Uber bringing fleet of self-driving cars to Washington, DC

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Andrei Stanescu/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Uber is bringing a fleet of self-driving cars to the nation’s capital to begin mapping out prospective routes — aided by human drivers at first — starting on Friday.

The new self-driving cars that are expected to hit the roads in Washington, D.C., will have the initial goal of data collection, and will have a human vehicle operator maintaining control of the car at all times, Uber said in a blogpost.

“We are using a phased approach to develop and deploy our self-driving vehicles, taking the necessary steps to operate safely in every city,” Danielle Burr, the head of Uber federal affairs wrote. “Manual data collection is the first step in our development process and part of how we are validating our self-driving expansion approach.”

They hope to gain information about different city-specific scenarios that the cars might encounter and create high-definition maps.

“We believe self-driving technology can play an important role in expanding transportation access,” Burr added, “and we’re committed to developing this technology with safety at its core.”

Uber has already begun the first steps of implementing self-driving cars in a handful of other cities including San Francisco and Dallas, though the technology has been embroiled in controversy in the past.

In March 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian while driving in autonomous mode, marking the apparent first case of a pedestrian death by a self-driving vehicle. A later investigation revealed the human operator was watching a TV show at the time of the fatal crash.

In the wake of the crash, Uber temporarily suspended its self-driving operations, saying its focus would be on safety.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tesla overtakes Volkswagen for No. 2 spot among world’s most valuable carmakers

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. electric car company Tesla has topped Germany’s Volkswagen to become the second most valuable automaker in the world.

The electric car maker’s market value surpassed the $100 billion mark this week, overtaking Volkswagen’s approximate $99 billion. Both car companies still trail far behind the value of Japan’s Toyota, which has a market cap of more than $234 billion.

Tesla, a relatively new player to the industry, was founded by CEO Elon Musk in 2003. Volkswagen’s history dates back to 1930’s Germany.

Surpassing the $100 billion market cap could mean a big pay bump for Musk, potentially unlocking a pay package worth more than $50 billion for the CEO, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Stock for Tesla has soared in recent months, more than doubling in value since late October 2019. The market rally may have been driven by news of high third-quarter profits and global expansion — the company successfully opened a Gigafactory in China and announced plans to build one in Germany.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tesla overtakes Volkswagen for No. 2 spot among world’s most valuable carmakers

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. electric car company Tesla has topped Germany’s Volkswagen to become the second most valuable automaker in the world.

The electric car maker’s market value surpassed the $100 billion mark this week, overtaking Volkswagen’s approximate $99 billion. Both car companies still trail far behind the value of Japan’s Toyota, which has a market cap of more than $234 billion.

Tesla, a relatively new player to the industry, was founded by CEO Elon Musk in 2003. Volkswagen’s history dates back to 1930’s Germany.

Surpassing the $100 billion market cap could mean a big pay bump for Musk, potentially unlocking a pay package worth more than $50 billion for the CEO, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Stock for Tesla has soared in recent months, more than doubling in value since late October 2019. The market rally may have been driven by news of high third-quarter profits and global expansion — the company successfully opened a Gigafactory in China and announced plans to build one in Germany.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Greta Thunberg joins climate strike on last day in Davos

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DisobeyArt/iStock(DAVOS, Switzerland) — Greta Thunberg joined fellow activists in a climate strike Friday, capping off her time in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, where she continued her push for climate change action.

Earlier that day, Thunberg once again called out world and business leaders for their inaction on the issue.

“As long as the science is being ignored, as long as the facts are not being taken into account and as long as the situation is not being treated as a crisis, then world and business leaders can of course continue to ignore the situation,” she said at a news conference.

Thunberg, 17, of Sweden, also spoke about U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggesting she go to college for economics and then “come back and explain that to us.”

When asked if the comment had any effect on her, she matter-of-factly replied: “Of course, no effect.”

“We are being criticized like that all the time,” Thunberg said at the news conference onstage with four other campaigners. “Of course, if we could care about that then we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Thunberg is currently taking a gap year from school to focus on her activism.

The World Economic Forum began Tuesday. A major focal point at the conference, which brings together world leaders at the beginning of the year to discuss global, regional and industrial agendas, was climate change.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Gas-guzzling Hummer could make its comeback as an all-electric truck

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Spauln/iStock(NEW YORK) — General Motors’ hulking, ostentatious, gas-guzzling Hummer SUV was once the scourge of environmentalists. Now the military-style ute may have its ultimate revenge: a second chance as an all-electric pickup truck.

That’s right. GM, which discontinued the Hummer brand in 2010 as gasoline prices were skyrocketing and the Detroit automaker was culling brands as part of its bankruptcy agreement, has decided to revive the Hummer name, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The nameplate will allegedly be sold under GM’s GMC brand, the company’s premium truck division.

The new Hummer will be officially announced in a Super Bowl ad that also stars LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, the WSJ said, citing unnamed sources.

GM declined to comment to ABC News. A representative for James did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelly Blue Book and AutoTrader, called the reported move “fabulous,” noting the “beautiful irony” in the vehicle’s return.

“Ten years ago the Hummer was public enemy No. 1,” Brauer told ABC News. “It was a poster child for environmentalists — a symbol of the end of the earth.”

Even though the brawny Hummer was a target of the green community — dealers would report vandalism of the vehicles — the 10-mpg SUV appealed to a certain segment of drivers, and deliveries of the Hummer H2 and H3 totaled 71,524 units in 2006, its best year of sales since 1999, when GM bought the brand from AM General.

Brauer noted that today, 70% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. are trucks and SUVs.

“Trucks will always be critical to domestic manufacturers,” he said. “This is a segment that’s growing, and the Hummer name is high profile.”

Plus, it adds visibility to GM’s electrification efforts, he said. GM has vowed to produce 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023, with Cadillac as the lead GM brand for future EVs.

GM currently has one EV available to eco-conscious consumers: the Bolt, a “nerdy-looking hatchback with a great range,” according to Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific. Sales of the Bolt have been modest compared to the Tesla Model 3, the top-selling EV in the U.S.

If GM truly wants to take on EV leader Tesla — and its futuristic, nontraditional Cybertruck — an all-electric Hummer makes perfect sense, Kim noted. But the Hummer name could also turn off potential buyers.

“The Hummer was a lightning rod for controversy … it was very polarizing,” he said. “It was big and brash and people drove it to make a statement.”

GM could minimize the risk by casting the born-again Hummer as an upscale, outdoor adventure vehicle that’s no longer powered by Middle Eastern oil, Kim suggested.

“Vehicles that are rugged and cool and go off-roading are very fashionable right now,” he explained. “GM still owned the Hummer trademark. Why not leverage the name?”

GM is not the only automaker with plans to build an EV truck. A slew of battery-electric models are about to join the marketplace in the next 12 to 20 months, including offerings from Ford, Jeep, Rivian and Bollinger.

The all-electric Hummer “is a move to expand the reach into important segments and bring in new buyers to EVs,” Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasting at LMC Automotive, told ABC News. “GM wanted to do something that would stand out in a crowded market.”

Kim of AutoPacific said current pickup owners will still need to be wooed by carmakers. He’s most bullish on the Rivian R1T truck, which is expected to cost about $70,000 and be a high-volume seller.

“There’s a lot of buzz around Rivian,” he said. “There’s so much innovation in that truck.”

Eddie Alterman, chief brand officer at Hearst Autos, said a Hummer truck could put to bed consumers’ lingering concerns about the all-weather, all-terrain capabilities of EVs. And bringing back the Hummer nameplate has financial upsides for GM.

“Establishing brand names in the public sphere is a very expensive affair,” he told ABC News. “GM has a successful history of repurposing brand names. The Hummer is still an American icon. People rap about them.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Gas-guzzling Hummer could make its comeback as an all-electric truck

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Spauln/iStock(NEW YORK) — General Motors’ hulking, ostentatious, gas-guzzling Hummer SUV was once the scourge of environmentalists. Now the military-style ute may have its ultimate revenge: a second chance as an all-electric pickup truck.

That’s right. GM, which discontinued the Hummer brand in 2010 as gasoline prices were skyrocketing and the Detroit automaker was culling brands as part of its bankruptcy agreement, has decided to revive the Hummer name, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The nameplate will allegedly be sold under GM’s GMC brand, the company’s premium truck division.

The new Hummer will be officially announced in a Super Bowl ad that also stars LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, the WSJ said, citing unnamed sources.

GM declined to comment to ABC News. A representative for James did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelly Blue Book and AutoTrader, called the reported move “fabulous,” noting the “beautiful irony” in the vehicle’s return.

“Ten years ago the Hummer was public enemy No. 1,” Brauer told ABC News. “It was a poster child for environmentalists — a symbol of the end of the earth.”

Even though the brawny Hummer was a target of the green community — dealers would report vandalism of the vehicles — the 10-mpg SUV appealed to a certain segment of drivers, and deliveries of the Hummer H2 and H3 totaled 71,524 units in 2006, its best year of sales since 1999, when GM bought the brand from AM General.

Brauer noted that today, 70% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. are trucks and SUVs.

“Trucks will always be critical to domestic manufacturers,” he said. “This is a segment that’s growing, and the Hummer name is high profile.”

Plus, it adds visibility to GM’s electrification efforts, he said. GM has vowed to produce 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023, with Cadillac as the lead GM brand for future EVs.

GM currently has one EV available to eco-conscious consumers: the Bolt, a “nerdy-looking hatchback with a great range,” according to Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific. Sales of the Bolt have been modest compared to the Tesla Model 3, the top-selling EV in the U.S.

If GM truly wants to take on EV leader Tesla — and its futuristic, nontraditional Cybertruck — an all-electric Hummer makes perfect sense, Kim noted. But the Hummer name could also turn off potential buyers.

“The Hummer was a lightning rod for controversy … it was very polarizing,” he said. “It was big and brash and people drove it to make a statement.”

GM could minimize the risk by casting the born-again Hummer as an upscale, outdoor adventure vehicle that’s no longer powered by Middle Eastern oil, Kim suggested.

“Vehicles that are rugged and cool and go off-roading are very fashionable right now,” he explained. “GM still owned the Hummer trademark. Why not leverage the name?”

GM is not the only automaker with plans to build an EV truck. A slew of battery-electric models are about to join the marketplace in the next 12 to 20 months, including offerings from Ford, Jeep, Rivian and Bollinger.

The all-electric Hummer “is a move to expand the reach into important segments and bring in new buyers to EVs,” Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasting at LMC Automotive, told ABC News. “GM wanted to do something that would stand out in a crowded market.”

Kim of AutoPacific said current pickup owners will still need to be wooed by carmakers. He’s most bullish on the Rivian R1T truck, which is expected to cost about $70,000 and be a high-volume seller.

“There’s a lot of buzz around Rivian,” he said. “There’s so much innovation in that truck.”

Eddie Alterman, chief brand officer at Hearst Autos, said a Hummer truck could put to bed consumers’ lingering concerns about the all-weather, all-terrain capabilities of EVs. And bringing back the Hummer nameplate has financial upsides for GM.

“Establishing brand names in the public sphere is a very expensive affair,” he told ABC News. “GM has a successful history of repurposing brand names. The Hummer is still an American icon. People rap about them.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Cashless stores and restaurants banned in New York City

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

SolStock/iStock(NEW YORK) — Cash will remain king in Big Apple stores and restaurants.

The New York City Council will vote Thursday to prohibit businesses from only accepting credit card, debit or digital payments. There were concerns from elected officials that such stores and eateries discriminated against poorer customers who don’t have access to bank accounts, according to city councilman Ritchie Torres, who drafted the bill.

“Whatever your reasons, consumers should have the power to choose their preferred method of payment,” he said at a news conference before the vote.

The bill, which will take effect 90 days after it is signed, makes it illegal for any store to refuse a cash payment from a customer, but there are a few exceptions. Stores can refuse to take denominations larger than $20, and they would be exempt from the ban if they have a machine on site that can load cash onto a prepaid card.

Online and phone purchases would also be exempt from the law, which fines first time violators $1,000.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supports the bill and will sign it into law.

Torres said this was a win for the city, especially its working class members. The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs reported in October that nearly 11.2% of New Yorkers have no bank account and roughly 22% of city residents used alternative banking services, such as check cashing stores.

“The marketplace of the future must accommodate the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers,” Torres said at a news conference before the vote.

The bill had some pushback from some chain stores and small businesses that were cashless. During a hearing on the bill in February, Dos Toros co-founder Leo Kremer said his restaurant chain implemented the policy as a way to keep a tighter control of its finances and help customers get their meals quickly.

“We are only interested in being cashless because it allows us to make our restaurant more seamless,” he said.

Dos Toros didn’t immediately return messages for comment on Thursday’s vote.

Last year Philadelphia, San Francisco and New Jersey passed laws that banned cashless establishments. Massachusetts passed a similar law in 1978.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tinder is adding a panic button to its app for dating emergencies and cracks down on catfishing

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Wachiwit(NEW YORK) — Tinder announced a slew of new safety features Thursday, ranging from letting users call emergency services while on a date to a photo verification system that ensures “every match is who they say they are.”

The updates come a little over a year after headlines about a suspected dating site serial killer rattled those looking for love online.

The dating platform is teaming up with safety app Noonlight to allow users to share details about upcoming dates so there is a record of who they are meeting, where and when.

It also gives users a panic button of sorts with the ability to call emergency services discreetly and easily if they feel they are in danger.

It works as a “silent bodyguard in situations when you’re alone or meeting someone for the first time,” Brittany LeComte, the co-founder and CCO of Noonlight said of her platform.

“Now, through our integration with Tinder, it can serve as a quick backup for daters, helping to deter bad behavior and helping members meet matches with more confidence,” LeComte said in a statement Thursday.

“It’s a first-of-its-kind added security measure to help protect Tinder members even when they’ve taken their interactions off the app into real life,” she added.

Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder, called the updates “an important step in driving our safety work forward at an unmatched scale.”

Artificial intelligence-powered photo verification tools are also coming to Tinder, to ensure “every match is who they say they are,” the company said in a statement.

In addition to enhancing safety, it can also prevent people from “catfishing” or using photos of someone else to lure prospective suitors.

“The feature allows members to self-authenticate through a series of real-time posed selfies, which are compared to existing profile photos using human-assisted AI technology,” according to the company. “Verified profiles will display a blue checkmark so members can trust their authenticity.”

The platform is also using AI technology to crack down on potentially offensive messages, asking users “Does This Bother You?” if the message is flagged by a machine-learning tool. If they select yes, the user can report the behavior on the app.

Finally, the “Undo” message feature will allow Tinder users to take back a message if it’s potentially offensive

Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, said the safety partnership with Noonlight will be rolled out on their entire portfolio of dating services in the coming months.

Scott Berkowitz, the president of Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, said that Match Group had “come to us for ideas and advice on resources and the latest tech available and have been open to trying new things.”

“The addition of Noonlight is a good step forward and a valuable component of their overall safety strategy,” he said in a statement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Cashless stores and restaurants could be banned in New York City

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

SolStock/iStock(NEW YORK) — Cash will remain king in Big Apple stores and restaurants.

The New York City Council will vote Thursday to prohibit businesses from only accepting credit card, debit or digital payments. There were concerns from elected officials that such stores and eateries discriminated against poorer customers who don’t have access to bank accounts, according to city councilman Ritchie Torres, who drafted the bill.

“Whatever your reasons, consumers should have the power to choose their preferred method of payment,” he said at a news conference before the vote.

The bill, which will take effect 90 days after it is signed, makes it illegal for any store to refuse a cash payment from a customer, but there are a few exceptions. Stores can refuse to take denominations larger than $20, and they would be exempt from the ban if they have a machine on site that can load cash onto a prepaid card.

Online and phone purchases would also be exempt from the law, which fines first time violators $1,000.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supports the bill and will sign it into law.

Torres said this was a win for the city, especially its working class members. The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs reported in October that nearly 11.2% of New Yorkers have no bank account and roughly 22% of city residents used alternative banking services, such as check cashing stores.

“The marketplace of the future must accommodate the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers,” Torres said at a news conference before the vote.

The bill had some pushback from some chain stores and small businesses that were cashless. During a hearing on the bill in February, Dos Toros co-founder Leo Kremer said his restaurant chain implemented the policy as a way to keep a tighter control of its finances and help customers get their meals quickly.

“We are only interested in being cashless because it allows us to make our restaurant more seamless,” he said.

Dos Toros didn’t immediately return messages for comment on Thursday’s vote.

Last year Philadelphia, San Francisco and New Jersey passed laws that banned cashless establishments. Massachusetts passed a similar law in 1978.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sin City changes famous ‘What happens here, stays here’ slogan

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

georgeclerk/iStock(LAS VEGAS) — For years visitors have come to know that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas — but now Sin City’s slogan is getting an update.

The award-winning campaign — “What happens here, stays here” will reportedly change to “What happens here, only happens here.”

The new tourism slogan is expected to be officially unveiled in a 60-second ad during the broadcast of the Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, ABC News Las Vegas affiliate KTNV reported.

Steve Hill, the president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, announced the news last Friday about the update to the organization’s branding at the Vegas Chamber’s Preview Las Vegas event at Wynn Las Vegas.

The advertising agency behind the updated slogan, R&R Partners, reportedly spent several years working on the campaign.

“We’re really excited,” a spokeswoman for the agency told ABC News. “It’s kinda been the baby of the company for a long time.”

Hill also said the goal is for people to see how Las Vegas has transformed itself to be more than the Entertainment Capital of the World, KTNV reported.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Zero-based budget helped woman pay off $215k worth of debt in four years

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DNY59/iStock(NEW YORK) — When Cindy Zuniga graduated from law school in 2015, she accomplished a major milestone, but it also came with a hefty $215,000 mountain of debt.

“Ninety percent was law school, five percent was from my undergrad and five percent was credit card debt,” she explained to ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Like many graduates, she decided to defer her loans for one year after getting her degree, but when that period was over, she started chipping away and began making normal, monthly payments like she was taught to do.

It seemed like a simple and straightforward strategy, but what she didn’t know was that her monthly payments didn’t get very far.

“That first year that I was paying off my debt, I paid $24,000 to my loans. However, I realized that only about $4,000 went to the principal and $20,000 went to the interest,” she said.

Zuniga was devastated, but she said it was a wake up call to start educating herself about how money and finances work.

So, she did what any millennial would do and turned to social media for advice.

“I really needed to hear relatable stories,” she said. “And that’s what I found with these social media platforms, is that they were just telling the stories of ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things. And I wanted to be one of those ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things.”

Zuniga was inspired.

She started following fellow social media finance influencers like Bola Sokunbi of Clever Girl Finance, who empowers other women to achieve financial success, Dave Ramsey and Jamila Souffrant, experts who give helpful financial advice on their podcasts, The Dave Ramsey Show and Journey to Launch, respectively, and even Yanely Espinal, a financial educator and host of Miss Be Helpful on YouTube.

From these financial content creators on social media, Zuniga learned about budgeting, tracking expenses and automating savings and went to work.

First, Zuniga refinanced her student loan by taking out a new loan with a private lender who paid off all of her school loans. This allowed her to consolidate her loans into a single student loan with a lower interest rate.

The next thing she did was be extremely intentional with her finances by getting on a very specific budget and knowing exactly where her money was going.

“Refinancing was one of the most important things that I did to pay off my debt,” she said. “Eventually, I started making you know, additional payments to get rid of my debt even faster.”

She also adopted the zero based budget, a method of budgeting where any income amount earned is given a “job.” Zuniga said that a portion of what you earn could go to rent, savings or groceries and the point is that when you subtract the money that’s going out from your income, you would get a balance of zero.

“That type of budgeting method really allowed me to see exactly how much I was bringing in and exactly what I was doing with everything that went out,” she said.

Although she was on the path to financial freedom, it came with a lot of highs and lows too.

“It was extremely difficult, especially being a lawyer in New York City. You’re expected to have a certain kind of lifestyle,” she explained. “I just became very intentional with my finances and that wasn’t really easy to do. Especially as a mid to late 20-something-year-old in this city — it’s just very tempting to spend here. I was sacrificing a lot because I knew that I had an immediate goal, which was to eliminate all of my debt.”

As a Latina and a daughter of immigrants, Zuniga grew up in a low-income community in the Bronx, New York and said she was raised to understand how destructive debt can be. As a kid, she said her parents’ main focus was putting food on the table and providing a good education for their kids and that there wasn’t much room for any extra things.

Ultimately, Zuniga said that in times when her financial journey became difficult, her parents ended up being her motivation to stick to her goal and keep going.

“I really kept my ‘why’ in my mind. My ‘why’ is really my family,” she said. “I had my parents and my family in the back of my mind at all times knowing that if I made these sacrifices now, I could really help them financially because I could be in the position to do that. Anytime I would be tempted by certain things, I realized that financial security was the goal. And it wasn’t just about me, it was also about my family.”

After 48 months of sticking to a plan and being disciplined with what she spent her money on, Zuniga finally reached her goal.

“I feel so much lighter,” she said. “I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I can’t really put into words how I feel because I genuinely feel the most confident that I ever have with my finances.”
 
Now, the 30-year-old is following in the footsteps of some of her favorite social media finance influencers and helping others take control of their finances and helping them pay off their debts with her program, “Zero Based Budget.”

There, she offers sessions where she coaches others through their finances, creates customized budget plans and provides non judgmental advice for any questions that anyone may have.

“I realized there’s a need for people to just sit with someone that, you know, like a girlfriend that they’re meeting for a cup of coffee to discuss finances, how to get your money right,” said Zuniga. “I wanted to open the door for people to ask those embarrassing questions, write those questions that you might think are embarassing and help people just better manage their money.”

On her Instagram under the same name, Zuniga offers money saving tips and advice to nearly 28,000 followers and her growing Zero Based Budget community.

“As a young Latina daughter of immigrants, it means a lot because it’s an example that I hope to set to other women, but particularly women of color of just how much you can accomplish with your finances when you become intentional and what you decide to really take control of,” she said.

Below are more of Zuniga’s Zero Based Budget tips:

Before beginning Zuniga’s method, she recommends understanding these top three things first:

1. Understand how much debt you have

Zuniga says most people don’t know how much debt they have. She says in order to pay debt off, it’s important to sit down and write what kind of debt you have such as student loans or credit card debt and calculate the total balance. Once you figure out the total balance, determine what the interest rate is.

2. Select a payoff method

Zuniga says there are two popular payoff methods: Debt-snowball and Debt-avalanche.

Under the debt-snowball method, smaller debts will be paid off first, while still making minimum payments on larger debts.

Unlike the snowball method, the debt-avalanche method calls for paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first to the lowest interest rate.

3. Create a budget

“When you create a budget, you’re really going to become mindful of the different types of expenses that you have,” said Zuniga. “It’s also going to make you see what’s necessary in your life like rent and your lights and groceries … Once your budget tell you how much you can throw at your debt, you basically make a plan to put that model to that specific debt that you’re targeting and you go from there.”

Once debts are determined, a payoff method is selected and a budget is implemented, Zuniga says that three main spending areas to be mindful of are food, housing costs and transportation.

When Zuniga was on the road to paying off her mountain of debt, she said she rarely ate out and meal prepped.

“You can save thousands of dollars a year by just bringing lunch from home,” she said.

Zuniga became more intentional about the types of groceries that she bought, which helped her eliminate food waste.

The second area that she says to be mindful of is housing.

“If you’re paying $2,500 a month in a place like New York City and you can take on a roommate and potentially pay $1,800 instead, you can save $700 a month,” she said.

The final area that Zuniga mentioned was transportation. She said that if there isn’t a need to buy a car, then don’t get one and eliminate that cost. Instead, take public transportation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Zero-based budget helped woman pay off $215k worth of debt in four years

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DNY59/iStock(NEW YORK) — When Cindy Zuniga graduated from law school in 2015, she accomplished a major milestone, but it also came with a hefty $215,000 mountain of debt.

“Ninety percent was law school, five percent was from my undergrad and five percent was credit card debt,” she explained to ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Like many graduates, she decided to defer her loans for one year after getting her degree, but when that period was over, she started chipping away and began making normal, monthly payments like she was taught to do.

It seemed like a simple and straightforward strategy, but what she didn’t know was that her monthly payments didn’t get very far.

“That first year that I was paying off my debt, I paid $24,000 to my loans. However, I realized that only about $4,000 went to the principal and $20,000 went to the interest,” she said.

Zuniga was devastated, but she said it was a wake up call to start educating herself about how money and finances work.

So, she did what any millennial would do and turned to social media for advice.

“I really needed to hear relatable stories,” she said. “And that’s what I found with these social media platforms, is that they were just telling the stories of ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things. And I wanted to be one of those ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things.”

Zuniga was inspired.

She started following fellow social media finance influencers like Bola Sokunbi of Clever Girl Finance, who empowers other women to achieve financial success, Dave Ramsey and Jamila Souffrant, experts who give helpful financial advice on their podcasts, The Dave Ramsey Show and Journey to Launch, respectively, and even Yanely Espinal, a financial educator and host of Miss Be Helpful on YouTube.

From these financial content creators on social media, Zuniga learned about budgeting, tracking expenses and automating savings and went to work.

First, Zuniga refinanced her student loan by taking out a new loan with a private lender who paid off all of her school loans. This allowed her to consolidate her loans into a single student loan with a lower interest rate.

The next thing she did was be extremely intentional with her finances by getting on a very specific budget and knowing exactly where her money was going.

“Refinancing was one of the most important things that I did to pay off my debt,” she said. “Eventually, I started making you know, additional payments to get rid of my debt even faster.”

She also adopted the zero based budget, a method of budgeting where any income amount earned is given a “job.” Zuniga said that a portion of what you earn could go to rent, savings or groceries and the point is that when you subtract the money that’s going out from your income, you would get a balance of zero.

“That type of budgeting method really allowed me to see exactly how much I was bringing in and exactly what I was doing with everything that went out,” she said.

Although she was on the path to financial freedom, it came with a lot of highs and lows too.

“It was extremely difficult, especially being a lawyer in New York City. You’re expected to have a certain kind of lifestyle,” she explained. “I just became very intentional with my finances and that wasn’t really easy to do. Especially as a mid to late 20-something-year-old in this city — it’s just very tempting to spend here. I was sacrificing a lot because I knew that I had an immediate goal, which was to eliminate all of my debt.”

As a Latina and a daughter of immigrants, Zuniga grew up in a low-income community in the Bronx, New York and said she was raised to understand how destructive debt can be. As a kid, she said her parents’ main focus was putting food on the table and providing a good education for their kids and that there wasn’t much room for any extra things.

Ultimately, Zuniga said that in times when her financial journey became difficult, her parents ended up being her motivation to stick to her goal and keep going.

“I really kept my ‘why’ in my mind. My ‘why’ is really my family,” she said. “I had my parents and my family in the back of my mind at all times knowing that if I made these sacrifices now, I could really help them financially because I could be in the position to do that. Anytime I would be tempted by certain things, I realized that financial security was the goal. And it wasn’t just about me, it was also about my family.”

After 48 months of sticking to a plan and being disciplined with what she spent her money on, Zuniga finally reached her goal.

“I feel so much lighter,” she said. “I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I can’t really put into words how I feel because I genuinely feel the most confident that I ever have with my finances.”
 
Now, the 30-year-old is following in the footsteps of some of her favorite social media finance influencers and helping others take control of their finances and helping them pay off their debts with her program, “Zero Based Budget.”

There, she offers sessions where she coaches others through their finances, creates customized budget plans and provides non judgmental advice for any questions that anyone may have.

“I realized there’s a need for people to just sit with someone that, you know, like a girlfriend that they’re meeting for a cup of coffee to discuss finances, how to get your money right,” said Zuniga. “I wanted to open the door for people to ask those embarrassing questions, write those questions that you might think are embarassing and help people just better manage their money.”

On her Instagram under the same name, Zuniga offers money saving tips and advice to nearly 28,000 followers and her growing Zero Based Budget community.

“As a young Latina daughter of immigrants, it means a lot because it’s an example that I hope to set to other women, but particularly women of color of just how much you can accomplish with your finances when you become intentional and what you decide to really take control of,” she said.

Below are more of Zuniga’s Zero Based Budget tips:

Before beginning Zuniga’s method, she recommends understanding these top three things first:

1. Understand how much debt you have

Zuniga says most people don’t know how much debt they have. She says in order to pay debt off, it’s important to sit down and write what kind of debt you have such as student loans or credit card debt and calculate the total balance. Once you figure out the total balance, determine what the interest rate is.

2. Select a payoff method

Zuniga says there are two popular payoff methods: Debt-snowball and Debt-avalanche.

Under the debt-snowball method, smaller debts will be paid off first, while still making minimum payments on larger debts.

Unlike the snowball method, the debt-avalanche method calls for paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first to the lowest interest rate.

3. Create a budget

“When you create a budget, you’re really going to become mindful of the different types of expenses that you have,” said Zuniga. “It’s also going to make you see what’s necessary in your life like rent and your lights and groceries … Once your budget tell you how much you can throw at your debt, you basically make a plan to put that model to that specific debt that you’re targeting and you go from there.”

Once debts are determined, a payoff method is selected and a budget is implemented, Zuniga says that three main spending areas to be mindful of are food, housing costs and transportation.

When Zuniga was on the road to paying off her mountain of debt, she said she rarely ate out and meal prepped.

“You can save thousands of dollars a year by just bringing lunch from home,” she said.

Zuniga became more intentional about the types of groceries that she bought, which helped her eliminate food waste.

The second area that she says to be mindful of is housing.

“If you’re paying $2,500 a month in a place like New York City and you can take on a roommate and potentially pay $1,800 instead, you can save $700 a month,” she said.

The final area that Zuniga mentioned was transportation. She said that if there isn’t a need to buy a car, then don’t get one and eliminate that cost. Instead, take public transportation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Boeing’s new CEO: ‘We were our own worst enemy’

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Wolterk/iStock(NEW YORK) — Boeing CEO David Calhoun, who’s been on the job about a week, said that in the aftermath of the 737 Max crisis, “We were our own worst enemy.”

Calhoun, a longtime Boeing board member who took over after the sudden departure of Dennis Muilenburg, spoke out on Wednesday about how he hoped to restore trust among his employees and his customers.

The best way to rebuild consumer confidence in the 737 Max jets, Calhoun added, is when pilots can vouch for them.

“When pilots get on that airplane and support that airplane, I believe passengers will follow,” he said during a phone call with media.

Governments and airlines around the world have grounded 737 Max aircraft since March 2019 after two crashes within six months of each other — in October 2018 and March 2019 — killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing announced in December it was suspending production of the jets starting this month.

Calhoun said he expects production of 737 Max aircraft to restart a few months before current jets return to the skies, approximately in mid-2020. The company’s supply chain likely will be “reinvigorated” even before that, he added.

In discussing what went wrong with previous 737 Max aircraft, Calhoun said the company made a “fatal assumption” about how pilots would respond to the triggering of the MCAS software system, which contributed to the two deadly crashes.

“The process around which that fatal assumption was made, around what a pilot would do in a moment in time in a certain circumstance, based on a very long historical record, that process should have had more light shined on it,” he said. “We will do things to shine brighter lights — we will do things to create more authorities and approvals and all the things you would expect us to do.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DOT proposes new rules for emotional support animals on planes

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

tonefotografia/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Travelers may be used to flying with their emotional support animals — anything from a pet hamster to a baby crocodile — but the rules are about to change, according to a new proposal from the Department of Transportation.

The proposal unveiled by DOT on Wednesday proposes to strictly limit the definition of a service animal to a dog, reversing a policy that permits a wide range of other animals to fly under that framework.

DOT’s new rule also no longer requires airlines to recognize emotional support animals, with the agency citing a number of reasons for the change.

Department officials noted that airlines have consistently complained of fraudulent incidents related to the declaration of certain pets as emotional support animals, even costing the industry millions in unpaid pet carriage fees.

The airline industry as a whole is applauding the move as a means of ensuring the safety of every flying traveler.

“The increased availability of fraudulent ESA credentials has enabled people who are not truly in need of animal assistance to abuse the rules and evade airline policies regarding animals in the cabin,” Airlines for America said in a statement. “This has led to an increase in incidents by untrained animals threatening the health and safety of passengers, crew and passengers with disabilities traveling with legitimate service animals.”

In one instance, United Airlines denied a passenger’s attempt to bring a peacock onto a flight out of Newark Liberty International.

According to the petition, “passengers have attempted to fly with many different unusual species of animals, such as a peacock, ducks, turkeys, pigs, iguanas, and various other types of animals as emotional support or service animals, causing confusion for airline employees and additional scrutiny for service animal users.”

The proposal also come with new check-in rules for passengers looking to fly with service animals, requiring them to arrive at the airport at least an hour earlier than passengers flying without animals.

“Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience,” said Nicholas E. Calio, president and CEO of A4A, adding, “We are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone.”

There is a 60-day public comment period before the agency can move forward on next steps and implementation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coalition of NGOs battling private equity firm trying to buy ‘.org’ domain

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DenisKot/iStock(NEW YORK) — Some of the world’s biggest nonprofit organizations are banding together to fight the purchase of the “.org” internet address by a private equity firm, calling management of the domain a “human rights and social justice issue.”

“.ORG is the place where civil society and NGOs reside in the digital environment,” read an open letter to the internet’s governing body, signed by leaders from groups including Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The coalition of NGOs raised concerns over price-raising, surveillance and online censorship, among others. Their letter was released Wednesday in Davos, where world and business leaders gathered for the annual World Economic Forum conference.

Currently, the domain is owned by Internet Society, a Virginia-based nonprofit that established the Public Interest Registry that manages the .org domain.

The proposed acquisition by Ethos Capital, for more than $1 billion, was announced in late November.

Ethos Capital said the firm has taken steps to address issues raised by the nonprofits.

The group of NGOs is arguing the sale “undermines the safety and stability of the digital space for countless non-governmental organizations, their partners, and their broader communities.”

“We believe the ownership and management of .ORG is a significant human rights and social justice issue,” the letter states. “This unique address is a critical channel for civil society to seek and receive information about human rights and other environmental and social justice issues, and to hold institutions accountable.”

Last week, a group of Democratic lawmakers led by 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also wrote an open letter to the internet’s governing body, ICANN, opposing the acquisition.

“The Ethos Capital takeover of the .ORG domain fails the public interest test in numerous ways,” the lawmakers wrote. “It threatens the quality and reliability of .ORG websites, and could severely limit access to these domains via price increases and ‘arbitrary censorship.'”

The letter was signed by Warren, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis.

An Ethos Capital spokesperson told ABC News on Wednesday that “many facts have been misconstrued in the public discourse” and argued the “transaction serves the public interest in several important ways.”

“First, it will ensure the long-term growth and development of the .ORG domain by enabling PIR to expand its work and the services it provides to the nonprofit community and other .ORG users in innovative and socially responsible ways,” the spokesperson said. “Second, it will provide essential support for the ongoing work of the Internet Society by providing a substantial endowment that will ensure its ability to continue its efforts to build a more accessible, inclusive and secure Internet around the world.”
 
The company added that it will keep PIR’s current management team in place “so that .ORG will remain secure, reliable and stable.”

It has also outlined pricing guidelines, which don’t exist, to ensure “that prices will stay low,” and that it will “enshrine these pricing commitments into the founding documents governing the operation of .ORG moving forward.”

Finally, the company said it takes “freedom of expression very seriously, and the registry’s commitment to free speech will continue unabated” and that it’s creating a Stewardship Council that “will ratify strong rules protecting freedom of expression and safeguarding against censorship.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Amtrak backtracks on $25,000 charge to wheelchair passengers, promises policy review

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

mixmotive/iStock

(NEW YORK) — Amtrak officials have apologized and said they’re suspending a policy after two wheelchair users in a group of five passengers were charged $25,000.

Five members of Access Living, an Illinois-based nonprofit that advocates for disabled persons, were traveling from Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois, on Wednesday and paid a regular fare of $16, said Bridget Hayman, a spokeswoman for the passengers.

Initially, though, when the group bought tickets in December, Amtrak said accommodating two of the five would cost an additional $25,000 because cars would have to be added to the three-car train to accommodate everyone.

Typically, Hayman explained, some seats in a car are removed to make room for wheelchair passengers at no additional charge.

“It was sticker shock,” she said. “I went back to look at the old bills to see what we were charged, and for seat removal there were no additional charges.”

Hayman told ABC News she and her colleagues were grateful Amtrak rescinded the charge but were concerned that it could happen to wheelchair passengers in the future.

“There are so many people with disability needs who ride the train, and they’ve been able to take it without any inconvenience in the past,” she added.

Members of the group reached out to Amtrak and were told the charges were part of a new policy. No additional details were provided until last week, when the group’s story went public.

Amtrak apologized and added three more cars for Wednesday’s trip.

“We assured them that as valued customers we will accommodate all passengers who use wheelchairs aboard the same Amtrak trains they originally requested between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Ill,” Marc Magliari, a company spokesman, said in a statement.

In an additional statement, Amtrak said they were suspending the policy in question.

“After further review, Amtrak has determined to suspend the policy in question,” the statement said. “It was never meant to be applied to this situation and we apologize for that mistake. We are glad it has all worked out and we were able to accommodate our customers’ trip. We will do better next time. We are America’s Railroad and we want to provide more trips, not fewer.”

Word of the group’s predicament made headway among the disabled community and several prominent activists, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee, who tweeted out her frustration at Amtrak.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act has been the law of the land for 30 years. Yet in 2020, @Amtrak believes it would be an unreasonable burden to remove architectural barriers that would enable a group with five wheelchair users to travel together,” she tweeted.

Magliari said Amtrak is planning to meet with the senator to review its policies on accommodations for disabled riders, but couldn’t immediately provide additional details.

“It is outrageous that Amtrak asked a group of passengers with disabilities to pay $25,000 to ride from the City of Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois,” Duckworth said in a statement. “It is also disappointing that Amtrak leadership appears to have failed to offer a public apology for its initial mistake.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New fraudulent text message claims to contain FedEx package information

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

-Oxford-/iStock(NEW YORK) — Customers should be cautious about a new text message phishing scam that at first glance looks to be about a FedEx package delivery, the company said.

Some people around the country have received a text message that appears to show a “tracking code” from the package delivery company and prompts the user to enter their “delivery preferences.”

The link to set those “preferences” would then take a recipient to a fraudulent, scammer-operated site and would attempt to separate the victim from personal information and money.

FedEx shared a statement with ABC News in response to the recent fraudulent text messages claim: “We are committed to protecting the security and integrity of our network. While there is no foolproof method to prevent the FedEx name from being used in a scam, we are constantly monitoring for such activity and work cooperatively with law enforcement.”

“FedEx does not send unsolicited text messages or emails to customers requesting money or package or personal information. Any suspicious text messages or emails should be deleted without being opened, and reported to [email protected],” the statement continued.

Local law enforcement agencies have also urged people in their communities to be wary of the potential text scam.

The company advised that customers utilize information on its website about unauthorized, fraudulent attempts to resemble their business.

Although the text may appear legitimate, the company says there are a few key factors that can help people identify a fake.

FedEx tips to recognize phishing scams

Recognizing phishing scam e-mails and SMS messages is key to protecting yourself against such theft and other crimes. FedEx says that indicators that an e-mail or SMS message might be fraudulent include:

  • Unexpected requests for money in return for delivery of a package or other item, personal and/or financial information, such as your Social Security number, bank account number, or other identification.
  • Links to misspelled or slightly altered Web-site addresses. For example, variations on the correct Web-site address fedex.com, such as fedx.com or fed-ex.com.
  • Alarming messages and requests for immediate action, such as “Your account will be suspended within 24 hours if you don’t respond” or claims that you’ve won the lottery or a prize.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors and excessive use of exclamation points (!).

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New fraudulent text message claims to contain FedEx package information

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

-Oxford-/iStock(NEW YORK) — Customers should be cautious about a new text message phishing scam that at first glance looks to be about a FedEx package delivery, the company said.

Some people around the country have received a text message that appears to show a “tracking code” from the package delivery company and prompts the user to enter their “delivery preferences.”

The link to set those “preferences” would then take a recipient to a fraudulent, scammer-operated site and would attempt to separate the victim from personal information and money.

FedEx shared a statement with ABC News in response to the recent fraudulent text messages claim: “We are committed to protecting the security and integrity of our network. While there is no foolproof method to prevent the FedEx name from being used in a scam, we are constantly monitoring for such activity and work cooperatively with law enforcement.”

“FedEx does not send unsolicited text messages or emails to customers requesting money or package or personal information. Any suspicious text messages or emails should be deleted without being opened, and reported to [email protected],” the statement continued.

Local law enforcement agencies have also urged people in their communities to be wary of the potential text scam.

The company advised that customers utilize information on its website about unauthorized, fraudulent attempts to resemble their business.

Although the text may appear legitimate, the company says there are a few key factors that can help people identify a fake.

FedEx tips to recognize phishing scams

Recognizing phishing scam e-mails and SMS messages is key to protecting yourself against such theft and other crimes. FedEx says that indicators that an e-mail or SMS message might be fraudulent include:

  • Unexpected requests for money in return for delivery of a package or other item, personal and/or financial information, such as your Social Security number, bank account number, or other identification.
  • Links to misspelled or slightly altered Web-site addresses. For example, variations on the correct Web-site address fedex.com, such as fedx.com or fed-ex.com.
  • Alarming messages and requests for immediate action, such as “Your account will be suspended within 24 hours if you don’t respond” or claims that you’ve won the lottery or a prize.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors and excessive use of exclamation points (!).

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

UN officials implicate Saudi Arabia for hacking Jeff Bezos’ phone

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

GOCMEN/iStock(UNITED NATIONS) — United Nations officials said they have information that suggests Saudi Arabia may have attempted to hack Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone in an effort to “influence, if not silence” the Washington Post‘s reporting on the kingdom.

Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post, where Saudi dissident Jamal Khasshogi worked as a columnist before he was murdered by Saudi government agents in October 2018.

Moreover, the U.N. officials directly linked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the alleged hacking. Bezos and Mohammed reportedly exchanged phone numbers at a dinner in Los Angeles during the Saudi leader’s 2018 tour of the U.S.

“The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post‘s reporting on Saudi Arabia,” Agnes Callamard, U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions and extrajudicial killings, and David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The findings are important amid the “ongoing evaluation of claims” linking the Crown Prince to Khashoggi’s murder, the U.N. officials added.

They called for an immediate investigation by U.S. and other authorities into the hacking of Bezos’ phone, and into Mohammed’s alleged involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.

“The circumstances and timing of the hacking and surveillance of Bezos also strengthen support for further investigation by U.S. and other relevant authorities of the allegations that the Crown Prince ordered, incited, or, at a minimum, was aware of planning for but failed to stop the mission that fatally targeted Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul,” Callamard and Kaye said.

Bezos’ phone was hacked at some point between May and June 2018. Two close associates of Khashoggie, Yahya Assiri and Omar Abdulaziz, were also hacked using the same Pegasus malware during the same time period, the officials said.

The gruesome murder of Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, have roiled U.S-Saudi relations in recent years and led to international outrage.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced last month that five men have been sentenced to death for their roles in the killing of Khashoggi.

Ahead of the U.N.’s statement Wednesday, the Saudi embassy in the U.S. called the reports of the kingdom hacking Bezos’ phone “absurd.”

“Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd,” the Saudi embassy said in a tweet. “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

UN officials implicate Saudi Arabia for hacking Jeff Bezos’ phone

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

GOCMEN/iStock(UNITED NATIONS) — United Nations officials said they have information that suggests Saudi Arabia may have attempted to hack Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone in an effort to “influence, if not silence” the Washington Post‘s reporting on the kingdom.

Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post, where Saudi dissident Jamal Khasshogi worked as a columnist before he was murdered by Saudi government agents in October 2018.

Moreover, the U.N. officials directly linked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the alleged hacking. Bezos and Mohammed reportedly exchanged phone numbers at a dinner in Los Angeles during the Saudi leader’s 2018 tour of the U.S.

“The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post‘s reporting on Saudi Arabia,” Agnes Callamard, U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions and extrajudicial killings, and David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The findings are important amid the “ongoing evaluation of claims” linking the Crown Prince to Khashoggi’s murder, the U.N. officials added.

They called for an immediate investigation by U.S. and other authorities into the hacking of Bezos’ phone, and into Mohammed’s alleged involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.

“The circumstances and timing of the hacking and surveillance of Bezos also strengthen support for further investigation by U.S. and other relevant authorities of the allegations that the Crown Prince ordered, incited, or, at a minimum, was aware of planning for but failed to stop the mission that fatally targeted Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul,” Callamard and Kaye said.

Bezos’ phone was hacked at some point between May and June 2018. Two close associates of Khashoggie, Yahya Assiri and Omar Abdulaziz, were also hacked using the same Pegasus malware during the same time period, the officials said.

The gruesome murder of Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, have roiled U.S-Saudi relations in recent years and led to international outrage.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced last month that five men have been sentenced to death for their roles in the killing of Khashoggi.

Ahead of the U.N.’s statement Wednesday, the Saudi embassy in the U.S. called the reports of the kingdom hacking Bezos’ phone “absurd.”

“Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd,” the Saudi embassy said in a tweet. “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mom pays off $50k in debt, shares how she did it

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Chonce Maddox Rhea(NEW YORK) — For many with a credit card, it’s easy to overspend.

Three years ago, Chonce Rhea, a 27-year-old mom from Chicago was drowning in debt from spending beyond her budget.

It wasn’t until 2015 when she realized she couldn’t afford to do her own laundry and discovered the need to get out of debt.

“I never had enough money and I was tired of being broke,” Rhea told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I kind of just snapped and was like I need to get out of debt.”

So, Rhea went to work and spent the past three years paying off $50,000 worth of debt accumulated from overspending over the years.

She started by first cutting costs and moved to less expensive housing and started freelance writing on the side.

Then, Rhea added some saving techniques like no spend weeks or weekends where her family spends no money on dining out or entertainment.

“It’s just a way to be creative,” she said. “We cook through our kitchen cabinets so I might figure out what ingredients I have and I’ll Google that and see what I can cook.”

Rhea orders toiletries for her family through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save and uses an app called Acorns that automatically rounds up her credit card purchase prices to the nearest dollar.

“I don’t even notice the money coming out of my account – it’s cool to see it add up and make a difference,” she said.

Rhea cuts down on entertainment costs by searching for free activities for her family to do around town. After overspending at Christmas for many years, she started to save early, putting money for the holiday away each month in a high-yield savings account.

She also started a Secret Santa gift exchange with her extended family as a way to cut costs.

“I have four siblings and my husband has three siblings and they have kids as well so it’s a lot,” said Rhea. “On Thanksgiving when we all meet we put names in a hat and draw one person to give a gift to and we always set a budget.”

While saving money and working to pay debts off was not an easy task, Rhea was determined to accomplish her goal.

“I had to give up a lot of things, but I was really motivated,” she said. “I wanted a better life for myself and my son.”

Now, Rhea is a financial guru with her own personal finance blog called “My Debt Epiphany” where she encourages others to get rid of their debt to reach financial freedom.

And although it can be daunting, Rhea says it’s easy if you start with a simple budget and set an attainable goal.
 
“Paying off debt and being debt free — it’s really an amazing feeling,” she said. “I think it just gives you more freedom and more options with your money.”

Tips to pay off your credit card debt

Credit card debt was one of the major obstacles Rhea faced.

ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis appeared on GMA Wednesday to share three tips for lowering your APR, the interest rate, or cost of having a credit card.

Having a high APR makes it harder to get out of debt because the debt just keeps adding up over time, according to Jarvis.

“What most people don’t know, in addition to [knowing their] APR, is that you can actually negotiate that amount lower,” she said.

Here are her three tips:

1. Arm yourself with information. “Take a look at your last bill (credit card statement). How much interest have you paid? How long have you have been a customer of that credit card company? These are pieces of information you must know before you make a call to the credit card company to negotiate.”

2. Look at alternate offers. “Figure out what other credit card companies are offering right now. You can look, for example, at sites like CreditKarma, Bankrate.com, NerdWallet. These are great websites that tell people exactly the types of credit card interest rates that are out there and what comes with which credit card.”

3. Call your credit card company. “Tell them that information you’ve gathered, ask to make a deal to decrease that APR and let them know you are a valuable customer, you’re willing to stick around but in order to do that you need them to lower the APR.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Deal to buy vacant home shows severity of homelessness crisis, advocates say

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

KGO-TV(OAKLAND, Calif.) — A deal struck by a property investment firm involving a vacant California home where two homeless mothers and their children had been hunkered down exemplifies the need for elected officials in large, expensive cities to help provide affordable housing, advocates say.

Oakland resident Dominque Walker, 34, her two children and another mother and her five children moved into a vacant three-bedroom home on Magnolia Street in west Oakland on Nov. 18, Walker told ABC News.

The families were evicted Jan. 12 after refusing to leave despite an order issued by an Alameda County judge for them to vacate.

On Monday, the advocacy group Moms 4 Housing reached a deal to buy the home from Wedgewood Properties, which had purchased it over the summer with the intention of flipping it.

Walker told ABC News that for the families, refusing to leave was less about the property itself and more about “the right to housing for all.”

“Housing is a human right,” she added.

The deal, facilitated by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, is a prime example of how nonprofits, elected officials and community members can work together to help the disadvantaged, said Steve Berg, vice president of programs and policy for the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

“If there’s a vacant property in the community, it’s a good thing if the community can get the resources together to buy that housing and use it for people who couldn’t afford housing,” Berg told ABC News.

Housing costs are increasing in cities throughout the U.S., and there isn’t enough affordable housing for lower-income residents, Berg said. While the number of modest jobs has increased, the housing supply for those workers hasn’t kept pace, exacerbating the current homelessness crisis, he said.

Many without homes still have jobs and families, Berg said.

Walker and her children are “the new face of homelessness,” Walker said. The 34-year-old has a degree in sociology from Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and works full time as a housing organizer and part time delivering food for Postmates and Doordash.

Of the 568,000 people who were homeless on a single night in January 2019, about 172,000 were either children or parents, according to a report recently published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The year in a person’s life when they’re most likely to be homeless is between age 0 and 1, Berg said.

More than 150,000 people are homeless in California, a 17% uptick since 2018, according to Cal Matters, a nonprofit news organization.

In Oakland, there are four vacant homes for every homeless person, Carroll Fise, director of the Oakland Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, told ABC News.

Fise added that more than 200% of the current real estate market in Oakland has been a result of development, while less than a third of affordable housing is from development.

“Most of the politicians are putting their focus on market rate development, and that’s just out of reach for the working wage,” she said.

Fise compared the lack of attention paid to affordable housing to privatizing other essentials to live, such as air and water.

The deal between Moms 4 Housing and Wedgewood Properties also involves the firm giving the city, the land trust and other groups first right of refusal on all of its 50 Oakland properties, the property’s spokesman, Sam Singer, told ABC San Francisco station KGO-TV.

“What this is going to provide the city of Oakland, along with the disadvantaged, is a pipeline of homes that Wedgewood is going to make available to the city so that it can participate in buying some of them,” Singer told KGO.

When asked whether both families will be returning to the home, Walker said the living arrangements have not yet been finalized but that the property will also be used as a place for Moms 4 Housing to organize.

The next step for the organization is a meeting with Schaafer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to discuss policy changes, Walker said.

“We want to change policies that allow this to happen in our city and our state,” she said.

Last week, Newsom embarked on a five-day tour around Southern California to promote a $1 billion plan to help eradicate the housing crisis. His plan includes using vacant state property to house homeless people.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Boeing says it doesn’t expect to get approval from regulators for 737 Max until ‘mid-2020’

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(NEW YORK) — Boeing does not expect regulators to allow its beleaguered 737 Max aircrafts to return to service until at least “mid-2020,” the company announced Tuesday.

Prior to the company’s official announcement, headlines that the green light from regulators would take months longer than previously expected caused Boeing shares to sink — falling 5.5% — before trading was temporarily halted.

“We are informing our customers and suppliers that we are currently estimating that the ungrounding of the 737 MAX will begin during mid-2020,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “This updated estimate is informed by our experience to date with the certification process.”

“Returning the MAX safely to service is our number one priority, and we are confident that will happen,” the statement added.

The stock rallied slightly late in trading on Tuesday, but still finished down more than 10 points.

Boeing said it was release additional information about the 737 Max’s return to service with quarterly financial disclosures next week.

Governments and airlines around the world have grounded 737 Max aircraft since March after two crashes occurred within six months of each other — in October 2018 and March 2019 — that killed a total of 346 people. Boeing announced in December it will suspend production of the jets.

The Federal Aviation Administration re-emphasized in a statement Tuesday that it’s “first priority is safety” when it comes to approving the 737 Max.

“The agency is following a thorough, deliberate process to verify that all proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX meet the highest certification standards,” the statement added. “We have set no time frame for when the work will be completed.”

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GlaxoSmithKline halts production of some Excedrin products

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

littleny/iStock(NEW YORK) — Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has temporarily stopped production of Excedrin, its popular over-the-counter migraine medication.

The company ceased nationwide production and distribution of its Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Migraine products because of “inconsistencies in how we transfer and weigh ingredients,” a GSK spokesperson told told ABC Syracuse affiliate WSYR.

GSK confirmed to ABC News it is a nationwide issue, although the company said it is short-term and production is expected to resume shortly. WSYR reported the company said there is not “a definite date as to when supply will resume.”

“Patient safety and product quality are our utmost priorities at GSK,” a company spokesperson said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

While the company does not believe Excedrin products pose a safety risk to consumers, the spokesperson said, GSK was temporarily discontinuing the medicines as a precautionary measure.

Other GSK pain medicines and generic drugs are still available, but they may be in different dosage, and GSK advises consumers to consult their pharmacists for alternatives, the spokesperson said in their statement.

Some patients say those options don’t provide them with the pain relief they need.

“I’ve been suffering for about 10 years. I’ve gone to the doctors. I’ve tried prescription medicines. I had Botox. I’ve tried medical marijuana and I still end up going back to Excedrin,” Ashleigh Eldred, who discovered that her preferred pain medicine wasn’t available when she tried to purchase it at a Walgreens in Clay, New York, told WSYR.

Customers looking for Exedrin in Central New York faced empty shelves in some chain stores and pharmacies, including Wegmans, Tops, Walmart and Walgreens, as well as in independent pharmacies, WSYR reported.

“If I have a migraine attack, I’m not sure if I was to not have any on me, what I would do,” Eldred said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Climate change and inequality loom large as the powerful descend on Davos

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

makasana/iStock(DAVOS, Switzerland) — The world’s political and economic elite are descending on the small Swiss Alps town of Davos this week for the annual World Economic Forum meeting where they hope to set this year’s “global, regional and industry agendas.”

Approximately 3,000 people will be attending this year — from President Donald Trump to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to climate change activist Greta Thunberg — and the theme is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

The convention of the most powerful comes at a time, however, when global income inequality is soaring and a majority of people believe capitalism in its current form is not working.

Here is what to expect from this year’s conference:

‘Stakeholder capitalism’

The WEF explains that this year’s theme is about using “stakeholder capitalism,” or a system where the interests of all stakeholders are weighed equally, as a means “to overcome income inequality, societal division and the climate crisis.”

“Business has now to fully embrace stakeholder capitalism, which means not only maximizing profits, but use their capabilities and resources in cooperation with governments and civil society to address the key issues of this decade,” forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said in a statement.

“They have to actively contribute to a more cohesive and sustainable world,” he added.

Issues like climate change and “fairer economies” are at the top of the agenda this year.

The invitation-only guest list has expanded to welcome young activists including 17-year-old Greta Thunberg and others in addition to the usual crowd of the ultra-wealthy.

The schedule is jam-packed with things to watch for. On Tuesday, Trump will be giving a special address shortly after Thunberg participates on a panel about “Averting a Climate Apocalypse.” Han Zheng, the vice-premier of the People’s Republic of China, will also speak on Tuesday afternoon.

Another theme of this year’s conference will be the role of technology in our society and how it can be used “for good.”

Many executives from big tech will be present: Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei will discuss “A Future Shaped by a Technology Arms Race” on Tuesday. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will speak on Wednesday. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will also reportedly be in attendance this year.

Capitalism ‘doing more harm than good’

The gathering of the business elite comes at a time, however, when a majority of people believe that “capitalism in its current form is now doing more harm than good in the world,” according to a survey from global communications firm Edelman published Monday.

Despite a strong economy on paper and low unemployment rates, a majority of those surveyed also said they did not believe they would be better off in five years’ time.

CEO Richard Edelman called the findings a “trust paradox,” saying, “Since we began measuring trust 20 years ago, economic growth has fostered rising trust.”
 
“Fears are stifling hope and long-held assumptions about hard work leading to upward mobility are now invalid,” he added.

The findings shed light on a series of perceived global threats — 83% of employees globally said they are worried about job loss “due to automation, a looming recession, lack of training, cheaper foreign competition, immigration and the gig economy.” Moreover, 57% of people said they were worried about losing their “respect and dignity.”

The ‘inequality crisis is spiraling out of control’

This year’s conference also comes at a time when the world’s billionaires hold more wealth than 4.6 billion people, or 60% of the Earth’s population, according to a report on inequality released Monday from the nonprofit group Oxfam.

The report’s findings are just “another indication that the inequality crisis is spiraling out of control,” according to Paul O’Brien, the vice president of policy and advocacy at Oxfam America.

“The richest are clearly rigging our economy for themselves, starting with America’s billionaire President,” O’Brien said. “While the president of the United States is rubbing elbows in Davos with the global elite, his administration is seeking to cut food assistance to nearly a million poor people, while expanding tax loopholes and other benefits for the wealthy and large companies.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will be among those speaking this year on the topic of creating “fairer economies,” according to the WEF website.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tesla calls unintended acceleration complaints ‘completely false’

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) — Tesla is disputing claims that all three models of its electric vehicles could unexpectedly accelerate without the driver taking action.

The car company issued a statement on Monday afternoon, saying a stock short-seller was behind the claims, which resulted in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquiry over the weekend. Short-sellers are investors who borrow shares in a company’s stock to sell it on the market with plans of buying it back at a cheaper price later.

“We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input, and in every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed,” the company said in a statement Monday. “In other words, the car accelerates if, and only if, the driver told it to do so, and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake.”

The NHTSA said it would review the petition that was filed and decide whether to launch a full investigation. The petition covers about 500,000 Tesla Model 3, Model S and Model X vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2019. The petitioner, Brian Sparks of Berkeley, California, claims Tesla owners had filed 127 government complaints, covering 110 crashes and 52 injuries.

NHTSA said it would “carefully review the petition and relevant data,” according to a statement released Friday. “The Office of Defects Investigation will conduct a technical analysis and decide whether or not to grant or deny the petition. If the petition is granted, a defect investigation will be opened.”

Tesla called the petition “completely false” and said it had previously discussed the majority of the complaints alleged in the petition with the NHTSA. In every case it reviewed, the data proved the vehicle functioned properly, according to Tesla.

“Unique to Tesla, we also use the Autopilot sensor suite to help distinguish potential pedal misapplications and cut torque to mitigate or prevent accidents when we’re confident the driver’s input was unintentional,” Tesla said. “Each system is independent and records data, so we can examine exactly what happened.”

“We are transparent with NHTSA, and routinely review customer complaints of unintended acceleration with them,” it added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

All eyes on potential Trump vs Greta Thunberg showdown at Davos

Posted on: January 20th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(NEW YORK) — Twitter adversaries President Donald Trump and teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg may come face-to-face at the annual World Economic Forum meeting this week, and all eyes are on their potential showdown at Davos.

Trump, 73, is slated to give a special address at the conference of world and business leaders at 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Thunberg, 17, will speak shortly after.

While Thunberg has become a symbol of the youth-led movement, calling for urgent action on climate change, the Trump administration has taken steps to show it does not consider it a priority, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump has previously called climate change a hoax.

The last time the two were in the same room, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, a photo emerged on social media showing them crossing paths. It quickly went viral.

“I think both voices are necessary,” he said. “The environment will play a particularly important role during this meeting.”

Thunberg made headlines late last month when she said she “wouldn’t have wasted my time” speaking to Trump about climate change.

“I don’t think I would have said anything because he’s obviously not listening to scientists and experts, why would he listen to me?” she told the BBC’s Today radio program. “I probably wouldn’t have said anything, wouldn’t have wasted my time.”

The teen added that she thinks Trump may see the growing climate movement among young people as a “threat.”

While it is unclear what Trump will say during his special address at Davos Tuesday, Thunberg will speak on a panel about “Averting a Climate Apocalypse.”

She wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian last week, saying she is going to Davos to call on leaders to divest from fossil fuels.

“We demand that at this year’s forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels,” she wrote.

The president has frequently attacked the teen climate activist on social media, tweeting that it is “so ridiculous” that Thunberg was selected as Time magazine’s 2019 person of the year and telling her to “chill.”

“Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!” the president wrote. “Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg seemed to take it in stride. Shortly after, Thunberg changed her Twitter bio to read: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

All eyes on potential Trump vs Greta Thunberg showdown at Davos

Posted on: January 20th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(NEW YORK) — Twitter adversaries President Donald Trump and teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg may come face-to-face at the annual World Economic Forum meeting this week, and all eyes are on their potential showdown at Davos.

Trump, 73, is slated to give a special address at the conference of world and business leaders at 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Thunberg, 17, will speak shortly after.

While Thunberg has become a symbol of the youth-led movement, calling for urgent action on climate change, the Trump administration has taken steps to show it does not consider it a priority, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump has previously called climate change a hoax.

The last time the two were in the same room, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, a photo emerged on social media showing them crossing paths. It quickly went viral.

“I think both voices are necessary,” he said. “The environment will play a particularly important role during this meeting.”

Thunberg made headlines late last month when she said she “wouldn’t have wasted my time” speaking to Trump about climate change.

“I don’t think I would have said anything because he’s obviously not listening to scientists and experts, why would he listen to me?” she told the BBC’s Today radio program. “I probably wouldn’t have said anything, wouldn’t have wasted my time.”

The teen added that she thinks Trump may see the growing climate movement among young people as a “threat.”

While it is unclear what Trump will say during his special address at Davos Tuesday, Thunberg will speak on a panel about “Averting a Climate Apocalypse.”

She wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian last week, saying she is going to Davos to call on leaders to divest from fossil fuels.

“We demand that at this year’s forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels,” she wrote.

The president has frequently attacked the teen climate activist on social media, tweeting that it is “so ridiculous” that Thunberg was selected as Time magazine’s 2019 person of the year and telling her to “chill.”

“Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!” the president wrote. “Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg seemed to take it in stride. Shortly after, Thunberg changed her Twitter bio to read: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Climate change and economic inequality loom large as the powerful descend on Davos

Posted on: January 20th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

astra490/iStock(DAVOS, Switzerland) — The world’s political and economic elite are descending on the small Swiss Alps town of Davos this week for the annual World Economic Forum meeting where they hope to set this year’s “global, regional and industry agendas.”

Approximately 3,000 people will be attending this year — from President Donald Trump to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to climate change activist Greta Thunberg — and the theme is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

The convention of the most powerful comes at time, however, when global income inequality is soaring and a majority of people believe capitalism in its current form is not working.

Here is what to expect from this year’s conference.

‘Stakeholder capitalism’

The WEF explains that this year’s theme is about using “stakeholder capitalism,” or a system where the interests of all stakeholders are weighed equally, as a means “to overcome income inequality, societal division and the climate crisis.”

“Business has now to fully embrace stakeholder capitalism, which means not only maximizing profits, but use their capabilities and resources in cooperation with governments and civil society to address the key issues of this decade,” forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said in a statement.

“They have to actively contribute to a more cohesive and sustainable world,” he added.

Issues like climate change and “fairer economies” are at the top of the agenda this year.

The invitation-only guest list has expanded to welcome young activists including 17-year-old Greta Thunberg and others in addition to the usual crowd of the ultra-wealthy.

The schedule is jam-packed with things to watch for. On Tuesday, Trump will be giving a special address shortly after Thunberg participates on a panel about “Averting a Climate Apocalypse.” Han Zheng, the vice-premier of the People’s Republic of China, will also speak on Tuesday afternoon.

Another theme of this year’s conference will be the role of technology in our society and how it can be used “for good.”

Many executives from big tech will be present: Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei will discuss “A Future Shaped by a Technology Arms Race” on Tuesday. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will speak on Wednesday. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will also reportedly be in attendance this year.

Capitalism ‘doing more harm than good’

The gathering of the business elite comes at a time, however, when a majority of people believe that “capitalism in its current form is now doing more harm than good in the world,” according to a survey from global communications firm Edelman published Monday.

Despite a strong economy on paper and low unemployment rates, a majority of those surveyed also said they did not believe they would be better off in five years time.

CEO Richard Edelman called the findings a “trust paradox,” saying, “Since we began measuring trust 20 years ago, economic growth has fostered rising trust.”

“Fears are stifling hope and long-held assumptions about hard work leading to upward mobility are now invalid,” he added.

The findings shed light on a series of perceived global threats — 83% of employees globally said they are worried about job loss “due to automation, a looming recession, lack of training, cheaper foreign competition, immigration and the gig economy.” Moreover, 57% of people said they were worried about losing their “respect and dignity.”

The ‘inequality crisis is spiraling out of control’

This year’s conference also comes at a time when the world’s billionaires hold more wealth than 4.6 billion people, or 60% of the Earth’s population, according to a report on inequality released Monday from the nonprofit group Oxfam.

The report’s findings are just “another indication that the inequality crisis is spiraling out of control,” according to Paul O’Brien, the vice president of policy and advocacy at Oxfam America.

“The richest are clearly rigging our economy for themselves, starting with America’s billionaire President,” O’Brien said. “While the president of the United States is rubbing elbows in Davos with the global elite, his administration is seeking to cut food assistance to nearly a million poor people, while expanding tax loopholes and other benefits for the wealthy and large companies.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchen and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will be among those speaking this year on the topic of creating “fairer economies,” according to the WEF website.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Why Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake turned down a multimillion-dollar offer

Posted on: January 20th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion(NEW YORK) — Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake made history in 2017 when she became the youngest female founder to take a company public at just 34.

Founded in 2011, the online personal styling service became profitable within three years and now serves more than three million clients, generating over $1.5 billion in sales.

“The original thesis was marrying humans and data and analytics to build this personalized shopping experience,” Lake told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis on the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Her vision was to transform the way that people shop while democratizing a personal styling experience.

Users fill out a “Style Profile,” which a personal stylist uses to handpick items fitting a customer’s tastes, needs and budget. Items are shipped monthly to customers, who have three days to decide which pieces they want to keep. A $20 styling fee is applied as a credit toward any items the customer wants to buy.

“We’ve sold about $5 billion of clothes, all sight unseen. And that’s kind of an amazing thing — that no one is clicking on something, adding it to their cart and buying … 100 percent of that is recommended to our clients.” Lake said on the podcast.

Equally as crucial to the personal stylists of the company are the more than 100 data scientists developing algorithms to better understand customers. A new feature the company offers is called “Shop Your Looks,” which uses machine learning to provide customers with a selection of 30 to 40 items based on things they’ve decided to purchase.

While Stitch Fix joins a myriad other companies looking to transform online shopping, including Rent the Runway, Instagram and Amazon, Lake said data-driven features like “Shop Your Looks” help differentiate her company.

“Our focus on personalization, our focus on apparel, our focus on recommendations at the core of what we do is what’s going to differentiate us,” she said.

The success of the company is undeniable. In its financial results for the first quarter of 2020 (which ended Nov. 2, 2019 as per the company’s financial results report), Stitch Fix increased active clients by 17% to 3.4 million and net revenue by 21% to $444.8 million from the previous year. When Lake thinks about the worst advice she never took, to sell her company in the first year, this type of growth reaffirms her decision to decline the offer.

“We’d raised less than a million dollars, and we had a tens-of-millions-of-dollars offer of a company that wanted to acquire us, and I mean, it had to give us pause,” Lake told Jarvis.

Lake was in her late 20s, living paycheck to paycheck, and the offer would have made her a millionaire only a year into her first company. A lawyer she was working with recommending taking it.

“He’s like, ‘This is so lucky. This is so lucky.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, do I think that I’m lucky or do I think that I’m actually good at this? And if I’m actually good at this, then I should actually double down on myself and invest in myself,'” Lake told Jarvis.

She turned it down.

“Ultimately, it actually did end up feeling like an easy decision to make — a feeling like I believe in this. I believe in myself. I believe in the company, and this is the right thing,” Lake continued.

Today, Stitch Fix is valued at more than $2 billion.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.