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Judge Approves Apple E-Books Settlement


DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- A District Court judge on Friday approved a settlement worth as much as $450 million in which Apple would pay consumers in connection with accusations that the company violated antitrust laws by conspiring with publishers to raise e-book prices.

According to the New York Times, Judge Denise Cote approved the settlement reached this summer in which Apple would pay $400 million to consumers in cash and e-book credits and $50 million to lawyers. Apple currently has an appeal going through the courts, which, if the verdict in the original case is overturned, would see Apple pay just $50 million to customers and $20 million to lawyers.

Apple was accused of working with five major publishers to raise the average price of e-books from the standard $9.99. All five of those publishers have settled their parts of the case, including three -- Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group -- who settled on the day the case was filed.

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California Start-up Tries to End Holiday Package Stealing


Credit: Siri Stafford/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A California startup company says it may have solved the problem of holiday package theft.

Every year, packages delivered to unattended doorsteps are stolen. And this problem becomes worse during the holiday season.

"The tracking number said it was delivered," one victim of holiday package theft told ABC News' San Francisco station KGO-TV. "But I never got the package."

The Post Office and shipping carriers leave packages outside unattended doors if nobody is home to receive the shipment. These deliveries are usually made during the day, regular business hours for delivery companies but also a time when most people are at work.

Doorman, a startup founded by Pixar and IBM alums, will allow people to receive their packages when they're home from work.

"I always felt like I was being punished by the current delivery system for having a full time job," Zander Adell, Doorman's co-founder, told KGO-TV. "And the question was why can't this be delivered when I'm actually home?"

Customers have their packages shipped to Doorman's package depot. Then, they use an app to schedule a time for Doorman to deliver the package to their home anytime until midnight, seven days a week, Adell explained.

The service costs $4 a package, or $20 a month and is so far only available in San Francisco.

Doorman is not the first company to try to fix the last obstacle for seamless online shopping.

Amazon allows customers to use lockers in public spaces to pick up packages.

Two companies called Outbox and Sixdoors both tried to bring evening home delivery services but failed.

"You've got to have a big workforce of delivery people and so I think that that's very ambitious, that's very tough," Anthony Ha, a writer for TechCrunch, told KGO-TV.

But Doorman doesn't hire full time delivery people. Copying Uber's hiring model, they use contractors who can deliver packages in their extra time.

"They may have day jobs, this is an opportunity for them to make extra cash during holidays or other times," Doorman co-founder Kapil Israni told KGO-TV.

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Craigslist Fires Back After Government Criticism Over Recalled Products


ABC News(NEW YORK) —  The CEO of Craiglist posted an open letter to a top U.S. government safety official Friday, saying that while he agrees the consumer product recall system is deeply flawed, he was “dismayed” that the official singled out his company in an ABC News report.

“You rightly lamented to ABC [News] that for a typical recall, 95 [percent] of the recalled items are still in the hands of consumers 5 years after the recall notice… These figures are utterly shocking,” the letter from Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster says. “Imagine our dismay when you and ABC ‘came out shooting’ at craigslist. Last we knew from your representatives, earlier this year, we were taking all appropriate steps to reduce the number of free classified ads for recall items by craigslist users.”

Buckmaster invited Kaye to San Francisco to “discuss how craigslist can further assist the CPSC in addressing product recalls.” “Since you, personally, have been the one leading the criticism, I trust you agree it will be time well spent for you as CPSC chairman, and I as craigslist CEO, to meet in person,” the letter says.

The letter came hours after ABC News Good Morning America broadcast parts of an interview with Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Elliot Kaye, who said that Craigslist is “morally irresponsible” for not doing what some other major internet resale sites do to block the sale of defective products under government recall.

“They do not and will not do it to date,” said Kaye, despite repeated requests from commission officials to set up the same filters used by Amazon and eBay to prevent recalled items from being posted.

Kaye said the result is the easy availability of items that could injure or kill children.

”I think it is irresponsible,” Kaye told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast further Friday night on World News with David Muir and 20/20.

Previously, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark refused to answer questions about the site’s refusal, saying he was only a “customer service representative” at the company that has made him a multi-millionaire.

An ABC News investigation, conducted with 17 ABC stations across the country, found the Craigslist site loaded with items that are illegal to sell because they have been recalled for safety defects.

Among the potentially dangerous items discovered on the Craigslist site was a Bumbo baby seat linked to a series of accidents in which infants fractured their skulls or suffered other serious injuries.

The Bumbo was later recalled, and owners were offered a safety belt, but the original version continues to be offered for re-sale on Craigslist.

When ABC News attempted to list the recalled version of the Bumbo on Amazon it was immediately blocked. On eBay, the listing was removed by the site 24 hours after we posted it.

But the Craigslist ad ABC News posted for the recalled item remained on the site for a week until we took it down on our own.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission praised Amazon and eBay for acting “responsibly.”

“They filter hundreds and thousands of online product notices to make sure with certain tags, make sure that these products are not up there,” Kaye said.

Craigslist, he said, “will not do it, has not done it, but should do it.”

In a written statement, the Washington government relations executive for Craigslist, William C. Powell, said the site has an automated system to help prevent posting of recalled items and also “provides a system where users can flag postings advertising recalled items for removal.” (Click here to read Powell's statement in full.)

The spokesperson said Craigslist prohibits the sale of recalled items.

That notice is on the posting page, and elsewhere the prohibition of recalled items is on line 15 of a 22 line-long list of a wide range of prohibited categories.

“I still think it’s irresponsible not to join in with the rest of the community who have certainly recognized that they should take action in this arena," he said.

Craig Newmark and Craigslist came under similar criticism five years ago over its policy of allowing postings that appeared to be ads for prostitution, and were linked to several murders.

At the time, Newmark addressed the issue in an interview with ABC News, saying, “If an ad on our site appears which is wrong for any reason, if it is criminal, we don’t want that on our site.”

Craigslist later dropped its adult service section.

Five years later, Newmark refused to address the issue of ads for the illegal sale of recalled items, saying he was no longer involved in the management of the company is only a customer service representative. In his letter, Buckmaster said Newmark had become a “victim of completely underserved criticism” and is a “dedicated philanthropist.”

After asking for the name of the ABC News director, he walked away from ABC News cameras.

To see if a product you’ve purchased has been recalled, go to www.SaferProducts.gov.

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Dow and S&P Reach Record Closes


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 reached record closes on Friday.

The Dow soared just after Friday's opening bell when China's central bank cut a key interest rate. It closed up 88.94 points at 17,807.94.

The Nasdaq went up 11.10 points to 4,712.97, and the S&P went up 10.73 points to a record finish of 2,063.48.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in 34 states in October-- a sign that steady hiring is becoming the norm across most of the country.  

Online streaming service Aereo filed for bankruptcy less than five months after an unfavorable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court said Aereo had been operating like a cable TV company, and unless it paid broadcasters licensing fees, it was in violation of copyright law.

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Five Scams to Beware of This Holiday Season


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Holidays are a time for joy, family and maybe a few presents. But it's also when scammers and thieves are on the lookout for shoppers who let their guard down.

Here's how to stay safe this holiday season, and what scams to watch out for:

Too Good to Be True Deals: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"This is what we're considering the year of the breach," said Robert Siciliano, an online security expert for McAfee. "Consumers need to recognize that there's a solid chance their email is currently in the hands of a criminal."

That's why people should watch out for emails appearing to be from big brands offering dirt-cheap deals.

"Do not click the links in the body of the email -- just don't do that," he said.

There's a chance the email is a fake. To find out if the deal if real, visit the retailer's website directly.

Fake Charities: People might feel the urge to be charitable during the holidays, but they should always make sure they are giving to a reputable organization.

Never hand over your financial information to someone who calls claiming to be from a charity, Siciliano said. If you want to give, call the organization directly. The same goes for online transactions. Instead of clicking an email link purporting to be from a charity, go directly to that group's website to donate.

$100 Bill Scam: Police in Maryland have warned citizens about a scary scam involving a thief who places a $100 bill on the windshield of a parked car, and waits for the driver to return. The driver gets in the car and sees the bill on the windshield, and when they get out to grab it, leaving the car door open, the thief then swipes the vehicle. At least, that's the crook's plan, according to the Maryland Attorney General's office. However, there have been no police reports about the scam, the attorney general's office said.

Credit Card Fraud: You should be cautious with your credit cards year-round, but especially around the holidays, when you're probably more likely to use them, experts said.

Carolyn Balfany of MasterCard said people who do their Christmas shopping online should be careful to only use well-established websites.

"Look for security markers," she said. "The consumer should be vigilant and smart, and only shop on trusted website with merchants they know."

Avoid giving your credit card number to someone verbally or letting anyone write the number down.

iScams: People use their smartphones more than ever today, and the holiday season is no exception.

But be careful about what apps you download around the holidays. New ones may not be entirely secure, according to McAfee. Watch out for apps that request too many permissions -- they may get access to information you want to keep private, the company said.

And only download apps from an official app store, never from a third-party.

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CardHub's Most Popular Gift Cards for 2014


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gift cards may be among the most requested gift items this year, according to the National Retail Federation, in part because the choices are endless. So which one should you present to your friends and family this holiday season?

CardHub, the credit card comparison site, used data from its gift-card exchange service and listed the most popular gift cards of 2014.T oday, there are 12,647 gift cards available in CardHub's exchange, which allows users to sell, buy or exchange gift cards.

From Nov. 1 to 20, Cardhub analyzed 648 gift card issuers, which have multiple cards, including discounted ones. CardHub's analysis took into account the number of user searches for each of these cards on CardHub and the number of clicks for each card.

A spokesman for CardHub said the company has a commercial relationship, in which CardHub gets a cut of every purchase made on its website, with two companies that issue the gift cards in the top 10 list: Amazon and American Express.

  1. Visa Gift Card
  2. Amazon Gift Card
  3. iTunes Gift Card
  4. American Express Gift Card
  5. Netflix Gift Card
  6. Walmart Gift Card
  7. Target Gift Card
  8. Google Play Gift Card
  9. eBay Gift Card
  10. Starbucks Gift Card

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Dow Jones Industrial Hits New High


Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average is trading at new highs Friday thanks to an interest rate cut by the People’s Bank of China and the suggestion of new stimulus by the European Central Bank.

As of 10 a.m., the Dow was up about 162 points.

Markets generally go up when central banks cut interest rates.

This sort of immediate jump does not say much about the health of economies around the world. They are an indication of investors moving money into assets that they think will make money in coming months.

It remains to be seen whether China’s interest rate cut will lead to a stronger economy.

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Comcast Testing System that Allows Customers to Track Technicians


DisabilityImages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Put on your bathing suits, cable customers, because you’ll be channel surfing in no time! No, it’s not Jim Carrey’s iconic Cable Guy character coming promptly to your door, but your own local cable guy (or girl).

Comcast is testing a new system in its My-Account App that would allow customers to track when their cable technician will arrive for scheduled services.

The app will reportedly send alerts to customers when the technician is about 30 minutes away, and allow them to track said technician on a map. Customers will also have an option to rate the technician’s service.

The app is expected to be widely available beginning early next year.

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Twitter Rolls Out Tweet-Sharing Feature for Direct Messages


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been a big week of enhancements for Twitter users.

The social networking platform announced that private tweet sharing is now available to users, allowing them to flag a particular tweet they wish to share with a friend via direct message.

Take it for a spin on the Twitter iOS and Android apps by long pressing a tweet in your timeline that you'd like to send to a friend. Then choose "Share via Direct Message."

The functionality also works on the Twitter website and TweetDeck. Tap the "..." icon and then choose "Share via Direct Message."

The recipient will get a push alert and the tweet will be integrated into the existing private conversation.

Earlier this week, Twitter users were given access to search every public tweet, dating back to the company's launch in 2006.

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Most Expensive Home for Sale in US Can Be Yours for $195 Million


Coldwell Banker Previews International(BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.) -- Some houses boast a wine cellar, but this place has a vineyard.

The Palazzo di Amore, or “Palace of Love,” is located in Beverly Hills, California, and can be yours for $195 million.

Currently the most expensive house on the market in America, it boasts 53,000 square feet of living space, 12 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms and 25 acres -- all in bustling Beverly Hills.

The pool of people the home is marketed to is “somewhat limited,” Coldwell Banker Previews International listing agent Stacy Gottula told ABC News. “Largely, we’re seeing international buyers in about the $50-million range.”

The home’s current owner is Jeff Greene, a real estate magnate from Florida with a net worth around $3 billion.

To some, this home might be considered a bargain.

“In London, they’re getting something like $10,000 a square foot for penthouses,” said Joyce Rey, another Coldwell Banker Previews International listing agent. “Here you have 25 acres and beautiful weather.”

There is also a reflection pool, infinity pool, revolving dance floor, bowling alley, movie theater and a Turkish bath off the master bedroom.

If you’re interested in having guests over, that’s not a problem because the home can also accommodate approximately 150 cars, according to Coldwell Banker Previews International, which has the listing.

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Okla. Walmart Employee Defends Food Donation Campaign for Co-Workers


The Making Change at Walmart campaign(MIDWEST CITY, Okla.) — A group calling for better working conditions at Walmart is criticizing a food donation campaign for employees in need, saying it's symptomatic of wages being too low.

But Dawnne Sulaitis, the Walmart department manager who started the campaign for "Store 3430" in Midwest City, Oklahoma, said it's "about showing compassion for others."

Last year, the Making Change at Walmart campaign highlighted a similar food drive in a store in Ohio, describing it as a result of pay that was too low at Walmart, the biggest employer in the country.

"I understand there's quite a bit of unfavorable media regarding this food drive," said Sulaitis, a 19-year Walmart veteran. "I haven’t even read it, and I’m not going to read it. Our intention is just to help our neighbors and our friends. These are friends who need a helping hand."

Full-time Walmart employees in the U.S. are paid an average wage of $12.92, according to the company, which employs more than 1.3 million people at more than 4,800 locations in the country. Walmart's average sales associate earns $8.81 per hour, according to IBISWorld, which translates to annual pay of $15,576, based on 34 hours of full-time work a week.

A Walmart spokeswoman said the donation efforts are not organized by the corporation, but by store employees.

Sulaitis, 54, said she approached the store's human resources department about two weeks ago to ask if there are any fellow employees in need. She was then told that two employees, who remained unnamed, had taken an extended leave of absence, and each were single-income households.

"I asked if we could do bake sales to raise money to help provide them with a Thanksgiving meal and to put together a food drive in which associates in the store can contribute to their meals," Sulaitis said. "So we are acting collectively to help out our fellow associates."

There are more than 300 employees in that store, which is located in the outskirts of Oklahoma City.

Allison Livengood, an associate of four years from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who is part of the Making Change at Walmart, said in a statement, "Walmart workers care about each other, there's no question about that. But it doesn't change the larger problem that many of us are unable to cover groceries even though we work for the richest family in the country. The Waltons have to open their eyes to the fact that Walmart’s low pay is forcing workers and our families to rely on food stamps and food banks to put food on the table, and even that's not enough. Walmart and the Waltons must raise pay and provide full-time hours."

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Americans Not Yet Enamored with Thanksgiving Day Shopping


Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Almost nine out of ten Americans are planning not to shop on Thanksgiving Day, according to a National Retail Federation survey of 6,600 shoppers.

This may come as a shock to the growing number of retailers taking part in Black Friday Creep -- that is, opening their doors a day before what had once been the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The NRF survey reveals that about six in ten consumers say they will definitely or will consider shopping between Thanksgiving Day and Sunday, Nov. 30.

Of that group, just under a quarter will actually make purchases on Turkey Day, which translates to about 11 percent of all the adults surveyed by the NRF.

Overall, the number of people who will actually shop either on Black Friday or during the weekend is projected to decline slightly from last year, a development that NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says may indicate Americans are more in a "wait-and-see" mode for the deepest discounts they can get.

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Man Launches Crowdsourcing Campaign to Create Doll with Stretch Marks, Acne


Nickolay Lamm(PITTSBURGH) -- Toy manufacturers have been getting backlash in recent years for making dolls too pretty, too skinny and too perfect-looking. Now, one doll may alter our perception of what it means to be beautiful.

“I remember shopping for a doll to buy for my niece,” says Nickolay Lamm, an artist living in Pittsburgh. “I noticed the dolls looked very supermodel-y, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I figured if dolls looked like real people then wouldn’t kids have more self-confidence?”

On March 5, 2014, 26-year-old Lamm launched a crowdsourcing campaign for Lammily, a doll with larger proportion sizes than what’s typically seen on toy store shelves.

In addition to a more life-like body structure, you have the option to buy stickers for Lammily so she'll have tattoos or imperfections like cellulite, acne, and stretch marks.

“Some are saying it’s too much, but I’m just trying to show the natural part of who we are,” Lamm says. “It’s a beautiful thing and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Why hide it?”

After one year and over $560,000 raised, Lammily has been manufactured and is priced at $25 on lammily.com. Stickers and fashions are sold separately and are currently available for pre-order.


More ABC US news | ABC World News

As for plans for the doll, Lamm is choosing to stay focused on Lammily’s overall message.

“Children are gladly accepting the realistic doll,” he says. “They like how it looks like typical girl walking down the street.

“Right now, I just want my product to survive,” Lamm says. “I don’t consider myself a dollmaker because I’m not in the business of making dolls. I’m in the business of making kids feel better about themselves.”

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Markets Climb to All-Time Highs


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rising home sales and an upbeat weekly employment report pushed the markets to all-time highs on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 33.27 to close at a record  17,719.00. The Nasdaq rose 26.16 points to 4,701.87, and the S&P 500 gained 4.03 points closing at a new benchmark of 2,052.75.

A lot of people went home shopping last month. The National Association of Realtors says existing home sales rose about 1.5%-- the most brisk pace so far this year.

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment fell by 2,000 last week. The less volatile four week average was also down.

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Infant ‘Fingertip Amputations’ Lead to Huge Graco Stroller Recall


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly five million Graco baby strollers have been recalled due to “fingertip amputation hazard,” but an ABC News investigation found that if this recall goes like most safety recalls, a vast majority of the strollers could remain on the market, posing a threat to infants for years to come.

The recall, to be announced later Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and Canadian and Mexican officials, says Graco has received reports of 11 finger injuries “including six reports of fingertip amputations, four reports of partial-fingertip amputation and one finger laceration.”

The recall affects 11 models of Graco strollers made from August 2000 to September 2014 -- about 4.7 million strollers in the U.S., more than 200,000 in Canada and 10,300 in Mexico. Owners are told to contact Graco “immediately” to get a free repair kit and, before the kit comes, to “exercise extreme care” when unfolding and using the stroller. A CPSC official told ABC News the fix is "very easy to install" and if parents just safely engage the lock, they can use the stroller until the new hinge cover arrives.

The bigger problem: The ABC News 20/20 investigation, airing Friday, found that most recalled products are not turned in or fixed, and remain in homes or are listed for sale.

Under current federal law, there is no minimum effort that manufacturers have to make, or money they have to spend, to get the word out about the safety recalls.

It is illegal to sell a recalled product, but in a joint investigation with 17 ABC News affiliates across the country, reporters found a wide range of recalled products easily available for resale.

“We need to solve this problem and we need as much energy and as much participation from all different aspects we can,” Elliot Kaye, the head of the CPSC, told ABC News in his first major interview since being appointed chairman earlier this year.

Kaye said all too often manufacturers give only lip service to safety and fail to spend the money necessary to make sure their recalls are widely known by American families.

“We need industry to do more, and we certainly need more done on the tech side, and so be able to get these minds, who are so creative, to commit to working in this space really can make a difference,” said Kaye, who estimated that for a “good recall,” the government estimates only 20 percent of the recalled products are returned or accounted for. In worse cases, it can be as low as five percent.

Tune in to ABC's Good Morning America, World News with David Muir and 20/20 Friday for the full report on recalled products, to hear from victims of serious incidents, and to see what major companies are and are not doing to make American households safer.

To see if a product you’ve purchased has been recalled, go to SaferProducts.gov.


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