• FCC(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Communications Commission made good Thursday on a promise made by Chairman Ajit Pai last month by eliminating restrictions on ownership of multiple media outlets within a single market.The decision on Thursday eliminates a rule adopted in 1975 barring shared ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast operation within the same market. "With the newspaper industry in crisis, it makes no sense to place regulatory roadblocks in the way of those who want to purchase newspaper," Pai said in a statement. "The media landscape has changed dramatically in the last 42 years, and the idea that a company could dominate a media market by owning a radio station and a newspaper is utter nonsense."Pai cited the Internet and cable news as new entrants in the media marketplace that make the rule obsolete."To be sure, repealing the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule won't end the newspaper industry's struggles. But it will open to door to pro-competitive combinations that can strengthen local voices and enable both newspapers and broadcast stations to better serve their communities," he added.Critics of the decision say it will lead to further concentration of power to a limited number of large media conglomerates. One such example is Sinclair Broadcasting, a conservative broadcasting company that is looking to purchase the Tribune Media Group for nearly $4 billion. Thursday's decision would no longer require Sinclair to sell a number of its stations to receive regulatory approval.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the Republican-held House of Representatives passed their version of the party's tax reform bill on Thursday, prompting a late-day rally on Wall Street.The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 187.08 on the day, more than earning back Wednesday's losses to finish the session at 23,458.36.The Nasdaq climbed 87.08 to a close of 6,793.29, while the S&P 500 added 21.02, ended trading at 2,585.64.Investors were encouraged by the House's passage of a tax plan that would be the largest overhaul of the system in more than 25 years. Supporters of the plan expect it to cut taxes for the middle class, while opponents say the benefits would be skewed towards the wealthy and would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit.The cost of crude oil fell again, this time by 19 cents. A barrel now sells for $55.14.The American Automobile Association expected 51 million Americans to travel this Thanksgiving, even more than last year. Nearly 90 percent of those travelers are expected to drive despite higher gas prices.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • AVNphotolab/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- All eyes were locked on Lot 9 in a packed salesroom at Christie's auction house in New York during 19 minutes of feverish bidding Wednesday night.But it was an anonymous bidder who called in to secure the haunting painting depicting Christ, believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci, for a cool $450.3 million.The winning bid for the piece, titled Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), was four times Christie's pre-sale estimate and smashed the world record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. The sale far surpassed previous world records, including Pablo Picasso's Women of Algiers that fetched $179.4 million at Christie's in New York in May 2015.The 500-year-old oil on panel depicts Jesus Christ dressed in flowing robes and holding a crystal orb in his left hand. Billed by Christie's as "the last da Vinci," it's the only known painting by the Italian Renaissance artist still in a private collection. It's said to be one of just several paintings from Leonardo's own hand that still exist.Loic Gouzer, the chairman of Christie's postwar and contemporary art department, said the work of art attracted crowds of people while on exhibition in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's auction."We toured Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi around the world, and at every stop crowds of people were drawn to this painting, wanting to stand in front of the picture and experience it in person," Gouzer said after the sale. "Even for me, it is very difficult to pinpoint what it is that makes this painting so poignant, you cannot comprehend the mystery of Leonardo. That is the magic of his work."Leonardo painted Salvator Mundi around the same time as the Mona Lisa, and the two works of art "bear a patent compositional likeness," Gouzer said."Leonardo was an unparalleled creative force and a master of the enigmatic. Standing in front of his paintings, it becomes impossible for one's mind to fully unravel or comprehend the mystery radiating from them — both the Mona Lisa and Salvator Mundi are perfect examples of this. No one will ever be able to fully grasp the wonder of Leonardo's paintings, just as no one will ever be able to fully know the origins of the universe," he added.The provenance of Salvator Mundi is largely shrouded in mystery, however.According to Christie's, the painting once belonged to King Charles I of England in the mid-1600s. It was recorded at a 1763 sale and then vanished until 1900, when it was acquired by Sir Charles Robinson, an art collector. By this time, Christ's face and hair had been painted over and the painting's authorship and illustrious royal history had been forgotten.The painting was consigned to a sale at Sotheby's auction house in 1958 where it fetched just 45 British pounds. The artwork disappeared once again for almost 50 years, leaving many scholars to believe it had been destroyed, until it resurfaced in 2005 when it was purchased at an American estate sale.Salvator Mundi was attributed to Leonardo after six years of restoration and research, becoming the first discovery of a painting by the Renaissance master since 1909, according to Christie's. It was dubbed "the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century."Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the conservator who started restoring the piece in 2007, recalled the moment she first realized the painting was by Leonardo himself."My hands were shaking," Modestini said in a statement released through Christie's in October. "I went home and didn’t know if I was crazy."Francois de Poortere, head of Christie's old master paintings department, said the painting has been referred to Male Mona Lisa."After centuries of hiding, da Vinci’s Christ as Salvator Mundi stirred unmatched sensation in the art world when it was unveiled on the walls of London’s National Gallery in 2011," he said.Prior to Wednesday's highly anticipated sale, Christie'
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  • hikesterson/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some renters of homes owned by the “billion-dollar landlords” highlighted in an ABC News investigation might be surprised to learn that they, as taxpayers, have a stake in their corporate landlord’s business.That’s because of a new initiative by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), in which Fannie Mae guarantees mortgage-backed securities on rental homes. (Fannie Mae, along with Freddie Mac, is a government-sponsored enterprise that securitizes mortgages, allowing private lenders to put more of their money back into lending.)The first deal went to Invitation Homes, founded by financier Stephen Schwarzman, a onetime adviser of President Donald Trump and chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group private equity firm. In January, it was disclosed that Invitation got $1 billion deal from Fannie Mae to back up its mortgages during the tail end of the Obama administration, thus helping Invitation lower its borrowing costs and acquire more units.Meanwhile, some of the rental homes in the stable of Starwood Waypoint, a company once led by longtime Trump ally Tom Barrack, are still jointly owned with Fannie Mae in an arrangement that dates to the mortgage meltdown. The company mentions the joint venture in a 2017 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.According to Aaron Glantz, a senior reporter for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting who has published a series of reports on the home rental business, the Obama administration encouraged these types of investments in foreclosed homes in order to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted.“The Obama administration encouraged this behavior, and even set up a joint venture between Fannie Mae and Tom Barrack's company. Fannie Mae helped Tom Barrack get started in this business,” Glantz told ABC News. “But we have to ask ourselves could there have been another way.”Starwood Waypoint and Invitation have announced plans to merge, creating a company that will own about 82,000 rental homes nationwide, and affordable housing advocates have raised concerns with the FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, arguing that it’s not right for taxpayers to essentially be helping large corporate landlords.Earlier this month, 136 nonprofit organizations from 20 states signed a letter to the FHFA director, a copy of which can be read here, voicing concern that these government-backed deals run counter to the FHFA’s obligation to foster home ownership and stable communities. While the rental companies argue that the buying up foreclosed homes prevents blight, critics say the companies are taking affordable homes away from prospective buyers – and taxpayers are helping them do it.Fannie Mae, as a government sponsored entity, “should be focused on trying to help low- and moderate-income people achieve the American Dream of home ownership,” said Kevin Stein, deputy director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, one of the letter’s signatories. “They’re literally converting home-owner opportunities into home-renter opportunities.”
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  • BrianAJackson/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday adopted rules that would allow phone companies to take proactive steps to block illegal robocalls.The agency notes that unwanted calls, a category that includes illegal robocalls, prompt more than 200,000 consumer complaints each year. As a result of the "advancements in technology," making robocalls and "spoofing" Caller ID information to hide the callers identity has gotten easier.In response, the FCC says it will "expressly authorize voice service providers to block robocalls that appear to be from telephone numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls."Any call coming from a number that is placed on a "do not originate" list by the number's subscriber, purporting to be from an invalid number, from numbers that have not been assigned a provider, or which are allocated to a provider but are not currently in use can be blocked.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When Evette Plata moved out of her Florida rental home, she was determined to recoup her $1,175 security deposit. She called the rental office and got their move-out instructions. She hired her cousin’s cleaning company and said she “Chloroxed everything,” so the house was “spotless.” Her husband even filled in every nail hole in the walls.The rental company’s inspector told her the house looked fine, Evette said, but her landlords decided to keep her security deposit anyway. “When I got the letter, I was astounded,” she said.Unfortunately, like many tenants, Evette didn’t obtain written documentation during the move-out inspection and never thought to take “before” and “after” photos of the house’s condition. She told ABC News she just didn’t expect to have trouble getting the money back. “I’m an honest person,” she said.Complaints from renters about problems with security deposits, poor maintenance and rushed evictions are all too common nationwide.Tenants’ rights vary from state to state and city to city, with some places like Boston and New York City offering broad protections for consumers. So it’s good to know what your specific rights are in your community.But, regardless of where you live, here are eight steps you can take to protect yourself as a renter:1. Check out your landlord. Before signing a lease, look up the rental company’s complaint record with BBB.org or other online complaint sources. And remember, federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status such as having young children or being pregnant.2. Read the entire lease carefully before you sign. This seems obvious, yet many renters fail to do it. You don’t want to find out later that your lease includes excessive late fees or a ban on your pet. Make sure you understand exactly what the lease states about returning your security deposit when you move out.3. Document any existing damages to the property when you move in on paper and in photos, and provide copies of them to your landlord. When you move out, make sure you thoroughly clean the place and take photos again. Attend the landlord’s exit inspection and get his or her findings in writing.4. Know when your landlord has the right to access to your rental home -- and when he or she does not.5. Speak up about maintenance issues and document your attempts to get them fixed. You have the right to habitable housing. And consult local laws; depending on where you live, you may be able to withhold part of your rent until the problem is fixed, or pay for the repair and deduct it from your rent, or just move out with no penalties.6. Buy renter’s insurance. Everyone should have it.7. Know your state and local laws regarding evictions. Landlords can’t just suddenly lock you out without serving you legal notice first. Depending on why they’re terminating your lease, you will have a set period of days to pay up or comply with the rules -- unless you’re deemed a serial offender, in which case you may get an unconditional quit notice with no chance to pay late rent. And if the landlord wants to terminate the lease without cause, they must give you more time to move out -- usually 30 or 60 days, depending on the state.8. Give your landlord the required notice listed in your lease -- 30 days in most states -- if you’re planning to move out. Send them a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep copies of everything.Even after doing all those things, according to Aimee Inglis of Tenants Together, a tenants’ rights organization in California, renters need to stay strong and be willing to go to small-claims court if necessary.Some landlords “are relying on tenants to not push back and not to ask for their deposit back,” Inglis
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