Review Category : Top Stories

Weekly Jobless Claims Jump to 329K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims shot up during the third week of April, climbing to 329,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning.

For the week ending April 19, the number of people filing for benefits rose by 24,000. The previous week, claims stood at 305,000 — an upward revision of 1,000.

The four-week average also went up, increasing by 4,750 to 316,750.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Weekly Jobless Claims Jump to 329K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims shot up during the third week of April, climbing to 329,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning.

For the week ending April 19, the number of people filing for benefits rose by 24,000. The previous week, claims stood at 305,000 — an upward revision of 1,000.

The four-week average also went up, increasing by 4,750 to 316,750.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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South Korean Ferry: Death Toll Rises Amid Harsh Search Conditions

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — Search teams continue to pull more bodies from the South Korean ferry that sank over a week ago.

As of Thursday, at least 171 people have been confirmed dead with 131 others still missing. So far, 174 people have been rescued, including all 12 of the ferry’s crew.

The latest jump in the death toll comes as divers working to retrieve bodies are finding the job “extremely difficult.”

“Divers can’t see anything,” Park Kyung Hoon, a diving team captain for the Blue Dragon Training Corp., told ABC News.

Park volunteered along with other divers when he heard about the April 16 tragedy. His team has been collaborating with the South Korean Coast Guard, but search efforts have been hindered by surging currents that stir up the silty bottom into a muddy soup.

Divers initially brought out bodies that were in the ship’s lounge but now must break through cabin walls to retrieve other victims.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Obama Meets Families of Japanese Citizens Abducted by North Korea

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) — President Obama met on Thursday with relatives of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, the White House said.

“The President was moved by their tragic experiences and reaffirmed our commitment to work with Japan to address North Korea’s deplorable treatment of its own people and resolve the issue of abductees,” the White House said in a statement.

Earlier, Obama took a hard line against North Korea in his press conference with Japan’s prime minister.

“North Korea is engaged in provocative actions for the last several decades. It’s been an irresponsible actor on the international stage for the last several decades,” the president said. “It’s the most isolated country in the world.”

“If you’re serious about North Korea being a normal nation, then you have to start changing your behavior,” Obama said of the Kim Jong Un regime. “Am I optimistic about major shift in attitudes any time soon? Probably not.”

“In the meantime, they’re dangerous. And we have to make sure we guard against any provocations getting out of hand,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Which TV Streaming Service Is Right for You?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s been a busy week in the world of streaming media services.

First, Netflix announced that it’s planning a price increase of between $1 and $2, depending on the country, to help fund new content for your viewing pleasure.

Then, Amazon Prime announced members will have access to HBO classics like The Wire and The Sopranos.

Now, Dish says it’s considering launching the first Internet-only pay-TV service this summer, potentially becoming first U.S. provider to offer such a standalone service.

To see a comparison of four streaming services that offer film and TV shows, their prices and potential drawbacks, click here.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Vatican: Media ‘Misunderstood’ Phone Call Between Pope, Woman

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(ROME) — The Vatican says the media have “misunderstood” a phone call Pope Francis made to an Argentine woman who sought clarification about the Catholic rite of Communion.

Jacqueline Lisboa made public the pope’s call to her on Easter when she says he told her there was nothing wrong with receiving Holy Communion as a divorced and remarried woman. Catholic doctrine forbids divorced and remarried people from taking part in the rite.

Lisboa’s husband, Julio Sabetta, posted on his Facebook page that the pope said the matter was being discussed at the Vatican. After Lisbao’s priest refused to give her Communion, the pope suggested she “Go to another church and confess, there is no problem.”

The Vatican at first refused to confirm the call. Later, it said people should “avoid inferring things regarding the Church’s teaching” from it.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Facebook Buys Activity Diary App ‘Moves’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — Facebook now has a stake in your “moves.”

The company jumped into the fitness tracking market Thursday with the acquisition of Finnish company ProtoGeo Oy, which produces the popular activity diary app, Moves.

“The Moves team has built an incredible tool for the millions of people who want to better understand their daily fitness activity, and we’re looking forward to the app continuing to gain momentum,” a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Facebook said the app will continue to run as a “separate, stand-alone application.”

As users go about their daily activities, Moves operates quietly by gathering data from a smartphone’s accelerometer.

The app is able to discern if a person is walking, running, biking or riding public transportation. It then displays a person’s activity results for the day using colored circles that include metrics such as the number of steps walked and miles ran.

Facebook said key members of the Moves team will join their offices in Menlo Park, Calif.

On Wednesday, Facebook smashed analysts’ expectations by posting a 72 percent increase in revenue for the first quarter.

The site also continues to grow — with 802 million daily active users last month, an increase of 21 percent year-over-year, according to Facebook.

“We’ve made some long term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business,” Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We’re in great position to continue making progress towards our mission.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Putin Warns Ukraine of ‘Consequenes,’ Orders Military Drills

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a vague but ominous warning to Ukraine’s government, saying there may be unspecified “consequences” for its use of force against pro-Russian separatists in the east.

“If the Kiev regime has started to use the army against the population inside the country, it, beyond any doubt, is a very serious crime,” he said, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“It will certainly have consequences for the people who make such decisions,” he added. “This also concerns our intergovernmental relations.”

His comments renewed fears that Russian troops might cross the border under the pretext of protecting Russian speakers there.

As if on cue, shortly after Putin spoke, his defense minister announced plans for more military drills along the border in Ukraine in response to the unrest.

“We have to react to such a development,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, according to Interfax.

The United States and its allies accuse Russia of fomenting unrest in Ukraine and President Obama said Thursday that the White House has additional sanctions on Russia “teed up” if it does not stop its meddling.

Putin was defiant in the face of additional Western sanctions, saying the measures imposed so far have not had a “critical” impact on Russia’s economy.

“No sanctions are effective in the modern world and they never have a lasting effect,” Putin said. “Rather, this is all political in nature.”

The Russian leader added that Ukraine’s military actions in the east justify Russia’s decision to annex Crimea.

“Otherwise, they would have witnessed the same events as eastern Ukraine and surely even worse. So, this is another proof that we have acted correctly and on time,” Putin said. “If Russia had not rendered real support to people in Crimea, it would have been impossible to organize a civilized process of the expression of people’s will there.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Blowout Earnings for Apple and Facebook

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Two tech giants announced first-quarter results and both surprised Wall Street with stronger-than-expected earnings.

Apple shares overnight gained more than 8 percent after the company said it plans to buy back $30 billion in stock and raise its quarterly dividend by 8 percent. Apple also announced a 7-for-1 stock split.

It’s really benefiting from an alliance with China Mobile, selling 44 million iPhones worldwide, many in China.

Facebook now has more than a billion and a quarter users with two-thirds of them logging in every day. First-quarter earnings and sales surged with advertising revenue rising 82 percent.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday morning plans to regulate electronic cigarettes.

The proposed regulations will require that the manufacturers disclose to the FDA what is in their products and will require that the devices come with a warning label. Although e-cigarette sales to minors will be prohibited, there are currently no advertising restrictions.

The regulation has been long-anticipated as millions of Americans have started using e-cigarettes. The devices are battery-operated nicotine inhalers.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’s chief health and medical editor, said public health officials are concerned that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to further tobacco use.

“Data show use of e-cigarettes by high school and junior high school students is on the rise,” Besser said. “Once addicted to nicotine, will users move on to using tobacco with all the inherent health risks?”

“Countering the view are those who view e-cigarettes as an important step towards risk reduction for current cigarette smokers,” he added. “They do not deliver the carcinogens that are the cause of so many health problems.”

There are more than 250 brands of e-cigarettes and an estimated 4 million Americans use them, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. However, whether the small devices are “safer” than traditional cigarettes remains unproven. Without FDA regulation it’s unclear how much nicotine or other chemicals each brand of e-cigarette holds.

A widely publicized study into the safety of e-cigarettes was done when researchers analyzed only two leading brands and concluded the devices did contain trace elements of hazardous compounds, including a chemical that is the main ingredient found in antifreeze.

Despite the announcement, it will be months to years before concrete regulation is implemented. First there will be a six-month review process after the 75-day comment period. It will be another two years before current products need to be approved by the FDA and 25 months before they need to display warning labels.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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