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German customs officials to destroy ‘unsafe’ fidget spinners

Customs officials in Germany said they have recently seized large quantities of “unsafe” fidget spinners and plan to destroy them, The Local.de reported.

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Officials at Frankfurt’s airport said they already confiscated 35 tons of the hand-held spinning tops in May. According to employees of the Central Customs Office in Frankfurt, some of the LED lights in the spinners could become so easily unhinged that small children could swallow them.

The toy is currently very popular with children. Manufacturers claim they help children to alleviate symptoms of ADHD, autism or hyperactivity, The Local.de reported.

Customs officials said the fidget spinners arrived in several import shipments from China.

Amazon earned $70M unlawfully from kids, FTC said. Are you due a refund?

Online retailer Amazon, accused of unlawfully billing parents for more than $70 million in purchases by game-playing children, has settled a case with federal regulators, and refunds are available.

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The deadline for submitting refund requests is May 28, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

The charges were made between November 2011 and May 2016, officials said.

Amazon has offered many children’s apps for download to mobile devices such as the Kindle Fire, the FTC said. Children playing games such as “Ice Age Village” could spend unlimited amounts of money to pay for virtual items such as “coins,” “stars” and “acorns” without sufficient parental consent, federal officials said in a 2014 complaint.

“Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created,” FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in 2014.

The FTC and Amazon agreed last month to end their litigation.

“Since the launch of the Appstore in 2011, Amazon has helped parents prevent purchases made without their permission by offering access to parental controls, clear notice of in-app purchasing, real-time notification for every in-app purchase and refund assistance for unauthorized purchases,” an Amazon spokesman said Tuesday. “The court here affirmed our commitment to customers when it ruled no changes to current Appstore practices were required.

“To continue ensuring a great customer experience, we are happy to provide our customers what we have always provided: refunds for purchases they did not approve. We have contacted all eligible customers who have not already received a refund for unauthorized charges to help ensure their refunds are confirmed quickly.”

The FTC said refund requests can be completed online at https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/refund-orders/in-apprefund

Customers can go to their Amazon.com accounts and go to the Message Center to find information about requesting a refund under Important Messages. Questions about individual refunds should be directed to Amazon at 866-216-1072, the FTC said.

Tom Brady will grace cover of ‘Madden 18’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a long list of achievements in his NFL career, including five Super Bowl championship rings. But can he avoid the Madden Curse?

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Brady will grace the cover of EA Sports’ "Madden 18" video game, which goes on sale Aug. 25. According to the Madden Curse, players making the cover of the popular video game have had tough times that particular season. There is evidence to back that up, but some players have had good years, too, ESPN reported.

Brady’s teammate, tight end Rob Gronkowski, was on the cover of “Madden 17.” He missed the postseason after he was placed on injured reserve. The Madden Curse had its origins in 1999, ESPN reported, when the first player to appear on the cover — 49ers running back Garrison Hearst — broke his ankle in a playoff loss to Atlanta.

Since 2001, 13 different “Madden” cover subjects have missed at least part of the season, while others have seen their production dip or their teams suffer shocking ends to the season, ESPN reported.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick broke his leg during his cover season of 2004 and later spent time in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. Seattle running back Shaun Alexander saw his productivity drop after appearing on the 2007 cover. 

Other players have done well. Richard Sherman played great the year he was showcased on “Madden 15,” but the Seahawks lost in the final seconds of the Super Bowl to the Patriots. Calvin Johnson (“Madden 13”) and Ray Lewis (“Madden 2005”) had terrific seasons as "Madden" cover athletes.

Brady, who turns 40 in August, grew up a few miles away from where Electronic Arts opened in his hometown of San Mateo, California, ESPN reported. As a kid, he would work out in the EA gym, in part because the company employed a family friend who lived across the street from him.

Brady downplays the curse.

"There's no such thing as curses," Brady said in a Facebook video. "It's a total myth, OK? I feel you're not really getting it. See? All good."

Pokémon Go hatches Easter egg-hunting promotion

Gotta hunt ’em all — for Easter.

That variation on the Pokémon slogan is perfect, as creators of the Pokémon Go reality game have laid an egg for the Easter holiday.

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The game introduced new eggs for players to hunt in a new “eggstravaganza” that began Thursday and will run until April 20, USA Today reported.

The game’s creators have had holiday-themed events for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, since Pokémon Go was introduced last July, USA Today reported.

The game employs the use of a player’s smartphone GPS to find Pokémon characters hiding in the real world.

For the Easter promotion, players can earn higher levels of experience points by finding the eggs. 

More than 65 million play Pokémon Go each month, says Niantic, the game's developer and publisher. The game has been downloaded more than 650 million times across its Android and iOS versions and has generated more than $1 billion in revenue, USA Today reported.

You can play Ms. Pac-Man on Google Maps for April Fool’s Day

It’s April Fool’s Day, but this is no prank. You can play Ms. Pac-Man on Google Maps for a day.

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Google Maps has had a tradition of prank videos or games. In 2015, the arcade classic Pac-Man game was used. This year, when you call up Google Maps on your browser and pick a location, the lower left-hand corner will display an image of Ms. Pac-Man and an invitation to “Insert Coin.” After clicking the image (located next to the Earth image), Google Maps will evaluate your location. If there are not enough streets, Google Maps will redesign it so it resembles the board from the classic arcade game.

Arrow keys are used to guide Ms. Pac-Man through the maze of streets, which contain those magic pills that allow her to eat those villains.

For adults who grew up in the 1980s, this is a nostalgic trip that won’t cost money — unless you’re on your phone since the game will tap into your data reserves for the month. With so many people using smartphones and tablets, Ms. Pac-Man will find a new audience.

Monopoly boots 3 classic pieces from lineup

Three classic game pieces in the game of Monopoly have been given the boot — including the boot.

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The wheelbarrow and thimble are also out, thanks to an online vote in January by Hasbro, the parent company of Monopoly, CNN reported.

They will be replaced by a T-Rex, rubber ducky and penguin, which will join the five classic tokens: Scottie the dog, hat, car, cat and battleship. The boot, wheelbarrow and thimble won't appear in the game starting this fall. The iron, another classic piece, was dropped in 2013 in favor of a cat.

Monopoly fans from 146 countries cast a total of 4.3 million votes during the contest, Hasbro told The Huffington Post. Game piece options that didn’t make the cut include smiley face emojis, a cellphone and aviator sunglasses.

The boot and thimble have been part of the board game since Parker Brothers introduced it in 1935, while the wheelbarrow has been a fixture since 1956.

In the online vote, Monopoly fans were asked to choose their favorite eight tokens from 64 different possibilities, CNN reported. Fifty-six choices were brand new, including smiley face emojis, a cellphone and aviator sunglasses, The Huffington Post reported.

"While we can't say why these exact tokens were chosen or who exactly chose them, we know they represent the voices of our fans — young and old — from around the world," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing for Hasbro Gaming, told CNN.

Still, he said fans of the now rejected boot, wheelbarrow and thimble did rally hard to keep them around longer.

"We saw a lot of passionate fans out there, including Singer Sewing Co., who rallied their fans on their social pages to keep the thimble token," Berkowitz told CNN. Hardware chain Ace Hardware used social media to drum up support for the wheelbarrow.

"I imagine that the thimble, boot, and wheelbarrow tokens don't resonate as much with today's fans," Berkowitz said.

How to download Nintendo’s Super Mario Run on your iPhone, iPad

Fans of Super Mario are in for a treat Thursday as Nintendo is releasing the game for download on smartphones.

“Super Mario’s Run” is free for download Thursday on Apple’s iOS, but there is a catch -- if you want to unlock the game, it will set you back $9.99.

The game will be familiar to fans as players will be able to maneuver Mario through a series of obstacle courses, collecting coins as they go.

If you play at the higher levels, you must do so online. While there, you can compete against other players and create “kingdoms.”

Super Mario Run is Nintendo’s first iPhone game. It will become available on Android devices next year, the company has said.

Nintendo hopes to follow the success earlier this year of Pokemon Go, a game based on Nintendo-owned characters. Nintendo only owned a portion of the game that was downloaded more than 500 million times.

Macquarie Securities analyst David Gibson told Bloomberg News he believes that the game will be downloaded around 200 million times by March.

Super Mario Run is set to be released at 1 p.m. ET. It will take up around 370MB of storage space. To download the game, open up the app store on your iPhone or iPad and then search for ‘Super Mario Run’. Click download and you’re ready to go.

The latest problem in Rio? No 'Pokemon Go'

Video includes clips from NBC Sports and The Pokémon Company with images from Twitter and Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

The 2016 Olympics have been plagued with problems -- from apartments in uninhabitable conditions to toxic, waste-filled water. But perhaps worst of all: There's no "Pokemon Go."

The app has launched in more than 30 countries, but Brazil isn't one of them. And Olympic athletes aren't too happy about it.

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Some athletes took to Twitter to air their grievances, like British athlete Joe Clarke, whose app showed no PokeStops or Pokemon in sight.

Last month, Rio's mayor asked the company on Facebook to make the app accessible in Brazil before the games.

He said, "Hello, Nintendo! There are 23 days until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The whole world's coming over here. Come too!"

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xM_navNSfCk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Niantic Inc., the company that created "Pokemon Go," has yet to set a release date for the app in Brazil. 

The opening ceremony for the games is Friday.

Police department uses 'Pokemon Go' to nab most wanted

"Gotta catch 'em all" may be the tag line for Pokemon, but it also is a fitting motto for police, especially for the Manchester, New Hampshire, police department.

The lawmen are using the "Pokemon Go" craze to help whittle down their list of most wanted, WMUR reported

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The department posted on its Facebook page recently that a Charizard just happened to be in the booking area. If you were one of the lucky few listed, you could capture the elusive Pokemon character. 

Attention all area #PokemonGo players:  we have recently found out that there is a #Charizard in our booking area.  With...Posted by Manchester NH Police on Saturday, July 16, 2016

In reality, the lucky list was a list of the area's most wanted

Manchester police are not the only law enforcement group embracing the "Pokemon Go" craze that's sweeping the world. 

Police in Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania, put together a video inspired by the television show "Cops" of their quest to find a MewTwo, The Morning Call reported.

The video in all reality is a public service announcement to give tips to Pokemon collectors to play safely.

The Morning Call reported that the members of the police department who took part in the video may or may not be involved in the game off duty, but they are not allowed to play when they're on the clock.

Man claims to quit job to play 'Pokemon Go' full-time

A man from New Zealand apparently has done what some Pokemon players would love to: Tom Currie left his job to travel the country and catch virtual Pokemon characters.

Currie is on his way, trying to catch as many of the characters on the viral hit "Pokemon Go" app, Newshub reported.

Currie is 24 and will take the next two months trying to capture all of the Pokemon.

Just had an interview with The Guardian UK! www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/15/pokemon-go-man-quits-job-to-become-full-time-pokemon-hunter #pokemon A photo posted by NZ Pokémon Trainer Tomblebee (@tomblebee) on Jul 14, 2016 at 9:04pm PDT

He's booked 20 bus trips around the country and has captured 90 of the 151 Pokemon released in in "Pokemon Go."

But how and why would Currie leave his job to embark on a game?

"I wanted to have an adventure. I have been working for six years and I was desperate for a break. And Pokemon gave me the chance to live that dream," Currie told The Guardian.

Currie is also getting support from all over the world, including transportation companies which are offering to take him to the more remote locations of New Zealand to search for rare Pokemon.

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