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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Heavy rain, lightening and floods have hit large parts of the United Kingdom as residents head to the polls to vote on whether to remain or leave the European Union.

Overnight, London’s Fire Brigade received up to 300 calls in three hours, the same amount it usually receives in a day.

300 ‘999’ calls as we attend floods & lightning strikes in #londonstorm https://t.co/wtHRVVOOhG pic @globalsnewsroom pic.twitter.com/aYjMhhqf6H

— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) June 23, 2016

“Our control staff and firefighters have been working tirelessly through the night and into this morning to deal with the huge volume of weather related calls that we have received,” the brigade said in a statement.

Among 46.5 million people voting in the referendum, scores could be affected by the weather conditions. Travel chaos is expected throughout the day with disruption already affecting rail and subway networks, especially in London.

I just had to be carried into a flooded polling station. It’s something biblical… #remain pic.twitter.com/T8qeGC3zEd

— Helen Joanna Youngs (@hjyoungs) June 23, 2016

“Thundery showers easing in the south-east, before re-developing this afternoon,” the MET –the UK’s official weather forecaster said in a statement, adding that they had issued “Severe Weather Warnings” in southeastern parts of the country.

Picture of the heavy flooding currently blocking the lines at #ManorPark pic.twitter.com/TdxHApMJPT

— Greater Anglia (@greateranglia) June 23, 2016

“It will then be a muggy day, with warm sunny spells, before further heavy and thundery downpours spread north during the afternoon,” the MET said about London.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You’ve probably heard by now that a Brexit (Britain voting to “leave” the EU) could be very bad — and possibly devastating to the world economy.

But what would the move mean for U.S. stocks, and our economy?

We’d be heading into uncharted territory.

The most immediate impact would likely be a selloff in stock markets worldwide, and here in the U.S. Investors hate uncertainty, and a vote by Britain to exit the EU would pose great uncertainty about the near-term future of the global economy.

Longer-term, as Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week in her press conference, the vote “could have consequences for economic and financial conditions in global financial markets,” which could, in turn, affect U.S. markets.

It can hurt our economy, and if the fallout is substantial, it could delay a rate hike even longer.

So how significant might the fallout be?

The U.S. is the largest single investor in Britain, with $588 billion invested and $56 billion in exports to Britain last year. U.S. businesses employ more than a million people there. Most importantly, Britain is our portal to free trade with the rest of Europe.

If there’s a Brexit, those trade deals go away, and have to be renegotiated, a process that could take years and would likely stall growth in multi-national companies, like Caterpillar, the farm equipment maker based in Peoria, Illinois. While the company’s headquarters are here in the U.S., it also has 16 plants in Britain with 9,000 employees. Caterpillar executives have said that Britain staying in the EU is “fundamental” to their business, which derives about a quarter of their sales from Europe.

Slower growth in Europe, or even recession, brought on by a Brexit vote and the uncertainty would likely also have a spillover effect here, which is why it’s not surprising a number of U.S. companies with European exposure are urging British employees to vote to remain in the EU.

Ultimately, if the vote is for a Brexit, how new trade deals get settled, the time it takes to hammer them out, and whether or not they can be renegotiated, will all impact U.S. businesses, and multi-national businesses in particular. But the degree of impact will depend on how long the uncertainty lasts, and what the new deals ultimately are.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street closed lower on Wednesday as investors await this week’s Brexit vote.

The Dow fell 48.90 (-0.27 percent) to close at 17,780.83.

The Nasdaq dropped 10.44 (-0.22 percent) to finish at 4,833.32, while the S&P lost 3.45 (-0.17 percent) to close at 2,085.45.

Crude oil gained .20 percent with prices sticking at almost $49 a barrel.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Requests for abortion pills have increased significantly in seven Latin American countries after Zika-related health warnings were issued there, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

After the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued a health alert in November 2015 about the potential risk of Zika-related birth defects, several Latin American countries issued national emergency declarations urging women to avoid pregnancy. In countries with these advisories, including Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, the number of women requesting abortions has almost doubled compared to before the alert, according to the study.

There was no increase in requests in countries without such health advisories.

The researchers — from the University of Texas, Austin and other universities around the world — collected data on abortion requests from the website Women on Web (WoW). Women can submit abortion requests via WoW, and the site puts them in touch with physicians to meet their needs. WoW is one of the options for women in many Latin American countries where abortions are illegal, restricted, or unsafe, according to the study authors.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt, noted that the increased abortion requests highlight a “disconnect” between Zika-related pregnancy warnings and available resources for women to avoid pregnancies.

“Although advisories, recommendations, advice have been given in many of these countries that women delay their pregnancies, the tragic disconnect was that services enabling couples to prevent pregnancies were not often provided,” Schaffner told ABC news.

Because WoW requests do not capture information on women pursuing abortions through other means — like black market pills or underground providers — the authors noted that their results may underestimate the number of abortion requests in these countries.

While the study draws a link between the timing of the Zika-related advisories and these increased abortion requests, no causal connection can be conclusively determined.

“Just because abortion levels rise in areas with Zika, it does not mean it is directly because of Zika,” Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease physician at University Hospital at Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told ABC News.

However, the authors did ask some women if Zika played a role in their decision to request abortions, and many said that it did.

“It does not surprise me that in a situation where the risks may be high, and fear and anxiety even higher, women are making very difficult reproductive health decisions,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an obstetrician/gynecologist who is the ABC News Chief Women’s Health Correspondent.

The World Health Organization predicts about 4 million people in the Americas will contract Zika virus infection through 2017–and that number will include pregnant women in the United States. Even though abortion laws are different in the U.S. than in many Latin American countries, Dr. Christine L. Curry, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami, foresees similar challenges.

“Legality, access, and affordability are three different things,” she said. “Many women have problem with access to care even if abortion is legal.”

Curry mentioned that two of the states where Zika virus may hit hardest — Florida and Texas — have some of the strictest abortion laws in the U.S.

Schaffner stressed that one key message for Americans is that prevention is essential.

“The issue is pregnancy prevention,” he said. “If there’s any hazard of acquiring Zika sexually or via mosquito pregnancy prevention is first and foremost way to prevent it from occurring.”

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VCG/VCG via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Tesla signaled its intention to become more than just an electric car company last year when it unveiled its Powerwall, a clean-energy solution for homes and businesses, and now the company is diving in further with a bid to acquire SolarCity.

“This is something that should happen,” Musk said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday, calling the all-stock deal, which is valued at about $2.8 billion, a “no-brainer.”

The proposed marriage between both of Musk’s companies would ultimately involve SolarCity’s taking the Tesla name.

Musk said he saw the two companies as a natural fit to join forces, reasoning that people who drive electric vehicles are also more likely to be interested in running their homes and businesses using clean energy.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two crew members stationed at a U.S. science facility at the South Pole are safely on board a plane after a daring rescue effort, the National Science Foundation said on Wednesday.

The medical evacuation mission was especially dangerous because of the harsh weather conditions in Antarctica at this time of year.

A Twin Otter aircraft has landed at Rothera Research Station, a base on the coast of Antarctica run by the British Antarctic Survey, after rescuing the crew at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station earlier Wednesday.

The 1,500-mile, nine-hour journey between the two stations is especially treacherous because of the weather.

The aircraft’s crew included a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and medical worker. Officials say the crew rested for about 10 hours at the Amundsen-Scott station, refueled the plane and waited for the right weather conditions before flying back to Rothera.

After landing at Rothera, the crew was tasked with quickly picking up an ailing crew member — and possibly a second person in need of care — out of Antarctica.

“We don’t have the capabilities at our facilities to handle this particular emergency,” said Kelly Falkner of the NSF.

Amundsen-Scott is one of three year-round stations that the NSF operates in Antarctica in its role as the manager of the U.S. research program there. The station is in one the most remote areas of the planet, and normally planes don’t travel to the outpost from February to October because of the dangers of flying in the pitch black and extreme cold.

It is currently midwinter in Antarctica. The sun will not rise again until August, and the bitter cold can freeze jet fuel.

This is only the third rescue mission attempted in the past 60 years. In 1999 a doctor at the station diagnosed herself with breast cancer and was unable to get out, so she treated herself with chemotherapy.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Singapore-based advertising company InMobi has agreed to pay $950,000 to settle charges that it tracked consumers without permission.

The Federal Trade Commission said the company, which reaches more than a billion mobile devices through popular apps, “deceptively tracked” the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers — including children — without their knowledge or consent, to serve them ads.

InMobi is supposed to ask permission to track consumer locations but the FTC said it did so regardless of whether consumers granted it.

As part of the settlement, the company has also agreed to delete the information it collected from children.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Campaigners in England are making one last push with voters before Thursday’s groundbreaking referendum on whether the country should stay in the European Union.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that there is no coming back if Britain leaves the E.U. and that a Brexit will hurt the British economy and adversely impact opportunities for future generations.

“You can’t jump out the aeroplane and then clamber back through the cockpit hatch,” he told the BBC.

Cameron’s campaign schedule Wednesday included a visit to a farm, meetings with business owners and chats with school children.

Leading Brexit campaigner, Boris Johnson, a former mayor of London, visited a fish market where he urged voters to “believe in” their country.

“This is a crucial time, lots of people will be making up their minds, and I hope very much they will believe in our country, believe in what we can do,” he said.

Social media users criticized the “Leave” campaign after a plane carrying a banner with the slogan “Vote Leave, Take Back Control” was seen flying over Trafalgar Square as the husband of the late British politician Jo Cox gave a speech celebrating her on what would have been her 42nd birthday.

Another plane carrying a banner with the word “Remain” has been flying over some of London’s landmarks such as the London Eye and the House of Parliament.

More than 46 million people have a chance to vote Thursday, the largest electorate ever for a U.K. poll, according to Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, who will announce the result of the vote. She is expected to announce the vote Friday morning in Manchester.

The polls suggest that it will be a very close race that can go either way, although the “Remain” camp has seen a boost in support in recent days.

More than 1,280 business leaders have signed an open letter backing the U.K.’s membership of the E.U., while entrepreneur Sir James Dyson and local businesses, including one of the U.K.’s oldest firms, Tate & Lyle Sugars, have made the case for leaving the E.U.

British celebrities including David Beckham, Simon Cowell and U2 have declared their support for the “Remain” campaign.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, dethroning Angolan capital Luanda from the top spot, according to a new report published by global consultancy firm Mercer.

Luanda has consistently topped Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey, but the Angolan capital dropped to the No. 2 spot due to the weakening of its local currency. The Kwanza has reportedly lost nearly 18 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar this year.

Mercer uses New York City as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the greenback. This year’s Cost of Living Survey includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Rent for a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment in Luanda will cost you $6,700 per month — about $100 less than Hong Kong. That’s still way ahead of New York City at $5,100, London at $4,583 and Singapore at $3,129, according to the report.

Asian and African cities dominated the top of Mercer’s list this year, with Beijing at No. 10, Chadian capital N’djamena at No. 9, Shanghai at No. 7, Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, at No. 6, Tokyo at No. 5 and Singapore at No. 4.

Some European cities also made the top 10 costliest cities in which to live, with Geneva at No. 8 and Zurich at No. 3. London dropped five places from last year to No. 17. Other European cities, like Moscow, plummeted even further down the list as a result of local currencies losing value against the U.S. dollar, according to the survey.

“Despite some marked price increases across the region, several local currencies in Europe have weakened against the U.S. dollar which pushed a few cities down in the ranking,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a principal at Mercer charged with compiling the rankings. “Additionally, other factors like recent security issues, social unrest, and concern about the economic outlook have impacted the region.”

New York City climbed five rankings from last year to No. 11, holding its title as the most expensive city for expats in the U.S. Renting a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment will cost you about $5,100. San Francisco and Los Angeles jumped 11 and nine places to No. 26 and No. 27, respectively.

“Despite mild price increases overall, most cities in the U.S. have climbed in the ranking, primarily due to a strong U.S. dollar,” Constantin-Métral said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A rescue mission is underway at a remote U.S. science station at the South Pole — a daring mission given the harsh weather conditions at this time of year.

A Twin Otter aircraft left the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and was headed toward the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Station to save an ailing crew member, according to Peter West, the NSF Polar Outreach Program Manager.

The 1,500-mile, nine-hour journey between the two stations is especially treacherous because of the weather.

The aircraft’s crew includes a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and medical worker. Officials say the crew rested for about 10 hours at the Amundsen-Scott station, refueled the plane and waited for the right weather conditions before flying.

Once the plane lands at the Rothera station, the crew will try to get the patient — and possibly a second person in need of care — quickly out of Antarctica.

“We don’t have the capabilities at our facilities to handle this particular emergency,” said Kelly Falkner of the National Science Foundation.

Amundsen-Scott is one of three year-round stations NSF operates in Antarctica in its role as manager of the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is the nation’s research program on the southernmost continent. The science station is in one the most remote corners of the planet and normally planes don’t travel to the outpost between February and October because of the dangers of flying in the pitch black and cold.

It is currently mid-winter in Antarctica. The sun will not rise again until August and the bitter cold can freeze jet fuel.

This is only the third rescue mission of this kind attempted in the past 60 years. In 1999, a doctor at the station diagnosed herself with breast cancer and was unable to get out, so she treated herself with chemotherapy.

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