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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A record 231 million passengers will take to the skies this summer — a crush unlikely to ease wait times at already-crowded Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, an airline industry trade group announced on Wednesday.

An average of 2.51 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines every day between June 1 and Aug. 31, according to Airlines for America (A4A). That’s an average of 95,000 more passengers per day than last year.

“We saw airfares fall throughout 2015 and that trend continued in the first three months of 2016,” John Heimlich, A4A vice president and chief economist, said in a press release. “As airlines compete for passengers across an increasing portfolio of markets, air travel is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible.”

Airlines will offer around 2.78 million seats per day to meet the demand, A4A said. But with TSA wait times stretching to three hours or more at some checkpoints, passengers may be in for a frustrating trip.

Although several airlines have “stepped up to the plate” to help alleviate lines — deploying workers to help with non-security functions like moving bins and managing lines as well as allowing passengers to use frequent flier miles for TSA’s expedited screening program — passengers still face “excessive” wait times, the trade group said.

A4A recommends that the TSA make more PreCheck appointments available to fliers and to consider waiving or reducing fees.

The group has also asked the TSA for real-time data on wait times at airports across the country to help passengers plan their travel, but the agency has declined to provide that information without any “justification” as to why, the group lamented.

A4A also disputed the argument that the trend against checking bags has contributed to longer wait times at security check points.

“There is no relationship between bag fees and wait times,” the group noted in its report.

But just last week, officials said efforts to reduce the size and number of carry-on bags are part of TSA’s “aggressive” plan to reduce lines.

No matter what happens, “there will be wait times” at checkpoints, according to Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson.

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Google(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) — Google unveiled its answer to Amazon’s Echo Wednesday, showing off an artificially intelligent assistant for the home that can be used to do everything from ask a question to calling up video content on your television.

The uses presented by Google were just the beginning. Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management at Google, said Wednesday during the company’s annual developer’s conference that he expects the assistant, which appears shorter but more rotund than Amazon’s Echo, will be set up to allow users to do everything from ordering dinner to sending mom flowers.

Called Google Home, the assistant isn’t expected to be released until later this year, according to the company. However, it made its debut early so Google could begin working with more developers on creating experiences for the device, which also serves as a Wi-Fi enabled speaker.

“It has search built in. It draws on 17 years of innovation in organizing the world’s information to answer questions that are difficult for other assistants to handle,” Queiroz said.

During a demonstration of the AI technology, Google CEO Sundar Pichai showed off the assistant’s ability to understand natural language. For instance, a person can ask “Who directed The Revenant?” and learn it was Alejandro González Iñárritu. Without saying the director’s name, they can follow up by asking, “Showing me his awards,” and receive a list of the Academy Award winner’s accolades.

“We think of the assistant as an ambient experience that extends across devices,” Pichai said Wednesday at the conference in Mountain View, California. He said he envisions the technology being in homes, cars and on devices.

Google showed off the astounding strides it has made in artificial intelligence in March when its computer beat the human champion of “Go,” taking four of five games in the series. While computers can now compete at the grand master level in chess, teaching a machine to win at Go is a huge achievement since the game has trillions of possible moves. It’s estimated there are 10 to the power of 700 ways a game of Go could be played.

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ABC News(ROME) — The European Court of Human Rights has accepted an appeal by Amanda Knox’s lawyers.

In the appeal, Knox says she was subjected to an unfair trial in Italy and maltreated during the 2007 investigation into the death of British student Meredith Kercher.

Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were at first sentenced to more than 25 years in prison for the murder of Kercher. Eight years later, Italy’s top appeals court fully acquitted the pair.

Knox says she was questioned for hours without a lawyer or official translator, and was smacked on the head during questioning leading up to her first trial.

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Microsoft(NEW YORK) — Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone company that had an early toehold on the mobile market before the advent of smartphones, could be poised for a comeback after Microsoft announced Wednesday it is selling a part of its phone business, which includes licensing of the Nokia brand, for $350 million.

Microsoft is selling its “entry-level feature phone assets,” including brands, software and services, customer contracts and supply agreements to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, and HMD Global, a company based in Finland, according to an announcement on the company’s website.

“We will be completely focused on creating a unified range of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, which we know will resonate with consumers. Branding has become a critical differentiator in mobile phones, which is why our business model is centered on the unique asset of the Nokia brand and our extensive experience in sales and marketing,” Arto Nummela, CEO-designate at HMD said in a statement Wednesday. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2016 and will include the transfer of as many as 4,500 employees to both companies, the announcement said.

Nummela, a former Nokia executive, said HMD will create a new smartphone and tablet line-up that will run on Android, “uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.”

Microsoft closed its more than $7 billion acquisition of Nokia in 2014 and has produced low-end handsets geared toward emerging markets. However, the deal never seemed to provide the much-needed fuel for Microsoft to catch market Apple and Google, who both lead the market with their iOS and Android devices.

“It appears Microsoft is washing the slate clean and starting over in smartphone devices with a focus on Surface devices and that includes phones. Microsoft obviously didn’t want the manufacturing capability and weren’t prepared to keep investing in it,” Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.

With today’s announcement, Microsoft also hinted at the future of its Lumia devices, noting that it would continue to support them. But the statement stopped short of mentioning whether Microsoft would build mobile devices.

“Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO,” the announcement said.

Moorhead said he expects Microsoft will still continue to innovate when it comes to mobile.

“I see them bringing more applications and services to iOS and Android,” he said. “On the device side, I expect for a very high-end Surface phone to emerge in 2017 based on a strategy that their convertible products, Surface Pro and Surface Book, have taken.”

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — The Labor Department’s new rules governing overtime pay will affect not just those who earn less than $47,476 a year.

“There are a lot of ways this can play out,” Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, told ABC News.

Under the new rules finalized Wednesday, those who earn less than $47,476 a year will automatically qualify for overtime pay of time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours a week. Previously, those who earned more than $23,660 were exempt from overtime pay. The new rules will affect 4.2 million workers in the U.S. when they go into effect starting Dec. 1.

With the new rules, some employers will choose to limit some employees to work only 40 hours to avoid paying overtime. Employers who choose to increase the salaries of workers so they will be exempt from overtime pay may also increase the pay of other workers.

“This is going to cause some employers to have to move up a lot of these salaries in that range, because they are going to need to keep separation in salary levels constant with some workers,” Conti said.

Here are some things you should know about the new overtime rules:

Earning More Than $47,476 Won’t Automatically Exclude You from Overtime

Just because you earn more than $47,476 doesn’t mean you can’t earn overtime pay. “Highly compensated employees” who pass a “minimal duties test” (see below) are exempt. Under the new rules, the salary level for “highly compensated employees” increased to $134,004 from $100,000.

“If they’re making that kind of salary, they have the inherent bargaining power because of their skill or salary,” Conti said of “highly compensated employees.” “They’re not going to be subjected to 10 and 20 hours of involuntary overtime every week.”

Your Job Duties Matter

The duties of people who earn between $47,476 and $134,004 will determine if they are exempt from overtime.

“You have to look at the duties that somebody does and how much independent discretion they have to exercise, including hiring, firing, managing and supervising,” Conti said. She added that the regulations aren’t clear about how much of these “executive, administrative and professional” duties somebody has to do in order to be exempt from overtime. In California, the majority of an employee’s duties must be that line of work in order to be exempt from overtime pay.

“Exemption is in the eye of the beholder,” Conti said. “Even opponents of overtime will complain about all the gray and judgment in determining whether someone is exempt or not.”


For the first time, employers will be able to use non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments — which include commissions — to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level of $47,476.

The Salary Thresholds Can Change

Future automatic updates to the Labor Department’s thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

How Did the Labor Department Pick $47,476 as the New Threshold?

The Labor Department’s new threshold for exempt workers is $913 per week, or $47,476 annually, for a full-year worker. The Labor Department set the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region, which is the South.

The Labor Department last updated overtime regulations in 2004, when it set the weekly salary level at $455 a week or $23,660 annually.

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NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI(NEW YORK) — The New Horizons space probe is bringing new images of a remnant of the early solar system, following its historic brush with Pluto last summer.

The piano-sized probe is currently speeding through the Kuiper Belt, an area at the edge of the solar system encompassing Pluto and a vast area of tiny, icy worlds. During its journey beyond Pluto’s orbit, New Horizons has been able to conduct its first science mission since its big mission, capturing a look at 1994 JR1, a 90-mile-wide world in the Kuiper Belt.

NASA released an image taken using New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager from a distance of 69 million miles, making it the closest look ever at the Kuiper Belt Object. The closer look also allowed the New Horizons team to determine the object rotates once every 5.4 hours, surprisingly fast for an object in the Kuiper Belt.

Understanding the object’s orbit has also allowed researchers to disprove the idea that JR1 is potentially a satellite of Pluto, Simon Porter, a New Horizons team member, said in a NASA blog post.

The science mission in the Kuiper Belt may just be the beginning for the New Horizons team. If NASA approves an extended mission for New Horizons, the probe could get closer looks at more than 20 objects in the area on the edge of the solar system, including an incredibly close flyby of object 2014 MU69, which is slated for Jan. 1, 2019.

Launched in January 2006 on a 3 billion-mile journey to Pluto, New Horizons “phoned home” after its Pluto flyby, indicating that it had successfully navigated just 7,700 miles from the dwarf planet. It later sent back the first high-resolution images of Pluto’s surface.

New Horizons conserved energy by taking “naps” during the monumental trip. The spacecraft, equipped with a power plant that converts radiation from decaying plutonium into electricity, may have enough power for two more decades of exploration, according to NASA.

New Horizons loses about a few watts of power each year, according to NASA, but is estimated to have nearly two decades in its life expectancy.

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AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — One of the missing Chibok girls kidnapped two years ago by Boko Haram in Nigeria has been found, ABC News has confirmed.

The girl, identified as Amina Ali, was found in Kaya, a city in north central Nigeria, according to Pogu Bitrus, a Chibok leader active in the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

A vigilante group recognized Ali, who was found with a baby presumed to be her child and three other young children, Bitrus said. It was not immediately clear who the three other young children were, he added.

Ali was brought back to Chibok, where she identified a member of her family, saying, “This man is my uncle,” Bitrus said, adding that she refused to talk beyond identifying the man.

Ali has been taken to a nearby military installation in Nigeria, while a group from Chibok has been sent to her home village of Balala, just south of Chibok, to find out more information from her father, according to Bitrus.

Boko Haram Islamic extremists stormed and firebombed the Government Girls Secondary School at Chibok on April 14, 2014, and seized 276 girls who were preparing to write science exams. Many of the girls remain missing.

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iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — Palestinian leaders will attend an important ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday at a new museum dedicated to Palestinian culture in the West Bank, but the museum is missing one essential feature most of us think of when we go to a museum — the art.

It took more than 20 years to build, but this $24 million Palestinian museum is celebrating its inauguration without a single piece of art inside. A management dispute over the opening exhibit on artifacts of Palestinian refugees left the walls of the museum totally empty.

It sits on 10 acres of land near Ramallah and includes an amphitheater, terraced gardens and research centers.

The museum’s chairman said celebrating the building’s completion is an important symbol for Palestinians — the art will arrive in June.

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iStock/Thinkstock(QUITO, Ecuador) — Ecuador, still recovering from the economic and human toll of the major earthquake that rocked the South American country last month, was hit Wednesday morning by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock.

The aftershock struck shortly before 3 a.m. local time and had a shallow depth of about 20 miles below the earth’s surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The event frightened already traumatized residents, thousands of whom have been displaced in the wake of the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck the country April 16, killing 661 people.

President Rafael Correa said Ecuador, which borders the Pacific Ocean, did not face a tsunami alert.

“These sort of aftershocks are normal but that doesn’t mean they’re not scary, and can cause damage,” Correa said in a televised address.

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iStock/Thinksock(NEW YORK) — According to an article in the New York Times, pre-employment drug tests are leaving employers high and dry when it comes to hiring new workers.

While part of the problem has to do with the number of companies that require the tests, many states’ relaxing laws regarding the use of marijuana, coupled with a growing opiate problem in many parts of the nation, are hurting the workforce.

Employee drug use, “is not a new problem,” Calvina L. Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, tells the paper. “Back in the ’80s, it was pretty bad, and we brought it down.”

However, Fay adds the numbers have been “edging back up some” of late, and notes that job providers “have expressed exasperation,” at their dwindling employment prospects.

Quest Diagnostics recently reported that the percentage of American workers who tested positive for illicit drugs has increased for a second consecutive year — to 4.7 percent in 2014 from 4.3 percent in 2013. Significantly, says the company, which has compiled employer-testing data since 1988, 2013 was the first year in a decade that showed an increase in positive drug test results.

Moreover, predictors suggest the problem could get worse as Americans apply for their first jobs: the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in September that in 2014, one in 10 Americans ages 12 and older reported using illicit drugs within the last month. That statistic, the survey noted, was the largest percentage reported since 2001.

Furthermore, an estimated 1.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 — about 1 in 20 adolescents — reported having a substance abuse disorder in 2014.

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