Franklin Clinic of Michigan City







US airlines plan to add gender options for non-binary passengers

Posted on: February 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Robert Alexander/Getty Images(NEW YORK ) — Major airlines will soon offer passengers who don’t identify as “male” or “female” more options when booking tickets to travel.

The announcement came after an industry trade group, Airlines for America (A4A), and International Air Transport Association members recently approved a new standard to account for non-binary IDs.

“U.S. airlines value a culture of diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and for our passengers, and we work hard each day to accommodate the needs of all travelers while delivering a safe, secure and enjoyable flight experience,” Airline for America spokesperson Vaughn Jennings said.

Passengers flying with airline giants such as United, American and Southwest have announced that they will be making changes to their online booking process to reflect the standard. United Airlines stated that “in the coming weeks their passengers will be able to identify themselves, as M(ale), F(emale), U(undisclosed), or X(unspecified,” and that”, customers who do not identify with a gender will have the option of selecting “Mx.” as a title.”

Delta Airlines was already undergoing a similar process on its own.

“As part of our commitment to inclusion, we want to ensure all of our customers feel comfortable and welcome no matter how they self-identify, which is why we will begin offering our customers the ability to select the gender with which they most closely identify during the booking process,” United Airlines released in a statement.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began requiring passengers to enter their gender and date of birth when booking flights in 2009. This requirement was a direct result of 9/11 when TSA created the Secure Flight vetting program, which is a behind the scenes watch list matching process that happens before passengers arrive at the airport.

“By providing the additional data elements of gender and date of birth, Secure Flight will more effectively help prevent misidentification of passengers who have similar names to individuals on a watch list and better identify individuals that may pose a threat to aviation,” TSA stated in a press release.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has expressed concerns for what they call “intrusive security screening procedures” by TSA. NCTE State Policy Director Arli Christian, who goes by the pronoun “they”, applauds these new gender options.

“Non-binary people face unnecessary, invasive, and discriminatory scrutiny by airlines, airports, and security services alike,” Arli Christian said. “A4A’s work is in line with other states who offer gender-neutral designations on IDs and is an important step toward ensuring safe and smooth travel for all passengers regardless of their gender.”

These new options for travels will begin on June 1, however, according to International Air Transport Association spokesperson Perry Flint that the decision of when or if to apply the new standard up to individual airlines.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Payless to close all 2,100 stores in US, Puerto Rico

Posted on: February 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

tupungato/iStock(NEW YORK) — Payless Shoe Source will soon be closing the doors to all of its stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

After filing for Chapter 11 protection less than two years ago, the discount shoe store chain is filing for bankruptcy again. In all, 2,100 stores will close and 18,000 employees will be out of a job.

The retailer has been affected by competition not only from online retailers like Amazon and Zappos, but also discount stores like DSW, Walmart, Kohl’s and Marshall’s.

Payless has already halted its online sales and begun its liquidation sale. Stores are expected to begin closing by the end of next month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

British lawmakers call Facebook ‘digital gangsters’ in new report

Posted on: February 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

bombuscreative/iStock(NEW YORK) — A new report by British lawmakers accuses Facebook of intentionally violating data privacy and competition laws, and likens the social media giant to “digital gangsters.”

“Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law,” the 108-page report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee reads.

In its report on disinformation and ‘fake news,’ the committee says Facebook has failed to answer its questions and calls for regulation on social media platforms.

“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people,” says Damian Collins, the committee’s chairman. “The age of inadequate self regulation must come to an end.”

“The rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator,” Collins adds.

The chairman says companies like Facebook are “failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights.”

In response to the report, Facebook said it is “open to meaningful regulation,” The Guardian reports.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Richard Branson eyes Apollo 11 anniversary for his first trip to space

Posted on: February 16th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

@richardbranson/Twitter(NEW YORK) — Before Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson accomplishes his dream of sending paying customers to space, he’ll try it out himself. In an interview with ABC News, the billionaire entrepreneur said his birthday this summer coincides with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic moon landing, a moment he said inspired him to set up what he calls a “space line.”

“I realized that governments were not really interested in you and me going to space,” he said.

“We could make it possible hopefully to put thousands of people in the years to come. So yeah, July the 18th is my birthday so why not? We’ll go for that.”

So who, besides Branson, is lining up for a round-trip flight to space? Apparently, quite a few, although the exact number has not been released.

“The amount of people who want to go into space is ridiculously large and we’ve just got to make sure that we can make it affordable for a lot of them.”

The plan at Virgin Galactic is to carry six passengers at a time into space for four minutes of weightlessness. The price tag right now is about $250,000.

“We’re a business and we’re not making money by not taking customers yet,” said Mark “Forger” Stucky, one of the pilots at Virgin Galactic.

“So we need to get through the flight test program and get on with taking customers.”

In December 2018, Stucky and Frederick “C.J.” Sturckow piloted the latest test flight of their spaceplane VSS Unity to 51.4 miles over the California desert, just crossing the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of space for the first time.

Two months later, Sturckow and Stucky were awarded their commercial space flight wings in a joyous ceremony at FAA headquarters. Branson spoke at the event and took the opportunity to reflect on the company’s journey.

“It’s taken 14 years. We expected it to take seven,” he told ABC News. “We’ve had tears, we’ve had joy, we’ve got a fantastic dedicated group of engineers who’ve made it all possible and the brave test pilots.”

A tragic setback occurred in October 2014 when a Virgin Galactic test flight ended catastrophically with the death of pilot Michael Alsbury. Pilot Peter Siebold survived the incident, parachuting to the ground after the aircraft broke up mid-flight at an altitude of about 50,000 feet.

So why the risk? Why are these pilots so determined to get normal citizens into space?

“The more people that see our planet from space the more that we’ll appreciate this place where we’re living and hopefully take better care of it,” said Sturckow.

“I think it’s good for all humanity that we get the most people up there we can.”

Branson echoed the sentiment. He’s heard from many astronauts who have seen the Earth from space and said they come back with a different perspective.

“They view the Earth very differently having been to space and they come back determined to protect this beautiful planet we live on and we are hoping that we can inspire thousands of people in that way.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

After a month-long fast, church pays off $100,000 in debt for 34 college students

Posted on: February 15th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

subjug/iStock(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — A group of 34 college seniors set to graduate in May had their student debts paid off thanks to a local church that raised more than $100,000 during a month-long fast.

Mya Thompson, a senior at Howard University, was one of the 34 students at the Washington, D.C., college who had their debts erased thanks to Alfred Street Baptist Church in nearby Alexandria, Va.

“I was overwhelmed and excited,” Thompson, 25, said about the surprise. “I’ve always applied for a scholarship but I’d never received one and it was kind of like, ‘Wow, I finally got chosen.'”

Thompson is a single mother of a 6-year-old son and works an overnight shift as a call taker for 911 emergency services, in addition to her college classes. She received $2,500, the amount she needed to pay off to Howard in order to graduate.

“Of course it’s stressful to know that you have to have $2,500 to come out of your pocket,” she said. “However, no matter what, I would have paid that by any means, so it’s the fact that I don’t have to worry about paying that on top of my bills and other stuff.”

Thompson, a first-generation college student, and the other 33 seniors learned that their debts were being paid earlier this month when they were called to the university’s financial office. Instead of meeting with a school official, they met with Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, the pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church.

Wesley led his 8,000-member congregation in a period of prayer and fasting during the month of January. Congregants were asked to fast not only with their diets but also with social media and their finances.

Wesley, for example, cut his $4 per day coffee purchase and donated that money as part of his offering.

“We said we would pray as a church to what the Lord was telling us to do [with the money] and that we would donate it 100 percent outside of the church,” he said.

The financial donations from the fasting, which took place during the government shutdown, far surpassed church leaders’ expectations. Instead of the $25,000 they expected, the church members had donated $150,000 by the end of the month, according to Wesley.

Wesley credits his assistants, Mark Lavarin and Elijah McDavid, with coming up with the idea to donate $100,000 to Howard University and another $50,000 to Bennett College, a historically-black women’s college in Greensboro, N.C.

Around 75 percent of the church’s congregants attended historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), according to Wesley.

“It’s very easy to see the impact in communities that these schools have,” said Wesley, who worked with Howard officials to identify students who overcame financial hardships, had good GPAs and only had debt holding them back from graduating.

Wayne A. I. Frederick, the president of Howard University, said he expects the church’s donation to have a ripple effect that will reach far beyond the 34 seniors who received the money.

 

Thank you @AlfredStreetBC for paying the balances that stood between 34 graduating seniors and their graduation in a few short months.

We appreciate your investment into our students and the priority placed into supporting the HBCU community. pic.twitter.com/UgoCGx9PEP

— Howard University (@HowardU) February 4, 2019

 

“It will have a massive impact,” he said. “I tell the students all the time when they come to Howard that they’re not here for a degree, they’re here for an education.”

“What is equally important are the experiences they have outside of the classroom and this is another experience,” Frederick said. “It will teach them about paying forward and teach them about the responsibility to the community around them.”

Thompson, a public relations major who hopes to work for a record label, said she is already planning how she can pay the donation forward.

“What Alfred Street did for me, I feel like next semester or next year as an alumna of the university I can come back and do something nice, maybe pay for their books or pay for their graduation fee,” she said. “I feel like it’s my duty to do that for students of my university.”

Thompson said she also plans to attend service at Alfred Street Baptist church this weekend. Wesley said the church has received thank you letters from some of the Howard students, as well as some of their parents and even grandparents.

Making the $150,000 raised by Alfred Street Baptist Church even more remarkable is that congregants did not know ahead of time where their money would be donated. They found out a few days after the students were told, when the church played a video of the surprise.

“The entire congregation was just moved to tears,” said Wesley. “In this time … we feel it is important as a body of faith that we exemplify what it means to take care of strangers.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tips to save on rising grocery costs

Posted on: February 15th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Kwangmoozaa/iStock(NEW YORK) — If you’ve taken a trip to the supermarket lately, you may have been hit with a higher grocery bill at checkout.

The United States Department of Agriculture is forecasting food prices to increase up to 2 percent overall, with even bigger jumps expected in categories like dairy, fresh vegetables, fruits and cereals.

The hike in prices is affecting all grocery stores, including Whole Foods, which had been touting drops. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Amazon is raising prices at the supermarket chain.

So how can you save money the next time you shop for groceries? ABC News’ Becky Worley shares her tips in the video below:

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The ultimate Presidents Day deals and what to buy now

Posted on: February 15th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

NiroDesign/iStock(NEW YORK) — Presidents Day is just around the corner and the sales are already starting to heat up.

ABC News’ Good Morning America teamed up with Lori Bergamotto, style director of Good Housekeeping magazine, to find the biggest can’t-miss deals for the upcoming holiday weekend and help breakdown which items to buy now for the biggest savings.

Compared to bigger retail holidays, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Presidents Day deals can sometimes be overlooked, but it is a key time to shop, according to Bergamotto.

On some of the bigger retail holidays, many products will go on a flash sale for a limited time. When Presidents Day rolls around, a lot of items are already on sale and companies will start offering even steeper discounts.

Here, Bergamotto breaks down some of the biggest Presidents Day sales to look out for this weekend by category:

Fashion

Presidents Day is actually a great time to invest in a good winter coat. Some of the biggest deals to look out for this weekend will be on Nordstrom (up to 40 percent off), Old Navy (up to 50 percent off) and BooHoo (up to 80 percent off).

Tech

Presidents Day weekend is the ideal time to buy a new laptop, according to Bergamotto. Best Buy and Dell are offering discounts of up to $400 off. Also be sure to check out Lenovo, which is slashing prices up to 45 percent.

Home decor

If you’re looking to refresh your space, be sure to check out West Elm and Pottery Barn, which are both slashing prices up 70 percent off this weekend. Ashley Furniture is also having a sale this weekend of up to 30 percent off.

Appliances

This weekend is a great time to invest in big indoor home appliances, such as fridges. Lowes and Home Depot are offering discounts of up to 35 percent on select home appliances, while Sears is offering up to 40 percent.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Long Island City realtors still hopeful after Amazon pulls New York campus deal

Posted on: February 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Spinel_S/iStock(NEW YORK) — Real estate agents in the New York City neighborhood where Amazon was set to build one of its newest campuses are lamenting the retail giant’s announcement to pull the deal after the industry saw an uptick as a result of the plans.

Amazon canceled its plan Thursday to build a headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City — a plan that would have brought 25,000 jobs to the area. The retail giant wrote in a statement on its blog that it did not receive an entirely “positive” collaborative effort with some state and local officials who opposed the deal.

The real estate market in Long Island City, which sits across the East River from Manhattan, experienced an uptick in prices and sales as a result of Amazon’s November announcement to open a campus there, even when the industry in hot markets like Brooklyn and Manhattan dwindled, experts told ABC News.

Still, even with the headquarters no longer being built in the waterfront neighborhood, real estate experts are still confident in the future of the industry, they told ABC News.

Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, told ABC News that she expects an immediate slowdown in housing prices and sales in the short run, but believes that the real estate market in Long Island City will continue “flowing in activity.”

January data shows that prices in Queens as a whole — both units for renting and buying — are up 8.3 percent from last year, Hale said.

But, Hale believes that the lifestyle amenities in Long Island City, such as waterfront parks, universities and transportation, are enough to keep the market booming.

“I think the residents in that area show that it’s a great place to live,” she said. “That’s something that makes an area a good investment in real estate in the long run.”

Lauren Bennett, a real estate broker for the Corcoran Group, specializing in Long Island City, told ABC News that while she is “disappointed” in the canceled plan, which she believed would “be a great benefit for the neighborhood,” Amazon’s November announcement put Long Island City on the map, making it a household name for the first time ever.

The plan inspired buyers to move a little more quickly with their decisions, slicing the inventory of available units by four or five times, she said.

Listings practically “disappeared” after Amazon made the announcement, Bennett said.

“I couldn’t keep it online fast enough,” she said. “It certainly made my job easier.”

Silvette Julian, a real estate agent specializing in Long Island City and Manhattan, described the latest announcement as “crazy,” adding that she was surprised because she was convinced it would push through.

“I just feel that it was announced way too premature — too early,” Julian said. “But, it’s worked to some agents’ advantage. We got to close on some deals that were priced a bit higher thanks to Amazon. There’s still some good things that happened from it.”

The first few weeks after the November announcement Julian’s open houses were “fully booked,” she said.

“All of a sudden, just really, really, busy, and people were coming out of the woodwork to look at the properties — investors, buyers,” she said. “All of a sudden they were taking it seriously, and they did not want to be outbidded by other buyers coming in from elsewhere.”

Eric Benaim, CEO and founder of Modern Spaces, told ABC in a statement that he believes the decision to pull the Amazon campus from Long Island City is “a mistake” due to the tens of thousands of lost jobs.

While the neighborhood will operate as “business as usual,” he believes the real estate market will continue to “stay hot.”

“LIC was named the fastest growing city in the country and it will only continue to grow in the years to come,” Benaim said.

Opposition against the decision was rampant, with politicians such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as neighborhood advocates, speaking out against it. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the new campus.

On its website, public advocate group Long Island City Coalition wrote that the move represented Amazon representing itself, not the neighborhood.

Those who opposed the campus admonished the plan for the state to give Amazon $3 billion in tax dollars as an incentive to build in Queens, adding that the land could instead be used for schools and sports and community centers.

LIC Coalition also said that Amazon’s presence would cause rents and costs of living to skyrocket and accused Amazon of bringing thousands of workers to the neighborhood rather than hiring from within.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘They just took their ball and went home in a pout’: New York City bookstores respond to Amazon headquarters announcement

Posted on: February 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Andrei Stanescu/iStock(NEW YORK) — Amazon announced Thursday morning it was canceling its plans to build a massive new headquarters in Long Island City, a waterfront section of New York City’s borough of Queens.

One group that’s not sad to see the online retailer go? New York City’s independent bookstores, some of which took to social media to celebrate Amazon’s retreat in no uncertain terms:

 “After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” an Amazon spokesperson said this morning. The move followed pushback from advocacy groups, and some elected city officials and representatives over tax incentives, workers’ rights and more.

Dennis Johnson — publisher of Melville House Books, which has a brick-and-mortar store in Brooklyn, told ABC News that today’s decision was “really the first time that there’s been that kind of opposition mounted, that also involved some elected officials, that worked.”

Johnson, a longtime Amazon critic, said he was less worried about the new campus’ potential impact on other booksellers in the city as he was its impact on New York City’s workers and the community at large.

“They’re not a good employer, they’re union busting, they have a terrible history of the way they treat their employees,” Johnson said, adding that “we were worried about the impact that this would have had about the community it was moving into…That was not a rich neighborhood and it was going to force a lot of people out.”

“It’s very revealing of Amazon that they didn’t want to interact with the community at all. They just took their ball and went home in a pout.”

Greenlight Bookstore, which has two locations in Brooklyn, agreed.

“It might seem as though bookstores in particular have the most to celebrate about Amazon’s retreat from Queens, but the victory is larger than that: it belongs to advocates for workers, immigrants, residents, and small businesses throughout our city,” Greenlight Bookstore co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo said in a statement to ABC News.

“I think it’s important to realize that it is possible to say ‘no’ to even the largest economic players,” Stockton Bagnulo continued. “I hope this is a clear message to the leadership of our city and our state about what matters to New Yorkers: sustainable jobs, affordable housing, and our city’s unique culture that can never be replaced or replicated online.”

Amazon’s announcement produced disparate reactions among top New York politicians who heralded Amazon’s initial decision to build its campus in Queens.

“We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reaction was starkly different.

“A small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Amazon pulls out of New York headquarters plan

Posted on: February 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) — Amazon has canceled its plans to build a headquarters in New York City, according to a company spokesperson.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” Amazon spokesperson Jodi Seth told ABC News.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tech firm warns of online dating scams, Nigerian connection

Posted on: February 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

playb/iStock(NEW YORK) — Men and women looking for prospective romantic partners online should take note of these two: Laura Cahill, who described herself as an aspiring young model living in Paris, and Britney Parkwell, who pointed to her relative youth as a 27-year-old from sunny San Jose, California.

There’s one big problem: Despite profiles that said they were seeking love online, they never existed.

They were fake personas created as part of an elaborate scheme run out of Africa to con hundreds of thousands of dollars from vulnerable Americans, according to the California-based cyber-security firm Agari.

A firm report details how men and women were targeted by fraudsters.

Crane Hassold, the senior director of threat research at Agari, spent 11 years at the FBI profiling criminals and told ABC News these scams often prey on the most vulnerable people.

“At the end of the day, when you look at cyber threats, we always think of cyber threats as technical things and a lot of people equate cyber threats to malware, but at the end of the day most cyber threats are social engineering,” Hassold said in a phone interview.

He said he’s seen farmers and religious people fall victim the most to this type of scam.

The Federal Trade Commission says, overall, Americans lost $143 million on romance scams last year.

Hassold notes that these scams often have a low rate of success.

In the report, researchers warn that individuals and businesses are “far more likely to be targeted by West African crime groups” than by hackers working for the Russian or North Korean governments.

The online love scam reviewed by Agari was largely based in Nigeria, the report concluded. And while many unsuspecting Americans have likely received emails from scammers claiming to be “a Nigerian prince,” Agari’s new report focuses on a scam that is far more elaborate and believable, especially because it preys on vulnerable people searching for love, according to the report.

The report includes emails from scammers with phrases the firm says might tip off the recipient.

“I also have several pairs of shoes. I am open to a new things and i am willing to try different stuff but if it doesn’t match with my personality i won’t wear it. I use facial cleansers at times, Lotions and eye creams. I generally don’t smell,” one email from the Laura Cahill persona reads.

Another email suggests that in addition to her favorite foods being sushi and tacos, “candy yams” were also a favorite. Candy Yams, as the report notes are a favorite West African dish.

The Laura Cahill persona was one of the most commonly-used fake identities, and it employed actual pictures from a real person. Specifically, scammers posted fake profiles on dating sites and waited for victims to send them an email, which allowed scammers to then engage in dialogue to test their targets’ gullibility and willingness to send money, the Agari report said.

One way the scammers would allegedly persuade victims to send money with the Laura Cahill persona was to convince them that “Laura” wanted to travel from Paris to visit the victim, but her credit card was frozen. So, the scammers would tell victims, “Laura” needed help paying for an airline ticket — and that sending a money order could resolve the issue.

If the victim expressed hesitation, there was even a “travel agent” willing to reassure the victim that the funds were, in fact, going to pay for travel, which was sent from a different email and made to look like a legitimate invoice.

According to the Agari report, one victim fell hard for the Laura persona, sending almost $50,000 to scammers. After almost a year of sending money, the man was convinced that they were meant for each other despite “Laura” offering excuse after excuse for not meeting up, according to Agari.

The relationship abruptly ended when “Laura” stopped responding to messages from the man, who was not named in the report.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Major investor questioning conduct of National Enquirer’s parent company after allegations from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The National Enquirer, which is under fire after the world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, accused the publication of blackmail, has another problem…and this one comes with dollar signs.

The NJ State Treasury, which has hundreds of millions of dollars in a fund heavily invested in the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., quietly raised questions about the tabloid’s practices in a recent phone call, an official told ABC News.

The office reached out to Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund that manages nearly $600 million for New Jersey public pension holders, to remind the firm of its duty to protect investors from undue risks, according to Adam Liebtag, acting chairman of the state’s investment council.

Liebtag said Chatham was responsive, but the state is exploring all available options because of the Enquirer’s alleged conduct.

“When the AMI-Bezos story came out we were deeply concerned with the allegations,” Liebtag said. “The allegations, if they’re true, are unacceptable and violate the conditions we have for the pension funds.”

Pecker has denied the allegations leveled by Bezos.

New Jersey’s pension funds do not directly invest in any company but place money in funds like Chatham. Chatham, in turn, holds a stake in AMI, which owns the Enquirer and is headed by President Donald Trump’s longtime confidante David Pecker.

Liebtag said Chatham performed well for pensioners but the state must adhere to higher standards.

“Performance has been good to date but that’s no excuse,” Liebtag said.

The state treasury’s division of investment has invested twice in Chatham, once in 2014 and one in 2017.

“While DOI plays no role in the management of a fund’s portfolio companies, it expects the funds to invest in good businesses with strong management teams that follow all applicable laws,” the NJ State Treasury said in a statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New Starbucks zodiac chart finds the drink to perfectly match your personality

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Starbucks(NEW YORK) — Find the Starbucks drink that perfectly matches your zodiac sign this Valentine’s Day!

Starbucks unveiled the 2019 Starbucks Zodiac, complete with beverage recommendations that take common personality traits between each sign and their beverages.

The coffee roastery released the chart just in time for Valentine’s Day on Instagram with this cute caption: “Roses are red, the stars are aligned. Find the perfect drink for your Valentine.”

Folks have already gone to the post’s comments to declare their love for the drinks that they’ve been paired with.

“That’s sooooo weird. Passion tango is what I get 99 percent of the time and I’m a Leo,” one comment said.

“For me it’s spot on,” another wrote.

Of course, there are some skeptics who found the idea sweet in theory but said they’ll stick to their usual order.

Check out all the sips that best suit the 12 signs below:

Starbucks

Aquarius
(1/20 – 2/18)
Starbucks Blonde Latte – Unconventionally awesome

Pisces
(2/19 – 3/20)
Java Chip Frappuccino – A daydream come true

Aries
(3/21 – 4/19)
Pink Drink – For colorful personalities

Taurus
(4/20 – 5/20)
Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte – Green means go, go, go

Gemini
(5/21 – 6/20)
Americano, Hot or Iced – Twice as nice

Cancer
(6/21 – 7/22)
Honey Citrus Mint Tea – When comfort is life

Leo
(7/23 – 8/22)
Iced Passion Tango Tea – The name says it all

Virgo
(8/23 – 9/22)
Iced Caramel Macchiato – Deliciously detailed

Libra
(9/23 – 10/22)
Flat White with Signature Espresso – Artful cravings

Scorpio
(10/23 – 11/21)
Espresso Shot – The best kind of intense

Sagittarius
(11/22 – 12/21)
Mango Dragonfruit Starbucks Refreshers – Wild at heart

Capricorn
(12/22 – 1/19)
Cold Brew – A recipe for success

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Victoria Beckham is officially launching a beauty line

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Adrian Edwards/GC Images(LONDON) — Ahead of her fashion show scheduled for this weekend at London Fashion Week, Victoria Beckham announced she will officially be launching her own beauty line.

“So I’m very excited to announce that I am about launch Victoria Beckham Beauty,” she said in a video on Instagram that also revealed a mirror with “#VBBeauty” written in pink.

Beckham’s new beauty line will be direct-to-consumer and will initially be available primarily online.

“I want to take care of women inside and out, providing them with the must-have items in make-up, skincare, fragrance and wellness that I feel I need in my own life,” Beckham said in a press release.

This actually isn’t the former Spice Girl’s first go around within the beauty space. In 2016, she collaborated with Estée Lauder to launch a makeup line, and one of the key collaborators in curating that launch, Sarah Creal, has once again been tapped — this time as the co-founder and CEO of the new Victoria Beckham Beauty line.

While it isn’t confirmed exactly which products will be included in the line yet, Beckham explained that she will keep the needs of customers top of mind when creating.

“Just like I spend so much time in the fitting room getting to know what my customers want to wear, I’m going to be asking women to tell me which products they want me to develop for them in the beauty and wellness arenas,” she said. “It’s important for me to know what they want.”

According to Vogue UK, Victoria Beckham Beauty will officially launch in autumn/winter 2019. If Beckham’s “Five-Minute Face” video and beauty secrets revealed are any indication of the vibes of her upcoming line, it’s probably going to be one that beauty enthusiasts will love. Until then, we will have to sit tight and stay tuned.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The biggest Scotch whisky export market is now the U.S. — by far

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

OlegEvseev/iStock(LONDON) — The United States is now by far the largest market for Scotch whisky in the world, according to recently released data.

An analysis of official figures from the U.K. government by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) found that exports to the U.S were worth $1.3 billion in 2018, a 12.8 percent rise from the previous year. The next biggest market was France, at about $568 million.

Overall, total exports of the Highland delicacy grew by 7.8 percent by value in 2018, per the report.

Although the United States was the biggest export market by value, the SWA report actually shows that France is the largest export destination by volume. While the U.S. received the equivalent of about 137 million 24 fluid ounce bottles in 2018, France received about 188 million bottles.

Globally, exports of Scotch whisky are now worth over $6 billion. Blended Scotch whisky is the foundation of the industry, with exports worth $3.8 billion, while Single Malt Scotch grew 11.3 percent in 2018 to about $1.8 billion.

Scotch whisky must be produced in Scotland, according to U.K. law. The law also says there are five definitive categories of Scotch whisky: Single Malt, Single Grain, Blended, Blended Malt and Blended Grain.

The data came as no surprise to the SWA’s international director, Sarah Dickson.

“The U.S. has a long-standing love affair with Scotch Whisky, and in the week of Valentine’s Day that desire seems to be growing,” she told ABC News in an email. “Scotch Whisky has been enjoyed in the U.S. for more than 150 years, with whisky pioneers like James Buchanan, Tommy Dewar and Alexander Walker taking Scotch out into the world. Today, brands named in their families’ honour are still enjoyed by millions across the U.S.”

“U.S. consumers know their whisky, and from Bourbon to Rye to Irish, more and more are enjoying a Scotch Whisky on their whisky journey,” she added.

The report released by the SWA did come with a warning to U.K. lawmakers that Brexit could have a negative impact on the lucrative trade, but Dickson believes that transatlantic trade in Scotch whisky will continue as normal after the U.K. leaves the European Union.

“Last week the US-UK Spirits Agreement was signed — good news for Scotland’s national drink, giving Scotch Whisky continued legal recognition in our largest global market,” she said. “This will help ensure that U.S. consumers can continue to enjoy Scotch Whisky post-Brexit.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Leslie Moonves, fellow executives, engineered CBS stock dump prior to damning disclosures: Lawsuit

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former CBS chief Les Moonves tried to profit from his ouster by selling CBS stock before the company publicly disclosed the sexual harassment allegations he faces, a new lawsuit alleged.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, named several other current and former CBS executives who, collectively, are alleged to have sold more than $200 million dollars’ worth of CBS stock “before the disclosures about the company’s sexual harassment and hostile work environment problems were revealed to the market,” the lawsuit said.

What the lawsuit called insider sales “were timed to capitalize on CBS’s inflated stock price before defendant Moonves’ misconduct and the pervasive sexual harassment that permeated the Company was revealed to the market.”

CBS denied the accusation and said all stock sales complied with applicable securities laws.

In addition to Moonves, the lawsuit said that acting chief executive Joe Ianniello, chief accounting officer Lawrence Liding and former communications chief Gil Schwartz collectively sold more than 3.4 million shares in advance of any public announcement about Moonves.

“The timing and amount of the Class Period CBS stock sales by these executives were unusual and suspicious, and further demonstrate defendants Moonves, Ianniello and Liding’s motive to commit fraud,” the lawsuit said.

The allegation was added to an existing lawsuit from the Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California which had already sued the defendants for failing to disclose in a timely fashion “that CBS was beset by a company-wide pattern and practice of sexual harassment.”

The lawsuit alleged the “reputational risk” harmed shareholders as the company’s stock price dropped.

Moonves has denied allegations by six women first outlined in The New Yorker. The CBS board concluded in December it was justified in firing Moonves and denying him a $120 million severance. He has filed an arbitration claim to recover at least a portion of the money.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

IRS struggling with shutdown backlog, new laws, ‘antiquated’ technology

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Pgiam/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In the wake of a massive tax code overhaul and an unprecedented government shutdown, taxpayers are asking why long-expected refunds seem to be shrinking or disappearing and whether they’ll owe a surprise bill to the IRS.

A new report offers details on how the IRS is struggling to keep up with the backlog.

“The IRS is entering the filing season inundated with correspondence, phone calls, and inventories of unresolved prior year audits and identity theft cases,” according to Tuesday’s report from the National Taxpayer Advocate.

On top of the shutdown, the IRS is dealing with changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. There has been a sharp decline both in the initial number of tax refunds and the average dollar amount refunded — changes that have set off a wave of panic, confusion and political debate over the Republican tax law.

“This was the biggest overhaul of the tax system in over 30 years,” said Leigh Osofsky, a tax law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The IRS was under incredible pressure to get guidance out about the changes, and to change all of the forms and publications and instructions in response to the new law changes,” Osofsky added.

Comparing the first weeks of the 2018 and 2019 filing seasons, wait times on calls went from four minutes to 17 minutes, and the IRS went from answering 86 percent of calls to 48 percent routed to an Accounts Management telephone assistor, the report says.

“It’s going to be difficult for the IRS to really serve taxpayers the way that they would like to be able to, in the wake of tax reform,” Osofsky said.

Nicole Kaeding, director of federal projects for the Tax Foundation, said: “In terms of your interactions with the IRS, be patient. They’re trying to catch up as quick as they can.”

Americans have been flocking to the IRS phone lines because of changes in their refunds resulting from the tax code overhaul.

The IRS released statistics for one week of filings that show refunds were decreasing by an average of approximately 8 percent.

However, Mark Mazur, director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a leading independent analyst group, told ABC News Live, “It’s a little early to say what’s going to happen for the entire filing season.”

Even if the 8 percent holds true moving forward, that doesn’t necessarily mean Americans are paying more in taxes. Kaeding said many people had less withheld from their paychecks than normal as a result of the new tax law.

“The difficulty, however, is that some individuals might not have noticed the lower tax withholding on their paychecks, because your paychecks reflect lots of different things,” Kaeding said. “Maybe you got a raise in 2018. Maybe your health insurance premiums went up. Maybe you saved more in your 401(k). There are a lot of different reasons why your net pay would have changed outside of tax withholdings.”

Mazur said we’re witnessing a perfect storm: poor government messaging, lagging tax literacy among individuals and longstanding financial expectations that don’t necessarily still apply.

The Tax Policy Center said most Americans — 80 percent — actually have seen an overall reduction in tax liability for 2018. Fifteen percent will see about the same, while 5 percent will end up paying more.

“For a lot of taxpayers, getting a tax refund each spring — February, March, April –– that’s perhaps the biggest financial transaction they have all year. They count on getting that $2,000 or $2,500 or $3,000 refund,” said Mazur. “If it’s smaller or nonexistent, that’s a real hardship. Even if they’ve gotten the extra $50 or $60 per pay period all year long that money has been spent and they were looking forward to the refund.”

The report also reflected on the final day of the 2018 tax filing season, when the IRS experienced a systems crash. It resulted in taxpayers getting an extra day to file, but it hinted at underlying technological issues described in the report.

“The IRS desperately needs to replace its antiquated technology systems,” the report said.

“Unfortunately, the IRS is a very, very under-resourced agency. And that’s not a new problem. That’s been going on for quite a long time,” Osofsky said.

The IRS told ABC News in an email: “The Taxpayer Advocate Service plays an important role in the nation’s tax system, and IRS leadership will be reviewing the details in this year’s Annual Report to Congress. The IRS is committed to continue making improvements across our Information Technology, tax enforcement and taxpayer service operations.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Bill Gates says he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and that ‘there’s a lot to admire’ about Jeff Bezos

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Bill Gates said on Tuesday he favored raising taxes — especially on the wealthy — and dodged a question about fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos and his fight with The National Enquirer.

The Microsoft founder also reflected on the lack of women hired in the early days of Microsoft and his former “monomaniaical” management style in a wide-ranging interview with ABC News’ Brad Mielke, on the “Start Here” podcast.

Gates spoke to media on Tuesday after the release of the Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation’s annual letter, in which the couple highlights initiatives and issues important to their philanthropy. He dedicated this year’s letter to his Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died in 2018.

Gates confirmed that he is in favor of more progressive (higher) taxes on the wealthy, especially capital gains taxes on assets like stocks. The former richest man in the world has also consistently been a proponent of estate taxes.

“We should be collecting even more money,” Gates said. “It’s the capital gains income, though, that tends to be taxed the least. For the very rich, they didn’t get rich from ordinary income from a salary.”

Although Gates reportedly called freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s advocacy of “modern monetary theory,” “crazy talk” in an interview with The Verge on Tuesday, he told ABC News’ Mielke that he did not say that. Ocasio-Cortez is pushing for a 70 percent tax on income over $10 million per year.

Modern monetary theory is the idea that the government can continue to print money as needed, and spending would only be limited by inflation, which could be controlled by interest rates.

Gates did not give an exact figure for how much he would like to see taxes increase.

“We should have a more progressive tax system according to me, but not infinitely progressive. If you seize everybody’s wealth then you do get innovation problems and you don’t want to have people spending so much on taxes you’ll be spending tons of your time trying to maneuver around them,” Gates said. “The government is spending more than it’s collecting, so someday taxes are going to have to fund that. Particularly if we want to do even more things — to have the government do a better job on education or health-type things.”

Gates also said he wished he had hired more women in his earlier days at the company.

“The intensity I brought to the job, working day and night, being kind of monomaniacal, I’m sure for some of the people who worked for me it didn’t get their best performance. Sadly it was mostly young males working on these things. Maybe we could have drawn more women in if we were a little bit less intense,” Gates said.

“I’ve certainly grown a lot. At the foundation, we need quite a mix of people — not just men and women — but people from different parts of the world,” he added. “Particularly with Melinda’s help, you know, I do think my style of management or motivating people has developed over time. Now you know, those early days, we did get a lot done, but I bet I pushed things too hard.”

Modern monetary theory is the idea that the government can continue to print money as needed, and spending would only be limited by inflation, which could be controlled by interest rates.

Gates did not give an exact figure for how much he would like to see taxes increase.

“We should have a more progressive tax system according to me, but not infinitely progressive. If you seize everybody’s wealth then you do get innovation problems and you don’t want to have people spending so much on taxes you’ll be spending tons of your time trying to maneuver around them,” Gates said. “The government is spending more than it’s collecting, so someday taxes are going to have to fund that. Particularly if we want to do even more things — to have the government do a better job on education or health-type things.”

Gates also said he wished he had hired more women in his earlier days at the company.

“The intensity I brought to the job, working day and night, being kind of monomaniacal, I’m sure for some of the people who worked for me it didn’t get their best performance. Sadly it was mostly young males working on these things. Maybe we could have drawn more women in if we were a little bit less intense,” Gates said.

“I’ve certainly grown a lot. At the foundation, we need quite a mix of people — not just men and women — but people from different parts of the world,” he added. “Particularly with Melinda’s help, you know, I do think my style of management or motivating people has developed over time. Now you know, those early days, we did get a lot done, but I bet I pushed things too hard.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘It just smells like something doesn’t make sense’: Canadian crypto world questions CEO’s death

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

jpgfactory/iStock(NEW YORK) — The CEO of what has been noted as Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, whose death is mired in controversy and whose widow says went to his grave with the sole password to access hundreds of millions of dollars, may have wanted to exit his business before he died, another leading cryptocurrency executive said, adding to the mystery.

Gerald Cotten was the CEO of QuadrigaCX, and reportedly died of Crohn’s disease in India in December. He was 30 years old at the time. “I knew Gerry, we talked about doing business. He’d always flake and never follow up,” Cole Diamond, CEO and co-founder of Coinsquare which is now the largest Canadian crypto exchange, told ABC News. “I sent him an email asking to buy his company in December. We’re probably going through a consolidation phase in the crypto market and I thought based on previous conversations he might want out.”

Diamond said he did not receive a response from Cotten, who died on Dec. 9 in Jaipur, India, according to a statement provided by J.A. Snow Funeral Home in Nova Scotia. Cotten’s will was signed on Nov. 27, less than two weeks before his death, and filed in probate court in Nova Scotia on Dec. 21.

On Jan. 2, Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, was named executor of his estate. On Jan. 15, she announced his death in a post on the company’s Facebook page.

QuadrigaCX was already battling legal issues and a drastic plummet in Bitcoin value before Cotten passed away as the only person who knew the sole password able to unlock about $190 million in assets, his widow Jennifer Robertson claimed in Canadian court documents.

Robertson said the company had 363,000 registered users in its database, about 115,000 of whom had money in personal accounts with Quadriga. As of Jan. 30, the date of Robertson’s affidavit, the company owed its affected users $250 million Canadian ($190 million U.S.), $180 million of which was held in cryptocurrency which she said she calculated using market prices as of Dec. 17, 2018.

The company had no bank accounts and Cotten used his personal bank account for business, according to Robertson’s affidavit. She said she had conducted “repeated and diligent searches,” in the couple’s primary Nova Scotia home and other properties as well as hiring an expert to examine Cotten’s encrypted laptop for business records and missing coins.

But other large players in the crypto world question the accounts of the inaccessible password and the timing of Cotten’s death.

Michael Gokturk, CEO of Vancouver-based Einstein Exchange, told ABC News that the claim that such a large exchange could have run off of one personal laptop defies belief.

For one, QuadrigaCX was “very large. Odds that they ran it from one laptop at one guy’s house, it’s unbelievable at best. I have 50 staff running an exchange half the size,” Gokturk said. “It’s not something you run from a home laptop, it was intricate — was tied into Equifax. You need a team to integrate that.” Gokturk added that it “sounds very fictitious” for Cotten to be the only person who could have access to the password.

“Every new and old crypto company has security measures in place. A lot of crypto CEOs were getting kidnapped and extorted,” Gokturk said. “The ability to kidnap a single point of failure for Canada’s biggest exchange? Makes no sense for a pioneer [in the industry] to make such a rookie mistake. It’s like walking out on the street with $1 million in 100s on him at all times. Operating off a single laptop, it makes no sense.”

“It could be totally legitimate but it’s such a strange twist of events,” Gokturk said. “In the middle of a massive lawsuit, the guy takes off to India to build an orphanage, it makes no sense. Nothing smells right.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that they would not comment on any possible investigation into the company unless charges have been filed. Through a spokesperson, the police issued a statement saying: “The RCMP is aware of the allegations against Quadriga CX.”

Within QuadrigaCX, the currency is divided between a hot wallet (coins in the server) and a cold wallet (an offline storage area to protect the coins from hackers). Allegedly, only Cotten could access the cold wallet, and according to his widow’s affidavit, only Cotton could transfer coins between wallets.

Cotten’s widow claimed Cotten had no physical office, no cash management system and the work was done through his personal laptop.

The cryptocurrency world is almost by definition a community of sleuths obsessed with both security and transparency. Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have digital records that are publicly accessible and transaction histories can be traced. But several crypto analysts have claimed there is no QuadrigaCX “cold wallet.”

Researchers at the Zerononcense, a cryptocurrency website, analyzed dozens of aggregated wallet addresses and transaction IDs for bitcoin withdrawals and deposits for QuadrigaCX and concluded there appeared to be no identifiable cold wallet reserves for QuadrigaCX. “It appears that QuadrigaCX was using deposits from their customers to pay other customers once they requested their withdrawal…It is the author’s opinion that QuadrigaCX has not been truthful with regards to their inability to access the funds needed to honor customer withdrawal requests.” Gokturk agrees.

“For them to say, ‘We can’t access the cold wallets,’ fine, give us an address,” said Gokturk. The community have determined there is no cold wallet, a lot of the Bitcoin on reserve for clients were sent to other exchanges. When a client sends money to accounts, they have a specific address, that address can be traced back,” he said. “For them to say we can’t produce an address it just smells like something doesn’t make sense.”

Quadriga customer Yana Brenar saw the news about Cotten’s passing and said she thought: “My money is gone.”

“My first idea was to go to the blockchain.com and type in my wallet address,” Brenar wrote in an email to ABC News. “Money has gone to someone’s wallet with plenty of BTCs [bitcoins] balance…and, unfortunately, it’s not my wallet.”

“Honestly, I do believe that there is something going on behind this whole story, there are straightforward questions for Quadriga but no one could give straightforward answers,” Brenar wrote. “If there is nothing to hide, then someone would stand up and answer, but no…they are hiding behind creditors protection so no one can sue them, no one can get answers.”

Gokturk believes the value of the missing money is probably more than the reported $190 million. Bitcoin, for example, hit a high of $19,783.21 per coin in December 2017, but on Thursday, the price was $3,359.27. Customers have been trying to withdraw money from their QuadrigaCX accounts for over a year, according to posts on the company’s Facebook page.

In January 2018, CIBC froze $26 million worth of Quadriga assets, including customer accounts, and an Ontario Court ruled that $67 million in Quadriga transactions were improperly transferred, according to Robertson’s affidavit. However it has been difficult to get a financial institution to accept bank drafts from Quadriga, she said.

“The litigation with CIBC had a significant impact on Quadriga’s ability to operate and to ensure users of the Quadriga platform were kept whole,” Robertson said.

Efforts by ABC News to contact Robertson for further comment have been unsuccessful.

Last week, QuadrigaCX was granted creditor protection by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to avoid bankruptcy for 30 days while it tries to find money to pay its debts. The company also has 30 days to avoid creditor lawsuits while it tries to find the password-protected funds.

Gotkurk takes issue with the 30-day protection period, because he says that the company’s records could be taken offline during that time.

“A lot of time critical evidence could be destroyed,” Gotkturk said. “In that 30 days tons more chaos will unravel,” he said. “Information will unravel. You need to lock that information down and that begins with the servers. It runs off a cloud service somewhere. Who has seized the customers’ data?”

The QuadrigaCX records are stored on an Amazon server, Robertson said in an affidavit.

Despite the fact that QuadrigaCX was referred to as a Vancouver-based business, Gokturk did not know Cotton personally. He did say, though, that he respected Quadriga as a pioneer in the cryptocurrency world.

For Gokturk and Diamond, the claims made by Robertson in court don’t make sense.

Coinsquare’s CEO Diamond also called QuadrigaCX’s story “shady.” He pointed out that Cotten was married, and presumably his wife would know the password.

“He’s got somebody who he agreed to trust for rest of his life. A back-up person and yet no access to the accounts. He’s got a will, a plane. Everybody who has crypto in cold storage has to keep the recovery code somewhere because it’s a very long number. There’s not a true explanation. If the company decides to only have one person has a key, later on you can’t say, ‘Sorry, guys’ in bankruptcy,” Diamond said.

“In 2017 Quadriga lost $16 million in an ethereum [form of cyrptocurrency] contract. Money disappeared into the ether. Our belief was it was not profit, it was probably customer funds. A lot of customers were requesting withdraws they were not receiving. Months pass, it smells of a possible Ponzi scheme,” Diamond said.

“The platform was plagued by issues, the whole thing stinks. Probably incredibly mismanaged,” he added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hello Alfred co-founders on why they tried to cancel their business multiple times

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Marcela Sapone attended Harvard Business School with two goals in mind, to find a co-founder and a “really good idea to work on.”

Sapone met Jessica Beck on the second day of classes and while Beck admits to wanting to explore different areas of the industry before settling down and creating something on her own, she was easily convinced by Sapone to jump into the startup world.

“I thought I was going to start a business, but I thought it was going to be later, so I was looking to explore different areas and different ideas, but I was easily convinced,” Beck told ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Once Beck was on board, it was time for the two to come up with an idea, so when Beck drew a stick figure running around a building taking care of groceries, dry cleaning, etc, Sapone said she thought it was “the worst idea of all time.”

“It just sounded very hard, very complicated, and like a pie in the sky idea, the idea of everybody having someone they could rely on for help,” Sapone said.

 After much thinking and planning and trying to sculpt the original stick figure drawing into a real life business, Beck and Sapone created Hello Alfred, a residential hospitality and commerce platform for modern urban living, to see if there was a real need for this service. To spread the word and figure out if this could be a successful business, the two co-founders slid postcards under people’s doors in different neighborhoods throughout Boston.

“We had families sign up for $400 a month, and Jess and I knocked on their door and said we will be your assistant, tell us what we can do to take things off your plate and save you time,” Sapone said.

From picking up packages and dry cleaning, to buying and putting away groceries, the business began to grow, leaving Sapone and Beck overwhelmed as they were still in school. They had to get customers to trust them with a key to their home, while finishing assignments, studying for tests and exhausting themselves running errands. They tried to cancel the business several times, but their customers were already hooked.

“We reached out to our customers and said, ‘I’m sorry but we are going to have to shut down the business to focus on business school.’ Everyone wrote back and said we will pay you more,” Sapone said.

The duo decided to listen to their customers and continue with their business, seeking out investors who would support their mission to provide employees with hourly pay and benefits, which many investors didn’t agree to.

“That helped us really eliminate a lot of folks who didn’t understand that this is a human-centric business and that technology companies in today’s era need to be human-centered,” Sapone said.

Beck and Sapone ultimately chose Bijan Sabet with Spark Capital to help fund their expanding one-of-a-kind business. Sabet was the first investor in Twitter and Tumblr.

Almost five years later, Hello Alfred has expanded into eight major U.S. cities, and is available to over 100,000 residential units. Amazon has rolled out a similar service and Wal-Mart has been looking into a similar concept.

“For us, people are an asset and it means you have to invest in people, set them up to be successful, give them the tools they need,” Beck said as to why Hello Alfred continues to be successful.

If you’re wondering where the name Alfred came from, think Batman and his trusty sidekick.

 “Batman is my favorite superhero because he’s the only superhero who at the end of the day is just like us, but through the help and organization of technology and his sidekick Alfred he becomes a superhero,” Sapone said. “And the idea is we want to do that for our members.”

Hear more from Hello Alfred co-founders Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck on episode #123 of “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Alaska Airlines unveils special-edition "Captain Marvel" plane

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Alaska Airlines(NEW YORK) — Marvel Studios’ first female-lead super hero is taking to the skies with Alaska Airlines.

The airline recently unveiled a special-edition Captain Marvel-themed plane ahead of the movie release on March 8, which is also International Women’s Day.

“We’re excited to showcase a pilot who’s risen to super hero status — an image that embodies strength and confidence and inspires future aviators across our expansive network to go further,” said Natalie Bowman, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of marketing and advertising.

The film stars Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Mckenna Grace, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law.

Captain Marvel is a female pilot who acquired special powers to fight for the greater good. An image of a cat named Goose from the film will surprise guests seated over the wings.

The Captain Marvel-themed 737-800 will fly cross-country routes as well as travel to Hawaii.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Inside the lucrative child modeling business behind Instagram phenom Baby Chanco

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Pantene Japan(NEW YORK) — At just barely 13 months old, a baby in Japan has won over hearts around the nation and the world thanks to Instagram and her full head of luxurious locks.

Baby Chanco is a pint-sized bundle of joy who was born in Kyoto, Japan, with a full head of hair.

When she was just four months old, Chanco’s mom Mami Kano posted a photo of her baby on Instagram in front of a bright yellow background with big brown eyes and thick dark hair standing on its ends.

The post garnered thousands of likes and spiraled into a social media sensation.

Now Baby Chanco has nearly 400,000 followers on Instagram and was recently named the new face of Pantene in Japan.

“We hope that she is gonna be involved in fashion … particularly like [a] model, where she will be able to deliver attraction or charm of Japan or Japanese culture throughout the world,” her mom told ABC News’ Nightline through a translator.

Like any baby diva, Chanco has her fair share of fussy moments, but that didn’t stop the multi-billion dollar adult hair care company from deciding to partner with an infant and disrupt Japanese beauty standards.

Yoshiaki Okura, a brand director for Pantene, said it was Baby Chanco’s “unique” tresses that stunned them.

“When I saw Baby Chanco, I was really surprised. You know, I’ve honestly never seen such kind of baby to have such unique, thick hair,” he said.

Her glorious mane has already made her the youngest person to ever model for a global hair care brand.

“We thought Baby Chanco fits best to our brand campaign, which is ‘#HairWeGo,’ because she is a great symbol of diversity, uniqueness,” Okura said. “We felt it’s [the] best fit for us.”

The baby is part of a lucrative, sometimes controversial, and highly competitive world of child modeling.

Young children serve as brand ambassadors for household names like Ralph Lauren, Target and Macy’s.

Mothers who manage their kids, also known as “momagers,” have turned child models into major stars — including celebrities like Raven Symone, Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid.

Denise Albert, a mother of two and co-founder of multi-platform brand The Moms, said she thinks baby modeling jobs “can be extremely lucrative.”

“I think we live in a world right now where there are so many opportunities, and so many parents are business people. And they want side jobs,” she said. “And they want to make money in other ways for their family, and if they can do that using social media, why not?”

Social media has quickly become the tool of choice for parents to garner attention for their children and get them out there.

Albert said she believes “Instagram and other social media platforms are a great way for modeling agencies to find new talent.”

“It’s a really easy way to see the personality of a child, to see the personality of a family and I think that it just makes searching a lot easier,” she explained.

Modeling agent Brandis Ohlsson agreed.

“Instagram has changed things for the good and for the bad,” she said.

“I think there are a lot of really great aspects to it,” she said of social media’s explosive growth in recent years. “It does help us find new talent every once in a while it’s really great marketing tool. I would say that my business was basically built off social media.”

Ohlsson and Elizabeth Petty are the force behind some of those child models and represent and photograph aspiring young talent.

In her experience, Ohlsson said casting directors don’t necessarily care about a child’s Instagram following. Rather, they are more interested in what they look like in their natural state.

Ohlsson said casting directors have only asked her about a child’s Instagram “maybe three times,” and only “once or twice” about follower count.

“Other than that they just want to see the kids candidly, it has nothing to do with the follower count,” she said. “It’s about, ‘what does the kiddo look like when they’re just being a kiddo?'”

Petty, who photographs child models, offered a piece of advice for parents trying to get a modeling gig through Instagram.

“On Instagram, always be aware that there’s somebody — if they have access to your photos — they might be taking it the wrong way,” she cautioned. “There’s creepers out there who are attracted to kids, and it’s just like the sad reality of life. And you should just kind of like be aware of what you’re posting.”

Kindergarten may be a day job for these children, but after school, a studio photo shoot is often their side hustle.

Petty said that one thing that makes a good child model “is that they want to be there.”

“The best kid model is the one who’s like ‘Mommy, I want to be on TV’; ‘Mommy how do how do I get in a magazine?’ And then the mom is like ‘OK, I’ll look into it because they keep begging me,'” she said. “So they walk on set and they love being there. They light up in front of the camera. They’re so happy to just be there and have fun with other kids.”

But while “momagers” try to build a following on Instagram, Brandis said finding the next Baby Chanco is like catching lightning in a bottle.

“What you’ll find now, I’m sure, in the next few months, there’ll be babies popping up on Instagram with long hair thinking that, ‘Well, my kid has got long hair too, that’s the same thing that’s going to happen.’ And it just doesn’t,” Ohlsson said.

She continued, “Don’t think you’re going to be paying your mortgage with what your child makes.”

“I would say take everything you hear and say with a grain of salt,” she added.

Children’s wear is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, and mothers have been a driving force behind the talent.

They handle their child’s day-to-day schedules, balancing school and modeling gigs.

Many parents have worries that a child could grow up and not like that their photos are out there for the world to see.

Larissa, a mother of two child models — Pax and Knox — said she thinks about what her children may have to say about her decision in the future.

“I think about it all the time because you don’t know,” Larissa, who preferred to use her first name only, said. “Maybe [modeling] won’t even exist anymore … That’s what I keep thinking, I feel like everything is just going to go away.”

Until then, the number of photos and amount of oversharing could leave them vulnerable to scams and dark corners of the internet.

Ohlsson said “we’re all aware” of the “creepy side” of child modeling, “but there’s also just things that are a little bit more innocent.”

She cautioned that “pay-to-play” is a practice in the business where brands will say something like, “‘We’re doing a show for New York Fashion Week, [and] your kid has been chosen. We would love for them to participate. Can you pay me $3,000 for the dress that they’ll wear?'”

“I think that when you’re on social media and you’re looking to become a model that way and somebody approaches you and you’ve not gone through the proper channels, I think you’re more apt to fall prey to that kind of thing,” she explained.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Inside Kate Spade New York’s Fall 2019 ready-to-wear collection

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

wdstock/iStock(NEW YORK) — Nicola Glass made her second big splash at the Kate Spade Fall 2019 ready-to-wear show. The brand showcased a collection that echoed the pretty prints and sparkle of her initial debut last September, but with a remixed ’70s flair that feels equal parts modern and majestic.

Once the show started, models dressed in a sea of vibrant hues, leopard prints, colorful tights and chic turbans paraded down the runways as guests marveled at all of the fresh looks.

“For Fall 2019, I started by imagining raiding an insanely glamorous woman’s closet and the rich, eclectic mix you’d find that you could make your own,” Glass told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I was inspired by the idea of a woman’s closet — the thought of where clothes end up rather than where they originated.”

“This season, I envisioned women who are looking for clothes that are spirited, feminine and fundamentally effortless. There’s a soft glamour to this collection … an easy fluidity,” she continued.

Glass started with Kate Spade New York a little over a year ago and has found a way to elevate the brand without losing sight of its rich origins.

“We are focusing on the new house codes we introduced for spring/summer as we move into fall — always keeping the brand’s core DNA in mind — while staying true to our brand promise: optimistic femininity,” she explained.

In addition to the updated, soft glamour ’70s vibes of clothes, the makeup, hair, nails and overall scenery were the other amazing elements that also helped pulled everything together.
 
New York City’s famous Cipriani restaurant was turned into a lilac lover’s dream with matching carpet, fur seats and a time machine-like glass rotunda at the center of the venue.

For makeup, key artist Romy Soleimani for Maybelline pointed out in a statement that the rust-toned eyeshadow and lipstick were nods to the ’70s but in a thoroughly modern, 2019 way. While lead hairstylists Odile Gilbert and Justine Marjan for TRESemmé perfectly detailed the hair for the show with two words: “’70s sophisticate.”

Manicurist Julie Kandalec for Essie created nail looks that mimicked the shimmery stockings seen on the runway and had a clear base that was topped with subtle dots of bronze glitter.

Glass was also thrilled to work with actresses Julia Garner, Sadie Skink and KiKi Layne, who all sat front and center and are the 2019 campaign faces of this season’s show.

“As a brand, we encourage women to be the heroines of their own story and these three women are truly the heroines of their own stories,” said Glass. “The brand is a celebration of women across time zones, generations and style creeds who are living their individual lives to the fullest and believe that, together, everything is possible.”

So, what’s next for the popular America fashion house?

“As a whole, we’ll continue to elevate our assortment and evolve core concepts with new takes on thoughtful design techniques,” said Glass.

The full Kate Spade New York collection will be available to shop this fall.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tesla’s Autopilot blamed by driver for accident, police say

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Manfred Schmid/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  A Tesla owner whose car crashed Sunday evening in New Jersey blamed the vehicle’s Autopilot, which he told police unexpectedly took over moments before the accident.

It was just after 6:30 p.m. when the driver, Eric Carter, of Hamilton, was heading north in his Tesla Model X on Route 1 in North Brunswick approaching Adams Lane, police said.

Carter told police he intended to go straight but the vehicle’s steering wheel suddenly pulled to the right as he approached the intersection. The wheel locked to the right, Carter said, and a message appeared that the car had detected a new lane.

“His feeling is the vehicle registered the turn lane and got confused,” said North Brunswick Police Captain Brian Hoiberg.

The Tesla went off the road, struck a curb, hit some traffic signs and careened over another curb before it came to rest in a grassy area, police said.

The vehicle has “extensive” damage, police said, but therewere no injuries.

Carter did not receive any summonses, police said.

There were no witnesses to the one-car crash. Carter is the only source of information, police said.

While the department had no similar crashes on file, a police source said at this point “there’s no reason not to believe” the driver’s account. The source noted the absence of alcohol, drugs or any claim that Carter was run off the road.

Tesla has reached out to the North Brunswick Police Department seeking additional information, a police source said.

A Tesla spokeswoman did not immediately provide a comment on Monday afternoon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Barbie aims for inclusion as Mattel unveils doll who uses wheelchair and one with a prosthetic limb

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Ekaterina79/iStock(NEW YORK) — Barbie is expanding her crew of pals as Mattel releases a new variety of inclusive dolls as part of their Fashionistas collection.

Monday, the American toy company announced it’s adding dolls with braided hair texture, a new body type and Barbies who reflect permanent physical disabilities.

Barbie’s new body type features a smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms, adding to Fashionistas’ already-expanded line of curvy, tall and petite shapes.

We proudly add three new body types to our line. Meet the new dolls. https://t.co/JDeqzI59nX #TheDollEvolves pic.twitter.com/IJVcVhfPkL

— Barbie (@Barbie) January 28, 2016

And for the first time, Barbie is recognizing disabilities by including a doll with a removable prosthetic limb and a doll in a wheelchair. The wheelchair has been one of the most requested accessories from young Barbie fans, according to Mattel.

“For 60 years, Barbie has been a reflection of culture and fashion and that is key to the brand’s continued relevance,” Kim Culmone, Global Head of Design for Barbie, told GMA. “As we design Barbie for the next generation, we are focused on evolving to remain the most diverse doll line in the marketplace.”

 The inspiration behind manufacturing the new dolls was to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion, said Mattel, which first launched the Fashionistas collection in 2016 by including four different body types, various skin tones, hair and eye colors.

“This year our Barbie line will include dolls reflecting physical disabilities in order to better represent the people and the world kids see around them,” Culmone said. “Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a critical component of our design process and we are proud that today’s kids will know a different image and experience of the brand.”

 The wheelchair is modeled after one that is designed for an individual who has a permanent physical disability. The doll that is sold with the chair has an articulated body, so she can easily fit in the wheelchair. The accessory also accommodates all body types offered within the Made to Move product line (tall, curvy, and original), according to Mattel.

For the doll with the prosthetic leg, Mattel said it collaborated with Jordan Reeves, a 13-year-old from Missouri and co-founder of “Born Just Right” — a company whose mission is to build creative solutions to help kids with physical disabilities including limb differences and create a play experience that is as representative as possible.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Vice Media’s CEO Nancy Dubuc talks about worst advice she never took

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Nancy Dubuc has seen her fair share of media pitches.

Dubuc worked for A&E Networks for 19 years, with the last six of those years as president and CEO, before recently becoming CEO of Vice Media in the fall of 2018. With years of experience creating award-winning programming and making decisions that impact the entirety of a company, Dubuc looks back and credits the worst advice she’s received to when she was told early on in her career to not be so quick to say no during a pitch meeting.

“I was in a role where I was receiving a lot of creative pitches all the time and this agent wanted me to not give a straight answer as to how I felt about the show,” Dubuc told ABC News’ chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

“They instead wanted me to just sort of go along with loving everything and then giving feedback and having to follow back later. I never understood that,” she added.

Dubuc began her career at the Daily Free Press newspaper in Boston — working in advertising sales — and later went on to intern at NBC, which prompted her to switch from advertising to journalism.

While at A&E, Dubuc worked on popular shows such as Forged in Fire and Pawn Stars, and worked across HISTORY, Lifetime, FYI, VICELAND and more industry-leading brands. She made the decision to leave A&E to begin her next chapter at Vice, hoping to find “some of that young, hungry talent” and ready to “start taking those risks.”

As someone with little time to spare, Dubuc has found that it’s better to be honest and upfront.

“I think from a time management standpoint, I’ve always lived by ‘no’ is the second best answer to ‘yes’ and so cut to the chase and just be a straight shooter,” Dubuc said.

She also said that when she says “no” to a pitch, that’s actually an opportunity to expand on an idea and reshape it for the better, rather than a total rejection.

“I think being able to say ‘no’ in the room would also lead us to some other idea and that if you just sort of go along with the charade of pretending to like something, then you’re never going to get to the next thing,” she said.

Hear more from Nancy Dubuc on episode #117 of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Amazon reconsiders building new headquarters in New York City: WaPo

Posted on: February 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Amazon is re-considering its decision to split its second headquarters between New York and Virginia after mounting local opposition in New York City, according to a report.

The behemoth retailer “is reconsidering its plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a new campus in New York City following a wave of opposition from local politicians,” according to a story in The Washington Post published on Thursday. The Post, which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, cited two people “familiar with the company’s thinking.”

The Post story stated that Amazon “has not leased or purchased office space for the project, making it easy to withdraw its commitment. Unlike in Virginia — where elected leaders quickly passed an incentive package for a separate headquarters facility — final approval from New York state is not expected until 2020.”

Amazon issued an emailed statement through a spokeswoman, but did not deny Post’s story.

“We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors — small business owners, educators and community leaders. Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”

In November, the company had announced it would build two separate second headquarters: one in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City and the other in Chrystal City, Virginia. The two cities were the winners of a national competition that pitted American cities against each other to woo the retailer and its promise of thousands of high-paying jobs.

But almost as soon as the company made the announcement, vocal politicians on the New York City Council and the New York state legislature, as well as residents and unions, voiced opposition to the plans to offer $3 billion in incentives to one of the world’s largest companies owned by the world’s richest man.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both praised the Amazon deal as a great prize for the local economy.

Responding to the report of Amazon’s second thoughts, de Blasio’s office said in a statement, “The Mayor fully expects Amazon to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers.”

The governor defended the deal, while shifting the blame on intra-New York politics.

“The problem is the state Senate has adopted that position and that is what could stop Amazon. And if they do, I would not want to be a democratic senator coming back to my district to explain why Amazon left because I pandered to their politics. It would be a tremendous loss. It is the largest economic development transaction in the history of the state of New York,” Cuomo said at an economic development address in Woodbury, Long Island, on Thursday.

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer have been leading the calls against Amazon.

On Thursday, Van Bremer released a statement saying, “Since the Governor and the Mayor announced the Amazon deal, I have joined many to fight it. We rose up and held the line. When a corporation is anti-union, pro-ICE and seeks billions in corporate welfare, we must fight back. It’s not over, but I’m proud of the values we fought for.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Prosecutors reviewing Jeff Bezos’ allegations of extortion against National Enquirer’s parent company: Source

Posted on: February 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reviewing the accusations of extortion and blackmail made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos against the parent company of the National Enquirer, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News on Friday.

American Media Inc., which owns the tabloid, was granted immunity from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in December of last year as part of an investigation into the president’s former personal attorney and longtime fixer Michael Cohen. Prosecutors are now reviewing whether Bezos’s accusations amount to a violation of that agreement, which required AMI to “commit no crime whatsoever” for three years, according to the source.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

AMI said Friday it would “promptly and thoroughly” investigate claims made by Bezos of a blackmail and extortion plot against him involving compromising photographs.

Bezos described the claims in a stunning post on Medium Thursday.

In January, the billionaire CEO and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, announced that they were divorcing. In a statement released on Twitter, they said the decision comes “after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation.”

The National Enquirer later broke a story that alleged Bezos was having an affair. Bezos questioned whether the report was politically motivated and launched his own investigation into the matter.

In a post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” — addressing David Pecker, who is the chairman and CEO of American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer — Bezos said that he was approached with an offer from AMI, saying that “they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.”

Bezos alleges the National Enquirer was attempting to blackmail and extort him using “intimate” photos.

In the Medium posting, Bezos said that the Enquirer offered not to publish the photos in exchange for a public statement from Bezos that the Enquirer’s reporting was not politically motivated.

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” Bezos said in his post on Thursday.

AMI defended its actions in a statement Friday but said it would investigate Bezos’ claims.

“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos,” the company said in a statement. “Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

"National Enquirer’s" parent company says it will probe Jeff Bezos’ extortion allegations

Posted on: February 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The parent company of the National Enquirer said Friday it will “promptly and thoroughly” investigate claims against the tabloid, made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, of a blackmail and extortion plot against him involving compromising photographs.

Bezos described the claims in a post on Medium Thursday.

In January, the billionaire CEO and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, announced that they were divorcing. In a statement released on Twitter, they said the decision comes “after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation.”

The National Enquirer later broke a story that alleged Bezos was having an affair. Bezos questioned whether the report was politically motivated and launched an investigation into the matter.

In a post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” — addressing David Pecker, who is the chairman and CEO of American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer — Bezos said that he was approached with an offer from AMI, saying that “they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.”

Bezos alleges the National Enquirer was attempting to blackmail and extort him using “intimate” photos.

Bezos, in the Medium posting, said that the Enquirer offered not to publish the photos in exchange for a public statement from Bezos that the Enquirer’s reporting was not politically motivated.

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” Bezos said in his post on Thursday.

AMI responded Friday that it stood behind the reporting in the story of Bezos’ affair but would investigate the claims.

“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos,” the company said in a statement. “Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check out the apps that will intercept robocalls and tell you when they’re done

Posted on: February 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Oleksii Spesyvtsev/iStock(NEW YORK) — Pesky calls from telemarketers may be easier to combat than ever.

With new apps like Robokiller, spam calls are automatically intercepted so that your phone may never even ring.

ABC News’ Paula Faris demonstrated the app’s functionality on Good Morning America to show that when a robocall was placed, it didn’t even come through on her device.

The app automatically answers a robocall and the spammer hears a so-called “answer bot” that keeps the spam caller on the line, wasting that person’s time so they can’t make as many calls.

After the call ends, the phone with the installed app receives a notification that it successfully blocked the call.

Instead of feeling annoyed by getting a spam call, you’ll feel vindicated.

Robokiller is free to download, with a monthly subscription fee of 99 cents.

Many robocalls come up as “unknown” on caller ID, and a lot of phone companies give the option to automatically reject anonymous calls. In most cases, you can dial *-7-7 on your phone to set that up.

The four major cellphone carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint — all have tools to identify and filter spam calls. Most are free.

There are several other apps that block these calls, including Nomorobo, Truecaller and Hiya. Some charge a fee to use, while others are free — make sure to check the app’s fine print.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.