Kim Kardashian West as Keynote Speaker for BlogHer Conference Divides Bloggers

(LOS ANGELES) — Kim Kardashian West may be a master at leveraging social media and nurturing her own enduring brand, but news that she is a keynote speaker at next month's BlogHer conference was met with both cheers and jeers from fellow bloggers.

Kardashian West is scheduled to speak Aug. 5 at BlogHer, considered the year's biggest conference for women bloggers. The annual conference is expected to draw some 5,000 bloggers to this year's site, Los Angeles.

For conference organizers, the choice announced last week seemed obvious.

"Kardashian West is one of the most influential women on social media in the world. She has parlayed her influence into a huge media, commerce and mobile app empire, including making tens of millions on her app alone. And it’s an empire with women in the driver’s seat," Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder of BlogHer told ABC News in a statement. "Moreover, both her huge fan/customer base and her critics are largely women. So she’s completely relevant for what is, after all, a women’s social media conference."

But, the selection had many bloggers scratching their heads and more.

"I get on Facebook and all of a sudden I kept seeing commentary about Kim Kardashian and it was all negative," New Jersey-based writer Kim Bongiorno, author of the blog "Let Me Start By Saying,” told ABC News. "There were people trash-talking BlogHer, saying, 'Now I'm glad I'm not going,'...just really talking negative about the decision and Kim Kardashian as a person."

Some of the negativity Bongiorno even had a name for: "slut shaming."

Chicago-based writer Chrissy Woj, who blogs at Quirky Chrissy, was among those who initially had a negative reaction to the announcement.

"I don't look to her as a role model and I think that's where my initial visceral reaction was," she told ABC News. "I don't watch reality TV. All I see is her making the headlines and her husband making headlines. Initially, I was not sure what was going on with their (BlogHer's) thought process."

Meanwhile, Bongiorno, who doesn't exactly count herself as a fan of the reality star, figured the conference organizers had good reasons for picking Kardashian West.

Tired of hearing all the trash-talking, she wrote a Facebook post that drew hundreds of likes and comments.

"The people talking trash were only hurting themselves," she said about her initial reaction. "Given the status of what going on in the world, this us vs. them, there are a lot of people refusing to hear each other." What surprised Bongiorno is that the blogger community couldn't see that they were doing the same thing.

"Why is her voice any less valid than yours?" Bongiorno pointedly asked her Facebook followers.

In her lengthy post, she pointed out that conference attendees had a similar reaction to last year's keynote speaker, Gwyneth Paltrow.

"I got some really great nuggets from her talk," Bongiorno recalled. "A lot of naysayers had the same experience. A lot of people came out of that saying she wasn't as bad as I thought she was."

Bongiorno believes attendees could have the same experience with Kardashian West, who she thinks is "way more than the nude pictures."

Not only is her brand and business "very woman-centric" but Bongiorno is impressed by how she has managed to maintain success over the years despite being such a polarizing figure.

After reading Bongiorno's post, Woj began to feel differently about wanting to hear Kardashian speak. And although she had already planned not to attend the conference, she said, "I'm a little disappointed that I won't be there to hear what she has to say."

For the conference organizers, the kind of discussion generated by their announcement was what they were hoping for.

"Any time someone engenders such strong reaction from women I’m going to want the women in our community to hear from such a figure directly," Camahort Page said in her statement, "and in a more intimate, in-real-time setting."

As for Kardashian herself, she's saving her remarks for when she takes the podium in a couple weeks. She declined ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


The Potential Dangers of Pressure Washers

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Pressure washers can help homeowners blast through many summer cleaning projects, but with the power of a pressure washer also comes potential danger.

Ben Skidell makes a living working with outdoor tools but it was a pressure washer that the New York man said almost took off part of his knuckle.

“Pressure washers can cause a lot of damage,” he said.

After using pressure washers, an estimated 6,000 people went to the emergency room in 2014 alone, with a portion of those injuries attributed to the tool’s powerful spray, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Most consumer pressure washers come with different nozzles for increased water pressure. A red nozzle is the most powerful at zero degrees.

The nozzle is so powerful that Consumer Reports issued a safety alert in March to warn consumers.

“We don't think power washer manufacturers should even be including a zero degree nozzle and we are asking that the industry actually take them out,” Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of the Consumer Safety and Sustainability Group for Consumer Reports, told ABC News.

Consumer Reports' Dave Trezza said the power of a red nozzle could “definitely” slice through the skin of a user’s hand and it can also cut through a shoe.

Manufacturers warn consumers purchasing new pressure washers about the power of the tool’s nozzle. Good Morning America went undercover to three tool rental stores in New Jersey to see if renters also receive a warning about the potential danger of a red nozzle on a pressure washer.

All three of the stores GMA visited gave a demonstration on how to use the pressure washer prior to the rental. But, although all three pressure washers GMA rented came with the ability to spray zero degrees, only one of the rental stores warned about the nozzle's potential danger.

Two of the pressure washers GMA rented came with warnings that said they could cause severe injury.

The Cleaning Equipment Trade Association told ABC News in a statement that the wand lengths on pressure washers help to prevent injuries.

"The wand lengths make it difficult to direct the discharge stream at yourself," the statement read. "And the warning instructions state to wear eye protection, hold the spray gun with both hands and do not direct discharge stream at people, along with other warnings."

Consumer Reports recommends that pressure washer users wear closed-toe shoes and treat the tool with the same precaution as you would any another piece of heavy-duty outdoor equipment, like a lawn mower.

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All About Michelle Obama's Blue DNC Dress -- First Lady Michelle Obama was the belle of the ball at the Democratic National Convention Monday night -- and not just because of her rousing words.

Heads turned when she took to the stage in an elegant A-line silhouette, crepe silk dress with cap sleeves and a fitted bodice -- in the Democratic party's signature shade of blue, of course -- by designer Christian Siriano.

She paired the dress with dangling earrings and metallic, pointed-toe Jimmy Choo pumps.

Although the show-stopping dress is custom-made, the "Project Runway" alum sells a very similar design for $995 on his website.

"It was about striking the balance with that dress," Siriano, who was contacted by the First Lady's stylist, told "Vogue" Tuesday morning. "I think the top made it feel powerful and the bottom made it feel soft and kind of romantic. My personal opinion is that it represents her personality, from what I see [having never met her]."

Siriano continued, "She’s such a powerful woman and she is so strong, but she’s also one of the kindest people there is. That’s the balance of that dress: a simple silhouette that is still elegant and romantic and covered [up] in a different way. It was also different from what every other woman wore, which was also an interesting choice."

But this isn't the first time Obama has worn a design by Siriano. Earlier this month, at the memorial for the five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper, Obama wore a black, full-skirted dress by Siriano.

Looking ahead, Siriano remains focused on outfitting the women of the White House.

“I’m a big fan of Hillary [Clinton], he says. "I think she could be an amazing president and would love to make something for her one day. That’s next in the cards!"

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US Stocks Close Mixed Amid Earnings Reports, Fed Meeting

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed as Wall Street reacted to earnings reports Tuesday.

The Dow closed down 19.31 (-0.10 percent) to finish at 18,473.75.

The Nasdaq gained 12.42 (+0.24 percent) to close at 5,110.05, while the S&P 500 closed at 2,169.18, up 0.70 (+0.03 percent) from its open.

Crude oil lost about 1 percent with prices hitting under $43 a barrel.

Earnings: Under Armour sunk 5 percent at the close on earnings that fell in the second-quarter but met expectations. McDonald's shares were also down over 4 percent after it reported slowing quarterly sales, despite adding all-day breakfast.

Twitter's stock tumbled 10 percent in after hours trading when its earnings report in quarter two showed disappointing revenue growth. Apple was also set to report earnings Tuesday.

Federal Reserve: The Fed began its two-day monetary policy meeting Tuesday. Although analysts don't expect the U.S. central bank to raise rates this month given the rocky global economy since Britain's vote to leave the European Union, investors will look to the Fed Wednesday for when the next hike could be.

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Teen Who Survived Lightning Strike While Playing 'Pokemon Go' Speaks Out, Fla.) -- The North Carolina teenager who was struck by lightning while playing Pokemon Go on the beach with a friend said “everything went black” right before the strike.

Cameron Poimboeuf, 15, was with a friend on Sand Key Beach, near Clearwater, on July 19, when a storm rolled in as the pair were engrossed in Pokemon Go, the location-based game app.

“It was just really dark, I was on my phone and everything went black,” Poimboeuf, of Charlotte, North Carolina, told Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-TV.

Poimboeuf said he was told he was struck by lightning in his back and through his leg.

“Everyone was standing there looking at me,” Poimboeuf told WFTS-TV. “I was trying to figure out if I was hurting or anything, but my body was pretty much numb.”

The teenager was unresponsive for three days after the lightning strike and spent nearly one week in the ICU at a local hospital, reports WFTS-TV. He was discharged from the hospital on Sunday.

“I am still a little bit dizzy, but it is a lot better," he said.

Poimboeuf’s mother, Karen Poimboeuf, told WFTS-TV her son’s prognosis was initially bleak. She said three Good Samaritans on the beach and the rescue crew helped save her son’s life.

“We were also told from the cardiologist it was the level of expert CPR that he got that made the difference,” she said. “They did not give up after minutes of CPR, that they kept working and kept working and kept working.”

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Starbucks Relaxes Dress Code, Allowing Baristas to Show More Flair

Starbucks(NEW YORK) -- Starbucks’ corporate dress code will be relaxed for employees in North America starting Tuesday, allowing “baristas to shine as individuals,” the coffee giant said in a statement.

The changes mean more than 150,000 employees in more than 8,771 stores will be able to expand beyond the standard corporate black or white shirts that have served as a background to the famous green aprons, and don something a little more self-expressive.

Among the changes handed down Monday: new style guidelines, a new color palette and new regulations on accents and accessories.

Why the change?

The company said it's looking to boost employee satisfaction, while also making their stores seem a little more cool.

“Our success is rooted in our continual innovation and customization in every aspect of our business and this also applies to offering the best [employee] experience we can,” Starbucks Canada President Rossann Williams said in the statement. “We are responding to what our [employees] have told us and are confident that this will uplift the Starbucks brand.”

A manager for a store in Manhattan, New York, where the new guidelines have been piloted, Mario Leon, said in the same statement that customers seemed happy to get a sense of who the baristas were as individuals.

What will be allowed? And what will be prohibited?

Here are some of the changes, starting from top to bottom:

The company will allow permanent and semi-permanent artificial hair coloring, so long as long hair is tied back. Temporary color, sprays, glitter, and chalks are banned for food safety reasons.

But if an employee is having a bad hair day, she or he can cover it with a variety of newly-allowed hats, including fedoras, beanies and newsboy caps. But sorry Texan employees, cowboy hats are among the forbidden headpieces.

Up until now, baristas had a binary choice when it came to what could be worn underneath their green apron: a solid black or solid white shirt.

However, the “Lookbook” released by the company tells employees that they are now “invited to wear a range of subdued shirt colors," which they suggest includes, "gray, navy, dark denim and brown.” But the book goes on to advise that “solids are your friend and so are smaller tighter, low-contrast patterns.”

Tops can now take many different forms -- a break from the button-up -- including sweaters, pullovers and turtlenecks, among others. T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, and “plunging” necklines are verboten and employees are warned against wearing anything with large, non-Starbucks logos.

The company included several color and pattern swatches as examples of what could be worn in keeping with the code.

Regulations on pants will be loosened too. Employees can now choose to wear dark jeans, shorts, skirts or dresses, in addition to the slacks and khakis that were previously allowed.

Shoes in black, gray or brown are allowed so long as they feature only a small amount of accent color; but all shoes must be closed-toe, closed-heel, and cover as much of the top of the foot as possible, the company said. Also, no UGG-style shoes among others, the company added.

But what about ties and tattoos and other accents and accessories?

Starbucks said the key is to make sure that they are “not the main event of your outfit,” but is otherwise cool with its employees sport ties, scarves and fun socks.

Most conservative piercings, including small ear gauges, are allowed, so long as they’re kept to two per ear.

Some accents are still off-limits. Nail polish and coverings are banned because they “could chip or slip into food or drinks” and so are watches, bracelets, wristbands and hand jewelry -- except single-band wedding-style rings.

Who will decide about questionable clothing? And what kind of trouble could employees get into for breaking the rules?

In the guidelines sent to employees, the company says that “store managers will ultimately make the call as to what’s okay within the Dress Code and what’s not.”

In fine print at the end of the guidelines, it warns employees of the expectations saying that inappropriate dress will prevent them from starting their shift.

At worst, the guidelines say, unacceptable appearance “may result in corrective action, including separation from employment.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


General Mills Expands Flour Recall

iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- General Mills is expanding its recall of flour products tied to an E. Coli outbreak following the confirmation of four new illnesses.

In a press release Monday, the company said it is "adding additional flour production dates to the previously announced U.S. retail flour recall that was originally announced on May 31, 2016." You can see the complete list of recalled products here.

General Mills says the illnesses continue to be linked to consumers eating or handling uncooked dough or uncooked batter.

"No illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly baked, cooked or handled," the company said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Seven Financial Apps to Save You Money This Summer

iStock/ThinkstockBy ELISABETH LEAMY

(NEW YORK) — Making savvy financial moves is easier than ever before, thanks to the smartphones most of us carry around in our purses and pockets these days. The only hard part is choosing between the hundreds of personal finance apps available to us. So here’s my roundup of great money-saving apps to help you relax more — and spend less — this summer.

WalletHub: Best for monitoring and improving your credit. I like it because it offers something truly unique: free Trans-Union credit scores that are updated daily. Your credit score changes constantly as you pay off bills and make new charges. Now you will KNOW where you stand. The WalletHub app also provides credit improvement tips and free credit monitoring.

Mint Money Manager: Best as a dashboard for tracking your money This free app is an oldie but also a winner. First, you link all of your financial accounts to the Mint app. Then it shows you, in easily understandable graphics, where your money is going, from groceries to gas. If you see that one category is a weak spot for you, you can pull back. For me, that would most certainly be clothing and shoes! Fully embrace this tool and you can also set up fee alerts, bill reminders and warnings to let you know when you are going over budget.

Ballpark Estimate: Best for figuring out retirement savings needs It’s hard to believe that an app can help untangle the mysteries of retirement, but people give this one high marks. The app leads you through a series of questions about your existing savings and work history, then crunches the numbers for you about how much your investments can be expected to grow, anticipated social security income and so on. Soon you’ve got a suggestion for how much you need to save for retirement each month.

P2K Money: Best for teaching kids about money and saving Here’s where you can give your technology-hungry kids an important money lesson.
This app lets them track their earnings, from their allowance or odd jobs. They can also watch their savings grow and even make a “wish list,” complete with pictures of items they hope to buy. The idea is twofold, I think: to show them how nice it is to be rewarded financially for working hard (parents can choose to dole out extra money if their kids do extra chores) and to show kids how skipping frivolous purchases helps the pot of money grow faster so they can afford the bigger, better items on their wish lists.

Price Grabber: Best for looking for lower prices while out shopping Price Grabber has been around for a while and still has longevity. If you’re in a store, you can scan the barcode on a product you’re interested in to check prices elsewhere. You can also search by product name, UPC code, part number, etc. This tool even takes into account shipping and sales tax if you enter your zip code. Best for grocery coupons There are lots and lots of coupon apps. I receive PR pitches from their people daily. But I suggest that newbies start here simply because of the sheer volume of coupons available through this workhorse site. This app is easy to use when you’re out and about. My preference is to add deals found here to my store loyalty card, but there are also often printable options. And while this app is best known for grocery, household and personal care coupons, it also has other types of digital offers like for clothing chains and pet stores.

RetailMeNot: Best for retail promo codes You may have used RetailMeNot’s website to search for promo codes when you’re shopping online, and you can use the mobile app the same way. If you find a promo code, just show it to the cashier on your phone when you check out. But the app also does other things. For example, you can bookmark the stores where you shop the most and then quickly glance at a list of available offers while you’re browsing the aisles.

Elisabeth Leamy is a 25-year consumer advocate for programs such as "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.

Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Secret Ingredient of Maine Lobster Under Threat

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Along the rocky bottom of the chilly Atlantic Ocean crawls one of the world’s favorite delicacies, the Maine lobster.

Lobster is Maine’s number one export: There are more than 6,000 lobstermen along the state's 228-mile coast. Maine has just over two million people and almost double that number in lobster traps.

Why is the crustacean off the coast of Maine considered one of the most delicious and coveted on the planet? Is it really different than other lobster and, if so, why? And, is its survival threatened?

ABC News traveled to Bar Harbor looking for answers. Nearly three million visitors travel to Bar Harbor each year just to get a taste of a Maine lobster.

ABC spoke to Dr. Bob Steneck, a marine biologist and oceanographer at the University of Maine. He knows these decapods front to back, having studied lobsters in Maine for more than 30 years.

“The environment in Maine, it's a rocky shore, so it has that kind of nursery habitat that lobsters like," Steneck says. "But probably more importantly, there are temperatures that are too warm, and there are temperatures that are too cold. Maine happens to be sitting in the sweet spot of being in exactly the right temperature."

As booming as Maine's lobster business is, the past decade has seen a shocking decline in the numbers of lobsters from Rhode Island to Long Island.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the number of lobsters in southern New England has fallen by more than 70 percent over the past 20 years.

In Rhode Island, ABC visited the boat of Mike Marchetti, who quit lobstering because of the population decline. Marchetti started out just hauling in a few rudimentary pods when he was in high school, selling a trash can full of lobster for extra cash. His business grew until the early 2000s when things suddenly went sour.

“Damned if I can even remember what years now," he says. "It’s 2001 to 2006, but it was the fishery started to really see some heavy declines. People were having a hard time making money. A lot of people left the business.”

Marchetti switched the rigging of his boat to scallop instead of lobster.

So, why are lobsters thriving in Maine while men like Marchetti are leaving the business in nearby Rhode Island?

While we can’t point to a single cause for the slumping population of Rhode Island lobsters, marine biologist Steneck is keeping a close eye on the climate.

“The thing that we're watching is climate change,” Steneck says. “We know that in areas to the south, for example, off of Rhode Island, 1998 was the warmest year on the planet. That year a shell disease broke out, and the lobster populations declined by 80 percent."

Fortunately for Maine, Steneck doesn’t see anything similar happening there in the near future.

The unusually warm temperatures seen in Rhode Island in 1998 are not likely to be seen in Maine for some time, Steneck said.

Even Marchetti believes lobsters will be back in Rhode Island if we give it time. His boat can quickly be re-rigged for lobsters, and he’s ready when the time comes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Verizon Acquiring Yahoo! Operating Business in $4.83 Billion Deal

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Verizon has struck a deal to acquire Yahoo! operating business in a deal totalling $4.83 billion in cash, both companies announced early Monday.

Last year, Verizon acquired AOL with plans to enhance "cross-screen connection for consumers," and now hopes to generate more revenue in digital advertising with the Yahoo deal.

"The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising," Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a company statement.

With Yahoo's global audience of more than one billion monthly active users -- 600 million of those being mobile users -- CEO Marissa Mayer says the "transaction sets up a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising and social."

She added, "Yahoo and AOL popularized the Internet, email, search and real-time media. It's poetic to be joining forces with AOL and Verizon as we enter our next chapter focused on achieving scale on mobile."

With more than 25 brands included, Yahoo's addition to Verizon and AOL will make for one of the largest portfolios of owned and partnered global brands with extensive distribution capabilities.

The deal is expected to close in Q1 of 2017, pending approval of Yahoo's shareholders and customary closing conditions being met.

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