Review Category : Top Stories

Facebook Milestones Leading to a Billion Users in a Single Day

Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, right, and Dustin Moscovitz, co-founder have their photo taken at Harvard Yard in 2004 in Cambridge, Mass. (Justine Hunt/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in 2004, his audience was college students.

Eleven years later, the Facebook CEO celebrated a milestone: One billion people — that’s 1 in 7 people on Earth — logged onto the site in a single day this week.

“When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. He said the record moment happened on Monday.

Starting out with an ambitious vision, even Zuckerberg didn’t foresee the force Facebook would become in connecting the world.

“People often ask if I always knew that Facebook would become what it is today. No way,” he reflected on Facebook’s 10th anniversary on Feb. 4, 2014. “I remember getting pizza with my friends one night in college shortly after opening Facebook. I told them I was excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world.”

And he was the one who did. Here’s a look at some of the key moments and milestones that helped Facebook build its user base.

2004: The site was intended as a directory of Harvard students only, but within months, thousands of students from elite colleges across the country had joined the network.

2006: Open registration launches, letting anyone who wants to make a profile join the social network. The newsfeed feature also launched this year, letting people stay more engaged to their friends’ updates — and kept them coming back for more.

2008: The Facebook app makes its debut, giving users even quicker access to checking in on their friends’ updates.

2012: Facebook goes public with a $5 billion IPO.

2015:
Facebook continues to innovate with new ways for people to engage with the world. Among them are video calling in the Messenger app, easy-to-read instant articles and a live-streaming feature giving users a front row seat to the latest happenings from their favorite celebrities and news makers.

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Today on the Trail — 8/28/15

(NEW YORK) — Top Democrats are gathering in Minneapolis for their summer meeting Friday, where they will hear from their presidential hopefuls.

Frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Lincoln Chafee will join the attendees in the late morning, while Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley will address the members in the afternoon.

Vice President Joe Biden, who will not be attending the convention Friday, did call DNC members about the Iran deal on Wednesday.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is off the trail Friday, while stablishment favorite Jeb Bush will stump with his most recent fan — former Majority Leader Eric Cantor — in the pivotal swing state of Virginia.

Meanwhile, second tier contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are campaigning in South Carolina Friday.

Carly Fiorina stumps in Iowa, while Rand Paul continues his western tour in Wyoming.

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Ashley Madison Hack: CEO Noel Biderman Is Stepping Down

Carl Court/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Noel Biderman, the CEO of Avid Life Media, is stepping down from the company in the wake of an unprecedented hack that left 37 million customers exposed.

“This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees. We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base,” a statement posted on Avid Life Media’s website said. “We are actively adjusting to the attack on our business and members’ privacy by criminals.”

Avid Life Media plans to continue to operate its dating websites and will be led by its senior management team until a new CEO is appointed, the statement said. The company also reiterated its commitment to protecting its customer base while also working with law enforcement to find the person or group responsible for the massive data breach.

A 500,000 Canadian dollar reward (approximately $376,000) is being offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

Personal data believed to have been stolen from the adultery website Ashley Madison was posted on the dark Web a little more than a week ago, apparently exposing names, email addresses and phone numbers for some of the website’s 37 million members, among other information.

The data dump came one month after Avid Life Media confirmed a “criminal intrusion” into its system.

Going by the name “The Impact Team,” the hacker or hackers said the breach was spurred by a disagreement with Avid Life Media’s business practices, specifically a “full delete” feature. For $19, the company allows repentant cheaters to scrub their information from the website.

“Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” the Impact Team wrote after the hack last month. “Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real name and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.”

Business practices aside, the hacker or hackers also had another message:

“Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion…Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver.”

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American’s First Thought During Train Attack Was ‘Just Trying Not to Die’

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — U.S. serviceman Alek Skarlatos, who helped stop a gunman on a Paris-bound train last week, said his first thought was “just trying not to die.”

Recalling on ABC News’ Good Morning America Friday what ran though his mind when he first saw the gunman and realized his life was in danger, Skarlatos said, “I immediately recognized what was happening, and I just thought, ‘There is just no way. There is no way this is happening right now.’”

“Then we just acted, and I didn’t have another conscious thought for the next two minutes,” he continued.

Skarlatos, 22, an Army National Guardsman assigned to an infantry unit in Roseburg, Oregon, was on vacation in Europe with his friends after a tour in Afghanistan. Skarlatos, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, 23, of Carmichael, California, and Anthony Sadler, 23, a senior at Sacramento State University in California, were among the train passengers last Friday when they helped stop a man armed with guns and a box cutter who had started firing.

Skarlatos said as he, Salder, Stone and British businessman Chris Norman worked together to subdue the gunman, “Everybody behind the terrorist just ran back about two or three cars. And then everybody in our train car either helped out in some way or just kind of sat there in shock.”

Skarlatos described his initial decision to jump in and help as a “gut reaction,” noting that his military training didn’t kick in until later.

“We were just acting on adrenaline and doing what we had to do to survive,” he said. “Once we were able to think again, that was kind of when training kicked in, but before that, we were just trying not to die.”

After the train was stopped and the gunman was in custody, he said the magnitude of the event still hadn’t hit him.

“I thought they would just question us and then put us on the next train to Paris,” Skarlatos said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big at all.”

And when Skarlatos finally returned to the United States this week, he was shocked to see law enforcement officers at the airport lining up to shake his hand.

“I was so grateful to everybody that showed up for that. That was just amazing,” he said. “That many law enforcement officers showing up … it meant a lot to me.”

While Skarlatos and Sadler escaped the attack without injury, their friend Stone underwent surgery to reattach his thumb after the gunman slashed him with the box cutter. Stone was released from a French hospital then taken to Germany for further medical treatment.

“He’s still stuck in Ramstein, but he’s doing great,” Skarlatos said on Friday of Stone. “He’s in high spirits. He just couldn’t be here today, unfortunately.”

Skarlatos doesn’t know what’s next for him, but said, “I’m probably going to go back to Germany and hang out with Spencer.”

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Surviving National Zoo Panda Cub Is Male

Smithsonian’s National Zoo(WASHINGTON) — The Washington National Zoo revealed the gender of Mei Xiang’s baby panda cub on Friday, and it’s a boy.

Veterinarians at the Giant Panda Habitat performed genetic testing from swabs taken from inside the panda’s mouths.

Genetic testing also revealed the father of the baby panda. Tian Tian, a giant panda from China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong in China, sired the panda.

“I’m happy to say the results were very clear,” said Dr. Robert Fleischer, the head of the Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics who performed the genetic testing to determine the sex.

The cub was born last Saturday with a twin sibling, who died Wednesday after struggling with respiratory issues from feeding complications. Results from a necropsy performed on the deceased male cub have not been shared, but zoo veterinarian Dr. Don Neiffer believes the cub died after food material entered the respiratory system.

Giant male pandas can eventually reach a weight of 250 pounds.

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Former Archbishop Accused of Sexual Abuse Dies Awaiting Trial

ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) — The first Vatican official set to stand trial for sex abuse died in Rome Friday.

Disgraced former Archbishop Josef Wesolowski was a high-ranking Vatican diplomat accused of paying young boys for sex in the Dominican Republic, where he was ambassador for five years.

His trial inside the Vatican was set to begin earlier this summer but was postponed at the last minute when he became ill. He was to be tried under a new court system, set up by Pope Francis for Vatican sex offenders.

Wesolowski was recalled to Rome more than two years ago after authorities began investigating the Polish priest for allegedly picking up shoeshine boys and handing them stacks of cash to perform sex acts on him.

After a year of living in Rome, the Vatican moved to defrock him. During that time, Wesolowski used his computer to access child pornography. He was facing charges for that, as well.

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Bimbo Bakeries Recalls Bread Products over Glass Fragments

Scott Olson/Getty Images(HORSHAM, Pa.) — Bimbo Bakeries is recalling several of its bread products because there may be fragments of glass in them.

The company says a broken light bulb at one of its bakeries may have caused glass to end up on the outside of loaves in 11 states.

So far, Bimbo has received three reports from consumers. No one has been injured.

The company, which sells bread under brand names like Sarah Lee, Kroger and Nature’s Harvest, says affected loaves have a “best by” date of Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF RECALLED PRODUCTS ]

Affected products are being taken down from store shelves, Bimbo says. Anyone who purchased a recalled loaf can return it to the store for a full refund.

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Hundreds Feared Dead After Two Boats Capsize Off Libyan Coast

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) — Hundreds are feared dead after a pair of boats carrying people fleeing conflict and poverty capsized near Libya.

Libyan officials have been working around the clock trying to find survivors of two boats that sank off the coast of Libya Thursday night. One carrying 50 people capsized first, then later, another with 400 passengers.

Rescuers report the bodies retrieved so far are of people from Syria, Bangladesh and African countries. They were hoping to make it to the safety of Italy.

The capsizes occurred as coffins of 52 people arrived in Palermo, Italy. They died of asphyxiation in the hold of a migrant boat earlier this week.

So far, about 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea this year.

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What’s Inside Just Released Huma Abedin State Department Emails

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Newly released e-mails offer a glimpse into Hillary Clinton confidant and personal aide Huma Abedin, who is facing growing scrutiny for her “special government employee” status inside the U.S. State Department while Clinton was in her final year as secretary of state.

Abedin has worked for Clinton for years, including her days in the U.S. Senate through the 2008 campaign and into the Obama administration. But it was a period of several months in 2012 — when she split time working for the State Department, Clinton Foundation, an outside consulting firm, Teneo, which has close ties to the Clintons, and for Clinton herself — that is now drawing a closer look by the State Department Inspector General and Clinton’s Republican critics about potential conflicts of interest.

Some have alleged that Abedin used her ties to Clinton to improperly exert influence for the benefit of her bosses. No evidence has been presented publicly, however, and Abedin has not been charged with any crime or formally accused of violating government policy.

Special government employees are similar to outside government contractors. They are on the federal payroll but subject to guidelines about financial conflicts of interest and other restrictions on outside activities.

The emails — which came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit filed by the conservative group Citizens United, which was seeking information about the Clintons and Abedin’s time as a special government employee — show how Abedin at times brought together players from her three other employers.

One set of e-mails, which were first obtained by the Washington Post, show Abedin e-mailing with Declan Kelly, a Teneo executive, about an outing with Hillary Clinton, Kelly, Clinton Foundation donors and State Department officials during an official State Department trip to Ireland by the secretary of state in December of 2012.

“Maybe we can all gather for drinks/dinner and HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] can come join for as long as she can?” Abedin wrote from her State Department account to the group about plans for the night of Dec. 6, 2012. “Declan has kindly offered to organize something. Either way, doubt we will lock anything for a few days but please know she does hope to see you that night!”

Abedin and Kelly exchanged several e-mails about plans for the evening. On Dec. 4, Abedin e-mailed a group that included Kelly, and members of the State Department and Clinton Foundation with the details of the event, which the Washington Post reported was organized by John Fitzpatrick, a Clinton supporter and Irish-American hotel magnate.

The e-mails do not detail whether Clinton attended the dinner with Teneo executives, but the Washington Post determined Clinton did participate, citing interviews with participants. The day of the dinner, Abedin informed a small group, including Kelly, that Clinton might be late because “hrc has to see the russians about Syria.”

The Clinton campaign defended Abedin and criticized Republicans’ for promoting “baseless” allegations about her.

“This is someone who has spent nearly two decades in public service, and is widely known for her integrity and tireless work ethic,” Nick Merrill, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said. “After the birth of her son she took maternity leave. The IG had questions about the details of her leave, Huma answered. Anything beyond that injected into the public sphere is unfounded and from partisans in Congress with a clear agenda. These emails serve to reinforce that these allegations are baseless. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing.”

Abedin’s lawyer declined comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has been investigating Abedin’s special employment status and whether her work involved conflicts of interest. He is pressing the State Department and Abedin to clarify the nature of her work on Clinton’s Ireland trip.

In new letters to State and Abedin obtained by ABC News, Grassley suggested that the emails “raise a number of questions” about Abedin’s employment.

“How can the taxpayer know who exactly you were working for at any given moment? How can the ethics officer at the State Department know?” he wrote in his letter to Abedin.

In a letter to the State Department, obtained by The New York Times, Abedin’s lawyer called Grassley’s allegations “unfortunate and unfounded.”

“Ms. Abedin is known for her integrity and her tireless work ethic and has been a role model for young women who have sought careers in government, public policy, and foreign affairs,” the lawyer, Miguel Rodriguez wrote. “No staffer – indeed nobody at all – should be subject to such unfounded attacks based on ill-informed leaks, much less someone who has made countless personal sacrifices in distinguished service to the country she loves.”

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