Pittsburgh residents get ready for driverless Uber cars

Pittsburgh residents get ready for driverless Uber cars

Brian FungThe Washington Post

Very soon, residents of this hilly city will become the first Americans to test out Uber‘s self-driving car service.

It is a historic moment not just for the ride-hailing company, but also for robotic cars in general. For many people, the technology will finally become a reality, one they can touch and experience rather than just read about.

Uber has been conducting its driverless-car tests on open roads since May. People in Pittsburgh say they have often seen the company’s prototypes driving around the city, their rooftops laden with sensors and communications equipment. But the project otherwise has been shrouded in secrecy, even from the drivers who sometimes ferry Uber employees to work in the Strip District.

Hence, what Pittsburgh locals think about Uber’s driverless cars has been shaped mostly by what they have observed with their own eyes. And their reactions run the gamut, from hope that the new technology will contribute to their city’s story of renewal, to questions about the cars’ performance on Pittsburgh’s complicated road network, to concerns about how the vehicles will affect the overall economy.

uber-referral-code5Most of all, interviews with city residents reveal a reluctance to trust a technology that Uber has kept so close to the chest.

“It’s scary, being driven by a robot,” Ada Gana said. “A person who’s driving knows what he’s doing or where he’s going. That gives me confidence.”

The San Francisco company staffs each of its driverless cars with two full-time employees, one to grasp the wheel and another to keep an eye on the computer software. That will not change when the company debuts its driverless service. But not everyone knows that. Some believed the cars would be empty, which suggests Uber has a lot of educating to do.

That is particularly the case for seniors, said Eva Tsuquiashi-Daddesio, 67. “If Uber or other companies want to be successful with the older population, they need to do a lot of demonstrations. Talk is not going to do anything,” she said. Seniors “have to see other people like them — like us, I suppose — using it, and they will have to see that it is safe.”

Even some younger people say they would be hesitant to try a self-driving Uber, although some predict that university students here will be among the most eager adopters.

For Uber drivers, however, it is no surprise that employment is the bigger concern.

Michelle Garrison has four children and treats driving for Uber as a full-time job. She wakes up at 5:15 a.m., Monday through Friday, and does not stop picking up passengers until 6 in the evening.

“I personally don’t care for it,” she said of the testing of self-driving cars. “I think it’s going to take jobs away from some of us. It’s going to take away from the actual drivers that are out here that are putting in the time and the hours.”

Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, has said that he does not expect the number of human drivers to decline anytime soon and that self-driving technology will create jobs, such as for fleet maintenance.

That is not enough to alleviate some Uber drivers’ worries. A few have signed on with a group called Cabbie Central, a Pittsburgh organization that represents nearly 250 people who drive for taxi and, increasingly, ride-hailing services. Although they compete intensely for the same customers, taxi drivers and Uber drivers are discovering they have much in common in the face of Uber’s automation experiments, said Jim Jacobs, the general manager of Cabbie Central and a taxi driver who has been in the business for 11 years.

Uber’s aggressive timetable in launching an autonomous service has led many of its drivers to grapple with an uncomfortable reality much sooner than expected, said Jacobs: This is what planned obsolescence really looks like.

Some who view their gig with Uber as a part-time or temporary job are not as worried. “It hasn’t affected me yet, and I’m not career-sold on doing this forever,” said Jason Renton, a driver who lives half an hour from downtown Pittsburgh. “So no, it doesn’t really bother me.”

He and other drivers say that 70% to 95% of their customers are skeptical of the technology.

There are still a lot of questions. Some residents worry about the ability of a self-driving car to successfully navigate to a rider’s location or to avoid sudden road closures. Pittsburgh is said to be a tough — as in “good” — test case for self-driving vehicles because the city has hills, bridges and older streets.

On Sept. 2, a construction accident on the Liberty Bridge caused a fire so hot, it melted part of the bridge’s support structure. The bridge has been closed for weeks, causing commuter headaches. But Uber’s navigation system did not appear to know about the closure, said Shiquita Crumbley, a Pittsburgh native who started driving for Uber a few months ago.

“GPSes are not always correct,” she said. “It might take you to this bridge, not necessarily knowing, hey, this bridge is not open, you can’t go on it. So just making sure it’s the most updated version — that’s going to be the biggest, biggest thing for everyone’s safety.”

For the foreseeable future, navigation may not be a big issue for the self-driving cars, as the Uber employee behind the wheel can always take over.

Local transportation activists say they support Uber’s effort. “People are bad at driving,” said Scott Bricker, executive director of the bicycling advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh. “Recently, a Pittsburgh bicyclist posted video of a self-driving Uber test car giving him space and passing at a slower speed in contrast to a car driven by a person…. If you ask me, taking the human factor out of driving can’t happen fast enough.”

Other local residents say the program helps put Pittsburgh on the map. In recent years, an influx of new money has brought tremendous growth for the former industrial powerhouse, reversing decades of decline.

“A lot of people have regional pride in the universities, big companies like Uber and Google being here,” said Hassan Khan, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University. Uber’s self-driving program, he said, “fits that narrative of Pittsburgh being a resurgent city through tech, through medicine.”

Ann Steinfeld Physical Therapy CHAMPIONS AlternativeS TO COMBAT Rising OpioiD EPIDEMIC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Edan Devora

info@annsteinfeldpt.com

(714) 556-2600

 

Ann Steinfeld Physical Therapy CHAMPIONS

AlternativeS TO COMBAT Rising OpioiD EPIDEMIC

Leading Orange County Physical Therapy Clinic Promotes Holistic Approach to Pain Management

 

(Headline News Guru Original Story by Jules Hermes – Permission to repost within journalism ethics and standards) COSTA MESA, CA — June 2, 2016 – With the alleged prescription drug-related death of Prince, the U.S. is once again forced to examine the staggering statistics that indicate a country in crisis. No longer confined to one particular stereotype, prescription and illicit drug abuse has infiltrated every socioeconomic class, affecting every race and age group, from young adults to senior citizens. To help spread the message that conservative, non drug approaches can effectively manage pain, Ann Steinfeld Physical Therapy – a leading Orange County, Calif. physical therapy practice specializing in sports medicine, orthopedics, geriatrics and neurology – has joined others in the federal, state, local and private sectors to address the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. Advocating for a multidisciplinary clinical approach—including physical therapists serving on the care team alongside physicians and other healthcare providers—Ann Steinfeld, the clinic’s founder and CEO, is among a consortium of therapists committed to holistically improving the quality of life for patients with acute and chronic pain.

“There is no doubt that physical therapy as a first-line treatment for chronic pain can be as effective as—and safer than—prescription drug therapy,” say Steinfeld who founded her practice in Costa Mesa in 2001. “In response to the alarming rate of opioid abuse, the recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for prescribing opioids delivers a clear message that echoes what we physical therapists have known for decades: there are better, safer ways to treat chronic pain than the use of opioids.”

The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, exceeding diabetes, heart disease and cancer conditions combined. According to the CDC, physicians wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions in 2012, which translates to one bottle of pills per American adult. An individualized physical therapy plan, however, aims to reduce a patient’s pain and associated disability, improve function, and promote health and well being without the use of drugs. Through a comprehensive evaluation, physical therapists can address chronic pain with a combination of movement exercises, manual therapy, and education about pain science, body alignment and movement, all of which contribute to understanding the underlying cause of pain.

Ann Steinfeld Physical Therapy has made great strides in the advancement of techniques that go beyond rehabilitating athletes and assisting those who have undergone surgery or sustained injuries from an accident. With the capacity to incorporate hands-on manual therapy methods with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as massage therapy, patients of all ages and walks of life not only experience remarkable results but also develop strategies to manage their own long-term health goals. Through individualized comprehensive plans executed by some of Orange County’s top therapists who provide the highest caliber of care and focused attention to patient concerns, Ann Steinfeld expedites the healing process with cost-effective and drug-free alternatives to alleviate pain, and imparts long-lasting preventive solutions to ensure optimal health for the present and well into the future.

Addiction to opioids is not a new phenomenon, but it has escalated to new proportions. The number of Americans dying each year from drug overdoses has surpassed that of motor vehicle crashes. More than half of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain continue to take the painkillers five years later, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. In fact, a staggering four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers, according to a National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. A key initiative of the APTA and 40 provider groups over the next two years is a collective messaging campaign to reach more than 4 million healthcare providers regarding opioid abuse and appropriate prescribing practices.

 

For media-related questions, contact Edan Devora, info@annsteinfeldpt.com or call (714) 556-2600.

For more information regarding Ann Steinfeld Physical Therapy, visit: http://www.annsteinfeldpt.com.

 

ABOUT ANN STEINFELD PHYSICAL THERAPY

Ann SteinfeldAnn Steinfeld Physical Therapy is a privately owned outpatient practice in Orange County, Calif. specializing in the evaluation and treatment of physical injuries and disabilities resulting from a wide range of conditions related to sports and athletics, surgical procedures, occupation, repetitive motion and accidents, as well as those specific to age and gender. Ann Steinfeld’s highly skilled and trained, licensed physical therapists utilize a broad spectrum of the most advanced physical intervention and rehabilitation techniques to alleviate pain, restore mobility, improve balance and coordination, and increase muscular strength and endurance. Referred to by leading physicians throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, Ann Steinfeld provides a comprehensive team approach to ensure successful patient outcomes, while maintaining the highest quality of exceptional one-to-one care in an energetic, positive and ethical environment. For more information visit: www.annsteinfeldpt.com.

 About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association

Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit http://www.ppsapta.org.

 

Author
Jules Hermes
Hermes House Press – A featured Partner of Headline News Guru

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm

Trump reaches critical number to clinch nomination

May 26 at 1:17 PM
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.The good news for Trump, reported by The Associated Press after a nationwide survey of unbound delegates, was tempered by continuing problems for his campaign. Those include the abrupt departure of Trump’s political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders to declare their support for his upstart candidacy.Trump was put over the top in the AP delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

Speaker Paul Ryan has backed away from his pledge to support whoever becomes the nominee, saying he’s “not ready” to endorse Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Other GOP heavyweights, including the Bushes, are also not giving endorsements. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.

But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced him as a plain-speaking populist.

Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman. “Leadership is leadership,” House said. “If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”

May 26 at 1:17 PM
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.The good news for Trump, reported by The Associated Press after a nationwide survey of unbound delegates, was tempered by continuing problems for his campaign. Those include the abrupt departure of Trump’s political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders to declare their support for his upstart candidacy.Trump was put over the top in the AP delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

GOP establishment splits over supporting Trump

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Speaker Paul Ryan has backed away from his pledge to support whoever becomes the nominee, saying he’s “not ready” to endorse Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Other GOP heavyweights, including the Bushes, are also not giving endorsements. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.

But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced him as a plain-speaking populist.

Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman.

“Leadership is leadership,” House said. “If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”

Replay

 

Trump’s pivotal moment comes amid a new sign of internal problems.

Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the abrupt departure of political director Rick Wiley, who was in the midst of leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

Poll: Most voters see Trump and Clinton unfavorably

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Play Video1:33
Here’s what a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted May 16-19, 2016 said about the race between Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and GOP candidate Donald Trump. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

His hiring about six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were embracing Trump’s campaign. But a person familiar with Wiley’s ouster said the operative clashed with others in Trump’s operation and didn’t want to put longtime Trump allies in key jobs. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal campaign dynamics.

Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best.

Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.

“If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,” Linton said. “He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.”

Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination began with an escalator ride.

Trump and his wife, Melania, descended an escalator into the basement lobby of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, for an announcement many observers had said would never come: The celebrity real estate developer had flirted with running for office in the past.

His speech then set the tone for his ability to dominate the headlines with provocative statements, insults and hyperbole. He called Mexicans “rapists,” promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and proposed banning most Muslims from the U.S. for an indeterminate time.

He criticized women for their looks. And he unleashed an uncanny marketing ability in which he deduced his critics’ weak points and distilled them to nicknames that stuck. “Little Marco” Rubio, “Weak” Jeb Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, among others, all were forced into reacting to Trump. They fell one-by-one — leaving Trump the sole survivor of a riotous Republican primary.

CONTENT FROM SAMSUNGConnectivity for a smarter world

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to solve our biggest global challenges and bring people everywhere a better quality of life.

 

His rallies became magnets for free publicity. Onstage, he dispensed populism that drew thousands of supporters, many wearing his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting, “Build the wall!”

The events drew protests too— with demonstrators sometimes forcibly ejected.

When voting started, Trump was not so fast out of the gate.

He lost the Iowa caucuses in February, falling behind Cruz and barely edging Rubio for second. He recovered in New Hampshire. From there he and Cruz fiercely engaged, with Trump winning some and losing some but one way or another dominating the rest of the primary season — in votes or at least in attention — and ultimately in delegates.

He incurred relatively low campaign costs — just $57 million through the end of April. He covered most of it with at least $43 million of his own money loaned to the campaign.

Trump entered a new phase of his campaign Tuesday night by holding his first major campaign fundraiser: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los Angeles.

Trump, 69, the son of a New York City real estate magnate, had risen to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing major real estate deals, watching his financial fortunes rise, then fall, hosting “The Apprentice” TV show and authoring more than a dozen books.

___

Associated Press writers James Nord in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, Jill Colvin in Anaheim, California, Steve Peoples in Washington and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the abrupt departure of political director Rick Wiley, who was in the midst of leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

Here’s what a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted May 16-19, 2016 said about the race between Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and GOP candidate Donald Trump. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

His hiring about six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were embracing Trump’s campaign. But a person familiar with Wiley’s ouster said the operative clashed with others in Trump’s operation and didn’t want to put longtime Trump allies in key jobs. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal campaign dynamics.

Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best.

Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.

“If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,” Linton said. “He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.”

Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination began with an escalator ride.

Trump and his wife, Melania, descended an escalator into the basement lobby of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, for an announcement many observers had said would never come: The celebrity real estate developer had flirted with running for office in the past.

His speech then set the tone for his ability to dominate the headlines with provocative statements, insults and hyperbole. He called Mexicans “rapists,” promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and proposed banning most Muslims from the U.S. for an indeterminate time.

He criticized women for their looks. And he unleashed an uncanny marketing ability in which he deduced his critics’ weak points and distilled them to nicknames that stuck. “Little Marco” Rubio, “Weak” Jeb Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, among others, all were forced into reacting to Trump. They fell one-by-one — leaving Trump the sole survivor of a riotous Republican primary.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to solve our biggest global challenges and bring people everywhere a better quality of life.

 

His rallies became magnets for free publicity. Onstage, he dispensed populism that drew thousands of supporters, many wearing his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting, “Build the wall!”

The events drew protests too— with demonstrators sometimes forcibly ejected.

When voting started, Trump was not so fast out of the gate.

He lost the Iowa caucuses in February, falling behind Cruz and barely edging Rubio for second. He recovered in New Hampshire. From there he and Cruz fiercely engaged, with Trump winning some and losing some but one way or another dominating the rest of the primary season — in votes or at least in attention — and ultimately in delegates.

He incurred relatively low campaign costs — just $57 million through the end of April. He covered most of it with at least $43 million of his own money loaned to the campaign.

Trump entered a new phase of his campaign Tuesday night by holding his first major campaign fundraiser: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los Angeles.

Trump, 69, the son of a New York City real estate magnate, had risen to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing major real estate deals, watching his financial fortunes rise, then fall, hosting “The Apprentice” TV show and authoring more than a dozen books.

Associated Press writers James Nord in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, Jill Colvin in Anaheim, California, Steve Peoples in Washington and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Xiaomi is getting into the drone business.

Xiaomi is getting into the drone business. The Chinese manufacturer mostly known for its aggressively priced high-end smartphones today introduced the Mi Drone, a camera-wielding quadcopter that undercuts comparable models from market leader DJI by over $300. Two models will be available: the cheaper one, priced at 2,499 Chinese Yuan (just over $380), will feature a 1080p camera, while the 4K model is 2,999 Yuan ($457).

The ball-shaped camera on the higher-end Mi Drone uses a Sony 12.4-megapixel sensor that can capture video at up to 3,840 x 2,160 at 30 fps and take RAW photos, while On the lower end 1080p model, Xiaomi has packed a 16-megapixel Sony backside illuminated CMOS and a 104-degree wide angle lens. Both feature a detachable gimbal that does 3-axis stabilization and is assisted by an optical flow sensor positioned between the camera and the battery bay on the back.

Xiaomi says the Mi drones will have 27 minutes of flying time on their 5,100 mAh batteries, with a range of of 3 kilometers. Like DJI, Xiaomi will build geofences into its drones to prevent them fromIn terms of design the drone itself looks quite a bit like DJI’s Phantom drones.

There’s a standalone controller with a dedicated button for take off and landing and a built-in smartphone clamp so you can use it as a viewfinder. flying into restricted areas. The drone will automatically return to base when its battery is dying or when it loses contact with the controller.

 

Comprehensive tax information for Uber drivers and Lyft drivers goes beyond TurboTax tips

(2/1/2016 Headline News.Guru) I Drive with Uber (IDWU), the evolving authority for Uber and Lyft drivers, released free comprehensive tax information specifically geared towards ridesharing drivers.

I Drive With Uber is regarded as a leading authority and information provider for Uber drivers. The website’s mission is to do just that – provide information for Uber and Lyft drivers/passengers that goes beyond the actual Uber website.

Time For Taxes Message Shows Taxation Due
Time For Taxes Message Showing Taxation Due

If you are one of the many new drivers for Uber or Lyft (or one of other ride sharing companies), filing your 2015 taxes is most likely uncharted territory for you. “I Drive With Uber” realized this and collaborated with a tax specialist to lay down the ‘rules and regulations’, and created a tax preparation guide for drivers. I Drive With Uber is providing this free extensive info packet on their website.

Uber identifies its drivers as independent contractors and not as employees. This subject, whether Uber drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors, is currently being litigated in numerous states in the US. However, until a decision has been reached, Uber drivers will have to file taxes as self-employed individuals (1099 contractors).

This is one of the key points the tax guide on the IDWU website focuses on: the difference between being a 1099 independent contractor versus a traditional employee (which many new drivers mistakenly think they are). Furthermore, the guide elaborates on the tax benefits and deductions that are available for ride share drivers. Many drivers will be surprised about the numerous tax deductions they are actually entitled to.

The IDWU guide provides relevant information for any Uber or Lyft driver in the process of preparing for the current 2016 tax season. Other than the above-mentioned topics, other covered subjects include: self-employment tax, estimated tax payments, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, and many more. If you’re thinking of becoming an Uber driver or already are driving for Uber or Lyft, IDWU is a valuable information platform for you.

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Headline News Guru – International Journalism Review

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Top candidates attack but express cautious optimism about winning

Headlinenews.guru 2/1/2016 – The first major test for the 2016 presidential candidates is now just hours away with the Iowa Caucus on Monday — its outcome a likely sign of whether front-running Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump can hold their leads or if the unpredictable and often-angry electorate has other plans.

Trump and Clinton made their closing arguments Sunday, barnstorming across Iowa and battling on the political shows, in a final effort to beat back close rivals like Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, both eager for an upset in the first-in-the-nation balloting.

“Thirty six hours from now, the men and women of Iowa are going to caucus,” Cruz, who is trailing Trump in Iowa by roughly 5 percentage points, told “Fox News Sunday.” “And we have a grassroots army. We’ve got 12,000 volunteers in the state.”

Still, Cruz, who argues that he’s the true conservative in the GOP field, was, like the rest of this year’s White House candidates, steering clear of predicting a win, then having to face the fallout from a loss or even a below-expectations finish.

“Right now, this is all about turnout,” said Cruz, a Texas senator in a close race for second with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “This is all about who shows up tomorrow night at 7. … If conservatives come out, we will win.”

Sanders, a Vermont independent, told ABC’s “This Week”: “I think we have a shot to win it, if people come out.”

His populist message about the economy being “rigged” against the middle class and “billionaires buying elections” has resonated with the largely disaffected and angry electorate and has posed a clear alternative to the Clinton political dynasty.

Even the supremely confident Trump, who has a double-digit national lead over the GOP field, tamped down Iowa expectations Sunday.

“I don’t have to win it,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m doing really well with the evangelicals in Iowa. But I’m also doing tremendously well all over the country with the evangelicals. … I think we have a good chance of winning Iowa.”

Still, Trump, who has a wider lead among the more independent-minded voters of New Hampshire, who vote second, on Feb. 9, realizes the importance of a lead-off victory.

“I have a very substantial lead in New Hampshire,” he told CBS. “But I think it would be really good to win Iowa. I’d like to win Iowa.”

And at least 9 percent of potential Iowa caucus-goers remain undecided, according to a Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday.

After New Hampshire, the voting continues in South Carolina and Nevada, with the outcomes of those so-called “early-state votes” expected to winnow the GOP’s 11-candidate field.

After Trump and Cruz, Rubio is the only other GOP candidate with double-digit poll numbers.

They are followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former business executive Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Santorum and Huckabee, popular among social conservatives, won Iowa in 2012 and 2008, respectively.

Though none of the candidates below Rubio is expected to make a strong Iowa finish, Kasich, Christie and even Bush could do well in New Hampshire and challenge the frontrunners — as the GOP and Democratic races head across the south and into the late spring before this summer’s nominating conventions.

Kasich was the only candidate in New Hampshire on Sunday, telling potential voters at an Elks Lodge in Salem that cutting regulations that kill small businesses would be a priority of his first 100 days, if elected president.

Trump and Cruz each attended Sunday morning church services with family members.

Trump attended services at the First Christian Orchard Campus, a nondenominational church in Council Bluffs.

Cruz went to the Lutheran Church of Hope, outside Des Moines. The sermon called on politicians to treat their opponents with love, not attack ads.

Trump has tapped into the angry electorate with plans to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out “drug dealers” and others from Mexico. And in the wake of two recent terror attacks, he proposed keeping Muslim from entering the United States until the government improves its immigrant-screening process.

Amid some public outcry, Trump’s poll numbers increased by double digits after his called for the ban, in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre in December.

Since Cruz emerged in recent weeks as Trump’s closest primary rival, Trump has called Cruz “a nasty guy” and a “liar,” particularly about whether Trump essentially supports ObamaCare.

The only other Democratic candidate is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has single-digit poll numbers.

The front-running Clinton, who has a superior fundraising and campaign apparatus, continues to hold a roughly 25-point national lead over Sanders.

However, the former first lady has been stuck defending herself in a controversy about her use of a private server/email setup to conduct official business when secretary of state.

On Friday, the State Department said it had identified 22 “top secret” emails that it would not release, as part of a court order to make public Clinton’s email correspondence.

“It’s a continuation of a story that’s been playing out for months,” Clinton told ABC News.

Clinton also said that none of the emails was marked classified at the time, and she again called for their released, in an apparent effort to help end the controversy. She also suggested that Republicans were “grabbing at straws” on the issue.

“I want to see them disclosed,” she told ABC.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

HILLARY CLINTON’S LEAD in the Democratic primary race has narrowed to its slimmest margin yet in the new Fox News national poll, with 49 percent of primary voters supporting the former secretary of state, down from 54 percent two weeks ago, while Bernie Sanders also drops by two points to 37 percent.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic primary race has narrowed to its slimmest margin yet.

The front-runner’s support has slipped under 50 percent, and cracks may be appearing in what some called her “firewall” — the African-American voter bloc.

Here are the numbers from the latest Fox News national poll:

Forty-nine percent of Democratic primary voters now support Clinton — down from 54 percent two weeks ago.

Bernie Sanders also drops — by two points — to 37 percent. Martin O’Malley, down two ticks as well, gets 1 percent.

Ten percent are undecided — a sign the race is more fluid than it seemed two weeks ago when only two percent were undecided.

Last June, Clinton held a 46-point lead over Sanders.  Since then, Sanders’s support has grown slowly but steadily, while Clinton’s support has ebbed and recovered once — and now appears in danger of another reversal.

Clinton’s sagging support is due, at least in part, to erosion among black voters.  While 67 percent support her, that’s down from 78 percent two weeks ago and 84 percent in December.

“This comes against a backdrop of extreme volatility in stock markets and increasing pessimism about the economy,” says Dana Blanton, vice president of public opinion research for Fox News. “For the first time in over three years, more Americans think the economy is getting worse than better.”

A year ago, 53 percent thought the economy was getting better and 36 percent said worse.  Now 46 percent think it’s getting worse and 39 percent better.

Sanders says as president he will, “Break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share.”  He has criticized Clinton for being too close to Wall Street and in the last Democratic debate said the first difference between them is, “I don’t take money from big banks. I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”

The big dividing line among Democrats continues to be age, with Sanders leading by 26 points among those under 45 and Clinton leading by 42 points among those ages 45 and over.

Sanders voters tend to be dissatisfied (69 percent) with the workings of the federal government, while Clinton voters are about as likely to be satisfied (50 percent) as dissatisfied (47 percent).

About one-quarter (27 percent) of Sanders voters will be pleased if Clinton gets the nomination, while one-fifth (19 percent) would be so dissatisfied they’d stay home in November instead of voting for her.

Clinton voters would be more accepting of Sanders as the nominee — 43 percent say they’d be satisfied with him, while 13 percent of Clinton voters say they probably won’t vote if Bernie is the nominee.

One thing Sanders and Clinton supporters have in common is that they’d rather Joe Biden be the nominee than their candidate’s current opponent.  Half (51 percent) of Clinton supporters and 39 percent of Sanders voters would be satisfied with the vice president as the Democratic nominee.

Honesty (30 percent) is the top quality Democratic primary voters want in their nominee, followed by the right experience (22 percent), caring about people like themselves (17 percent) and the ability to win in November (8 percent).

Among those who say honesty is most important, Sanders leads Clinton by 27 points.

Both Sanders (84 percent) and Clinton (93 percent) supporters overwhelmingly approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.  For comparison, 92 percent of Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s supporters disapprove of Obama.

Overall, 45 percent of voters approve and 48 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance.  This is an improvement from early January when 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,009 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 18-21, 2016.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and 5 points for the Democratic primary voter sample (375).

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gunmen-killed-outside-Muhammad-cartoon-contest-in-Texas

2 gunmen killed outside Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas

GARLAND, Texas (AP) — Two gunmen were killed Sunday in Texas after opening fire on a security officer outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad, and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the event was scheduled to end and began shooting at the security officer, the City of Garland said in a statement. Garland police officers returned fire, killing the men.

Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the event inside, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

But he said at a late Sunday news conference that authorities were searching the gunmen’s vehicle for explosives, saying, “Because of the situation of what was going on today and the history of what we’ve been told has happened at other events like this, we are considering their car (is) possibly containing a bomb.”

Drawings such at the ones featured at the Texas event are deemed insulting to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous.

The Curtis Culwell Center, a school-district owned public events space where the Texas event was held, was evacuated after the shooting, as were some surrounding businesses. The evacuation was lifted several hours later and police were not aware of any ongoing threat, but a large area around the center remained blocked off late into the night.

Police helicopters circled overhead as bomb squads worked on the car. Harn said the bodies of the gunmen, who had not yet been identified, were not immediately taken from the scene because they were too close to the car. He said they would be removed once the car was cleared.

The wounded security officer, who was unarmed, worked for the Garland Independent School District, Harn said. He was treated and released from a local hospital.

Harn said the district hires security for events at its facilities, but noted additional security also was in place for Sunday’s event. The sponsoring group has said it paid $10,000 for off-duty police officers and other private security.

Harn said the city had not received any credible threats before the shooting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state officials are investigating, and Dallas FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont said that agency is providing investigative and bomb technician assistance.

The event featured speeches by American Freedom Defense Initiative president Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker known for his outspoken criticism of Islam. Wilders, who received several standing ovations from the crowd, left immediately after his speech.

After the shooting, authorities escorted about 75 contest attendees to another room in the conference center, where a woman held up an American flag, and the crowd sang “God Bless America.”

The group was then taken to a separate location, where they were held for about two hours until being briefly questioned by FBI agents before being released.

Johnny Roby of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who was attending the contest, told the Associated Press he was outside the building when he heard around about 20 shots that appeared to be coming from the direction of a passing car.

Roby said he then heard two single shots. He said he heard officers yell that they had the car before he was sent inside the building.

Geller told the AP before Sunday’s event that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to outcries and violence over drawings of Muhammad. She said in a statement issued Sunday night that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”

In January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions and used depictions of Muhammad. Another deadly shooting occurred the following month at a free speech event in Copenhagen featuring an artist who had caricatured the prophet.

Tens of thousands of people rallied around the world to honor the victims and defend the freedom of expression following those shootings.

Geller’s group is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center site and for buying advertising space in cities across the U.S. criticizing Islam.

When a Chicago-based nonprofit held a January fundraiser in Garland designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: “Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!” Others held signs with messages such as, “Insult those who behead others,” an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

Pre-orders-for-the-Apple-Watch-available

Pre-orders for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch available

The greatly anticipated Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch is available for pre-order as of April 10, 2015. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores opened all over the world to take orders and schedule appointments, for a product that is only available online and is in limited supply. The deliveries will take place on April 24, 2015 but aficionados have already made arrangements in designated countries to test the gadget out for themselves.

Also among the designated countries are UK, Australia, China, Germany and France.There are three categories of the watch available: The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport at $349, the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch at $549 and the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Edition, the price of which is $17000 and above. It’s said that there might be 38 options: 3 collections, with 6 different case types, on 18 straps, all available in 2 sizes.

A primary inspection of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores revealed that the reserve was severely short, and the 42mm stainless steel version and the 38 mm Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport are the only versions to be shipped out on the delivery date.The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch will take around 4-6 weeks for shipping. Specific boutiques in selected countries will put the products on display so that the customers can come and have a look at them.

Basically, the Watch was set to be released during the Christmas season after its announcement in September. The announcement created a lot of hype among the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)users and they have been waiting for the arrival of the Watch in the market ever since it was announced. If AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had opened up pre-orders then, it would have taken even longer for the consumers to get their watches.The SVP of AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Angela Ahrents stated the advantage of using online Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)stores to sell the watches.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)planned on issuing 25000 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)shares to the public a few days after the orders had been places. Angela Ahrents, also known as the former CEO of Burberry, is also heading the launch of the Retina MacBook, which is easier to order and attain than the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Smartwatch.The Retina MacBook is said to be available in the following colors: silver, gold and space gray at the starting prices of $1299 and the shipping time is only three days, unlike the Smartwatch whose shipping will take around one to two months.

There is also a guide available on the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Insider to help the customers decide which watch to buy. There are three main things that will aid the choosing: size, model and bands.Each watch comes in a choice of two case sizes: 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters.

90-percent-of-Federal-Tax-Returns-Filed-Online

90 percent of Federal Income Tax Returns Filed Online: IRS

IRS has reported that more than 90 percent of the federal tax returns have been filed online this year. Online tax return filing is much easier compared to paper filing of returns. Procrastinators are facing tough time as the tax filing deadline is approaching fast. Many taxpayers are confused regarding their deductions under Affordable Care Act.

The National Society of Accountants estimated that tax preparers charged an average $261 for an itemized Form 1040 and state tax return filing in 2013. Last week data from IRS suggested that 67 percent of taxpayers had filed their income tax returns. IRS has urged taxpayers to file taxes online and to request direct deposit option for tax refund. Tax refund status can be checked on IRS website.

For individuals who still haven’t filed their tax return, VITA, TCE, and Tax-Aide provide free tax filing assistance. Tax-Aide covered more than 7,000 locations across the country. Tax-Aid has 32,000 trained volunteers who help more than two million taxpayers each year in filing their income tax return. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers free assistance to American aged 60 years and above.

IRS has also offered a special toll-free helpline for people to setup a meeting with IRS officials while filing paper return. IRS also offers a dedicated smartphone app for filing tax return online and for checking refund status. Tax preparation software is also helpful in filing individual or small business tax returns.

IRS report said that more than 1.2 million income tax returns have been processed this year.