Review Category : Top Stories

Dow, S&P Advance for Best Three-Day Gains Since February

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — What a difference a day makes.

Solid earnings reports and a smaller slowdown in China’s growth than many had feared pushed stocks higher for the third day in a row.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 16,424.85 — a 162-point advance. The Nasdaq Composite added 52 points to close at 4,086.23. The S&P 500 rose 19 points to 1,862.31.

Both the Dow and S&P indices saw their best three-day gains since Feb. 11.

Yahoo rose 6 percent, benefiting from its lucrative investments in Asia.

Meanwhile, airline stocks rose sharply, with Delta gaining 5 percent, JetBlue up 6 percent and American gaining 5 percent.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Google’s Plan to Shake Up Smartphone Market

Google(NEW YORK) — Google’s “Project Ara,” an affordable smartphone with swappable and customizable hardware, could be the next big thing to shake up the mobile market.

Details of the phone were unveiled at the first Ara developer’s conference on Tuesday, when leader Paul Eremenko announced it would go on sale early next year and retail for about $50.

“It’s about getting exactly what you want in a phone,” Patrick Moorhead, principal technology analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy told ABC News. “For a lot of people, their primary reason for buying a phone could be social media. For another person it could be taking pictures. For other people it may be gaming. It’s all about customization.”

According to Google’s “Project Ara” module developer’s kit, users will be able to build on to a basic structural framework to customize their phone with different modules to design a phone with the look, capability and price that they want.

As new technology comes to market, users won’t have to wait for a new phone and can instead just swap in the modules, empowering users to customize their technology.

Essentially, it’s an a la carte phone and consumers are allowed to choose the extra bells and whistles they want to use or swap out on any given day.

While the lower price point could make the phone more accessible to the developing world, Moorhead predicts “Project Ara” will have an impact in tech-hungry markets where individuals’ smartphones “mean everything to them.”

“Some people will want modular and others will go thinner,” he said. “I think the market will decide where it goes from there.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Ferry Survivors Describe Sliding Bodies, Wall of Water

Park Young-Chul-Donga Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — Survivors of the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea told harrowing tales of confusion and desperation as people slid along the floor of the sharply listing ship, colliding with one another, or found themselves trapped in cabins by a wall of water.

Rescued passengers said that immediately after they heard a booming noise, the ship began listing and they heard an announcement over the ship’s PA system telling the passengers to stay in place.

“The baggage was falling out, and we were saying ‘What’s going on?’ But the announcement told us to stay where we were, so we did,” one rescued student told MBC News, a Korean news agency.

“The ship began tilting all of a sudden, and then people started skidding down from above,” rescued passenger Young-Ja Shin told SBS News. “There was a railing, so I held onto it, but I then got hit by one of the falling people and we got pushed down to the bottom.”

“It took about 10 seconds to tilt over, and then I began sliding from end to end,” rescued passenger Eun-Bok Jang, 50, told SBS News. “I got hit on my side and then I couldn’t breathe.”

The vessel tipped over completely on its side, and there was mass confusion inside the ferry as refrigerators and other things fell over, Jang said.

When the water started rushing in, many passengers put on life vests and escaped outside. But by the time that announcements told passengers to make their way out, the ship had already submerged significantly, so there were few exits that could be used for escape, rescued passengers said.

Many passengers were gathered in the entertainment center, restaurants and shops on the third floor of the 5-deck ship, but when the ferry capsized, that third floor was fully submerged, authorities told the Yonhap news agency. There was most likely a power outage immediately after the ship capsized, so confused and frantic passengers probably had a hard time finding their way out in the dark and narrow passage ways.

“When we were making our way out, the wall was almost all water, and it was completely submerged up to the third floor,” survivor In-Hwan Kang, 58, told MBC.

So-Hyun Kim, a teacher accompanying the more than 300 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, said she initially stayed in her cabin because of the announcements, but had to attempt an escape when water came rushing in.

“I couldn’t go anywhere. I didn’t have the strength to climb further up,” she told SBS News. “There was an open emergency exit, so another teacher and I decided to just fall and swim our way toward it. I fell and hit a railing, and that’s when I was rescued.”

Of the 475 passengers on board the ferry, 164 were rescued. Another 295 were listed as missing.

Rescuers were seen boarding the vessel, which had tipped to its side, and combing through the top of the ship for survivors. One man boarded the boat and quickly found what appeared to be a crew member still on it.

Bodies could be seen scattered through the water in another video shot from a helicopter. A yellow raft was tossed out of the chopper and survivors in the water swam toward it before they were pulled to safety.

Others were winched in slings to the safety of hovering helicopters.

As darkness fell, the ferry took on more water and only the rudder of the vessel remained visible before the ship sank about 100 feet below the water. Rescuers stopped searching for the 294 people who are still reported missing at about 7 p.m. due to strong currents and poor visibility, but they resumed their mission around 12:30 a.m. local time, taking advantage of a lull in the strong currents.

One rescued passenger said he believed that many people had been trapped inside the ferry when it sank.

The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was sailing to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call as it began leaning to one side. The passengers include more than 300 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, near Seoul, who were on a school trip.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Google’s Plan to Shake Up Smartphone Market

Google(NEW YORK) — Google’s “Project Ara,” an affordable smartphone with swappable and customizable hardware, could be the next big thing to shake up the mobile market.

Details of the phone were unveiled at the first Ara developer’s conference on Tuesday, when leader Paul Eremenko announced it would go on sale early next year and retail for about $50.

“It’s about getting exactly what you want in a phone,” Patrick Moorhead, principal technology analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy told ABC News. “For a lot of people, their primary reason for buying a phone could be social media. For another person it could be taking pictures. For other people it may be gaming. It’s all about customization.”

According to Google’s “Project Ara” module developer’s kit, users will be able to build on to a basic structural framework to customize their phone with different modules to design a phone with the look, capability and price that they want.

As new technology comes to market, users won’t have to wait for a new phone and can instead just swap in the modules, empowering users to customize their technology.

Essentially, it’s an a la carte phone and consumers are allowed to choose the extra bells and whistles they want to use or swap out on any given day.

While the lower price point could make the phone more accessible to the developing world, Moorhead predicts “Project Ara” will have an impact in tech-hungry markets where individuals’ smartphones “mean everything to them.”

“Some people will want modular and others will go thinner,” he said. “I think the market will decide where it goes from there.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Dominos Debuts Chicken Pizza Crusts

Dominos(NEW YORK) — In a world of crazy food mash-ups with one chef outdoing the next, Dominos has officially entered the arena.

Let us introduce what the brand calls its new “specialty chicken,” which is fried chicken covered with traditional pie toppings for a new take on “pizza.”

The new chicken comes in four varieties: Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, Classic Hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ Bacon. The toppings come over 12 pieces of breaded and fried boneless white meat chicken for $5.99.

“The CEO said they sell almost as much chicken as they do pizza — more than anything else — so this is a way of combining. They say they already have all the pizza ingredients in the stores,” ABC’s Lara Spencer reported on Good Morning America. “So why not? Starts on Monday and they say if it goes well, they’ll do more.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Oscar Pistorius Witness’ Credentials Challenged in Latest Blow

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius’ defense appeared to have suffered a blow Wednesday when a forensic witness who contradicted the prosecution’s version of the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was challenged on his credentials as an expert in forensics and other elements of his testimony.

The witness, Roger Dixon, was forced to admit under questioning by prosecutor Gerrie Nel that he was not an expert in forensics, pathology, ballistics, blood spatter, or sound and optics.

Dixon told the court Tuesday that Steenkamp was close to the door and angling toward the door on her right side as if she was reaching for the doorknob. He also concluded that Pistorius fired four shots through the bathroom door in quick succession.

Dixon’s testimony contradicts the prosecution’s forensic experts who determined that Steenkamp was facing the door when the first bullet struck her in the hip and knocked her down. Nel had also told the court that she was afraid of Pistorius and was talking to him through the locked door when he shot her.

The prosecution had also argued that Pistorius fired one shot and Steenkamp screamed before Pistorius fired three more rounds.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with murder for shooting Steenkamp, 29, before dawn on Valentine’s Day 2013. He could be sentenced to at least 25 years if convicted. Pistorius, a legless paralypian sprinter known as Blade Runner, claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

Dixon’s testimony included a bullet-by-bullet account of Steenkamp’s wounds, prompting another bout of retching by Pistorius in court.

In addition to giving a different version of how Steenkamp was shot, Dixon told the court that he helped record sounds of a cricket bat hitting against a door to show to the court that the sounds neighbors testified were the sound of gunshots could have been Pistorius breaking down the door to get to his mortally wounded girlfriend.

Nel questioned Dixon’s expertise and professional affiliations.

“Are you a sound expert?” Nel asked.

“I would hope I’m a sound expert,” he replied.

Nel repeated the question, referring to sound and acoustics specifically, to which Dixon said the test he did of the sound made by a cricket bat hitting a door and a gun firing was to determine whether the two could be confused.

“[The] expertise used was attempting to reconstruct the situation…I was not listening to myself making that sound,” he said.

Nel asked Dixon how he conducted tests on how dark it would have been in Pistorius’ bedroom when he claims he didn’t know Steenkamp had gone into the bathroom.

“The instruments that I used were my eyes,” Dixon said.

Dixon’s qualifications as a forensics expert were also questioned by Nel, with the prosecutor getting so aggressive that the judge admonished him, “Mr. Nel, please restrain yourself.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Prince William and Duchess Kate Bring Prince George to Australia

Samir Hussein/WireImage(SYDNEY) — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Sydney Wednesday for the second half of their 19-day tour Down Under.

Prince William and Duchess Kate treated local dignitaries to a royal first upon their arrival in Australia’s largest city, introducing them to their 8-month-old son, Prince George.

George — dressed in a white romper accented by embroidered sailboats — was alternatively carried by his mother and father as they descended their plane at Sydney Airport and greeted well-wishers and dignitaries that included Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Kate, 32, wore a Roksanda Ilincic Ryedale dress from the London-based designer’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection that retails for around $1,500.

The vibrant yellow color of Kate’s dress paid homage to Australia’s national color but Prince William, 31, reportedly thought the dress reminded him of something else.

“William said I look like a banana,” Kate reportedly told a well-wisher.

The crowds loved William and Kate as they posed in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge while attending a reception at the Sydney Opera House. Even though the new parents left Prince George behind for the event, their son was not far from their minds.

“I suspect George’s first word might be Bilby, only because Koala is harder to say,” Prince William said in a speech, referring to the rabbit-like animals indigenous and iconic to Australia.

It was not a Bilby but a stuffed wombat, another well-known Australian animal, that Prince George was gifted by Australia’s governor-general on Wednesday. George greeted the stuffed animal with a smile, as did his father, Prince William, who was nicknamed ‘wombat’ by his mother, Princess Diana.

Prince William spoke lovingly of his late mother, Diana, who gave her son the nickname when she, Prince William and his father, Prince Charles, traveled to Australia 31 years ago.

“My mother’s deep affection for Australia — which you were so kind to reciprocate — needs no reminder,” William said.

Later this week, William and Kate will travel to Ayers Rock, the iconic sandstone monument that Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited as well.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Hundreds Missing After Ferry Sinks off South Korea’s Coast

The Republic of Korea Coast Guard via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — Nearly 300 people are missing after a ferry carrying 459 passengers, many of them students, sank in cold waters off South Korea’s southern coast Wednesday.

So far, only two deaths have been reported with 164 people having been rescued. The confirmed fatalities are a female crew member, 22, and a male student.

The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was sailing from the port of Incheon in the northwest to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call as it began leaning to one side.

Coast Guard crews tried to break into the ferry, searching for anyone left behind, but they have been unable to do so since the vessel has sunk more than 100 feet below the water’s surface.

The reason for the crash is still unknown, but officials are looking into the possibility that it may have hit a reef.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Inflation Still Low but Many Prices Climbed Anyway in March

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After the brutal winter weather of January and February, people who use oil to heat their homes saw costs fall a bit in March along with dropping prices at the pump. However, other homeowners weren’t so lucky as the price of natural gas and electricity were higher than during the comparable period in 2013.

Meanwhile, the persistent drought in the West also drove up costs of meat, produce and dairy at the supermarket. Renters were also hit harder in March as were people who tried to escape winter by vacationing in a nicer climate. High demand also pushed up hotel room prices.

Nevertheless, inflation remains at about 1.5 percent, a half-percent lower than what’s acceptable to the government.

While most people can deal with this inflation rate, it’s those who live from paycheck-to-paycheck who were most affected by the various higher prices in March.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Rescue Underway in South Korea for Passengers of Sunken Ferry

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) — A rescue team is working desperately to save people on a capsized ferry off South Korea.

A total of 477 people, including 30 crew members, on board jumped off with life vests before the ferry capsized. No deaths have been reported.

The ferry — which, according to BBC, had been traveling from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju — was carrying mostly students and teachers on a field trip from Danwon High School. Officials say all 338 students and teachers have been rescued.

Navy ships and choppers have been deployed to rescue the remaining passengers not yet on land.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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