YouTube Comedy Star Pays Off Parents’ $340,000 Mortgage

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PARAMOUNT, Calif.) — How does a popular YouTube star who calls his six-figure comedy talents “obscene” spend his money?

Timothy DeLaGhetto typically entertains his 2.5 million subscribers with sex jokes and television parodies. By contrast, his latest video is a real tearjerker.

The comedian and rapper’s real name is Tim Chantarangsu, and he’s the son of parents who immigrated from Thailand. Chantarangsu said his income is primarily driven by advertisements from his YouTube channel called Timothy DeLaGhetto.

His videos include satire, including a raunchy take on the popular Snuggie blanket. He also writes and produces skits, including a recent video that mimics the MTV reality show Catfish.

“Not a lot of people do what I do, especially as an Asian American guy. My comedy is pretty obscene and I’m pretty blunt with the jokes I make, so I stick out from the norm. I’ve built a pretty strong following of people who enjoy what I do,” he said. “I try to have a strong message of positivity and spreading joy and love to the world.”

This week, he posted a YouTube video in which he surprised his parents with $340,000 to pay off their home mortgage.

Chantarangsu, who lives not too far from his folks in Paramount, California, told ABC News that he cranks out YouTube videos, at least one a week, so that his parents don’t have to work so hard. He also is a regular on MTV2′s improvisation show, Wild ‘N Out, hosted by Nick Cannon.

In his newest video, he presents a check to his parents, who own a restaurant. The generous gift — $210,000 to the loan company and $130,000 to the bank — brings his mother to tears.

While his parents have always supported him, they were initially cautious, especially when he left college in 2010 to pursue a career in entertainment.

“I was going to college for my parents, but eventually I got to the point where I was doing all right at both — college and Internet stuff. I realized I needed to pick one if I wanted to excel at something, so I stopped going to school,” he said.

He said his mother occasionally asks him if he is going to return to school.

“I would tell her, ‘Do you want me to go back to school or pay your bills?’” Chantarangsu said with a chuckle.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

What Is the Cost-Benefit of Pricey Colleges?

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Student debt may be at a record high, but in many cases, a college degree will improve your chance of getting a good job.  

A new survey by Money magazine looked at the cost-benefit analysis of colleges, and found that number one was Babson College in Massachusetts, a school that specializes in entrepreneurship and business.

While the school is expensive, within five years graduates are on average reporting earnings of about $60,000.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

One in Three Americans Have Debts Reported to Collection Agencies

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) –  More than 35 percent of Americans are facing debt collectors.

A study by the Urban Institute suggests that more than one in three Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, as consumers fall behind on payments including credit cards, hospital bills, mortages, and student debt.

Even past-due gym membership fees or cell phone contracts can end up with a collection agency, potentially hurting credit scores and job prospects.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Modeling Shoot Brings Fast Cash, Then Decade of Aggravation

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Victoria Bond once received a call from her husband’s parents asking if she knew she had been featured in their local Midwestern penny saver as the face of Dulcolax, a laxative for women. She did not.

Bond spent one day in 2003 modeling for a stock photo company and her photos continue to pop up in the most unexpected ways.

“They keep popping up in random places,” Bond, a professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice told ABC News.

Bond said she had been working her way through graduate school when she landed the gig, receiving a flat rate of $2,500 for a full day of modeling for random photos.

With a studio set-up she recalled as being reminiscent of an Ikea store, Bond jumped from room set-up to room set-up, posing in all different scenarios: a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom, and even with a fake husband and children in different shots.

“I’ve seen myself in a bank, happy at home at a computer, as a happy mom in a Walmart, and even as a happy mom to a completely different set of kids,” said Bond, who reported having bumped into different versions of herself at least 15 times over the years.

“They just don’t stop,” Bond said, “and it’s weird because you have no memory of that stuff.”

Though Bond only modeled for the company for one day, she estimated 500-600 photos, possibly more, were taken of her and continue to be sold for various ads and campaigns. Bond signed a release form, giving away all rights to the photos, the only stipulation being that the snaps could not be used in HIV or STD medication ads. Besides those two exceptions, Bond says companies not only have permission to use the photos, but also to edit them, which she believes is how the box of Dulcolax was shown in her hands.

Though she signed the proper releases, Bond said she was too young to really understand what she was signing up for.

“You don’t realize that your image is going to be sold and you’re not going to receive any money for it,” said Bond.

Bond, who said she lived above a travel agency for three years before recognizing herself as the woman in the background of the travel billboard near her apartment, said the experience of continuously seeing herself in the ads is “shocking and annoying.”

“It’s very disorienting,” said Bond. “It alienates you from yourself. It makes it hard to recognize yourself.”

Bond said she frequently is sent photos of herself in random ads by friends and family, whether it be her and her happy fake family in Walmart or a shot of her in a doctor’s office, informing the public about how important it is to prevent diabetes.

As a professor, Bond will also get sent photos by her students. Though the pictures have popped up in strange places, Bond has taken it all in stride, though she fears what the future might hold for the shots taken so long ago.

“My worst fear would have to be showing up on some sort of skeevy dating site or phone sex promotion,” said Bond, “but I guess you never know.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Housing Prices Up More than Nine Percent

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Home prices are going up, but not as fast as they were rising last year.

According to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday, house prices rose by just over 1% in May from the month before, and are selling more than 9% higher than this time last year.

Both the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index and the 10-city index showed slowing price growth in May with price increases of 1.1%, but declines of 0.3% after seasonal adjustments.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wall Street: Dow, Nasdaq and S&P All Close Down

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The markets moved lower on Tuesday as investors  wait for a batch of key economic reports later this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 70.48 points, closing at 16,912.11. The Nasdaq fell 2.21 points to 4,442.70, and the S&P 500 lost 8.96 points, ending the day at 1,969.95.

The government’s latest gross domestic product figures will be released on Wednesday and the July employment numbers will be released on Friday.

Twitter’s second quarter numbers, reported after the bell on Tuesday, were better than expected.  The company reported revenues of $312 million, up 124% from the same quarter a year ago.

 

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Airlines Report Strong Second Quarter Earnings

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The airline industry is making more money after several difficult years during the recession. United Airlines, Delta and American Airlines all reported record second quarter profits, thanks to increased fares and fees.

“It is hard to believe that less than eight months ago, American [Airlines] was in bankruptcy yet today we are reporting record profits, prepaying debt, making additional pension contributions and declaring dividends to shareholders,” said the company’s CEO Doug Parker in a message to employees.

Major mergers could mean less competition on many routes, potentially leading to more fare increases as the economy improves.

A number of other U.S. carriers also posted strong second quarter earnings.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Gas Prices Continue Decline Through Summer Driving Season

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinsktock(WASHINGTON) — For many Americans, a long distance car trip is a cheaper option than flying as gas prices are falling quickly across the country.

The U.S. Energy Department says the average price of regular gas fell 5 cents a gallon last week to a nationwide average of $3.54.

For Midwesterners, prices are down 8 cents, while Californians, for the first time in months, are paying less than $4 a gallon for regular unleaded gas.

One expert says these late season low prices are rare.

“You know it’s something that’s relatively rare to see a price decline go this late into the summer months,” says senior GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan.

But DeHaan adds that the U.S. is producing more oil and getting it from other sources.

He says this is good news “as long as we don’t see a hurricane enter the Gulf.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Southwest Airlines (LUV) Has 30 Days to Answer Fine

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

AP southwest airlines kab 140729 16x9 608 Southwest Airlines (LUV) Has 30 Days to Answer Fine

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 is pictured being serviced at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Ark. on June 19, 2014. Danny Johnston/AP Photo

Morning Business Memo:

Southwest Airlines has 30 days to respond to a proposed $12 million civil fine by The Federal Aviation Administration. The penalty is for repair violations on some of Southwest’s Boeing 737 jets. Regulators say starting in 2006 Southwest made major alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. A Southwest contractor allegedly failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage as well as other work on the planes. The airline says the complaint included repairs that were fully resolved years ago.

The airline industry is making more money after several difficult years during the recession. United Airlines, Delta and American Airlines all reported record second quarter profits, thanks to increased fares and fees. Major mergers could mean less competition on many routes, potentially leading to more fare increases as the economy improves. “It is hard to believe that less than eight months ago, American was in bankruptcy yet today we are reporting record profits, prepaying debt, making additional pension contributions and declaring dividends to shareholders,” said the company’s CEO Doug Parker in a message to employees. Other major U.S. carriers – JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines – also posted impressive earnings for the second quarter,” reports The Washington Post.

For many Americans a long distance car trip is a cheaper option than flying. Gas prices are falling pretty quickly across the country. The U.S. Energy Department says the average price of regular gas fell 5 cents a gallon last week to a nationwide average of $3.54. “You know it’s something that’s relatively rare to see a price decline go this late into the summer months,” says senior GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan.

Potholes and lousy road surfaces are a problem for motorists in many states, often leading to expensive repairs. The Senate is scheduled to take up legislation today to keep federal highway money flowing to states, with just three days left before the government plans to start slowing down payments. The House passed a $10.8 billion bill last week that would pay for highway and transit aid through the end of May 2015 if transportation spending is maintained at current levels. But some Senate Democrats who want to force Congress to act on a long-term plan to pay for roads and bridges and are expected to offer amendments. If any of the amendments pass, it would set up an 11th hour showdown between the House and Senate. The Transportation Department says without additional funding it will begin cutting back payments to states this Friday.

A study by the Urban Institute suggests that more than one in three Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies. These consumers fall behind on credit cards or hospital bills. Their mortgages, auto loans or student debt may pile up, unpaid. Even past-due gym membership fees or cellphone contracts can end up with a collection agency, potentially hurting credit scores and job prospects. The Urban Institute says the share of consumers in collections has remained relatively constant, even as credit card debt has declined since 2009.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

FAA: Southwest Didn’t Comply with Safety Regulations During Plane Repair

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Southwest media / Stephen M. Keller (NEW YORK) — The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting that Southwest failed to comply with federal safety regulations while making repairs to its Boeing 737′s.

Starting in 2006, Southwest gave 44 of its planes what the FAA calls “extreme makeovers” to eliminate the potential for cracking on the aluminum skin.

But according to the FAA, a contractor did not follow proper procedures, and Southwest flew the planes despite knowing they were not in compliance.  

The FAA wants to fine Southwest Airlines $12 million. 

Southwest says it has since resolved the repair issues and will respond to the FAA allegations in accordance with procedures.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

OkCupid Experimented on Users, Then Blogged About It

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of Facebook’s recent admission of toying with users’ emotions, another site revealed Monday that it, too, likes to “experiment on human beings” — and lie to them.

OkCupid founder Christian Rudder published a blog on Monday detailing three recent experiments the online dating site performed that manipulated users’ perceptions, including telling a “small sample” of couples that they were highly compatible when they actually were not.

“The ultimate question at OkCupid is, does this thing even work?” wrote Rudder, referring to its algorithm for accurately calculating match percentage. “In the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to?”

To test the theory, Rudder and colleagues “took pairs of bad matches (actual 30 percent match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90 percent match.)” As hypothesized, the couples initiated contact with one another because they believed what the site told them.

But it didn’t end there. The experiment also determined that users were more inclined to actually like each other when told to, exchanging four or more messages, even if they wouldn’t normally.

“The four-message threshold is our internal measure for a real conversation,” wrote Rudder. “And though the data is noisier, this same ‘higher display means more success’ pattern seems to hold when you look at contact information exchanges, too.”

Rudder did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the size of the sample tested, how long the experiment lasted and whether any couples notified of it had reacted positively or negatively.

But readers were quick to respond to the blog post, comparing it to Facebook and drawing their own conclusions.

“Facebook secretly manipulated the users of the site, attempting to alter their emotions … quite possibly at the behest of creepy interests sponsoring this experiment,” commented one user identified as SteveRestless. “All I can see here is honest curiosity and a desire to improve the site.”

Others were not as forgiving.

“I hope you didn’t cause me to miss out on a relationship while playing around with the data,” wrote another. “It is hard enough for me as it is. Also, people trusting your match percent is what you want, so don’t lie to them about it.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

What Happened When 3 Politicians Tried a Minimum Wage Budget?

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

McDonald’s press photo(WASHINGTON) — Have you ever seen a congressman snacking on a measly tin of sardines? Or maybe a governor ordering a McChicken off the dollar menu?

In Washington this week that scene was reality for three Democratic politicians who are taking the Live the Wage challenge.

Reps. Tim Ryan and Jan Schakowsky joined former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in taking the challenge and are each living on a budget of $77 for the week–- the same amount that a minimum wage worker typically has to spend on food, transportation, and day-to-day expenses, after factoring out major costs such as rent and utilities.

“I basically had a couple bags of peanuts in the cloakroom–and there was a little fruit in the office that I ate yesterday,” Rep. Ryan told ABC News. “I spent about seven bucks last night on a couple cans of sardines and a bag of crackers from the convenience store up the street.”

The congressman began the Live the Wage challenge last week with hopes of bringing attention to the hardships facing minimum wage workers around the nation.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky also began the challenge Thursday telling ABC News, “It totally changes your perspective. Even the shopping experience — I make a shopping list when I go to the store usually. I think about what I need — what I want — and I put it in the cart. I truthfully rarely think about how much it costs.”

“I’ll walk down the aisle and I’ll see something you know, that would be great and I throw it in the cart. There’s just none of that when you’re on that kind of budget. There’s no spontaneity whatsoever,” Schakowsky added.

Strickland even took a trip to McDonald’s to try out the fast food chain’s dollar menu. Strickland posted a photograph of his $2.20 meal on Twitter noting that the workers at McDonald’s — a company known for paying the legal minimum — “deserve a raise.”

In a Politico op-ed, Strickland explained that he was unable to complete the week-long challenge with a budget of just $77. One particularly difficult aspect the governor discussed was eating a healthy diet while living on a $7.25 hourly wage.

“Because fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to find at a price within a minimum wage budget, I turned to bread, peanut butter, bananas and bologna more than anything else. That was what I could find when I took this budget to the grocery story last Sunday. And that’s why I ate lunch from the McDonald’s dollar menu.”

Schakowsky
and Ryan have also taken to social media in recent days to share their message about the challenges facing minimum wage workers.

“There are a lot of people out there who do this for extended periods of time — years — so the idea is to get the message out and raise awareness about some of the difficulties that can happen to you,” Ryan told ABC News. “We realize it’s not going to be exactly like the challenges that a minimum wage family faces, but the country is talking about the minimum wage right now. And I think that’s exactly what we want to do.”

Schakowsky said, “I’m not going to pretend that now I understand what it’s like to live on the minimum wage. I think it’s a taste of it. But for anyone who thinks it’s a gimmick, my suggestion would be try it.”

Ryan and Schakowsky were co-sponsors of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. Their goal is to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The push to increase the national minimum has steadily intensified in the past year as the minimum wage has remained unchanged since 2009.

Last week marked the five-year anniversary since Congress last passed an increase to the national minimum, while the wage for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum wage doesn’t get you very far: “On average, a single-parent household (one parent, at least one child under 18) will spend $5,457 per year on food, or about $105 per week.”

That’s $28 above what a minimum wage worker has to live on for a week.

When asked about plans for reintroducing minimum wage legislation, Schakowsky was optimistic, but expressed concerns over whether Speaker of the House John Boehner would bring the bill to a vote.

“We’re hoping that we’re going to see another vote on it in the Senate and that there will be more pressure,” Schakowsky said.

“I fully believe that if Speaker Boehner were to call an increase on the minimum wage that it would pass. It’s a matter of making sure that we just get more Republicans over this recess to ask the speaker to just call the bill.”

Ryan, however, was not as optimistic about the bill’s prospects before the midterm elections.

“I doubt it. The speaker’s holding the line on this. And I hope it’s a rallying call for the 65,000 minimum wage workers in my district and the million and a half across the country,” Ryan said.

“Let’s increase the minimum wage and get people to work and make sure work pays. That’s ultimately the conversation we want to have.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Virgin America Files for IPO

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Virgin America Press(NEW YORK) — Virgin America is coming to Wall Street.

Virgin America has filed for an initial public offering of its shares.

The California-based airline flies to 22 airports in the United States and Mexico. Its fleet of 53 planes has perks including including live TV, movies, leather seats, and purple mood lighting.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Zillow Plans to Buy Trulia

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Zillow/Trulia(NEW YORK) — Zillow says it plans to buy its online real estate rival, Trulia, for $3.5 billion in an all-stock deal.

“Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals,” said Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff. “Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships.”

The deal is expected to close in 2015.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Dollar Tree Buying Family Dollar

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Dollar Tree/Family Dollar | ABC News Illustration(NEW YORK) — Dollar Tree is buying Family Dollar in a deal valued at approximately $8.5 billion.

The combined company would operate more than 13,000 discount stores.

Shares of Family Dollar jumped more than 20 percent after the merger was announced.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Greyhound Bus Fleet Revamps, But Can a 100-Year-Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Greyhound(NEW YORK) — Riding the bus is cool. Or, at least, that’s what Greyhound, the country’s largest intercity bus transportation provider, is on a mission to prove.

Having celebrated its 100th birthday in May, the company has completely refurbished its fleet of approximately 1,200 vehicles, adding new leather seats, more legroom and digital offerings, such as power outlets and Wi-Fi, in a bid to appeal to a multi-tasking, mega-social millennial ridership.

“We’ve received a great deal of positive feedback, especially when it comes to the on-board amenities, convenience, frequency and environmental stewardship,” said Greyhound CEO Dave Leach. “They understand the social impact of public transportation.”

According to a study conducted by the American Public Transportation Association in 2012 and 2013, millennials travel often, using multiple modes of transportation and are motivated by affordable cost and convenience.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also prefer to socialize online or work remotely during their journey.

“Millennial customers enjoy the ability to keep in touch with friends on social media and they are now able to share their experience with friends and loved ones in real-time as they travel [on Greyhound],” he said. “Young professionals on a budget also love that they can be productive and work while they travel. They can get ahead on a company project or answer emails during their journey.”

Greyhound isn’t just seeking to connect riders with their online communities, however. It also wants to become a part of them.

“We are introducing technology that will allow us to have a more intimate relationship with our customers, providing services and features that are important to them, and better engagement with our brand,” said Leach, alluding to an app currently in development that would offer service updates in real time similar to airlines and Amtrak trains.

Rider security has also been updated in recent years. Modern strategies include random passenger screenings, enhanced driver training, a surveillance system called DriveCam that captures video both inside and outside the bus, and an on-board GPS communications system that allows the company to remotely shut down a vehicle in an emergency.

“Safety is our core value at Greyhound, and it is ingrained throughout our business,” said Leach, adding that there is now a zero-tolerance stance on aggressive behavior.

As the centennial celebrations continue throughout the year, vintage buses are on view and a mobile museum is making its way through 40 cities with various memorabilia.

“We’re excited to celebrate our 100th anniversary this year and be among an elite group of brands that have withstood the test of time,” he said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Dollar Tree (DLTR) Buying Family Dollar (FDO)

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Morning Money Memo…

It’s merger Monday and today’s big deal is in the retail industry.

Dollar Tree is buying rival discount store Family Dollar for about $8.5 billion. Among the big winners is billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who announced last month that he had purchased more than 9 percent of Family Dollar shares.

Stockholders of Family Dollar Stores will receive $59.60 in cash and the equivalent of $14.90 in shares of Dollar Tree for each share they own. The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close by early next year.

Shares of Family Dollar jumped more than 20 percent after the merger was announced this morning. With flat living standards and cautious consumers, dollar stores have seen their sales rise in recent years.

Zillow Plans to Buy Trulia

Zillow says it plans to buy its online real estate rival, Trulia, for $3.5 billion in an all-stock deal. The boards of directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in 2015.

The combined company will maintain both the Zillow and Trulia consumer brands, offering buyers, sellers, homeowners and renters access to information about homes and real estate, and providing advertising and software products for real estate professionals.

“Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals,” said Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff. “Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships.”

Malls React to Shrinking Retailers

Many shopping malls have been facing tough times as some struggling retailers either close large stores or reduce the size of their outlets.

There’s even a website, deadmalls.com, which documents “the demise of many of these great giants of retail.”

Some mall operators are fighting back with new entertainment sites to attract shoppers. These include family bungee jumping, ice rinks, batting cages and expanded food courts at large indoor malls.

Fast Food Workers Add Civil Disobedience to the Menu

Fast food workers from across the country have voted in suburban Chicago to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation by including civil disobedience.

More than 1,300 workers gathered Saturday in Villa Park, Illinois. They voted to add sit-down strikes and restaurant occupations to their campaign to win $15-an-hour wages and a union.

Industry officials say a $15-an-hour wage would hurt job creation, and that the solution is more education and job training. Cindy Enriquez said at the convention that the $8.25 she makes an hour at a McDonalds in Phoenix makes her dream of going to college impossible.

The workers’ effort is supported by the Service Employees International Union. Their actions so far have included one-day strikes and a protest outside this year’s McDonald’s shareholder meeting.

Hopes for Stocks

Investors on Wall Street are hoping for some improvement today following Friday’s disappointing close. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 123 points to close at 16,960.

Stock futures fell slightly this morning. Since the beginning of this year the broad based S&P 500 has gained 7 percent.

Big Week for Economic Surveys and Corporate Reports

This is a big week for economic surveys, with new data expected on home sales, prices, 2nd quarter economic output and the monthly employment report from the Labor Department on Friday.

Solid corporate earnings have been keeping the five-year bull run going on Wall Street. Seventeen major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results this week. Eight firms report Tuesday, including Aetna, Merck, Pfizer, Reynolds American and UPS.

Many Still Have a Hard Time Choosing Generic Brands

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — They may not have the big recognizable names but generic brand products deliver big savings.

Yet, a study by economists from the University of Chicago and Tilburg University in the Netherlands points out that many Americans are still forking over their money for name brands and wasting $44 billion annually in the process.

The study says that millions are duped by misleading ads even when they can buy generic products for far less.

But not everybody is fooled.

According to the researchers, the smarter the consumer — that is, those who are more educated — the greater the chance they’ll pick the generic version of a product rather than the name brand.

For instance, only nine percent of pharmacists buy Bayer, Advil and Tylenol with the rest opting for generic brands. Meanwhile, the average consumer will select the name brands 26 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, just one in five professional chefs will pay full price for name brand salt, sugar and baking powder, as compared to 40 of average households.

The researchers used Nielsen tracking data based on 77 million shopping trips by about 125,000 households.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Women Still Vastly Underrepresented in Hollywood

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Disney’s Frozen was the highest grossing movie of 2013 but one of its directors was an anomaly.

According to a new study, Jennifer Lee was among the very, very few women who helmed a big film last year.

In fact, just under two percent of the directors were women, according to the findings of University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative. That figure is the lowest of the past six years.

The researchers examined some 25,000 speaking characters in 600 top-grossing films from 2007 through 2013 and determined that women were vastly unrepresented both on camera and behind the scenes.

In 2013, for instance, 7.4 percent of writers of the top-grossing movies were women.

As far as acting parts are concerned, women made up 36 percent of the characters in comedies during the six years studied while falling between 20 and about 24 percent of those in action movies.

What explains the lack of women in movies? USC Annenberg associate professor Stacy L. Smith says it all about money, adding: “The people who fund films and green light content are mostly male. Women are perceived to lack confidence and to be less trustworthy with resources.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Caesars Entertainment Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Resorts

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Caesars Entertainment Corporation is installing electric vehicle charging stations at a number of its resorts and casinos and plans to continue to expand the presence of charging stations.

Thus far, the company says it has installed operational charging stations at nearly all of its Northern and Southern Nevada locations. In total, 48 charging stations have been installed in parking lots and valet areas. Each station is free and available to guests.

The next Caesars locations to receive charging stations will include Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel and Casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Horseshoe Casino Hammond.

“We want to make it easy for our guests to continue their green habits while they stay and play at our resorts,” said Eric Dominguez, corporate director of facilities, engineering and sustainable operations at Caesars Entertainment.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio



Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tyson Foods to Close Three Facilities to Improve Business

Posted on: July 26th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SPRINGDALE, Ark.) — Tyson Foods will close three of its facilities by the middle of 2015 in an effort to “improve the performance of its prepared foods business.”

According to a release from the company, Tyson will close plants in Cherokee, Iowa, Buffalo, N.Y., and Santa Teresa, N.M. The Iowa plant will close on Sept. 27, and the other two will be closed “during the first half of…2015.”

The decision impacts approximately 950 employees, who the company says will be encouraged to apply for openings within the company and will receive invitations to Tyson-hosted job fairs.

Tyson says the closures are caused by “changing product needs, the age of the Cherokee facility and prohibitive cost of its renovation, and the distance of the Buffalo and Santa Teresa plants from their raw material supply base in the Midwest.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio



Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Walmart Names New President and CEO of US Division

Posted on: July 26th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Walmart(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) — Walmart named Greg Foran the next President and CEO of Walmart U.S. on Friday, succeeding outgoing leader Bill Simon.

Foran, 53, will report directly to Walmart’s President and CEO Doug McMillon, the release says. Simon will spend the next six months consulting with the company “to ensure a seamless transition.”

The new head of the company’s U.S. division had been in charge of all of Walmart’s Asia business since June, having just received a promotion from heading Walmart China.

Foran is expected to take his new responsibilities on Aug. 9.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio



Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Stocks Dive with Dissapointing Retail Reports

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street stocks took a hit Friday, ending the week with losses following dissapointing news from retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 123 points, finishing at 16960.57, the Nasdaq Composite lost 23 points at 4449.56, and the S&P 500 dipped 10 points, ending the day at 1978.34.

Amazon’s stock fell 10 percent after the online retailer posted a loss greater than anticipated. Shares closed at $324, down $34.60. Visa also slipped 8 percent to $214.77.

Following a May decline, orders for long-lasting manufactured goods bounced back in June.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Stocks Dive with Disappointing Retail Reports

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street stocks took a hit Friday, ending the week with losses following disappointing news from retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 123 points, finishing at 16960.57, the Nasdaq Composite lost 23 points at 4449.56, and the S&P 500 dipped 10 points, ending the day at 1978.34.

Amazon’s stock fell 10 percent after the online retailer posted a loss greater than anticipated. Shares closed at $324, down $34.60. Visa also slipped 8 percent to $214.77.

Following a May decline, orders for long-lasting manufactured goods bounced back in June.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Beware of Buying Fake Event Tickets

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you’re trying to see a concert — or a game — that’s sold out, be careful. Scammers are getting better and better at making fake tickets.

Capt. Shaun Mathers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office says new technology is a scammer’s dream.

“It’s fairly easy for someone to generate something that looks very close to the original,” he says.

So make sure you buy tickets from a trusted source — one that offers a guarantee. If you don’t, and you show up at a sold-out show with a bogus ticket, it’s not the venue’s fault and there’s not much they can do.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Going Public: Why Amazon’s Net Income Is Less than Facebook’s

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In a tale of two companies, the earnings reports of Amazon and Facebook this week show how the tech sector is playing out in vastly different ways, depending on what kind of services they offer.

Amazon, which has been a publicly-traded company since 1997, reported a much larger loss than Wall Street had expected on Thursday, leading to a slumping stock price on Friday.

With roots in Seattle, the company says it is investing heavily in new products, such as the Fire smartphone, which starts selling on Friday.

Amazon’s net income since the company went public is less than Facebook’s net income in the two years since the Menlo Park, California-based company’s IPO.

In contrast to Amazon, Facebook does not produce any consumer hardware, nor is it burdened with expanding its physical infrastructure to deliver goods.

Facebook’s profit totals about $5 billion since its second quarter of 2012, the first quarter following its IPO, according to its earnings reports. Amazon’s total profit since 1997 is $3.1 billion, though the company’s accounting methods vary in some of its quarters, according to financial data firm FactSet.

And while the precise accounting may differ, the varying bottom lines of the two tech giants show the different challenges each face — with Amazon investing heavily in infrastructure.

The social media company reported soaring earnings and sales on Wednesday, spurred by a growth in users and mobile advertising revenue.

“Amazon’s last three or four years have been more characteristic of a heavy investment cycle,” said RJ Hottovy, analyst with Morningstar.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has repeatedly said he doesn’t intend to make money off devices like the Kindle Fire, instead opting to make money off the content people buy on them.

Hottovy said Amazon’s long-term potential overshadows things like the company’s most recent earnings announcement. The company is still reporting an acceleration of Amazon Prime users and a growth in vendors who sell on Amazon.com.

Amazon and Facebook did not respond to requests for comments by ABC News.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pop Culture Drinks Surge in Popularity

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Like a particularly enjoyable form of Inception, you can now drink your Game of Thrones beer while you watch…Game of Thrones. Or, sip on 50 Shades of Grey wine while you read the book (or watch the movie trailer, for that matter), or Downton Abbey wine while you binge on the British series. The list goes on.

In recent months, instances of branded drinks have skyrocketed, and people are drinking them up.

Ommegang Brewery was approached by HBO — the network behind Game of Thrones — to produce a branded beer.

“The show exploded as you know. The first beer came out in March 2013, and I just had a meeting with HBO two days ago and our contact had a bottle up on his shelf and he was like, ‘Man, that was so hard to find; you remember that?’ because it just flew off the shelves,” Ommegang marketing director Bill Wetmore told ABC News. “It did so well and it exceeded our expectations so well that we quickly brewed as much as we could and rushed a second batch out there before that season ended.”

Besides the obvious increase in sales, the advantages for Ommegang were immediate. HBO broadcasts the partnership to its over 10 million Facebook fans, there have been over 200 million traditional media impressions on the project and they’ve increased sales of their other beers as a result.

“It’s just obviously exponential exposure for us. We work with a retail partner and say, ‘Okay I know you want 10 cases of Game of Thrones to feature and display in your account. You have an audience here that’s demonstrating an appreciation for good beer, an appreciation for our beer, so can we get you to feature five cases of our witte or our rare vos alongside?’” Wetmore said. “And so we get very good visibility and displays of our core products. We bring new drinkers in that way, and our core beers go up 25 to 45 percent when our Game of Thrones beers are out there. It’s really having an impact on growing our core business as well.”

But unlike what Wetmore calls “vanity” projects — other drinks just slapping a branded label on a drink that has nothing to do with the brand itself — Ommegang works closely with HBO to create flavors that make sense, something Wines That Rock does as well with their 50 Shades of Grey and Downton Abbey vintages.

“In almost every Downton Abbey, whether it’s Carson downstairs picking out the wine or they’re dining and celebrating upstairs, wine is all over the show. The one thing we believed and reason NBC Universal [who owns Downton Abbey] got excited about working with us is we wanted to be very transparent and authentic to the show and that period of England,” Wines That Rock partner and co-founder Ron Roy told ABC News. “They drank Bordeaux, and while our vineyard was in California, we ended up partnering with a winery in the Bordeaux region of France so these were authentic to the show. Even down to the packaging we were able to use the Downton Abbey brand and the castle and stay very pure to the experience.”

Author E.L. James herself was involved in the making of the 50 Shades of Grey wines, traveling to California and working with the winemakers to create the perfect blends.

It’s a gamble that has paid off for both companies, demonstrated through sales. The first run of 50 Shades of Grey wine sold out in four weeks and has consistently rated in the top 25 wines for sales on Amazon.com, while the Downton Abbey wine sold three times more than Wines That Rock anticipated and was among the top 10 selling wines on Wine.com after the winter holidays.

As for Game of Thrones, Ommegang plans to make four times as much product for the release of their next GoT branded beer, Valar Morghulis, in October than they did with the first beer only 18 months ago in March 2013.

“It just feels like a sweet spot of connectivity,” Wetmore said of the partnership. “It really seemed to strike a chord with the fans of the show and the fans of our beer.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pittsburgh Restaurant Serves Food of Countries in Conflict with US

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) — There are things you don’t talk about at the dinner table, and politics is one of them. But political conversation is encouraged at one restaurant in Pennsylvania. Indeed, it inspires the cuisine.

Welcome to Conflict Kitchen, a takeout spot in Pittsburgh that only serves food from countries in conflict with the United States.

Created by Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, Conflict Kitchen features a rotating menu of food native to countries like Cuba, North Korea (Manduguk, or vegetable dumpling soup) and Iran (Khoresht-e Kadoo, or Persian lamb stew with zucchini and tomatoes on steamed rice).

The idea began as an interactive art project that has since become a full-fledged business.

“It was an experiment that was based on what many people thought was an incredibly bad business model to sell food to people in the city, from countries that have no cuisine on our local landscape,” Rubin, an associate professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, said. “There’s never been an Afghan restaurant or an Iranian restaurant or a Cuban restaurant in [Pittsburgh].”

Rubin, 51, and Weleski have experience in the restaurant industry, but their emphasis with Conflict Kitchen was less about turning tables over and more about food being a medium for political dialogue and cultural exploration.

“In some ways, [it] was a response to what I felt wasn’t in this city, which was a lot of cultural and ethnic diversity, and also a sense of being part of an international, global conversation,” he added.

Run as a nonprofit, the restaurant project is hosted by a research center at Carnegie Mellon and receives some grant funding, Rubin said.

Menus are researched and tested in advance, and they change every few months, along with the restaurant’s entire decor. Conflict Kitchen is now serving Venezuelan fare such as Pabellon criollo (shredded beef) and Chivo al coco con mofongo (slow-cooked coconut goat), and plans to introduce Palestinian food this fall.

The takeout fare is packaged in custom-designed wrappers printed with interviews of locals from various countries and those who have immigrated to the United States.

The restaurant encourages customers’ questions and conversations, but its popularity has made it somewhat challenging for lengthy discussions. “Since we’ve become so popular, people aren’t able to take the time to stand at the takeout window and talk with our staff, who have been trained to have these discussions, to basically be good listeners and conversationalists about the politics and culture,” Weleski said.

To that end, the restaurant hosts regular roundtable discussions and events. In one example, customers were able to have lunch in real-time with a local in Iran, while an employee wearing a headset served as a live avatar, sitting at the table and relaying the Iranian’s responses to customer’s questions.

As for whether the answer to world peace lies in breaking bread with strangers, “Conflict Kitchen isn’t about solving these problems or creating peace,” Weleski said, “but it’s about creating a public space where people feel comfortable enough to have that discussion.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

How ‘the Cloud’ Works, Why So Many People Are Perplexed by It

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You’re probably using “the cloud” already and just don’t know it.

While most people have heard of the mysterious “cloud,” only 29 percent say they use it, according to a report from nScreenMedia.

However, the report finds that 90 percent of broadband users in the U.S. are aware of cloud services.

The disparity between the number of people who use cloud storage and the number of people who say they have heard of it suggests that more people are likely using it without fully realizing it.

It doesn’t end there — even Hollywood screenwriters seem to misunderstand “the cloud.”

The new movie Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, follows the tech trials of a couple who accidentally upload their personal video to the cloud — along with old iPads they gave to friends and family that are still synced to the devices.

The scenario wouldn’t happen in real life, however, because videos are only backed up to the cloud. You can’t connect to another iPad to access media — meaning the couple’s dirty video was safe all along.

If you’re still confused, read on:

What Is the Cloud?

Remember when your data used to be stored on floppy discs, CDs and memory sticks? We no longer need those physical storage devices.

The cloud refers to an application that is hosted on or run on Internet servers. All the companies that have these services — Google, Facebook and Apple, to name a few — have servers or server farms. That’s where the media is actually stored.

If you’re looking at a photo on Facebook or watching a movie on Netflix, congratulations, you just experienced the cloud.

Why Is the Cloud So Great?

It’s convenient. You can pull up important documents on demand and check email from any computer.

Ever experience the pain of having your hard drive crash and losing everything?

The cloud safeguards your documents, photos and songs, allowing you to have a backup of your files instantaneously by simply logging on to another computer.

What Are Some Examples of Cloud Storage Services?

Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Drive and Dropbox are some of the most commonly used cloud storage services.

Surely There’s a Downside?

It’s perfectly safe and acceptable to have your life stored in the cloud in 2014, but as always, make sure you use a strong password to safeguard what’s in your cloud.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

These Companies Reward You for Being Yourself

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Your mother may have encouraged you to be yourself, but the advice has never meant quite as much as it does day. A growing number of apps now promise users real-life rewards on the basis of their virtual profiles.

Launched earlier this year, Hotelied is a booking site that prompts users to build profiles that add up to a “travel persona” — social followings, professional credentials and hotel-loyalty programs are all accounted for. By leveraging that data to participating hotels, the platform is able to offer travelers special rates and enviable perks.

“Our tagline says, ‘It Pays to Be You,’” explained Hotelied co-founder Zeev Sharon.

While such traditional sites as Expedia and Booking.com deliver a long list of options, “their pricing is completely static,” said Sharon. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You’re going to get the exact same offer as anyone else. The reality is that not every traveler is the same.”

Sharon cited the “one-size-fits-all” status quo as the inspiration for Hotelied. He said his model as a matchmaking program that “introduces” luxury properties to the kind of influential guests they’d like to see in their rooms.

Hotels are not given direct access to any of the information that users supply, but they can, for example, make certain benefits — think room upgrades or nightly discounts — available to “Hotelies” who work in influential industries or command a significant online presence.

Co-founder Nick Colletti put a populist point on it: “We feel very strongly about creating a product that allows users to capitalize on the information that they already have out there.”

As it stands, big companies monetize social data in ways that a single person cannot.

Like Hotelied, Haggle aims to change that.

Co-founder Rajiv Salimath said he developed Haggle to empower individuals to translate their online personas into benefits. The scrappy start-up was designed to help users slash prices at their favorite restaurants.

Those who download Haggle are asked to provide information on their social followings, which allows the app to compute a kind of score for each user. The composite number synthesizes such metrics as the frequency with which a diner eats out, the loyalty he demonstrates to preferred restaurants, the influence he wields on social media, and a factor that Salimath has euphemistically termed “bankroll.”

If a restaurant deems a patron’s score worthy, the management can propose a discount. Enterprising users can either accept that rate or haggle for a better one.

The app has partnered with 60 restaurants already and plans to add 120 additional spots by the end of August. Salimath told ABC News that he hopes to extend the technology into other categories like the retail space that behemoth Shopkick currently dominates.

Founded in 2009, Shopkick is considered a veteran of the industry. The app rewards customers for their everyday behavior, focused on delivering benefits, called “kicks,” for such quotidian activities as walking into stores and browsing clothing racks. The start-up has partnered with Macy’s, Target, and Best Buy, among other major retailers.

For CEO Cyriac Roeding, the conviction that inspired Shopkick is simple: Stores depend on foot traffic, but do not reward it. Roeding maintains that shoppers should be compensated “just for showing up.”

The sentiment is one that Salimath shares: “Our goal is once you know how valuable you are to any business, you should be able to leverage that.”

Still, Salimath insisted that the process is only as public as users would like it to be. Neither Haggle nor Hotelied requires that users advertise their savings.

Sharon and Colletti confirmed that those who book their accommodations through Hotelied are not obliged to tweet or post about their stays.

Ultimately, Colletti characterized the app as “a marketplace where individuals can receive something for who they are.” No strings attached.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio