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wingedwolf/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy added a solid 266,000 jobs in November, exceeding economists' exceptions, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

Average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents to $28.29 and unemployment remained at a 50-year low of 3.5%.

Employers added the most jobs in the health care and professional and technical services industries, the data showed.

November also saw a rise in manufacturing jobs, though this was likely due to unionized autoworkers returning to work after the strike at General Motors.

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Uber(NEW YORK) -- Uber says it received nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault from both riders and drivers across the United States in 2017 and 2018.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company voluntarily released the information, among other data, in its first-ever safety report on Thursday.

In 2017, Uber recorded 2,936 reports of sexual assault during a total of one billion trips throughout the United States. There were 3,045 reported sexual assaults the following year during 1.3 billion total trips.

Overall, riders accounted for 45% of the accused parties. The report noted that some assaults occurred between riders.

Among the sexual assault incidents, the company counted 464 reports of rape in 2017 and 2018. About 92% of the victims were riders and roughly 7% were drivers. Women and female-identifying individuals comprised 89% of the victims, while men and male-identifying individuals made up about 8%.

Uber said it saw a decrease of approximately 16% in the average incident rate of sexual assaults reported from 2017 to 2018. However, as its report noted, sexual assaults are often not reported, so the actual numbers could be much higher.

"I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said of the new report via Twitter. "Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right."

During 2017 and 2018, 19 people died in physical assaults that occurred in Uber-related incidents. There were also 107 motor vehicle fatalities from Uber-related crashes in the same time frame.

"Most companies don’t talk about these hard issues, and they don’t share data about serious safety incidents. We believe it’s time for a new approach," Uber said in a statement announcing the report. "Keeping this information in the dark doesn’t make anyone safer."

The 84-page report comes as Uber faces scrutiny regarding safety concerns. Last week, London's transit authority refused to renew the company's license to operate in the British capital, citing "a pattern of failures by the company" that "placed passengers and their safety at risk." Uber said it plans to appeal the decision.

Over the past year, Uber has partnered with sexual assault prevention networks and other safety groups. Uber has also added new safety features, including more rigorous background checks, an in-app emergency button, and technology that allows the company to check in with customers if it detects a potential crash or an unexpected long stop during a trip.

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Hurtigruten AS(NEW YORK) -- Cruise ships conjure up images of fun in the sun, beautiful vistas and crystal-blue waters.

But along with cargo and other large ships, they are also increasingly being scrutinized as polluters -- both in terms of sewage and greenhouse gas emissions.

With the number of passengers exploding -- nearly doubling from just a decade ago to around 30 million this year, according to industry estimates -- and the number of ships around 300, some are looking to a more environmentally friendly solution.

Norway-based transport company Hurtigruten AS, which offers expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic, has constructed the first hybrid-powered expedition cruise ship to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the marine transport industry.

The technology on the ship, named the MS Roald Amundsen after the famous Norwegian explorer who sailed the polar regions, will allow it to reduce emissions by 20%, Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten AS, claimed.

"Picture a Prius but at the scale of a 530-passenger cruise ship," Skjeldam said while aboard the vessel's 18-day maiden voyage that sailed from Valparaiso, Chile and through the Chilean fjords and Antarctica.

According to the company, the ship's two large battery packs allow the vessel's engines to operate optimally, reducing emissions "substantially," and also run solely on battery power "for limited periods of time."

Efforts like this are "critically important" to the environment, Jaimie Levin, director of West Coast operations for the non-profit Center for Transportation and the Environment, told ABC News.

"Some of the worst emissions come from large ships and cargo movement," Levin said.

The maritime industry accounts for a fraction of all climate change emissions in the world -- about 3-4%, according to Jason Hanlin, CTE's director of technology development, told ABC News.

But the impacts from each vessel can be large. The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, an environmental association, claimed in 2017 that the emissions from a medium-sized cruise ship, which burned 150 tons of fuel a day, was equal to that of one million cars. The United Nations estimates that a single large shipping vessel produces as much sulfur as 50 million cars.

In Alaska, which is a stop for many cruise ships, concerns about emissions increased markedly in 2017 and 2018, according to the state's government and an air quality monitoring program is in place in the capital of Juneau.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents more than 95% of the industry, says 68% of its ships have exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), which reduce sulfur and carbon emissions, and 75% of new ships not relying on liquefied natural gas (LNG) will have EGCS installed. The association says 26 of its ships run on LNG and 44% of new ships plan to rely on LNG for propulsion.

On its website, CLIA says the cruise industry is "at the forefront in developing responsible environmental practices and innovative technologies that lead in environmental stewardship" including EGCS and LNG fuel. "Energy efficient design standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2025," the group says.

The construction of the MS Roald Amundsen falls in line with the Center's goals, which include making marine vessels "much cleaner" with fuel cells and batteries, Levin said.

The company says it was inspired to make their ships more environment-friendly after spending more than 125 years sailing Polar waters and witnessing first-hand the rapid melting of glaciers, the reduction of wildlife and the amount of plastic polluting the ocean.

"Our staff have seen with their own eyes that nature has changed," Skjeldam said.

Hurtigruten AS plans to confront the travel industry as a whole and "completely" refurbish its entire fleet to be hybrid-powered or run on LNG or bio-oil, Skjeldam said. The MS Fridtjof Nansen, a sister ship to the MS Roald Amundsen, which will also be hybrid powered, is expected to be delivered from the shipyard by the end of the year, and the company aims to eventually install as many battery packs on its ships that will allow them to sail for longer periods without releasing any emissions at all.

The company has also become the first cruise line to ban single-use plastics in all its ships and hotels, Skjeldam said.

While the company has noble environmental goals, the MS Roald Amundsen, which counts Alaska and the Antarctic among its destinations, features all the on-board amenities and luxuries travelers would expect from a modern cruise ship, including large state rooms, pool, gym, sauna, spa, lounge and bar and three restaurants.

"This is a very, very comfortable ship," Skjeldam said. "Our guests will be outside a lot of the day to experience nature and animal life. It's very, very nice to come back to a comfortable ship and relax between the experiences."

In addition, the vessel features a science center on board, where passengers can learn about the challenges the environment is currently facing and how they can make a positive impact, and takes tourists on unique expeditions that include sampling surrounding waters to see how much plankton or microplastics are in it.

The guests have responded enthusiastically to the adding the science-based ventures into their vacation time, Skjeldam said.

"If you can also change people's minds, when they go back home, they do major change," he said. "People feel good. It's a great way to vacation, and they're active, and they learn."

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baona/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Your car, unfortunately, will not fly a la The Jetsons in the next decade.

It will, however, likely be a crossover SUV that still requires a human driver. That Uber or Lyft ride? Expect an autonomous vehicle to pick you up in certain cities. Keys, like manual transmissions, will fade into oblivion. Gasoline refineries will still be in business but charging stations for electric vehicles will become more prevalent, experts say.

The next 10 years for the automobile could look very similar to the decade we're about to close out -- or radically different, depending on tech innovations, government regulations and new players in the highly competitive industry.

Here's what some longtime experts are predicting for drivers and automakers alike:


Cellphones are expected to supplant the key fob and be able to remotely start a vehicle, lock it and locate its parked location, similar to what can be found now in Lincolns and Hyundais. This technology will go from niche to ubiquitous, according to Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive.

"The industry is on the cusp of incredibly exciting things," he said. "Drivers will have the ability to connect to the car even when they're not near it. The car will be a rolling piece of information."


Electric vehicles will still face challenges in the market but they’ll become more common on the road than they are now.

"They won't be the majority of vehicles sold in the U.S. in 10 years," said Brauer. "Electric vehicles do not make sense in a lot of areas. But we will see viable options for driving a longer distance in these cars."

Brandon Mason, director and U.S. mobility leader at PwC, expects mass adoption of electric vehicles will take place before driverless cars go mainstream. Pure EVs account for 1% of the U.S. market now. That number could rise to 10% in the next decade, he said.

"Automakers are making big bets on EVs," he explained. "There's a significant amount of capital in EVs now. But we won't see an inflection point until the middle of the next decade. Battery packs are still cost-prohibitive."

China and Europe will continue to lead the way in electrification from a regulatory standpoint, according to Mark Wakefield, automotive analyst and managing director at Alix Partners.

Like Mason, Wakefield forecasts EVs to account for 10% of the U.S. auto market by 2030.

"No one is doubting this is the future, but the question is how long" before EVs are widespread, he said.

Hybrids will no longer be "special" but rather the status quo in the coming decade, said Eric Tingwall, print director at Car and Driver magazine.

"Some form of electric propulsion will be in all new vehicles sold," he noted, adding that EVs could make up an even bigger portion of the market -- 20% -- by the end of 2030.

Autonomous vehicles

Self-driving cars could replace taxis and ride-sharing vehicles in urban cities, Brauer said.

Like electric vehicles, high costs are another hurdle for automakers to overcome with autonomous vehicles, Mason pointed out. Vehicles with level four and five autonomy will arrive by 2030 at the earliest, he said.

"There's several hundred thousand dollars of technology in each of these vehicles," he said. "I don't see private ownership of self-driving cars happening for the foreseeable future."

Steering wheels and pedals are not going away in the next decade and young people will still be required to pass driving tests, according to Tingwall. But autonomous systems will be more "capable and confident," he said.

"Change is happening very quickly in the auto industry," he said. The timelines for a lot of this technology, however, are "ambitious," he added.

Newer systems will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road -- but only in certain conditions, like highway driving, he said.

"There will be some type of advanced cruise control," he said. "You can watch YouTube videos and check social media."

Wakefield said he cannot wait for the day when cars will be able to drive themselves to dealers for maintenance or be summoned by owners in a parking lot.

"A car in 2030 will be able to do so many more things for you," he said. "2020 cars will look like relics."

A shrinking industry?

Brauer anticipates smaller, independent marques will be acquired by industry giants. China will likely continue its buying streak, adding to its portfolio of brands.

"Could China own General Motors in 10 years? It's not out of the question," he said.

Consolidation in the automotive market could accelerate, Mason agreed. But the impact on drivers may be modest.

"If the number of nameplates is reduced, it's not necessarily a bad thing for consumers," he said. "There will still be plenty of options for consumers."

He added, "I see a lot of disruption in the industry over the next decade."

Sales slowdown

Tingwall expects new car sales to dip as transaction prices rise.

"Anybody looking for an affordable vehicle will be in a crossover," he said. "We'll see a middle class that doesn't have the purchasing power to buy a new car. The market will shrink for new vehicles."

Subscription services will also gain in popularity as fewer new cars are purchased.

"They'll be like a lease, but for a shorter term," he explained.

Automakers, in an effort to cut costs, will team up to share vehicle platforms and powertrains, partnerships that exist currently between Ford and Volkswagen and Ford and Rivian, Tingwall said. Third parties in Asia will build these platforms, homogenizing the parts under the car's hood. But not all automakers may survive the next decade.

"If there is an economic downturn, the industry will be squeezed," he said. "We will certainly lose a few niche, high-end automakers."

Wakefield forecasts auto sales to stay strong in the coming years, but a downturn in the market "will come."

The market "is cyclical," he explained, noting that sales could drop to 15 million annual units from the recent trend of 17 million units.

"We won't stay at 15 million for years. It will recover," he said.

Crossovers will be the vehicle du jour for drivers in the next decade, further cementing the demise of the sedan.

"CUVs will be dominant and what everyone will be driving," Wakefield said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A viral tweet reveals an Uber business place in Rhode Island had separate bathrooms for employees and drivers, at a time when tensions between the two groups at the ride-share company are already running high.

"I’ve just always wondered why Uber viewed us as two separate classes," Erika Betts, who snapped the photo and shared it on Twitter, told ABC News Thursday.

"These signs are commercially made, somebody made them, somebody ordered them, somebody paid for them," she added.

Betts, 28, said she has been an Uber driver for over two years and was at the Uber Greenlight Hub office in Providence seeking help after finding out via a notification that her account had been deactivated after she says a passenger complained about a surge fare.

"I was waiting to be seen by a representative and I was just noticing the bathroom signs on the door," she said. "It’s always made me a little uncomfortable, I'm not sure what prompted me to tweet about it now."

Even if drivers wanted to use the employee restroom, Betts says it was always locked and "you need a key to get in there."

Uber responded to ABC News' request for comment by pointing to a response to Bett's tweet from Andrew Macdonald, a senior vice president at the company, who said he "looked into this."

"This is not our policy and it's absolutely unacceptable," Macdonald wrote. "The signs are coming down today."

Macdonald added in a follow-up tweet that the "bathroom was also being used for employee storage, but that's not an excuse. I don't believe this is the case anywhere else (and it's certainly not our design policy) but we're doing a full review now."

An Uber spokesperson told ABC News Thursday that the Providence Greenlight Hub was the only location with this signage and that the signs have been taken down.

The signs still sparked outrage on social media, and even caught the eye of a lawmaker.

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted a link to a news story of the separate bathrooms at the Providence office.

"Siri, show me what classicism looks like," she wrote.

In September, California passed a bill that would extend new protections to employees of so-called "gig economy" companies including Lyft and Uber, essentially forcing companies to recognize formerly contract workers as employees.

Uber said at the time that the California bill, which is set to go into effect in January, "does not automatically reclassify any rideshare drivers from independent contractors to employees" and that it will "respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court as necessary."

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DenisTangneyJr/iStock(BOSTON) -- Tufts University announced plans to sever ties with the Sacklers on Thursday, saying it would remove the billionaire family's name from buildings and medical programs due to concerns over their reported role in the opioid crisis.

University officials said the school would end its decades-long relationship with the family that owns OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma, citing concerns from students and staff about "the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day."

"Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others have shared with us the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day, noting the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, are associated," school officials said Thursday. "We are grateful to those who have shared their thoughts with us. It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school's mission."

Daniel Connolly, an attorney for members of the Sackler family, said they're seeking to have the "improper decision reversed."

"Tufts acknowledges their extraordinary decision about removal of the family name from campus is not based on the findings of their report, but rather is based on unproven allegations about the Sackler family and Purdue," Connolly said in a statement Thursday. "We will be seeking to have this improper decision reversed and are currently reviewing all options available to us."

Purdue is currently facing more than 1,000 lawsuits for alleged deceptive marketing and contributing to the current U.S. opioid crisis. Individual members of the Sackler family who were involved in the businesses are being sued in a small fraction of these cases.

The Massachusetts university, which has held a relationship with the family since the 1980s, announced its decision in a letter co-signed by the board of trustees’ chairman, Peter Dolan, and university President Anthony Monaco.

The school acknowledged the family's many contributions, noting that the Sacklers would be "part of this institution forever" and that the university wasn't "seeking to erase this chapter of Tufts' history."

"It is part of this institution forever, and we are committed to appropriately recognizing and contextualizing the involvement of family members over the years," the letter said. "In taking these actions, we will more fully enable our university and medical school to move forward in support of their missions and to help the countless individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis."

The school also announced a $3 million endowment to support to support education, research and programs aimed at addiction treatment prevention.

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Dafinchi/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Chinese tech giant Huawei is not backing down from an ongoing battle with U.S. regulators by taking new legal action on Thursday against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over an order it calls "unlawful."

Huawei filed a court petition to overturn an FCC order from November that bans wireless carriers in rural America from purchasing Huawei equipment through a government subsidy fund known as the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The FCC has previously argued the order was imposed because Huawei poses a potential national security threat.

Huawei fought back, saying in a new statement that the FCC's order is "unlawful on the grounds that it fails to offer Huawei required due process protections in labelling Huawei as a national security threat."

"Banning a company like Huawei, just because we started in China -- this does not solve cyber security challenges,” Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer said at a news conference.

"Huawei also submitted 21 rounds of detailed comments, explaining how the order will harm people and businesses in remote areas," he added. "The FCC ignored them all."

Liuping accused the FCC of shutting down "joint efforts to connect rural communities in the U.S."

Glen Nager, an attorney for Huawei, added that the FCC has "has no national security expertise," and it is not in their authority to label Huawei as a threat.

"The designation is simply shameful prejudgment of the worst kind,” said Nager at the news conference.

The FCC did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Thursday.

Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, wrote in an October blog post announcing the order to block USF funds from being used to purchase Huawei equipment that "we simply can't take a risk" when it comes to national security.

"I’m circulating an order that would prohibit the use of Universal Service Fund dollars to purchase equipment or services from any company -- like Huawei -- that poses a national security threat," Pai said. "Going forward, we simply can’t take a risk when it comes to our networks and hope for the best."

In November, after the order was adopted, Pai said the agency took these actions based on "longstanding concerns from the executive and legislative branches about the national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment manufacturers," he said in a statement.

Pai added that Huawei has "close ties to China’s Communist government and military apparatus" and is "subject to Chinese laws broadly obligating them to cooperate with any request from the country’s intelligence services and to keep those requests secret."

"Moreover, we know that hidden 'backdoors' to our networks in routers, switches, and other network equipment can allow a hostile adversary to inject viruses and other malware, steal Americans’ private data, spy on U.S. companies, and more," Pai wrote.   

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sestovic/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Two Russian nationals have been indicted on bank fraud and international computer hacking charges over an alleged decade-long scheme that “deployed two of the most dangerous financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide," according to the Department of Justice.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, described by prosecutors as leaders of “one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world,” are accused in the 10-count indictment of deploying a malware system designed to steal personal and financial information, including online bank information, from infected computers.

The FBI on Thursday issued a wanted bulletin for both individuals, and the State Department announced a $5 million award for the arrest of Yakubets specifically.

"These two cases demonstrate our commitment to unmasking the perpetrators behind the world's most egregious cyberattacks," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said.

According to an indictment unsealed Thursday, the malware deployed by Yakubets and Turashev infected tens of thousands of computers across North America and Europe, including two banks, a school district, four Pennsylvania companies and a firearm manufacturer.

The indictment said the malware was delivered to victims via "phishing emails," which Yakubets and Turashev would draft to appear as if they were coming from legitimate companies and organizations. Once victims would click on a link in the phishing emails, it would infect the computer and allow hackers to "hijack" a computer session and pull up a prompt requesting the user's bank account information.

Once the hackers were in possession of the bank credentials, they would use "money mules" to funnel the funds into foreign bank accounts. In one case, an employee of a Pennsylvania school district clicked on a graphic in a phishing email sent by Yakubets and Turashev, and the two later attempted to transfer nearly $1 million from the district's bank account to a bank in Ukraine.

The DOJ has connected Yakubets and Turashev to cyberattacks as recently as March of this year, according to the indictment. As a part of its investigation, the U.S. in 2010 transmitted a mutual legal assistance treaty request to Russia, and according to Bowdich, the Russian government was "helpful to a point."

Since that exchange, however, there is believed to have been no further communication between the two countries regarding Yakubets and Turashev.

Speaking to reporters at the Justice Department, Bowdich said the case stresses the need for all Americans to practice "good cyber hygiene," such as regularly updating online passwords, implementing two-factor authentication on sensitive accounts, and heightened awareness and suspicion regarding links sent over email.

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US Postal Service (NEW YORK) -- A new stamp with a cause has sprouted up thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.

The USPS announced Monday that it has issued a semipostal stamp that will help raise funds for people who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The stamp features a photographic illustration of a green plant sprouting from the ground covered in fallen leaves, intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process.

Greg Breeding designed the bright green bud set on a black background with the words "Healing PTSD" and the original art was done by Mark Laita.

"The Postal Service is honored to issue this semipostal stamp as a powerful symbol of the healing process, growth and hope for tens of millions of Americans who experience PTSD," David C. Williams, vice chairman, Board of Governors of USPS, said in a statement.

Williams served as the dedicating official for the new stamp and said that with its issuance "the nation renews its commitment to raise funds to help treat soldiers, veterans, first responders, health care providers and other individuals dealing with this condition."

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Meinzahn/iStock(CHICAGO) -- Oscar Munoz will step down from his role as CEO of United Airlines, the company announced Thursday.

Munoz will be leaving the position in May 2020 but will stay on with the company as executive chairman of the board of directors.

"With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader," Munoz said in a statement.

Scott Kirby, the current president, will take over as the new CEO in the spring, the company said.

"One of my goals as CEO was to put in place a successful leadership transition for United Airlines," Munoz said. "I brought Scott to United three years ago, and I am confident that there is no one in the world better equipped to lead United to even greater heights.

Munoz has been chief of United since September 2015, and led the company as it navigated through a series of high-profile incidents in recent years -- including the viral public relations nightmare in 2017 when video of a bloodied passenger, later identified as Dr. David Dao, being dragged down the aisle of a United jet emerged on social media.

In the wake of the scandal, Munoz appeared on television programs and faced lawmakers to assure the public that the incident will never happen again on his airlines.

Approximately a month after becoming CEO in 2015, Munoz also suffered a heart attack and later underwent a heart transplant.

In a statement Monday, Munoz called his work leading United "the honor of my career."

"It has been the honor of my career to lead the 95,000 dedicated professionals who serve United's customers every day," he said. "I look forward to continuing to work closely with Scott in the months ahead and supporting the company's ongoing success in my new role."

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monkeybusinessimages/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The technology that connects us has revolutionized the world over the past decade -- at times moving faster than we could keep up with, irrevocably changing how people interact and in many ways changing our lives for the better.

But as the decade comes to a close, some say the most significant development in tech was its unintended consequences -- including impinging on privacy and presenting new opportunities for criminals and those who wish to sow political chaos and discord and at times taking a toll on health and relationships.

Robert Scoble, a longtime tech evangelist at Microsoft who currently works as the chief strategy officer at the spatial computing agency Infinite Retina, said that those largely unanticipated consequences have manifested themselves in a variety of ways, like weaponizing a social media platform that had innocuous beginnings for political purposes.

"There are always unintended consequences of technology, I didn't see that the presidential campaigns or Russia would use Facebook, for instance, to advertise to people," Scoble said. "I didn't even think about that, and I don't think most people thought about that."

Another example of this experts cite was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections, the since-dissolved data firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly improperly accessed the personal data of 87 million Facebook users through a third-party quiz app. A whistleblower said the company, which was working with the Trump campaign, used the information to build psychological profiles in an effort to target voters with political ads.

Heading into the election year, some experts are demanding more "social responsibility" from Silicon Valley as the world grapples with the real-life consequences of a new digital world.

The promise and pitfalls of the ‘internet of everything’

Scoble said that the "biggest change over the last decade is how technology has wormed its way into almost every part of our lives."

The past decade brought the promise of an “internet of everything" prognosticated in the 2000s, to full realization.

A 2010 whitepaper from Cisco, a technology conglomerate, called the internet of everything, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT) “the first real evolution of the Internet -- a leap that will lead to revolutionary applications that have the potential to dramatically improve the way people live, learn, work, and entertain themselves."

That year, China fully turned its attention to IoT as one of the nation’s key industries and four years later, tech titans including AT&T, IBM and Intel held a consortium to develop a set of standards.

Since then, everything from smartphones to TVs to more mundane items like barbecue grills and garden sprinklers have become available as internet-connected nodes.

And yet, with many of our devices “always on” – a certain mistrust of technology has emerged amid outrage over data tracking and concerns about eavesdropping on intimate conversations. The FBI just issued a warning about smart TVs saying not only is there the potential that "TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you" via an internet-connected TV, but these that TV also are ports of entry for hackers onto your home network.

The iPhone was still an infant at the start of the decade, and many gadgets such as Amazon's Alexa smart speaker that fill our homes now didn't even exist. Scoble recalls in 2009, he and friends "were just trying to figure out what our iPhones were good for."

Joel Santo Domingo, a longtime technology reporter who is currently the senior staff writer for The Wirecutter's technology guides, said the biggest change since 2009 is that we are "always reachable now" and no matter where you go, a majority of people are glued to their phones.

"For folks in Gen Z, who were raised on it, the internet being everywhere, it's a natural extension of their arm at this point," he said. "It will hurt them if you take it away from them."

New research, however, linked increased screen time among Gen Z-ers, or those born after 1995, with increased feelings of loneliness and depression.

The same researchers at San Diego State University said that teens spent an average of 8-10 hours a day on their devices and that in 2019 and that the percentage of teens with smartphones also exploded over the past decade. In 2019, 95 percent of teens have smartphones, compared to just 23 percent in 2011.

Santo Domingo reiterated that even tech experts at the time couldn't have imagined the force that Facebook has become.

"Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have predicted that a pet project that someone came up with in his Harvard dorm room so we could meet people face-to-face would turn into this behemoth that is in our thoughts 24/7," Santo Domingo told ABC News.

Call for ‘responsibility’

And as technology and social media have changed so radically to become both intrinsic to people's daily lives and incredibly powerful forces of information dissemination, Scoble says the "free for all" mindset Silicon Valley developed during the early part of the decade has to change.

"Ten years ago, nobody would have talked about social responsibility," Scoble said. "If there is anybody in Silicon Valley that doesn't think there is regulation coming for these things, I think that's not a rational thinking pattern."

"Silicon Valley companies built themselves as free-for-alls," he said. "Partly because they didn't want to pay the human to censor or edit content, and partly because they knew that would be very addictive ... Putting content through some sort of editorial process keeps the noise level down."

The argument "ten, fifteen years ago" was that "we don't want to police content," Scoble said. Now, "there is a deeper responsibility because of the sheer scale of these things."

As we enter a new decade, "Silicon Valley has a responsibility to clean up society," Scoble contends.

Some big tech companies have started to make changes after being faced with criticism, although some critics say it is still not enough, including lawmakers who excoriated Mark Zuckerberg at a recent hearing for Facebook’s political ad policy.

In October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new plan to crack down on election interference ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, promising: "Facebook has changed."

"We have a big responsibility to secure our platforms and stay ahead of these sophisticated new threats," Zuckerberg added, claiming that it is "one of my top priorities for the company."

Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter also all pledged their commitment to combat the spread of hate and extremism after its online spread was linked real-life incidents of violence at a Senate committee hearing in September.

Most of the major tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter have also bolstered their security and content moderation teams in recent years and do more to collaborate with each other about threats than they did before.

Apple and other app makers also unveiled new tools to help you spend less time on your phone, or monitor the amount of screen time you spend in each app.


As more people become aware of not only the benefits but also the threats of emerging technologies, Scoble said he has noticed "there's a lot of resistance to new technology now."

One example is the resistance many are putting up to facial recognition technology. In May, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to block the use of facial recognition tech by all police and city agencies.

Santo Domingo said that one of the issues when it comes to regulation is that technology has moved "way too fast for that."

At the same time, over the past decade, a new social contract of sorts has emerged that remains almost impossible to escape: if you participate in most of the online world, your activity and data will most likely be monitored and stored somewhere, by someone.

"It is a fact of life, it is a fact of our digital life now, that everything we do online now is monitored and someone will find a way to capitalize on it," Santo Domingo told ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FILE photo - DeSid/iStock(LONDON) — Have you ever had airline food that was so good that you wished you could get it all the time? Well, now you can.

AirAsia has opened a fast-food restaurant that will -- get this -- only serve airline meals.

The airline and its in-flight menu brand, Santan and T&CO, have partnered to launch what is thought to be the world’s first restaurant based on in-flight meals. The venue opened at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday.

“We have seen a significant appetite for our in-flight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region and this is our answer to that demand,” said Catherine Goh, general manager of Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe. “We are very proud to extend what started out as an in-flight menu into new markets.”

AirAsia is so confident that its unique establishment will be a massive hit that it already has plans for rapid expansion.

“By the end of 2020, we aim to have five owned Santan restaurants and 100 franchisee-operated restaurants and cafes within the next three to five years with expansions in global markets,” said Goh.

Not only will the food be quick and available on land, but it will be cheap. For just 12 Malayasian Ringgits – or $2.88 – you can get pineapple fish noodles from Cambodia, chicken inasal with garlic rice from the Philippines, as well as locally-inspired dishes like the nasi lemak quinoa wrap and onde-onde cake.

“What started as 'AirAsia Cafe,' simply serving sandwiches and snacks in the sky, Santan was born in 2015 with the vision to create a unique dining experience in the sky,” according to Santan’s website. “Today, many of our meals have become household names in Malaysia and beyond … In 2019, our wildest dreams are finally coming true and we're so happy to have a home right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”

The restaurant also plans to enhance the dining experiencing by bringing the establishment into the digital age and offering customers “a personal digital journey.”

“The restaurant and cafe features a smart menu equipped with Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, which is able to recommend popular dishes based on time, past ordering patterns as well as demographic taste,” said Goh.

The question remains whether or not people will end up choosing airline food on the ground over the other options available to consumers.

The CEO and co-founder of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said in a recent interview that the ultimate goal is to open a location in New York's Times Square.

“When I was 5 years old, I had two dreams … a vision of having an airline and a fast food restaurant. I have an airline. Now finally a restaurant,” Fernandes said in a post on his LinkedIn page. “People laughed at us when we only had 2 planes. Hey whatever. It’s a worldwide first. First airline to open a quick service restaurant based on airline food.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- The popular wedding-planning sites Pinterest and The Knot announced they are no longer promoting content for "plantation"-style weddings.

"Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things," a Pinterest spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Wednesday.

"We are grateful to Color of Change for bringing attention to this disrespectful practice," the statement added, referencing a California-based racial justice advocacy organization.

The company said it's "working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them."

Celebrities including Blake Lively have tied the knot at "plantation" venues, which are popular in the South. The wedding trend has been widely slammed for romanticizing the horrific history of slavery in the U.S.

"The wedding industry, in the past couple of decades, has made millions of dollars in profit by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry," Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, interim senior campaign director at Color of Change, told ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Unfortunately, this denies the actual reality."

She went on to say that "plantations were spaces where black people were harmed, raped, beaten and forced to work. They're not romantic places to get married."

Ogunnaike said that oftentimes, the plantations are marketed in a way that glosses over the plantations' dark past, describing them as historic sites, for example.

"We asked ourselves, 'What is some of the language that people are using to describe these plantation venues? ... Some of it might be this plantation is a historic site with a traditional charm and romance of its rich past or an enchanting place that [ends up being] a historic plantation," she told "Start Here." "They might know certain buildings were built in the...1700s by large, land-owning families without also naming that these families also owned human beings."

Beacause of these marketing tactics, Pinterest told ABC News it will limit the distribution of "plantation weddings" content by changing its site's autocomplete, search recommendations, email notifications and SEO. If people search for this content, an advisory will indicate that some results may violate its policies.

Moreover, Pinterest said it won't accept ads for these venues and has taken action so that ads won't appear in search results.

The Knot Worldwide told ABC News in a statement that it's also working with Color of Change to update its guidelines.

"Color of Change brought an issue to light about the way venues with a history of slavery describe their properties to couples," the company said. "We're currently working with Color of Change to create additions to our current content guidelines that will ensure all couples feel welcomed and respected on our sites."

The new guidelines "will prohibit any vendors on The Knot or WeddingWire from using language that romanticizes or glorifies a history that includes slavery," the company's statement said. "We will remove any vendors from our sites that do not comply. By creating these guidelines, we are providing a respectful experience for all couples, wedding professionals, and employees."

Although the ideal outcome would be that no one marries on plantations, Ogunnaike said their focus is really on keeping the advertising honest.

"What we're focusing on is the plantation should not be able to advertise their rich history and tradition, which involved the enslavement of black people, as a marketing tool," she said. "If we were also honest about the fact that [the original owners] also purchased human beings and that...hundreds...or thousands of slaves were beaten and hurt and raped, would people want to still get married in that space? That is what we're able to change; the guidelines in a way that these are being descriptive in popular culture."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Stefonlinton/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With a shortened shopping window before Christmas, retailers are feeling the pressure to deliver on speedy shipping.

The shipping industry has six fewer days than normal between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get what could be more than 2 million packages delivered on time.

E-commerce sales are expected to reach $155 billion this holiday season which will add to the challenge of fulfilling shipments.

"We haven't seen this short of a holiday season since 2013, when e-commerce sales at that time was probably less than half of what what they are today," Cathy Roberson, president of Logistics Trends & Insights, explained to ABC News.

But major shippers said they have been preparing for this all year long.

FedEx said it has worked closely with major retailers to forecast surges in shipments while UPS has expanded its footprint with six new hubs to rapidly sort packages.

Amazon has also staffed up their fulfillment centers with over 300,000 full and part time associates to handle the holiday chaos.

The U.S. Postal Service said that it expects to deliver 800 million packages this holiday season with 28 million per day the week prior to Christmas.

To bolster their efforts the USPS said they have added seasonal staff as well as enhanced technology to help get the job done.

"Customers that are shopping either online or in stores for that matter, should probably do it as soon as possible," Roberson urged in order to ensure people get packages on time.
Key Dates and Cutoffs for Ground Delivery

If you want that present to be under the tree in time by way of ground delivery, here are the last days to send shipments with major carriers.

UPS: December 13
USPS: December 14
FedEx: December 16

Beyond that, prepare for the possibility of expedited shipping fees.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


jahcottontail143/iStock(New York) -- A police department in New York announced a new partnership with Amazon's Ring doorbell to help combat porch pirates just in time for the holidays.

The announcement comes at a time, however, when the smart doorbell has faced intense scrutiny from lawmakers over privacy concerns.

The Nassau County Police Department on Long Island announced the initiative on Wednesday, saying the agency is working with the Ring Neighbors App to help catch package thieves with the help of video footage from neighborhood smart doorbells.

Porch pirates and vehicle break-ins are currently the "the No. 1 crime spree in Nassau County," Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference.

"Most of these crimes get solved because of the information that we receive after a canvas from a doorbell ring, now it will be much more faster," Ryder said.

The partnership works by letting Ring doorbell owners share video from their cameras with law enforcement instantly if they were notified of a crime in their area.

Ring will notify users that "last night at this date, this time, there was a crime in your area, law enforcement is asking for your assistance," Ryder said, adding that the user will then be asked, "Would you like to share that video with law enforcement?"

The Ring doorbell owner can then decide whether to share their video footage or not, according to Ryder.

The announcement comes just weeks after Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., released an investigation into Ring's partnership with police departments and slammed the policies as an "open door for privacy and civil liberty violations."

"If you’re an adult walking your dog or a child playing on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t have to worry that Ring’s products are amassing footage of you and that law enforcement may hold that footage indefinitely or share that footage with any third parties," Markey said. His investigation also found that there are no restrictions on law enforcement sharing footage with third parties.

Ryder stressed Wednesday that privacy is a priority, emphasizing: "We do not have access to your cameras."

"At no time will the privacy of your information be given or shared with anybody," he said.

Ryder added that police will not be able to access any of the footage themselves, instead the customer can choose to share video after a crime has been committed.

If the video has no value to law enforcement, "We'll destroy it right away, we won't keep it," he added.  

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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