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American Airlines extends flight suspensions to Hong Kong and mainland China amidst coronavirus

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400tmax/iStock(NEW YORK) — American Airlines extended its flight suspensions to mainland China and Hong Kong through late April, citing “reduction in demand,” the company announced Tuesday. “We will continue to evaluate this schedule and make any adjustments as necessary,” American said in a statement. Other U.S. carriers have similarly suspended flights to China as the coronavirus outbreak continues. Delta Airlines canceled flights to mainland China through late April, while United Airlines suspended flights to China through late March and Hong Kong through late February. In Geneva, top health officials have finally named the novel coronavirus that has sickened tens of thousands of people around the world. The coronavirus is now called COVID-19, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general at the World Health Organization announced during a Tuesday news conference. “Co” stands for coronavirus, “Vi” is for virus and “D” is for disease, Tedros explained. Health officials purposely avoided naming COVID-19 after a geographical location, animal or group of people. “Having a name matters, to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” he said. In the United

Judge approves controversial merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

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sx70/iStock(NEW YORK) — A federal judge in New York has approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint in a controversial decision Tuesday, siding with the telecom giants over a coalition of state attorney generals who were suing to block two of the largest wireless carriers in the U.S. from combining. The lawsuit from 14 state attorneys general, and the District of Columbia, led by California and New York, was one of the last hurdles T-Mobile had to overcome before it could proceed with buying Sprint for $26 billion. The so-called “megamerger” already has approvals from the FCC and the Justice Department. New York Attorney General Letitia James called Tuesday’s decision “a loss for every American who relies on their cell phone for work, to care for a family member, and to communicate with friends.” She said that the deal “will endanger wireless subscribers where it hurts most: their wallets.” “There is no doubt that reducing the mobile market from four to three will be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation, which is why the states stepped

DOJ announces four Chinese military officers indicted in Equifax hack

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Federal Bureau of Investigation(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department on Monday announced that four Chinese military officers have been indicted with hacking the credit company Equifax in 2017. The breach compromised the personal information of some 150 million Americans, one of the largest data breaches in history, officials said. “It came to light in the summer of 2017, when Equifax announced the theft. The scale of the theft was staggering. As alleged in the indictment, the hackers obtained the names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of nearly 150 million Americans, and the driver’s license numbers of at least 10 million Americans. This theft not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax, but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans, and imposed substantial costs and burdens on them as they have had to take measures to protect against identity theft,” Attorney General William Barr said at a news conference announcing the charges. According to an indictment unsealed in the Northern District of Georgia, the hackers, members of China’s People’s Liberation Army, exploited a vulnerability in the Equifax network, which led

E-cigarettes highlight the challenges of dealing with plastic waste

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KY/iStock(NEW YORK) — E-cigarettes and vapes have made the headlines amid national concerns about nicotine addiction among young people and health problems linked to black-market products. But among environmental advocates, the increasingly popular products pose another challenge — how to get rid of them after they’re used. E-cigarettes and pods for e-cigarettes or vapes can be both hazardous and electronic waste — depending on the product — and the plastic poses the same concerns as other plastic products that can add to overall waste and break down into microplastics that harm ocean ecosystems. Nick Mallos, senior director of the Trash Free Seas program at Ocean Conservancy, said cigarette butts have been the most common item in beach and ocean cleanups but that the group’s volunteers report seeing more and more e-cigarette products as they become more popular. “Our hypothesis would be that — as we see this shift to e-cigarettes and cartridges that in the coming years — we unfortunately expect to see more and more of these products on the beaches, unless some intervention is made,” Mallos told ABC

Soul food restaurant serves 'shoebox lunches' with black history facts

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mphillips007/iStock(DETROIT) — One restaurant is serving more than soul food this Black History Month. Beans & Cornbread, located in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, has revived its popular “shoebox lunches” this February, that include facts about black history on the boxes. “I thought it would be nice to chronologize the stories of the past, of what our ancestors went through,” Patrick Coleman, the restaurant’s owner, told ABC News. The boxes are replications of the food boxes used by African Americans while traveling on trains during the time of the Jim Crow segregation laws. Black travelers had limited dining options then due to segregation. Coleman said the shoebox lunches are a way of paying tribute to those predecessors. “I heard these incredible stories from my mom and grandmother about traveling to the South and taking the train to visit relatives,” he said. “They had to go to a segregated train and when it was time for lunch, they weren’t allowed in the dining car because that was also segregated.” “My grandma would take an old shoebox and fry some chicken,

Carmakers slowly resuming production in China despite coronavirus outbreak

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iStock(NEW YORK) — A handful of international automakers with crucial production plants in China have announced they will be returning to work within the next few weeks, as the death toll and the number of new cases from the novel coronavirus continue to soar. General Motors said it expects to resume production in its China plants starting on Feb. 15, with a staggered start at first based on local employees’ safety readiness and how prepared supply chains are, a spokesperson told ABC News on Monday. GM and its joint ventures in China currently have more than 58,000 employees at a handful of plants, and sold more than 3.64 million cars in China in 2018, according to its website. Japan’s Toyota said that it expects to resume operations at all plants in China starting next week but will begin preparing the plants this week. “The safety and security of our team members, suppliers and stakeholders continues to be our top priority,” the company told ABC News in a statement. “For the week of February 10, all plants in China will start

Food prices skyrocket in China amid coronavirus outbreak

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FroggyFrogg/iStock(NEW YORK) — Food prices are soaring more than 20% in China amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to government statistics released Monday. China’s consumer price index (CPI) spiked 5.4% compared to this time last year, the country’s state-run media organization Xinhua reported, citing National Bureau of Statistics data released Monday. The CPI is the main barometer for inflation levels.   Food prices climbed more than 20% compared to this time last year — up more than 17% from December, according to Xinhua. Pork prices rose a staggering 116% compared to last year, and vegetable prices more than 17%. Many attribute to soaring pork costs also in part to the outbreak of an African swine fever in China that disrupted the pork industry in 2019. A Carrefour supermarket in Shanghai was fined last week by city regulators for price gouging, after its lettuce surged to nearly eight times its regular prices amid the outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reported. The rising food costs in China come as its National Health Commission said Monday that the number of confirmed

Top five economic issues facing middle class ahead of 2020 elections

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MarianVejcik/iStock(NEW YORK) — If you feel like you’re running yourself ragged but aren’t making headway, you’re not alone. The U.S. is experiencing one of the longest-running bull markets in its history, yet 40% of Americans recently said that they couldn’t cover an unexpected $400 expense. Even as the White House boasts about creating the strongest economy in decades — with record-low unemployment rates and financial markets reaching new highs — many middle class Americans say they feel left behind or find that they are “having to run harder to stand still.” As the 2020 presidential election kicks up into high gear, here are what experts point to as some of the top economic issues that middle class families in America currently face. And with the financial unease that many people say they are feeling, these issues might have an impact on how they decide to vote. Slow-growing wages For most middle-class families without high-return investment accounts or trust funds to rely on, their main source of income are their jobs. If wages stagnate or don’t keep up with the cost

Swap an old flame for a free Whopper on Valentine's Day at Burger King

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ilbusca/iStock(NEW YORK) — For anyone whose heart has been charred by an old flame, Burger King has the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day. The fast food restaurant chain announced a new partnership on Thursday with Warner Bros. Pictures and Birds of Prey supervillain Harley Quinn that will give diners a chance to swap out memories of their ex for a fresh flame-grilled Whopped instead. “On February 14, scorned lovers in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston can bring a printed photo of their ex to ‘Birds of Prey’-themed ‘breakup boxes’ at select Burger King restaurants, to be exchanged for a Whopper,” the restaurant said in a press release. “Guests in New York City can also bring in letters, stuffed animals or a specified piece of clothing to claim their reward.” The movie’s story line centers around the DC anti-heroine, played by Margot Robbie, after her explosive breakup with the Joker. Burger King also has a Harley Quinn takeover at its New York City storefront for a limited-time and has dubbed the mayhem-filled location “Burger Quinn.” “From the

US adds 225,000 jobs in January, unemployment rate rises to 3.6%

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wingedwolf/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. economy added 225,000 jobs in January, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. The unemployment rate rose by a fraction of a percentage point to 3.6% Notable job gains occurred in the fields of construction, health care, transportation and warehousing, according to the data. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.