Review Category : Business

New airplane electronics rules stem from ISIS-associated threat

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — New aviation security measures restricting electronic devices on flights from certain overseas airports were prompted by new threat intelligence obtained earlier this year indicating that ISIS associates were working on smuggling explosives-laden electronics onto U.S.-bound flights, ABC News has learned.

The U.S. government has deemed the threat information “substantiated” and “credible,” according to one source familiar with the intelligence.

Sources said that the airports – in eight Middle Eastern and African countries – affected by the restrictions were not directly named in the most recent threat intelligence gathered by authorities, but determined through intelligence analysis paired with other government information.

The Department of Homeland Security banned all electronics bigger than a cellphone from the cabins of some direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries.

During an interview today, ABC News’ Pierre Thomas asked a member of the House Intelligence Committee about the new DHS measures.

“I’ve spoken a couple times in the last week with the Department of Homeland Security about a new aviation threat,” explained Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California. “We know that our adversaries, terrorist groups in the United States and outside the United States, seek to bring down a U.S.-bound airliner. That’s one of their highest value targets. And we’re doing everything we can right now to prevent that from happening.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Gunshot injuries cost at least $6.6 billion in US over eight year span, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Gunshot wounds are costing the U.S. hundreds of millions every year, much of it falling on government health insurance and the poor, according to a new study of firearm injuries in the American Journal of Public Health.

The U.S. has the highest rates of gun homicides in the developed world, approximately 25 times more firearm deaths than other high-income countries, according to the study.

Every year, the cost for treating people with gunshots wounds reaches approximately $734 million in initial hospital costs, racking up more than $6.6 billion between 2006 and 2014.

“This is a signal that this is not simply an issue for the justice system, this is very much a medical issue,” Dr. Charlie Branas, the chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health told ABC News. He said the study could help show policy makers that trauma centers need more help and funding to treat these patients effectively.

According to the study, the government shoulders approximately 40 percent of the initial hospitalizations for firearm injuries through Medicaid and Medicare and more than 80 percent of those who self-paid had incomes below the 50th percentile.

“The responsibility for payment falls primarily on government payers and the uninsured,” the authors wrote.

To understand the financial burden of treating these injuries, researchers from Stanford University looked at national data, between 2006 and 2014, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

More than 267,000 people in that time were admitted for firearm injuries to hospitals, which reported statistics, nationwide. The highest proportion of injuries — 43 percent — were reported in the South. The Midwest and West each accounted for 20 percent of the injury locations. The Northeast accounted for approximately 16 percent of where the injuries took place.

The study found that 29.1 percent of the firearm injury patients paid via Medicaid, 29.4 percent self-paid, 21.4 percent used private insurance and 6 percent of those injured paid via Medicare. In total, the government is estimated to have covered 2.7 billion or approximately 41 percent of the overall costs to treat gunshot wounds during the study period.

Medicaid patients had the highest per-incident cost at an average of about $30,000. Privately insured patients had a per-incident cost of approximately $23,000 on average.

But these numbers likely underestimate the overall cost for treating gunshot wound victims, since they do not take into account long-term health care, rehabilitation and lost work income. Additionally, the study authors point out the government may have spent more via federal funding initiatives for hospitals dedicated to trauma and firearm treatment.

The true cost to patients, hospitals and the government are likely much higher.

“What is hard to interpret from this work is how big the cost of firearm injuries is or isn’t,” Dr. Ted Miller, a Senior Research Scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on conducting research on health and social issues, and criminal justice, told ABC News.

Another hidden cost to the government for gunshot wounds, Miller said, is the many patients who come into the hospital uninsured and are put on Medicaid. So the government may actually be covering more than the 41 percent of initial hospitalization cost noted in the study.

His group’s research, which was not affiliated with the study, points to much higher costs over time for “lifetime hospital payments.”

Branas said this number doesn’t even include the long term effects on communities, families, and people affected by violence.

“I think that hospitalizations are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of cost of firearm injuries,” Branas said. “There is a much bigger portion of this that is underwater.”

In addition to medical costs, he said, gunshot wounds and the care they require come with “legal cost and pain and suffering cost.”

The study authors said more research is needed to fully understand the comprehensive costs of firearm injuries. This data was intended to help policy makers allocate funds appropriately to the trauma and treatment centers that care for these patients.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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What to know about the new security rule on some US-bound flights

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Passengers flying directly to the United States from several airports in the Middle East will have to stow their laptops, tablets and other large electronics in their checked luggage as a result of a new rule handed down from the Department of Homeland Security.

Senior U.S. administration officials said Monday evening that nine foreign air carriers would have until Saturday morning to implement the new rule or risk losing their license to operate in the United States.

The directive has sparked many questions from the public. Here’s a breakdown of the new security measures:

Which airports are affected?

The rule only affects passengers flying directly from the nine airports mentioned in the directive. These airports are: Queen Alia International Airport (Jordan), Cairo International Airport (Egypt), Ataturk International Airport (Turkey), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (Saudi Arabia), King Khalid International Airport (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait International Airport, Mohammed V Airport (Morocco), Hamad International Airport (Qatar), Dubai International Airport (United Arab Emirates), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (United Arab Emirates). All flights originating from other airports are unaffected by the new security measures.

Which devices have to be stowed?

Among the list of restricted items on the DHS website are laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smartphone and travel printers or scanners.

Crew members will still be allowed to bring their laptops, tablets and larger electronic devices in a carry-on bag.

When will the new rule take effect?

Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabia Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad will have until Saturday morning to fully adhere to the new rule. DHS is implementing the security measure via an Emergency Amendment/Security Directive (EA/SD), which informs the airline of the required result, not how it should be implemented. It is up to the airline to ensure that the rule is being enforced.

If an airline does not comply, the Department of Homeland Security will work with the Federal Aviation Administration to revoke the carrier’s privilege of operating in the United States.

Why was it implemented?

Senior U.S. administration officials told reporters Monday night “evaluated intelligence” indicated terrorists continue to attempt to hide explosives in electronic devices.

“Based on this information, secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, and Transportation Security Administration acting administrator, Huban Gowadia, have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last-point-of-departure airports to the United States,” the officials said.

Senior officials specifically cited a February 2016 incident when a man smuggled a bomb, hidden in a laptop, on to a Daallo Airlines jet in Somalia.

How long will the rule be in effect?

While senior administration officials told reporters Monday night that the ban was indefinite, an Emirates Airlines spokesperson told ABC News the directive is valid through Oct. 14, 2017. A DHS spokesman told The Washington Post the directive runs through Oct. 14, but could be extended.

Are other countries implementing a similar rule?

Downing Street released a statement Tuesday afternoon announcing passengers on U.K.-bound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia must place any devices larger than a “normal-sized mobile or smart phone” in checked luggage. In contrast with the U.S. directive, the U.K.’s new rule includes its domestic carriers: British Airways, EasyJet,, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Ellen DeGeneres lists her Santa Barbara home for sale at $45 million

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are selling their Montecito, California estate for $45 million, according to the Sotheby’s listing, posted on Monday.

Located in Santa Barbara County and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the estate includes 16.88 acres and features a 10,500 sq. ft. home built by architect Wallace Frost in 1934.

The home, which the couple purchased in 2012, features six bedrooms, six bathrooms and nine fireplaces. Also on the grounds: a swimming pool, a tennis court and an entertainment pavilion.

“The house is always surprising. It reveals itself to you in new ways every day,” DeGeneres said in a Sothebys press release. “It’s not overly manicured or tidy. It’s not overly precious or perfect. And it’s a home that manages to be both spacious and cozy at once.”

DeGeneres, 49, is known for her love of real estate and featured her Montecito estate in her 2015 book Home. Around the time of the book’s release, DeGeneres told the Los Angeles Times that she never buys a new house thinking that she’ll re-sell it.

Though she’s been known to sell homes fully-furnished, she doesn’t include items that are “sentimental or personal.”

“I learned as I went along that selling them furnished is lucrative,” she explained to the newspaper. “I also just think it can be really fun to move in somewhere that’s completely furnished.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Average price of gas in US remains unchanged

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Gas prices are staying steady for the first time in a long time.

In the past week, the average price of regular unleaded gas has not moved, according to the latest numbers from the Energy Department. Nationwide, the price is sitting right at $2.32 a gallon.

What’s unusual is that no area of the country has seen much movement in recent days.

The cheapest gas remains along the Gulf Coast at $2.07 a gallon, while the most expensive is in California at $3 a gallon.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Tax Tip: Filing using paper forms

iStock/ThinkstockMore people are e-filing their income taxes but some still want to do it old school and use paper forms.

“When you do a return on paper, the opportunity to make mistakes really mushrooms,” says IRS spokesman Eric Smith.

If you opt to file your taxes the old-fashioned way, Smith says you should make sure you “check your math on the return, that you attach all required documents, such as the W-2, your supplemental schedules if you’re itemizing deductions.”

“If you send in a return and it’s incomplete, we’ll just have to send it back or request the supplemental documents,” he adds.

Anthony Burke with the IRS suggests trying the agency’s free fillable forms.

“Anyone can use it,” Burke says. “There’s no income limitation, as there are on the other programs for free file.”

“You’re presented something that looks like an electronic 1040. You work through the form, just like you would through a normal form. It does do some math, and as soon as you’re done, you e-file it,” he explains.

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Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller dies at 101

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller, the youngest of John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s five sons, died Monday at 101. According to his spokesperson, Rockefeller died in his sleep at his home in Poncantico Hills, New York.

According to BBC News, he served in the army in World War II, then became president, chairman, and chief executive at JP Morgan Chase. He expanded the company abroad before retiring in 1981.

Former President George HW Bush and his wife, Barbara, released a statement on Rockefeller, who was a close friend:

“So many knew him as one of the most generous philanthropists – and brightest Points of Light – whose caring and commitment to the widest range of worthy causes touched and lifted innumerable lives. David was also very active in national and international affairs, and his connections and keen aptitude for issues made him a valuable advisor to Presidents of both parties – yours truly certainly included.”

Rockefeller’s philanthropic efforts earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

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Bill Gates tops Forbes’ rich list, President Trump slips

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – Microsoft founder Bill Gates was named the richest man in the world for the fourth straight year according to Forbes’ list of the richest people on the planet. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump slipped to No. 544.

The President dropped $1 billion in wealth over a two year span to $3.5 billion, while Gates rose to $86 billion.

Forbes cites a weak real estate market in Manhattan for the President’s drop.

The business magazine adds the number of billionaires rose 13% to 2,043 from 1,810 last year.

The number of billionaires climbed 223 since 2016, the largest jump in the 31 years Forbes has tracked billionaires on a global scale.

Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Amancio Ortega of Zara, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook are the top five richest people according to Forbes’ list.

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Tax Tip: What to look for when finding a tax preparer

iStock/ThinkstockRemember when filing your income taxes was as easy as form 1040EZ? For most of us, it’s a little more complicated than that now.

If you don’t want to go it alone on your taxes, you can hire a tax preparer. But, IRS spokesman Eric Smith says, don’t rush into finding the right partner.

“You should look at hiring a tax preparer in the same way you do when you hire any other professional — a doctor, a dentist or whatever,” he says. “You might even want to interview them to find out their credentials, their qualifications, how can they help you file an accurate return that helps you get the tax benefits you’re entitled to under the law.”

And make sure they’re a good fit for you.

“If you have a business return, and somebody is really not that accustomed to doing business-oriented returns, maybe they’re not a good choice,” Smith notes.

And, he says, if anyone promises you a refund before they even look at your return, find someone else.

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YouTube addresses complaints of LGBTQ censoring

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — YouTube has sought to clarify its filtering policy after video bloggers within the LGBT community complained that their videos were being unfairly blocked.

In a late-Sunday tweet, the video-sharing website said, “LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be.”

The company declined to elaborate on what would be classified as sensitive.

The response came after several popular YouTube stars took to social media over the weekend to complain about the restricted mode, which the company says is meant to protect children and families.

“We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform,” the YouTube statement said. “They’re a key part of what YouTube is all about.”

YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, said it regretted the confusion that the mode has caused, adding that is looking into the concerns. The restricted mode is an optional feature that users have to actively turn on.

A message to our community …

— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) March 20, 2017

YouTube has acknowledged in the past that the restricted mode — which it says uses community flagging, age-restrictions and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content — is “not 100 percent accurate.”

The criticism came after multiple YouTube creators said their content on topics such as same-sex relationships and coming out were hidden by default in the restricted mode.

Rowan Ellis, one of the first video bloggers to voice concern over the mode, said the issue made her “really, really angry.”

“This is something that no one’s really sure of how it’s working, but we know that it has some type of targeted effect on LGBT individuals,” Ellis said in a YouTube video posted Thursday. “I think it’s really important to look at why LGBT content has been deemed as inappropriate.”

Other social media users used the hashtag “YouTubeIsOverParty” to voice their concerns about the censoring issue.

One of YouTube’s biggest stars Tyler Oakley, who has more than 8 million subscribers, said a recent video titled “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me” disappeared, even though he says it did not feature adult content.

Oakley, who was listed by Forbes as one of YouTube’s highest-paid creators last year, has become known for his activism within the LGBT community.

still not fixed. one of my recent videos “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me” is blocked because of this. i’m perplexed, @YouTube.

— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) March 19, 2017

until we hear back from @youtube, please actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you’re subscribed to & continue to support their content.

— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) March 19, 2017

“Still not fixed,” Oakley tweeted late-Sunday. “One of my recent videos ‘8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me’ is blocked because of this. I’m perplexed.”

He urged YouTube users to “actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you’re subscribed to & continue to support their content.”

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