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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Join Uber


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will join a fellow former member of the Obama administration in the coming months as he takes on a voluntary role at Uber.

According to a post to the Uber website, Gates will join the ride-sharing company as chairman of Uber Military, a new program aimed at hiring service members, veterans and family of military members. "Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging, but at Uber we understand that veterans are some of our nation's most talented and skilled leaders," the post says.

"Over the next 18 months," the post reads, "we will on-board 50,000 members of the military community to the Uber platform."

The post quotes Gates as saying he is, "proud to be a part of this unprecedented effort by a single company to ensure that tens of thousands of our nation's military members, veterans and spouses have access to a unique entrepreneurial opportunity."

Earlier this summer, former Obama Adviser David Plouffe announced that he would join Uber as senior vice president of policy and strategy.

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Federal Reserve: Interest Rates to Remain at Record Lows


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates near zero again -- at least until the economy gathers more steam.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday the continued sluggish job market is the reason the nation’s central bank won't raise interest rates this month.

"Still too many people who want jobs, but cannot find them. Too many who are working part-time, but would prefer full-time work," she said.

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE ]

The Fed has kept lending rates to banks near zero since the Great Recession began.

It also plans to continue shrinking the number of assets it buys to prop up the economy, hoping the low rates alone help put more people back to work.

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Wall Street Gains on Positive Economic Reports


JaysonPhotography/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of positive economic reports boosted Wall Street to another day of gains on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 24.95 to a 17156.92 finish.

The Nasdaq jumped 9.43 to 4562.19, while the S&P 500 closed back above 2000, gaining 2.59 to a close of 2001.57.

The Federal Reserve announced in a statement on Wednesday that its stimulus program will end next month, as planned, and short term interest rates will increase sometime next year.

In a separate report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that consumer prices dropped by 0.2 percent in August, the first drop in 16 months.

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Yelp, TinyCo Settle with FTC over Child Privacy Violation Accusations


evergreenpics/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of companies settled charges filed by the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday after being accused of collecting personal data on children under the age of 13.

Online review company Yelp and mobile app developer TinyCo each settled separate charges that they collected children's information in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. "As people -- especially children -- move more of their lives onto mobile devices, it's important that they have the same consumer protections when they're using an app that they have when they're on a website," Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. 

"Companies should take steps as they build and test their apps to make sure that children's information won't be collected without a parent's consent," Rich added.

Between 2009 and 2013, Yelp allegedly collected personal information including names, e-mail addresses and locations of its users, including those who registered with a date of birth that showed they were under 13 years old. Yelp, the FTC says, failed to utilize a functional age screen in its apps. The company settled on Wednesday, agreeing to a $450,000 civil penalty and a promise that they will delete all information collected from users who were under the age of 13 when they registered with Yelp.

TinyCo similarly collected e-mail addresses from users, including those under the age of 13, in some cases in exchange for in-game currency. TinyCo will pay a $300,000 civil penalty, delete all information from users under the age of 13, and submit a compliance report detailing its adherence to COPPA in one year.

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Storage Problems Plague Users on First Day of Apple iOS 8 Release


Apple(NEW YORK) -- Apple's new iOS 8 was released Wednesday, but users are already hitting a snag when it comes to freeing up storage space.

While the operating system refresh takes up around 1 GB of space, it requires at least a whopping 5 GB be free on your device in order to complete the download over the air -- something many users simply don't have.

The operating system makeover is being hailed as Apple's biggest ever because it comes with a slew of new updates to popular apps, including messages, photos and the keyboard.

If you don't want to delete your apps or get rid of your photos, there is another way to get the iOS update.

Connect your device to your computer and make sure you're running the latest version of iTunes. (You can check this by going to the iTunes help menu and clicking "check for updates.")

Once you're connected, it's time to update. If you're not prompted on your device, go to settings, general and software update to begin the download.

As the new iOS downloads, go watch a movie or sit down for a lavish meal as it may take a while.

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Nike Boots Adrian Peterson as Vikings Admit 'Mistake'


Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nike suspended its endorsement contract with Minnesota Viking's star running back Adrian Peterson Wednesday as the Vikings' leadership admitted they made a "mistake" when they said that Peterson could return to the team this week.

The team put Peterson on an exemption waiver Wednesday, making him ineligible to play, until child abuse charges against him for using a switch on his 4-year-old son are resolved. Peterson has said he is sorry for the "hurt" he inflicted on his son, but has insisted he is not a child abuser.

Nike’s decision to drop the 29-year-old star running back came a week after the popular sports brand said they were concerned and monitoring Peterson's legal situation closely. The company officially suspended their working relationship Wednesday.

“Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL,” Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in a statement.

Vikings team owner Mark Wilf said Wednesday that Peterson will be on an exemption list until his legal proceedings have come to a close, though they will continue to pay his $11.75 million salary during that time.

Wilf would not go into why team executives benched Peterson for one game, then decided to let him play this coming Sunday, and then changed their minds and won approval to put Peterson on an exemption list.

"We made a mistake," Wilf said at a news conference Wednesday when asked why Peterson was green lighted to play and then put on the exemption list. "The main thing is getting it right. That’s how we came to this decision."

He said, however, that it was “absolutely not” done out of fear of fleeing sponsors. Several major sponsors have expressed their unhappiness with the flurry of domestic abuse accusations against NFL players including Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.

“I spent time with Adrian yesterday…we came up with what we thought was the best resolution for everybody,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said at the conference. “He felt it was best for him to be able to step away to take care of his personal and legal matters.”

Rice, a Baltimore Ravens star running back, is under investigation for allegedly punching his wife unconscious in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino. He has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Hardy, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, was seen walking out of the team's stadium Wednesday as the team's coach confirmed that he will not be practicing Wednesday. Coach Ron Rivera did not give any details about what decision was made, but it comes as Hardy is under investigation for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in June.

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Consumer Prices Drop 0.2% in August


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Consumer prices dipped 0.2 percent last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, marking the first drop since April 2013.

Gas, airline tickets and clothing were cheaper in August, and most other core prices remained unchanged. But the same can't be said for some foods.

"We saw more than a 4 percent drop during the month of August in the prices at the pump. We needed those declines, because we did have increases at the grocery store," Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk said.

Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs were up, she said, but "if you are a vegan you did ok, because fruit prices and non-alcoholic beverages fell."

Over the last 12 months, the government says consumer prices have increased 1.7 percent. That inflation rate is slightly lower than what the Federal Reserve would like to see for a healthy economy.

"This is something that is more disturbing to the Fed. The Federal Reserve would like to see a little hotter economy with more job gains rather than an economy that's cool to the touch," Swonk said.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak later Wednesday as the Federal Reserve wraps up a two-day meeting.

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Apple Guide Advises Android Users on How to Make the Switch to an iPhone


Apple(NEW YORK) -- When the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are released on Friday, Apple is betting that some Android users will be enticed to make the switch.

Apple has released a thorough guide advising Android users on how to move everything from photos, music and documents, off of their Android devices and onto an iPhone.

In order to make the process seamless, the guide advises users on various data copying apps to use, such as Copy My Data and PhotoSync, to make sure everything from their Android device is easily moved to their new iPhone.

Apple's App Store also includes many apps that may already be familiar to Android users. The guide advises users to search for app they're already using, install them and simply sign in with their existing user name and password.

Check out the guide here.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the devices the "biggest advancement in the history of iPhones" and the "best iPhones" Apple has ever produced, and many technology reviewers have given the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus high marks.

One reason why this particular release is so hot is the larger screen size.

The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally, giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market and runs on Android, some competition.

While it's unclear just how many Android users plan to make the switch, Apple reported that a record 4 million pre-orders were placed for the new phones on the first day. Many carriers are reporting demand so high that the devices are on back-order until October.

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Amazon Faces Alibaba and Retail Threat


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Amazon is facing a growing challenge on several fronts.

E-commerce giant Alibaba, often called the Amazon of China, is not only going public but may expand into the U.S. and Europe using the cash raised by its IPO.

“We hope to become a truly global company,” says Alibaba CEO Jack Ma.

His company could raise more than $20 billion from its offering later this week, which would be the largest-ever IPO.

Last year, Alibaba reported almost $250 billion in sales -- that's more than what both Amazon and eBay made during the same time period.

The Chinese firm’s executives have been meeting this week with American, Asian and European investors. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange as BABA.

Amazon is also facing a fast delivery challenge from several big retailers. Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Foot Locker have announced plans to test same-day delivery for online orders. And more announcements could be coming soon.

“The inventory that they have is already sitting in stores which lie about 5 miles from 90 percent of the population,” says Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv, which picks up orders from local stores and delivers them within hours.

Retailers are using their stores to fight back against their biggest online competitor.

“Amazon clearly is a leader in e-commerce,” says Carmeli. “They’ve really set the bar for customer experience and in everything they do, that bar gets higher and higher.”

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New Social Network Netropolitan Launches, Costs $9K to Join


Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Netropolitan bills itself as an "online country club for people with more money than time." The new social network costs $9,000 to join and launched on Tuesday.

Online, people are calling it Facebook for the 1 percent.

Last month, founder James Touchi-Peters told ABC News he decided to create the social network when he was looking for people who shared his expensive interests.

"I had to come to the conclusion that my life is different from most other people," he said. "Probably a lot of people, I think."

No word on whether anyone has signed up yet.

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Renewed Spotlight on Why the NFL Is a Nonprofit Group


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Attention over the National Football League's domestic abuse policy and the league's leadership has drawn renewed scrutiny of a fact that may surprise many people: the NFL is a nonprofit group.

The National Basketball Association has always been a for-profit business, and Major League Baseball gave up its nonprofit status back in 2007. So the NFL should no longer be nonprofit, some sports fans fume. This week, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called for increasing funding for domestic violence prevention by $100 million over 10 years by taxing the dues professional sports leagues pay to support leagues' front offices.

The NFL league office has been a tax-exempt 501(c)6 trade association since the 1940s. The Professional Golfers Association and National Hockey League are also nonprofit trade organizations, though neither comes close to the wealth of the NFL.

That doesn't mean the individual NFL teams aren't making money or paying taxes for their $10 billion in annual revenue. The NFL's 32 clubs pay taxes on all revenues on tickets, television rights and jersey sales.

Though the potential taxes owed if these sports leagues were classified as a for-profit entity are estimated at a modest $10 million, the fact that the NFL league office is tax exempt at all is rubbing some people the wrong way anew because of the recent scandals, including the controversial player concussion issue.

The NFL contends that the league office is an administrative office that writes the rules of the game, hires referees, negotiates collective bargaining agreements and more.

A spokesman for the NFL offered to ABC News as comment an op-ed by Jeremy Spector, the NFL's outside tax counsel and partner with Covington and Burling LLP.

"The league office acts as a trade association for the NFL clubs," Spector wrote in November. "It establishes rules and standard practices for its members, develops programs to help them run their operations more efficiently and profitably, and promotes the business in the broader community. Trade associations are nonprofit organizations. They don’t engage in any business activity. As a result, they are exempt from being taxed under section 501(c)(6) of the federal tax code."

Spector wrote an op-ed for the Nov. 29, 2013, issue of U.S. News and World Report in response to questions about the league's nonprofit status. That's when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., introduced the "PRO Sports Act" to repeal tax-exempt status for certain professional sports leagues after 2013. While Coburn has said he still wants to move this bill forward, the bill has not moved out of committee.

The league's Form 990 filed with the IRS for 2012, the most recent document available, shows the NFL lost more than $304 million in 2012. But that doesn't mean the NFL is underwater and it's not making a ton of money in royalties and licensing. The NFL commissioner since 2006, Roger Goodell, earned $44.1 million in 2012, according to the Form 990. The highest paid player in 2012, according to Forbes, Drew Brees, earned $44.4 million on the field that year and $5 million off the field in endorsements and other deals.

Goodell made a total of $85 million from 2010-2012, the last three years for which information is available. Though the other major sports leagues don't publish executive pay, Goodell is widely thought to be the highest-paid sports commissioner, according to industry experts.

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What You Need to Know About Apple iOS8 Release


Apple(NEW YORK) -- Months after Apple first teased iOS 8, the software refresh is being released to iPhone and iPad users on Wednesday.

Apple's iOS 8 is being hailed as the biggest operating system release ever because it comes with updates to popular apps, such as messages, photos and the keyboard.

While Apple's new gadgets sucked up much of the attention last week, the company also revealed it would release the shiny new iOS update on Wednesday. The update was first unveiled at the Worldwide Developer's Conference in June.

The operating system update will come on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, which will be released to the public on Friday. However, if you're not planning on upgrading to a new iPhone just yet, here's what you need to know about how to get iOS 8 on your iPad and current iPhone:

Eligible Devices

The iOS 8 is only compatible with the iPhone 4S and later models. It will also work on the iPad 2 and later models and the iPod Touch 5th generation.

How to Update

First, make sure you've recently completed a backup to iTunes or your iCloud. You'll also want to make sure you have at least 1 GB free. In order to delete items you don't need, go to settings and usage.

Once you're satisfied that your information is secure and you have plenty of space, it's time to get moving. Plug in your device and turn on WiFi. Next, go to settings and choose software update to begin the download.

Once it's complete, restart your iPhone and you should be good to go with a brand new iOS.

What to Expect from iOS 8

Apple's new Health app will "talk" to your other fitness apps and will serve as a one-stop shop for all of your health and fitness data, providing metrics on one screen.

The Family Sharing app will allow up to six people in a household to share each other's iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases. It will also allow families to keep up with each others' photos, calendars and locations.

A "smart keyboard" that can suggest "contextually appropriate words" to complete your messages will be rolled out, along with the ability to seamlessly send video and audio iMessages, among other updates.

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Facebook Says 17 Million Ice Bucket Challenge Videos Shared This Summer


mactrunk/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook confirmed what we all knew on Tuesday, that the Ice Bucket Challenge was ubiquitous this summer, with millions of Internet users posting videos of themselves as they got soaked in the name of charity.

According to the social networking site, between June 1 and September 1, more than 17 million videos related to the challenge were shared. Those figures include celebrities such as Bill Gates, Will Smith, and Taylor Swift, and millions of others.

Facebook says those videos were viewed by over 440 million people and received a total of 10 billion views.

The ALS Association, the organization for which the Ice Bucket Challenge aimed to raise money, said late last month that the efforts had raised $100.9 million in donations just between July 29 and August 29. During that timeframe in 2013, the charity brought in $2.8 million.

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UPS to Hire Nearly 100,000 Temporary Employees for Holiday Season


Viktor Lugovskoy/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- UPS announced on Tuesday that it will higher nearly 100,000 seasonal employees to help handle the seasonal surge in shipping from October through January.

"We have initial volume forecasts from our customers and are starting the hiring process for our temporary peak season jobs," Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations John McDevitt said. In total, the company anticipates hiring 90,000 to 95,000 individuals for seasonal positions.

A company statement notes that, "seasonal positions as package sorters, loaders, delivery helpers and drivers have long been an entry point for permanent employment, training and career opportunity after the company re-assesses its needs following the holiday period."

The company will only accept online applications, and direct prospective employees to their website, UPSjobs.com.

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Wall Street Posts Gains as Federal Reserve Considers Raising Interest Rates


tarabird/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street got back on track Tuesday with all three major indices posting gains as Federal Reserve policymakers consider raising interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a gain of 100.83, finishing the day at 17131.97.

The Nasdaq climbed 33.86 to 4552.76, while the S&P 500 closed at 1998.98, jumping 14.85.

Policymakers began two days of meetings on Tuesday, with raising interest rates as a possible course of action.

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