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Scottish Secession a Sobering Prospect for Scotch Whiskey Drinkers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scotch drinkers might want to brace themselves if Scots vote to secede from the United Kingdom and, consequently, the European Union Thursday.

Among the likely outcomes would be higher prices for Americans and others who import the brown elixir from secession-saddled producers with rising costs.

Scotch whiskey, commonly referred to as Scotch and spelled without the "e" in Great Britain, is a tightly regulated spirit that can only come from oak casks that have matured for at least three years in Scotland. Exports are a giant piece of business for the Scotch industry, which says it ships 40 bottles overseas each second, while Scotch accounts for a quarter of U.K.'s food and drink exports.

The prospect of a Scotch trade interruption alone is enough to rattle the industry.

David Frost, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association in Edinburgh, said "any regulatory divergence between Scotland and the rest of the U.K. may increase costs to business," according to his group's annual review in May.

And Frost isn't just bluffing. In the European Union, Scotch producers can export the stuff tariff-free to the region, and the geographical indication of "Scotch Whisky" is protected by E.U. law. Only 109 distilleries are licensed to produce Scotch, according to the association.

"But even a temporary interruption of E.U. membership involving exclusion from the single market or the customs union, if this were a consequence of independence, would be damaging and difficult to manage," Frost wrote in the annual review.

In a statement provided by a spokeswoman to ABC News Tuesday, the association said it is "committed" to working with the government no matter what transpires Thursday. Through consultation of its members, the association detailed what it values from the government: "a supportive business environment, continuity of EU membership, and support for our exports."

The group is understandably nervous, citing 35,000 jobs it says depend on the Scotch industry.

"We see potential risks to these from an independent Scotland,” the statement from the trade group read, “and we look for reassurance that any future arrangements would be at least as supportive as the current ones.”

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What You Need to Know About Apple iOS8 Release

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

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

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

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

Eligible Devices

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

How to Update

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

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

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

What to Expect from iOS 8

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

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

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

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A Company You've Never Heard of Might Have the Biggest IPO Ever

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The largest initial public offering of a company ever, which is expected to happen this week through the New York Stock Exchange, will likely raise more than $24 billion. But many Americans have likely never used or even heard of the firm.

It's an Internet company, not surprisingly, and it's called Alibaba. The company has four main areas of revenue, according to Santosh Rao, head of research of Manhattan Venture Partners. And here's what they are:

1. Retail E-Commerce

The first and main category is Alibaba's retail marketplaces, which comprised 81.6 percent of the firm's revenue in its fiscal 2014 year, which ended in March.

This includes:

  •     Taobao, described as China's largest consumer-to-consumer shopping site, similar to eBay.
  •     Tmall, China's largest third-party business-to-consumer platform.
  •     Juhuasuan, China's most popular group buying marketplace.

Through these sites, Alibaba takes a cut when there's a transaction, plus there's the business of advertising and search results when people are looking for an item. Some vendors can pay more to be listed first in search results.

2. Alibaba's Wholesale Marketplace

Alibaba's second biggest way to make money is its wholesale selling and buying business, which allows manufacturers to supply retail merchants. The website is Alibaba's local wholesale business while is involved in international commerce.

Alibaba's local wholesale business last comprised about 4.4 percent of revenue in 2014, while international commerce provided 9.2 percent.

3. Payments

As the folks at Apple can attest to, with its introduction of Apple Pay last week, the online and mobile payments industry is only getting started. Alibaba previously spun off Alipay, which describes itself as the "China's leading third-party online payment solution," and is similar to PayPal. But it's still in the Alibaba ecosystem, facilitating business in both the retail and wholesale marketplaces.

"These guys facilitate the transactions," Rao said of Alipay, which is a big and an essential business in China, because "there is a big slice of unbanked and underbanked population there," especially in the non-urban areas.

4. Alibaba's Ancillary Services

Alibaba has its hand in a number of other services, such as cloud computing and online marketing, which comprise 3.3 percent of the company's revenue.

"Alibaba is getting into a number of other businesses, such as gaming, taxi service, ticketing, movie studios, among others," Rao said. "They first take a small minority position in these emerging growth areas before acquiring them fully or take a major position."

But other times, the company just takes a bite of the apple. Alibaba has invested in other companies with no sign of total domination yet, including the American ride-sharing firm Lyft and member shopping site

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Congressman Fights to Protect Yelpers

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., is proposing legislation that would protect amateur reviewers nationwide from legal or financial retaliation.

Swalwell’s bill was inspired by what happened to a couple in Utah after they posted a bad review, according to The National Journal. The two were said to have been fined $3,500 for “unwittingly violating a retailer’s terms-of-sale contract.”

The bill is similar to a new Yelp law in California that fines restaurants and other businesses that write “disparagement clauses” into their terms of service contracts, allowing them to charge reviewers with fees.

“It’s un-American for any consumer to be penalized for writing an honest review,” Swalwell says.

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Markets on Edge as Fed Meeting Kicks Off

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Until now, the Federal Reserve has reassured stock market investors, saying it will keep official short-term interest rates near zero for a “considerable time.” But those two words might be dropped from the next Fed statement, scheduled for Wednesday.

Policymakers begin a two-day meeting Tuesday morning, and markets are on edge.

On Tuesday, stock futures were down ahead of the opening bell. The day before, the averages closed mixed.

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Surge Soda Returns

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The sugary, lemon-lime soda you loved in the 1990s is back -- at least temporarily.

Coca-Cola reintroduced Surge, which was discontinued in 2003, in 12-packs on, with the same retro packaging.

Unfortunately for fans who heard the news too late, it's already sold out.

But Coke said it's interested in further exploration of digital media and online sales.

“If expectations are met, this may be only the first of a variety of efforts we explore to launch niche products through e-commerce relationships” said Wendy Clark of Coca-Cola North America in a blog post.

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Meet the Vine Stars Who Turn 6 Seconds of Fame into Big Bucks

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Spending the afternoon making short funny Vine videos with friends may seem like a total slacker thing to do, but for a select few, it’s a pathway to fame and fortune.

Cody Johns, Brent Rivera and Greg Davis, Jr., who goes by the username "Klarity," are top Vine influencers, rising stars on the six-second-video app. All three say they pull down six-figure salaries with their Vine videos.

These guys are the new Don Drapers, creative guys who have figured out how to connect with consumers -- which is worth big money.

Johns, a 24-year-old from Florida, said they were making Vines for a year before they gained traction on the app, and now they have caught the attention of major companies like Coca-Cola, willing to pay these Viners a lot of money to make Vine videos with their products and share it with their followers.

“Vine's average audience are…13 and 15 year olds,” Davis said. “We have the ability to affect an audience in any way simply by saying go do it. They come to us because we can reach an audience that they can't.”

Davis, 30, also from Florida, has two million followers on Vine -- more than Miley Cyrus' 1.4 million. Johns has 2.4 million -- 300,000 more than Justin Bieber. Los Angeles native Brent Rivera, just 16 years old, has five million followers.

In addition to all those followers, the three Vine stars have something else going for them: a squeaky clean image.

“I'm clean. I'm very kid friendly I guess,” Rivera said. “My mom is a fourth grade teacher and the kids in her class watch my videos. I get a young audience 8 to 20…It's pretty crazy. I can't believe it's happening."

One six-second ad on Vine can be worth anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000, according to according to Rob Fishman, the co-founder of Niche, a combination advertising and talent agency for the digital age. The Vine ads don’t look anything like the traditional 30-second TV spots. They’re shorter, grittier, and often wittier.

Coca Cola is one of many big corporations reaching out this way. Procter and Gamble, Hewlett Packard and Warner Brothers, among others have also used top Vine influencers to reach new audiences.

This sort of home-grown, user-generated ad style is called “native advertising,” and industry analysts say corporate America is forecast to spend $4 billion this year alone on it -- probably twice that much by the end of the decade.

Fishman said connecting big corporate brands with social media stars is the best position to influence target audiences because fans can relate to them.

"We see tons of people on the site who see better engagement on their social channels than Miley Cyrus, and yet Miley Cyrus is a world famous recording artist,” Fishman said. “Vine stars and Instagram photographers are more influential, more popular, and more relevant with audiences.”

But, Fishman cautioned, social media stars have to think carefully about turning their personal accounts into an advertising mechanism.

"These creators can do whatever they want on their channels,” Fishman said, but noted that Fortune 500 companies comb through the videos on the lookout for anything that could hurt their brand image.

“It's not so different from a political candidate who has to think about not what am I saying on the campaign trail, but what am I doing in my private life,” he said.

The Viners also have to be choosey. They don’t want their videos to seem like they’ve been sanitized by the corporate PR team, potentially diminishing the authenticity that made them popular in the first place.

“We don't want them to think, yeah we're just using them,’” Davis said, sensitive to being called a sell-out. “So it makes us think about doing brand deals, it makes us think about doing stuff for any other advertisers.”

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Apple Gives Instructions on How to Delete Free U2 Album

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- There's a way to remove that free U2 album you didn't ask for.

Apple's event last Tuesday was like a holiday for fanatics, as the company unveiled two new iPhones, the Apple Watch, Apple Pay and iOS 8. The banner event was capped off when CEO Tim Cook and U2 frontman Bono revealed that 500 million iTunes users would automatically be gifted the band's new album, Songs of Innocence.

Plenty of people have said "thanks but no thanks" to the gift -- which has shown up anyway in users' cloud-based iTunes accounts.

In response, Apple unveiled a website Monday to make it easier for users to rid their accounts of the album, if they so choose.

Check out the website here
. Then click "remove album." Sign in with your Apple ID and password and you should be good to go.

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Ride-Sharing Company Sidecar Says It Raised $15 Million, Richard Branson Is New Investor

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ride-sharing company Sidecar plans to continue towards its goal of nationwide expansion -- with Virgin founder Richard Branson joining as a new investor.

According to a post on the Sidecar blog, the company has raised $15 million towards this proposed growth. In the post, Branson says that the transportation industry, "has been ripe for disruption for decades," and that Sidecar, "can take on the big guys with innovation and ideas, not just big bank accounts."

Sidecar connects drivers with people in need of rides nearby. Earlier this year, the company introduced "Shared Rides," in which drivers are matched with nearby riders going in the same direction.

The company currently operates in 10 markets across the U.S.

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Gas Prices Drop Significantly

FeelPic/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gas prices dropped by almost five cents in the last week, an impressively large dip, bringing the average price of a dollar of unleaded gas to $3.41.

That figure, released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is nearly 14 cents lower than this date one year ago. California was once again the state with the highest average price for gas, with one gallon costing $3.79 on average.

The most notable drop occurred in the Midwest region, where the average gas price dropped by slightly more than eight cents per gallon from last week.

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Deaths from GM Ignition Switch Defect Exceed Initial Estimate

General Motors(NEW YORK) -- The number of people who’ve died in connection to GM's failed ignition switch and are eligible for compensation is higher than the automaker's initial estimate and will likely increase further, according to independent administrators handling the claims process.

GM had previously estimated that at least 13 deaths resulted from its defective ignition switches, but Ken Feinberg, who’s the independent administrator of GM's compensation program, and his deputy administrator, Camille Biros, on Monday said 19 deaths are eligible for a claim.

"That’s only our first report," Biros told ABC News. "This is an ongoing process."

Biros explained that the families of the 19 who died and are eligible for a claim have not yet been contacted.

The overall compensation program, which launched on Aug. 5, is open for submission until Dec. 31 through Biros declined to comment on whether the 13 deaths that GM counted were included in Monday's total of 19, citing the program's confidentiality.

"We will expect to get a significant number of claims from now until end of submission process," she said, adding that some families have received letters requesting more information because their submissions were deficient.

Biros says the claim program had received 445 applications for compensation from GM, as of Sept. 12, including 125 claims that a death resulted from GM's ignition switch defect.

Feinberg was hired to design the submission and settlement process of the related death and physical injury claims. He previously administered the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, the One Fund Boston 2013 Victim Relief Fund and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

In addition to the 19 deaths, the program announced that there were four claims eligible that resulted in a "category one" injury: quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns. There were an additional eight claims categorized as "category two," which required hospitalization.

In a statement from a GM spokesman, the company said, "We have previously said that Ken Feinberg and his team will independently determine the final number of eligible individuals, so we accept their determinations for the compensation program. What is most important is that we are doing the right thing for those who lost loved ones and for those who suffered physical injury."

While there is no payment range for death and category-one claims, the amount paid to category-two victims will be based on length of hospital stay, among other factors.

"The deceased and category-one claims are all individualized," Biros said.

The final payment offer for the death claims will depend on earnings and the noneconomic impact on the deceased's family members, an arduous process that is just beginning, she said.

"This is just a snapshot in time in terms of where we are in eligibility," Biros said, describing Monday's announcement.

She said she hopes to release a weekly update on the program's statistics each Monday.

The submission process can be an emotional process that can include working with claimants lawyers, if they have any, to make sure they submitted all documentation about the car crash and individual.

"We have a whole lot of work to do in reviewing the other documentation for submitted claims," Biros said.

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Mixed Day on Wall Street, US Manufacturing Output Down

stu99/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After the first week of losses in nearly a month, Wall Street was mixed on Monday, with two of the major indices posting losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 43.63, finishing back above 17000 at 17031.14.

The Nasdaq dropped 48.7 to a close of 4518.90, while the S&P 500 slipped 1.41 to 1984.13. Last month, the S&P 500 had reached 2000 for the first time.

For the first time since January, manufacturing output in the U.S. dropped in August, and the gains for July were revised lower. Still, overall industrial production was 4.1 percent higher than at the same time last year.

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Urban Outfitters Apologizes for Insensitive Kent State Sweatshirt Sale

Urban Outfitters(NEW YORK) -- Retail clothing store Urban Outfitters is apologizing Monday after selling a sweatshirt on its website that some see as trivializing a campus shooting from the Vietnam War era.

The red faded Kent State University sweatshirt, billed by the company as a vintage find, retailed for $129 and is now listed on the site as sold out after someone purchased the company’s single available sweatshirt.

“Get it or regret it!” the company urged in its description for the article of clothing.

People on social media immediately identified the offensive connotations of the sweatshirt, pointing out that it looked blood-stained and seemed to refer to the 1970 Kent State deaths when the Ohio National Guard killed four unarmed students and wounded nine others during a protest against President Richard Nixon’s campaign to expand the Vietnam war into Cambodia.

Urban Outfitters prompted some Twitter outrage.

"Just bought a bunch of stuff from Urban Outfitters yesterday. Contemplating returning it all after this disgusting sweatshirt situation," tweeted Jenna Wright.

Rob Peterson added, "Hey @UrbanOutfitters, thanks for proving that History classes are actually important. Ignorance is not bliss."

Kent State University has responded to the situation through a statement that reads in part, “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

The company responded through Twitter, writing Monday morning, “Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.”

The sweatshirt is now being resold on eBay for $550 by user kentstatesweater who claims to have ordered the piece of clothing and is waiting on its arrival. The description says the owner plans to donate 50 percent of the profit to The Southern Poverty Law Center.

KSU spokesperson Emily Vincent told ABC News in an email that Urban Outfitters reached out to the university with the same statement they released on Twitter.

Urban Outfitters and eBay user kentstatesweater did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.

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Microsoft Buys Minecraft Creator in $2.5 Billion Deal

Miles Willis/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse(REDMOND, Wash.) -- Microsoft will pay $2.5 billion to acquire the maker of one of today's most popular online games. Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer announced deal to buy Mojang, the creator of Minecraft, Monday on the company's website.

"This is a game that has found its audience on touch devices, on phones, on iPads, on consoles and obviously, its true home on PC. Whether you're playing on an Xbox, whether you're playing on a Play Station, an Android, IOS device, our goal is to continue to evolve and innovate with Minecraft across all those platforms," Spencer said about the game's appeal among its diverse community of players.

Minecraft, a game that lets players contruct their own 3D virtual world, is the most popular online game on Microsoft Xbox, and the top paid app for both Apple and Google. The game has been downloaded more than 100 million times on PCs alone since its launch in 2009.

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Why iPhone 6 Could Be Apple's Biggest Success Ever

Apple(NEW YORK) -- The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are bigger than their predecessors in more ways than one.

The devices, which boast larger screens, are so popular since their unveiling last week that they have broken all iPhone pre-order sales records.

More than four million pre-orders for the phones were placed when they went on sale Friday, according to Apple.

Demand has been so high that Apple said it has exceeded the pre-order supply, meaning that some customers won't receive their new phones until October.

If you haven't pre-ordered a new iPhone but are clamoring to have one by the end of the week, there's still a glimmer of hope if you're willing to wait hours or days in line. Apple said a limited supply of phones will be available in its stores for walk-in customers beginning Sept. 19 at 8 a.m. local time.

The iPhone 6 Plus was also in high demand from mobile carriers, who projected delivery dates stretching into October.

What makes the iPhone so hot, aside from having the latest Apple product, is the larger screen sizes.

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

The iPhones are also packed with new features, including "reachability." With a double touch, the display can slide down so users can reach "anything" at the top of the phone, an ideal feature for multitasking.

Apple Pay, the company's digital wallet that is aiming to be a credit card killer, will also be supported on the new iPhones.

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