.Wall StreetAirline stocks have dropped this week, in part, due to fears that the virus may hinder Americans' willingness to travel.Also, the World Bank estimated last month that the economic effect of Ebola in the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, would be "catastrophic." In a global economy, that could impact American companies.Travel and TourismPeople may choose to not travel -- either internationally or domestically -- and that can affect the airline and tourism industry.Mead Over, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, told ABC News that since Nigeria has succeeded in containing the outbreak, he expects the United States’ stronger public health system to quickly contain the disease in Dallas or if any other infected traveler arrives elsewhere.Any economic impact on the stock market or in travel is not the impact of the disease per se but the impact of largely irrational "aversion behavior,” Mead said. “The impact of aversion behavior on the markets is like a speculative bubble, but in reverse," he said, adding that he expects this “reverse bubble” to collapse in a matter of weeks, as Americans realize that a strong public health system can protect them.Meanwhile, Hammond's other research shows fear can help spread an epidemic as well as help contain it."So when the effects of something are severe, people tend to assume that it’s also somewhat more likely," he said.The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane earlier this year, for example, may make people more concerned about air travel even though the probability of an incident may not have increased, he said.But Columbia Business School professor Amit Khandelwal said it's too early to know if companies are changing their business decisions."I’m not worried in the slightest about this, and I can’t imagine this holding back businesses from sending managers to Texas," he said.

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Jeans Brands Consider Bigger Pockets to Fit New iPhone 6 Plus

Jeans Brands Consider Bigger Pockets to Fit New iPhone 6 Plus

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When Apple fans got their hands on the new iPhone 6 Plus last month, many noticed one problem: The phone is too big to fit into the pockets of most jeans, especially for women.Now it appears fashion brands are taking note. Several companies told ABC News they're considering enlarging their pockets to accommodate the new smartphones."I spoke with our design team about this last week and they've definitely considered it," Tim Flach, a spokesperson for 7 For All Mankind said, but added that the brand is worried that lengthening the pockets will "take away from the fit of the brand."James Jeans is already testing larger pockets on both men's and women's styles."They're just trying to find the balance between moving forward with technology but still maintaining the fit and making sure it's flattering on the body," said Danielle Marmel, who does publicity for the brand.American Eagle pointed out that their men's pockets already fit larger phones like the iPhone 6 Plus, and that they're now evaluating women's pockets, too.The iPhone 6 Plus is Apple's largest model yet, at 5.5 inches tall, and while tech fans were eager to buy the smartphone, some critics have complained that it's too big -- even if it does fit in your pocket, it might bend when you sit.So fashion brands are searching for a solution. J.Crew is another company that has hinted at new styles because of the larger devices."Throughout the design process, we try to consider every aspect of the way our customers live their lives, and changing technology is no exception," Tom Mora, head of women's design at J.Crew, said in a statement."Few people leave home without their phones, they bring their iPads or tablets with them to work, it's the way we now live," Mora added. "We think about all of these details -- whether it's introducing new tech accessories for the new iPhone 6 -- or special interior pockets to carry the various generations of iPads or tablets."

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JPMorgan Breach Compromised Contact Info of 76 Million Households

JPMorgan Breach Compromised Contact Info of 76 Million Households

grummanaa5/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- JPMorgan Chase confirmed on Thursday that 76 million households were impacted by a data breach that compromised contact information of the financial institution's users.A press release from JPMorgan noted that no account numbers, passwords, login IDs, birthdates or Social Security numbers appear to have been compromised. The only information at risk in the breach, the company says, are names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses."Your money at JPMorgan Chase is safe," the release reads. In many recent data breaches concerning retail stores around the country, fraudulent activity on customers' credit or debit cards have been spotted. That is not true for the JPMorgan breach, the company says. Additionally, any unauthorized transaction on users' accounts can be promptly reported to the company, which will not hold the user liable."We are very sorry that this happened and for any uncertainty this may cause you," JPMorgan said in a post to their websites, telling customers that they may not need to change passwords or account information.

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Vets Quitting Civilian Jobs at Alarming Rate

Vets Quitting Civilian Jobs at Alarming Rate

iStock/Thinkstock(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) -- The Obama administration has made finding work for veterans a top priority for those who've served the country in uniform.However, vets who manage to find work after leaving the military are often dissatisfied with their initial civilian employment, a new study finds.VetAdvisor and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families say in a poll of 1,500 veterans conducted in early 2014, 44 percent acknowledged quitting their job after just one year, while another 21 percent departed after two years.Reasons for leaving a civilian post include tedious work, lack of advancement, and finding the job doesn't match up with skills learned in the military.VetAdvisor and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families argue the findings should be a wake-up call to employers that they must go beyond just hiring vets, by developing ways to keep them interested in the job.On a brighter note, the study did ascertain that of those who left a job, 43 percent said it was to take a better position with another company.

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SCOTUS to Rule on Request for Religious Accommodation at Work

SCOTUS to Rule on Request for Religious Accommodation at Work

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One of the cases on the U.S. Supreme Court's docket this session is whether a job applicant must give a prospective employer advance notice of any request for religious accommodation.The case involves Samantha Elauf, who was 17 when she interviewed for work at an Abercrombie store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Elauf, a Muslim, wore a head scarf to her appointment.She was given a passing grade by an assistant manager but it was overruled by a supervisor, who maintained that Abercrombie’s "look" policy forbids the wearing of hats or head scarves.Although the supervisor later said he didn't realize the scarf was worn for religious reason, Elauf didn't get the job.Elauf then complained to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued Abercrombie. However, the decision to award her $20,000 was thrown out by a higher court, which deemed that Elauf was at fault for not telling Abercrombie that her religious beliefs conflicted with its policies on dress.Ironically, Abercrombie has since changed its look policy and now allows women to wear head scarves for religious reasons. The change came after the EEOC sued on behalf of two other Muslim women, winning a verdict for monetary compensation.

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Angry Birds Maker Rovio Announces Layoffs

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Announces Layoffs

Rovio(NEW YORK) -- The company that created the popular mobile game Angry Birds announced on Thursday that it will lay off about 16 percent of its Finland workforce in order to create a "simplified organization."Rovio's CEO Mikael Hed called the company "innovative and forward-looking," noting the need to be "the best at adapting to change." The company will look to reduce its workforce by 130 employees in order to focus on "three key businesses with the highest growth potential: games, media, and consumer products.""It is never easy to consider changes like this," Hed said, "but it is better to do them sooner rather than later."

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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to Acquire Auto Dealership Group

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to Acquire Auto Dealership Group

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Berkshire Hathaway Inc. announced on Thursday that it would acquire the Van Tuyl Group, the largest privately owned auto dealership group in the U.S.The auto group, which will be known as Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, will remain under the leadership of Larry Van Tuyl and will be headquartered in Dallas. According to a news release from Berkshire, Warren Buffett's holding company, said that there will be no change to the business model that the Van Tuyl Group has operated under for 62 years."The Van Tuyl Group fits perfectly into Berkshire Hathaway from both a financial and cultural viewpoint," Buffett said. Buffett noted that the auto group delivers "unusually high volumes at its 78 locations," calling the acquisition "just the beginning for Berkshire Hathaway Automotive."The transaction is set to be completed in the first quarter of the 2015 Fiscal Year.

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Wall Street Mostly Level, Fewer Jobless Claims

Wall Street Mostly Level, Fewer Jobless Claims

tarabird/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a rough start to the month of October, and a rough beginning of the week, Wall Street fared slightly better on Thursday, by virtue of staying mostly level.The Dow Jones Industrial dropped 3.66 to a finish of 16,801.05.The Nasdaq climbed 8.11, ending the day at 4,430.20, while the S&P 500 remained level at 1,946.16.Jobless claims decreased by 8,000 in the last week, the Department of Labor reported. Only 287,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 27.

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2012 Ford Focus Steering Tops List of Vehicle Issues

2012 Ford Focus Steering Tops List of Vehicle Issues

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For the second time the 2012 Ford Focus tops an auto safety watch list amid complaints and reports of injury surrounding the vehicle’s steering.The Vehicle Watch List, released by the non-profit auto safety group The Safety Institute, is a quarterly-compiled early warning list of the top 15 vehicle trends that safety experts say automakers and government should be paying attention to. The list is compiled using publicly available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and includes consumer complaints as well as reports of injuries and deaths.The Safety Institute states it is not a list of defects, “but rather these are areas that potentially need more investigation and to prioritize limited resources.”The inaugural list, released in June, put the 2012 Ford Focus at the top spot, based on dozens of reported injuries in which drivers cited problems with the car’s steering.The second list, which takes into account new data, indicates NHTSA has continued to receive complaints on the 2012 Focus, including reports that the electronic power steering randomly shuts down.“Power steering sporadically comes in and out -- usually when the car is just started and we attempt to back out -- the steering has no power. If this happens while driving at a higher speed this could be bad,” wrote a consumer to NHTSA just last week.Another complaint included with the Safety Institute report from mid-June said the steering wheel locked when the driver had just started a drive.“Thank goodness I was not in the middle of driving when this occurred,” the driver said. “This should really be investigated in order to avoid a fatal accident from happening.”“It’s trending again at the top, it certainly needs to be investigated and this is something that should be of great interest to NHTSA,” said Sean Kane, president of the board of directors of The Safety Institute, who in a different role also consults with lawyers who sue automakers.There are no recalls or investigations into steering issues on the 2012 Ford Focus, and a spokesperson for Ford had no comment on the vehicle placing top on the Vehicle Watch List for a second time.Upon the list’s first release in June, a spokesperson for Ford told ABC News it did not “recognize” the methodology for the safety watch list.“We are confident in our current methods for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues,” the spokesperson added. “When the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers. The spokesperson said then that the company takes the safety of its customers “very seriously.”A NHTSA spokesperson didn’t immediately respond but told ABC News upon release of the initial list in June that the agency has a “good track record” in identifying safety defects and issuing recalls.

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Unemployment Claims Fall to 287K

Unemployment Claims Fall to 287K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims dipped lower last week, decreasing by 8,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.For the week ending Sept. 27, the number of people filing for benefits fell to 287,000. The previous week claims stood at 295,000.The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.The four-week moving average slumped as well, falling by 4,250 to 294,750.

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Money Flows Out After ‘Bond King’ Leaves Pimco

Money Flows Out After ‘Bond King’ Leaves Pimco

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Record amounts of cash followed “Bond King” Bill Gross out the door. Investors pulled $23.5 billion from Pimco’s flagship, Total Return bond fund, after he abruptly left the company last month. The fund lost more than 10 percent of its assets after Gross departed for rival Janus Capital. The fund also lost money before Gross quit.

Pimco has been trying to calm investors. “[T]he fund is well positioned to meet potential redemptions. Short-term cash management is an area of expertise and strength at PIMCO,” the company said in a statement.Some of the money that flowed out of Pimco went to rivals Vanguard, Janus and DoubleLine funds.

The big movements are example of the hazards of hiring and keeping star fund managers who have a big following.

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Government Investigating Used-Car Dealerships over Liar Loans

Government Investigating Used-Car Dealerships over Liar Loans

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Government prosecutors are looking into liar loans, where borrowers’ incomes are inflated to enable them to qualify for high interest auto loans.“Federal and state authorities, a group that includes prosecutors in New York, Alabama and Texas, are zeroing in on the most powerful, and arguably the least regulated, rung of the subprime auto loan chain, used-car dealerships,” The New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the investigations.“Already, they have found hundreds of fraudulent loans that together total millions of dollars,” the newspaper added.

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Subprime Auto Loans Help Fuel Auto Sales Boom

Subprime Auto Loans Help Fuel Auto Sales Boom

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Auto sales are booming, with a strong pick-up in demand for light trucks and SUVs.“September was another strong month,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “The market continues to embrace trucks and SUVs at every price point, with premium brands also benefitting from a combination of fresh product and readily-available credit.”Financing is cheap and much more widely available than right after the 2008 financial crisis, “with a significant extension of subprime lending,” said Mark Strand at AutoTrader.com. “These tailwinds have created an environment in which all the pent up demand we have talked about can be released.”

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Lawyer Targets Google over Hacked Celebs

Lawyer Targets Google over Hacked Celebs

Adam Berry/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The founders of Google are in the crosshairs of a Hollywood lawyer representing more than a dozen of the female celebrities whose nude pics were exposed by a hack of Apple's iCloud service.

The hack brought the most intimate snaps taken by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, and dozens of others available to anybody who could type the stars' names into a search box.According to the New York Post, attorney Marty Singer is threatening a $100 million lawsuit against Google, comparing the search giant's co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and others at the company to how higher-ups at the NFL handled the Ray Rice case.In a letter to Google, Singer accuses the company execs of "blatantly unethical behavior" that mirrored that of the NFL, who, "turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimized women and children."Google, Singer says, "...has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women."Singer, who represented Charlie Sheen in his battle against Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, said his office already demanded the site block access to the pictures, but they're still searchable.

"Google knows the images are hacked stolen property, private and confidential photos and videos unlawfully obtained and posted by pervert predators who are violating the victims' privacy rights," he said. "...Yet Google has taken little or no action to stop these outrageous violations."

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