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  • 11/17/16--08:17: Black Friday Discount Report

  • Black Friday shopping is often chaotic, but for anyone tired of store-hopping to find the best deal, a new report has dubbed the best places to shop for savings.

    The report from personal finance website WalletHub surveyed 8,000 Black Friday store deals from 35 of the biggest U.S. retailers. WalletHub then identified the stores offering the biggest discounts in various categories, including appliances, jewelry and toys.

    Macy's topped the list with the highest overall discount rate at 63.35 percent. 

    Other department store giants Kohl's and Sears, took sixth and tenth place, respectively.

    Wallethub also warned against Black-Friday "traps" -- customers should aim for a 39 percent discount or higher when shopping Black Friday deals.

    1. Macy's — 63.4%
    2. Stage — 62.8%
    3. JCPenney — 62.8%
    4. Harbor Freight — 62.6%
    5. Gordmans — 61.6%
    6. Kohl's — 58.1%
    7. Shopko — 55.6%
    8. Fred Meyer — 49.7%
    9. Craft Warehouse — 45.0%
    10. Sears — 43.9%
    11. CVS Pharmacy — 43.9%
    12. Office Depot and OfficeMax — 43.0%
    13. Toys R Us — 40.5%
    14. Hhgregg — 37.3%
    15. Dollar General — 36.9%
    16. Dell Home — 35.7%
    17. GameStop — 34.9%
    18. Meijer — 33.8%
    19. Best Buy — 33.2%
    20. Staples — 33.1%
    21. Wal-Mart — 32.6%
    22. BJ's — 32.0%
    23. True Value — 31.9%
    24. Modell's — 29.8%
    25. Microsoft — 29.3%
    26. AAFES — 29.1%
    27. Kmart — 28.6%
    28. Target — 28.6%
    29. HP — 28.5%
    30. Sam's Club — 28.3%
    31. Ace Hardware — 27.7%
    32. Verizon — 27.5%
    33. Costco — 25.4%
    34. Amazon — 24.7%
    35. Big Lots — 23.5%

    Photo Credit: Getty Images, file

    A 2004 file photo of Black Friday shopping at Macy's in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)A 2004 file photo of Black Friday shopping at Macy's in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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    The road home for Thanksgiving will be more crowded this year with about 49 million Americans predicted to drive and fly for the holidays, according to figures from the AAA.

    Photo Credit: NBC News

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    Should you shop on Thanksgiving Day? NBC News takes a look at which retailers are getting a jump on holiday sales and which will stay closed for 2016.

    Photo Credit: NBC News

    Should you shop on Thanksgiving or not? NBC News take a look at which retailers are getting a jump on holiday sales and which will stay closed.Should you shop on Thanksgiving or not? NBC News take a look at which retailers are getting a jump on holiday sales and which will stay closed.

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    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday he submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday night.

    Clapper was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. He has served in the role since August 2010.

    He said submitting the letter "felt pretty good" and that he has 54 days left to serve.

    A representative for Clapper's office told NBC News that he "signed his letter as required by all appointed Administration officials but is finishing out his term."

    Clapper has said in interviews with NBC News over the last year that he was counting down the days to stepping down at the end of President Obama's final term in office. He started as a young intelligence office reporting to his father in Vietnam, NBC News reported.

    NBC has reached out to the White House for comment.

    Photo Credit: AP/File Photo

    James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.

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    Authorities charged two men with murder in the case of a missing Hofstra graduate from Stamford, Connecticut, who was stabbed 15 times in the chest in a luxury Manhattan apartment and then buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey. 

    James Rackover and Lawrence Dilione both face charges of second-degree murder, concealment of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Dilione was also charged with hindering prosecution. 

    Police said 26-year-old Joey Comunale appears to have been stabbed to death in some sort of dispute after he, two other men and three women returned from a nightclub on 14th Street late Saturday or early Sunday. 

    One official said that Comunale was stabbed sometime after the three women left the luxury apartment building. Police aren't sure how the body was removed from the apartment, but believe it was ultimately transported to the shallow grave in Monmouth County and partially burned. 

    NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, at a news conference Thursday, confirmed that Comunale was stabbed 15 times in the chest.

    Chopper 4 showed an extensive law enforcement presence at the scene where Comunale's body was found — a wooded area behind an old police department that had to relocate due to Sandy devastation. NYPD vehicles were spotted in addition to local law enforcement. 

    Police had said there were signs of foul play in the disappearance of Comunale, who was last seen on surveillance video entering the Grand Sutton building near the corner of East 59th Street and First Avenue Sunday morning.

    Stamford police said on Wednesday that the man had gone to New York City with friends on Saturday night and separated from them at some point. Police in Connecticut have not yet contacted the friends, but are aiding the NYPD in its investigation.

    He was reported missing by his father.

    Crime scene investigators were later seen carrying out bags of evidence from the apartment building. Law enforcement sources said they found bloody clothing and bloody sheets, along with a luggage cart that had evidence of blood on it. Boyce described the blood spatter in the apartment as "quite noticeable."

    Comunale's family was asked to come to New Jersey to make an identification. 

    "He was one of a kind," Comunale's stunned father, Pat, told reporters from his Connecticut home Wednesday. "We're just in denial. This is not something that happens to kids like this. I don't know if it was pre-meditated. I don't know how it happened." 

    Comunale graduated from Hofstra University and was an avid hockey player.

    "He was that kid, life of the party, never did anything wrong. Good-hearted kid," said friend Devin Edwards. "A lot of people, a lot of friends loved him very much." 

    "He didn't deserve this," Pat Comunale said. "He didn't go looking for trouble. It wasn't right. This is not right." 

    Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY

    James Rackover was arrested Thursday in the killing of 26-year-old Joey ComunaleJames Rackover was arrested Thursday in the killing of 26-year-old Joey Comunale

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    Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    After announcing New York City as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, de Blasio stopped by Trump Tower to speak with the president-elect. “I was glad that the mayor came here -- obviously mayor of the nation’s largest city and a neighbor to the new president-elect,” Kellyanne Conway said. “So it was good that that happened.”After announcing New York City as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, de Blasio stopped by Trump Tower to speak with the president-elect. “I was glad that the mayor came here -- obviously mayor of the nation’s largest city and a neighbor to the new president-elect,” Kellyanne Conway said. “So it was good that that happened.”

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    A spokesman for a pro-Donald Trump super PAC cited World War II internment camps as "precedent" for a Muslim registry proposed the president-elect’s transition team during an interview Wednesday night on Fox News — comments that elected officials and community leaders are widely condemning.

    "I know the ACLU is going to challenge it, but I think it will pass. We've done it with Iran back a while ago. We did it during World War II with Japanese," Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and Trump supporter, told host Megyn Kelly.

    "You're not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope," Kelly responded. "You can't be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the President-elect is going to do."

    Higbie pushed back, arguing the president needs to "protect America first and if that means having people that are not protected under our constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand...until we can identify the true threat and where it's coming from, I support it."

    In a statement Wednesday morning, Democratic National Committee National Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach criticized a "Muslim registry" as a "shameful and dangerous start" to Trump's presidency.

    Photo Credit: NBC News
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    Carl Higbie talks to host Megyn Kelly during an interview on Carl Higbie talks to host Megyn Kelly during an interview on "The Kelly File."

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    President-elect Donald Trump will soon become the leader of the United States, but that won't persuade businessman Zhong Jiye to give up the brand name on his Trump Toilet products, NBC News reports.

    "We registered our company in 2002 and obtained approval from the trademark office in Beijing," said Zhong, referring to Shenzhen Trump Industrial Company Limited, which mostly manufactures high-tech toilet seats. 

    "If Mr. Trump thinks our trademark violates his rights and interests, he can use legal methods because our company observes China's laws," CEO Zhong told NBC News, adding that he is prepared to defend his company's legal rights to the Trump brand name.

    Trump Toilet's Zhong contends his company's rights cannot be subject to dispute because he made his application "without knowing the existence of the person Trump, it was coincidental." 

    In Chinese, the company name means "innovate universally." 

    Photo Credit: Trump Toilet Co. Ltd

    Trump Toilet products on display.Trump Toilet products on display.

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    A man who appeared in a video and said he didn't regret using a pick ax and sledgehammer to destroy Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was charged, prosecutors said Thursday.

    James Lambert Otis, 52, of Los Angeles, faces one felony count of vandalism, causing over $400 in damages, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

    Otis is accused of smashing the star on Oct. 26, then allegedly removing a brass medallion from the middle of the star, prosecutors said. He appeared in a Deadline Hollywood video dressed as a construction worker in work boots, a safety vest and helmet smashing the Trump star.

    Otis, an heir to the Otis Elevator Company fortune, surrendered to police the next morning.

    Otis said his intent was to remove the star and auction it off to raise money for the women who accused Trump of sexually assaulting them.

    Otis told City News Service he had no immediate comment on the DA's
    decision to bring a felony charge against him.

    But previously, he told NBC4 that it was an act of civil disobedience and freedom of expression.

    "I did it, and I'm very happy I did it, and I'm proud that I did it." he told NBC4 at the time.

    Trump, now the president-elect, has vehemently denied accusations of mistreating women.

    Trump's Walk of Fame star has been targeted previously, with vandals painting on it earlier this year, and a street artist erecting a small wall around it this summer, mocking Trump's pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The Republican presidential candidate and former "Apprentice" host received the star in January 2007 for his role on the NBC show. The star is in the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard, a prominent location on the Walk of Fame not far from the Hollywood and Highland Center.

    Crews continue to fix the star. But no date has been set for its completion, said Ana Martinez with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

    James Otis, the man who was seen in a video smashing Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, said he's James Otis, the man who was seen in a video smashing Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, said he's "proud" and "happy" that he did it and is ready to accept his punishment. (Published Oct. 27, 2016)

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    Developers at Jigsaw, Google's think-tank, are two months into a pilot project called Redirect, which aims to push web users searching for jihadist information toward content designed to counter the slick tools of terrorist recruitment, NBC News reported.

    "There are people interested in ISIS' message on one side and there are videos that undermine ISIS' message on the other hand," said Yasmin Green, head of research and development at Jigsaw. "We are using targeted advertising to marry the two."

    In traditional targeted advertising, a new mother searching for information on Google about getting a baby to sleep might start seeing ads for blankets and white-noise machines in their feeds.

    Through Redirect, someone searching for details about life as an ISIS fighter might be offered links to independently produced videos that detail hardships and dangers instead of the stirring Madison Avenue-style propaganda the terror group puts online.

    Photo Credit: AP

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    Simon Berry just wanted a cookie, his tea and a little thrill. The 24-year-old combines the three in a record-breaking bungee dunk for 240 feet with a perfect aim for Guinness World Records Day.

    Photo Credit: NBC

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    Last Thanksgiving, "Saturday Night Live" parodied every stereotype in the book at a family holiday meal — the racist aunt, the transphobic grandfather, the progressive daughter disgusted by her relatives. Just as the characters launch into political arguments, a little girl rushes to the stereo to play Adele's "Hello." Everyone remembers their shared love of the British soul singer, and Thanksgiving dinner is saved.

    While political tensions surged in the primaries, they’ve exploded since last November. The United States drilled even deeper into differences during an incendiary and scandalous general election. After all the heated debate, even Adele might not save some family and friends now. 

    “We’re beyond unification,” says former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh.

    He made headlines in October after posting a tweet claiming “if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket.” Now, he says “the revolution’s going to continue” as “Americans give a large middle finger to the government.” 

    The former Republican congressman has lived in another kind of divided house at home. While his family isn't very political, his friends are and range in ideological bent. Some are liberals, and many were never Trumpers during the campaign. Though most of them were able to talk politics while sipping a beer, “There were very few people where it got to the point where we couldn’t even discuss this race,” Walsh said. 

    He's not alone in thinking it was a "tough year" for friends and families. 

    "There were some hurt feelings that we wouldn't accept each other's viewpoints," Bill Seavey, whose perspective on the election differed from his wife's, told The Associated Press. "We're civil people, love each other and we agreed to disagree. But I'm glad the election is over."

    Political divides have harmed personal relationships “that come Thanksgiving (are) going to be difficult to repair,” according to Charity Hagains, senior therapist at Noyau Wellness Center in Dallas, Texas.

    “I always recommend people to never talk about politics,” Hagains said.

    Texas has long been a Republican stronghold, but in 2016 it was more of a battleground than in the past. In relationships where couples may not share the same political beliefs, Hagains said she saw patients adopting the personas of both candidates and having "all-out battles if they (didn’t) keep themselves in check.” Some of her clients also experienced surges in post traumatic stress disorder symptoms from sexual assault and abuse because of Trump’s comments on women. 

    Indeed, the 2016 presidential election’s effect on mental health in the U.S. was undeniable, according to data taken from the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America Survey.

    “Fifty-two percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress,” the APA released in a statement.

    While millennials and older voters seemed especially concerned about the election results, Lynn Bufka, the APA’s associate executive director of practice research and policy, said that a moderate faction of Americans would just be “happy that the campaign is over and hopeful that the negative rhetoric and hateful communications will be done.”

    The APA reported that there was a correlation between social media use and stress during the elections: 38 percent of respondents said that political posts online bothered them, and social media users were more likely to feel significant stress because of the elections than those who abstained from Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.

    High-profile tweets like Walsh’s got people’s attention, but average Americans also weighed in with ideas that countered those of former high school classmates and friends from back home, provoking combative replies.

    “We certainly see that there appears to be less filter that goes on, that people will say things online that they would be much less likely to say to someone else’s face,” Bufka said. 

    Hagains said that during the elections families threw most of their punches over the internet. Generational gaps led to comment wars, where passive aggressive posts created tensions among loved ones.

    “People are usually reading these messages through the worst possible lens,” Hagains said. She joked that life was easier during past elections because she didn’t have to worry about her grandparents following her social media presence.

    Facebook was founded in 2004, Twitter in 2006. Both were well established during the last two elections, but Hagains said she didn’t think politically driven social media was “as prevalent as it is now.” In 2015, the election was the most discussed topic worldwide on Facebook. Between January to Oct. 1, 2016, 5.3 billion likes, posts, comments, and shares from American users on the platform related to the presidential election.

    Over the internet, loosened inhibitions and miscommunications make discord common. 

    “I think it’s a lot harder to respectfully disagree, particularly when emotions are very high, and it seems that the rhetoric and the points of view have been pretty polarizing,” Bufka said. “In those situations it’s a lot harder to try to find the commonalities and the middleground. Which means that for families where there are differences, or communities where there are differences, the hurt is likely to be greater and the need for healing and figuring out how to re-engage and find the commonalities will be more challenging."

    Bufka added, "It’s certainly doable, and it’s important to do that, but it is going to be more difficult.”

    Hagains said that people can ease the transition by using "I feel" sentence structures, sharing their thoughts as opinions instead of fact. She also recommended that if people choose to talk politics, they should try to make conversations about policy instead of diverging into personal attacks. And at social events, attendees should consider whether it is more important to prove to others that they're right, or to enjoy the company. 

    Bufka urged locals to try to connect with one another, and especially for Trump supporters, as the winners, to make amends with Hillary Clinton's followers. 

    “First, if you’re not happy with the outcome, vent, let it out," she said. "But then think about, ‘Okay, this is what it is. How do we move forward, and what is it that we need to do to be able to move forward? Are there ways that we can try to make a difference?’”

    Hagains emphasized the need to remind Clinton voters that they’re still part of the citizenry and their opinions are valued. “If your side loses, it’s hard not to feel that you’re not wanted,” she said. 

    Vincent Hutchings, a professor at the University of Michigan and member of American National Election Studies, downplayed how much famililes are affected by politics. 

    “It’s a relatively rare thing for most people to have a falling out about politics, mostly because most people don’t talk that much about politics,” he said. “Politics will not be uppermost in people’s mind, or it won’t be a potential casual topic of conversation anymore. And in that regard, some of the animosity may diminish on the mass level.”

    Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts, disagrees.

    “Come December or January, there’ll still be a lot of political discussion… and it’s going to be really nasty,” he said. “It’s going to continue. There’s no reason an election marks the end to that. The day after will be just as nasty as the day before.”

    But though Berry predicts continued issues on social media, he says mobilizing the public would take action that most people who use angry rhetoric online aren’t willing to execute in reality.

    He also said that neighborhoods are becoming more politically homogeneous, so the healing process among neighbors should be expedited by their similar views.

    While healthy relationships between family members may be imperative for a nice holiday dinner, a healing process for the country might not be the right path for America, according to Todd Gitlin, American studies professor at Columbia University. He blames the Republican party and the mass media for what he deemed an uninformed electorate. “They are forces of ignorance, and you can’t heal ignorance. You have to defeat it, you have to overcome it,” he said. 

    He argued that you can’t reason with people who don’t believe in climate change but do think that doctors perform nine-month abortions. 

    John Fortier, democracy project director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said, "We shouldn’t expect that everybody’s going to agree.” 

    But he thinks that government officials will lead by example, collaborating on less polemical issues like infrastructure and tax reform regardless of party.

    As for families, Berry thinks ideological problems between mom and dad will probably be replaced by other concerns as Thanksgiving approaches. 

    “I suspect families will heal more so than the country in general,” Berry said. “Family polarization revolves around many other things than politics. So eventually Uncle Fred will be forgiven for being for Trump.”

    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    File photo of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.File photo of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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    A whale was spotted swimming near the Statue of Liberty Thursday morning, just as wildlife officials announced that two endangered species of the aquatic mammals were detected in the waters off New York for the first time. 

    Video posted by Daniel Gallagher on Instagram showed the whale coming up for air — or perhaps catching a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline — near the Holland Tunnel on Thursday morning.

    The Coast Guard issued an advisory to boaters after the whale was first spotted near the Statue of Liberty at about 8 a.m. 

    The species of the whale is unclear, but it comes not long after a high-tech buoy named "Melville" -- presumably after the writer of the classic whale-hunting novel Moby Dick -- picked up the sounds of a North Atlantic right whale and a sei whale for the first time in the New York Bight, the indentation of the Atlantic Ocean that stretches from Cape May to Montauk Point.

    The buoy was deployed 22 miles south of Fire Island by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs New York City's zoos and aquariums, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

    There are thought to only be 500 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, according to the conservation society. They can grow to about 60 feet in length and were deemed the "right" whale because whalers determined it was the best species to hunt, according to the WCS. The WCS said that the buoy picked up the telltale "up call" of the animal on Oct. 26. 

    A sei whale, meanwhile, was detected on Oct. 31. The species can grow up to 65 feet and is rarely seen in New York waters. Like the North Atlantic right whale, sei whales were targets of commercial whalers before being added to federal and international endangered lists. 

    They're not the only endangered whales picked up by the buoy; the WCS said that it has made several detections of fin whales -- the world's second-largest mammal behind the blue whale -- between July 23 and Nov. 16.

    Photo Credit: Daniel Gallagher

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    For a mother, it must have been like a scene from a nightmare: A car blasts through a guardrail and into Virginia's Lake Anne, where it began to sink. Inside were the driver and his 7-year-old daughter.

    "The first thing she asked when we were in the water, 'Dad, are we going to sink?'" said Rajesh Kshetri, the driver of the car.

    But Beth Hoyos, who was driving her own daughter home from school, saw the crash as it happened Wednesday afternoon. She pulled over and headed into the lake, rescuing first the girl and then the driver, assisted by a teenager who had also seen the crash.

    "I have children, and certainly I would hope in the same situation somebody would be pulling my child out of a car," Hoyos said Thursday.

    The crash happened along Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Virginia at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. Kshetri lost control of his car, smashed through a guard rail and landed in the lake.

    Kshetri could not swim and the water was deep. He tried to open his door, but couldn't. He opened a window instead, pulled his daughter from the back seat and pushed her through the window and out of the car.

    Meanwhile, Hoyos had jumped into the lake.

    "I was kind of surprised, my feet couldn't touch pretty quickly," she said. "I didn't think it was as serious as it was until I was out and I realized the driver really couldn't swim. He was not going to get out of there on his own."

    His daughter, Preetisha, was treading water. Hoyos quickly got her to shore.

    But Kshetri was struggling.

    "He wasn't screaming, but he was saying, 'I can't swim,' and there was a point where he really was going under and was having a hard time staying up. He looked very panicked at that point."

    Hoyos and the teen got Kshetri back to shore and to safety. He was shaken, but not seriously hurt.

    Today, Kshetri had a message for Hoyos: "I would say thank you very much for saving my life. She was the angel at the right moment."

    Hoyos said she was no hero. "That's a strange term. I think I said to the officer over there, it's a little bit like getting a ribbon for a C. Because you're supposed to do that -- you're supposed to help people." 

    Preetisha -- a first-grader at Dranesville Elementary -- said she wasn't too scared; she had taken swimming lessons.

    But it was a relief to get to dry land, she said.

    "I was all safe and I didn't have to worry about anything," she said Thursday.

    Photo Credit: NBC Washington

    Beth Hoyos says she didn't hesitate when she saw the car sinking in Virginia's Lake Anne.Beth Hoyos says she didn't hesitate when she saw the car sinking in Virginia's Lake Anne.

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    Some of Google's unwitting users are learning a harsh lesson: If you violate the company's policies, it can abruptly cut you off from your Gmail account, online photos and other vital digital services.

    Several people who recently bought Google's new Pixel phone on behalf of a New Hampshire dealer are now suffering that punishment after the company detected their online purchases and judged they violated its terms of service. Those rules, outlined in a document that few people read closely, forbid the purchase of the Pixel for "commercial" resale.

    "There isn't an hour that doesn't go by that I don't think about the enormity of what Google has done to me," said one of the affected resellers, Shmuel Super of Brooklyn, New York. "This is like a digital death sentence."


    Super and his fellow resellers got into trouble for buying up to five Pixel phones from Google's online store and having them delivered to New Hampshire for resale. They received $5 for each phone. As of Sunday, some started finding themselves locked out of their Google accounts.

    In a Thursday statement, Google described the resale arrangement as a "scheme" devised by a dealer looking to sell the Pixels at marked-up prices in violation of its policies.

    Google declined to say how many people were affected by the account lockdown. DansDeals , a consumer-focused website that first reported Google's crackdown, concluded that more than 200 people had been blocked from their Google accounts after talking to the New Hampshire dealer behind the Pixel buying spree. The Associated Press was unsuccessful in its efforts to identify and interview the dealer.

    The crackdown may come as a surprise to the hundreds of millions of people who now routinely rely on Google, Facebook, Apple and other tech companies as the caretakers of their digital lives. Few of the people involved in this situation appear to have backed up their data outside of Google.

    Google said it plans to restore the accounts of customers who it believes were unaware of the rules, although the company didn't specify how long that might take.


    Once they figured out why they were being locked out, the exiled consumers realized how dependent they had become on Google as the custodian of their digital communications, records and other mementoes.

    Some said they couldn't retrieve confirmation numbers for upcoming flights or notices about an upcoming credit-card payment. Others couldn't fetch work documents or medical records. Some started getting phone calls from friends, family and colleagues wondering why they weren't responding to emails.

    Like other two other people interviewed by the AP, Super said he had no idea that he was violating Google's policies when he bought the Pixels for the New Hampshire dealer. He can't believe Google would do something as extreme as locking him out of his account without warning, rather than just banning him from buying its phones in the future.

    "Google's slogan is 'Don't be evil,' but to me, there is nothing more evil that what Google has done here," Super said.


    Some of the Pixels purchased for resale were delivered before Google recognized the violations and meted out a punishment spelled out in a separate terms-of-service document . "We may suspend or stop providing our services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct," Google warns in one section.

    Google doesn't give any advance notice before it shuts down an account, and doesn't make distinctions between minor and major violations. Affected users can appeal for reinstatement, though it's unclear how long that might take or what criteria Google uses in such cases.

    Apple also forbids online purchases of iPhones for resale, although its terms of service say only that the company reserves the right to cancel any order suspected of breaking the rule.

    Daniel Levy, who has been locked out from his Google account since Monday, said he has learned a hard lesson, though not necessarily the one the company intended.

    "They confiscated my property and shouldn't be trusted," said Levy, who lives in Lakewood, New Jersey. "I will never use their services again."

    Photo Credit: AP

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    Speaking from experience, actor and activist George Takei strongly objected the idea of a "Muslim registry" after an outspoken supporter of President-elect Donald Trump cited internment camps as legal "precedent" for tracking individuals based on faith, NBC News reported.

    "Registration of any group of people, and certainly registration of Muslims, is a prelude to internment," Takei said.

    As a child he was was forced to relocate to multiple internment camps

    "A registry is this simple categorization of a people of one faith. In our case, it was people of one ancestry.

    "We were American citizens, and yet, because we looked like the enemy, we were treated like the enemy and imprisoned. This is what's going to happen with a Muslim registry, and we as Americans will not tolerate that again."

    A former Navy SEAL and supporter of President-elect Donald Trump cited World War II internment camps as a precedent for Trump's proposed Muslim registry during an interview Wednesday night on Fox News.

    Photo Credit: AP

    George Takei speaks during an interview on Thursday, June 5, 2014. Takei said recently in an interview that Donald Trump's proposed registry is a George Takei speaks during an interview on Thursday, June 5, 2014. Takei said recently in an interview that Donald Trump's proposed registry is a "prelude to internment."

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    The FBI is offering up to $1,000 for information that can lead to a bank robber — nicknamed the "Spelling Bee Bandit" for his misspelling of the word "robbery" on hold up notes — that is wanted for multiple heists in the Greater Boston area.

    Investigators believe the suspect robbed four different banks in Massachusetts, including Arlington, Reading and Burlington, over a two-week period. The latest robbery occurred at a TD Bank at 79 Lynnfield Street in Peabody, Massachusetts.

    In every case, he put on sunglasses and handed a demand note to the teller with "Robery" (sic) written on it, according to the FBI.

    The unknown robber is described as a slim man in his late 30s or early 40s who is between 5'11" and 6'2" and approximately 160 pounds. They said he has a "local" accent.

    The suspect has become increasingly aggressive with tellers in each subsequent robbery, according to authorities. They are hoping the announcement of the reward will help lead to his arrest.

    Anyone with information concerning these robberies should call the FBI Boston Division's Violent Crimes Task Force at 1-857-386-2000.

    Photo Credit: Handout

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    Physicist Stephen Hawking spoke at Oxford University Monday and presented an ominous prediction: if humanity continues beyond the next 1,000 years, it will be on another planet, according to a report. 

    Hawking reportedly argued that humans may not be able to overcome threats of nuclear warfare, climate change and the rise of artificial intelligence, and that humankind is catalyzing the end of earth’s habitability by quickly depleting its resources.

    “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” he said, according to the Daily Express. In order to survive, Hawking humans must “continue to go into space for the future of humanity.”

    Hawking believes that leaving the planet behind is the best chance for survival. He voiced hope that space expeditions would be more advanced by the time a catastrophic disaster threatens Earth, so that humans may evacuate to another planet, the Daily Express reported.

    Still, despite the challenges he foresees, Hawking reportedly said it is a “glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics.”

    Hawking, 74, is the director of research at Cambridge University's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. His renowned career in phyiscs and cosmotology has focused on the basic laws that govern physical reality, including groundbreaking theories about the nature of black holes. He continued researching despite Lou Gehrig's disease all but limiting his ability to move. 

    This isn't the first time Hawking has expressed the view that humanity needs to leave its home planet if it wants to survive. 

    In September, the Guardian newspaper published an excerpt from the theoretical physicist's book "How To Make A Spaceship" in which he says, “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers.”

    Earlier this year, the BBC reported that Hawking said progress in science and technology will actually create "new ways things can go wrong" at a lecture, and that artificial intelligence should not be underestimated for its potential to advance quicker than humans can it takes off on its own and designs itself.

    "We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognize the dangers and control them," Hawking said at the January lecture. "I'm an optimist, and I believe we can."

    Photo Credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File

    In this file photo, Stephen Hawking arrives for the Interstellar live show at the Royal Albert Hall in central London, March 30, 2015. Hawking is continuing to issue warnings about human life, reportedly saying this week that humanity must go to space to ensure its survival.In this file photo, Stephen Hawking arrives for the Interstellar live show at the Royal Albert Hall in central London, March 30, 2015. Hawking is continuing to issue warnings about human life, reportedly saying this week that humanity must go to space to ensure its survival.

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    The world was horrified by images of a wounded Syrian child sitting dazed and bloodied in an ambulance after an airstrike in Aleppo in August, but a 6-year-old from New York who offered the boy a home lifted peoples' spirits.

    That boy has now gone to Washington to meet President Barack Obama.

    The White House posted a copy in late September of the handwritten letter from "Alex" to President Obama. Alex asks the president to bring the boy, identified as Omran Daqneesh, "who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria" to his home in Scarsdale.

    "Can you please go get him and bring him," he wrote. "We'll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers, and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother."

    On Thursday night, the White House posted video of Alex and his family meeting the president last week.

    "I was very proud of you," the president told Alex in an Oval Office meeting.

    Obama shared Alex's letter at a UN refugee summit in New  York City in September, telling world leaders that the letter was from a child "who hasn't learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they’re from, or how they look, or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness."

    "We can all learn from Alex," the president noted.

    A video of the boy reading his letter has been viewed more than 28 million times on Facebook. 

    The Syrian boy's three siblings and parents were also rescued from the rubble after their building in Aleppo was bombed. His 10-year-old brother died as a result of injuries. One of the cameramen who filmed him said he had never seen such a look of shock on a child's face. 

    The image of the stunned and weary looking boy, sitting in an orange chair inside an ambulance covered in dust and with blood on his face, encapsulated the horrors inflicted on the war-ravaged northern city and was widely shared on social media.

    Photo Credit: The White House
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    Alex, a six-year-old boy from Scarsdale, New York, is seen reading a letter he wrote to President Obama about a Syrian refugee.Alex, a six-year-old boy from Scarsdale, New York, is seen reading a letter he wrote to President Obama about a Syrian refugee.

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    While some new faces look to lead the Democratic National Committee, others hope Vice President Joe Biden will take the job as committee chair, NBC News reported.

    It's not clear if Biden is interested and his office declined to comment. But those behind the idea are making a concerted effort to line up support in the hope that it will convince the vice president to take the helm of a party in crisis.

    The idea would be for the DNC chairmanship to be split into two roles, as it was during Bill Clinton's presidency. Biden would serve as the party's figurehead, spokesperson, fundraiser and cheerleader, while someone else runs day-to-day operations. 

    Biden, who's one of the least wealthy officials in D.C., is said to be considering numerous lucrative private sector options for his post-government life.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    In this file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University on June 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C.In this file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University on June 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

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