• John Lamparski/WireImage via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After filling in for Matt Lauer following his termination at the end of last year, Hoda Kotb was just named a full-time "Today" co-anchor.Kotb, 53, and her now co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, made the announcement Tuesday morning on the show."This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made," Guthrie said.Kotb replied, "I'm pinching myself!"Her fellow "Today" coworkers all took to Twitter to celebrate the promotion.Kotb filled in for Lauer after he was fired from NBC News at the end of November following "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace," the network said at the time.Lauer responded the day after he was terminated by sharing his own statement, which said, "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry ... Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."Kotb has been with NBC News for almost two decades, working for shows like "Dateline" and opposite anchors like Kathie Lee Gifford.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The new year will bring somewhat fatter paychecks to many Americans, with more than three dozen states and cities counties raising their minimum wage.The federal minimum wage remains unchanged at $7.25 per hour, where it has stayed since 2009.But many states and cities have raised their minimum hourly pay above the federal rate, including the 18 states and 19 cities that have set increases for 2018, according to a report by the National Employment Law Project.In most of the 18 states hiking their minimum hourly rates today, the increases are the result of either legislation or recent voter-approved ballot measures, and range from 35 cents in Michigan to $1 in Maine, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Other states will have smaller automatic increases that adjust the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation.About 4.5 million workers around the country will benefit from the wage increases taking effect early this year, the Economic Policy Institute says.The 10 states raising the minimum wage as a result of legislation or ballot measures are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, according to EPI.The eight states increasing their minimum wage through automatic inflation adjustments are: Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota.Cities hiking the minimum hourly rate for workers range from several in California to New York City and Washington, D.C. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A lucky lottery winner could begin 2018 as a multi-millionaire.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Get ready for the cheapest time to fly all year, says FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney:Airlines generally know when we want to fly and when we don’t.However, they have to fill their seats all the time so they lower fares during slow periods to lure us back.One of those unpopular periods is a cold and wintry season for most of us, with kids back in school and lots of folks content to stay home. Yep, we’re talking about January, and you shouldn’t stay home if only because it’s so darn cheap.When does the January deal zone start?For most of us, fares drop beginning Jan. 9, 2018. This can vary by a day or so depending where you are but a recent Southwest Airlines sale advertises deals beginning Jan. 9. Once we hit this date, watch for super-deals on U.S. flights and flights to Europe. What does "super" mean? How about New York to Madrid for $376 round-trip sound or Los Angeles to Copenhagen for $341. Both these fares were found on my site just a couple of days ago.How long will this cheap period last?This first deal zone of the year generally lasts through much of March but the biggest bargains are usually good for travel in January and much of February.Are there any exceptions or any times when it’s more expensive to fly?Yes. The first exception occurs in February for the U.S. holiday of President’s Day weekend. This is an increasingly popular time to fly and it’s reflected in higher ticket prices for flights on Feb. 15, 16 and 17.Another exception is the standard one that it’s generally cheaper to fly domestically on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays while Friday/Sunday itineraries are expensive. However, the upcoming January deal zone is so good we saw some cases where the weekday fares were identical to weekend prices (New York-to-San Francisco, $227 round-trip on all days during certain periods in January).When does this cheap travel period end?As you might guess, it has to do with when people want to fly again and this demand picks up just in time for spring break. Prices then continue to rise bit by bit until the arrival of the peak summer season.When do prices change for Spring Break?Spring breakers like using a full week for travel so expect fares to rise for weekends only, and this will begin for the weekend of March 10/11. Higher weekend fares will continue for the rest of March and into the latter part of April; weekday fares will remain largely unaffected.Suggestion: Spring break travelers can avoid the highest ticket prices by avoiding weekend-to-weekend itineraries; instead, fly Tuesday or Wednesday to Saturday (or vice versa).When should I buy?Follow the usual shopping windows: buy domestic fares from about 3 months to 3 or 4 weeks before departure and international tickets from 5 months to about one month ahead. Discount airlines sometimes allow you to cut it a little closer to departure time, so keep that in mind, too, but above all, remember to always compare fares. No single carrier always has the best deal.Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.
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  • Photodisc/Thinkstock(MONSON, Mass.) -- Two utility workers who grew up together in Massachusetts are being hailed as heroes after guiding to warmth and safety a diaper-clad 2-year-old girl who managed to wander into car traffic during bitter cold weather."This poor girl -- I think it was around 3 degrees or so on the thermometer," Shawn Bronson, 44, told ABC News. "She had nothing on but a diaper."Bronson was seated in Michael Payne's Comcast cable truck while his was in an auto shop being worked on two days ago.As they were driving along Main Street around 2:30 p.m. between two different service jobs in their hometown of Monson, Massachusetts, they noticed the toddler trying to cross the state highway, and were alarmed because there wasn't a parent nearby."We both looked at each other and said, 'Is that?' and 'Can you believe that?'" he said. "And then we just acted."Bronson said he jumped out of the Comcast truck to warn other drivers zooming along the heavily trafficked Route 32 as Payne scooped up the girl, who apparently wounded her leg."She ran right on the state highway," Bronson said. "She was in the middle of the road when she had fallen."The wound, Bronson said, collected some rock salt deposited that morning to ward off the icy conditions."The rock salt on her wound -- it was heart-wrenching," he said.Payne said her condition was dire at first.“Her skin was changing color, and she was shaking,” he said. “You could really see it in her feet because she was barefoot on the cold concrete.”The men whisked the little girl into the Woodbine Country Store and shed their gear to swaddle her.“We just started taking off our warm stuff,” Bronson said. “We bundled her up as best we could and proceeded to the warmest spot. It was the first thing we could think of.”Police in Monson praised the Comcast technicians."We commend these workers, who are also Monson residents, for their quick action leading to a positive outcome," the police said in the statement.The toddler, the police confirmed, wore only a diaper on a day, records show, when the low temperature reached just 1 degree Fahrenheit.The cops added that the men's vigilance as they drove along Main and Cushman Streets, in the New England town of less than 9,000 people, prevented what "could have had tragic consequences," the statement reads.The police, the statement added, eventually identified the child and soon questioned her father, who told them he "was completely unaware that the child had wandered off" until police informed him of her absence.The father is facing charges of reckless endangerment of a child; his daughter was transported to Wing Hospital to be evaluated, police said.In a company statement to ABC News, Comcast spokeswoman Kirsten Roberts expressed how proud they were of the two men and "so thankful that their quick and smart reactions helped save the child."The statement went on to say that both Bronson and Payne "are special people and employees, and we’re not surprised they immediately sprang into action."The 44-year-old heroes said they have worked together as teammates long before they were installing cable and fiber optics in states such as Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas."We've had quite a run," Bronson said. "Our families all know each other. We played soccer together, went to the same high school.""And we finish our own sentences," Payne said, laughing.Bronson and Payne also said they are fathers and raising daughters of their own.And as fathers, the rescue of the little girl in the freezing cold was something neither thought twice about."We had to do whatever we could do to help," Bronson said. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Twitter/@Ben_RA(NEW YORK) -- A grandmother's hilarious interaction with a new Google Home she addresses as "Goo Goo" was filmed by her software-engineer grandson, Ben Actis, and posted on YouTube."My 85-year-old Italian grandmother learns to use Google Home," Actis wrote. The video, as of midday Saturday, had more than 534,000 views.The grandmother addresses the contraption in front of her on a kitchen table as "Goo Goo," telling it, "I'm glad to meet you."She asks the device what the weather will be tomorrow, and when it answers in a woman's voice, the grandmother is apparently startled.She stands up and backs away from the Google Home.After she returns to sitting at the table, she asks "Goo Goo" to play her an Italian song.
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