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Welcome to America's first solar-powered town

Jan 22, 2018 5

ABC News(BABCOCK RANCH, Fla.) — Richard and Robin Kinley are among the retirees who move to Florida every year.

However, this couple gets to watch the sunset every night over a lake that’s named after them — Lake Kinley.

The sustainable Babcock Ranch, just north of Fort Myers, Florida, was built to be America’s first solar-powered town, and the Kinleys were the first to purchase a home and move in.

“It reminded me of the first time I saw my future wife many years ago,” Richard Kinley told ABC News of his first visit to Babcock Ranch’s model homes a year ago. “I fell head over heels.”

They were the town’s first residents as of Jan. 4, even though the community’s official grand opening is in March.

Babcock Ranch was designed with sustainability in mind — from a solar energy plant to autonomous transit.

“We set out some eight years ago to become the first solar-powered town in America,” said Syd Kitson, the CEO of by Kitson & Partners, who bought the land in 2006 — all 91,000 acres of it.

The bulk of the land that was purchased, 73,000 acres, was sold to the state of Florida for preservation of the wetlands and wildlife, such as the Florida panther.

“It was the largest land purchase by the state in the history of Florida,” said Kitson.

Of the remaining 18,000 acres, only half became the Babcock Ranch, which is now one of the greenest communities in America, while the other half was used for further preservation of land.

Jim and Donna Aveck, retirees living in Punta Gorda, Florida, heard Kitson talk at a conference about the town he wanted to build back in 2006 after he purchased the land.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘That’s where we want to live,'” Donna Aveck told ABC News, adding that they’re downsizing from their last home because they want to lower their carbon footprint.

As the second residents of the town, the couple also had a lake named after them — Lake James.

“We chose ‘James’ because it has a nice ring to it,” Aveck said. “Lake Jim or Aveck just didn’t have the same ring.”

The draw of the budding community was a big factor for the future homeowners.

“We want this to be a multigenerational community, not just for empty nesters, but for young people and families,” explained Kitson. “In order to attract that, we started with the school.”

The K-6 public charter school is fully subscribed with students and opened last August, even without people living in the neighborhood.

In fact, the town center has opened a restaurant and clothing store so far, with a coffee shop, co-working space, health and wellness center, and ice cream parlor on the way.

Another elementary school is also being built and expected to open with the start of the next school year.

Ten years of planning went into the town before the builders turned dirt two years ago.

“[We took] initiative to say that if we’re going to build something, we’re going to do it the right way,” said Kitson.

He wanted to prove that environmental responsibility and development can go hand in hand, with one of those features being solar energy.

During the day, the solar plant is built to generate more energy than the town consumes, while at night, the town is powered by a nearby natural gas plant.

“The whole sustainability idea is the closest I can get to guilt-free living,” said Kinley, a self-proclaimed technophile, who owns a Tesla that he can charge at one of Babcock Ranch’s stations.

The couple is also in awe of the autonomous shuttle, which is one of several dozen in the world, and Donna Aveck said that she is excited to take a ride on it.

The driverless shuttle has eight censors and uses GPS to get around the community.

Right now, a driver is assigned to the vehicle because it still in the testing phase.

Kitson started looking into autonomous vehicles six years ago and hopes to have a fleet of shuttles available in the coming years, the CEO said.

The shuttle will eventually be able to respond to requests for pickup via an app in an Uber-like fashion, he added.

“When you go get to get approval for a new town, there is no box that says ‘new town’ and you check that box,” said Kitson. “We were very fortunate that we had a great county that stepped up and worked closely with us.”

The starting price for a home here is $185,999 but can go upwards of $750,000.

Every house is equipped with fiber optic cable that runs underground.

“I’m still dancing around about the internet,” said Aveck. “It’s so fast.”

The fiber optic cable gives residents high-speed connection to keep up with the tech advancements of the future, said Kitson.

“[The amount of] homes sold changes daily,” said Kitson, saying that they’ve already sold close to 80.

All of the homes have a porch and are close to the sidewalk, making it easy for the residents to connect with each other.

“As soon as we move in, I’m sure we will be getting together with the Kinleys to go to the restaurant,” said Donna.

The Kinleys are excited about their incoming neighbors.

“I think we have met more of our future neighbors than the neighbors we had back in Atlanta,” said Richard Kinley. “It’s a very intentional move to come this place. There will a lot of people with like-minded thinking about sustainability.”

And more residents are moving in within the coming weeks to enjoy the 50 miles of hiking trails through the preserved land, plus community gardens, a lake house and events such as yoga classes — all part of the Babcock Ranch lifestyle.

“Every day that goes by it seems more and more like fate,” said Kinley of his new home.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apple's Tim Cook and Malala team up to fight for girls' education

Jan 22, 2018 4

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Both are globally recognized icons, yet their areas of expertise are seemingly worlds apart.

One is Tim Cook, the tireless and philanthropic chief executive officer of Apple Inc.; the other is Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate activist who fights for — and puts her life on the line for — girls’ education around the world. The unlikely pair came together on a recent January afternoon in downtown Beirut to announce a shared vision.

They were collaborating to make quality education available for girls and young women wherever they live in the world. Together, they say they will significantly expand the work already being done by Malala’s efforts to support girls’ education and advocate for equal opportunity, especially targeting the 130 million girls in the world who have no access to quality education.

They don’t yet know exactly how they will accomplish this enormous feat, but they say they’re dedicated to finding the answer.

“We are committing resources, and we are committing money and technology,” Cook told ABC News. “130 million girls is a lot of folks around the world and so this is a bold ambition. This is exactly what Apple loves to work on and is something that everybody is saying is impossible.”
Apple and Malala Fund announced Tuesday that they will partner to champion “every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education. Through the partnership, Apple is hoping to double the number of grants awarded to Malala’s Fund and extend programs to India and Latin America.

The goal is to extend secondary education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.

Cook and Malala met just three months ago while Cook was on a business trip to England, where Malala is a student at the prestigious Oxford University. Yet, that initial encounter provided a spark they both hope will now lead to even greater accomplishments.

“We started talking and it became so clear that the values we share were so aligned. It was then a matter of what to do together not a matter of whether,” Cook told ABC News.

Malala has been advocating for girls’ education for years. Before she was even a teenager, Malala began speaking out about life under the Taliban in her native Swat Valley, Pakistan. In retaliation, gunmen tried to murder her with a shot to the head. It was an ordeal that she barely survived but one that taught her to cherish her courage and to stand up for her beliefs.

“That’s just the way that I decided to live my life”’ Malala told ABC News. “When you go through such hardships in your life, you start building up resilience; you start building up this courage.”

When asked to describe Malala, the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Cook’s eyes lit up.

“She has a rare trait of courage with a big C”, he said. “My heroes in life were people with enormous courage, who were willing to do everything, including risk their lives, for their cause and purpose. She has done this at a very young age and it’s just amazing.”

In parts of the world where the cards are stacked against young girls trying to make a better future for themselves, Malala is viewed with awe. When a small group of Syrian refugee girls came face to face with her that morning in Beirut, more than one of them burst into tears, to be comforted by hugs and soothing words from their hero.

“I don’t see myself as a celebrity like a singer or any star,” Malala said. “I am just a campaigner for girls’ education. But I am really grateful and thankful to them for their support; they agree with me that education is their basic human right and they should have this right.”

Sitting down to a roundtable discussion with the group of girls who had fled the war in Syria, Malala said she was encouraged.

“Some say they want to become doctors and teachers and engineers and artists and musicians,” she said. “Once you hear that you say, they deserve this future. And this future is only possible through education.”

Many obstacles stand in the way of the kind of education that can elevate a young girl out of a life of poverty. During their discussion, one of the girls admitted her father demanded she drop out of school.

“He just wants me to stay at home,” she said through an Arabic interpreter. “He believes a woman’s place is in the home.”

For Malala, it’s a story she has heard many times before.

“Girls have pressure from their families, from their societies and so many obstacles in their fight for the kind of education that is taken for granted in many Western countries,” Malala said. “And these girls are fighting for it, each and every day.”

Her solution was to offer whatever help she could to smooth things over with the girls’ family.

“I will definitely talk to your father but also you must say no. OK?” she told the girl. “You must always say no and never say yes. Don’t be afraid.”

Another girl talked about how she hopes to become an architect, saying she chose this profession on the same day she fled Syria, hoping to return one day and help rebuild. She then broke down in tears.

Malala walked up to her, embraced her and whispered: “Stay strong.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DC bars offer drink specials to furloughed federal workers

Jan 21, 2018 12

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Furloughed federal employees in Washington wishing to drown their sorrrows may do so at a discount for the duration of the government shutdown.

Once Friday’s midnight deadline came and went without a deal to avert a shutdown, a slew of bars and restaurants in the nation’s capital began courting civil servants.

Capitol Lounge, a popular after-work haunt for Hill staffers, tweeted its newly-minted “Shutdown Cocktails” menu, consisting of $5 cocktails for patrons with a federal employee ID.

“I’m not expressing any political opinion here, but I am thankful I did get a drink special tonight,” a federal worker who doesn’t want to be identified told ABC affiliate WJLA at Capitol Lounge.

The libations at Capitol Lounge include the “C’mon Chuck,” a nod to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. There’s also a vodka martini in honor of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., called “To Flake or not to Flake?” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky also gets an honorable mention with “Rand’s Neighborhood Affair,” a cocktail consisting of champagne, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and grass clippings. And Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is being honored with the “Durbin Soda,” consisting of Kentucky Dale’s bourbon, soda and snitch sauce.

Iconic Italian restaurant Carmine’s, located in downtown Washington, has begun serving a “bittersweet beverage” called the “Hard Times Cocktail” for $12. It consists of Campari, bourbon, orange juice and thyme-infused simple syrup.

Any federal employee who orders a Happy Hour food item will get an extra jumbo meatball, the restaurant said.

“They can #shutdown the #government but they can’t shutdown your fun,” Carmine’s tweeted. “Federal Workers get All Day #HappyHour as Long as the shutdown continues.”

At the Queen Vic, an English pub on H Street, draft beers are being discounted 30 percent for the duration of the shutdown for federal employees.” Come scream at the tv and drown your sorrows!” the watering hole tweeted.

Granville Moore’s, a gastropub on H Street, is also offering a 30 percent discount to federal workers. “The government’s closed, but don’t worry federal workers, we’ll make this a little easier on you,” the watering hole tweeted.

Another H Street establishment, weekend brunch hotspot The Pug, tweeted that it is extending its 30 percent discount for first responders and teachers to federal employees.

Hank’s Cocktail Bar said federal employees are eligible for Happy Hour food and drinks all day long, as well as $9 hot toddies. “Let’s turn this shutdown around! Enjoy HAPPY HOUR FOOD & DRINK, and $9 HOT TODDIES ALL DAY when you show your Government ID,” the Petworth neighborhood haunt tweeted.

In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Union Pub, is offering $4 rail cocktails and shots to all customers for the duration of the shutdown.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tales from the crypto: South Korea frets over crackdown on virtual economy

Jan 19, 2018 0

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA) —  In South Korea, more than 200,000 people have now signed a presidential petition imploring the government to reconsider a proposal to crack down on cryptocurrency -– an extraordinary public outcry and a clear sign that in South Korea, the failure of a virtual economy would have very real consequences.

South Koreans have good reason to fear any crack in the collective belief that keeps cryptocurrency values so high. In 2017, as cryptocurrencies started to take off, everyday Koreans jumped in with joyful abandon — so much so that an estimated 20 percent of the world’s cryptocurrency transactions are now conducted in South Korea alone.

According to one study one-third of salaried Koreans had purchased virtual money and 80 percent profited from the investments with the average investor owning more than $5,000 in crypto. That’s a remarkable mass adoption of a new and untested investment vehicle, especially since cryptocurrency costs about 30 percent more on South Korean exchanges than on those used in the West.

Vicky Redwood of Capital Economics, a global economic research firm, says that cryptocurrencies are only popular because the prices keep climbing. “Cryptocurrencies are just a vehicle for speculation,” said Redwood. “They are not able to handle very large amounts of transactions, making them impractical as a widespread means of exchange. Most people are buying bitcoin simply because they expect it to go up in value further.”

In 2017, the year of skyrocketing values, many young South Koreans became obsessed. They were called bitcoin zombies — too mesmerized by the tickers, charts and promises of digital wealth to take care of real world stuff — like sleep. To government officials responsible for protecting people swept up in the crypto craze, South Korea’s “beautiful dream” started to feel like a looming nightmare. There were raids on cryptocurrency exchanges, and then last week Justice Minister Park Sang-ki threatened to ban trading altogether. Cryptocurrency markets are notoriously volatile, but because South Korean investors are so influential, Park’s buzzkill comments contributed to a global sell-off.

On Monday, the government issued a statement clarifying Park’s positions, saying “the proposed shutdown of exchanges that the justice minister recently mentioned is one of the measures suggested by the justice ministry to curb speculation,” reported Yonhap News, adding that “a government-wide decision will be made in the future after sufficient consultation and coordination of opinions.”

On Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in cautioned his cabinet against voicing their personal views before the government has reached a position on cryptocurrency, but the damage was done.

At one point on Wednesday the price of a bitcoin had dropped to $9,833 on the Coinbase exchange, almost half its peak value in December.

On Thursday, the head of South Korea’s financial regulatory body said that the government “is considering both shutting down all local virtual currency exchanges or just the ones who have been violating the law,” according to Reuters.

The government’s more measured position appears to have re-assured the markets -– by mid-morning Thursday prices of bitcoin and other crypto currencies were back on the upswing.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Manhattan DA investigators raid Newsweek Media Group's offices to conduct search of computer servers

Jan 19, 2018 0

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Investigators with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office raided on Thursday the New York City offices of Newsweek Media Group, the parent company of Newsweek and International Business Times.

Newsweek said in a statement that a search of the company’s computer servers was conducted “to obtain technical information about the servers. The company provided the DA’s representatives with access to the computer servers on location to allow for a technical inspection within the law.”

The media company said “no information regarding the company’s content, stories, personnel, or sources was given and Newsweek Media Group has been assured by the DA’s office that the investigation is not about content-related issues.”

The media company said it will continue to cooperate with the DA’s office “to the fullest extent,” pursuant to its “expressed policy regarding law enforcement.”

It is unclear what the DA’s office is seeking in its investigation. The DA’s office has not publicly commented on the search.

Newsweek Media Group is the new name of IBT Media, which rebranded last year under the magazine’s name.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Krispy Kreme letting fans vote on new flavor of glazed doughnut

Jan 18, 2018 0

bhofack2/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Krispy Kreme is asking America to decide the flavor of its newest glazed doughnut that will be offered at participating shops around the country later this year.

Customers can vote for one of four choices — blueberry, caramel, lemon and maple — until the end of the vote on January 22. The doughnut chain will then “craft, taste and perfect” the winning flavor, releasing it for a full week this spring.

Krispy Kreme’s Chief Marketing Officer Jackie Woodward pointed to fan reaction to a number of limited edition offerings from the past year — green donuts for Saint Patrick’s Day, chocolate glazed for the total eclipse, and warm gingerbread molasses glaze for the holidays.

Voting will take place at www.voteforglaze.com. Fans can vote once, and then promote the voting via social media. The winning flavor will be announced on January 25.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wall Street retreats after record-setting Wednesday

Jan 18, 2018 0

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One day after a record close for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Wall Street’s major indices retreated slightly on Thursday.

The Dow dropped 97.94, losing about one-third of a percent and closing at 26,017.81.

The Nasdaq dipped 2.23 to a close of 7,296.05, while the S&P 500 ended the day at 2,798.03, 4.53 lower than its open.

Wells Fargo says it has corrected an issue that caused some customers to see their bank balance drop without warning. The bank says that an internal processing error caused some items to double post. Any fees caused by the error will be waived.

Amazon announced the 20 cities still in the running for its second headquarters. The list includes big cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as Columbus, Ohio and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Larger than expected misses on revenue and profit sent aluminum producer Alcoa’s stock falling. Shares of the company finished the day trading down seven percent.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Old corporate tax rate 'was never good for the United States,' Apple CEO says

Jan 18, 2018 0

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — In an interview with ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained why many U.S. companies, including Apple, have parked billions of dollars in profits overseas for years.

The high corporate tax rate in the U.S. encouraged companies to keep that money deployed elsewhere and “we thought this was never good for the United States because it motivates people to invest elsewhere instead of in the country,” he said.

When asked whether Apple could potentially save tens of billions of dollars on taxes in the future, Cook was hesitant.

“No it’s not tens of billions, we don’t we don’t make that much in the United States,” he said. “But we will be paying less. And you know that’s one reason why we can make these ongoing investments and invest over $350 billion in the United States.”

Cook also said Wednesday the company will bring back the “vast majority” of the $250 billion Apple currently has in overseas holdings and invest the money in more U.S. facilities.

He told ABC News he has been advocating to repatriate the tech giant’s overseas profits.

“We’ve always felt very comfortable with paying a lot in taxes. Just not a huge amount. And we like the repatriation agreement on the corporate tax side, and we’re going to bring the vast majority of it here,” he said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Gay couple sues Vistaprint over receiving religious pamphlet instead of wedding programs

Jan 18, 2018 0

Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/ABCNews.com(BUTLER COUNTY, Pa.) — A recently married gay couple has filed a federal lawsuit against printing company Vistaprint after allegedly receiving discriminatory flyers instead of their wedding programs.

According to the lawsuit, Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg of Australia discovered the flyers when they went to open a package they had received from Vistaprint the night before their wedding in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Instead of the colorful blue and yellow programs they had ordered, there were about 80 flyers entitled “Understanding Temptation: Fight the good fight of the faith.”

Printed on the flyers were a number of statements the couple alleges were purposefully meant to threaten them as a direct result of their sexual orientation, including, “The supreme tempter is Satan who uses our weaknesses to lead us into sin. You must understand where temptations come from if you desire to change the way you live.”

Borg and Heasley say agents or employees of the Middlesex, Massachusetts, company intended to discriminate against them by choosing not to provide them with the same services as a straight couple.

Beyond the emotional damages, the couple says they paid Vistaprint $79.49 for 100 copies of their programs, and were forced to print their own programs just before their wedding, at an extra cost to them. Since they had already paid Vistaprint, they allege the company was in breach of contract.

In a letter to customers, the CEOs of Vistaprint and Cimpress — Vistaprint’s founder and owner — Trynka Shineman and Robert Keane wrote, “On January 16th, we learned that a same sex couple who were married in Pennsylvania in September of last year ordered 100 custom wedding programs from Vistaprint and instead, received pamphlets that they felt were hurtful. To know that any customer could feel treated in such a way, especially during a time that should be filled with joy, is extremely disheartening.”

“We have never been more disappointed to let a customer down,” they added.

According to the letter, a third party which fills Vistaprint orders sent Borg and Heasley an order meant for a different customer, though their investigation is ongoing.

Shineman and Keane also claim they have reached out to the couple to “express [their] sadness.”

In a statement obtained by Boston ABC affiliate WCVB, Borg and Heasley said, “Our goal is to hold Vistaprint accountable for the harm they have caused, to give a voice to others who may have been similarly victimized, to help prevent this from happening to someone else and to send a message that there will be consequences for acts of hate perpetrated against others.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages as a result of economic, mental and emotional distress.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.